Category Archives: The BIG 30 Project
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I grew up as a fat kid and worse, as far as society was concerned, a fat girl.
Knowing this is important because I feel it adds significance to what I’m about to say: I’ve always wanted to go proper camping with friends but been terrified to do so.
I love nature. I find it grounding and relaxing. So you’d think that camping would be right up my ally. Weeeeeeeell, yes and no. Camping always seemed like a thing for people in better shape.
Camping seemed the realm of fit people. Not meant for me. There were too many opportunities for a kid, constantly concerned that everyone was thinking about how fat she was, to embarrass herself.
It’s a defeatist frame of mind I’ve been battling for a long time and honestly, doing things on this Big 30 project has really helped.
I know it’s helped because when friends offered to let me join them on a backwoods camping trip that I was totally terrified I would be a drag on, I said yes.
Not only did I say yes, I fucking WENT.
I know I don’t look thrilled there, but that’s mostly because the first night was freezing and I was nervous about our first day of proper hiking.
Not only were we hiking, we were hiking with heavy packs on our backs that included our tents, food, and evvvvvvvvvvvverything.
It wasn’t exactly easy hiking either, but damn was it beautiful.
It was honestly a super challenging but super fun weekend.
We cooked meals by campfire, we swam in frigid lake, we hiked across a beaver dam, I used one of those plastic thingys so that I could pee standing up like a man…it was great.
Hiking with a heavy pack was something I was really nervous about and although I was slow, I was mostly able to keep a fairly good pace. One of my friends who was with us had a concussion and while I wouldn’t wish that on her, I appreciated having someone else who went the same pace as I did.
Going on this trip really pushed my boundaries and it made me realize that sometimes I say no because I’m afraid I can’t do the thing I want to do and saying no is easier than trying and failing. It also made me realize that I resent the hell out of myself when I do that.
When we set up camp day 2, the other two ladies in the group and myself decided to go jump in the lake.
I’ve swam in lakes before, so you wouldn’t THINK that’s a big deal for me, but I’ve almost always swam in familiar waters or at least in places where I can wade in and sort of see what I’m going into.
Here’s a recreation of what I was thinking before I jumped in the water:
“I saw a snake in the water not far from here earlier, what if there are more snakes in the water? What if a snake is in the rocks and I freak it out when I jump in the water and it bites me? Are there poisonous water snakes in Ontario, I thought we only had Rattlesnakes that are poisonous, I should learn more about snakes and indigenous species in general.
These rocks are slippy, if I jump in the water I might not be very able to get out again and then it’s this big thing and I’ll look like and idiot and I’ll feel like and idiot and can I even get into the water in the first place? What if I slip on the rock on my way into the water and crack my head open? What if I jump in the water and there’s a rock I can’t see and I cut myself?
I don’t like not being able to see the bottom of the lake, it’s cool if I can’t touch the bottom but what if there’s something in there that bites me or touches my feet?!”
As much worrying as there is above, I didn’t dither too long before I jumped in and once I was in, I was really happy. Not just happy because I did the thing, but happy because I felt all gross and sticky and no longer did. That and I just genuinely love swimming.
Not that long ago, I would have begged out of the swimming and either sat on the side feeling like a loser or gone back to my tent feeling left out. I didn’t do any of that, though. Instead, I just did the thing I wanted to do and felt amazing for having done it. That’s pretty much how I felt about the entire weekend, really.
It was stuff I wanted to do but wasn’t sure if I could and I didn’t want to be a drag on anyone if I couldn’t, but I did it anyway. Not only did I try, I succeeded!
I learned a lot that weekend and I can’t thank my friends and their friends enough for letting me tag along and for being so freaking supportive.
I’d backwoods camp with you kids any day…although not right now because it’s winter.
Freezing my ass off is not on my bucket list.
So, I might be slightly freaking out about my attempts to do 30 things before I hit 30.
I will be 28 in exactly 1 month from today and I HAVE ONLY COMPLETED 14 THINGS!
I mean, I have one more thing done that I haven’t written about yet, but STILL!
That’s 15 more things to get done between now and March 2 2019.
Now, I do have three things planned for this year so far, but that still leaves me 12 things.
Dear God, there’s a lot of math in the blog today.
F*^king math, following me throughout my life.
In addition….heh. Get it? Because I was bitching about math and addition is a mathematical term? Some of you get it. Some of you maybe didn’t. Sorry, didn’t mean to DIVIDE my audience. Hopefully all these puns that keep MULTIPLYING don’t SUBTRACT from your enjoyment of my nonsense. Ok. I’m done.
Ok, sorry for the TANGENT.
(I WASN’T DONE)
I’m done now. I mean, PARABOLY.You know? Like parabola?
Ok, I’m actually done now.
Anyway, in addition to the limited time I have to complete these 12 or so things I also have a problem in that I DO NOT KNOW OF 12 MORE THINGS I WANT TO/AM ABLE TO DO.
There’s a reason that movie montages always feature the same few activities when they’re trying to ‘live life to the fullest’, it’s because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO THAT UNLESS THEY’RE STUPID RICH (writers generally are not rich).
I mean, everyone goes horseback riding or skydiving or goes off in a hot air balloon ALL OF WHICH I ALREADY DONE DID!
I even met one of my favourite musicians!
I HUGGED her. I PLAYED and SANG in front of people, her included.
I’m going to try to go dog sledding, try falconry, and go on a vintage plane ride with my Dad this year, but that still leaves quite a few things to do…
I could try to face some of my fears, but I only have like two fears if you don’t count love and electricity.
Sidenote: Love and Electricity would make a really hipster band name.
I’m going to the UK in March, so I can look into things to try while I’m there…but it’s hard to look for things when you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
I kind of wish I could browse around a shop of unique and different things to try in your life. Although, admittedly, that would suck some of the fun out of hunting them down in the first place-and by fun I mean, the bragging rights that automatically come from having done something cool someone else hadn’t thought of before you told them you did it.
So, here’s what I’m asking, handful of readers: HALP ME!
Please leave me a suggestion for the next neat thing I could try because I AM RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS AGAIN.
I’ve seen so many movies and tv shows depicting balls and galas, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to attend one.
I’m not a fancy person. In fact, rich people make me uncomfortable. I always have the sneaking suspicion that they’re going to try to have me killed or something, which I know logically doesn’t make sense but it’s an instinct I can’t explain.
I’m the kind of person who feels inexplicable guilt when I buy something new if the old thing is still semi-functioning, so maybe it has to do with that. Maybe I just have trouble trusting people who have large amounts of wealth because unless I see a guilt matching my own on their faces I feel like they must be a James Bond villain or something.
While fortune does make me uncomfortable, that doesn’t stop me from wondering what it would be like to go to a non-wedding fancy event. Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend an actual ball for charity.
Through the generosity of one of the partners at work, myself and a good friend of mine were able to attend a ball held for the benefit of Nature Canada, the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada and one that has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat.
The entire evening was like a weird dream for me. Which is probably why I made this face for most of the night:
The moment we stepped into the cocktail hour, we were handed complimentary glasses of champagne and surrounded with an atmosphere that made me fear we were actually on the Titanic and may hit an iceberg at any moment.
The room was filled with silent auction items, a green carpet for photo opportunities, and a live owl. You know, so people could see this great magnificent bird of prey and be like ‘Oh yes, lovely. We should en-devour to make sure this graceful creature doesn’t die out because of our asshattery’
The owl was awesome and seemed kind of pissed, which made me feel like he was my spirit animal. It also made the evening feel more surreal, which really wasn’t necessary because the ballroom looked like this:
First off: the place looked like it was King Trident’s palace. I really expected Ariel to burst into the room and sing Under the Sea, but given that the main course of the diner was fish, I guess it’s a good thing that didn’t happen.
So yeah, we were basically in a live action Disney movie.
Also, look at that cutlery! Never did I think in my life I’d need the knowledge that your work your way in when dealing with multiple cutlery settings. I mean, I have on occasion eaten a meal with a spatula. I’m not exactly cutlery girl but not only did I know the rules, I managed to get myself into a situation where I would need them.
Now, lastly, let me point out the stuff on our chair. THOSE WERE OUR SWAG BAGS. They included a sleeping bag, African Honey, and the first volume of Margaret Atwood’s new graphic novel.
Oh yeah, Margaret Atwood was there. She was hilarious and articulate, because of course she was, and I would like to grow up to be her. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was also there, as she was being honoured as the 100th Woman of Nature, and she gave a nice talk about the importance of Nature to the development of children. We were also treated to a live performance by Juno award winning singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, who is somehow better live than recorded and hilarious in her own right.
Of course, we were fed, as well.
First of all, LOOK AT THOSE BUTTER BALLS. Who, why…like. Who’s like, you know what this room needs? Fancier butter. I mean, it’s a nice touch I guess but it really seems to my that spherical butter isn’t the most practical in terms of shape choices. How do you spread a sphere? They roll! I mean, they roll and go ON a roll which is fun, but really not practical.
Ok, I’m done with the butter.
I just think a different shape would have been a BUTTER idea.
Get it? Like better, but butter, because puns.
Yeah, you get it.
The first course was a fancy beet salad that I didn’t take pictures of because beets are gross and taste like dirt and also I forgot. The main course was Lake Eerie pickerel and fancy veggies and barley berry risotto, which was fancy although I was slightly worried about eating fish from the Great Lakes considering how crap they get treated by humans.
Now the dessert. Let’s talk abut the dessert.
LOOKIT THAT DAMN GLORIOUSNESS! That’s magic dust pressed together to form a chocolatey pillar of doom, a shortbread cookie dusted in fairy powder, a chocolate ribbon BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE IS, and strawberry compote pureé with a candied strawberry because a glaze wouldn’t be fancy or confusing enough.
This dish was the most filling and most delicious course of the entire evening. I get it fancy people. I get why you eat beet salad despite how terrible beets are and a small main course, it’s so you can eat this glorious-ness. I get it. I get it and I approve.
After dinner we were treated to the most Canadian auction on the face of the planet that included a canoe with safety equipment and two cherry wood paddles signed by Mr. & Mrs. Trudeau the sequels. It was carried into the room by folks because you know how easy it is to forget what a canoe looks like.
There was also a raffle where Margaret Atwood won both prizes (she was gifted the second place prize by the winner and then won the first place prize) because she’s clearly magic and frankly I’m ok with that.
After the raffles and auction, there was a DJ and dancing, but my friend Megan and I left about that point because it was late and we were tired. WOOOT! WE ARE HIP YOUNG PEOPLE!
Despite the entire evening feeling surreal, I had an amazing time. It was really interesting and fun to see things from a different perspective and I’m so glad Megan agreed to go with me so I had someone to help me resist the urge to fake bid money I don’t have and to reassure me that I’m not crazy for not actually owning a ballgown. She is a treasure not only for her company, but for patiently putting up with my frequent bouts of paranoia that someone would point at me and yell “IT’S A POOR! GET HER!”
Thanks for joining me for a crazy evening, lady. It’s gonna be hard to forget this one.
Ever since I was a kid, I had a dog around.
Growing up, our dog Cindy was everything to my from my first word to my protector. Uncommonly intelligent for a dog, she was my parents furry baby before they had me- their slightly less furry baby.
My life until I moved to university, was never without a dog and I always knew that some day, I would want a dog of my own.
I never envisioned my life as an adult without a dog and then, as I became and adult, I wasn’t sure how one would factor in.
Last year, I had decided I would keep watch for an elderly dog sometime in the next five years and adopt them. Give them a few last good years of life.
Of course, very little ever goes as planned.
This year has been hard for me. I’ve struggled more than is usual with my depression and taking care of myself became a gargantuan task. I was also lonely. Now, it’s important to note that these are not good reasons to get a dog, and they are not the reasons I got a dog, but they are reasons I factored into deciding to get one.
I’m self aware enough to know that I will take care of others before myself, animals included. I had no concerns about taking care of a pet, I knew that I could fiscally afford it, the only question was did I want to?
I’m slightly ahead of myself. See, when I first saw my dog he was nothing more than a picture on a friend’s Facebook post.
A puppy, he belonged to the co-worker of a friend of mine. He was half Pug and half Japonese Chin (which I had not heard of), and he needed a good home. I fell in love at first sight. On impulse (which as a non-impulsive person for the most part is rare) I sent a message.
The rest of the details don’t matter to me as much as the end result which is that I got the best puppy in the world.
This is Dougal when I first got him. Originally named Link, he was just five months old when I got him. I fell in love with him and his temperament the moment I met him.
He didn’t respond to the name Link at all, so I renamed him Dougal after Father Dougal from Father Ted. I feel they bear a striking resemblance
Now, as much as I knew what I was getting into, getting Dougal was overwhelming at first. I felt guilty for not being around as much as I felt I should, I wondered if I’d been selfish in adopting him when he could have gone to a home that might have given him more freedom, and he was in fully crazy puppy mode and I just wasn’t quite sure if I was going to be good enough to handle it.
But bit by bit, it got easier every day. Having Dougal to take care of, forced me to take care of myself in times when I wouldn’t have otherwise. He made and still makes me feel less alone, and he introduced me into a community of great dog-owners who I’m glad to count among my friends.
A lot has changed since the day I got him in March.
It’s been a hard year and I’m not sure I could have gotten through it without Doogs (which is one of his many nicknames. Dad calls him the Dooginator). He’s my cuddle buddy, my reason to get up in the morning instead of sleeping in, my foot warmer as I’m writing this, and my best friend.
Dougal is the friendliest little dog in the world. He greets everyone he meets with enthusiastic love, he has the swaggering confidence of a big dog, and he loves nothing more than to leap into your lap and accept lavish affection no matter who you are. There just aren’t enough words to express how much joy he spreads around.
Now, originally I was going to post this last Thursday but I figured I’d wait till today because today Dougal turned 1 year old. He’s come a long way since I got him. He’s no longer crated, he’s WAY better at coming when he’s called, and he hasn’t chewed anything I own in I don’t know how long. I’m very proud of him.
Happy Birthday, Dougal. You’re
a good the best boy.
As I have admitteded repeatedly in this blog: I was kind of a coward as a kid.
A lot of shit scared me, but I always dreamed of doing cool and potentially dangerous things and what is more potentially dangerous than putting an axe into my hands and allowing me to throw it at stuff?
Part of what I want to do with this Big 30 Project is connect with my friends and share crazy experiences. When my birthday rolled around this year, it was the perfect opportunity to do a Big 30 Project with friends.
Now, before I talk about the axe throwing, I’m going to gush for a moment:
I have a crazy cool group of friends and the group I did this with are kind of wonderfully nuts. They encourage me to be an actual human, they support me when I’m unable to human, and they encourage me to do crazy shit that could make a great story and probably won’t kill me.
I don’t think you can ask for better than that.
Anyway, you didn’t come here for sappy gushing word vomit, you came for pointy things.
Believe it or not, Ottawa has multiple axe-throwing facilities, but for our purposes we went to BATL Grounds.
The staff were super great and encouraging.
They taught us not only how to throw the axes, but encouraged us not to worry about being good at it so much as having fun. They encouraged us not to fear the axe, which is easy to say but harder to do when you have to haul this hatchet over your head and lean back with it only to whip it like you’re a human trebuchet. (If you don’t know what a trebuchet is, look it up because they’re awesome and also something I probably shouldn’t ever be allowed to operate.)
Despite my familiarity with axes/hatchets (we mostly threw small axes which is a hatchet to me but in the event of a tie there was a proper axe brought out that thoroughly intimidated all who threw it), I sucked at this.
I mean, really.
My Papa (Dad’s Dad) was a lumberjack and I thought that might somehow give me a competitive edge, but clearly I have inherited none of his strength or aim. I kept hoping he’d pull a Ghost and possess me so I could impress everyone and win, but no such luck. He was really Catholic, is there something in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not possess thy granddaughter and help her to win a tournament of axe-throwing”?
Serious question. I don’t know. I kind of skimmed it.
Anyway, the only thing that really matters is that we had fun….
AND that I managed to get a bullseye once and had it documented so you can’t prove I wasn’t amazing at throwing axes.
Ok. So it’s not a perfect bullseye, but it was still a bullseye and I tried so shut up.
Seriously, though. It was a super fun night.
My friends were their normal hilarious selves and I enjoyed everything from catching up with people to the chanting of DEVICE DEVICE DEVICE (a thing used to measure how much of an axe is in what area) and BIG AXE BIG AXE BIG AXE (when a match between two people ended up tied, the Big Axe was brought out and highest score thrown won).
The only down side to this night was the day after.
It turns out that axe-throwing is a major core workout. My abs killed me the next day.
I DID NOT EVEN KNOW I HAD ABS BEFORE.
Now I know, with painful accuracy, where they are.
Thankfully that only lasted about a day but apparently I wasn’t the only one hurting. I’m tempted to take this up as a hobby just so I can get shredded abs but then I remember how non-bus accessible these places are and how much I enjoy sleep.
Seriously, though. I love this and I find the more stuff I do like this, the more I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t do stuff like this before.
What was I afraid of?
Was it a kind of laziness?
I suppose when it comes down to it, the answer doesn’t really matter because what matters is that I’m doing this stuff now.
Oh! I almost forgot: At the end of the night, I was given the middle plank of our target and all my friends signed it.
I don’t know what the f#@k I’m going to do with it, but it’s covered in axe puns and smells good and I love it.
P.S. Apologies if this post seemed a little scattered or poorly written. My new puppy figured out how to hump stuff this evening so…
That’s a whole thing.
I’ve had to get up to move about 10 times to discourage it.
I love the little bastard but I now look forward to the day he gets neutered.
Snip, snip, motherf**ker.
In about a week and a half, I am going to be turning 27.
I usually find a looming birthday causes some introspection, but the older I get, the more a looming birthday feels like a NO, DO NOT WANT moment more than anything else.
I never thought I’d be terrified of turning 30.
I thought that I’d never turn into one of those people who was at all conscious of their age, let alone self-conscious about it.
Age is just a number, I thought.
How naive I was.
Lots of things are just numbers, it doesn’t make them any less horrible.
Take math for example. Math is just numbers, but it’s still the worst.
Maybe it’s because I have such high and flawed expectations for myself.
As you can probably tell from my blog, or just from knowing me, or from sorting through my recycling (stop doing that by the way, it’s creepy), I am a big list person.
I like plans. I like to know where I’m going and when.
I have planned and re-planned out my life multiple times and it’s never bothered me too much but there are some milestones I never thought I’d be missing at this point in my life and despite the fact I know that life doesn’t work that way and I’m not failing at being an adult by refusing to meet the unrealistic expectations of my childhoods self, it still feels like failure and why am I aging and OH MY GOD, ONE DAY I WILL DIE!
I know it’s childish, and even privileged, but I want to just stomp my feet and refuse to get older.
I WON’T TURN 27.
I DON’T WANNA.
YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
(Incidentally, having this as a knee-jerk reaction might be why I get along so well with toddlers. Toddlers get me.)
I thought that by 27, I would maybe not own a house but at least have a decent down-payment for one. I thought I would be in the career I saw myself in for the rest of my life. I thought I’d be in a committed relationship.
I can’t afford a condo, let alone a house. I really like my job but I don’t see myself doing it forever, I’m not even sure if I want to live in Ottawa forever. I’m not in a relationship and the idea of being in one is currently like food the morning of a terrible hangover. I mean, I kind of want it but I also don’t and the entire situation makes me want to vomit profusely.
All of that is perfectly fine, by the way. It’s just…not what I expected. Life tends to be like that, mostly unexpected.
I’ve decided a don’t like it.
The upside, though, is that some of the unexpected stuff is pretty great.
I never thought I would have a Masters degree. I didn’t think I’d live in Ireland or travel near as much as I have. I never expected to forge some of the friendships I have. I never really thought I’d jump out of a plane, or play ukulele in front of one of my favourite musicians, or turn out to be kind of decent at pottery.
When I started the BIG 30 Project, it was because I wanted to accomplish something and push myself. I never expected it would become a balm to my irrational panic about aging and where I am in Life….but it has.
Before my birthday, providing the weather is good, I’m going dog-sledding. After my birthday, I’m going to go huck axes at stuff with the best group of friends a person could ask for. Those are things that have no age limit on them….well, except the axe throwing. I think you have to be at least 16 for that.
I look forward to seeing what crazy experiences my 27th year on this planet brings me….even if I’m absolutely terrified.
Oh, also? If one more person tells me not to begrudge getting older because it’s a privilege denied to many, I am going to clothesline you.
I will collapse your trachea.
I’m not kidding.
So far, I don’t like 2016.
Work has been hellish, I’m always exhausted, and my personal hero died.
There are a lot of things I’d like to say about the passing of David Bowie, but as much as I want to talk about what a catalyst for my life he was (and still is, even if he’s gone back into space), it feels almost too personal.
And also, honestly, it hurts too much.
That might sound stupid to some, considering I never knew him personally, but those people can piss off because you don’t need to know someone for them to touch your life. If you’re inspired by a painting or sculpture, you don’t need to know the name of the artist for them to have reached you.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to look ahead and focus on the good because so much of right now has been less than good.
The biggest focus is, as always, what else I want to try to get done before I turn 30. Perhaps this has been on my mind in particular this week because of the loss of Bowie and today’s loss of the great Alan Rickman.
Both men were so talented and they lived SO MUCH in such a relatively brief span of time…that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to fit as much into my life as I can so that no matter what age I shuffle off this mortal coil (although, let’s face it, I’m more likely to stumble off this mortal coil), people can say “she sure LIVED her life”.
So, that leads me to what I want to try to do this year.
I want adventure.
I want weird.
I want to conquer my fears.
I want to stay within a reasonable budget.
Ok, so that last one isn’t particularly inspiring, but it’s true. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’M FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE, BITCHES!
What kind of stuff do I want to conquer?
So far, here’s what I’m thinking:
- Dog Sledding: I like dogs, I like getting comfortabley dragged behind things, and I desire to be the most Canadian I can be. So this seems like a natural desire.
- Axe Throwing: I like pointy things, I like throwing things, and I have enough pent up anger that I feel like this would be therapeutic. Also, they let you bring your own snacks.
- Zip Lining: I didn’t get to it in 2015 but I still want to try this. Sure I’m not a huge fan of heights but if I can go in a hot air balloon and jump out of an airplane, surely I can manage a little Mission Impossible time?
- Falconry: In general, I don’t trust birds, but I like birds of prey. They know what they’re about and I respect that. Also, this would be a useful skill for…reasons.
- Sailing: I’ve never been sailing but my Grampa used to do it all the time and I’ve always wanted to go.
- Sewing Classes: I can quilt and do minor repairs, but I’d like to get fancier.
- Go Somewhere New: Yes, this is vague, but so is the fate of the Canadian Dollar right now.
So far, that’s all I can think of but I’m sure more will come to me.
I mean, I hope.
I think my favourite thing about this whole 30 Before 30 project is that it ISN’T an itemized list of stuff for me to do, it’s just a goal I have to accomplish that forces me to constantly be on the lookout for new and interesting things.
Sometimes that can be a little bit of pressure.
A lot of the time it’s kind of a relief.
Well, I’m afraid that’s all I have to say this week. I know it’s a short blog and kind of rambling, but note what I said earlier about being exhausted.
I am tired and there is still much to do.
Much more to do.
I got my first tattoo when I was 18 years old.
Such a stereotype, right?
An act of teenage rebellion, fueled by hormones, at least that’s what most people seem to think when I tell them my first tattoo was at 18. That’s not the case though.
I wanted a tattoo from probably the age of 16, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to get. Looking back, it’s easy to see that the root of my indecisiveness was because I’m cautious by nature and knew that tattoos are, for the most part, permanent.
I wanted a tattoo, I didn’t want to regret a tattoo.
I decided to play it safe by choosing a cross.
I wasn’t by any means religious as a teenager, by 16 I was well on my way to identifying as agnostic and by 17 it was fairly cemented but I recognized that having been raised Catholic and with grandparents who had very strong roots in the church, religion would always be a part of who I was. I figured that the cross, as a symbol, was unlikely to develop new meaning anytime soon and so overall, I decided it was a safe choice.
I thought about it for a year, I did my research, and then I broached the subject with my parents. They were supportive, if a bit resistant, but treated me as they always have: A responsible girl capable of making her own decisions.
I tried to find a photo of the tattoo but literally the only photo I could find where you can even kind of see it is in one or two photos of me from first year university and the photo I took when I initially started talking to Sarah about it.
As you can see, it wasn’t a particularly large or complicated tattoo. In fact, so rarely did people see it or notice it, that friends I’ve had for years would routinely forget I had it and people who DID notice it would immediately assume I was religious and ask me questions.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love tattoo questions. I put time and thought into getting a tattoo and I invested the money to get it, so I love when someone compliments my skin art and asks about it. What I found exhausting was that I had to constantly explain why I would get a religious symbol tattooed on me if I wasn’t religious myself.
Besides that, the tattoo itself wasn’t particularly special. I had wanted to consult an artist and have a tattoo designed but the shop I went to, while have a spotless reputation, was more of an old school “Point and pick” type of place.
After a few years, I fell out of love with the tattoo but I never regretted it.
Getting a tattoo felt like the first step of becoming who I was going to be. It was a physical way I chose to express myself and if I hadn’t gotten one at 18, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the postmark tattoo that started this whole crazy 30 before 30 journey.
So, like I said, no regrets. Still, I wasn’t in love with the tattoo anymore.
I’ve thought about getting a cover up a few times over the years and a lot more since I got my postmark tattoo. So, naturally, I turned to the same insanely talented artist who did my postmark to do the cover up.
Sarah Rogers works at 5 Cent Tattoo and is basically the coolest person ever. She took a look at my cross, took a few pictures, talked with me about what I wanted and let me send her a Pinterest board full of inspiration.
In the end, we agreed on three flowers with a lil foliage in a vintage style.
Since the cross had originally had a lot to do with the memory of my Nana (despite the fact I’m not sure how she’d feel about me having a tattoo. Papa saw and approved the original, so maybe she’d have been ok with it), so I wanted to do something else that kind of kept her memory in mind.
Nana was pretty well known for having a green thumb and it’s one of the things I remember best about the house she and Papa lived in. When I was little, she used to let me pick the violets that grew between the cracks in the cement outside the house and put them in little arrangements. If I was PARTICULARLY well behaved, I even occasionally got to pick one of her many petunias.
In memory of those times, when she was healthiest and at her best, I decided to get a violet and a dusty rose petunia. For the final flower, I chose a red carnation. Nana loved red carnations and they were very prevalent at her wake and funeral as a result.
When Nana passed in 1999, I was 10 years old and it was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. She’d been sick for a long time, had two strokes, but in my kid brain, I still kind of hoped she’d get better and go back to being Nana (even if I knew that wasn’t possible).
As hard as it was to lose her, though, Nana’s passing inadvertently became the catalyst for a deeper relationship with my Papa. I’d always been closer to Nana than I was to Papa, probably because where she was loud and boisterous, Papa was quiet (though SUPER mischievous if you really knew him).
After losing Nana, Papa came out to my parents’ farm a lot and as a result, I saw him often and grew closer to him. In his quiet way, he teased me and always accepted the hugs I forced on to him from the time I was tiny. The man, like his son, could not say no to me if I demanded a hug despite the fact he wasn’t a super huggy type of person.
So, strangely, for me, red carnations are a bitter sweet flower. They remind me of Nana but also of her passing and all of the things that came to mean later on.
Nana and Papa are both gone now, but this cover-up kind of reminds me that they’re still with me.
Funnily enough, last night, I had a dream in which my Nana (whom I have seen in dreams a total of twice since she passed) laughingly looked over my new tattoo and taunted me for it.
“What, the cross wasn’t good enough?” she laughed, gesturing at my leg
“It’s still there, you just can’t see it now”
“Well what was the point of getting it, then?” she teased me, laughing
“But do you like it?” I wanted to know
“It’s very pretty but you could just grow some flowers if you want ’em”
In my dream, we were sat at her kitchen table and I swear I could smell the cigarette smoke, wood furnace, and the lingering smell of bacon grease.
She poked at my fresh tattoo and laughed and teased me when I told her that smarted. She was, as I want to remember her, full of cheek and laughter.
Considering how many times today I’ve inadvertently bumped my fresh tattoo into things, when normally I’m not so clumsy, I can only assume she’s still poking at me.
Completed BIG 30 Items
#1. Postmark Tattoo
#2. Reupholster a Chair
#3. See Amanda Palmer Perform Live
#4. Meet Someone I Admire
#5. Play an Instrument in Public
#6. Ride a Horse
#7. Ride a Hot Air Balloon
#8. Laser Eyes
#9. Go Sky-Diving
#10. Cover Up My First Tattoo
As I said in one of my earlier blog entries: For someone who can barely stand to be on a step-ladder, I really love heights.
Still, I wasn’t sure it was something I could do.
When I was a kid, I used to dream about the person I wanted to turn out to be. The older version of me was everything childhood me was not: she was confident and fearless, wore a lot of leather, and drove a motorcycle.
I was such a cautious kid.
Cautious because I put an intense amount of pressure on myself to succeed and I knew that the path between where I wanted to go and where I was could all too easily be screwed up by the decisions of an idiot youth. (I of course ignored the fact that idiocy in youth is forgiven more often than not because I couldn’t accept that as an excuse for me not trying to be perfect all the time)
Now that I’ve gotten older and a little more confident, and I’ve got my degrees and I have a job I like, I feel like some of the pressure to be cautious is off.
I feel like I can be just a little reckless.
Sky-Diving is something that I’ve always been interested in trying. To me, it was one of those things that interesting people did. Adventurous people. People like the person I had envisioned for myself as a kid. I wanted to know the feeling of taking a literal leap of faith. I wanted to feel the wind rushing around me.
So, I decided to go for it.
I did a little research, found a place near enough to Ottawa that I could manage it on a weekend, told as many people as I could that I was doing it (half out of excitement and half as insurance I wouldn’t back out), and gratefully accepted the offer of a friend who was as excited to go jump out of a plane as I was.
It’s funny what our actions make us learn about ourselves.
My biggest fear about going sky-diving wasn’t that there would be an accident or that I would back out. My biggest fear about this exercise was that I would be turned away for exceeding the weight restriction.
I am sensitive about my weight.
Not exactly a shocking statement, but it’s true. I’ve been roughly the same weight and size since I was about 16. I usually hover somewhere between 220-250 lbs (though I’ve been told I don’t look it). I’ve tried my best to manage the weight but there’s little I can do to change it. I’m not going to lay the details out because A) that’s boring and B) it’s not really anyone’s damn business but suffice to say that it’s not due to lack of exercise or a poor diet. Ask anyone who’s watched me walk 4 miles a day or climb a mountain.
Going into this Sky-Diving adventure, I knew there was a chance I could be turned away. The weight limit, equipment on, is about 250 lbs. I was terrified that I would exceed that limit and stepping onto the scale once we got to the facility was worse than stepping to the edge of the plane door by a mile. However, the feeling of triumph when I was given the all-clear, it paled in comparison to the pride I felt when I jumped.
Above, on the left, is my friend Sofie. She is crazy and amazing and I don’t know that I could have done this without her doing it with me. If you’re wondering who the dude the red shirt is, I don’t know. He was jumping that day too and he was on our plane. He seemed cool, though, and I was happy to have a red-shirt aboard because if Star Trek has taught me anything, it’s that he will die before me.
Yay, more red-shirts! You see? It was clear Sofie and I would be fine all along. Our instructors who were both fabulously professional and delightful people.
See that look on my face? That’s the look Mum gives me when I talk her into doing things. Apparently, I give myself the same look when I decide to jump out of planes.
Yay! Look at who’s excited!
Below, you will see the face of focus.
Honestly, at this point, I was just concentrated on following the steps I had forced my instructor to repeat to me like a soothing children’s story.
13,500 feet in the air and look at my face. Look at my face. I ain’t bovvered!
I was so amazed that I didn’t have a single problem getting myself to this part and then…
AND I’M FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
I’M FREE FALLIN’
Incidentally, I hate that song.
Makes for a good reference about this time, though.
Now, if you’re wondering whether or not I liked the dive and if I was scared, I’d like to refer you to the absolute joy on my face in the next few pictures.
We fell at around 219km/hour and it was great.
But there’s more than just the fall, there’s also the part, around 5,000 feet in the air,where the chute opens and you suddenly feel like a baby in a jolly-jumper, except that the harness kinds of snaps and reminds you that your thighs are a little meatier since then and that’s just a smidge uncomfortable, but the view makes up for it.
As you can tell, especially in that last picture, I LOVED it. I haven’t felt that proud of myself since I learned how to ride a bike. The entire time we were falling, between the WOOOs, I kept saying how I couldn’t believe I’d done it and how I was so insanely proud of myself. It was an amazing experience and one I’d recreate in a heartbeat.
HELLO PEASANTS, I said as I waved my arms as we came in for landing.
As you can tell, Sofie and I pretty much shared the sentiment of joy.
It was an amazing day and one I’ll never forget. Big thanks to the staff at GOSkyDive who were all hilarious, professional, and all around lovely and a HUGE thank you to Sofie for being at least as crazy as I am.
My only problem now is I have to figure out what to do next…
Completed BIG 30 Items
#1. Postmark Tattoo
#2. Reupholster a Chair
#3. See Amanda Palmer Perform Live
#4. Meet Someone I Admire
#5. Play an Instrument in Public
#6. Ride a Horse
#7. Ride a Hot Air Balloon
#8. Laser Eyes
#9. Go Sky-Diving