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.

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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.

That Night in Toronto…

If you read this blog, you know me. You know that in my core, in my bones, I am passionately, proudly Canadian. I’m a hoser, man. Through and through. I fucking love the shit out of Canada and I am especially proud of our incredible music. I could get lost in Rush for days. The first concert I ever went to was Bryan Adams. I worship The Barenaked Ladies and hum Crash Test Dummies in my sleep. And honestly, I know the words to a lot more Shania Twain songs than people even realize. If I listed here every single Canadian artist on my iPod right now, you’d get dizzy. CanRock is everything. It’s just simply a fundamental of who I am.

And yet, none of these gods or goddesses in the great CanRock pantheon come even remotely close to inspiring the devotion in me that The Tragically Hip does. This band is Canada itself, personified. Their music reaches me on a cellular level and connects to parts of me that nothing else can. And I’m not being intentionally hyperbolic, this is serious shit. If there’s music in your life that you fucking love like I love The Hip then you get it. If you’re some kind of weirdo that doesn’t even like music then I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry that you’ll never know what it’s like to be affected on every level of your being by artistry so divine. Artistry that nurtures and nourishes your soul. It’s crazy, but that’s what it is. It’s the life-sustaining thing that my soul needs. I need The Hip’s music like I need air to breathe.

That’s what I thought when I heard the news about Gord; the air that I need to breathe, to live, is being taken away.

Yeah, I’ll always have their music right at my fingertips anytime I want it. But knowing that there will eventually be an end to it, no more new stuff to get lost in, its unbearable. I’m not a “just the hits” kind of gal, I live for it all.

Deciding to tour after going public with Gord’s news about the incurable brain cancer was absolutely the right thing for the band to do, the only thing. And after the concert on Wednesday night, I’m convinced that he’s immortal anyways. Cancer won’t kill Gord. When he’s good and ready he’ll just decide to start his next chapter, that’s all it is. Cancer doesn’t get to have a say, Gord’s in charge and he does things his own unique way, he always has and he always will. It’s why I love him so much. That casual cavalier who-gives-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks approach to just being himself, it’s inspiring.

I’ve seen The Hip live a number of times, and you never get the same show twice. You can’t ever tell what Gord will do next and it’s thrilling. You follow where he leads and you love every goddamn minute of it, that’s how you experience The Hip.

I was lucky enough to get tickets for the first in a series of three Toronto shows on their final tour. I got hosed on the pre-sale and the general public sale, but a couple of weeks later when more tickets were released I’m convinced that my kind and generous CanRock Gods let favour swing my way. Like I said, I’m bonkers for this band. While I saw plenty of other people give up saying “I’ve seen them before, guess that’ll do”, I wasn’t willing to give up hope so easily. I thought about it every single day. I even considered shelling out thousands for platinum seats in more feverish moments. If it came down to it, sure, I’d bend the knee for the StubHub lords, whatever it took. I just felt it, that I would go to this show. I needed to be there and the universe gladly obliged. I got an email through the fan club about more tickets being released, I marked it in my calendar and I wished with all my might. The day of the sale, it all worked out and I’m eternally grateful.

When the tour started I devoured every single piece of news about it. I loved seeing the band’s set lists on their Instagram account. I read so many fan reviews and stories about the shows. All of it just stoking the fire of my anticipation. Waiting was excruciating, but so worth it. It was impossible not to get emotional any time someone asked me about the show. I feel my feelings quite freely, no shame in that, and plenty of times I cried just telling people what this concert means to me personally. And most of the people I talked to were kind enough to not call me insane directly to my face, instead they probably thought it politely in their heads while nodding along, which I appreciated.

And then all of a sudden it was time.

5 minutes

This night will live in my heart forever.

the hip show

We had rear view seats, which I was a little worried about, but turned out amazingly well. There were massive screens on all four sides of the stage, so we didn’t miss a single thing. I saw every beautiful nuance of Gordie’s face while he sang to us. It was also really cool getting to see the bulk of the audience facing us, seeing what the band sees when they play to these sold-out maniacal crowds. What an amazing view!

audience

And the setup with the screens was perfect. Gord knew where the cameras were and he didn’t shy away from them at all. He loved using the cameras as a way to connect with everyone. There was this really wonderful moment where he just stared straight into the lens, a myriad of expressions passing across his face, and it felt like he was looking right at you, looking into you. Such a special thing, it allowed 20,000 people to feel like they got to have one personal moment with Gord.

They played so many great songs. The Hip have the most incredibly robust catalogue. So many crowd pleasers, too many for one performance. Some fantastic deep cuts too, stuff that is just always so surprising, but awesome to hear live. The new material fit right in. What Blue and Tired As Fuck felt like they were old gems I’ve always loved. Grace Too, 50 Mission Cap, Lake Fever, Little Bones, Three Pistols, Music at Work, Fully Completely, Wheat Kings… they just gave and gave.

Gordie

I expected to cry the whole time, to just be overcome. But I wasn’t. We rocked the fuck out, the band made sure of it. They played for over two and half hours and while there were lots of emotional moments peppered throughout the evening, the overall tone was much more triumphant than sad. It was a passionate and heady performance. I cried as soon as I heard the first few notes of Fiddler’s Green mostly because that’s just such a weighty song anyways. And again I cried hearing one of my personal favourites, Ahead By a Century… that lyric “disappointing you is getting me down” just felt too real.

But the most emotional moment of the whole concert was after the encore, Bobcaygeon, when Gordie bowed to the crowd and said “Thank you, Toronto. Thank you forever.” Instant waterfall of tears. Bawling, all of us, a whole stadium of people.

Gordie

It couldn’t last forever though, no matter how much I wished it would. All things end.

When it was time to say goodbye we cheered our hearts out for Gordie for a full three minutes while he stood there soaking it in, waving and bowing so appreciatively back at us. A thunderous amount of love for the man who means and has meant so much to so many of us, to this nation, for over 30 years. That was our moment to say what we needed to say to this great man. We fucking love you. So much.

You can watch it, our applause for Gord. And if you couldn’t get the tickets that you desperately wanted for one of the shows, I’m sorry. That fucking sucks. But you can take comfort in this little sliver of the magic that I bottled up and saved for you:

Best concert ever. Period.

The Hip

I’ll never forget that night in Toronto.

Insta-Obsessed!

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you guys about how I was a really staunch holdout on getting a new cell phone, right? I got my first cell phone in April 2012 and I was twenty-five years old. People thought it was weird that I went that long without having any form of cell phone at all, but I kind of loved being out of touch with the world. I could go and live my life and nobody could ever get a hold of me. It was awesome. It irritated D to no end, but that was a minor detail. People always had these great stories about how difficult it was to “track me down” and I exalted in that chase, I really did.

Then, when I finally caved and got a phone people made fun of me for getting a Blackberry Curve. It was 2012 for chrissakes! Blackberry had fallen. What the hell was wrong with me? But I’ll tell you, I loved that little thing. What it lacked in style and current-ness it made up for with that amazing little QWERTY keypad. I could pump out text messages and emails like nobody’s business. My fingers lightning fast with LOLs and OMGs.

I cherished that phone. When the battery started trudging along, getting weak and needing to charge every few hours, I’d just order another one from Amazon for like six bucks. I had a sweet ass grandfathered plan that basically gave me unlimited data and I loved the Brickbreaker game that was pre-installed. Many a slow subway ride home I spent breaking bricks and avoiding eye contact with whatever creep du jour had gotten on my car. But like all good things eventually do, our time in the sun came to an end.

My boss called up our CIO and told him what a piece of crap phone I have and somehow that turned into me getting and iPhone 5S quicker than you could say “but BBM rules!”

It was a bit of a struggle, getting used to my iPhone, but I knew the change was inevitable. My service had been getting more and more unreliable, D missing texts that I’d be working late or there was a subway delay and wondering where the hell I was when we were supposed to be meeting up. So I grudgingly made the change for the greater good. And after a few months, I think I’m used to it now. There are pros and cons to everything you do in this life.

I got to buy an adorable flowery case that proudly proclaims to the world that my phone is a strong independent woman. Mmm hmm, that’s right girl. You ain’t need no man telling you what to do. And I’ll also freely admit that the camera on this phone fucking annihilates the grainy, found-footage seeming pics my Blackberry used to half-assedly capture with an obnoxiously loud CLICK.

I so despise the fucking dickcheese autocorrect jerk on this iPhone though. That’s one major drawback. One time I tried to say “husband” and it turned it to “Hubbard” for some unknown reason. Or when I’m excited about something and want to respond “Yayy!” that somehow becomes “tasty” instead. The people I’m texting must think I’m this mega-weirdo trying to create my own goofy adult slang that will never catch on. Trying to out-cool the kids these days.

But the best thing about it has been this really amazing app I installed called INSTAGRAM. Ooo, aaahhhh. A way to take pics and immediately post with some pithy-in-my-head caption? Sign me up!

I frigging love this shit. I could Insta all day every day. I’m learning all about memes and really seeing for the first time how many goddamn cute cats there are out there who really really need my approval by way of many “likes”. All that time I used to spend clogging D’s phone up with great shots of the city or food I was eating or weird shit I’d see around has become so much more efficient, me now doing these things from the comfort of my own phone.

It’s also been a really awesome outlet for me since I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to full-out blogging lately. It’s micro-blogging, the kids say! You’ll love it, they decree!

And I do. I frigging love the shit out of it. Have I mentioned that yet? I am full-blown Insta-obsessed!

Heres’ the link to my page: my fabulous instagram account! You like what you see, you follow me. It’s mostly what you’ve come to know and love about this blog: my zany meals, Harv, partying, Toronto, the weird shit I think is amusing. It’s great. @smashingthroughlife that’s my handle so you can find me super easy.

Let’s be Insta-obsessed together!

P.S. here’s a picture that shows how wonderfully feminine my phone case is. That’s the kind of phone case you take to a nice seafood dinner and then call again, promptly, to make another date. Mmm hmm.

flowery phone case

Hitting The Open Road

I’m very excited to announce this. I’ve been looking forward to announcing this to you guys all week long…

Hear ye, hear ye! This weekend I, Smash, of this odd little blog, am coming to a city near you! Well, it’s actually only to a city probably/sort of/maybe near some of you. The city of brotherly love itself, Philadelphia!

That’s right gang, you’ve got court-side seats to a Dballs and Smash Road Trip Spectacular! We’ve got a set of wheels and we’re hitting the open road first thing tomorrow morning. And I’ll be detailing every glorious second of it for your reading pleasure.

A couple of weeks ago I was jamming’ out to one of my favourite bands, They Might Be Giants. I started thinking how awesome it would be to see those guys in concert. I pulled up their website and starting poking around for any upcoming concerts in Toronto. But sadly, there were none. Only a bunch of dates listed for a tour through the states. Usually under circumstances such as these, I would’ve just signed up for an alert to let me know when the band will be coming to my neck of the woods in the future. But this time was different. This time around the little hamster in my head that serves as a brain kept cycling around on his squeaky little hamster exercise wheel. And once that wheel gets to turning, fixated on the possibility of an adventure, it’s next to impossible to make it stop.

What if we went to one of their shows in the states anyways? A lot of these places are within reasonable travel distance… Boston, Brooklyn, and Philly. We could probably make one of them work. If I wanted it bad enough and was able to plead my case convincingly, I might just get that husband of mine to go along. I had my birthday on my side, too. It’s harder to say no to a birthday wish than if it had been some conveniently trumped-up bucket list wish. I knew it was gunna be a long shot to convince D, but I really wanted to go. More than anything in the world, in that moment, all that mattered was getting to a TMBG show.

When I pitched the idea to D, I pulled out all the stops. Begging, pleading, whining, wailing, justifying, and arguing him to exhaustion. He resisted at first, but then came around eventually. My impassioned plea for adventure swayed him in the end. Actually, it wasn’t even all that dramatic. He agreed pretty early into my spiel. But he was gentlemanly enough to let me think I’d worn him down, because he knows it’s more fun for me that way.

I ran into my old boss on the subway the other day and gushed to him about our plans for this weekend. He chuckled and said, “eight hours straight in the car with your new husband, you sure are eager to stress test this marriage of yours, aren’t you?”

It might be a little crazy, sure. But everyone knows that crazy = fun. That’s just a basic maths right there. D and I are very travel compatible, so I’m not worried about it at all. We always have lots of laughs together and are both really jazzed up about this trip. We’re married, but we haven’t been totally domesticated yet. Why not grab life by the balls? We’re young and we’re full of dreams. We gotta make these bold moves now while we’re able to without any worry. We don’t have any annoying entanglements to hold us back. It’s a slam dunk already and we haven’t even left yet.

laughing with my hubby

Seriously, I am so fucking pumped! I’ve already made a fresh batch of mixed CD’s for the ride, I’ve got a supermassive 1000-page Archie comic packed, I’ve got oodles upon oodles of snacks stashed away, and I’ve got my doting husband in tow. It’s going to be so frigging rad.

We’re going to eat cheese steaks! We’re going to tour the city! Maybe we’ll even be so bold as to lick the Liberty Bell…

Whatever it is we decide to do on this journey of ours, I’ll keep you posted. So stick around chums, Smash is hitting the open road.

A new ‘do!

Well, I guess I’m pretty average in this regard. Just another of many new brides who decided to make a big hair change shortly after the nuptials were done. But so what, right? I’ve been thinking about it for a while now and it just made sense. So I went for it. Fortune does favour the bold, or so I’ve heard.

Recently, my friend The Magpie was telling me about the time she got bored during a snowstorm in the late 90’s and decided to let her boyfriend shave her head. And then to make it really pop, she bleached the remains a gnarly shade of blind-you-in-an-instant blonde. That’s way too drastic to be considered bold though; that’s downright berserk! But that’s just how she rolls. I roll way more tamely when it comes to my hair.

I had scheduled my cut before hearing that story, and I was still hedging a little. But when I walked in and saw my hairdresser rocking a svelte, shaved, bleached blonde ‘do of her very own, I knew it was a sign from the universe. I heard the call, it was time for me to be bold, make a change, do something unexpected. Time for a new spin on classic Smash.

my new 'do!

It’s short, you guys! I haven’t worn my hair short in a very very long time. I would say, probably not since grade 9? When I rocked a really unfortunate afro. Short + perm = a real bad look for me. Yeah, don’t get your hair cut or permed in your mom’s friend’s basement. Especially not when it’s 2001 and she’s still sporting a majorly teased and immovable dome of 80’s horror hair.

But this time around I was in much better hands and I was feeling spontaneous. I didn’t tell D I was doing it either. I didn’t tell anyone. I just wanted to be independent and do my own thing.

And I couldn’t be happier!

For comparison, here’s my old mop on St. Patty’s this year.

old 'do!

It was long, and unruly, and difficult. It was holding me back.

I feel better now. I’m feeling sleek, modern, and cool. Easy breezy. A hipper, bolder Smash for the next half of this decade.

partaaay hair

D was surprised at first. And when I rolled into work on Monday my pal The Magpie was floored. So far the reviews have been rave. But most importantly of all, I feel fucking fantastic.

Change is good. Fortune has definitely favoured this bold soul.

Surprise Me, I say

I fucking love surprises. That’s not so surprising though, is it?

I attack any gift I’m ever given with feverish glee, clawing off tuffs of wrapping paper with brute efficiency. I can sport a genuine look of jaw-dropped surprise like nobody’s business. And I’m a goldmine of reactions, too. Some people shrink away from surprises, or rejoice inwardly instead. Which isn’t always the most satisfying experience for the person who planned the surprise. But not me, man. I don’t shy away, I embrace it with every fibre of my being. I steer straight into that skid, full speed ahead!

I wish I could gift unto my dear friend The IPC the excited reaction I had to the surprise he sent me just today. But sadly, this thankful post will have to suffice.

Last year, I won this cool thing called Shitfest that he hosted on his site and got a badass trophy to show for it. People ask about it when they see it sitting there on my shelf, and I positively brim with pride when I tell them all about the great Shitfest adventure I had. Well, another Shitfest term has recently come to an end, and a new winner has been crowned. Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade has taken up the mantle of Shitfest Champion, and she’s wearing it well. She posted an acceptance piece about her trophy too, and it was delightful. But I will admit to having felt a slight twinge of jealousy when she revealed that the package containing her trophy also included a handwritten note from The IPC himself and cool IPC swag.

So I did what comes so naturally to me, I berated him about it. Like the ungrateful heathen that I am.

And it worked! That damn squeaky wheel, it always gets the grease.

poster package

WAAAHOOOOOOOOO! SMASH LOVES SURPRISES!

I got my very own bundle of fucking sa-weeet IPC swag, and more importantly, the handwritten note I had coveted so fiercely.

handwritten note

And stickers, too. I fucking love stickers.

ipc stickers

I’m going to have to find four very precious places in my life for the sticking of these stickers. I’ve scoped out a couple of locations already, but nothing that feels special enough yet. I’ll find the perfect spot for each of them though, I know I will.

I also got some business cards with a custom IPC logo on them. And a ring! One ring to rule them all.

death metal ring

I’m going to go right ahead and assume that this ring bestows upon me the power and privilege of Official IPC Enforcer. I’ll enforce the shit out of life in the name of your blog, dude. I won’t dishonour this self-granted title, I swear it. The ring is a little bit way too big for my nimble enforcer’s fingers though, so I’m probably gunna pop it on a chain and wear it around my neck with my newly discovered sense of menace.

But wait, there’s more!

He also included this:

cool poster

A beauty of a poster created by none other than our blogger friend, Mojo. Who can be found showcasing his enormous talent over on his site Mojo’s Work. If you’re interested in purchasing some wonderfully original artwork, then you should check out his site. I’ve sent a bunch of wishes out into the universe for a mysterious windfall that will allow me to go on a wild spending binge one day, scooping up all sorts of treasures that he’s created. It’s going to happen, you mark my words. It’s going to happen and you’ll be reading all about it on my blog and saying to yourself, “that Smash, she sure is something else. And I wish I’d beaten her to the punch on that goddamn rad water-colour of an apple hanging dong out of his underpants.”

Truly, an incredible surprise from my weirdo internet friend, The IPC. And I say that with indescribable measures of affection. You’re my weird internet friend, and I’m so happy that you’re in my life. Someday, we’ll beer and nacho it up together real good. I’ve got a hunch about it.

And hey, if this post of thanks isn’t enough to tickle your fancy maybe you’d trust me to send a surprise your way? I sure would love to pay this kindness back to the friend I so admire.

Luck of the Draw

Sometimes in life there are things that are just meant to be. Coincidences and things of that nature. Unexpected little moments of delight that just feel right. The universe talks, and sometimes we can hear it.

D and I met up for dinner one night after work. It was cold and unkind outside, as it has been all winter long, so we didn’t want to wander too far from home. We treaded the well-worn and mostly indoor path to the Pickle Barrel in our hood. I’ve been really digging their breakfast foods lately. We sat down and started to scan the menu. D noticed a promotional ad on the table. D loves deals. He loves to find good “specials” and “deals” at our local restaurants. He files them away in his thrifty head for future usefulness and savings. It’s all about the savings. There are a bunch of pictures on his phone of weekly specials and deals from restaurants all over the city. So that if we happen to feel like dining out on Thursday night we know exactly where to go that particular night for the best deal in town. For D, dining out is partly about having a good meal, but mostly about making a killing when the check comes.

The ad that D happened to notice that night at the Pickle Barrel was for a 1 litre boot of Steamwhistle beer for $15.99. And you got to keep the boot afterwards. A tempting little promo what with St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks away. We hemmed and hawed about this for a while, before finally passing on the deal. That was a sweet fucking boot, no doubt. But beer makes D too full, he doesn’t like to drink a lot of it when he’s eating. He’d rather have some beers a few hours after dinner, if there’s a game on or something. So he can enjoy it without feeling uncomfortable and bloated. And I’ve been off beer for a couple of months now. I’m all about these delicious raspberry vodka and lemonade cocktails I’ve recently concocted. Plus, Steamwhistle sucks. We hate that beer. A lot of people here in Toronto love it, but not us. We even went so far as to ask the server if it had to be Steamwhistle in the boot, maybe we could get it filled with something else instead. A beer we actually wanted to drink.

But sadly, no dice.

So we passed on the boot. We really wanted it, but it just didn’t make sense. Oh well, that’s that.

A couple of days later I had to buy some booze for the weekend, so I cruised on over to the liquor store. In and out, a real smooth operation. I grabbed what I needed and got in line. Some dick was taking forever to pay and holding up the line, as usual. Standing there impatiently, I started to look around. I noticed out of the corner of my eye a bright green Steamwhistle box on the other side of the store. A box with a couple of tallboys and the boot we’d passed up a few days ago at dinner. What a coincidence! But then the line started to move, and a few more people were behind me now. I didn’t want to lose my spot to go and see how much it was. I hate when people do that, gum up the works with their indecisiveness at checkout counters. I didn’t want to be that asshole that puts her stuff down and says “I’ll be right back, I just have to grab something real quick.” They always say that it’s going to be “real quick” and it never is. I decided to just pay for what I had and come back tomorrow to scope out the situation.

When I got home I told D that I had seen the boot for sale at the liquor store. With his interest renewed, he agreed that we would go take a look and possibly buy one tomorrow. We could chuck the shitty beers we hated and then fill our boot with whatever the hell we wanted instead. The more we thought about it, the more excited we got. Das boot!

But tomorrow didn’t pan out for us. We’d gone back to the liquor store only to discover that all of the cases with the boot were gone. They’d sold out already, and we were shit out of luck. It was a desirable little novelty, that boot. People really wanted them. And we were just doomed to carry on wanting, it seemed. I kicked myself for my stupid need to be considerate of others. If only I’d been a teensy bit selfish the night before, I’d be living my dreams, drinking out of that frigging boot like a champion.

I thought about that boot often over the next few days that followed. I wanted it now more than ever, and I’d missed out on it not just once, but twice. Damn. The universe, with its infinite knowing, seemed to sense my frustration. It knew that something hinky was afoot. Some creative correction was needed.

We went to a comedy club last week. My sister won some free tickets and asked us to come along for the laughs. It was fun. She’s lucky and she wins free shit all the time. One time we went to a party and she won four Christmas trees in the raffle. Four! Needless to say, but if she’s ever caught bemoaning her poor luck, we’re all very quick to remember the story of the four Christmas trees. After the show was over, the MC announced that there was going to be a 50/50 raffle to benefit the diabetes foundation. D only had five bucks in his pocket, just enough for a ticket. He likes to gamble, and he’s always had a good bit of luck about himself. I mean, he managed to land this classy babe, amiright?

D bought his ticket and we stood at the bar, waiting for the raffle to start. The MC grabbed the mic, and as I turned to face him a brief sparkle caught my eye. A glimmer of light from above, dancing along the rounded lip of a Steamwhistle boot. Well I’ll be damned! They were about to raffle off one of those bloody boots as a secondary prize. My hopes skyrocketed instantly and I grabbed at D’s arm in excitement. “They have the boot! We’re going to win one, we have to!”

“Pffft, who gives a shit about that boot. I’ll win the big prize babe, and then I’ll buy all the fucking boots we want,” D responded. The big prize was 5 cool g’s, so that would be okay, too. But it wouldn’t be as exciting as winning the boot. Not to me, anyways.

The MC reached into the drum for a ticket, and I held my breath. I looked over D’s shoulder at the ticket, concentrating on his number while the MC read the winning number aloud.

Every single number he read matched the numbers on D’s ticket. And in that moment, I heard the universe talking. Talking to us.

The Boot

We were meant to have that boot, and the universe kindly intervened to make it so. It’s one of those things that I just know.

Cheers, universe! Here’s looking at you.

Smashing Through Sick Days

I called in sick to work today. Tossed and turned all night. My nose unrelentingly stuffed up and my throat an inferno of suffering, I knew a good night’s sleep was just outside of my weakening grasp. When I looked over at the clock on my nightstand and saw that I was only 45 minutes away from having to get up and start another Monday morning, I heaved a sigh of infinite misery.

Fuck that shit, man. I couldn’t really afford a day off, having too many critical projects on the go right now. But I also couldn’t face the day feeling like I was. Worried that I might’ve been stricken with the dreaded strep throat, I’ve always been prone to it, I decided that it would be best to stay home. Sometimes you just have to lay low for a while, so I phoned it in on the day and called in sick. I blew my nose until it was raw, a futile effort, but I had to try. Then I took some cold pills and actually managed to sleep for a few hours.

Luckily for me though, no strep after all. Just a bastard of a cold. I’ll kick it in a few days I’m sure, I’m already starting to feel better after a day of rest. But while we’re on the subject, I do have some tried and true methods for minimizing my discomfort when I’m sick.

1. Chicken Noodle Soup is a Necessity

chicken noodle

That’s an easy one, we all know it. When your tummy starts to rumble, you have to get yourself a big delicious bowl of soup. It is the number one sick day food. Don’t skimp on the crackers, either. They’re an integral part of the magic.

2. Waste Good Brain Cells on as Much Daytime T.V. as You Want

Peruse that tube, man. For as long as you want. You’re not going anywhere today, not feeling like you are. And nobody else is home to judge you for the poor viewing choices you might make. Talk shows, game shows, soaps. Take your pick! You could kick it classic with some Price Is Right for an hour. Then watch some turd do a jaunty “I’m not the daddy!” dance on Maury to lift your spirits. Maybe you’re dying to find out if blah blah is still in a coma on Days of Our Lives. Doesn’t matter, just make sure you watch a bunch of crap while laying on the couch. It helps.

3. Snuggle Up

Speaking of lying on the couch watching crappy shows, there is someone you can share that time with who understands. Someone who appreciates a day spent lying around the house.

Harvey nap

I pulled that blanket out of the dryer and Harvey jumped right into without a second thought. He laid there on the couch with me for three hours straight. Didn’t move an inch. It was an absolute dream. Pets are loaded with incredible healing powers. Everyone knows that. Looking over at his happy little blanket hogging face every now and again did me a world of good.

4. Splish Splash

When you’ve seen all that the tube has to offer and your eyes need a rest, hop in the tub. It’s the relaxation of the couch combined with the pride to be had in bathing yourself, you can’t lose! You’re not totally useless, you’re just sick. If you can find within yourself the energy to turn on a tap and take off your clothes, then you should definitely get into the tub. And put some bubbles in it while you’re at it. When was the last time you got to enjoy a long soak in the tub? You may as well go it whole hog. The hot water and steam will loosen up that giant wad of phlegm locked in your chest. No pictures for this one though, sorry perves.

5. Drink Everything in Sight

You need fluids. Everyone says so. I can’t remember why you’re supposed to have so much fluid up in you when you’re sick, but it feels good. If you get an inexplicable craving for root beer, just go with it. Maybe you favour a soothing cup of tea. Brew it. Or maybe chocolate milk is the angle you’re working. Chug it straight from the carton. That’s also the best way to stake your claim on the remainder of the chocolate milk. Sip it right out of the carton with your disgusting, germ-riddled mouth. Good, you own it all now. And if you’re not sure what it is you need, just get one of everything. It works for me.

lots o drinks

Hoodwink the common cold by using these tricks. And when in doubt, pop some more cold pills.

My throat is still feeling rough, and my nose is only slightly less cloggy. But I do feel better. I don’t consider it a day well spent, but I did try to make the most of it. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to attack it with at least 70% of my usual vigour.

Couple more cold pills ought to do it.

Setting The Date

In the very first moments when your brain begins processing the fact that you are going to have to start planning a wedding, there’s this powerful wave of denial that crashes into the forefront of your mind. You just got engaged, so the wedding is miles away. You’re just going to soak up all the excitement of the engagement for now, enjoying a nice open-ended engagement that could last forever and a day if you wanted it to. The wedding isn’t going to happen overnight, so you’re not going to worry about it right away.

That works, for a little while. An impossibly short little while. The people in your life are thrilled for you, really, they couldn’t be happier. But they’ve also got questions. So many questions. When is it? Will it be a destination wedding? In a church? How many people? Will it be open bar? And accompanying those questions is an assortment of suggestions. You should have wine on the tables. You better get a good photographer. Start getting in shape now. According to wedding etiquette you have to do this, and this, and this, and this. Asking for cash is tacky. Photo-booths are so last year.

And on and on it goes.

At first, you dance around all of that blabbering with ease. Your standard response to all of the noise around you has become a noncommittal shrug as you bust an awe-inspiring Running Man on the packed dance floor in your mind. It feels good, for a while, keeping everyone else at an arm’s length while you plumb the depths of your heart, trying to figure out what it is you really want. But that stops working eventually. People keep bringing it up when they see you, because surely by now you’ve started to put something tangible together, no? At some point, it stops feeling like conversation and starts feeling like pressure. That once awesome dance floor in your mind is suddenly too crowded, too noisy. They’re playing shit music. And an obnoxious cluster of sweaty, creepy dudes keep trying to get their pelvises all up in your business where you don’t want them. You’re looking for your friends, a lifeline, anything, but there isn’t a one to be found. Evacuate that dance floor, man. The unknown officially stopped being easy and started getting scary.

You realize that you have to start planning this damn thing. Right now. You can’t take another second of your own ifs and buts, only your own decisiveness can save you now.

Ideas start to materialize. Options present themselves. And when you take that first tentative step forward, articulating one of your ideas to someone else, searching for validation that your ideas are in fact good and wonderful, then the planning has begun. But beware! Some ears are not as receptive as they appear. Sometimes you’ll share something dear to you with the wrong person and instead of shelling out the support you so desire, you’ll find cruel derision laying in wait for you. Such a thing happened to me, and I’ve since learned not to share with certain individuals. Only that which is positive is allowed in the secret wedding planning place within my heart. Thoughtful suggestions born of helpfulness are always welcome, but the petulant threats of non-attendance and scornful snorts of judgement need not apply.

It took a long time for it to sink in, this realization that I’m going to have a wedding. The idea of D has been comfortable for years now, it’s old hat. He’s my man, and that’s just how it is. But the idea of planning some momentous occasion to make official whatever this thing we have together is, was a whole other beast. Some may relish the task, but I didn’t. I never dreamed about a wedding day in any specific terms. A waterproof robot buddy that you could have excellent water park adventures with, sure. But never a wedding.

D and I started talking about what we might want to do. Where we would have it, who we would invite. We waffled about a couple of places. I got a few quotes and D had a big crazy excel file crammed with venue comparisons that I’m sure gave him a few tingles of excitement in his wiener. Because he’s a weirdo like that, and he loves to look before he leaps. But none of it seemed to be going anywhere, and I was content to idle. Then I woke up one day with a feeling in my gut that we had to set a date and book something right goddamned now. We had to do it now, or I was going to idle forever.

So we did. We found a place that fits the budget, and it’s going to be awesome. We saw it last weekend and booked it on the spot; we set the date. We’re getting married, it’s really happening you guys. I’m out of denial and well into acceptance now.

Smash n D

January 31st, 2015. It’s a date, a good date even. Our date.