Best Laid Plans

Sometimes the universe just gets in your way. It doesn’t always play fair, and there’s no way of knowing when it’s going to whip a hardball at you. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, all you can do is roll with it. This is an account of how I had to roll with the giant shitball life chucked at me last week.

Some of you know that I write another blog, The Kingdom, and that I had some wicked plans for Halloween night. This old theatre in my city was going to be screening The Shining on Halloween night and I was not going to miss it for anything. I’ve never seen that movie all the way through before, and what better way to experience it for the first time than on the big screen, right?

Well, I’m still feeling intense disappointment because that didn’t happen. Thanks a lot universe.

Thanks for compelling Harvey to jump up onto the kitchen table, where he knows he isn’t allowed to be putting his furry cat ass. Thanks for making it cold enough in my apartment to necessitate the use of a space heater. Thanks for making me buy a space heater that’s only effective when it’s placed right in the middle of the fucking room. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to trip over it right after I’d picked Harvey’s chunky monkey butt up off the table where he’s not supposed to be. But I’d most especially like to thank you for causing me to fall directly onto my elbow so I could have the exquisite pleasure of fracturing it.

Thank you for gifting me this giant shitball of an injury on the Sunday before Halloween. An injury that prevented me from living my Halloween dream this year.

I get why you did it, universe. That fall must have been something truly spectacular to behold. When I stumbled, with a bundle of squirming cat in my arms mind you, and flailed around in a futile attempt at balancing while simultaneously scalding my bare feet on that goddamned heater, you probably had yourself a grand old chuckle at my expense. People falling can be hilarious, I get it. And I’ve given you many a laugh over the years with my clumsy antics, I know. I’m happy to do that for you from time to time, provided I don’t get too dinged up. But this time was too much, you were too rough with me. When I hit the ground and a thousand burning hot spears of pain shot through my arm I hope you felt like a total dick for doing that to me. Partly because you hurt me, but mostly because you took away my dream.

I can’t always get what I want, I know. But why, universe, why? Why did you have to take this from me?

When D asked if we were still going to go to the movie I heaved a heavy sigh of infinite sadness. I had to concede that sitting in an old ass movie theatre at the opposite end of the city for close to three hours was going to be too uncomfortable for me to bear. Defeated, I was ready to give up on the dream completely.

But D smartly reminded me about the video store down the street where I’d just recently become a member. Surely they’d have a few copies. And it’s an old movie, probably not as in demand. Plus, who the fuck still rents movies anyway, aside from us? He was right. I started to get excited again. We could rent it to watch at home, make an obscene amount of popcorn in the air popper we have, shut off all the lights and snuggle together on the couch. This Plan B of ours really started to grow on me. Sure, it wasn’t what I had planned, but we could make it great just the same.

We made our way over to the video store and eagerly scanned the racks for a DVD of The Shining. I was starting to think that maybe they didn’t have it, and as you’d expect that was the exact moment my eyes located it amidst the Kubrick Classics. I grasped the DVD with my good hand and slid it off the shelf. I turned the front of the case toward me, searching for the little velcro flap that indicates availability.

MOTHERFUCKER!!!!

It was rented. Halloween dream dashed for the second time that week. Fuck this, you guys, really. Fuck it.

At that point, there was no recovering from the disastrous tailspin I was in. I stomped home from the video store and fumed all night long about what a prick the universe can be sometimes.

And then because I was really feeling sorry for myself, I laid on the couch in my $10 Wal-Mart sweatpants and watched fucking Richie Rich on Teletoon Retro from beginning to end. Yeah, that super corny family friendly movie about a billionaire kid played by Macaulay Culkin at the absolute pinnacle of his fifteen minutes of fame. It was a new low for me.

richie rich

I was upset about missing my chance to see The Shining for the first time on the big screen, but after I calmed down I was able to make peace with it. I’m going to wait. I’m going to bury the tiniest little hope in my heart that another old theatre in the city will screen that movie at some point next October. It’s a classic, and October is a month for endless viewings of the scary classics that we all love. I’m going to cultivate my hope over the course of this year. I’m going to make it flourish, because despite what an asshole the universe has been to me lately, I still believe that it can be every bit as great as it can be cruel. My arm will heal, I’ll maintain a sensible wariness of the space heater, and the universe will take care of me in the end like it always has before.

No matter how many bones of mine the universe intends to shatter, I’ll just roll with it. Because I know that it’ll never be able to shatter my hopeful spirit.

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.

More Adventures in Pizza

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

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

free pizza

FREE PIZZA!

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

DIY Pizza

DIY Pizza

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

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

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

Oh bagel, you came and you saved me

Oh bagel, you came and you saved me

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

Mushrooms lurking under all that cheese!

Mushrooms lurking under all that cheese!

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

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

Smash’s Fall Favourites

The air is crisp and cool in the morning, livening up throughout the day, bringing mild and refreshing afternoons. Should you wear a big fluffy sweater or a lighter shirt/jacket combo? Heavy duty boots or happy-go-lucky sneakers? What about sunglasses? You’ll probably need them for that precious two-minute window between the sun waking up and the final steps taken towards your office building where you’ll spend the next 8 hours languishing under the ghastly fluorescent lighting. But then those shades will be irrelevant by quitting time when you slink home in the dark like some kind of mole-person.

Sometimes you’ll dress too heavily and wind up sweating like a goddamned animal in the afternoon as you trudge home. Sometimes you won’t dress heavily enough and will catch yourself a nice bout of walking pneumonia because you didn’t fully dry your hair before rushing out of the house in the morning. Sometimes it’s perfectly sunny and charming. Others, it pours cold bullshit like a motherfucker. You never know what kind of weather you’re going to get from the God of Fall, but you roll with it like a champ. It’s oddly invigorating, and you like being kept on your toes.

Oh, Fall, you adorable little trickster, you! I may not be able to count on you for the most reliable weather, but I can still count on you for a bunch of awesome shit every year nonetheless. Stuff so awesome that it makes handling your bi-polarishly insane weather ups and downs well worth it. For instance…

1) Delicious Holiday Foods

Fall signals to us the readiness of apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and major corporations to churn out fucking delicious seasonal foods. Hearty pies, spiced up lattes, caramel drizzled confections, fun-sized chocolatey treats, and turkeys big enough for a ride in the car sans booster seat. Fall gives us bounty. Delicious, plentiful, bounties of food. And because Fall is as generous as it’s weather is fickle, it also gives us holidays that don’t shame us for indulging our most gluttonous and depraved food desires. You’re supposed to get drunk on Ma’s special Thanksgiving punch and make a messy emotional scene. Hell, it’d be impolite not to.

I bought this apple pie at the grocery store for $2.99! What a scrumptious steal. And it’s going fast by the look of it…

cheap pie

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be gorging myself stupid on a big juicy bird just like the one we had last year.

big juicy bird

I’ll probably also eat a shit-ton of fun-sized Halloween candies. Way more than a person with actual dignity would ever feel comfortable admitting. Ones that I bought for myself at the store because that’s how I roll now. I’m an adult, and I don’t walk around the neighbourhood, undercover of the night, begging for candy anymore. I just go out and buy it like the lazy couch-grazing asshole that I am because legging it for candy is for the kiddies.

2) Doing Weird Decorative Things To Pumpkins

I don’t know how this tradition came to be, and I don’t really care. Pumpkin carving and/or decorating is an essential part of Fall. If you don’t roll up your sleeves and plunge your bare hands deep into some slick and slimy pumpkin guts at some point throughout the Fall, then you’re not doing Fall right. Pumpkins want to be carved, or mutilated, depending on how handy you actually are with a knife.

Last year, I offered up my humble Batman carving to the God of Fall. He wasn’t impressed, but he accepted it. Joss is the one who actually pleased the God of Fall with her delightful feline rendering.

pumpkins

And don’t forget, even the tiny pumpkins want to be included. My little sister Jess gave this tiny pumpkin a handsome Dracula face to wear for the holidays last year. He wasn’t left out, and we all felt the better for it. Warms the cockles of your heart that does.

dracula pumpkin

And if you really can’t stomach the pumpkins, at least get some gourds for chrissakes! Pumpkin’s little ugly cousin Gourd might be more your speed.

3) Awesome Blogging Festivities

There’s a lot of fun to be had during Fall in the blogging community. And you don’t have to be a blogger to enjoy it, either. Just grab a comp and bookmark your favourites. People do fun weird things in this world of ours, and all of that spectacle is within your reach. One blogger chum of mine over at The IPC just wrapped up a great little contest known as Shitfest Fall: 2013. You may or may not have enjoyed my distasteful entry back in September. And just today the hilarious dudes over at Hard Ticket To Home Video launched the first entry of their Third Annual Schlocktoberfest. It’s going to be an absolute mecca for cheesy horror movie lovers out there, and you won’t want to miss it. One of the best surprises for me this fall was when The Surfing Pizza started his annual Halloween Countdown early. I read his posts with religious devotion throughout the entire month of October. Often at my desk during lunch. I’m that person, laughing like a lunatic at my monitor for no apparent reason. Like we’re having the funniest conversation ever, in total silence. I’m starting to get a reputation, and not the good kind.

A few clickety clacks on the keyboard and you’re having the time of your life. It’s way more fun than reading the shitty old news or poorly edited Yahoo articles.

4) Costume Parties

I’m a creative little weirdo and I love to get hammered, you guys know that. Halloween fucking rules because it’s the perfect outlet for all of my binge drinking and strangeness. And this year is no exception. We’re going to party, and we’re going to have hilarious Halloween costumes that we crafted ourselves. I personally prefer funny costumes to skanky, and the drunks at the bars eat that shit up! The pilgrimage to Value Village to rummage up secondhand clothing suitable for costume crafting is something I look forward to every year.

We’re going to put our heads together to come up with something even better than last year’s colourful iteration of Archie and Jughead.

Archie and Jughead

It’s okay to admit that you find Archie remarkably sexy. I got that a lot last year. Archie loves the ladies and the ladies love Archie right back. Even if it is only a Tootsie Roll in my pocket.

5) Fall Back

When you drink and party as much as I do during the fall holidays, that extra hour we’re given because of Daylight Savings Time is nothing short of miraculous. If I’m gonna keep carrying on this way, then I’m gonna need my goddamned beauty sleep. Two years ago, I had to go to Abu Dhabi for work in November. It was a life changing experience, I’m glad it happened, and blah blah blah all that wonderful positive shit. But I missed out on Daylight Savings Time. I didn’t get to Fall Back like I always do at that time of year, and my heart ached for it. Instead, I was all imbalanced from Springing Ahead without the corrective Fall Back to even me out. It makes a difference. I was one mean motherfucker when I got back from the Middle East and I don’t blame that on jet lag. I worship Fall Back and can’t wait to get up at 2:00am on Sunday November 3rd for the divine pleasure of turning the clocks back. And once that deed is done, I’ll be going back to bed for more quality shuteye.

We’ve only just begun, but I’m already feeling this season. To the God of Fall: you rock, bro.

Chunky Monkey

Poor Harvey. We took him to the vet this weekend for a couple of shots, but that wasn’t the worst of his problems…

The doctor said that he’s too chubby and has to go on a diet. Being of the curvier variety myself, I feel for the poor little guy.

This was our first meeting with the new vet and we loved her. Her face lit up when she first saw Harvey, she remarked on how handsome he is numerous times, and she gave him lots of affectionate pets throughout his examination. So clearly she’s very caring and really does love animals, which is important to us. We liked his previous vet in Richmond Hill too, more specifically we liked one of the two doctors working at that practice. The doctor we actually did like was nice, but her bedside manner was much more reserved than the one we just visited. The other doctor at the old vet was a total dick. D hated him almost instantly upon meeting him. He was unfriendly and unkind, not giving a single fuck about anything. He handled Harvey too roughly and barely gave us the time of day when we had questions about Harv’s overall health. Not the kind of person that I want to rely on for my cat’s care. One visit to him was more than enough. Whenever we made appointments for Harv after that one horrendous visit with Doctor Doom, we’d make sure that he would be seeing the doctor we actually liked. It was quite the hassle given their varied work schedules. Needless to say, I was quite selective in picking out Harvey’s new doctor in Toronto. We didn’t want to find ourselves in the same situation.

We were very pleasantly surprised. Like I said, the new doctor was outgoing, friendly, and showed extraordinary care to an animal she was only just meeting for the first time. A total slam dunk.  However, there is that whole diet thing to consider… Poor Harvey. He was called “chunky monkey” no less than 15 times during his visit. I know he’s got a small frame that has filled out generously since we first brought him home. But I didn’t think we’d have to resort to a diet!

The kibble he likes to eat is labelled “weight control”, and he doesn’t eat a single scrap of people food. But he is a bit of a pig for wet food. And as the vet said, the fancy feast he hungers for is equivalent to feeding him pizza for dinner every night. Like a really cheesy, deep-dish, grease ball of a pizza. Oh man, that sounds so fucking awesome. I can’t take that away from him, can I? I love my little Harv as is and I don’t want to deprive him of anything he may want. I mean, it’s not like he’s obese. He just has some extra chub to love, right?

Maybe we need a second opinion. What do you think, reader?

Figure 1: lounging on the bed last Sunday

Getting some evening sun last week

Figure 2: getting some evening sun last week

Figure 3: watching some T.V.

Figure 3: watching some T.V.

Figure 4: hanging out with his friend

Figure 4: hanging out with his best friend

Figure 5: napping alongside me while I read

Figure 5: napping alongside me while I read

Figure 6: joining us for dinner

Figure 6: joining us for dinner (but just for company, not for eating any of our food)

Figure 7: snuggling with D

Figure 7: snuggling with D

Figure 8: greeting me when I get home

Figure 8: greeting me when I get home

Is my darling Harvey a chunky monkey or just a naturally curvy cutie? As long as he’s healthy, I don’t really care how big he is. D and I will love him no matter what. Either way, we can all agree that he’s got a very happy life. And he clearly doesn’t give a damn how he looks. He’d probably be just as happy at ten pounds as he would be at thirty. But that’s because he doesn’t understand the negative impacts a life of excess can have. Which is where I come in…

Perfectly happy as is

Perfectly happy as is

His health and well-being are totally on me. And I don’t want to fuck this up. I want him to keep having a happy life, so I guess that means doing whatever it takes to keep him healthy. If feeding him junky wet food for dinner puts my standard of care in a similar class as that of the douche-bag vet in Richmond Hill, then I need to change that. Because I am nothing like that jerk when it comes to caring for the pets I love. Our new vet is right. She has a great big caring heart, and she’s right. She fell in love with Harv as soon as she laid eyes on him, so I know she wouldn’t steer us wrong.

I’m going to go ahead with the diet because I trust and respect her opinion. And because I want this wacky little kitty to stick around for a very long time.

A Surprise

When was the last time you did something truly kind or generous for another person? Something that wasn’t done out of obligation like a birthday, holiday or anniversary. Something you just felt like you wanted to do because the surprise and happiness registered on the recipient’s face is more than enough payoff.

It’s probably been a very long time since I last did something for another purely out of kindness and affection. Sadly, I can’t even remember what it would have been. A couple of months ago I bought a new set of headphones for The Magpie because she kept forgetting hers at home and not having tunes at work is balls. But they weren’t special or anything, like six bucks total, so that doesn’t really count.

It’s shameful really. I have so many wonderful people in my life that I fucking treasure the shit out of and they deserve to feel the full magnitude of my adoration more often. People are precious and they don’t last forever so give as much love as you can while you can.

It’s been a bit crappy lately. There have been plenty of nights in the last week and a half when I’ve come home from work in an absolutely abysmal mood. High-strung and super irritable, melting the faces off of my fellow commuters on the subway ride home with withering looks of derision cast their way at the slightest provocation. I feel bad for D for having to deal with it all. I imagine that interacting with me the past while has been a lot like trying to force a meaningful relationship with a rabid wolverine. It ain’t been no picnic, that’s for damn sure.

I was thinking about him Friday afternoon. Thinking about how strong and patient he is. How often he probably bites his tongue. All the little things he does just so I’ll be happy. One night last week he ate all of the burnt perogis so I only had to suffer the slightly singed ones. He let me stay up, reading in bed with the lights on while he tried to sleep because I was at a scary part in The Shining and just needed to have him close. He sends my food back at restaurants when something is wrong with it because I’m too embarrassed to do it myself. When we rent a car for the weekend to go see our families he lets me control the radio and CD choices for the whole trip, even though we have majorly opposing tastes in music with very minimal overlap. When his boss rewarded him with concert tickets to any show of his choosing in Toronto because he’d been killing it at work, he used them to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams instead of choosing to see a band that he likes. And he’s able to do these things with such ease because my happiness matters to him.

The BNL concert was unreal. I can’t say enough how much it meant to me. It was amazing how selfless D was about using his reward on me. He’s the real deal alright.

I started to have this urge, while I was thinking about D and how great he is, to do something. A compulsion to demonstrate the depth of my admiration for D. I just had to do something. Something kind and generous because he hasn’t been getting the very best of me lately. And I was struck once again by how remarkable it was that he gave me the BNL concert. I remembered him telling me a few days after the BNL concert that his favourite band Killswitch Engage had just announced a show in Toronto for a date in October, and how much he would have loved to go. Hmm, that could work.

I was almost ready to pack up and leave the office on Friday when I decided to hang back a minute and see if tickets for the Killswitch Engage show were still available. Unfortunately for me, the show was already sold out. However, because of how quickly the show sold out they’d decided to do another show the next night and tickets were still on sale. Fuck yeah, just my luck! So I immediately decided that I was going to buy him two tickets for that concert. Yes, I’m going to give D what he gave up for me. And the look on his face is going to be worth every penny. I bought the tickets, printed them off and stuffed them in my bag. I was buzzing with excitement the whole way home just dying to spring my surprise on D.

Killswitch Engage is the first concert we ever went to as a couple. They played a show in Waterloo on Mother’s Day 2008. I actually still have the ticket stubs.

ticket stubs

It was a great show. They were promoting their latest album As Daylight Dies and Howard Jones was the lead vocalist at that time. I’d never even heard of the band until I started dating D, but that album stayed in the CD player in his car for about three straight months and I really came to love it. I especially love Howard. He’s got such a killer voice and he’s an amazing performer. He’s magnetic on stage; captivating and astounding the listeners by perfectly blending his melodic singing with bone-shattering metal screams. It’s so much fun to watch him work. Listening to that album is so enjoyable. The music is phenomenal, undoubtedly. But it also takes me back to that summer when we started dating. When I hear the opening bars of My Curse I feel like I’m in D’s old sunfire again. Driving around with the windows down, D hammering his thumbs on the steering wheel in time with the drums,  butterflies in my stomach and not a care in the world.

D was going to fucking love this, and I couldn’t wait to see his reaction.

I got home on Friday, grabbed the tickets from my bag and tossed them at D. He looked at them puzzled for a moment and then unfolded them.

“Whaaaaat?? What is this all about?” he asked. I told him that I loved him and I appreciate how awesome he is and that he deserves it. “Fuck yeah! This is so awesome, thank you!” was his response. Huge smile on his face, eyes gleaming with happiness and surprise. Exactly the look I was going for. It was even better when I told him that the second ticket isn’t for me. I told him to take anybody he wants, ideally one of his metal-head cronies. And he loved that even more.

D was ecstatic, still is actually. And I felt amazing too. It was just what I needed, that boost of extraordinary, something to banish the gloom of last week. I may not have all of my problems licked, but at least I still have it within me to make someone else happy. D is so goddamned precious to me. And treating him to a night of ear bud busting metal fury is the best possible way that I can express that to him.

Rock on D, you skiddy metal-head weirdo.

To Market, To Market

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

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

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

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

It was glorious!

st lawrence market

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

st lawrence again

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

carousel bakery

pizza and pasta

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

meats!

pastries

produce

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

sausages

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

us at market

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

outdoors

sunflowers

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

my flowers

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

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

And Harvey was quite fond of them as well…

harvey and the sunflowers

harv and flowers

smitten kitten

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

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

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

All Wrapped Up

It’s no secret that I love opening presents. I’ve mentioned it before. A few seconds spent feverishly shredding the paper off of a neatly wrapped gift is a divine high that I’ve treasured for as long as I can remember. It’s especially good if I’m opening a gift earlier than I’m supposed to!

I know that I’m a maniac when it comes to presents. But I’m not a total monster. I thoroughly enjoy the pleasures of gift giving as well. So it’s okay if I lose my head every now and then because every gift given in return absolves me of this egregious misdeed.

I’m good at putting thought into my gifts. Finding something that just fits the recipient so well, something worthy of genuine gratitude. I bought The Magpie a purse for Christmas last year, which doesn’t sound remarkable, I know. But everything about it was so on point for what she would like. The pattern, the size, and the style all perfectly complimented her unique personality while catering to her purse needs. And that made me truly happy. Choosing the gifts isn’t an issue, it’s the wrapping that can be a real bitch.

I’ve stumbled at wrapping on many occasions. If something doesn’t come in a nice square package, I’m fucked. And I won’t go out of my way to buy boxes for things to fit into. I just can’t bring myself to do that. It’d be like paying for a soda at the movies. Why should I have to do that when anything I could ever want to drink can be purchased at a reasonable price elsewhere and then smuggled in with ease? Plus, I don’t want to miss out on the fun of smuggling! There are so few opportunities in life for a good harmless smuggle. You know I’m taking every one I get.

So if a seemingly decent box isn’t lying around for me to use, then I’ll just try my luck at wrapping whatever it is freestyle. I’m capable, right? I can figure this shit out. It’s not like we’re trying to crack the Da Vinci Code. We’re just trying to get some paper taped nicely around some weirdly shaped thing. All jutting angles and strange bends disguised to my satisfaction. Try though I might, the mental blueprint I’m following isn’t always translated so well.

A couple of the more noteworthy examples would be wedding gifts. Wedding gifts cause the most grief because the registry is usually a plethora of oddly shaped housewares. And sometimes that shit doesn’t come in a box, sometimes it’s just there, loose on the shelves. Loose housewares, the bane of gift wrapping. Another part of the problem is that I’m a very arrogant eye-baller. I always tackle the challenge thinking that my superior skills of eye-balling out the amount of paper needed will get me through this. Only to realize afterwards that I probably should have tried at measuring. A handle, an arm, a surface area, anything actually measured might have helped. But by the time I’ve rounded up the gifts, the wrapping paper, the scissors, and the tape, I’ve no energy left to search for some measly implement of measuring!

These are the gifts I wrapped for the last two weddings I went to:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A badass new frying pan for The Magpie

Cheese knives for my beloved sister

Cheese knives for my beloved sister

Damn you metal flap!

Damn you metal flap!

It’s total garbage. And I don’t even have kids to blame it on! I can’t be like, “Oh, little blah blah really wanted to do the wrapping so we let it.”

All the bits wind up getting covered up eventually. But unfortunately for me, you can’t cover up shame. The only thing you can do now is attack the open bar with a vengeance and hope that people go easy on you; blaming your constantly drunk and disorderly behaviour for that shitty looking wrap job instead.

My cousin’s wedding is coming up soon and there’s a bridal shower for her this weekend, which means more attempts at wedding gift wrapping for me. Looking back over past transgressions though, I realize that I shouldn’t just do the same half-assed job I always do. She deserves better. Everyone deserves better than this, but unfortunately I’m only coming to this realization now. I apologize profusely to any gift recipients I’ve wronged in the past. You deserved better too. I was just too cocky to think about it from your perspective, and I know that was wrong.

This time around, I actually paid for it. I bought the gifts online and then worked up the humility to put a tick in that little box for “gift wrapping”. I paid for someone else to do something for me. It felt dirty and wrong, going against every one of my gift giving instincts that way. But when I went to pick up the gifts and saw how they looked, I was actually glad that I did. For once in my life I’m going to roll into a wedding like a goddamned champion because I’ve got a thoroughbred gift in tow.

Much better!

Much better!

Look at that gorgeous mofo. Hells yeah bitches, that gift is with me! All of the weirdly shaped items I bought have been neatly packaged into boxes that fit and have been covered in wrapping paper so hearty it can withstand a nuclear blast.

And it’s big! It’s a honking huge gift. I also love rolling into a wedding with the largest possible gift I could get. When I look over a registry, I always look for the biggest items. Because then people are more excited about opening them. It’s not some boring little doodad. All other gifts on the table orbit around my gift because it’s so large it’s got gravitational pull. It’s a fucking planet. Congratulations on your nuptials, I bought you guys a planet of your very own!

I love giving gifts, and I love tackling challenges with gusto. But I’ve been to this rodeo enough times now to know that sometimes I need help. I’ve done enough atrocious wrapping jobs to know when I’ve been bested. And nobody should have to suffer my misguided intentions on their wedding day. They already have to foot my bar bill, and trust me, that’s painful enough.

Outside the Lines

I have an artistic streak. It’s not a wide one by any means, but it’s there. Not to brag or anything, but I took art classes all through high school. Passed ’em and everything. And I was known to colour a real mean book back in the day. My friend The Magpie gave me some grief about this a few weeks ago. Said it wasn’t really believable that I could be artistic. I took umbrage to that. Then I proved her wrong by designing a killer logo for her blog, which you can see here on her site. Yep, that badass little magpie is my creation!

The artistic muscle just doesn’t get flexed as much as it used to, which is a shame because I shouldn’t be letting it get all rusty and shitty like the rest of my muscles. I did a watercolour of Jodi Foster for an assignment in high school, which this girl in my class later called “seductive” during the class critique. I could do that again, probably. All I need are the supplies and an idea!

But I might also be getting ahead of myself. Baby steps. You don’t just get up and run a marathon after years of outstanding achievements in laziness have atrophied your body. You have to wheeze your way up the stairs instead of taking the elevator for a few weeks. Then do some calf raises when you’re forced to stand on the subway on your way to work. Then take your first tentative jog around the block in the blackness of night because glaring bright sunlight and the gazes of a hundred hateful pedestrians aren’t very kind to your chubby cantaloupe legs.

Stick with it long enough though, and even the shittiest muscles will tighten up nicely. Isn’t that how the old saying goes? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s an old runners saying.

That’s what I’m hoping will happen for me. I’ll take a few baby steps, do some paint-by-numbering, and before you know it I’ll be right back to seducing the mysterious and sexually ambivalent girls of my art classes prior with my astonishing works of genius. But just, like, a friendly seduction. I don’t want to turn my whole life upside-down.

Sometime late last year, The Magpie was telling me about this cool paint-by-numbers kit she got with really awesome designs. A cat wearing a fancy coat carrying a fish purse, an old hippie man getting on a cable car in San Francisco. Cool stuff like that. I remembered how much fun I used to have doing paint-by-numbers as a kid and promptly rushed out to get some myself. I got a miniature one with some badass dinosaurs on it that I thought was going to be a real piece of cake. A couple of strokes in and I realized that this was going to take a lot of patience. Which is something I don’t possess in abundance. Also, it was looking hella shitty right out of the gate, so I just kind of gave up on it.

A couple of weeks later, I had to go to the craft store in my hood because I needed supplies for our awesome Halloween costumes. I strode purposefully down the aisle with the paint-by-numbers, just to see what was up. It was there that I found something even better than paint-by-numbers. Something even more lazy and indulgent. Pencil-crayon-by-numbers!

And it just so happened that it was another miniature scene with badass dinosaurs. Fuck yeah, this is my lucky day!

mini dino craft

Excited, I shelled out a whooping $2.99 and raced home to get started on my colouring adventure. When I got home though, I realized what bullshit those teeny tiny pencil crayons they supply you with are. Holy shit, they’re smaller and skinnier than my pinkie finger. And look at how small the fucking thing is compared to a real pencil crayon! I almost want my money back. Almost.

small pencil

small pencil 2

small pencil 3

And don’t even try to tell me that the pencils crayons are so small because I’m doing an activity for children. It clearly states on the packaging that this activity is suitable for anyone ages 8 to 88. They could have at least given out pencil crayons halfway between normal and Oompa Loompa sized ones. Oh well, just another of many great “you-get-what-you-paid-for” moments in my life. But I ploughed ahead with them anyway, despite the functionally impossible size.

ages 8 to 88

The road map to completion that they give you is even crazier. Holy shit, this is an intricate design for such a small-scale craft! And some of the tinier crevices don’t even have the recommended colour guides written on them. How am I supposed to know which colours to mash together in that tenth of a space?

crazy road map

road map

I started off dutifully enough, trying to follow the directions as precisely as possible. And it was coming along nicely too. I’m not going to seduce anyone with this piece, but I’m cool with that. At least I’ve accomplished more here than I did with the paint-by-number version.

About halfway done, and for some inexplicable reason, this little project of mine got stowed away in a desk drawer. Promptly forgotten about for a while, gathering drawer dust. It was starting to look like these dinosaurs were headed the way of extinction just like the paint-by-numbers ancestors that came before them.

But then all of a sudden, one night when D was out, I got this urge to finish what I’d started. I dug the dinosaurs out of the desk drawer and got to colouring. This time was different though. This time I was going to do it my way, guidelines and suggested colours be damned! No matter how hard I tried, I knew it wasn’t going to look anything like the picture on the package. So fuck it, I’m taking over creative control of this bitch!

The artistic streak had awoken from its slumber at long last. I coloured with abandon, and let myself get lost in the process. Before I knew it, D was home and I had a masterfully coloured dinosaur scene to show for my time spent alone.

finished

final product

Needless to say, he was quite taken by my work. I hadn’t intended for it to be so emotionally overpowering, but I’ve since learned that you just can’t stop the bubbling over of intense emotion that results from viewing this spectacularly coloured dinosaur scene. It makes me want to high-kick something. Hiii yaaaa!

I forgot how good it feels to create something. It doesn’t even have to be anything good. Just create something, anything at all, and you will feel good about yourself. You can look scrutiny right in its shrivelled old face and say “frig you, man!”

Indulge your creativity! Let your imagination soar! Live your passions!

Colour some fantastically rad miniature dinosaurs and display them proudly on the wall beside your desk at work for all to see! Because you refuse to be labelled incapable of anything that you know you’re truly capable of. You’re capable and your can-do attitude will never fail you if you trust in it.

But you’ll probably do a few more of these pencil crayon dealies before you move on to conquering the current art scene, just to be safe.

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.