Night Moves

I’m writing this for me. If you’re interested in a long read about how I gave birth then by all means, please continue. But if not, that’s cool, because this post isn’t meant for anyone else anyways.

By week 38, my pregnancy was progressing along exactly as expected. So I was quite surprised when I had a weekly checkup on Friday with my OB-GYN and she told me that my cervix was already 4cm dilated. I hadn’t felt a single contraction or slight discomfort up to that point and I was expecting every cm of dilation to be part of the overall going into labour process. My OB-GYN said some people just have favourable cervixes that soften and open up fairly easily. She did a “stretch and sweep” to see if she could continue to encourage my cervix along. I left that appointment 4cm dilated already a little freaked out. The doctor told me that if I wanted to, I could go to the hospital right that moment to be induced, because based on the conditions of my cervix they would keep me there.

D had to wait in the car for me because of current COVID policies at the doctor’s office, so when I got in and told him the status he was pretty freaked out too. We were both feeling like this baby was just going to pop out at any minute!

We decided to go home. We both were expecting to do two more full weeks of work and I didn’t want to try and force the whole process. It’d be better if everything just progressed naturally. We went home and everything was fine, I felt the same as before. No contractions, no discomfort.

I woke up that Saturday morning around 2am feeling some cramping in my stomach. I rode it out for about 15 minutes until it passed, but I shook D awake to alert him that maybe this was it. We were both super wired and not sure what to do with ourselves. The cramping sensation went away and didn’t come back, so we figured it was okay to go back to bed, but neither of us could sleep.

We woke up around 8am and D immediately went into prep mode. He got out and did a bunch of grocery shopping and some errands to try and wrap up last minute things in case I did go into active labour. That whole weekend came and went, us on edge the whole time, but without anything eventful happening.

I went back to my OB-GYN for my 39 week checkup just a few days shy of 39 weeks. She checked my cervix again and confirmed I was 5cm dilated and 70% effaced. She did another stretch and sweep to see if that would kickstart active labour for me and we went home. We finished up the work week again and figured we’d hopefully make it to the 40 week mark without issue. If we made it to 40 weeks, we’d go to the hospital and get induced. I kept waiting for this magical mucus plug everyone talks about to come out, but I never saw it. I did start having some watery-like discharge and thought that was a bit weird, but didn’t think too much of it.

On Saturday May 23rd, D and I went for a walk after lunch because it was such a nice sunny day. As we were nearing the end of our walk I felt this sudden little gush of fluid that I couldn’t control and assumed I’d just pissed myself in the street. When we got home, I noticed again that it was a very watery substance and didn’t seem like pee at all. That was when it clicked that I was probably leaking amniotic fluid. I texted our doula for her advice and she told me I should call the Labour & Delivery line at the hospital to see what they thought. Knowing the state of my cervix, our doula felt that I might have a very fast labour once it did start actively so wanted us to be on the safe side and get to the hospital earlier than planned. D was outside and had started cutting the grass. I called the Labour & Delivery line and they said I should definitely come in.

I started rounding up our bags and packing a few last minute things we needed. D came inside for a quick glass of water, thinking he could get started on the backyard next, but I told him to get his shit together because we’re going to the hospital today and we won’t be leaving without a baby.

We got the car loaded up and drove to the hospital, we were there at 3pm. I had to go in first to be assessed and they told me if I was admitted then I could text D to come in. Another quick check of my cervix and the doctor recommended that we start the induction process. They advised that I was slowly leaking amniotic fluid and likely had a small tear high up on the amniotic sac. I was taken to a birthing room and made a quick call to D around 3:30pm to tell him he could come on in.

The nurses got me into a gown, hooked me up to their machines for monitoring, and started a low dose of oxytocin around 4:30pm to jumpstart some contractions. The doctor also broke my water. I setup my bluetooth speaker and got my carefully curated labouring playlist rocking so we’d have awesome music to help me stay relaxed. When the nurse came back to check on me around 5:30pm she confirmed that we were now 6cm dilated and 95% effaced, and I still had yet to feel a single thing! Except for the occasional gush of amniotic fluid spilling out from my broken water. We joked around that maybe I was one of those lucky “silent labourers” and that this could be a really easy process for me.

That unfortunately, was not the case. Around 6:30pm actual contractions started and I was definitely feeling them! They came on hard and fast with a BANG. My contractions were lasting one minute but with only one minute of rest before the next one would start. One on top of the other, boom boom boom, the contractions were relentless. I was managing the pain by staying on my feet swaying along to my music with some hand holding and encouragement from D, but it was getting pretty tough.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about epidurals overall. I was game for trying to labour without one, but also totally open to the possibility of having one as well if I felt it was needed. I asked the nurse what my point of no return for getting an epidural was and she told me it was at 10cm, fully dilated. With that in mind, I kept labouring and trying to manage the pain as much as I could. The next time the nurse came to check me I was 8.5cm dilated and well on my way to 9cm. To be on the safe side, I decided to ask for the epidural. We were so close to 10cm and the pain was only getting more intense, it didn’t ever seem like it would ebb. The nurse told me that the anesthesiologist was on the floor and already lined up for four other epidurals so I’d have to wait another 30-40 minutes. I just had to hope my overly ambitious cervix wouldn’t go on to 10cm before the epidural could be administered.

Thankfully, when the anesthesiologist got to me I was holding strong at 9cm. They had me sit upright on the hospital bed with my legs over one side. D stood in front of me and needed to keep me still and calm while the doctor did his thing. D said this part was the most stressful for him. Watching a doctor probe my spine while I was suffering absolutely brutal contractions and being told to stay perfectly still or else. The doctor kept feeling around and asking where I felt things and then all of a sudden I cried out in pain because of an immediately stabbing sensation in my left hip. I told him what I felt and he said “okay that’s not the spot then” and kept feeling around. He found the right spot after that and got the epidural going.

Once I could move again the nurse had me lay down and try to relax while the drugs kicked in. That was a very chill hour. I just shut my eyes, felt the pins and needles sensation in my feet slowly spread into numbness all through my legs, and listened to my tunes. I remember looking at the clock and it was about 11pm. We started to wonder now that it was getting close to midnight if this was going to be a May 23rd or May 24th baby. The nurse said some women on the floor only pushed for 10-15 minutes and was encouraging me that I could probably be a quick pusher too. We’d just wait a bit for me to tell them when I felt any sort of pushing sensation.

Nope! Oh man, so much nope on that. The epidural worked too well I guess because I never once felt any kind of pushing sensation down below. I did feel a band of tightness every once in a while under my ribcage. When I mentioned that to the nurse she said those were my contractions now. Holy shit!

The nurse told us how it was going to go down: when I felt that tightness under my ribcage she’d lift and hold one of my legs and D would do the same with the other. I’d take a deep breath then start pushing while D slowly counted to 10. I’d do this three times in a row then take a break before the next contraction started.

D was super calm. Very quiet and serious. Exactly what I expect from him. When shit hits the fan he clamps down hard on any sort of emotion and shoves it out of the way so he can deal with the immediate issues. He was supportive too, but in his own collected way. I felt very calm as well. I was determined to just roll with whatever happened during labour and be cool, man. I did not turn into that stereotypical angry and cursing woman everyone insisted I would become. I never once screamed at D not to touch me or to go away or hate on him for “doing this to me”. That’s fine if it’s what works for other women, but for me I don’t think that’s productive at all. We both wanted this baby, I just drew the short biological straw and had to be the one to offer up my crotch as sacrifice.

Pushing lasted almost 3 hours. Around 2.5 hours it was obvious that all the pushing in the world couldn’t make this baby come out and the nurse called in the doctor. Baby was super low into the birth canal and conditions were all optimal for pushing him out, but for some reason he was really wedged in there. The doctor advised that a vacuum assisted delivery was necessary and we agreed.

Here’s a crazy detail: there was a big overhead light right above my hospital bed and the clear plastic cover over it was highly reflective. When I looked up at that light it was basically a mirror and I could see everything happening to myself on the table. I watched them bring out the vacuum and start fitting it into my vagina. When everything was setup the nurse advised we’d start the pushing process again. I bore down on every part of my body I could still feel and pushed as hard as I fucking could. I looked up at the light that was basically a mirror and started to see a dark round shape emerging from my body. Surreal. It looked so tiny and in my mind this whole time I had a bowling ball inside of me that we were trying to get out instead of a tiny little human.

With one sudden whoosh the baby’s head was out and the rest of the body followed so smoothly. I couldn’t believe the baby was out, I was speechless. D had to tell me three times that it was a boy before I even registered it. The one thing that stood out most for me is that of all the songs on my well crafted playlist, Night Moves by Bob Seger is what was playing when he finally arrived. And now when I hear that song about horny teenagers trying to get laid I cry because I think about my baby boy. Awesome. Although, I guess it is kind of cool because I did have a “black-haired beauty with big dark eyes” so it works in it’s own ridiculous way.

On May 24th at 2:52am our baby boy Elwood Broderick Brown was born.

They took him away to do some quick tests and measurements while I delivered the afterbirth. I wound up with a second degree tear and an episiotomy, fun!

When they put him in my arms for the first time the playlist was rocking Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin. Super cool.

I hugged him and cried.

We stayed in the birthing room for a while longer so they could continue to monitor Elwood. Since they had to use a vacuum on his head during delivery they wanted to make sure there wasn’t any unusual swelling or bruising. I got to give him his first bottle and we had lots of snuggles.

Around 6:30am D took a minute to get changed out of his clothes from the day before and brush his teeth. The nursing team cleared out of the room to let the three of us be alone. When D came out of the restroom it was just me and Woody. In that moment, without a million random people in and out of the room, D was hit by all the waves of emotion he’d been clamping down on all night long. We hugged each other and cried together, in complete awe that the little human we made, who we’d been dying to meet, was here now.

And now here we are, two new parents born, a mom and dad with a little baby boy. Working on an entirely new set of Night Moves. Working on mysteries without any clues.

Workin’ and practicin’,

Workin’ and practicin’ all of the night moves

Bumpdates!

I am 37 weeks pregnant right now. And I am freaking out, man!

40 weeks sounds like such a long time but it goes by in a flash. Everyone told me the last few weeks will feel like they go on forever and that I’ll be dying to get the baby out, but right now I can’t picture myself feeling that way at all. Even under normal societal circumstances I know there’s a lot to process mentally and so much preparation that goes into this momentous life change. But I think expecting my first baby in the midst of a global pandemic has affected my perspective in ways that simply aren’t comparable to everyone else’s non-pandemic pregnancies. At this point I’d prefer if I could just hit a giant pause button and keep the baby in as long as I want until I decide the world is safe again.

I never expected the world would be so difficult to navigate, ravaged by a pandemic, right as we prepare to welcome our baby into it. It’s fucking nuts. Somedays I can accept it, other days I can’t even believe this is really happening. The first two trimesters my pregnancy was lovely, just the usual thoughts and worries about how a baby will change our lives that everyone has. The last stretch though has been marred by this weird new COVID world we’re all living in.

There are so many things I want to remember about these last 37 weeks, this first full-term pregnancy of ours. I’m writing them down so I can reflect back on this journey later.

Things I Like About Being Pregnant

  • My hair has never looked better. For real, I’m having the best hair days of my life! I can go days without washing my hair and it looks incredible
  • I can wear whatever I want and just let my gut be free
  • Crazy weird dreams
  • All of my weight gain has gone directly to my belly and I haven’t had any swelling of my hands, feet, or face. Very thankful for that!
  • Weird hormonal laughing fits. This has happened to me at least six times, something is just so funny that I laugh until I cry and am completely breathless and can’t stop. D has found this part very entertaining
  • Super cute maternity clothes!
  • Feeling the baby move around inside me and sharing that with D
  • Taking pictures of my bump as the weeks go by and comparing how far along we’re getting

    12 weeks – nobody knew yet!

Things I Dislike About Being Pregnant

  • Frigging heartburn ALL THE TIME. Doesn’t even matter what I eat, the burn is constant
  • SO tired in the first trimester! All of a sudden all of my energy was drained. I felt like Brian Wilson lying in bed with zero will to live during the first 3 months
  • Having to sleep on my side; I can’t wait to be a starfish tummy sleeper again
  • Lower back aches, you can fuck right off any time
  • Leaky boobs – like why? There’s no baby yet!
  • Food restrictions – I am DYING for a huge salami sandwich. I need cured meats back in my life. And rare steak.
  • People trying to make you focus on the negatives and saying stupid clichéd shit like “get used to never sleeping again haha”. You’re not funny. Or helpful. Why don’t people say positive things instead?
  • Clipping my toenails and shaving my legs are now deeply uncomfortable and practically impossible activities

    17 weeks – at IL Fornello eating ALL the pasta and free bread!

Pros to Pandemic Pregnancy

  • I’m eating better than ever before because we make all of our meals at home with fresh groceries
  • Social distancing and staying home means I don’t have a bunch of randos out in public trying to touch my belly or giving me unsolicited advice (apparently that is something that happens during non-pandemic pregnancies that people said would happen)
  • D has been working from home for my entire third trimester and isn’t stressed about being downtown in the middle of work or client meetings if I suddenly go into labour
  • We won’t be swarmed by visitors in our first week home when we’re beyond exhausted and can actually settle into our new life with baby
  • We’ll hopefully be discharged from the hospital sooner, provided everything is okay

    23 weeks – jumping on the bed in our hotel with baby!

Cons to Pandemic Pregnancy

  • I want Wendy’s!!! I would love some chicken nuggets, a burger, and a frosty right now. RIGHT NOW. Sadly, it’s just not worth the risk
  • Worrying about hospital policies and protocols that could have D missing out on time with our new baby
  • Not being able to have a proper baby shower with actual guests in person
  • Not being able to show my belly off to family, friends, and coworkers in person
  • Nowhere to wear all my super cute maternity clothes
  • The doula we hired probably won’t be able to come to the hospital with us
  • Having no idea if or when it’ll be safe for family to even meet the new baby, and not being able to trust if people who do want to meet the baby have been properly quarantining
  • Not being able to run out and easily get last minute supplies if needed
  • Every trip to the OB’s office or for an ultrasound feels like a death-defying feat
  • People telling me “everything will be fine” when they have no fucking clue how it feels to be pregnant in a pandemic and they got to have totally normal pregnancy experiences – just don’t. If you want to be comforting or make me feel better then send me some donuts and tell me my hair is amazing because that will work, every time.

    25 weeks – Valentine’s Day!

All the Cravings I Had:

  • Wendy’s doublestack! That was the first official thing I craved hard, that was about 1 month in
  • In the early days I needed all kinds of fried chicken (nuggets, tenders, strips, wings, burgers, etc.)
  • Sandwich: turkey on rye with harvati and tons of yellow mustard that I ate for lunch every day for two weeks straight
  • Unquenchable need for orange juice. I was drinking it by the gallon!
  • Shitty frozen pizzas – I would make one for lunch every day for almost 3 weeks straight. And before that I hadn’t bought a frozen pizza since my university days ended. You guys know how much I love delicious pizza, so it was weird to crave crappy frozen ones so ferociously.
  • Sausage McMuffin if I was up before 7:00am – mostly so I could get more orange juice when the house was all out
  • Cake! I pestered D about needing professional grade cake for a few weeks and then one day he showed up with a slice from the Cake Boss vending machine that opened downtown in the fall
  • Barq’s Root beer, it’s got bite! Also, Barq’s Cream Soda – thank you Jesus for inventing that!
  • Clementines, especially eating them at night in bed

30 weeks – funky little chili pepper on board!

Special Moments I Want to Remember

  • Hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time at the doctor’s office and happy crying because I was finally able to let go of the worry that I might miscarry again
  • Using TheBump app to track my pregnancy and getting excited for the new fruit/veggie that the baby would be “as big as” each week
  • I passed my G2 road test while I was 10 weeks pregnant and was fully ready to cry and blame it on hormones if I failed
  • Finally getting to share the news with everyone, what a relief!
  • Singing in the car to all my favourite songs while I drove to work on Mondays and feeling baby bop along with me. Baby already loves Billy Joel and Van Morrison
  • D eagerly waiting for the moment he’d finally be able to feel the baby move, and him hoping it would happen on our anniversary at the end of January
  • Our “babymoon”/anniversary road trip to Montreal. We stayed in a fancy ass hotel with a huge ass bathtub. I had two baths a day every day and it was glorious. I also found a Ben & Jerry’s store a few blocks from the hotel – game changer!
  • D actually getting to feel the baby move for the first time. It was the very end of Valentine’s Day, around 11:50pm. D was asleep and I was watching TV in bed when I felt movements bigger than any before. I shook him awake and when he touched my belly he finally felt it too
  • Celebrating my birthday Sixteen Candles style by baking my own ’80’s frosted cake and sitting on the dining room table with it and baby, in a bridesmaids dress no less!
  • Nesting and building a beautiful nursery for the baby that makes me so happy every time I go into it
  • Having a drive-by style baby shower due to social distancing and it still being a special day because we have so many lovely people in our life who support us and care about the baby

    34 weeks – baby gets spoiled by loved ones from a distance!

My Hopes for Baby

  • You will be perfectly healthy and you’ll get here safely, when you’re ready and not a moment sooner
  • You will be loved – even if you can’t meet your immediate family right away because we have to keep you safe, you will not be forgotten and you will still be loved from afar
  • Harvey will accept you and be loving instead of jealous (please!)
  • You’re going to be a good sleeper and eater
  • You will be a wonderful new addition to this family and you’ll fit right in with us – you’ll have a huge appetite for life and give zero fucks about what anyone thinks (like me) but you’ll also be grounded and reliable (like your dad). And you’ll have all sorts of your own unique charms that delight us every day
  • Someday you’ll feel thankful that we’re your parents and lucky that you were born into our family

It’s been an interesting journey. We still have no idea what we’re having. I think the whole idea of a gender reveal is so tacky (to each their own, but it’s not for me). I always thought I’d want to find out the gender before the birth, but now I prefer the excitement created by not knowing. As we get closer though I can’t help but wonder about who I’ve got rolling around inside me. What kind of person did we make? What will the baby look like? I feel like I have some intuition about what kind of person this baby will be just based on how they behaved at various ultrasounds, how they’ve moved around inside me, and some dreams I’ve had about them. But there’s really no way of knowing until whoever it is decides to come out and meet us.

37 weeks – the homestretch!

I don’t think I’m freaking out any more now, man. I think I’m back to just feeling excited again. I’m 37 weeks pregnant and I’m going to meet my baby soon.

Books I Read: 2019

The reading adventures continue!

Although, there were fewer adventures this year. I did not cover nearly as much ground as I did in 2018. This past year I read a modest 24 books in total. I had every intention of keeping up the pace of the year prior, but I think I may have been feeling a bit burnt out. I intended to focus my 2019 on reading all of Paste Magazine’s 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time. I’d already read a few of the books from this list in the past, basically all of the Stephen King and Joe Hill stuff, and I read another 15 from this list at the end of 2018 as well. I think going into 2019 I had about 25 books on this list still to tackle. And some of them I just felt like I probably wouldn’t read because they were harder to find through the library and online. Some of them just by cursory review of the subject matter alone I felt might be better left unread, you know, for personal preference and psychological preservation.

I sort of meandered this year, and only wound up reading 7 of the books from the horror list. When I found out I was pregnant the first time, back in the spring, I obviously lost steam because I started reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting and spent more of my time researching all kinds of pregnancy shit. So, to be fair, that was a pretty reasonable disconnect from the goal. Then there was a whole flurry of activity around selling our place and moving, so I simply did not have the time to dedicate to reading. There was a brief lull in the summer between the condo sale and the move in June and July when I got to indulge a bit more. At that point I didn’t want to be bound by a required list and instead preferred to read whatever caught my eye at the library.

Anyways, here it is. Here’s the list of all 24 books I read in 2019:

  1. Vox — Christina Dalcher (January 6th)
  2. Ring — Koji Suzuki (January 13th)
  3. Night Things — Michael Talbot (February 13th)
  4. A Head Full of Ghosts — Paul Tremblay (February 19th)
  5. At the Mountains of Madness — H.P. Lovecraft (February 24th)
  6. Educated — Tara Westover (February 27th)
  7. Sleeping Beauties — Stephen King & Owen King (March 17th)
  8. An Object of Beauty — Steve Martin (March 24th)
  9. Food: A Love Story — Jim Gaffigan (March 26th)
  10. Dad is Fat — Jim Gaffigan (March 30th)
  11. Revival — Stephen King (April 8th)
  12. Supermarket — Bobby Hall (June 7th)
  13. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock — Paul Tremblay (June 14th)
  14. The Sisters Brothers — Patrick deWitt (June 20th)
  15. Let the Right One In — John Ajvide Lindqvist
  16. Final Girls — Riley Sager (July 5th)
  17. Alice Isn’t Dead — Joseph Fink (July 9th)
  18. Tell the Machine Goodnight — Katie Williams (July 24th)
  19. The Hiding Place — C.J. Tudor (July 31st)
  20. Rabbit Cake — Annie Hartnett (August 5th)
  21. Where the Crawdads Sing — Delia Owens (August 28th)
  22. The Outsider — Stephen King (September 10th)
  23. Little Star — John Ajvide Lindqvist (September 26th)
  24. The Exorcist — William Peter Blatty (October 4th)

I’m still very much obsessed with fiction, reading anything with the slightest hint of action, adventure, and intrigue. I’ve never been one for non-fiction. I get enough real life in my real life. When I read I want to be transported somewhere I’ve never been, live vicariously through someone else’s exploits. I want things to be outrageous and zany, intense and thrilling! I need strong, complex characters overcoming challenges and triumphing over evil. I think I got a fair amount of that this year. But I did have a few uncharacteristic real life detours, with the Tara Westover memoir and the two Jim Gaffigan books.

I enjoyed everything I read this year too, there weren’t any major disappointments. The Bobby Hall novel Supermarket was bizarre, but I liked it. The Steve Martin book, An Object of Beauty was alright. I don’t think I’d recommend it, but I didn’t hate it. If you’re wondering, yes it was written by that Steve Martin, the one we all know and love from SNL, Father of the Bride, and other comedy favourites. Vox was fantastic, it was hard to put down. Night Things was a read from the horror list that I actually liked way more than I thought I would. It had horribly cheesy cover art that wasn’t encouraging, but it wound up being a fun read. Reminded me of those quirky books I was always drawn to in the 6th grade like “My Teacher’s an Alien!” because they featured such outlandish cover art.

Stephen King naturally makes a few appearances as well. It wouldn’t be a reading list without him. The Outsider was awesome, I liked it a lot. Looking forward to watching the series when it starts airing. I think Jason Bateman is a great casting choice for this story.

My reading came to another long pause towards the end of the year. I started reading a book called Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky which started strong and then just couldn’t hold my interest. I finally picked it up again with the intention of seriously finishing it at the end of December, but that one has slipped on through to the 2020 list.

Of this list, here are my Top 5 Picks for Best Reads of the Year:

    1. Rabbit Cake — Annie Hartnett
      This book caught my eye because it was bright yellow and had an illustration of a cute rabbit on the cover. I immediately sensed that it was going to be unique and quirky. It did not disappoint. The main character is a little girl named Elvis who is very matter-of-fact and scientific in her approach to processing all of the grief and fallout in her family after her mother dies. It showed how people grieve differently, but through a hilarious lens. I needed this book. It was exactly what I needed to read after my miscarriage. Every word went right into my soul and I was so grateful it called out to me from that dusty library shelf. You can judge a book by the cover!
    2. Educated — Tara Westover
      I mentioned I don’t often read non-fiction, right? This book was actually gifted to me by a co-worker in a Secret Santa exchange. It’s not something I would have chosen for myself, but I am so glad I read it. It blew me away! This is a truly amazing story of a real life person who overcame insurmountable odds to get a formal education, something most people take for granted. School is just something we’re all accustomed to as a part of life from a very young age and I don’t know if many of us would have the same wherewithal to pursue an education if it wasn’t something we were forced to do. Tara Westover is an impressive and inspiring person and I’m so thankful she shared her story with the world.
    3. The Sisters Brothers — Patrick deWitt
      All the laughs! I loved this book so much because it was witty and wry. Much like Inherent Vice, there were multiple times I laughed out loud while reading. A good old fashioned cowboy romp with humour. Great characters, great story. The brothers were so real to me, I felt like I was on the trek with them. I could practically smell the cracked leather, dusty trails, and stinky boots as I read. Maybe that was just me though, who knows? I loved this book from the very first sentence through to the last.
    4. Tell The Machine Goodnight — Katie Williams
      Imagine someone ran a simple diagnostic test on you that resulted in clear directives you could follow to be happy. They could be easy enough to do, like go to yoga. Or they could be utterly absurd, like cut off your pinky finger. Would you do it? What wouldn’t you do to be happy? The premise was really intriguing and I enjoyed reading this story. It did feel like it could have unfolded in a more satisfying way, but overall the characters kept me interested.
    5. Alice Isn’t Dead — Joseph Fink
      Right from the start this book wasn’t fucking around. You’re thrust into a bizarre scenario in the first chapter and it just keeps getting weirder and wilder as you read. You feel compelled to uncover the conspiracy alongside Keisha. This book is actually the novelization of a podcast. I think that’s what made it so interesting. You’re reading a book, yes, but it reads differently. There are moments of fast-paced action, but also long stretches of inner turmoil while Keisha is on the road that make you feel like you’re on the same endless road trip. I still don’t even know if I fully understand how everything connected in the end, but it was an entertaining ride no doubt.

Even though my output wasn’t as prolific as last year, I’m amazed I managed this many reads at all, given what an absolutely insane year it’s been. As appealing as it can be to escape reality, sometimes you just have to face it head on instead. I might seek out adventures and epic struggles in my reading, but I realize that my life isn’t entirely devoid of its own adventures and epic struggles. It might not be to quite the same extent, but there are challenges to rise to, little evils to overcome, zany pals to provide amusement and support along the way. I have all the makings of a great story right here in front of me. Wherever my story may take me, I’m ready for it. Armed first and foremost with a good book to help me get by.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Turn and face the strange…

We’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of major life changes this year. I look at my life back when 2019 started and don’t even recognize it anymore. We went to a New Year’s Eve bash with friends and had the best time. I burst through the front door of my beautiful condo in the city, with loud post-party rambunctious energy at 4am feeling on top of the world. You know that feeling when the new year is only 4 hours old and stretches ahead with endless possibility? That’s how I felt. I was happy and appreciative for all of the good things in my life: a wonderful marriage, fabulous career, lovely friends and family, and my special little kitten prince to dote on. I loved everything I worked so hard to make happen for myself with boundless ferocity. I knew that this was exactly what I wanted. I was where I wanted to be and everything was perfect. If I could freeze that day in time and live it in perpetuity, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, that’d be just dandy.

But life doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to freeze it in one spot. You have to keep moving, keep growing and aging and changing as time passes alongside you. So we took a trip.

We went to Chicago at the end of January to celebrate our anniversary. Yes, that’s right. Chicago. The windy city. The windiest city some might say. The coldest, windiest city possible in the middle of winter.

It was so much fun! We explored the city Ferris Bueller style, with carefree abandon and precocious ardour. I’ve always felt that my relationship with D has a very Ferris and Cameron dynamic, so it was the perfect trip for us. The Ferris in me always pushing the Cameron in D to forget about responsibility and just have fun. To go on zany offbeat capers and see where they take us. To consume as many memorable life experiences as possible, sampling everything at the buffet. The Cameron in D fussing and worrying, reminding me to think things through first and plan ahead.

I said “Chicago!”

He said “I’ll take care of it.”

And he did. Booked our flights, found the hotel, did the paperwork, found someone to watch Harv while we were away. I plotted our caper. Teamwork!

We had lots of time together on that trip to talk and plan and think about where our life together was heading. But in the spirit of Ferris Buellering, it was only light, tentative conversation.

A couple months later, in March, we went to dinner. We went to one of my favourite Toronto spots, the Lakeview. There we had a more serious conversation. There we decided next steps. There we decided to start a new journey.

A few weeks later in April, I was pregnant. I told D on April Fools’ Day and I wasn’t fooling. We were so excited, but also in disbelief too. That took hardly any effort at all. I told D that from what I’ve heard it can be a bit of a grind and might not happen right away. But he felt differently. For the first time ever he wasn’t overly concerned with planning and worry because he felt absolutely certain we’d have no trouble at all. It seemed the universe agreed with him because all of a sudden we were expecting.

So now I panic.

We need a bigger place! We can’t have a baby in a one bedroom condo, there’s no space!

We call our realtor, talk about what we’re going to do. Should we list our place? Should we move out of the city? The weight of this decision bearing down heavily on my heart. I love my city, I love my home, I don’t want to leave. But, we need to and ultimately I understand that it’s the best thing for our growing family.

So we get the ball rolling when I’m a bit farther along, to be safe. We make plans to have the condo staged at the end of May and listed at the very start of June.

The day we’re all scheduled to stage the condo, literally five minutes before the stagers are scheduled to show up, I start bleeding. Upset I call a cab to get to the ER. D can’t come with me, the stagers will be here any minute. He kisses me on my way out the door and tells me not to worry, it’ll be okay.

I’m at the ER for 7 hours. Multiple ultrasounds and tests. Crying and worrying and waiting all alone, silently begging my little baby to hang on, stay with me.  I see baby moving on the monitor, I feel a bit better, but still upset. I leave the hospital with a live pregnancy.

I come home to a completely unrecognizable home. All of our furniture gone. New trendy staging furniture in it’s place. I’m not sure where to go or what to do. It doesn’t feel like my home. I break down and cry to D and he comforts me. He orders pizza, that’s the right thing to do any time. Pizza is home. We go to bed physically exhausted, emotionally drained.

1:30am. I wake up in excruciating pain. I’m bleeding again and I know that this is it. This is the inevitable miscarriage, I’m losing my baby. 12 weeks in already, baby the size of a plum according to an app I’d been using. So close to the second trimester. So close to telling our family and friends…

Devastated doesn’t even begin to express what I felt.

And there isn’t even time to really think about it at all. The condo is listed and we have 65 viewings over the next 6 days. We’re constantly getting new requests for viewings, having to get out of the unit, get Harv out of the unit. One day we had 13 straight hours of viewings in a row. There was no time to think, let alone grieve.

Then on Monday night we’re taking offers. I’m freaking the fuck out. I can’t believe we’re selling our place, the beautiful condo I’ve loved living in, my home. And for what? No baby, not any more. What if I can’t have a baby? What if we’re selling this place for no reason? Toronto will always be a valuable market. Let’s pull the plug, accept nothing, stay here forever just us and Harv. We don’t have to move, we don’t have to leave. It can just be us and the city and we’ll be happy, we can be happy. D is upset, we’ve gone to all this trouble. It’ll be okay if he can just calm me down and get this process dealt with. He talks me off the ledge temporarily, we accept an offer. We’ve sold it, we’re moving, the ink is dry.

I’m supposed to be excited about this, but I’m not. I just feel panicked because now we’re homeless. Now we need to find a new place to live IMMEDIATELY because I’m freaking the fuck out again. People say stupid, unhelpful things like “you can just rent a place if you don’t find something else before closing.” NO. That is unacceptable. I will not let my entire life slide into house hunting limbo for who knows how long.

We forge ahead and start looking. I’m very aggressively looking at every new listing our realtor sends. D has to go away for work for a week, that’s precious house hunting time lost and I cannot have that. I spend the week that he’s away being sad by myself but also looking for houses. I get on a train out of the city and go to some open houses on my own. I find something interesting that hasn’t been in our listings.

A free-hold townhouse. We’ve been looking at detached homes, but this could work. I call D that night and tell him I think I found something special. There are actually two townhouses side by side for sale on the same court. We setup an appointment to go see both together with the realtor when he’s back in the city. D doesn’t like the idea of a townhouse, he’s not into it. We go into the first one, the one I already saw and D’s interest is piqued. He admits this is a special place. It’s not perfect, but he can see why I liked it enough to come back. We go next door to see the other one, the one I haven’t seen in person yet. The moment we walk through the door, D’s opinion has changed. He’s seeing through new eyes. He’s seeing something special. Character. Charm. Our home.

We make and offer, a little back and forth negotiation and the deal is done. We bought a house!

The two months before our closing date on the condo, our big move stretches out endlessly before me. These are my last months to enjoy living in Toronto. But I don’t enjoy it. All of the grief and sadness I’ve been putting off dealing with come crashing back down around me. I’m recovering from the miscarriage, letting my body reset, but I’m dying on the inside every single day and putting on a brave face to the outside world. Smiling when I see my friends. Telling them I’m excited about the sale and the move. Acting like I haven’t lost the most important thing I ever had. Acting like idiotic comments from clueless family members about how our niece who arrived earlier this year needs a cousin don’t stab me right in the soul. Suffering internally, but forcing myself to keep shining externally.

I didn’t even try to have a last hurrah in the city before we moved. I just buried myself in prep for the move and kept pushing ahead. We moved, that’s that, no looking back.

And for the first little while that was fine, there was lots to do at the new house, lots to get done. We spent some time figuring out life in the ‘burbs and adjusted.

D didn’t feel the loss the same way I did. He was upset too, but not nearly to the same extent. He didn’t get to see the tiny budding life on the hospital monitor that I did. He didn’t see the heart still beating and feel an impossible surge of hope. A part of his body, of his very being wasn’t suddenly ripped away too soon. He was very supportive though and comforted me as much as he could. He stayed optimistic, he knew loss was part of the process and he wanted to try again. I didn’t know if I could, I didn’t know if I was ready. But I knew it would be okay if we didn’t force it; if we just did that thing people do when the mood is right and let biology decide.

A warm sunny day in September there was a curious feeling in the back of my brain. I went and got the pregnancy test I had stowed away. I didn’t even have to look, I just knew. It was the same feeling as the first time, it would be a positive result.

I was happy, but I didn’t let myself get too happy. Now I knew how easily this could all be taken away and how much it would hurt if it was. As the weeks moved forward without any issues I started to accept it. This one was happening, this one would make it. The closer we got to the second trimester, the more I believed. Finally we got to the point where we could tell people and everyone is so happy for us. My belly gets bigger every day, my appetite gets bigger every day, and my love gets bigger every day too.

It’s been a hell of a year. Looking back to January 2019, I was having the time of my life. Eating deep dish pizza in Chicago, feeling like that was the absolute best life would ever be. I had no idea it would be one of the most challenging and transformative years of my life to date.

Other noteworthy changes:

  1. I did Invisalign this year and am now rocking a wonderful new smile
  2. Hosted a baby shower for the first time ever for my sister – we had a crazy amount of food!
  3. Our beautiful niece Vanessa arrived in March making D and I Aunt and Uncle for the first time
  4. We bought a new car! We call him Lou, he’s super cool
  5. My mom’s dog B passed away in the summer, it’s still sad when we visit and she’s not there to greet us
  6. I took driving lessons, passed my G2 road test and now I’m driving the new car by myself – I’m an excellent driver btw
  7. I DIY’d a bunch of shit like a boss. Repainted some furniture and our fireplace too
  8. BFFs Hoben and Shan got married and we were both in the wedding party. Handcrafted many fine dick decorations for the bachelorette, my finest work to date some have even said
  9. Saw Modest Mouse and The Black Keys in the fall (it was baby’s first concert too!)
  10. Hosted our first ever family Thanksgiving dinner at the new house, D cooked the turkey perfectly

We’ve had a lot going on, and I think that’s okay. I don’t expect 2020 will be any less eventful with a new baby on the way. It’ll be another year of huge life changes, but I’m ready for it.

Turn and face the strange.

Books I Read: 2018

I decided to continue this habit I started in 2017 of keeping a record of all the books I read throughout the year. And for 2018 I decided to up the ante, considerably. I saw this article promoted on LinkedIn about how most CEOs read 50 books a year that piqued my interest. Did you know that Bill Gates reads anywhere from 50-60 books a year? Damn, son! That’s some impressive numbers. Afterwards I thought to myself that I’m a bad boss bitch myself, there’s no reason I can’t go toe-to-toe with ol’ Gatesy on this. I love to read! And I’ve heard that the more you read the better you write. (That’s some wisdom from Stephen King, who also reportedly reads anywhere from 50-70 books a year!)

The math on this checks out. There are 52 weeks in a year, so 50 books is an attainable goal. Those extra 2 weeks would give me the same supportive comfort I’ve come to expect from the finest pair Costco stretch pants money can buy. I decided that 2018 would be the year I read a minimum of 50 books.

And you know what? I fucking did it! I did it so hard. I read a whopping 63 books in 2018. And I loved every minute of it. In 2017 I only read 18 books, which I feel is a totally respectable number as well. I was questing for the Dark Tower during the last half of the year and truly savouring those stories.

But knowing that I was able to triple my reading made me feel good too. I read so many books I needed 3 pages in my notebook to list them! I also have this darling 12-pack of multi-coloured fine point pens that I used to spruce up my list. Because, yay pretty! I also started recording the date that I finished the book, which I hadn’t done the year prior. It allowed me to better track my trajectory.

Check it out dudes, here’s my reading list!

Here’s the complete and comprehensive list of all the books I read in 2018 so you don’t have to squint read it from the photos:

  1. The Fireman — Joe Hill (January 6th)
  2. Fahrenheit 451 — Ray Bradbury (January 10th)
  3. The Bat — Jo Nesbo (January 17th)
  4. Heart-Shaped Box — Joe Hill (January 23rd)
  5. Oryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood (January 30th)
  6. The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood (February 12th)
  7. MaddAddam — Margaret Atwood (February 17th)
  8. Love is a Mixed Tape — Rob Sheffield (February 18th)
  9. The Chalk Man — C.J. Tudor (February 19th)
  10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — Ken Kesey (February 26th)
  11. Lord of the Flies — William Golding (March 2nd)
  12. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children — Ransom Riggs (March 13th)
  13. The Damned — Andrew Pyper (March 16th)
  14. The Man in the High Castle — Philip K. Dick (March 29th)
  15. The Rosie Project — Graeme Simsion (April 4th)
  16. The Killing Circle — Andrew Pyper (April 10th)
  17. Marathon Man — William Goldman (April 15th)
  18. Sharp Objects — Gillian Flynn (April 22nd)
  19. The Westing Game — Ellen Raskin (April 24th)
  20. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer (May 13th)
  21. The Couple Next Door — Shari Lapena (May 14th)
  22. In a Dark, Dark Wood — Ruth Ware (May 19th)
  23. Luckiest Girl Alive — Jessica Knoll (May 27th)
  24. The Road — Cormac McCarthy (May 30th)
  25. Lost Girls — Andrew Pyper (June 10th)
  26. The Woman in Cabin 10 — Ruth Ware (June 17th)
  27. Neuromancer — William Gibson (June 30th)
  28. The Silent Wife — A.S.A. Harrison (July 2nd)
  29. Slaughterhouse Five — Kurt Vonnegut (July 3rd)
  30. Misery — Stephen King (July 6th)
  31. The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath (July 9th)
  32. The Heart Goes Last — Margaret Atwood (July 18th)
  33. The Demonologist — Andrew Pyper (July 25th)
  34. The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald (July 28th)
  35. The Girl Before — J.P. Delaney (July 29th)
  36. Roadwork — Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman (August 3rd)
  37. The Running Man — Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman (August 9th)
  38. Truly Madly Guiltily — Liane Moriarty (August 19th)
  39. Anasi Boys — Neil Gaiman (August 26th)
  40. Dying Scream — Mary Burton (August 31st)
  41. Inherent Vice — Thomas Pynchon (September 6th)
  42. On Writing — Stephen King (September 9th)
  43. We Were the Mulvaneys — Joyce Carol Oates (September 17th)
  44. A Stir of Echoes — Richard Matheson (September 19th)
  45. Gerald’s Game — Stephen King (September 25th)
  46. My Best Friend’s Exorcism — Grady Hendrix (September 30th)
  47. Duma Key — Stephen King (October 12th)
  48. Coraline — Neil Gaiman (October 13th)
  49. The Other — Thomas Tryon (October 22nd)
  50. Gwendy’s Button Box — Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (October 22nd)
  51. The Shining Girls — Lauren Beukes (October 30th)
  52. Broken Monsters — Lauren Beukes (November 5th)
  53. Strange Weather — Joe Hill (November 10th)
  54. Something Wicked this Way Comes — Ray Bradbury (November 12th)
  55. The Girl Next Door — Jack Ketchum (November 14th)
  56. Bird Box — Josh Malerman (November 18th)
  57. Rosemary’s Baby — Ira Levin (November 21st)
  58. The Haunting of Hill House — Shirley Jackson (December 10th)
  59. Hell House — Richard Matheson (December 14th)
  60. Audition — Ryu Murakami (December 16th)
  61. The Devil in Silver — Victor LaValle (December 24th)
  62. The Woman in Black — Susan Hill (December 27th)
  63. The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved — Joey Comeau (December 29th)

So first off, I’m obviously not reading a bunch of business or tech books like Bill Gates probably is. My tastes are apparently quite murderous. Funny story actually, I was walking to the library in the fall and I had Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls in my hand. While I was waiting at the cross walk the woman next to me noticed my book and asked what it was about. I told her it was about a serial killer who stalks women through time and the one woman who survived his attack trying to hunt him down. She looked horrified and said to me “You must not read these kinds of things! The mind is so sensitive and these terrible things make such an impression on it. You don’t want to take all that nastiness with you into the next life.” I was genuinely taken aback by that response. It was so unexpected and unnerving. At that point in the year I’d already read my fair share of gory murders and heinous crimes to be solved by plucky heroines that I was starting to think this was the beginning of my very own real-life story! An ominous warning from a stranger is a classic horror trope and the people who buck those warnings are always in for trouble. I brushed it off though and continued on, next reading Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters which was even more fucked up than The Shining Girls. But I loved both books. Both are well-written and riveting, I would recommend them to anyone who doesn’t mind having terrible things imprinted on their brain.

There are a few books here that I’d read before but wanted to reread like Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, and Lord of the Flies. All three are excellent reads that I would also recommend. Looking back I see that I had quite a few little binges throughout the year where I just gobbled books up. There was a long weekend in February that was horribly cold and snowy so I literally read all weekend long, finishing up three books in three days. It was so lovely, and so needed. There’s nothing I needed more this year than solitude and books. It was good for my soul.

It’s amazing how much time there really is for reading if you make the effort. I was reading in bed late at night, on the subway when commuting, in waiting rooms at appointments, on my lunch break even. In the summertime I was reading in the park and it was absolutely delightful. I hit my goal of 50 books on October 22nd at 11:47pm EST when I finished Gwendy’s Button Box. October 22nd is special because I finished two books that day. I finished Thomas Tryon’s The Other on my Monday commute, then started Gwendy’s Button Box around 9pm as my nighttime read before bed. It was a quick read, and totally engrossing so those 171 pages were easily devoured.

Of everything I read this year there was only one real dud. It was Dying Scream by Mary Burton. What a shitty fucking book that was. I bought it off the 2 for $15 paperback rack at Indigo because I assumed it was another basic serial killer, crime solving caper. Buyer beware, amiright? I didn’t notice the “Romantic Suspense” label on the spine when I bought it. D’oh! It was also apparently the second book in a trilogy, and not having read the first book made it that much worse. But I powered through nonetheless and checked the rest of my book spines thoroughly to mitigate risk of another stinker like that one.

I would also say that The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum is a psychologically traumatic read, so please don’t read it. As someone who regularly faces down spooky, gory, and macabre stories without issue, this one genuinely unsettled me. It’s in a class all its own of awfulness. Any time I tried to convince myself that the situation couldn’t get any worse, it always did and went to levels of depravity that I couldn’t even fathom. It hurt my heart reading this book, truly.

Overall though, this is a list of awesome reads and I’m proud of myself. If I had to pare this list down to the Top 5 Best of the Best, it would be:

  1. Marathon Man — William Goldman
    Such an exciting read! I loved every minute of it. This is pure entertainment.
  2. On Writing — Stephen King
    The only non-fiction I read this year and frankly, long overdue. You know how much I respect and admire Mr. King, so learning about his approach was endlessly fascinating. Truly, this is a must read for anyone who writes. Any genre, any kind of writing, you have to read this book.
  3. The Fireman — Joe Hill
    First book of the year and it set the bar. A post-apocalyptic type of story with well-rounded characters that you care about and hope survive.
  4. Inherent Vice — Thomas Pynchon
    So many laughs! This is the wittiest writing I’ve ever encountered and I actually laughed out loud while reading, numerous times. Pychon is devious and masterful. Nobody writes like this, he’s divine.
  5. The Shining Girls — Lauren Beukes
    This one is a slam-dunk. It’s got a fresh, interesting concept, a perfectly vile villain, and is so fast-paced you can hardly stand to put it down. It’s fantastic.

Boss bitch status achieved! 2018 was one for the books alright, heh heh, pun intended. I proved that I could continue to live my normal life as a career obsessed woman who wants it all while reading just as much as the average CEO reportedly does. For 2019 I’m already underway tackling Paste Magazine’s 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time and I can’t wait to tell you all about it next year.

I leave you with this final thought: READ.

Reading is good for you. Do it. Make time for yourself, for stories, and for adventures or learning. Whatever it is you like to read, make time for it and do it.

Books I Read: Inaugural Year 2017

Sometime in April 2017 I decided to start keeping a list of all the books I’ve read since the start of 2017. I can’t remember why, but I did. It was easy enough to remember everything I’d read as of January because I’ve long run out of upright storage space on my bookcase and started keeping two distinct piles stacked on the shelves: books I’ve just read and books in line to be read. I got the list up to speed based on the books I’ve just read pile and then from there, whenever I finished a book, I wrote an entry for it in the list aptly titled Books I’ve Read This Year. 

Riveting stuff, surely.

And now I present to you, my readers, said list:

  1. What Alice ForgotLiane Moriarty
  2. End of Watch—Stephen King
  3. All the Missing Girls—Megan Miranda
  4. Ready Player One—Ernest Cline
  5. Never Knowing—Chevy Stephens
  6. God-Shaped Hole—Tiffanie DeBartolo
  7. N0S4A2—Joe Hill
  8. The Good Girl—Mary Kubica
  9. The Perfect Stranger—Megan Miranda
  10. Horns—Joe Hill
  11. The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger—Stephen King
  12. The Dark Tower 2: The Drawing of the Three—Stephen King
  13. The Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands—Stephen King
  14. The Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass—Stephen King
  15. The Dark Tower 4.5: The Wind Through the Keyhole—Stephen King
  16. The Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla—Stephen King
  17. The Dark Tower 6: Song of Susannah—Stephen King
  18. The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower—Stephen King

I was hoping to get the list to 19 before the year was out, it’s a Dark Tower thing, but alas, my quest for the Tower took me right through to December 30th and I didn’t feel up to starting a new book so soon after that epic and heart-wrenching journey was done just for the sake of 19.

So 18 it is, not too shabby. That’s exactly 1.5 books per month. For someone who worked a very demanding job and has a lot of other varied hobbies, I’m glad I managed to find time for some good stories.

The year started out relatively light, with some Liane Moriarty. I like her. You might know her best as the author behind Big Little Lies, the book that the Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman HBO mini-series was adapted from. What Alice Forgot gave us a woman experiencing a Dickensian epiphany of sorts. She loses sight of what matters in life and a bonk on the head resulting in amnesia helps her revert to a decades younger version of herself, reliving the past decade secondhand, learning how she stumbled and gradually grew into an abhorrent version of herself. Then of course lessons are learned and Alice gains perspective. At least Ebenezer Scrooge only lost one night of sleep. Poor Alice lost a whole decade!

End of Watch was awesome, the final instalment in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy. I liked the second story of that series best, Finders Keepers, but this one gave us a fitting end to the trilogy.

I got sucked into the Megan Miranda books by the Indigo hot-sellers displays and they were okay. Quick, entertaining summer reads. All the Missing Girls is the better of the two, with The Perfect Stranger feeling like a repetitive, watered-down contractual obligation by comparison.

Ready Player One seriously kicked ass! Man, that book was so cool and endlessly entertaining. From the very first page right through to the last I was hooked. Classic nerd sci-fi/80’s nostalgia mashup fun galore! I was excited to hear that it would be a movie in 2018, but then I saw the trailer and well… BOOOO! Just based on the trailer alone, there’s no way that movie is going to capture any of the awesomeness of the book. Read the book, get wrapped up in it, enjoy it. Afterwards, let’s all agree to pretend that a movie version doesn’t even exist.

Never Knowing is officially the worst fucking piece of garbage I’ve ever read. It is the current leader in the “How the fuck did this even get published???” championship bowl. For real. Whoever wrote the summary on the book jacket deserves a prize for being able to polish that humongous turd just enough to make someone like me, who has an exceptionally honed eye for bullshit, purchase it. I want my $6 back Indigo value bin. The concept was intriguing, it could have been good. A woman who was adopted goes looking for her biological parents and finds out that her mother was the only survivor of a violent serial killing rapist, who is still at large. Sounds like it could be really good, right? Unfortunately, all of that potential was spun into shit, not gold, by the most hackneyed excuse for a writer since E.L. James. Does this woman even understand how people actually talk to each other in long-term relationships? Here’s some free insight for you, Chevy Stevens: men and women in their fucking 30’s in a committed long-term relationship don’t call each other “baby” every single fucking sentence they speak to each other. Unless they’ve been lobotomized. And if you interact this way with your partner, you need to stop. Like, right now, because I guarantee you are annoying the absolute fuck out of everyone in your lives.

God-Shaped Hole was an emotionally draining read, but in the best possible way. I got deeply invested in Beatrice and Jacob’s relationship and loved that Tiffanie DeBartolo provided a recommended playlist for this book. My love for Jeff Buckley was reignited and I spent most of May and June listening to his album Grace on loop as a result of reading this book.

The Good Girl was another inconsequential thriller with a hyped up “you-can’t-see-it-coming-plot-twist” that was easily predicted within the first quarter of the book. Meh.

This year I discovered how fucking awesome Joe Hill is, and so much like his dad, Stephen King. Even if I had no idea who he was, his writing would immediately feel eerily familiar to me, having read as much King as I have. N0S4A2 is dark, creepy, thrilling, and exciting. Charlie Manx is as vile a villain as there ever was and the imaginative plot is immediately enthralling. Loved it, would highly recommend to anyone who wants a good spooky, action-packed adventure. Horns was stellar too, I read it the week we were in the Dominican, and while it might not be the general population’s idea of a “vacation read” I couldn’t put it down. I relished every minute spent with Ig while his newly sprouted horns compelled everyone around him to express and enact their innermost fucked up thoughts and desires on his path to uncover his beloved Merrin’s true killer. Read Joe Hill, he rules!

Then, towards the end of July, I felt compelled to finally start my quest for The Dark Tower. I bought the first four books a long time ago and they sat on my shelf, idling. I don’t think my heart or my mindset were in the right place to start an epic journey until the second half of 2017. The movie was coming out in August and I stupidly assumed it would be an adaptation of the first book, that it was going to be a Harry Potter kind of deal, 7 books = 7 movies, give or take. So I finished The Gunslinger, and I was halfway through book two, The Drawing of the Three, when D and I went to see the movie. Imagine my complete disappointment when I left the theatre after a 90-minute oversimplified, boiled down glimpse of the entire series.

That fucking sucked. As a standalone movie for D, who was never going to read the books and just wanted to watch it with me, it was fine. There were cool scenes, and good action. But there was no heart. There was no time to even get a sense of who Roland Deschain is, one of the greatest tragic anti-heroes I’ve ever come to know and love. That sucks, man. Most sacrilegious of all there was no ka-tet! No Eddie Dean, no Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker/Susannah Dean, and no Oy! We didn’t get to gear up for an epic quest at all. Shows over folks, make sure you put your garbage in the bins on your way out.

I carried on with my quest to read the rest of the series by the end of 2017 and I succeeded. I loved and cherished every single second of it. I know it gets a lot of flack from fans who read the series in painstaking real-time, waiting years between books for another instalment, but I especially loved book 4 Wizard and Glass. That was my favourite book of the series. People who complain about how it didn’t advance the quest because it was all Roland’s backstory disappoint me. Roland is our dinh and we get to experience a deeply insightful, formative period of his early life firsthand. We get to know his first ka mates, Alain Johns and Cuthbert Allgood personally! We get to experience his first love with Susan Delgado, and his first heartbreak. We get to learn more about how Roland strategizes, how he plans, how he outsmarts his opponents. What an absolute privilege to have a writer give you that rich backstory. If you’re not going to enjoy the journey, why are you even questing in the first place? That’s the reason guys like Stephen King take on these epic storytelling endeavours, because they have rapt readers who want to get immersed in the story right alongside them. We don’t care how long it takes, hell they can make it last even longer if they want and we’ll gladly savour every delicious morsel of tale they can provide. If you’re just reading something to know how it ends, I don’t think you understand the point of reading to begin with.

So there you have it, the list of books I read in 2017. I didn’t really start the year with a plan or a direction, I just read what appealed to me and added it to the list when I was done.

I’m going to start a list for 2018 as well and see how it goes. I think this year I’ll add a note for the date I finished each book, just to see how that looks. I love reading and doing this allows me to look back on a year of reading and appreciate all the adventures I had.

How to Turn 30

This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while, but gosh darn it, I just haven’t had the time! But lucky for you, today I do. So pack your bags and hop in the time machine bitches, we’re headed back to April 2017 for this one. (I know it’s not that far of a flashback, so you can pack light, definitely won’t need your jammies, but maybe a light snack?)

Getting older, huh? That’s a thing, I guess. I’ve never felt old a day in my life. I’ve never fretted about age much. I’m not vain, I don’t give a shit about all that superficial wrinkles and bemoaning the loss of one’s youth, it’s not for me. Take care of yourself, sure. But you’re gunna get old and your tits are gunna hit the floor one day, that’s a fact. You can’t fight city hall, amiright?

I believe that life is a weird and wonderful gift from who knows where and it’s best to just take the biggest, most slobbery bite out of every day you get, because you never know when the buffet will close down for good. Chow down and drink up every last drop of life you’re served. That’s why I love the fucking SHIT out of my birthday. I’m just so happy to be here at all. Getting older means that you add on another year, but also that you’ve hopefully filed away a ton of amazing new memories from that past year to the story of you. And the year ahead is rife with limitless possibilities for more!

Thursday April 20, 2017:
I wake up, and I am officially 30 years old. No more fancy-free, footloose 20’s for me.

I took the day off of work because I wanted the whole day all to myself. So I could do whatever the hell I wanted and spend time thinking about the decade past and the decade ahead. Who have I become? Who will I become in another 10 years? What did I learn? What did I do that will forever make me smile and say, “Godammit, I knew how to live!”

It was kind of sad at first though because I went into it initially feeling disappointed with myself. I was upset about the loss of something very dear to me. Years ago I’d written a letter to myself, only to be opened on my 30th birthday. I thought I knew exactly where I stashed it, but apparently not. A few days prior to my birthday, I went to my assumed secure hiding spot and discovered my letter wasn’t there. I searched all over the place, practically tearing my hair out, so desperate to find that one direct link to a 20-year old me. I couldn’t remember a single word I’d written to myself and I wanted so badly to see that girl again, to see how hopeful she was and compare notes with the woman I am now. But it never did show up. One too many moves over the years I suppose, c’est la vie…

So that was a sucky thing, but only for a moment. I simply refuse to allow any disappointment big or small to hold me back, not today, not ever.

First thing on my agenda for a full day of birthday me time? To the spa of course! I booked myself an exorbitantly priced deluxe facial treatment at Pure and Simple. I love myself, so I’m going to treat myself like the queen that I am. And oh my sweet god in heaven, it was gooood! What was even better? Unbeknownst to me, D called a few days prior and paid for my spa day upfront because he is gentleman and a scholar. Thank you, darling for giving me the gift of flawless skin on my special day.

After the spa, I was looking good and feeling fresh. I snapped a no makeup selfie for instagram to commemorate this feeling. And so I could look back through the cobwebs in however many years and say “yeah, that was me and I loved that badass chick.”

I was feeling hella hungry afterwards, and I needed to refuel. I knew exactly what I wanted next:

Blueberry pancakes smothered in brown sugar butter served with a side of butcher’s crack bacon. Oh honey, yaaasssss! Got this stack of hotcakes at a cool ass diner called Old School at Dundas and Palmerston Ave. I walked in, it was pretty chill for a Thursday mid-morning, and grabbed a seat. There was a super adorable punky couple at the table beside me and I overheard the dude tell the server it was his 23rd birthday. Yay, I love meeting a fellow 4/20 birthday twin! I went “Holy shit dude, me too! Happy frigging birthday man!” And he was so jazzed about it. We birthday high-fived and then his girl paid the check and they went their merry way. It was a good omen.

Oh right, back to the pancakes. They were unreal! Literally the only thing I thought about for a month straight afterwards. And I’ll tell you this people, I ate every single bite in that skillet. Hell, I almost licked that skillet clean but then reminded myself that I’m 30 now, so I should control myself from doing desperate shit like that, at least when I’m in public anyways.

As I was about ready to settle the bill, my server came up to the table and handed me a GIANT COOKIE! My pal The Magpie had called the diner up because she knew I was there and bought me a birthday cookie as a post-breakfast treat. At that point, I honestly starting feeling like a real baller. Everywhere I went people were like “oh, blah blah paid your bill, or bought you stuff.” It was fucking fantastic.

I didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk after that, but walk I did. I strolled around the city and found myself at TOT Cat Cafe near College and Spadina. I wasn’t hungry at all, so I just donated $10.00 to the cafe to play with the cats.

I was at the Cat Cafe for almost two hours! Usually when I go in there with D he’s all “yeah great, they’re so cute but I don’t want to be here all day” and then herds me out after like twenty minutes. Not today though! Not on my birthday. I took my time playing with, petting, and fawning all over every special little kitty in there. They were all so frigging cute.

I wanted to stay there all day, but two hours seemed like it was plenty. I brushed all the fur off my shirt and headed out. I went to Kensington Market after that, and I took my sweet ass time. Walking around, checking out the shops, enjoying the day. I tried on some hats and wondered if I should start becoming a brooch person now that I’m 30. I could be dripping in brooches and elegance!

Ultimately, I decided I’m still to young for that, but maybe for 40?

I started thinking about 40 a lot on the walk home. How far away it was, how I had a brand new decade ahead of me to do whatever I wanted with. I got home and then I brewed myself a spot o tea. Inspiration was flowing and dreams were percolating so I sat down and I started writing a new letter. Even though I really wanted my letter for 30 to reference, it was okay without it. I wrote out all the stuff I hoped and dreamed that a 40-year old Smash would do and be proud of when she looked back.

I hid it in a spot that I absolutely 100% will not lose track of it. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

It was pretty much workday done by the time I finished, then D got home and we ordered an absurd amount of Chinese food. We feasted and I told him all about my day. Then I told him it’s not even close to over yet because we are going out partying and we’re gunna burn the motherfucking house down! He was more than agreeable.

We hopped in a cab and barreled our way towards fun at one of my all-time favourite places, The Office Pub, for Thursday night Karaoke madness. Two of my most cherished pals, The Magpie and DJ Gibbs met us there with their pipes all warmed up and ready to sing. It was the best night, we went apeshit on the mic and on the d-floor. I loved every second of it and I don’t ever want to forget that night.

We closed the place down that night, singing and dancing until the lights came on. Then we hugged the karaoke host because he was the coolest guy on the planet and told him how thankful we were for his service that night. He did a hell of a job allowing us to make merry all over the place.

We worked up a real drunk and crazy appetite and went to get some burgers at the A&W down the street. My face hurt from laughing so much. The Magpie, D, and DJ Gibbs were at an all-time hilarity peak and they were killing me with their jokes and zaniness!

I put that A&W bag on my head and it was game over. This might be one of my most favourite pictures of all time because it STILL makes me laugh to the point of tears when I see it.

D and I hopped in a cab and I smiled the whole way home. I’ve been blessed by the love of so many wonderful friends. The Magpie and DJ Gibbs are two very special people and I appreciate the hell of them for making April 20th, 2017 one of the highest highs of my life so far.

Harv greeted us at the door when we got home and shared some special birthday kitty kisses with me.

I love D and Harv so much. This is our family and we’ve got our own amazing thing going on. I don’t know how the fuck I lucked out so much, but I’m thankful for the both of them every single day. They make my heart whole.

The birthday fun didn’t stop that night either, that was just the day of! D threw me a huge surprise partaaaay on the Saturday night that followed and it was a killer time too. But that’s a whole other story in itself…

So there you have it, folks. I turned 30, and that’s how I did it. I took the fucking bull by the horns and made 30 my bitch. I very much recommend that everyone else does the same. For any birthday, any age! Love your birthday, embrace it, be thankful when the universe bestows a birthday upon you because you never know how many it will give. And you need to make the most of every single one.

Every day is an opportunity to live the life you want to live.

Dear Ashley

I’m hoping that this might help you, girl. Because you need something, and I know it has to come from within. I’m the only one who can give you exactly what’s needed in this moment of complete, abject shittiness.

This is your heart speaking, so stop what you’re doing and listen up.

Writing always helps, you know that it does. There’s that immediate release, that catharsis, sure. That’s very important right now. You have to work through all of the feelings, unpack all the shit you’ve crammed into convenient little boxes and stowed out of sight just so you could get through the days. Rip them all open, tear through them, look and see what’s inside and figure out what stays and what goes. You can’t keep it all, it’s too huge a burden. You’re going to have to let some of it go and eventually make room for new stuff. Then you can reflect, conclude, understand, decide. It might still feel murky for a while, but I know you, and I know you’ll want to write so you can document the journey and so you can reflect on it properly later on.

Looking back is painful, but ultimately, insightful. It’s how you’ll grow, how you’ll persevere.

I know you’re tired. You’ve been through a lot. You’re still going through a lot and you’re not used to drastic highs and crushing lows being the norm. The very mention of perseverance made you tremble. You hate change, you hate it so much. Especially when you have no control over it, can’t stop it or slow it down. Transitioning is hard for you because you get so attached to the way things were. Goodbyes are gut-wrenching, getting over it sucks. Old photos might make you smile at times, but also stir up indescribable sadness. Aching for something that once was and never will be again. It’s a strange masochistic thing you do to yourself, remembering things too vividly, too fondly. Unable to appreciate what’s present and what’s now, until before you know it that’s gone and slipped through your fingers too.

Where does that leave us?

You’re tired and sad. You feel abandoned and rejected. Everything within is in a state of constant conflict. You can’t shut off the negativity and doubt. Some days you do feel a small, hopeful flicker of optimism; even if it hasn’t lasted at least it’s there. And that’s why now is the ideal time for me to intervene, before we hit the point of no return.

I need you to hear these things, really. Not with your ears, with your soul. Take what I’m about to tell you and absorb it wholly into your being.

  1. First and foremost, you are a goddamn Warrior Queen. Capital W, capital Q.
    You came out swinging! From within the womb you faced down your own highly probable death and conquered it. You wanted to live, you wanted to be here, you fought for it right from the start. Always remember that. That fight and that mettle exists at the very core of your being and you will always have it whenever you need it to overcome the impossible. Your heart and your spirit are indomitable.
  2. You have impeccable instincts, I mean really, are you ever wrong?
    Not about the stuff that matters. Not about people and trust. You can size someone up and know right away what their deal is. How many times have you said “there’s something off about blah blah” only to be proven exactly 100% right. You can see through all the garbage with your laser sharp, highly focused senses and put those bullshitters on the no fly list where they belong.
  3. Honesty is the only policy.
    You’ve never been one to dabble in lies, deceptions, or manipulations. Why start now? We ain’t got no time for that. It’s stupid futility going down that path. Maybe it works for some people, but not us. We can never go wrong with our upfront, straight-shooter approach to life. To truly live life to the fullest is to embrace complete and utter honesty with oneself and the people you care about.
  4. You’ve come a long way, and you’ll continue to go a long way.
    A “complete” person doesn’t exist. If you think you’re a “completed” person with nothing else to learn, achieve, or contribute then you’re either dull and uninspiring or pathetic and sad. All four, you’re all four of those things if you think you’re done as a human being, fully cooked and ready to serve. Growing, evolving, maturing, and expanding are so very important. Everything that happens in life is an opportunity to improve. Those who see that too and know it in their souls are your kind of people. That’s who you want to be surrounded by, people who care to improve and evolve themselves.
  5. Trust the universe, it’s always looking out for you.
    You’re not used to topsy-turvy emotions or indecision. You know your own mind. You’ve always known exactly what you want, you just have to stay tuned in to the funky disco jams of the universe telling you where the party at. Everything unfolds as it should, everything falls into place as it should. You can’t force it, you just know when it feels right. Keep your ears open, the universe is singing. It might be some busted broken somebody done somebody wrong jive that you’re not digging now but it’ll change the tune eventually. Just be ready to dance when it does.
  6. You’re not alone
    This is the most important one. I know you come from a long line of people who internalize their feelings. People who minimize and shun emotional overtures and misconstrue the viselike grip of control they have on their emotions as strength. But you know that isn’t the right way for you. Suppressing your feelings does not equal strength. Having the balls to feel what you feel, good or bad, right down into the marrow of your bones is strength. The people who get that and provide you unencumbered space to feel are the ones worth a damn in this life. You don’t trust easily, and you don’t just give your heart away. The people you’ve chosen to share your heart and soul with, the people who have withstood disastrous lows and enjoyed dazzling highs with you, are always going to be there. Do not give old wounds the power to stop you from making meaningful connections and sharing your heart again.

Please remember these things. Please, please. They are very important.

I don’t know how we’re going to sort this out in the end. There are no guarantees in life, but I do know that I am still and will always be your one true constant. When you feel lonely and the aching starts to get unbearable, I’m still here. I’m still beating, still pumping, moving you along. We’re gunna dance this mess around together, like we always do.

Snowy Day Memories

It was quiet this morning when I woke up. And calm, very calm. I could feel Harvey’s warm little body at the end of the bed, nestled against my legs. He loves sleeping in as much as I do. I stretched and opened my eyes. The daylight peeking through the blinds hinted at another drab winter day. Time to rise, no shine permitted today though.

I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw when I stepped into the living room. Huge, incredibly fluffy snowflakes were swirling and twirling all around outside. The roads and rooftops had all been blanketed in crisp white snow. Watching it fall, fluttering to the ground in fat sticky flakes made me feel like I was inside a snow globe. It was beautiful, and about damn time.

snowy days

Our winter hasn’t been very magical at all this year. It’s been downright depressing actually. We’ve had barren, snowless grey days and bizarre temperature spikes, where it feels practically balmy one day then aggressively cold the next. We’ve had more rain than snow, and it’s been a bloody nuisance. I’d take snow over rain any day. It makes me so happy seeing actual snow, falling with purpose, taking off its coat to stay a while. My heart rejoiced watching the snow fall, unrelentingly, all morning long. There it is, there’s the winter I know and love. Winter is all about snow. I love the feeling of snow falling down all around me. Snowflakes sticking to my hair and coat. Tromping through the snow in thick clunky boots. Mischievously balling it up to toss at someone unsuspecting.

I remember winter stretching out forever when I was a kid. Long endlessly sunny and snowy days out in the burbs, my sisters and I laughing and playing with our neighbourhood friends. Building snow forts, making snow angels, having snowball fights, sledding down huge mountains of plowed snow in the library parking lot. Racing down the snow banks on our Krazy Karpets with reckless abandon. Being told to come in for a hot lunch, soup and grilled cheese, to warm us up. We’d come home, blasting through the front door like a pack of wild dogs, hungry and hyper from our morning adventures. Peeling ourselves out of our snowsuits, so impatient to be free of them. Boots, hats, mittens, socks, and scarves cast off and flung all over the foyer, Mom rounding up all those winter necessities and dispersing them throughout the house to dry over heating vents and radiators.

We’d scarf lunch down like we hadn’t eaten in days, recouping all the energy burned that morning. Stockpiling more energy, fuelling up, eager to get back outside again for more snowy fun. My imagination already a hundred miles ahead of itself, dreaming up an outlandish afternoon caper. That’s all you needed back then to be happy, a fresh snowfall, some pals, and your imagination.

I have fond memories of super special winter days when my dad would take us skating. He’d shovel off a sizeable patch of pond, over at the golf course, where nobody would bother us. My sisters and I had the whole pond to ourselves, around and around we’d go, skating until our legs were jelly. Skating until the sun started setting. Begging our dad for just five more minutes, please!

I remember a whole day spent sledding with my family, mom and dad, my sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins. Everyone was there. Again over at the golf course, at the back, off of the 16th or 17th hole I think. Where the snow was freshly fallen, completely untouched, not a track or footprint in it. Where nobody else would be, our secret sledding place. The hill was steep, so enormously steep. It was a long ride down and a difficult climb back up. Dad and the uncles would pull us kids back up the hill on the sleds when we whined about having to climb it, only to launch us back down it again once we reached the top. I watched with shock as my older sister went whizzing down the hill at an incredible speed, narrowly missing the trunk of a massive pine tree. A close call if ever there was one. I remember tripping up the hill, falling face first into it, getting the neckline of my coat full of snow. Being dusted off by my mom and sent back on my way. We all went back to my Oma and Opa’s house afterwards, to warm up by the wood stove and sip hot chocolate.

We still talk about that day at family get togethers. That perfect winter day following an enormous overnight snowfall. The sun was out and the air was crisp. The day primed for adventure. Everyones hearts overflowing with laughter and joy.

That’s the winter I know and love best, snowy and enchanting. Inviting endless possibility and glee, promising lots of lovely memories. I hope today that some lucky little kids got to have a day of perfect winter fun with their siblings and friends, like I got to plenty of times growing up.

Knit 1, Purl 1, Knit 1, Purl 1…

I’m the kind of person who has a billion hobbies and is always searching for more. I go through phases, or cycles of them. I’ll find something interesting and engaging, throw myself into it wholeheartedly and see where it takes me. I have a lot of creative energy, it makes me feel happy and fulfilled to craft or create. That feeling of accomplishment when you’ve produced something is a rush like no other. It makes me feel interesting and special, crafty and crazy. But most importantly, it’s an outlet. For all the thoughts, feelings, dreams, and internal strangeness that cannot be expressed any other way. If you’re a fellow zany, creative, crafter type, you’ll know what I mean.

A couple of autumns ago, I fell in love with ponchos. It was one of those days where you think it’s going to be warmer than it is, but the season is taking that sharp turn from refreshing crispness in the air to face numbing harshness. D and I planned to be out, walking around the city for a bit. I thought I’d be fine, but I wasn’t. We jumped in a shop and I started looking for an extra layer of warmth so we could carry on with our day. I found this gorgeous navy blue poncho with a cozy cowled neckline and lovely red accent stripes that appealed perfectly to my sense of style. For forty bucks, it was a steal. It started me wanting to buy and wear only ponchos and big chunky sweaters all the time. Shopping is great, but sometimes you find things that you would almost buy, but then not. Because something isn’t quite right enough to merit a purchase. If only something could be done or changed to make it more you.

I started thinking about how awesome it would be if I could just knit my own ponchos and sweaters. That idea simmered in the back of my brain for a while, I was still consumed with wedding plans and other things. It would have to wait, I’d circle back later. And life went on.

Flash forward a couple of years, the weather starting to dip into colder territory again, I was digging into the depths of the closet to pull out all of my ponchos and sweaters for another cozy autumn. I was starting to feel restless with current creative endeavours. It was time to pivot, try something new. That thought of knitting my own things started to heat up again, bubbling and eventually boiling over. I wanted desperately to start knitting, I could think of nothing else. I needed to try it, see if it was something I could do.

I thought I could just waltz into the craft store, grab a knitting magazine and some yarn then get started. I’m no virgin crafter, I’ve seen some shit in my time, man. Trust me, some crazy shit. I got this.

Wrong. I was wrong, all wrong, I take it back. Totally, utterly wrong on all the levels. There is so much to know about knitting! It’s overwhelming actually. And I’m very tactile. Seeing, seeing, and seeing again, then repeating is what I need to process and understand how to do something that’s totally new to me. I need help and feedback, lots of it. So I did some googling and I found this wonderful little shop in the west end that offered classes. I registered right away and I was so excited. So very excited. I’m going to learn something new, I’m going to knit!

I could think of nothing else the day of my first class. I couldn’t wait to finish work and dash off, yarn and needles in tow. I was the first one to arrive, helplessly early, twenty-five minutes early. That’s too early! But that’s who I am, eager and enthusiastic. The instructor was very warm and welcoming. She sat me at a table in the back of the shop and took the skein of yarn I’d purchased a few days earlier. She placed it on this amazing contraption she called a “swift”. Round and round the swift turned, I was mesmerized. It transformed that skein of yarn into a fat little ball that she then called a “cake”. So many new terms!

Other classmates started arriving, mirroring back at me the same mingled expression of trepidation and excitement. There were seven of us total, all women, all knitting n00bs. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. I loved that, I didn’t know there’d be this great social element.

It was hard at first. Trying to hold the needles in a way that felt right, they were so foreign to me. We started with casting on. The only place you can start. And it was tricky, but I got it figured out. Then we talked about muscle memory and the knit stitch. Everything felt so floppy and uncertain. I felt floppy and uncertain! I didn’t know what to do after I had knit my first row, what was next? The girl beside me told me to just do it again. Move the needle back to my dominant hand and do that same thing again. Mind. Blown. So this is knitting! Huh.

I got home and showed D the few little rows I had knit, I was so proud of myself.

first knit rows

D was excited for me. He loved how happy I was. But I struggled with the yarn I chose. It was too fine for my beginner’s hands. I took it off the needles and “frogged” it, another fun new term meaning that I destroyed all progress and went back to start. I bought larger needles and bulkier yarn. I started again.

bulkier!

That felt better. I could see the stitches more easily and make corrections when I messed up. I started to feel really good about it as the yarn grew longer. I loved feeling the yarn, watching it expand row after row. And I knew this wasn’t just another hobby, it was a lifelong passion.

I had three more classes, one a week. We learned how to purl, how to read patterns, weaving in our ends, planning projects, and so much more. We learned how to make hats using “DPNs” or double-pointed needles. We were knitting “in the round”, “tinking”, and “ktogging” with confidence! It was wonderful.

I’ve been very productive since that class, knitting up a storm. I love the way it makes me feel. It’s so rhythmic and relaxing. I feel inspired by so many things, the possibilities from here are endless.

My first attempt knitting in the round…

in the round

Wearing the first scarf I ever finished…

my first scarf

Crazy leg warmers!

leg warmers!

The infinity scarf I knit for my lovely friend the Magpie for Christmas. She loves it so much and that makes me so happy!

peattie's scarf

The first hat I ever knit, successfully. I gave it to my uncle who is so very proud and impressed with my work. And he’s worn it everyday since I gave it to him, even though it’s purple. He’s so rad.

wienie's cap

A teeny tiny little scarf I knit with leftover yarn for Harv, haha. (He actually hates it so much.)

Harv's scarf

And the project I’m most proud of so far, the seed stitch scarf I made for myself, with that very first ball of yarn I bought. This is a real accomplishment. I had almost written that ball of yarn off altogether because it was so tough at first. But after some practice with the bulkier yarns, my skills started getting better, and I felt brave enough to try it again. Progress was slower, but I had the patience for it now.

my fave scarf

I love this scarf so much. The texture is divine, I’m obsessed with seed stitch. I made this, me. I can’t stop marvelling at the fact that I knew nothing about knitting three months ago, and now I’ve made so many things. Damn, that feels good.

I love knitting, it is the greatest. It makes me feel so purposeful and inspired. And although I’m nowhere near ready to start knitting my own ponchos, I’m headed in that direction and I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m enjoying the journey, I don’t need to rush it. I have a dream that is simmering for now. One day in the near future, when it’s time, that dream will start to bubble and boil over too.