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.

Smashelorette

I love that word, it’s the perfect title for this post. My friend the Magpie posted a pic of me from Saturday night using the hashtag Smashelorette and I fucking love it so much.

You guys don’t even know. And I don’t even know if I know how to tell this story… but bear with me. The fog of booze around my brain is clearing, this might start coming together as we go.

smashelorette

I’ve been waiting for this so long. This night. This amazing night out with my girls, getting drunk, laughing. Celebrating like only girls can. With lots and lots of shrill yayys! and wooooos! to accompany every sentence. Excitedly hopping and bopping everywhere and into everything. Chanting deliciously filthy chants at every male we encounter along the way. “SHOW-US-YOUR-PENIS!”, “JUST-THE-TIP!”, and “EAT-MORE-DICK-CHEESE!” among the best  of them.

That’s what girls do. We make ourselves look as classy and lovely as we possibly can, then we go out into the world causing all the mayhem we can muster. And I do have a lot of mayhem in my heart, believe you me. I’m pretty sure that I head-butted one of my friends on the d-floor. Mistakenly, of course. But only because a bunch of mayhem had bubbled over and was going to translate into some insanely rad dance floor head-banging. I just forgot to step back first. Oopsies! It’s not the first time though, definitely won’t be the last either. Very sorry, friend.

That must be why my neck is still so sore two days later. I fucking head-banged the shit outta that dance floor. But when you’ve got a band of rad motherfuckers ripped on heroin and playing the same Led Zeppelin song on a constant loop, there’s nothing you can do but head-bang the fucking shit outta life. The power of Zeppelin compels you!

At one point I had a little chat with the guitarist, about the recent passing of Tommy Ramone. And I begged him to rally his band buddies and play me a killer Ramones cover. He nodded semi-agreeably and went to talk to his musically inclined chums. When they hit the stage again after the intermission, the guitarist tossed me a sly grin and started cranking out yet another classic Zeppelin tune… Oh man! Another 22-minute guitar solo. I shot a look of long-suffering at The Magpie, as if to say “oh well, what can you do?” and she didn’t even have to say a word. She perfectly mimed the tying off of a vein and shot a finger needle into the crook of her arm while rolling her eyes back in a perfect pantomime of druggie bliss. It was so excellent. We just laughed and danced. Then laughed and danced some more because that guitar never stopped.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. This story clearly won’t be linear, that fucking ship has sailed. It was never going to be anyways, because I don’t remember it that way. I’m slowly remembering my way through the events of the Smashelorette. And every time I talk to someone about it, another little gem of memory is unearthed and lovingly relived.

Like when Joce reminded me that she stole a platter of 20 sliders off of someone else’s table and our motley group of girls gobbled them up in a feeding frenzy! No I didn’t dream that, it actually happened. It’s such a perfectly Joce-force thing to do.

Or when I put on a fake moustache with Dame Edna glasses and Shannie told me that I looked like Freddie Mercury. Dreams really do come true. Playing dress up in general. I mean, if you’re at a party and your friend gives you a box of costumes to dress people up in, it’s going to be a wicked time.

shannie the raver

my little peacock

Playing the underwear game! Everyone bought a pair of panties and I had to guess who bought them. An absolutely hilarious idea. Especially when one of your friends decides to buy you a pair of 3XL men’s tighty whiteys. Oh, Caitlin! You’re a beautiful little sexual harassment just waiting to happen.

she'll get ya

big underwear

Twirling and swirling around the dance floor with a very tall gentleman who didn’t speak a lick of english. But he didn’t have to. He spoke an even more important language: the language of the dance!

Eating a piece of penis cake. Thank you Bec. I always wondered what chocolate ball hair would taste like. It’s sweet. A little sticky too. Not unexpected at all. An unsavoury delight. Much like the dick cheese my friend Hoben moulded to glorious perfection. I’ve also wondered what green onion ball hair tasted like. Cross another thing off the bucket list, darling.

Doing oh so many grapefruit wedge Jell-O shots! Best summertime booze treat you can have.

jell-o shots

And of course, chugging dirt cheap champagne that made me throw up in my mouth a little…

champagne chug

When Caitlin found me a hunk with a ponytail to talk to. I got to touch it! The ponytail, of course. It was curly and sweaty and magnificent. Mmmm, oh yeah. That’s the real dream, a man with a ponytail. I’m totally being serious right now. Just wanted to make sure nobody thought I was being purposefully flip about that. Gimme them long luscious locks any time. Let me run my fingers through your hair, baby. Oh yeah, just like that!

Omg. THE MIDGET STRIPPER. *facepalm*

He was small and sweaty and he blew in my ear. Aggressively. It wasn’t sexy. It was like the blast of a backfiring car right in my earhole.

Oh right, this is an important detail: my Smashelorette party was Star Wars themed. Yeah, that’s fucking right. My friends lovingly coloured a bunch of images from a Star Wars colouring book and used them as decorations all over Joce’s apartment. It was very beautiful and meaningful to me. There were also bottles of chase with Yoda’s picture on them and labelled “Yoda Pop”. Brilliant! There was a hand drawn “Pin The Penis on Darth” game. Oh Sara, words cannot describe how much I love you for making that. And how much I loved seeing the bad first attempt at a drawing of Darth showing through the sliding glass door when I was out on the balcony. Priceless. He’s a hard dude to draw, I was very impressed with the end result.

But back to that stripper…

We were grooving along to some sweet pre-drinking tunes when suddenly the music changed. A very recognizable piece of music started to play. Is that…? Oh yeah, it is! It’s the frigging Star Wars theme music. I got really excited at that point. I sat on the special chair and buzzed with excitement. I’ve always wondered what Darth Vader’s penis looked like and tonight I was finally going to find out what he’s been hiding under that codpiece.

Just as the epic entrance music was fading out, he stepped into the room. All 4 foot 8 of him. Probably more like 5′ 3″, but who’s measuring? And he’s… um. What the fuck? He’s a cop? And now he’s making some lame cliché joke about a noise complaint… that’s something, I guess.

i'm so impressed

Actually, this worked out really well. Even though he wasn’t dressed as the Dark Lord and I couldn’t climb him like a mountain, I’ll never forget pointing and laughing at his sweat-stained underwear while he shook his crotch in my cousin’s face. AND, most important of all… he wasn’t supposed to show us his wiener but he did anyways. Joce told me she wouldn’t pay extra for him to do the full monty. So he was either such a trooper or our rowdy chants just eventually wore him down, but either way, WE GOT THAT DICK FOR FREE!

I just had a great idea for him! He should dress up like Prince when he strips. He’s got the perfect build for it… dammit. Someone should call and tell him that. I bet there are a lot of ladies out there who’d love a lap dance from The Purple One. I know I would.

There’s so much to remember! Too much to remember really. I’m grateful for cameras. And I’m thankful for all of my wonderful friends. I’m so in love with all of you.

friends

my lovely family

Dreams come true. I should probably divorce D and then re-marry him just so we can have another party like this. Another super mega-awesome blast of a time, just us girls.

But I guess even though I’m getting married, that doesn’t mean I have to slow down my bad ass partying ways, does it?

photo-3

Maybe we just need to do one more of these before the wedding. It was always going to take more than one really excellent bender to get it all out of my system anyways, right?

More Than I Could Chew

D and I decided to grab a bite out for dinner tonight. Nothing special, we just went to a little pub in our neighbourhood. We like going out for dinner. We get to sit down and talk, just the two of us. It’s nice.

When I was younger I wasn’t a very adventurous eater. I liked to stick with what was working, like a big juicy cheeseburger or a comforting piece of shepherd’s pie. But I’ve grown up a lot since then. I try things now, you know. We went out to a fancy dinner earlier this week to celebrate D’s birthday and I had this amazingly creamy lobster and crab soup followed by a coronary inducing strip loin and duck fat frites. It was the meal that launched a thousand puddles of drool. I wouldn’t have eaten any of that stuff when I was a kid. I would have turned up my nose immediately, and I would have stuck by my guns no matter how delicious the morsel in question turned out to be. “Duck fat frites? What the fuck are you even talking about? Oh, so they’re just fancy french fries? Yeah, I still hate that”, would have been my take on it back then. But I’ve since learned that trying new things won’t actually kill you dead on the spot. And it’s been great. I fucking love trying new shit all the time now.

An extension of that growth, that newly discovered joy of trying, is that I also try not to order the same old familiar stuff at places. If we’re going somewhere that we’ve been before I try to bounce around the menu, ordering something I haven’t had at that particular place before. I’ve seen people get stuck in that rut of ordering the same damn thing from the same damn place all the time. It’s tiresome. I don’t want to be tiresome, I want to live every moment like it’s a fantastic new adventure. Especially when it comes to my culinary exploits. I’ve already wasted so much of my precious time turning my nose up, and I don’t want to waste a minute more.

So D and I met up after work and made our way over to Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub for dinner. I scanned the menu, trying to avoid the delicious looking same old same old land-mines on every page. Chicken Pot Pie, yummy but been there done that girlfriend. Fish ‘n’ Chips, another favourite of mine but it’s always the same no matter where you are. Club Sandwich, pffft more like Club Boring Sandwich. Then something wonderful caught my eye under the Burgers ‘n’ Sandwiches heading: Fish Taco. I like fish tacos, I’ve had them at other places a time or two before. But they’re not something I order all the time. Maybe on a hot, sticky summer afternoon when I feel like an ice-cold beer and a nibble. Fish tacos can really hit the spot under the right circumstances. It was just another blah January night, dark and cold. But a couple of fish tacos might be just the ticket to fight the blahness of this January night.

There was just one thing, though. It was listed on the menu as Fish Taco, no lowercase “s” neatly tacked onto the end. I wondered aloud to D if maybe that meant it would be one enormous piece of fish in a tortilla. He assured me that it was probably just a typo, a huge piece of fish in a tortilla would be ridiculous. Nobody would ever order it, he said. It’s not logical, he added for good measure. I thought about double-checking with the server first, just to be sure, but then D’s reasoning won me over in the end. Surely he was right. One huge piece of fish all bundled into a tortilla would be madness. It’s definitely going to be a tidy little plate with two, maybe three, fish tacos all in a row.

And then this happened:

fish taco

One enormous fucking fish taco was placed in front of me.

D and I were floored. I sat there looking at him, mouth agape and momentarily stunned. How could this be? It was supposed to be illogical and ridiculous, and now it’s somehow become a terrifying reality. I really didn’t even know where to begin. When I turned it around to peek at the formidable fishy foe within it was like looking into a chasm.

fish taco again

That wasn’t a typo on the menu at all. It was a completely accurate description of the meal that I received. I got exactly what I’d ordered alright, Fish Taco.

So I did the best I could, I really did. But I hadn’t been planning on stuffing my face, I wasn’t overly hungry to begin with. I’d just wanted something easily manageable that I could nibble. And don’t get me wrong, it was a goddamned delicious fish taco. The crispy filet of haddock was packed into the tortilla with generous helpings of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and tangy chipotle mayo sauce to join it on its journey down my gullet.

But I just couldn’t make it all disappear.

eating fish taco

I had to concede defeat to the mighty Fish Taco, for I had been bested.

It had the upper hand on my appetite and the element of surprise tucked into its roomy back pocket, but I’d like to think I gave it some hell on the way down. Maybe someday I’ll go back, order it again, and prove myself a worthy adversary. But for now, I’m going to shoot some Pepto to soothe my aching, overstuffed tummy and keep my distance while I lick my wounds.

We’ll meet again Fish Taco, I’m sure of it. And next time I’ll be ready for you.

Cultural Swag

Once in a while we get to enjoy a little perk or two courtesy of D’s work. He’s got connections, man. He recently came into a package of V.I.P. tickets to the newest exhibit at The ROM (pronounced like CD-ROM), otherwise known as The Royal Ontario Museum. Fun, right? We live in this wonderful city with all kinds of interesting things to do, but so rarely do we actually do any of those things. We were pretty excited to take advantage of an opportunity to spend a day exploring the museum.

As per our chums over at Wikipedia, the ROM was established in 1912 and opened the doors to the public in 1914. It’s one of the largest museums in North America, home to an extensive collection of fossils, minerals, art, and artifacts. It’s a veritable hive of knowledge.

This is how a museum should look

This is how a museum should look

The only thing I dislike about the ROM is the horrendous renovation that was made to  the front entrance back in 2007. It’s called The Crystal and it’s this enormous, oddly shaped mass of aluminum and glass that juts out of the building at an arrogant angle. I did not take any pictures of it, because frankly, it isn’t worth the effort. But if you’re interested in checking it out you can do a quick google and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It is a total eyesore. It just doesn’t feel right, and I hate it. Unfortunately though, you have to use that entrance to get in. Puke.

On Saturday afternoon we made the trek to the museum. A burst water main at Bloor/Yonge station meant we had to take the long way around to get there, but we didn’t mind. It meant we got to get off at Museum station, my favourite of all the subway stations. If I had to guess, I’d say that Museum station has experienced the fewest instances of hobo piss compared to all of the other stations. It just seems like it commands more respect than all of the others. It’s special, and deserves to be appreciated.

It makes me feel adventurous!

It makes me feel all adventurous

And it’s cool because it’s got all these great fake statues and ancient looking columns lining the platform. When I walk along the Museum station platform I like to pretend that I’m on a grand adventure, exploring some previously undiscovered pharaoh’s tomb and looking for forgotten treasures. This little bout of pretend really helped me get in the right mindset for a day at the museum.

You wouldn't dare piss on something as special looking as this, would you?

You wouldn’t dare piss on something as special looking as this, would you?

We had tickets for all of the regular exhibits as well as the latest one called Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World. It was cool, but it was way too crowded. We could barely see anything because all of the displays had people totally surrounding them. Seemed like everyone and their uncle wanted to check out old Mesopotamia last Saturday. The other problem we had is that we’re both short. And I’m a shover too, but I do try not to be quite so quick to shove when I’m out at nice classy joints like the ROM. Instead, I politely skimmed my eyes over whatever it was that I could possibly see while gliding through the exhibit fairly quickly. It was hot and sticky with all those people crammed in there, I just wanted to get out already. We actually enjoyed that exhibit least of all, ranking it last place overall compared to everything else we saw. The best part of any museum is clearly the dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs!

View from up above the main foyer

Everyone loves dinosaurs. They’re big and awesome and exciting. Playing Jurassic Park when we were kids was always super fun. What’s not to love? The best part of the displays are the renderings beside each skeleton that tell you which parts of the display are actual fossils and which parts are recreations.

Chompy!

Chompy!

Scary fish dinosaur

Scary fish dinosaur

Obviously I had to get some shots of the T-Rex

Obviously I had to get some shots of the T-Rex

It was really fun trying to fit that tusk in the frame while a bunch of people kept walking in front of my shot

It was really fun trying to fit that tusk in the frame while a bunch of people kept walking in front of my shot

Thankfully we didn’t experience any sort of sit-com type scenario where one of us sneezed and accidentally knocked over a T-Rex in front of a bunch of dumbfounded onlookers. I was a little bit worried that something like that could happen, I’m not gunna lie. I mean, it happened in pretty much every T.V. show that ever did an episode involving a museum so it seemed like the odds were high.

D liked the dinosaurs a lot too, but he said that his favourite part overall was the rock and mineral displays. We spent a lot of time exploring that section too. It’s fun to learn about all of the amazing treasures that are created naturally within our wacky little planet’s core.

There were tons of shelves of minerals

There were tons of shelves of minerals to look at just like this one

mouthy mineral

Hey, wanna grab some lunch? I’m starving!

In the natural history section there’s also this really cool place called The Bat Cave. It’s this long and winding dark corridor with all of these caves carved into the walls and fake bats floating around inside. As you walk through the darkened cave you can hear recorded bat sounds for a truly immersive experience. Even though it was hella dark in the bat cave, I was able to use the flash to get a few decent pictures.

One of many exciting crevices in the Bat Cave

One of many exciting crevices in the Bat Cave

pretending to scale the bat cave walls, naturally

Pretending to scale the bat cave walls in my head, naturally

I’ve always loved bats. Some of that love can probably be attributed to my fascination with Batman that started at a young age, but mostly I just think they’re cool. If it was feasible to keep a bat as a pet, I probably would. Freaky people keep snakes and tarantulas as pets right, so what would be so different about having a pet bat? If you could keep it in a special cage and feed it and care for it and love it just like you would a hamster that would be so awesome. For now though, I guess I’ll just have to content myself with the little carved bat statue I bought at the ROM gift shop on my way out.

Neither of us had been to the ROM in a really long time. At least 15 years or more for D, and probably 8 or 9 since my last trip. I loved spending the afternoon walking around the museum with D, just taking in one of the great wonders of our city. It was fun, holding hands and making our own hushed little jokes about dinosaur bones. I’m glad we had the opportunity to shake up our routine and do something different. We should make more of an effort to take advantage of all the incredible things our city has to offer more often. Maybe we will.

But then again, sitting around in our sweatpants watching football later that night was pretty great too. I can have it both ways if I want to.

Holiday Review

Well, there’s another Christmas come and gone. And a new year will dawn in a couple of days. I hope you kissed someone special under the mistletoe, ate entirely too much, and maybe even made an ass of yourself at a large family gathering. That’s what the holidays are there for, after all.

My holidays were fun, even though they veered off course a time or two.

The holidays started with the launching of a new tradition. My sister arranged a “Cousin’s Cocktail Christmas Party” and it was a great success. We got together with our cousins and their spouses/partners for some drinks, snacks, and general merriment. We then went to a comedy club to yuk it up. It was fun. Some of my best memories of Christmases past are of playing with my cousins. Our parents would get us all done up in fancy little outfits and try to impress upon us the importance of “behaving ourselves” at the dinner.

cousins at christmas

And obviously we’ve all grown up a whole lot since those days, but one thing that hasn’t changed is how much fun I still have with my cousins.

cousins christmas

Overnight we were harassed by an ice storm of disastrous proportions. We woke up to a world that had been completely consumed by ice.

ice storm

ice storm 2

ice storm 3

The storm took down countless trees and power lines. Over 250,000 homes in the city were without power for anywhere from 24 hours to a week. My cousin Ryan slept over at my sister’s place after the Christmas party, and awoke the next morning to find a tree had fallen onto his girlfriend’s car.

tree on car

The storm wreaked absolute havoc on the city, and I was glad to head north and out of the icy mess for a few days. But the fun just didn’t stop coming. On Christmas Eve I got sick. Really sick. Feverish, coughing, totally congested. I felt like a bag of assholes. My dad cooked up a feast and I barely even nibbled at it. My appetite was nowhere to be found. We then went to my mom’s for drinks and board games, which I normally really enjoy. But instead of having a bunch of Christmas fun with my family, I sat on the sidelines bundled in blankets, sweating buckets while a perpetual coughing fit racked my body. I was one pathetic sight.

On Christmas day, I was supposed to accompany D to his family get together. But I felt so goddamned shitty I couldn’t even get up off the couch without draining the last vestiges of my strength completely. I had to choose my battles wisely. D went on without me, and I stayed home. I laid on the couch and watched the entire 6 hours of The Stand miniseries on DVD. I had just finished the book, and my mom had the DVDs of the miniseries, so she let me borrow them. And they came in handy, that’s for damn sure.

The following day I felt well enough to go to lunch with D and his dad. At least I could be a part of some of his family celebrations, for his sake. But we didn’t do a lick of Boxing Day shopping. I usually love getting out there with all the other crazies, ripping shirts off of shelves like a maniac and bitching about getting cut off in the parking lot by some asshole who isn’t even looking. Jesus, he isn’t even looking! What is he, BLIND OR SOMETHING?

But even though I wasn’t in peak physical condition for enjoying the food, the shopping, or the gatherings, I was still plenty good at enjoying presents. And you know Smash loves presents. Just a recap for anyone who may not be familiar with this facet of my personality: I FUCKING LOVE OPENING PRESENTS. I can’t stand unopened presents. They make me insane. My fingers positively itch with the desire to rip and tear if they get within five feet of something that’s been wrapped up. It’s a compulsion.

I opened a lot of great gifts this year.

presents

Some of the gift highlights:

Star Wars Salt n Pepper Shakers!

star wars salt and pepper

Enormous Batman Mug!

batman mug

New Hobo Mittens!

mittens

Bitchin’ New Watch!

watch

A Big Bottle of Booze!

booze

His and Hers Robot Pillowcases! (My friend The Magpie embroidered these for me and they are absolutely stunning, I fucking love them to bits.)

pillowcases

And A Shitload of Chocolate!

chocolate

And I got tons of other great stuff too. I’m lucky. I have a lots of people in my life who love me and want to give me things that I love for christmas. Things that make me squeal with delight like a little kid. I’m probably the easiest person on the planet to buy gifts for. I’m easily pleased and I’m not picky. If I can have a thrilling time shredding a gift of its wrapping, I’m set. And as much as I love tearing into a pile of presents, I love giving great presents too. I know that everything I picked out for my loved ones this year was well received and will be cherished forevermore.

Even though the weather was truly frightful and my immune system totally flaked out on me, I managed to find some enjoyment in the holidays this year. Got some fantastic gifts, started a fabulous new tradition, and I took some time to plan my next big moves for the upcoming year. I’m really looking forward to the new year. I’ve got big plans brewing for 2014. It’s going to be my year. I’ve got a list of goals a mile long and I am going to be dogged in my pursuit of every single one.

Peace out 2013, it’s been a slice.

First Snow

You know it’s coming, it’s inevitable. You just don’t know when.

Some people will keep a wary eye on the weather reports year round, because you never know, right? Others only start to concern themselves with the possibility of it when the wick in the jack-o-lantern has finally been extinguished. Some people dread it, they were counting on a green Christmas this year. Some people hope for it with childlike desperation, they just can’t wait to hit the slopes. We know it’s coming when our girl Mother Nature starts dropping her coy little hints everywhere. Frost dusting the front lawn and creeping across windshields in the morning, warm coffee breath magically appearing before you as you huff your way towards the office, the rain puddles of last week turned slick and icy, a freezing cold surprise on your bum when you get up to pee in the middle of the night…

We steel ourselves for its imminent arrival. We test out the old space heater to make sure it still works. We gather up extra cozy thermal throws to snuggle on the couch with. We stock up on salt, shovels, anti-freeze, car scrapers and lock de-icers. We have to be vigilant. Especially here in Canada. The start of winter is unpredictable at best. But once that first snowfall takes, we can count on a solid four to six months of unrelenting cold and darkness.

I myself, prefer to be surprised by the first snowfall. I don’t try to anticipate it, that would spoil all the fun. There are so few surprises I will tolerate in life, but the first snowfall is one of them. And there are a myriad of ways that it can surprise you.

From the classic waking up on a cold morning and peeling back the curtains to reveal a generous three-foot-deep heaping of it, to the sneak attack flurries coating your car that you encounter upon your departure from the mall, possibly laden with spoils from your early Christmas shopping adventure. I love it when that first snowfall catches me off guard.

D and I went to a movie on Saturday afternoon. It looked a little chilly out, but otherwise calm. We wore our heavy winter jackets nonetheless, just in case. We made our way to the subway station, ducking our faces from the biting cold wind that whipped about our uncovered heads. “Fuck, it’s cold out there,” D exclaimed as we hustled down the stairs to the platform. His ears and cheeks were bright rosy red. “Yeah, but at least it’s not snowing yet,” I replied.

Seven stops later, we emerged from the subway and found ourselves smack in the middle of a swirling and splendid first snowfall. Surprise, motherfuckers!

Fat wet flakes floated all around us, settling on our coats and in our hair. I imagined we were trapped in a snow globe and laughed joyously as we dashed across the street to the theatre. A brilliant surprise first snowfall.

first snow yonge and dundas

first snow

The flakes were enormous and sticky. As we settled into our seats we wondered what kind of scene we’d be greeted with in two hours time when the movie was over. Maybe we’d be snowed in! Then we’d have to live off of popcorn and fountain sodas for the next couple of days while we anxiously awaited a ragtag group of unlikely heroes to dig us out. Maybe the power would go out and we’d be given some rain check vouchers and a bunch of awesome free shit to pacify us because they couldn’t finish screening the movie. Or better yet, maybe there would be so much snow that cars would be left buried and abandoned. Yeah, and there’d be a full blown riot in action. We could loot ourselves a sweet new snowmobile and scoot our way home through the hysterical masses. Oh yeah, I’d totally be up for a bit of light looting to cap off our date.

But, as it so often is with all of my daydreams, such was not the case.

That first snowfall was fickle. When we left the theatre we were met with sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows; everything that’s wonderful.

sunny snowy day

sunny snowy day 2

Well, not exactly that. But that would have been cool too, dammit. Another daydream dashed by stupid reality. But it was a lot nicer out than I was expecting. Although it wasn’t as extensive a first snowfall as I’d have liked, it did leave in its wake a beautiful view of the city. One that I can admire from the warmth of my apartment.

view of snow from above

IMG_2371

Surprised and delighted by the first snow of the year, I can’t wait for more. There are plenty of opportunities for my zany winter fantasies to come true this year. I believe in the magic of winter, and think that the first snowfall is a hopeful time. A time for wishes and dreams aplenty. A time for thinking about the future, and planning ahead. It’s a time for thoughtfulness and reflection. It can be a difficult and frustrating time, too. The cold, the rapidly shortening hours of daylight, the impossible driving conditions, the constant barrage of snow. It can feel eternal at times. But it is easily endured by those that choose to embrace it, rather than fight it. They don’t call it The Great White North for nothing, my friends. You can learn to love it, or move.

I’ll survive the frigid winter weather with my fingers firmly crossed inside my woolly mittens, hoping. Wishing on snowflakes, and dreaming on every visible puff of breath that escapes my lips. Because that’s how I like to be.

Always hoping, eternally hopeful.

More Adventures in Pizza

If you’ve been here for a while now then you know about my insatiable hunkering for pizza. I just love it so fucking much.

And I will also mention that since that post about my Top 5 Pizzaiolo slices, I have gotten free pizza there twice. TWICE! Once because the delivery boy recognized me (not for blogging, just for excessive pizza eating) and said that I could be the “Customer of the Day” therefore, my slice was free. I don’t even know if they have a customer of the day program. I suspect maybe he was just liking what he saw. I did actually wash my hair that day, so it’s plausible. One time I got a bunch of extra pickles for free at Harvey’s because the dork behind the counter was digging my sweet Star Wars t-shirt. Well, and maybe the rack underneath it too. But whatever, free pickles right? The other time I got a free slice from ‘aiolo was just last week when the manager was trying out some new cheeses on the pizza and asked if I wanted to try it out. Heck yeah I do. I’ll never say no to pizza, especially not when it’s free. So, that little piece of artistry has paid out handsomely in pizza karma.

free pizza

FREE PIZZA!

D and I used to buy shitty frozen pizzas from the grocery store all the time. Mostly when we lived in the ‘burbs and mostly so that there was pizza on-hand for when I got drunk late at night and all the pizza shops were closed. Doing that probably saved us a couple of break-ups. But with great pizza right around the corner, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. We haven’t had to resort to shitty frozen pizzas in a long time, and our life together is all the better for it. That also makes the little pizza monster that lives in my belly pretty goddamn happy. Now whenever we want to make pizza at home we just buy the dough and do it ourselves. It can be an ambitious undertaking, but it’s usually always worth it.

DIY Pizza

DIY Pizza

Homemade pizza is always that much more satisfying because you did it yourself. We went to a most delicious homemade pizza party at my cousin’s place a couple of weeks ago. It was more of a gourmet pizza experience. We used chorizo instead of pepperoni and I actually put some frigging vegetables on my pizza for a change. Something I’m normally opposed to, but I thought in the interest of acting a mature adult for a change I’d give it a try. I’m delighted to report that I’m hooked on sun-dried tomatoes now. I didn’t take any pictures though, because I didn’t want to seem weird or impolite. What’s the photo/food etiquette these days anyway? As long as it’s not “see-food” it’s okay? I’m not sure on this. Plus, I was enjoying the food too much to stop and take pictures of it. But trust me when I say that it was some of the best I’ve had in a long time. Crunchy, thin crust. Oo baby, that’s the stuff.

Frig, I just love it so much! Sometimes I try to make other things be pizza too. Like those delicious pizza grilled cheese sandwiches that I learned how to make because of my nana. Or like my latest and greatest pizza concoction: pizza bagels. And not those runty little bullshits that you buy in the freezer section at the grocery store, un uh.

I’m talking delicious honey ‘n’ oat bagels toasted an immaculate golden brown. With a generous slathering of garlic butter and assorted pizza toppings for the sake of the taste buds.

Oh bagel, you came and you saved me

Oh bagel, you came and you saved me

And these are great because you can do as many as you want, however you want them. Which is perfect for me and D because we never want the same toppings, as evidenced by the green pepper/mushroom segregation above.

Mushrooms lurking under all that cheese!

Mushrooms lurking under all that cheese!

The pizza bagels were a smashing success. We’ll probably stick with them for a while before I move on to discover bold new pizza frontiers. Maybe it’ll be pizza croissantwiches. Or pizza baguette. Mmmm, pizza waffles! Yeah, there’s potential there…

I suppose that’s all the recent pizza news I have for you today. I have to go change my shirt now as an unsightly drool stain is forming. Until next time my demented darlings.

Overcoming a Bad Day

I’m positive, in general. Always looking for a silver lining to wrap around the bullshit. It’s not often that I falter in doing so. I’m resilient and strong, I can overcome my obstacles.

But sometimes, I have bad days too. Days when my heart hurts too much to try because seeing the good is damn near impossible for all the shit obstructing my view. When it feels like nothing makes sense. When it feels like every option will result in a loss. When my gut does falter because the negativity is overwhelming.

What do you at a time like that? What can you do?

Well, this is what I do:

1. Vent or Wallow 

When the weight of something truly awful presses down on my heart, the first thing I do is react in one of these ways. Maybe I’m so frustrated that I need to scream until my lungs  feel like they’ll burst right out of my chest. Or launch a venomous tirade against whatever it was that sparked my ire. I might need to sob because too many mixed and mangled emotions are struggling to surface all at once. Venting is good for that, releasing all the mounted pressures. But maybe venting isn’t a good option in some instances though, because I’m scared that such an overt reaction will leave consequences in its wake. Revealing those raw emotions to anyone before I’ve worked through them could be dangerous. It could be damaging to a relationship that I value or to my own reputation. In that case, I might need to wallow instead. Run away, shut down, freeze out, isolate. I need to allow myself to feel intense feelings, alone. I have to wallow.

2. Identify

I have to concentrate on the why of it all. Why do I feel this way? What about this situation upsets me the most? I let myself get lost in my thoughts. If I can figure out what it is specifically that I find upsetting, then I can confront it. If I can’t see the hurdle, I can’t ever leap over it, and I’ll just keep stumbling into it. So I need to afford myself the luxury of introspection. What did I do to cause the problem? Does a particular situation that arose impact me directly or does it merely include me? I know what happened that upset me or pissed me off, but I have to understand why it does if I expect to work through it. I’ll replay what went down over and over in my head, trying to see it from multiple angles. From that process, I can decide if this is something that I should address or something that I should internalize for the time being.

3. Confront

Now that I’ve gained some perspective, I have a more whole understanding of the problem and its causes. I can start to resolve it. I can talk to someone, maybe to explain my viewpoint or maybe to apologize for a wrong I’ve committed. I might just need to be heard and acknowledged. Or I might just need to have a moment of recognition for something I did and why it was bad. Denying my involvement in my own unhappiness is a disservice to myself. When I think about the greatest upsets I’ve experienced, most of which in the last three years have been in the work place, I recognize things that I could have or should have done differently to effect a more desirable end result. I can’t change the past, but I can prepare myself for tackling similar struggles more aptly in the future.

4. Accept

I’m very hard on myself. There are missteps I’ve made in my life that I still haven’t forgiven myself for. And it might take a very long time before I ever do. There’s no tongue lashing I could receive from another that would ever parallel the severity of the internal one that I will inevitably give myself when I fuck up. That’s because I expect so much from me. I have exacting standards for the kind of person I hope to be. I’m not hoping for perfection, that would be boring as hell. I’m just hoping that one day I can serve as an example for someone else. That my beliefs, actions, and experiences will be valued. I want to be valued as deeply as I value the core people in my life. This is the hardest step of the whole process, the one that trips me up the most because of how hard I am on myself. But I do my best to come out on the other side, making peace with myself and any current entanglement I face. I can forgive others, that’s easy. Forgiving myself is the hardest thing to do and I’m still learning how to do it.

5. Get Over It

Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day. An accumulation of crappy moments, conversations, interactions, and situations that just bring you down. Stubbed toes, rainy days, being belittled or insulted, having to eat salad, making a mistake on something important at work, jerks shoving me around on the subway, not getting along with D, Harvey ripping up my favourite shirt: if all of those things happened to me in one day I’d probably want to fling myself off the roof. But some days are going to be like that. So doing things that purge yourself of all the negativity helps. I like to laugh with D, or belt out my favourite tunes at maximum shitty singing volume while I jump on the bed, or down a few beers with my cronies. I try to find something wonderful about the right now that I can immerse myself in. Doing stuff like that reminds me that I’ll be on the upswing again in no time, because the bad can always be vanquished by the good. And I believe that, unequivocally, with ever fibre of my being.

I’m happy and positive most of the time, but shit pisses me off and upsets me too. I’m not perfect, and I don’t always shine as brightly as I’d like to. So, if it’s something serious then I need to deal with it. And if it’s just a bunch of crappy stuff that’s dimming my shine, then I need to get over it so I can shine through it. Shake it off and move on, girl! You can’t control everything that happens to you in this life. Good and bad things will happen, most assuredly. But you can figure out the best way for you to deal with the shit so you can move on.

I had a really bad couple of days this week, and I had to face down a very disheartening reality yesterday. Surprised and hurt by the unexpected, I’ve been letting the negativity I feel overpower me. But something much larger than me and my desires is in motion, something that can’t be stopped or changed. So I’ll do the work, following the steps outlined above, because it will help eventually. I’ll come out of this okay, albeit a little sad, because I know that I have the power to overcome the shittiest of days.

And I know that the sadness won’t last for long once I’ve found it within myself to shine again.

retro prom

Smash will shine this brightly again, in time.

To Market, To Market

Rolled out of bed at the ungodly hour of 9am on Saturday morning. Slogged my way to the kitchen for a cold, placating glass of milk. Rubbed the sleep out of my eyes as I sat down next to D on the couch, and groaned for good measure.

Approaching with caution, D said that it was a nice day. Sunny and warm out. I grunted my acknowledgement of that statement. He let me wake up a bit more before he added that it would be a great day to go to the St. Lawrence Market.

The last vestiges of grumpiness wearing away, I let that idea sink in. Yeah, it did seem like a good idea. Going to the St. Lawrence Market is one of those oh-so-Toronto things that we’d been meaning to do for a while now. Ever since we moved to the city in the spring of 2012 actually. Fucking slackers, we are.

Well, slackers no more I decided. So we got our shit together and made our way down to the market. Just a quick subway ride to King station followed by a happy little stroll down Wellington Street and we were there.

It was glorious!

st lawrence market

The St. Lawrence Market, established in 1803, is one of Toronto’s most beloved landmarks. It’s friggen’ historic!

st lawrence again

Known for the farmer’s markets, antiques, restaurants, local arts and crafts. The market is truly something special. We started our journey inside, perusing the foodstuffs of the upper level. I was expecting aisles and aisles of easily assembled stations for hawking ones wares. I didn’t realize that there would be actual establishments within. With their elaborate signage, all of these places contribute heartily to the unique atmosphere of the market.

carousel bakery

pizza and pasta

With every turn of the corner something more and more delicious to see. Our mouths were positively watering. It’s a wonder I didn’t wind up with a river of drool down the front of my shirt.

meats!

pastries

produce

From the finest in meats, pastries, and produce to delicious eats that even a frugal gal of my ilk can afford. What a steal on sausages!

sausages

And everyone is so friendly. You get a big happy smile from the vendors at every station, and some casual chatter. Or maybe that’s just how it was for me because I was sporting a delightedly insane bulge in my eyes and a big goofy grin. I was so happy and walking around the market was so wonderful, I couldn’t contain my glee. It was awesome and special. Yeah, thinking back they probably all thought that I was pretty special myself…

us at market

After we’d seen all there was to see inside, we made our way outside and across the street to see what the outdoor vendors had to offer.

outdoors

sunflowers

I saw the bunches of sunflowers for sale and I just had to have them!

my flowers

They were fitting, the best thing I could possibly get to commemorate my first market going experience. Sunny and bright, and so perfectly indicative of the morning we shared at the market.

I trimmed and arranged them once we got home, humming and smiling to myself in the kitchen, with Harvey squawking curiously at my feet. It’s not often that I bring fresh flowers into our home. Lazy and careless, I much prefer the amount of maintenance that comes with having fake flowers. Their shelf-life ain’t nothing to sneeze at either. I find watching fresh flowers die slowly before me over the course of a few days kind of depressing. I’m not much for watching life-forces wane. But sunflowers are hearty, easily outlasting the daintiest of flowers, so taking a chance on them this time around doesn’t feel quite so melancholy.

And Harvey was quite fond of them as well…

harvey and the sunflowers

harv and flowers

smitten kitten

Yes, I would say that this little kitten of ours was quite taken with the sunflowers. Smitten, you might say. A smitten kitten.

How I put off going to the St. Lawrence Market this long I’ll never know. But now that I’ve had a taste I will definitely be back for more…

I’ll go for the charm, and stay for the dirt cheap sausages.