- by Alyson Shane
This morning when we were in the garden John noticed a bumblebee sitting on a leaf on our raspberry bush.
We got worried because we've never seen a bee so chill. We accidentally brushed the bush when we walked by and he didn't move or make a sound except a little frantic buzzing that was cute as heck but concerning.
We didn't know what to do so we left him alone, but I took a picture of him and asked my friend Heather through Twitter what I should do because Heather's the smartest person I know when it comes to
bugs or animals or nature, really
and she suggested I leave him a little spoonful of sugar water to see if he needed a little pep back in his step.
So after my morning meeting I went outside and he'd fallen to the ground (!!!!) and was buzzing like crazy on the patio stones we use as a walkway and I started
because he didn't look like he could fly and I was worried that the little dude was a gonner, so I picked a big leaf off the raspberry bush and waited while he took his time slowly climbing on, buzzing with stress the whole time
and he was stressed and I was stressed for him, but I picked up the leaf and moved it to a safe place where the dude who comes to mow our lawn wouldn't step on him or jostle him while he got his strength back. I moved the bee/leaf to the deck and put it on the table so the leaf dipped gently in a little container of sugar water I'd made.
The bee was buzzing and scared and obviously not cool what what was going on, so I backed off and went inside and
well, my day kinda went off the rails from there.
Somehow I managed to pop both tires on my bike on the way to an onboarding meeting with a new client which meant that on top of walking my flat-ass bike home in +30C heat with a backpack with a laptop on my back, I also needed to bum a ride there from Rose (bless her heart) who came and picked me up and
(seriously, bless her heart)
after our meeting drove me to The Exchange with my two popped tires so I could get them fixed at Natural Cycle and,
wouldn't you know it
right after the guy working there told me he could fix them, and I'd sat down on the (socially distanced) patio at Amsterdam Tea Room and the sun was shining and my
jaw, hands, shoulders, heart all started to relax, after I ordered a fancy negroni and breathed a big sigh
my phone rang and it was the guy from Natural Cycle saying that, oh shit, his coworker had just sold the last two tire tubes in my size and he didn't know how long it'd be until they got more. He suggested I call around and see who had anything and warned me that because of the pandemic everyone was low on supplies because
(who'd have guessed)
during a time when people don't want to be in close quarters together everyone wants to be on a bike.
(Which as a cycling advocate I love and and happy for
don't get me wrong, but
this timing really sucks.)
My fancy negroni came and I sipped it as slowly as I could while stress-calling other bike shops around town and trying to play it cool. I cancelled my evening plans and considered the cost of cabbing my tires up past Polo Park and realized
wait, dummy, you have friends
so I did something I almost never do: I called a friend and asked for help.
I was lucky! Tineke (bless her heart) picked me up and not only drove me to the other bike place, but stayed with me and made me laugh and cry from laughing and hugged me and drove me to the liquor mart after so I could buy some wine to decompress with at home after my stressful day and
brightened my day with her sweet heart and soul.
I'm so lucky to have the friends I do.
When I finally got home John helped me put my new tires on my bike and we ordered sushi and cracked the wine I'd bought with Tineke. After we'd finished getting the tires in place and reattaching the chain and adding my new streamers
(yes I'm a 32 year old woman with streamers on her salmon pink bike)
I walked my bike into the front yard to take it around to the shed and remembered
oh, my little bee pal
who of course as long gone.
Buddy was just going through a tough time, but he managed to pick himself up and go back out into the world fuelled by the sugar water and the kindness of others
I get that.
- by Alyson Shane
Back when I first started blogging in the mid 2000's people would do these weird quizzes and questionnaires on their Livejournals and Deadjournals and Xangas and Geocities sites
(I'm aging myself, I know)
I'm not sure why we all did these. Maybe because quizzes are fun? Or because it's an easy way to crank out a blog post without saying much of anything at all?
Either way, here's one from a long time ago with answers from today. I found this on an old friend's Livejournal and because I've been in the house forever and am feeling nostalgic for the Northgate movie theatre and big Garden City parking lots and
just walking around, honestly
and thinking about how different things are now.
It's nice to reminisce. Pandemic be damned, let's do this:
1. Ever been offered an engagement ring? Hell yeah, front of all my friends at my 30th birthday
2. Longest friendship? Cenquist or Trimble
3. Last gift you received? An Easter Card from John's Aunt Lemire! She sends us one every year and it's very sweet
4. How many times have you dropped your cell? Too many to count
5. When's the last time you worked out? I rode my bike to the bank the other day and even though it was only 20 minutes each way my body was sooooo sore the next day
6. Thing you spent a lot of money on? Food, and things to make food. Books, too
7. Last food you ate? Slow-cooker carnitas tacos with a mango avocado salsa
8. First thing you notice about the opposite sex? Laugh/smile
9. One favorite song? Hot Dog Stand - Begonia (this version omg)
10. Where do you live? Wolseley, in Winnipeg
11. Cell phone service provider: Rogers
12. Favourite mall store: Uh H&M? The Apple store? I don't go to the mall that often
13. Longest job ever had: Working for my own dang self! I've been self-employed since 2015
14. Do you own a pair of dice? Both the regular and D&D variety
15. Do you prank call people? I was never one of those kids who prank called people let's be honest
16. Last wedding attended? MINE. It was so much fun and it feels like a perfect dream now
17. First friend you'd call if you won the lottery: I wouldn't call anyone about it (weird flex but ok)
18. Last time you attended church: Christmas 2018 when we went to the Timothy Eaton Church with my aunt and uncle and Grandma, and John and I sang with so much GUSTO that the family in the row ahead gave us dirty looks
19. How old are you? 32 (have you ever written down your age and had it shock you like "holy shit this is how old I am already?" because that happened to me just now
20. Biggest lie you have heard? "I am a very stable genius"
21. What do you want to drive? I'm not really "into cars" but a Tesla would be neat
22. Where's your favorite place to eat with friends? Anywhere that isn't in my own house and over Zoom would be great, but Carnivale's all-you-can-eat meat swords and slices of pineapple oare sounding pretty good right now
23. Can you cook? I can! It's a fun hobby
24. What car do you drive? I've never owned a car
25. Favorite plant? I like pothos around the house because they're hardy and lush, but most plants in general besides the Titan arum are ok in my books
26. Last time you cried? A few days ago, probably, I cry easily and often
27. Most disliked food: Durian or tarantula*, or those gross microwave grilled cheeses we got from 7-11 on Koh Tao when were drunk and hungry at midnight
28. Thing you like most about yourself? I like that I'm motivated by being useful and making a positive difference. It gives me a real sense of pride and satisfaction with how I spend my time
29. Thing you dislike most about yourself? I get in circles about things that worry me and I have a hard time not obsessing over things that I can't control, but I'm working on it
30. Longest shift you have worked at a job? 12+ hours back at the old Winnipeg Arena - I saw Godsmack and Aerosmith because I worked the concessions!
31. Favorite movie? Oh this is tough - Pan’s Labyrinth, Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, Her, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi are some tops, but I have a list that's at least as long as my arm
32. Can you sing? Everyone can sing! I don't have a well-developed range, but I sing a lot these days
33. Last concert? We saw Bedouin Soundclash at The Park Theatre right before everything shut down
34. What are you listening to right now? "Horse and I" by Bat For Lashes
35. What color are your eyes? Aqua/blue
36. Who knows your darkest secret? My therapist
37. Last movie rented? Well this is a quaint question - 2010?
38. Thing you never leave home without? My iPhone
39. What will your epitaph say? "A woman of strong laughs and opinions."
40. Do you like Chinese food? Yup - both the American version, and the authentic, unusual kind
41. What book are you currently reading? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
42. Is your room clean? Yes, but I didn't make the bed today (quarantine life)
43. Laptop or desktop computer? I have both and don't really have a preference
44. Favorite comedian? Tina Fey
45. Do you smoke? Only the Devil's Lettuce
46. Sleep with or without clothes? Without
47. Who sleeps with you every night? My husband (still gives me a thrill to say that)
48. Do long distance relationships work? Sure they can, it depends on the couple and the circumstance
49. How many times have you been pulled over by the police? Once in a buddy's car and I was so scared I nearly peed my pants (he'd accidentally turned right at an intersection where no right turns were allowed)
50. Pancakes or french toast? French toast but I'm probably gonna go make pancakes after finishing this
51. Do you like coffee? Don't most adults?
52. How do you like your eggs? Pretty much any which way, I love eggs
53. Do you believe in astrology? Not really but I think it impacts people's self-image so that interests me, plus it's fun to indulge and be silly sometimes
54. Last person you talked to on the phone? My grandma, for Mother's Day
55. Last person on your missed call list? Kim
56. What was the last text message you received? Katrina just sent me a video of her Animal Crossing world that she's been terra-forming
57. McDonalds or Burger King? McDo all the way down
58. Number of pillows? Our bed only has four but I wish it had WAY MORE - John isn't into it so we compromise
59. What are you wearing right now? Red stretchy jeans and B&W striped tee
60. Pick a lyric, any lyric or song?
Told that bitch I'm sorry though
'Bout my coins like Mario (Mario)
Yeah they call me Cardi B, I run this shit like cardio
"I run this shit like cardio" is one of my favourite expressions
61. What kind of jelly do you like on your PB & J sandwich? Any, I'm a fan of most jams
62. Can you play pool? Not even
63. Do you know how to swim? I mean, I'm not a lifeguard but I can hold it together in the water
64. Favorite ice cream? I recently discovered that I love pistacho which means I'm growing up, but overall I like cookie dough ice cream
65. Do you like maps? Uh I used to look at my dad's old World Atlas if that's what you mean (I was a nerdy kid)
66. Tell me a random fact about yourself? I won the "Most Enthusiasm" Award for my performance as an extra in our Grade 6 production of Little Orphan Annie
67. Are you procrastinating right now? Ugh yeah, I'm supposed to be researching FTUE's (pronounced fatooey) which stands for First Time User Experience and is not very thrilling work
68. Ever attend a theme party? Bitch I throw theme parties
69. What is your favorite season? Summer
70. Last time you laughed at something stupid? Today, at this video
71. What time did you wake up this morning? 7:30 A.M.
72. Best thing about winter? When I can skate from The Forks to my neighbourhood along the River Trail
73. Last time a cop gave you a ticket? Never
74. What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
75. Strangest thing you've ever eaten? I ate tarantula, squid eggs, durian, crickets, and a bunch of other weird stuff in Thailand last year
76. Do you think pirates are cool or overrated? Who are these dummies who think pirates aren't cool?
77. What are you doing this weekend? Gardening, BBQing, and puttering around the house
78. Who's your best friend? I have a few, but I'm closest to John
79. What is the third letter of your name? Y
80. How old are your pets? 7 (Toulouse) and 5 (BJ)
81. What color is your backpack? Mint green
82. Are you sick? Moar like sickening amirite? (also, no, not sick)
83. Book you are interested in reading? Palaces For the People - it's on my list!
84. Is the bathroom open? What kind of question is this?!
85. Favourite smell? That dusty smell when it's raining
86. Your most prize possession? Some photos of me from when I was a little kid - I don't have many
87. Are you smiling? Now I am
88. Do you have on eyeliner? Pffft no, it's the quarantine and I don't have any Zoom calls today
89. Do you miss someone right now? It's more like a general yearning to be among people and feel normal
90. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? Back to Asia in a heartbeat - Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore are all on my list once the idea of international travel or being in airplanes doesn't raise my blood pressure
91. Do you have a Myspace? Oh looooooord this makes me feel old. Not anymore
92. Are you in high school? Ahahaha no, I graduated university back in 2013
93. Do you have a crush? Yeah, and I'm married to him (aww)
94. What is your favorite nickname for yourself? John calls me "Bear" which I really like, and some of my older friends call me "Shaner"
95. What color is your bathing suit? Mustard yellow
96. What's your favorite brand of water? Tap water? I don't drink bottled water
97. Did you go on vacation last month? No because there's a pandemic and we've been social distancing in our house since mid-March
98. Have you ever been on a cruise? No, cruises are a gross industry that shouldn't be allowed to exist
99. Do you have a sister? Finally, yes! I married into three
100. Are you upstairs? No, I'm in my basement office because I'm supposed to be working but I'm putting it off because it's not really exciting work and I'm excited to have a Zoom call with Tineke at 5
Whew! Was that as fun for you as it was for me?
If you do this and post it somewhere, tweet at me and let me know so I can see your answers!
*(Upon further reflection, the durian was worse than the tarantula.)
- by Alyson Shane
Yesterday we walked to our local coffee shop to buy beans and stood in a line on the sidewalk out front because only one person can be in the store at a time. Usually you have to walk all the way to the back of the store to pay at the register, but they had everything set up on stools and tables and this little mobile serving station made of wood.
It wasn't perfect but it worked. We got beans and two iced lattes and I never thought I'd be so happy to talk to a friendly face from the neighbourhood. I felt giddy afterwards and thinking about
just how nice and normal it felt
tugs at my heartstrings a full 24 hours later.
We went to Food Fare and it turns out one of the Pandemic Things that I fail at is following the taped arrows on the floor in a grocery store because I spend so much time thinking about what I need and not enough time looking at the ground that I wind up walking down them the "wrong" way and needing to circle back and start over.
But honestly it's not so bad.
Wear yr mask. Smile with your eyes. Say "thank you" to every damn person risking their health and well-being to serve your community.
Yesterday was the last "trip" we'll take into the neighbourhood for at least the next few weeks until we know what community spread is like with eased social restrictions.
Manitoba's cases seem to have plateaued so we're in Phase One of reopening but John and I are spooked by all the tweets and posts about busy patios and parks and too many people lining up outside of stores and not social distancing properly.
I'm sad and worried but trying to have a stiff upper lip about it since we're luckier than most and (hopefully) all another surge in cases locally would mean for us is more time spent hunkering down at home.
I was worried that the minute we eased social distancing guidelines people would go crazy and act a fool and once again the internet confirmed that I was right. It's upsetting to know people are putting each other and their loved ones in danger to stand in a too-crowded line or have a beer on a jam-packed patio
People seem to think they're safe and I hope they're right.But everyone who dies because of the pandemic is someone's somebody and I can't wait until this is over.
- by Alyson Shane
spent most of the day in the garden
organizing pots, raking leaves, tilling dirt
drinking beer and listening to The Boss
waving to our neighbour across the street
who came over with his cat the other day.
her name is April
and he brought her over on a leash on his shoulder
until she got too anxious and started crawling up and down his back
cute cat, though.
We spent last night eating pizza
(thanks for the delivery Barnhammer!)
in the sunroom while it rained.
Lots of people were out on their sun rooms and porches, too waving and yelling and saying hello.
Tomorrow we're getting our new BBQ delivered
along with some pegboard and stuff to hang up/organize our tools
and we're gonna BBQ steaks and carrots with red onion and fennel
and wave at our many, many neighbours as they walk by
keeping a safe distance away.
- by Alyson Shane
Two months ago I was boarding a flight to Belize to get married. My worst fears were a sunburn and thunderstorms and whether I'd be hungover for the big day.
Dumb, stupid things, in hindsight.
(But you know how weddings are.)
In late January I was standing in our AirBnB, listening to NPR as we packed up. Reports of Coronavirus spreading. Worrying that it would come to Toronto before John and I could safely catch a flight home.
Just over a year ago we were walking down one of the main streets in street in Old Puket, Thailand. There was an old temple on one side of the street and the other was a line of storefronts spilling onto the sidewalk. One of those stores was a "pet store" of some kind I guess, because all we could see was one lonely dude eating while surrounded on all sides by cages and cages of stinky, squawking pigeons and random animals that aren't allowed as pets in North America.
As we walked by I joked
"that's how you start a pandemic!"
Don't I feel like a real asshole right now.
Just a few weeks ago we were out at Fort Gibraltar drinking beer in fur coats and listening to hip-hop while eating poutine. There were at least a hundred people at that event and we're being told to meet in groups of 50 or less right now. 10 or less if you're in the US.
A few weeks after that I was lugging extra bags of cat food and tins of fish home in case we needed to start social distancing.
That was last Thursday.
We're been at home nonstop since then. Neither of us want to get sick, or risk spreading anything around if we get sick
(I'm worried about carrying the virus and being asymptomatic)
and since we can both work remotely that's what we're doing.
But it's hard to stay cooped up and I miss my friends and I miss my city and I miss all the small businesses I used to frequent and who I know are struggling right now.
(If that's you: I see you. I understand what you're going through.)
As an anxious person it's been a challenge. I've worked a lot because work is easy and gives me a sense of control when I feel powerless, but when I'm not staring at a screen I need to do something with my hands so I clean or cook or scroll Instagram or pet the cat.
Thank goodness for the cats.
It's a weird, strange time and I'm sure good things are coming, but right now all I want to do is stay home and curl up and hide from the world until this passes
which luckily is what we're supposed to do
so maybe I'll figure out a way to make this work.
- by Alyson Shane
the province is starting to confirm cases and things are going on lockdown
shows and events are cancelled
the universities and colleges are cancelling classes and moving online
buses are empty which is great because apparently they're cesspools
the lines at the stores are nuts, several aisles long
and businesses are being encouraged to let people work from home.
John's office went remote so he's home and I'm home since this is where I work, and we're cancelling any social plans and not really going outside for the next while.
We stocked up tp and disinfecting wipes just like everyone else
but we went the extra step of buying lots of canned goods and dry goods and freezing extra produce as well
(because you need to eat in order to use all that tp, duh)
and as far as social distancing goes I'm feeling pretty good about it.
I worry about my Grandma, though.
And other people's grandmas.
And even John because he's 39 in a few weeks and apparently this thing takes down people in their 40's now and there's no way I'll risk losing that strange bird if I can help it.
In a few hours I have a Zoom call with the TEDxWinnipeg steering committee to talk about our event in June and whether we'll cancel it.
I'm not 100% sure but I have a feeling that I know how it will go. Who knows.
Everything changes so quickly these days.
It's hard not to be glued to Twitter and the news and all the damn articles and that guy on Joe Rogan and
then there's the debate on Sunday night which you know imma watch
and you know they'll be talking about it in that big, empty studio with no people in it because social distancing
but I'm gonna try and not obsess.
At least we just got a ton of alcohol delivered so if things turn pear-shaped I can drown my sorrows in chocolate porters and box'o wine.
Stay safe and don't forget to wash your hands!
- by Alyson Shane
It still feels weird to say. Especially out loud.
Though I do find the idea of being John's "wife" pretty satisfying, mostly because I'm obsessed with that John Mulaney bit where he yells
THAT'S MY WIFE
and secretly I kinda wish I was the one with a wife instead of a husband, because
THAT'S MY HUSBAND
just doesn't have the same oomph to it.
But that's okay, because being John's wife comes with a lot of other good stuff. Like getting to hang out all the time and know all his weird idiosyncrasies and massage his back when it gets sore and have unusual amounts of fun doing mundane things like grocery shopping or waiting for a flight.
I always hoped I'd marry my best friend, and here we are all these years later.
Married. Still best friends.
Would ya look at that.
We got married on a dock in front of the setting sun and it was beautiful and magical and silly and weird.
Beautiful and magical because of the sunset and how good John looked in his bowtie
(blue with flamingos)
and silly and weird because we're silly, weird people with a made-up language and a pretend history as Bears in Space
oh and also because Adam (aka "Reverend Grey") married us wearing a MONK COSTUME and also wrote and performed a freestyle rap about us called
"The Fresh Prince and Princess of Belize"
which is exactly what we felt like that day. 33 people took a chance on our weird stories and descended upon the tiny island of Caye Caulker, BZ and spent several days drinking in the ocean and eating way too much seafood with us.
I even killed a lobster and then ate it! It was weird to kill my own food, but when the guy killing the lobster at the very sketchy wooden table next to the restaurant we were eating at asked "who wants to try?" and John jumped up and pointed at me and said
obviously I had to step up and take a life.
I've never travelled with friends or family before and it was a nice treat to walk down Front St and see Eddie and Kim sitting on their balcony, surveying the landscape and offering shots of Patrón to passers-by
or finding Alex and Rob hanging out in the hammocks along the beach (again)
or walking outside to see Jasmin and Matt hanging out in our shared yard at Wish Willy's
or waving at the Gilvesy's lined up along the bar at Paradise Restaurant having breakfast
or hearing Adrian and Carlene laughing from inside their AirBnb from the street
or a million other memories that I hope I can hold onto with as much detail as possible.
Because I know that the next time we visit Caye Caulker it won't be the same. Our little village of people won't be there, walking with a beer from the corner store or hanging out at the Sip 'n Dip or eating at Fran's for the umpteenth time. This trip, and our wedding, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But at least I can look forward to knowing that the next time the lobster dude asks "who wants to try killing a lobster?" John will jump up and say
MY WIFE DOES.
* Photo via Les Klassen. You'd better belize that coconut had rum in it.
- by Alyson Shane
It doesn't seem like 2019 was the best year for a lot of people and even though by and large I'd say it was pretty okay, especially between the spring and summer, around the start of early fall a bunch of things happened that just started to
grind me down.
John's grandpa passed away
I dealt with losing a friend to suicide for the first time and had to navigate a very public crisis both personally and professionally
I had a falling out with my aunt that dragged on for weeks
John lost a friend to suicide
I lost another friend to suicide
we learned some scary news about someone else we love
all while running both of our companies
starting another business together
planning our wedding
and generally trying to just
keep everything from falling apart around us.
Sometimes I worry that getting older is just learning to move from one emotional crisis to the next without letting shit get to you as much.
We just get more weathered, like Clint Eastwood's face.
I've never gone through this much heartache and disappointment at once and in such quick succession but even though it's been a crash course in
communicating my needs
managing grief and loss
struggling with a lack of control
it's over and it happened, and while I'm not happy it happened
at least I can understand that it's making me
which maybe is all we can hope for, sometimes.
I hope 2020 is better for all of us.
- by Alyson Shane
so now I officially own two businesses.
Or will soon, I guess.
We're building a company that does a really cool, unique thing and people are excited about it. Last week during a meeting with a beta tester they told me
"what you're building is wildly important"
which was a bit overwhelming but also...
I agree. It is an important idea.
I like solving problems (it's what I like about business) and lately I've been spending a lot of time working on a tool that solves a very specific problem in a really creative and useful way.
Best of all: it's efficient.
(I love efficiency.)
What I love more is working on something that makes people excited, and happy. Running a marketing agency is great, but solves different kinds of problem-solving than a piece of software and even though it makes me feel like I'm juggling a dozen balls at once
it's pretty effing exhilarating.
Wish us luck!
- by Alyson Shane
The wedding was was funny and unique and weird and wonderful, just like them.
I was happy to be there even though my purse broke and my romper's zipper broke and my hair didn't hold all the nice curls Katrina did for me
oh and I left my dumb, broken purse (with my phone in it) at the venue.
But it was one of those blurry evenings spent staying up way too late drinking and celebrating with people you love that makes the next day's hangover
so worth it.
It moves me to see other people who love each other and compliment each other so well
and who appreciate and promote each other's weirdness
and I feel so lucky to not just be their friend, but to have been invited to share in their special day with them.
Congrats again, Adam and Brittany
thank you for throwing a baller party, and for being in our lives
and for hanging onto my dumb, broken purse when I left it at the venue.
You guys are the real MVPs.