All Wrapped Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A badass new frying pan for The Magpie

Cheese knives for my beloved sister

Cheese knives for my beloved sister

Damn you metal flap!

Damn you metal flap!

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

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

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

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

Much better!

Much better!

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

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

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

Outside the Lines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mini dino craft

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

small pencil

small pencil 2

small pencil 3

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

ages 8 to 88

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

crazy road map

road map

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

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

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

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

finished

final product

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

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

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

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

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

Pinch Me

I got to live one of my dreams last week.

I have a lot of them, actually. I’ve always got my sights set on something, so there’s no shortage of dreams in my life. And I would say that I’m living them constantly. Because I have a wide range of dreams. From things that are very easily achievable, like eating at Wendy’s twice in one day or starting up a colony of sea monkeys for my desk at work. Then there are dreams of a more complex nature. For instance, having a freak accident that transforms me into a super-powered mutant or time travelling to 1968 to dry hump a young Charlton Heston in his mega-hunk days. And there are tons and tons of dreams that fall between the foolishly simple and absurdly impossible ends of my dream spectrum.

And that’s really the key to achieving your dreams. Make sure you have a shit-ton of them, all of varying degrees of difficulty. Then when you achieve a bunch of the smaller ones you’ll feel fucking amazing, and the big ones won’t seem so daunting. Now I know that some of my dreams might not ever come true, I accept that. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t keep having them.

Dreaming is fun. It’s my most cherished pastime. And once in a while I get some seriously awesome results…

Barenaked Ladies concert. The dream I’ve held onto the longest and treasured the most. I’ve wanted this so badly, with an aching pain, from the very instant I first heard Steven Page’s dulcet tones and Ed Robertson’s gorgeous harmonies. Their voices floated through the speakers and found their way to my grateful ears. By the time I’d completed my first full listening of Gordon the band had already claimed a permanent residence in my heart.

Now this dream may seem like it fits into the easily achievable category given that I’m Canadian and the band lives in Toronto, but it hasn’t been easy at all. Circumstances beyond my control have thus far prevented me from ever being able to see them live. But I always promised myself that the very second the opportunity arose, I would pounce on it.

And pounce I did! D won a contest at work because he’s such an industrious fellow. His reward was 2 concert tickets to any event in Toronto this year. Because he’s such a wonderful boyfriend, we had ourselves some freaking Barenaked Ladies concert tickets lickety-split! That, or I was just forceful enough in my insistence that the tickets be used to accomplish one of my most treasured life long dreams that he couldn’t turn me down.

Actually, I believe it was the lack of any upcoming concerts for any of his favourite groups that saved the day. But that’s just a minor detail.

I could have bought the tickets, like a normal person, sure. But I’d just shelled out a wad of cash back in April for me and D to see Muse. And there’s something about seeing one of my all-time favourite bands for free that just feels so right. We were able to save our cash for more noble pursuits once we got to the concert. Like multiple bubbas of beer!

It was a beautiful night for a concert, a perfect night for dream fulfilment.

walk to concert

We met up for dinner after work and then walked to the Molson Amphitheatre. We got there with plenty of time to spare, so I immediately made my way over the concession stand so I could grab myself a t-shirt. You have to, it’s just one of those things that’s non-negotiable. It’s your favourite band, you’ve never seen them live before, you better buy yourself a fucking t-shirt. The dude who sold me the shirt told us that Ed Robertson was actually down on the pavilion just playing some tunes for the onlookers. It was awesome. I couldn’t see him that well because word had gotten out and he obviously started drawing a crowd. But what a rad dude! He could have just been hanging out backstage getting wasted before the show, but instead he chooses to give the early bird fans a rare treat.

And then, because he’s even more awesome than that, Ed also made an appearance on stage to play with Boothby Graffoe, who was on deck first. Accompanied by the immaculate Jim Creeggan as well I might add. I love him so much more now because of that. Thanks Ed!

Ed on stage

The opening act, Guster, I had never even heard of before. But they blew me away. I’ve been listening to them incessantly via the internet ever since that night. But I will definitely be picking up some of their CD’s on my next stop off at HMV. Because I’m the only person on the planet that still listens to actual CDs obviously. I love when that happens, a solid opening act that you can enjoy exploring afterwards. I’d always wanted to see Ben Folds live too, so it was an added bonus that he was part of the tour. It was fascinating to watch him work those deft fingers of his along the keys. He was truly captivating. And when he closed the show with “Song for the Dumped” and threw his stool at the piano, I thought the crowd was going to riot. He worked us up to such dizzying heights. Truly, we were enraptured by his greatness.

Ben Folds

I was drinking a lot of beer. It was starting to worry me that I was going to miss the start of the main event because I kept rushing off to piss so often. But luckily I had good timing. The tell-tale reverence that washed over the boisterous crowd announced the start of the main event. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting half of my life for. The moment of truth so to speak.

Barenaked Ladies took the stage and started playing “Limits”, the opening track of their new album. That nervous lump of anticipation in my throat quickly gave way to feverish excitement. This is it, and its so surreal. I let myself get lost in it.

BNL

BNL2

It was everything I’ve always been dreaming about. When they played “Brian Wilson” my heart felt so full. Like a tiny little piece of it had been missing this whole time and had finally been filled. I gushed and sighed and exclaimed how truly happy I was to D.

And I wasn’t the only one feeling the magic that night. There were TONS of drunk people! I saw a guy walk right into a wall. I saw a guy being escorted out before the show was over with puke all down the front of himself. I saw a girl passed out on the lawn outside the stadium, who refused to walk any farther and insisted to her friends that she just needed a little nap. I overheard this really drunk guy telling a girl he just met how truly beautiful she was and that he hoped they’d meet again one day in a pasture. It was incredible.

I know that my photos of the concert are super crappy. Not even close to capturing how fucking awesome it was. If you want to check out some really stunning pics from the show, you can see them here courtesy of Aesthetic Magazine Toronto

It ended too suddenly for me though. I wish it could have gone on forever. But that’s not how dreams work. They’re fleeting, and therein lies the magic. When you’re lucky enough to achieve those dreams you hold most dear, you can’t quibble over the details. You have to be thankful, so that your other dreams can come true too.

Thank you dreams. Thank you for coming true.

I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

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

I guess I was making him nervous or something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D and I

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

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

 

Happy anniversary baby. I dig being your boyfriend.

Summer Reading Roundup

I fucking love reading. I love it so goddamn much.

When I was younger I practically consumed books. The newest R.L. Stein was lapped up hungrily, then washed down with a healthy double digest of Archie. When I wasn’t acting a total nuisance to my parents, wreaking havoc on the household with my sisters, I was quietly stowed away in some corner of the house with my nose buried in a book. You name it, I read it. Dr. Seuss, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Kids, Roald Dahl, Goosebumps, Tales of Redwall, Hardy Boys, Pippi Longstocking, and The Chronicles of Narnia. All present and accounted for.

I especially loved books in which teachers were aliens, people turned into animals, or ventriloquist dummies came to life at night. Those were the best books. Filling my head with fantastical stuff of that variety is probably why I’m such a weirdo today…

I’d even read at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping. It was stealth reading. I’d stand by the window, balancing precariously on the nightstand, and push the blinds aside. I pinned them against the glass with my shoulder to keep them out of my way. Then I’d tilt my book in just the right way, letting the glow from the streetlights outside illuminate the pages. And I’d stand there reading until I was tired. I’d have to be careful not to lose myself completely in my book, otherwise I might not hear my parents checking up. I couldn’t get caught, that would be big trouble. But it was worth the risk, and I loved every minute of it because I was greedy for reading.

And to this day my greed for reading has not yet abated.

I tend to read a lot more in the summer. Seems odd, I know. But there’s something about a spectacularly hot summer day that drives me to read. Summer is hardly even underway, but I’ve already burned through a bunch of awesome shit on my summer reading docket. The stuff I’ve been reading lately has been so fucking rad. So good that I’m reading on the subway to and from work. Which I normally wouldn’t do because its not enough time to really immerse yourself in the story. And you always get cut off, having to leave the train, at the most ill-timed moments. But I can’t help myself! The stuff I’m reading is too good. I just can’t wait another second to get back into the thick of it.

I have to share it. I can’t keep all this goodness to myself, that just wouldn’t be right. So if you’re looking for something really rad to read this summer, then I’ve got just the thing for you. Providing your tastes run a little oddball like mine, naturally.

SMASH’S SUMMER READING ROUNDUP

1) American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

American Gods

This one is going to take you for a wild ride. It’s the story of Shadow, a man whose life is irrevocably changed by a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger. A stranger who introduces him to a motley assortment of Gods who were brought to America by the immigrants of our history books. Belief in these archaic gods has dwindled dangerously, putting them at odds with the gods of our present day. A war of epic proportions is brewing, the outcome of which could be catastrophic.

It’s riveting. Written in such a way that reader is directly deposited into Shadow’s shoes from the start. We meet our protagonist, and we immediately sympathize with his plight. When his journey begins, it’s confusing and weird at first. You’re confronted and confounded by a number of strange characters. You’re not sure what’s happening or why, but you know that all of it is totally illogical, nonsensical. Through the myths, legends, and tales of the immigrants that brought their gods to America which are interspersed with Shadow’s narrative, you begin to see. You’re awakened. Things start to click, and you start to believe. You see, you experience, you learn, and discover the power of faith right along with Shadow.

It’s strange and quirky, brimming with intrigue. It keeps you hanging on, worrying and wondering how it will play out. Simultaneously surprising and amusing, it’s worth your time. Gaiman is a masterful storyteller, and if you’re not familiar with his work then you need to get familiar.

I loved it. I give it a 9/10.

2) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game

Ender Wiggin is taken from his home and all that he knows at the tender age of six. Because it is believed that he is the militaristic genius who can save earth from impending doom. He’s taken to battle school where he is mercilessly trained by his superiors in the art of war. The world government believes that they need to groom remarkably bright and capable children for a life of military success to protect earth from alien invasion and the subsequent domination or annihilation of the human race that is sure to follow. And they are coming, it’s irrefutable. A child of staggering strategic genius is our last resort. Will he rise to the occasion or get crushed by the onslaught of challenges heaped upon him at battle school?

I mean, come on. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? This is the quintessential work of science-fiction. Space travel, aliens, intergalactic war, cutting edge weaponry, null gravity fight sequences, and more! This book has got it all. It’s fast paced and exciting. Ender is an awe-inspiring character. His brilliance knows no bounds. But for every soaring success he experiences, Ender is met with shattering lows. His success comes at the cost of his innocence. Earth’s safety is insured through the manipulation and exploitation of a little boy whose been robbed of his youth, forced to grow up way too fast. Literally, the weight of the world is on his shoulders. You want him to succeed, but you pity him. And you’re appalled by the measures taken by the commanders to groom Ender to perfection.

I simply could not put this book down, it is an absolute treasure. And I’m really looking forward to the movie adaptation later this year. Perfect score, 10/10.

3) Desperation by Stephen King

Desperation

Desperation

There’s something evil afoot in Desperation, a small town in Nevada. More evil than you could possibly imagine. One by one, road weary travellers are picked up on interstate 50, just outside of town, and taken into the custody of the town sheriff. A family on vacation, a young married couple, an aging writer, and the town drunk are tossed into jail cells and terrorized by the maniac sheriff. But little do they know, he’s the least of their worries.

It’s everything you’d expect of a King novel. Grisly and gripping, sparing not a single gory detail. It’s frightening, but you can’t stop reading. There’s a creepiness about it that really burrows into you. I read this book over the course of two weeks. I do the bulk of my reading at night before bed. Which probably isn’t wise with horror fiction, but I couldn’t stop myself. And it had an impact, that’s for sure. Every night for the two weeks that I was reading this book, I had nighttime episodes, completely unbeknownst to me. It was only when D commented on it that I found out it was happening. He asked me what was up, said I’d been weird at night lately. When I asked him weird how, he told me a number of bizarre things. I was screaming bloody murder in my sleep, flailing my arms wildly. A couple of times I also leapt out of bed in a panic, pulling back the curtains and screaming at the bedroom window. I’d have a total freak out and then go back to sleep like nothing had happened. It was Stephen King, working his creepy magic on me. As soon as I finished the book, the nighttime episodes stopped.

It’s thrilling, it’s chilling, it’ll literally get inside of you. It’s not my favourite work by King, a little too heavy-handed on the God and prayer stuff, but it was a worthwhile read. If you can stomach horror fiction, then go for it. I’d say it gets a 7.5/10.

BONUS: D and I watched the made for T.V. movie version once I’d finished the book. It was spectacularly cheesy. The only real scares coming in the form of creepy crawlies. Snakes, tarantulas and scorpions. Watching that shit wriggle around on-screen scares the bejesus out of me!

4) Batman: Haunted Knight by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Batman: Haunted Knight

Batman: Haunted Knight

This is a compilation of three Batman Halloween Specials written and presented by the iconic Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. While working on these three tales of Halloween in Gotham City, Loeb and Sale were inspired to create The Long Halloween, which is my favourite Batman story to date and one of the most beloved works in the Batman canon. My favourite of these three stories is the second one, “Madness”, in which Batman squares off with The Mad Hatter, a psychopath whose moniker is derived from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He’s a challenging enemy for Batman because the reference to Carroll reminds him of his mother. Fighting Mad Hatter dredges up painful memories. The flashback sequence of Bruce reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with his mother just hours before her untimely death is gut-wrenching. We see the charming and precocious Bruce interacting freely with his mother, the emotional barriers we are accustomed to with Bruce Wayne have yet to be constructed. It makes you wonder what might have been, and if you love Batman as much as I do, it tears at your heart.

The artwork is sublime, and the stories are highly enjoyable. Easily, 8.5/10.

5) Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan Jr.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned

A mysterious plague has wiped out every single mammal with a Y chromosome on the planet. All of the men and male animals, dead. All of them except two. A young man named Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. For some reason they survived, as did all of the females. Yorick is now the last man on earth, and that is some serious shit to deal with. He’s got to keep his ass safe while trying to figure out what happened. It’s not exactly the repopulation fantasy some would think. It’s a hellish nightmare, every day a struggle to survive in an unfamiliar world. A world overrun by unruly, grieving, angry females trying to cope with what happened. Feminist extremists, power-hungry female politicians, and deadly secret services agents are engaged in a power struggle of epic proportions. And word’s just gotten out that there is a live human male roaming around…

This is a newly discovered series for me. I had been hearing nothing but good things about it, and I can happily say that all of the praise is warranted. It’s original and unique. The first volume in the series setting up what’s sure to be a remarkable adventure.

I can’t wait to rush out and grab the remaining volumes! Undoubtedly, 9/10.

So there you have it. The best of what I’ve been reading this summer. I can only hope that maybe there’s something there that piques your interest. Or maybe you’ve already read some of these titles. That would be even more rad because if you have we can chat all about it!

Or maybe you’ve got some totally awesome recommendations of your own that I can add to my list?

My Cool Nana

I’ve got a cool Nana.

One of the things that makes her so cool is her youthfulness. She’s got that joie de vivre in spades.

She gets her hair did regularly, and always has perfectly polished toes. She wears stylish outfits because she’s in the know. She’s got a beautiful, charming laugh that matches that knowing twinkle in her eye. When she hugs you, you’ll feel better, even if there isn’t anything bothering you. Because she loves you unconditionally and that’s all that’s ever really mattered. She’s funny and sassy, quick-witted and astute. She’s got a keen sense of humour and knows how to use it, much to everyone’s delight. Nana’s so with it, she even reads my blog! Encouraging, generous, compassionate, and wise. I could just keep saying adjectives all day… But simply put, she’s a cool fucking Nana; she’s the best.

my cool Nana

my cool Nana

When I was a puny little girl I always looked forward to the days when we’d all pile into the car and head over to Nana’s house. Going for the day was great, but a sleepover was even better. She had a big house out in the sticks, and a great big backyard with a rickety old swing set that we loved. Squeaky and rusting from the years of gleeful appreciation. And there was a sweet sandbox that housed all of our most inventive sand creations. We didn’t build castles, we built legends. If it was rainy, we’d spend the day inside. There was a pool table in the finished basement that we ran tag based games around. It was also a superb foundation for blanket forts! And there were trunks upon trunks of glorious toys down in the basement. The arsenal of toys within the many trunks had been amassed over the decades and were kept on hand for when her rambunctious grandkids came to visit. It was perfect.

Whenever I’m told to picture my happy place I picture myself, eight years old, on a visit to Nana’s house…

Top priority for Nana was keeping us fed the whole time we were there. And that suited me just fine. Nana loved to feed people, and I loved to eat! The time spent at her house, whether it was a couple of hours in the afternoon or a whole weekend sleepover, was an eating marathon. You’d get there, give Nana a hug, then tell her you were STARVING. At least, that was the first play I’d always run. And she’d happily agree that you were a skinny little thing and had better get some cookies into you quick.

There was a perpetually full jar of cookies on the kitchen counter, just waiting there for you. In the cupboards you would find a surplus of chips, crackers, candies, fruit snacks, and other such sundries that would have fed us through a nuclear crisis. The big old freezer in the garage was loaded with ice cream and popsicles. There would be trays of sandwiches made up for lunch. Tuna salad, egg salad, salmon salad, chicken salad. Anything that could be mashed into salad form for sandwiches was there. And an array of deli meats too. Bologna, turkey, ham, salami, etc. The whole gang was there! The sandwiches would be cut into fours, diagonally of course. To this day, I still eat my sandwiches that way. They must be cut into fours, diagonally, like Nana would do.

We’d eat, then play. That was what you did at Nana’s house. Eat. Play. Eat. Play. Eat. Play. Eat. Play. Then eat some more!

Nana was funny. She played with us, and goofed around a little herself. She’d clean us up when our adventures got messy. Then she’d encourage us to go have another one. She’d feed us whether or not our tummies rumbled. She taught us lots of jokes and games. And we learned lots of endearing colloquialisms from her too. Saying kitschy things like “Jesus H. Murphy”, “piss ‘n’ vinegar”, and “shakes of a lamb’s tail” she was a regular old poet to us. There wasn’t a problem in sight that Nana couldn’t solve. Nothing too big or too sticky that she couldn’t handle.

…what I wouldn’t give to go back in time and have one more childhood visit at Nana’s house.

I’d long ago forgotten one of my most cherished of Nana’s culinary delights, though. It just slipped through the cracks of my mind, evading recollection for many years. It pains me to have forgotten this at all, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes, when you’re growing up. You’re always pushing and being pushed forward. Forsaking the childishness of your past for pursuits more befitting your current age. But I still felt bad about forgetting.

My sister and I were talking, I’m not sure how it came up, but she mentioned Nana’s Pizza Sandwich. I was a little puzzled at first, brows furrowed, straining to grasp onto the memory. Then it hit me. It was if someone had reached into my head, grabbed the two halves of my brain, wrenched them apart, and blew all of the cobwebs out with a formidable gust of wind. Nana’s Pizza Sandwich.

OF COURSE I REMEMBER IT! I LOVE THAT SANDWICH!!!

We were picky eaters. Not Mar so much, she was more open. But Erika and I were, without a doubt, picky little bastards. I spent most of my childhood turning my nose up at the shit on my plate that I didn’t understand. It’s gotten better over time, it usually does. But there are some things that shall never grace my plate again. Things like broccoli, Kraft Singles or Cheez Whiz, lasagna, and scalloped potatoes. Shit like that, you know, things reasonably deserving of my ire. Because of our picky eating habits, Nana invented this slam-dunk sandwich. Sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. She knew that we were fiends for pizza, so this would be an easy victory.

And it was. We wolfed our pizza sandwiches down like mongrels. Then asked for seconds!

She used a sandwich maker. An old, electric sandwich maker. You could hear a faint buzz when it was plugged in, starting to heat up. The most minute humming as it awakened. It filled the kitchen with a strangely delicious aroma. The smell of sandwiches past. Once it was nice and hot, the sandwiches would be popped into place, and the lid would close. You could hear them sizzling immediately, the blackened cooking plates pressing their magic into the bread.

Oh yeah, I remembered it all so clearly now.

A couple of weeks after we’d had that conversation I got an email from Mar, with an online coupon for a similar type of sandwich maker. I immediately printed it, and headed over to the Kitchen Stuff Plus store in my hood after work. With my coupon, I only paid 10 bucks! Even if my sandwiches turned out to be the biggest pieces of shit ever, it was worth it. For 10 bucks? You got yourself a deal!

I rushed home, beyond excited to test this bad boy out.

worth every penny

worth every penny

Basically, you’re just making a standard grilled cheese sandwich with a couple of slight variations. On the inside of the bread, I swipe some pizza sauce, add the slices of cheese, and then some pepperoni.

Nana's Pizza Sandwich in the making

Nana’s Pizza Sandwich in the making

Then you put it in the sandwich maker and let the magic happen. There’s no temperature setting. Just a red light and a green light. You put it in there and wait. Check occasionally to make sure you’re on track, and then take it out when you feel that it has been cooked through to your liking. I like mine just a little bit golden. Crispy, but not burnt.

The wait was agonizing. I was anticipating greatness, trying to recreate something so beloved from my childhood. And I was happy with the end result when I saw it sitting there on the plate, ready to eat.

hot off the $10 grill

hot off the $10 grill

gooey middle

gooey middle

But I was a little nervous, taking that first bite. I bit down gingerly, exploratory. For all intents and purposes the texture was exactly the same. It tasted good. But it wasn’t quite the same as the ones Nana used to make. It was delicious, albeit empty.

Probably because I was hoping too hard. Hoping for a taste of yesterday. Hoping to resuscitate a feeling, long since dead.

Am I crazy? What did I think was going to happen? That I’d take a bite of this sandwich and somehow travel through space and time back to Nana’s house? Back to eight years old? Come on Smash, you didn’t really think…?

Yes. That’s exactly what I’d been thinking. In a secret corner of my dorky little brain, right before I sunk my teeth in, I’d entertained those thoughts. But I guess there’s a little more to time travel than a $10 sandwich grill and some pepperoni. For 10 bucks though, it was worth a shot.

At least I’ve still got my cool Nana, and our memories. I know she remembers those days gone by, just as fondly as I do.

Something Different

D and I both come from suburban backgrounds. Quaint places.

The kind of places where people leave their doors unlocked. Where modest homes with lovingly manicured lawns line the streets. Where the two and three kid families reign supreme. Where hot dogs, birthday cake, chicken pox, bicycles, inflatable pools filled with icy cold water in the summertime, swing sets in the backyard, friendly neighbours, and sidewalk chalk are absolute certainties in your life.

Our meals were square. At least, that’s what the parents always said. “Mmm, now that’s a good square meal,” they’d say as they plopped an overflowing plate in front of you. It was always heaping. A heaping plate of pot roast with mashed potatoes, and carrots/peas/green beans/corn/broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower. That was how it worked. You got a meat, some sort of potato side, and a vegetable side. Usually some bread ‘n’ butter too. Gotta make sure you’ve got the four food groups all present and accounted for. Then maybe you’d have dessert. Something mom had baked that day, possibly.

It’s the classic suburban formula for a good square meal.

Our parents didn’t deviate from it often. If they did, a pizza was delivered. Or if you wanted something really different, you’d order Chinese food. Sushi was something that wealthy weirdoes in movies ate. Nobody had ever heard of tapas before. There was no differentiation between Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, or Japanese. That stuff fell under the all-encompasing “Chinese” umbrella. Mexican consisted of Old El Paso taco kits. And Indian? What are you even talking about?

2% milk, red meat, white bread, and potatoes. Those were the staples in every suburban grocery cart. Terms like “organic”, “gluten free”, “locally sourced”, and “free range” weren’t part of the vocabulary back then. We weren’t so aware of our food or conscious of our consumption. We just ate. And we ate what we knew.

In my school days eating was hedonistic. The four food groups had been reduced to a mere two: pizza and beer. We were 18, we didn’t care. We thought we were invincible. Immune to the pitfalls of a predominately carb based diet. The summer sojourn at home eating my ma’s square meals was like a stint in rehab. Shocking myself back to health with proteins and vegetables.

When it came time to grow up, move out, and start cooking for ourselves we were awakened unto a world of possibilities beyond pot roast and mashed potatoes. It was daunting at first. The landscape had changed. Suddenly, there was a lot more choice at the grocery store. We didn’t have to stick to the square meal blueprint of our childhood. And we wouldn’t program the number for the local pizza joint into the speed dial. We were gonna have to learn to feed ourselves. Honest to goodness adult meals.

D does most of the cooking. He’s good at it, and he likes it. I like dreaming up cool things for us to eat. But when it comes to the kitchen I’d much rather draft the plans and watch someone else bring my ideas to fruition. And then of course, savour the success.

Some of our recent successes include:

Butter Chicken

Indian is the shit. Straight up, I dare you to eat some butter chicken and not fall madly in love. A creamy, dreamy tomato based sauce and some spicy basmati rice. We’ll usually make some samosas to go with as well. It’s a killer combination, and it’s easy to make. Or so D says. Sweet + Heat = Greatness. Indian food is very fragrant though. Not only in taste, but in ambience. Your apartment will have a distinctly Indian smell for the remainder of the night. Of spices and curry galore!

Butter Chicken and Basmati Rice

Butter Chicken and Basmati Rice

Pierogi & Calabrese Salami

Credit for this meal goes directly to my girl Joce-Force. We feasted like kings on these one night at her place, and I’ve been hooked ever since. You see, most people serve them with bacon. But Joce had a stroke of pure brilliance when she paired them with the Calabrese salami. The pierogies have a nice crisp outside and a tender potato center. That Calabrese gets so crispy. Just a few minutes in the frying pan and it is perfection. It’s got some kick to it though. Again, it’s that magical combination of subtlety and heat. And if you really want get nuts with flavour all up in your tastebuds, dip a bite of it in tzatziki. I insist, you simply haven’t lived until you’ve tried it!

Pierogi!

Pierogi!

Asian Five Spice Stir Fry

This is something we’ve had to experiment with a lot. I’m very picky when it comes to rice. Unless it has that exact right flavour I’m looking for, then I don’t feel compelled to eat a lot of it. But, after many trials and tribulations, I think D has nailed it. I don’t know what goes into it, but I sure as hell dig it. The only thing I know for certain is that D started putting Worcestershire sauce into the rice. And it seems to have been the crucial ingredient when it comes to pleasing my palate. We’ll also cheat a bit and make some frozen spring rolls, for the crunch. But I decree frozen spring rolls perfectly acceptable in my kitchen. Also, please note that my portion is entirely devoid of broccoli. That’s very important. No Broccoli, you shall not pass!

Stir Fridays

Stir Fridays

I have one specialty in our kitchen. One thing that I can make that will knock D’s socks off. But we don’t eat it very often. That’s because it is a major indulgence. When you just want to carb the fuck out, come see me. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

Smash’s Gut-Busting Calzones & Cheesy Breadsticks

You can’t even get through the title of that dish without clutching your stomach can you? Well, just wait ’til you see the pictures!

Calzone, Smash's way

Calzone, Smash’s way

Carb overloading

Carb overloading

And, I’ll even share my secrets with you lucky readers. One time only!

I get some dough, and let it rise. Then I roll it out to an acceptable thickness for pizza. I generously sauce one side of the dough, and then load it up. With pepperonis and cheeeeeeese! And usually some mushrooms and green peppers for D. We use turkey pepperonis, and they are delicious. They’re nice and thin, so they warm through quickly in the oven. Once it’s been stuffed, you fold over the other side of the dough and pinch it shut with your fingertips. Pinch, pinch, pinch! You’ve gotta pinch it firmly shut so it doesn’t bust and gush all over the tray when it’s baking.

Right before they go in the oven, I brush them with garlic butter. The butter is heated to a fluid consistency. It absorbs nicely into the dough and spreads easier that way. Set the oven to 400 and bake for as longs you like. If you like them crispy, keep them in for a solid 20-25 minutes. If you like them a little more soft like we do, 10-15 minutes should suffice.

And while the calzones are baking, I take the leftover dough and twist it into breadsticks. I twist out the dough, then douse the pieces lovingly in the leftover garlic butter. Shredded cheese is then sprinkled on top. These bad boys only take about 5 minutes or so. And they are worth it.

Better than crazy bread

Better than crazy bread

Cheesy heaven

Cheesy heaven

And the trick is, to save some of the sauce you used inside the calzones. Dipping these breadsticks in the savoury tomato sauce is a rare delight.

I’ve successfully weened myself off of pizza pops, but when I’m feeling just a touch nostalgic I’ll make my grown-up version of them instead. My supernova-sized, overstuffed calzones. That hits the fucking spot, man.

We’ve come a long way from our little sheltered homes in the suburbs. Grown up some. From square meals and ramen noodles in the dorm to delectable dinners crafted by our very own hands. There’s no Pot Roast Tuesdays at our place. Our meal planning hinges on my many whims and our passion for experimentation. Not to disparage our backgrounds, or our respective parents’ cooking. I do still love me some meat and potatoes with a tall glass of 2% milk. But more often than not, I’m seduced by variety. Enchanted by change. That’s always the way isn’t it? After much monotony people like to get them some strange. Do something different.

And trust me, strange has never tasted so good.

We Be Ballin’

Spring is here now in the city. It’s here for reals this time. No more glorious sunny day fake outs followed by five days of shit. It’s not testing its toes anymore, its long since cannonballed off the deep end. And it brought with it long weekends, baseball games, birthday parties, barbecues, weddings; all kinds of social engagements to occupy my time. Because Spring knows how to party. It’s fantastic!

The only downside is that it keeps me so busy that I barely have time to blog. And I’ve had many a drunken adventure since my last post…

We road-tripped it north to my dad’s on the Saturday of the long weekend. We spent the whole day outside. And it was an immaculate day! Sunny, blue skies, nary a cloud in sight. We basked in the sun, played bocce ball and threw some horseshoes. We caught up, we laughed. We even ate dinner out on the dining hall sized picnic table my dad built a few summers ago. It easily fits 10-12 people comfortably. We feasted like kings too! On perfectly grilled T-bone steaks, creamy mashed potatoes, and asparagus picked fresh from the garden that day, just to name a few of the highlights.

My favourite part of the day though, was playing with this little cutie:

Bogie the dog

Bogie the dog

Sunday morning we got up early. It was a special day. We had an internet date with Joce and Harry! I’d been looking forward to it all week. It’s been a couple of months since they left, and we’ve missed them terribly. It was so great to see their smiling faces and chat again, like we used to. It was early for us, but they were rocking some beers, ready to have a good time. They’re having an absolute blast and I couldn’t be more excited for them. No matter how far away they are or how zany their adventures are, I’m grateful we have the ability to stay connected. Because let’s face it, I’m greedy; I need as much of their huge smiles and good vibes as I can get.

We also reunited with some old friends. From my wilder days. And yes, I assure you, there were much wilder days. These days, I’m a lazy, old, domesticated house cat by comparison.

A large group of us got together for the Toronto Blue Jays game on the long weekend Monday. It was fucking awesome!

We love our Jays!

I love going to the ball games. It’s just the place for me. You’re encouraged to get drunk and scream until you’ve lost all vocal capability. Baseball games were made for me. Much like that girl with Tourette’s that Deuce Bigalow took out to the ball game, I fit right in. I’m loud and I curse like an old-timey dock worker. Baby, I’m home.

A gorgeous day. The sun rocked us through the open dome. The fans were rowdy and excited. And the best part? We kicked the Rays asses!

Gotta support the team

Gotta support the team

I’d missed my friends. It felt so great to catch up with them. All this time had passed, it had literally been years since we’d seen each other, and frankly its shameful that we allowed it to go on that long! After the game, we hit the bar to keep the good times rolling. Truly excellent.

It was our first game of the season and it was invigorating. I gushed to my boss about it the next day at work. How much fun we had and how great our city’s team is. How it was the perfect way to cap off the long weekend. Which I guess stuck with him a little. Because when he was given plum seats for the game that night and couldn’t find anyone else to go with he offered them to me and D. What a rad freaking boss I have! I couldn’t believe our luck, so I jumped on the tickets. D raced home to get our jerseys because you’ve gotta be prepared. You’ve gotta show the team all the love that you’ve got.

We were so close, I could have whispered my hatred for Escobar and he would have heard it. More importantly, I got to tell our boy Bautista how much we love him!

I'd know that stance anywhere...

I’d know that stance anywhere…

What a rush! We were right in the middle of all the action. You could smell their sweat, sticky and stinky underneath us in the dugout. Stinking like champions. Foul balls were flying over our heads all night. Encarnacion’s bat even went sailing through the air right over us, landing a few rows behind our seats. It felt like we were in the game. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I can’t say enough how thankful I am to my boss.

here come our Jays

here comes Lawrie!

Bautista, Rasmus, Cabrera

Bautista, Rasmus, Cabrera

Normally, I’m a cheap seats kind of girl. I dig the atmosphere up in the nosebleeds, and buying cheaper tickets saves me more cash money for beers. But I get why people would shell out for the good seats. It’s a completely different way to watch the game. I strongly encourage any fans out there to do it at least once if possible. Fly yourself close to the sun, just shy of getting burnt. There’s no way you will ever regret it. Even though we lost this game, I left feeling like a winner.

We were invited to the game the following night as well, but we were bloody exhausted. It hurt us to take a pass on it, we were heavily invested in that series already. But for the sake of our health, we had to turn it down.

Another work week comes and goes. And what do you know? Friday night it’s time to party! And we’re ready, we’ve sufficiently recovered from the weekend before.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ODONES!!!!

birthday girl

birthday girl

I friggen’ love you man!

What a terrifically drunken night of celebrations. We went to Berber Social down on Front Street. It was to die for! The food was incredible. All these great sharable dishes. We had beef keftas, inverted fish tacos, arancini, fingerling potato chips, and so much more! If you love to eat as much as I do, this place is worth your time.

the party crew

the party crew

my lovey

my lovey

looking good buddy

looking good buddy

We drank, we laughed, we talked for hours. Then we wound up down the street at the Firkin to catch up with some more people. Where the partying continued!

Jagerbombs!

Jagerbombs!

peas in a pod

peas in a pod

bromance is in the air

bromance is in the air

The following morning was a little rough, I’m not gonna lie. It took an unfathomable amount of effort to keep those Jagerbombs down. But eventually I was feeling good enough to scrub the shit out of my apartment. I really needed to clean it, and I wasn’t going to let some little hangover get in the way of that. I went nuts on the bathroom, scrubbing every exposed surface within my sight. Then I tackled the kitchen. Ran the dishwasher, hand washed some delicate shit, sorted out the fridge, and detailed the microwave. I also vacuumed and dusted. Brushed all of the little Harvey furs off the couches.

It was exhausting, but it felt amazing when I was done. It’s some sort of high. One that I’ll always enjoy. That of an utterly tidy home. I warned D that if he fucked any of this shit up, I would have his head for it.

We reunited with more friends that night, having them over. We stayed in, keeping it casual. Although, that didn’t stop one of my Tequila and Pom juice shots from making my buddy Clark puke! The wild days live on indeed.

It’s been totally awesome these last few weeks. There’s always something to do, someone to see, something to celebrate. I live for these hectic and heady Spring days. And as great as it is to stop momentarily and remember it all, I’ve gotta get back out there. There are a bunch more party times to come. They’re all desperately counting on their dose of Smash to spice up the night.

Hmmm. Maybe I’m still a rambunctious tomcat after all…

Ring-a-ding-ding

Finally!

Finally I get to wear my engagement ring. Now I’m starting to feel like it’s a reality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t wear rings. I never have. My entire life up to this point, I’ve lived it totally ringless. For one reason only. The paralyzing fear that a ring would get stuck on my finger. It happened once when I was little and scarred me. I was never the same again.

It was a nice afternoon; sunny, summertime. I’d used every available wile in my arsenal to sneak away from nap-time. My mom worked nights and had three rambunctious little girls all very close in age. My dad worked all day. She had to work at night and be a mom during the day. Sleep was just peppered in wherever it could fit. So every afternoon we’d have to have naps with her. And because we weren’t particularly trustworthy, we’d all have to nap in the master bed together with my mom. So she could keep an eye on us and catch some Z’s herself.

I hated it though, I never wanted to nap. More often than not I’d just lay there, eyes closed deceptively, biding my time. Eventually, everyone’s breathing would slow down just enough. And I’d know they were out. I’d take my time, slinking inch by inch towards the end of the bed. I couldn’t jump off the side of the bed because I was put in the middle to prevent just such a thing. So I slinked and slid my way to the end of the bed. I was stealthy. I slipped off the bed without a peep. Then I crawled, very slowly towards the door. I pushed it open with the utmost care, making sure it didn’t creak. Then, once I’d crawled through it, I would shut it just as tenderly as I’d opened it.

Yes! Home free at long last! I’d scuttle off to my room for some quality play time. And it was the best. I didn’t have to share my toys or play nice. This was my time and nobody was going to tell me what to do. Not my parents, not my sisters, not anyone. My room was an oasis, filled with treasures for the taking. And I revelled in the splendour of it that day. A little bit of colouring, blew some bubbles, made a few play-doh figures. Like I said, it was a nice afternoon. I was going to play with some dinky dinosaurs next. I’d just have to find them first. Most likely in that wooden abyss on the other side of the room. Otherwise known as the toy-box.

I was rummaging around, looking for a triceratops for the T-Rex to eat when I noticed the ring. Some piece of crap ring. Either from a machine at the grocery store or a birthday party loot bag. Just sitting at the bottom of the toy-box. I grabbed it and shoved it on my finger, forcing it over the knuckle. I admired it for a minute or two, then decided it was lame.

But when I tried to take it off, it wouldn’t budge. Uh oh. I tried again, the ring stayed put.

Bad, scary thoughts starting swirling around my head. I was going to be trouble, big trouble. I snuck away from nap-time again. Third offence that week, an offence worthy of a spanking. It never occurred to me to sneak back in and maintain a ruse that I’d napped. I just played and played, wrapped up in my own little world, until they all woke up and I was caught red-handed. And this time I’d be caught with this disgusting little ring stuck on my finger. Which was starting to look slightly purple. Hell, I’d probably lose my finger long before they woke!

THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME!

I started to panic. I really just freaked the fuck out. My heart thumped in my chest, I thrashed around wildly on the floor while I wrenched on the ring. Desperately struggling with all my might to liberate my finger. It wasn’t working. Nothing was working. This is it, this is how I’m going to die I thought to myself. I’d never been so scared in my whole life (up to that point anyways.) I started to sob, silently into the carpet.

Just when I’d resigned myself to the loss of a finger, and possibly death, a thought occurred to me.

Water. Soap and water. Lots and lots of soap and water!

I dashed into the bathroom and cranked the faucet full blast. I scrubbed my hand furiously with the bar of soap. The ring started to turn around my finger. I kept at it. Dousing with water, scrubbing with soap, turning the ring. Round and round it turned, a little bit further up my knuckle at a time. Just a little bit more, come on.

Finally, I felt it give and I was free.

The ordeal was over. I breathed the most grateful sigh of relief and dried my hands. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The wide-eyed girl looking back at me was visibly rattled. Still worried that someone would find out what had happened and there’d be hell to pay.

I poked my head out into the hallway. The door to the master bedroom was still closed. I couldn’t believe my luck. They were still napping! Nobody had heard a thing.

I went back to my room and resumed playing, quietly. I swore to myself that I was never going to put a ring on my finger again. They were nothing but trouble. Evil. Pure evil, sent from the depths of hell to destroy you.

Then D went and flashed me the bling. It was beautiful. Nothing like that piece of crap that had traumatized me some 20 years ago. It was too beautiful to resist. I put it on, nervously at first. I had to be brave. I had to champion that old fear of mine. So I forged ahead, bravely popping that rock on my finger. Unfortunately, it was way too big. D had to make a complete guess at the size. He had absolutely no point of reference. It sucked that I couldn’t wear it, I genuinely wanted to.

We took the ring in to be sized immediately once we’d gotten home from our trip. A week later, we got the call that it was ready. I was so excited. For the first time in my life I’d been given a ring that was made just for me. I was going to wear it, and I wasn’t going to be scared of it!

D went in and grabbed the ring while I waited in the car. When he came back, he handed me the ring, anticipating my happiness. I put it on. I had a slight difficulty getting it over my knuckle. But, I reassured myself that it was fine. They were professionals. They had measured my finger, so it was going to fit perfectly.

I looked at it for a minute. Something didn’t seem right. My finger looked kind of smushed to me. A feeling of dread swept over me. It’s too snug. They made it too small. I tried to get it off and it wouldn’t budge. I was instantly transported back in time to that summer afternoon when I snuck away from the nap. I started to freak out, pulling at the ring. I twisted and pulled. After a minute or two, I was able to roll it off my finger.

“Fuck that shit,” I said. Shaken and upset again. My old fears coming back to haunt me.

Mar was with us at the time. She tried to reassure me that it was fine, it would loosen up over time. But I knew that wasn’t the answer. Something was wrong.

I went back into the store with D this time. We asked the girl behind the counter to check the size of my ring. It was the same girl who did the sizing for me a week ago. I didn’t find her particularly helpful the first time we’d met. She seemed like she’d rather be anywhere else. Unenthusiastic and dim. Those are the two words that best describe her.

Sure enough, they’d fucked up my ring. It was a size too small. I was livid and I let this girl have it. Tore a strip right out of her, I did. She gave me a half-hearted apology and said that they’d size it again. Another week of waiting…

We got the call, and went out to get it this weekend. I wasn’t holding my breath. I told D, “when you get it, ask them to measure it and make sure it’s the right size. Don’t even bring it back to me if it’s wrong or I will flip the fuck out.”

frig you ring

rocking the bling

Luckily for everyone involved, this time it fit. Perfectly.