Luck of the Draw

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

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

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

But sadly, no dice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Boot

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

Cheers, universe! Here’s looking at you.

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Getting My Fest On

I mentioned how rad October is already, yeah? It’s a fucking great month as is. But it is nothing short of spectacular when you get your ass to some Oktoberfesting festivities. And that’s exactly what I did last weekend. I Oktoberfested my ass off.

We stayed at D’s cousin’s house for the weekend. They live a stone’s throw away from Kitchener/Waterloo where the bulk of the Oktoberfest action takes place. They love getting out to the events every year, and we had a great time partying it up with them. We road-tripped up there with another one of D’s cousins and her boyfriend, which made our party 6 in total. We were ramped up for an excellent adventure that night.

For any party rubes out there, this post is a blueprint on how to get the most mileage possible out of a night at Oktoberfest. I’m providing a service here. You know, for a well-rounded night of Oktoberfest debauchery.

1) Look The Part

I love themes. A theme automatically gives your night of drunken fun a memorable edge over all those other nights of sad, themeless drinking in your dingy basement. You may not think it at first, but the theme “German” totally rules. You’ve got a fun colour palette to work with, steins of beer, delicious schnapps and jägermeister to shoot, archaic looking hats, all kinds of lederhosen, hot fräuleins in beer wench getups, polka, and lots of sexy accordion music. Embrace all of it. I have a hat that I’ve worn faithfully to ever Oktoberfest I’ve ever been to, and every year I treat it to some new pins. You’ve got to keep that hat current, so make sure one of the pins has the year on it. That big blue pin on my hat with Onkel Hans playing the tuba is from Oktoberfest 2010. Good times, bro. Every time I look at that pin the fun times come flooding back to mind. Oktoberfest and nostalgia are one hot couple. I’ll also try to wear either black, red, or yellow. Well, usually never yellow because I look like day-old vomit in yellow.

Oktoberfest look

It’s Oktoberfest 2013 haute couture

2) Get Your Gamble On

There are always plenty of black jack tables and Crown/Anchor wheels (which D affectionately dubbed Boats & Hoes many a fest ago) to be played at any event you attend. Benders are so much more fun when you throw gambling and counting into the mix. I know D just loves it when I sit there counting on my fingers to see if he got 21 or not. Or when I jump up and down yelling excitedly to strangers when I make four bucks on one epic spin of the old gambling wheel. Shake that shit up son! Get to the table and plonk down a whopper of a bet so the dealer knows you’re a power playyaa. Or stretch that five bucks out for miles making penny bets over at the wiener tables. There’s no wrong way, you can gamble however your heart tells you to. Even if you’re not really into gambling, the tables are a great place to meet people and watch as they spend their dolla dolla bills.

Oktoberfest gamble

The faces of winners

3) Drink As Much As Possible

This is why 95% of the people are here, after all. They want to get loose and go nuts, relive old times and recapture their youth. They want to drink as magically as they did the last time they were able to get to an Oktoberfest event, which may have been a long time ago. We always go to the more mature night, the one that attracts the 25-50 demographic. Don’t make the mistake of going to an event marketed to students. Waterloo has two universities and one college, so the student night draws an enormous crowd. The student night is sloppier, angrier, ruder, and more immature. Don’t get me wrong, that’s excellent fun when you’re in that sweet 19-23 year-old zone. But once you’ve outgrown that part of your life, you don’t need the bullshit anymore. The “real grown-ups” are a frigging hoot, and they like to get their drink on. If someone offers you a shot, you do it and then join them for another. When you’re in line for beer tickets, buy a couple more than you think you’ll need, just in case. You can never have too much beer at Oktoberfest. You’ll probably barf the next day, but barfing is part of it.

Oktoberfest chug

Double-fisting like I invented it

4) Enjoy the Band/D-Floor

Parties need killer music to thrive. I can think of nothing more killer than accordion based rock ‘n’ roll covers with a pinch of chicken dance thrown in for good measure. The dance floor at Oktoberfest is hopping with fun-loving peeps who can bust sick moves. I’m incredibly uncoordinated and prone to mock intensity when I dance. Anyone who has had the exquisite pleasure of sharing the d-floor with me knows that I’m all bouncing energy and limbs akimbo. I cannot be led, and my impulses cannot be tamed. But dancing and music are in my heart, so I get out there and just fucking giv’r til I can’t giv’r no more. This year, I even jumped up on one of the picnic tables to shake my butt. Security didn’t like that very much though. So try to keep it on the d-floor. Unless of course an irresistible urge arises. Then I say, go forth and table dance!

Oktoberfest dance

Rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ all night long

5) Hoover Some Delicious Drunk Eats

There is plenty of food to feed any fancy at Oktoberfest. Schnitzel, sauerkraut, wursts, cheeses, pretzels, baked goods, chips. You name it, they got it. And after all the drinking you’ve done, you’re going to need something hearty to settle it all down. Before our cab got in, I raced over to the concession and grabbed myself a hefty german sausage on a bun. I slathered that shit in the fanciest mustard I could find and dug in. I also grabbed some chips with the spoils of my gambling. D hates mustard, but he was hungry so his hatred was forgotten and I shared a few bites with him. We mowed down the chips while we walked to the cab, took in the beautiful starry night, and felt divine. We ate in a frenzy though, so I don’t have any pictures of the sausage. But I do have a great drunk picture of D!

Oktoberfest D

I love drunk D!

We had ourselves quite the time. I won four bucks gambling, I danced on a table, I stole some guy’s beer, I gave an Irish dude a fake number (good luck with that follow-up homie), I pissed off a security guard, I got some sweet new pins, I ate delicious food, then I passed out in drunken oblivion when we got home. A surefire recipe for a memorable Oktoberfest experience.

The following day I barfed in the car on our ride home. There was a bag, but it had the tiniest little hole in it and leaked ever so slightly on the car seat. The bag-o-puke got chucked out the window onto the shoulder of the highway as we were driving. I imagine it to have been quite a sight for other motorists. But like I said, barfing is part of it. I feel terribly about that, and I will make reparations to the driver, but a great night of boozing doesn’t go unpunished.

And Oktoberfest 2013 is definitely one for the boozing books.

Pinch Me

I got to live one of my dreams last week.

I have a lot of them, actually. I’ve always got my sights set on something, so there’s no shortage of dreams in my life. And I would say that I’m living them constantly. Because I have a wide range of dreams. From things that are very easily achievable, like eating at Wendy’s twice in one day or starting up a colony of sea monkeys for my desk at work. Then there are dreams of a more complex nature. For instance, having a freak accident that transforms me into a super-powered mutant or time travelling to 1968 to dry hump a young Charlton Heston in his mega-hunk days. And there are tons and tons of dreams that fall between the foolishly simple and absurdly impossible ends of my dream spectrum.

And that’s really the key to achieving your dreams. Make sure you have a shit-ton of them, all of varying degrees of difficulty. Then when you achieve a bunch of the smaller ones you’ll feel fucking amazing, and the big ones won’t seem so daunting. Now I know that some of my dreams might not ever come true, I accept that. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t keep having them.

Dreaming is fun. It’s my most cherished pastime. And once in a while I get some seriously awesome results…

Barenaked Ladies concert. The dream I’ve held onto the longest and treasured the most. I’ve wanted this so badly, with an aching pain, from the very instant I first heard Steven Page’s dulcet tones and Ed Robertson’s gorgeous harmonies. Their voices floated through the speakers and found their way to my grateful ears. By the time I’d completed my first full listening of Gordon the band had already claimed a permanent residence in my heart.

Now this dream may seem like it fits into the easily achievable category given that I’m Canadian and the band lives in Toronto, but it hasn’t been easy at all. Circumstances beyond my control have thus far prevented me from ever being able to see them live. But I always promised myself that the very second the opportunity arose, I would pounce on it.

And pounce I did! D won a contest at work because he’s such an industrious fellow. His reward was 2 concert tickets to any event in Toronto this year. Because he’s such a wonderful boyfriend, we had ourselves some freaking Barenaked Ladies concert tickets lickety-split! That, or I was just forceful enough in my insistence that the tickets be used to accomplish one of my most treasured life long dreams that he couldn’t turn me down.

Actually, I believe it was the lack of any upcoming concerts for any of his favourite groups that saved the day. But that’s just a minor detail.

I could have bought the tickets, like a normal person, sure. But I’d just shelled out a wad of cash back in April for me and D to see Muse. And there’s something about seeing one of my all-time favourite bands for free that just feels so right. We were able to save our cash for more noble pursuits once we got to the concert. Like multiple bubbas of beer!

It was a beautiful night for a concert, a perfect night for dream fulfilment.

walk to concert

We met up for dinner after work and then walked to the Molson Amphitheatre. We got there with plenty of time to spare, so I immediately made my way over the concession stand so I could grab myself a t-shirt. You have to, it’s just one of those things that’s non-negotiable. It’s your favourite band, you’ve never seen them live before, you better buy yourself a fucking t-shirt. The dude who sold me the shirt told us that Ed Robertson was actually down on the pavilion just playing some tunes for the onlookers. It was awesome. I couldn’t see him that well because word had gotten out and he obviously started drawing a crowd. But what a rad dude! He could have just been hanging out backstage getting wasted before the show, but instead he chooses to give the early bird fans a rare treat.

And then, because he’s even more awesome than that, Ed also made an appearance on stage to play with Boothby Graffoe, who was on deck first. Accompanied by the immaculate Jim Creeggan as well I might add. I love him so much more now because of that. Thanks Ed!

Ed on stage

The opening act, Guster, I had never even heard of before. But they blew me away. I’ve been listening to them incessantly via the internet ever since that night. But I will definitely be picking up some of their CD’s on my next stop off at HMV. Because I’m the only person on the planet that still listens to actual CDs obviously. I love when that happens, a solid opening act that you can enjoy exploring afterwards. I’d always wanted to see Ben Folds live too, so it was an added bonus that he was part of the tour. It was fascinating to watch him work those deft fingers of his along the keys. He was truly captivating. And when he closed the show with “Song for the Dumped” and threw his stool at the piano, I thought the crowd was going to riot. He worked us up to such dizzying heights. Truly, we were enraptured by his greatness.

Ben Folds

I was drinking a lot of beer. It was starting to worry me that I was going to miss the start of the main event because I kept rushing off to piss so often. But luckily I had good timing. The tell-tale reverence that washed over the boisterous crowd announced the start of the main event. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting half of my life for. The moment of truth so to speak.

Barenaked Ladies took the stage and started playing “Limits”, the opening track of their new album. That nervous lump of anticipation in my throat quickly gave way to feverish excitement. This is it, and its so surreal. I let myself get lost in it.

BNL

BNL2

It was everything I’ve always been dreaming about. When they played “Brian Wilson” my heart felt so full. Like a tiny little piece of it had been missing this whole time and had finally been filled. I gushed and sighed and exclaimed how truly happy I was to D.

And I wasn’t the only one feeling the magic that night. There were TONS of drunk people! I saw a guy walk right into a wall. I saw a guy being escorted out before the show was over with puke all down the front of himself. I saw a girl passed out on the lawn outside the stadium, who refused to walk any farther and insisted to her friends that she just needed a little nap. I overheard this really drunk guy telling a girl he just met how truly beautiful she was and that he hoped they’d meet again one day in a pasture. It was incredible.

I know that my photos of the concert are super crappy. Not even close to capturing how fucking awesome it was. If you want to check out some really stunning pics from the show, you can see them here courtesy of Aesthetic Magazine Toronto

It ended too suddenly for me though. I wish it could have gone on forever. But that’s not how dreams work. They’re fleeting, and therein lies the magic. When you’re lucky enough to achieve those dreams you hold most dear, you can’t quibble over the details. You have to be thankful, so that your other dreams can come true too.

Thank you dreams. Thank you for coming true.

A Colourful Wedding (In More Ways Than One!)

I still feel a little tingly from Saturday night. Some residual happiness just kicking around my heart. I wish it would last forever. That feeling you have after a really amazing wedding. It’s a feeling of clarity, because everything makes sense in the world. Like a perfectly matched pair of mismatched socks.

One of my most beloved and wonderful friends, The Magpie, got married to the man of her dreams. And they threw one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to.

It wasn’t about a perfect white dress, sweeping landscapes as backdrops for the perfect pictures, or lavish spending. There’s such an emphasis on weddings these days. Such high expectations. People get consumed in the details, trying to control every aspect of it, forcing perfection. The Magpie’s wedding was a departure from all of that over-stylized bullshit we’ve come to expect from weddings.

It was real. All of the emphasis was exactly where it should have been, on the marriage itself. You could hear it in the way they said their vows. You could see it in the way they looked at each other as they danced. You could feel it the very second you walked into the room. They meant it. They meant it with every fibre of their beings. And they’re going to keep on meaning it, every day, from this day on.

It started with a simple, heartfelt ceremony at city hall. With music and friends.

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The vows were honest and sweet.

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They kissed and signed the paperwork to make it stick. Time to get back to their place. Time to celebrate!

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We’re gunna need a bigger tub…

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There were brilliant toasts. Curse toasts even. I’ve never heard a bride drop an f-bomb in a thank you toast before, but it was a delightful addition!

Cue the music, time to dance.

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Twirling and swirling in a twelve dollar dress. Something only the Magpie could make so magical.

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Stealing a laugh with her new father-in-law.

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We drank til our faces hurt, partied like there was no tomorrow.

wedding

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I’ve never been in a room with so much happiness. Which is probably why I was practically bouncing off the walls! The steady supply of drinks may have had something to do with that as well…

I was very happy that night. So happy that I thought my little heart was going to burst in my chest at any minute because it couldn’t possibly manage to hold anymore joy. I love my friend, and I love how it’s all turned out for her. Wildest dreams all coming true.

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Cheers buddy, you’re a wife now and it’s gunna be awesome!

We’ve Only Just Begun: Day 5

Another overcast day yesterday. Totally shitty. It rained a little bit in the morning and then it just stayed cloudy and gray. But we weren’t going to let that stand in the way of our plans to journey through Chinatown.

It’s much further into the city, so we couldn’t walk there. We decided to use public transit, otherwise known as TheBus. Seriously, that’s what the bus system is called here. Not TTC or YRT, just TheBus. It’s straightforward, and I like it.

We rode the bus for about 45 minutes or so to get there. It was actually really busy, and there was quite a bit of traffic. But, it was cheap and effective.

We’re there man.

Chinatown

Chinatown

In the market

In the market

We walked through the markets, checked out the shops, and breathed in that uniquely Chinatown smell. Fresh produce and fish. It was fun, but I was surprised by how different it was from Toronto’s Chinatown. The streets were more spacious, and the markets were a lot bigger. But overall, the area that Chinatown covered is smaller than back home.

D had been looking forward to this trip all week. He kept saying to me on the plane “I’m going to have some fucking awesome noodles!” That’s all he wanted, a big steaming plate of noodles from Chinatown. And that’s exactly what we got.

We stopped for lunch at this delicious looking place. Cheap lunch specials and a nice quiet atmosphere. Aside from us, there were only two other people eating there. We got great service, and we didn’t have to wait long for our food.

We had sesame chicken and chicken lo mein.

sesame chicken

sesame chicken

chicken lo mein

chicken lo mein

It was freaking awesome! This is probably the best lunch we’ve had so far. The flavour of the sesame chicken was light and savoury. And the noodles were to die for. We ate as much as we possibly could, but they were large portions and they filled us up quickly.

We walked around a little more after lunch, but the weather was still crap. It wasn’t very inspiring. We hung out around the strip, I did a little more souvenir shopping, but still we didn’t see much improvement in the weather.

So, we decided to partake in Happy Hour. It really is the best way to cheer up on a shitty day. We went to a place that we’ve had our eyes on since we got here.

This is just the place for us

This is just the place for us

Cheeseburger in Paradise. This place was made for us. Cheap drinks and burgers, oh hells yes!

We got ourselves started on some drinks. A draught beer for D and a Hawaiian Sunburn for me.

fresh from the tap

fresh from the tap

just girly enough

just girly enough

I don’t know what it is about this place. I’m a good Canadian girl and I love my beer. But ever since I’ve been here, I’ve had an unquenchable thirst for fruity drinks and coolers. I guess it just makes me feel more vacation-y.

We drank and chatted, and when we got hungry we knew just what to do.

cheeseburger in paradise

cheeseburger in paradise

it's all good

it’s all good

I hate to be redundant, but daaaaamn that’s good eats! I love it when the bun is soft. A good burger can be ruined so quickly when the bun is toasted to shit. Just the slightest hint of a toasting on the top, that’s all you need. The meat was tender and fresh. Seasoned to perfection. Every bite better than the last. It was messy, I’m not gunna lie. I used an unfathomable amount of napkins while eating.

This burger was worth the wait, let me tell you that.

Things cleared up a bit while we were at the restaurant. When we stepped out again, it was nice enough to walk down the beach and take in the sunset.

breathtaking

breathtaking

digging that sunset

digging that sunset

We sat for a while just taking in the view. It’s so peaceful. Or at least it was until a particularly wild cat-fight broke out eight feet away from us. There was a group of teens hanging out near our benches, and seemingly out of nowhere two of the girls just started pounding each other. There was hair-pulling, punching, knees to the stomach, squealing, and all manner of profanities being hurled. I think there was even some spitting. Finally, two of the dudes pulled the girls apart.

But, we still decided to get up and move further down the beach anyways. Away from all the bullshit. The sun had set, but we still wanted to walk for a bit and enjoy the evening.

We walked a good way down the strip, approaching a long pier out into the ocean.

Evening on the city

Evening on the beach

We walked down the pier, it was secluded and private. It was perfect, or as close to perfect as anything can be.

And then D proposed.

I was totally stunned. Jaw-dropped, just stunned. It was romantic and sweet. It was a dream moment, something out of a movie. I gave him the much anticipated yes, and we couldn’t have been happier. We just couldn’t stop smiling.

We're engaged!

We’re engaged!

Hold onto your hats people, Dballs and Smash are getting married!

There’s Even Sand in My Crack: Day 3

We have been walking a lot. Constantly. Everywhere we go, we walk there. It’s taken its toll on my feet, that’s for damn sure. I have two big blisters on the bottom of each foot, and another big one on the side of my toe. So I felt like having a day of minimal walking. So, to the beach we go!

You can lay out on your towel for hours, or take a few quick steps into the ocean. Either way, you’re off your feet and it feels good. We’d gone for a brief swim on our first day after eating breakfast, but we hadn’t done the full on beach day yet. D has been wanting to relax while catching some rays.

After breakfast at the hotel, we walked down to the beach to get ourselves some prime real estate on the sand. At the glorious hour of 8:00am no less!

morning calm

morning calm

A dip in the ocean to cool you off and send the beads of sweat forming on your brow packing. I’ve never swam in the ocean until this trip. I’m blown away by how salty the water is. The first time some of it got into my mouth I thought I was going to die. It was like I’d just poured the contents of a full salt shaker down my throat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that…

so not digging the salt

so not digging the salt

The beach is a lot more calm in the morning. Some of the more ambitious parents are up and about with the kiddies. But most of them are still getting their shit in a pile to start the day. They don’t usually start filling out the beach until later in the day. It’s gotta be tough, right? We’re exhausted after a full day, and we don’t have any kids to haul around with us. I can’t imagine how people do it. Props to the parents with energy to actually be active while on vacation with their kids.

We see a lot of babies, surprisingly. D said that if he ever found out that his parents took him to Hawaii when he was way too young to remember it, he would be hella pissed. “That’s such bullshit,” he said. “You’ve been to this amazing place, but you’ll never remember.” I guess that sucks. But if your parents are rich enough to take you when you’re a baby, I’m sure they’re rich enough to take you when you’re a bratty, unappreciative tween/teen.

It’s not that expensive really. Or at least not as expensive as people seem to think it is. It’s not an all-inclusive kind of place, so you do need to pay for your meals and booze. But if you shop around and find a good rate on the hotel and flight, then you do a little extra saving for your daily expenditures and you’re ready to go.

You’ll find an ABC Store basically every block, and you can buy super cheap booze and snacks. You can buy a 6-pack of Corona or Heineken for $8.50! You cannot get good beers that cheap in Ontario. And because these stores are literally everywhere you look, you don’t have to think about where the closest LCBO or Beer Store is. You just walk out the door, and there the beer is. Ice cold, and waiting for you. It’s heavenly.

D swam for a bit and then lounged in the sun. As I watched him sunning himself, he reminded me of a little lizard nestled on a rock in a pet store somewhere, hogging up as much of the heat lamp as it can get. Using the solar rays to recharge its battery. I started taking pictures of him while he was sunning and he told me to stop being creepy and go for another swim.

So I took my camera elsewhere. As opposed to some dreamboat photos of a half-naked D, these pictures of the beach will have to suffice.

a shitty substitute

a shitty substitute

took some of this stuff to go!

took some of this stuff to go!

my view from the shore

my view from the shore

Once we’d had our fill of surf and turf, we thought the next best thing would be to get day drunk. We needed to cleanse our palates of all the salt water anyways. So we walked down the street to Jimmy Buffet’s for Happy Hour. $3.00 for vodka, gin, or rum and $4.00 for a draught beer. Hells yes! This is just the place for us.

Thinking we’d have a snack with our drinks, we very stupidly ordered nachos. We assumed they would be just enough to tide us over until dinner. We were not expecting the fucking cheesy tortilla chip planet that fell from the sky and landed on our table.

what have we done?

what have we done?

I'm really going to hate myself in a minute

I’m really going to hate myself in a minute

They were taller than they were wide! Holy shit, how are two people going to eat this many nachos? We did the best we could. But in the end, we’d barely made a dent. Next time, we’ll just stick to the drinks.

The nachos stuck with us all afternoon. We barely had any appetite for dinner. We barely had the will to live anymore! So we parked our asses on a geezer bench at the beach and just sat in silence for a while. Trying, really trying, to digest the wads of cheese in our bellies. We sat on the bench, on powered down mode for 30 minutes or so. Enough time to straighten ourselves out.

When our brains started functioning again, we took a leisurely stroll down the beach. It had started getting cloudy out. A few drops of rain here and there. Our bold and beaming sun decided to take the rest of the day off. No beautiful sunsets tonight, come back tomorrow folks.

We’re tired and full. Too full. So we make our way back to the hotel room, and grab a movie for the night. Our hotel has these little DVD rental kiosks in the lobby. You just touch the screen, pick a movie you want to see, and it spits out the disc. Then, when you’re done, you just bring it back down and put it back in the machine. It’s a good little contingency plan for rainy days, and inactive nights. And it’s free! You don’t even have to pay for them. Just grab a movie whenever you feel like it.

We rented Looper, which I had been wanting to see. It was good, but not what I had expected. I was picturing something similar to Blade Runner. Not something so Omen-y. All the bullshit with the mom and the kid was so boring. I wanted to see the past and future Joes engage each other so much more. I wanted tension, active, adventure. Not sappy self-sacrifice for a demonic little kid who is clearly going to grow up to be an asshole anyways. But, you get what you pay for I guess.

Every room has a PS3 to play the DVDs on. I feel like this is great for the youth, and maddening for the really old peeps. There are a lot of people at our hotel who are getting on in their years. Surely some of them know how to use it, but I’m sure most are more frustrated by it than anything. I barely know how to work the controller sometimes, so I can relate.

We needed a nice quiet night in. We’re going to tackle the hike up Diamond Head tomorrow, so we’ll need our rest. Which is also why I’m posting tonight. I’ve gotta get a head start on the day and doing the blog post in the morning can be a bit of a time-suck.

So, now that I’m done, nighty night!

“Come Over, We’re Having a Decker”

We had plans last weekend. Big plans. Top secret plans.

There was a party at the vets club in Newmarket. A surprise 30th Wedding Anniversary party for two very special people. To call them “my buddy’s parents” is a passable description, but does not do them true justice. They’re so awesome. Gloria is so sweet and lovely. Glenn is hilarious and a remarkable judge of idiocy. He’s seen a lot of it from our crew over the years, so he’s a bona fide expert in the subject. They have a soft spot for their kids’ drunken friends. And if not for their deck I might never have fallen for D.

I met Hoben the summer of 2005, and we hit it off instantly. We bonded over a mutual adoration of John Belushi. We shared an enormous appetite for booze and antics. We got drunk, and we caused shit. We were always egging each other on. Who could be more outrageous? Who could get the most obliterated? It was fun. We were young, we were stupid, and it worked. We were and are great friends.

hoben

Hoben visiting my dorm, Sept. ’05

The following summer of 2006 we hung out all the time. I had just turned 19 in April, and Hoben would be turning 19 in June. We had to do something incredible to commemorate it. Or at least get really drunk. So we decided to put together a plan for the weekend. Hoben called me up on Friday afternoon, his birthday was tomorrow. We were going to hang out and plan something for Saturday. “Come over, we’ll have a decker”, he said. And by decker, he meant we’d be getting drunk on his deck all night. Sounded good to me, I didn’t have to work. I grabbed a 12 pack and went over.

It started out just us. And then people just kept coming over. The more the merrier, that’s how a decker works best. Someone would call Hoben, asking what was up that night. He’d say “Come over, we’re having a decker”, and they did. Some random 40-something neighbourhood dude named Steve even came over. Nobody knew who he was, he just popped his head over the fence and said we seemed like a fun bunch. He wanted to party and we didn’t have the heart to turn him away.

Hobs and I had been drinking since 2:00pm. But he had to leave to work his 5-9 shift at the bulk barn. So he left me and a couple of other buddies to keep the decker going in his absence. And we did.

By 10:00pm I was just the right amount of hammered. Hoben had come back from his shift, and had been in touch with more people. They were on their way over, some cool peeps that Hoben said I would dig. Three dudes opened the gate to the fence and strolled over to the deck. The first two walked over, cracked drinks and sat down. The third dude hung back a second to close the gate. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I watched him close the gate and walk up to the deck. Casually, calmly. He was short, and a little stocky. He had a 26 of rye, he was here to party. He was dreamy, and he sat down next to me. I was too drunk to notice it then, but every stride he took across the deck was reeling me in. It was D, and I was powerless to stop myself from falling for him that night.

A little while later Hoben’s parents joined us. Hoben is basically a clone of his dad, so we loved Glenn instantly. He wasn’t shy about zinging us dumb kids, and slayed us with many well-timed one-liners throughout the night. And Gloria was the epitome of class. She was well-dressed and not a single hair on her perfectly coiffed head was out-of-place. She sat down gracefully while lighting a smoke. I loved her immediately too. She was welcoming and warm, bubbly and fun.

We were too effed up that night to stick to the plans we made for Hoben’s birthday the following night. We had this incredible idea for a toga party that never came to fruition. We just got drunk at our friend Curt’s house instead. But we’d never forget that very first decker, what an awesome night.

There were many more deckers to follow over the years. Deckers became the standard summer party for our crew. If someone had a deck and it was free, it didn’t take long to pack some coolers and haul them on over. They were always fun, but they were limited to summer.

one of many great summertime deckers, July '08

one of many great summertime deckers, July ’08

That is, until last weekend. D and I were reunited with all of the Hobens again for the first time in a couple of years for this party. Hoben’s little brother and sister were there too. And I’ve had plenty of fun times with them over the years! They can party just as hard as their big brother can. They were the evil geniuses behind this party for their parents. We were all buzzing with excitement, waiting at the hall for Glenn and Gloria to show up. And the blissfully wedded couple were completely surprised. They had no idea, no suspicion whatsoever that anything fishy was afoot. It was such an amazing thing that the Hoben kids did for their parents. Surprise!

There was a lot of love and happiness in the air for Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary. So many people came to share in their joy. All the memories of the fun times we had on that deck were coming to the surface each time D and I were introduced to another party-goer. “This is Smash and D, and they met on our deck almost seven years ago! And they’re still together,” Gloria proudly exclaimed with each introduction. We felt important, and we felt cherished. Our story was another legend of the Hoben deck.

Everyone partied and everyone had fun. When it was time for the bar to close down, there was this collective feeling amongst us all. A feeling that the party wasn’t over yet. It couldn’t be.

All the cheap drinks we’d imbibed had stirred up a longing for those simple summer nights. Nights spent on the deck, drinking and laughing. The weather was absurdly mild for a day in January. So why not? Why couldn’t we have a decker for old time’s sake? Glenn gave the official nod of approval. To the Hoben deck! And off we went in our respective cabs, racing back to the Hoben deck to keep the party rolling.

I set foot on the deck and was immediately transported back in time. I was 19 again. Working some shitty summer job that paid peanuts. Hanging out with my friends, just goofing around. My only care in the world if my beers were cold enough yet. Pure happiness.

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan, January ’13

This decker will become the stuff of legends in time too. Remember guys? That time, after Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary party, we had a decker in January? Yeah, those were the days.

While sitting next to Gloria, I asked her if there was any secret to their marital bliss. She told me, “He makes me laugh every single day.”

Congratulations Glenn and Gloria! You’re an amazing couple and I will consider myself very lucky if D and I end up as happy as you two are in so many years.

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune, January ’13.

This post is dedicated to another great couple, my Aunt Carrie and Uncle Tom. They graciously let us crash at their place on Saturday night, so we could go full blast at the party. They’re totally awesome party animals, and we always have a lot of fun when we’re hanging out with them. I have an amazingly terrible photo of them from when they first started dating posted on my fridge. I could post it here, but I’ll spare them the embarrassment. That photo hangs on my fridge to remind me to be awesome 24/7. And that the style in the 90’s really isn’t as chic as I remember it to be…

De-Slutifying Halloween!

I can feel the grin spread across my face as I sit here mentally categorizing all of the things I love about Halloween. I know it’s become a heavily commercialized holiday, and all of the ways in which we celebrate are perversions of its true meaning. But blah blah blah I don’t care. I like it this way! I like that it’s an excuse for kids to run around the neighbourhood hyped up on sugar and begging for candy from strangers like starving mongrels. I like that my need to binge on cheesy old horror movies is enabled by almost all of the channels on t.v. for two weeks of the year. I love that I can get belligerently drunk while wearing a hilarious costume. I love the decorations, the ghouls, the pranks, the candy, and all the mischief that’s afoot.

Most importantly though, I love that this holiday has absolutely nothing to do with love, peace on earth, romance, gift exchanges, or gratitude of any kind. This isn’t some bitch ass little holiday where we’re supposed to tell each other how we feel and play nice with one another for the sake of the holidays. This isn’t the kind of holiday that forces you to take a long hard look at yourself and overanalyze the nature of your relationships and personal goals, or think too hard about what you’re doing with your life. You’re too busy handing out candy and trying to scare people to be bothered with all that garbage.

Halloween is hedonism in its most pure form, and that is something I can really get down with. It’s a time to let your imagination soar! To come up with the most creative costume, to have the most intense and riveting display of decorations, to eat gluttonous amounts of candy unabashedly! What other holiday simultaneously encourages you to stay out all night terrorizing the neighbourhood, or pass out early with candy wrappers littering your chest in front of the television? You can have your fun-size Mars bar and eat it too!

The only aspect of Halloween that I have disdainful feelings towards is the part where girls dress like sluts. Costumes are about being creative, funny, charming, spooky, and/or clever. They’re not about putting on a thong and a pair of wings and calling yourself a frickin’ butterfly or something equally stupid. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I have a problem with people showing off their bodies. More power to you if you’ve been lucky enough to get a hot one. But why does it have to be on Halloween? Why can’t you be brave enough to dress like a slut on any other normal day of the year?

I realize a lot of people are out to get some on Halloween, which is probably a huge factor when deciding to put on that slut-bag costume. But do you think you’re not as likely to score in a slightly more modest costume? Maybe if you aim to look glamorous, beautiful, or cute as opposed to cheap you’ll wind up in a costume that is still flattering to your figure, but doesn’t garner negative attention from your peers. Added bonus: you get to go home with your dignity intact!

Less is not always more with costumes. Physical attractiveness fades in time, and an awesome personality is for life. The earlier you start cultivating that winning personality, the better off you’ll be.

On the flip side of that, all the unintelligible sluts flooding the parties and bars make the rest of us who possess remarkable craftsmanship, personality, wit, and imagination really stand out. Which is why every year I use Halloween as an opportunity to be myself while bucking the norms. I come up with costumes that are fun, that people get a laugh out of, and that tell the world I’m a one-of-a-kind chick. Who, with only a kick-ass personality and flair for drag can captivate her peers on Halloween without a slutty gimmick.

I get out there every year, to the parties and bars, clad in my hilarious non-sexualized costume to combat the bullshit. When you’re trying to endure some tedious conversation with a slutty twerp at a party, or you feel like you might have a stroke because of all the body glitter and overexposure, you can take comfort in the thought that Smash is out there. I’m out there looking a fool for you. I’m out there to inspire others, because you can have a great costume without sacrificing your self-respect.

See for yourself!

Snoochies boochies! Halloween 2009

Hocus Pocus! Halloween 2008

That rug really tied the room together, man! Halloween 2011

And this year’s costume was no exception!

Welcome to Riverdale! Halloween 2012

Archie’s working that charm…

The people we talked to at the party and ran into while cruising through the city really dug our costumes. We got a lot of compliments and laughs because people love to see something they don’t expect. It’s refreshing to see a girl go silly instead of skanky.

It also didn’t hurt that we were hanging out with these jokers all night:

beep beep, coming through bitches!

By the end of the night the scoreboard read:

Awesome Costumes—1

Sluts—0

We put forth another solid effort of thumbing our noses to the slutty costume trend this year. There will always be sluts lurking around on Halloween, we’ll never be able to quash vanity entirely. But hopefully we gained a few more Awesome Costume allies!

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!