Saturday, December 24, 2016

If Christmas Sucks

It's Christmas Eve! And instead of writing about the amount of Christmas puddings I plan on binge-eating tonight in my sleep, I'd like to talk about something a little more important, and actually, less funny.

The other day, having finished watching every Hallmark Christmas film known to man (if you haven't discovered these already, they're an absolute gem - terrifically horrible acting, a plot line as flat as something flat that I can't think of at the moment, and if you're lucky enough, Candace Cameron Bure, attempting to convince us that she "just loves Christmas" unlike anyone else on the planet. More on this later.)...so anyway, the other day, having finished watching it, I started looking through the Christmas stuff on Netflix, and when I came across Christmas with the Kranks, I felt a really bizarre feeling, sort of like frustration and exasperation. It didn't take me long to realize why, and that was when I decided this was something I needed to tell you.


Last Christmas was the worst Christmas of my life. About a week before the big day, I came down with the flu, and a few days later, so did my sister. It was the kind of flu where you hallucinate and can't move your head an inch without the entire universe spinning so fast you can literally see the future. The pain in my body would get so intense at night that I would just sit and cry, and I remember at one point asking my mom with complete honesty, if I was going to die. I had a fever, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep - come to think of it, I probably should've gone to the hospital - and it lasted days, and days, and days. Because my sister got it as well, we couldn't be around each other for fear of re-contaminating each other. Then, a short while later, my mom got it too. So, Christmas Eve rolled around and we were in separate bedrooms, just dying. We couldn't see or speak to each other, getting up in our own beds just enough to take a sip of water before collapsing again. I could see out the window from where I lay, and I watched guests park their cars in the snowy driveways of our neighbourhood. I watched Chrismas gifts being brought into houses, and people cheerfully greeting each other. I felt so unbelievably sad and alone.  Christmas day was no better. I spent the day watching more Netflix movies, and that's when I came across Christmas with the Kranks, which is a story about how a family almost goes through with a plan to skip Christmas. I didn't realize it then, but at the time, I was so excited at the thought that the story might be about what we're going through, and so, so frustrated and exasperated when in the end, Christmas prevailed and the family gathered round and a turkey was cooked and a Christmas tree, alight. It's funny how these feelings only became evident to me a year later, remembering that there was me, watching the movie alone, hoping Tim Allen skips Christmas too, waiting for my next door neighbours to finish Christmas dinner and get over the day already.

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A little something to break the tension. 

Never before did I realize how much pressure the Christmas season puts on us. It seems almost like an order: to be happy, be in love, be surrounded by friends and family, have beautiful presents under a beautiful tree, not have your cat pass away the next day when you're too sick to even walk downstairs and watch her die (just me?), everything must fall into place otherwise you're not part of the Christmas phenomenon, you're not like absolutely everyone else (for the sake of this thought, I'm not counting other religions, because even they have secular belonging.) We've had our share of ghetto-ass Christmasses, so it's not even about having a big lush tree or a seventeen pound turkey, but the feeling that if everything hasn't fallen into place in your life and if you're not bursting with happiness, then you are not doing it right. In tangent with the joy we feel when we ace Christmas (got the best gifts for the family! Got the best cranberry sauce! Got so much time off work! It snowed just in time! Best Christmas ever!) there is the under-side, the darkest, most painful feeling of loneliness that exists when things don't work out in line with Christmas expectations.  It made me think of how difficult it must be to get through the holidays when any number of the millions of other terrible things could be happening around this time of year. Last year, I felt just a glimpse of it, but I hope to keep the lesson I learned from it forever.

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This year's tree in Dublin. 
If anyone out there is reading this over the holidays, and if things aren't going well, I would like to give you a really big e-hug, to tell you that it will be okay again, to send you a list of movies to distract you from it all (seriously, comment here if you need it, or I'm about to tell you more about Candace Cameron Burre) and to let you know that this is not the most important time of the year, so screw it if it's not working out. You're not alone, and you are loved. Even by me, in a non creepy way!



This year, things are definitely better on the flu front (so far so good!), but my dad broke his hip, and everyone is generally stressed out. It certainly isn't ideal, but to be honest, after last year, I feel a lot of pressure has been taken off of expecting it to be perfect. So, hope for the best, and if it doesn't work out, here are some amazing films to watch and yell at the tv about, as we did. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, good luck on boxing day!

A Christmas Detour Poster
By far the best. Candace is an absolute sweetheart who is on her way to see her fiance who is rich and has asshole parents as all rich people are (?) when she meets a loveable smart-ass and I can't

Just the Way You Are Poster
Not a Christmas movie but equally gag-worthy. Probably the most gag-worthy of all. A dating coach tries to fix her own marriage and fails a lot before things randomly take a turn for the better

Christmas Under Wraps Poster
Candace is perfect again and this time, she's a doctor sent to a town of yokels. She hates it there cause she's all big city fab, and they're all like "decaf latte? round here we drink our coffee with glue guhaw guhaw" but, having applied four bandaids, she realizes her doctor skills are absolutely essential to this town and...does...romance blossom? gag-meter: 100 OH MY GOD I just remembered how it ends which is so ridiculous you have you watch this

Let It Snow Poster
Candace is a sweetheart again. And this time, she visits a stupid ol' rikkedy town for the sole purpose of tearing it down so her dad can build a strip club or something. This one is fucked up because of all the traditions the town celebrates. This might help you feel better if you think Christmas in general is stupid.

Journey Back to Christmas Poster
This one takes the shit cake. Candace Cameron Bure is a woman from the 50s who climbs into a cabin and, due to a comet or something, is transported into the future. Instead of panicking, shaving her head bald and eating her own boogers, she spends her time perfecting that shit-eating grin (see all photos above) and sighing. Then, women are put down for their irrelevance in the police force, huge age gaps are ignored, and miracles happen. A+, must watch.





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bog Roll and James Joyce (I Love Your Writing)

Guys, I’m fuelled by the magic of my first peppermint mocha of the season (we asked the barista here if they make them even though they’re not on the Irish Starbucks menu and they gave me a look like who's asking? so I threw out my Basic Betch pokeball and they were like ohhhh she so basic yes indeed we will make you a couple so Falalalala la la la hell yeah) and I’ve got chicken legs baking in the oven, so I’m gonna throw a real positive Pete out at you and say: thank you to everyone who takes the time to write. 



Sometimes it can be a little tiring to scroll through a sea of saccharine promotional material, so when I see a tiny bit of someone’s soul in a post, be it Instagram, Facebook or blog article, it makes me so, so happy. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Ottawa writer girls (Dominique, Chantal, Alyssa you know I’m talking about y’all, among others!) and I admire every single thought that writers like Lindy West share, be it through their novels or Jezebel articles, but I myself still find it hard to choose a side between being a writer or a storyteller. What's interesting is that this morning, a completely random person, a complete stranger to me, talked about exactly that.



Most mornings, while I burn the toast and Jeff uses a women’s make-up mirror to style his hair, we watch Ireland :Am. The hosts are really cute and have really pleasant voices and giggle at everything the others say. They switch between topics like the aggressive onset of diabetes in Ireland into the hottest Christmas toys of the year (“…it is not yet clear if it is Irish water or air that is to blame for their incurable mutations. Up next: a bog roll shaped like James Joyce!”) and for the most part, they just make you feel really great. Today, they had British author Jeffrey Archer talking about the seven novels he wrote, and the way he feels when he writes his stories. “I’m a story-teller, not a writer” he said. It was so cool to hear him acknowledge that difference (oh and I wrote about this a few years ago in a super nerdy post that no one will ever read!) , and the way he spoke about the process of writing his story – the excitement with which he revealed that not even he knows how the story will end- it was like finding an old photograph, but of an idea, that you forgot you could feel. Here comes a sentence that will make you reconsider ever inviting me to a party: it made me so excited to read more of everyone's writing. 



So, I hope to see many more posts by all of you talented ladies and gents, and my personal "it's almost new year's" resolution is to write more as well, regardless of whether I have to be a writer or storyteller, regardless of what category it may fit into, and with only one thought in mind which is that it should, like everything that matters in life, come from the heart.



Saturday, October 29, 2016

Never Give Up On Pumpkin

Things are different in Dublin. You don't find your every day things in their every day (Canadian) places. A bottle of regular ol' bleach takes an entire city hunt to find; forget about coffee creamer (I promise that one day I will get over this, but that day isn't anywhere near today) because here, it's completely unheard of; and don't even think about pizza yeast or pizza sauce because pizzas are always ready and waiting, everywhere you look, so people don't really make them from scratch. A couple of weeks ago, on my way home from Canada, I turned a blind eye to all of the above and, having to lose some weight in my suitcase (again with the unrealistic expectations ugh #fightback2016) I left behind a beautiful can of pureed pumpkin. I left it behind convinced that I'd find canned pumpkin in Dublin because duh it's fall and everyone loves pumpkin everything, but when I got to Dublin and asked around for it, I was given not only confused but disgusted looks. One store did have it, and that store sells imported American things that are sold at absolutely insane astronomical prices. I simply couldn't afford it. Well fine, I thought, I'll just outsmart them all and for my traditional pumpkin cream cheese roll, I'll use fresh pumpkin.   




Four hours later I had boiled, strained, peeled, mashed, blended, and sieved the equivalent of a cup of pumpkin for my recipe.  The cakey part came out looking like a grade five gym mat, but I still had high hopes. Then, using what I was sure was cream cheese (for lack of my trusted Philadelphia brand), I mixed the filling until the portal into hell opened wide and sucked all of my efforts straight in: the filling turned to  milky water. What. The. Eff.  Still, I persevered, knowing I had created something utterly, utterly wrong. I tilted the pumpkin roll and poured the filling in, sealed the ends, and let this bitch cool.  The next day, as predicted, the result was a texture akin to that of a prosthetic limb, and the unforgettable taste of tangy cheese by-product. It did photograph well, though, and looks almost like food in this picture:



Despite this picture's totally basic-able autumn Instagram win,  I refused to share it on social media, and instead, cried in the shower. Then I cried to Jeff about how everything fails here. Or, more like, how I fail at everything here. I decided that this year, I just had to accept that life will never be the same, and I shouldn't expect to succeed at things I have been making for goddamn years, and I need to just let it go and hope for the best around the Christmas season. After all, I could make a peppermint roll. A new tradition! I could sprinkle it with sadness. Delicious. Basically, I gave up. But Jeff didn't. He called a shop that used to sell pumpkin puree, found out when they would be re-stocking it, and put a can aside under his name. By then, days had gone by. When he found me again, I was under the couch, having grown a beard to my ass, and had forgotten the sound of my own name, bathing only in peril and defeat. Then, he gave me one of those talks where you huddle and then someone slaps you really hard and tells you to wake up. Except he didn't slap me obvi. That day, I found a pair of leggings on sale at Penneys for 3 Euro (say whaaa?). It was meant to be, so the minute I got home, I pulled them on...(and yes Jeff instantly left me)..


I looked a little harder, found Philadelphia cream cheese (!!!), picked up that can of pumpkin which they had actually received so much of that the store was practically bursting..

Just your homestyle pure de calabaza

...promised myself I would never cook with this "dupe" ...



Mixed all the ingredients together again, this time being so happy to see everything looking pumpkin-y instead of that weird pale beige situation from before..



Threw it all in the oven and crossed my fingers...and everything worked out!  



The pumpkin roll was as good as I remember it tasting every year, and was gobbled up in one day! Looks like this year, the real treat is the lesson of never giving up. Wow. 

Happy fall! Happy thanksgiving! Believe in your dreams!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Last Day of My 20s

It’s 8 pm, the sky is black, and I just finished a Skype call with my family, whose laughing faces were illuminated by lazy Sunday brunch sunshine. I’m an ocean away, in the bedroom of our little apartment. Two doors away, in the living room, I hear the rustling of gift wrap. I am banned from that room for the night: Jeff is preparing a birthday surprise.  Tomorrow, as previously feared, I will be 30. From the vault of my ridiculous and unfounded worries: I will wake up covered in menopause, with a sudden penchant for raisin scones and trousers that button up just at tit level. Tomorrow is the first day of a new decade, and for the first time in my life, I feel like age means something. I mean, I’m not even sure what’ll happen when the gods above see my un-finished 30 before 30 list, but now I’ve also gotta explain (to someone?) why I don’t want kids or a mortgage (…yet.) 
I'm lucky that my friends are all relatively the same age, and we're all making this leap into this new decade, one by one, like popcorn kernels. Everyone else seems to be doing fine, no one woke up looking like Jann Arden, and it really is just another day. Meanwhile, in Ireland, because moving to another country wasn't enough change, I decided to round up my favourite memories from this decade, to hopefully stop my ears from ringing with the fear that I'm going to be Ye Aulde with nothing to show for it. 


Jann Arden isn't old and there is nothing wrong with her, not that there is anything wrong with being old anyway


2006 would be the year that I turned 20. It was also the year of Taking Back Sunday's album Louder Now, a living soundtrack for my post-teen angst, and a very compelling argument for why oh my god you just don't get it, mom. Remember how cool studded belts were? That said, I'll never forget just how much we felt back then. Every heartbreak, every Saturday night, everything was for the first time and so, so loud. 



At 21, I had my first party. It was at the Minto hotel in Ottawa, and I bought 10 bottles of Absolut vodka. My best friend and I both had platinum blonde hair. There was a group pillow fight. We were young and wild.



I found this picture in my Fall 2008 collection, which would mean I was 22 and in university. This kind of autumn is how I always remember my early twenties. The Postal Service on my iPod shuffle, a Tim's chai tea (2 milk, 1 sugar), my class notes, and the orange leaves brushing past the windows of the bus, on the way to campus. It was the realest romance. Well, not this picture in particular, because here I'm just trying to not cry after hurting my hands hanging off a tree branch in an effort to seem whimsical a-la Meg Ryan.   



At 23, I lived and breathed Lady Gaga. Naturally, I spent a month making this halloween costume, constructing a 3D crystal formation out of cardboard and CDs cut up into tiny disco-ball squares. At the club, I was booed offstage immediately: it was a Sexiest Costume competition and the winner was a Sexy Call Centre Agent. I remember striking pose after pose amidst the booing, determined to show off my crafty ensemble regardless of the heckling. If you've ever done that, you'll know it takes an almost inhuman amount of guts. Was a banana thrown in my general direction? My memory is a bit hazy now, but never mind that - on my way out, I was stopped by a drag-queen asking to buy my costume for a show. Baby, I was born this way.



24 marked my official audacity as a full blown hipster. After a brief stint in Brooklyn's Williamsburg, I was no longer a part of the 'normal' world. I emailed The New Yorker with article pitches, wore ironic second-hand sweaters covered in black donuts, told my government job boss that a budgetary proposition was "masturbatory", read spoken word at open mic nights, attended community events dressed like a colonial woman on acid, 'composed' 'music' on my MIDI keyboard (shoutout Cubase and Fruity Loops), and landed a freelance job writing for a fashion studio. I was vegan, I was into Jodorowsky, and my most prized possession was a pair of old mens' sunglasses. No regrets - I don't think I'll ever be that cool again.





In 2011, I was 25 and had this Christmas dinner with my favourite girlfriends. It was in the first apartment I ever lived in on my own, and it remains my favourite place in the world. At night, you could see the snow falling from each of the corner windows, and it felt like you were in a snow globe. The apartment had old wooden floors and a faux fireplace with a mirror built in. That year, as a very influential and important relationship ended, I found the pieces of the new me, and this little dinner party was the first time I felt like myself again.



When I was 26, I went a month eating just raw food. I've always loved trying different lifestyles, and didn't think it would be too difficult since I had gone years being vegan. That January, I learned what it was like not having a life. I was always cold, I was always hungry, a co-worker said she didn't want to be around me since I couldn't eat anything anyway, and a dude told me I smelled too much like vegetables. I was dehydrating zucchini around the clock, and my idea of dessert was a hot shower. To this day, the thought of "agave-avocado" anything makes me shudder..



A lot happened in 2013, between photography classes and discovering our city's new gourmet street food trend, and festivals, and new friends...but one of the funniest memories is the time we went to New York, just my mom, my sister, and I. We had donuts, and window-shopped, and my mom asked the man at the Gucci store if he had change for the bus, and then fake-argued with a wax Samuel L.Jackson, and then rejected an Abercrombie & Fitch model. Sometimes, the best part of something is knowing how much it means to someone else.





One of my happiest memories in recent years is this one Sunday afternoon. There wasn't anything exciting going on, I was 28 and it was a very ordinary spring day. I had come back from a long run, exhausted, and had picked up a loaf of fresh sourdough bread from my favourite bakery, Bread & Sons. My feet were killing in that awesome way that makes you feel like it's totally fine to nosedive into a ball-pit of cheeseburgers, and I showered and changed into a big fluffy robe. The sun was shining through my bedroom windows as I made a couple of cheesy toasties and lay back on my bed watching This is 40. I think I'll remember that moment forever. It was just me, alone, and it was perfect.



And, of course, it just wouldn't be me if I didn't say that my favourite memory from my last year of my twenties was running the marathon. Up until a few years ago, thoughts of the marathon were right up there with Chris Hadfield and the planet Mercury. It just wasn't part of anything I considered doable or even real. And then, one day, I ran it. And it was incredible. That year, I also went to Ireland and umm like totally changed my life and stuff, but that's a memory I'd like to unfold in my thirties, and I'm not there yet, so for now here's a photo of me at 500 metres to the finish line!


It is now 11 pm and I will be thirty in an hour. I'm in Dublin, drinking a glass of wine I bought with the Euros I made from my new job. My blog URL now ends with .ie and I haven't heard the Canadian accent in months. In all of the silly years above, I never could've predicted this is where I'd be, and yet, here I am. It's easy to get caught up in what you haven't yet done, or what you think you're supposed to do, and as I slowly turn into Reba McEntire in this last hour of my youth, I'm certainly caught up in the stark realisation that I am an unmarried woman without child or car payments. 



But this is where I am, regardless, and if the next ten years are as kaleidoscopic as the past ten have been, then I don't want anything to change. "Want to do something silly for your last hour?" Jeff asks, taking a break from what sounds like either smoking a crack pipe or blowing up balloons in the other room. "We can do knick knacks! It's when you knock on a door and run away," he explains. On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, I'll wake up tomorrow and still be me. 


Saturday, September 17, 2016

8 Before 30

I love lists. To-do lists, to-buy lists, to-read lists, you name it, I’ve made a list for it.  In my desk, there is currently a growing list of food I want to eat in the near future, because I can’t think clearly when I’m thrashing violently Emily Rose style, seized by the satanic hands of Father Hunger. In my purse is a list of songs to sing in my head when I’m on the train, and a list of dead animals I’ve seen by the side of the road leading up to that train. Just kidding, if I had a list like that, it would only have one item: a rat.  Can I just mention that nobody seems to mind this recurring appearance? I’m the only one clutching my chest, gasping for breath when I find myself nearly stepping on its body, mouthing “Oh my God” to let everyone know I am a compassionate human being, outraged by dead rats, and clearly much more sensitive/distinguished than those who simply walk past it. No one cares, and, in the afternoon, on my walk back, the rat is gone. It’s probably the same rat every time. Desperate for attention, he plays dead a couple of times a week, and when the morning rush carelessly walks by (well because they already know this trick and have had enough, cheers) he slowly sits up, fixes his hair, dusts off his knees, and walks back into the bushes. Number of people gasping Oh My God today: One, his list says, Will return tomorrow.



Anyway, following my girlfriend Amy’s brilliant idea to make a list of things to accomplish by the time she turns thirty, and seeing how cool the end result was- thirty fun challenges crossed proudly off her list-I thought it would be great to make a list of my own. You can read about it here, actually. I made the list well over a year ago, and was convinced I would attack it with the same determination with which I tackle my running training schedules and employee appreciation cakes. Nabokov and Hemingway were going to be my dreamy escapes from the harshness of Canadian winters, until I was ass-deep in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with no chance of ever, ever finishing it. Look, I tried, but despite reading it twice a day, every day, for three months of commuting to the suburbs, I just couldn’t stay excited about a seventeen hour monologue marrying the metaphor of trains with the fickle human condition. 





That said, that year I rented my apartment in a really cool building named after the lead character’s last name, so there. I will finish this book one day, when I’m feeling like re-opening that can of slow-moving worms, but until then, apart from a few pop literature books I read on vacation...










(Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Jon Ronson's Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries and Lindy West’s masterpiece Shrill) my reading list remained untouched. 

Eight. Eight items have been more or less completed. Looking at it now, I don't know how I expected for some of these opportunities to just present themselves in the span of two years, but here's what got crossed off, and why:





Running that marathon with that awesome finish time is probably my favourite memory from that list. That one I crossed off, fair and square.  




As you can see, #7 is crossed off with a squiggly line which is kinda the way you tell your doctor that you drink "socially" while keeping your foot firmly over the snack-size bottle of Absolut nestled in your purse.  #12 was to see a broadway show, and thanks to my lovely fella, we saw "Once: The Musical" here in Dublin, and I didn't even barf! When the performers were warming up, I briefly thought about leaving (oh yeah, I hate broadway shows) but I'm definitely glad I stayed because it was as genuine and un-campy as broadway shows get. Plus, I had my moment in the spotlight:



And did I grow all the ingredients for a salad? Well, if you're making a salad of basil, parsley and cilantro, then you bet I did! But the reason I'm squiggly-crossing that one off my list is actually because here in Dublin, I've kept my basil plant alive for TWO MONTHS! Two whole months of watering it and clipping the leaves when they get too old (or eating them). It's unreal. Like, guys, it actually fucking grows back. I can't believe it. 
Okay so then there's #19 which is the one where I help my mom with a big project, and that one I definitely did when I organized her move into her new house and moved most of the stuff and I hope that she can't see this part if she's reading this blog but if she is then sorrayyy not sorray. Also, you can read about that in this blog post.
And directly after that one is the one about taking a cake decorating course, which you will soon see is not necessary for me as I have actually become Buddy the Cake Boss. It was Jeff's birthday a few days ago, and I decided that when you are living in a new city, country, and continent, you should opt to bake a last minute secret cake to feed 40 people with ingredients you have never used before - specifically the terrifying F word: Fondant.  Buddy stretches that thing like it's nothing, but even on his show, the pros are always freaking out about the fondant cracking, sweating, peeling off, or just "not cooperating" (what?).  I've avoided it for years and years, opting for the safe and predictable icing scenario....until now.  I don't know what came over me, but I decided to just do it, and without any practice or any idea how to even handle it, I applied the fondant to my cake at 5 am the morning of Jeff's birthday party day. I won't lie, all of Dublin pitched in with ideas. The cake decorating cake store clerk drew pictures of how the fondant should look when it's flat, the grocery store clerk assured me that it'll be grand, the Irish baker tutorial said it would be just like marzipan so don't sweat it...and somehow, the birthday gods came together, and I managed to secretly bake three layers of red velvet cake, ice them with cream cheese frosting, and cover it in the aforementioned cloak of gastronomical terror. And so, when it was all done, before me stood one of my biggest fears, conquered: a steak cake, with marzipan mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. 





As for the disco roller skating, my very thoughtful guy took me to a disco roller-skating place one day, until halfway through the trip I pulled him onto a bus going to the airport instead, so we could have coffee and watch people travel. No regrets, it was fantastic. We did disco roller-skate anyway, actually, at a music festival this summer…and it was every bit as terrifying as I hoped..

Much grace so elegance wow
And lastly, of course, there was the adventure of getting my driver's license. After a month of lessons with a man named Barry who giggled when I said fuck, and weekends of being an unbearable human being around my loved ones who offered to supervise me while I yelled "I'm not ready for Bank Street!" and "Parallel parking is not necessary in this country!", I passed my G2 test, on the first try. Very proud of that, and embarrassed for the person I was in the weeks leading up to it. Anyway, moving on...



Today is just a few days before my birthday, and I can confidently say that I will not complete my 30 Before 30 list, and the reason that I've written about it here is that I can confidently say that this is the first list I will not complete, in my stash of testaments to my OCD.  Even though part of me wants to bite into a brick, a much bigger part of me is kinda like let’s see what happens. I mean, let’s see what happens when I don’t accomplish a set of crazy goals. Let’s see what happens when, instead of running myself ragged just for the momentary satisfaction of crossing off an item, I let myself have a relaxing few days (nay weeks) and enjoy not worrying about it.  Maybe it's the Irish lifestyle rubbing off on me, or maybe it's the acceptance that the things I did complete have been pretty fantastic, but I think I'm okay with being human, this time. 



And if on September 26th I wake up and I’m still alive, despite that list glowing venomous red with a thousand little Outlook reminder flags, if the sun still shines (well as much as it would in Dublin anyway), then maybe that’ll be the new me: Alisa in her 30s, who’s comfortably nerdy, spends some (most) weekends eating pancakes and watching reruns of Home Improvement, gets along best with old people, and doesn’t always cross every item off the list. Let’s see.