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TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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.

So…NOW what?

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.

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The BIG 30 Project: #14 Attend a Ball

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:

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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.

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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.

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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 promise.

I just think a different shape would have been a BUTTER idea.

Get it? Like better, but butter, because puns.

Yeah, you get it.

Ok.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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Thanks for joining me for a crazy evening, lady. It’s gonna be hard to forget this one.

The BIG 30 Project: #13 Adopt a Dog

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.

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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

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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.

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*incomprehensible whining noises*

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.

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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.

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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!

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I know it’s childish, and even privileged, but I want to just stomp my feet and refuse to get older.

NO.

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.

Seriously.

I will collapse your trachea.

I’m not kidding.

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The BIG 30 Project: #11 Try Pottery

As much as I love the late-great Patrick Swayze, wanting to try pottery had nothing to do with the movie Ghost. 

Instead, it had a lot to do with the show Face Off. Not the movie, with Nicholas Cage, the show where special effects artists have to design and create unique make-ups in a short period of time before being judged by three experts in the field of creature design and make-up.

My favourite part of that show is seeing the artist create something from nothing with the clay and then watching it come to life in the finished product.

I’m not a big make-up person (aside from Halloween), but I am and was fascinated by the process of taking a lump of clay and making it into a real life THING.

So, I signed up for a 6 week pottery class.

Obviously, I couldn’t take pictures because my hands were pretty dirty, but I did keep a small collection of notes to sum up each class.

Week One:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Today I met the instructors and the class. We have one token male among us but are otherwise a group of ladies of various ages. Our class is large, so we were split into two groups. Group 1 is learning with the wheel and Group 2 is learning hand-building.

I’m in Group 1, which is exciting because the wheel throwing part is what I was most excited for. I’m kind of nervous about trying something new in a group of strangers but it’s not too bad since most of my energy is spent valiantly resisting the urge to yell out the lyrics to Unchained Melody.

Despite being new and struggling a bit, I managed to make a bowl, cup, and what would have been a beautiful vase if I hadn’t inadvertently destroyed it but is now a ring holder. The ring holder is the derp-iest thing I made. It is a disappointment to me but less of one than I thought it would be. I have named it Horace.

Next week we trim our pieces. I have no idea what that means.

Week Two:

Dear Pottery Diary,

This class we trimmed our leather hard pieces. Leather hard just means, kind of dry but not totally dry, I think. It was pretty intimidating, but it’s basically just shaving the piece down and smoothing it, which I liked.

Our instructor showed us how to carve out a foot in our pieces so we can glaze the bottom, if we want to get fancy. I made feet for ALL my stuff because I’m so fancy, you already know.

I even carved a foot on Horace, though he remains a disappointment.

Still no sign of Whoopi Goldberg or my dead fiance, but I remain hopeful.

Week Three:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Our pieces were fired in the kiln this week, so now we get to glaze them.

As it turns out, glaze is basically powdered glass mixed with water and is not remotely the colour it will be when it gets fired. Like, the black glaze is red and the clear glaze is grey. This is clearly witchcraft, further research is needed.

I decided to make the bowl and mug I made match. I’m going to give them to Grampa and Granny Reta for Christmas, providing they don’t suck (providing my pottery doesn’t suck, not my grandparents, obviously). I’m glazing them with Coal and a Quartz, which should end up looking kind of cute.

Horace, the disappointment, I am glazing with Turquoise. That way, at least he’ll be a pretty colour.

Next week we start hand building, I still don’t know what that is.

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The Hobbit set: Mug and bowl of adorable porportions

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Oooh so fancy. 

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Horace. The disappointment. F@&k you, Horace. 

Week Four:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Turns out hand building is kind of like a strange mixture of playing with a Play Dough machine and sewing. You flatten out a piece of clay, then you press or carve pattern into it, and then you can cut it out in a pattern to put it together to be a mug or a vase or whatever.

I decided to try to make a mug for Dad, so I took a plank of wood with the bark still on and pressed it all over my slab of clay before I cut out the pattern for a stein (which is closest to Dad’s mug size). I made the slab into a cylinder before cutting out a circle and ceiling the bottom. Then, I used more of the patterned clay to make a handle so that the entire thing would have tree bark patterning on it.

I think it turned out really well.

I wanted to make something different for Mum, so I pressed some pine needles into a slab of clay and made her a cheese tray, though I guess she could put whatever she wanted on it.

I may or may not have used the plank and the pine needles because I liked the smell of them. That’s probably weird but I don’t care.

Next week we’re learning sculpture but I’ll miss it because for some reason our staff Christmas Party at work is on a Wednesday.

Week Five:

Dear Harry Pottery Diary,

OUR STAFF PARTY HAS AN OPEN BAR!

Week Six:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Today was the last class and we glazed our hand building stuff. I used iron oxide on Dad’s tree mug to make it look more authentic and glazed it with Moss colour on the inside and clear gloss on the outside to show off the texture.

With Mum’s cheese plate, I rubbed the outside with iron oxide to pick up on all the textures there and glazed the inside with Kryptonite so that Superman can’t come hanging around us.

WE ARE A MARVEL HOUSEHOLD, KENT. PISS OFF.

 

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Inside the Tree Mug

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Oooh much texture. So tree. Wow.

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The Cheesy Plate

I’m quite proud of my pottery accomplishments. I think they all turned out rather well. (Except Horace) I gave them all away at Christmas (Except Horace) and everyone really seemed to like them.

Dad liked his mug so much he has decided it should be displayed rather than used. I’m both exasperated and touched by this. It’s like when I got Grampa a really nice bottle of Sherry and he kept saving it for a special occasion. Like, just enjoy the thing I got you.

At least I know Dad will enjoy looking at the mug just as much as using it. Maybe more so as he can actually drink his coffee while looking at it this way.

Whoopi Goldberg never did show up, by the way. Nor did the ghost of Patrick Swayze.

Oh well, maybe I can hide in a convent and join the choir. If I’m lucky, our tour bus might break down at some kind of Roadhouse.

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The BIG 30 Project: #10 Cover Up My First Tattoo

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.

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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.

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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

The BIG 30 Project: #8 Get Laser Eyes

Welp.

I did it.

I did the thing.

Behold: The last picture of me with glasses, hopefully till I am old and embittered (well, MORE embittered)

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No more glasses. All because I let some guy with a medical degree cut my eyes open and shoot a laser at them.

Sure I was scared, but I totally kept it together.

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The first thing they do when you get there is reevaluate that your vision hasn’t changed since they checked up on you and then they seat you in the waiting area.

The waiting area is pretty awesome for one reason: IT IS FULL OF CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.

COOKIES.

EVERYWHERE.

IN FANCY JARS.

FOR FREE.

I wanted one of those cookies.

Oh, how I wanted one.

But I may have been slightly nauseous due to reasons that almost certainly didn’t have anything to do with nerves. I mean, was I nervous to the point that I started to panic text Simon and Garfunkel lyrics to my Mum?

Maybe.

Was it from their Sounds of Silence album?

OK, yes, BUT it wasn’t the track you might think it was.

It was the lyrics to “I Am A Rock”.

ANYWAY…

Before going under the laser knife, I did my research. I knew exactly what I was in for, but that still didn’t totally prepare me like I thought it might.

With my hair in a hairnet and my glasses in the capable hands of one of the medical assistants, I was lead into a room full of blurry people and machines and light. I’ve never been abducted by aliens, but I assume that this was kind of what it was like.

One of the first things they do when you lie down, is give you two stress balls.

At first, I thought this was weird but after a moment of realizing I was squeezing the balls to point that even the Marquis de Sade would be like “PINEAPPLE!” (I assume that was his safe word), I totally understood.

One of the other things they do is tell you to look at the green light.

They tell you this A LOT.

I did, at one point, make a Great Gatsby joke.

The attendant leading me took a minute, but gave a surprised chuckled when they understood the reference. My surgeon was unimpressed. I was somewhat disconcerted to find that no one else seemed to know what I was referencing. It’s like they were all too busy reading medical books to read about the disillusionment of the jazz era. They clearly need to sort out their priorities.

As for the procedure itself, it was pretty quick. They put eye drops in to numb your eyes, cut a corneal flap, zap you with a laser, put the flap back, more eye-drops and then rinse and repeat with the other eye. During the part where they cut the corneal flap, you briefly lose your vision. They do tell you this before hand but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I immediately start naming my future seeing-eye dog.

I was thinking Oedipus, you know, for the irony.

I barely had time to compose what I would say to explain the dog’s name to people when the procedure was over.

Next thing you know, I was being sent out into the world like the Terminator.

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BUT, what I didn’t really count on, was recovering after the procedure. There are eye drops involved. LOTS of eye drops.

I didn’t realize how accurate the above clip was but….well I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that my eyes were all kinds of gross in the morning for about a week.

The first day is all about three kinds of eye drops every few hours and then for about a week, you have three eye drops four times a day (or more in my case, due to a little inflammation). It’s kind of exhausting and I think it’s delayed the falling in love with my own eyesight process, a little.

You know, before I got the surgery, I heard the same refrain over and over: “You’re going to love it so much!”

So, I expected to be elated with my new no-glasses life, but I didn’t expect to feel a bit of a sense of loss.

I have worn glasses since about the age of 8 years old. That’s 18 years of wearing glasses and having them as part of my style and lifestyle. Sure, I wear contacts from time to time, but especially in the last few years, it’s rare for me to see my face without glasses.

I have to kind of reintroduce myself to my own reflection. It’s odd.

Also I can’t use glasses to hide how tired I am, which is slightly annoying.

HOWEVER, do you know what’s not annoying?

Not having to clean my glasses.

Not having to plan ahead to wear sunglasses. (I.e. Putting in contacts as I had no clip-on sunglasses)

Not having to worry about falling asleep and having contacts dry out my eyes or mushing my glasses into my face.

Being able to go swimming for the first time since childhood without worrying about a contact popping out or losing my glasses.

I think it’s safe to say that after almost two weeks, I’m starting to fall in love with my own eyesight.

It’s just taking time. We’ve been apart for so long, we have to get to know each other again. I still reach for my glasses first thing in the morning, I still think I have contacts to take out at night, and it always feels like I’m forgetting something when I don’t have to do either task. BUT, I am finally starting to get used to it.

All in all, I’m super pleased I decided to go for the surgery. My eyes will still take a while longer to fully heal but I’m LOOKING forward to a life with a little less hindrance.

(Yes, I’m ending this on a terrible pun. Have you MET me?)

P.S. A huge THANK YOU to my Mum who came up and stayed with me and helped take care of me after my surgery. I very much appreciated your helping me with my eye drops, telling me my sick-time story, and reading me my Neil Gaiman book. You rock.

P.P.S. YES, my Mommy read to me like a child. You’re just jealous, so shut up.

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

The BIG 30 Project: #7 Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

For someone who can barely stand to be on a step-ladder, I really love heights.

This can be attested to by people like my friend, Jill, who has seen me smoke my head off of more than one historic monument as I climbed upwards to get a view: I smoked my head off of the Clocktower in Bruges, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, and I think a few more but I can’t remember…possibly due to smacking my head so many times.

I’m not sure why I like being up above everything.

Is it because it’s easier to look down on everyone?

A little.

I AM YOUR QUEEN, PEASANTS!

But I think it has more to do with the fact that I like understanding things and seeing a place from up top is a better way to understand any place than a map. From up above, you can see the routes people have forged, see the topography of an area in a living, breathing way. There’s something really beautiful about that.

This past March, I saw a Groupon for a Hot Air Balloon ride. I’ve always wanted to try it but I always wrote it off as being too much money. The Groupon made it affordable and I knew I’d really enjoy it, but the Groupon was for two people. The question was: Who would I try to convince to come with me?

Immediately I knew who: Mum.

Mum likes a good view as much as I do, but she’s not a big fan of heights. I think she’s afraid of them the same way I am: only when you don’t feel like you’re secure is the height a problem.

As I’ve been going through this journey of trying out things I haven’t done before and going to the effort to DO cool things and not just think about them, I’ve been sharing all of my stories with my Mum. My Mum is pretty awesome and as much as she’s been enjoying my stories, I sometimes felt a little bad she hadn’t been there to do the thing too. So, I wanted to share at least one of my crazy adventures with her.Naturally, when I decided Hot Air Ballooning was something I wanted to do, I badgered her into coming with me.

In a good way, though.

I lovingly cajoled her into it.

She was a little worried that she’d be scared, but I repeatedly told her that all my research indicated it was going to be super chill and thus, she shouldn’t worry.

And you know what?

I was right.

I know because she told me so.

I probably should have got it in writing.

I didn’t get it in writing….but I do have a photographic evidence that she was cool with it.

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See? I mean, sure she’s looking at me like “Oh, you!” but it’s not like “I will destroy you”. Believe me, I have seen that look.

One thing I have to say about the staff of Sundance Balloons : They were super amazing. They answered all our questions, went out of their way to explain things, and were super friendly to boot.

I learned a lot from our hot air balloon trip.

I learned that you can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t stop the girl from taking a picture of the motor of the fan that initially inflates the balloon because she knows her Dad will find that interesting.

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Ooooh. So engine. Much wind. Wow.

I also learned that balloons pretty much do whatever they want when they’re inflating…which really makes you value the skill of the balloon pilot who controls the fire and the guy hanging onto the balloon with a rope at the other end.

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I learned that balloons aren’t really steerable. You can pretty much just rotate the rig and from there you have to navigate the air currents. Basically, your pilot is some kind of magical weather wizard who makes a living from defying all logic in the sky with basket he fills with people and propels into the air with the use of fire and a balloon….maybe this is why they ply you with Champagne at the end of the flight. To distract you from the fact you basically just trusted some guy to safely fly you through the air in a device without true means of directional control.

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The men inside that balloon are magic. MAGIC, I SAY!

I also learned that my city, which can sometimes seem so unremarkable, is actually kind of pretty.

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It’s strange how a shift in perspective can change the way you see things.

We can get spoiled sometimes in how used to our surroundings we are, but doing something like this, it kind of forces you to reevaluate what you’re seeing.

What is it about seeing the world from way up in the air that makes it seem like there’s so much more to appreciate?

I don’t know.

But do you know what view was my favourite from the entire journey?

This one:

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Look at how genuinely happy and proud she is. CAN YOU BE ANY MORE ADORABLE, MOM?! CAN YOU?!

P.S. Some day, I will write less about how much I love my ridiculous progenitors, but it is not this day.

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

The BIG 30 Project: #6 Ride a Horse

Horseback riding may not seem like a huge deal, but to me it was.

I always wanted a horse when I was a kid but my Dad isn’t fond of them (probably because one caused a lot of health problems for my Grandfather after it kicked him in the chest) and I couldn’t exactly afford to have a horse without him. Then, there’s the other thing: I was afraid of horseback riding.

At my elementary school, we had an annual Fun Fair, just a little community carnival type of thing with games, garage sales, and a BBQ to raise funds for the school and entertain everyone. One year, when I was fairly young, they had horseback rides.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I was a pretty cautious kid, so I was kind of nervous. Repeatedly, I was assured that everything would be fine. I got on the horse (with assistance) and it was fine- until the owner of the house next to the school yard decided to cut their grass, spooking the horse and landing me with a fear of horseback riding.

Despite growing up in a country environment, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me to go horseback riding. One finally came when I was around 12 or 13, a trail ride with my family for my Aunt and Uncle’s anniversary.

I got on the horse, I freaked, I couldn’t do it.

I remember staying behind as my family went off on the trial ride, feeling like a giant loser. For the duration of their trail ride, I internally tore myself apart for not being brave enough to do it, for crying over the entire thing (which I couldn’t stop doing because apparently when you viciously berate yourself, it’s hard to not cry), and for any other reason I could think of.

So, getting on a horse was kind of a big deal for me.

I wanted to make 13 year old me proud.

I’ve been researching for a while about where I wanted to go and one day I just said to myself “Screw it, let’s do it now.”

I posted a status on Facebook asking my friends who wanted go on a horseback riding adventure and named the date. We worked out all the details; my friend Alison took care of the car rental, I booked the trail ride, Emily came along and looked fabulous, and after work deprived us of my friend Alicia’s company, Megan said yes to an entirely unexpected horseback riding adventure and added her awesomeness to our group.

We rented (or rather, Alison) a Mustang, and headed off to Wakefield.

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Alison driving on the left, my hair flying on the right, Megan’s hair on the left behind Al, and Emily documenting all the glory.

As we headed out, rain hit, and we worried we wouldn’t be able to take our trail-ride, but thankfully the weather eventually held out….well, mostly.

We went to Captiva Farms and I am so glad we did. The staff there was amazing and were undeterred by a little rain. Our adventure was to occur!

We were asked if any of us had riding experience and if anyone was nervous. I-despite my previous fear-had decided not to be nervous, though I admitted that I was a little bit scared.

Each of us were assigned a horse based on what we told the staff and I ended up with a giant hulking beauty named Bruce.

Bruce is enormous. He and his brother Banner (note how I described him as HULKing, earlier? You’re welcome) are two of the tallest horses I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, Bruce isn’t just tall, he’s a giant mass of chilled out. Just a giant sweetheart.

We were given a half hour introduction/refresher on how to ride and within five minutes, any nerves I may have had were totally gone. I felt totally comfortable and EXCITED.

The rain didn’t completely hold off, by the end of the ride we were all soaked, but there were periods of dry and the gorgeous scenery more than made up for the weather. At one point, we came within 10 feet of a resting white-tailed deer who watched us impassively as we moved past her.

It was pretty spectacular.

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Alison on Banner, one of Captiva’s amazing staff, myself on Bruce, and Emily again capturing the magic.

By the end of the ride, we all felt the same way: Soaked to the bone and impossibly happy.

I’m so very glad that not only did I get to add this to my list, but that I took the risk in putting it out there for people to join in. I got to spend a very memorable day with 3 FABULOUS ladies and I got to face my fears. Although, in all honesty, I feel like it was almost to easy to conquer this fear. Does that mean that maybe I’ve grown as a person? I hope so.

At least there’s one thing I can be sure of.

I sure as hell made 13 year old me proud.

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Soaked but thoroughly pleased. Bruce is too, even if he’s playing shy for the camera.

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

The BIG 30 Project: #3 See Amanda Palmer Live, #4 Meet Someone I Admire, & #5 Play An Instrument In Public

This one’s a bit longer than normal because, as you can see from the title, I accomplished three dreams in one night.

Before I moved to Ireland back in 2011- wait. Shit, has it really been that long?

*maths*

Yeah. Ok. Wow.

Anyway, before I moved to Ireland in 2011, I tried to spend as much time with friends as I could before I left. One of those friends introduced me to the Dresden Dolls, though I didn’t know it at the time. The day I was introduced to the Dresden Dolls, she couldn’t remember the name of the band, but she loved the music and knowing my taste, figured I’d love it too.

She was right.

We listened to a bootlegged CD of a random collection of Dresden Dolls songs on a hot summer day in 2011 and that fall, before I flew off, my friend let me copy a bunch of her music so that I’d have something to listen to on the plane.

I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that list of songs. My daily listening mix was always a mixture of Dresden Dolls, David Bowie, and Florence and the Machine, with a little Beyonce thrown in. Eventually, it finally occurred to me that I should probably Google some of the lyrics to find more music by this band I liked so much.

This was my introduction to Amanda Palmer.

I’ll spare you the details of it all, but suffice it to say that I was really excited to find an artist like Amanda Palmer. She made the weird art world I was interested in, but too nervous to dip my toe into, accessible and I admired her honesty. I appreciated that she spoke her mind about things, even when I didn’t agree, and that she seemed to be a real person. Maybe that sounds strange, but it was that stuff that made me admire her. Not in a ‘You’re my hero!’ type of way, because I think that’s a bit of a cruel expectation to put on someone’s shoulders, but in a ‘AHHH! I totally want to have drinks and ridiculous discussions with this person’ kind of way.

As always happens when I discover a musician who’s work clicks with me, I really wanted to see her perform live. Last fall, as she toured with her book, The Art of Asking , I got my chance.

Despite a screwy financial situation, I made plans and booked tickets to make the six or so hour Greyhound trip to Toronto, where I was excited to cross two items off my wish list: See Amanda Palmer perform live and meet someone I admired.

At the time, I had no idea that I would also achieve a dream I’ve had since I was a kid.

When I was a kid, I was always a little in awe of people who could play musical instruments. My Grampa played guitar and harmonica and I used to dream that someday I’d play an instrument to. I took piano lessons, but that didn’t stick, and it wasn’t until university that I finally did get around to learning a musical instrument.

I’m not sure what it was or why I was able to stick with it better, but somewhere around 2009 I picked up an old guitar at Value Village for $25 and started teaching myself to play. I can’t read music, can’t write music, and there’s a lot about guitar I still don’t know, but I think I’ve done fairly well for someone who taught herself.

A little more than a year ago, I decided to teach myself another instrument I’d been pining for: ukulele.

I’d been curious about the ukulele for a while. It was an adorable instrument and it looked like fun, but I wasn’t sure where I’d even start to learn it. Of course, for those of you who know Amanda Palmer’s music, the song Ukulele Anthem convinced me to just go for it. Just get myself a ukulele and learn it.

“[ukulele] it is painfully simple…”

She’s right. It was painfully simple.

Thanks to a friend who happened to have one she was willing to sell for far less than it was worth, I got my hands on a ukulele during a part of my life where I NEEDED something fulfilling (flipping burgers at work just wasn’t doing it for me). In less than an hour, I taught myself how to play three songs and I’ve loved the instrument ever since.

Now, though I could play two different instruments, I didn’t (and still don’t) tend to play in front of people. I’m shy about it. I play them for myself and I love singing and playing but I get nervous in front of others and because I’m proud of my playing, I’m wary of having my hard work and fun criticized.

However, I found the ukulele such a forgiving instrument (you can make a mistake and someone it doesn’t seem as bad, I don’t know why, I’m not a scientist), so I was a little more ready to play around with it in front of people. Still, I didn’t play it in front of people.

Until November of 2014.

Not only did I get to see Amanda Palmer perform live, not only did I meet her, I played ukulele in front of her and everyone around me because she and her lovely road manager/badass musical person in her own right, Whitney Moses, asked.

After the show, my friend Catherine (who was kind enough to come with me and wait with me because she’s lovely like that) and I were waiting in line to meet Amanda and to get my ukulele signed. (Not the same ukulele I started with, I had left that one at home and picked up another in Toronto so that I could get a signed ukulele and potentially teach my Mum to play during the next summer.)

As we waited, Whitney came into the crowd and shouted out a question to see if anyone had a ukulele for Amanda to sign. I said I did and was immediately asked if I would play it because the sound guy for the venue went home and she and Amanda still wanted music.

So, despite never playing my uke in public before. 

Despite the fact that playing an instrument in front of people I know makes me want to vomit.

Despite the fact I was internally screaming.

I said yes. 

I couldn’t even remember how to play any one song in its entirety, so I just blended them all together, occasionally singing a little, and always strumming a happy little tune. 

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When I finally got to the front of the line, Amanda told me that she didn’t want to sign the ukulele because then I wouldn’t still be playing it. I gave her something a fellow fan had asked me to give her, as the girl I met couldn’t stay but still wanted her gift passed along, she signed my ukulele, I don’t remember what else I might have said. My brain was pretty busy making sure that I was awake and that this was real life.

What I do know, is that I asked if I could have a hug.

And I got a hug full of warmth, kindness and exhaustion.

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AFP: 
*snuggles into hug with a happy sigh* Comfy. I could sleep. *nestles*

Me: People say that a lot during hugs. *internally dying from joy overdose*

I don’t remember what else we said to each other. I do remember at one point during the hug, I was prepared to let go because I thought I’d probably taken enough time and Amanda didn’t let go, and it might sound stupid, but I felt really valued at that point. She didn’t have to hug me at all and not only did I get a hug, I got the kind of hug you get from friends you haven’t seen in years.

The hug ended.

I said ‘Thank You’ and literally shook with Adrenalin as Catherine and I left the venue.

It was a crazy and amazing night.

I realized three dreams and drop-kicked Fear in the face.

I’ll always be grateful to my friends Catherine and Lisa for letting me sleep on their couch those few days and to Amanda Palmer for valuing her fans and making sure we feel it.

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