Dear Ashley

I’m hoping that this might help you, girl. Because you need something, and I know it has to come from within. I’m the only one who can give you exactly what’s needed in this moment of complete, abject shittiness.

This is your heart speaking, so stop what you’re doing and listen up.

Writing always helps, you know that it does. There’s that immediate release, that catharsis, sure. That’s very important right now. You have to work through all of the feelings, unpack all the shit you’ve crammed into convenient little boxes and stowed out of sight just so you could get through the days. Rip them all open, tear through them, look and see what’s inside and figure out what stays and what goes. You can’t keep it all, it’s too huge a burden. You’re going to have to let some of it go and eventually make room for new stuff. Then you can reflect, conclude, understand, decide. It might still feel murky for a while, but I know you, and I know you’ll want to write so you can document the journey and so you can reflect on it properly later on.

Looking back is painful, but ultimately, insightful. It’s how you’ll grow, how you’ll persevere.

I know you’re tired. You’ve been through a lot. You’re still going through a lot and you’re not used to drastic highs and crushing lows being the norm. The very mention of perseverance made you tremble. You hate change, you hate it so much. Especially when you have no control over it, can’t stop it or slow it down. Transitioning is hard for you because you get so attached to the way things were. Goodbyes are gut-wrenching, getting over it sucks. Old photos might make you smile at times, but also stir up indescribable sadness. Aching for something that once was and never will be again. It’s a strange masochistic thing you do to yourself, remembering things too vividly, too fondly. Unable to appreciate what’s present and what’s now, until before you know it that’s gone and slipped through your fingers too.

Where does that leave us?

You’re tired and sad. You feel abandoned and rejected. Everything within is in a state of constant conflict. You can’t shut off the negativity and doubt. Some days you do feel a small, hopeful flicker of optimism; even if it hasn’t lasted at least it’s there. And that’s why now is the ideal time for me to intervene, before we hit the point of no return.

I need you to hear these things, really. Not with your ears, with your soul. Take what I’m about to tell you and absorb it wholly into your being.

  1. First and foremost, you are a goddamn Warrior Queen. Capital W, capital Q.
    You came out swinging! From within the womb you faced down your own highly probable death and conquered it. You wanted to live, you wanted to be here, you fought for it right from the start. Always remember that. That fight and that mettle exists at the very core of your being and you will always have it whenever you need it to overcome the impossible. Your heart and your spirit are indomitable.
  2. You have impeccable instincts, I mean really, are you ever wrong?
    Not about the stuff that matters. Not about people and trust. You can size someone up and know right away what their deal is. How many times have you said “there’s something off about blah blah” only to be proven exactly 100% right. You can see through all the garbage with your laser sharp, highly focused senses and put those bullshitters on the no fly list where they belong.
  3. Honesty is the only policy.
    You’ve never been one to dabble in lies, deceptions, or manipulations. Why start now? We ain’t got no time for that. It’s stupid futility going down that path. Maybe it works for some people, but not us. We can never go wrong with our upfront, straight-shooter approach to life. To truly live life to the fullest is to embrace complete and utter honesty with oneself and the people you care about.
  4. You’ve come a long way, and you’ll continue to go a long way.
    A “complete” person doesn’t exist. If you think you’re a “completed” person with nothing else to learn, achieve, or contribute then you’re either dull and uninspiring or pathetic and sad. All four, you’re all four of those things if you think you’re done as a human being, fully cooked and ready to serve. Growing, evolving, maturing, and expanding are so very important. Everything that happens in life is an opportunity to improve. Those who see that too and know it in their souls are your kind of people. That’s who you want to be surrounded by, people who care to improve and evolve themselves.
  5. Trust the universe, it’s always looking out for you.
    You’re not used to topsy-turvy emotions or indecision. You know your own mind. You’ve always known exactly what you want, you just have to stay tuned in to the funky disco jams of the universe telling you where the party at. Everything unfolds as it should, everything falls into place as it should. You can’t force it, you just know when it feels right. Keep your ears open, the universe is singing. It might be some busted broken somebody done somebody wrong jive that you’re not digging now but it’ll change the tune eventually. Just be ready to dance when it does.
  6. You’re not alone
    This is the most important one. I know you come from a long line of people who internalize their feelings. People who minimize and shun emotional overtures and misconstrue the viselike grip of control they have on their emotions as strength. But you know that isn’t the right way for you. Suppressing your feelings does not equal strength. Having the balls to feel what you feel, good or bad, right down into the marrow of your bones is strength. The people who get that and provide you unencumbered space to feel are the ones worth a damn in this life. You don’t trust easily, and you don’t just give your heart away. The people you’ve chosen to share your heart and soul with, the people who have withstood disastrous lows and enjoyed dazzling highs with you, are always going to be there. Do not give old wounds the power to stop you from making meaningful connections and sharing your heart again.

Please remember these things. Please, please. They are very important.

I don’t know how we’re going to sort this out in the end. There are no guarantees in life, but I do know that I am still and will always be your one true constant. When you feel lonely and the aching starts to get unbearable, I’m still here. I’m still beating, still pumping, moving you along. We’re gunna dance this mess around together, like we always do.

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That Night in Toronto…

If you read this blog, you know me. You know that in my core, in my bones, I am passionately, proudly Canadian. I’m a hoser, man. Through and through. I fucking love the shit out of Canada and I am especially proud of our incredible music. I could get lost in Rush for days. The first concert I ever went to was Bryan Adams. I worship The Barenaked Ladies and hum Crash Test Dummies in my sleep. And honestly, I know the words to a lot more Shania Twain songs than people even realize. If I listed here every single Canadian artist on my iPod right now, you’d get dizzy. CanRock is everything. It’s just simply a fundamental of who I am.

And yet, none of these gods or goddesses in the great CanRock pantheon come even remotely close to inspiring the devotion in me that The Tragically Hip does. This band is Canada itself, personified. Their music reaches me on a cellular level and connects to parts of me that nothing else can. And I’m not being intentionally hyperbolic, this is serious shit. If there’s music in your life that you fucking love like I love The Hip then you get it. If you’re some kind of weirdo that doesn’t even like music then I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry that you’ll never know what it’s like to be affected on every level of your being by artistry so divine. Artistry that nurtures and nourishes your soul. It’s crazy, but that’s what it is. It’s the life-sustaining thing that my soul needs. I need The Hip’s music like I need air to breathe.

That’s what I thought when I heard the news about Gord; the air that I need to breathe, to live, is being taken away.

Yeah, I’ll always have their music right at my fingertips anytime I want it. But knowing that there will eventually be an end to it, no more new stuff to get lost in, its unbearable. I’m not a “just the hits” kind of gal, I live for it all.

Deciding to tour after going public with Gord’s news about the incurable brain cancer was absolutely the right thing for the band to do, the only thing. And after the concert on Wednesday night, I’m convinced that he’s immortal anyways. Cancer won’t kill Gord. When he’s good and ready he’ll just decide to start his next chapter, that’s all it is. Cancer doesn’t get to have a say, Gord’s in charge and he does things his own unique way, he always has and he always will. It’s why I love him so much. That casual cavalier who-gives-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks approach to just being himself, it’s inspiring.

I’ve seen The Hip live a number of times, and you never get the same show twice. You can’t ever tell what Gord will do next and it’s thrilling. You follow where he leads and you love every goddamn minute of it, that’s how you experience The Hip.

I was lucky enough to get tickets for the first in a series of three Toronto shows on their final tour. I got hosed on the pre-sale and the general public sale, but a couple of weeks later when more tickets were released I’m convinced that my kind and generous CanRock Gods let favour swing my way. Like I said, I’m bonkers for this band. While I saw plenty of other people give up saying “I’ve seen them before, guess that’ll do”, I wasn’t willing to give up hope so easily. I thought about it every single day. I even considered shelling out thousands for platinum seats in more feverish moments. If it came down to it, sure, I’d bend the knee for the StubHub lords, whatever it took. I just felt it, that I would go to this show. I needed to be there and the universe gladly obliged. I got an email through the fan club about more tickets being released, I marked it in my calendar and I wished with all my might. The day of the sale, it all worked out and I’m eternally grateful.

When the tour started I devoured every single piece of news about it. I loved seeing the band’s set lists on their Instagram account. I read so many fan reviews and stories about the shows. All of it just stoking the fire of my anticipation. Waiting was excruciating, but so worth it. It was impossible not to get emotional any time someone asked me about the show. I feel my feelings quite freely, no shame in that, and plenty of times I cried just telling people what this concert means to me personally. And most of the people I talked to were kind enough to not call me insane directly to my face, instead they probably thought it politely in their heads while nodding along, which I appreciated.

And then all of a sudden it was time.

5 minutes

This night will live in my heart forever.

the hip show

We had rear view seats, which I was a little worried about, but turned out amazingly well. There were massive screens on all four sides of the stage, so we didn’t miss a single thing. I saw every beautiful nuance of Gordie’s face while he sang to us. It was also really cool getting to see the bulk of the audience facing us, seeing what the band sees when they play to these sold-out maniacal crowds. What an amazing view!

audience

And the setup with the screens was perfect. Gord knew where the cameras were and he didn’t shy away from them at all. He loved using the cameras as a way to connect with everyone. There was this really wonderful moment where he just stared straight into the lens, a myriad of expressions passing across his face, and it felt like he was looking right at you, looking into you. Such a special thing, it allowed 20,000 people to feel like they got to have one personal moment with Gord.

They played so many great songs. The Hip have the most incredibly robust catalogue. So many crowd pleasers, too many for one performance. Some fantastic deep cuts too, stuff that is just always so surprising, but awesome to hear live. The new material fit right in. What Blue and Tired As Fuck felt like they were old gems I’ve always loved. Grace Too, 50 Mission Cap, Lake Fever, Little Bones, Three Pistols, Music at Work, Fully Completely, Wheat Kings… they just gave and gave.

Gordie

I expected to cry the whole time, to just be overcome. But I wasn’t. We rocked the fuck out, the band made sure of it. They played for over two and half hours and while there were lots of emotional moments peppered throughout the evening, the overall tone was much more triumphant than sad. It was a passionate and heady performance. I cried as soon as I heard the first few notes of Fiddler’s Green mostly because that’s just such a weighty song anyways. And again I cried hearing one of my personal favourites, Ahead By a Century… that lyric “disappointing you is getting me down” just felt too real.

But the most emotional moment of the whole concert was after the encore, Bobcaygeon, when Gordie bowed to the crowd and said “Thank you, Toronto. Thank you forever.” Instant waterfall of tears. Bawling, all of us, a whole stadium of people.

Gordie

It couldn’t last forever though, no matter how much I wished it would. All things end.

When it was time to say goodbye we cheered our hearts out for Gordie for a full three minutes while he stood there soaking it in, waving and bowing so appreciatively back at us. A thunderous amount of love for the man who means and has meant so much to so many of us, to this nation, for over 30 years. That was our moment to say what we needed to say to this great man. We fucking love you. So much.

You can watch it, our applause for Gord. And if you couldn’t get the tickets that you desperately wanted for one of the shows, I’m sorry. That fucking sucks. But you can take comfort in this little sliver of the magic that I bottled up and saved for you:

Best concert ever. Period.

The Hip

I’ll never forget that night in Toronto.

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:

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 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.

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.

I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

Seven years ago D asked me if I wanted to be his boyfriend. Yes, you read that right. Somehow asking me if I wanted to be his girlfriend and if he could be my boyfriend got all tangled together and “Do you want to be my boyfriend?” tumbled out of his mouth.

I guess I was making him nervous or something.

He was driving me home after a date. He flicked his eyes from the road, briefly, to gauge my reaction to his gaffe. I erupted in laughter and teased him mercilessly, but I was elated.

He was exactly what I was looking for at that time in my life. Beneath his quietly confident and emotionally reserved exterior, I’d found immeasurable reservoirs of kindness and affection. The depths of which I am sure to spend my whole life plumbing without ever reaching an end. I was so happy that we’d met, thrilled that he was into me, and ecstatic at the thought of starting a relationship together.

I’d been dating such losers at that time. I was at a party with one such loser, it was winter, a New Years Eve party I think. It was so fucking cold. We were in some crappy basement with all his loser friends, I’m talking total chuds here people, major dirt bags. And it was freezing. It was like the house didn’t even have a heater. I was shivering cold. Instead of offering up his sweater, you know what this dick did? He told me to “drink more”. So, at 19 the immature jerks vastly outnumbered any upstanding gentlemen there may have been.

When I used to sit around daydreaming about my perfect man (and I would do this often wondering if such a thing even existed), I would create him from nothing. His foundation consisted of the characteristics and values I considered most desirable in a man. I pictured someone undeniably male in all his thoughts and actions. Someone who knows his own masculinity well, and wears it securely. Someone unburdened by insecurities and petty jealousies. Decisive and sure. Solid and stoic. Trustworthy, loyal, reliable, and honest. No bullshit, no baggage, no tantrums or tears. A real fine hunk of man, capable of feeling but also able to keep his shit together.

And he had to be able to take his licks in stride because I’m not some dainty little peach. I wanted someone emotionally tough and sturdy. Someone who could go toe to toe with me, round for round. Sensitive men are bad for me, because I’m so inherently insensitive. I’d run roughshod over any wimps and bore of them entirely within a matter of weeks. I can’t be bothered with pushovers or whining. He could be caring and sweet, but he couldn’t be a complete fucking baby.

I wondered if maybe I was being picky, then that thought subsided, I knew that I wasn’t. Pickiness stems from indecision and delusion. Finding minute flaws in something because of an inability to adapt your expectations to reality. I know what I want and I’m able to appreciate what I wind up getting despite any perceived deficiencies. I’m definitely not picky. I was just specific, having my specific daydreams.

It didn’t matter how my dream man was packaged. Tall, dark, and handsome means nothing to me if you’re a prick. Good for you asshole, you’re good-looking! Someday you won’t be able to get up off the can without help, and then what good will your looks be? What mattered to me was that our core values meshed and our personalities were complimentary to each other. That’s what I dreamed about most, someone so perfectly fitting for an imperfect me.

The path was littered with frogs. And while it may have been fun kissing some of them, I knew I didn’t want to go on kissing frogs forever. I suspected that kissing someone who made my heart leap up into my throat just by being his unique self would be so much more thrilling.

Luckily for me, good things come to those who brood. Commiserating another shitty relationship gone south while at my buddy’s birthday party, I declared a hiatus on dating. “No more losers, I’m done with this crap”, I pronounced. I’ll just party with my friends and have fun being me for a while. But somewhere in that tangled mess of disillusion and regret, D found me. That sweeping declaration of “No more losers!” was less than 3 hours old and I already had his tongue jammed down my throat. To hell with it, one more frog couldn’t hurt! I could always turn over a new leaf tomorrow, right?

But there was never a need to. A stark contrast to his immature peers, D is everything I’ve always wanted in a man.

When I zig, he’ll most certainly always zag. And we’re constantly jockeying for command as the alpha dog of this crazy relationship. Where I’m loud and outrageous, D is quiet and steadfast. When I’m totally bonkers he reels me in. If D is grumpy and serious I can surely coax a smile from him. When he’s too firm or hard-headed I can budge him. My unbridled enthusiasm and imagination are tempered by his collected realism. He tames me, and I brighten him. We ebb and flow in perfect unity. While our external personalities may differ vastly, the internal cores of our beings are in complete alignment. The untrained eye might deem us a serious case of opposites attract, but if you look closely enough you’ll see that we’re actually counterbalances for one another, not opposites. It just works, somehow.

D and I

I’m lucky, yes, but I also knew what I wanted. I knew what I wanted so well that I was able to recognize D for the gem that he is immediately upon meeting him. I could see it in the set of his jaw and the way he carried himself. A man both worthy of and capable of handling all the strife and joy I could ever dish out.

So, this one is going out to you today D!

 

Happy anniversary baby. I dig being your boyfriend.

This is Living

It’s dark and dingy. The only lights in the place focused ominously on the stage. Creating ambiance. Hinting of things to come. We wait, our hearts heavy with the burden of expectation.

That last group really sucked. They assaulted our ears with their shitty timing and even shittier stage presence. They did care though. They seemed to love being up there, if the twenty-minute encore was any indication. At least someone was feeling it. We sure as hell weren’t. The silence following their departure from the stage a sweet reprieve.

Then it starts. A hulking, bearded mass of a man takes the mic. A thunderous clash of drums and guitars commands our attention. And our attention is rapt the instant the set begins. Fists clenched and face contorted with feeling, the singer wracked the crowd with the primal screams erupting from the molten-metal core of his being.

This is it. This is what we came for. A kick-ass metal show.

As I stood there swaying with the music, watching our friend Jim own the stage, I thought about how amazing it felt to be there supporting him. How vastly his band had exceeded our expectations. How impressive they were. Every note an indication of how much passion these guys have for their music and the time they’ve spent perfecting it. I was astonished, we all were.

Jim’s band, Sinthetik, was astounding. They melted our faces and blew our minds with their badass sound. They were raw and unforgiving. They were melodic and mesmerizing. Their shit was tight.

It made me feel alive. It made me feel invincible. And it made me want to live my life with the same ferocity of the music. So I did.

After the show, we heaped our praises on Jim, and made our way to the bar up the street. The Magpie. My friend The Magpie’s namesake. It was dim and inviting.

I laughed with my friends, tossed back my drinks, and danced with abandon.

at the magpie

enjoying some drinks

drinks

Magpie and I

It was an amazing night. The metal show the perfect catalyst for my weekend of living it up.

The next day brought with it another flurry of activity. D and I had tickets to the Toronto Auto Show, and we were planning on watching the hockey game at Joce’s place. We picked ourselves up and shook of the grime of the night before. We made our way down to the auto show.

We came into direct contact with approximately a billion people at the show. It was insanely crowded. But through the throngs of auto-crazed maniacs, I was able to snap a few pics.

ferrari

McLaren

mercedes

My personal favourite is the massive Mercedes van. Seriously, if you’re going to drive around looking like a sex offender, you may as well do it in style.

We powered through the exhibits. Although it was fun, we were relieved when it was over. We probably should have gone during a weekday.

Our next priority was making it over to Maple Leaf Square by 4:00pm so we could score some free tickets to the hockey game that night. Neill texted us about it earlier in the day, the ticket giveaway, and since we were going to be in the area anyways, we figured we may as well try. Also, since we were planning on watching the game at Joce’s, wouldn’t it be awesome if instead we showed up with tickets and told them we were going to the game instead? Hells yeah, that would be so awesome!

Carlton, the Toronto Maple Leafs mascot, was going to be at Maple Leaf Square at 4:00pm. And if you could find him, you could have tickets to the game. Not to worry, we found Carlton.

Carlton

We also ran into Batman while we were there. So that was awesome too!

toronto batman

He’s really into hockey.

I should also point out that the game was actually held in Ottawa. But since Ottawa is a bunch of dicks and tried to ban Leafs fans from their games, Toronto decided to show their fans some love. Admission to the game was free, and you got to watch it on the jumbo-tron. And every person at the game got a free 24 ounce fountain pop, a slice of pizza or hot dog, a bag of popcorn, and a candy bar. So screw you Ottawa! We’re gonna make it on our own.

at the game

And we had an awesome time. It felt great to be a part of something like this. To stick it to the man. Leafs fans or not, you simply cannot segregate or banish willing fans from the games. What were you even thinking Ottawa? What a boneheaded thing to do.

The Leafs did lose though. And it was an embarrassing loss. I’m not even a Leafs fan, but I am a fan of a good time. Going to the games is fun, and people should not be denied admittance to them based on their fandom. That’s so ridiculous.

It started with the casual acceptance of an invitation, and became one of the most outrageous weekends of my life. When adventure beckons, I come running.

I love my friends, I love my city, and I love living.

More Presents!

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

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

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

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

IT’S A BIG FAT JAR OF CANDY!!!!!!

Candy!

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

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

Mixed CD

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

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

football

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

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

Scott Pilgrim

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

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

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

scarf

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

And, a sweet little notebook.

notebook

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

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

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

magnets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

puppy

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

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

First, a new toaster!

toaster

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

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

harv and b;anket

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

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

Gordon

The electronic gurgle emitted from the computer as it accepts the disc and pulls it within is a nod of great appreciation. It loves this album too, I think. Or perhaps I’m just projecting my profound love for Gordon upon it. That’s the most likely scenario, but I don’t really give a damn. I know I can rip the disc to the computer, I’ve ripped many others. But there’s something in the act of putting the disc in, and hearing that gurgle of agreement from the computer that I don’t want to lose. It’s become something of a ritual to savour that fleeting moment before the first strains of “Hello City” begin to float gloriously out of the speakers and dance their way to my greedy ears.

I instinctively clear my throat and wet my lips. I know I’m going to sing every last lyric on that album right along with the band. Without fail, every time. It doesn’t matter that I can’t carry a tune, don’t have the right pitch, or don’t even really know what the difference between those two things is. My love for the music makes my cruddy warbling beautiful. That’s the power that the music we love wields.

I don’t have as much free time as I used to for listening to music. Time to absorb an entire album’s worth of music into the very core of my being. Because that was exactly what I did when I first purchased Gordon. I was young, I didn’t have a job or anywhere to be. I could sit in my room for hours, listening to music, shut off from the world. Sometimes I was singing into a hairbrush mic, or inventing terrible new dance moves. Sometimes I was contemplating the meaning and majesty of the lyrics. Sometimes I was wallowing. In happy times Gordon is my laughter, my fun, my delight. In sad times Gordon is my remedy, my escape, my solace. That’s the way it’s been, and the way it always will be with me and Gordon.

For the whole 59.1 minutes of greatness that this album generously bestows upon me, I am euphoric. And, I am thankful for the creative efforts of the Barenaked Ladies. This album reaches me on a level that no other ever will.

I’ve already admitted that my musical capabilities are limited. I’ve never been able to play an instrument competently in my life. I sat through 7th grade music whispering into my baritone so as not to expose my inability to read scales. Then I did the exact same thing through 8th grade with the trumpet, because it was more inconspicuous with 7 other trumpeters in the class and an entire row of eager clarinet people, whatever they’re called, to shield me. Clarineters? Clarinetees? Clarinetoes? That third option just feels right… Either way, this gross ineptitude as a musician doesn’t mean that my capacity to appreciate music is nil.

Music is made to be heard after all. And when I’m listening to Gordon I know I’m hearing genius. From the start of the album to the very finish I’m taken on a roller coaster ride through the swift and often jarring mood changes of the album. Soaring from zany heights of silliness and spectacle one minute, only to plummet to staggering depths of morose reflection the next. It’s just, so stunning to me!

This post is easily taking me quadruple the normal amount of time to write. As I write, I’m listening to Gordon, naturally. As I’m listening to it, I’m getting so caught up in it that I stop writing for lengthy periods of time because it just takes over. No matter how many times I hear it, it’s still powerful enough to invade my mind and ensnare my heart at any given note.

Furthermore, I know it’s a great album for a fact. My die-hard metalhead, musically inclined boyfriend D never had a problem with me putting Gordon, or any Barenaked Ladies album for that matter, on in the car. I daresay he even enjoys it. His much more musically refined ear recognizes that these are some damn good musicians at work, even though the music they make is the complete opposite style and genre of his liking. That’s the mark of a remarkable group or artist: to dispel of any genre prejudices the listener may have through the masterful arrangement of notes, and lyrics. And the Barenaked Ladies are undoubtedly masters in this craft.

Bow down and worship at the altar of Gordon.


Most of my appreciation for Gordon comes from my love of the written word. In particular, I’m a poetry enthusiast. Songs bear an uncanny resemblance to poetry, do they not? And as we all know, poetry is where the written word goes when it wants to party. So songs are where the written word takes itself for the mind-bendingly insane after party. And they party all through the night at, you guessed it, Gordon. I’ll show you!

Gordon: Smash’s Lyrical Highlights

3. Grade 9

Favourite lyrics: Got into the classroom and my knowledge was gone / Guess I should have studied instead of watching Wrath of Khan

4. Brian Wilson

Favourite lyrics: Call it impulsive, call it compulsive, call it insane; / But when I’m surrounded I just can’t stop

6. Wrap Your Arms Around Me

Favourite lyrics: I regret every time I raised my voice / And it wouldn’t be that bright of me to say I had no choice / I can kiss your eyes your hair your neck / Until we forget

(that’s a particularly good one to belt out with Steven Page in eyes closed fervour!)

7. What a Good Boy

This is my all-time favourite song.

Favourite lyrics: I wake up scared, I wake up strange / I wake up wondering if anything in my life is ever going to change / I wake up scared, I wake up strange / and everything around me stays the same

and…

I couldn’t tell you that you were right / so instead I looked in the mirror, / watched TV, laid awake all night

AND…

Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same / When temptation calls, we just look away

11. New Kid (On The Block)

Favourite Lyric: I can stay up all night. I can have a blast / I can breakdance, I can fight, I can kick your sorry ass. / I’m a New Kid on the Block

12. Blame It On Me

Favourite lyrics: You think you’re so smart, but I’ve seen you naked / and I’ll probably see you naked again

and…

Yes dear, I love you / But sometimes I think that love’s not enough for you / So you want to play mind games, / well that’s fine, go ahead, la la la I can’t hear you

GAH! It’s just so awesome! Are you starting to feel the awesome now too?

If all of that isn’t enough to prove how much I cherish this fucking album, then maybe this will do the trick:

Gordon the Hamster

I will win you with cuteness. This was my pet hamster, Gordon. Named so expressly because of the album. He was a short-lived homage to the album, but a really frickin’ cute one!

My point? Oh, was I going to be getting to that sometime soon? Yes!

My point, after all of that, is that Gordon is a fucking masterpiece. In my eyes, nay, in my ears. And while you might not share my love for this album (though you really should, it’s great), I do hope you feel this way about any other album or song, capable of inciting your passions in a similarly obsessive and frenzied manner. Music helps us, heals us, speaks to us, inspires us, and changes us. In this busy, bustling existence of ours, we may not always have time to just listen to music and truly appreciate the impact its had on us. I’m not talking about listening with your ears, as familiar songs loop continuously on your iPod throughout the day. I’m talking about listening with your mind and with your heart.

I’m happy. I had the luxury of time this weekend. Time to catch up with my old friend Gordon. I’ve had an insane last couple of weeks at work, so I needed something to help me float back into my happy place.

And when the last track faded out for the umpteenth time, I still got goosebumps.