Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today I am Thirty One

Preface: I am going to illustrate the ideas in this post with stills from my all-time favourite 90 Day Fiancé's Beth and Danielle, because I can.

Have you ever climbed on one of those foam mats at the pool, trying to stand on top of the water? If you're lucky, you'll balance for a few seconds, and in that moment, the rush of defying the seemingly impossible is unlike anything your seven-year-old self has ever experienced. MOM MOM MOM MOM ARE YOU WATCHING? MOM OH MY GOD MOM 

Today I'm 31, and I feel like I'm back on that foam mat, with my immediate life beneath me as I balance, balance, balance. I've spent this past year - the first of my thirties - solving a Rubik's Cube comprised of the challenges of living abroad and trying to understand oneself in the process. Funny how the effects of leaving a career, familiar environment, and even part of yourself behind can back you into a corner like high school bullies. Who are you now? What are you doing? What do you care about? Redefine, redevelop, and balance - there is no escape and there are no distractions.

My goals for this 31st year of my life (or I suppose 32nd year actually..yikes) are to create familiarity in the unfamiliar, comfort in the foreign, and positivity in the chaos. (side note: Blogger doesn't recognize the word positivity. Who invited Negative Nancy to the potluck?) More specifically, I'm gonna try not to burst into flames/tears every time I come home from yet another interview where they showed up twenty minutes late and rolled their eyes as I described my Canadian work experience and the bus driver drove past me laughing and my bank account is down to a two-digit number.....because there are things you don't have control over, and they are not worth sweating.

Every year on my birthday, I try to encapsulate my most prominent ideas for the off-chance that they may be important to remember down the line as the years flash by. Some years it's about cake and other years end up being a bit more reflective.  The past few months have been incredibly challenging but in the process, I had a thought that helped calm the death-metal festival into which my stress has manifested in my brain: Find something you love about today, then find something you love about tomorrow. Learn to be grateful for those things- I'm pretty sure that's all life is about.

Well, that and flying to Vegas in a private jet... ayyyyyyyy

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Climbed a Fence, I Lost a Job

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Rocky win boxing training victory GIF  

This is the story of how I went from being the Planters Peanut of the interview world (or whatever you might associate with success) to literally running away from an interviewer. Or rather, this is another instalment of how things are going at the moment. 

As most people my age, I've had about seven hundred interviews in my life, and I have nailed them every single time. From jobs I didn't feel like doing, to jobs I wasn't qualified for, to jobs where I was sure the interviewer could see a French baguette edging out of my Marc Jacobs 'briefcase', I've gotten the job in every single situation. Typically, what I lack in experience I make up for in very comfortable, sharp, and of course, absolutely hilarious banter.  "Microsoft Access? Never heard of it but I'll access it tonight, and be a pro on it by Monday, Linda. Ehhhh!") Plus, I always wear shoulder pads, so no one ever doubts me anyway.  Here's how I usually look, and how I looked on the day my interviewee life unravelled:

A few weeks ago (and yes, it has taken that long for me to recover long enough to talk about it), I was invited to an interview for a charitable organization which shall remain nameless. The interview happened to fall on the exact same day I was getting an ultrasound done to determine whether I have a raging stomach ulcer. I was really excited to find out, and totally bummed out that the interview was just an hour after my appointment, and could not be moved. Anyway, fine. I had my appointment, and as I was leaving for my interview, I realized it had gone on far longer than expected and my power walk would need to be a run for me to make it. Fine, again. I started running, coat in hand, stomach sweating awkwardly (OR WAS IT SWEAT?!?). I got to the location at the address mentioned to me, and here is what I saw:

Oh my God. I was going to work inside a dumpster. Or, I needed to keep running, which I did, and finally found the interview place, just a few minutes prior to my start time. Phew, I thought, dusting off my Peanut monocle and cane, It's showtime. 

I walked up to the front doors of the building and realized they were locked. The receptionist stared at me as if I were a flasher, then casually walked over, and pressed a code on the door to let me in. I smiled him an "I'll be your boss soon" smile and walked super fucking confidently towards the office. This is precisely when everything went downhill.

You know when someone hates you the minute they see you? When the combination of every last detail of your being amounts to the word Idiot illuminating like a buzzing neon sign above your stupid head and no matter what comes out of your stupid mouth it just sounds, to them, like a fart sound? No? You don't know that? Then I invite you to read on, because that's what happened. My interviewer could not hold back from looking me up and down continuously with an expression of horrified judgment. She shook my hand while looking at the room we were going to walk into. We sat at a table so small that our knees were nearly rubbing, and the white sky coming through the window facing me was blinding. I went through my typical repertoire of light office humour a la "There I was, carrying six laptops while wearing six inch heels! What was I thinking? OFFICELOL" and she wouldn't flinch. My answers were met with nothingness. No feedback, no nodding, and no subsequent progression. And by that, I mean dead silence followed each of my replies as if it was never enough for her. Finally, I added "...and that's how I'd like to answer that!" At one point, I told her I don't like the sound of humans. At another point, I said we are all pieces of the puzzle of life. My spirit had floated out of my body and watched on in horror as I attempted to claw my way out of the pile of pure stupid I had melted into by the simple virtue of her assumptions about me. I was dying inside, and could feel what I now realized was ultrasound gel running down my shirt.

As the interview ended, she said, with great disappointment, "The bathrooms are down the hall" and I wasn't sure why she felt compelled to point that out, but I thanked her and walked off. I took my time in the stall, texting everyone I knew that my life was officially over and I would never live this embarrassment down. I spent about 12 minutes in the bathroom just trying to calm down. When I walked out, she happened to be standing by the door. She definitely saw me.  I walked into the elevator and mouthed the word fuck repeatedly at myself in the mirror all the way down to the ground floor. She saw me stay in the bathroom for 12 minutes. My face was a deep red and I was no longer human but a syrupy reduction of shame and the pieces of the puzzle of life. I pushed the front doors but they of course wouldn't budge until the receptionist came over and pressed more buttons and I walked out robotically and walked ahead to what I thought was a shortcut through the community garden proudly growing in front of the building. I thought it weird that I had to squeeze in between two metal bars to get into the garden, but my thoughts were clouded by the pounding in my face.

A few steps in, I looked around and realized there was no exit, and I was surrounded by a tall fence. The 'bars' I had squeezed between were actually some sort of evil one-way locking contraption. I had locked myself in. I looked around and looked up to see my interviewer looking down at me through her office window. The next few minutes were a blur, as I walked over to the fence, threw my purse over, and began hiking my leg over it in an attempt to climb it. Were my life normal, I would've climbed over it in one go, but my life is my life, and I didn't quite make it with the second leg, so I fell back. I looked up again, and a few more people had gathered to watch. I climbed again, this time falling over to the other side of the fence, and then, I started running. I ran until I was out of breath, trying very hard not to think of the impression I left - bombed the interview, sweat chunks of gel, took massive dump in toilet, locked herself in the garden, climbed a fence, and ran away.

The next day, my placement agent delicately told me that they went with "a stronger candidate" and while I was amazingly un-surprised, my mom made a really great point: how many other candidates would've gotten out of that garden on their own? Probably zero because nobody else would've walked into it to begin with. Regardless, despite my now tarnished interviewee record, I'm taking the most important stuff out of this one: when life hands you a fence, climb over. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dry January: A Dublin Update!

Here in Dublin, it's Dry January. That means people don't drink for an entire month, which I don't think actually happens because I don't think anyone here has a meal without a keg of Guinness to accompany it. Because I'm still unsure when I'll return to Canada, though it could be sooner than later, I thought I would give you a quick update with what's going on, and hopefully write enough of these updates to properly catalogue my memories for the future, when I'm back and missing the green isle.

A rose! In January!

I worked as an accounting assistant for six months, but quit about a month ago, accidentally leaving behind a legacy of an Excel document containing the word "fajitas" written 11 times and a .jpeg image of a flying cockroach. I now spend my days streaming  Lock-up: Women Behind Bars on Netflix, running, over-cooking rice, and basically occupying the title of Thirty Year Old Woman Trying Not To Freak Out Over Being Unemployed In A Foreign Country. Or, TYOWTNTFOOBUIAFC, for short.

Bettie gave her hubby some cornbread then she shot him with a shotgun!

When the majority of available jobs involve sandwich artistry, it can be hard to keep your chin up over 'real' job prospects, and on top of that, yesterday I had a placement agent call me simply to rip me a new one over the fact that my CV was organised by relevance and not by date. I never expected something as external to my sense of self as  'Current Job Situation' bleed into the way I feel in terms of my self-worth, and while the feeling hurts like hell, I have to say I am grateful for this experience. Not gonna lie, I ugly-sobbed after that call (Jeff wasn't home luckily), because in addition to yelling at me the agent also made sure to accentuate how unqualified I was for anything in Ireland, but then I got up, washed my face, walked to a coffee shop, and the barista gave me EIGHT coffee stamps "to get you started off" on my loyalty card. And guess what..I teared up, again, because in those moments, even the smallest act feels like a mountain of love. I'm grateful because this experience has led me to feel defeat (rather than the complacency I've been feeling in the comfort of my past jobs) and an unbelievable amount of thankfulness to that barista and also to the butcher who said I could just pay him some other day for my eggs because he didn't want me to worry about using a debit card. Yeah, that happened too. And then an old man smiled at me, and then I felt like I could survive another day, anyway.

happy excited yes win star trek

So, I apply for jobs, I run, I overcook rice, and then I do everything I can to take my mind off what I cannot control, and in the days when I want to run back to Ottawa to financial stability, I think of everything I couldn't have learned without these little experiences.

I've also been trying to get Jeff to eat less meat, so I've been spending a lot of time trying to make beans tasty. Pictured below are some of the things I've subjected the World's Biggest Carnivore to, and I won't pretend he doesn't still eat meat between meals, but what can ya do..

This is a black bean burger with sharp cheddar and Kozlik's mustard from Canada, topped with avo, lettuce and tomato, and a bit of mayo! It was ridiculously tall and impossible to eat without making a disastrous mess.

I have to say one of my top 3 favourite things about Dublin is how cheap food is. These things cost me a total of 8.50 Euro!

A salad made up of leafy greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce), cucumber, tomato, red onion, organic falafel, hummus, and Greek yogurt. I do not enjoy salad but this was good as salads get. 

A Mexican salsa bowl over basmati and long-grain rice, topped with cilantro dressing, cilantro, and you guessed it, Greek yogurt

Veggie sausages and the rest is pretty identifiable, I think! One of my favourite post-run brunches..

Kale chips, because these never, ever go out of style. I sprinkled them with nutritional yeast and a bit of salt and olive oil. They turned out lovely, as always..

Aside from this stuff, I've been on the hunt for a really good, sturdy umbrella, a drop-in ceramics workshop, and an all-natural deodorant that doesn't leave you looking like the perpetrator in the last scene of a Catfish episode. A girl can dream, and in the meantime, have a great January!

Sunset over Dublin, a view from my old office

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.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing
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.

Image may contain: plant, christmas tree and indoor
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.