It's the end of another year. I just finished cleaning the house (a New Years' ritual), showered, and I'm about to get down to making some food and bevvies with John,
but before I do that
you know I gotta blog a bit.
I know it's cool to dunk on this year and there's lots of reason to do that for sure
but this isn't a post about all the dumb
and in some cases, downright scary
shit that's going on right now.
I wanna list some of the good stuff 2021 brought into my life. Sometimes when I look back on old (old) blog posts I read 'em and go
god what the hell was I writing
the best times
I read a post or two and I think to myself
"Damn, what a life I've led"
and I feel good about it.
So since I know I'll be reading this post again in years to come I don't wanna just focus on the stuff that was hard, or frustrating, or made me feel anxious or unsettled
instead I wanna talk about the parts of the year that make me go
so here's a few:
2021 was the year I stood in the middle of a lake.
At the start of the year John and I rented a cabin at Falcon Lake and spent a week (mostly) unplugged from the world.
We ate tons of good food, went on long hikes, and dreamed about the future while drinking wine in the outdoor hot tub while it was -25 C
(which is more refreshing than it sounds for my non-Canadian readers)
At a few points we walked across the frozen lake to explore islands that are only accessible by boat in the summer and I kept stopping between the shore and the islands to look around.
It felt surreal and made me feel small compared to the might of nature that can freeze and thaw this big, deep lake every year.
Like when you look up at the night sky and see the Milky Way and realize yr just a tiny speck and life is just what you make of it before yr gone forever.
That's how standing in the middle of the lake made me feel.
(me, getting some sick air while jumping on the ice in the middle of the lake)
2021 was the year I reconnected with my parents.
This spring I spent an awkward and emotional few hours sitting outside socially distanced in a park across from my parents who I hadn't talked to in six or seven years at that point.
We talked about a lot of things and I got stuff off my chest and they listened and I felt heard and we decided to figure something out because if there's anything this pandemic has taught me
it's that you never know what's going to come next
so even if you need to have healthy boundaries with people, there's still no sense in being a dick about it.
I get the sense that I drive them a little crazy and I think that's ok because the older I get the more it seems that's what families are supposed to do to each other
(hopefully in a loving way)
and though I still catch myself at arms' length sometimes I love the time I spend with them and my brothers. It feels good to be a part of a family again after feeling like I had to be on my own for so long.
2021 was the year I became a homeowner.
We didn't plan to buy a house this year. Not by a long shot.
But half of life is being prepared and the other half is saying "yes" to an opportunity when you see one, and luckily for me we were both prepared and equally in a position where we could say
to buying the house right across the street from our old rental.
Somehow, in the middle of one of our busiest summers ever, we bought our house and spent 8-12 hours almost every day throughout August repainting it and replacing things and literally throwing out soooooo much garbage that the previous owners left behind
(if you need a hookup on a junk bin rental hmu)
and when we finished the move at the start of September and at first it didn't feel real.
Like I was a kid living in some other adult's house.
Sometimes it still feels that way.
Every time I go up to our third-floor bedroom and see the sunlight streaming in over the big, bright room I stop and think
"holy shit this is where I live"
and part of me hopes that I never stop being in awe of the beautiful space John and I are creating together.
2021 was the year I explored my beautiful province.
West Hawk Lake was our first "big" social outing since getting fully vaccinated in the summertime.
As we drove down Osborne and out of the city I felt like a weight I'd been carrying around for months lifted off my chest.
The first night was just a few of us who had all been in Belize together for our wedding so we picked up some jumbo shrimp, scallops, and lobster to fry up on the grill and talked about how long a year apart can feel.
We hiked up a mountain and swam in a lake created by a meteor impact and had ice cream and listened to metal covers of punk songs
(which everyone hated but not as much as Luke did)
and kicked off an amazing summer of sunshine, grilled food, squeaky air mattresses, guitar sing-alongs, and getting to know Manitoba a heck of a lot better.
We braved multiple bear "incidents" and jumped off of cliffs and stayed up into the early hours of the morning laughing together with our friends and it was the perfect remedy to (almost) a year apart.
(A bunch of cool kids having a laugh after waaaaay too many months apart)
2021 was the year I refined my relationships.
A lot of this past year was defined by a falling-out I had with someone I was close to. It was unexpected, hurtful, and made even worse by the amount of
and straight-up gaslighting I dealt with
as I tried to navigate a redefined set of social situations
without getting the closure or even basic acknowledgment of my feelings that I was
(and still am)
has been a hard pill to swallow, especially as someone who craves closure to any kind of emotional situation.
But that experience gave me the chance to look critically at the people in my life and who I made space for. It helped me realize that I have a bad habit of trying to make relationships with toxic people work because I want to be the
bigger, better, kinder person
when the right thing all along would have been to put my foot down and walk away.
I spent a lot of this year reflecting on that and re-committing myself to putting the work into relationships with people who bring joy and light to my life instead.
2021 was my best year professionally.
Starling Social had our best year ever. I worked on banner projects with big, influential clients, gave over a dozen talks, brought on several new people to the team
and somehow, thankfully, managed to do it while maintaining a decent work-life balance.
(Which is one of the things I'm most proud of, tbh.)
2021 was the year I learned to say "no".
"No" to commitments that I didn't feel passionate about
that weren't the right fit
that felt too time-consuming,
not worth it
not a positive use of my time.
As an over-achiever A-type personality this has been hard as hell. I love to say "yes" to new opportunities and love the feeling of having lots of events and goals to work towards.
But this year forced me to take a step back and re-assess where my energy should go, which leads me to my last point...
2021 was the year I slowed down.
It was the year where I learned to sit still, to be at peace with myself.
To take deep breaths, unstick my tongue from the top of my mouth
(which is a common thing anxious people like me do without realizing it)
and take a step back from a situation and ask
"how am I feeling in this moment?"
Sometimes I didn't like the answer
(maybe that's the point?)
but the more often I did it the more I could confidently and clearly answer myself.
"I feel overwhelmed"
"I feel excited"
"I feel at peace"
And at the end of it all, after 365 days of ups and downs, looking back the feeling I felt the most this year was happy and grateful
grateful for the business I've built that affords me this wonderful life
grateful for my partner, friends, and family who make my life richer
grateful to have opportunities to grow and explore and shape myself
falling constantly into my lap.
Life can be hard, and it is.
2021 wasn't a cakewalk by a long fucking shot.
But looking back it was mostly
kinda/sorta, if you squint real hard
despite everything we've all gone through
and I can't wait to see what next year brings for all of us.
All my love in 2022!
Can't say I feel the same, PG.
Also if you haven't seen PG: Psycho Goreman yet you're missing out.
we picked the total wrong day to go because it's cold and windy and not at all nice like the unseasonably warm +4C it was yesterday
(can you say "global warming"? Yikes)
but whatever, I got the flu-jab and next week I'm getting the COVID-jab aka my booster shot so I guess getting needles on a regular basis is just going to be part of life from now on.
My COVID jab is the last "big" thing I have to do before the holidays. Earlier today I wrapped the last of Starling's quarterly planning sessions with our clients so all that's left to do is take care of some outstanding tasks, putting together a few proposals since business has become very busy all of a sudden
(which is normal for this time of year I guess but it always catches me off-guard)
and then I can coast into the holiday season on a wave of Christmas movies, music, wrapping presents and baking/cooking my face off since we're bringing food and snacks to our Christmas get-togethers.
This is the first year in a long time that I'll be spending Christmas with my parents. We reconnected back in the spring and come to think of it, a lot of this year has been spent reconnecting with people who I'd drifted away from or had falling-outs with.
(Except one person but you can't win 'em all I guess.)
It's trendy to dunk on the year that just passed but honestly I can't complain about much.
My business had its best year ever
I bought the beautiful house across the street from where I used to live
I brought lots of lovely people into my life
I got vaxxed which meant I could
and bike around with my pals like in the Before Times
and holy hell did the time away from the people I love give me a profound sense of gratitude for the weird, happy little life I've built for myself.
2021 blew 2020 outta the park as far as I'm concerned.
Tonight we're gonna go to The Tallest Poppy and celebrate a friend's 40th and tomorrow is D&D
(which I realize I've never mentioned here but yes, I play D&D now with a group of lovely humans)
and then we have a blissful weekend of No Plans which means powering through work and house stuff and setting myself to coast right tf into the holiday season and a week off of work
so three cheers for that.
I'm 34 today.
In a way I feel like I've been alive forever
(maybe that's just how getting older feels)
but instead of writing some long diatribe about
I thought maybe it would be interesting to list a few songs that have stuck with me through these 34 years
and the feeling that come up when I hear 'em.
So, happy birthday to me
and I hope that you enjoy:
If You Don't, Don't — Jimmy Eat world
My first feeling of heartbreak
too intense, too acute
for my age
but how was I supposed to know?
You aren't supposed to put
your whole heart
your whole self
into a teenage boy.
But of course that's what I did
that's what we all do
when we feel these feels for the first time.
Didn't make it easier in the moment though.
Pornostartrek — U.S.S.
A snapshot, a Polaroid moment in time.
Sitting in Peter's Kia Spectra in a snowstorm.
Watching the snow bluster by as we sat at a four-way intersection near an off-ramp to the 401 highway waiting for the light to change.
The empty highway and shimmering snow and the darkness of the farmer's fields.
I knew something was wrong.
I knew it wouldn't last, could almost feel the end of this chapter of my life barrelling towards me.
Loving someone so much but knowing it wasn't right, wasn't forever, and that it was nobody's fault.
things fall apart.
Night Windows — The Weakerthans
We'd driven into Toronto for WinterFest together
but I was alone
I'd lost everyone as I wound my way to the front of the crowd
to close my eyes and feel it wash over me
words I'd later not be able to listen to for years.
It was warm for winter
(at least for me)
maybe -10 C
and we were in the process of looking for an apartment.
I wanted to lived downtown,
had big plans to live in the big city
imagined myself walking around in the equivalent of a Winnipeg spring coat
feeling smug, feeling cool
I never became that cool, big-city person
and in hindsight I think it worked out better that way.
Born Losers — Matthew Good
Finally feeling like someone understood how
sad, and hopeless, and worthless
This album came into my life at the end of the worst part
the part where I was my
most confused and lost
the part where I'd pushed away most of the people that I loved because I didn't believe that I deserved them and had left to try and get away from it and where I felt like the best I could do
was drink and get fucked-up
and write through it
and wouldn't you know it, that's what I did
this is me trying — Taylor Swift
Sad feelings. Feeling like the
years and years of effort
I'd put into someone, this big thing
didn't mean shit.
Trying to make sense of someone else's
out of the fucking blue
threw me for a loop for a long time.
Sitting in my basement in the old house
cutting up newspaper and pictures
thoughts and words and symbols
trying to make sense of it
because nobody talks about when adult friendships fail.
Exodus of the Year — Royal Canoe
Walking across the Osborne Bridge in a snowstorm
knowing I was going home to leave someone I loved.
That I was about to break someone's heart.
I didn't want to, believe me
I loved him and our friendship
but it wasn't right
and I couldn't pretend otherwise anymore
because that meant hurting someone I loved
and staying in a relationship that wasn't doing any of us
I walked home knowing he would hate me
that we'd probably never talk again
and I did my best to mourn the relationship, because with some people
you have to be the villain.
Too Much — Carly Rae Jepsen
Breathing in deep and filling my lungs with summer air.
Riding my bike down Assiniboine Ave after
a beer or two from The Common, at The Forks
one of my favourite places in the city
the feeling pumping through my veins and my earphones.
The dappled sunlight through the trees
golden and glowing and fleeting
in our four-season city.
Taking deep breaths and living in my body
my hands on the handlebars
the feeling of my legs and feet
moving the pedals.
In this moment I am
Here's hoping I feel that way a lot in my 34th year
cheers to it.
I got into a pretty bad accident on my bike today.
I hit a pothole and flew over my handlebars and skidded along the road on my head.
My eyebrow is split open and I have a concussion, and earlier I could barely walk or understand what was going on.
Thank god I was wearing my helmet.
I’ve been in the ER for eight hours, and here are some things I’ve seen:
A man in a wheelchair pleading towards the nurses' station, saying
“Please nurse, my chest hurts.
Please help me, nurse”
and nobody helping him right now,
because they can’t
they have no beds for him.
A grandma on her phone,
blind, also in a wheelchair
telling her son that she’s been here since 8:30 AM
(st was 5 PM when she made that call.)
A young woman curled in a chair
feet tucked up under her
she asks the nurse for a blanket and the nurse tells her
they don’t give them out here
the girl starts crying
“I’ve been here since 2:30 PM” she wails
(she asked for a blanket around 6 PM.)
A man lying on the ground
on the “Covid symptom side” of the room
under a blanket, shaking
he was here when I got here at 4 PM
It’s 12:25 AM now.
All the while nurses
and other hospital staff
have been running around
back and forth
stressed and tired
their eyes weary above their masks
doing their best to keep up
but it’s not enough.
There isn’t enough funding
not enough staff
not enough beds
to help everyone.
The hospital up the road from my house used to have an ER,
used to take some off the heat off HSC
but the Conservative government closed it a few years ago
and this scene is what we’re left with.
This is what happens when we defund health care.
This is what happens when we vote for Conservatives.
This is what happens when we look at people as dollars and cents
and not human beings who get sick
and get hurt
and need care.
And this is just one night when I happen to be here
for 8+ hours
to tell you about what I’m seeing.
Imagine what it’s like being here
trying to give all these people
timely, high-quality care
and being unable to
because the health care system you’re a part of
is stretching you
and everyone here
to the limit
support our nurses
support health care workers
I was finally seen after 9.5/10 hours of waiting in the ER. A huge THANK YOU to the staff at HSC who took care of me and everyone else who was there yesterday. You're heroes and you deserve better than this broken, gutted, and under-funded system you're forced to operate within. I see you, and I appreciate you.
We’ve been in the new house full-time for just over two weeks by this point I guess
give or take a day or two
time has no meaning these days it seems.
Technically “the house across the street” has been ours since the first of August but since our lease wasn’t up we spent the month
occasionally replacing lights
switching doors around
junking leftover furniture
but mostly painting
until the whole house from top to bottom didn’t look like
A House We’d Bought
but instead looked like
A Home We’d Made Together.
Once we had our bed moved over we swaddled up the cats and ran them across the street (which they hated) and spent a sleepless night with them huddled up in the bedroom as they cried and got stressed and made those weird yowling, almost-human sounds that cats make sometimes.
It took them a while but they're getting used to the place
even though I don't know if I have?
Every morning I wake up in my bright, third-storey bedroom and walk downstairs, then downstairs again and after spending most of the last decade of my life in one or two-bedroom apartments our house with its five bedrooms and sunrooms and den and library and dining room and everything else
What do you mean, my office isn't in a basement?
I have a whole room to make art in?
I have a kitchen that's big enough for two people to cook without bumping into each other?
Some days it still feels like I'm a kid living in my parent's house, or staying in a house that belongs to some other grownup
except now I'm the grownup
(when the hell did that happen?)
Last week there was a crazy thunderstorm so John and I sat out on the porch watching the lightning as the clouds rolled by. We talked about dumb stuff and serious stuff and laughed and got tipsy on wine and listened to the sound of the rain patter-patter-pattering out in the darkness of the street.
I've dreamed about having a porch, a house, a life exactly like this one and it's so good it almost doesn't feel real.
As we watched the rain fall we saw the lights go on in the house across the street
our old house
where we lived for years through roommates
surprises, and small rituals that make everyday life so special
and slip by so fast.
Now that house belongs to other people
(good friends of ours, in fact)
and in a few weeks, months, years, it'll start to feel like that's where they've always been.
I know that's how it'll start to feel here, too
so I'm tryna hold onto this feeling of "newness" as long as I can.
The end of my time at 120 Lenore Street is looming, staring me in the face
One day closer.
Marching steadily towards the end of one of the best chapters in my life.
This house was where I realized that I needed to
take a leap
to leave a life where I was
comfortable, but unfulfilled
where I changed everything
turned it upside-down
to try something new
to take a chance on love
Where I did what I needed to do in order to live the richest, fullest life I could.
(And what a rich, full life it's been.)
This house is where I was afraid of growth
but did it anyway
even though it was hard.
It's where is where I faced my fears
came home to myself
put in the work
and where I've learned to say
Here is where I made memories, like
the blanket fort v 2.0
post-Folk Fest BBQs
and so many beer-fuelled late-night dance parties.
This house is where I started my business
at a little desk in the living room
with Toulouse in my lap and BJ on the desk
hammering away at my keyboard, tryna make it work
feeling hopeful and scared every morning for years.
I became friends with Alex here
put Adam to bed here
cackled with Amber here
and made more memories with the people I love than I can count.
I've been here for six and a half years and part of me still isn't ready to let go.
This house has been so good to me
and I hope I've been good to it in return
cause I'm going to miss it like hell.
and I just had a lil cry about it
(in a good way.)
Every time my COVID anxiety creeps up I think
"you're fully vaccinated
the people you love are
it's gonna be ok."
Aaaaaand now I'm tearing up again.
What a feeling after all this time.
as soon as you know you're leaving everything becomes
5000 times more annoying
(like an awkward cabinet
or a weird kitchen layout)
or 5000 times more important
(like BBQing on the deck or
standing in the spot where John asked me to be his wife)
I had a bath just now. One of the last I'll have here.
We have this huge soaker tub in the basement
with fancy jets
and though I love baths I feel like I haven't used it enough
so between now and when we take possession on our new place I'm committing myself to
at least a bath a week
which works out to five baths, minimum.
Usually I have a bath with a glass of wine
some candles, maybe incense
(because I deserve to treat myself, damn it)
and whatever book I'm reading.
It's my time.
I can turn off my brain and sink into the
familiar shapes of the words
and connect with a book in a way that's
in my always-connected-iphone-business-owner world
where I'm pulled in a million directions.
Usually my baths are my getaways
but not tonight.
I tried, believe me.
I soaked with my wine
and my candles
and my copy of
The Essential Neruda
but instead of losing myself in love poems
I kept looking around
at the bric-a-brac of my life
my extendable mirror
John's trimmer, always charging
our towels hanging off the door
the little details of our days
that always started and ended
in a bathroom where I've
puked up my guts
showered off the grime from
and hosting costume parties
never realizing that the end was
just around the corner.
That's the weird thing about moving, it seems
even when you plan for it, it still takes yr heart by surprise.
I needed to renew my license so I biked to an insurance agency over on Academy that does walk-in appointments to renew yr MPI license
(that's Manitoba Public Insurance for my non-Manitobans)
I wish I could say that I did this in a timely manner but actually
my license lapsed and I didn't go in to renew
because the idea of going somewhere and taking off my mask in a business
considering how Manitoba has handled this crisis
(which hasn't been great, for my non-Manitobans)
freaked me out
and since I can order in
and I don't need to drive
I avoided it
until it was required of me like it was today.
So I rode my bike a bunch
there and back
there and back again
since I had to go there twice
because of course MPI's website had to go down as I was there
which meant they couldn't print my temporary ID
(why does this always happen with time-sensitive stuff?)
so they sent me home and called me when the printer was working again.
Bike 1, 2, 3, and then 4.
But as I biked back and forth, and back and forth
this might be the most time I've spent
on my bike
altering my plans
talking to people face-to-face
in close to a year.
And as I cruised up and down Wolseley
which was 99% cyclists and runners
and families out for walks
on my way
to and from and to and from
doing something that would make me
a permanent member of this community
it made me realize
how much I've missed my neighbourhood
and how excited I am to be a permanent part of it.
(Also, we're buying a house hooray!)