24.9.11

Pre-Dirty-Thirty FunTimes: Running For a Long Time.

Over the years, I've found that I really only get into excercising if I trick myself. I've bounced from indoor rock climbing, to salsa classes and pole-dancing lessons. When I was living in Ottawa, I met a great friend who I'll call Doc (as he recently completed his PhD; woot woot!) and he decided that we'd work-out harder if we had something to train for. 

Doc was, and is, one of the funniest people I've ever met. After talking to him for ten minutes on the first day of grad orientation, I realized I'd met a hilarious genius.


Hilarious.Genius.


Like, the kind of guy who'll probably be poached by some governmental agency to develop a new breed of fighting squirrels with genetically modified armour. For reals. 


Now, Doc and I have two different versions of how things went down. Obviously, my version is the truth.


We'd just finished up our salsa class, which was super freaking fun, and were looking for something else to do. Doc suggested that we run a marathon. I googled how long a marathon was and was like,


"Not a freaking chance."


He regrouped and two days later, managed to talk me into signing up for the half marathon. I would also like to note that he'd already registered me by the time this second phone call happened. Fact.


"It'll be easy," he said. "I've downloaded a training schedule. Now, it says that you should be running consistently for at least six months before attempting a half, but we've got just under three months and should be fine. I mean, we're in pretty good shape already so that must apply to people who don't do anything."


Did I mention that I'd never run for longer than 10 minutes in my life? 


So, he emailed me the training schedule and we started hitting the pavement. Doc also went out to the site and drove the route. He was delighted to tell me that there weren't any major hills, so we wouldn't have to do as many hill sprints.


YAY! Hill sprints sucked!


Three months later, it was race day.


There were people everywhere. Hard core runners. Runners with mitts and bodysuits and stopwatches. I was dressed in my cute pink jacket, matching sneakers and lululemon pants. No bodysuit. No stopwatch. I should have taken that as a sign. I didn't. 


*BANG*


The race began.


The first 3k's were fine. I was going at a pretty good pace. Then, my ass started to hurt. A kilometre later, it was burning. Half a click after that, I thought my pants would catch on fire from the scorching pain. Turns out that the middle 16k have a gradual but significant pitch.


*shakes fist at Doc*


Doc had trained for hills, even though he'd told me he wasn't going to. At the 6th kilometre, he was gone-zo. Then, another friend who was running the 10k flew by me, waving. 


I was alone for the majority of the run, with the exception of seeing my Mum and her husband at the halfway mark (supportive parents really are the best). Of course, I'm playing it a little fast and loose by calling it a "run" as I totally ran out of steam (ha) shortly after that.


I also had to pee but was not really feeling the port-a-potties. Oh the things I didn't consider before signing up Doc bamboozled me. 


At the 15k mark, I stopped and had a small chat with a wonderful family who'd set up a makeshift water station at the end of their driveway. It'd been over an hour and a half at this point and I was hungry. Being an idiot, I ate approximately three pieces of melon before the race and I was starving. I tried to suck back one of those liquid protein packs but it was so freaking disgusting that I couldn't swallow. Luckily, the family had cut up oranges and water. According to them, I was in last place and they hadn't seen anyone for a while. Not that I really cared. After a few oranges slices, I said my thanks and continued on. 


At the 18k mark, the road started to go downhill. Thank god. I flew along, proud of myself for not giving up (not that I had much choice). People were lining the course, cheering, so that helped too. I saw the finish line in the distance and had to choke back tears. I saw my Mom, her husband and my friends.


YAY! I was done!


DONE!


Or so I thought.


Whoever designed the course should have been tied to a tree and pelted with water balloons full of vinegar. Apparently, the last 1.5k were AROUND the starting/ending point! I literally had to RUN RIGHT BY the finish line and then loop back to actually finish.


When I noticed the deception, I turned to my peeps, jogging beside me (who'd been waiting for me for quite some time) and moaned:


"This was the worst idea EVER."


Everybody laughed and then an old man who could have moonlit as Santa sprinted past me. He also ran the whole marathon (I knew this because our bibs were colour-coded and I was pissed mine was yellow while the marathoner's were purple...clearly purple is the better colour).


After the sado-masochistic lap, I finally finished.


My time was 2:45:28.


That put me nicely at the bottom of my age group, but not in dead-last as there were three runners in my group who didn't finish. They're probably still out there somewhere...


I then promptly made my way over to the food tent, ate a bagel and some chilli and then slept for the next 3 days. I kid, I kid...it was really only 2. Oh, I also got a medal. Damn straight! (Yes, everyone got a medal, but that's not the point). 


So, there you have it, another Pre-Dirty Thirty FunTime. Well, this wasn't exactly a fun time, but quite an accomplishment for someone who has a love/hate relationship with cardio. And had never run before. 


And just for the record, during my extensive 3 months of half-assed training, I never ONCE experienced the "runner's high." Not once. So for all of you who claim that you can run without really knowing that you're running are clearly liars. You really better check your pants for signs of flames.


When I look back on that day, I'm still pretty impressed with myself. Who cares that I couldn't actually run the whole thing? The point is that I didn't give up. I'm amazed that I was able to stick it out for so long. Now that I can't do much more than walking for 20 minutes, it makes me feel good to know that (a) my body's actually capable of doing it and (b) will be again. Although, maybe next time I'll just stick with a 10k. I'm not a total idiot.

23.9.11

Book Club Friday: Love Struck



It's the first day of Fall!


*watches leaf turn red*


*sighs*


Well, we all knew it was coming, eh?


Moving on...it's time for:




Wohoo! Chick lit set in Toronto!


* raises the roof *


I was SO EXCITED when I found this at my local bookstore. It's just THE BEST, reading about places that you're familiar with and I loved all of the Southern Ontario references Ms. Simmons threw into this baby.

There's Holts, Branksome Hall School, Yorkville, and shopping on Queen St. W. 


Loves, Loves, Loves!


Now, I did struggle through the first few chapters but once I accepted Poppy (short for Popsicle, her hubby's nickname) for who she was, it was a wild ride. 

The book starts off with a bang - literally - when Poppy's husband gets struck by lightning. The worst part? He was on a DATE at the time. Poppy's called to the hospital and to be by her husband of three year's side when she discovers he was having an affair with a gorgeously volumptuous woman who reminded me a lot of Gloria from Modern Family (only with a British accent instead of Spanish). When Poppy hides out in her husband's hospital  bathroom, she overhears them talking and realizes that her hubby actually has amnesia and doesn't remember either the affair or the floozy. Delighted that she has a second chance to save her marriage, Poppy launches Operation Get My Man Back. 

Unfortunately, she goes about it in entirely the wrong way and hilarity ensues. 


Do Poppy and I react the same way to things? Not at all.


Did I sympathize with Poppy? Sometimes.


Does Poppy's ridiculousness get seriously out of hand and border on being unrealistic? You betcha.


But all of these things made for a fun read. 


The book goes a little deeper after the first half and I was sucked right into Poppy's maturing journey. I'm a firm believer that 'you don't know what you don't know' and this book is a prime example of that. In the beginning, Poppy was narcissistic and self-centered but by the end, she's well on her way to becoming a much nicer person (and more supportive wife). 


The supporting characters are awesome, with my favourite being an old flame of Poppy's. There were lots of references to fashion designers and a few wonderfully-placed pop culture references. It totally makes sense that Ms. Simmons is a contributing writer to Elle and HGTV because her finger rests nicely on the pulse of what's hot. Even though the book's almost two years old, it didn't feel dated at all and that's mighty hard to do when you're referencing potential-flash-in-the-pan reality stars. 


One of the quotes on the front describes the book as "A Canadian Bridget Jones" and I think it's quite fitting.

Why? Because, at times, you want to just tell her to shut up. About half of her internal monologues are furrowed with back-to-back questions:

Do I love him? Do I really want him to love me? How much do I love him? Will he love me anyway? Why does he love me? - you get the drift. 

After a while, I glossed over a few got used to them, but in the beginning, the repeated questions really stopped me from connecting with Poppy. But hey, I can be picky like that.


All in all, I'd give this book a solid 8 cupcakes. Chocolate ones. With sprinkles. 


17.9.11

Eating Constructive Criticism


About eight months ago, I found a website online called Agent Query Connect. It's a magical place where writers come together and offer critiques on posted query letters (query letters are what authors send out to agents, similar to what you'd find on the flap of a book). There are members who've been around for years and really know what makes a solid query. Then, there are the newbies who post their draft without taking the time to peruse the site and learn. The majority of members seem to have been around for a couple of years and frankly, my query letter got one million percent stronger after being ripped apart a few times by some of the big-wig members. Now I go back and pay it forward. 

For the most part, I the feedback on ACQ is incredibly helpful. When things don't make sense to me, or I disagree, I simply don't make the change. I don't think I've ever gotten upset, even when my query letter is left tattered on the floor. I know that, in the end, it just makes my work stronger. I have a pretty thick skin, from years of university professors ripping my research papers to shreds, and sometimes I forget that being able to take constructive criticism is a learned behaviour.


Case in point, a recent thread on ACQ which the moderators SHUT DOWN!


In the (almost) year that I've been a member, I've never seen a thread with the red 'closed' icon. Naturally, when I saw it, I clicked and...


Well...


To say that this new member needed to work on thickening their skin would be an understatement.


Statement.
Under.
(get it? Haha. I'm hilarious)


I'm not going to copy and paste this member's response because (a) I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do that and (b) If I were that person, the last thing I'd want is for my freak-out to be advertised. 


Let me sum it up for you. The author, let's call them Freak-Out, wrote a novel that involves a character who can raise others from the dead. A Big-Wig critiquer offered suggestions for tightening up Freak-Out's letter but mentioned that they didn't know much about character's who can raise others from the dead. Then, a Newbie started accusing Freak-Out of writing about things they haven't researched. 


Now, the Big-Wig wrote back to the Newbie, explaining that it was them who'd said they didn't know much about raising the dead, not Freak-Out. Newbie didn't seem to get it though, and kept posting things about authors needing to do research before writing about something.


If it were me, I would've just laughed the Newbie's comments off and focused on what others were saying.


But that's not what Freak-Out did.


Instead, they EXPLODED!


In a very long post, Freak-Out attacked the Newbie. It was intense, hit below the belt and COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. Then, Freak-Out went back into the thread and deleted a whole bunch of their posts (a serious no-no as it doesn't let others see the progress of the query - the whole reason the site exists in the first place). I think the combo of the freak-out and the deletions got the thread suspended.


So look, I get that having someone accuse you of something doesn't feel great, but there's absolutely NO reason to throw a tantrum.


Yes, the Newbie got slightly confused, but I don't understand why Freak-Out...well...freaked out! If they can't take a random person's non-useful criticism then what the hell are they going to do when a reviewer compares their book to a piece of poop? Or when an editor sends them twenty pages of notes? It's going to happen. It's a fact.


Then I remembered that it took me a long time to be able to swallow my pride and accept a view that differs from my own. The first few years of my undergrad were intense, but the two years in grad school upped the ante, considerably. I literally had to defend my thesis in front of five professors for almost two hours, where they questioned just about every major point I made. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life but it left me with the ability to argue my stance without becoming defensive (or at least showing that I'm defensive...ha). 


I also remember a time when my high school English teacher thought it'd be fun to combine assignment names with what he thought of mine. For instance, when we were told to write a ballade, he wrote - in red ink at the top of my paper - the word: Ballthetic. Yes, he combined the word ballade with pathetic. Did I mention that I was only seventeen? He also read a poem of mine aloud, for the whole class, and then said that "whoever wrote this should consider seeking psychological help"...and then walked over to my desk and handed it back to me.


True story.



Being an author means that a lot of different people will comb over your manuscript before it's fit to be published. There will be pages and pages and pages of revisions that need to be made and if you're going to sit on your high horse and refuse to acknowledge other points of view, then I'm pretty sure your book's going to suck.


Big time.


That isn't exactly the case here, but the general concept of eating constructive criticism is still strong. Chew on what makes sense and throw away the rest. Don't let the haters bring you down!


Because, in the end, who the heck would want to work with someone who freaks out over nothing?


My guess is nobody.







16.9.11

Book Club Friday: Memoirs Are Made of This


It's that time again....


Time to talk about BOOKS because it's BOOK CLUB FRIDAY!




This week, I'm reviewing this...


* jazz hands *




Venus Gilroy is everything the flap claims she is: sexy, funny and badly-behaved, which pretty much made me want to be her friend right away. She’s not that badly-behaved (really) but more like a wonderfully authentic twenty-five year old gal who has no idea what she wants or how to get it. I love mid-twenties characters and it’s been a while since I’ve read one that I could really identify with.


*nostalgic sigh*


Starting in Portland, Venus finds herself divorced for the third time in her short romantic career. Her two dads schlep her to New York City, where she ends up finding a job as an assistant to sex author, Susanna.


Yes, you read that right – this book has TWO dads PLUS a sex writer! Her non-biological dad refers to himself as her "faux pa," which is pretty much one of the greatest descriptions of a step-parent…well…ever.


Susanna is a believable demanding boss, with just enough vulnerability to not want to punch her in the throat. Obviously, she’s a complete nightmare to work for and orders Venus around, but Venus handles herself well and has a great sense of humour about it.


The two male characters, one in his twenties and one in his late forties, make for a delightful mix of lustful images. On one side, there’s a struggling-writer-hottie and on the other, a silver fox photographer. As much as they were present throughout the story, the focus was on how they made Venus feel. This book isn't about getting a man. I love chick lit, but find that plots purely driven by the MC's fear of being alone fall somewhat flat. That isn’t the case here. At all.


Oh, and did I mention that Venus "falls in love with the person" rather than just men? Hold onto your suspenders ladies, there’s more than a little bisexuality in this novel. Venus’ mother included, too.


Did your brain just explode?


Mine did. With sheer delight.


There's been quite the debate happening on Twitter these last few days, regarding the acceptance of gay characters in YA books, and I think that a lot of the arguments can be applied to chick lit as well. I’ve only seen bisexuality/homosexuality in chick lit novels presented in a negative "my boyfriend left me for another guy" way, which sucks, and when there is a gay character, they're most often flamboyant men. In Memoirs Are Made of This, though, there are a few gay relationships and they're written just like ‘normal’ relationships: loving, complicated, sometimes miserable and exciting.


*cheers*


Whether you like reading about same-sex relationships or not, there’s no denying that Swan Adamson created characters who leave you wanting to throw a swanky party. In fact, there were so many mentions of canapés that I could almost taste a cheese puff. There’s a great balance of backstory and dialogue with virtually no lulls. I was enthralled as I followed Venus on her many errands around the streets of NYC and fell further in love with her when she was ultimately forced to confront herself...as much as a twenty-five year old could, of course.


I laughed out-loud more times than I can count.


The only thing that irked me was the British spelling (realise vs. realize, in the flap description, for instance). The publisher is from the United Kingdom, so that explains it…kind of…but it was distracting because the novel’s set in the United States. Whenever I saw the British spelling of something, suddenly the characters were speaking with an accent. Which they don't have. I'm sure you can see how distracting that could be. 


So, all-in-all, I give ole Swan Adamson a high five for this one. I have a sneaking suspicion that Swan is a dude as there’s virtually nothing online about him/her. I remember reading an interview with J.K. Rowling about how using her initials were an attempt to entice younger male readers. A guy writing chick lit would probably produce the same reaction, so I tip my fedora to Swan Adamson because if he IS a he, then he’s basically the greatest writer of all-time.


For reals. There’s no way my hubby or his buddies would be able to write such a fantastic female character.


Nope. Not a chance.  

15.9.11

Operation Sunshine and Rainbows


Okay, so I know that getting steroids off of the street is (somewhat) important, even though there are a few juicehead gorillas who'd disagree with me, and I commend my local police force in its efforts.


However...


How are we supposed to fear and/or respect the police when they choose to name drug-take-down-operations after candy?


Yes, it's true.


Operation JELLYBEAN is what the Fredericton Police Force named their two-year investigation into a local drug trafficker. 


Jelly. Bean.



Who came up with that beauty? How could officers say it with a straight face? I'd be in the middle of a briefing, see the word jellybean and totally start laughing. Mostly because it's funny but also because not laughing at something I want to laugh at just makes me laugh more


I mean, seriously, they might as well have named it Operation Sunshine and Rainbows.


That being said, Operation Shrinkage-Not-In-A-Pool would probably have been too obvious. As would Operation Back-ne. And Operation Hulk


All right, all right. Maybe Operation Jellybean's not that bad...


No wait. It is.


For the full article, click here.



13.9.11

Sort-of Star-Struck




My baby brother is just finishing up his apprenticeship for becoming a camerman for the union in Toronto. He's worked on movie and television sets as well as commercials for the last year and a bit. As such, he's worked with some pretty big names.

Now, I too have been on set before, as an extra during my first summer break in university (best summer job ever - I hardly had to do anything), and learned that most actors are kind of douchy. Most often, the character they play is nothing like them, so meeting the actor who plays a favourite character of mine is a total no-no. The last thing I want is to destroy the image I have of them in my head.


Well, something's different now.


In the last few months, I've found that I've officially become obsessed with Rookie Blue's character: Sam Swarek.


And by obsessed, I really do mean obsessed (but not in a scary stalker way...yet...I kid, I kid). 


Can you blame me, though, just LOOK at him!


* points *


* swoons *

                              

During the season finale, he got into quite a pickle and it was VERY INTENSE. In fact, there were times I feared he wouldn't survive. Naturally, during the commercials I drafted an equally intense letter to the writers, should Sam be killed off. Thankfully (for both myself and the Rookie Blue writing team) Sam lived to see the third season. 

He's got swagger, attitude and dedication to a high protein diet. 
                                 
                                  

Marc's aware of my tv-crush. I wouldn't say that he's 'psyched' about it, but Marc does appreciate that I'm obsessing about a dude who looks an awful lot like him (and just so we're clear, Marc also has a tv-girlfriend, so we're even). 


So what does that have to do with my baby brother?


Well, this week he starts shooting the newest season of Rookie Blue!! 


Here's how I found out. It was a few weeks ago, when he came out to visit. (I'm slightly paraphrasing, of course).


Me: So, now that you're done your apprenticeship, when the hell are you going to get on the set for Rookie Blue?


BB: That's the strangest thing to say.


Me: Why? Because I'm moderately obsessed with one of their main characters, Sam Swarek?


BB: Um, no. I just got a call about it in the airport on my way here.


Me: WHAT? Are you taking it?


BB: Please stop screaming. We're in a car and it's important that you focus on the road and not kill us all on the highway.


Me: ARE YOU TAKING IT?


BB: I don't know...seriously, stop staring at me and watch where you're going.


Me: Don't toy with me, baby brother.


BB: Is it a good show? I haven't watched it.


Me: Yeah, the show's great. Actually it's pretty fantastic.


BB: Then maybe I'll do it.


Me: Call them. Call them NOW and book it! Then you can meet Sam and tell me all about him.


BB: I'm getting a little scared. You know he's not a real person, right?


Me: You're getting caught up with the details here, baby brother. Call them. Book it. And then take some candid photos. And maybe Sam's cop uniform can get lost on the way to the cleaners (but only if it'd fit Marc, obviously).


BB: You're legit freaking me out. You know I can't do any of those things.


Me: Excuses, excuses. I'm more interested in results. 


BB: He's not real. I can't use my phone on set and I definitely can't steal anything.


Me: Please shut your face and focus on your mission.


So, although my baby brother ignored my texts yesterday for updates about what's happening with Sam-the-Sexpot, it makes me feel somewhat involved with the show...two degrees of separation is better than a million degrees of separation. There's also a small chance that I may have played my 'sick sister' card for the first time in four years.


Can you blame me though? 


Now that's a smouldering stare.



9.9.11

Book Club Friday: Bikini Season



Holy crap, it's Friday ALREADY? These past few weeks have just been flying!


Well, I guess it's time for BOOK CLUB FRIDAY!


* blows horn *




You know the saying, "You shouldn't judge a book by its cover?"


Well, that saying totally screwed me. If I had judged Bikini Season by its cover, I never would have picked it up and proceeded to read the most frustrating book ever. I explain my reasoning a little later on in my review.


I had so many problems with Bikini Season that it's difficult to write a review without ripping it to shreds. I don't enjoy doing that, but it pissed me off, so I'm going to consciously try to hold back my bitchy tongue. 


Spoiler Alert: I'm not very successful. 


So, this book claims to be about The Teeny Bikini Diet Club, which is made up of four women: Erin, who's getting married; Angela, who fears her husband is having an affair; Megan, an overweight lawyer with low self-esteem; and Kizzy, who's husband tries to sabotage her diet efforts. Sounds good, right? It did to me! Rest assured, though, this book isn't about the struggle of losing weight.


Instead, it's mostly about Erin and her imminent wedding. The problem is that Erin is a very indecisive and flighty character who I had zero connection to. In fact, she kind of sucked. 


Side Note: You know what I HATE in women's fiction? Women who don't feel great about themselves, meet some wonderful guy, and then are flooded with self-esteem. ARG! Not only is it condescending, but it makes me want to pull out my weave (if I had one). 


 And it's not only Erin who falls into this category. Megan's just as bad.


The book claims that all of the characters, aside from Kizzy, are in their late twenties and early thirties. As a soon-to-be-30-year-old, I had a really hard time believing the characters were supposed to be my peers. I can't quite put my finger on it - it may have been the way they spoke, or the way they thought, but whatever it was, they weren't authentic. As I read, I pictured them in their late thirties to mid forties. Being reminded every-so-often that they were, in fact a decade younger, just frustrated me. 


Then there's poor Kizzy, who really couldn't be more of a stereotypical middle-aged black woman. From how she speaks to how she acts. It was bad. 


*cringe* 



Hence my reference to judging a book by its cover. Let's look at it again, shall we?



Does that really scream late-twenties? It's a watercolour! Where's the shiny-ness? The bright colours? On some other cover, that's where. 


The plot tries to involve all four characters, but some (like Megan) get lost in the mix. The book really focuses on Erin marrying the 'wrong guy' and how her friends in the Bikini Club need to show her the 'right guy.'


* yawns *


Maybe if Erin was one thousand percent more likeable, I'd care that she's going to marry the wrong guy, but since I really didn't care about her, the book fell flat. Especially because the last seventy pages are dedicated to her story, alone. Plus, the whole time that the other characters are running around, trying to push Erin into the arms of another guy, nobody once mentioned why ANYONE want to marry HER! Erin was THE WORST! I didn't even want to be her friend, let alone spend the rest of my life with her. Frankly, her fiancee dodged a bullet. 


And Angela? Well she's just as ridiculous as Erin - riddled with insecurities that don't really make sense. That being said, the ending to her story put Angela in her place and I appreciated that one teeny section.


The last pages were VERY hard to get through as Ms. Roberts basically stole every been-there-done-that women's fiction 'surprise' ending. Like, EVERY ONE...and then she put them ALL TOGETHER. 


Bruh-tal. 


By the time I got to the last page, I wanted to throw it out the window. And then run over it with my car. Twice.


This book was a serious bait-and-switch. Don't fall for it, people! Run away! 


RUN AWAY!


On the upside, my disappointment in Bikini Season sent me back into the trenches of the "discounted fiction" section of my local bookstore and I found a Canadian chick-lit author! Her name is Chantel Simmons and I'm going to start her newest book today. Hopefully it's INFINITELY better than this one! 


Have a great weekend, everyone!




7.9.11

Tooooooobing With The Faaaaaaam

Although the weather this summer has been super rainy or incredibly humid, I haven't been able to spend much time outside. So, when my Dad and Baby Bro came into town to help us with The Extreme Deck Makeover (still not done...*sigh*) I prayed to the Sunshine Goddess to grant us at least one day of nice weather.

Luckily, she heard me.

So, a couple of days after they arrived, we got in the car and drove to Taymouth Tubing, the #1 tubing destination on the Nashwaaskis River. You might find yourself asking, "is there really any competition?"

YES!


There are two other places; one that's been there for a while and one that just opened. The one that just opened, however, doesn't offer a "Tubing" experience, but rather a "Toooobing" time. I laughed so hard when I read the sign that I had to cross my legs. Anyway, from an experienced floater's perspective, it's Taymouth Tubing or nothing. Not only do they have adorable dogs, who now have adorable puppies, but the owner Marty's pseudo-military-vibe is funny and he drops you off at one of the coolest places on the river.

And the best part of my family float was that Baby Bro brought a waterproof camera! Woot woot!

It's hard to describe just how awesome it is, and not dangerous, and pictures are the best way for you to see the amazing-ness of a natural lazy river.


There were six of us, so naturally that meant we needed two coolers. Yes, the coolers get their own mini-tubes.


As you can see, you're never really far from shore.


And it's not very deep. Here's my Dad demonstrating The River Plank, which is necessary in certain parts because it's rocky. It doesn't look terribly relaxing, and it's not, but those parts are fun because of the impromptu 'ouches' and swears from people who get stuck and/or bumped around.


This time, the water wasn't very high so we did the shorter route. It still took the better part of four hours, though. 

So there you have it, just another example of why New Brunswick summers are amazing!! Hopefully we'll be able to go WAY more next year. 


6.9.11

Happy Friend-a-versary!


Happy Friend-a-versary, Happy Friend-a-versary, Happy Friend-a-versary...


Haaaaaaaaaaaappy Friend-a-versary!


Hard to believe that this week marks the TEN YEAR Friend-a-versary with my Hetero-Life-Partner, aka The Mac. 


* throws confetti *


Me and The Mac, circa 2001

Yes, an ENTIRE DECADE ago, I was nervously waiting for the newest Frosh to arrive at my university residence. Armed with a megaphone (not that I really needed one...I'm loud) I welcomed my future Bee Eff Eff and spent a few days putting her through somewhat embarrassing Frosh activities. It turned out that she got the room next to mine and she was kinda scared delighted to be so close to the moderately bitchy House Committee member (I was the designated take-no-prisoners member, mostly cause I could do it with a straight face). 

Her roommate was strange and tried to copy my personality (true story, it was weird) so she spent a lot of time hiding out in my room. We'd watch movies (our res had no cable, seriously), chat about life and then make KD when we got home from the bar.

Here's my room. Yes, The Mac's in my bed, cuddling with my glowworm. Yes, I was 20 and slept with my glowworm.  Don't judge.

It was a super-fun year where we had tons of fun, went out like crazy, and filled in the leftover time with occasionally heading to class and learning something. 


Here we are at our residence Formal. I'm sitting on the couch with awesome hair and a black dress, The Mac's in the silver dress, 3 gals to the right of me.

The Mac's date decided to draw EXTREMELY LARGE stick men in PERMANENT MARKER in our hallway after the formal. Probably one of my fondest memories of residence.

At the end of the year, we decided that we'd continue our friend-fest and become roommates in an apartment off-campus. We moved into a small building with 12 2-bedroom apartments. We were in one, two friends lived next to us and two other friends lived on the 3rd floor. So, essentially, we tried to recreate our residence without any pesky rules...haha, but not really.


Halloween of 2004. My camera didn't believe in Y2K and held strong to the '90s. I believe there were even a few more construction workers in our crew. We basically took over the bar.


As fights broke out between our apartment-building-mates - which happened a lot - we'd lock our door and act like Switzerland. Since the fighting happened so often, we spent quite some time in the next two years pretending we weren't home and watching Judge Judy and Starting Over (bonus points for ANYONE who knows about that show). There were so many good times in that apartment that thinking about them makes me a little misty.

The Mac wasn't exactly a "dedicated student" in those years, so we were a perfect match because I was (and still am) an obsessive A-type who overbooks herself. For example, in my last year of Undergrad, I had a full course-load (honours), worked a part-time job, sat on the Student Union, ran the Student Info Centre and directed a play. During those insane times, I'd often come home after dark to find that The Mac had made me supper, folded my laundry and cleaned the bathroom. When I was about ready to lose my mind, she'd make me get dolled up and hit the town. In return, I'd drive her to the store so she could buy copious amounts of diet soda and stay up all night and do a project worth 80% of her mark...that she hadn't started...and was due the next day. 


As you can see, we were a great team. 


I searched and searched for pictures of the hilarious things we got up to but because I went to school pre-digitial-cameras, I can't seem to find my large box of photos printed from film. God, even writing that makes me feel old...right, moving on. 

Then, I graduated and moved from Fredericton, NB to Ottawa, ON for grad school. It was a ridiculous tear-fest in the parking lot, as we said goodbye and for the next 5 years, we didn't live in the same city. We'd try to visit each other, but since we were still broke students, and then broke graduates, we had to settle for emails and calls.


A dear friend of ours was killed in a car accident, so we all got together to celebrate her life. Our friend was always concerned with her weight, so to honour her, we threw her scale in the middle of a lake behind her house.


Then we hit up a local bar. It's what she would have wanted.


When I got married, she flew into town to help me pick my dress and then flew in AGAIN for my bachelorette party (which, I also can't seem to find pictures of. Sorry I suck.). Another pal of ours got married in NB, so that meant some bonus trips, but I think we only saw each other about 10 times in 5 years.

Us at our pal's wedding, three years ago. We closed the place - literally - and then The Mac's mom took us to a Mcdonalds Drive-Thru. I had to fly out the next morning. It was the worst, but totally worth it.


During the first two years of being a sicky-face, she was one of my most supportive friends. When Marc and I moved back to Fredericton two years later (bringing the sickness timeline to a whopping four years now, boo) we picked up where we left off, which loosely translates to slightly more mature antics on Saturday nights. 

Reunited (and it feels so good!)



She's funny, kind, smart, sassy, wise, silly, optimistic, level-headed, responsible, witty and generally amazing, which is why I want to squeeze her until her head pops off.

For reals. How could you NOT love this gal?

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we're going to have supper at our old university hang-out. They have a sandwich called The Fatty Fatty, which is a triple-decker grilled cheese. It's been years since I've had one. I'm super pumped.


 HAPPY FRIEND-A-VERSARY, THE MAC! 

You're the BEST!


Cupcakes for everyone!!


* throws cupcakes *


Whoops. Sorry about that, I'm just really excited.


* hands out napkins *


2.9.11

Book Club Friday: Perfect Match



It's been a crazy week, thank goodness it's BOOK CLUB FRIDAY!



So...Jodi Picoult has officially become one of my favourite authors.

Even though she makes me cry.

Even though she writes about heavy subject matter.

Even though I'm so haunted by her characters that I think about them for days.

Frankly, nobody's more surprised than I am.


This week, I read this one:


*hugs*



Perfect Match hit close to home for me, as I'm a former sexual assault crisis worker. Putting myself in Nina's shoes was easy. In fact, we wear the same size.

Nina's is an assistant district attorney who prosecutes child molesters. She's also the mother of a five-year Nathaniel, who ends up being a survivor of sexual assault (I much prefer the term survivor to "victim" - it's about who has the power...oh man, now's not the time to really get started on that). 

Perfect Match is about what happens after she finds out. 

Ms. Picoult wrote such perfect characters that I'm surprised they aren't real people. How she's able to completely capture the voice of Nina, her husband Caleb, her best friend Patrick, and Nathaniel is remarkable. I don't have a five-year-old son, or any children for that matter, but Nina's motherly emotions still cut through to my core.

I read the book in just under two days and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I never had any idea where the story was going to go and it was nice being taken for a ride without knowing the destination. You'll THINK that you know what's going to happen, but trust me, you HAVE NO IDEA! (Hence why this review is somewhat vague - I don't want to spoil anything!)

Courtroom scenes can be kind of dry sometimes but the ones in Perfect Match are like pieces of moist and seasoned chicken. Delicious and filling but won't put you in a coma, like turkey.

My heart was almost ripped out of my chest at times, but thankfully Ms. Picoult did a great job of balancing the intense emotion amongst the characters. When one was losing it, another wasn't - greatly appreciated as a reader. Of course, there are lots of side-stories, including a few romantic ones and they add nicely to the overall flow without being distracting or out of place.

There were parts that had me crying out "No!" which my hubby didn't really appreciate while he was watching The Green Hornet, but I couldn't help myself.

I worried.

I laughed.

I worried.

I cried.

I cheered.

I worried.

If it wasn't so enthralling I probably would have been exhausted as it's a serious emotion-coaster. Definitely not an 'easy read' in terms of subject matter but it's totally worth picking up, especially if you're a front-line worker.

There's no black-and-white in the world and that's the same in Perfect Match. Instead, we're taken on a journey through the muddled world of grey. It's murky in there and therefore easy to see how someone could go slightly off-track. 

Or, maybe, get them back on the right one.