Getting the Lei of the Land: Day 1

First things first, we’ve been upgraded!

much better

much better

We’re in a much better room now. We didn’t spend so much time flying so we could sleep like geezers in twin beds. Also, this room has the “deluxe” feature of an alarm clock! For some reason our other room didn’t, so we didn’t have a very good sense of time. There was a slip under our door in the morning letting us know that the change had been arranged. We had to check-out of our room at noon and then wait until 3:00pm to check back in to the new room. We were up at the crack of dawn anyways, so this wasn’t a big deal.

Our hotel does this breakfast on the beach thing, and its incredible. They put a little cooler bag in everyone’s room, and when you’re ready you head downstairs to load it up with food. You can then either eat it poolside, take it back to your room, or go 10 steps across the street to the beach to eat there. We went down for breakfast at 7:00am, grabbed some food, and immediately went straight for the beach.

delicious breakfast

delicious breakfast

It was so calm on the beach. Only a handful of people there. It was spectacular.

good morning Waikiki Beach!

good morning Waikiki Beach!

Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater

We sat in the sand and listened to the ocean while we enjoyed our breakfast. I slathered myself in sunblock which was smart, because that morning sun is powerful! After breakfast, we went for a swim.

The water here is like a bathtub. It’s the tiniest bit cold at first, but once you’re fully in it feels better than any heated pool ever could. And the water is beautiful. We swam in the area that’s protected by a rock wall boundary. Because we’re babies. We’ll jump in with the waves eventually, but for today we just wanted to test the waters.

Everyone I meet is very concerned about my skin. I’ve gotten a lot of comments like, “please be careful, use sunblock” or “hope you packed your lotion, you will need it!” It seems like they don’t realize that I know I’m pale. Because I do, if you’re wondering. I know that I am paler than pale. I know that my skin will fry like an egg if I don’t cover it up. I do appreciate the concern, but I have been able to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror from time to time, so I know what I’m working with.

While D was taking a dip after breakfast I had a chat with a local man who was very nice, and cautioned me about the sun, naturally. He also told me that he’s lived in Oahu his whole life, all 71 years of it. I was blown away because I had him pegged at 42, maximum. Astonishing! Island life has treated him very kindly.

He also told me that there are a lot of homeless people in Oahu now, more than there ever have been. Later on in the day, while we were walking through the city we did notice quite a few. I know homelessness is a terrible thing. But it’s hard to feel bad for someone who is homeless in Hawaii. They don’t look half as bedraggled as the homeless people in Toronto. Most of the ones we saw were just catching a snooze in the sun.

After our morning spent frolicking on the beach, we did a quick change at our room and then went walking all over the city. We walked down the main strip, went into all kinds of stores and markets, and started getting a better sense of the city. We walked all the way up, across the river, to Ala Moana. It’s a huge mall with lots of designer shopping.

Ala Moana

Ala Moana

It’s all open concept, there’s no roof on the building. Just stores and sunny hallways. I kept my great big sunny weather hat on the whole time. It was quite warm, about 30 degrees yesterday. When you’re out in the sun all day, it can be quite exhausting. But I can’t complain because it’s still so damn beautiful here.

my favourite picture of us so far

my favourite picture of us so far

We walked back to the hotel, and took in some much-needed rest for a little while before dinner.

For our first dinner we decided on The Cheesecake Factory. And that was a friggen phenomenal decision! It was SO good.

I had the stuffed chicken tortillas with black beans and corn cakes.

get in mah belly!

get in mah belly!

I know the black beans don’t look that appetizing. They look like a black hole on my plate. But they were really good. The tortillas were stuffed to the brim with chicken and slathered in guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. It was SO good. Have I mentioned that yet? Because it was.

D had a chicken club. Sounds exciting right? It should have been called Honking Huge Chicken Breast Club, because it was massive!

honking huge sandwich

honking huge sandwich

It’s like a whole chicken breast on each half of sandwich! It was nuts. And the little genie lamp there? That was packed to the brim with his salad dressing. He barely even scrapped the top of it and had more than enough for his salad. I kept thinking that if he just rubbed it hard enough, then maybe something magical would happen.

And of course, we finished dinner with a divinely rich piece of cheesecake. Because what kind of tool goes to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and doesn’t get the cheesecake?

best thing ever

best thing ever

The list of options was enormous. It was so hard to choose. Initially, I had wanted something chocolate and totally decadent. But after eating our entrees, we thought maybe lighter would be better. We went with the Wild White Chocolate Blueberry. I am salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs right now just looking at this picture, reliving the memory. If this piece of cheesecake were a sentient being, I would willing submit myself to it. Yes, Master Blueberry. Whatever you say, Master Blueberry.

Fuck yeah, that’s a good cake! The crust… so unreal. Golden and crumbly. The filling so smooth and creamy. The blueberry filling a perfect complement to the white chocolate. I know we made the right choice.

The only downside to dinner was that we missed the sunset. It happens so damn fast. One minute, it’s beaming out. The next, darkness. We will have to be much more vigilante about seeing it today. As I’ve been told, there’s nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.

Aloha Hawaii: Enroute and Arrival

Well we did it, we’re here! After a long day of flying we’ve finally made it. Actually, the travelling part didn’t feel that long to me because my trips to the middle east were twice as long, so this was a treat by comparison. I’ll take a 2 hour connection over the 8 hour one any day! D however, didn’t seem to think so. He hasn’t been on a plane in over 15 years, so it was a much bigger undertaking for him. But he did very well!

And I must say, as someone who has only ever travelled alone and for work, it was really nice being with him. We laughed and joked, made some new friends on our flight, and most importantly to me, we held hands during take-off. That made it feel real and wonderful. I love him so much, and I’m so happy that we decided to do this.

Our first flight was easy because of the entertainment units in the backs of the seats. We synchronized our screens and watched Django Unchained together. It was freaking awesome! I’m sure some of it was censored for the flight, because that’s usually the case. But what a great way to pass the time! The next flight however, did not have those personal T.V.s… D was very disappointed. But it did at least have T.V.s at intervals down the aisle to show some movies on. The first one they showed was Jack Reacher, which D wanted to see. I didn’t want to see it, so I just rocked out to my jams on the ipod.

From what I could see on the screen though, that movie looked boring as hell. After the movie finished, I turned to D and said “more like Jack Reacharound, eh?” And we died. We just died of laughter. Oh, and you’re welcome porn industry. You can have that title as a freebie. It’s my gift to you!

Landing in Hawaii was the most surreal experience! I had a window seat at the very back of the plane. I kept checking that the ocean was still there throughout the flight, just to keep tabs on it. Make sure it didn’t try to pull any fast ones on us! When we started making our descent, we were glued to the window. Rolling waves of ocean lay before us, and then all of a sudden, a whole island appears! It was so beautiful. And the sun was beaming.

My bag was one of the first ones out onto the baggage claim belt. That never happens to me! I’m always the last one. So I took that as a very good sign. A good omen for the start of our adventure. We then headed out to grab a cab.

And we had the cutest most amazing cab and cabbie of all time. It was this busted looking station wagon with the tiniest little grey-haired Hawaiian woman. She was so adorable! I would have grabbed a picture of her sitting in the car at the curb, but she hopped out so fast and grabbed our bags. Also, I didn’t want to seem like some weirdo taking pictures of a cabbie with a line full of impatient people behind us!

As we drove to the hotel, she pointed out sites and gave us information about the city. She was very knowledgable and friendly. By far the best cabbie I’ve ever had. At one point in our cab ride, I leaned over to D and said “do you have enough leg room?” He looked puzzled for a minute and then clued in. The cab driver is so tiny that she has both seats at the front of the car adjusted as close to the dashboard as they can possibly get! She fit into the very smallest gap between her seat and the steering wheel. With the space that this created in the back of the cab, it was like we were riding in a freaking limo!

We got to the hotel, and much to our disappointment, we did not get the room that we had expected. We got some bullshit with twin beds! But I guess that’s my karma, because I booked a hotel for my boss last week and joked about how funny it would be to book him into a room with two twin beds. I didn’t actually book him into a twin bed room because I’m not insane. I only commented on the hilarity of such a situation. But now, I no longer find this funny. It is insensitive and inconsiderate to even joke of such things. Thank you universe, I understand now that it’s not funny to play God with someone’s reservation.

the horror

the horror

It’s alright though, it allowed us to stretch out and have a great sleep after such a long day of being smushed into airplane seats.

And you’ll be happy to know that even though they are twin beds, this did not stop me from indulging in my hotel arrival ritual…

jump!

As some of you know, whenever I stay at a hotel, I always take a picture of myself jumping on the bed! It is essential in my trip documentation process. I shouldn’t be using terms like that, “documentation process”. People who are on vacation should never say such things. I guess I still have a little bit of worker Smash in me that I need to shake. I’ll work on that.

It’s been great though, I really can’t complain about anything. The only thing I can possibly bemoan is the fact that a fruit fly flew right into my eyeball this morning when I opened up the laptop. Other than that, I think we’re golden.

It’s almost noon Toronto time, but it’s only 6am here. Jet-lag is a real bitch. So I guess I’d better grab some breakfast and officially start this vacation.

Stay tuned my lovelies, there’s oh so much more to come!

bring it on Hawaii!

bring it on Hawaii!

Two Tickets to Paradise

I am so freaking excited, I barely got any sleep last night. After months of tireless planning and saving, we’re on the home stretch now. It’s so close it hurts!

D AND I ARE GOING TO HAWAII!!!!!!

These are our excited faces!

These are our excited faces!

That’s right kids. I gathered up all the extra awesomeness I had lying around and packed it securely in my suitcase (along with a gallon of sunblock for my pasty complexion). And now I’m hauling it across the planet so it can be shared with all of Oahu!

I’m going to swim in the ocean, bask in the sun, and party my ass off with the locals. I’m going to have adventures and make memories. I’m going to take an absurd amount of photos. A terribly ridiculous amount!

I knew that I wanted to go on a trip with D this year. We’ve never gone on a real vacation together, so I think we were due for one. Initially, we were thinking of Mexico or the Dominican. Which I’m sure would have been a lot of fun too. But I wanted to do something spectacular, extraordinary. D was taken aback, worried that it would be too expensive. But the more we looked into it, the more realistic it became. Instead of going away in February like we’d wanted to, we would just save for a couple more months and go in April instead. We found a great deal and we jumped on it. We had to. It’s our time now, just us, and we can do whatever we want.

We want Hawaii.

Honestly though, April feels like it’s on steroids. The next two weeks are going to be jam-packed with amazingness. Tomorrow is going to be my 1 year work-i-versary at my job. And I know, it’s only a year, it’s not that big of a deal. Some people, like my mom, have been at their jobs for 30 years! That’s really incredible. But, this last year has been so meaningful to me, work-wise. So, I do consider it important. To celebrate that night we’re going to the Muse concert. I bought tickets for the concert long before thoughts of Hawaii had even sprouted in my brain. So awesome! We are going to rock our faces right off! We’ll barely get any sleep after the concert before flying to Hawaii the morning after, where will spend ten glorious days. And when we get back, it will be my 26th birthday!

I’m excited and exhausted just thinking about it… April has got a lock on best month of 2013.

But I’m ready for it. Even though I’m going to throw myself head-first into this vacation of mine, I do anticipate having some time for a couple of quick updates from paradise. Because really, what’s a trip to Hawaii without a little boastful pride and envy inducing photos? An incomplete one, if you ask me!

Plus, I don’t want to be wholly disconnected from life back home. I gotta have time to keep doing me. So stay tuned lovely readers, the next couple of weeks are about to get nuts!

We’re totally going all Doug and Deacon on this bitch:

To Jocelyn

If we were the kind of people who made grand speeches and gave lavish toasts, then the following is what I would have prepared and read on Saturday night at your going away party:

Sometimes I have to pinch myself. To make sure I’m not dreaming. To make sure that these past eight years really happened. When I look back on all the years of our friendship, sometimes its just too unbelievable. I’m in awe of my luck, honestly. That I get to have you as a friend.

Magical, wonderful, incredible you.

joss

We first met at Laurier, in our freshman year. Living in the same residence, on the same floor, sort of across the hall from each other. Completely random. It was all by chance that we ended up where we were. Although, maybe not… I’m not sure.

Maybe it was chance. But maybe it was fate. That’s another very real possibility. Maybe it was divine intervention. Yeah, I like that. That makes the most sense to me. If anyone ever needed a divine intervention in their life at that time, it was me. I needed it real bad. And so it was that The Gods of Friendship intervened. They knew just what to do with that bold and vivacious city girl and the seemingly square small-town girl.

joss n smash

I had fun in high school, sure. But my first year at Laurier was when I really started living. And I learned how to from you.

You got me my first fake I.D. so we could get into bars. Because partying in the dorm with a quiet hour starting at 11:00pm got old fast. We needed some freedom. We needed to go to the bars! To get wasted. To cause trouble. To meet boys. Older, cooler boys than the ones back at the dorm.

And we had such fun!

spurs

We drank, we danced, we laughed. We lived. I never wanted that year to end.

Until I lived with you and Sara at 42… that shit was crazy fun! It was way more crazy fun than even my wild imagination unhinged would be able to dream up.

us three

We had real chemistry as roommates, the three of us. We just laughed all the friggen’ time!

We had the best parties. We had the wildest adventures. And we were always happy. Our house perpetually radiated an aura of hilarity. 42 was our dream house. From the sweet Rasta picnic table on the front lawn where we downed many a recreational beverage to the decadent gold curtains I’d hung on the living room window, our home was one of a kind. People knew that coming to our place meant having a good time.

Halloween:

halloween

Cinco de Mayo in December:

cinco de mayo

Pre-drinking on an otherwise boring Tuesday night:

predrink

Even just goofing around on a beautiful spring day. Hopscotch and blowing bubbles. Drawing chalk versions of ourselves.

hopscotch

Whatever it was we were doing, we were having fun. We were living the dream.

chalk us

But that wonderful time in our lives eventually came to an end too…

Graduation scared me. Graduation meant the end.

But it wasn’t. If anything, it brought us even closer together. We still got together regularly. Moving out of 42 wasn’t the apocalyptic nightmare I thought it would be. But you know me, I have a wild imagination and I tend to get carried away.

When the stars all align and the three of us do get together, I cherish it. My friendship with both you and Sara means everything to me. I’m so grateful that I have you for my friends.

I’m so happy for you right now, in this moment. I’m so happy that you met Harry.

joss and harry

He is just as hilarious and amazing as you are. How that’s even possible, I don’t know. Because you are incomparable to anyone I’ve ever met.

joss and harry again

And I’m happy that Harry shares your love of adventure and passion for living life to the fullest. You deserve that. You were meant for a lifetime of greatness, and I’m thankful that our friendship allows me a part in this great life of yours.

at the bar

Eight amazing years of friendship, so far, and you continue to inspire me. I think that what you’re doing, moving halfway around the world indefinitely, is courageous. And it’s so you! You would. You’re brave. You’re funny. You’re sweet. You’re unique. You’re all the things I’ve always aspired to be. You are a magnificent star, and you will excel at anything you choose to do in this life. Because you’re fearless, and you tackle every challenge you encounter head-on with your Joce-force!

joss sliding

playing twister

retro night

I’m really going to miss you. (At this point in the speech, I would pause and look meaningfully into your big sparkly blue eyes. The kind of look that only happens in movies, because its way too awkward in real life!)

And then I would say,

May the adventure you’re about to embark on bring you all the joy you seek to find and more. Wherever your travels take you, I wish you all the love and support my little heart can muster.

So, let’s all raise our mini regulation reds in honour of Harry and Joce, and their excellent adventure.

To Joce, to Harry, to Australia!

joss and harry 3

Cheers!

More Presents!

So, even though I was able to haggle an early gift exchange out of D, there were still gifts that I had to wait for. And I guess maybe the waiting can be worth it. But it really doesn’t feel quite as good as frantically ripping the wrapping paper off of everything in sight.

The Magpie and I did our exchange on Thursday the 20th since I’d booked Friday off from work. She probably shouldn’t have put all of the gifts she got me directly in front of me on my desk as soon as she came into the office. Especially if she was hoping to wait for our exchange to go down later in the day. I can’t be sitting there all day with beautifully wrapped gifts staring me in the face.

There was this large cylinder. I grabbed it and shook it right away. It emitted the most delightful sound when shook! My first thought was a jar of marbles. That would be so rad! I shook it a bit more and told the Magpie I would just open this one. I had to know what it was. One present would be okay, right?

I was a little off my game on the first guess though. It wasn’t marbles…

IT’S A BIG FAT JAR OF CANDY!!!!!!

Candy!

And all the favourites were there! Nibs, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, M&Ms, Swedish Berries, and Watermelon Slices. Oh fuck yeah, the whole gang is together and headed to a V.I.P. partaaay in my tummy. Whew, now that I’d opened one we could move on with our day. Or could we? Maybe just one more? That’s the slippery slope we took that wound up with me opening a bunch of presents before 9:30am on Thursday.

I like to guess what I think things are before I open them. And I’m pretty good at it too, much to the gift-givers chagrin. Next on the docket was a pretty obvious one. Another mixed CD!

Mixed CD

So now the Magpie is up 2 CDs to none on me. I guess I’d better get to work. Everyone knows that the Gods of Great Tunes aren’t very forgiving when it comes to one-sided mixed CD exchanges.

Then we had something that felt suspiciously like an ashtray. I don’t smoke, but I would have dug that. There’s a kind of inside joke we have going about ashtrays. But I missed the mark on this one. It was actually a set of cute little serving dishes!

football

I’m a football girl, so this is awesome. These guys will come in handy for our annual Chinese Food Extravaganza Superbowl Feast! Good hustle guys, I see a lot of potential here.

The next one was another easy one to guess. Rectangular, about a half-inch thick, little bit of bend to it. A book!

Scott Pilgrim

Nice! The first Scott Pilgrim. I’ve seen the movie, but I haven’t read the graphic novels yet. The Magpie thought this would be especially good since it’s all set in Toronto. I really dig this gift.

Next, there was a rectangular box. It was surprisingly lightweight. I was about to rip it open when The Magpie asked me for my guess. I shook it a bit, and thought.

“Ah, it’s gotta be a scarf!” I declared. “You’re such a bitch,” she laughed at me.

scarf

Yep, that’s me. Some might say it’s a bitchy thing, to guess the gifts and ruin the surprise for myself. But I like being an almost immaculate gift guesser. It’s taken me a long time to hone this skill of mine. Anyways, what you’re seeing here is a beautiful scarf from some swanky french shop on Queen. And it looks divine with the coat I bought this winter. But there were a couple of other things in the box. A Lush bath bar, that I don’t have a picture of.

And, a sweet little notebook.

notebook

In which I shall jot all of my darkest secrets, wildest dreams, and maybe some grocery lists.

Of my haul from The Magpie, I saved the best for last. She’s such a great crafter! She has ideas and designs. Things she carefully plans. Things that she can see clearly in her mind, and bring to life with her deft little fingers.

She also made me hold off on opening this one. I had to open it last. If it’s worth it to wait for anything, it’s this. This is something I would wait a lifetime for if I had to. I wouldn’t want to, but I’d do it. Things like this are one in a hundred billion.

magnets

These are one-of-a-kind, handmade Archie magnets. She clipped out images from an Archie comic and glued them onto dominoes and glass stones. How fucking awesome is that? It’s the most goddamn awesome thing ever! I was so happy when I opened these. And my happiness was threefold:

1) I love magnets. They’re kind of a hobby of mine, that is, if magnets can be considered a hobby.

2) I love Archie. I used to shake my parents down for Archie comics anytime we were at the grocery store. Well, sometimes I shook them down for candy too.

3) Homemade gifts really are the best. Someone put their time and their kind thoughts for you into making something they knew you would love. And that’s just awesome.

We had a great exchange, The Magpie and I. Even though I tore into everything pretty early. I got a mega-normous sugar rush from eating candy all day, and had fun chillin’ with the co-workers on my last day at the office before the holiday break. But before I knew it, it was time to head home. There were more gifts to open at home, and I could hear them calling to me.

Christmas morning at my mom’s house didn’t start as early as it used to. When I was younger, before I discovered beer, I would be up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. Rousing all family members from their warm and comfortable beds because I just couldn’t wait to get things started. I’d be up around 5:00am, and have everyone else sufficiently awake by 6:00am to commence gift opening. Everyone else would still be rubbing the sleep from their eyes as I’d excitedly thrust presents upon them.

This year was a little different though. Everyone had the luxury of sleeping in until 8:30am. And I myself was excited, although much more subdued. Mom’s punch and lack of sleep probably had something to do with that.

puppy

What I lacked in excitement though, Bree more than made up for. She was running around, all weirded out by the tree and the gifts. Wanting to play and wanting attention. She put the pep back in everyone’s step.

Two of my most notable gifts this year were of the practical and homemade variety.

First, a new toaster!

toaster

YES! We needed this so bad. We had a shitty fucking little two slicer that took about fifteen minutes to lightly brown whatever you put in it. It was an absolute nightmare in the morning before work. I do not like doing shifts on the toaster when I’m rushing to get ready in the morning. The new toaster is a badass. Just look at it. You can toast four things at once! And it doesn’t even break a sweat. It just toasts it up all nice in a flash. No stamping your foot impatiently on the kitchen floor necessary. Ain’t no thang. You go badass toaster!

My mom also made us a sweet new blanket. And she got us throw pillows to match. She’s pretty nifty when it comes to crochet.

harv and b;anket

It’s red, my favourite colour, with some cream trim. I know you can’t see it that well in this picture. And that’s because Harvey has claimed the new blanket for himself. I tried to move him, but look at that face! I just didn’t have the heart to disturb him. Instead I creeped up and stole a picture of him while napping. This just proves again that homemade gifts really are the best.

That’s a wrap on Christmas 2012. Now all that’s left to do is clink our glasses and welcome the new year.

I’ve Been Drunk Since I Left…

The air is crisp, leaves are finally showing their true colours, and most of the faces you pass on the street are awash in a very becoming pink flush. Thanksgiving (Canadian, naturally) heralds the most glorious three weeks of fall. The remaining weeks of October between Thanksgiving and Halloween are the absolute best of the season. The weather is perfection, with the leaves still in transition. Come November they’ll be sad shells of their former selves, stripped bare of their colourful adornments. During these weeks you can still have a miraculously warm and sunny day, eschewing the coat for a light sweater.And what better way to enjoy fall’s hot little strut through October than a gloriously long Thanksgiving weekend!

I was very clever this year, I decided to take the Friday before the long weekend off. Four days to celebrate Thanksgiving? That’s right, I already live a life of extraordinary excess, and for people like me the holidays are the best time for excess. You’re allowed to drink as much as you want. You can shovel copious amounts of food down your gullet and still be the most suave person at the party. If you don’t over indulge enough people think there’s something wrong with you! What’s not to like about that?

I spent pretty much the whole weekend hammered. Now before you start sending me links to the AA website, remember that thing about excess and the holidays, okay? It’s allowed, if not encouraged! So cool your jets people, I know my rights. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Friday:

D and I headed down to Fynn of Temple to party with some peeps in honour of Alexander Keith’s birthday. Which is funny, because earlier this week a dude at my work came back from lunch with a little promotional flier. When I asked what it was he said “Ah, just some bar party for Keith’s birthday”, and I shit you not my response was “Oh right! That’s October 5th, it’s soon”. I’ve never felt more alcoholic in all my life after the look of astonishment he gave me. But to be fair, as a student, Keith’s birthday was always a big deal at the bars. So it’s kind of tattooed on my brain.

We got to the bar for 5:30pm, and since D and I had a late lunch we weren’t hungry. Just really thirsty! I actually lapped D in my beer consumption. I was fucking tanked! And the ridiculously drunk texts to Joce-force and the Magpie are evidence of that… By 9:30pm I was so drunk we had to leave the bar. But not before loading my purse with sweet Keith’s swag!

I love free shit!

Yep, we got these amazing ceramic Keith’s pint glasses and two free t-shirts! At the bar the gray mug looked green and the brown mug looked red, so I was kind of annoyed when I saw their true colours at home, but then again can’t really complain when it was free.

Saturday:

I was passed out by 11:00pm on Friday night, but it felt like 3:00am because of how drunk I was. So when I woke up at 4:57am Saturday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, I was only slightly bedraggled from the shenanigans of the night before. It worked out well though because D and I were leaving early to head up north to my mom’s place with Mar and Neill. By 8:15am the four of us were out the door and on our way. After a lengthy subway/bus/other bus commute we were at mom’s by 11:00am. Which was the perfect time to start dipping into my mom’s lethal party punch!

First drink of the holidays…

It’s always laced with a motley mix of whatever booze my mom happens to have at hand while concocting. She also throws in a bunch of fruit for good measure, alongside cranberry juice, orange juice and ginger ale. And this year she made some nice little flower ice cubes, for extra class! Taste-wise, it’s like if a mimosa had sex with a T-mick of vodka, that’s the best way to describe it.

Between drinks we played with our beloved pets, caught up with family, and ate the greatest meal of all time:

Bree!

chillin’ with nana

don’t worry, that’s steam. Mom wasn’t smoking while cooking

Then after dinner we kept right on drinking as we laughed hysterically over board games. There was some excellent movie trivia this year playing Pass the Popcorn. Some sweet call-outs playing Catchphrase, and as always some really hilarious dyslexia playing Smartmouth. Then everyone turned in early, and I stayed up watching some horribly awful movie with my mom where this demon old lady called people foul, sweary names and climbed the ceiling of a diner with her neck cranked backwards. Yeah, it was fucked. But I was drunk enough not to care.

Sunday:

Thanksgiving number two was the next day at my dad’s place. We got there early to help with the prep, and of course, to drink. Dad got me a 6-pack and made sure I was drinking steady all day long. There were three totally delicious rabbits roasting in the woodstove and basically a planet of a turkey. It was a little on the small size actually, at 28 pounds, but it still looked massive to me. Every year my dad goes on a hunt for the biggest possible turkey he can find. One year, we did one pushing 40 pounds and that was insanity.

It was a gorgeous day. I got to spend a lot of time outside enjoying the weather. The guys played horseshoes and I took a long walk around the property enjoying the nature, and taking quirky photos.

casually changing tree

game of champions

the very sturdy toadstool

our vast empire

After getting appropriately buzzed and filling ourselves to maximum capacity with dinner and dessert, Thanksgiving 2 wound down.

Monday:

I’m in hangover hell! Total write-off day of doing anything and everything by the most ineffectual means. It was a couch-grazing, moaning, temple rubbing kind of day. Time to recuperate after three days of pushing it to the limit.

It was an amazing holiday weekend. Lots to celebrate and lots to be thankful for. This year, I am most thankful for having a job that doesn’t keep me awake at night with worry and strife. This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve truly been able to enjoy since joining the workforce a couple of years ago.

Oh, and I’m thankful for beer, naturally. Can’t get through the holidays without it!

My Roots

A lot of the posts I’ve published this summer have been centred around my life in the city. And while I have truly enjoyed living in and exploring the beautiful city of Toronto, in my heart of hearts I will always be a bawdy, unrefined, and indelicate hoser.

I’m like Bob and Doug’s little sister…

I love chugging back a cold beer and unleashing a rafter rattling burp. I love cooking over an open flame, spending all day in the lake, hiking through the woods, and wearing layers of clothing to go to bed because it’s just that effing cold out. I like going a whole weekend without wasting time trying to groom myself presentable. I like to roll up my sleeves and pitch in, working to build the best possible weekend for everyone out of a finite amount of supplies. The concept of roughing it? That’s just plain romantic to me.

I am completely content to spend the fucking weekend swearing, spitting, and tossing ’em back with the best of them! I’m a good solid Canadian girl, and I relish the opportunity to let that side of myself off the leash. I had the opportunity to do just that this past weekend, and fuck me if I didn’t do a damn fine job of it!

So, get this: Joce-force has a fucking island. An island, people! With not one, but two incredible cottages on it. So when she put forth an invite, my heart soared. Yes! A weekend away on a pimp private island living the cottage life? You don’t have to ask me twice.

On Friday night after work, Joss and Harry picked us up and we hit the open road. We made one brief stop in Barrie to pick up some groceries, which were dirt cheap by the way. We got enough food to feed nine people for two days for under $90.00. No joke. That stuff would have easily cost $250.00 in the city. Cheap groceries for the win!

Once we arrived in Bala, it was time to load up the good ol’ Pontoon Boat with the supplies and make our way to the island.

Sailin’ away on a glorious pontoon

It was late, and pitch black, so I really couldn’t grasp how magnificent the island really was. It wasn’t until the next morning that I was able to take in all the splendour. So, we drank ourselves into oblivion and slept like hibernating grizzlies.

The following morning, I woke up early. And when I looked out the window I was stunned. The island was insanely gorgeous! It was a rainy day, but even so, I could feel Mother Nature’s siren song reverberating throughout my entire being. I breathed deep, and savoured her sweetness. Also, it’s relevant for me to mention at this time that I was still drunk upon waking.

welcome to the island

We spent the day drinking, playing games, laughing, and lapping up the warmth of the fire. Then at night, we brought the motherfucking house down with the dance party of the ages! There were high-kicks, moonwalks, booty drops, shimmies, shakes, twists, flips, and all manner of dips. And when the heat reached an absolute boiling point, some brave souls even jumped in the lake to cool off! It was utter insanity, and well-deserved indeed.

the beginning of an incredible dance party

it’s getting’ hot in herrrre

I hear there’s also a truly horrifying video of us dancing and rapping Outkast’s “Hey Ya”. I don’t think I will ever be able to bring myself to watch it. Once you’ve seen yourself drunkenly slur-rapping and busting out moves that your intoxicated subconscious has deemed top-notch, it can’t be unseen…

I was up again early on Sunday morning, but this time I was greeted by perfect weather. I took my camera and snapped some truly incredible pictures of the island at its best.

sun shining down on the cottage

the tickle bench!

viewing one side of the island from another

good day, sunshine!

the big cottage

woodland friend

This weekend could not have come at a better time. I needed the distance and time from the city to reconnect with my old friend nature. To have self-revelations. To drink myself stupid. To laugh with my friends. And to be my beer-swilling hoser self again.  We may not see each other as often as we used to Mother Nature, but I still totally dig you, girl.

Samurai Smash, at one with nature… and beers ‘n’ shit

We came home to a very grateful Harvey. And when, in a state of total exhaustion I clapped eyes on my very own bed, I had found nirvana.

Ahhhh, my own bed!

To Joss: you are the fucking best! Thank you for sharing the island with me, and for letting me do awesome high-kicks in your cottage. It was desperately needed, and deeply appreciated.

Hiiiii-yaaaaaa!

September

Do you remember the 21st night of September?

It’s that time of year again. You know, when summer fades into fall. The goose bumps that populate your arms as you step out the door on a dubiously sunny morning are telling you to ditch the flip-flops and sundresses in favour of something warmer. It’s the time of year for apple orchards, puffy outdoorsy vests, plaid of all sorts, knit hats, new backpacks, and most importantly, it’s a time for change.

There’s something afoot during the last couple of weeks of September that always makes me feel wistful. Especially when I hear that old Earth Wind & Fire song, aptly titled September. Hearing this song actually happens more often than you might think, because of my proclivity for 70’s internet radio when I’m hungover.

September is the most significant month of the year for me. My personal calendar year begins in September. January doesn’t mean a thing to me. Resolutions and all the crap, whatever. It’s still winter, it’s still freezing and dark out. But September brings with it a drastic change in seasons, and has often wrought drastic changes in my life.

All of my most precious memories are captives of September. When I hear this song a little movie of all those wonderful things starts playing in my mind. I’m transported back in time, and I remember…

I remember meeting two of the most important people in my life:

Then a year later, being lucky enough to add another wonderful person into our fold:

I remember living alone, completely unsupervised for the first time in my life:

And all the excellent keggers we were able to have, unfettered by parents and rules:

I remember my first lifetime ban from a bar after I draught ‘n’ dashed with Joce-force. Then laughing uncontrollably while hiding out from “the po po” in the bushes:

There were two roomie birthdays at the end of the month, both Jenna and Whit:

And how epic all of our celebrations were when the last roomie finally turned 19 and could ditch the fake I.D.

I remember shotgunning beers at 9:00am for homecoming!

I remember having school spirit:

Discovering that Bigfoot truly does exist, and how bold his hands were:

I remember falling in love…

After graduation, when it was time to grow up, I remember getting my first job. A real crack at a career:

I remember that I’m brave:

I took my very first flight, all the way to the Middle East! Completely on my own in a new country, with no prior travelling experience.

And I remember feeling complete fulfillment in my job and being humbled by the realization that I was making a difference in the lives of others:

And most importantly of all, I remember…

Dancing in September!

Oh the memories, so sweet! Such an amazing thing to have when you’re not having the brightest of days…

I love that song, and I love the flood of memories it brings. It  is my reassurance that I’m doing a real kick-ass job at this “living” thing. No matter what changes and where this life takes me, I will always have: the most spectacular friends, my darling D, and a deep-seated passion to live a remarkable life.

And if all this is what’s behind me, then I can’t wait to see what else is coming my way. It can only get better from here.

Laaaaaid back

Last weekend was a long weekend of excellence in laid back groovin’ for me. It started off a little rough you know, with a wicked bad hangover on Friday. Thursday night was a company bowling outing that turned into one too many drinks at the bar and maniacal karaoke superstardom. It was really fun though, reminded me of the good old university days. Drunk like no tomorrow, dodging sketchy/sweaty randoms, and laughing til it hurt. I got home at about 3am and slept for 4 hours before hauling my ass into work Friday morning. My boss didn’t come in that day, opting for an extra-long cottage weekend, so needless to say I didn’t lift a goddamn finger all day. I basically sat at my desk moaning in agony until 3:30pm when the next most senior person in charge told us all to go home. Score!

One thing I did do at work though was discover a magical hillbilly version of Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice. I know, right? Fucking amazing! Theme song for the weekend, woot woot!

D and I planned to get out of the city and dog/house sit for my aunt and uncle. It was caribana weekend in the city and I had been advised by my fellow Torontonians to get out-of-town if possible. So we packed up our shit, and ran for the hills.

That’s right bitches, for three glorious days D and I would be mad chillin’ poolside with a sweet partaaaay palace at our disposal. The only thing that sucked? Most peeps already had long weekend plans and were out-of-town. So D and I had to pull off some pretty solid partying mostly on our own. We got there in the afternoon on Saturday and it was boiling hot out. First thing on the agenda: swimming! With a healthy dose of sunblock so as not to scorch my delicate and pale complexion I leapt straight off the deep end without looking back.

Saturday nobody was around so D and I had to do the partaaay palace justice. We grabbed some beers and stoogies and lit up on the porch. Ahhhhh! Well on our way to laaaaaaid back perfection:

The next morning we hit up D’s all-time favourite place for breakfast, Bayview Diner. And it is most assuredly the breakfast of all laid-back champions!

Those little home fries/tater-tots are the best fucking things that have ever happened to breakfast. They’re crispy and fluffy at the same time and sprinkled in a tasty spice. Mmmmm mmm, that’s good eats!

Another day of glorious poolside lounging, walking the dog, and kicking it casual. We also had a chance to rock the barbecue for some excellent dinner. We don’t have a barbecue at our apartment so this was something we had to take advantage of. Grilled salmon and veggies anyone?

Don’t let the picture fool you, this salmon was grilled to perfect. A beautiful pink colour, so flaky and tender. Simply put, it was mouth-watering brilliance!

Sunday night was when we were able to assemble a few members of the crew for some drinking. We turned up the beats, tossed back the drinks, and revelled in the fact that we didn’t have to go to work on Monday! Poor Duke though, he was quite tuckered out by it all:

It may not seem like much, but I consider it a smashing success in long weekend relaxing, partying, eating, and playing with our four-legged friend. And for your listening pleasure dear readers, I present you with the sweet cover jam that inspired it all:

Actually, for my country-loving hillbilly fams who may not be familiar with Snoop, you’ll probably actually love this song.

You’re welcome!

Subway Games

I have been living in the city for a couple of months now, and I feel like I’ve adapted very well. I’m a duck to water. I love the pace of the city. There’s always something happening, someone to meet up with, new events and friends around every corner.

There’s also a lot of shit that you need to get used to, such as not being able to get to whatever your preferred grocery store is. We used to love going to Loblaws but now we’re in Metro hell every sunday. There’s also the city stink on really hot days. Mmmm, sewage filling your nostrils as you try to enjoy a nice stroll in the sunshine. Crazy crackheads eating a jar of Nutella with their fingers right beside you in a restaurant. That really happened by the way, saw it with my own eyes.

There’s also the matter of the subway. I take the subway to and from work everyday, and for the most part I quite enjoy it. It’s so much better than the fucking Go Train. I will take the subway over the fucking Go Train any day. Delays seem to be a routine thing for the subway, but the longest I’ve been held up so far is 15 minutes. You also have to get used to the sardine sensation when taking the subway during rush hour. You literally cram you way onto the train and have people touching or brushing up against you on all sides. It’s a sweaty, cramped, awkward mess. And people are ruthless! They don’t make any attempt to play nice when they think they might miss out on a spot on the train. I’ve had ladies mow me down with strollers, dudes basically use me for piggyback rides onto the train, and bitches stiletto stomp me on a rough turn then have the gall to act like it’s my fault they can’t balance themselves. I’ve also seen people do horrible things to each other in order to snag a recently freed up seat. It basically a jungle.

You really do see it all on the morning and evening commute. But this is my life now for the foreseeable future, so I’ve gotta make the best of it. I see people rocking their iPods, readers, magazines etc. to make the commute less boring. I have another strategy for making the commute fun…

I play my own little subway games. With a vivid imagination and a plethora of people surrounding me I’m all set. Let the people be my amusement and entertainment! I can’t control who gets on the same car as me or how they will comport themselves, but I can control my perception of them. Here are some of my favourite subway games to play:

Life Story

This one is easy enough, all I do is observe someone who captures my interest and then concoct an elaborate life story for them. The life story is rich with drama and emotion, uncontrollable circumstance and choices. I like to imagine what kind of childhood they had and how it has shaped who they are today. For instance, the dude in his late 20’s suited up all sharp and shit with designer duds. Privileged upbringing, nuclear family, beautiful arm-candy girlfriend right? Wrong. Instead, I see that dude suffering from uncontrollable pyromania! He set his little sister’s dollhouse on fire when he was 8, then when he was 15 burnt his math teacher’s house to the ground and had to do him some juvie or something. He’s gotten his life back on track, finished school and got a sweet gig downtown where nobody suspects the fire monster that lurks within. Just wait til he gets denied that big promotion he’s been working for, burn baby burn! See, I just made my way through 5 stops before I even knew it!

Which Animal?

Again, this game relies heavily on me observing someone with a particular look and deciding on what sort of animal they would be. There’s a woman cackling obnoxiously to her friend at 8:30am and despite what she may think, the rest of us don’t find her laugh to be particularly enchanting or bewitching. It’s just fucking annoying. That girl is definitely a hyena. There’s a chubby, sleepy 40-something taking up almost two whole seats, that guy is a hippo fo sho. A lanky, toothy, sly looking motherfucker with a backpack full of shrooms, he’s a ferret. I don’t really know if he’s got shrooms in his backpack, it’s just part of his image I guess.

What Station?

This one I’m not very experienced in yet, but I like to think that in a couple of years when I’ve ridden the rails from end to end countless times, I’ll have better judgement. But I like to size someone up and decide what stop they’re getting off at. It’s also hard because my commute isn’t from one end to another, it’s a good chunk of the Yonge line but not the whole thing. But there are certain neighbourhoods in Toronto that correspond with subway stations and I like to guess what station I think a person is going to, especially on the evening commute. That’s the most likely time that people are heading home, so it’s a little easier. For example, my neighbourhood Yonge and Eglinton is often called Young and Eligible by my co-workers because it’s heavily populated with yuppies. So it’s usually safe to assume that young, shiny, polished, designer clad men and women are headed that way. There’s also the Finchers. People who are commuting into the city everyday and connect to buses at Finch station. They can’t stand their surroundings. You just know that the subway is the worst part of their day, they hate crowds, and they change into comfortable shoes at the end of the day.

Okay, so I know this is sounding like I’m pretty much the most judgemental and awful person on the planet, but I don’t do this out of a mean-spirit. I simply try to pass the time on the train in the morning, and mentally escape the nasty armpit stink in my face. I think that I’m very unexpected. I’ve been sized up and judged my whole life, pigeonholed and stereotyped. And I honestly hope that all the people I play my subway games with are unexpected too and would prove me wrong given a 5 minute chat. Sometimes people surprise you, sometimes they turn out to be exactly what you expected… that’s the fun of subway games, what you see in others has a lot to do with what you yourself are bringing to the table.