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!)
Watering my garden every morning.
Standing in the sun
listening to a podcast
or to the birds chirping
watching our lil dirt babies grow.
The guy who walks by and ALWAYS makes a beer pun because we grow hops:
"Y'know, beer cures what ALES ya!"
"Better HOP to it you guys!"
"Those hops are gonna be LAGER than life soon!"
I love that our garden makes other people happy, too.
Toulouse's little paw on my face to wake me up in the AM.
(Okay this doesn't always make me happy
but it's cute as heck.)
Gettin' vaxxed a few weeks ago.
Then watching all my
colleagues and loved ones
getting their jabs, too
rockin' a vaccinated attitude.
My little daily workouts.
Stretching in the AM
40 dips with weights
40 squat presses with weights
60 walking lunges with weights
plus 20 pushups because I have baby arms.
Sunday night "movie dates" with Jasmin.
Spending a few hours watching a cheesy movie
making art and drinking tea
(okay sometimes wine)
chatting with a dear friend about
anything and everything, really
has become one of the highlights of my week.
Planning distanced lunch dates with Tineke.
(Even if my orders don't always arrive on time, d'oh!)
Looking at my bank account.
savings are tight
no debt in sight
(okay that last point isn't true but I can't talk about it yet.)
Talking to my parents again.
Today in "things that surprised everybody"
Mom and Dad and I are talking again
and I see the effort they're putting in
how hard they want this to work
(just like me)
and it's a wonderful new addition to my life.
The Wolseley tree canopy.
One of the things I love about living in a
is watching nature blossom back to life
transforming my neighbourhood
into a beautiful canopy of green leaves and blue sky.
The way Starling is growing.
We're hitting our stride as an agency
we have great name recognition
people value the work we do and see
what sets us apart from every other agency in town
and I'm so fucking proud of that.
Making art in my journal and being crafty.
After what feels like
decades, away from the creative part of myself
I'm rediscovering my creative side
experimenting, making weird art
not judging myself when things don't turn out "perfect"
and enjoying having a private place to explore my feels.
There have been times in my life which have felt
chaotic, stressful, and unmanageable
but right now isn't one of those times
everything feels like it's falling into place
or exactly where it should be
and I'm gonna enjoy it while it lasts.
and I'm relieved as heck. Today Manitoba opened up AZ vaccine eligibility to people 40 and up so "Good Luck Luxford" hopped on the horn at 11:30 AM and by 5 PM today he was vaxxed up with the first of two jabs.
I gotta say, with how badly Manitoba has handled the pandemic so far this was an unexpected and happy surprise. Most days I get up and gird my loins and wait for the news about more cases, more variants, and more bad news, but not today.
No, today I got GOOD NEWS, and I got to witness a rare Nice Day on Twitter, which is where people wish each other well and cheer each other on and
for a few short hours
it feels like the old Internet I fell in love with
back when it was mostly just nerds and weirdos hanging out on forums and making art.
These days the internet is a different and angrier place, so it was nice seeing those tweets saying "just scheduled my appointment!" or "going in today!" and everyone piling on with gifs and well-wishes and congrats.
It was like the opposite of doomscrolling because every time I came back to my feed I saw all these messages of hope and relief
like we'd been holding our breath and we all let it out at the same time.
Everyone was either eligible or knew someone who was and being a part of our collective exhale is a feeling I know I'll come back to when this is finally behind us.
And though I know the pandemic isn't over, and though I know we're still in the middle of the third wave, and though I know that we've still got a long way to go before we get back to "normal"
god damn it
today I witnessed a Twitter miracle and the man I love got his first jab so I'm gonna call this a win.
I inked a new deal, two new hot leads fell into my lap and I'm 99% sure they're gonna close, and I finally finished the giant "how to write good SEO copy" blog post I've been working on all week.
I don't talk about my business much on here because a) this is my personal blog and b) I assume you guys don't wanna know about it, but I feel like my agency is on a real upswing lately and that feels really fucking good and I wanna talk about that.
I've been hearing from a lot of people that the stuff we say about
focusing on good content
and being strategy and process-driven
really resonates with them
and that feels great because those are my values being expressed through my agency.
Also I learned we have a reputation for being positive and helpful.
Last Friday one of the owners of the big, old agencies in town called me up and (after venting for several minutes)
asked me for help with Facebook.
I LOVE THIS.
I love that the owner of a place I sent a resume to out of university called me for help
I love that I'm considered enough of a subject matter expert to be the one to call
I love that he felt comfortable enough with me to talk about how he felt
and I LOVE that I have a reputation as someone people can call up out of the blue and ask for help.
What a life I lead.
What's weird about being in this position is that I never thought I'd be here.
I didn't want to be a business owner
I never wanted this kind of responsibility and pressure
I never thought I would be comfortable with the spotlight, or with monetizing my craft the way that I have
but a few years ago I was listening to a podcast and one of the hosts said a famous Andy Warhol quote that changed things for me. Here's how it goes:
"Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art."
When I heard it I felt like a light switched on in my head because — eureka! — I had a framework for understanding what I was trying to do.
Because what is art, anyway?
Art is creative output
Art is helping people and doing good
Art is creating something out of nothing
Art is being true to yourself and leading with your values
Art is about adding meaning and leaving your mark on this world before your memory is lost to the void of time.
I want my business to be all of those things. It is all of those things.
And the fact that I can articulate that in our marketing and speaking and consulting I do
and it resonates with people and makes them want to work with us
is the best damn feeling I could ask for.
I'm reading the Count of Monte Cristo and I'm almost done, or at least as close to "done" as I can feel when I'm 1245 pages into a book that's 1468 pages long.
(Yes I've been reading it for a while, why do you ask?)
I've struggled with this book. In case you haven't noticed, it's really fucking long, and I've wanted to quit reading it more than once. But I've heard it's worth it from several people so I've slogged through chapters that often felt irrelevant or meandering anyway.
The thing I've struggled with most though is the main character. The Count of Monte Cristo.
In theory, he's the main character, but the novel focuses on the other characters instead. What they're up to, who they see, what they talk about. It gets boring sometimes because conversations get too detailed and can seem irrelevant to the plot, and it's normal to read several chapters without the Count even showing up to pay anyone a visit.
Dumas talks about him so little that sometimes you forget he's in the book.
Now I'm at the point where things are wrapping up, and I still don't know who The Count of Monte Cristo is. What he thinks about. Who he is as a person. He's this enigmatic figure everyone seems to revere and admire, but he seems like a facade, like he's hollow inside.
Compared to the other characters, whose feelings, motivations, and private thoughts are described at great length, The Count of Monte Cristo is still a one-dimensional character. I've spent nearly 1400 pages with this person and I barely know him.
This character who apparently knows so much, has been to so many places, has impeccable taste, etc etc etc
feels like a paper cut-out. It's disappointing.
John's read it before, and when I was talking to him about it he turned to me with one of those looks that makes my heart drop to my feet and said
"well, maybe that's the point?"
and it hit me like a ton of bricks: The Count of Monte Cristo is one-dimensional on purpose.
I started reading the book expecting to root for The Count. For the first few hundred pages you're right alongside him, and he starts off feeling like someone who will change and grow as the novel progresses. But that doesn't happen.
Along the way, you lose sight of the character. The book starts to focus on pretty much everyone else, doing what feels like pretty much everything else, and the Count starts to feel like a spectre haunting the other main characters, and less like one himself.
The others have their own motivations, many of which change over time throughout the story. But The Count of Monte Cristo's never changes. He remains focused on his goal.
This person who has everything anyone would ever want — money, luxury, the admiration and respect of his peers — seems oblivious to it.
He goes to the opera, to parties where everyone fawns on him, and lives in luxurious spaces where he only eats and drinks the very best. He has more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime, and could live anywhere in the world doing anything he wanted.
But he stays above it all.
His obsession with revenge, of completely destroying his enemies and making them suffer
robs him of living his own life, too.
I'm not finished — like I said, I still have about 200 pages to go — but I'm curious to see who the Count is at the end of the book. Wikipedia says The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel, but right now it feels like a tragedy.
except it's more tactile than a regular journal
if you want to get technical about it.
It's a journal of ideas and feelings and exploring my life in ways that
scare and intimidate me
and make me feel silly.
I started journaling by accident
or maybe I came to it by accident
because I've been futzing around with collage for months now.
I spend hours cutting up magazines, and books, and old copies of National Geographic
and then I spend hours organizing them into binders that are organized by theme:
people and animals
backgrounds and abstracts
food and things
and lately, when I feel like it
(which is often, which is nice)
I paste those
things and words and
into an unassuming brown notebook.
But before I paste them I "set the tone" for what I want to explore.
I sit down with a bunch of coloured markers in different
and do free-form writing until a page or two is full.
Sometimes when the pen hits the paper everything I'm feeling falls out of me onto the page
and it's scary because sometimes I say things I didn't know I was feeling
or didn't want to think about
and I see my words and the weight of them
and I make myself sit when them for a while
before I cover them up.
But I don't cover everything up, at least not all the time.
I find colours and textures and words I've cut out
and layer them over parts of the page
sometimes with smaller pieces of paper
where I've written thoughts out more intentionally.
The journal entries change into
more than words, they become
it feels cathartic to tear up pages
make jagged edges
cut up faces and paste them in anew.
It's a place where I can dismantle the world and make it
into something that makes sense.
People keep asking to see it
but that's not what it's for.
It's for me.
And after all these years of making art for other people
putting myself in the spotlight through my art
it feels so
to have a place to explore myself that's
to spend a week at a cabin out at Falcon Lake because we haven't gone anywhere since before Christmas.
We drove up on Monday night and stopped at Gimli Fish on the way out to get crab legs and lobster tail and the biggest scallops I've ever seen, and after unpacking and getting a fire going we sauteed it all up in a butter and garlic sauce and ate it with a salad and a bottle of rosé.
We stayed up late and got drunk and cold running back and forth from the private hot tub on the deck to the house to get more beer. I had a killer hangover the next morning but powered through 100 pages of The Count of Monte Cristo
(I'm almost 950 pages in!)
and popped an Advil so we could hike up the side of the mountain that overlooks the lake.
I haven't walked that much in months and felt it the next day. It was worth it for the view tho.
After so many months in the house it was weird to have so much space to
and spread out
and not worry about other people.
We heard some families in the other cabins and waved at a few of the staff from afar, but it was mostly just us and the deer and the birds. I loved waking up and putting fresh birdseed in the bird feeder every morning to see what kinds of birds showed up to eat.
(Did you know that bluejays aren't actually blue? Look it up!)
That night we grilled homemade burgers and had some special banana bread that put us to bed at 10 PM. I fell asleep watching Robocop (which has so many gun sounds, wow) and woke up at 7 AM feeling more rested than I have in months.
The next day walked out to an island.
It gets so cold in Manitoba that the lake freezes completely and you can walk right across the ice to a bunch of the little islands, which feels scary until you've done it a few times
(or have a few beers in you.)
The island was beautiful and scenic, but spooky too. There's a menacing beauty to the Canadian wilderness. It feels tough and rugged, like it will kill you if you let it
(which it will.)
Then we came back and played Scrabble and made out in the hot tub and I laughed until my face hurt. We got distracted and almost burnt the shit out of our homemade taquitos, but saved them in time and covered them in sour cream and the enchilada sauce I made before we left to cover up the "extra crunch".
John made breakfast every day. Egg sandwiches or scrambled eggs and breakfast sausage. One, sometimes two coffees with Jameson's. We ate sitting across the table from each other and I grinned at him like a maniac every time because after almost seven years together I'm still crazy about him.
After dinner every night we sat in the hot tub, soaking it all in. I tried as hard as I could to lock in how the cold air felt, and the way my beer tasted, and how John's hair caught in the light.
On our last day there he asked me "what are some moments you wish you could stay frozen in forever?" and because I'm cheesy and because it was true, I said
"this one, right now" and I meant it.
If I close my eyes it's almost like I'm back there and I wanna hang onto that feeling so badly.
aka, the #pizzafriday guy.
Howard was one of the first people I met on Winnipeg Twitter after I started "getting into" the platform. One of the first times he tweeted at me was a reply to a tweet I'd shared of a photo of a hot dog I'd just bought for lunch. Howard wrote:
"would have been better if it was pizza for #pizzafriday"
Howard was obsessed with pizza and let everyone know it, and #pizzafriday became one of those weird inside jokes that small towns and tight-knit communities have. He'd tweet "what's your position on #pizzafriday?" at local politicians, and reply to pretty much any tweet about anything other than pizza with a statement about pizza, like:
"I can pickup pizza at -24C or +24C"
"Eating pizza would never give you sore legs"
"I can eat pizza with or without pinkeye"
We only met in person a few times but every time he mentioned pizza. A few times I saw him actually eating pizza and BOY did he look happy.
Twitter has changed from when I first started using it. There's way more fighting and drama, and even though I'm lucky that the algorithm serves me up the best and brightest in my city, it's become less fun some days. Howard was one of those people who made our community a nicer, funnier, and more pleasant place to be.
Howard and his dry, pizza-loving sense of humour was the perfect example of someone who leaned into what they were into and brought joy to other people as they did it. He was a nice guy who wanted to spread happiness through pizza and especially double pepperoni slices (so I hear).
He was a fixture in the Winnipeg Twitter scene. It seems like everyone knew Howard, even if they hadn't met him in person, and based on the tweets I've seen about him today he was probably a lot more admired and appreciated than even he knew.
(I hope he knew.)
Tonight I, like many other people in Winnipeg, will be ordering pizza for #pizzafriday in his honour.
RIP Howard. If there's a heaven, I hope there's pizza there.