#StonesVIP photo booth. Couldn't convince him to wear the prop scarf. by MPriceMitchell, on Flickr" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mpricemitchell/8973932620/">Sean and I in the <a href=#StonesVIP photo booth. Couldn't convince him to wear the prop scarf." src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3799/8973932620_a9a660d38d.jpg" width="500" height="500" />Sean called me at work a few months ago and asked me this question:

“Do you want to go see the Rolling Stones in June?”

It was not the question I was expecting on a quiet workday morning just before lunch.

When I asked him why, he told me that they were releasing a bunch of discounted tickets, but buyers wouldn’t know where they would be sitting till the day of the show.

Seeing that we’re both under 40, we’re too young for the Stones’ heyday. However, as someone who loves reading about the history of music and pop culture, I figured we better take the opportunity to see them before they finally decide to retire.

Besides, a night out is a night out, right?

This past Thursday night, I rushed home from work, picked up Flora and got ready for my night out. On a whim, I purchased a tube of bright red lipstick. I haven’t worn really red lipstick since I was a teenager, but it seemed like the right thing to do. A classic look for a classic rock band, right?

Flora really liked the red lipstick and was annoyed when I wouldn’t let her have any. I was trying hard not to screw up the application or get it all over my teeth. Once I dropped her off next door for a sleepover with her BFFs, I did a fast manicure and Sean and I were off to the train to go back into the city.

When we got in line to pick up our tickets, the person who checked Sean’s ID asked us to go into a different line. When we got there, the woman told us that we got tickets in the Tongue Pit. On the floor. In front of the stage.

Holy crap.

The woman put our wristbands on for us and we walked into the arena. We checked out the merchandise (lots of choices and all overpriced), got a couple of drinks and did the modern thing and posted our surprise to Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter and Instagram. The picture at the top of this post was a staged setup where there were people taking pictures with your phone so you could upload the picture to Instagram. Any opportunity to get a picture of Sean and I together that we don’t have to do selfie-style is good so I handed my phone over for some pictures.

We’ve been to a lot of concerts over the years and we’ve never had seats that good for a show this big. I worried that the standing-room only would mean that I wouldn’t be able to see anything and it would be crowded – my usual issue with general admission tickets. I learned that the advantage of seeing a band who’s been around for 50 years is that their audience is way more laid back than other shows we’ve been to. People brought their tween/teenage kids. We stood at the left-hand side of the pit, right next to the ego-ramp. And the security guard who reminded us not to lean on it as it was ‘put together with duct tape’. I stood up straight because I wasn’t going to be responsible for breaking Mick Jagger’s hip.

Sean in the pit

 I will admit that I didn’t know every single song, but my classic rock band of choice has always been Queen. The show was what you would expect of a band who’s been together for 50 years: tightly choreographed, heavy on the big hits and to the point. We were close enough to count the wrinkles, but also close enough to see that those guys are in incredible shape. Which you would have to be to still be able to tour worldwide.

I’m glad I said yes to Sean buying the tickets. We had  a lot of fun. I’ve decided to keep that red lipstick in my purse for good luck. Interesting things may happen when I wear it next.

Dude! We got lucky on our Stones tickets!

Flora's First Subway Ride

She slept through her entire first subway adventure.

My daughter was born in early September of 2008. I knew that it was a good idea to get used to traveling with her while the weather was still good. I wanted to get used to traveling with a baby and all the Stuff a baby needs before it got too cold. I didn’t want to look out the window longingly and feel even more housebound than I already was.

As a city dweller with one car between my husband and I, that meant I had to learn to navigate public transit with Flora. If I wanted to go anywhere on the days my husband took the car to get to work, I had to figure out how to do the subway. I wasn’t going near the bus when she was super small.

The picture over there is of Flora’s first subway ride. She was about a month old. That’s why she’s in one of *those* strollers. She was too small to sit up in the stroller seat so her car seat attached to the top so she could travel safely and I could bring the various stuff a baby needs in its constantly-hungry-or-leaking phase.

I planned this trip to get a couple of things done. I was canceling my membership in the Metropass Discount Plan because I wouldn’t be TTCing much while I was off work. That’s why we’re at Davisville. (Taking a stroller to the TTC head office – I hope someone did that this week.) Then we were off to visit Sean at work up near Mel Lastman Square. So a couple of stops and a long-ish subway ride to and from Warden Station.

I had planned for my trip to be done well outside of rush hour. I wanted to be considerate of other riders, especially since this wasn’t a time-sensitive errand. I know it’s hard to navigate around a stroller – I’ve done it too. So I did my best to take up as little space as possible and get out of the way of other people. I mostly succeeded, and I don’t remember getting any stinkeye from other passengers.

This was not the largest stroller on the market, nor was it the smallest. It was reasonably affordable (and a gift from Grandma to boot), held up for all of Flora’s stroller-needing years and I am grateful I had it.I did my best to be mindful of the people around me no matter where I was so I wasn’t crowding them or blocking their way. No one ever yelled at me, so I hope I succeeded.

Flora and Mummy at City Hall

This was taken at a stroller march held in 2009 to support the need for childcare in Toronto. This stroller got me through many daycare pickups and some dropoffs on the TTC.

When Flora got bigger (as in over six months, but under twelve months old, so still a baby), I knew I needed to get a smaller, more portable stroller. While our plan was to have Sean drive her to and from daycare, we knew that sometimes I would have to do the daycare run via TTC.

The days we knew I would have to pick her up, Sean would bring the stroller when he dropped her off and I would bring her home on the bus in it. When the bus would come, I would pick the stroller up to get her on the bus and wheel the stroller to the best spot to be out of the way of the most people. That spot was different every time depending on how people were sitting on the bus.

I was lucky that I was going against the flow of traffic at that time of day so most buses going to my place from my daycare provider’s home weren’t too busy. Still I did my best to be watchful and get out of people’s way.

Morning dropoff on the bus was less fun. There were several routes that went by my stop, but at least two went past a nearby highschool. Taking Flora to daycare on those buses meant getting on a standing room-only bus with a stroller. I was a cliché and I hated it. I did my best to get Flora and I the hell out of the way. I didn’t have far to go on the bus – I got off before the highschool kids, so I felt even more like an jerk when I had to pull the cord and wheel my kid precariously off the bus, apologizing the entire way.

I was relieved when Flora was walking well enough that I could stop using the stroller for doing dropoff and pickup on the TTC. I was paying a fare for her by now and she could have her own seat without guilt. I was even more relieved when Sean and I would park the car at Kennedy or Warden station and I would just take the subway to my car, then pick her up. It was just so much less hassle for me, even if Flora enjoyed the bus.

I was lucky. I lived close to two subway stations that had parking. My daycare provider lived less than fifteen minutes away from us and was easily accessible by car or transit. Not everyone is that lucky. Until the TTC’s coverage is more evenly spread throughout the entire city (and not just downtown), people will cobble together solutions that work for them.

I don’t live in Toronto anymore, but I still work there and use the subway five days a week to get to work. I also don’t have a baby anymore, but a little kid. As a TTC user, this issue affects me. Public transit is for everyone and that includes those who have to ferry small children around.

A note for those who want to say just wear your baby.

Flora in the wrap

I wore Flora plenty too.

I took short and medium-sized trips on the subway with Flora in a wrap and no stroller. It’s okay for the first bit, but doing errands that way is tricky at best. I can’t imagine doing a trip from let’s say, north Scarborough to downtown with a six month-old strapped to me, diaper bag on my arm, and possibly another child beside me. I’m just not that much of a masochist. I loved babywearing and I did it regularly. Babywearing was way better for our walks to the library over deep snow drifts, walking the dog and trips where I just didn’t want to bring a big stroller along. It’s not so good for trips where you’re going to end up carrying lots of other things besides your baby.

I believe that the issue of strollers on the TTC would be less of a hot button if all TTC riders just behaved a little better in general. We all have to get where we need to go. Don’t be a jerk, whether you’re commuting to work, daycare, or whatever it is you do with your time.

For other opinions on this issue, you should read these thoughtful blog posts:

 

This is terrible: TTC Bus Shelter Graffiti, January 4, 2012 by MPriceMitchell
This is terrible: TTC Bus Shelter Graffiti, January 4, 2012, a photo by MPriceMitchell on Flickr.

Via Flickr:

I snapped this picture this morning on my way to Warden subway station. In case you can’t read it, the graffiti says “All TTC Workers Suck Ass”.

(For folks who don’t live in Toronto, the TTC is the Toronto Transit Commission. They operate our public transit system.)

This makes me angry for lots of reasons but here are two:

1) All TTC workers *do not* suck ass. Most TTC workers I’ve dealt with are good folks. You get what you give so the Golden Rule is a good rule to live by.

2) It’s demoralizing for both TTC employees and riders. When people are demoralized, they don’t do their best work. This applies to TTC riders just as much as TTC employees.

I hope this gets cleaned up soon.

I snapped this picture this morning on my way to Warden subway station. In case you can’t read it, the graffiti says “All TTC Workers Suck Ass”.

(For folks who don’t live in Toronto, the TTC is the Toronto Transit Commission. They operate our public transit system.)

This makes me angry for lots of reasons but here are two:

1) All TTC workers *do not* suck ass. Most TTC workers I’ve dealt with are good folks. You get what you give so the Golden Rule is a good rule to live by.

2) It’s demoralizing for both TTC employees and riders. When people are demoralized, they don’t do their best work. This applies to TTC riders just as much as TTC employees.

I hope this gets cleaned up soon.

Update: On my way to work this morning (January 5th), I saw that this graffiti was gone. The window looked to be badly scratched up due to the cleaner, which is an unfortunate, but understandable side effect. I hope that doesn’t block people’s view of the buses too much, especially when the weather gets worse.

I attended my first blogging/social media conference last week. I’m finally starting to catch up with the cool kids on the interwebs!

I even lived to tweet about it.

I went to Blissdom Canada 2010 here in Toronto. Billed as “Canada’s first social media conference for women” it came with a lot of hype, and some high expectations. Tickets sold out very quickly so I was extra grateful to get my earlybird tickets. I would have been kicking myself if I had missed such an event taking place in my own city.

The conference ended on Friday so I’ve been processing it for a few days now. I’m struggling with how to put my feelings into words outside of “I had a fabulous time and learned a lot“.

It was great to be able to meet women who care about writing – and writing online – as much as I do. Matching faces to Twitter avatars is always fun – I joked that people would recognize me if I turned my head a certain way. I met and spoke to so many people I hoped to meet. I met and spoke to people I didn’t know of until we met, and now I have tons more blogs and tweets to follow.

Watching the smartphones and laptops going nonstop during the conference was a neat thing to watch. Some people are really great at live-tweeting or live-blogging an event or panel, which is really valuable for those following along at home. I tried to keep that to a minimum because I’m not great at it – I find I tweet one thought and miss the next one. I wanted to be sure I heard everything so I tried to keep my communications to a minimum during panels. It was neat to check my email and discover that my table mates had already started following my Twitter account. An extra bonus is that I’m already finding that I’m having more conversations on Twitter. I hope to keep that up. The fact that so many people are still using the #BlissdomCanada hashtag days after the conference ended says a lot about how much people got out of it.

What I wish that I had done differently

I wish that I had spoken up more! I have a tendency to speak less and listen more when I’m around people or situations I don’t know well. This is not a bad thing but listening to a conversation without contributing more than the bare minimum doesn’t show my best side. Once I warm up a bit, I can usually jump in and out as necessary, but I may end up saying something stupid or awkward. I know everyone does this, but I’d love a few less facepalm moments in my life.

I wish that I had asked more questions at the panels! This is related to my first point. I tend to not ask the questions I want to ask until close to the end or not at all. I want to listen to everyone else and see if they ask – or answer – my questions before I have to ask them. That doesn’t always happen so I need to learn to speak up for myself, whether it’s a question or a point I’d like to make.

I wish that I had a better “elevator pitch”! People would ask me about hellomelissa.net and I would say “I’m a personal blogger”. The next question would be “how long have you been doing this?” and my answer would be “over ten years”. I’m a dinosaur by blogging standards (and to a lesser degree, by Twitter standards, seeing that I started tweeting in 2007), and sometimes it shows. I was a little embarrassed that I depended on my longevity in the medium to try and legitimize myself. (I’ve struggled with this for awhile now as the link to a post from earlier this year mentions.) I struggle with the whole “elevator pitch” thing in real life too though so this is not a new thing for me.

I don’t want to be completely negative on myself so here’s some good stuff.

What I’m glad that I did right (for me)

I’m glad I mingled. I tried to sit with different people for each session. I came alone (and got a smiley face sticker to prove it) so it wasn’t like I had a group of friends I could hang with by default. Since I wasn’t staying in the hotel (hometown advantage! or disadvantage depending on how you look at it), I didn’t have roommates or travel mates. That left me free to sit with and talk to whomever I wanted. I spoke to lots of people – many of whom I may not have gotten to meet if I had sat with the same people all the time. When I went to the panels, I always sat at an empty or near-empty table and welcomed anyone who wanted to sit with me. That’s probably a passive form of networking, but it was networking  nonetheless. If I wanted to go lone wolf and do things on my own, that didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings either.

RockersI’m glad I dressed up for Halloween party. I was having a hard time trying to figure out a costume for the closing party. A frenzied trip to Value Village on the Wednesday before got me the stuff I needed. It wasn’t a fabulous costume, but I made an effort and that’s what really mattered. The fact that I ended up accidentally meshing with a couple of other costumes was a happy accident. Rockers unite!

I’m glad I sang karaoke at the party. I love karaoke, and I don’t get to do it often. I could have taken the easy way out and let everyone else do the singing. I’m fine once I get up there but I spend the time until they call my name super nervous and wishing I had never signed up. Once I’m done, I’m dying to go up again. I’m not the best singer by any means – I follow the “if you can’t sing it well, sing it loud”  school of thought. But getting out of my sometimes shy, take a while to warm up, listening self to get up in front of people and potentially make an ass out of myself is a great way to get out of my comfort zone. That and I have a secret rockstar living inside of me.

In Summary

A+++, will attend again. You should come too.

Apparently, pigeons like to take the TTC here in Toronto:

Typical Torontonians – everyone is trying to play cool and ignore it. But you know all those riders told everyone they knew when they got off the train.

This little guy dared to step on the yellow line while waiting. He does have an unfair advantage though, being able to fly away if someone pushes him.

I was just surprised that I could find three different videos of pigeons on the TTC. I had no idea it was such a common occurrence. Mice on the rails, yes. Birds flying into open subway stations, yes. Birds making it onto the train as if they were paying passengers going to work? Can’t say I knew about that.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by melissa price-mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.