The Imposter Friend.

aug16Sometimes, I feel like an imposter.

Sometimes, I fee like I struggle with my friendships.

This admission may come as a shock to anyone who I call a friend. And that’s not to say that I have a hard time making friends, I like to think that I’m pretty good at that, or that my friendships provide a sense of anguish for me, it’s not that either.

It’s actually rather complicated. Or at least, I make it complicated. Way more complicated than it has to be.

One of my best friends, Danielle, was recently in town. Though I only got her for about twenty-four hours, I was so happy to spend some quality time with someone that I love. We caught up, and she told me of all the things that were going on back in Halifax, in the lives of other people whom I consider really good friends. After helping her with her things into a car that would take her up island for the rest of her trip (okay, it was actually Brad who helped her), I wasn’t even back to my front door before I said to Brad, “I miss Danielle already.”

I thought about it a lot that day, what it means to miss my friends. Of all the people that I left back on the East Coast, Danielle is probably the one (besides my parents) that I talk to the most, and even then it’s not enough. We average a phone call maybe once a month (lately it’s been once every two months), but nothing could ever actually replace sitting on my bed together in front of the fan on a scorcher of a summer day, drinking ciders and laughing together as we tell stories. Every time we see each other, it’s some of the most fun, and it pains me to not know when I’m going to see her again, since there was a time when we saw each other sometimes multiple times a week.

It also made me think about my friendships with other people from back in my hometown. I haven’t been as good about contacting them to see what’s going on in their lives – and I feel terrible for it. And it’s certainly not for a lack of wanting to, I do so badly. I tell myself it’s the timezone – being four hours behind makes for a lot of planning when you want to call a friend. Calling at random sometimes isn’t the greatest idea. But part of me almost feels like I’ve been so shit at keeping in touch for over two years now, that trying to bridge that gap now would feel phony. Realistically, I know that this isn’t the case, I know that I get excited when I hear from a friend who I haven’t heard from in a while, and I certainly don’t feel like it’s a forced or not authentic connection.

But that doesn’t stop me from feeling the contradictory way that I do.

Even with friends that I’ve made in Victoria, I struggle to bring myself to reach out to them. I feel like I’m some manner of imposter. I’m a new friend in most cases, and they had full lives before I came into the picture. They’re far too busy and I shouldn’t want to make them spend time with me. Which is absolutely foolish. These people are my friends, and I’m sure would love to hang out, but it keeps me from pressing the send button when I compose a text to someone asking if they want to go grab a drink somewhere. I fear the rejection of people I consider friends, not wanting to impose on their already busy schedule, at the same time wanting to see them.

It doesn’t help that I often feel exhausted socially. I love people, and being around people, especially those that I love, but sometimes it becomes too much. There have been multiple times that I’ve left a party because the number of people there is overwhelming, or I’ve been there for a few hours and I just can’t do it anymore. I interact with people all day at my job, and sometimes when I leave my office at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is to talk to another person.

It’s a shitty feeling, especially when you actually want to talk to someone, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. It’s much easier to lay on your couch, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram thinking that counts as interaction with people. It’s a facet for it, but it doesn’t replace actual conversations with the people in our lives.

I resolved late at night, while lying in bed and thinking about all of these things, ultimately unable to sleep because my brain wouldn’t stop, all of the connections, all of the friends that I’m missing that I am going to get better about this. I’m going to text, going to call people, because I miss them and I want to know how they’re doing without having to go to Facebook. I’m going to reach how to the people who I want to talk to, and not wait until the next time I’m in town. I’m going to connect with people who I want to see, and not wait for the next big party.

I’m going to try to be a better friend. My friends deserve the best version of me that I can possibly be for them, and I’m going to give it them. Whether they’re here or there.

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The Hip.

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It was like hearing about an old friend.

Brad got up from bed and tossed me my phone while I rolled myself up into a burrito with the blankets. As I blearily blinked at my phone, scrolling through the notifications I received overnight, I saw it.

“Oh no,” I whispered.

“What is it?” Brad asked, still half asleep.

“Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.”

It’s been national news for days now. The lead singer of one of the greatest bands in our nation’s history, a band that is iconic Canadiana, diagnosed with brain cancer late last year, the band doing one last tour this summer to say goodbye, a country heartbroken. We never anticipate losing someone as influential and prolific as Gordon Downie.

In the back of my mind, part of me thinks it almost fitting that the band waited until after the May long weekend to announce the news. Few backyard barbecues, camping excursions, journeys to the beach, trips to the cottage, are complete with music from The Tragically Hip serving as a soundtrack. It’s almost as if they wanted to give us one last weekend accompanied with the warm winds of an impending summer, before a degree of sadness  became attached to their music.

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There isn’t a time that I can remember when the Hip weren’t a part of my life. I guess I can thank my parents for having radical, kick-ass taste in music for that. Their music featured heavily in my youth, especially when away from home. Whether it was on a drive to New Brunswick, or playing late at night by the camp fire, they were simply always there, the songs from Fully Completely and Road Apples on repeat until the tape deck gave out. Whenever a new Hip album came out, you’d better believe that Dad had it in his possession within weeks.

I always enjoyed the music of the Hip, but naturally, didn’t begin to appreciate the lyrics that accompanied the entrancing riffs until I was older. Their songs explored the themes of Canadian geography and history, water and land, all motifs that became heavily associated with the Hip. Songs such as Bobcaygeon, 38 Years Old, and At the Hundredth Meridian – which referenced the Christie Pits riot, the real-life escape of 14 inmates from Millhaven Institution, and line of longitude that separates much of Western Canada from the Central and Atlantic regions of Canada respectively – received heavy air-play on Canadian radio, but also had something to say, something to teach us. Yeah, the music was fantastic, but you might learn something as well.

Despite having been a fan since I was a child, I’ve never seen them live in concert, always thinking to myself, “I’ll see them the next time they come through town. The Hip will be around forever.”

Well.

It feels almost cold to be looking forward to this upcoming tour. While born of the release of a new album, also born of the band and Gord’s desire to say goodbye to their fans, to Canada. I don’t want to look forward to this because it’s seeing a dead man walking. But I am. Because as Gord wants to say farewell to all of us, I want to say goodbye to Gord as well.

And thank you.

More than anything I want to say thank you.

Taking Stock // March

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March was lovely! With the fog of the dreariness that is February finally gone, I too seemed to finally get out of this haze. With the longer and warmer days finally upon us, I found myself looking for reasons to actually go out and enjoy the sunshine. Brad and I have been walking a lot (as it is our preferred method of transportation), so it’s been nice to stretch our lazy muscles after the winter in the warmth of spring. And is it just me, or did March seem to fly by much more quickly than February?

Toward the end of the month, my uncle and aunt came to visit my cousin and his wife (who also live in town), so that meant that I got to spend an evening with some extended family. It was wonderful to see David and Margaret, and also my cousin Ryan and his wife Angie. Despite living a few streets apart, we don’t get to see each other much. We went out for Vietnamese food (my first time having it – so yummy), and some drinks afterward. I always tend to get a little tipsy whenever drinking with my Uncle David … wonder how that happens. ;)

Brad and I have been re-watching the Spider-Man movies, the ones with Tobey Maguire. This came about on Saint Patrick’s Day, of all days. I was all geared up to watch Boondock Saints, only to discover that Netflix didn’t have it! We decided to throw the first Spider-Man movie on since it also had Willem Dafoe in it. I’d forgotten how great those first two movies were! The second one was easily the best superhero movie (until Iron Man came along). We haven’t watched the third one yet, just because it’s actually horrible, but we will eventually, on the grounds that I need to watch it in order to feel that I’ve actually completed that re-watch.

Making: an effort to get to the gym more!
Cooking: Beer Mac and Cheese. So gooey, yummy, and easy to make!
Drinking: beer! Nothing tastes quite like warm weather like beer.
Reading: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. Part three in a four book series. The fourth book isn’t out yet, so I’ve been trying to put off reading this for as long as I could (I read the first two earlier this year), but I can’t wait any longer!
Wanting: some comfy shoes for walking around the city in (so Brad will stop making fun of me for wearing impractical shoes).
Looking: for different ways to style my hair. Curly hair can be limiting.
Playing: Katamari Forever. I’m not big on video games, but I do have a few that I enjoy, this being one of them!
Wasting: a lot less food. Food waste grinds my gears, and both Brad and I have been making a effort to plan our meals a bit more effectively so as to eliminate as much food waste as possible.
Wishing: that I could be in Halifax to celebrate my friends’ recent marriage.
Enjoying: evening walks with a warm drink in one hand, and Brad’s hand in the other.
Waiting: FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE CIVIL WAR TO COME OUT. ONE MORE MONTH.
Liking: that the sun stays out past 4:00 pm now!
Wondering: what the secret to getting nail polish to not smudge is.
Loving: that the warmer weather seems to be becoming more frequent!
Hoping: 
that this pimple just under my chin will go away soon.
Marvelling: at my hair’s ability to be awesome one day and shitty the next.
Needing: more chocolate.
Smelling: faintly of summer weekends.
Wearing: these pants from R.W. & Co. They’re leggings that look like dress pants! WHAT. I’m getting a pair in every colour.
Following: my sister’s travels through Europe with her school (I’m only 75% jealous).
Noticing: my allergies aren’t acting up so much this spring (yet).
Knowing: that my allergies are just lurking in the corner.
Thinking: that I should probably buy a new bathing suit this year.
Bookmarking: videos from Vox’s YouTube channel to watch later.
Opening: the windows to let in some fresh air.
Feeling: warm.

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Van City!

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On Christmas morning, I literally screamed with joy when I opened my present from Brad. It looked like a Christmas card (because, well, it was), but contained within it were details of a weekend away to Vancouver! The kicker? Tickets to see my favourite hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche, play against the Vancouver Canucks in February. My Brad knows me so well!

When the weekend of our trip finally rolled around, I was bursting with excitement … and a need for tea, as we had to be up early to catch the morning ferry to Vancouver. This was going to be a trip of firsts. Our first time to Vancouver (now everyone on the West Coast can get off my back about having not been there yet), my first time seeing the Avs play, and Brad’s first NHL game. I knew that it was going to be a fantastic trip, and of course it didn’t disappoint.

We took the ferry over to the mainland, which was a very wonderful and surprising experience. Getting to see all of the islands en route to Vancouver on such a clear day made for a lovely journey, and it didn’t feel like we were on a boat at all. I don’t do so well with being “below deck” sometimes, and my own experiences with ferries are limited to the Dartmouth-Halifax ferry in Nova Scotia, the PEI ferry (which I got very seasick on as a child), and the Victoria-Seattle ferry (which I usually pop a couple of Gravol for and just pass out during). The only downside of our trip was that I’d overpacked a little, which meant my bag was terrible to carry. I opted to use the weekender bag that Brad got me for my birthday instead of my roller suitcase, and I paid the price (or, to be more accurate, Brad paid the price because he offered to carry it and I wasn’t about to refuse). Lesson learned!

I don’t like itineraries when I travel. That’s not to say I don’t have an idea of things that I want to see or do, but I try to stay away from planning every second. I’m lucky that Brad is the same way. Whenever we travel, we spend a lot of time just walking around, discovering places to get tea and coffee, or stumbling into really neat shops. Thankfully, we only came to Vancouver for two reasons – hockey, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

(If you think I’m joking, I’m absolutely not)

032916-01The view from the ferry terminal in Swartz Bay is something else. The beauty of British Columbia never ceases to amaze me.

032916-02First stop? The nearest pub to our hotel for a beverage and some lunch. Kingston Taphouse & Grille.

032916-03Naturally.

032916-04One of the many cool looking buildings in Gastown.

032916-05Where there are hipsters, there are hipster bicycles.

032916-06The extremely cool art in Revolver, composed entirely of nails.

032916-07Of course, Brad got coffee, but they had some lovely tea as well, which I needed a side of peanut butter cookie with. ;)

032916-08 032916-09 032916-10Hey, we know that place!

032916-11 032916-12 032916-13The Olympic Cauldron.

032916-14Nifty art in front of the library.

032916-15The view of BC Place from our hotel room.

032916-16One of my favourite spots from our trip, The Templeton. It has an old timey diner feel, mainly because a lot of their furniture and fixtures are from the era of diners!

032916-17Some Wonder Woman for our morning reading.

032916-18Blueberry banana pancakes with a helping of fruit.

032916-19Lunch was gooey nachos at Patron Tacos & Cantina.

032916-20An Avs fan in enemy territory …

032916-21…. thank goodness I had some back up!

032916-22 032916-23 032916-24We had, arguably, some of the best seats in the house, mainly due to Brad’s inability to double check things. ;) When buying tickets, he “accidentally” bought club seats – we had our own private entrance to the arena, seat service, comfortable seats, and an excellent view of the game. I don’t think I’ll be able to settle for anything less from now on!

032916-25FACE OFF.

032916-26 032916-27 032916-28 032916-29The Avalanche ended up losing 5-2 to the Canucks, but it was still a spectacular time.

032916-30A panorama of our view of the city from Stanley Park.

032916-31Our relationship summed up in one picture.

032916-37 032916-38The trees in BC are so tall. After more than two years on this coast, I’m still not used to them.

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032916-32Back in downton Vancouver, Brad and I took part in reason #2 for our trip to Vancouver – Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Brad was the first to take the plunge.

032916-33That is what happiness looks like.

032916-34My turn!

032916-35Oh my goodness, oh my damn. Oh my goodness, they’re goin’ HAM …

032916-36It was everything that I wanted it to be.

While Vancouver isn’t my favourite city that I’ve travelled to (the economic disparity was a bit much at times and really affected me), it was still a marvellous trip, and I’d love to go back some day soon. I do have some family and friends over there that I would love to see. There are also a few museums and galleries that I’d like to check out – we had planned to do that on our last day there, but most things ended up being closed or too expensive. See, this is one of the things that happens when you don’t actually have an itinerary! Even still, I don’t think that could be the way that I travelled.

Thank goodness we’re not that far away. ;)

Recipe // Corn and Potato Chowder

Ever since I moved in with Brad, who used to work in kitchens and hasn’t ever made anything that I didn’t like, I’ve been trying my hand at cooking more and becoming more comfortable in the kitchen. I’ve never been one to enjoy cooking, it was done more of necessity than anything. My meals when I lived a more “bachelorette” lifestyle consisted of frozen dinners and frozen chicken strips. I just never saw the point in exhausting all kinds of effort in cooking something when it was just for yourself.

Well, now that I have someone else to cook for as well, I take more pride in what I do in the kitchen. And embracing the fact that I am actually a damn good cook has helped me become more confident when making meals. And now, I do understand the appeal of taking the time to make something yummy, even if it is only for you and no one else.

Brad is still the primary meal-maker in our home, but I do try to pitch in and making dinner whenever I can. I have a few meals in my repertoire that I look forward to making, one being my corn and potato chowder.

I’m a big fan of meals that don’t dirty a lot of dishes while preparing. Because if there’s one chore that I actually truly hate, it’s dishes. And this is definitely one of those meals! It’s also extremely delicious, easy to make, and creates left overs for days, something else that I’m a huge fan of.

I’ve adapted the recipe from Katie at the Kitchen Door slightly. Her recipe calls for a lot more cumin, but I found that it ended up tasting far too “cuminy,” so I cut it down to a teaspoon. I also don’t make mine with kale, but apparently it’s all the rage right now so I could see why someone people would like it. ;)

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Corn and Potato Chowder

Serves 4-6.  Adapted from Katie at the Kitchen Door.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 3 large yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (a mix of whatever you have on hand is fine)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large stockpot, saute onion in butter over medium heat until onion turns translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add cumin seed and cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes, until cumin is fragrant.  Add potatoes, stock, bay leaves and kale if using and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. Stir in frozen corn and cook for 3 minutes.  In the meantime, mix milk or cream with flour until mixture is smooth, then add to the soup, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese, stirring until melted.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.

(Post about adventures in Vancouver coming soon … I promise!)

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On the importance of Date Night.

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It’s important to make time for yourself, and it’s also important to make time for yourself and your partner.

At least once a week, Brad and I go out, just the two of us, and have dinner, get some drinks, go see a movie, whatever we happen to be in the mood for. It may seem silly – we live together and spend a lot of our free time with one another (a friend of ours jokes that whenever he wants to get a hold of us, he just messages which ever one of us he contacted last because he knows the other isn’t far away). But, most evenings, while magical in the fact that we get to spend them together, involve us cooking dinner, doing housework, reading, relaxing, yelling at the television because of sports, and what have you. The sort of things that just happen because, y’know, life.

Despite being together, we both think that it’s really important to make time to “be together.”

I’ve heard a lot of people (no one I know personally, thank goodness) say that the notion of two unmarried people who live together and who don’t have children having date nights is silly, because every night is date night! Well, no. It isn’t. Try as you might, even the most well intentioned of people and couples get caught up in life, sometimes letting your relationship fall to the wayside. It’s a less obvious form of neglect than perhaps the sort of outright form you think of when it comes to couples, but it can still be damaging.

It’s so important for a relationship to carve time to just be together. The day-to-day isn’t part of it, there’s no pile of dishes to tackle, it’s just the two of you … together.

For our last date night, we went to our favourite bar, ordered some beers, crushed some burgers, watched some hockey on the televisions, and chatted. Getting to experience things that I love (beer, burgers, hockey) with the man that I love is always one of my favourite things.

I was a little tipsy as we walked home, but feeling warmth in the pit of my stomach. Not from the beer, but from love.

Taking Stock // February

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February was a bit meh for me. In speaking with Brad, we were both feeling a little on the grey, storm cloud side of things. The beginning of February saw us both getting sick and being knocked on our asses for about two weeks. A word to the wise, if you can help it, only one person in the relationship is allowed to be sick at a time. Though it was nice to pass out on the couch together in fever and medication induced stupors, housework and a lot of the other necessities that come along with being an adult suffered. This meant tackling those things with a vengeance once we were better. I’ve never done so much laundry all at once in my life.

We’ve discovered that February kinda is the pits in Victoria. In Halifax, the snow is usually piled so high in February that you can’t go out even if you want. In Victoria, there is no snow, but the skies are grey, the days are short, and the rain is endless. It’s not that we can’t go out, it’s that we don’t want to. We spent a lot of February being couch potatoes, which isn’t really how either of us like to live.

Thankfully, the middle of February saw us heading to Vancouver for the weekend! Brad’s Christmas gift to me last year was tickets to see my favourite hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche play the Vancouver Canucks. More on that trip at a later date, but it was perfect for breaking up the monotony that seemed to be February.

But now that we’re into March (finally!), I already feel infinitely better! Probably because even in just the past few days, Brad and I went out and enjoyed some sights in Victoria, saw a movie, had brunch with friends, and have plans to go out for dinner tonight. Smell ya later, February!

Forever ago, I used to do a series called Currently. Naturally, I sort of fell of the rails, as tends to be my modus operandi when it comes to blogging. I wanted to get into the habit of taking stock of things that are currently going on in my life, but the way that I framed the Currently series involved too many words sometimes. Which, despite being a writer, can be a little daunting. So, now it’s time for a much more succinct and monthly version of Currently, now appropriately called Taking Stock!

Lately, I’m …

Making: time for my hobbies and passions.
Cooking: as much as possible! Brad tends to be the cook in our house, as he used to work in kitchens, and quite frankly, he’s better at it than I am. But I do have a knack for cooking that I’m trying to embrace more fully.
Drinking: a lot more water.
Reading: The Fourth Estate by Jeffrey Archer.
Wanting: some new clothes.
Looking: more and more like the woman that I actually feel like.
Playing: a lot of 90s alt rock.
Wasting: the last sip of tea, because it always seems to go cold.
Wishing: that I could’ve made it to my friends’ wedding a few days ago.
Enjoying: time spent with friends.
Waiting: for summer to arrive! So many exciting things and plans!
Liking: the planner I got for 2016. For real. I promise I won’t stop using it in two months.
Wondering: if the shoes that I’m wearing today are shoes or actually torture devices.
Loving: cantaloupe and kiwi.
Hoping:
for more sunny days.
Marvelling: at the mountains. Over two years on the West Coast now, and I still am constantly boggling over mountains on the horizons.
Needing: all of the chocolate.
Smelling: like berries.
Wearing: an abundance of leggings. I put on 15 pounds over the holidays that have yet to come off, and needless to say, many of my bottoms don’t fit.
Following: an absurd amount of corgi Instagram accounts.
Noticing: that it’s time for some new bras.
Knowing: I am loved.
Thinking: about the surprise that I’m planning for someone. :)
Bookmarking: ideas for our home.
Opening: so many tabs in Firefox.
Feeling: content.

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The people, the music, the potato skins.

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Two smiling faces greeted us next to baggage claim, and we soon found ourselves pulled into hugs, talking about time spent apart, how the days between when we’d seen each other last and then had been. It was late, and the day of travelling had been long and fraught with delays, miscommunications, and turbulence, but it felt good to be back home. Back in Victoria.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. I said Victoria, and I meant Victoria. Victoria is where home is.

Our friends, Pete and Kim, picked us up from the airport very late at night when Brad and I arrived home from our trip to Halifax for the holidays. It was so wonderful to see friendly faces after an absolutely bananas day of travelling, and comforting to be back in our city. The four of us talked of our Christmas holidays as they drove us to our home, and while some of the tales were bittersweet (my last Christmas in the house that I grew up in, Brad’s grandparents not doing so fantastically health wise) it felt so good to be home.

Since I moved to Victoria two years ago, I’ve still thought of Halifax as home. That’s where I was born and raised, that’s where the majority of my family and a lot of my friends are, that’s where I had a life for twenty-eight years. But after this particular trip to Halifax, I realized that it’s not really my home anymore. Yes, it’s still a wonderful place, yes, it’s I was born and grew up, made a lot of memories with a lot of people that I care about, but it’s not home.

While I was in Halifax, I missed Victoria a lot. I missed my friends here, I missed my home and bed, I missed the places that I go, I missed my life. Two weeks is a long time to basically put your life on hold. And while we were happy to do it, and happy to see friends and family and spend the holidays with them, something was nagging on me the entire time.

Brad and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to ourselves. Most of our time was spent with family and a few outings with friends. And though we didn’t run ourselves stupid like we did last year, we managed only one day where we went into Halifax proper to check out some of our old stomping grounds. During that time, I realized that I didn’t really miss Halifax all that much. There were a lot of things about being there that bothered me – the state of the downtown core, the transit, the fact that so many of my friends are struggling to find work, or struggling in the work that they currently do. Quite frankly, being in Halifax for the holidays broke my heart a little. Had it always been like this and I’d just never realized? Had I become one of those people who went away and came back only to scoff at how different it all is? I think it’s far to say, it’s probably a bit of both. I never wanted to be one of those people who left and changed their attitude on the place that they grew up, but there’s a reason that it happens. It would be foolish to assume that living somewhere else for a little bit wouldn’t change someone’s perspective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just shifts the way you think about your hometown – you look at it through different eyes. Sometimes you need to.

That’s not to say that we didn’t have fun the two weeks that we were in Halifax. My goodness, we had a blast! We spent a lot of time with our families, something that we didn’t do much of last year because we were running around trying to see everyone. We took a more relaxed approach this year, and it paid off. We had nights out with some of our best friends, we went to a hockey game, we got to watch the nephew open gifts only to be more enthralled with the tissue paper, got to see some snow, and relaxed a lot. It was a wonderful holiday, and everything that I could’ve wanted.

Halifax had served its purpose in my life. And while I’ll never say never, I don’t see myself living there again anytime soon. I used to entertain the idea of it, but now I really can’t see it happening. Aside from friends and family, there’s not much there for me anymore. And there will soon be even less, with my parents and sister moving to PEI this coming summer.

I’ve felt ever since I moved to Victoria, that I fit in better here. Though I definitely feel like an East Coast girl most of the time (especially when West Coasters make fun of how I pronounce “bar”), I feel like right now in my life, Victoria is where I belong. Any place ends up being what you make of it, and almost despite myself, I’ve made Victoria home these past two years.

I miss the people, the music, and the potato skins, but I don’t necessarily miss Halifax. I didn’t cry at the airport when saying goodbye to my parents as we got in line for security. Though I chalk most of this up to the fact that I was far too stressed to be sad (the airport was an absolutely gong show that morning and we spent an hour in a line to confirm our booking after it had been changed that morning). I haven’t had a massive bout of homesickness like I did this time last year, where I fell into a depressive episode and struggled to feel like myself again. I don’t suspect that I will this year. The novelty of Halifax has worn off for me. And though I still miss my family and friends deeply, I am so excited for the life that I have in my new home.

I always worried that anywhere I lived other than Halifax would never quite feel right, or feel like home. But now I realize that any place is what you make of it, and I’ve made Victoria my home, so that’s how it feels. It feels right here. It feels like home.

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Holding My Breath.

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Working in schools has taught me of a fear that previous to seven years ago, I hadn’t really given much in the way of thought to.

It doesn’t happen as much in Canada as it does in the States (you know what I’m talking about), but I am always acutely aware of the dangers of working in academia. It doesn’t matter that it “doesn’t happen here,” there could be a day when it does, and it’s something that is always in the back of my mind, and ingrained in the way I handle situations or view things happening in my vicinity. What a world we live in where I feel the need to constantly be on alert for one reason or another.

My office traps me. I love the space I’m creating in it for myself (I’m still personalizing it after almost six months of working in it), but I am blocked in by a large desk that wraps around me at both sides, with the door more than five feet away. The window behind me doesn’t open all of the way. I’m slim, but I don’t think I can fit through it. I wonder if the space under my desk will protect me from bullets.

The other day, the professor that sits across the hall from me had an angry parent who wanted to speak with them. Voices were never raised, and it didn’t escalate to a point where I ever truly felt that anyone was in danger, but the parent wouldn’t leave, campus security was called, and the entire time I wondered “what if.” The entire time I wondered what I should do. I opted for keeping my door open, and observing and listening to all that I could, just in case something happened so that I would be ready, so that if someone asked me for some reason at a later date what happened that I would be able to answer assuredly.

More than hour after the man was escorted off campus, and there was still a strange knot in my stomach, and lump in my throat, and a heartbeat that wouldn’t settle.

I’ve been to training sessions and meetings since I began working on this campus shortly after I moved to Victoria almost two years ago. What to do in the event of an earthquake (new to me, as it’s not something that happens on the East Coast), how to interact with students who are agitated, what to do when you feel threatened by a student, staff member, or a member of the public, what to do when a situation escalates and becomes violent.

I am glad that I’ve had this training, though I am loathe to think that it’s deemed necessary this day and age.

With the recent attacks in France, Lebanon, Egypt, and Bangladesh, the world feels a little less safe. While out with Brad and a friend the other day, wandering through parts of populated tourist spots of downtown Victoria, I couldn’t help but wonder “what if,” even further. Canada is not immune to these attacks, and it’s a wonder that it hasn’t happened in my country yet on a grander scale than it already has (let us not forget of Nathan Cirillo and the ultimate sacrifice that he made). My heart breaks for the victims in these recent attacks and their families. I can’t even put into words the sadness that I feel, but my heart physically aches.

I don’t let it consume me, but every once in a while I feel frightened of the world that I live in. When I was younger, I used to believe that we were closer to peace than we ever have been. And perhaps we are, and that is mired in what a select few would sooner do to innocent people. There is a certain amount of “alertness” that one needs to possess as a woman, so often when we “dare” to venture out alone we’re made to feel unsafe, but sometimes it all just feels like too much. I’m not immune to feeling a little bit on edge. I feel I’ve spent far too many moments of my life holding my breath, waiting for the moment to pass.

Sometimes, all I want is to breathe a little easier.

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The Dream of the 90s is alive in Portland!

008In July, Brad and I took a mini vacation to Portland! We had wanted to go earlier in the year when The Replacements were playing, but their show there was sold out. Brad kept talking about wanting to take me to Portland because he was sure that I would love it. So, when we found out that one of our favourite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, was doing a show there, we certainly couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

001A gorgeous view from the plane. Brad was tasked with taking this photo, as sometimes I find it extremely difficult to look out of airplane windows.

002SO. MANY. FOOD TRUCKS. Lamentably, we didn’t get to partake in any of them. Portland, lovely as it was, kept a temperature of 40°C the entire time that we were there. Suffice to say, we spent a lot of time indoors, and I was a sweaty Megan.

003I basically want to live there.

004“You’re taking my photo while we look at menus? That’s such a tourist thing!”

005Beer. Om nom nom.11703569_10153480679682416_7295349893894701641_o

00611850736_10153480679782416_4745446960306023038_oI’m not much of a coffee fan, but Brad certainly is! Thankfully, they had tea. Although I forgot that it was “American iced tea,” and not “Canadian iced tea.” 00711807135_10153480681112416_9080403722888820467_oHey, I know some of those places!

11807331_10153480680047416_7650251459340174911_o11816349_10153480681117416_5041893241827996212_o 009On our second day in Portland, we went to the zoo! Naturally, it was the hottest day while we were there. A lot of the animals were sleepy and not doing much. I can’t say that I blame them.

010I’ve come to the conclusion that bears are basically big, dumb dogs.
11834767_10153480680402416_4504422533897711220_o 011Okay, seeing real live elephants was amazing. But equally, if not more amazing. was this elderly Southern woman standing next to us who declared “I ain’t never seen no elephants before!” Oh my god, she was darling.

012 013The main event! I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures from the show, as there were no cameras allowed. But Jim was absolutely hilarious, and retold his famed Hot Pocket bit.

014A blurry photo of Brad and I in the Alrene Schnitzer Concert Hall. :) 015Happy travellers!

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Brad thinking about his true love … pizza. ;)

“I’ll stop making faces at you when you stop laughing!”

A few weeks ago, Brad and I had a mini photo session with local photographer, Lara Eichhorn! Over the summer, she is offering sessions to couples on the cheap, making her gorgeous and professional photos accessible to those who may not want to shell out hundreds of dollars for photographs, which I think is wonderful!

Aside from a number of “selfies” and pictures taking on ours and others’ phones, Brad and I don’t have a whole lot of pictures. After almost two years together. we decided that we should probably fix this. Despite the less than stellar weather, and the beginnings of a cold for Brad, the session was fantastic! Lara was so wonderful, and after a few minutes my nerves definitely began to calm.

Here are some of my favourites!

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If you live in Victoria, and want some stellar and professional photos of you and your person, Lara still has plenty spots open for her mini sessions over the next month! Check her out!

Seattle!

Back in April (shh, don’t tell me that it’s the beginning of July), I had the pleasure of going to Seattle again! Brad and I had both been to Seattle before – for two nights, and one day last November. With only one day in Seattle last time, we got all of the major touristy stuff out of the way – visiting the Pike Place Market, climbing the Space Needle, and wandering through EMP. Looking back, I’m surprised we managed to cram so much into one day! This time we had two full days to enjoy Seattle, and enjoy them we did!

The trip was born of Brad’s favourite band, The Replacements, embarking on a reunion tour. He’d seen them back in 2013 (after years of thinking that he’d NEVER see them live, as they disbanded in the early 90’s), and they played a couple of festival gigs after that. But this was their first tour since getting back together. As soon as I received a text months ago (likely in all caps) that they were touring, I knew we’d be going to a show. And I was more than okay with that! I like The Replacements well enough, and it would definitely be a good time! I’m a big fan of music and concerts. We originally wanted to go to the show in Portland (because I have yet to go there), but it sold out remarkably fast. The Seattle show still had available tickets, and we both fell in love with the city during our short visit there, so we figured why the heck not!

Next weekend, we’re off to Portland, so I thought that maybe I should be a good blogger and get some of our pictures from our trip almost three months ago up on my bloggity blog! (Forgive the quality of the pictures, they were all taken with my less than stellar iPhone)

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On a boat, on our way to Seattle!

17We spent quite a bit of time up in Capitol Hill, which we’ve come to realize is our favourite neighbourhood in Seattle. Next time we go, we’re probably going to stay in an AirBnB in the area if we can!

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Elliott Bay Book Company, which I never wanted to leave.

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No journey to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Public Market! We spent a lot of time just wandering through, checking out all of the vendors. I did end up buying an art print (a re-imagining of the Seattle skyline as if done by Van Gogh).

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Some sweet jams being played down at the Public Market.

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We almost went for a ride, but my fear of heights won this round!

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We went to a delicious pizza joint called Rocco’s for dinner! The best part (aside from the pizza)? Their drink menus were in re-purposed kids’ books!

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I love this man more than I love pizza.

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NOM!

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The main event! While Brad was naturally super stoked for this concert, I found myself all kinds of excited too! By the end of the night, I would be a fan. :)

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The decor inside of the Paramount is just stunning. I took a lot of photos of various light fixtures.

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THE REPLACEMENTS! The crowd exploded when they took the stage – although seeing them was delayed. They performed behind a curtain for the majority of their first song, leading me to think that may be how they played the entire show (it would not be out of character for them to do something foolish like that).

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“Androgynous” performed with Paul Westerberg in a tent for some reason.

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It was an absolutely stellar show to kick off their tour. Sadly, it seems that they may have parted ways again. No official word, just rock star antics on their last show of the tour in Spain, but Brad has told me it would not be out of character for them to do something like that and remain together. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see!

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Our last day in Seattle we didn’t do a whole lot, mostly wandered around and tried to find things that we hadn’t seen or done before. We took a tour of Seattle’s underground, and needless to say it was very informative and oddly hilarious.

016No trip to Seattle would be complete without a cocktail at Zig Zag’s! We drank a little too much, and told stories from our teenage years, some neither of us had heard before! It’s so nice that after being together for over a year (close to two now), Brad and I still have so much to learn about one another!

We already want to go back, but there’s so many other things to see and do in the Pacific Northwest, so we figure that we should probably see some other places as well. Despite living in Victoria for over a year, we still haven’t been over to Vancouver! Anyone I mention this to declares, “You’ve never been to the mainland!?” We’re working it. Maybe after Portland. ;)

Blue skies are coming.

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I had thought that February was unkind to me, March turned out to be even worse.

I shall spare you the details, as they are extremely private and painful (though things have, in the end, worked out and steps are being taken in the healing process, and to ensure that it never happens again), though I suspect the small handful of people that read my blog know what happened. It wasn’t just me that it affected – there were other people involved directly besides myself, and the weight of what happened was felt by all that are close to us. I feel like I would be doing everyone a disservice to everyone who this touched to mention exactly what happened in a public forum.

But it happened, and it was easily the worst two weeks of my life – and I do not say that lightly. There were many days spent crying, many nights spent sleepless … and also crying. Some mornings I couldn’t get out of bed, and every morning I woke up in the midst of a panic attack. I was the lowest that I’ve ever been, and considering my recent depression diagnosis, I felt everything that much harder. There were days that I didn’t want to be alive. Not that I would have done anything, and I promised those close to me if I had the slightest inclination of wanting to hurt myself that I would get help, and it thankfully never came to that. But it didn’t stop me from wishing on occasion that I simply didn’t exist.

As difficult as those two weeks were, I learned so much.

I learned in the kindness and love of those closest to me – not that I didn’t already know that, but for the first time in my life my parents weren’t easily accessible when all I wanted was to go home and get hugs from them. We made do with phone calls, but it certainly wasn’t the same as having hugs from two of the people I love most in the world. Two of my friends basically adopted me for two weeks, let me into their home, one of whom fussed over me on a daily basis akin to the fussing of a mother, and dragged me all over town with her, and let me cry and talk her ear off late into the night. She’s a saint, and one of the most wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

Everyone who I encountered in those two weeks who knew of the pain I was going through was there for me in some capacity. No one handled me with kid gloves, and everyone had their own brand of “being there” for me – even people I didn’t know that well. One offered her spare room in the event that I wanted a change of scenery from my friends’ home. People offered their time when I knew that they were so very busy. I received a lot of hugs, tea, and candy.

I learned that I am truly a strong person.

People have always told me how strong I am, and I like to think that most times I am in agreement with them. There are very few things that I can’t get through, can’t do. But I certainly didn’t feel it for a while. However, after three days of wallowing in sadness, I found my resolve, and I began to fight. I am just that – a fighter. I can’t back down from something without knowing first that I didn’t at least give it my all. I don’t quit. I knew that if I just walked away from what was happening that I would never forgive myself. So when I felt a little stronger, I fought. I laid out everything on the table, made my thoughts and feelings known. In the end, it worked out in my favour, but it easily could not have as well. But after I did that, I felt so much better about the situation. I did what I could, and it was out of my hands, but knowing that I simply didn’t walk away helped me so much. And while I’m so incredibly glad that things turned out the way that they did, even if they hadn’t, at least I knew that I did what I could.

I’m credited with saving what I almost lost. Were it not for my strength, my desire and willingness to fight for something worth fighting for, I easily could have lost it, let it slip through my fingers. I could’ve let the hurt and betrayal consume me, and done little else. It would have been so easy to just lie down and die, as it were. But that’s not for me. That’s not my style. Few things that are expected of most people are. I was never one for conformity.

The pain, resolve, happiness, love, and gratitude that I have experienced in the past three weeks have been a stark and eye opening reminder. Though my depression is nowhere near to being gone (and I have made peace with the fact that it may be part of me always), the sadness, the panic attacks, and the restlessness have begun to ebb away. I have never felt more alive than I do right now. Though there are things and feelings that I feel like I am seemingly having to relearn because they were a a little damaged, it’s a work in progress, and I’ve always felt my best when I am working toward something.

Through the hardest of times in our lives, even if things don’t work out in the end, we get through it. We come out on the other side seeing the world in a whole different way – new sights, new sounds, new smells. I’d like to think that I would’ve come to this conclusion even if I wasn’t in the position that I’m currently in, and I know that I would have, it just may have taken a little longer.

But no amount of words can express how wonderfully happy I am that I don’t have to.

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The art of relaxation.

mar1115

Once upon a time, I used to excel in relaxation.

Putting my feet up after a long day of work, complete with comfortable clothes, a cup of tea, a book, movie, or TV show, used to be one of my favourite things to do. I’d usually be productive during this time as well, tidying up in some manner, folding clothes, sweeping the floor, giving the bathroom a quick wipe down, tackling an army of dust bunnies, or working on my writing. Yes sir, relaxing was something that I was really good at. And while most people don’t find chores relaxing, I tend do. It gives me an outlet, with the result being maximum cleanliness!

But as of late, relaxing is something that I actually seem to fear. It forces me to do nothing, it forces me to be one with my thoughts. And if you’ve been keeping up, my thoughts are not something that I want to spend too much time with. Even if I am just sitting on the couch, watching something on Netflix, I’m also on my phone, playing games, refreshing Twitter and Facebook, trying to keep my mind from stopping.

The other night, while Brad and I sat on the couch, him playing a video game and me trying to keep my mind from wandering, I began to feel anxious. This sort of “you need to get up and go” kind of feeling. These feelings seem to manifest once in a while, though it was especially bad before I began taking my medication. I would need to go out every night for a walk to keep my heart from feeling like it was going to burst out of my chest. And last night was the first time in about a week or so I’d had that feeling. I always ask Brad if he wants to come on walks with me, and he always does, so I’m glad to have the company, and for the first few minutes we usually talk about how I’m feeling, what I’m going to do to feel better. Soon afterward, I’m laughing and joking and talking like I used to before all of this nonsense started taking place. Like someone who didn’t always feel like Eeyore.

I know it’s not true, but I can’t help but feel that lately I am becoming boring. Which is one of my greatest fears. I worry that I am boring, that my friends and loved ones are bored of me, that I am unexciting and not fun to be around. I haven’t done much lately, spending most evenings on the couch, trying to will myself to want to do something. It feels like there’s nothing going on in the city, when really I just haven’t looked hard enough. (Although conferring with Brad has revealed that it isn’t just me, that the city has seemed to be void of things to do the past two months) But, didn’t I used to be interesting? And lately I feel like I’m not. I feel like I simply exist. Which is excellent, but up until recently I felt like so much more. I feel like everyone else is doing something, which I know is not true. Most nights I’m sitting on the couch, the majority of my friends and family are also sitting on their couches. It’s still winter, people are still hibernating (even if it doesn’t really get cold or snowy here). Thing is, they can relax, and I can’t.

So, I feel like I must always be doing something. Even when trying to relax. Relaxing isn’t anything – it’s nothing.

Relaxation used to be my reward after a hard day’s work. But I feel that over the past few months I haven’t done enough hard work to warrant relaxing. Taking it easy makes me feel guilty, anxious, like I’m wasting my time. Shouldn’t I be doing something? My mind wanders to places where I’m an older version of myself, wishing I’d done something instead of sitting around doing nothing on an arbitrary Thursday night. Which is completely illogical, I know. There is very little chance that when I am older I will look back on my life with any sort of regret about the things that I didn’t do. But it doesn’t stop me from going there, from wanting to make the most of every possible second that I’m awake. And that’s fine, but it’s hindering my ability to wind down most days and nights. Because I feel like I’ve already spent the majority of my day winding down, so surely my afternoons and evenings should be spent doing anything else but taking it easy.

I’ve enrolled in a couple of courses that will give me something to do in the evenings after work. I’m doing Zumba on Saturday mornings. I’ve reached out to someone for counselling who I’m going to meet with next week. I’ve signed up to volunteer at the local Humane Society. I’m trying to get over this notion that I have in my head that seeing friends and doing things are for weekends only – they’re for during the week too. I’m trying to fill more of my free time with stuff and things that are rewarding so that when I do relax, I don’t feel so guilty. I’m trying to reclaim my passion for things that I used to do – reading, writing, creating. Our last apartment was not at all conducive to being creative, and our new place is, and yet I feel that I’ve not embraced things that I used to take pride and pleasure in. I am an interesting person, and lately I don’t feel like I am. I really want to change that.

But, as wonderful as hobbies, courses, volunteer work, exercise, and filling my time with meaningful things all are … I would love more than anything to simply be able to put up my feet and relax.

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I’m getting there.

mar06

In my last post, I talked about how I’d been feeling as of late, and the feelings weren’t great.

Since then it’s gotten better, and it’s also gotten worse. For the first week or so I attributed it to homesickness – any thoughts of Halifax had me choking back tears. Those feelings started to go away after a week, but the feelings of sadness still remained. I tried everything I could to rationalize what I was feeling. In the meantime, I was getting sick, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t finding joy in hobbies, and the only time I didn’t want to rip my heart out of my chest to stop it from hurting was when I was out having fun with my boyfriend and friends.

I was getting so sick and tired of being sick and tired, of not feeling like myself. I would wake up every morning feeling like my chest was being crushed, and would then stand under the spray of the shower willing that feeling to go away, to wash down the drain with the remnants of the conditioner from my hair. After a month of these feelings, I decided that I needed help. Help beyond kind words and comfort from the people closest to me.

I went to a walk-in clinic and spoke with a doctor there. While we were talking, I began to feel better, telling a professional what I was going through tends to do that. Her nods and her follow-up questions to some things made me confident in the self diagnosis that I had given myself a few days previous, based on doing some Googling of my symptoms (which is terribly ill advised but I was tired of not having any idea). She gave me a test to take home, and wanted me to get some blood work done. The test wasn’t anything terribly official, just a way to rate my symptoms and feelings, and if I scored over a certain amount, we would have a clearer picture of what was going on.

On Monday, I went back to see the doctor, and the diagnosis was what I expected: likelihood of depression.

She prescribed me a month’s worth of medication, with instructions to come back after two weeks so we could discuss how I was feeling, and how the medication was working. Right now? I feel like a trash barge for a few hours after I take the medication. The most prevalent side effect for me seems to be drowsiness, which makes it very difficult to focus at work. There are also some other side effects, but those seem to go away after a little while. The doctor said it could take up to a couple of weeks to feel and see the benefits of the drug, but I can say that most afternoons I do feel better than I used to, whether it’s the drugs or just me willing myself to feel better, who knows?

I’m so happy that I’m on some semblance of a path to feeling better, more like myself, but I’m also angry.

I’m angry because for 29 years, I was fine. Yeah, I got sad and down in the dumps once in a while, but it was nothing that I couldn’t resolve on my own, or by talking to my parents or friends. I know that there’s nothing or no one to point fingers at – depression is a disease and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. And that’s part of why I’m angry. There’s no reason why I’m depressed, I just am. And I have to accept that’s just the way things are right now.

It’s difficult not to get my hopes up right now. I really want this medication to work, and ideally in a couple of months be absolutely fine, but there’s nothing to base that on. I want so badly to feel like myself again, that part of me thinks I’m capable of willing the depression away. It might be with me for a while, possibly forever, and right now I’m trying to make peace with that. There’s nothing wrong with me if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean I’m any less strong. But it also might begin to slowly ebb away, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t what I wanted.

Right now, I’m trying to focus on the positives in my life, of which there are a lot. One of the biggest positives in my life right now is Brad, who has been my rock throughout this whole ordeal. He is the greatest partner that one could ever ask for. Time and time again he reminds me that I’m not in this alone, that we’re in this together. Every morning before we go to work, he tells me he loves me, and that he hopes I have an amazing day. He checks in periodically during the day to see how I’m doing. He gives me frequent hugs and kisses. He holds me when I’m upset. He came with me when I had my blood work done, held my hand, and then bought me a doughnut. He’s just this wonderful presence in my life, and I think I’d be lost without him.

I feel like I could talk endlessly about what I’m going through right now, how I’ve been feeling, but really I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’ve had to work at my happiness, which isn’t something that I’ve had to do before – happiness tends to come naturally to me. So to have to work at something which has always just been right there is a foreign concept to me, but one I am trying to tackle with every fiber of my being.

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Be okay.

feb1115

I tend to be positive, happy, and optimistic 95% of the time, it’s simply the way that I operate. Obviously, I’m not some manner of robot, I do feel negative and not so wonderful things on occasion, but I allow myself to feel those things and then move on from them. To me, there’s no point in dwelling in negative thoughts and feelings. But for the past few days, moving on from feeling not so wonderful feelings has been difficult.

There is nothing inherently wrong with my life right now, but for the past week or so I’ve been sad, emotional to the point of breaking down and when my boyfriend looks to me for a reason why, I just shrug. I can’t explain it, and I wish that I could. I don’t think that it’s caused by anything specific, but a myriad of things – if there is a “cause” at all.

Sometimes when my period is late (which it is right now) my hormones like to make their presence known even more. Sometimes the transition from winter to spring leaves me feeling oddly morose, and I haven’t the faintest idea why. Sometimes my self confidence wavers, and I can’t fathom why my wonderful love would be or stay with someone like me, despite daily affirmations of his love for me, that he would move mountains for me if I needed someone to. Sometimes I miss my friends and family back in Halifax so much that it physically aches, even though I have a lot of friends here in Victoria, and they are all wonderful.

Sometimes I’m just sad, and I don’t know. And that’s okay.

I’ve been better, but I’m also getting better.

Last night I cried and was ill. Then I laid on the couch drinking tea (lovingly made by Brad), while watching the insanity that is Mike Tyson Mysteries. I got a full night’s rest, complete with oddly hilarious dreams. I woke up, and I felt better.

I don’t feel 100% yet. But I can feel my appetite returning, and I don’t feel like I’m constantly blinking back tears, or trying to suppress feeling like I’m going to be sick.

It’s a start.

I wish I could pinpoint why I’m feeling this way, but I can’t. I’ve tried to. When I think of all the things that are going on in my life right now, there’s nothing I can rightly see that would have me feeling this way. I’m making some changes right now, with things to do in my free time besides sit on the couch. I’m learning to play the ukelele, I joined a book club, I filled out an application to volunteer at the local SPCA, I’m starting to do yoga in my home again, I’m reaching out to people more simply to chat because I miss the sound of their voice and the cadence of their words.

At the end of it all, I simply want to be okay, and right now I’m struggling with that. But I’m working on it. I’ll get there.

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Moving on up!

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Since Brad and I moved to Victoria we’d been living in a place that wasn’t exactly my favourite. A basement apartment with low ceilings, a bathroom door that opened out into a living room thus preventing us from having a coffee table in front of our couch, not really being able to have people over, and a myriad of other little things that after a while just make you rage a little. It didn’t feel like a place that two young professionals should live. I wasn’t entirely happy there. Was I happy that I had a roof over my head, a place to call home? Absolutely. But sometimes you want more than simply a place to live, you want a home, and there’s absolutely no shame in that.

When our apartment hunt began at the end of November, we were cautiously optimistic that we would find something better, but there were some things that we really wanted for our next place. Two bedrooms, hardwood floors, a dishwasher, pet friendly, a full bath, laundry in the unit or the building, and being able to stay in the same neighbourhood. We didn’t think that some, or more than a couple of those, would be possible. There were a few things that we were willing to compromise on, but we didn’t think that we would find anything.

We lucked out, and I am so incredibly happy that we did.

We were able to find a new apartment literally down the street from where our last place was. Hardwood floors, a dishwasher, pet friendly, a full bath, and a washer and dryer right in our unit. The only thing that we had to compromise on was the two bedrooms. We only have one bedroom, but the layout makes up for it. We wanted to have a room to use as an office, but I can set up a small writing desk in the bedroom, and Brad is okay with having a desk in the living room to use as his office space.

I have been on cloud nine ever since the landlord accepted our application, and over the moon since we moved in last week.

It’s so important to have a space that you can really make your own, some place that you’re excited to come home to after a long day. Before I would look for things to do after work so I could put off going home for just another hour or so, and on the days that we had off, we were both anxious to get out and do something. We couldn’t shower and get dressed fast enough. But this past weekend we’ve actually been relaxing, leaving our home only for a couple of errands and brunch on Saturday. It’s so nice to actually be able to relax and take it easy. It feels like I haven’t in about a year.

It’s a holiday today here in British Columbia, and a dreary, rainy day at that. Which means there isn’t much reason to go outside (except that I’m out of orange pekoe tea, so I will need to run to the store at some point). And as opposed to the past year where even on the crummiest of days I couldn’t bear the thought of staying in my home, today I most definitely think that I will.

Quality.

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I have deemed 2015 the year of quality.

Though, despite my best interests and attempts it has been a little less than quality for the past week and a half, as our bedroom and den flooded, so it’s been making for some less than stellar living arrangements. But other than that, quality is still the end goal!

I want to work on focusing on purging things from my life that really don’t add much to the quality of it. Whether it be possessions, clothing, food, and even some people (although not like the movie The Purge, that would just be sinister). I’ll be turning 30 this year, and while the prospect of getting older doesn’t exact me make me feel a whole lot of anything, not being in my twenties anymore does … if that makes any sense at all. As such, I just feel like I need to stop living like I have been in so many ways. I’m an adult (supposedly), and I’d like to start living like one in some ways. Not by becoming boring or finding fart jokes any less hilarious, but just taking pride in my life, how I’m living it, and the quality of the things and people in it.

I’m tired of having all of this band-aid type furniture in my life, things that I purchased from JYSK not even a year ago and are already falling apart. I’m tired of having things … just random stuff that I don’t really need or use taking up space in my closet and in my life. I’m tired of looking in my closet and dresser and seeing clothes that I don’t really like that are falling apart or don’t fit well. I’m tired of eating foods that don’t make me feel very good, or made their way to my plate in a less than ethical journey (Brad and I watched a short documentary on factory farming which made us think really hard about the meat that we are consuming).

As for the people, I’m not tired of them. I love the people in my life. But my recent trip back to Halifax made apparent some things that I had already figured out, just needed to see in action, as it were. I’d rather have a small handful of really good friends than a lot of acquaintances, some of whom can’t find an hour in a two week span to maybe spend some time with me for the first time in almost a year. Perhaps a Facebook culling is in order.

The year has been off to a shaky start. As I mentioned above, our bedroom and den flooded last week, and has put us in a state of limbo. It’s very hard to live where we currently are and try to start making good on a lot of the resolutions that we have made. But I have been making an effort to eat better and to plan our meals (with Brad’s help and input, of course), which I think is really good start! I’ve even cut beer out of my life, which is really hard for me because I do legitimately enjoy a lot of the craft beers that Victoria has to offer. But having two or more makes me feel ill, and they’re just empty calories that I’m currently storing in my middle region.

Once things settle down a bit after our move, I’m going to start working out in some capacity. I’m getting a little rounder, a little softer, and honestly that’s okay with me, I just want to manage my own health a little bit more … maybe be a little less round and soft. I’ve put on 15 – 20 pounds since arriving in Victoria, and really I think that I’m getting to an age where I need to actively start taking better care of myself. I don’t think I need to make a whole lot of drastic changes, just maybe go to the gym a couple nights a week, lift some weights when I’m sitting on the couch and watching television.

It’s little things. Baby steps. I didn’t make a whole lot in the way of resolutions this year. I just want to work at being a better, happier, more fulfilled me than I already am, and live a life of quality, one that I’m happy with. I want to write more. I want to do more.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Perfect is boring. I just want to feel better in all the ways that I possibly can.

Simply having a wonderful Christmastime!

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Just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Brad and I are currently back in our hometown, and have been for about a week already, celebrating the holidays with family and friends that we’ve not seen for a year. It’s been a very hectic and very wonderful time down on the East Coast! We’ve been relying on public transit, and as a result, one of my resolutions for 2015 is to get my licence, so that we can rent a car when we’re in town next year. But I wouldn’t change our time here at all – I’ve felt so incredibly loved by everyone I know since we arrived. We’ve had to turn down some plans, simply because there isn’t enough time. We really need to come and visit for a month next year just so we can get so much more visiting in!

I am not at all ashamed to admit that I cried when I finally got to hug my Mum and Dad for the first time since January. There are a lot of things that don’t really bother me about being on the other side of the country, but not getting to spend time with my parents and my sister is one of the things that just really guts me sometimes. My family and I are really close, and sometimes there is nothing that I want more than a hug from my Mum or Dad. And my first Christmas without Carmen has been especially difficult. I’ve broken down a few times. Even though I knew she wouldn’t be here, experiencing it has been something else entirely.

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a sappy post, that will possibly come later when I get around to updating once we’re home after the holidays!

I hope that you’re having the most wonderful of times, regardless of what you celebrate, spent with family, friends, and those close to you! Merry Christmas!

Tackling (and failing) NaNoWriMo.

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NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place yearly in the month of November. Since 2008, I’ve done this challenge most years (save for 2012) with varying degrees of success. The object of the challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel, or a novella, within a month. I won (winning constitutes writing at least 50,000 words and uploading your writing to the site to have your word count verified) in 2011, with just over 51,000 words of a zombie epic, which I lovingly referred to as “Zombie Cold Mountain” (the actual working title was “Resurrection”). Since then, the project has remained largely untouched, as I reached a point in the story where I became stuck and didn’t know where to go from there. I’ve revised bits of it, and started hashing out ideas for what to do from the point where I stopped, but my attempts to actually sit down and finish it have ended up with me watching videos of corgis on YouTube.

Since 2011, I’ve attempted two different stories – a story of a werewolf hunter searching for the individuals who killed his family, save for his youngest sister, and a supernatural/historical mash-up involving a family of witches, time travel, and WWII. With the former I managed a little over 16,000 words, and my latest attempt found me stonewalled at 1,600.

This year, I feel like I have many excuses for not meeting the word count – I had two friends, and family members come in from out of town all within the span of a week, and I was dealing with some personal issues that left me feeling pretty low, uninspired, and scared (everything is perfectly okay now, for those who may be worrying). Our current space isn’t conducive to much of anything, but especially creativity. It’s hard to sit in our dark den, in an uncomfortable computer chair, at an oddly put together desk, or in our kitchen at our table, and try to force myself to feel creative. I explained this to Brad, sure he would think I was silly, but he completely understood.

Again, there are many excuses this year. But there always are any time that I don’t win NaNoWriMo.

I love writing, but over the past couple of years it’s become more of a struggle. I loathe to have an unoriginal idea, and sometimes coming up with something “original” is practically impossible. Few stories are original anymore, all borrowing from the same stories, the same themes. It’s something that I just need to get over. There’s also this sinking feeling that I don’t have enough hours in my day, so squirreling away time to sit down and force myself to be creative is difficult. I used to be a bit of a night owl, staying up until midnight or later most nights. But since moving in with Brad, I go to bed at a fairly reasonable hour, which removes a couple of hours from day …

See? More excuses!

At the end of the day, I’m okay with not winning NaNo this year. Would I eventually like to complete some manner of novel? Of course! But maybe not right now, and I’m okay with that. If I have to tinker with a bunch of ideas that I really don’t care for in order to get there, that’s all right. I’m quite content to churn out a couple of sentences here and there, until something finally picks up steam and becomes something that I actually want to write about. Maybe “Zombie Cold Mountain” will be that story, or maybe it will be something else entirely.

If nothing else, NaNoWriMo forces me to sit down, even if it’s only for a little bit, and put pen to paper, so to speak. The hardest part of writing sometimes is just sitting down and doing it, tapping those keys until something begins to take shape. Sometimes it does and doesn’t go far, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I am going to try writing something outside the confines of NaNoWriMo. Perhaps in the new year, as the following few weeks are ramping up to be quite busy. I’ll make every month Megan Novel Writing Month! There may be different word counts, a different set of goals, but the act of just sitting down and committing to something on a creative scale may be the kick in the butt that I need to finish something worth sharing. ♥

September, in a nutshell.

September was a busy month in my corner of the world. Busy for all of the right reasons, but ended up creating the perfect storm for a lack of updating (that, and my laptop is in its death throes, with a new one being a couple of months away from being attainable, at the very least).

Within the first week, Brad and I celebrated our one year anniversary, and the following day I turned 29. Our anniversary dinner was a slightly fancy affair – we got dressed up and went out for dinner at one of our favourite places, North 48, where I indulged in steak frites, and Brad had their chicken and waffles, and between the two f us we had a few drinks. For my birthday, all I wanted was a burger, so we burg we did at a place a couple of blocks away from our home, Bin 4. Brad gifted me a new mug from Davids Tea, as well as their fall collection. I really don’t want for much, so the fact that he got me such a thoughtful gift was wonderful. I really appreciated it. Oh, and I saw a corgi while we were eating. Pretty much the best birthday I could ask for. Celebration with my friends was a quiet one that following Saturday – a lot of people were away, but a few friends managed to make it for a couple of beers, which was honestly, exactly what I wanted.

oct10-04If you’re ever in Victoria, please do yourself a favour and go to North 48!

oct10-05I’ve been working my way through Davids Tea fall collection with gusto (using my new mug, of course). There hasn’t been an undelicious tea in the bunch yet!

oct10-03Birthday burgin’!

The following week, Victoria was in the heart of its annual Rifflandia Festival – three days and three nights of pure, unadulterated, music bliss! Since I first arrived in Victoria, I was told that this weekend would be right up my alley, and it certainly was! I got to see two of my favourite bands, We Are Scientists, and Death Cab for Cutie, both performances that scored a new fan in Brad as well. Death Cab’s set was particularly wonderfully – on top of being Chris Walla’s last live show with the band, it was interspersed with so many special moments. A shooting star soaring over the stage halfway through the set, the entire audience singing along in the most melodic tones to “I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” during which I got particularly choked up. There was something really special about thousands of people singing along, one in particular who had his arms wrapped around me and was singing in my ear.

oct10-02Take me back!

oct10-scientistsWe Are Scientists – one of my favourite bands, and easily one of the acts that I was most excited to see!

oct10-airbourneAussie band, Airbourne (or AC/DC II). They put on a wickedly fun show!

oct10-ryderSerena Ryder, who absolutely blew me away!

We also got to see a couple of Brad’s favourites, Dum Dum Girls, and Zeus. But we also walked away having fallen in love with so many bands and artists we hadn’t heard before! Head of the Herd, Serena Ryder, Kalle Mattson, Half Moon Run, Rueben and the Dark, Born Ruffians, The Airborne Toxic Event, and so many more! The entire weekend was just absolutely fantastic, if not a little hellish on my body. We’re already counting down to next year’s festival.

oct10-hothwclHead of the Herd.

oct10-kalleKalle Mattson, who made me cry. In public. Before noon. I adore his music . You should check him out!

oct10-hothHead of the Herd again, but this time on the big stage! They were fantastic both unplugged and plugged!

oct10-ateThe Airborne Toxic Event.

oct10-ddgDum Dum Girls, one of Brad’s favourites!

oct10-npThe New Pornographers, who were really good, but not as great live as I was hoping. Still psyched that I got to see them!

oct10-06I forgot how to operate my phone to take photos, hence my face. Also … beer.

oct10-dcfcDEATH CAB FOR CUTIE! ♥

oct10-hmrHalf Moon Run were the perfect cap on the weekend for us. That, and Taco Justice League tacos. YUM!

With the months getting colder, it means that one of my favourite things ever is back – hockey. There is a WHL team in Victoria, and even though I’d arrived in the city with plenty of time to go see them play earlier in the year, for some reason we didn’t make it to a game. However, it was very important to me that we go to their home opener. There is no way that the Victoria Royals will ever replace the Halifax Mooseheads in my heart, but I can be a fan while I’m here. Coming from Halifax thought, I was surprised to see so many empty seats in the arena. Maybe the Royals aren’t a great team? Maybe they don’t have the legion of crazed fans that the Mooseheads have? Regardless, I was happy to see some live hockey, and get my beer drinking on … even if they got beat 9 – 2 by the Kamloops Blazers. It was still a good night out, and I look forward to more!

oct10-01The Victoria Royals (in blue), before they were eviscerated by the Kamloops Blazers.

October is already shaping up to be rather exciting – we’ve found ourselves a local trivia place, I’ve joined a writing group, and there’s exciting things going on in Brad’s world too. Thanksgiving is this weekend, and while we won’t be having a big dinner, I’m looking forward to a special dinner, just the two of us, all the same. Plus, a friend of ours is anxious to do something fun this weekend, so hopefully we can manage that despite the not-so-great forecast (rain all weekend – boo). Brad’s birthday is next Friday, so we’ve got some plans for that (which include going to see Fury), and Halloween is right around the corner!

The months are just flying by out here, which sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around. I wish things would go a bit more slowly. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But I’m also excited for December to get here. I’m so looking forward to going to Halifax and seeing my friends and family. ♥

Currently // Three

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It’s been a long time since I posted an entry such as this one. But I suppose there’s no better time like the present to hop back onto that “currently” horse!

READING a lot of books that I really haven’t cared for. Which is a major bummer, considering how much I love to read. There haven’t been much in the way of books that I’ve read this year that have really grabbed a hold of me, which has in turn made me less excited to read. Every time I pick up a new book, I’m hoping that this is it, this is the one that will get me hooked and excited because YEAH! LITERATURE! But no dice. Right now, I’m reading “The House at the End of Hope Street” by Menna van Praag, and it’s good, but not what I want to be reading right now. Does anyone else ever encounter that? Having all these great books, but they’re not really want you feel like reading?

WATCHING season two of Graceland. I don’t watch a whole lot of television, though on weeknights when we’re in, Brad and I will often catch some re-runs of The Simpsons and Seinfeld while we do our respective dorking out on our laptops. We don’t get the channel that airs Graceland, so I usually end up watching it a day or two later after, um, “acquiring” it. I must say, thus far I am really enjoying the direction that this season is going in! Last season, by comparison, was very bright, and sunshiny. It still dealt with some dark themes, but I feel like this season has upped the conflict and the character development by many notches. The fact that we’re getting to know more about characters that aren’t Mike Warren and Paul Briggs is a breath of fresh air. Last season I was lukewarm on Paige Arkin, but this season I feel like she’s becoming a more fleshed out and well thought out character. It’s an enjoyable summer procedural drama, and I hope it’s back next year!

FEELING motivated. I’ve put on a couple of pounds since arriving in Victoria earlier this year – we’ll chalk it up to all the delicious foods this city has to offer, and the fact that I live with someone who enjoys cooking and preparing meals. We both decided it was time to take action and start taking better care of ourselves. We’ve been working out in the evenings (crunches and squats for me right now), and making a valiant effort to eat better, subbing in healthier alternatives for not so healthy meals and snacks. I haven’t seen a lot in the way of progress physically yet, but I’m feeling a lot better than I did even this time last month, and that’s a great start as far as I’m concerned!

LOOKING FORWARD TO autumn! It’s almost here, I can feel it! This will be my first autumn in Victoria, and considering how green and lush it is, I’m really looking forward to experience the season on an entirely different level. Halifax doesn’t really get a typical autumn; it stays warm well into October, and then suddenly everything is simply dead and cold. Hmm. Not optimal. And of course, autumn brings many special days and occasions! Halloween and Thanksgiving are the obvious, but also mine and Brad’s birthdays, and our one year anniversary. We were still in the beginning stages of coupledom when our birthdays rolled around after meeting one another, so we haven’t celebrated them together yet. Getting to enjoy those celebrations together will be truly awesome!

Momo’s Adventure.

For a few hours last night, Brad and I owned a cat. We’re both allergic, so this was less than optimal, but how could one ever say no to a face like this?

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We were returning home from the movies, when I saw this beauty perched on a stone wall right at the intersection. Like any animal lover, I decided to make friends while we waited for the lights to change. I scratched behind her ears, and she purred, before leaping down and wrapping himself around my legs, then wandering over to Brad and doing the same. After the light changed colour, we made our way across the street, and I was surprised that the kitty followed us, meowing.

Needing to cut through the parking lot of a school to get home, we decided to stay with the kitty a little while longer, petting her, playing with her, and watching as she rolled in the dirt. Once it seemed like she had her fill of us, we continued on our way to cross the next street, only to look back and see her trotting to catch up with us.

We were growing more concerned, as she had to cross yet another street. Why was she so keen to follow us? Was she super friendly or was she lost? I wrestled with the idea of taking her home. She had a colour, so I knew she had a place to call home, but hadn’t seen anything on it identifying where that home was. There was a dog up the street, and she froze, laying down on the sidewalk. I felt bad, clearly she was scared. After we watched her to make sure she was okay, I talked Brad into picking her up. We began weighing the pros and cons of what to do. She had the collar, so we knew that she belonged to someone. Was this normal behaviour for her? Was she a cat that was often let outside for periods of time, or was she lost, and finding some people who were kind to her, wanted our help? It’s moments like these where I wish that animals could talk!

After a bit of back and forth, we came to the agreement that what if it was our cat? What would we want someone to do in a similar situation? Well, we’d want them to take her home and then try and find us so that we could be reunited. We’d want them to take her to the vet to get checked out, we’d want them to call the SPCA, we’d want them to post pictures in the area where they’d found her. So, we made the decision to take her home for the night. I would put up posters in the morning, and Brad would make some phone calls.

Needing to cross a few more streets to get to our neighbourhood, Brad carried her, because I kept voicing my concerns that I wouldn’t want her to get hurt or lost at this point. How awful if we took her even further from home only to lose her! When we got onto our street, we set her down (as she was fussing more and more), only to encounter our next obstacle – a young male deer.

Our cat friend retreated into the shadows, but we could still see her. The deer got closer and closer, nibbling on some leaves on a tree fairly close to the cat. The deer was about three feet away from me – at this point I thought it was going to come and say hi, and that we would have another animal friend to worry about. But instead, the deer saw the cat and freaked out, running off across the street. Well, that sure was a thing!

Brad and I were having a bit of a moral crisis – what should we do? It was clear our cat friend was scared. Doing the right thing is hard, especially when the creature you want to do the right thing for, can’t tell you what they’re thinking. We decided that maybe bringing her home wasn’t a good idea. What if we took her back to her neighbourhood? Yeah, she’d be fine and find her way home! So Brad picked her up once more, and we headed back toward where we found her. We set her down in the parking lot of the school just across the street from where we’d first encountered her, and while she looked at us longingly a couple of times, she seemed fine! She even began chasing something in the field and trying to get into the garbage.

It wasn’t until we were almost back at the end of the parking lot that we could hear insistent meowing. She sounded distressed, upset. I turned around, and sure enough, she was sitting in the parking lot, looking at our retreating backs and meowing her little heart out. As soon as I looked at her she began bounding up to us – I’ve never seen a cat run toward people like that before. Looks like she’d made the decision for us – she was coming home with us. We would’ve left her there, if not for the distressed sounding meows. Even though we can’t speak the same language, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out when an animal needs help. I tried to get her to go into my purse, but she wasn’t having any of it. Brad picked her up yet again, and we set off for home.

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When we got to our apartment, she seemed quite content. Curious, of course. She explored our kitchen and living room, and followed me into the bedroom when I went to change, and then into the bathroom where I was taking off my makeup. Anything she could climb, she did – our couch, our stairs, and my leg. I gave her a dish of water, and we fashioned a litter box for her out of a cereal box and a plastic bag. She was making herself quite at home, scratching at our furniture and rolling around on the floor. For being somewhere so totally strange, she seemed to be in good spirits, and quite playful! She was very affectionate, clearly this was an animal who was loved and had a lot of love to give.

As I sat on the floor with her, playing and discussing with Brad what we were going to do in the morning, I felt something on her collar. I couldn’t quite see it under her mass of fur, so I unclipped it. Marked on a bit of masking tape, were the answers to so many questions! First and foremost, our lady cat friend was actually a gentleman cat friend, named Momo! Secondly, we now knew where he lived – a couple of houses up from where we first found him. Little bugger! Why did you follow us so far from home in the first place?

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It was late now, a little after eleven o’clock at night. Brad and I discussed what we should do. Should we keep Momo for the night, and bring him home in the morning, or should we take him home now? We felt bad, knowing where he now lived, and that we’d basically abducted him. I have no doubt in my mind that we had done the right thing, considering how distressed he’d sounded at various points in the night, but I was still feeling a twinge of guilt at having him so far from home, when he’d been so close to start.

We decided that since we knew where he lived, we would take him home. At this point, Momo had resigned himself to the fact that he was going to be picked up, and though he made little noises the entire walk back to his home, he didn’t fuss too much. It was kind of adorable. “Oh, you’re picking me up again? SIGH. Fine!”

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Finding his home, we set him down on the stairs to it, and he seemed to know where he was, casting a look at us once he was back on solid ground. A thank you? Or a “Why the hell did you take me so far!?” I like to think it was the former. Happy that our cat friend was home, we went back to ours, looking very much forward to falling asleep. I kept looking back to make sure that he wasn’t following us anymore, and he wasn’t, which was a relief – we just wanted him to be safe and sound at his home, where his people were.

Brad and I are both animal lovers, so we were happy to have the time with Momo (even if he made me sniffly, and caused Brad to break out in hives). There are few things that make me happier than being in the presence of animals. We hope that Momo enjoyed his little adventure with us, and that we might cross paths again someday!

Well … I hope that. Not sure if Brad does. ;)

Carmen.

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As most of you probably know, I’m a lover of animals, especially dogs. To the point where if I see a dog while I’m out walking and see a dog, I will say “Dog!” or “Puppy!” I’m like a small child in this regard. Not even sorry. Dogs are awesome. If the dog is close enough, sometimes I’ll go make friends. Few things give me greater joy than being in the presence of dogs.

There is no dog that I’ve loved more than our family dog, Carmen. A collie-husky mix who possessed the greatest personality that an animal – even a person – ever could.

Writing in the past tense is still difficult, new, and strange for me. Two weeks ago, my family made the difficult decision to ensure that Carmen didn’t suffer any more than she already had after a terminal cancer diagnosis, and had her put to sleep. In the weeks previous to her diagnosis, she began to have difficulty getting up the stairs, but my parents attributed this to age – she would’ve been thirteen in August. But the week before her appointment with the vet she wasn’t eating her food, and when she did, she would throw it up a little while later. My mum made an appointment for her to see the vet on Friday, and after some tests were done, the diagnosis was cancer in both her spleen and pancreas. The spleen could be removed, but not the pancreas. She had a couple of months at the most, and those months would begin to get very painful for her, with a very strong risk of the tumor rupturing. Though the most difficult decision, my parents made the right one, not wanting her to suffer, or being in any pain.

It was made all the more difficult for me, being on the opposite side of the country, with no way to truly say goodbye to her. I asked my parents to give her all kinds of hugs and kisses from me, to feed her some toast crusts (it was one of the few people foods I gave her), and let her know that I loved her.

Our goodbye was tearful enough when I left my parents’ house before going to the airport at the end of January. I nuzzled the top of her head, and she licked my face. I told her to be a good girl, and that I would see her in couple of months. There was no way of knowing then what we found out this week, but had I known, I would’ve taken a bit more time with her. Although, looking back on it now, there was a small part of me that almost knew that I would never see her again – she was getting old. But had I known, really truly known, I would’ve spent as much time with her as I could before leaving and boarding that plane.

I’ve done a lot of crying since that Friday when my folks called me. Carmen was my fluffy baby girl. I’ll be fine one moment, and just burst into tears. I find when I tell funny stories about her, or things she did that made me happy, I feel a lot better. So, I’m going to do that now.

We got her when she was just a three month old puppy from the local SPCA. She and her sister had been left in a cardboard box on the side of the road. Our family had been discussing getting a dog for a couple of months – we’d had to put our first dog, Blizzard, to sleep, early in the summer. We had a list of names that we were considering for a new puppy – Carmen and Sasha were on the top of the list. One day, upon arriving at the shelter, we caught sight of Carmen and her sister. The name on Carmen’s cage was the sign that she was going to be ours – “Carmen.” But really, we didn’t choose her, she chose us. She wriggled her way into our laps, and our hearts. There was no scenario in which she wasn’t coming home with us.

Carmen, as a puppy, was a rambunctious little shit who liked to get into things that she wasn’t supposed to, and had a tendency to run off when she realized she wasn’t on a leash. On her second day with us she almost got run over by a dump truck because she darted out into the street, and seemed to not at all realize the danger she was in, despite the truck backing up, and us screaming for her to come back. We realized then that she wasn’t the kind of dog you could just leave unattended in the yard, she needed to be tied up or left on the back deck, where we ended up installing a baby gate. She never really destroyed anything, but she liked to drag things that didn’t belong to her into the living room and mouth on them – particularly shoes and my little sister’s stuffed animals. She eventually grew out of those habits, thankfully! We tried putting her in the kitchen and putting a table across the doorway, but she jumped over it! Carmen was very crafty, and often figured out ways to get out of places where we were trying to keep her, or into things and places we were trying to keep her away from. Crating her when we went out didn’t work, because she either escaped or panicked and drooled all over the place. Poor thing!

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Even as she got older, she had a tendency to get up to no good. She frequently got into the garbage – but never really ate anything, merely tracked it all over the house. Even in her later years she seemed to continue to do this once in a while, more as an act of defiance, punishment for my parents for leaving her alone while they went out shopping or something. I thought it was funny, and smacked of “Fuck all ya’ll.” Mind you, I didn’t have to clean it up. She also once ate an entire loaf of banana bread, plastic wrap and all. And there was the Muffin Incident, when she climbed onto a table while we were out, and ate an abundance of oatmeal muffins. Problem was, she then couldn’t get down from the table. We came from wherever we were, to find her standing on the table, standing almost completely still. I’m sure she was afraid, but it was pretty funny from our perspective. I think there’s a video of it somewhere. We felt badly though because we didn’t know how long she’d been up on that table – since right after we left or shortly before we got home? It remains a mystery!

But Carmen was so much more than a dog who got into things that she shouldn’t. She was very affectionate, wanting to practically be in your pocket if she could. She would often cuddle with me on the couch (even if she wasn’t supposed to be on the furniture). Any time I stayed over at my parents’, she slept with me in my bed, and when I still lived at home, she often hung out with me in my room if that’s where I was. I was one of the few people who let her up on furniture, you see, and she seemed to really like it. What dog doesn’t? She would know when I was sick, and come and rest her head on my lap if nothing else. She knew that I liked being comforted. Funnily enough, she was the first member of my family I told that I was moving to Victoria. I went to my parents house to do laundry, to find them gone. Carmen was there, though. I burst into tears and began petting her. She sat down on the floor and I sat beside her. She leaned against me and rested her head on my chest, and just let me pet her and kiss her as I bawled my eyes out. Carmen was the absolute best at comforting me when I was feeling down.

She was so smart, and easy to train. She proved the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks was wrong, picking up new tricks in the last few years of her life. Carmen also trained us in a lot ways, thinking up ways to get treats. She did this thing where she would spin around in circles and bark, and when she did that you needed to give her a treat. It started off as trying to teach her something, and she was quite good at it! But if you were standing, not really do anything, she would just start spinning and barking, basically saying “Look! I’m doing the thing! Give me a treat!” Most of the time, we would. And any time you’d start getting ready to take her for a walk, once you put her leash on, she would pick it up and walk herself around the house, tailing wagging non-stop.

When I moved out of my parents’ house, I would often come home on Sundays – save for if I was away, or some other sort of circumstance. Carmen used to wait for me, yet only on Sundays. She knew that was the day I came home. She would start “waiting” about an hour before I usually arrived, going to the window and looking out it, laying down on top of the stairs, looking at the door. And every single day she would bark and run down the stairs as I opened the door, wagging her tail so fast that it looked like it send her into orbit, and then start doing laps around the house, until I sat down on the floor with her and petted her to her satisfaction.

I miss her so deeply, it feels like a part of my heart is gone now that she is no longer here. I’ve missed her so much since I moved out to Victoria, and have had my father send my lots of pictures of her. The last one was from that Friday night, after my parents brought her home. She looks comfortable, relaxed, content, enjoying being spoiled by those that she loved, and who loved her. Exactly how I want to remember her. I don’t at all want to think about the actual process – but my father did tell me that it was peaceful, that she just closed her eyes and went to sleep. That’s the best I could’ve asked for – not in any pain, with those she loved and who loved her with her, telling her how good she was, how loved she was.

I could write a novel on Carmen and how wonderful, sweet, and intelligent she was. She enriched my life by being in it, for however short a time. I know that I’ll love other dogs, but there will never be another like Carmen. I wouldn’t want there to be. She was one in a million, and I’m so glad that she was mine, and that I was hers.

carmen3Carmen Sasha
August 4, 2001 – June 21, 2014

A musical taste of home!

Since we began dating, Brad has introduced me to a multitude of new bands. I considered myself pretty knowledgeable about the music scene before we met, but my knowledge paled in comparison to that of my self-professed music snob. A few weeks ago he bought an LP by a band from Halifax, COUSINS (despite the fact that we do not yet have a turntable) – but it came with a free download! Needless to say, I thought that they were pretty great.

Imagine our joy when we discovered that they were playing a show here in Victoria! I’ll take any little taste of home that I can get, especially if it’s the music scene. We managed to win a pair of tickets, courtesy of Atomique Productions, who were putting on the show at Lucky Bar. I never win anything, so I was psyched to win something as sweet as concert tickets (even if it was Brad who technically won them, I like to think that I won by association).

We hadn’t been to Lucky Bar yet, and suffice to say both Brad and I thought the execution of the space was rad as hell. It’s definitely a show bar – with a couple of tables near the entrance, a narrow section that the bar and some mingling room occupies, and a large area in front of the stage. I’m looking forward to attending many more shows there while we’re living in Victoria!

The opening band, Wand, were a little late starting, which meant a late night for the two of us. Considering we fall into bed around 10:00 pm during the week, anything that keeps us up until then on a weeknight is a “late night.” Yes, we’re old. And what? We like sleep! Suffice to say, the entire show was worth being a little sleep deprived the following morning.

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We’d never heard, or heard of, Wand before the night of the concert. But, much like a large number of local bands and singers we’ve discovered while being in Victoria, they were amazing, and a band we’d like to see more of in the future. Personally, I’m a huge fan of any band this day and age that employs the use of synthesizers. They were a very fun band to listen to, and it was nice to see a small crowd of people dancing up by the stage (Brad and I hung back to finish our drinks first). I’ve always felt a little badly for opening acts at shows, because a lot of people are rarely there to see them. I suppose it helps when you have a wicked sound and engage the crowd, much like Wand did.

There was a brief intermission, which I used to get a couple more pints from the bartender for Brad and I, and to find a space at said bar to set ourselves up at during the COUSINS portion of the show. I like to be as close as I can to music, Brad is simply happy to be there. There’s a happy medium where we can lean against the bar and have a great vantage point of the stage – so we took it!

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After a brief sound check, COUSINS took to the stage, and delivered a little over an hour of absolute blistering and passionate rock and roll, infused with their own unique sound. When you think of East Coast music, COUSINS exists in a spectrum all their own. They don’t sound like they’re from the East Coast, and with some artists from around my neck of the woods, sometimes that can be a detriment, somewhat limiting the exposure that you’ll receive (though not in all cases). And COUSINS transcends that. They’re also extremely fun to watch live! They’re a rock duo – guitar and drums only – and the guitar player is one of the happiest looking people I have ever seen. The drummer is a powerhouse, almost hypnotic in the way that she plays. There were a lot of moments during the show where I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

It was over all too quickly.

COUSINS, though a great band on vinyl (or whatever medium for your music consumption may be) are even better live – something that I feel does not happen often. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go see a great band who sounds better live than one that is clearly all studio magic. If you’re interested in seeing them, you’re in luck, as the show we attended was a launch of a mega tour that has them finishing in the Netherlands. I encourage you to go and check them out!

Life around here lately!

01Victoria, you’re so pretty!

When we first arrived in Victoria, we had grand aspirations that we’d get over to Vancouver, go to Seattle, maybe even Portland, etc. But just because we’re closer to all of those things, doesn’t mean we can get to them right away! And we’ve decided that’s okay. We’re putting our pennies away so that we can get home for Christmas, and we’d both like to get our drivers licenses and maybe buy a car, or at least sign up for a car share program. Sometimes being a responsible adult isn’t fun at all!

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun in the city and on the surrounding island! I think that we both sometimes forget that all of this is new to us as well, and even though it’s home, it doesn’t mean we’ve seen and done all that we want to see and do. We’ve taken to getting out and about a little bit more, and just since my last post we’ve done a lot!

02We clean up pretty nice, eh?

My friend Ryan hosted a New Year’s Eve themed birthday party for one of his friends, which he invited almost everyone he knew to. It was fun to get dressed up and “ring in the new year” with people, some who I already knew, and some who I’m still getting to know and hope will become friends. We started off at Ryan’s place with appetizers and homemade cocktails, before going to a bar that the birthday girl liked. Brad and I only had a couple of drinks there before calling it a night – but not before I got some dancing in! It was just a really good time, as I expected that it would be.

During the long weekend in May, we managed to get out of the city for a day with my cousin Ryan, and his wife, Angie, to go for a little hike! We drove across the island just past Port Renfrew, and happened upon a place called Avatar Grove, where Canada’s Gnarliest Tree lives. I realized how painfully out of shape I was as I struggled to climb the steeper trail, and also realized that I need to invest in some active wear, because skinny jeans and Puma sneakers with no grips on the soles do not good hiking attire make. But it was still a lot of fun! The drive itself was quite lovely as well, and I would love to go back out that way to see more of that side of the island.

03Gnarly!

The weekend afterward ended up being jam packed as well! Our landlords threw their Annual Louisiana Shrimp Boil, and invited us to come join them. I’m not big on seafood, but Brad is, and we certainly weren’t going to turn down an invite to a party. I really like our landlords, and I appreciate them inviting us to things (they had invited us up to their section of the house to watch the Men’s Gold Medal hockey game during the Olympics).  We didn’t stay long, as we had concert tickets, but I did have a beer (Brad wasn’t quite feelin’ it that day …) ans we got to partake in the actual eating, which is the best part! The shrimp (plus sausages, corn, what have you) all get boiled in this pot, and then dumped onto a table, and it’s basically a free-for-all! Everyone crowds around and eats their fill. I had some corn, which was absolutely delish!

As for the concert that we had purchased ticked for – IT WAS AMAZING! Victoria’s two large theatres – The Royal Theatre and the MacPherson Playhouse – are celebrating anniversaries this year. Rock the Royal had nine local bands perform a three song set – two of their own songs, and a cover of a BC artist. It was such a great time! Brad and I both absolutely love music, and were both quite fond of the local music scene back in Halifax, so we wanted to start getting out to more shows here. We ended up leaving the show at the Royal with seven new favourite bands. And despite getting tickets so late, we got great seats! It was an excellent introduction to the Victoria local music scene, and I’m so glad that we were able to go! We plan to go to many more shows.

04Isobel Trigger, Towers and Trees, Steph MacPherson, and Vince Vaccaro!

On that note, we went to go see Destroyer at the Roxy Theatre! What an excellent venue for concerts. It used to be a movie theatre, but it’s been re-purposed for small, intimate shows. Any place where I can get popcorn and beer is aces in my books. Destroyer himself was absolutely fantastic, it was wonderful to hear his songs stripped down to nothing but an acoustic guitar. The opening act was atrocious, and little more than noise. At one point I left to use the washroom, and decided to just not go back until his set was done. I felt a little badly leaving Brad all by himself, but not too badly. ;)

05What a rad lookin’ marquee!

All in all, summer is shaping up to be wonderful and action packed on the West Coast! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds.

Summer Song.

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I am unaccustomed to it feeling so much like summer so early in the year.

Months of May past in Nova Scotia, the weather in the midst of this season is a slow transition from spring to summer. Usually, what most perceive to be spring is non-existent back home – there’s a cold that still lingers with the occasional day of warm sunlight, and before you know it, you’re in the throes of summer, wondering how it got so hot so quickly.

In Victoria, we’ve been enjoying a steady warmth, slowly building toward the temperatures in the twenties that we’ve been experiencing this week. I am not normally one for the heat, I prefer the cooler days of autumn and the chill of winter, but with the days of summer come some of my favourite activities. Swimming! Camping! Hiking! Barbeques! Sitting on a patio drinking a beer and just listening to the leaves rustle! (Although with the latter two I will not have an opportunity to do them in my current digs, as we lack a patio on which to sit and barbeque.)

I am very much looking forward to experiencing summer in a province that I’ve never been in before. In Halifax it gets far too warm and humid, but I’ve been informed that the summers here are relatively cool (very rarely will it go past 30°C and there is a lack of humidity), so maybe I’ll actually get to enjoy the outdoors this year. Too often the heat kept me inside in Halifax, which is a severe bummer when you actually want to be outside enjoying the sun!

This week it has been particularly warm, and I find myself lacking in the appropriate clothing department – shopping trip, anyone? Last night, Brad and I went to the local pub to grab a bite, some beers, and watch the hockey game, and it was far too warm inside. No A/C to speak of it seems, and the backs of my legs stuck to the seat in the booth. Yuck! Definitely one of my least favourite feelings.

Victoria is unlike Halifax in so many ways, and it’s so exciting to get to experience different things. But one that has me a little sad is that once the warm weather begins to be a bit more of a constant, every bar and restaurant in Halifax begins putting together their outdoor patio. There are very few places here that seem to do that – they have some manner of outdoor patio all year around, though people rarely sit on them. I’ll have to investigate this further, as I was itchin’ to do some sittin’ on a patio last night.

Because there’s nothing quite like when the heat of the day begins to taper off, and a warm breeze still lingers.

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Catching Up

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March was a whirlwind of a month around these parts of the world that make up a part of my life. And now that we’re more than half way through April, I feel lousy that it took me so long to get around to putting it all into words. But, let’s try, shall we?

EMPLOYMENT!

After about a month and a half of being unemployed and restless, I managed to score my first job interview at the local university. One follow up interview, and a few calls to my references later, I was offered the position. It’s a year long reception gig, which is fine and dandy, and I’m not about to balk at the hours. I’m just so happy to have a job after what felt like searching forever. Everyone there is really awesome, helpful, and chill. It’s always extremely helpful to be working with a group of people who are eager to help you be the best that you can be in a new position. Even the professors have been extremely helpful about walking me through the steps in preparing and doing things for them. And if I can make their lives easier, then everyone wins!

DOG!

The month of March also saw probably one of the hardest “adult” decisions that I’ve made in my life so far.

Brad and I had long ago agreed that we wanted to get a dog, but figured we’d wait for a lot of things to happen – more money to come in, having a place to live that we were happy with – and all that jazz. On a whim one rainy day, we decided to go to the local SPCA to kill some time, maybe just have a look at the kinds of animals that they had, get to know the staff. On our walk through the dog kennels, we saw and fell in love with a Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix named Pearl. She was four years old, and had been found on a local reserve. They’d suspected that she recently had puppies, and had spayed her when she came in. She came in that Thursday, was spayed on the Friday, and we met on the Saturday.

She was an absolute darling. Full of kisses and cuddles. I just about cried when she put her head on my lap when we were let into her kennel. After some discussion with the SPCA and our landlords, we arranged a meeting between Pearl and our landlords’ dog the following day. They got along really well, and the people SPCA asked if we wanted to take her home. Asking two dog lovers if they want a dog is both a good idea and ill advised – we said yes in a heartbeat. Our friend, Ryan, came by to give us a lift and to help us take her home.

While she was a good mannered dog and full of affection, it became apparent to us within the first couple of days that there were some of her behaviours that we just could not control. We planned to enroll her into classes, until I began to feel uneasy around her. Not that she would’ve ever knowingly hurt anyone, but she was a big dog that had no concept of just how big she was. Feeling uneasy around your pet is never a good thing. More and more we just came to realize that despite all the love we had for this dog, all the love that she had for us, and  as much as we wanted to try with her, we were just not the right family for her.

Taking Pearl back to the SPCA was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. Dogs are family, you just don’t take them back, but we all knew that keeping her would just make everyone, including the dog miserable. We were really sad for a few days, and even now, a month later, sometimes we talk about her and it still hurts. In the end, we know that we mad the right decision.

It was a learning experience, if nothing else. Sometimes I miss her goofy face, and the things that she did that didn’t make me stress cry (like rub her face on the carpet, like curl up against you if you sat on the floor with her). But, we know that she’s been adopted since we took her back – and we hope that it’s with a lovely family, with a big yard for her to play in, hopefully with another dog friend for her to play with.

LIFE AND ALL THAT JAZZ!

Despite the month and a half between posts, not a whole lot has gone on. Which I kind of feel badly about! But for a long time I had no income, and then when I did start working at my new job, a lot of those first couple of paycheques went toward paying off some debt.

Then Brad got a touch of the flu and was laid out for the majority of the Easter long weekend. The end of April, beginning of May, is ramping up to be exciting, if for no other reason than I really want it to be! Now that Brad is on the mend, I fully intend on dragging him outside (though he is often willing) so that we can explore more of what our new city has to offer.

I have been seeing my friends in the city a bit more, which has been both helping my homesickness and adding to it a little bit in a strange way. I love my friends that I have here, but I miss my friends back home a lot too – and my family. It’s been almost three months, and it really seems to be settling in that I won’t see a lot of people until December more than likely. Having a small pocket of friends here is grand, but it also reminds me that I have a lot more that aren’t here. Loneliness is a strange thing some time. I’ve never felt more “not alone,” but there are times when I feel particularly sad that not everyone I care about and love is as accessible as they once were. It’s part of growing up and being an adult, I suppose. You certainly don’t care about anyone any less, but keeping in touch with people becomes particularly important. I’ve been trying to get better at it, keeping in touch with people, but a four hour time difference sometimes hinders it. That, and my friends and I are (admittedly) not the greatest about getting back to one another quickly. It certainly makes for having a lot to talk about it when we are able to touch base, though!

All of that being said, I’ve never been happier. I wake up every day feeling so wonderful (if not a bit groggy and disgruntled that I’ve been roused from my slumber), looking forward to what the day has to offer. Because each day has offered something new since I’ve arrived, and there’s been nothing quite like it that I can recall.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds.

Food!

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It’s really not a big secret, or even a little bit of a secret … I love food.

I thought that I had it good in Halifax, all sorts of tasty and delicious foods and drinks. But the more I think about it, Victoria might have Halifax beat. There’s certainly no shortage of places to eat in Halifax, but it’s the same old everywhere – bar food. And don’t get me wrong, I love me some bar food, but it’s nice to eat something else, or have a certain flair put on something.

Halifax, I also find, is prone to trends. At the time that I left, burger joints and frozen yogurt shops were popping up everywhere. Eventually the market gets over-saturated, and trends die. I’ll be surprised if a lot of those places are still open when I eventually visit home – and I hope that they are! I love burgers and froyo!

Brunch is a big deal here in Victoria. There have been a couple of times when Brad and I have gone somewhere on a weekend, only to leave because the line goes out the door. It’s on days like that when we tend to go to the chain, Chez Cora, or our new favourite local eatery, John’s Place. Of course, Brad being the wonderful cook that he is often makes us breakfast and brunch on the weekends, and it’s better than anything we could pay for in the city. My friend Ryan, who is currently off a couple of days during the week, has shown me some other great spots, and some hidden gems as well!

One of my first meals here was at Yates Street Tap House, and it was delicious. The bar/pub scene in Victoria is reminiscent of back home. Except that there are even more microbreweries here than there are in Halifax! I don’t think I’ve had a big brand name beer since I arrived, and I’m keen to keep it that way. I have a soft spot for Ithaka Greek Restaurant as well. It was where Brad and I went for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and the food was nothing short of amazing. Delicious and decent Greek food is sometimes so hard to find!

And of course, there are sweets. There are an abundance of shops where you can indulge your sweet teeth. I’ve only had the pleasure of trying out a couple, but look forward to trying out many more! Being currently without employment, I’ve been spending time in some tea and coffee shops. Like most things, there are an abundance of them here, and I’m looking forward to trying them all. My favourite so far is probably Murchie’s, as they serve more tea than coffee. Brad is definitely a regular at the Habit Coffee location that’s closest to his office.

There is an overwhelming amount of food here in Victoria, and we have barely indulged in a fraction of it, but here are some links to my favourite places thus far. If you’re in the area, give them a whirl! There’s something for everyone.

RESTAURANTS

BARS/PUBS

SWEETS

COFFEE/TEA

As I’ve said, I’m far from an expert on all things delicious, but I know what I like. And Victoria has yet to disappoint my taste buds!

Letting life happen.

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I’ve been too high strung lately.

Thinking that last sentence over, I suppose that it’s to be expected. Three weeks ago my life endured a massive upheaval, and while it was exactly what I wanted to do, life changes such as that do not come without an adjustment period. An adjustment period which I am most definitely still in. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

But, for the first time since I was sixteen years old, I’m unemployed. It’s an odd feeling, and to not know where your next paycheque is coming from is not something that I’m used to, nor is it something that I’m a big fan of. All job hunting aside, I’m trying to keep myself busy. Which is actually quite difficult when you have little to no expendable income. Finding balances in that is something challenging and new to me. Not to say that I don’t enjoy being home, but I’m in a new city, I want to do some exploring. But exploring comes with a cost in most instances.

I’ve decided over this past weekend to simply let life happen. It’s too short to spend every waking moment worrying about the fact that I don’t have a job. I’m in a position where not having a job isn’t the worst thing in the world – my fella has employment and with that alone we’re fine financially. But I really and truly dislike not being able to contribute. I realize that not everyone has that luxury, and I truly appreciate the situation that I’m in knowing that.

In the time that I’ve been in my new home, I’ve certainly been keeping busy, whether it be on my own, with my boyfriend, or with friends and family I have here in city. I have seen so many wonderful new things, even if the weather since I’ve arrived has been less than cooperative. It’s been either too cold, too wet, too unpredictable. Which is fine, but it makes venturing out and exploring difficult. But I’ve managed to get out to a couple of restaurants, explore a couple of new shops, and spend an afternoon at the BC Maritime Museum. There was even a day when my fella and I went on an epic day long walk, just exploring parts of the city that we hadn’t yet. I’ve been truly atrocious at taking photos, which I promise that I will get better at!

I’m looking forward to when the weather is cooperating more so that I can get outside. Today Victoria is expected to get 5 – 15 centimetres of snow, which is unheard of! Needless to say, I’m spending today indoors, taking care of some neglected housework. The weather is supposed to clear up tomorrow, so hopefully I can find my way outside at some point.

One year ago today, I returned home from my trip to New York, which I truly do consider the first days of the rest of my life. Taking chances and doing things that frightened me wasn’t something that I often did, and that trip taught me that I could. It also taught me so much about myself. I don’t think I’d be where I am (in so many ways) had I not taken that journey.

But for today, I am simply going to take it easy, allow myself the simply pleasures that I find in things like putting away laundry, doing some reading, and not trying to plan out my day too much. I do apologize for the sort of “stream of conciousness” of this entry – finding a particular topic to focus on when there were so many things I hadn’t really put to paper in a few weeks was somewhat difficult. I promise to be less scatter brained in future entries!

Have a cuppa tea!

8706f8ce848211e39c8b127769d767dd_8Tea in the morning, tea in the evening, tea at suppertime.
You get tea when it’s snowing, tea when it’s raining, tea when the weather’s fine!
You get tea as a midday stimulant, you get tea with your afternoon tea.
Whatever your ailment or disease – for Christ’s sake, have a cuppa tea!

This past week, I got my first tattoo! (Perhaps my only as well … I don’t deal well with pain, no matter how minimal) It’s something that I’ve been wanting for about ten years, and I was so happy to finally have done it. I struggled for a long time with what to get, because I wanted to get something that meant a lot to me. I mean, this is going to be on my body forever. I’m so glad that I didn’t get that band logo that I really wanted to get in my late teens, though I can’t remember for the life of me what the band was now! Good thing I didn’t get it, eh?

As you know, I’m pretty fond of tea – even named my online alias and my blog after it! So for the past three or four years I’ve been wanting a teacup. When my grandmother passed, more than I ever I wanted to get it, because she was very much like me and loved her tea. It’s as much for me as it is for her.

The fella that inked me (Noah Davis at Newcombes Ink in Halifax) was lovely, and a wonderful artist! Seeing some of his other work, so intricate and beautiful, I felt that his talents were almost wasted on me and my little teacup, but there’s no one that I would have rather had tattoo me. It was a little painful, the inside of your wrist being tender and riddled with tendons, and for a few moments I did feel like I might pass out (my friend Lauren was quick to get me a drink of water), but I think that was more from getting myself worked up than the actual pain. For the record, it feels like a lot of bee stings. Ouchies! And I’m very proud of myself for only swearing a handful of times.

Some people have commented on the placement of my tattoo, and the way it’s facing, because generally tattoos point down, and even Noah put the stencil on the other way at first. But I asked him to turn it around, saying that this was for me, that I wanted to be able to be the one to see it the way it was meant to be seen. I’m so pleased with it! It’s exactly what I wanted, and Noah was fantastic at getting in my head in regards to interpreting the couple of different designs I brought into him and compiling them into one piece.

Did you know that tattoos get really itchy, and that you can’t scratch them? It’s recommended that you slap yourself in that location. So guess who looked like a drug addict in the drugstore the other night because she was slapping her wrist? This gal!

My bookshelf in the palm of my hand.

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For my 28th birthday last September, my parents got me a Kindle – a thoughtful and wonderful gift! Anyone who spends more than ten minutes talking to me will know of my love for books. I lack will power in a bookstore, even when my to-read pile contains more then 20 books. Simply ask my friend and roommate, who will tell you a tale of how we wandered into a bookstore before a movie, and I begged her not to let me out of her sight. Naturally, she did, and found me ten minutes later in the World History section trying to decide which two of the five books I was holding that I would ultimately end up buying.

A lesson for all … do not let me out of your sight in a bookstore.

I love my books, and the fact that I’m leaving seven boxes of them behind with my upcoming move pangs me to a degree I didn’t really anticipate. I have used the Kindle my parents gave me quite often, but would still much rather hold paper and text between my hands. There’s something so satisfying about it. None of this is to say that I’m a book purist and look down at people who prefer e-readers, it is simply that I prefer the actual paper of copies of books. I’m of the frame of mind that so long as you’re reading, and you’re enjoying it, that’s all that matters!

Which is perhaps why I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around getting onto a plane next week, and having my bookshelf in the palm of my hand. Technology, man.

I was able to find digital copies of many of the books I own, and many that are in my to-read pile, which made me intensely happy! I didn’t want to completely abandon my ever-growing library, but it’s hard to justify it when there’s seven boxes to transport, and its simply not feasible. Technology sometimes, though I grew up with so much of it, still amazes me sometimes.

The Kindle still takes some getting used to for me, and I suspect that it will for a little while yet. I have been reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (for what feels like forever), and have moved over to reading it on Kindle from the actual hard copy. I needed to pack all of my books up, and it didn’t make sense to keep it out any longer when I had the digital version. But, since making that move, I almost feel like I’m reading it faster? The little buttons to “turn the pages” along the side seem to make that so much easier!

I think I will always prefer the hard copy of a book, because it’s one of those things that I really enjoy owning (along with tea mugs). I don’t collect much, but I feel like books are as good a thing as any. But, I suppose it’s time to embrace the digital age, and make necessary adjustments for now.

That is … until I land in my new city. A book shelf may just be the first purchase made. ;)

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One more night gone, only twenty more days.

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I seem to exist between two states lately; thinking that I have all the time in the world before I move, or thinking that it’s coming too quickly and that I need more time. At the end of the day, it’s happening, and it’s happening soon, and when the day arrives, everything will happen how it’s meant to. (Can I say “happen” more?)

Today, I hit a bit of a milestone in the countdown to moving to Victoria – only twenty days remaining! While I’m sad to be leaving Nova Scotia, I also can’t wait to get out to British Columbia, and a lot of that right now has to do with the fact that my boyfriend is already out there.

He left on New Year’s Eve, so our relationship for the past two weeks has consisted of daily texting which is difficult sometimes because of the time difference. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s been hard. It helps that he’s so sweet, and so eager to have me out there with him. Sometimes I forget how wonderful he is, and the things he says to me or asks me catch me off guard. He asked me a a week ago when I was coming out, and when I told him I asked why, thinking that maybe he was having second thoughts about wanting me out there. “Because I miss you, silly,” he told me, and I’m sure that I giggled for about five minutes.

While I’m sad to be leaving home, my family, my friends, and my Carmen behind, I’m so excited to get started on this new chapter in my life. And more than that, I’m so excited to start that chapter with him.

(The title of this post comes from one of my favourite songs ever – “Hello, I’m in Delaware” by City and Colour. You should check it out! It’s beautiful and haunting, and I feel that it really speaks to me right now.)

Making lists.

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My life is a series of lists as of late!

I’m a big fan of lists, have been since I was younger. I have notebooks filled with lists – movies I’ve watched, books I’ve read, groceries I needed to buy, places I wanted to go – that sort of thing. Thank goodness for sites like Listography (though it tends to lean more toward pop culture consumption than anything else) that help me keep my life organized! And it has such a pretty interface as well, if you’re willing to play around with it and make it yours. There’s also scraps of paper in my purses and pockets, shopping lists mostly, but also little things to remind myself that I really need to do X and Y.

In preparation for my big move, I have a notebook dedicated solely to lists. Things I have to cancel, places where I need to change my address, things that I’ve sold or am looking to sell, what I’m giving away, what I’m packing and taking with me, what I’m packing and keeping at my parents’ … the list truly does go on and on! And there’s my to-do list at work, which consists of my regular duties, plus getting things in preparation for me not being there anymore. I’m training one of my co-workers how to do my job, and you never realize how much you actually do until you need to train someone to do it all.

I’ve also started creating lists for things that I want to see and do in my new city. I told myself initially that this was silly, I’m going to be living there, so I don’t need an itinerary of what I would like to do in my own home. But on the flip side, it will be nice to have something to reference when my boyfriend asks me, “What do you want to do with weekend?” and I can respond readily with which museum I’d like to go to, or whether or not I’d like to go and see a hockey game, or which restaurant I’ve been dying to try.

Perhaps I’m too organized, but I know how my brain is wired. If I didn’t have lists, or actually write something down somewhere, I’m sure I would forget it. And I don’t know about you, but there’s something really satisfying about crossing off something on a list – it’s a tangible way to say that yes, I have done this. Now onto the next!

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A new year!

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I hope that you all had a most wonderful holiday season, whatever it is that you celebrate! Mine was equal parts wonderful, stressful, and busy! While I enjoyed my holidays, a small part of me is glad to be back at work today and some semblance of normalcy (even if I do need to start packing up my life to move at the end of the month). I ate and drank far too much (but who doesn’t this time of year), laughed so hard I cried, and cried so hard it made me laugh. This holiday has been a roller coaster of emotions, both good and bad, and I honestly have not stopped since sometime in the week before Christmas. Tonight, I think that I am just going to go home, flop onto my bed, watch Netflix and maybe so some reading. I need to unwind.

All of that being said, I suppose it’s blogger etiquette to do the year in review and resolution post. 2013, as I previously mentioned, was a really big year for me, and it was probably one of the best of my life. I did a lot of things that scared me, things to challenge myself, things that I didn’t think that I was capable of doing. I took steps toward becoming the person who I ultimately want to be. I did big things and little things to make me feel good, to make me feel happy, to make me feel accomplished. I finally got to hug one of my best friends after over a year of knowing each other. I fell in love.

A good friend of mine said to me in the wee hours of the morning on January 1st as we drove home, “I’ll bet you didn’t expect 2013 to be the way that it was.” And he’s absolutely right – I didn’t! Never in my wildest dreams could I have fathomed a more eventful year. That’s not to say that it didn’t have it’s downs to go along with its ups, because there were some pretty dark days in there as well, but I try not to dwell on those. I just don’t want you to think that my year was perfect, because it wasn’t.

But with 2013 in the past, I now want to shift my focus to 2014. It’s off to a great start, having rung it in with some of my favourite people, at one of my favourite places. And in the coming weeks, I’ll be packing and purging as I prepare to make one of the biggest leaps in my life – moving across the country to start the next chapter. That began to really settle in this past week, as my boyfriend made the trek out West on New Year’s Eve, and as I lay in bed last night unable to sleep because it occurred to me that in a month I will be making that same journey, and I still have so much to do to get ready, and so much that I want to do before I go.

Not that “the move” is the only thing I plan to do with my year, but because it encompasses so much I don’t have a whole lot in the way of resolutions, as it were. I’ve never been big on resolutions, anyway. But I do like to continue doing things that make me feel good, that challenge me, and in keeping with 2013’s theme, I’m going to continue to do that. I suppose that I only have one resolution for 2014.

Be less self-deprecating.

It’s a defensive mechanism that I never really thought too much of, and I never realized that I did it a lot until recently. I am the first person to take a jab at myself, always jokingly. And it’s not that I think so lowly of myself, but upon reflecting on it, it basically came down to the following thought process; “Well, if I make fun of myself first, this other person won’t be able to, and therefore I won’t feel hurt by them. Ha!” Which is weird, I know. It’s something that I’ve done primarily in romantic relationships, usually because who ever I am seeing at the time is really a freakin’ jerk and I just haven’t realized it yet.

I forget the conversation that had transpired specifically, but I said something self-deprecating, and my boyfriend said to me, “You’re so kind to everyone else, you should be kind to yourself too.” And it’s really stuck with me for the past couple of days, to the point where I’ve realized that this is something that I want to change, because I do like me, and I like who I am, and I don’t need to diffuse situations or anything of the sort by putting myself down, even if it is jokingly. So that’s something that I’m going to work on over the next twelve months.

Beyond that, I simply want to continue working toward the person that I want to be. I feel that I barely scratched the surface last year, and I want to take all that I learned and apply it to this year, and the rest of my life. 2014 is going to be an exciting year, if nothing else, but I am hoping that it will be so much more! I know that it will also be a hard year, probably one of the hardest of my life thus far. But, I see this coming year as being the one where I really and truly find pieces of myself that I didn’t know that I had, the one where I make a lot of discoveries about myself. I’ll be far away from all that I’ve known, what has been my home for twenty-eight years … that won’t come easy to me. Things that may have defined me before, I will learn maybe they never did.

Perhaps, as difficult as this year might be, it might also be the most rewarding. Let’s face it, I never wanted to look back on my life and say that it was “easy.”

Go West, young woman!

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I have discussed this with some friends, made it “Facebook official,” and talked about it in other places around the internet, but I’ve not brought it up here, which is something that I would like to change right now, seeing as how I’m likely going to be updating this blog far more frequently, so as to keep in touch with people.

At the end of next month, I will be packing my bags and moving across the country to British Columbia.

This is something that happened very suddenly, and to be honest, isn’t something I thought I would be doing, but the opportunity being presented feels like the most right thing that I have ever done (along with the most insane). It was not a decision that was made lightly, even though it was the right thing to do, and at this point in my life there is nothing that I want to do more. While my reason for moving all the way across the country was born more of not wanting to give something and someone up when we have a good thing going, it could not have happened at a better time in my life. When 2013 began, I wanted to make this very much my year – take the chances that I never had before as they were presented to me, do things that scared me, do things that I always wanted to do but for some reason never did, carve my own path in life instead of worrying so much about other people and what they thought.

And, in the last month of an already fantastic and crazy year, I’ve had the opportunity to go all out. Why not take it?

I am so excited to embrace this, so thrilled to begin this new chapter in my life, but I am also more terrified than I have ever been. I’m leaving behind practically everything and everyone I’ve ever known, and the idea of not seeing my parents, sister, and dog whenever I want to has been the most difficult pill to swallow. How am I going to get by without weekly hugs from my Dad, my Mum’s home cooking, puppy kisses from my dog, and my sister’s snark? Family is a big part of my life, and that aspect of this is going to be the most difficult. Thank goodness for Skype! I anticipate that I will be using it a lot. A couple of my cousins are out that way, and I have two very dear friends who live in the city that I will be moving to, so it helps knowing that I won’t be “alone,” and that there will be friendly faces. But I will certainly miss the friendly faces here as well.

This is insane, I know it is. There’s no way to downplay the insanity or hugeness of what I’m doing. I would not want to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?”

Fully processing this still has not happened yet, as I’ve had less than a week to deal with this. My life since this past Saturday has been an emotional roller coaster, and last night was the first decent night’s sleep I’ve had. I’ve done a lot of laughing, a lot of smiling, and a lot of crying. I anticipate that there will be much more of all of that in the weeks to come.

My first blog entry of 2013 was titled “The future starts slow.”

The rest of my future starts now.

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Boston // Part Five

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This post has been a long time coming – almost four months, in fact (if you count when I actually left and returned from my trip)! I’ve read that the key to blog readership is consistent updates, and I have definitely failed in that regard. Thankfully, my blog readership tends to be good friends, most of whom are well aware of my high level of procrastination, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my last entry recapping my Boston trip is extremely tardy. Also, I have some big news to inform you all of in the coming weeks – so stay tuned for that!

My last couple of days in Boston were a bit more laid back than the first few, but ultimately still fun and awesome! I think that I was beginning to get exhausted. That and I wanted to enjoy and savour spending time with my friends!

The fifth day in Boston was dedicated to actually finding TD Garden, as I’d previously lead Jackie and Nell to the financial district the day before … which was in the opposite direction. D’oh! Being the huge hockey fan that I am, I definitely wanted to see the statue of Bobby Orr, and sort of just bask in the general awesomeness of being where the Boston Bruins play. They’re not “my team,” but they’re my Dad’s, so of course I had to get him a souvenir.

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After checking out TD Garden, we decided to make the pilgrimage to a Davids Tea, a popular tea company up here in Canada that is beginning to branch out into the States, and receives a large chunk of paycheque every couple of weeks. We spent hours wandering around Boston looking for the one that had been suggested to us by someone’s map app, and ended up in this adorable community filled with brownstones. It was a hipster paradise (complete with bicycle covered in flowers), and I never wanted to leave.

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We got some lovely iced teas, and then sat outside at one of the little bistro tables to drink and just take it all in. It was a lovely summer day (although I remember it being a little warm and slightly uncomfortable), and it was so nice to just sit outside with two of my buds and indulge in tea drinking!

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My last day in Boston was very bittersweet. We did a lot of fun and awesome things, saw some great sights, but for the entire day I was very much aware that I was leaving Jackie and Nell behind, which made me sad. I did my best not to think about it, as I still had the whole day with them, but it was very difficult to not take them with me when I eventually did leave (so much so that I kept getting distracted while getting my bag checked).

We had lunch at the oldest tavern in America, the Bell in Hand Tavern. Anyone who knows me well knows my fondness for both history and beverages that have an alcohol content, so this was right up my alley!

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After lunch at the Bell in Hand, we did some more wandering, eventually finding our way to the Old State House, which was the sight of the Boston Massacre (or if you’re less dramatic, as Nell and I are, The Incident on King Street). It was really cool to see such an old building nestled among the more modern buildings like that, and it reminded me a lot of Halifax in that way, marrying the old with the new.

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The interior had a really nice gift shop, plus some rooms filled with artifacts from the Incident on King Street, or things that had belonged to prominent figures in Boston’s history (some of John Hancock’s clothing was there). Some of the little exhibits seemed a little corny, but there were no complaints from me, as I was just really excited to be there!

IMG_2916IMG_2920I don’t care how old it is, I’ll still drink it.

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After our stint in the Old State House, we deemed it only appropriate to walk down to the harbour and sit for a little while. It was a really nice day, and there was a bit of a breeze coming off the water. Sitting and basking in the sun next to the water is certainly a favourite summer pass time of mine, and so much better to share it with two lovely ladies!

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After sitting by the water for a little while, we decided to go and get some ice cream. I can’t remember for the life of me now which flavour I got, but I remember it being very yummy! We had a quiet night in, watching some more Star Trek: Voyager and a movie. Jackie and I made fajitas, which Nell had never had before, so Jackie had to prepare Nell’s for her, which was kind of adorable. Nell also got to witness Jackie and I eating Mexican food again (we’d had nachos the previous night), and be in awe of our ability to make Mexican disappear.

Looking back on my Boston trip, even months later, I’m still so sad that I had to leave. It was easily one of the best weeks of my year, and probably even my life. Anyone who ever tells you that internet friends are “just” internet friends are foolish. Bonds formed with people, regardless of how you’ve met them, are very real and wonderful things. Were it not for this silly little thing called the internet, I never would’ve connected with Jackie or Nell, nor would I ever have met them, and that thought makes me sad, because they are both such wonderful and remarkable ladies. I still miss being in the same room as both of them.

IMG_2952I love you both!

Boston // Part Four

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Some day in the lifetime of both you and me, my posts about my trip in Boston will be complete. But it is not this day! Sorry for the extremely dreadful lack of updates lately, but my job is in its peak busy season, which means that I am too. But lets forget about work for a while and go not too far back in time and recall my wonderful time in Boston, shall we?

While our day at the aquarium was one my favourites, our day at the Museum of Fine Arts was just as awesome, but for different reasons! It’s definitely hard for me to choose between animals and history/art. The museum itself was massive! I’ve been to a few museums in my day, but this was probably the biggest that I’ve ever had the pleasure of wandering through. It was so big that it got to a point where we were too tired to carry on, and having hit all of the spots that we had really wanted to, decided to call it a day.

If you’re ever in Boston, this is definitely in my top five list of places that you absolutely need to go to. Try and start at the top and work your way to the bottom, that way your feet and legs won’t get so sore. This tends to be my go-to advice for museums and galleries. Bring a water bottle, and don’t stand too close to the paintings and artifacts (even though when the alarm goes off it’s a little fun to watch the other patrons flail).

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This lovely statue greets you upon entering.

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At this point I definitely could’ve used a nap, but I didn’t think museum staff would be too keen on it.

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The artifacts of my people! ;)

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MONET!

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VINCENT. VAN. GOGH.

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Augustus. What a babe.

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Very tired and very happy girls filled with all the histories!

Boston // Part Three

So sorry that it has taken me a bit longer than I had anticipated to get the third installment of my trip to Boston up! I usually tinker with these posts when I have a free moment at work, and as we ramp up for our busiest few months, free moments simply have not been in the cards.

Day four in Boston was one of my favourites (although let’s be honest, I loved them all)! We went to the New England Aquarium and saw lots of adorable and interesting animals! Anyone who’s known me for longer than a month knows of my fondness for penguins, and here there plenty! We also had lunch in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and did some wandering around and exploring in that area. There is so much to see, do, and eat there, so we didn’t get the opportunity to see, do, and eat all of the things, although I certainly like to think that we tried.

The aquarium was dark, so a lot of my pictures didn’t turn out so fantastic, but here are some that did! There are lots of fascinating animals – like seahorses, penguins, turtles, eels, frogs, and all manners of fish! If you’re in the area, or are planning on going, I definitely recommend putting this place on the top of your to-do list!

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One of my favourite parts of the aquarium was the stingray tank! You could reach in and pet them. They were very silky. :)

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I am really and truly not a big fan of jellyfish, but sometimes they just look so pretty.

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PENGUINS!

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It was so cute, because these water sprinklers were on, and a lot of the penguins were just relaxing close to them. Some even looked like they were napping.

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Turtles … um … snuggling?

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This sea lion looked so happy!

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A statue of Samuel Adams just outside of Faneuil Hall. Mr. Adams, there’s an excellent selection of beers made in your name. God bless, America.

Boston // Part Two

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My third day in Boston was also my first day using Boston’s awesome transit system. I’m sure that some of you are laughing at me, but you need to understand. Halifax’s transit system isn’t that great. Sure, it eventually gets you from Point A to Point B, but it might take a long while. Plus, I’ve discovered I’m a big fan of the subway. Any city I go to where I have an opportunity to use it, I try and get my fill!

We spent the afternoon in Cambridge, which is absolutely lovely, and even though it was gorgeous in the summer with all the greenery, I can only imagine how stunning it looks in autumn when all the leaves begin to change colour! Cambridge is also home to Harvard University, and while we didn’t walk along the grounds, we certainly walked along the outskirts, and I snapped photos like the tourist I am.

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Before we did a whole lot of walking, we stopped in and had lunch at a little place called Tory Row. Their flat-bread was delicious!

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This actually may be one of my favourite photos. I went to snap a photo of the street sign, and this fella walking across the street jumped into frame. I thought it was quite hilarious! He apologized afterward, but I told him that he just made the picture that much better!

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Look at how pretty my lady loves, Jackie and Nell are. :) We did a lot of map looking at during our time in Boston. I love the city deeply, but dang can it ever be confusing! (Or I just suck at maps …)

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I can officially say that I’ve been to Harvard. ;)

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The John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. Boston sure loves its Kennedys!

Boston // Part One

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Okay, I think we can all agree that I suck at being able to keep a blog updated semi-regularly. We’ll blame it on factors besides the fact that I procrastinate for now. ;)

Since I am not so great at updating, I told virtually no one via the blogosphere (although I certainly talked about it elsewhere) that I went on vacation to Boston for a week in August! The vacation itself was much needed – aside from a couple of long weekends, I hadn’t really had a vacation since I went to New York City earlier this year. And things at my job can get pretty crazy, so the fact that a week long vacation isn’t mandatory for every employee every quarter is beyond me. But moving on …

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I’d always wanted to go to Boston, as Halifax has very strong ties to the other city. A lot of sports fans up this way support Bostonian teams, and after visiting Boston I can say that the two are very similar in a lot of ways. I love Halifax, but Boston is definitely the city that Halifax aspires to be. A harbour city steeped in history, marrying the old and new (although we seem to have a lot of trouble with that in Halifax). And, as an added bonus, I got to visit my dear friends Jackie, who lives in Massachusetts, and our friend Nell, who flew in from Wales! It was a fantastic week, and I definitely kept everyone busy because I wanted to see everything. Almost a month later and I’m still missing them both very dearly, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Because my vacation was a week long, and I have this habit of taking an absurd amount of pictures (I think Jackie and Nell began to get a little annoyed with how often I stopped to take a photograph of an insignificant building just because I thought it was pretty), I’ll be breaking up my recap of my time in Boston into a couple of posts. Trust me, it’s better this way!

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The first day we didn’t do much – basically I recovered from flying (of which I’m still not a fan), and we hung around the apartment and watched Star Trek: Voyager. But on day two we checked out the Bunker Hill Monument, and went for a stroll around Charlestown! The day started off kind of damp and rainy, but cleared up late in the afternoon and stayed sunny and warm until my departure a week later!

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No more bad writing.

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There is a quote that has stuck with me since seeing Secret Window starring Johnny Depp (which was probably the weekend that it came out, because at the time I was going through a serious Depp Phase);

This is just bad writing. No more bad writing.

An odd quote to take away from a film about a struggling writer who has another writer threatening him, eh? Or perhaps not. I tend to self identify as a writer, and I think that I am in the sense that I spend a lot of my free time doing so, whether it be exchanging ideas or paragraphs with friends, scribbling something on a scrap of paper in my purse, or starring at the blinking cursor in a Word document willing the words to come (the latter is more frequent than I would care to admit). But, the above quote is one that I’ve always liked, and one that I mutter to myself when faced with my own bad writing.

I’ve lately taken to muttering it when reading the bad writing of others’ too. Lamentably, this seems to be happening more often in the past year than it has in recent memory.

Each year, I partake in Goodreads‘ Reading Challenge. It’s quite simple, really – you set a goal number of books to read, and try to reach that goal. While I intend to include comics in this as well (but only trades, not single issues), I still try to ensure that 95% of what I read is in book form.  Of the 20 books and and comics that I have read this year, 16 have been some form of book (novel, biography, memoir, historical account, etc). Of those 16, I have given a rating of less than 3 stars (what I consider to be a book worth my time) to six books.

For the record, it’s not as if I am picking up books that I don’t feel that I would be interested in. There’s no books on underwater basket weaving, or anything of that sort. No, for the most part these books have been about things that I have a general interest or passion in. In fact, five of those six have had some sort of historical aspect, and anyone who knows me well enough to call me a friend knows that I love me some histories.  The six lucky recipients of these 3 stars are less ratings are:

  1. The Fallen by Stephen Finnucan
  2. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
  3. Alex Cross’s Trial by James Patterson & Richard DiLallo
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  5. House of Meetings by Martin Amis
  6. One Night Stands and Lost Weekends by Lawrence Block

(clicking on any of the links will take you to my review of the book if I have written one)

I will address The Perks of Being a Wallflower right off the bat – I was not this book’s target audience. I do feel that if I had read it in high school that I would’ve gotten more out of it, and I recognize that. Obviously, reading this and being close to thirty years old wasn’t going to garner the intended reactions. I probably would have enjoyed it had I read it ten years ago, but I didn’t, and I reviewed it based on how I felt about it now, and not how I think I would’ve felt about it then.

And as for Jaffe’s The Best of Everything, it was just simply not something I enjoyed reading about. It had all the makings for a great book – women in the 1950’s, trying to make it in New York City. However, it turned out to be more a social commentary of the time (which it was also written during), and how women were pressured, and felt that they had to marry someone. I can appreciate it in that regard, but it didn’t make reading it any more enjoyable.

However, as for the other four they all suffered from, in some aspect, bad writing.

Everything is subjective to the individual, but I sometimes find it upsetting when I read a book and it isn’t good. As my review for Finnucan’s The Fallen mentions, the story itself had all the makings of being something great, but it was the writing that was the major reason for me not enjoying the book. And I feel that is true of these books that I have given less than stellar ratings too. The writing is lacking in something – whether it be style, appropriateness, flow, etc.

Before you scoff and call me pretentious, one of my favourite books so far this year was The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I admittedly found the writing a little pedestrian considering the topic and setting, but at the same time it flowed nicely, roped you in and held on, made you delve as deeply as you could into the story. Even while lacking a little bit in appropriateness, everything else worked, therefore making the book enjoyable.

You can’t just put some words on a page in a structural sentence format and hope that the reader likes it – you have to do something with it and make it your own. Anyone can type a sentence, doing that does not make you a writer. You need to speak to your reader, weave them a tale, evoke images of the place that you want to transport them to. Simply putting some words on a page will not do that, and reeks of telling, and not showing. Don’t tell me your story, show me it.

What I am getting at, in a long, round about sort of way, is that I’m very disappointed with some of what I’ve read so far this year. The great  books have been great, but the bad books have been really bad. While I have not personally enjoyed the books that I have classified as “bad,” I know that there are some who have – probably many! I’m not upset or angry that people have enjoyed these books, again it’s a matter of opinion (unless we’re talking about Alex Cross’s Trial, which was downright racist and I’m not sure how it got published in the first place). It’s just disheartening to get excited to sit down and read something, only to end up dreading picking up that book. I’m one of the people who has to finish reading something, even if it’s bad, as I hate leaving a book unfinished.

What if it gets good? It usually doesn’t. But what if it does this one time? It won’t.

All the same, I need to finish it. People ask me why I just don’t put the book down, and sometimes I do. But I will come back to it, I will finish it. I owe it to the book, not the writer.

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Rainy Days

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Last month I promised to update more, because surely with the weather cooperating I would be doing more! And doing more seems to result in updating more (how many times can I say more). Unfortunately, I’d forgotten where I live, and that I tend to be at the mercy of the weather. Aside from a few sunshiny days earlier in the month, Nova Scotia has been plagued with, what feels like, 40 days and 40 nights of rain and absolutely crummy weather. If it’s not raining, it’s cold, and if it’s not cold, it’s raining. Sometimes it’s cold and rainy. I’m one of those people that’s very much affected by the weather, and days such as this (because yes, it’s rainy today) tend to promote staying inside, catching up on reading and television.

So, needless to say I haven’t done much of all the things that I’ve been planning on doing that has involved adventuring out into the world. Being without a car makes commuting when the weather is like this not very pleasant at all, and at times soggy. I keep wishing for a Saturday where the sun is shining, but so far it alludes me – and it’s almost June. I grow a little envious of seemingly everyone I know elsewhere in the world talking about the nice weather, how they sat on their patios, or went for a walk with the warm sun on their backs. Oh, Nova Scotia. I’ve lived here all of my life, and still I don’t understand its weather patterns – perhaps I never will!

But while my attempts to do things that don’t involve me being indoors have been thwarted, that doesn’t mean I’ve spent the entirety of the month sitting on my butt doing nothing (well, most of it). This past Tuesday, myself and my friend, Becky, saw Legally Blonde: The Musical at Neptune Theatre. I hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I did! The cast was stunning, the songs were fantastic (the opening number is still stuck in my head), the sets were lovely, and it was just an all around good time! If you live in the area and haven’t seen it yet, I recommend seeing it within the next twenty four hours, because it closes tomorrow (I’m getting into the habit of waiting until the absolute last minute possible when it comes to seeing plays).

I’ve also started doing yoga with my friend, Danielle! It was one of my resolutions this year to look into yoga and start taking some classes, and I had waffled on it for so long. Bless Danielle for mentioning that she was interested in doing it too, and had found a studio that she wanted to check out. I’ve been to three classes so far and I’m enjoying it immensely! It’s a bit of learning curve for me, as I’ve never done yoga before, and I’m discovering how out of shape that I truly am. I’m not quite sure I’m getting the poses or the breathing down pat just yet, but that’s what learning is all about. Just in the past two weeks I’ve been feeling better and sleeping better, though a little sore. I suppose that it comes with the territory, and I’m not at all complaining.

I hope that you are all well, and that the sun is shining wherever you are! If you can spare it, could you please send some my way? I think I’ve forgotten what it looks like …

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Oops!

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I have been really slacking in regards to updates as of late, and there is truly no excuse. Well, perhaps there is? March was rather quiet, with not much to update on. Although, in the past two weeks I have done more than I did in the past two months (trip to New York aside)! With Nova Scotia still in the death throes of winter, sometimes it’s nice to simply hibernate, which is basically what I did for the majority of March. It was quiet, which was what I needed. I do feel like my batteries have since been recharged. Although we are supposed to get a “winter storm” tonight. What!? How can we have a “winter storm” when it’s spring? This province sometimes, man. Although, it’s true what they say about Nova Scotia; if you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes.

So, in March I did a whole lot of nothing, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that. Save for a couple of outings with friends, I mostly stayed in, saved my pennies as best I could. Which oddly, I sometimes felt guilty about. I really think that there’s this stigma in our society that if you’re not always on the go, or doing something, that you’re boring or dull, and I don’t think that’s the case at all. The fact that you can barely go outside these days without having to pay someone for something, always being on the go or “out” is not indicative of a happy and fulfilling life. While I have some of the best fun while out with my friends, I also have some of the best fun while I’m at home. Everything is on your terms, which is something that we rarely encounter this day and age. And quite frankly, sometimes we just need to recharge ourselves. I know that personally speaking, after a few long winter months, waking up in the dark, coming home from work in the dark, and repeating this for days on end leaves me feeling exhausted. And all too often, people are made to feel guilty about just wanting to stay in, which I don’t think is right at all. No one should have to justify or be made to feel guilty about not wanting to leave the comfort of their home and their sweatpants. Especially in the winter! Bears get to hibernate, why can’t we? Not sure about the rest of you, but I would definitely be down for four months of relaxing and naps.

All that being said, I promise to do better with updating in the coming months. With the weather beginning to take a turn toward “not winter” (pending storm aside), I anticipate all that vitamin D energizing me, and motivating me to get off my couch and out of my bed. Besides, I’m getting kinda sick of looking at these four walls. Oh, spring! Where are you?

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Currently // Two

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LISTENING TOIf I Had a Heart” by Fever Ray on a constant loop. Earlier this week, I watched the first two episodes of History Channel’s show Vikings (which I love more than words can adequately describe already). Aside from the show itself being visually stunning and featuring a wide array of characters that you love to love and love to hate, something that really stuck with me was the opening theme. The imagery was breathtaking, and the song that played during it really stuck with me. Naturally, I had to find out what it was and listen to it over and over and over again. It fits so well with the show, and is so hauntingly beautiful.

READING “Attack of the Theatre People” by Marc Acito. I read the first part in this series, “How I Paid for College” while enduring layovers and delayed flights during my trip to and from New York, and it was an absolute riot! Strangely enough, I had originally picked up this book a couple of years ago, not knowing that it was a sequel, and it wasn’t until I was a couple of chapters in that I actually figured that out. I haven’t gotten far along in it this time around, as I started reading it last night after a twelve hour day spent at the office, so after a couple of chapters my brain sort of just fizzled out and stopped comprehending anything other than the chanting of “sleep, sleep, sleep!” Really, this series has everything that I could ever want in a piece of literature: the 1980’s, New York City, misguided and misspent youth, theatre, musicals, sexcapades, jazz hands! Yes! Get into my eyeballs!

THINKING ABOUT what comes next. As I mentioned previously, my major resolution for this year was to do and be more. With my pilgrimage to New York City done (but oh, how much I want to go back), I need to focus my attentions elsewhere. The original plan was to recover mentally and financially and then look into taking yoga classes, which is still the primary objective, and I’m currently shopping around various studios and asking friends about their experiences. But more than that, I have no desire to be stagnant, and am still working toward another one of my goals – embracing simplicity. I’m in the process of purging a lot of stuff from my life, mainly material possessions, and it’s harder than it sounds. I have more purses, scarves, shoes, and coats than is acceptable for one person to own. I plan to get all that stuff together, and invite my girl friends over to have their pick at things. I’m planning on selling my monstrosity of a desk, and getting rid of my television (I don’t watch it much anyway). I have pack rat tendencies, so the Great Purge of 2013 will be hard for me, but I know that it’s something that I really need to do.

FEELING tired. I am one of the ten people in the world who absolutely love winter. But even us winter lovers reach a point where we declare, “Enough!” I have reached that point. I keep holding out for one more epic snowstorm that will cripple the city, but with each one that misses us or ends up being nothing but flurries, my patience goes away. Further to that, the long winter months leave me feeling so tired. No amount of sleep is ever enough, and there is not enough tea in the universe to assist in waking me up. Work is in it’s slightly maddening period, and I’m coming home at the end of the day feeling drained for energy. I am intensely looking forward to Easter weekend, as we’re getting four days off, and it will be the first time I’ve had that much time off since Christmas to just relax (there was practically zero relaxing done in New York). Though I enjoy sleeping, I certainly don’t enjoy being tired so much!

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I left my heart in New York City.

I am a bit late in updating this blog in regards to my trip, so please forgive me! Naturally, upon my return, my already broken laptop decided to break further, and there was not nearly enough time at work to sneak in a few moments of blog updating. But I digress!

There are not enough words to describe my experience in New York City, and quite frankly, I’m still struggling with the knowledge that I was actually there. From touch down on Thursday, to take off on Sunday, I was completely possessed by the city and all of the wonderful things that I saw and did. There was not nearly enough time to even get through my short list of things that I wanted to do, and I ended up straying a lot, as I had wanted to, just falling into wonderful little places to eat and to take a breather. My head was so full of recommendations from people that had been there before that it was a little bit overwhelming. And while I appreciated their suggestions, I really just wanted to find things on my own. Someone’s experiences are not always, and in fact are very rarely, yours.

Previously, I had posted a list of all the things that I wanted to see and do in my (really) two and a half days in the city. And looking back at it just now, I almost laughed. The fact that I only got a little bit of what I wanted to done is not at all disheartening! It just means that I have to go back. I knew that I wouldn’t even get through half of my “short list.” The problem with New York City, which I did not take into account, is exactly how big it was, and how far apart everything was. It wasn’t like Halifax where all the major sights and sounds are within a ten block radius. No, there was some major travelling involved in order to get from, say, Times Square to the 9/11 Memorial. And major travelling and time were not exactly on my side. All the same, I saw so much and am so pleased with the things that I did see! I got to the following sights on my list, and am extremely about having had the opportunity to see them:

  1. Times Square
  2. Empire State Building
  3. Madison Square Garden
  4. Grand Central Station
  5. Rockefeller Center (outside only)
  6. Museum of Modern Art
  7. Radio City Music Hall (outside only)

To recap you on everything that I experienced during my time in New York would be an entire blog on its own, so I’m simply going to try and capture some highlights from my trip.

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Day two of my trip to New York (day one was spent travelling and then watching television at Rose’s). I’ve been on subways in both Montreal and Toronto, but nothing compares to the scale and efficiency of the Metro in New York City.

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My first view of the city in daylight outside of Harlem. It was extremely overwhelming and amazing all at once.

nyc005Seeing Time Square in photographs and in television shows in movies pales in comparison to being right there, up close, and personal.

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The food in this city, everywhere I went, was amazing.

nyc014The much needed push to actually get up off my butt and go to New York came in the form of this play. I’d wanted to go to the city for ages, but various things kept holding me back. Picnic was running for a limited time only, and was starring one of my favourite actors, Sebastian Stan. To see him live on Broadway was something I knew I’d probably never get the chance to experience again, and I’d be foolish to pass up the opportunity.

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From on top of the Empire State Building.

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I didn’t stay behind the camera for my entire trip. It was moments such as this that I wish I’d had the foresight to bring sunglasses or purchase a pair. Squinty!

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As a hockey fan, I couldn’t not stop by Madison Square Garden. I was a little bummed that I didn’t have enough time to squeeze in a game, but perhaps next time I’m in the city!

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Everywhere I went, I was completely in awe of the architecture, both inside and out. The New York Public Library had one of the most stunning interiors that I’ve ever had the pleasure of immersing myself in.

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Obligatory photo in Times Square! The person next to to me was waving to someone, but as pointed out by a friend it really looks that he’s about to palm me in the face!

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One of my favourite stops on my trip was to the Museum of Modern Art. I could really only spend a couple of hours in one museum while I was there, and think that I certainly chose wisely! On top of that, I got to spend a few moments with two of my most favourite paintings in the world. Edvard Munch’s “Scream” and …

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Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” I will admit to getting a tad bit emotional in the presence of such famed and gorgeous artwork.

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As I was waiting for my friend and gracious host, Rose, to get off of work, I ended up stumbling upon filming for an episode of Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit! Myself and a handful of other people stood across the street, watching Ice-T and Danny Pino film a couple of takes of them apprehending a suspect. It was a neat thing to watch!

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After filming their scenes both Ice-T and Danny ended up crossing the sidewalk to where we were all lingering. Ice-T seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, but did greet us with a “What’s up, peoples?” and a couple of handshakes. Danny took a couple of photographs, myself and a girl I met from Brazil exchanging cameras. Upon hearing this, Danny wished us both a fantastic rest of our respective trips. How sweet!

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Day three in New York, and Rose took me to the Flatiron District, where I found these door handles on a comic book shop called Forbidden Planet. I need them in my life.

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The famed Fuller Building, more commonly referred to as the Flatiron Building. Even more impressive in person!

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My trip would have been wonderful, fantastic, and everything that I wanted it to be, even had this not happened, but I must say that meeting Sebastian Stan was definitely the highlight. Rose and I lingered by the stage door after we saw him perform in Picnic, and were lucky enough to meet him moments later! There is a verbose and slightly fangirlish story that I will spare you all from, but I will tell you this: he was extremely pleasant and gracious, smiles the entire time for everyone that waited for him, signing autographs and posing for photos. I’m still reeling a little from meeting him, and really don’t think that I will ever recover from it. When you meet someone who’s body of work you’ve admired for a long time, the experience sticks with you, especially when they’re as wonderful in person as Sebastian was. Every time I look at this photo I realize how much of a goober I look like … but I’m an extremely happy goober!

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After meeting Sebastian, celebratory cupcakes were in order, so Rose and I made our way to Magnolia’s!

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Rose and I in Times Square my last night in the city! I miss her so much. Such a lovely person!

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Times Square is an entirely different beast at night.

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On my last day in New York, I packed my carry on luggage up, and Rose took me around for to parts of the city that I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to see. We went to Grand Central Station, had breakfast, and went for a walk to the subway station that would take us to the airport. Again, in such awe of the architecture in this city. Strangely enough, a lot of it reminded me of home.

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One of the many red carpeted entrances to the Plaza hotel, which I would have been amiss to not have seen at all, even if I couldn’t afford to spend more than two minutes there.

I had a really difficult time leaving the city, and more a week later I still am experiencing post trip blues. So much so, that I’m looking at ways that I could go back, and spend a longer amount of time there. Yes, that includes moving there – though perhaps only for a year or so, as my heart belongs to Halifax. However, immigration doesn’t sound fun or easy in the slightest, so we will see what comes of all that.

New York is a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list, although I recommend trying to go for longer than a couple of days! I was spoiled a little bit in the sense that I had someone to stay with, so I didn’t have to shell out money for a hotel. But if you go during the off season, it shouldn’t be so bad!

I am so thankful that I had this opportunity to go, and so glad that I did something that scared me. Really, the nerves didn’t begin to ebb away until I was leaving. But having done something like this, travel by myself and go to a big city somewhat alone, I feel like there’s very little that I can’t do, and it’s definitely set the precedent for the rest of the year.

Love, Love, Love!

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I’ve never thought of Valentine’s Day as just a day for romantic love, but as one for all different kinds of love. While at times, the idea of setting aside one day a year, designated to be the day when we profess our love to one another seems silly to me, it also makes my heart feel so full. How wonderful it is to love, and to be loved. For most of my life, I haven’t had a romantic someone on Valentine’s Day, and that’s okay! I’ve found joy in the day by spending it with other people that I love and care about – family and friends.

This day is double special for me, because it is also my parents’ wedding anniversary! Twenty-eight years today, and still as in love as they ever were. They’re so sweet that it borders on causing diabetes.

So, if you’re feeling down on this particular day, because you don’t have a valentine, or because you’ve not yet found that special someone, don’t discourage. Know this, reader, you are loved by more people than you think, I can guarantee you. And I can assure you, that one of the people that loves you is me. At this juncture, I know virtually everyone who reads this blog (all six of you – haha!), and I do in fact love you all. And even if I don’t know you, chances are that I hold a special place in my heart for you, because you’ve deemed my blog something worth reading, so thank you for that!

I wish you the happiest Valentine’s Day that I possibly can! I hope that you spend the day with people who make you feel as wonderful as you deserve to feel, and doing the things that you enjoy the most. My Valentine’s Day plans consist of going to see A Good Day to Die Hard with Roomie. Yippie Ki-yay!

Empire State of Mind.

While lately I am “getting down with the sickness” (nothing terribly crippling, it’s  just a cold, but I’m a big baby whenever I’m sick), the countdown is on, not that it ever wasn’t since the day that I purchased my tickets. But two short weeks from yesterday (although they will likely drag for me in some sense) I will be on my way to New York City.

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It is a place that I always wanted to go to, to immerse myself in, ever since I was old enough to know that it was an actual city. But for whatever reason, I didn’t think that it would ever happen. I chalk a lot of this up to my family not being the travelling kind, all of our travelling while I was growing up was limited to Atlantic Canada. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I began going on trips with friends (most of them of the road trip variety, and still in Canada), that travelling beyond my own borders was even fathomable. You mean we can all just pile into a van and drive for fourteen hours to Toronto? Aces! But even then, there was the whole manner of potentially getting on a plane to go somewhere, which didn’t happen for the first time until this past autumn. And with that out of the way, I suddenly felt like I could do anything that I wanted. My situation, for the right now at least, is ideal for travelling. I’m single, unattached, without a mortgage, car payments, or overwhelming debt. The only person I answer to is myself, and from 8:30 – 5:00 Monday to Friday, my boss. I’d be a fool to not seize these opportunities right now.

The biggest thing for me about this trip that it’s all me. I’m embracing something new and exciting, but also fear. I don’t like doing things alone, I’d rather have someone with me. Hell, I don’t like to traverse my own city much by myself. Not out of fear, but just because I like having companionship. And yet, I’m travelling alone, and for at least a few hours will be all alone in a big and new city. I’m a little terrified, but that terror is feeding my excitement. This isn’t just a “Let’s go to New York!” sort of trip. This is a “Let’s concur a whole bunch of my fears!” sort of trip. There’s so much that I want to see and do, that trying to plan all of it is making my head spin. I’m kind of banking on just seeing and doing as much as I can without dropping dead from exhaustion.

I know I’m not going to be able to do it all, I know I’m not. I’m trying to keep in mind that really, I only have two and a half days there. I arrive in the city in the early evening of the Thursday and I imagine I will be spending most of that time being exhausted from my travels, then I have Friday to wander and explore. The same goes for Saturday, but a couple of hours will be eaten up by seeing Picnic and subsequent stage dooring. My flight departs on the Sunday in the late afternoon, but given travelling distance between Rose’s and when I need to be at the airport, I’ll likely not manage anything other than breakfast and tearful goodbyes. Whatever I do get to see and do will be fantastic and awesome, but here’s a running list of the things I’d love to see and do while in New York City.

  1. Times Square
  2. Wall Street
  3. Empire State Building
  4. 9/11 Memorial
  5. The Guggenheim
  6. Central Park
  7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  8. Madison Square Garden
  9. Statue of Liberty
  10. Coney Island
  11. Midtown Comics
  12. Grand Central Station
  13. Rockefeller Center
  14. Tom’s Restaurant
  15. America Museum of Natural History
  16. Museum of Modern Art
  17. Radio City Music Hall
  18. Brooklyn Bridge
  19. Lincoln Center
  20. Sleep No More

Realistically, I see maybe getting to half of these, if that. The ones that are italicized are the ones that I really have my sights set on. That being said, while I am looking forward to seeing the touristy things, I like just stumbling into things as well. People have asked me where I plan on eating while I’m there, and I really don’t know, and I’m not sure that I actually want to do that much planning. When I do travel (though it’s been limited to Canada at this juncture) I like to have a small list of things that I want to see and do, but ultimately just want to walk around and find things that will become my favourites. One of my favourite places in Montréal is still Else’s, a little café, sunny and with wonderful staff and tasty food, that I didn’t find in any brochure, but that we sort of fell into after a long day of walking back in 2009. I didn’t get to it the last time I was there this past October, but I really wish that I had. I strongly recommend it if you happen to find yourself in Montréal!

For the meantime, however, I’m mainlining cinnamon heart tea from DAVIDsTEA into my veins in hopes that it will help combat this sickness. If I’m going to get a cold, I’m glad that I’m getting it out of the way now, before I travel, but it still doesn’t make me any happier about getting it!

How about you, dear reader? Have you ever had the pleasure of travelling to New York City, or even living there? Are there some things that you would recommend to this Big Apple Virgin?

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Currently // One

I’m jumping on what appears to be a bandwagon in the world of blogging. I’ve seen various bloggers post entries on things that they are currently enjoying, anticipating, loving, thinking of, etc. And I thought to myself that this might be something fun to do! I’m not certain how often I will do this, weekly seems a bit much, and bi-weekly doesn’t give me enough time for interests and thoughts to shift in most cases (though I am fickle with some things). So, perhaps these will just appear whenever the mood strikes!

LISTENING TO Mat Kearney’s “City of Black and White.” I know that I’m a couple of years behind on this one, but I didn’t start listening to Mat Kearney until spring of last year. For whatever reason, this album just really speaks to me (to borrow an old and tired trope). There is something wonderful and simplistic in the lyrics and the melodies that I just find myself really enjoying. Perhaps it’s because I recently ended a non-relationship with a man that I really liked and really connected with, but I find that whenever I listen this album I think of him. Not necessarily in a bad way, or in a way that would suggest longing, but just thinking of him. Not all the time, but my thoughts drift to him once in a while. Or, perhaps it’s just because Mat Kearney is delightful to listen to. Yes, let’s go with the latter.

READING nothing at the moment. I know, gasp if you must. I’m “between books” right now, as silly as that may sound. The last book I read, “In the Pleasure Groove” by John Taylor of Duran Duran, was one of the best rock memoirs I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I find when I finish reading something that I enjoyed so much, it takes me a short while to recover from it. That makes no sense, I’m well aware. Sitting on my nightstand, however, is “Alive in Necropolis” by Doug Dorst, which I fully intend on starting before this week is over. I had actually started this book last year, and put it down a couple of chapters in. I just wasn’t in the mood for it at that juncture. Hoping to get through it the second time around!

THINKING ABOUT life. It’s such a simple thing, yet such a grand thing. We only get one kick at it all, and lately I find myself thinking about my own life, choices, path, and the things that I want from myself. A lot of my thinking lately has to do with my career. What I’m currently doing, it’s not what I see myself doing in the long run. Do I love aspects of what I do? Absolutely, but I long for something more. I’m in a position where I don’t want to quit my job and go back to school, I couldn’t afford my lifestyle even with a loan, and I’d prefer to do something online or via distance. The problem is finding something that pertains to my interests, and will allow me the time to continue working. I’ve not delved too deeply into this as I’ve just begun thinking of it recently, but it’s on the forefront of my mind often. Life is what you make of it, and what am I made of?

LOOKING FORWARD TO New York! I think this one goes without saying. It’s still a little over three weeks away, but the anticipation is already bubbling over. When 2012 rolled into 2013, I promised myself I would do things that I wanted to do, and not let the little things hold me back. When I began planning this trip, I worried about travelling alone, being in a big city that I’d never been in before, experiencing things that were new and strange to me. And then I wondered to myself, “Why?” I crave adventure, shouldn’t those be things that excite me? I was scared when I bought tickets for the play I’m going to see – it meant I couldn’t back out. I was scared when I purchased my plane tickets – oh god, airplanes with a stranger sitting next to me. But since receiving my confirmation from the airline, I haven’t been able to stop smiling, haven’t been able to stop making lists of places I want to go, things I want to do. Yes, I’m still a little scared, this is a big adventure for me, but more than anything else I am so excited that I could burst.

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These boots were made for walkin’.

I had promised myself that I wouldn’t make any large purchases (or any purchases aside from essentials, really) before my trip to New York in February. But, I am in the market for some new knee high boots. My current ones are suede, and really haven’t been standing up to this Atlantic Canadian winter and its salty sidewalks and streets, so I wanted something a little bit more resilient.

After wandering the mall for about an hour, going to my favourite shoe stores, Aldo and Spring, and coming up empty handed, I stumbled into Town Shoes. I usually find this store to be a bit out of my price range, but I figured boots are something that I can justify spending a little bit of extra money on! And I wanted something really comfortable to walk around the city in (both Halifax and New York).

Imagine my joy, when I found these beauties.

As soon as I put them on my feet, I fell in love. Have you ever put on a pair of shoes, that just fit so perfectly that you sigh audibly, and the person sitting next to you cocks an eyebrow at you because you’re surely some sort of weirdo? Yeah, these boots and I shared that moment.

They’re Steve Maddens, and were worth every penny that I spent on them. I’m a big advocate for buying quality footwear. As someone who spent six years working on her feet, I speak from experience when I say that you really can never spoil your feet too much!

The future starts slow.

I am not doing so well with updating here on a somewhat constant basis, am I? The truth of the matter is, that I really don’t want this blog to turn into the place where I only say things like “I HAVE OPINIONS. AND YOU’RE GOING TO LISTEN TO ME. YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME.” Because really, I’m not that anger and hate filled. That’s not to say that there won’t be more opinion-oriented pieces here, but it wasn’t the reason that I created this space. And, for all intents and purposes, I’ve felt that I haven’t had much worth updating about. I am hoping to change that in 2013.

While 2012 treated me well, I did not make the most of the year as I should have. Each day has the potential to be awesome and wonderful, and should be embraced as such. My resolution for 2013 was to simply do more, be more. Be more what, exactly? Creative, adventurous, unafraid, active, self assured, and a multitude of other things. Though I am off to a slow start, I largely attribute that to being laid out with a rather nasty flu two weeks ago, and it’s bled into this past week as well. But, I am working on it! As for the flu, well, I wouldn’t recommend it. Nasty business that is. It also has not helped that the temperature has been close to thirty below with the windchill around these parts. I love the cold, but not that much!

Last year, I overcame a fear of flying, and was able to get on a plane to go to Montreal with some friends in late October. More amazing still, I was able to get on another one to come back to Halifax. While flying will never be my favourite thing, and I am bound to white-knuckle it a little bit, I can get on a plane without clawing at the face of the person next to me. Which I am certain is appreciated by all, especially the person sitting next to me. As such, I’ve resolved to do more travelling when I can. And one place I have always wanted to travel to is New York City.

Well, friends, on February 21 I will be making my way to NYC! It will be my first trip out of the country, my first trip on my own. I’m nervous, but more excited than anything else. I will only be in the city for a couple of days, and am already compiling a list of things that I want to cram into such a small amount of time. Ultimately, I would just love to wander the city and fall into lovely and wonderful places, but there is so much to see and do, and not nearly enough time to do it all! Museums and galleries are a must, as are typical tourist hot spots such as Times Square, Wall Street, Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial, and perhaps if weather permits, the Statue of Liberty. Of course, I’m hoping to get a little bit of shopping in as well, though not much, as I don’t want my bank account to hate me too much (it’s already a little mad at me)! I have already booked tickets for myself and my friend Rose (who has graciously offered me her couch to crash on) to see Picnic on Broadway at the American Airlines Theater, starring the lovely Sebastian Stan, Maggie Grace, and Ellen Burstyn. I am just so looking forward to the experience of being in a city that’s strange to me, and one that has so many exciting things to offer.

Really, my only fear is that I will not want to leave. Which would not be so much a fear, as it would be an exciting awakening. I don’t think I could ever leave Nova Scotia, though. My soul belongs here, and my heart belongs to the sea. However, I’m a firm believer in never saying never …

Domestic violence does not make your comic “edgy,” Remender.

This likely isn’t news to any of you, but I am a comic book fan. Unless you’re new here, then it is likely news. So, there you have it! I won’t bore you with the history of my love for comic books and comic book characters, that is perhaps another post for another day. All you need to know for the moment is that I love comics, and I have a lot of feelings about them and some of the characters contained within those pages.

I don’t profess to know everything, nor have I read all of the comics featuring one of my favourite characters – Captain America (he is outranked only by Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier on my personal favourites list). Though I’ve not read all of the Captain America comics, and I suspect that there are few who actually have, I’ve learned as much as I can about his past, his story, and continue to do so. It never comes as a shock to me when I discover something new about Steve Rogers. This is a character who has been in print for seventy years – there is always going to be something new to discover!

I was a huge fan of Ed Brubaker’s run of Captain America. The man was by no means perfect, and his treatment of female characters was at times extremely flawed in my opinion, but overall, for eight years, I was absolutely thrilled to pick up the latest issue or trade of the Captain America title, excited to see what Brubaker had in store for us and Steve Rogers.  You can imagine my heartbreak, when earlier this year Brubaker announced that he was stepping down from writing Captain America (and Winter Soldier). Who would wield the shield? – so to speak.

When Marvel announced Marvel NOW! (the relaunching of several of their ongoing titles) I was hesitant to be excited. I could see what they were doing from a marketing standpoint, wanting to capture the new fans that they had acquired through the Marvel Studios’ release of The Avengers, and other titles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s difficult to first get into comics, you’re not really sure where to start, and Marvel was creating an easy way for new fans to jump into purchasing and reading titles that they may not have before.

Along with the announcement of Ed Brubaker leaving the Captain America title, and Marvel NOW!, came the announcement that Rick Remender would take over the writing of Captain America for the MARVEL NOW! relaunch.

I was less than pleased. Remender has not been one of my favourite comic book writers. I personally find his style of writing too reliant on tired, old tropes that we have seen before. I also find his treatment of women in his comics to be extremely misogynistic, which I take more issue with than tropes. However, I wanted to give Remender a chance – he’d been given creative licence with one of my favourites. And because Captain America is a favourite of mine, I felt I owed it to the character, and all those who had written him before, to at least pick up the first couple of issues and support the character and the writer.

Suffice to say, I truly wish that I hadn’t.

In the first couple of pages, we are transported back to Steve Rogers’ past, and we watch as Joseph Rogers, his father, slaps and beats his mother, Sarah Rogers.

I found this appalling. In the seventy years of the Captain America story, many people have tried something new with Steve’s past, however this was the first instance I had ever encountered of his father being abusive. Steve has often recalled his father with fondness, though Joseph died when Steve was very young, during WWI. There have been mentions of alcoholism in the past, but alcoholism is not synonymous with abuse. Tumblr user, Wondy Girl, compiled a fantastic post of mentions of Joseph Rogers here – I strongly recommend that you check it out!

A couple of people, myself included, took to social networking to inquire about the sudden change in Joseph Rogers. Though Steve’s parents died when he was young (how young depends on the writer), he seems to have happy memories of them. Surely there was a reason for this change in character!

Hold up, we’ve got a bad ass over here.

First off, my apologies that the Tweets look kind of wonky. I had to screen cap each one individually, as it appears that after our little exchange that I was blocked from Remender’s account.

Rick Remender, professional comic book writer for one of the most recognizable comic book publishers in the world, exercises an extreme amount of unwarranted sarcasm when I merely question him about canon (or as he refers to it, “cannon”). My knowledge of canon, as stated earlier, has Joseph being referred to as an alcoholic a handful of times, but never abusive. However, Remender states to another user on Twitter that it is in fact canon.

When all I did was basically call that into question, Remender gets defensive and says in what I can only assume is the most sarcastic tone he can pull from his butt hurt asshole, that he’ll only write established canon – nothing new! – from now on. And you can see my retaliation to this comment. So, which is it, Remender? Is it canon or something new? Pick one.

An adult may have informed me that they were trying something new, or that perhaps I was wrong and it was done in the past, as you can see in Issue X of Volume Y, at which point I would have tipped my cap and said thank you! But, no. Not Rick Remender. Sarcasm, ahoy! Yes, because that’s how to treat people who are purchasing your comics. Oops, slipped on some of my own sarcasm. My bad.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with exploring new things for a character that you’re excited to write about. But when your original defense is that something is canon, when you damn well know that it’s not, or you can’t be an adult about it and tell me that it has in fact been explored before, I’m afraid I have to call shenanigans. Especially when it’s a character I adore, such as Steve Rogers.

Furthermore, Remender’s treatment of people messaging him who basically aren’t fawning over his awesomeness with this latest issue of Captain America is deplorable. As a writer, one needs to recognize that not everyone is going to be on board with what you’re doing, especially when you take the helm of writing a title for one of the most adored characters under the Marvel banner. And as a good writer, being open to criticism and accepting that not everyone will be kissing your ass is what makes you an even better writer. All Remender appears to be doing is taking tired old tropes, and using the abuse of Steve Rogers’ mother as one the reasons he learns to “stand up to evil.” And heaven forbid that people aren’t cool with that!

Actually, it is extremely gross and misogynistic, whether you seem to think so or not. Responding to someone’s comment that what you’re doing is not sexist does not absolve you of sexism. Sarah Rogers has always been a hero to Steve, but she never needed to suffer abuse in order for that to be true. You’re using violence as a crutch for your story, and it is in fact extremely lazy writing and piss poor storytelling. There is absolutely no denying that children have found strength in parents who stand up to abuse, who never back down, but it was never necessary for Steve. His mother taught him well, raised a good boy who turned into a good man. Is there something so wrong with that? No. I assume it was merely too “boring,” and instead Remender decided to take a more “edgy” approach.

Mr. Remender, I was willing to give you a shot, despite you letting me down in the past. However, I’m afraid that after this current arc that I will not be purchasing any more of the Captain America title written under your name (I’m a bit OCD about my comics – once I start an arc I have to see it through. Trust me when I say I wish I could drop this now). You’re acting like a petulant child who isn’t getting your way when fans of Captain America are calling you out on your bullshit, and not kissing your ass because of how lucky we are to have you write for us. The fact that I will not be supporting one of my favourite character’s titles is disheartening, but only serves to reaffirm what I thought upon hearing the announcement of Marvel NOW! – it’s going to be a disaster.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Alternatively, the introductory post.

At least once a year, without fail, I will craft some sort of blog that I fully intend to fill with things. Entries just bursting at the seams with words, with photographs, with various stories of things that are going on in my life, or of things that interest me. And it is at least once a year, without fail, that aforementioned blog falls to the wayside, forgotten and floating around in cyberspace.

The problem is, I always seem to start a new blog whenever my life (from my perspective, at least) is growing interesting, and I have various stories to tell. And inevitably, excitement dies off, and I have nothing to update about. However, as we enter into my favourite season, autumn, I am an abundance of words, and things of varying interest.

What will you find here? Stories, both fictional and perhaps not so much, photographs, though I do not aspire to be a photographer, the ramblings of someone far too invested in the things that she enjoys, and much more, but perhaps not at all. Do stay, and maybe I can eventually make it worth your while.

So, as I sit in the dark of my room, becoming increasingly too lazy to lean over and turn the light on (just to give a taste of today’s excitement), I hope that this year I fail to continue with previous years’ trends. Perhaps, where I am not taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, my efforts in writing will be concentrated elsewhere. Specifically, here.