Snowy Day Memories

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

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

snowy days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smashelorette

I love that word, it’s the perfect title for this post. My friend the Magpie posted a pic of me from Saturday night using the hashtag Smashelorette and I fucking love it so much.

You guys don’t even know. And I don’t even know if I know how to tell this story… but bear with me. The fog of booze around my brain is clearing, this might start coming together as we go.

smashelorette

I’ve been waiting for this so long. This night. This amazing night out with my girls, getting drunk, laughing. Celebrating like only girls can. With lots and lots of shrill yayys! and wooooos! to accompany every sentence. Excitedly hopping and bopping everywhere and into everything. Chanting deliciously filthy chants at every male we encounter along the way. “SHOW-US-YOUR-PENIS!”, “JUST-THE-TIP!”, and “EAT-MORE-DICK-CHEESE!” among the best  of them.

That’s what girls do. We make ourselves look as classy and lovely as we possibly can, then we go out into the world causing all the mayhem we can muster. And I do have a lot of mayhem in my heart, believe you me. I’m pretty sure that I head-butted one of my friends on the d-floor. Mistakenly, of course. But only because a bunch of mayhem had bubbled over and was going to translate into some insanely rad dance floor head-banging. I just forgot to step back first. Oopsies! It’s not the first time though, definitely won’t be the last either. Very sorry, friend.

That must be why my neck is still so sore two days later. I fucking head-banged the shit outta that dance floor. But when you’ve got a band of rad motherfuckers ripped on heroin and playing the same Led Zeppelin song on a constant loop, there’s nothing you can do but head-bang the fucking shit outta life. The power of Zeppelin compels you!

At one point I had a little chat with the guitarist, about the recent passing of Tommy Ramone. And I begged him to rally his band buddies and play me a killer Ramones cover. He nodded semi-agreeably and went to talk to his musically inclined chums. When they hit the stage again after the intermission, the guitarist tossed me a sly grin and started cranking out yet another classic Zeppelin tune… Oh man! Another 22-minute guitar solo. I shot a look of long-suffering at The Magpie, as if to say “oh well, what can you do?” and she didn’t even have to say a word. She perfectly mimed the tying off of a vein and shot a finger needle into the crook of her arm while rolling her eyes back in a perfect pantomime of druggie bliss. It was so excellent. We just laughed and danced. Then laughed and danced some more because that guitar never stopped.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. This story clearly won’t be linear, that fucking ship has sailed. It was never going to be anyways, because I don’t remember it that way. I’m slowly remembering my way through the events of the Smashelorette. And every time I talk to someone about it, another little gem of memory is unearthed and lovingly relived.

Like when Joce reminded me that she stole a platter of 20 sliders off of someone else’s table and our motley group of girls gobbled them up in a feeding frenzy! No I didn’t dream that, it actually happened. It’s such a perfectly Joce-force thing to do.

Or when I put on a fake moustache with Dame Edna glasses and Shannie told me that I looked like Freddie Mercury. Dreams really do come true. Playing dress up in general. I mean, if you’re at a party and your friend gives you a box of costumes to dress people up in, it’s going to be a wicked time.

shannie the raver

my little peacock

Playing the underwear game! Everyone bought a pair of panties and I had to guess who bought them. An absolutely hilarious idea. Especially when one of your friends decides to buy you a pair of 3XL men’s tighty whiteys. Oh, Caitlin! You’re a beautiful little sexual harassment just waiting to happen.

she'll get ya

big underwear

Twirling and swirling around the dance floor with a very tall gentleman who didn’t speak a lick of english. But he didn’t have to. He spoke an even more important language: the language of the dance!

Eating a piece of penis cake. Thank you Bec. I always wondered what chocolate ball hair would taste like. It’s sweet. A little sticky too. Not unexpected at all. An unsavoury delight. Much like the dick cheese my friend Hoben moulded to glorious perfection. I’ve also wondered what green onion ball hair tasted like. Cross another thing off the bucket list, darling.

Doing oh so many grapefruit wedge Jell-O shots! Best summertime booze treat you can have.

jell-o shots

And of course, chugging dirt cheap champagne that made me throw up in my mouth a little…

champagne chug

When Caitlin found me a hunk with a ponytail to talk to. I got to touch it! The ponytail, of course. It was curly and sweaty and magnificent. Mmmm, oh yeah. That’s the real dream, a man with a ponytail. I’m totally being serious right now. Just wanted to make sure nobody thought I was being purposefully flip about that. Gimme them long luscious locks any time. Let me run my fingers through your hair, baby. Oh yeah, just like that!

Omg. THE MIDGET STRIPPER. *facepalm*

He was small and sweaty and he blew in my ear. Aggressively. It wasn’t sexy. It was like the blast of a backfiring car right in my earhole.

Oh right, this is an important detail: my Smashelorette party was Star Wars themed. Yeah, that’s fucking right. My friends lovingly coloured a bunch of images from a Star Wars colouring book and used them as decorations all over Joce’s apartment. It was very beautiful and meaningful to me. There were also bottles of chase with Yoda’s picture on them and labelled “Yoda Pop”. Brilliant! There was a hand drawn “Pin The Penis on Darth” game. Oh Sara, words cannot describe how much I love you for making that. And how much I loved seeing the bad first attempt at a drawing of Darth showing through the sliding glass door when I was out on the balcony. Priceless. He’s a hard dude to draw, I was very impressed with the end result.

But back to that stripper…

We were grooving along to some sweet pre-drinking tunes when suddenly the music changed. A very recognizable piece of music started to play. Is that…? Oh yeah, it is! It’s the frigging Star Wars theme music. I got really excited at that point. I sat on the special chair and buzzed with excitement. I’ve always wondered what Darth Vader’s penis looked like and tonight I was finally going to find out what he’s been hiding under that codpiece.

Just as the epic entrance music was fading out, he stepped into the room. All 4 foot 8 of him. Probably more like 5′ 3″, but who’s measuring? And he’s… um. What the fuck? He’s a cop? And now he’s making some lame cliché joke about a noise complaint… that’s something, I guess.

i'm so impressed

Actually, this worked out really well. Even though he wasn’t dressed as the Dark Lord and I couldn’t climb him like a mountain, I’ll never forget pointing and laughing at his sweat-stained underwear while he shook his crotch in my cousin’s face. AND, most important of all… he wasn’t supposed to show us his wiener but he did anyways. Joce told me she wouldn’t pay extra for him to do the full monty. So he was either such a trooper or our rowdy chants just eventually wore him down, but either way, WE GOT THAT DICK FOR FREE!

I just had a great idea for him! He should dress up like Prince when he strips. He’s got the perfect build for it… dammit. Someone should call and tell him that. I bet there are a lot of ladies out there who’d love a lap dance from The Purple One. I know I would.

There’s so much to remember! Too much to remember really. I’m grateful for cameras. And I’m thankful for all of my wonderful friends. I’m so in love with all of you.

friends

my lovely family

Dreams come true. I should probably divorce D and then re-marry him just so we can have another party like this. Another super mega-awesome blast of a time, just us girls.

But I guess even though I’m getting married, that doesn’t mean I have to slow down my bad ass partying ways, does it?

photo-3

Maybe we just need to do one more of these before the wedding. It was always going to take more than one really excellent bender to get it all out of my system anyways, right?

The Strongest Man in the Whole Wide World

I’ve always known that my dad is strong. All dads are. Every dad is the strongest man in the world to their kids when they’re young. He can lift you right up over his head and everything! It makes you laugh, it makes you squeal, and you feel light as a feather, swooping through the air in his powerful grasp. It’s a wonderful, but fleeting feeling. You’ve got to come down eventually, he can’t hold you up forever. But he is still the strongest man in the whole wide world. Until one day when he isn’t…

Eventually, you get older and you realize that it’s just your own silly little misbelief. But that’s okay. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t literally the strongest man in the whole wide world, he’s your dad and he’s still plenty strong for you. He might not be able to lift you right up over his head anymore, you’re too old for that now anyways, but you’ll always cherish those days when he could.

Dad and I, back when I was at the perfect weight to be hoisted up over his head

Dad and I, back when I was at the perfect weight to be hoisted up over his head

I got to watch my dad compete in a power-lifting competition this weekend, and I felt an overwhelming pang of nostalgia for those days when I was young and my dad was undoubtedly the strongest man in the whole wide world. Where did all of that time go? How did it slip away so quickly? Somehow, during that frantic dash to adulthood, I’d forgotten all about what it was like to believe in Dad. But thankfully for me, he’s constantly fanning the flames of belief in my heart, even when I’m out playing “adulthood” and am too caught up in myself to notice.

My dad has always been into weight training, he started doing it back in the ’70’s when he was only sixteen years old and it became a lifelong passion of his. You wouldn’t know it to look at his average height and build, but he’s a very powerful man. He’s totally unassuming in that regard. And he loves pouncing on an opportunity to show someone what he can really do with a set of weights. He’s used to being grossly underestimated by those that so wrongly assume that only “built” or “big” men can lift anything remotely impressive. When I tell people that my dad is a power-lifter they immediately ask me how big he is or they’ll remark that he must be HUGE. But power doesn’t come from having stupidly gigantic muscles. It comes from an unyielding will to conquer the impossible and a relentless pursuit of ever greater challenges.

a very old photo of my dad on his journey to greatness

a very old photo of my dad while on his journey to greatness

Although power-lifting has been a great passion of his for many years, he only recently started competing. He’s been competing for a few years now, but I’d never had the opportunity to go and see him in competition until now. And though I’m quite familiar with what my dad can do–I’ve seen him lift mind-boggling amounts of weight while growing up–he totally floored me. At 57 years old he was the oldest man in the competition by a mile. All of the other competitors were anywhere from 20 to 30 years younger than him. But that didn’t faze him one bit, it never does.

My dad, showing off the deadlift tattoo that I drew for him over ten years ago

My dad, suited up and showing off the deadlift tattoo that I drew for him over ten years ago

Dad gets out there and pushes all of the bullshit preconceived notions about his age and his build completely out of his mind. His only thought is about the lift. I watched as he stepped up to the bar, all determination and focus. I watched with unbearable pride as he shattered every expectation with every successful lift. And just like that, I believed again. I never stopped believing, I just forgot that you have to keep doing it if you want to keep the magic alive.

A power-lifting competition comprises three different lifts: the squat, the bench, and the deadlift. Each competitor will get three attempts at each lift, with the weight increasing progressively for each lift. My dad’s favourite lift is the deadlift. The announcer at the competition stated that it was her favourite too, because “it’s an act of defiance”. Defying odds and defying gravity. For his final lift of the day, my dad did a deadlift of an astounding 402 pounds. I know that’s not a record and it’s not the most that anyone will ever lift. But in that final moment when he dug into every last reserve of strength and snapped the weight into position, my dad was the strongest man in the whole wide world again.

My dad is a remarkable man and I admire him. He’s inspiring and he’s brave and he’s amazing. And I get to have all of the joy in telling people that he’s MY dad. I’m going to hold on to my silly little misbelief awhile longer yet and cherish it. He’s earned it.

My dad is the strongest man in the whole wide world. Everything is exactly as it should be.

Everything I Want

I know what I want and I don’t fuck around when it comes to decision-making. And I’m stating that as simply and sweetly as I possibly can. I’ve never been one of those waffling and indecisive individuals, I’m too impatient for that. I just follow my heart and the decisions come easy. Some people have a hard time following their heart, which makes sense if your heart is a total wiener. But mine isn’t. My heart is open and passionate and fierce. It never lies, its chambers pump honesty through my arteries and into my veins all day long. It’s easy to follow and it never disappoints.

There are an absurd number of decisions to be made when you’re planning a wedding. It can be exhausting, sure. But if you’ve got a bold heart to follow, like I do, then it’s pretty fucking easy. You just have to endure, that’s the trick. Drown out all of the unnecessary babble around you and endure. And don’t put too much weight on the little things, save your energy for more trying decisions.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around the planning of my wedding. I always knew exactly what I wanted, deep in my heart, I just didn’t want to tackle all of those decisions immediately. But when I was finally ready to commence planning, the decisions starting coming fast and easy. Venue, food, colour scheme, music, guests, it all just starts falling perfectly into place.

Stepping back, and looking over the work we’ve done so far, I can safely say that I’m kicking the fucking shit out of wedding planning, you guys. Like, seriously. Kicking the fucking shit out of it.

We’ve got an amazing venue:

Cardinal Golf Course

Our gorgeous golf course venue is going to look stunning all covered in snow

 

A delicious menu picked out:

4 oz. chicken breast and 4 oz. tenderloin

The meat: 4 oz. chicken breast and 4 oz. tenderloin. That’s right, each guest gets both!

roasted red pepper mash and steamed asparagus bundles

The veggies: roasted red pepper mash and steamed asparagus bundles

The dessert: banana chocolate chip cheesecake

The dessert: banana chocolate chip cheesecake

Exciting Do-It-Yourself invitations:

yep, we're gunna print them ourselves!

yep, we’re gunna print them ourselves!

The perfect pair of shoes to carry me down the aisle:

Sparkly golden disco shoes, fuck yeah

Sparkly golden disco shoes, fuck yeah

Our territorial, er I mean ceremonial, rings:

Our wedding bands

Wedding bands

And another majorly huge decision was made this weekend. Probably the biggest decision of the whole entire wedding.

The dress.

Wanting to be different, I originally intended to buy something online. Buying online meant that I wouldn’t have had to order it so far in advance, and I could carry on living my life without stressing too much about my figure. But if you go through a bridal shop, ordering eight months out from the date can potentially be cutting it too close. I was still feeling like I had tons of time, that the wedding was still a good stretch away, like in the distant future. So I had a little bit of a panic attack when I realized that eight months is kind of the unofficial cutoff for choosing the dress. If I left that all-important wedding dress decision unmade for too much longer, then it would be too late for me to backtrack and order something from an actual bridal shop. If the online search went tits up, then I’d be royally fucked.

So I texted my maid of honour, Joce-force, in a bit of a panic. She encouraged me to book some appointments and said that we’d ditch our boyfriends for the day to go shopping until we found something awesome. And we did. We did it, you guys. We got up early on Saturday morning, did a little bit of light day drinking while en route to bridal shops across the city, and we found the perfect fucking dress. I’m so excited about it.

And I’m so happy that Joce was there to help, I needed her. She doesn’t pull her punches, especially not with the pushy sales people and designers. I’m decisive yes, but I’m shy about telling people who I don’t know that I think something is shit. I only had to look at Joce and she knew what I was thinking. She’d tell people when I thought a dress was crap with no qualms whatsoever. Joce kept a steady stream of secret purse drinks flowing, she made inappropriate and hilarious jokes all day to keep us laughing, and she even haggled with snooty salespeople for me.

We knew we had the perfect dress when a dreamy, disbelieving look stole across my face as I looked at myself in the mirror. A happy, heart’s desires fulfilled kind of look.

It only took one day to find my wedding dress. Because I know what I want, and I don’t fuck around. And because I have an awesome friend who can turn even the most daunting of tasks into hilarious adventures.

Sexy tigres forever!

Sexy t-rex hands never fail.

Another decision masterfully conquered, and many more still to come. I’ll just keep following my heart and it’ll make sure that I get everything I want. It always does.

Luck of the Draw

Sometimes in life there are things that are just meant to be. Coincidences and things of that nature. Unexpected little moments of delight that just feel right. The universe talks, and sometimes we can hear it.

D and I met up for dinner one night after work. It was cold and unkind outside, as it has been all winter long, so we didn’t want to wander too far from home. We treaded the well-worn and mostly indoor path to the Pickle Barrel in our hood. I’ve been really digging their breakfast foods lately. We sat down and started to scan the menu. D noticed a promotional ad on the table. D loves deals. He loves to find good “specials” and “deals” at our local restaurants. He files them away in his thrifty head for future usefulness and savings. It’s all about the savings. There are a bunch of pictures on his phone of weekly specials and deals from restaurants all over the city. So that if we happen to feel like dining out on Thursday night we know exactly where to go that particular night for the best deal in town. For D, dining out is partly about having a good meal, but mostly about making a killing when the check comes.

The ad that D happened to notice that night at the Pickle Barrel was for a 1 litre boot of Steamwhistle beer for $15.99. And you got to keep the boot afterwards. A tempting little promo what with St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks away. We hemmed and hawed about this for a while, before finally passing on the deal. That was a sweet fucking boot, no doubt. But beer makes D too full, he doesn’t like to drink a lot of it when he’s eating. He’d rather have some beers a few hours after dinner, if there’s a game on or something. So he can enjoy it without feeling uncomfortable and bloated. And I’ve been off beer for a couple of months now. I’m all about these delicious raspberry vodka and lemonade cocktails I’ve recently concocted. Plus, Steamwhistle sucks. We hate that beer. A lot of people here in Toronto love it, but not us. We even went so far as to ask the server if it had to be Steamwhistle in the boot, maybe we could get it filled with something else instead. A beer we actually wanted to drink.

But sadly, no dice.

So we passed on the boot. We really wanted it, but it just didn’t make sense. Oh well, that’s that.

A couple of days later I had to buy some booze for the weekend, so I cruised on over to the liquor store. In and out, a real smooth operation. I grabbed what I needed and got in line. Some dick was taking forever to pay and holding up the line, as usual. Standing there impatiently, I started to look around. I noticed out of the corner of my eye a bright green Steamwhistle box on the other side of the store. A box with a couple of tallboys and the boot we’d passed up a few days ago at dinner. What a coincidence! But then the line started to move, and a few more people were behind me now. I didn’t want to lose my spot to go and see how much it was. I hate when people do that, gum up the works with their indecisiveness at checkout counters. I didn’t want to be that asshole that puts her stuff down and says “I’ll be right back, I just have to grab something real quick.” They always say that it’s going to be “real quick” and it never is. I decided to just pay for what I had and come back tomorrow to scope out the situation.

When I got home I told D that I had seen the boot for sale at the liquor store. With his interest renewed, he agreed that we would go take a look and possibly buy one tomorrow. We could chuck the shitty beers we hated and then fill our boot with whatever the hell we wanted instead. The more we thought about it, the more excited we got. Das boot!

But tomorrow didn’t pan out for us. We’d gone back to the liquor store only to discover that all of the cases with the boot were gone. They’d sold out already, and we were shit out of luck. It was a desirable little novelty, that boot. People really wanted them. And we were just doomed to carry on wanting, it seemed. I kicked myself for my stupid need to be considerate of others. If only I’d been a teensy bit selfish the night before, I’d be living my dreams, drinking out of that frigging boot like a champion.

I thought about that boot often over the next few days that followed. I wanted it now more than ever, and I’d missed out on it not just once, but twice. Damn. The universe, with its infinite knowing, seemed to sense my frustration. It knew that something hinky was afoot. Some creative correction was needed.

We went to a comedy club last week. My sister won some free tickets and asked us to come along for the laughs. It was fun. She’s lucky and she wins free shit all the time. One time we went to a party and she won four Christmas trees in the raffle. Four! Needless to say, but if she’s ever caught bemoaning her poor luck, we’re all very quick to remember the story of the four Christmas trees. After the show was over, the MC announced that there was going to be a 50/50 raffle to benefit the diabetes foundation. D only had five bucks in his pocket, just enough for a ticket. He likes to gamble, and he’s always had a good bit of luck about himself. I mean, he managed to land this classy babe, amiright?

D bought his ticket and we stood at the bar, waiting for the raffle to start. The MC grabbed the mic, and as I turned to face him a brief sparkle caught my eye. A glimmer of light from above, dancing along the rounded lip of a Steamwhistle boot. Well I’ll be damned! They were about to raffle off one of those bloody boots as a secondary prize. My hopes skyrocketed instantly and I grabbed at D’s arm in excitement. “They have the boot! We’re going to win one, we have to!”

“Pffft, who gives a shit about that boot. I’ll win the big prize babe, and then I’ll buy all the fucking boots we want,” D responded. The big prize was 5 cool g’s, so that would be okay, too. But it wouldn’t be as exciting as winning the boot. Not to me, anyways.

The MC reached into the drum for a ticket, and I held my breath. I looked over D’s shoulder at the ticket, concentrating on his number while the MC read the winning number aloud.

Every single number he read matched the numbers on D’s ticket. And in that moment, I heard the universe talking. Talking to us.

The Boot

We were meant to have that boot, and the universe kindly intervened to make it so. It’s one of those things that I just know.

Cheers, universe! Here’s looking at you.

More Than I Could Chew

D and I decided to grab a bite out for dinner tonight. Nothing special, we just went to a little pub in our neighbourhood. We like going out for dinner. We get to sit down and talk, just the two of us. It’s nice.

When I was younger I wasn’t a very adventurous eater. I liked to stick with what was working, like a big juicy cheeseburger or a comforting piece of shepherd’s pie. But I’ve grown up a lot since then. I try things now, you know. We went out to a fancy dinner earlier this week to celebrate D’s birthday and I had this amazingly creamy lobster and crab soup followed by a coronary inducing strip loin and duck fat frites. It was the meal that launched a thousand puddles of drool. I wouldn’t have eaten any of that stuff when I was a kid. I would have turned up my nose immediately, and I would have stuck by my guns no matter how delicious the morsel in question turned out to be. “Duck fat frites? What the fuck are you even talking about? Oh, so they’re just fancy french fries? Yeah, I still hate that”, would have been my take on it back then. But I’ve since learned that trying new things won’t actually kill you dead on the spot. And it’s been great. I fucking love trying new shit all the time now.

An extension of that growth, that newly discovered joy of trying, is that I also try not to order the same old familiar stuff at places. If we’re going somewhere that we’ve been before I try to bounce around the menu, ordering something I haven’t had at that particular place before. I’ve seen people get stuck in that rut of ordering the same damn thing from the same damn place all the time. It’s tiresome. I don’t want to be tiresome, I want to live every moment like it’s a fantastic new adventure. Especially when it comes to my culinary exploits. I’ve already wasted so much of my precious time turning my nose up, and I don’t want to waste a minute more.

So D and I met up after work and made our way over to Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub for dinner. I scanned the menu, trying to avoid the delicious looking same old same old land-mines on every page. Chicken Pot Pie, yummy but been there done that girlfriend. Fish ‘n’ Chips, another favourite of mine but it’s always the same no matter where you are. Club Sandwich, pffft more like Club Boring Sandwich. Then something wonderful caught my eye under the Burgers ‘n’ Sandwiches heading: Fish Taco. I like fish tacos, I’ve had them at other places a time or two before. But they’re not something I order all the time. Maybe on a hot, sticky summer afternoon when I feel like an ice-cold beer and a nibble. Fish tacos can really hit the spot under the right circumstances. It was just another blah January night, dark and cold. But a couple of fish tacos might be just the ticket to fight the blahness of this January night.

There was just one thing, though. It was listed on the menu as Fish Taco, no lowercase “s” neatly tacked onto the end. I wondered aloud to D if maybe that meant it would be one enormous piece of fish in a tortilla. He assured me that it was probably just a typo, a huge piece of fish in a tortilla would be ridiculous. Nobody would ever order it, he said. It’s not logical, he added for good measure. I thought about double-checking with the server first, just to be sure, but then D’s reasoning won me over in the end. Surely he was right. One huge piece of fish all bundled into a tortilla would be madness. It’s definitely going to be a tidy little plate with two, maybe three, fish tacos all in a row.

And then this happened:

fish taco

One enormous fucking fish taco was placed in front of me.

D and I were floored. I sat there looking at him, mouth agape and momentarily stunned. How could this be? It was supposed to be illogical and ridiculous, and now it’s somehow become a terrifying reality. I really didn’t even know where to begin. When I turned it around to peek at the formidable fishy foe within it was like looking into a chasm.

fish taco again

That wasn’t a typo on the menu at all. It was a completely accurate description of the meal that I received. I got exactly what I’d ordered alright, Fish Taco.

So I did the best I could, I really did. But I hadn’t been planning on stuffing my face, I wasn’t overly hungry to begin with. I’d just wanted something easily manageable that I could nibble. And don’t get me wrong, it was a goddamned delicious fish taco. The crispy filet of haddock was packed into the tortilla with generous helpings of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and tangy chipotle mayo sauce to join it on its journey down my gullet.

But I just couldn’t make it all disappear.

eating fish taco

I had to concede defeat to the mighty Fish Taco, for I had been bested.

It had the upper hand on my appetite and the element of surprise tucked into its roomy back pocket, but I’d like to think I gave it some hell on the way down. Maybe someday I’ll go back, order it again, and prove myself a worthy adversary. But for now, I’m going to shoot some Pepto to soothe my aching, overstuffed tummy and keep my distance while I lick my wounds.

We’ll meet again Fish Taco, I’m sure of it. And next time I’ll be ready for you.

Cultural Swag

Once in a while we get to enjoy a little perk or two courtesy of D’s work. He’s got connections, man. He recently came into a package of V.I.P. tickets to the newest exhibit at The ROM (pronounced like CD-ROM), otherwise known as The Royal Ontario Museum. Fun, right? We live in this wonderful city with all kinds of interesting things to do, but so rarely do we actually do any of those things. We were pretty excited to take advantage of an opportunity to spend a day exploring the museum.

As per our chums over at Wikipedia, the ROM was established in 1912 and opened the doors to the public in 1914. It’s one of the largest museums in North America, home to an extensive collection of fossils, minerals, art, and artifacts. It’s a veritable hive of knowledge.

This is how a museum should look

This is how a museum should look

The only thing I dislike about the ROM is the horrendous renovation that was made to  the front entrance back in 2007. It’s called The Crystal and it’s this enormous, oddly shaped mass of aluminum and glass that juts out of the building at an arrogant angle. I did not take any pictures of it, because frankly, it isn’t worth the effort. But if you’re interested in checking it out you can do a quick google and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It is a total eyesore. It just doesn’t feel right, and I hate it. Unfortunately though, you have to use that entrance to get in. Puke.

On Saturday afternoon we made the trek to the museum. A burst water main at Bloor/Yonge station meant we had to take the long way around to get there, but we didn’t mind. It meant we got to get off at Museum station, my favourite of all the subway stations. If I had to guess, I’d say that Museum station has experienced the fewest instances of hobo piss compared to all of the other stations. It just seems like it commands more respect than all of the others. It’s special, and deserves to be appreciated.

It makes me feel adventurous!

It makes me feel all adventurous

And it’s cool because it’s got all these great fake statues and ancient looking columns lining the platform. When I walk along the Museum station platform I like to pretend that I’m on a grand adventure, exploring some previously undiscovered pharaoh’s tomb and looking for forgotten treasures. This little bout of pretend really helped me get in the right mindset for a day at the museum.

You wouldn't dare piss on something as special looking as this, would you?

You wouldn’t dare piss on something as special looking as this, would you?

We had tickets for all of the regular exhibits as well as the latest one called Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World. It was cool, but it was way too crowded. We could barely see anything because all of the displays had people totally surrounding them. Seemed like everyone and their uncle wanted to check out old Mesopotamia last Saturday. The other problem we had is that we’re both short. And I’m a shover too, but I do try not to be quite so quick to shove when I’m out at nice classy joints like the ROM. Instead, I politely skimmed my eyes over whatever it was that I could possibly see while gliding through the exhibit fairly quickly. It was hot and sticky with all those people crammed in there, I just wanted to get out already. We actually enjoyed that exhibit least of all, ranking it last place overall compared to everything else we saw. The best part of any museum is clearly the dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs!

View from up above the main foyer

Everyone loves dinosaurs. They’re big and awesome and exciting. Playing Jurassic Park when we were kids was always super fun. What’s not to love? The best part of the displays are the renderings beside each skeleton that tell you which parts of the display are actual fossils and which parts are recreations.

Chompy!

Chompy!

Scary fish dinosaur

Scary fish dinosaur

Obviously I had to get some shots of the T-Rex

Obviously I had to get some shots of the T-Rex

It was really fun trying to fit that tusk in the frame while a bunch of people kept walking in front of my shot

It was really fun trying to fit that tusk in the frame while a bunch of people kept walking in front of my shot

Thankfully we didn’t experience any sort of sit-com type scenario where one of us sneezed and accidentally knocked over a T-Rex in front of a bunch of dumbfounded onlookers. I was a little bit worried that something like that could happen, I’m not gunna lie. I mean, it happened in pretty much every T.V. show that ever did an episode involving a museum so it seemed like the odds were high.

D liked the dinosaurs a lot too, but he said that his favourite part overall was the rock and mineral displays. We spent a lot of time exploring that section too. It’s fun to learn about all of the amazing treasures that are created naturally within our wacky little planet’s core.

There were tons of shelves of minerals

There were tons of shelves of minerals to look at just like this one

mouthy mineral

Hey, wanna grab some lunch? I’m starving!

In the natural history section there’s also this really cool place called The Bat Cave. It’s this long and winding dark corridor with all of these caves carved into the walls and fake bats floating around inside. As you walk through the darkened cave you can hear recorded bat sounds for a truly immersive experience. Even though it was hella dark in the bat cave, I was able to use the flash to get a few decent pictures.

One of many exciting crevices in the Bat Cave

One of many exciting crevices in the Bat Cave

pretending to scale the bat cave walls, naturally

Pretending to scale the bat cave walls in my head, naturally

I’ve always loved bats. Some of that love can probably be attributed to my fascination with Batman that started at a young age, but mostly I just think they’re cool. If it was feasible to keep a bat as a pet, I probably would. Freaky people keep snakes and tarantulas as pets right, so what would be so different about having a pet bat? If you could keep it in a special cage and feed it and care for it and love it just like you would a hamster that would be so awesome. For now though, I guess I’ll just have to content myself with the little carved bat statue I bought at the ROM gift shop on my way out.

Neither of us had been to the ROM in a really long time. At least 15 years or more for D, and probably 8 or 9 since my last trip. I loved spending the afternoon walking around the museum with D, just taking in one of the great wonders of our city. It was fun, holding hands and making our own hushed little jokes about dinosaur bones. I’m glad we had the opportunity to shake up our routine and do something different. We should make more of an effort to take advantage of all the incredible things our city has to offer more often. Maybe we will.

But then again, sitting around in our sweatpants watching football later that night was pretty great too. I can have it both ways if I want to.

Bound for the Sound

Finally.

We’ve been saying this for so long. For years, even. We’ve exclaimed it with unfettered excitement, we’ve shouted it with glee. We’ve clinked our glasses and chugged our tallboys after many a heartfelt expression of it. That wonderful little rhyming phrase that carries so much promise, Bound for the Sound!

It feels like we’ve been saying it every time that we’ve gotten together with our chums Shan-Wow and Hoben since they moved to Owen Sound a couple of years ago. Every time. We talk about how drunk we’ll get. We talk about the laughs we’ll have. We delight at the thought of the memories we’ll make, the shenanigans that will ensue. Bound for the Sound is all about going nuts, enjoying a classically debauched night much like those of our misspent youth. It’s all about recapturing that young and dumb magic. But we’ve never made good on it. Not once, not ever. Until now.

Hoben is one of my best drinking buddies from long ago. He coined my colourful nickname. He started the proud tradition of deckers. He introduced me to D and forever changed my life. He’s good people. And Shan-Wow is his equally awesome lady-love. She’s hilarious and amazing and you can’t not love her to bits. Hell, she’s a founding member of the Top-Secret-Euchre-Club and a Dumb & Dumber Enthusiast. So you can trust me when I tell you that these two know how to party.

shanny and hobs

Owen Sound is a good long boot northwest of Toronto, a two and a half hour drive on a “making great time” kinda run. So D and I had to rent a car to drive our asses up there. We splurged and signed up for the “Intermediate” level car, which is usually something nice and hefty, with lots of trunk space in case we need to transport a body on sudden notice. Which happens to us more than you’d think… What we wound up with was a mint 2014 Dodge Charger with only 60km on it. It was black and shiny, it looked like the fucking Batmobile for Christsakes. D was excited about it until he realized it was front-wheel drive. That made for some interesting moments tearing through the snowstorm that was pounding down on the city just as we got going.

It was a long drive, getting there. Our nice spacious 4-lane highways quickly petered out into 1-lane rural roads. We saw a spectacular amount of farms, barns, crumbled barns, horses, cows, and snow-covered hay bales whizz by our windows. And wind turbines too. There’s a shit-ton of those all over the place. It was pretty cool, actually. It felt like we were driving through some secret alien place. An abduction zone, or something like that.

wind turbines

We also drove through a town called Flesherton. I shit you not, reader. If I ever find out that there isn’t a spooky group of ritualistic killing machines who feast on human flesh living in that town then I am going to be majorly disappointed. It would be such a waste of that town name not to have a few resident cannibals at least. We drove through Flesherton super fast and with intensity so it felt like we were escaping it. It was great fun!

Also great fun was stopping at the Six ‘n’ Ten Minimart for our booze. Look at that fucking place. It’s incredible!

six n ten

Booze sales in Ontario are government regulated, so you can’t just buy it anywhere. It typically has to be from an L.C.B.O. store (which stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario) or at a store that is aptly named The Beer Store. But there are exceptions. There are Agency stores in small towns like Owen Sound that are able to sell liquor. Which, to us, seemed kind of like an urban legend because we’ve never actually seen any before. It was an exciting novelty.

We got stuck behind some over-cautious and tediously slow geezers, and then a snow-plow for a while too. I thought D was going to road rage us right into a ditch with all of his impatience. But we made it eventually, taking about an hour longer than expected. And when we finally did get there, it was time to fuckin’ draaaaannk.

Hobs and Shan had tickets to the OHL game that night, and not to keep sounding so ridiculously Canadian here, but that stands for Ontario Hockey League and is a Junior hockey league for kids ages 15-20. Lots of the kids in the league aspire to NHL greatness, so they always play their asses off. Small-town hockey and cheap drinks on a Saturday night. Man alive, my inner hoser was busting at the seams.

me n cubby

We mixed up a bunch of rye ‘n’ gingers in some ginger-ale bottles for stealthy drinking out in the parking lot during intermissions, and pounded beers during the game when we were inside the stadium. We got right fuckin’ tuned.

IMG_2457

me n shanny

the group

Pretty much everyone in town comes to the Saturday night games. It’s a small ass town and there ain’t that much to do, so it makes for some good times. We hung back a bit after the game was over to let the overcrowded parking lot clear out. We’d gotten there about 10 minutes after the puck drop, so we parked at the end of a very long row of cars. By the time we left the game and came out into the parking lot, our park job wound up being incredibly inconvenient for everybody else trying to leave the rink. It was hilarious.

our car

Yep, that’s our ride. It’s doing a damn fine job making all those other cars go around it to get out. This is not the Charger by the way. Shannon drove her car because the Charger would have been absolutely worthless in an unplowed lot like this with its fucking crazy front-wheel drive. We polished off a few more drinks in the car, then left it there for the night. It could be picked up in the cold, sober light of dawn. We walked to a bar to continue the fun. D had a little bit too much fun at the game though, and wound up spending most of his time at the bar puking it up in the bathroom. But I guess that’s bound to happen when you skip over dinner in favour of rye.

I fared much better because I enjoyed a bunch of delicious arena snacks with my drinks. It was the smart play.

my snacks

I was going to share my pretzel with D, so it could help soak up some of the booze rolling around in his belly, but he fucked off and I couldn’t find him. I waited so long that the pretzel got cold, and as a result, really goddamned hard. A would-be-delicious treat turned inedible by the passage of time. But the popcorn was still quite tasty, as arena popcorn tends to be. Turns out D was standing around chirping some local dudes in their mid-40’s because they were drinking Bacardi Breezers. Time well spent, indeed.

We had to leave pretty early the next morning to make sure we’d get the rental car returned on time. Hungover and exhausted from a night of raucous drinking, we were daunted by another long trip in the car. But with mile-wide Canadian grins spread across our glowing hearts we did alright. We saw thee rise. We made good time and we enjoyed the quiet ride home.

It was a great fucking weekend. Once in a while I need to go all hoser berserker on life. It just feels good. Based on the smashing success of our inaugural journey, I can safely say that we will return. We will be Bound for the Sound yet again.

First Snow

You know it’s coming, it’s inevitable. You just don’t know when.

Some people will keep a wary eye on the weather reports year round, because you never know, right? Others only start to concern themselves with the possibility of it when the wick in the jack-o-lantern has finally been extinguished. Some people dread it, they were counting on a green Christmas this year. Some people hope for it with childlike desperation, they just can’t wait to hit the slopes. We know it’s coming when our girl Mother Nature starts dropping her coy little hints everywhere. Frost dusting the front lawn and creeping across windshields in the morning, warm coffee breath magically appearing before you as you huff your way towards the office, the rain puddles of last week turned slick and icy, a freezing cold surprise on your bum when you get up to pee in the middle of the night…

We steel ourselves for its imminent arrival. We test out the old space heater to make sure it still works. We gather up extra cozy thermal throws to snuggle on the couch with. We stock up on salt, shovels, anti-freeze, car scrapers and lock de-icers. We have to be vigilant. Especially here in Canada. The start of winter is unpredictable at best. But once that first snowfall takes, we can count on a solid four to six months of unrelenting cold and darkness.

I myself, prefer to be surprised by the first snowfall. I don’t try to anticipate it, that would spoil all the fun. There are so few surprises I will tolerate in life, but the first snowfall is one of them. And there are a myriad of ways that it can surprise you.

From the classic waking up on a cold morning and peeling back the curtains to reveal a generous three-foot-deep heaping of it, to the sneak attack flurries coating your car that you encounter upon your departure from the mall, possibly laden with spoils from your early Christmas shopping adventure. I love it when that first snowfall catches me off guard.

D and I went to a movie on Saturday afternoon. It looked a little chilly out, but otherwise calm. We wore our heavy winter jackets nonetheless, just in case. We made our way to the subway station, ducking our faces from the biting cold wind that whipped about our uncovered heads. “Fuck, it’s cold out there,” D exclaimed as we hustled down the stairs to the platform. His ears and cheeks were bright rosy red. “Yeah, but at least it’s not snowing yet,” I replied.

Seven stops later, we emerged from the subway and found ourselves smack in the middle of a swirling and splendid first snowfall. Surprise, motherfuckers!

Fat wet flakes floated all around us, settling on our coats and in our hair. I imagined we were trapped in a snow globe and laughed joyously as we dashed across the street to the theatre. A brilliant surprise first snowfall.

first snow yonge and dundas

first snow

The flakes were enormous and sticky. As we settled into our seats we wondered what kind of scene we’d be greeted with in two hours time when the movie was over. Maybe we’d be snowed in! Then we’d have to live off of popcorn and fountain sodas for the next couple of days while we anxiously awaited a ragtag group of unlikely heroes to dig us out. Maybe the power would go out and we’d be given some rain check vouchers and a bunch of awesome free shit to pacify us because they couldn’t finish screening the movie. Or better yet, maybe there would be so much snow that cars would be left buried and abandoned. Yeah, and there’d be a full blown riot in action. We could loot ourselves a sweet new snowmobile and scoot our way home through the hysterical masses. Oh yeah, I’d totally be up for a bit of light looting to cap off our date.

But, as it so often is with all of my daydreams, such was not the case.

That first snowfall was fickle. When we left the theatre we were met with sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows; everything that’s wonderful.

sunny snowy day

sunny snowy day 2

Well, not exactly that. But that would have been cool too, dammit. Another daydream dashed by stupid reality. But it was a lot nicer out than I was expecting. Although it wasn’t as extensive a first snowfall as I’d have liked, it did leave in its wake a beautiful view of the city. One that I can admire from the warmth of my apartment.

view of snow from above

IMG_2371

Surprised and delighted by the first snow of the year, I can’t wait for more. There are plenty of opportunities for my zany winter fantasies to come true this year. I believe in the magic of winter, and think that the first snowfall is a hopeful time. A time for wishes and dreams aplenty. A time for thinking about the future, and planning ahead. It’s a time for thoughtfulness and reflection. It can be a difficult and frustrating time, too. The cold, the rapidly shortening hours of daylight, the impossible driving conditions, the constant barrage of snow. It can feel eternal at times. But it is easily endured by those that choose to embrace it, rather than fight it. They don’t call it The Great White North for nothing, my friends. You can learn to love it, or move.

I’ll survive the frigid winter weather with my fingers firmly crossed inside my woolly mittens, hoping. Wishing on snowflakes, and dreaming on every visible puff of breath that escapes my lips. Because that’s how I like to be.

Always hoping, eternally hopeful.

Best Laid Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOTHERFUCKER!!!!

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

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

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

richie rich

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

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