How to Turn 30

This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while, but gosh darn it, I just haven’t had the time! But lucky for you, today I do. So pack your bags and hop in the time machine bitches, we’re headed back to April 2017 for this one. (I know it’s not that far of a flashback, so you can pack light, definitely won’t need your jammies, but maybe a light snack?)

Getting older, huh? That’s a thing, I guess. I’ve never felt old a day in my life. I’ve never fretted about age much. I’m not vain, I don’t give a shit about all that superficial wrinkles and bemoaning the loss of one’s youth, it’s not for me. Take care of yourself, sure. But you’re gunna get old and your tits are gunna hit the floor one day, that’s a fact. You can’t fight city hall, amiright?

I believe that life is a weird and wonderful gift from who knows where and it’s best to just take the biggest, most slobbery bite out of every day you get, because you never know when the buffet will close down for good. Chow down and drink up every last drop of life you’re served. That’s why I love the fucking SHIT out of my birthday. I’m just so happy to be here at all. Getting older means that you add on another year, but also that you’ve hopefully filed away a ton of amazing new memories from that past year to the story of you. And the year ahead is rife with limitless possibilities for more!

Thursday April 20, 2017:
I wake up, and I am officially 30 years old. No more fancy-free, footloose 20’s for me.

I took the day off of work because I wanted the whole day all to myself. So I could do whatever the hell I wanted and spend time thinking about the decade past and the decade ahead. Who have I become? Who will I become in another 10 years? What did I learn? What did I do that will forever make me smile and say, “Godammit, I knew how to live!”

It was kind of sad at first though because I went into it initially feeling disappointed with myself. I was upset about the loss of something very dear to me. Years ago I’d written a letter to myself, only to be opened on my 30th birthday. I thought I knew exactly where I stashed it, but apparently not. A few days prior to my birthday, I went to my assumed secure hiding spot and discovered my letter wasn’t there. I searched all over the place, practically tearing my hair out, so desperate to find that one direct link to a 20-year old me. I couldn’t remember a single word I’d written to myself and I wanted so badly to see that girl again, to see how hopeful she was and compare notes with the woman I am now. But it never did show up. One too many moves over the years I suppose, c’est la vie…

So that was a sucky thing, but only for a moment. I simply refuse to allow any disappointment big or small to hold me back, not today, not ever.

First thing on my agenda for a full day of birthday me time? To the spa of course! I booked myself an exorbitantly priced deluxe facial treatment at Pure and Simple. I love myself, so I’m going to treat myself like the queen that I am. And oh my sweet god in heaven, it was gooood! What was even better? Unbeknownst to me, D called a few days prior and paid for my spa day upfront because he is gentleman and a scholar. Thank you, darling for giving me the gift of flawless skin on my special day.

After the spa, I was looking good and feeling fresh. I snapped a no makeup selfie for instagram to commemorate this feeling. And so I could look back through the cobwebs in however many years and say “yeah, that was me and I loved that badass chick.”

I was feeling hella hungry afterwards, and I needed to refuel. I knew exactly what I wanted next:

Blueberry pancakes smothered in brown sugar butter served with a side of butcher’s crack bacon. Oh honey, yaaasssss! Got this stack of hotcakes at a cool ass diner called Old School at Dundas and Palmerston Ave. I walked in, it was pretty chill for a Thursday mid-morning, and grabbed a seat. There was a super adorable punky couple at the table beside me and I overheard the dude tell the server it was his 23rd birthday. Yay, I love meeting a fellow 4/20 birthday twin! I went “Holy shit dude, me too! Happy frigging birthday man!” And he was so jazzed about it. We birthday high-fived and then his girl paid the check and they went their merry way. It was a good omen.

Oh right, back to the pancakes. They were unreal! Literally the only thing I thought about for a month straight afterwards. And I’ll tell you this people, I ate every single bite in that skillet. Hell, I almost licked that skillet clean but then reminded myself that I’m 30 now, so I should control myself from doing desperate shit like that, at least when I’m in public anyways.

As I was about ready to settle the bill, my server came up to the table and handed me a GIANT COOKIE! My pal The Magpie had called the diner up because she knew I was there and bought me a birthday cookie as a post-breakfast treat. At that point, I honestly starting feeling like a real baller. Everywhere I went people were like “oh, blah blah paid your bill, or bought you stuff.” It was fucking fantastic.

I didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk after that, but walk I did. I strolled around the city and found myself at TOT Cat Cafe near College and Spadina. I wasn’t hungry at all, so I just donated $10.00 to the cafe to play with the cats.

I was at the Cat Cafe for almost two hours! Usually when I go in there with D he’s all “yeah great, they’re so cute but I don’t want to be here all day” and then herds me out after like twenty minutes. Not today though! Not on my birthday. I took my time playing with, petting, and fawning all over every special little kitty in there. They were all so frigging cute.

I wanted to stay there all day, but two hours seemed like it was plenty. I brushed all the fur off my shirt and headed out. I went to Kensington Market after that, and I took my sweet ass time. Walking around, checking out the shops, enjoying the day. I tried on some hats and wondered if I should start becoming a brooch person now that I’m 30. I could be dripping in brooches and elegance!

Ultimately, I decided I’m still to young for that, but maybe for 40?

I started thinking about 40 a lot on the walk home. How far away it was, how I had a brand new decade ahead of me to do whatever I wanted with. I got home and then I brewed myself a spot o tea. Inspiration was flowing and dreams were percolating so I sat down and I started writing a new letter. Even though I really wanted my letter for 30 to reference, it was okay without it. I wrote out all the stuff I hoped and dreamed that a 40-year old Smash would do and be proud of when she looked back.

I hid it in a spot that I absolutely 100% will not lose track of it. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

It was pretty much workday done by the time I finished, then D got home and we ordered an absurd amount of Chinese food. We feasted and I told him all about my day. Then I told him it’s not even close to over yet because we are going out partying and we’re gunna burn the motherfucking house down! He was more than agreeable.

We hopped in a cab and barreled our way towards fun at one of my all-time favourite places, The Office Pub, for Thursday night Karaoke madness. Two of my most cherished pals, The Magpie and DJ Gibbs met us there with their pipes all warmed up and ready to sing. It was the best night, we went apeshit on the mic and on the d-floor. I loved every second of it and I don’t ever want to forget that night.

We closed the place down that night, singing and dancing until the lights came on. Then we hugged the karaoke host because he was the coolest guy on the planet and told him how thankful we were for his service that night. He did a hell of a job allowing us to make merry all over the place.

We worked up a real drunk and crazy appetite and went to get some burgers at the A&W down the street. My face hurt from laughing so much. The Magpie, D, and DJ Gibbs were at an all-time hilarity peak and they were killing me with their jokes and zaniness!

I put that A&W bag on my head and it was game over. This might be one of my most favourite pictures of all time because it STILL makes me laugh to the point of tears when I see it.

D and I hopped in a cab and I smiled the whole way home. I’ve been blessed by the love of so many wonderful friends. The Magpie and DJ Gibbs are two very special people and I appreciate the hell of them for making April 20th, 2017 one of the highest highs of my life so far.

Harv greeted us at the door when we got home and shared some special birthday kitty kisses with me.

I love D and Harv so much. This is our family and we’ve got our own amazing thing going on. I don’t know how the fuck I lucked out so much, but I’m thankful for the both of them every single day. They make my heart whole.

The birthday fun didn’t stop that night either, that was just the day of! D threw me a huge surprise partaaaay on the Saturday night that followed and it was a killer time too. But that’s a whole other story in itself…

So there you have it, folks. I turned 30, and that’s how I did it. I took the fucking bull by the horns and made 30 my bitch. I very much recommend that everyone else does the same. For any birthday, any age! Love your birthday, embrace it, be thankful when the universe bestows a birthday upon you because you never know how many it will give. And you need to make the most of every single one.

Every day is an opportunity to live the life you want to live.

Advertisements

Snowy Day Memories

It was quiet this morning when I woke up. And calm, very calm. I could feel Harvey’s warm little body at the end of the bed, nestled against my legs. He loves sleeping in as much as I do. I stretched and opened my eyes. The daylight peeking through the blinds hinted at another drab winter day. Time to rise, no shine permitted today though.

I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw when I stepped into the living room. Huge, incredibly fluffy snowflakes were swirling and twirling all around outside. The roads and rooftops had all been blanketed in crisp white snow. Watching it fall, fluttering to the ground in fat sticky flakes made me feel like I was inside a snow globe. It was beautiful, and about damn time.

snowy days

Our winter hasn’t been very magical at all this year. It’s been downright depressing actually. We’ve had barren, snowless grey days and bizarre temperature spikes, where it feels practically balmy one day then aggressively cold the next. We’ve had more rain than snow, and it’s been a bloody nuisance. I’d take snow over rain any day. It makes me so happy seeing actual snow, falling with purpose, taking off its coat to stay a while. My heart rejoiced watching the snow fall, unrelentingly, all morning long. There it is, there’s the winter I know and love. Winter is all about snow. I love the feeling of snow falling down all around me. Snowflakes sticking to my hair and coat. Tromping through the snow in thick clunky boots. Mischievously balling it up to toss at someone unsuspecting.

I remember winter stretching out forever when I was a kid. Long endlessly sunny and snowy days out in the burbs, my sisters and I laughing and playing with our neighbourhood friends. Building snow forts, making snow angels, having snowball fights, sledding down huge mountains of plowed snow in the library parking lot. Racing down the snow banks on our Krazy Karpets with reckless abandon. Being told to come in for a hot lunch, soup and grilled cheese, to warm us up. We’d come home, blasting through the front door like a pack of wild dogs, hungry and hyper from our morning adventures. Peeling ourselves out of our snowsuits, so impatient to be free of them. Boots, hats, mittens, socks, and scarves cast off and flung all over the foyer, Mom rounding up all those winter necessities and dispersing them throughout the house to dry over heating vents and radiators.

We’d scarf lunch down like we hadn’t eaten in days, recouping all the energy burned that morning. Stockpiling more energy, fuelling up, eager to get back outside again for more snowy fun. My imagination already a hundred miles ahead of itself, dreaming up an outlandish afternoon caper. That’s all you needed back then to be happy, a fresh snowfall, some pals, and your imagination.

I have fond memories of super special winter days when my dad would take us skating. He’d shovel off a sizeable patch of pond, over at the golf course, where nobody would bother us. My sisters and I had the whole pond to ourselves, around and around we’d go, skating until our legs were jelly. Skating until the sun started setting. Begging our dad for just five more minutes, please!

I remember a whole day spent sledding with my family, mom and dad, my sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins. Everyone was there. Again over at the golf course, at the back, off of the 16th or 17th hole I think. Where the snow was freshly fallen, completely untouched, not a track or footprint in it. Where nobody else would be, our secret sledding place. The hill was steep, so enormously steep. It was a long ride down and a difficult climb back up. Dad and the uncles would pull us kids back up the hill on the sleds when we whined about having to climb it, only to launch us back down it again once we reached the top. I watched with shock as my older sister went whizzing down the hill at an incredible speed, narrowly missing the trunk of a massive pine tree. A close call if ever there was one. I remember tripping up the hill, falling face first into it, getting the neckline of my coat full of snow. Being dusted off by my mom and sent back on my way. We all went back to my Oma and Opa’s house afterwards, to warm up by the wood stove and sip hot chocolate.

We still talk about that day at family get togethers. That perfect winter day following an enormous overnight snowfall. The sun was out and the air was crisp. The day primed for adventure. Everyones hearts overflowing with laughter and joy.

That’s the winter I know and love best, snowy and enchanting. Inviting endless possibility and glee, promising lots of lovely memories. I hope today that some lucky little kids got to have a day of perfect winter fun with their siblings and friends, like I got to plenty of times growing up.

Knit 1, Purl 1, Knit 1, Purl 1…

I’m the kind of person who has a billion hobbies and is always searching for more. I go through phases, or cycles of them. I’ll find something interesting and engaging, throw myself into it wholeheartedly and see where it takes me. I have a lot of creative energy, it makes me feel happy and fulfilled to craft or create. That feeling of accomplishment when you’ve produced something is a rush like no other. It makes me feel interesting and special, crafty and crazy. But most importantly, it’s an outlet. For all the thoughts, feelings, dreams, and internal strangeness that cannot be expressed any other way. If you’re a fellow zany, creative, crafter type, you’ll know what I mean.

A couple of autumns ago, I fell in love with ponchos. It was one of those days where you think it’s going to be warmer than it is, but the season is taking that sharp turn from refreshing crispness in the air to face numbing harshness. D and I planned to be out, walking around the city for a bit. I thought I’d be fine, but I wasn’t. We jumped in a shop and I started looking for an extra layer of warmth so we could carry on with our day. I found this gorgeous navy blue poncho with a cozy cowled neckline and lovely red accent stripes that appealed perfectly to my sense of style. For forty bucks, it was a steal. It started me wanting to buy and wear only ponchos and big chunky sweaters all the time. Shopping is great, but sometimes you find things that you would almost buy, but then not. Because something isn’t quite right enough to merit a purchase. If only something could be done or changed to make it more you.

I started thinking about how awesome it would be if I could just knit my own ponchos and sweaters. That idea simmered in the back of my brain for a while, I was still consumed with wedding plans and other things. It would have to wait, I’d circle back later. And life went on.

Flash forward a couple of years, the weather starting to dip into colder territory again, I was digging into the depths of the closet to pull out all of my ponchos and sweaters for another cozy autumn. I was starting to feel restless with current creative endeavours. It was time to pivot, try something new. That thought of knitting my own things started to heat up again, bubbling and eventually boiling over. I wanted desperately to start knitting, I could think of nothing else. I needed to try it, see if it was something I could do.

I thought I could just waltz into the craft store, grab a knitting magazine and some yarn then get started. I’m no virgin crafter, I’ve seen some shit in my time, man. Trust me, some crazy shit. I got this.

Wrong. I was wrong, all wrong, I take it back. Totally, utterly wrong on all the levels. There is so much to know about knitting! It’s overwhelming actually. And I’m very tactile. Seeing, seeing, and seeing again, then repeating is what I need to process and understand how to do something that’s totally new to me. I need help and feedback, lots of it. So I did some googling and I found this wonderful little shop in the west end that offered classes. I registered right away and I was so excited. So very excited. I’m going to learn something new, I’m going to knit!

I could think of nothing else the day of my first class. I couldn’t wait to finish work and dash off, yarn and needles in tow. I was the first one to arrive, helplessly early, twenty-five minutes early. That’s too early! But that’s who I am, eager and enthusiastic. The instructor was very warm and welcoming. She sat me at a table in the back of the shop and took the skein of yarn I’d purchased a few days earlier. She placed it on this amazing contraption she called a “swift”. Round and round the swift turned, I was mesmerized. It transformed that skein of yarn into a fat little ball that she then called a “cake”. So many new terms!

Other classmates started arriving, mirroring back at me the same mingled expression of trepidation and excitement. There were seven of us total, all women, all knitting n00bs. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. I loved that, I didn’t know there’d be this great social element.

It was hard at first. Trying to hold the needles in a way that felt right, they were so foreign to me. We started with casting on. The only place you can start. And it was tricky, but I got it figured out. Then we talked about muscle memory and the knit stitch. Everything felt so floppy and uncertain. I felt floppy and uncertain! I didn’t know what to do after I had knit my first row, what was next? The girl beside me told me to just do it again. Move the needle back to my dominant hand and do that same thing again. Mind. Blown. So this is knitting! Huh.

I got home and showed D the few little rows I had knit, I was so proud of myself.

first knit rows

D was excited for me. He loved how happy I was. But I struggled with the yarn I chose. It was too fine for my beginner’s hands. I took it off the needles and “frogged” it, another fun new term meaning that I destroyed all progress and went back to start. I bought larger needles and bulkier yarn. I started again.

bulkier!

That felt better. I could see the stitches more easily and make corrections when I messed up. I started to feel really good about it as the yarn grew longer. I loved feeling the yarn, watching it expand row after row. And I knew this wasn’t just another hobby, it was a lifelong passion.

I had three more classes, one a week. We learned how to purl, how to read patterns, weaving in our ends, planning projects, and so much more. We learned how to make hats using “DPNs” or double-pointed needles. We were knitting “in the round”, “tinking”, and “ktogging” with confidence! It was wonderful.

I’ve been very productive since that class, knitting up a storm. I love the way it makes me feel. It’s so rhythmic and relaxing. I feel inspired by so many things, the possibilities from here are endless.

My first attempt knitting in the round…

in the round

Wearing the first scarf I ever finished…

my first scarf

Crazy leg warmers!

leg warmers!

The infinity scarf I knit for my lovely friend the Magpie for Christmas. She loves it so much and that makes me so happy!

peattie's scarf

The first hat I ever knit, successfully. I gave it to my uncle who is so very proud and impressed with my work. And he’s worn it everyday since I gave it to him, even though it’s purple. He’s so rad.

wienie's cap

A teeny tiny little scarf I knit with leftover yarn for Harv, haha. (He actually hates it so much.)

Harv's scarf

And the project I’m most proud of so far, the seed stitch scarf I made for myself, with that very first ball of yarn I bought. This is a real accomplishment. I had almost written that ball of yarn off altogether because it was so tough at first. But after some practice with the bulkier yarns, my skills started getting better, and I felt brave enough to try it again. Progress was slower, but I had the patience for it now.

my fave scarf

I love this scarf so much. The texture is divine, I’m obsessed with seed stitch. I made this, me. I can’t stop marvelling at the fact that I knew nothing about knitting three months ago, and now I’ve made so many things. Damn, that feels good.

I love knitting, it is the greatest. It makes me feel so purposeful and inspired. And although I’m nowhere near ready to start knitting my own ponchos, I’m headed in that direction and I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m enjoying the journey, I don’t need to rush it. I have a dream that is simmering for now. One day in the near future, when it’s time, that dream will start to bubble and boil over too.

Harv Dreams of Bubbles

My sister and brother-in-law just adopted two kittens. Super cute, great personalities. We went to see them a few weeks ago and as we were playing with them, my sister commented that one cat seems to be more of a “mouser” and the other a “birder” while describing their styles of play.

I hadn’t really thought about Harv in either of those terms before. And as it turns out, he’s neither. He’s a bubbler!

I was about to start washing some dishes the other night and so I squirted some dish soap into the sink. As I did so, several tiny bubbles floated out of the nozzle, immediately catching Harv’s attention. He went nuts!

After he popped all of the bubbles he sat there looking at me expectantly, wanting more. I obliged. He went nuts again. Meowing crazily, tracking the bubbles across the kitchen as they floated perilously close to his swatting range. I was amazed. I kept making bubbles for him to chase and he loved it.

Then D came along and told me I was wasting dish soap, so I stopped and finally got started on the dishes. But Harv didn’t want to stop. He kept meowing and brushing up against my leg all cute, trying to get some bubble action going again. I decided that this was a hobby worth pursuing for him so the next day I went to the store and bought actual bubbles. With the little plastic wand and everything. I thought he might enjoy the challenge of larger bubbles.

It was tremendously fun!

bubbling

moar bubbles

Especially after I started blowing them in front of a fan and letting them really whip around the apartment. That made him insane!

on the nose

preying

Harv loves tracking the bubbles and then getting as close to them as he possibly can before they burst. Classic bubbler, that cat of mine.

It’s like crack for him, he wants to chase bubbles every night now. He’s hooked. Just look at his face when I got the bubble bottle out:

IMG_6210

Look at it:

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.16.56 PM

LOOK AT IT FOR ALL ETERNITY:

bubble obsessed

That photo is just dying to be made into a meme. Even the strongest of all catnip couldn’t compete with bubbles for this cat’s attention. It’s all bubbles all the time around here now. And I’m an enabler.

Rat-patootie

I’ve recently mentioned that I’m trying to up my cooking game, yes? I’m making meat pies, stews, soups, pastas, all kinds of crazy shit up in here. This is just a quickie today. Usually I’m ever so blah-blah-blah about all the things I do. But today I just want to share what I’m currently most proud of producing in the kitchen.

This amazing and colourful pile of ratatouille!

There’s eggplant, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, loads of olive oil, garlic, and black pepper all tossed in the roasting pan. It baked until the consistency was heavenly. And then it was garnished with a liberal sprinkling of torn basil.

Before:

raw veggies (gross)

After:

cooked veggies (yummm)

It was fantastic. I’ve never loved eating veggies so much in my entire life. I want to eat this all the damn time. But only if D is around to take care of all the chopping. So much chopping required.

It’s easy and I strongly recommend. I can practically smell the basil now.

The Summer of Us

It’s the last day of August, so summer is basically over. All of the usual “demise of summer” indications are afoot: dip in the temperature, sun setting earlier, back to school shopping commercials on T.V., sweaters on the store mannequins, and the most ominous of all, there’s Halloween candy at the grocery store. Frightening indeed.

Come this September it will have been ten years since I met my friendship soul mates and fell in love. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, how the time passes.

drinking in 1st year

There are people that we meet in life that change us forever. Joce and Sara are my people. Karan too, of course. But he came round a year later.

Ten years isn’t such a long time in the scheme of it all, but looking back it feels like a lifetime. And even though we’ve long since left behind the cozy bubble of school and had to join the real world, we’re still closer than ever. We’re not the types to let our friendship fade into the background while life rages on. Our friendship is very much at the forefront of everything.

When Joce and Harry moved to Australia and then Thailand for a year we all stayed in touch, constantly using Skype and FaceTime to be together from opposite ends of the world. And when Sara left for Vietnam last summer we did the same thing. Though we miss each other desperately when one of us is off on an adventure, it’s like no time at all has passed when we’re together again. And when the gang is all back together again after months apart you can be damn sure we’re making the most of that time.

Case in point, this summer. The summer of us.

the girls

Sara left for Vietnam last July and got home at the end of this June. Almost a whole year had gone by since we’d last seen her beautiful glowing face in person. She signed on for two years teaching abroad in Vietnam, and year one was finally done. We were so excited for her return, but we knew it would be short-lived because she’d be going back again soon; she only had eight weeks of summer vacation in Canada. Joce and I made a pact that for the duration of Sara’s time back home we’d drop anything and everything for the three of us to be together if Sara was free. She had a busy schedule, with so many things to do and so many other people who wanted to see her too. But if she was free, we booked her.

And it was amazing. It was the best summer ever.

We started with a wonderfully drunken reunion weekend at Joce’s cottage. Best hug ever.

best hug ever

Then there was an amazing evening of comedy at the Second City followed by hilariously rad karaoke. Where we unfortunately didn’t get the perfect photos to capture the memories, but that doesn’t matter so much. What we got suits us just fine.

karaoke

moar karoke!

Sara and her parents hosted a super awesome pool party! And the water temperature was spot on. Big Lar did a damn fine job with the pool, if I do say so myself.

po

Joce and Harry had a belated housewarming party.

the gang

housewarming

And it was so much fun that even D danced. For reals. The merriment was too contagious, even for Old Grandpa D to resist.

D danced!

There were shots aplenty…

shots

moar shots

Laughs galore…

laughs

boxhead

And we rediscovered our intense love of charades!

charades

It was an absolute blast. Having Sara back home, seeing each other almost every weekend for the eight weeks she was with us, it was a dream come true. All I ever want is to be with my best friends. They’re the most wonderful people and I love them so dearly. Everything with them is fun and easy. Everything is just fucking awesome when you’ve got your best pals by your side.

One night while we were hanging out, Sara told me that it’s hard to meet good people and make lasting friendships overseas. Good people who just get you and who you want to be with always. Those people you can confide in and who will support you unconditionally through anything. Those kind of people are a rare and precious commodity. She told me that this experience living abroad made her realize how profoundly grateful she is to have found Joce and I. And Karan too, of course. I’ve never been in the same situation as her, striking out on her own in another country on the other side of the world. But I believe her. There are special people in the world, very special people who you make connections with that you know are everlasting. And that’s not something you can just find anywhere.

Ten years ago when I moved into the dorm on labour day weekend, I didn’t know what the future would hold. I was nervous about living alone, and I wasn’t sure that I’d fit in. I was excited about starting a new life, sure. I just figured it was going to be a four-year pit-stop on my way to the real world. I didn’t know that I was going to find my tribe. But I did. I found my people, I found where I belong.

And I can’t imagine my life without them. I don’t care what a shitty cliché that is either, because it’s true.

the summer of us

We had the best summer ever, we did everything together. The summer of us. We were completely inseparable, just like the old days. Just like it still is. Nothing’s really changed after all this time.

And when Sara gets home again next summer, we’re going to do it all over again. I can’t wait. I’m already checking off the days on the calendar. Days until my heart feels whole with friendship and laughter again. Joce is still here, that’s awesome. There’s Skype, too. That helps. And I’ve got a good stash of memories from this summer past to hold me over until then. But still, I just want to have my people close all the time. I’m selfish like that.

Cheers, Sara! I hope year two is every bit the adventure that the first one was. I miss you. But I’ll see you soon, it’s not so long until we’re together again. Enjoy your journey.

Tales of Philly: Day 2, I Never Knew Love Could Be Like This

I’m just going to pretend like I haven’t waited three months to continue the telling of our trip to Philadelphia back in April… It’s not weird. I’ve just been busy and lazy. As long as the story eventually gets told, it’s no biggie right?

To recap day 1: D and I drove 10 hours to get to the city, ate a delicious frigging meal, saw a few sites located near the hotel and then retired for the night. We needed to rest up so we’d be energized for a full day of Philly fun!

Oh and also, some required listening while you read this post:

We woke up feeling rested and excited. We grabbed an early breakfast of champions at none other than Dunkin’ Donuts. Because America runs on Dunkin’ and we wanted to too. It was pretty fucking filling! I had a sausage and egg croissantwich and these sweet little hash brown tater tot thingies. My overall rating? It was pretty tasty for a fast food breakfast, I’d eat it again. I’d give it a B- if I had to letter grade it.

After we fuelled up, we strapped on some comfy shoes and started our own walking tour of Philly. Starting with an easy breezy stroll through the weekend farmer’s market at Rittenhouse Square. It was gorgeous, a perfect spring day.

Rittenhouse Stone

market

beautiful park

It was so pretty! An excellent starting point. But we couldn’t hang around too long, with so much more to be seen. We definitely wanted to make sure we tackled the historic part of town too. We made our way through Market Square, City Hall, and then through to the historic sites. We cruised past the Liberty Bell, but the lineup was way too damn long. So we waved at the line and were satisfied with that. Plus, it was way too nice outside to be trapped indoors in a long ass lineup like a couple of lame tourist suckers.

old philly

First National Bank

beautiful philly

It was awesome, we made up our own walking tour. “Cartography is not my métier”, but we figured it out. The cobblestone streets were so cool, but they were rougher on our feet than we anticipated.

D walking the cobblestones

And when we got hungry, you can be damn sure we grabbed ourselves a steaming hot Philly Cheesesteak for lunch! There were a lot of choices, an overwhelming amount of cheesesteaks places to choose from. We opted for a place called Steve’s. We like that name, it seemed reliable. Ole Steve wouldn’t serve no crap, right?

Steve's

And he’s the Prince of Steaks, so you can’t argue with that. We practiced our cheesesteak ordering skills before we even considered getting in line. One thing I learned before the trip was that people in Philly take their cheesesteak very seriously. And they don’t like being held up in the line by n00bs who don’t know how to order. We were not going to be n00bs. We were going to blend in and act like we belonged. So when we got up to the counter and the guy asked for our order we replied “1 provolone wit out” like it weren’t no thang.

The meat was savoury. The cheese was oh-so-warm-and-gooey. The bread was crisp and toasty. Philly’s famous cheesesteak sandwich vastly exceeded all of our expectations.

I also ordered a fried chicken sandwich for comparison purposes, and we were both feeling that too. So we had a little mix-and-match sandwich picnic on our vacation. And it was goddamn delightful.

We continued our adventures of the city, walking everywhere we went. We walked all over the place, I think we really made an excellent go of it. We made our way towards South Street and got to see the Magic Gardens. It’s this really cool place, it’s all mosaicked. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in all of my life. It was so totally unique and inviting.

I got D to take a sweet panoramic picture of the exterior.

Magic Gardens

South Street was a really cool and happening place. It reminded me of Queen Street West back home in Toronto. The people were hip and all of the shops and bars were hopping.

South Street

When we decided to rest our feet before the concert we found this great bar called Manny Brown’s for some afternoon drinks. Just idling and enjoying a few brews. When we sat down and the server told us it was $2.75 for a pint of Yuengling we knew we’d made the right choice.

A Pint of Yuengling

And just when I started to think it couldn’t possibly get any better than that, the best thing ever happened.

A dog walks into the bar and hops up onto a bar stool. No joke. This happened five feet away from us. And it was fucking awesome. There’s a dog at the bar!

Dog at the bar

And I got to pet him!

petting the bar dog

That dog was so chill. It was seriously the coolest thing ever. All kinds of people were coming over to get photos with him and the bartender even poured him his own glass of water at one point.

We had an absolutely fantastic afternoon exploring the city. And the best was still yet to come! The concert. Oh man, I was so pumped. I felt like a spoiled little kid. It was like I got to spend the whole day at a frigging amusement park with VIP passes to the front of all the lines, and then my parents decide to cap the night off with ice cream sundaes on a yacht or something. It was an overload of amazingness.

TMBG marquee

An Evening with They Might Be Giants. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

We lined up outside the theatre with all the nerds and waited anxiously to get inside. When they finally started letting us all in, D and I immediately booked it for a spot on the upper level of the TLA right in front of a nice comfy ledge to lean on. It was standing room only, and we’re both shorties, so we had to be strategic like that or we wouldn’t see anything at all. Our only mistake was spending an entire day right before a 3+ hour-long concert walking an entire city. D’oh!

Our feet were aching like a mofo by the end of the night. But the amazing high of the concert was able to keep us going.

They Might Be Giants just killed it. They are so special and wonderful. Pretty much everyone I talked to before going to the show and after we got back were like, “Who?” whenever I said the name of the band. Greatest band you’ve never heard of, that’s who they are.

They opened the show with one of my most favourite jams “Can’t Keep Johnny Down” and my heart hammered along in my chest to the beat.

TMBG

They also performed a hilarious cover of Destiny Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” and I knew then that I could die a happy girl. It was a dream come true. Hearing John Linnell and John Flansburgh do their very damnedest to channel Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland was unreal.

TMBG 2

magic on stage

We gave everything we could to the band. All of the love in our hearts. Our loudest most thunderous applause. Our hearty laughter at all of their wacky onstage antics. It really was a concert going experience like none I’ve ever had before.

When the concert let out we finally surrendered and got ourselves a cab back to the hotel. It was late and we were exhausted. Elated, but nonetheless exhausted. My feet were pounding as I slid into the big cushy hotel bed, and even though they hurt so bad, it was worth it. It was worth every single throb of pain. Best birthday gift to myself ever.

I love you, TMBG! Thank you for the good times, you’ve made me the happiest girl in the world.

And now a little something to play you out:

Tales of Philly: Day 1, The Road to Philly

I wanted to write while we were in Philly last weekend, but our window of time to spend there was so small, I just couldn’t bear to waste a minute of it. But before we left I promised you stories from the road, and I always keep my promises, most of the time. Onwards!

It’s a long drive to Philadelphia from Toronto. Not sure if you knew that or not, but it’s a key detail in the story of Day 1. I’m not really sure we knew what a long drive it was going to be either, until it actually started happening. In my mind road trips are all zany adventures, like in the movies. You know, like how Harry and Lloyd drive in the wrong direction for five hours or wind up losing their ride and have to get to Aspen on their wits, or lack thereof, and a stolen briefcase full of cash. It wasn’t like that at all, not even a little bit.

We had our route meticulously mapped and used D’s GPS to keep us on track. Our only real foible of the road happened when the interstate directions got a little complicated near Scranton and the GPS robot’s volume was too low to be heard over Stevie Wonder. And stupidly could not be adjusted while in use. I mean, how stupid is that? So totally stupid. We had to pull over and park in the lot of a Radisson Hotel to disconnect it so we could raise the volume. Then we spent the rest of the trip in suspicion, distrusting everything our robot navigator said the whole rest of the way. Every time she did speak from there on out, I’d give her the old hairy eyeball and tell her she better not make us lose any more time.

Time was a precious commodity. Even though we knew we were strapped in for a long haul, we were obsessed with trying to make up time. Once in a while the distance estimate on the GPS would slip down a minute or two and we’d somehow feel like we’d just beaten the devil himself at his own wily game.

The first leg of the drive was the most fun. We were full of pep and ready to take on the world. We crossed through the border at Fort Eerie and the drive was quite scenic. Lots of farms. Huge twirling wind turbines for miles and miles and miles.

new york

more new york

I mentioned that I made a bunch of mixed CD’s for the trip, yeah? Funny story about that, the first mix I made, aptly titled Road Trip to Philly: Vol. 1 turned out to be something of an epic break-up mix. Featuring such memorable hits as “Song for the Dumped”, “Divorce Song”, “Don’t Speak”, “Let Me Go”, and “All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down”, it didn’t exactly set the ideal tone for the next 9 hours in the car… whoops! My bad. But it was a good thing I packed us an absolute shit-load of candy to take the edge off. And it was also good that my next mix on deck was Road Trip to Philly: Vol. 2 Funky Disco Hits. That helped turn our beat around.

dino-sours

Thank you Jesus for this bounty of Dino-sours.

We left hella early too, like 7:30am because we wanted to avoid rush hour traffic while leaving Toronto. We didn’t really use good road trip math though, avoiding Toronto rush hour no problem, but completely ignoring the fact that based on our timing, we’d be getting into Philly during rush hour. Whoops! Another bad, but not entirely all mine. We started closing in on Philly around 4:30pm and that bitch GPS robot estimated we’d be at our hotel by 4:52pm. Unfortunately for us though, she doesn’t take into consideration traffic, so the next hour and half was pure torture. Creeping and crawling our way into the city. Sore and aching from being in the car all day. Hungry and dreaming of endless cheese steaks while our bellies rumbled away, no hope of being sated any time soon. If ever…

It sure was a beautiful day to be cooped up inside the car though. And my view from the passenger side was quite interesting at times.

Philly!

highways

When we finally did manage to squeeze ourselves into the city, the downtown core was clogged up so bad. We moved like molasses the whole way to our hotel. It totally sapped my will to live. We were there, man! But we just couldn’t enjoy it yet. Had to get to the hotel and get our car parked. When I finally did get out of the car I was back to feeling excited again. This city is happening! And our hotel was so frigging beautiful. I splurged and booked us at some hoity-toity joint, The Latham. I figured ten hours in the car merited a luxurious as hell hotel stay.

We had a big comfy baller bed!

big baller bed

Which I managed to get a few of my classic Smash pounces on.

jumpin on the bed in philly

Once I’d gotten that out of my system, we left the hotel in search of food. We were starving! Didn’t walk too far until we found something that looked promising, an Irish pub called The Black Sheep. And we had the best fucking meals ever. I don’t know if it’s because we were really legit starving or just because it actually was the best damn food ever, but holy shit dudes. I’m drooling right now as I relive it. D got himself a big juicy cheeseburger and I had the most incredible fish ‘n’ chips I’ve ever had in my life.

philly cheeseburger

philly fish n chips

Seriously. I’ve eaten a fuckload of fish ‘n’ chips in my time, and this was hands down the best of the best fish ‘n’ chips I’ve ever had. Skyrocketed to number 1 on my list. The piece of fish they served me was so thick and flaky, it just slipped right onto my fork and into my mouth. The batter had this incredible seasoning that I still dream about. It was just… so goddamn good.

We went for a walk after dinner, strolling through Market Square. It’s so gorgeous. I love Toronto with all my heart, believe me, it’s the love of my life as far as cities go. I’ll be forever smitten with its charms. So Toronto, love of my life, I don’t mean you any harm when I say this, but Philly… oh beautiful Philly, what a stunner you are! And we weren’t even in historic downtown yet either.

city hall

d in city hall

City Hall, it was quite remarkable. It’s how a city hall should be. Grand, impressive, awe-inspiring. What a perfect, sparkling gem. Philadelphia’s city hall demands absolute respect and admiration, it deserves no less than that.

We were tickled pink when we realized that the park preceding it is called Dilworth Park. That’s my BFF J-Dillah’s name. Joce-Force, you see this? They have a park in Philly that wears your name! And it’s so pretty, just like you.

Dilworth Park

An evening stroll through Market Square and City Hall, it was a wonderful introduction to the city of brotherly love. All the strain and exhaustion of the car ride just melted away.

LOVE

We made it. Philly wasn’t just some half-baked pipe dream anymore. It was real, we really did this. And we couldn’t wait to see what else this incredible city had in store.

But that’s another story, to be told in due time.

Hitting The Open Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

laughing with my hubby

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

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

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

A new ‘do!

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

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

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

my new 'do!

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

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

And I couldn’t be happier!

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

old 'do!

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

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

partaaay hair

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

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