Most girls ask for wine or flowers or a nice dinner on their birthday.
This year, I asked for a bus pass.
I live in one of the most beautiful cities in North America, but I haven't really even been downtown since 2006. Oh, sure, occasionally I've met people for dinner. Or I've had to attend an event.
But mostly, I have spent the past seven years as a shut-in sitting here in my window looking out at St. Laurent Boulevard, making the daily trek to Loblaws and The Liquor Barn or getting in the car to take the hounds to the dog park.
I live six minutes from the Rideau Canal but haven't looked in its murky water in nearly a decade. I am a stone's throw from the Byward Market but I buy produce shipped in from Mexico. I can practically see the Museum of Science -- if even that's what it's called -- but haven't taken my granddaughter there to watch her hair stand on end.
Mostly, I am a shut in because I'm poor. The life of a freelance writer can be exciting and wildly productive but it does not provide much of an income. So mostly, I watch television and canoodle on the Internet. And play with the dogs in the backyard.
The biggest thing I've done for myself is join The Athletic Club which is about a twenty minute walk from my house. Even going there four times a week hasn't made much of a difference to my visceral bellyfat.
That's because I can literally open the fridge from my office chair. The kitchen table is right beside me and I find myself grazing and typing, swivelling occasionally to the coffee pot, and only getting up to take pee breaks. Not exactly ten thousand steps, you know?
So this year, I've decided to change things up a bit.
I'm going to get on a bus every day and go somewhere -- anywhere -- and give myself a little adventure. Maybe I'll go to the beach at Mooney's Bay. Maybe I'll take in a lunch time concert at the National Arts Centre. Maybe I'll rent a bike and tool along the canal.
I might enlist the help of my friend Glen Gower over at OttawaStart.com. Glen's site has hundreds of ideas and is updated every day. (See what I did there, Glen? Product placement!)
My goal is not to find yet another sedentary thing to do. Each adventure will have to involve 10,000 steps of walking. So sometimes I'll get off the bus and walk a couple miles. Or I'll take the bus somewhere and walk home.
I'm also thinking of taking one day a week and volunteering some place.
That's a pretty big step so I might save that for August.
My gift to myself is to get to know my home town again.
Enrich my life instead of letting it pass me by.
Get out and meet people other than the ones I've encountered under bar stools.
It's going to be challenging but I'm going to try to do this each day for the price of a regular cup of Starbuck's coffee.
Tomorrow, I get my bus pass.
Do I choose a monthly pass or a Presto! card?
How much does the bus cost anyway?
What's the cheapest mode? Are there trains running or have they shut down.
So many questions.
I haven't had a bus pass since I was a student in the 70s.
I'm doing this for the month of July.
So come along, if you feel like it.
Get all snuggly with one of those pass-out dudes in the bear hats on Parliament Hill.
Feel the ice cream drip down your virtual arms.
And feel free to send me timely suggestions that might help others get the most out of their own Capital adventure.
Don't worry. This won't be your average tourist blog.
I'm still Rose after all. There will be lots of bad with the good.