Knit 1, Purl 1, Knit 1, Purl 1…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

first knit rows

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

bulkier!

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

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

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

My first attempt knitting in the round…

in the round

Wearing the first scarf I ever finished…

my first scarf

Crazy leg warmers!

leg warmers!

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

peattie's scarf

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

wienie's cap

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

Harv's scarf

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

my fave scarf

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

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

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.

Balancing Act

I have got an absolute fuck-load of stuff going on in my life right now, and unfortunately it’s been getting in the way of my beloved blogging time. I only managed to write one post during February. One paltry post! That is unacceptable. If it weren’t for a couple of timely re-blogs, my blog might have slipped into a coma altogether and I’d be having a very difficult discussion with its doctor on the pros/cons of pulling the plug. But I’m still here, and I’m still trying to have it all.

It’s hard though, you know? I’m consumed by work, clocking around 50 hours on a good week, that is, when my workload isn’t paralyzing. I’m trying to plan my dream wedding, but keep getting thwarted by craziness and heartbreak. I just got some devastating news yesterday that derailed my whole weekend, and I spent all of Saturday night sobbing instead of relaxing, which I clearly need more of. I’m trying to maintain a semblance of a social life. I just renewed my dusty old gym membership so I can get all svelte and stunning in the hope that I don’t look like a sack of oranges for sale on the side of the freeway while wearing my wedding dress. And I’m trying to save some of my time for D, too. So he doesn’t feel like he’s getting hitched to the invisible woman. I gotta save some of my time for blogging, but at this point it’s cutting into the few hours I have left, hours that should be saved for sleep. But that doesn’t seem to matter anyways, because I just wind up spending a third of the allotted sleeping hours laying awake and thinking about all of this shit.

Deep breaths, girl. You’re starting to get carried away. That’s better.

To be fair though, I did waste an exorbitant amount of free time watching all of Parks and Recreation on Netflix because another part of the problem is that work is so draining right now that it’s difficult for me to do more than stare at the TV and drool when I get home. My brain is so overloaded, it might implode.

Even though I wasn’t able to post much last month, there were some bright spots to be had. I may seem a tad ranty and distraught now, but I did manage to find some fun and count a few blessings.

I got to catch up with my homies for a good, old-fashioned bust up at the local bar. We tried to go to two other bars first though, before we were finally let into The Rose and Crown. The first place we tried to go, we were rejected by the bouncer because “there’s too many jeans”. That is exactly how he put it.  Apparently, we’re all out of the sartorial loop. Screw that guy though, you’re supposed to wear jeans to the bar. He’s clearly an idiot on a power trip.

My drinking buddies

My drinking buddies

That’s not a very good picture of us, but this one of my buddy Clark bumping into the disco ball because he is ridiculously tall is pretty great.

disco ball

Disco Party Clark

I slipped and fell drunkenly in the street on the walk home, though. I ripped my new dress and messed up my foot something awful. Pulled some bullshit little ligament that I didn’t even know existed. But sometimes, you’ve just gotta get drunk and fall down. As long as you don’t go to sleep in the street, it’s all good.

Valentine’s Day was pretty great, too. I usually don’t care for it, but I think D recognized an opportunity for us to just forget everything for a couple of hours and spend some time together. He surprised me with roses when I got home from work, which never fails to impress me. Harvey was also impressed.

My other Valentine

My other Valentine

We had an incredible dinner at this Thai place in our neighbourhood. I felt special and loved. D is a marvel and I’m a lucky girl. Even though he just came in and interrupted my writing to tell me that we only have two packets of instant gravy and they are both mis-matched, one brown and one chicken, which for some reason sparked a bout of snippy bickering. But I digress.

I also ate the gooiest, most outrageously cheesy sandwich of all time. Another resounding pizza grilled-cheese success!

Another one for the history books.

Another one for the history books.

We’ve switched breads in our household. We’re now eating a kind called “Ancient Grains” instead of that bleached atrocity that I used to love, white as the driven snow Wonderbread. It wasn’t as cataclysmic a change as I had anticipated. The ancient grains bread is actually quite delicious.

My friend The Magpie had a baby. She’s away from work on her maternity leave, which sucks. But she’s living her dreams, so that totally outweighs any of the sucking. I can’t wait to meet her new little friend, although in a weird way, I feel like I already know her. I spent the bulk of The Magpie’s pregnancy calling her bump Scooter and encouraging her to stay in there a while longer.

So even though I haven’t had much time for blogging, I’m still out there trying to wedge awesome things into my hectic life wherever they will fit. No matter how insane it all feels at times, I haven’t been completely stripped of my positivity.

Everything does feel like such a disaster right now, yes. But these are all things that I wanted, I asked for this. Well, with the exception of the unstoppable flood of sobs that started yesterday and seem to have no end, obviously. But anyways… I guess I’m just going to have to find some balance. Is that why people do yoga? Seems like a lot of useless rolling around on the floor in spandex to me, but maybe I’m not looking at from the right angle.

All I know is that right now I have a whole bunch of feelings that I need to go and eat. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter, I’ll eat them. All feelings are ripe for the gobbling right now. So it’s a good thing I was able to spare 15 minutes of my time today for my good friend, Pillsbury.

Red velvet white chocolate chip cookies, I need you now more than ever.

Red velvet white chocolate chip cookies, I need you now more than ever.

Another Year of Awesome!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my beloved blog, Smashing Through Life!

It's a snake in a party fez!

It’s a snake in a party fez!

First off, welcome back Vincent the Viper, who proudly celebrated last year’s blog birthday with me while wearing a more traditional party hat. This year, Vincent is sporting a decidedly flamboyant party fez instead and I think he looks fabulous. During more lackadaisical times, my friend The Magpie and I entertained the notion of starting a business manufacturing and selling one-of-a-kind hats for fake snakes, but then real life got a lot more interesting in a hurry and we’ve since shelved that idea for the time being. Maybe we’ll come back to it again, when we’ve got some decent seed money pulled together. But anyways, that’s not what we’re here for today.

IT’S MY BLOG BIRTHDAY AND I’M REALLY FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT IT!

That’s why we’re here. Keep yourself on point, girl.

A lot can happen in a year, and I’m not saying that to be cliché. A lot really did happen to me in this past year. Some good, some bad, and some ugly too. I made some stunning 3-pointers, but I also spent a lot of time warming the bench, too. I genuinely enjoy looking back over a specific period of time and reflecting on the things that have happened in my life. It’s good for me, and it motivates me to keep reaching ever higher. I believe that my personal and professional development should never reach a plateau; I won’t let that happen. Not while I’m at the helm. If I’m learning and challenging myself on a consistent basis, then I’m growing and becoming a better me all the time. There is always room for improvement, and I’ve got an insatiable hunger for more. I’m always so eager to keep forging ahead, so it helps to look back once in a while. I need to make sure that I’m cutting the right path. That I’m living the life I’ve always wanted.

This blog’s mission, initially, was to act as an outlet for my frustrations and disappointments. It was an exercise in perpetual positivity. It was a place of refuge, an altar of optimism at which I could worship when I needed it the most. I was in a very dark place when it began, and this blog was my lifeline. It was a connection to the trademark brightness within, the brightness I’ve always been known for, but which was dimming more and more every day at an alarming rate. But it has since evolved, the aim has shifted. I don’t need to search for the positives in my life quite so desperately anymore because I’m surrounded by them.

This blog is continually evolving, just like me, and I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made together so far. It’s a place where I can chronicle my life, my adventures, and my many dreams in the most positive terms possible.

So, what have I done this year that’s so whoop-de-fucking-doo great, you ask? I’ll tell you!

Smash’s Top 5 Awesomes This Year

1.) I went on the vacation of a lifetime

I've never been this happy to be awake at 6:30am in my life

I’ve never been this happy to be awake at 6:30am in my life

D and I dropped everything and went on our first ever vacation together. And we made it memorable as hell by saving up the extra bucks and flying the extra miles to get ourselves a slice of Hawaii. It was unreal! The food, the adventures, the beach, the ocean, the people, the sites. We loved every minute of it. Going all out for our first trip together was definitely the right call.

2.) I Got Engaged (and set the date, too!)

 An old shot, from about 5 years ago

An old shot, from about 5 years ago. Super Retro Disco Party, obviously.

D and I have been together a long time. We’re coming up on eight years this summer, if you can believe it. I loved him from the first moment I drunkenly gazed into his sweet blue eyes, and there was never any doubt. But there was never any rush to get to the paperwork either, and he caught me completely unawares when he proposed during our aforementioned vacation. I tease him sometimes about being totally devoid of emotion, but he really surprised me that time. I don’t even question this decision at all. We go together.

3.) I Won Shitfest 2013: Fall

I fuckin' love this trophy!

I fuckin’ love this trophy!

Some of you will remember my graceful acceptance of the award from this wonderful post that our dear friend, The IPC, allowed me to share with you on his site. I don’t write a movie blog, but I love movies so I read a lot of movie blogs. And I love the movie blogging community that I’ve stumbled into on WordPress. I loved reading the posts that were entered in the first Shitfest, and when a fall fest was announced I knew I had to get involved this time. I knew a shitty movie that I could write about. A real fucking shitty movie. I just wanted to have some fun, and it proved to be an experience that I will cherish forever. I’ve got the trophy to prove it.

4.) I Started a New Blog

The Kingdom

I miss writing essays. I miss feeling scholarly. I long for my undergrad, on rainy days mostly. So I decided to start a blog to review the works of Stephen King, to sort of keep in touch with that part of myself that so loved turning in assignments. I’m just hanging out over there, doing book reports basically. But it’s a fun hobby, and I enjoy it. I’m not rolling out the reviews quite as quickly as when I first started the blog, but I am still trucking along and reviews get posted at least once a month. It’s a way for me to explore other facets of my writing, too, and that’s important to me.

And finally, saving the biggest for last…

5.) I Got Promoted

Always the consummate professional, jumping on the bed in my suite during a work trip 3 years ago

Always the consummate professional, that’s me jumping on the bed in my suite during a work trip 3 years ago

I’ve been waiting for this a long time. It was an exciting, albeit painful journey at times, but I’m finally moving in the direction that I want to go. I had never realized how deeply ambitious I was until I joined the workforce. Procrastination and indifference were my MO whenever I pondered that almighty “What are you going to do when you grow up?” question that seems to haunt us from birth. But once I started carving out my own way in the world, I found myself immediately hooked on ambition. It’s a heady device, man. I made the choice to significantly alter my career path a couple of years ago, and it’s all starting to come together now. The sky really is the limit, and I thoroughly enjoy reaching for it with all of my might. I’ve got plans and ideas aplenty, and I’m going to make a splash in a big way. Greatness abounds, when you’re willing to work hard for it. I love how it feels to earn my living, and being rewarded professionally for my efforts feels divine.

I’m not kidding around, you guys. I truly am kicking the shit out of life every day. And I hope to continue doing so, right here on this bizarre little blog of mine, for a long while yet.

Here’s to yet another year of awesome. Cheers!

Just Like Phoebe Caulfield Would

I love my desk. I just love it so much for what it is and how it makes me feel. I’ve been madly in love with it ever since I saved it from impending landfill doom six years ago…

Just another muggy summer afternoon. The air was thick with humidity and I could feel beads of sweat rolling down my back as I walked home from the bus stop. I was living at home with my parents again for the summer, working the same crummy minimum wage job at the salon. Finishing a rare morning shift–usually I had to work nights and close the joint up–I was looking forward to an evening unburdened by that responsibility. As I walked home, pondering possible ways to spend my free time that night, I noticed a big brown rectangle up ahead. Something past it’s prime that had been put out to curb, but I couldn’t make out what it was. I suspected an old dining room table, but couldn’t be sure. I kept walking toward my house, I’d be able to see it more clearly once I got close. Sure enough, it turned out to be a desk. Just sitting on the curb in front of a house up the street from ours.

I needed a desk for my room, so maybe I could have this one. I tossed my backpack on our front lawn and wandered up the street to check it out. I wasn’t getting my hopes up, furniture that’s been sent to the curb is usually busted, disgusting, or horribly outdated. But once in a while you can rummage something good up at the curb, and it was in my broke student nature at the time to salvage things instead of buy them if I could. So, maybe it would be worth a look.

My jaw-dropped and my heart fluttered in breathless unity when I finally got a good look at it. It was absolutely perfect in every way. Not perfect in the pristine sense; I saw its perfection in both its remarkable size and in my immediate attraction to it. It had a couple of minor dings, but that was fine by me. Those little scratches and bumps only lent it more appeal. My eyes gorged themselves on the enormous fake wood panelled monstrosity before me. It was everything I’d always dreamed of in a desk. Ever since the first time I read The Catcher in the Rye I dreamed of having a ludicrously big desk, just like Phoebe Caulfield did. So I could spread out.

I must have stood there marvelling at it for a full five minutes before my brain kicked into overdrive. A million fragments of thought, all revolving around the desk, raced around inside my head: OMG! Desk. Need desk. Good desk. Want desk. Have to get desk. Fuckin’ great desk, man. DESK!

I hurried home, running down the street like a maniac. I burst through the front door, frantically looking for someone to help with the heavy lifting. I knew I’d never be able to cart a desk this big home all by myself, no matter how determined I was. I needed more muscle. My step-dad was at work and my mom was out shopping with my youngest siblings in tow. The only person home was my sister Erika. At four-foot-eleven and weighing in at 90 pounds soaking wet, she just wasn’t enough muscle for the job. I grabbed the phone and called our friend Phil who lived close by, hoping desperately that he was home. Phil is big and strong, the right kind of fellow for this sort of job. As luck would have it, he was home. I begged him to rush over and help immediately. And being the good friend that he is, he did. With a handy helper solidified, I wasted no time getting back across the street to guard my new treasure. Because, you know, clearly I have impeccable taste when it comes to curb-side cast-offs and an item of such unique beauty is bound ensnare the hearts of a thousand greedy rivals. It was a situation requiring extreme action, get or get got.

I sat on the desk, guarding it jealously and waiting for Phil, he would be along soon. And then all of my wildest desk-related dreams could come true.

It was gruelling work, but together we managed to manoeuvre the desk across the street, up the driveway and into my room. It was heavy and awkward, like trying to carry a piece of Stonehenge home. A desk from the days of yore, when backbreaking weight guaranteed the buyer quality and longevity. No lightweight modern bullshit here. This desk is a wood panelled boulder capable of withstanding a nuclear blast and requiring no less than three people to move it. Well, maybe two exceptionally strapping people could manage. Like Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But then you’d have to buy them pizza for helping with the move, and they can eat a lot of pizza. But you don’t like to share… Ah well, it was never meant to be.

So, we had to make do moving the desk without the help of Ah-nuld and Hulk, and I had to shelve that daydream to focus on the task at hand. It was challenging, but worth every bit of strain. A thunderous thud onto the carpet announced the desk’s arrival in our home. And in that instant, my dream of owning an invasively large desk became a reality.

My mom hated my new desk almost immediately upon first sight. My step-dad did too. I don’t know why they hated it. The only semblance of a reason for their hatred that I can remember is an arbitrary claim that it was “too big” for my room. Which it wasn’t, at all, so their claim made no sense. I got relocated to the old master bedroom after they completed renovations on our house, and it was plenty spacious. I think they just hated it for the sake of hating. Their hatred was accompanied by threats to get rid of it when I went back to school, much to my chagrin. Empty threats, but nonetheless, worthy of inciting hysterics. Every threat to turn my precious desk into refuse was met with one of the following desperate pleas on its behalf:

  1. “You know how much I love this desk, so if you throw it out then you do so knowing that I will NEVER speak to you again!”
  2. “I’m going to pen an epic tome from this desk one day, so if you throw it out you’re basically throwing out my future.”
  3. “The only thing worth living for is that desk, don’t take it from me or you’ll be sorry”

Option number one, usually shouted instead of spoken, was used when I was feeling agitated or annoyed. Option two was a nugget of pure guilting gold. And option number three relied on the perfect amount of pitiable menace to convey my distress. Which isn’t always easy to muster in the heat of the moment, so I resorted to it less frequently than the others.

As it turns out, my parents aren’t total monsters and they didn’t do away with my beloved desk. It stayed exactly as it was, year after year, until I finally moved out on my own for good. And you can be damn sure I moved that desk right along with me. We’ll never part abodes again. Wherever it is that I decide to hang my hat for the remainder of my meager life, the Phoebe Caulfield desk will be there too. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love it so much. It’s my sanctuary. I clock some solid hours at this desk every week. Writing, brainstorming, watching Netflix, colouring, making mixed CDs, having FaceTime chats with my BFF on the other side of the world. I do everything at this desk. Nay, I do everything with this desk. We’re a team, we’re destined for greatness, and we’re in it for the long haul.

The Phoebe Caulfield desk has allowed me to spread out farther than I ever could have imagined possible. There’s something about this big clunky lug that has become a part of me. Sometimes you’ll put on a coat or a shirt or a fucking toupee, whatever, and the people you know will be all like “Oh blah blah, that whatever that you’re wearing is just so you!” Well that’s how it is for me and my desk. We go together.

my desk

Man, that Caulfield chick sure knew what she was talking about.

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.

A Weekend of Solitude

It’s been a hard go for me lately peeps, you know. Busted up that arm something rotten. Missed out on a whopper of a goal for this year. Been stressing about work. Feels like I’ve been a lot harder on myself lately. But by the end of last week, I felt the tide starting to turn in my favour again.

D went away this weekend. He left Friday afternoon before I even got home from work. And he didn’t come back until Sunday afternoon. I had the whole weekend all to myself.

SCORE!

No offense D, obviously you’re totally rad and I like having you around, but I was excited for this weekend. I can’t even remember the last time I had such an abundance of alone time. A whole weekend. All me, all weekend long. Totally awesome. I needed this.

Some people don’t like to be alone. Which is fine, to each their own. But I fucking love alone time. I would gladly venture that I love alone time even more than I love pizza. Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute. Those of you who’ve been around for a while know how deeply my love for pizza goes, so you know what a hefty statement that is for me to make.

I’ve always been a very independent person. When I was little people used to call me a loner and I thought that was a bad thing. I suspected that word was synonymous with defective in some way. Maybe some of my wires were loose, or I was missing a crucial part needed in order to be normal. Some people are born with stumps where their hands should be, right? So maybe there was a stumpy little place in my brain that made me be a loner. That was the first impression I ever formed of that word, having heard it often enough in a seemingly grim context, that a loner was someone who formed a little differently in the mould than expected. My sisters and I had a bunch of little chums that we played with growing up. And I’m one of five kids, so I had plenty of socialization all around me. But I just preferred being on my own.

If I was a loner and there was something wrong with that, well, it didn’t feel wrong to me. I liked it just fine that way. But what the fuck did I know, I was six the first time I heard that word for chrissakes. I also thought that the Power Rangers were real and that Vanilla Ice’s parents sure did pick a weird name for him. C’mon guys, if you wanted his rap career to have momentum that lasted longer than one crummy song then Black Ice was the obvious choice there. Der.

One of my best memories is when I got my acceptance package to post-secondary school and I found out that I’d been assigned to a single room. Fuck yeah, no roommate. FINALLY. I always had to share a bedroom with my little sister growing up and my biggest dream was to one day have my own room. Hallelujah! It was a frigging miracle. And I only had to shell out an extra $2000.00 bucks for the privilege, but it was worth every penny. Do you know how great it feels to jump on your own bed while doing a killer ABBA hairbrush lip sync without the fear of someone busting it on you and making you feel ashamed for being so goddamned rad all the time? I repeat: it was a frigging miracle when I got that single room. Space and time for days to kick out your jams in complete unabashed splendour. What’s not to love about that? And when you stumbled and fell awkwardly into the wall while you worked out the timing on your show-stopping twirls there was nobody there to see and laugh at you scornfully. Furthermore, there was nobody around to laugh at you for being a weird kid who enjoyed listening to ABBA in 2005. And who will admit to still thoroughly enjoying those magnificent Swedes in 2013.

I had all this wonderful freedom for the five years that followed. But then I stupidly fell in love and blah blah blah moved in with D. Again, I don’t want this to come off the wrong way because I love living with D. But when you live with your significant other certain quirky things that you used to enjoy doing on your own get tucked away into a dark little corner. Only ever to be seen again when gifted with an ever so elusive bundle of alone time. So you have to maximize it when you get it. You have to cram as many of those ridiculous things that are best done alone as you possibly can into your allotted alone time. You know, those things that you prefer doing without the ever-present shame land mines that lurk around every corner when you’ve got a cohabitant.

Here are the top 10 things I did with mine this weekend:

  1. Ordered enough Chinese food to feed six extremely hungry people on Friday night, but didn’t have anyone over and ate it for every single meal for the entire weekend
  2. Watched a Queen Latifah Rom-Com that D and I had been making fun of all week whenever we saw the commercials for it
  3. Pissed money away on a bunch of shitty gossip magazines that I read while watching the Queen Latifah Rom-Com and doing an at home facial
  4. Went on a five-hour long shopping spree and tried on no less than twenty party dresses
  5. Did extreme high-kicks while listening to The Ramones Greatest Hits at maximum volume
  6. Cried at the America’s Next Top Model finale because I was so happy for the person who won. She really wanted it bad you guys, okay?
  7. Laughed uproariously while watching Top Secret for the first time ever and then spent a solid 15 minutes after it was over imagining what it would be like to make out with Val Kilmer. Young hot Val Kilmer, not old fat Val Kilmer of course
  8. Sorted out my underwear drawer and finally threw some of the oldies away after realizing I possessed an unfathomable amount of underwear
  9. Bought new underwear
  10. Consumed an entire pint of Cherry Garcia and loved not having to share one single bite of it

free as a bird

Everything on this list is 100% accurate and honest. I may not wish to be seen doing these things, but I’m comfortable enough with my bad self to fess up to ’em. And remember, that’s only the top shelf stuff I did. There was plenty of other stuff I did that only gets more and more ridiculous to list. My wacky sense of imagination knows no bounds and it is a freaking delight when I really get to run with it. D grounds me. He’s good at pumping the brakes when the crazy train in my brain really starts to ramp itself up. But sometimes I’m curious to see how far it will take me if we just cut those damn brakes altogether…

I missed D, and I was happy to see him when he finally got back from a weekend of his own adventures. The occasional absence ain’t such a bad thing for a relationship. Looking back over my fantastically impressive itinerary from last weekend, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I lived like a god, a master of my own destiny. All alone, just me calling every single shot all day long. And it was glorious.

Alone time is ever so precious to me. If you really want to treat yourself right, I assure you it’s worth it to go be with yourself for an extended period of time doing only the things that make you happy. Shed the shame and indulge in your quirks for a while. Dream big dreams that wholly revolve around you, the kind of dreams that hectic every day life doesn’t tolerate. Push the limits of your whims. Soar. And when you come back out on the other side, don’t forget to stick the landing.

You’re gunna be alright after all, kid.

Getting My Fest On

I mentioned how rad October is already, yeah? It’s a fucking great month as is. But it is nothing short of spectacular when you get your ass to some Oktoberfesting festivities. And that’s exactly what I did last weekend. I Oktoberfested my ass off.

We stayed at D’s cousin’s house for the weekend. They live a stone’s throw away from Kitchener/Waterloo where the bulk of the Oktoberfest action takes place. They love getting out to the events every year, and we had a great time partying it up with them. We road-tripped up there with another one of D’s cousins and her boyfriend, which made our party 6 in total. We were ramped up for an excellent adventure that night.

For any party rubes out there, this post is a blueprint on how to get the most mileage possible out of a night at Oktoberfest. I’m providing a service here. You know, for a well-rounded night of Oktoberfest debauchery.

1) Look The Part

I love themes. A theme automatically gives your night of drunken fun a memorable edge over all those other nights of sad, themeless drinking in your dingy basement. You may not think it at first, but the theme “German” totally rules. You’ve got a fun colour palette to work with, steins of beer, delicious schnapps and jägermeister to shoot, archaic looking hats, all kinds of lederhosen, hot fräuleins in beer wench getups, polka, and lots of sexy accordion music. Embrace all of it. I have a hat that I’ve worn faithfully to ever Oktoberfest I’ve ever been to, and every year I treat it to some new pins. You’ve got to keep that hat current, so make sure one of the pins has the year on it. That big blue pin on my hat with Onkel Hans playing the tuba is from Oktoberfest 2010. Good times, bro. Every time I look at that pin the fun times come flooding back to mind. Oktoberfest and nostalgia are one hot couple. I’ll also try to wear either black, red, or yellow. Well, usually never yellow because I look like day-old vomit in yellow.

Oktoberfest look

It’s Oktoberfest 2013 haute couture

2) Get Your Gamble On

There are always plenty of black jack tables and Crown/Anchor wheels (which D affectionately dubbed Boats & Hoes many a fest ago) to be played at any event you attend. Benders are so much more fun when you throw gambling and counting into the mix. I know D just loves it when I sit there counting on my fingers to see if he got 21 or not. Or when I jump up and down yelling excitedly to strangers when I make four bucks on one epic spin of the old gambling wheel. Shake that shit up son! Get to the table and plonk down a whopper of a bet so the dealer knows you’re a power playyaa. Or stretch that five bucks out for miles making penny bets over at the wiener tables. There’s no wrong way, you can gamble however your heart tells you to. Even if you’re not really into gambling, the tables are a great place to meet people and watch as they spend their dolla dolla bills.

Oktoberfest gamble

The faces of winners

3) Drink As Much As Possible

This is why 95% of the people are here, after all. They want to get loose and go nuts, relive old times and recapture their youth. They want to drink as magically as they did the last time they were able to get to an Oktoberfest event, which may have been a long time ago. We always go to the more mature night, the one that attracts the 25-50 demographic. Don’t make the mistake of going to an event marketed to students. Waterloo has two universities and one college, so the student night draws an enormous crowd. The student night is sloppier, angrier, ruder, and more immature. Don’t get me wrong, that’s excellent fun when you’re in that sweet 19-23 year-old zone. But once you’ve outgrown that part of your life, you don’t need the bullshit anymore. The “real grown-ups” are a frigging hoot, and they like to get their drink on. If someone offers you a shot, you do it and then join them for another. When you’re in line for beer tickets, buy a couple more than you think you’ll need, just in case. You can never have too much beer at Oktoberfest. You’ll probably barf the next day, but barfing is part of it.

Oktoberfest chug

Double-fisting like I invented it

4) Enjoy the Band/D-Floor

Parties need killer music to thrive. I can think of nothing more killer than accordion based rock ‘n’ roll covers with a pinch of chicken dance thrown in for good measure. The dance floor at Oktoberfest is hopping with fun-loving peeps who can bust sick moves. I’m incredibly uncoordinated and prone to mock intensity when I dance. Anyone who has had the exquisite pleasure of sharing the d-floor with me knows that I’m all bouncing energy and limbs akimbo. I cannot be led, and my impulses cannot be tamed. But dancing and music are in my heart, so I get out there and just fucking giv’r til I can’t giv’r no more. This year, I even jumped up on one of the picnic tables to shake my butt. Security didn’t like that very much though. So try to keep it on the d-floor. Unless of course an irresistible urge arises. Then I say, go forth and table dance!

Oktoberfest dance

Rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ all night long

5) Hoover Some Delicious Drunk Eats

There is plenty of food to feed any fancy at Oktoberfest. Schnitzel, sauerkraut, wursts, cheeses, pretzels, baked goods, chips. You name it, they got it. And after all the drinking you’ve done, you’re going to need something hearty to settle it all down. Before our cab got in, I raced over to the concession and grabbed myself a hefty german sausage on a bun. I slathered that shit in the fanciest mustard I could find and dug in. I also grabbed some chips with the spoils of my gambling. D hates mustard, but he was hungry so his hatred was forgotten and I shared a few bites with him. We mowed down the chips while we walked to the cab, took in the beautiful starry night, and felt divine. We ate in a frenzy though, so I don’t have any pictures of the sausage. But I do have a great drunk picture of D!

Oktoberfest D

I love drunk D!

We had ourselves quite the time. I won four bucks gambling, I danced on a table, I stole some guy’s beer, I gave an Irish dude a fake number (good luck with that follow-up homie), I pissed off a security guard, I got some sweet new pins, I ate delicious food, then I passed out in drunken oblivion when we got home. A surefire recipe for a memorable Oktoberfest experience.

The following day I barfed in the car on our ride home. There was a bag, but it had the tiniest little hole in it and leaked ever so slightly on the car seat. The bag-o-puke got chucked out the window onto the shoulder of the highway as we were driving. I imagine it to have been quite a sight for other motorists. But like I said, barfing is part of it. I feel terribly about that, and I will make reparations to the driver, but a great night of boozing doesn’t go unpunished.

And Oktoberfest 2013 is definitely one for the boozing books.

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.

Overcoming a Bad Day

I’m positive, in general. Always looking for a silver lining to wrap around the bullshit. It’s not often that I falter in doing so. I’m resilient and strong, I can overcome my obstacles.

But sometimes, I have bad days too. Days when my heart hurts too much to try because seeing the good is damn near impossible for all the shit obstructing my view. When it feels like nothing makes sense. When it feels like every option will result in a loss. When my gut does falter because the negativity is overwhelming.

What do you at a time like that? What can you do?

Well, this is what I do:

1. Vent or Wallow 

When the weight of something truly awful presses down on my heart, the first thing I do is react in one of these ways. Maybe I’m so frustrated that I need to scream until my lungs  feel like they’ll burst right out of my chest. Or launch a venomous tirade against whatever it was that sparked my ire. I might need to sob because too many mixed and mangled emotions are struggling to surface all at once. Venting is good for that, releasing all the mounted pressures. But maybe venting isn’t a good option in some instances though, because I’m scared that such an overt reaction will leave consequences in its wake. Revealing those raw emotions to anyone before I’ve worked through them could be dangerous. It could be damaging to a relationship that I value or to my own reputation. In that case, I might need to wallow instead. Run away, shut down, freeze out, isolate. I need to allow myself to feel intense feelings, alone. I have to wallow.

2. Identify

I have to concentrate on the why of it all. Why do I feel this way? What about this situation upsets me the most? I let myself get lost in my thoughts. If I can figure out what it is specifically that I find upsetting, then I can confront it. If I can’t see the hurdle, I can’t ever leap over it, and I’ll just keep stumbling into it. So I need to afford myself the luxury of introspection. What did I do to cause the problem? Does a particular situation that arose impact me directly or does it merely include me? I know what happened that upset me or pissed me off, but I have to understand why it does if I expect to work through it. I’ll replay what went down over and over in my head, trying to see it from multiple angles. From that process, I can decide if this is something that I should address or something that I should internalize for the time being.

3. Confront

Now that I’ve gained some perspective, I have a more whole understanding of the problem and its causes. I can start to resolve it. I can talk to someone, maybe to explain my viewpoint or maybe to apologize for a wrong I’ve committed. I might just need to be heard and acknowledged. Or I might just need to have a moment of recognition for something I did and why it was bad. Denying my involvement in my own unhappiness is a disservice to myself. When I think about the greatest upsets I’ve experienced, most of which in the last three years have been in the work place, I recognize things that I could have or should have done differently to effect a more desirable end result. I can’t change the past, but I can prepare myself for tackling similar struggles more aptly in the future.

4. Accept

I’m very hard on myself. There are missteps I’ve made in my life that I still haven’t forgiven myself for. And it might take a very long time before I ever do. There’s no tongue lashing I could receive from another that would ever parallel the severity of the internal one that I will inevitably give myself when I fuck up. That’s because I expect so much from me. I have exacting standards for the kind of person I hope to be. I’m not hoping for perfection, that would be boring as hell. I’m just hoping that one day I can serve as an example for someone else. That my beliefs, actions, and experiences will be valued. I want to be valued as deeply as I value the core people in my life. This is the hardest step of the whole process, the one that trips me up the most because of how hard I am on myself. But I do my best to come out on the other side, making peace with myself and any current entanglement I face. I can forgive others, that’s easy. Forgiving myself is the hardest thing to do and I’m still learning how to do it.

5. Get Over It

Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day. An accumulation of crappy moments, conversations, interactions, and situations that just bring you down. Stubbed toes, rainy days, being belittled or insulted, having to eat salad, making a mistake on something important at work, jerks shoving me around on the subway, not getting along with D, Harvey ripping up my favourite shirt: if all of those things happened to me in one day I’d probably want to fling myself off the roof. But some days are going to be like that. So doing things that purge yourself of all the negativity helps. I like to laugh with D, or belt out my favourite tunes at maximum shitty singing volume while I jump on the bed, or down a few beers with my cronies. I try to find something wonderful about the right now that I can immerse myself in. Doing stuff like that reminds me that I’ll be on the upswing again in no time, because the bad can always be vanquished by the good. And I believe that, unequivocally, with ever fibre of my being.

I’m happy and positive most of the time, but shit pisses me off and upsets me too. I’m not perfect, and I don’t always shine as brightly as I’d like to. So, if it’s something serious then I need to deal with it. And if it’s just a bunch of crappy stuff that’s dimming my shine, then I need to get over it so I can shine through it. Shake it off and move on, girl! You can’t control everything that happens to you in this life. Good and bad things will happen, most assuredly. But you can figure out the best way for you to deal with the shit so you can move on.

I had a really bad couple of days this week, and I had to face down a very disheartening reality yesterday. Surprised and hurt by the unexpected, I’ve been letting the negativity I feel overpower me. But something much larger than me and my desires is in motion, something that can’t be stopped or changed. So I’ll do the work, following the steps outlined above, because it will help eventually. I’ll come out of this okay, albeit a little sad, because I know that I have the power to overcome the shittiest of days.

And I know that the sadness won’t last for long once I’ve found it within myself to shine again.

retro prom

Smash will shine this brightly again, in time.