Picture this: I'm 22. I'm in my first-ever "grown up and single" apartment in Vancouver. I am surrounded by the overwhelming IKEA packing detritus from one futon, four side tables, a small dining set, a desk, a dresser, a bookcase, a TV stand, and assorted sets of plates, glasses, pots, pans, knives and cutlery, bedding, towels, and a shit load of other stuff I can't remember. (I had nothing. I needed everything. And I bought that everything at IKEA and had it all delivered on one day.) That's how much crap there is around me.

So, I'm sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, surrounded by the already scratched and dented framing of the bed I've now put together incorrectly twice (first, thinking it was upside down, I had to take it all apart and rebuild it right side up... only, having done that, I realized that I'd actually built it correctly the first time). Yay.

I have instructions, of course. The instructions look like this:
These instructions mean: Don't do this alone. You NEED HELP. Get a friend to help you! These instructions also mean: If you don't understand what to do, call IKEA.

Only, I don't have a friend. I do have an idiot boyfriend, but he's nowhere to be found. And I can't call IKEA for help because my cell phone battery is dead and the charger is lost amid all the moving boxes and aforementioned IKEA detritus. 

So I'm sitting on the floor of my sad little Jr. One Bedroom apartment, in the centre of what was supposed to be my perfect (albeit small) new bedroom, and I'm cradling my right hand, which is bruised green from 48 straight hours of turning reluctant allen keys ... and I'm crying. Mouth open, nose running, full-on crying.

I am crying for many reasons. I am crying because I don't think I can stand to take apart and rebuild my bed for a third time (why, God, why?). And I'm crying because my hand hurts like a mother fucker. And most of all, I'm crying because it seems entirely possible that I will not only NOT have a bed to sleep in tonight, but that I may never sleep in a bed again. I may, in fact, die from some sort of allen-key induced gangrene and the IKEA cardboard will absorb the smell of my rotting corpse, and no one will find me until I default on my rent, which may well happen, even if I DON'T die, because I spent every penny I had outfitting my apartment for my wonderful new life, which has so far consisted of nothing but moving-related trauma.

This is what happens when you try to move alone.

But this weekend, I helped my friend Emily move. And it was no big deal. I was one of many friends she had helping her out, and all in all, everything went smoothly. It wasn't particularly hard. It wasn't annoying. It didn't put me out. I had the time, I needed the exercise, and other than the part where I had to wake up at 8 am on a Saturday, it was pretty fun. Not unlike a social event, except with a practical, measurable purpose.

Moving is often cited as one of the absolute most stressful things in life. Right up there with divorce and being fired. But if you're not the person who's actually moving, if you're just helping out, it's really not stressful at all. Not comparably. And that's why you should do it. Because it's no big deal for the helper, but probably a VERY big deal for the helpee. I've been both, so I know this for sure.

Alone? Bad.
Together? Good.
It's pretty simple, actually.
 
 
In my early 20s, I had a summer job for a few years at a newspaper in Vancouver. (I got the gig thanks to nepotism. Classy.) But more important than the nepotism, more important than any part of that job, at least in my mind, was the lunch I came to eat nearly every day in the sad little food court located in the bottom of the Sinclair Centre across the street.

It came from a shitty little Chinese fast food counter and it wasn't on the regular menu. You had to ask for it: shrimp with flowering chives on rice noodles. Ringing in at almost $10, it was an unwise and fiscally irresponsible meal for me to become attached to, but attached I became. More than attached. Addicted. I'd regularly lie in bed at night, forcing myself to repeat the following words in my head: "Tomorrow I will not have flowering chives. Tomorrow I will not have flowing chives."

Tomorrow would come and guess what? I would have the flowering chives. This went on for YEARS. Every summer, my love for this flowering chives concoction would return full force. And no kidding, I tried (and failed) to replicate the dish at home for almost ten years before finally giving up.

But there are chives growing on my front lawn, and they reminded me of my lost love. And so, I am determined to try again.

And finally, FINALLY, I've taken a step in the right direction. In all my years of home-kitchen experimenting, I never once had the right chive. NEVER. I'd been using the wrong chives all along!

Back in 2000, the internet didn't seem able to explain the difference between a regular chive and a flowering chive, and though I asked around on the subject a lot, but no one seemed to have an answer for me. As early as two weeks ago, I was snootily told by some hippie working a stand at the farmer's market that "all chives flower." But the internet has changed and finally, finally it contains the answer I was looking for (and probably has for years, but remember, I'd stopped looking).

A flowering chive is a CHINESE flowering chive, which isn't a regular chive at all!
I know this is a ridiculously long and boring blog post, but this revelation may well change my life. It will certainly change my diet.

Flowering chives, GET IN MY BELLY! Hooray!
 
 
I've been grumpy lately. Too grumpy to blog, really. Or rather, too smart to blog when grumpy, which would probably result in posts that were little more than vaguely-cloaked diatribes against the (very few) jerks I find myself fuming about as I lie awake at night.

Lately, when I think about blogging, all I can think about is what I'd LIKE to say to these people, but mustn't. I wish I was more like Don "I don't think about you at all" Draper. But I'm not. (I think about you jerks ALL THE TIME, okay? I can't help it. Congratulations. Hurray for you. I wish you'd fuck off and die. Ya. I said it.)
What can I say? I'm not a great person. I strive to be better, but even in my 30s, I find I'm still mucking around in the emotional mud with the rest of the petty narcissists. One day, I'll grow out of this. I hope.

I often wonder: Why does anyone settle (occasionally) into a dark place? There's no trigger, really. The weather's been lovely, so I know it's not that. There's no reason for it. No event to look back on and say -- "There! That's the thing that made me grumpy." Sometimes, I just find myself here. Brooding. Brooding about things that happened ages ago, in most cases. Hating everything. Wanting to shut the blinds and stay inside and turn on the television and take out the vodka. And then, just as suddenly, I'll sail out of the dark place and find myself feeling better, with no provocation.

Is it chemical, do you think?