A Stitch in Time

First off, I’m kind of ashamed of myself. It’s been a bloody long time since I even sat down with the intention to write. I’m so sorry to my precious little bloggy. It’s terrible, I’ve been neglecting you again. But it’s hurting me more than it’s hurting you, believe me. And, even worse still, I’ve been neglecting all of my wonderful blogging chums who I love and adore ever more. I’m sorry dudes! I haven’t been around making my usual cheeky comments on all of your wonderful posts. I’m sorry. I’m a self-involved asshole. Send R.O.T.O.R. to collect on my bounty. And don’t let the execution be a swift one, because I certainly don’t deserve it.

I miss you guys. A lot.

For a long while the best part of my day was connecting over all of our posts. Logging on and having a laugh at EI’s latest cinematic adventure or another one of Brian’s witty comments. I don’t even know who T9 has been crushing on these days, or what Zoe has been reading. Is Mikey still churning out those hilarious podcasts? And Dee, that gentleman across the pond who makes me smile, I miss being enlightened and delighted by your posts. I haven’t been around so much, but trust me when I say that you are all in my heart and thoughts every day.

I don’t want to make excuses for my absence, so let’s just call this an explanation and hope it charming enough that you’ll let it slide, just this one time. There just isn’t enough time, like ever. I have no idea how I’m keeping my head above water these days. It feels like I’m doing a desperate doggy-paddle in the middle of the ocean, no shoreline in sight and I’m gulping down more and more water as I struggle to stay afloat. But I keep struggling, because I’m not ready to give up yet, even though it’s so very very tempting some days.

In short: I’m working like a dog, I’m deep into the wedding planning, I’m trying to keep up with my social life, and there’s just no goddamn time to excel at everything all at once. But I want to, so desperately. I’m a shitty juggler, but there’s a big part of me that just belligerently refuses to accept that. With so much on the go, some aspect of my life was bound to suffer. So blogging and writing have taken this hit. And it’s funny, because one of the things that I do to stay sane when my life is a hectic disaster is write. It helps me find my way. I write to escape. I write for reprieve. I write because it feels good and it makes me whole.

I love writing. It matters and it makes a difference in my life. But if I’m being totally honest here, there has also been a major shift in my creative focus these past months and that will certainly shoulder some of this blame. I’ve been escaping all of my stresses with something else, something other than writing. A demanding an insatiable hobby, a jealous and possessive new mistress in my life. I’ve been doing an absolute fuckload of embroidery projects. Yep, you read that right. In the spare time that I do have for creative pursuits I’ve been putting the thread to the needle like a badass motherfucker and I’ve been stitching until my fingers are throbbing sore.

…and it’s been a super fun time.

I fucking love embroidery. There, I said it. But I do still love writing, too.

I’m creative and I’m zany. My imagination is an ogre. I have to focus it on something to survive, my very life depends on it. Sometimes I feel like I’ll die if I don’t find something for the ogre to do. She’ll crumple my cranium and toss it in the bin like an old grocery list if I don’t. I am compelled to create. Something, anything. A piece of writing, a kitschy craft, a silly doodle, making a killer mix CD, or even the shitty ass job I do of wrapping gifts. All just a bunch of ways that I package little bits of my imagination and send them out into the world so I can live. Really live.

The embroidery thing is something my friend The Magpie showed me. Back in the spring, she sent me a wonderful surprise birthday package and it was filled with supplies to jump-start this new hobby.

embroidery supplies

I was excited, but a little too busy to dig into them until the summer. That’s when this embroidery thing really took off. I started out small, trying something simple at first. A little gift for my darling Joce-force.

star wars embroidery

Then, inspired by those wicked pillowcases The Magpie made me last Christmas, I made myself an awesome little robot buddy. He’s since been framed and now lives on my desk at work.

robot and dog

And then, because I really wanted thank The Magpie for showing me this awesome new hobby, and because I wanted to up the ante a little with my newly evolving skills, I made her a birthday gift.

cheeseburger

It took a lot of time, and my craft still wasn’t perfect. But I loved making this weird little cheeseburger for her. I did it on a canvas, another great inspiration from The Magpie herself.

cheeseburger again

And then when that was done, I was feeling so confident and proud of myself that I decided I was really going to put my new-found embroidery skills to the test. I decided to stitch all of the table numbers for my wedding!

I found some beautiful fabric, bought a bunch of frames to put the finished pieces into, and then got to work.

I spent an entire long weekend stitching tirelessly to get them done.

my table numbers

number 8

nine nine nine nine

It was so much work, but I poured my whole self into every single one. And I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

And now I’m tackling another canvas project, larger scale than the last. The cheeseburger for my friend was an 8 x 8 and this one is a 12 x 12, which is much more challenging. I can’t stitch at this one for very long periods of time because my hand and arm ache if I do it for too long.

peacock

But it is really coming along, slowly but surely. I think I’m going to raffle this piece off at our stag ‘n’ doe party next month. People like that sort of thing, right? They’d want to spend a bunch of money trying to take this bad boy home, yeah? I hope so. Otherwise all of that aching has been in vain.

Looking back over all of these projects, I can really see how much I’ve improved since I started a few months ago. Persistence goes a long way. Also, looking back on how I’ve spent my creative energies this past summer I feel really happy. Because even though I haven’t been writing I’ve still been channeling my creativity somehow. I might be stressed as fuck at work and at home, but I do have an outlet for all of it. I’m not going to suddenly and unexpectedly implode because of all the pent-up pressures. I haven’t been letting them pent. I’ve been releasing my daily anguish in steady streams through my relentless embroidery projects.

So know this, dear readers and friends: Even though I haven’t been around a whole lot lately, I’m still here. I’m still insane. And I’m still every bit as zany and ridiculous as I ever was.

And I’ve still got lots of writing in me yet. My creative focus is just temporarily shifted. Sometimes there are words in my heart just dying to be put to page, and other times there’s a vision in my head that only the needle and thread can bring to life.

It’s hard to strike a comfortable balance sometimes. All summer long I was feeling really fucked up and stressed out. And maybe my feelings were just too tedious to try to pin down. I’m just glad that I’ve been given a really frigging rad alternative means of expressing myself. It helped a lot, especially during all those times this summer when writing just wouldn’t do.

Embroidery rules!

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Holiday Review

Well, there’s another Christmas come and gone. And a new year will dawn in a couple of days. I hope you kissed someone special under the mistletoe, ate entirely too much, and maybe even made an ass of yourself at a large family gathering. That’s what the holidays are there for, after all.

My holidays were fun, even though they veered off course a time or two.

The holidays started with the launching of a new tradition. My sister arranged a “Cousin’s Cocktail Christmas Party” and it was a great success. We got together with our cousins and their spouses/partners for some drinks, snacks, and general merriment. We then went to a comedy club to yuk it up. It was fun. Some of my best memories of Christmases past are of playing with my cousins. Our parents would get us all done up in fancy little outfits and try to impress upon us the importance of “behaving ourselves” at the dinner.

cousins at christmas

And obviously we’ve all grown up a whole lot since those days, but one thing that hasn’t changed is how much fun I still have with my cousins.

cousins christmas

Overnight we were harassed by an ice storm of disastrous proportions. We woke up to a world that had been completely consumed by ice.

ice storm

ice storm 2

ice storm 3

The storm took down countless trees and power lines. Over 250,000 homes in the city were without power for anywhere from 24 hours to a week. My cousin Ryan slept over at my sister’s place after the Christmas party, and awoke the next morning to find a tree had fallen onto his girlfriend’s car.

tree on car

The storm wreaked absolute havoc on the city, and I was glad to head north and out of the icy mess for a few days. But the fun just didn’t stop coming. On Christmas Eve I got sick. Really sick. Feverish, coughing, totally congested. I felt like a bag of assholes. My dad cooked up a feast and I barely even nibbled at it. My appetite was nowhere to be found. We then went to my mom’s for drinks and board games, which I normally really enjoy. But instead of having a bunch of Christmas fun with my family, I sat on the sidelines bundled in blankets, sweating buckets while a perpetual coughing fit racked my body. I was one pathetic sight.

On Christmas day, I was supposed to accompany D to his family get together. But I felt so goddamned shitty I couldn’t even get up off the couch without draining the last vestiges of my strength completely. I had to choose my battles wisely. D went on without me, and I stayed home. I laid on the couch and watched the entire 6 hours of The Stand miniseries on DVD. I had just finished the book, and my mom had the DVDs of the miniseries, so she let me borrow them. And they came in handy, that’s for damn sure.

The following day I felt well enough to go to lunch with D and his dad. At least I could be a part of some of his family celebrations, for his sake. But we didn’t do a lick of Boxing Day shopping. I usually love getting out there with all the other crazies, ripping shirts off of shelves like a maniac and bitching about getting cut off in the parking lot by some asshole who isn’t even looking. Jesus, he isn’t even looking! What is he, BLIND OR SOMETHING?

But even though I wasn’t in peak physical condition for enjoying the food, the shopping, or the gatherings, I was still plenty good at enjoying presents. And you know Smash loves presents. Just a recap for anyone who may not be familiar with this facet of my personality: I FUCKING LOVE OPENING PRESENTS. I can’t stand unopened presents. They make me insane. My fingers positively itch with the desire to rip and tear if they get within five feet of something that’s been wrapped up. It’s a compulsion.

I opened a lot of great gifts this year.

presents

Some of the gift highlights:

Star Wars Salt n Pepper Shakers!

star wars salt and pepper

Enormous Batman Mug!

batman mug

New Hobo Mittens!

mittens

Bitchin’ New Watch!

watch

A Big Bottle of Booze!

booze

His and Hers Robot Pillowcases! (My friend The Magpie embroidered these for me and they are absolutely stunning, I fucking love them to bits.)

pillowcases

And A Shitload of Chocolate!

chocolate

And I got tons of other great stuff too. I’m lucky. I have a lots of people in my life who love me and want to give me things that I love for christmas. Things that make me squeal with delight like a little kid. I’m probably the easiest person on the planet to buy gifts for. I’m easily pleased and I’m not picky. If I can have a thrilling time shredding a gift of its wrapping, I’m set. And as much as I love tearing into a pile of presents, I love giving great presents too. I know that everything I picked out for my loved ones this year was well received and will be cherished forevermore.

Even though the weather was truly frightful and my immune system totally flaked out on me, I managed to find some enjoyment in the holidays this year. Got some fantastic gifts, started a fabulous new tradition, and I took some time to plan my next big moves for the upcoming year. I’m really looking forward to the new year. I’ve got big plans brewing for 2014. It’s going to be my year. I’ve got a list of goals a mile long and I am going to be dogged in my pursuit of every single one.

Peace out 2013, it’s been a slice.

The Telltale Spring

There’s a familiar golden glow creeping through the curtains. No, actually. Not creeping. It’s been creeping the past few days, but today is different. It’s not glowing anymore. Today the sunlight is bursting through the  infinitesimal parting of the curtains. Proudly casting the full power of its rays upon the carpet.

I smile broadly into the pillow and stretch. Inhaling deeply, basking in the comfort of the crisp sheets. Dressing the bed in light breezy linens was the right thing to do. I feel validated.

Following the subtle leads and piecing together the slight clues of the universe, I was able to cement my case for the changing of the sheets.

Let’s review, shall we?

1) An insatiable desire to eat food on a bun

During the weekly grocery shop D grabbed a bag of buns and threw them into the cart without a second thought. “Let’s do stuff with these this week”, he suggested. Hmmm, maybe. That’s warm weather food though, I don’t think it’s time for that. I gave one of the buns a tentative squeeze with forefinger and thumb. Ooo, that’s good stuff. Fluffy. Fresh. It feels so right. I will do stuff with these buns. I’m going to get them home pronto and do terrible things with them. Terribly delicious things.

meatball subs

Meatball subs, drenched in marinara sauce and cheese.

Jumbo honey garlic sausage dogs.

Jumbo honey garlic sausage dogs.

The ambitious use of mustard is not to be overlooked. It’s a critical piece of evidence in itself. The stomach just wants what it wants. Foods shipped daily to tummy via bun.

2) The bike rack, in use!

A cold, shitty day in February while walking home from work. All of sudden, I’m face to face with what has to be the world’s longest bike rack. Enormous, and appearing out of nowhere, it caught me off guard. Seriously, it can fit like 20 bikes! No, actually, it can fit like 30. This rack can take a whole lot of bike. It was all D and I talked about over dinner that night. The mysterious new bike rack. Now a very major part of our lives. Who put it there? Why was it so big? Why couldn’t it wait until April to be installed? What was this urgent need for an extra-large bike rack in February, and why weren’t we aware of it? Then, we started betting on when we’d see the first bike. Surely it’ll go unused for months! We both wagered on dates in April. Logical, sensible dates in April.

The first recorded appearance of a bike on the new bike rack was Tuesday March 5th.

March Madness

March Madness.

The biker struck again on Friday March 8th.

A presumably happy customer.

A presumably happy customer.

Looking back now, I can’t believe how young and naive we were. Those were the days. The long forgotten days of weeks past, when a much younger Smash could not possibly fathom bikers in March.

Whoever you are, random biker, I commend you.

3) Sudden boom in street performance

D and I pass through Yonge-Dundas Square quite frequently on the weekends. To and from various activities and adventures. It’s very hectic. There’s always a lot going on there. It’s a very popular area for street performance and entertainment. However, winter can be quite discouraging to the performers. It’s cold, wet, and dark out. The people on the street are hurrying about, with very little desire to stop for an extended period of time. Seeking the warmth and comfort of the indoors, they speed through the square.

Friday night, D and I are strolling along Yonge. Hand-in-hand, we’re leisurely. It’s sort of warm out. It’s nice. As we approach the Yonge-Dundas Square, it starts to feel quite crowded on the sidewalk. Large clumps of people are gathering, watching something.

The closer we get, the more we can make out.

A man, covered from head to toe in golden makeup. A golden hat. A golden suit. A golden face. He’s a living breathing Oscar! His movements are robotic and strange. We can’t look away.

Eventually, we do pull ourselves away. Only to stumble upon another performer! A young dude, with a glass crystal ball. He’s moving it deftly from hand to hand. Rolling it across his fingers, gliding it up his arms and across his wrists. Every twist and turn of his limb a wonder. It’s as if he doesn’t have bones. So cool!

But we have to keep moving. We walk another couple of steps, and suddenly a catch in my throat. It is the most breathtakingly awesome sight I’ve ever beheld.

"You underestimate the power of the dark side"

“You underestimate the power of the dark side”

It’s freaking Darth Vader, holy shit, this is so awesome!

A new performer every couple of steps. The streets are crawling with them, and people are taking the time to enjoy it. Because it’s warm out. Because it’s Friday. And because you never turn your back on the dark lord.

4) Harvey hunts

My loveable little dude Harvey, suddenly has an abundance of visitors to stalk from afar. Big chubby city pigeons are stopping for a rest on our balcony. And Harvey has been very interested in monitoring their visits. Most likely to ensure that the pigeons don’t breach the indoor perimeter. He’s doing an excellent job protecting us from unwanted intruders.

He’s been listless lately. I’m happy that the pigeons are here. They keep him alert. He’ll go from blissed out napping to fighting fury in 5 seconds flat the instant he catches a glimpse of pigeon!

Based on these four facts, I made the decision to switch over my bed linens. I ditched the heavy-duty flannels for breezy cottons. The universe wants me to be ready. Spring is coming. And I have to be prepared to make it feel welcome.

It wants me to eat foods served on buns. It wants me to use the bike rack. It wants me to applaud the street performers. It wants me to clean the windows so Harvey can have the clearest possible pigeon viewing experience.

By logical assumption, it also wants me to change the sheets.

I’m ready for you Spring. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to speed your impending arrival.

Shine!

Shine!

Star Wars: Episode VII-A True Hope

I’ve been mulling this over for the past couple of weeks. I didn’t want to speak out too soon and risk having my opinions only reflect shock and disbelief. But now that I’ve had the appropriate amount of time to digest, I feel I can write about this rationally.

If you live, work, or breathe within the general vicinity of the internet then you’ve surely heard by now. Disney bought Lucasfilm. And not only did they buy Lucasfilm, they’ve made it quite clear that we can expect a 7th Star Wars film in 2015.

This is some serious jaw-dropping shit.

When I first heard, I really didn’t know what to think. Shock, awe, fear, concern, grief, and doubt were the first feelings out of the gates. And man did those negative emotions really tear up the track on their way to the finish. I mean, this is Star Wars, this is serious stuff.

I fell madly in love with the original trilogy when I was a little girl. Unfortunately, I never got to see episodes IV, V, or VI in theatres as I was born in the late 80’s. By the time I was ready for my first taste of a galaxy far, far away it was brought to me courtesy of VHS. But it was love at first viewing! And there was so much to love: the characters, the story, the costumes, the lightsabers, the heroes and villains, the veritable well of strange and otherworldly beings that partied it up at Mos Eisley Cantina… It was a burgeoning sci-fi geek’s wet dream! Not that I have those or anything… weird.

The Star Wars universe is so rich with information, there were endless possibilities for my inflamed 6-year old’s imagination. I would spend hours perfectly content, rebelling against the Empire in my daydreams. I used to pretend that I lost my hand in a devastating “lifesaver” battle and had to get a mechanical replacement. (It took me a while to realize that they were actually called lightsabers, but you can see how a child might make that mistake.)

If only I could have been so lucky…

Then something truly devastating did happen. Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace was released. I spent the months leading up to it feverishly bouncing off the walls. When it finally came time to see it, I was prepared. Armed with my Phantom Menace emblazoned Doritos and Mountain Dew, my body was thrumming with anticipation for what would be the greatest theatre going experience of my life to date.

Then I had the misfortune of actually seeing the movie. Wow, what a miserable waste of my allowance that was! I was letdown, but that’s okay, I still had the original trilogy to fall back on. No matter how many disappointing Star Wars movies are made, I will always have that.

So the first thing that came to mind when I heard about the new Star Wars movie was, naturally, disappointment. Especially because I know that no matter what, I’ll still waste my hard-earned money on a ticket to see it in theatres. I can kiss that 20 bucks goodbye as I write this very sentence…

Suddenly, in the wake of all those negative feelings about a new Star Wars movie, something happened. Hope, though initially slow out of the gate, got in the pod race. I considered Batman, and how horribly cartoonish and lame the Schumacher films had been. From the rubber nipple-suit ashes, Nolan had created a new life for the Caped Crusader. Batman got his cinematic dignity back, as he so rightfully deserved.

So who was to say that the same miracle of resurrection couldn’t happen within the realm of Star Wars? Maybe things have to get worse before they can get better. Maybe all this time Phantom Menace had been a necessary evil. The more I mulled over the idea of a new Star Wars movie, the more excited I got. This new film has the potential to become the greatest theatre going experience of my life to date, if I so permit it the opportunity.

I can spend the next three years bemoaning another potential disaster, or I can get excited. And after giving this much careful consideration, I choose to be fucking excited! It’s a much more productive use of my time. And if I spend my time sending the people at the helm of this venture my good vibes, maybe karma will reward me. Handsomely, I hope, with a badass new take on my beloved Star Wars.

If the world doesn’t implode at the end of 2012, then I’ll be at the theatre on opening weekend. Laden with my advance purchase tickets, delicious Star Wars marketed snacks, and a true hope for the future of this franchise.

If Star Wars has taught me anything throughout my countless viewing hours, it’s that good certainly can triumph over evil if given the chance.

May the force be with you, Disney.

Fangirl’s Delight

I am still reeling from my trip to the theatre tonight. My body is just thrumming with unadulterated triumph! I’m not even going to bother trying to figure out the perfect word to sum up Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises because I’m too pumped for that right now. In the words of a fellow moviegoer exiting the theatre tonight, it was “fucking awesome”. But don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil any of the magic so rest assured that you can read on unfettered by apprehension. I’m not going to go into an analysis of the movie, dissect the plot/characters, or offer any sort of critique of the overall meaning/message. What I’m focused on today, is the concept of hype…

I have been madly in love with Batman ever since I first discovered the campy old television series on Saturday morning when I was very very young. Batman and fruit loops on a Saturday morning. In my opinion life just doesn’t get any better than that when you’re a 5 year old fangirl in the making. I’ve seen all the movies, watched the cartoons, read the comics, had  the action figures, played the videogames (LEGO Batman for DS is pretty much the raddest game ever), and I even had fucking Batman POGS for Christ’s sake. I vividly remember watching Batman Returns at the drive-in with my parents and sisters in the summer of 1992 when I was 5.

I soaked up every ounce of it. Oh the ways that movie incited my rambunctious imagination and slaked my hunger for the Caped  Crusader! I remember being thrilled when I found out we’d be seeing it at the drive-in, a dream come true. There was so much hype surrounding its release, and it certainly did work wonders on me. All the hype astronomically increased the bat-fervour brewing within.

Flash forward 20 years and not much has changed. A new Batman movie hitting theatres, and an absolute TON of hype sweltering me at every turn. I was itching for this one, absolutely itching! The dramatic conclusion to Nolan’s visionary take on my all time favourite superhero… my heart is still all aflutter thinking about it. And the hype, working its old magic once again.

I tried desperately to convince the boyfriend to go to the trilogy screening with me on Thursday night so we could see it at its midnight release. The trilogy was a special event only playing at certain theatres so when I found out that our local Silvercity was showing it I went into overdrive trying to sell the idea to D. Unfortunately for me though, we had two drastically different takes on it:

Me: ALL THREE BATMAN MOVIES!!!!! ALL THREE BATMAN MOVIES!!!! This is will be the greatest fucking event of my life. It’s now or never, we have to, just HAVE to do it!!

D: 8 hours straight in a movie theatre? Have you lost your fucking mind? That is my nightmare.

Me: But I’m a major Batman nerd, babe. This is just something you have to do for me. Suck it up and do it! It will be so fun, it’s an experience like nothing else!! PLEASE!

D: But I’m an old man, babe. I’m tired just having this conversation, and you’re acting like a maniac.

The last time I pleaded my case that hard for something was probably back when I begged, BEGGED my mom to let me stay up all night watching all 5 Planet of the Apes movies on cable when I was 7. Yeah, we won’t get into it now but suffice it to say the heights of me nerdiness are dizzying. In the case for the apes marathon my youthful excitement actually worked and mom let me have at it. Guess I’ve lost my touch though, because D got the better of me this time. He reasoned that we needed to be rested for my sister’s Jack ‘n’ Jill on Saturday night, and that going to work Friday morning on 3 hours of sleep just wasn’t going to be good for either of us.

Cooler heads prevailed, and I bought tickets for the Sunday night show instead. And hours later, I’m still breathless and racked with awe. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but at the end of the movie my eyes fucking welled up. It just gets you!

I’ve been reading volume 1 of Knightfall again just to preface myself for this movie. Getting my head really into the zone, you know? I’ve trawled the ends of the internet over and back again reading anything and everything to do with this movie. Checking out the stills, reading blogs, countdowns, tracking reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve just been stewing in Batman for months, working myself into a frenzy.

Hype is a double-edged sword. Hype can amplify your expectations to unreachable highs, and take you crashing down to unfathomable lows should it not be rightly warranted. Hype is the tool most commonly utilized by the studios to put the asses in the seats. Hype garners new fans, sets the blogosphere ablaze, and contributes significantly to the overall reception of the film. We’ve all been touched by the ups and downs of hype at one point or another. From the complete debacle of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace to the utter glory of The Dark Knight, it plays a critical role no doubt.

For me, hype is where the magic is. I love letting the hype wash over me. Tonight I was practically freebasing hype, and the high was divine! When the credits rolled, I felt complete. A satisfying conclusion indeed. This isn’t the greatest movie of all time by any means. It’s fucking awesome for sure. But the real magic is in letting yourself indulge in the hype. Just savour it and permit it free rein to rose-colour your perception of the film. Therein lies the moviegoing magic.

These so-called critics who set out to “critique” and “review” these films need to stop taking themselves so seriously. Going to the movies is about getting lost. Loosen up already you fucking thesaurus loving posers, and just have a good time.

The Dark Knight Rises takes the cake this week for me, it’s just so friggen’ breathtaking! If you’re a long time Bat-fan, seeing this movie just feels like coming home. I’ll be parceling the residual effects of my Batman hype out over the next couple of months to give myself a jolt of awesome when needed. And I’ll lay me down to sleep tonight with visions of Batman dancing in my head.

P.S. Robin can suck a dick.