Adventures in Vancouver (With a Cantankerous Grandmother who doesn’t like Vancouver.)

So I’ve got a sweet new office and junk, that I was planning on posting pictures of – but frankly I’m not even done unpacking from the move. So instead you get pictures of my recent trip to Vancouver. And by recent I mean June (have I mentioned how busy I am?) Actually recent was a rather spur of the moment trip to see Josh for some much needed time together – awesome! Photos of that soon, but first Vancouver because that’s chronological order for you.

Usually all my vacation days are saved up to visit Josh, but this was a quick five-day getaway (including a weekend, thus requiring only a whopping three days off) for a low-key family wedding and a chance to hang out with some of my hipper relatives. Plus I’d never been before. Toronto and Vancouver each like to think they’re way cooler than the other (*cough* Team Toronto! *cough*), but really they’re just different in a million little ways and your preference will depend on which vibe you like better. I’ve heard them referred to as the New York and San Fransisco of Canada, which isn’t really all that apt – but you get the idea. Either way, any Canadian worth their salt (or other seasonings?) should at least try to see as much of the country as possible – it’s rather pretty you know. So off I went.

I have to admit that the shitty weather combined with sharing a hotel suite with a cantankerous grandmother added up for a less than impressive first couple of days. But eventually I got to check out some very nifty places including the Vancouver Aquarium, Van Dusen Gardens, and Shannon Falls.  For a short trip, I managed to cram in a lot of activities.

Photies!

First up was the Vancouver Aquarium with my uncle and grandmother, a day before my aunt arrived. It was of course eighteen different flavours of awesome and fun. But we didn’t get to stay very long, because although Grandma joined us for the scenic drive up, she stubbornly refused to pay or have anyone pay for her the $17 seniors fare that she deemed absolutely outrageous, and anyways it was too much walking. So we spent two hours seeing as much as we could before feeling the pangs of elderly abandonment guilt while she perused the gift shop for over priced souvenirs for the younger cousins. To be fair, she probably had more fun there than she would have had inside, surrounded by strange looking things.

Sculpture outside the entrance. I get it Vancouver, you REALLY dig whales.

Coming to get you!

You thought of the turtle from Finding Nemo. You know you did, and you did the voice too.

Cayman are scary!

I don't know what this is, but it's exceedingly orange.

I don't know what this is either but I'm pretty sure it's flashing me.

Octopi!

Jellyfish!

Next up! Van Dusen Gardens, a completely gorgeous collection of rare and expertly cultivated plants, a shrubbery maze (a shrubbery!), ponds, ancient trees and enough oxygen and chlorophyll to leave me feeling very zen and peaceful, which by that point was very much needed.

We all went first for the wedding, you see (of which I have no photos as my camera had by then sucked through multiple pairs of batteries.) It was a very simple and elegant outdoor ceremony followed by a traditional Chinese eleven-course seafood dinner – which Grandma had initially looked forward to, being a lobster lover and all, but was then promptly disappointed because everything tasted “too Chinese.” The fact that her grandson had married a Chinese woman may or may not have dawned on her, although she adored the girl and got along fabulously with her family (small blessings, we count them.)

The next day we all decided to go back to the gardens to see the areas we had missed and linger in the foliage. Except Grandma. She didn’t want to walk that much, didn’t want us to walk slow for her because that “wouldn’t be fun for you young people,” and was absolutely offended at the idea of renting a wheelchair for when/if she got tired. This is the same lady who rides her bike for an hour every day, mind you. Besides, having traveled all the way to the west coast for a wedding (by five day train, because no way was she flying for five whole hours) there was now nothing more important than catching that second-last episode of this seasons Bachelorette. So yes, a trip to a very calming garden was very much in order.

My aunt and uncle and the awesome garden entrance.

These are Ginkgo trees, which have apparently been around since the Jurassic period and nearly went extinct before being cultivated back into widespread existence by Buddhist monks. The next pic is a closer shot.

Brachiosaurus food.

Ducklings! We spent twenty minutes watching them swim between the lily pads, climb up on them, get too close to the edge and plop back into the water.

Water lily.

Scrabble alert! Sequoia is the only seven-letter word containing all five vowels. They are also huge and very old, having been here since before the shift of the continents.

Trilliums! Go Ontario!

I forget what these are called, but they will eat monkeys.

More prehistoric ginormous plants. These have giant spikes on the underside.

My aunt loves English gardens.

Random Nuit Blanche style art installation in the middle of the gardens.

We couldn't decide if these were truly red poppies, which are apparently illegal to grow.

Norwegian poppies. Not illegal.

Lastly was a trip to Shannon Falls to see the natural glacier run off and dip our feet in freezing cold crystal clear ice water and climb over boulders and wet mossy rocks in totally-not-hiking-appropriate shoes. I still say my gold flats were perfectly fine for climbing.

That's a lot of water! Glacier runoff, actually, so it apparently slows down a bit towards the end of the summer when the melting is done.

This was insanely cold.

Climbing back up from the water.

The scenic drive back down the mountains.

Foxgloves - pretty, but deadly.

And my feet are still painfully cold.

So, guess who stayed at the hotel? Yep. That scenic drive you see there was far too nerve wracking for a little old lady who will attack home-invading wildlife with shovels, squirrels with slingshots, and will threaten tele-banking branch managers with physical violence and make waitresses cry.

Oh Grandma. We love her dearly, but wouldn’t exactly describe her as conducive to a peaceful or even remotely calm experience. Grandma’s the one to call if you want a mouthy neighbourhood brat bitched off your lawn, or a particularly profane round of Bingo, and for that and her fierce familial protection we do indeed cherish her. Just don’t try to take her anywhere else.

Except the Mandarin. She loves a Mandarin buffet like nobodies business. You see the irony, yes?

**************************************

The next day I was back on a plane and back in Toronto, and the following morning I was back in the torrential clusterfuck that is moving an office. Accomplished successfully (pics to follow, eventually), we’re still rearranging furniture and getting my work area to my liking. As stressful as the job is, it is kind of nice to have a management team that says “Your office needs more colour and artwork, we’ll get on that. And that shelf is ugly, we’ll get a better one.”

Added bonus: trying to cut back on overtime pay, they asked if I would be willing to accept time-and-a-half lieu time in exchange for coming in on moving weekend (which I had begged them to let me work through, not so much for the overtime but preferring not to deal with a ton of shit on a Monday morning.) I said I certainly would accept lieu time, and as soon as the move was done I planned a last-minute trip to visit Josh. I only had to use up four vacation days – and my quarterly bonus covered my expenses! Woot timing!

You know what that means – more pictures to post and another visit to plan very, very soon!

Christmastime, & The Livin’s Easy

Hey there my jolly little ho ho ho’s, this is Josh, the lesser seen coauthor of 800 Miles. I’m here to do a little collaborative XXX-mas recap with uh, stories, and … pictures I guess. Lot’s of recappery and what have you. And if you have a problem with a Christmas post in the middle of January, kiss my pearly white ass, we have stuff going on, and real lives tend to interfere with bloggin.

Let me briefly tell my Christmas experience, and then we’ll ask Emerald how it went down with her. I spent Christmas eve with my family, and my grandparents came over. We did all our gift exchanging then, cause Christmas day is always so hectic. (Hectic means they now have accepted that I like to get drunk with my brother and hate family functions.) I got money mostly, and some weird knick knacks, none worth mentioning really. After that we watched Prince Caspian, which is a really cool movie for my family cause my mom used to read the Chronicles of Narnia to us over and over when we were just little kids. It was done pretty well, not awesome, but pretty good. I can’t wait for the Voyage of the Dawntreader.

Then me and my brother and sister in law all headed over to Nate and Sami’s house and got drunked up. LP was house sitting for one of his friends, so he borrowed his Xbox 360 and brought it over. I got him Gears of War and Fallout 3, but he hadn’t gotten his game console yet, it was coming in a week or so. Then we pretty much just sat around and drank beer and tequila sunrises blowing up mutant alien things for a few days. It was a pretty awesome Christmas. Also, Nate introduced me to a game called Combat Arms. It’s a multiplayer online FPS with modern warfare, and it’s free, as in, you don’t have to pay ANY money at all to download or play it, so that pretty much rocks. If I had made a new years resolution to become a gaming junkie and spend waaaaaaay too much time doing geeky shit like playing on the same team as my brother and kicking n00b ass, then I would be doing very well for the year indeed.

(Emerald will henceforth be in italics.)

I spent Christmas eve at May’s house. I figure this is going to be my last Christmas in Canada for a bit, and it seems kind of pointless if there aren’t kids around to be excited by Santa. So Talea and I went there and hung out with the kids and exchanged gifts. Talea got a fun set of wrist warmers from May, and I got a knitted pair of socks although May hadn’t finished them  yet. I got them this weekend. Talea knitted May and apron that she also just finished, and it’s super cute. We got the kids some cool stuff too, though the funnest part for me were these customized Santa videos I did up for the kids. You just go to this link and type in the names, age, blah blah blah and it creates a video of Santa talking to you. It was fun times. Christmas morning I woke up by myself and enjoyed a quiet morning with a nice view and an awesome breakfast. I made eggs on English muffins with hollondaise sauce, and I forgot the orange juice part of my mimosa idea, so I just drank a bottle of champagne.

Christmas Breakfast - Giggity

Christmas Breakfast - Giggity

View from the back window - South!

View from the back window - South!

Well that’s really the important part anyway.

Ha, totally. I was very okay with it.

Why do you think Santa was so jolly, and Rudolph’s nose was so red?

Because Mrs Clause bitches a lot?   Anyways, I didn’t see my actual family until boxing day. Thats because every year we all rush out to the suburbs for this big noisy affair that I’m tired of pretending to care about. Apparently it was very nice this year because my grandparents have moved to Quebec. My grandmother is totally awesome and everything, but, well….she has her charms.

Heh, lucky charms?

Well, did I ever tell you about the time my grandfather broke his arm?

No. The word charms just makes me think of three lesbian hottie witches eating cereal off of each other.

Right. Well, he was a maitre d’ at the Royal York here in Toronto for almost 50 years. One day years and years ago, he was training a new guy who I guess didn’t like his style or whatever. They got in a fight and my grandfather ended up with a broken arm. Which is a big deal because back then it meant he couldn’t work, and a righteous pain in the ass for my grandmother with a bunch of kids to feed.

Don’t you guys have like, free mansions for people who break their arms and stuff? Isn’t that how Canada works?

Not back then. So not that it accomplishes much, but every night until he could go back to work, she would go down to the hotel and wait for the guy that broke her husbands arm. And every night, before letting him pass out the door to leave, she would get right up in his grill and say “If you touch my husband again I’m going to kill you dead, you sonofabitch.” Every night, for weeks she would tell him every night she was going to kill him until the kid finally quit. Ha, I love my grandma, but anyways, she can be feisty and well, noisy. But I did call her on Christmas and I sent her some picture frames that she really liked. Anyways, I got mostly money from my dad and stepmom, and her parents were over for a visit as well. Then my mom picked me up and we went to her mothers for dinner. She has a nice house backing onto a sweet park. Mom got me mostly yoga related stuff.

Backyard

Backyard

Wishin’, and hopin’, and thinkin’, and prayin’.

Um, what?

Sorry, it just came on Pandora Radio.

Haha, loser. That’s okay, I listen to Journey.

You’re the loser, I’m totally rockin out to Dusty Springfield, beyotch. Journey is good though, better than those Rush assholes.

Whatever, it’s not my fault that lame ass DJ down there keeps overplaying them in awe of their genius or whatevs. Anyways, that’s pretty much what I did for Christmas, and I’ve been sick most of the time since then.

Sure, we’ll go with that. So anything else for your Christmas story?

Well of course there’s our Christmas. 😉 Even though we did celebrate it about a week late.

Right right, and I think we should tell the people about that right now, how about in the order they were opened?

Ooh, good idea. Who went first? I think you did.

Um, well you got some yarn from my mom right? And then my folks got some candles or something from you. (My folks opened the box for ME while I was in jail without my permission, so technically they opened their presents first and should come first on this list)

Oh right, the yarn! That’s awesome. Your mom sent me a box of yarn for Christmas, with two skeins of each type, which is perfect for most of my projects. And I sent your parents candles and a lavender scent satchel thingie from an organic store called Pistachio.

And convenient, because I can never remember the word skein, but I can remember the word stien, so I just say that and you know what I mean.

Whatever works for you. I don’t expect you to care about my knitting projects. 😉

I totally do care, but in a man way. I try and show interest, anyway, I think I opened the Guk sauce first then. The Guk sauce is some kind of Canadian concoction, a real arctic witches brew for burgers and what not. it tastes pretty good, kind of like thousand island dressing, but more tangy and with something else I couldn’t quite place. The thing that really got me, the label is hilarious. First the company name is Licks, the most sexual company name since Dick’s. Also, it says “Canadian Eh” down at the bottom. And It also makes a big deal out of having no trans fatty acids, when it’s basically glorified mayo, the most unhealthy of all sauces.

Mmmmm...guk

Mmmmm...guk

Haha you have Dick’s we have Licks. (Put em together, hey-oh!) Oh yeah, we’re on a super health kick in Canada.

I think the first thing I opened from you was the bikini and the t-shirt. We’ll have to cut and sexify the shirt though, cause you can’t wear something that says ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk without having it show off your boobage.

I think Josh wants me to dress like this...

I think Josh wants me to dress like this...

Yeah, absolutely, I love the cleavage. But unfortunately at Mule Day’s they only have one size, and that’s fat.

Haha, yeah. See, if you avoid those trans fatty acids… The bikini is awesome, but that will be for indoors only. 😉

Ummmmm....

Ummmmm....

I still don’t get that. I think you look banging in the bikini. I mean bikini’s are supposed to be revealing and sexy right?

Yeah, but generally speaking only very fit people wear them outdoors. It’s this modesty thing that I frankly wish more girls had. I don’t want to see jigglage, and I’m sure nobody but you wants to see mine.

You might be surprised, and I for one am proud to show off my fine ass woman’s body, but whatever makes you feel comfortable. You can wear a one piece or whatever. As long as I get to see you in the rebel flag two piece. (Thrusts pelvis and makes obscene facial gestures.)

I do not wear bathing suits generally speaking, mostly cause I don’t go swimming generally speaking. It’s rather pointless when you’re half blind. But I will wear the top around the house in jeans and you can take advantage of whatever situation you wish. 😉

Next you can see I opened my two new shirts. These are SO me, it’s unbelievable. They are fairly self explanatory, but for anyone who doesn’t know, I would say 99% of my wardrobe consists of t-shirts with some kind of comedy printed on the front. What can I say, rednecks like shirts you can laugh at.

That's MY Captain Awesome!

That's MY Captain Awesome!

 

heheheh...

heheheh...

I think cool people like shirts you can laugh at, they’re definitely part of the trendy scene hipster life up here. Are you listening to Bon Jovi?

I am NOT a hipster, for the record. And yes I am listening to Bon Jovi.

I know, hence the Bon Jovi. 😛 I’m only teasing, I bought a copy of Slippery When Wet back in the day.

Emerald, I’ve been shot through the heart,and you’re too late. Darlin, you give love, a boner! Mwahahahahahahaha!

I thought it was “and you’re to blame,” but I won’t admit to reading lyrics, so I won’t argue.

You give love a bad name, except you don’t really, so it’s a boner now.

No, I meant “and you’re too late” should be “and you’re to blame” (Em was right)

Okay, so the next thing I opened took me another week at actually open because it was a frigging alligator head.

seriously, wtf?

seriously, wtf?

Yeah, that alligator head cracked me up. Nothing says I love you like sending a decapitated animal head to your vegetarian girlfriend. I laughed so hard.

I bet you did. Jerk. It was funny though. I’ve got it on my bookshelf now. It’s name is Larry.

Larry huh? Like the pickle?

I don’t know of a pickle named Larry, but I figure it goes well with Snippy the Squirrel and Wally the Garden Gnome. Larry the Decapitated Alligator.


Next up I opened the first season of the Office, which is not going to do anything but drastically increase my “that’s what she said” usage. I am sure I will thoroughly enjoy it, because I really like the characters, and Pam’s face/sexyness. Speaking of which, I wonder if there’s any rule 34 for Pam from the office. I’m hesitant to look it up for fear of finding some rule 34 for Dwight instead.

That's what she said

That's what she said

I would be incredibly surprised if there wasn’t one for each of them.

Turns out there are sexy pics of Jenna Fischer. Here, here, and here, and a lookalike here, but no full fledged fake Jenna Fischer porn to be found with a brief search. I will look harder next time.  4chan needs a search option.

Next I opened up the locket you got me, which I love to death.

Awwwwwww

Awwwwwww

Yeah, and I found it really adorable, but also funny as hell because your reaction was just so intrinsically female. I knew it would strike that feminine romance and emotion chord with you, but I never in a million years would have considered that it could be an heirloom, and you were all over that right away.

Well duh, that’s what us girls do. I can be extra girly at times. Besides, everyone around me is getting married and having kids, so I’m a little more extra girly than usual. And that’s like prime heirloom material, the first piece of jewelry you got me, for our first Christmas together. I think it’s sweet.

I thought it was sweet too, in fact I was counting on it. People think guys just pick gifts haphazardly, but we really do put thought into your reactions to them. That would have been guaranteed poon had we been celebrating together.

I’m sure our readers are thankful for that mental picture.

I’m sure they are, Merry Christmas everyone!

Next I got a bad ass razor thingy. It’s got like, twelve billion blades, and one on the side for detail trim work, and a hair trimmer on the end, and it pretty much rocks my balls off. I had been shaving with this archaic Mach3 Turbo, (stupid three blades is stupid) that I had run out of blades for three months ago, and so it was pretty much just scraping the hair off, and when I went to shave with the new one, well let’s just say it didn’t feel like I shaved anything, but my face totally felt like a really really, extra soft babies ass, made of chiseled iron of course.

I’m glad you like it. Next from you I got an iHome. It’s so awesome, I brought it to work so I can have Jazz Day at my desk.

Super Bad Ass

Yeah, I thought it was really bad ass, and it’s the kind of gift I would get myself, so I know it totally rocks. Plus I imagine that it’s really really loud, but I didn’t try it out because at that point I did not have an iPod. I guess your work is a little different than mine though. We play System of a Down and David Allen Co. at top volume, you have quiet jazz day so as not to bother your clients or coworkers.

Yeah, I already pissed my boss off once playing opera too loudly while he was on the phone. I didn’t realize at first that when you turn it on it starts quietly and turns up gradually. So I had cranked the volume and then left my desk. Ooops. That’s what happens when I don’t read manuals. Speaking of work, I got a lot of rad stuff from clients too. Especially chocolate, I’m going to do a post just on chocolate. I would say most of my holidays were spent knitting and eating chocolate.

My desk! I'm busy and important!

My desk! I'm busy and important!

 

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, Willis.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, Willis.

Fuck him, next Christmas we can get him a sense of humor. We purposely do loud and sexual things when my boss answers the phone.

My boss has a plenty good sense of humour. His bosses, not so much

Yeah same here, they got mad at us for bringing a playstation to work. We didn’t get rid of it or anything, but they weren’t happy.

And last of all, I opened the gift that Jesus sent to me. An iPod shuffle. Did you know those things are smaller than a matchbox? For reals for reals! My last MP3 player was cool and all, but it was kind of huge, imagine something between a tricorder and an eighties cell phone. This one is sleek and sexy, and it even makes my dick look big. I’m totally going to be iPod shuffling all over the place. Congratulations Apple, you finally impressed me with one of your devices.

w00t! iPod!

w00t! iPod!

Haha, I was totally worried you’d find baby blue unmanly.

No way man, techno gadgets are totally manly, and Blue is a guy color. Besides it’s so small I can just hide it in my chub rub or something, and nobody will ever see it.

Um….chub rub?

You know, when your dunlop rubs against the front of your pants and causes chaffing, cause you’re too fat and your pants are too tight?

Dunlop? oh god, these terms! we don’t have these fat terms up here!

You know, when your belly dun lopped over your pecker.

Haha, okay, so then what’s the chub rub part? And you don’t have a dunlop by the way.

It’s when the chubby part of your belly, the chub, rubs against the top of your jeans creating chub rub.

I see. Well you might have slight chub, but I would not say a full out dunlop.

Anyway, the point is that the iPod is really really small and can be hidden anywhere. (One more pointless joke choked to death by a literal interpretation.)

Sorry, I do that a lot. Eventually I will get all these jokes when my brain stops doing that thing it does with words. 😛 I like that we both got each other something iPod related.

I know right, I heard that four out of the top ten gifts this year were made by Apple. That brings me up to a grand total of one Apple device, all the rest can kiss my shiny metal ass. Especially Macs. Macs are only good with cheese.

I’m so getting a Mac next computer. Vista can bite me. 

Fuck that shit, Vista is for people who aren’t assholes. Mac’s are lame as hell and if you have troubles on it, you have to figure them out on your own because trying to use them makes me want to skewer people alive, with a Mac.

On that note, Merry Christmas baby!  ❤

Merry Christmas darlin. ❤

Christmas Kiss

Christmas Kiss

Winter Wonderland

Okay, it’s not *quite* Wonderland out there, especially because to us Southern Ontarians, Wonderland is a place with a lot of fun rides and over priced chili fries.

This would suck covered in ice

This would suck covered in ice

But somehow, I’m not super pissed about the snow this year. I’m actually sort of….well I’m afraid that if I say I’m enjoying it I’ll get skewered by a foot long icicle – ’tis the way of the winter justice. I am surprised, however, by how minimally pissed I am at this most recent dumping of chilly, frozen flaked water all over my city.

It could be for a number of reasons:

– I have purchased, for the first time in many years, a ‘sensible’ pair of boots. Wedge heel. Fuzzy. Muklukish without being ugly. On sale. None of this ‘winter heel’ business for me anymore.

Fashionable, yet not retarded

– I have a nice coat. Not just a warm coat, but a nice, long, extremely pretty and in-style coat that makes me feel like I’m in Casablanca. Except, you know, with ice.

coat

Not this nice, but pretty close

– Up until this morning when I had to take a $5 taxi ride two blocks to the subway station, I had the transit schedule all figured out. This one might take some readjusting, but generally speaking I am able to leave my apartment right before the bus pulls up to the stop just across the street. Less than five minutes outside in the mornings? I can dig it.

Boourns!

– Indoor shopping. Toronto is used to the cold, and so there are a myriad of ways to get your shopping done, even grocery shopping, without ever having to step foot outside. Malls connect to the subway system, and once you get right into the core of the city, the PATH winds through most of the major buildings and transit, all without even looking towards the doors outside. Now if I can just find an indoor laundromat…

This is indoors, suckers! Mahahaha!

Toronto's PATH system: because the outdoors is for losers

– In the event that I do not find an indoor laundromat, I have discovered one that is even closer to my apartment than the one I’ve been using hitherto. I don’t even have to cross any intersections, which can be kind of dicey on my street. It’s a little more expensive and frankly not as nice, but it’s smaller, not as busy, plays classical music, and has no attendant. You’d think that would be a downside, but I prefer to not have people around when I’m out running errands or washing my undergarments.

– Toronto does have some rad winter stuff going on. And by the time I’m back here I’ll have someone who’ll actually be excited to attend such events even though we do, as Josh puts it, “turn everything into some weird abstract art thing.”

Cavalcade of Lights

Weird abstract art - still pretty!

 – I have a new weapon against the frozen, treacherous tundra that will be my sidewalks within a few weeks. It’s a phone number. You call it and tattle on all the lazy fucktards that didn’t shovel their snow, letting it instead be compounded into frozen footprints that are out to break my ankles every year. Seriously, I have developed this ridiculous fear of breaking my ankles. I will call that number fifteen times a day if I have to. I’ll call it on my own damn landlords. My ankles are grateful for my city’s well-spent tax dollars.

OW MY ANKLES!!! AND POSSIBLY KNEES!!!

– It’s a white Christmas! Surprisingly enough, we almost never get snow in time for Christmas. It shows up right at the beginning of January and clobbers our asses until Easter. And given that with a little luck this should be my last Canadian Christmas for a couple of years, I’m very pleased that the weather is going all storybook for me this time around.

My place does not look like this...but up the street it does!

– Money has been okay this year. I didn’t have to carefully plan each and every gift according to how many groceries I’d have to knock off the list. I was able to go out and buy exactly what I wanted without a second thought. Which does wonders for those last minute items, especially when Christmas is distressingly close to the rent cheque.

Damn expensive holiday!

And now the big reason:

– I told the Family to fuck off this year. Well not really, but I’ve never enjoyed the whole family holiday thing. And this year I said so.

Last year was a big deal. It was the last year my grandparents would be around before moving to Quebec, and my long lost cousin flew in with his fiancee from Vancouver. So for the first time in….possibly ever, that entire side of the family was together for Christmas. I went, even though I was ridiculously medicated and probably an embarassment. It was a big deal to me, and I went out of my way to get a little something for everybody, even the fiancee I’d never met. This year, I’m doing my own thing.

This year, I am going to a friends house for a Christmas Eve visit with her and the wee ones. I’ll wake up by myself – seriously, how is this some kind of tragedy? I don’t get it. I’m going to make sure I have a super clean kitchen the night before, and will make myself a really nice breakfast with mimosas and eggs florentine. I’ll say Merry Christmas to Josh if he’s around, and then make my way to the same friends house for a big gathering with her and her awesomely Greek family for what she is dubbing “Orphan Christmas.” There will be food, drink, and a related assortment of merriment. And since they’re Greek there will be more festivities for Orthodox Christmas later on. I’ll see my actual family in small, quiet doses on Boxing Day.

It’s not that I don’t like my family. I just don’t understand why every year we all rush through our Christmas mornings to haul our asses out to the suburbs in ridiculous holiday traffic to get to The Big Family Event by 2pm. Everyone bitches every year because the same aunt/uncle always show up late. I adore this aunt/uncle because they do their holidays their way. They open their gifts slowly and take the time to appreciate them, and show up to The Big Family Event when it suits them. The rest of us are usually in mid-crisis by this point. There is screaming and frantic organizing, paper thrown to and fro, gifts exchanged between cousins who don’t even know each other in ‘real life’. Food shovelled onto plates. I usually fill up on carrots and potatos. Every year I leave exhausted, cranky, shaky, carrying buckets of stuff that someone less fortunate could use far more than I, and I usually don’t remember who got me what. Then we all drive further into the frozen suburbs to visit even more extended family and stand around awkwardly. Everyone else seems to know how to do this, but I’m still lacking the ability to care about people I only see once a year. So I leave even more cranky, sleep deprived, with the general feeling of having been poked and prodded unpleasantly, and the lingering fear of “am I the only one who doesn’t know how to do this shit?” I do not enjoy these excursions.

Like this but with more panic and no Cousin Eddie

Also, I know you don’t really have to be religious these days, but what is this need to cram ourselves together in a room to celebrate what amounts to not much more than a giant shopping spree?

a christmas exegesis

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not into the religious aspect of it, then the spirit of Christmas is more about little kids. Seeing them get all excited, hear stories about reindeer and gingerbread things. I’ve got one age-appropriate cousin that I never see, and all other cousins/siblings/etc. are well past the age of Santa. So I don’t see the point, especially when the little one has no idea who I am. My friends kids, on the other hand, run to the door when I visit! “Auntie Em, yaaaaay!!!” I am so all about that this year.

So!

I’m thinking that Christmas and winter in general is stressing me out far less this year because I finally feel like a grown up. I’ve got my shit together, I know what I’m doing, and I’m not overly concerned with how I’m expected to celebrate. I’ve got awesome friends this year and an awesome boyfriend next year (and this year, but especially next year.) The coming months are already filled with plans of adventure and I’m really looking forward to it. 2008 started off a bit rough but is ending fantastically. 2009 should kick even further ass.

I’ll see y’all there! And until then, I’m going to keep doing it my way.

Ugh. Thanksgiving.

Okay, so for those of you south of the ol’ US – Canada border, we Canucks celebrate our Thanksgiving in October, not November. Reason being is that it’s very clearly based around the harvest, and ours comes much earlier than our southern neighbours. It’s cold up here, you know.

Here’s the thing – I don’t like Thanksgiving. Sure, I have plenty to be thankful for, and at least once a day I stop and think for a few minutes about how lucky I am to have a job, (I job I actually really like! Even though I’m still surrounded by morons…) some great friends, an AMAZING boyfriend, and yes even a relatively non-dysfunctional family. In fact, I’m probably the most dysfunctional one in the family. So yes, I have much to be thankful for.

I’m plenty grateful. I just don’t see why I have to express this gratitude by spending four days with my family, in a car, driving to a different province, to be poked and prodded and heaped under miles of awkward silences and forced conversation.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hypeful.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/thanksgiving.jpg

I don’t even like phone calls, or spending more than an hour or two with my family. What the hell made anyone think I would enjoy a family car trip? Did I mention I’m vegetarian?

Well there’s my grandmother, first and foremost. She’s overall an incredible woman, and very awesome. If you cross her, she will crucify you and everyone you love. She’s fought a hard life and I would say she won. You couldn’t even guess her age, she looks that great. She is, however, very draining at times. You don’t get an invitation to these family events, you get an informational phone call telling you what time you’re expected.

There’s my grandfather too. He has Parkinson’s and is getting more frail and confused, which I’m sure is going to be upsetting because he really is quite wonderful, and when the time comes I will miss him terribly. But the way I try to look at it, in his mind it’s 1947 again and I’m sure by the end he’s going to be back in a very happy place. He turns to my grandmother once in a while and says “You know, I married the most beautiful woman in the world. You would have just loved her.” She doesn’t bother to correct him, but instead laughs and takes the compliment he doesn’t know he’s giving her (which is the most sincere way, I guess.)

My grandparents are awesome, I’m glad to be seeing them.

As for the rest of my family. Well, of course I love them too. I just don’t like spending a lot of time with others in my immediate vicinity. And with the family, of course, you have to suck it up and put up with all those little annoyances, those little annoyances that would be my swift exit from any other such situation. You can’t say “Wow, and you manage to tie your shoes?” or “Hey, can we not discuss my finances?” at the dinner table – at least not without hearing about it for the next six months. There is an increased level of inhibition, and I hate the shit out of it. I hate pretending to care about other people’s day, I hate pretending to listen, I hate pretending like I have anything to talk about, I hate pretending that I wouldn’t rather be at home on my couch with my boyfriend, my weed, my bunnies, and a family that loves me from the other side of the city. https://i0.wp.com/www.pastdeadline.com/images/sesame_street_thanksgiving.jpgWhen did ‘giving thanks’ turn into flooding the stores for the biggest pre-stuffed bird, jamming up the highways trying to get somewhere that will still be there next weekend, and exhausting ourselves putting on game faces? Ugh. Maybe it’s just me – it usually is.

When Josh and I are together, I’m all about spending Thanksgiving making out in the kitchen amongst food that may or may not get finished.

I’ll stop complaining now, before I bring some instant-karma whoop-ass on myself. I’m just saying that I’ll be giving my thanks when I arrive safely back home.

And really, does ANYONE like the idea of spending four days in close quarters with immediate family? Yeeeesh.