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!

Monster Jam!

Do you ever find yourself in a funk? Just a generally shitty funk, for no significant reason at all? I did. I was all kinds of shitty funky at the end of last week. Work just felt kind of sucky. Things weren’t going according to plan. I felt disorganized and disheveled. It was just a crappy feeling, and I had a crappy attitude that was bogging my awesomeness down. Everything I did and said was blah. It was the worst. I went home Friday after work and resigned myself to a crappy night of laundry and eating dill pickle chips.

This was a funk that even dill pickle couldn’t cure. We’d have to call in the big guns on this one. The very enormous and loud big guns…

I woke up on Saturday morning and I felt different. Something had changed. That cloud of bullshit that had been following me around since Thursday, it was gone. Hey, and it looks like the weight of the world decided to take the day off too. I felt lighter. Better. Happiness was creeping into my heart again. A little smile tickled my lips. A memory scratched at the back of my brain. Something important. Something fun even, I think. Realization dawning, a spark of excitement…

Yes! Fucking yeah! This is the best day ever!

I’M GOING TO FREAKING MONSTER JAM TONIGHT!!!!!!!!

That’s the ticket. Nothing like some high-octane, tire on dirt-ramp action to make you feel alive! And dammit I felt alive again, for the first time all week. I cart-wheeled my jive turkey ass out of bed and greeted the day with a self-assured flourish. I’m going to fucking Monster Jam tonight, so all you troubles of yesterday can suck it.

Ooo, I just got a tingle. Telling your problems to suck it feels great! I’d been letting them get the better of me, but not today. Not on Monster Jam Saturday.

Joce scored the tickets to Monster Jam from her work. They were amazing seats and they were free. She’s got some sweet hookups for swag at her job. But she only had one extra ticket. So it was either me or D. I practically frothed at the mouth for the opportunity to see the monster trucks in action. It was an easy sacrifice for D. Besides the first hockey game of the season was on Saturday night. He could just grab some beers and buddies and have a great time watching the game at our place.

I met up with Joce and Harry for dinner and pre-drinks. Then we grabbed some roadies (drinks for the trek to the stadium) and hopped on the subway. I’m just going to put this out there, I love how easy it is to drink on the transit in a big city. Nobody gives a shit. I mean if you see a TTC worker, hide your drink. But other than that, ain’t no thang.

As soon as we set foot in the stadium we could hear the trucks. They were insanely loud! Good thing we’d packed earplugs. I was shaking with anticipation, I just knew this was going to totally rock!

The air was so thick with fumes and fuel, it was like breathing in testosterone. It was everything I’d ever imagined a monster truck jam to be and more.

monster jam stadi

My inner geek was also very pleased to see a Batman Monster Truck. That’s like the best possible combination of words ever. Batman Monster Truck. Yeah, you’re gonna want to soak that awesomeness in slowly. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew and get hysterical. Ah, fuck it. Life is for the living, right?

BATMAN! MONSTER! TRUCK! FULL BLOWN GEEKY HYSTERIA!

batman monster truck

Batman ripped the shit in the qualifier. He had the fastest time to beat. But he wound up coming in second place to Bounty Hunter. He put on a good show though. And we cheered him on every bit of the way. Then he totally shit the bed on the freestyle and fucked up his truck. He barely even freestyled for 20 seconds before he was sent off to the truck graveyard:

batman going to the graveyard

Some of our other favourite trucks of the night were Grave Digger, Northern Nightmare, Metal Mulisha, Rap Attack, and Krazy Train. Watching the races was fun, but the freestyle was crazy! We saw so many awesome jumps and wrecks. It was truly gory, without any actual gore.

This is Grave Digger getting some sick air off the school bus:

grave digger truck

And here he is about to totally mash the CP24 truck and some shitty yellow car:

grave digger jump

He was so totally awesome! He put on a really great show and got the crowd excited.

My favourite wreck of the night had to be Rap Attack. He tried to go over a jump, but just didn’t have the juice to make it all the way. He was standing straight up on his back tires. There was a moment of horror and uncertainty when we didn’t know if he was going to fall forward or come crashing backwards on top of himself. He wasn’t impressing us too much with the freestyle, he didn’t have as good of a run with it as some of the other trucks did. But I got a good video of the wreck:

It was an action-packed night, and it was just what I needed. Thanks for the invite Joce. I owe you guys a round still, don’t let me forget.

drinking at monster jam

Call me if you’re thirsty!

“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…

R.I.P. Goobie

I know it’s been a while since my last post, and I actually had something different planned for this week. But events have transpired, and I have something more important to discuss this week. So the carefully plotted post for this week will be shuffled to next instead.

Our beloved family cat, Magoo a.k.a Goobie had to be put down today. Goobie was 20 years old, and I will be turning 25 next month. For those of you who may not be too keen on math, and this includes me, this means that Goobie has been a part of my life for 20 years, since I was 4. Pretty much as long as I’ve been able to retain memories, Goobie has been there.

Our family wanted a pet, and we had first tried a dog. A shih tzu named Higgins. I know the name of this breed literally sounds like you’re saying “shit zoo”, and that’s exactly what Higgins was. This dog shit on everything! Everything but the grass outdoors that is. He shit on the carpets, on the kitchen floor, on his blanket, in our beds, and once he even shit in my sister’s dollhouse. My mom couldn’t take it, so she gave him away.

My parents then decided that a cat might be the better option for them. Goobie was born on September 22nd 1991 and he had two brothers, Morris and Mitzi. My parents having had three very rambunctious daughters, decided to get all three cats so each girl would have her own to care for. Looking back now, it was quite the charming childhood we had back in the early 90’s. Maybe that’s why I’m such a 90’s-aholic. Getting the three cats was intended to prevent fighting and jealousy over just one cat.

Goobie belonged to my older sister Marion, Morris belonged to me, and Mitzi belonged to my little sister Erika. All was well and wonderful in our house now that we had pets to cherish. And cherish our pets we did! We played with the cats for hours, napped with them, dressed them in doll clothing, dutifully fed them every night, and were very liberal with affectionate scratches behind the ears.

That is until the dreaded flea outbreak of 1993. Morris and Mitzi were horribly allergic to the flea medication and had to be put down after only a very short time in our household. It was our first significant pet loss, and it stuck with us a long time. But, we still had Goobie.

Goobie became the epitome of a perfect pet. He waited patiently for us to get home from school every afternoon in the front hallway. He loved snuggling in our laps for hours on end, and sitting calmly for marathon brushing sessions. He had a beautiful, full, fluffy black coat and loved having his belly rubbed. This is our Goobie:

Our lives became quite tumultuous during the years that followed. My parents divorced, we moved in with my nana for a while. Then my mom met my stepdad, moved in with him, got pregnant and had my little brother. Shortly after another little sister followed. Throughout all of these rapid changes in our childhood, Goobie was the one constant.

Goobie was always there to snuggle at night, and play with during the day. He was always charming, patient, and affectionate. We then added another cat to the household, Cody, and Goobie was not a fan. He was very stand-offish, but never went out of his way to hurt Cody or challenge him. Probably because Cody weighs about 23 pounds and Goobie only 15. Eventually Goobie learned to “like” Cody. And by “like” I mean they would have secret snuggle naps, and if you walked in on them Goobie would abruptly distance himself so as to maintain his aloof, uncaring attitude towards Cody.

Goobie had a very special bond with Marion, but in 2004 she moved away to university, and in 2005 I moved out as well to attend the same university. This was a very stressful time for Goobie because everyone else in the house lavished all of their attention on Cody. As soon as Marion was able to, she moved Goobie in with her to finish out her last two years at school. Marion and I were always close so I visited often and maintained my love for the cherished childhood cat. Marion then moved to Toronto with her boyfriend and they took Goobie with them. She called this the “kitty retirement” phase of his life.

As the years went by Goobie got older and older. The running joke was that he would live to set the world record for oldest cat. He was always very charming, but as he aged he got more and more bitchy. He also got very ragged looking. This is Goobie just relaxing one afternoon on Marion’s bed:

He started to be outright demanding of people’s attention. He would howl in the middle of the night and keep everyone awake. I’ve crashed at my sister’s place a bunch and witnessed it many times with mild amusement. He certainly had a distinct personality and was known for comic timing. Sometimes when people he didn’t know well would try to pet him he would sort of limbo his butt out of their reach and walk away. When he was dosing off, he would sit on the couch and put his face straight down. We called this Goobie’s “power down” mode.

Because of how long Goobie had been in my life, and how resilient he was, I never entertained the notion that we might actually lose Goobie one day. I just always took for granted that he would be around forever just because he always had been before. In my mind, there was nothing Goobie couldn’t overcome.

About a week ago my sister mentioned to me that Goobie took a really bad turn. She mentioned that he may need to be put down. I went to her place that weekend and spent time with Goobie just in case it would be the last time I saw him. Turns out it was the last time I saw him. I’m grateful that I got to pet him one last time and tell him how much he meant to me for all those years. He was a damn good cat. Last summer my boyfriend Darren and I adopted our kitten Harvey. If Harvey turns out to be half the pet that Goobie was then I will be very lucky.

For many of us, the best part of our day is coming home to our pets. I look forward to coming home every night and getting snuggles and affectionate head butts from Harvey. Hearing his happy purring when I get home from a terrible day at work is the gentle reminder I need to keep my head held high and keep on trucking. A pet’s unconditional acceptance and understanding is a true blessing. I hope that you, dear readers, are just as blessed by your own pets as I was by having Goobie in my life.

Thank you Goobie. Thank you for all the nights of snuggles, all the hours of playfulness, all the hilarious antics, and all of the comfort you brought during difficult times. Thank you for all the years of servitude as an outstanding pet and friend. I consider myself truly blessed to have had such an amazing pet impact my life for the past 20 years. You have been dearly cherished and will now be dearly missed.

Rest in peace old friend.