Vacation Jitters!

Since I’m heading back to North Carolina to visit Josh in ohhhh tomorrow (!!!), maybe it’s a good time to finally post pictures from my last two visits in August and November? Oui? Oui!

Thanks to overtime during the office move last summer I had a sweet amount of lieu time to use as I saw fit, and I see very fit indeed to spend as much time as I possible with Josh. Obviously! So I scheduled two vacations close together which had the bonus of making the time between them seem nigh insignificant, but the disadvantage of making the time between a November and April visit seem to take forever.

And yet here we are! And here you go:  

(And if the formatting is all wonky, screw it. WordPress is misbehaving and I’ve no time to mess around with it!)

August
 
   

This is American for 'cheese'; the edibility of heavily processed foods being a constant point of debate between Josh and I.

Josh was very pleased when we returned to the hotel one evening to find his skull-betopped scooter bookended by a pair of badass Harleys.

A small island of Canada in a vast sea of on-sale Americana.

Something's wrong when your bestseller list includes disproportionate amounts of Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, and Dick Armey. Oh and lets not forget the Ann Coulter. Oy vey.

Late night date night at the Wal-Mart extravaganza!

 

November

 
 
 
 

 

 

Gettin' all casual in the kitchen, by which I mean he didn't realize the camera was on secret timer 😉

 

Baking a brie! With caramelized worcestershire and red wine onions cooked right into the phyllo!

 
 

Now that's what cheese should look like!! The brie didn't make it two feet from the oven before being devoured within five minutes right at the counter. Words cannot describe the delicious.

 

Trip to the most psychedelic pizza joint ever!

Psychedlic menu! Just give pizza a try, man! Why can't all toppings just get along? 😛

 

Gettin' all domestic with the washing up.

 

Gettin' more domestic! 😉

 

 

Only one more sleep until more of these!!

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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!

Happy Not-So-New Year

Have you noticed winter kicks my ass much? As soon as the temperature drops, my brain seems to freeze along with the pipes, and it becomes a struggle just to roll my unmotivated and generally winter-blah’d self off the futon first thing in the morning. It’s dark when I get up, it’s dark when I get off work; it’s cold, slushy, and all around miserable. Fuck winter, man. Fuck it.

The only good thing about winter so far was that I flew south to spend Christmas with Josh. Unfortunately, that merriment ended as soon as my return flight touched down in Buffalo – in the middle of a blizzard. But wait, it gets better.

One delayed hour on the frozen tarmac later, I shoved my way past throngs of snowbirding elderly (who should NOT be allowed to travel with ‘carry-ons’ they can’t lift out of the overhead compartments without assistance), ELEVEN people blocking the aisles waiting for wheelchairs, three screaming toddlers and a fat guy with a cat. My luggage took even longer. I was also starving, having only brought ten dollars for travel-food without realizing that a 9am airport breakfast of yogurt and O.J. would cost eight bucks (you’d think I’d have this figured out by now, it being my third trip), or that all the delays would bring me well past 4pm before I could get to a bank machine. Said bank machine promptly rejected my card. Turns out the last machine I had used before my vacation was of the sketchy variety, and my card had been frozen as protection against card copying fraud. In retrospect, I’m quite grateful – but try telling that to me when I’m starving, tired, and pissed.

Good thing my mom was there to pick me up, or I might have kicked something and broken toes again. She had agreed to drive me to/from Buffalo since it’s loads cheaper to fly within the U.S. than across the Can-Am border. It’s also not that long of a drive, and we’ve got fun family along the way, so she was happy to oblige. She’s also got better luck with technology – her bank card worked just fine, so off we left with a few extra bucks and the intent of stopping for a quick bite to eat before hitting the border.

And then we got outside. Ohhhh, the outside.

I’m not going to describe the outside. But it looked something like this:

static snowstorm

got snow?

And sounded something like this:

What exit do we take? Nine, nine, the map says nine. Yeah, but where is nine? I don’t know, I can hardly see anything! Oh my god, it’s getting worse! This isn’t safe, we need to pull over! I can’t see the road! There is no over to pull to! Just watch the signs, can you see them!? I’ll lean my head out the window – ack, blargh, spit, cough! – I think that’s exit…three! Exit three! So we still have…crap, a long ass way to go. Shit, this is a total white out, I can’t even see the car in front of me! From now on trips to Buffalo are only for good weather! This is so not safe, this is SO! NOT! SAFE! I think that’s a truck up there, careful. Is that a truck? I think that’s a truck. Oh fuck, that’s a truck! It’s on it’s side, it’s flipped! Swerve, swerve!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!

Soooo, yeah. That sucked. By the time I got home and into bed I was already counting down until my next vacation.

On the plus side, Southwest Airlines gave me a spiffy credit for the whole ordeal, enough to cover a flight! Totally worth the hassle, I’d say, especially since within-US flights not around Christmas are pretty reasonably priced, so as soon as I’ve got time saved up at work again I’m getting my ass back on a plane.

In the meantime, here’s some highlights from the holidays:

kiss love woot!

Lovin' up on my man.

manly construction

Josh being manly with his tools. Haha. Tools.

dogs rage against the removal of the carpet

The dogs were less than thrilled with the decision to reno out the carpeting.

dog wood flooring

New wood floors are confusing!

rad kitchen friends

Visiting rad friends in their rad kitchen

the puppy and the boyfriend

Not our puppy 😦

hockey night in...NC

My dad sent a Leafs jersey down as a Christmas gift - woot!

Scrapbook

Josh took me out to choose a scrapbook for our photos...

scrapbook

...and even helped me put it together!

cute shirts much?

I got us matching paw-holding otter shirts! (Which other than this one photo op, will not be worn simultaneously - because there's cute and then there's revolting.)

What’s the deal with the otter shirts? I saw them on icanhascheezburger as a shirt-of-the-day just before I left Toronto and HAD to have them. So I bought them on the spot and had them shipped down to us to arrive just before Christmas as a surprise! Why otters? Because Josh had sent me this video a while earlier to make me smile:

Celebrate Good Times!

Ok, I know you’ve all been just dying for some vacation details, so at long last, here we go! This will be one of many installments of our adventures.

It makes sense to start at the beginning, which in fact was way back in April – when we picked the general timeframe for my visit and I started the months long scrambling to get all the details sorted out. I had the paperwork to get my passport already printed off and ready for fine-comb scrutiny. It probably took about three attempts at filling in all the little boxes and squares and ‘this only applies to you if you were born at this spot before this date’ spaces before I was certain it could be brought in for government inspection without meeting instant rejection for having a signature go outside the lines. When it came time to choose which government line to brave for a morning, I chose a location far from the centre of the city. Less popular, less people, less lining up, less chance of me snapping at someone who controls where I’m allowed to travel.

It went off without a hitch, and within another few weeks I had my passport. My SUPER regimented, no glasses, no smiling, no frowning, no expression whatsoever passport. I look like a disaffected yuppie and it cost me $8. And that was just for the pictures, nevermind the little blue folded book itself.

Next came picking the dates for flights and hotels, trying to maximize our alloted vacation time between weekends and matters-of-convenience for getting myself to the necessary airports. As soon as the dates were picked, the tickets purchased and the hotel reserved, it was just a matter of waiting. Shopping, and waiting.

FINALLY June rolled around. The last two weeks crawled and dragged by until one morning I strolled into work with a bright smile on my face. I made no bones about announcing my state of mind to the world at large: “People, I am not here today. Technically I am not here tomorrow, as I will be on a plane to visit my boyfriend in warm climates for the first time in one year. But rest assured, I am not here today either. Is the coffee machine broken? My good sir, I do not care.”

The next morning my mother picked me up for the drive to Buffalo, as it was $100 cheaper to cross the border in a car instead of flying directly out of Toronto. The navigation was a bit rough. Next time I’ll get the directions myself instead of leaving it up to her to leave up to her boyfriend to leave to the last minute resulting in no more than a poorly printed map and handwritten, somewhat incorrect instructions. However, we got there. And after connecting issue-free in Detroit, I got there.

There is here

Josh’s brother Nate drove him to the airport to pick me up, and dropped us off at the hotel where Josh had checked in earlier. In we rolled with our luggage, up the elevator, down the hall, and, well I’ll leave it at that for at least a few hours 😉
We hadn’t stopped to eat dinner, so later that evening I was starving. I figured we could go to a bar or restaurant, but anything nearby was closed by ten. Even with the scooter Josh had already brought to the hotel, the closest source of food was the SuperWalmart. We decided on a late night junk food/grocery shopping spree. I’m not usually a big fan of Walmart or its inhabitants, but I figure when in Rome…(or the South…)
It's ok, Talea was at the gym...

It's ok, Talea was at the gym...

The next morning, or maybe the following morning (I may have lost track of time…), I asked Josh to take me to Ihop for breakfast. He agreed, but was disappointed to learn that it’s somewhat of a misnomer. The “international” house of pancakes is at most a “national” house unless they have them in Mexico – we sure don’t have them in Canada, or at least not that I’ve seen. I in fact did not have pancakes, which I have not been able to stomach since a rather disastrous event with plane food many moons ago. Nor did I get waffles, which I’m told would have been an acceptable substitute. I got a strawberry crepe, which was damn good. I also had a lovely eyeful of Ihop patronage, and the new knowledge that some folk do in fact eat fried chicken for breakfast and encourage their kids to do the same.
yeah...

yeah...

Our breakfast was followed by much in the way of napping (sort of), to fill the hour or so one is supposed to wait before post-eating aquatic adventures. Yes, the hotel had a pool. But between the hot sun and the small family taking up most of the water, we opted to stay indoors. The pool was small, and it wasn’t so much about there being a crowd as there being just one family – we weren’t really in the mood for inevitable tourist small talk. Luckily, there were recreational activities to be found inside as well. 

This photo took approximately 37 takes.

Word, they had a jacuzzi!

We also went out to dinner at the Outback (which I think we do have in Canada, but I haven’t been in a while), and clothes shopping at Target. It may seem mundane to spend a vacation going to Walmart and Target, but we never get to do these little every day things together. Getting to spend an hour trying on shorts and lamenting the lack of non-thong sandals for men is a rare opportunity!

Alas, the weekend could not last forever, and we only stayed at the hotel for a few days. So after 60 some odd hours of our shagedelic fest of sugar, saunas and shopping, we packed up our bags and waited for our ride to Nate and Sami’s house to stay with them for the rest of our vacation. The first thing we did all together was head on over to their parents house for a family dinner with what I like to refer to as my ‘almost in-laws’. They love to take pictures at any and all opportunity, flattering or not…

Thought bubble says "Hey what are you - "

Thought bubble says "Hey what are you - "

Photobombed, and still adorable

Photobombed, and still adorable

And of course, we took plenty of pictures ourselves.

Totally worth the wait!

Totally worth the wait!

That’s all for this first installment, the adventures continue soon! Coming up next, we’ve got killer dogs, date night, strippers, licking (not to be confused with stripper licking), and other fun.

Stay tuned!

A Triumphant Return

Word up my internet peeps!

You will rarely catch me in as good a mood as I am right now, so soak it all in while you can. I am back from my vacation, refreshed, relaxed, loved up, and ready to tackle the rest of the year until Josh and I can be together full time. Last year’s vacation had too many chunks of time cut away by his work schedule, and the travelling part of it was horrendous. He also had a court date the day after my return, and none of the legal shit had been sorted out yet – our future, while undoubtedly involving each other, was filled with uncertainty, obstacles, and plans kept in limbo by forces beyond our control. It was all a little scary, and next to impossible to will myself back on the bus to go home.

This year was different. With no more court to take up sick days, he had the full week off to spend time with me. Ten solid days of loving, sleeping, eating, singing, visiting, shopping, laughing, cooking, kissing, dancing, drinking, wii-ing, and just generally being. A proper vacation. Even when it came time to leave, I was still feeling great.

The next steps to getting together are slowly forming a solid groundwork – talking to lawyers, looking at colleges, setting loose dates and vague to-do lists. Nothing is set in stone yet, of course. But on the way back to the airport, I was feeling alright. Instead of last years dread, anxiety, and futile resentment towards space, time, and other human beings, this year I was nothing short of psyched. Instead of thoughts of “How long until we see each other again?” and “What’s going to happen next?” it was more like “Ok, I’m going to go get things ready up in Canada with the paperwork and the research and the phone calls, and I’ll see you soon! Like for reals this time! Holy crap, woot!”

So yes, I would say it was a good vacation. And with ten days of “What do you want to do today Napolean?” (although I never got around to actually saying that, but now I really wish I had), there was much in the way of fun and adventure. You’ll be regaled with tales for weeks to come, and pictures of course. But for now, while my fridge is still empty and my bags still unpacked, here are some brief highlights:

– Late night grocery shopping at Walmart!

– Confederate flag bikinis and hot tubs!

– We went on the radio! Details and clips coming soon!

– Great adventures in American dining establishments and their patrons!

– Saw the Hangover! Go see it! Now!

– 2 a.m. weight lifting contest (Josh totally won!)

– Strippers!

– Copious amounts of junk food!

– Vikings and dragons from space!

– Licking inappropriate objects! Surprise, it’s not the strippers!

 All that and more, but right now I’m starving because I spent last night getting piss drunk with Talea and didn’t get groceries. It was totally worth it.

Leaving on a Jet Plane, Suckers!

As you may recall, Josh and I celebrated our one-year anniversary of dating on March 11th. Unfortunately, the cosmos conspired against us to mark the occasion with frustration and general technological fuck-uppery as opposed to flowery romance. In fact, we have still yet to exchange our cute little love-projects. This displeases me greatly. I’m generally speaking more the kind of gal who appreciates a good trip to the liquor and/or candy store (please, somebody combine the two!) or a night in cuddling on the couch to celebrate such occasions, rather than the whole dinner and flowers shebang. But even that’s hard to do when you’re 800 miles apart and the damn sentient videophone picks the worst days of the week to frankly, fuck with your shit.

Fine then universe, you want to play that game? Do you? Oh yeah? Well you may have screwed up March 11th, but there’s another significant date coming up very shortly. I won’t tell you what date specifically for fear you’ll mess that up too, but the general time frame is mid-June.

Last June, after having been madly in love for some time already, Josh and I finally met face-to-face. And yes, it was awesome. And yes, it was very difficult to leave. It still blows my mind to think back and go ‘holy shit, that was a year ago!’ One year! What the hell???

Unfortunately, that also means it’s been about a year since we’ve gotten some good and proper bedroom action. Too much info? Well, sorry. If you’ve been following along here, you know Josh and I live far apart – so in terms of sexy times, there’s really only one logical conclusion: it’s hard to get some from across the room never mind across the border. This will not do! Poor Josh! Poor me! If you haven’t been following along and this happens to be your first glance at this page…well, now you know.

So in light of the gods-of-tech being general wankers as of late, I’d really rather not leave this particular upcoming anniversary to chance. I’m getting on a damn plane and getting my ass down there. That’s right, it’s vacation time again! One whole year! It’s time, people.

(may not be flying on this actual plane)

(may not be flying on this actual plane)

Wooooo!!!!! Naturally, there will be many more exciting details to share as we get closer to the date, like accomodations, places to go, people to see, and etc. After last years adventure with failing luggage, I think the first thing I’m going to do is buy myself a nice pink manhandling-resistance suitcase, and maybe a matching dress.

Look out America, I’m coming to get you! Or at least one of you 😉

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.

Fun Developments!

Okay, so the plan is back on to move my ass to the States at some point. This whole college idea for getting Josh up here is not going to work out very well considering the bastards who run the American Judicial System haven’t even handed down his sentence yet, never mind the probationary aftermath, nevermind the drawn out process that is getting ones record pardoned and cleared and blah blah blah, nevermind the following brouhaha of actually getting the college part in gear. You remember the end of highschool, the college bit alone is a confusing and frustrating pain in the ass.

Plus, I’m in the mood for a change of scenery, and for someone with a crazy hectic brain like mine, I think the slower pace could actually be very good for me. That and even if Josh is away by the time I end up down there, just being closer makes me feel better.

There’s just one problem with that. Actually, there are a ton of issues that will have to be traversed, but let’s focus on one thing at a time. Josh is the patient one, who understands the frequent necessity of just sitting back and letting things take their course. No point in spending extraneous amounts of energy on something you can’t control. I however, do not function like that, and it’s the recognition of these differences in thought process that contributes to a succesful relationship (among other things, like our general awesomeness and a healthy abundance of sex appeal). If I’m on the subway and it shuts down, I know there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I’m going to be late, and that’s that. But this is different, because I feel like I *can* do something. And it’s driving me literally crazy. Crazier. Whatever.

So I want to move. But because I am the impatient one, it’s understood that this is something I am doing of my own perogative. Josh is stuck in limbo, and you can’t make rent money while you’re in jail. It would be unfair of me to decide that I don’t feel like waiting, up and move my ass, and then expect him to cover for me. If I move down there, I need to be able to support myself. Obviously, Josh will and does help out where he can, but I can’t tie someone down to a decision that I made.

That’s not a problem. The problem is my Canadian citizenship. I hope I’m not alerting myself to the FBI here or anything, but from what I can gather, taking up physical space in the U.S. is not so much a problem as it is taking up a job. Understandably, the U.S. government is not keen on the idea of handing out jobs to foreigners while there are able bodied Americans who could be employed in that capacity instead. I’ve explored a fuckton of avenues, and it doesn’t look good. I don’t have any kind of special degree, or a lot of money. And while I’m fantastic at my job, the fact of the matter is that being a highly organized, functional, multitasking administrative assistant is not the most specialized field out there. And Josh and I are not about to get married for the sake of a Green Card. That’s retarded.

What the hell do I do then? Save up a whack of dough, first of all, but what about income beyond that? I figure I need to save up at least a couple grand to live off of for the first couple of months while I get myself settled, but I need to have an income. After being told “no, you suck” by a number of agencies, I went bawling to my friend May. Talea is plenty smart and inventive, but May is smart in different ways, and is all about me moving for the sake of love. Talea, while supportive, is less thrilled by the idea of her best friend moving 800 miles south for a couple of years, while May is used to her friends moving far and wide to chase their dreams. So May sits me down with a coffee and essentially says “Hellooooo? The internet! That’s what we do!” May and her husband are the most incredible, best-geeky-friends style, super nerd awesome couple you can imagine, and they are good at what they do. Think Tron, seriously.

And one of the best things about May is her “You can do it!” attitude. So the fun development: I am building a website! It’s solely for the purpose of making money, but I’m not a complete sell-out. It’s still going to be an awesome project that I’ve seriously contemplated for some time. But now the gears are in motion. I don’t know the first thing about computers, but with the right amount of drive, self-learning, and a little coaxing from my geek-chic friend, I should be able to make something fly.

Here’s the plan! I like to think I’m pretty awesome, and I know how to do awesome stuff. I’d like to share that awesome know-how with my buddies, blog-buddies, and the world at large. The basic premise of the site with thusly be weekly tutorial videos on how to do awesome things. How to make awesome lemon squares, how to make awesome knitting patterns, how to do an awesome hair style, makeup style, crafty project, anything! In fact, I think I’ll title it “How To Be Awesome”. And it will include a bloggy type area, and links where you can buy the fun crafty things I make (I specialize in awesome scarves and have been wanting to sell them for a while), as well as ads for stuff that I genuinely do love and endorse in the hopes that they will pay me for hawking their wares.

So that’s the big news, an official website is on the way! I’ll very likely throw a quick little something together with Google pages while I mire through the technical aspects of HTML and Dreamweaver, but I hope at few of you will come on over and check it out once it goes live.

I shall keep you posted!

How I Got Here

I’m going to break the general rules of internet existence and tell you that my name is Emerald. My boyfriends name is Josh. I’m not too worried about him in regards to internet stalkers, that’s a pretty common name. I have another blog that I won’t be linking you to anytime soon, and for a very good reason. I’ve started this blog to talk about things that I don’t want people in the real world to know about just yet. Time for a little recreation of the self, if you will.

This blog is about Josh and I, but not to worry: I’m not a retarded fifteen year old doodling hearts on her plastic binder, gazing whimsically at an attractive head of hair some three seats ahead. Instead of oozing and gushing copious amounts of affection and biased praise, I plan to use this outlet as a way of documenting my progress as I slog through a shitfuckton of both momentous occasions and difficulties in regards to our relationship. Yes, I said shitfuckton. If you have a problem with a girl who curses like a sailor, I suggest you keep ridin’ partner, there’s sure to be a blog for you somewhere out there.

But wait, difficulties? Oh no! What can this mean? Are we fighting? At a crossroads? Have I come here to vent about his jackassery? Am I unsure of the sincerity of blah blah blah blah blah? No.

This all brings us to the title of this blog, 800 miles. That’s approximately how far apart we live.

Since I can’t imagine any of you potential readers have stumbled upon our story elsewhere, let me fill you in. Josh and I met right here on WordPress, in a fantabulous twist of the fates. Last October, he commented on a post of mine, and I followed suit on his. The rest is pretty much history involving upgrades to facebook and instant messaging. What started as an exploration of the differences between where we live and what we do turned into an ongoing conversation about who we are as people, how we relate to the rest of the world, and how we feel about life, love, and all the rest of that good stuff. We began to wonder what sort of joke was being played on us – evidently we were meant to be together if not for that pesky mileage issue. I’m not sure exactly when, but it became pretty clear after a while that we were dating anyways. With the miraculous advantage of live chatting, webcams and heartfelt letters, a solid relationship formed without the need to have met face to face. This was an interesting predicament for a girl quite used to nookie whenever she feels like it, and as it turns out it was a refreshing change for the better. At any rate, on March 10th, Josh wrote an in-depth romantic letter (via facebook obviously, we are in our twenties after all) explaining his true feelings for me. His sister-in-law accidentally closed the window, and so the letter was never sent. Forgoing patience, he decided against rewriting it and simply blurted out via msn: I’m in love with you.

Awwww

Awwww

Yeah, yeah, I know. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Good thing I’m in love with him too. And so the facebook status was changed to “in a relationship”, a momentous occasion for anyone sucked in by the whole genre, and I began to make plans to visit him. For a number of reasons I’ll get to in a second, these travel plans were held off for a while, leading only to a stronger relationship in the meantime. But eventually, all worked out and off I went. Via Greyhound I did travel, a 24 hour trip filled with…well, all the fantabulous fuckuppery one can expect from spending a day on a bus filled with the public. I made it there in one piece and finally got to see my wonderful boyfriend face to face and spend a week with his amazing family and friends, and obviously his amazing self as well.

I am smitten. There was no awkwardness, a little bit of nervousness, but almost immediately a very smooth transition into face-to-face togetherness, a falling into routine that made it difficult to believe we’d ever been apart, and even more difficult getting back on the bus the next weekend. We’d been talking long term plans from the beginning – our agreement on these most important topics being one of the ways we fell in love in the first place – but now we’re heading in that direction for sure.

But there are a few things in our way.

Firstly is the 800 miles between us. Secondly is the pesky US-Canadian border between us. Yeeeeaaah, you didn’t see that coming, did you? So one of us has to deal with immigration bullshit if we’re to be together, and neither of us are down with running down the aisle simply for a green card. I’m the Canuck, by the way, Josh is from the heart of Dixie Land and damn proud of it. We’ve already decided that Canada has more advantages in the way of schooling and healthcare and economics, but for the immediate future, it’s looking like it’ll be easier for me to move down there for a bit. He’s got a criminal record, you see.

Oh, what’s this! A convicted felon? I’m head over heels for some rebel troublemaker who surely can’t be serious about our future together? From the south no less? Oh, the stereotypes! I can hear the judgement from this side of the computer screen. Well, no. Been there, done that. Josh spent a few years rebelling against his Flanders-esque upbringing (we are talking about the Deep South, do recall) and was finally bitchslapped by the long arm of the law. At this point he realized that if he didn’t calm down some, he was going nowhere fast. And so he smartened up, and from what his friends and family have told me, is barely recognizeable from the what-was seven years ago. As for me, I don’t even know that person. But this is the US judicial system and the red tape drags on and on and on. He still has court dates looming from well before I met him, and every time a date comes up, I’m stuck 800 miles away not knowing if he’s going to be coming back that afternoon with yet another continuation, or if he’s going to be taken away for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

What’s a girl to do? Fuck that, that’s what. I’m not sitting by waiting for my man to be taken away and then given back before I figure out how to get our lives together. If Josh is stuck where he is then I’ll have to pack up my shit and move down there. I’ve moved on my own plenty of times, dragged myself out of impoverisHed debt many a time, and I can do it again. Obviously, it’s just going to be more complicated.

So that’s where I am – caught up in a whirlwind of solid love but complicated circumstances. And because I’m sure it’s going to be a story worth retelling later, I thought it wise to document it along the way. Hope you’ll follow along for the ride, it’s sure to be exciting.

Oh, by the way, Josh is going to be here too. We’ve decided on a dual blog, so you’ll be able to hear his side of all this too. Fun times!