Books I Read: Inaugural Year 2017

Sometime in April 2017 I decided to start keeping a list of all the books I’ve read since the start of 2017. I can’t remember why, but I did. It was easy enough to remember everything I’d read as of January because I’ve long run out of upright storage space on my bookcase and started keeping two distinct piles stacked on the shelves: books I’ve just read and books in line to be read. I got the list up to speed based on the books I’ve just read pile and then from there, whenever I finished a book, I wrote an entry for it in the list aptly titled Books I’ve Read This Year. 

Riveting stuff, surely.

And now I present to you, my readers, said list:

  1. What Alice ForgotLiane Moriarty
  2. End of Watch—Stephen King
  3. All the Missing Girls—Megan Miranda
  4. Ready Player One—Ernest Cline
  5. Never Knowing—Chevy Stephens
  6. God-Shaped Hole—Tiffanie DeBartolo
  7. N0S4A2—Joe Hill
  8. The Good Girl—Mary Kubica
  9. The Perfect Stranger—Megan Miranda
  10. Horns—Joe Hill
  11. The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger—Stephen King
  12. The Dark Tower 2: The Drawing of the Three—Stephen King
  13. The Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands—Stephen King
  14. The Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass—Stephen King
  15. The Dark Tower 4.5: The Wind Through the Keyhole—Stephen King
  16. The Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla—Stephen King
  17. The Dark Tower 6: Song of Susannah—Stephen King
  18. The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower—Stephen King

I was hoping to get the list to 19 before the year was out, it’s a Dark Tower thing, but alas, my quest for the Tower took me right through to December 30th and I didn’t feel up to starting a new book so soon after that epic and heart-wrenching journey was done just for the sake of 19.

So 18 it is, not too shabby. That’s exactly 1.5 books per month. For someone who worked a very demanding job and has a lot of other varied hobbies, I’m glad I managed to find time for some good stories.

The year started out relatively light, with some Liane Moriarty. I like her. You might know her best as the author behind Big Little Lies, the book that the Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman HBO mini-series was adapted from. What Alice Forgot gave us a woman experiencing a Dickensian epiphany of sorts. She loses sight of what matters in life and a bonk on the head resulting in amnesia helps her revert to a decades younger version of herself, reliving the past decade secondhand, learning how she stumbled and gradually grew into an abhorrent version of herself. Then of course lessons are learned and Alice gains perspective. At least Ebenezer Scrooge only lost one night of sleep. Poor Alice lost a whole decade!

End of Watch was awesome, the final instalment in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy. I liked the second story of that series best, Finders Keepers, but this one gave us a fitting end to the trilogy.

I got sucked into the Megan Miranda books by the Indigo hot-sellers displays and they were okay. Quick, entertaining summer reads. All the Missing Girls is the better of the two, with The Perfect Stranger feeling like a repetitive, watered-down contractual obligation by comparison.

Ready Player One seriously kicked ass! Man, that book was so cool and endlessly entertaining. From the very first page right through to the last I was hooked. Classic nerd sci-fi/80’s nostalgia mashup fun galore! I was excited to hear that it would be a movie in 2018, but then I saw the trailer and well… BOOOO! Just based on the trailer alone, there’s no way that movie is going to capture any of the awesomeness of the book. Read the book, get wrapped up in it, enjoy it. Afterwards, let’s all agree to pretend that a movie version doesn’t even exist.

Never Knowing is officially the worst fucking piece of garbage I’ve ever read. It is the current leader in the “How the fuck did this even get published???” championship bowl. For real. Whoever wrote the summary on the book jacket deserves a prize for being able to polish that humongous turd just enough to make someone like me, who has an exceptionally honed eye for bullshit, purchase it. I want my $6 back Indigo value bin. The concept was intriguing, it could have been good. A woman who was adopted goes looking for her biological parents and finds out that her mother was the only survivor of a violent serial killing rapist, who is still at large. Sounds like it could be really good, right? Unfortunately, all of that potential was spun into shit, not gold, by the most hackneyed excuse for a writer since E.L. James. Does this woman even understand how people actually talk to each other in long-term relationships? Here’s some free insight for you, Chevy Stevens: men and women in their fucking 30’s in a committed long-term relationship don’t call each other “baby” every single fucking sentence they speak to each other. Unless they’ve been lobotomized. And if you interact this way with your partner, you need to stop. Like, right now, because I guarantee you are annoying the absolute fuck out of everyone in your lives.

God-Shaped Hole was an emotionally draining read, but in the best possible way. I got deeply invested in Beatrice and Jacob’s relationship and loved that Tiffanie DeBartolo provided a recommended playlist for this book. My love for Jeff Buckley was reignited and I spent most of May and June listening to his album Grace on loop as a result of reading this book.

The Good Girl was another inconsequential thriller with a hyped up “you-can’t-see-it-coming-plot-twist” that was easily predicted within the first quarter of the book. Meh.

This year I discovered how fucking awesome Joe Hill is, and so much like his dad, Stephen King. Even if I had no idea who he was, his writing would immediately feel eerily familiar to me, having read as much King as I have. N0S4A2 is dark, creepy, thrilling, and exciting. Charlie Manx is as vile a villain as there ever was and the imaginative plot is immediately enthralling. Loved it, would highly recommend to anyone who wants a good spooky, action-packed adventure. Horns was stellar too, I read it the week we were in the Dominican, and while it might not be the general population’s idea of a “vacation read” I couldn’t put it down. I relished every minute spent with Ig while his newly sprouted horns compelled everyone around him to express and enact their innermost fucked up thoughts and desires on his path to uncover his beloved Merrin’s true killer. Read Joe Hill, he rules!

Then, towards the end of July, I felt compelled to finally start my quest for The Dark Tower. I bought the first four books a long time ago and they sat on my shelf, idling. I don’t think my heart or my mindset were in the right place to start an epic journey until the second half of 2017. The movie was coming out in August and I stupidly assumed it would be an adaptation of the first book, that it was going to be a Harry Potter kind of deal, 7 books = 7 movies, give or take. So I finished The Gunslinger, and I was halfway through book two, The Drawing of the Three, when D and I went to see the movie. Imagine my complete disappointment when I left the theatre after a 90-minute oversimplified, boiled down glimpse of the entire series.

That fucking sucked. As a standalone movie for D, who was never going to read the books and just wanted to watch it with me, it was fine. There were cool scenes, and good action. But there was no heart. There was no time to even get a sense of who Roland Deschain is, one of the greatest tragic anti-heroes I’ve ever come to know and love. That sucks, man. Most sacrilegious of all there was no ka-tet! No Eddie Dean, no Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker/Susannah Dean, and no Oy! We didn’t get to gear up for an epic quest at all. Shows over folks, make sure you put your garbage in the bins on your way out.

I carried on with my quest to read the rest of the series by the end of 2017 and I succeeded. I loved and cherished every single second of it. I know it gets a lot of flack from fans who read the series in painstaking real-time, waiting years between books for another instalment, but I especially loved book 4 Wizard and Glass. That was my favourite book of the series. People who complain about how it didn’t advance the quest because it was all Roland’s backstory disappoint me. Roland is our dinh and we get to experience a deeply insightful, formative period of his early life firsthand. We get to know his first ka mates, Alain Johns and Cuthbert Allgood personally! We get to experience his first love with Susan Delgado, and his first heartbreak. We get to learn more about how Roland strategizes, how he plans, how he outsmarts his opponents. What an absolute privilege to have a writer give you that rich backstory. If you’re not going to enjoy the journey, why are you even questing in the first place? That’s the reason guys like Stephen King take on these epic storytelling endeavours, because they have rapt readers who want to get immersed in the story right alongside them. We don’t care how long it takes, hell they can make it last even longer if they want and we’ll gladly savour every delicious morsel of tale they can provide. If you’re just reading something to know how it ends, I don’t think you understand the point of reading to begin with.

So there you have it, the list of books I read in 2017. I didn’t really start the year with a plan or a direction, I just read what appealed to me and added it to the list when I was done.

I’m going to start a list for 2018 as well and see how it goes. I think this year I’ll add a note for the date I finished each book, just to see how that looks. I love reading and doing this allows me to look back on a year of reading and appreciate all the adventures I had.

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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.

New Project!

Hey dudes, I’m very excited to announce that I have started a new project. This is something that I’ve been working on for a little while now, and I’m ready to launch.

The Kingdom

So head on over to The Kingdom to check it out.

Basically, I’m just working my way through the entire Stephen King library, reading and reviewing it all. And hey, maybe we’ll even watch a couple of the movies and T.V. shows too. My hope is that this project will accomplish two things:

1) I’ll have a shitload of fun

and

2) I’ll actually start using my brain cells again instead of drowning them in booze

So if you decide to come along for the journey, you’re super awesome and I dig your style, man.

I’d Like to Thank the Academy… The Liebster Award

What a wonderful surprise!

The Liebster Award

Littlejenmo of ThinkJunk has nominated me for my very first blog award, the Liebster. What a darling thing to do. Thank you so much. To think, all this drinking and cursing is starting to pay off! The first thing I’m going to do with my winnings is… oh, wait a minute, just reading this thing fully. So, there’s no big cash prize? Just the prestige then? Alright, well, glad we got that sorted out. On with the show!

The Liebster award is a recognition given to small bloggers by other small bloggers (max 200 followers), and the rule for the awards are:

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.
That’s easy enough. Thank you again to my friend at ThinkJunk

2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answering the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

4. Display the Liebster Award logo.

5.  No tag back thingy’s. (Which I assume means that the people I nominate can’t just re-nominate me?)

Part of the process is to share with you even more zany facts about myself by answering the questions that Littlejenmo so thoughtfully posed. Here goes nothing:

  1. What was your first ever blog post about?
    It was an introduction of myself to the inter webs and a mission statement. Some boring bit about why I started blogging.
  2. Where did you get your name?
    My friends call me Smash, not because I’m graceful. I’ve been smashing through my life since day one. Seemed like it might be Kismet?
  3. Who does your hair?
    The rats in my apartment. They gnaw a real nice ‘do.
  4. What is the worst thing you’ve ever smelled?
    Someone put their B.O. riddled armpit in my face during rush hour on the subway once. Doesn’t get much worse than that.
  5. What do your dreams look like?
    If they were ever made public, they’d look a lot like I’m about to get fired for sexual harassment…
  6. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever purchased online?
    A poster of Dave Grohl giving the finger. Which was displayed proudly on my bedroom wall for several formative years.
  7. Who gets to see you cry?
    “There’s no crying in baseball!” And now you know about a movie I saw once.
  8. What is your guilty pleasure?
    Currently, belting out Huey Lewis & The News songs at the top of my lungs when nobody is home and dancing as if I were a Frankenstein. Although it changes everyday. My life is rife with guilty pleasures.
  9. Who gave you your first kiss?
    For the sake of protecting the identities of everyone who is involved in this sorry tale, let’s just call him “Teddy Ruxpin” and leave it at that.
  10. What is in your pockets right now?
    This seems like a question better suited to someone actually wearing pants, or perhaps with pockets in their underwear.
  11. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
    My own witty quips at the expense of others, ha ha ha! So droll. But seriously, it’s laughter. I can’t live in a world without laughter. Or Super Big Gulps from the 7-11.

The blogs that I have chosen to nominate are:

  1. Travels for Two
  2. GingerPolitics
  3. The Dark Geek Rises
  4. The Merry Bride
  5. Auston Habershaw
  6. The Very Single Girl
  7. Sparkyleegeek’s Blog
  8. Hottywood Helps
  9. Batman To Be
  10. Finding the Funi
  11. 139 Hobbies

And now for the grilling of your lifetime. Here are the questions I have carefully crafted for my nominees:

  1. How do you take your eggs?
  2. What is the best concert you ever went to?
  3. What’s hiding under your bed right now?
  4. Worst book you ever read, maybe you couldn’t even finish it. What was it?
  5. How do you like your pizza topped?
  6. What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever eaten?
  7. What is the most played song on your iPod?
  8. Would you or do you go to the movies alone?
  9. When was the last time you got so drunk you couldn’t remember anything the next morning?
  10. Something that makes you smile, every single time you think of it. What is it?
  11. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Well, there you have it folks. My magnanimous acceptance of the Liebster Award. Thank you ever so kindly Littlejenmo. It’s been a slice!

To Jocelyn

If we were the kind of people who made grand speeches and gave lavish toasts, then the following is what I would have prepared and read on Saturday night at your going away party:

Sometimes I have to pinch myself. To make sure I’m not dreaming. To make sure that these past eight years really happened. When I look back on all the years of our friendship, sometimes its just too unbelievable. I’m in awe of my luck, honestly. That I get to have you as a friend.

Magical, wonderful, incredible you.

joss

We first met at Laurier, in our freshman year. Living in the same residence, on the same floor, sort of across the hall from each other. Completely random. It was all by chance that we ended up where we were. Although, maybe not… I’m not sure.

Maybe it was chance. But maybe it was fate. That’s another very real possibility. Maybe it was divine intervention. Yeah, I like that. That makes the most sense to me. If anyone ever needed a divine intervention in their life at that time, it was me. I needed it real bad. And so it was that The Gods of Friendship intervened. They knew just what to do with that bold and vivacious city girl and the seemingly square small-town girl.

joss n smash

I had fun in high school, sure. But my first year at Laurier was when I really started living. And I learned how to from you.

You got me my first fake I.D. so we could get into bars. Because partying in the dorm with a quiet hour starting at 11:00pm got old fast. We needed some freedom. We needed to go to the bars! To get wasted. To cause trouble. To meet boys. Older, cooler boys than the ones back at the dorm.

And we had such fun!

spurs

We drank, we danced, we laughed. We lived. I never wanted that year to end.

Until I lived with you and Sara at 42… that shit was crazy fun! It was way more crazy fun than even my wild imagination unhinged would be able to dream up.

us three

We had real chemistry as roommates, the three of us. We just laughed all the friggen’ time!

We had the best parties. We had the wildest adventures. And we were always happy. Our house perpetually radiated an aura of hilarity. 42 was our dream house. From the sweet Rasta picnic table on the front lawn where we downed many a recreational beverage to the decadent gold curtains I’d hung on the living room window, our home was one of a kind. People knew that coming to our place meant having a good time.

Halloween:

halloween

Cinco de Mayo in December:

cinco de mayo

Pre-drinking on an otherwise boring Tuesday night:

predrink

Even just goofing around on a beautiful spring day. Hopscotch and blowing bubbles. Drawing chalk versions of ourselves.

hopscotch

Whatever it was we were doing, we were having fun. We were living the dream.

chalk us

But that wonderful time in our lives eventually came to an end too…

Graduation scared me. Graduation meant the end.

But it wasn’t. If anything, it brought us even closer together. We still got together regularly. Moving out of 42 wasn’t the apocalyptic nightmare I thought it would be. But you know me, I have a wild imagination and I tend to get carried away.

When the stars all align and the three of us do get together, I cherish it. My friendship with both you and Sara means everything to me. I’m so grateful that I have you for my friends.

I’m so happy for you right now, in this moment. I’m so happy that you met Harry.

joss and harry

He is just as hilarious and amazing as you are. How that’s even possible, I don’t know. Because you are incomparable to anyone I’ve ever met.

joss and harry again

And I’m happy that Harry shares your love of adventure and passion for living life to the fullest. You deserve that. You were meant for a lifetime of greatness, and I’m thankful that our friendship allows me a part in this great life of yours.

at the bar

Eight amazing years of friendship, so far, and you continue to inspire me. I think that what you’re doing, moving halfway around the world indefinitely, is courageous. And it’s so you! You would. You’re brave. You’re funny. You’re sweet. You’re unique. You’re all the things I’ve always aspired to be. You are a magnificent star, and you will excel at anything you choose to do in this life. Because you’re fearless, and you tackle every challenge you encounter head-on with your Joce-force!

joss sliding

playing twister

retro night

I’m really going to miss you. (At this point in the speech, I would pause and look meaningfully into your big sparkly blue eyes. The kind of look that only happens in movies, because its way too awkward in real life!)

And then I would say,

May the adventure you’re about to embark on bring you all the joy you seek to find and more. Wherever your travels take you, I wish you all the love and support my little heart can muster.

So, let’s all raise our mini regulation reds in honour of Harry and Joce, and their excellent adventure.

To Joce, to Harry, to Australia!

joss and harry 3

Cheers!

New Notebook

No matter how drastically our every day lives are changed by new technological advancements, there is one thing that I will always take comfort in. Writing. On a piece of paper.

There’s something mystical and rhythmic about physically writing something down. Watching the words as they form on the page, taking shape, coming to life. Flowing forth from the tip of a divinely fine felt-tip pen. Ink blacker than the darkest, scariest place on earth, under the bed.

Sometimes I take my time. Forming each letter methodically, in the most perfect cursive I can muster. Afterwards, staring lovingly at the words on the page. Extraordinary, I think to myself, taking pride in my exquisite penmanship. An exemplary work of art!

Other times I dash out an illegible jumble of marks on the page, haphazardly. Of the two, this method is far more common. And I am consistently confounded by these paltry scratches, that I don’t dare deem writing, when I need to refer to them later. What is that? An h or an x? A phone number or a serial number? Dammit, if you’d just take your time once in a while we wouldn’t be in this mess!

Every morning at the office, after I’ve checked and prioritized all of my emails, I take the time to write down my daily To-Do List. I smooth out the page. I give the list a date and a title. Both masterfully underlined in ink so red that, if he ever saw it, Rudolph would even say it glows.

Every entry on the list is numbered. Orderly. Organized. Powerful. Once this list is writ, I am unstoppable.

Computers break. Paper is infallible. This is a universal truth by which I live. You can always trust in paper. If the whole electronic system on which our company faithfully relies were to spontaneously forfeit its will to live, then at least I’d still have a grip on things. An ironclad, kung-fu grip on the reality of it all. Because I have my list. The list that I wrote out so meticulously.

The only thing I love more than writing my daily list, is writing my daily list in a brand new notebook. Oh the sheer ecstasy!

I spoiled myself absolutely rotten when I bought the new notebook. It’s delightfully thick. Cream coloured. With an intricate pattern of leaves imprinted onto the exterior covers. It’s got a bookmark, a ribbon, sewn into the spine. To drape purposefully across the current page.

And what a steal too, 75% off! From the ashes of the bargain bin at Indigo, a majestic phoenix arose. Those are some savings that a frugal gal of my ilk can really appreciate.

On Tuesday I filled in the last page of the old, terrible, used up notebook. Wednesday morning, I was ecstatic. I was going to take my new notebook on its maiden voyage. Giddy. Giddy giddy giddy!

I opened the cover. Inhaling slowly, savouring the smell of the fresh, unmarred pages. Oh yes, she will be mine. That was a weird thing say… possessive and weird. But it was an organic thought, occurring naturally. So it stays.

I took my time, writing. Filling up the lines with my graceful, sweeping cursive. Feeling powerful. Confident. Ready to take on the world. One list item at a time.

notebook