Walking in a winter wonderland.

Fact: I am still just as excited to wake up and see snow outside my window as I was when I was an itty bitty kidlet.

Only now I have a better camera than when I was an itty bitty kidlet, so it’s possible that these days I’m even more excited.

I left my car at home today. The only thing worse than trying to get up our steep driveway in the snow is trying to get back down it.

Instead I took about fifteen “me” minutes to just walk around in the white stuff and be enveloped by the stillness that came with it as it wafted softly down. I photographed the silent streets and breathed deep breaths of fresh, crisp air until my heart was as light and carefree as a helium balloon.

Then I reluctantly acknowledged the reality that it was Monday and I had places to be.

I joined a line of some two dozen texting and muttering people waiting anxiously for a bus. Approximately three minutes later, we got the word from a kindly couple in a truck that there were five buses stuck down at the bottom of the hill and not to get our hopes up that they’d be heading our way any time soon. At that, about three quarters of the line dispersed. Out of some misguided sense of duty, I decided to wait another ten minutes before giving up.

Exactly ten minutes later, the bus arrived.

Figures.

Two transfers later I was on a community shuttle, seated directly in front of a bunch of college kids who were just not having it.

“Who was it that told me it never snows in Richmond? Who? Was it you, man?”
“Nope, not me dude. I said it was gonna snow Sunday, remember?”
“Some motherfucker told me it doesn’t snow in Richmond. When I remember who it was, I’m gonna punch him in the face.”
“Heh. I kinda hope, like, class is cancelled, but at the same time I kinda hope it isn’t because I came all this way.”
“Seriously man, I know someone told me it never snows in Richmond. When I remember who, I’m gonna kick his ass. Punch him right in the face. This is bullshit.”
“You should, like, drive over to his place and block his car in. Be all, ‘How do you like it?'”
“And then I’ll pack his exhaust with snow. Freeze his carburetor.”
*laughter*

They got off the shuttle at the first stop, still churning out increasingly outlandish threats to the mystery misinformer. I had to stifle a smile as they passed by.

The silence closed back in around us when they had gone.

We drove onward.

I arrived at work an hour and twenty minutes late. The snow is still falling softly outside the window.

I am happy.

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Six more weeks of bitter.

RedGreenFeb2

Ah, the 2nd of February, the day when we are just demoralized enough after the dreariness of January to entrust our weather forecast for the coming months to a large, notoriously unreliable rodent who would much rather just be sleeping.

Word has it that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today, meaning there will not be six more weeks of winter.

This didn’t surprise me in the slightest, because what fucking winter?

Yeah, yeah, my fault for living in Vancouver, mild climate, blah blah blah, but still. I’m tired of leaving the rink after my Wednesday night skating sessions only to feel like I stepped off the ice and into the tropics.

I crave snow. I crave cold. I crave being able to spend more than two minutes outside without ending up drenched in sweat and having to take three layers off because silly me, I dressed for a season that apparently doesn’t exist anymore.

Is winter still a thing in Antarctica? I’m seriously considering picking up and moving there, assuming it hasn’t melted yet.

 

16 things that still suck in 2016.

Well, the holidays are long gone, and with them any inclination I had of being all happy and grateful. In my calendar, gratitude departs with December. And then in strolls that colossal douchecanoe, January, patron saint of grouchiness and gripes, and the world goes back to its usual petty little self again.

Remember all those nice things I said about 2015? Fuck ’em.

Now is the winter of our discontent.

1. Cold toilet seats. It’s 7am on a frosty January morning and it’s still dark out. You don’t want to leave your bed and its safe cocoon of warm, comfy blankets, but you know you have to get up because of stupid work and responsibility. So you sigh, haul yourself to your feet, and tiptoe to the bathroom for a wee…only to have the toilet seat latch on to your ass with the icy power of a thousand Antarctic blizzards. Because mornings weren’t bad enough already without adding a frostbitten kiester into the bargain.

2. Stupid work and responsibility. While I would never under any circumstances want to go back and relive my childhood, sometimes being an adult just really sucks.

3. Taxes. Not the part where I have to pay them, but rather the part of my job where I have to explain them to other people.

Like, oh, I don’t know, our vendors’ accountants.

I wish I were kidding. There’s a certain air of quiet desperation that comes of having to patiently teach another company’s accounting department how to accurately demand money from you.

4. Taxes. The part where I have to pay them.

5. Migraines. By my calculations I have already spent approximately 1/6 of 2016 under the impression that someone is playing my skull like a drum. Only instead of drumsticks they’re using ice picks and hammers, because I guess they want to be more metal or something? Don’t look at me, I don’t know how these things work.

TL;DR: My head hurts. Probably because of taxes.

6. Cancer. That asshole of a disease that so recently robbed us of the tremendously talented David Bowie and Alan Rickman, among others, while dimwits like Justin Bieber and the collective Kardashians continue to walk the earth, wasting our air and leaving a toxic trail of self-satisfied selfie-spamming twatwafflery in their wake with every entitled step.

Not that I’m wishing cancer on Bieber or the Kardashians. Okay maybe I am a little bit. And maybe that makes me a terrible person. But come on, cancer! Kardashians are a dime a dozen, but we only had one Goblin King. Where is the justice? I ask you…

7. “Female problems.” I am so over owning a uterus. Can’t we just make the womb an optional in-app purchase already instead of it coming standard with the female body? There’s a good chance I’ll never even use mine for its intended purpose. Couldn’t I transfer it over to someone who needs one more than me?

And if you think those Powerball tickets were a waste of money, try a lifetime of buying tampons. At least the lottery offers you a chance, however slim, of getting something good back. What kind of victory do you get from frittering away your hard-earned cash on cotton crotch-stoppers? The satisfaction of having clean underwear? Well gee whiz, start the fuckin’ parade, I’m a winner!

8. Post-nasal drip. The bane of my existence since age 15. I used to keep a bottle of oil of oregano with me everywhere to help keep this chronic clingy bastard at bay. Until one day the dropper cap came loose and everything in my purse became permanently infused with the concentrated aromatic power of a thousand Italian kitchens. Since then I’ve opted to leave the oil at home and just make really gross snorting and hacking noises whenever my own mucus threatens to choke me in public. Judging by the looks I get, I’m assuming it gives me a certain je ne sais quoi. Okay, maybe less je ne sais quoi and more what the fuck.

In conclusion, post-nasal drip can go fellate itself with a blender.

(I’m not posting an image for that. Just use your imagination.)

9. Calories. Oh hey, remember me? I’m all those Christmas cookies and mince pies and white chocolate Toblerones you devoured so passionately during your month of eating dangerously! Well, you seemed to really like me, and guess what? I like you too! So much that I’m never leaving you! I found some prime real estate available on your thighs, and by golly I just moved right on in. Hey, wait a minute, why are you renewing your gym membership…?

10. Our friendly neighborhood poop bandits. Picture it, Vancouver, 2016. The future of Back to the Future Part II is now the past. We have hoverboards – sort of – and a lovable new Star Wars droid. And yet there are still people who don’t understand that picking up after your dog doesn’t just involve the bagging of your pooch’s poop, but also the removal of it from the scene of the crime. Everywhere I go, I find abandoned shitsacks. What the fuck, poop bandits, what the fuck?

A walk to the gym earlier this week took me past no fewer than three lawns decorated with neatly knotted plastic bags of still-steaming crap nuggets, and I just don’t get the logic. You’ve already done the gross bit of the actual picking up; what exactly is so difficult about toting your little doggie bag another block or two until you find a trash can to chuck it in? The part where you have to be a decent human being, I guess.

11. Idiot gymgoers. So you made a resolution to work out at least twice this year. Good for you. I applaud your determination, I really do.

But if you have no earthly idea of how to get your feet wet in the wide world of workouts, ASK SOMEONE FOR HELP. If not for your sake, then for the staff’s; the poor unfortunate souls who’ll have to clean up after you accidentally decapitate yourself trying to do lat pulldowns with your neck. Be honest with yourself: do your push-ups look a little like you’re trying to do The Worm? Did you almost take off a finger trying to adjust the seat on the recumbent bike? Maybe you should take the gym up on that New Year’s deal they’re having on personal training sessions.

Remember: no matter how tan and ripped you are, trying to operate the rowing machine with your feet impresses no one.

12. Idiot drivers. So you don’t understand how black ice works. Why are all these cars around you approaching stop signs extra slowly? Solution: Take corners just as fast as you normally would, silly! What could possibly go wrong?

13. Asshole drivers. So you don’t understand how roundabouts work. Okay, you do, you just don’t care, because you clearly have more important places to be than the rest of these yahoos on the road! Solution: Assume the right of way and cut everyone off while honking and dropping f-bombs out the window. Everybody wins!

14. Strangers patronizingly telling you to smile. I’m sorry my resting bitch face doesn’t help you meet your forced cheerfulness quota for the day, but that’s your problem, not mine.

15. Donald Trump. ‘Nuff said.

16. When literally all the avocados at the grocery store are underripe. You know, as much as everything else on this list blows, I think this might be the worst one. There’s just nothing more depressing than an unripe avocado.


So. How’s your January going?

Gifts of spring: birds, blooms, and bitterness.

The sun has been shining all week. Little birds are singing show tunes as they flirt and flutter from tree to tree. Burrard Station is awash in a thick canopy of cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

I hate it. I hate it all.

As a part-time photographer in a city famous for its rain, I am required to take advantage of the good weather and fresh flowers while they last.

As a rest-of-the-time grumbling malcontent, spring can kiss my ass. And I’m not saying that just because my ass could use a little kissing after Daylight Saving Time just kicked it so thoroughly.

By some cosmic joke, I was born near the end of April, right smack dab in the middle of the season I hate the most. Most people with seasonal blues experience them in the winter, or slightly more rarely, the summer. Me? I get mine in the spring, during the otherwise traditional time of hope and renewal and all that bullshit.

The Universe: “Happy Birthday, Nutty. I got you some apathy.”
The Nut: “Aw, just like last year. Thanks, Universe.”

I’m out. You can keep your stupid tulips and your zombie Jesus and your blatantly shrunken Cadbury Creme Eggs (yeah that’s right, Cadbury, I said it). It’s not even officially spring for another eleven days but already I just want to find a cool dark place and hibernate until it’s over. The bears will know where you can forward my birthday presents. Continue reading

Ghosts of Christmases past.

And so December 1st is upon us.

The craft and decor stores have been stocked with red, green and glitter since before Hallowe’en. Santa began making an unprecedentedly early commute to the local malls midway through November. The speakers in the main lobby have been encouraging me to have a Holly Jolly Christmas for over a week and a half.

Now that it’s December, I am no longer obligated to hate them.

Now that it’s December, “humbug” can go back to being a delicious candy instead of a dismissive statement. I can quit frowning at the giant red bows and garlands in shop windows. And Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say.

Now that it’s December, when Nostalgia comes knocking at my door, there will be a wreath on it.

And Nostalgia and I will sit in front of the crackling fireplace channel on TV with our cups of hot cocoa, and remember.


Remember the first Christmas we had our dalmatian Penny, who my mother immortalized in a spectacular oeuvre of digital art as you may recall, and who ran outside into that first winter’s cold with zero understanding of what ice was or how it would cause her to reenact Bambi in our backyard.

Complete with facial expressions.


Remember the year I woke up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and saw a glowing red light in the neighbor’s garden, which I would later insist to my mother was Rudolph’s nose.

String of red lights?   OMG RUDOLPH CLONES


Remember the first winter after my best friend Katie moved in just across the street and I finally had someone other than my parents or the dogs to play with in the snow.

That was the year our city, which doesn’t really “do” winter – at least, not in comparison to the rest of Canada – got a record five feet of snow over four days.

I was in heaven.

Especially since Katie’s backyard had two things I envied above all others: a hot tub, and a trampoline. Needless to say, we spent that winter doing completely sensible things like jumping out of the hot tub, rolling our bikini-clad selves around in the snow and then jumping back into the hot water, giggling uncontrollably, our skin as red and glowing as a couple of hyperactive lobsters. Or suiting up in our snow pants and puffy jackets, brushing the thin crust of ice off the trampoline, and double-bouncing each other off it into snowdrifts.

We drank endless mugs of hot chocolate, always adding in a handful of snow to cool each mug before we began sipping. It was only frozen water, but we swore it made the chocolate taste richer. It was a magic of our own making. We never questioned it.

That was also the year that the Nintendo 64 came out, and Katie got it for Christmas. When we weren’t out taunting the hypothermia gods or committing snowflake murder with our hot chocolate, we were glued to the TV, our slender fingers wrapped around those ridiculously designed controllers, pitting Mario against obese penguins or crashing spectacularly in Wave Race.

Dear Nintendo, I’m not sure you understand how hands work.

I can’t remember a happier winter. Young and free enough to spend all day in pursuit of fun, old enough to understand what a gift that was. That was the last year I can remember before depression began to take hold in my life. The last Christmas I didn’t have to try.


I live in an apartment now, with a husband and no dogs. There’s no hot tub and certainly no trampoline, no plush staircase to run down on Christmas morning, and I play my carols on an electronic keyboard instead of my parents’ shiny black baby grand. We have three Christmases instead of one, the gifts are almost never a surprise, and I can’t overindulge like I used to without severe penance at the gym in the following days.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for. Winter, with its stark beauty, remains my favorite season. But with each passing year, the holidays feel more like a chore. Which day do we spend with whom? What do we bring? How much should we spend? How many days can I afford to take off work?

As a child, Christmas is a picture postcard of a snowy street filled with scarves and sleds and glowing faces. As an adult, it’s a legal document with some holly stapled to the corner that scratches you every time you turn the page. The Noël Terms of Service.

I do my best to cope. I seek out those all-important little things to keep myself from cracking. But that girl I remember, that home, that naive joy, they’re lost, and I know it.

They are lost, but I am thankful for their memory.

And that I keep my game consoles in good working order.