Not A Victim, But A Survivor

I don’t often write about serious things. Mostly because I’m extremely immature and use humor and Fresh Prince of Bel Air gifs as a defense mechanism for all of my failings and insecurities.

Sometimes, however, sad stuff happens that I think needs to be written about.

As some of you may already know, at roughly 2:15 a.m. on October 12th, Scott Jones, a former classmate of mine, was brutally stabbed twice in the back and sliced across the throat while leaving a bar in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

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While the wounds to his throat were mostly superficial, Scott’s spinal cord was severed, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The attack was allegedly a hate crime motivated by the fact that Scott is gay.

I am sickened, saddened, and downright angered by the fact that this happened to Scott, and that it happened in my home town. While we haven’t kept in touch much since high school, I remember Scott as a lovely, gentle, funny person and an amazing musician who was liked by everyone. To say he did not deserve this is a complete and total understatement.

The one silver lining in all of this is that the entire community in Nova Scotia – and even around the world- have been rallying around him. Some former classmates of mine have been organizing a benefit taking place in Halifax in November, and a website has been set up to provide donations for his recovery.

Please take a second to visit the page, read his story and make a donation. Your karma will thank you for it :) (I know this, because I am a yogi now)

Question of the Day:

Why are you still here? Go and visit Scott’s donation page!

A Climb To Remember

Looking back, the summer of 1990 was a rough time for everyone involved. The Gulf War was in full swing, a sharp recession swept the global economy, and MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” was a number one single.

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As if these atrocities weren’t enough, it was also the year my mom went back to work part-time, leaving my dad with five wily rug rats to contend with during one of the hottest summers on record in Nova Scotia.

My sisters, teenagers at the time, could mostly fend for themselves; however my brothers (10 and 12) and I (only four) required constant entertainment to keep from tearing each other’s heads off.

Dad tried taking us to the playground; but the monkey bars proved too perilous. Our trips to the beach resulted only in jellyfish stings and heartache. Eventually, he gave up, bought a bucket of KFC and took us to Greenhill Provincial Park. A picnic in the park, he (undoubedtly) thought, what  could possibly go wrong?

The park offered panoramic views of the entire county, and in those days there was a tower several stories high you could climb to get a better look.

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Immediately upon arrival my brothers rushed to the tower, with me following right behind them.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asked my brother Kristin, “This isn’t for babies!”

“I’m not a baby!” I protested, “I’m four and a half!”

“You’re not allowed!” contested my brother Stephen.

“Can I dad?” I pleaded

“Go ahead,” he sighed, lifting a drumstick defeatedly, “but be careful.”

With a satisfied grin, I began climbing the ladder, taking the first few rungs with vigor. I was feeling quite smug- until I looked down. The ground appeared miles away; my dad and his bucket of chicken nothing but a red and white dot on the horizon. Above me, the ladder seemed to extend infinitely.

My lip began to quiver.

“Hurry up!” shouted Stephen, a few rungs ahead.

“She’s scared,” chimed in Kristin. “I told you she was a baby!”

Tears burned the backs of my eyes, but resolve stirred deep within me. I was Jack, and this was my proverbial Beanstalk. I would climb this tower if it was the last thing I did.

Somehow, through sheer adrenaline, blind faith and four-year-old will, I made it to the top. Ready to bask in my accomplishment, I stepped onto the platform, took a long gaze around, and…… immediately began to bawl like a baby.

“DADDY!!” I wailed, “IT”S TOO HIGH!!!”

Inconsolable and paralyzed by fear, my father was forced to abandon his chicken and momentary peace to climb up the tower and rescue me.

“It’s ok,” he said later, wiping away my tears with a half soiled wet-nap. “You can try again next year.”

But I didn’t. Not that year, or any year after. Instead, I developed a life long fear of heights (and, vaguely, wet-naps). However, I did learn one important lesson that day which continues to guide my decision-making process: when given the choice between taking a risk and staying firmly on the ground with a bucket of fried chicken- always, always ,choose the chicken.

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Question of the Day: What Is Your First Memory?

A Very Nova Scotia Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving friends! Today, I am thankful for family, friends, health, happiness, and most of all the homemade apple crisp I’ve been caning like nobody’s business.

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yeaaah buddy.

Also wine.

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Always wine.

My friend Lia, who is from Vancouver, came home with me for the holidays, and I’ve had a blast showing her all that the thriving metropolis of Pictou County has to offer. I just hope she can handle the excitement. Watching all THREE Back To The Future Movies in one day is a lot for anyone to handle.

Anyway, since I’m still in a semi-food coma from yesterday’s feast, here are a few pictures of my Thanksgiving weekend in beautiful Nova Scotia:

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Greenhill Lookoff.. not a bad view

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I don’t eat Oysters west of New Brunswick

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I don't blame her. The pumpkin is inherently a lot more interesting.

I don’t blame her. The pumpkin is inherently a lot more interesting.

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Hold onto your loved ones tight today, and have an extra piece of pumpkin pie for me :)

Question of the Day:

(cliché alert)

What Are You Thankful for?

Workouts, Wild Turkeys and Way Too Much Time On My Hands

Greetings from Canada’s Ocean Playground!

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I’ve been in Nova Scotia for about a week now, visiting with family and friends, lazing on the beach, and basically living the life of a bored housewife with way too much time on her hands.

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It’s all really great and relaxing-  except for the WILD TURKEY who has taken up residence in our backyard and insists on waking me up at 6 a.m. every morning. Seriously guys, this thing is hard as f*ck. It’s about 2 feet tall, feral looking, and has a “call” so loud and frightening it has started featuring prominently in my nightmares.

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It also hasn’t been relaxing in the sense that my family are exercise fanatics and insist on constantly shaming me into working out. Hot yoga, running at the local track, “power walks”, gym sessions… I’m beginning to think they’re trying to tell me something.

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If I'm getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I'm taking a selfie of it.

If I’m getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I’m taking a selfie of it.

My mom, just killin it.

Look at that smug look on her face.

Skinny b*tches.

Anyway, gotta make this a short one because I must return to my busy schedule of watching The Doctors, making unnecessary trips to the grocery store and coordinating hairstyles with my 8-year-old niece:

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so for now I will leave you with this adorable photo of my niece Maeve, who, at 14 months old, is already demonstrating more maternal instinct in her little finger than I will ever hope to possess.

My niece Maeve and her baby/twin

Happy Friday y’all!

Question of the Day: How do you exorcise an evil turkey nemesis?

… and don’t say garlic, crucifixes or kryptonite cause I’ve already tried that sh*t and the damn thing ain’t budging.

I Was Born in a Small Town…

If your only knowledge of small towns came from what you saw and read in popular culture,  you might be under the impression that all small towns are picturesque, sleepy havens with tree-lined streets and waving flags. Towns where high school football, backyard barbeques and Sunday morning church services reign supreme, and the teenagers hang out at places called Chubbie’s or Arnold’s while their parents lounge on the patios of nearby bungalows and split levels, sipping chocolate milk under red and white striped umbrellas and watching the sun go down.

Having spent the better part of my life in a small town, I can tell you that, like any good “based on a true story”, this is only partially true. Our teenage hang-out was not a  friendly neighbourhood burger joint, but rather a clandestine clearing in the woods known as “the chill”, where 2 litre bottles of wine cooler could be safely consumed far from the watchful eyes of parents- and more importantly- the fuzz. Our high school was much too small to support a football team-  unless we were to recruit all of the  teachers, the custodial staff and that creepy guy who hung out in the parking lot selling cigarettes to minors for 50 cents a piece. We did have a hockey team though, and every Friday night the local arena was filled with excited young painted faces, holding ratty, mismatched pom-poms and cheering on the Warriors. And while some of us may sit at glass-toped tables watching the sun go down,  you can bet your ass it’s something stronger than a chocolate milk in our hands.

Fast forward 8 years, and I’ve left that small town and boisterous hockey rink behind. I’ve gone from a town of 5,000 people to Canada’s largest city. Instead of the sprawling, four bedroom house I grew up in, I live in a 500 sq. ft apartment with “condo size” appliances and a view overlooking a questionable Chinese orthotics business. Every morning I board the impossibly crowded subway, venti starbucks in hand, and make my way to my office in the sky,  where I push paper all day and gaze down at the traffic-filled streets below.

It’s my last night of vacation here with my family in Nova Scotia, and I’ve just taken a shower and washed the last bit of sand from my hair.  As I prepare to trade in my swimsuit and the sweatpants from grade 9 I’ve been wearing all week in favour of suits and stilettos once again, I can’t help but feel a little sentimental and reflective. I know it’s not forever, that I’ll be returning soon, but every time I leave this place I feel like I’m leaving a piece of myself behind.

Figuratively, of course. Literally, there’s probably more of me, considering the amount of seafood and local cuisine I’ve enjoyed since arriving here. (Seriously. I’m like a bear preparing for hibernation.) Anyway, figuratively, a huge part of me will always be in Nova Scotia. My whole family lives here. As do my childhood friends. It’s the setting for most of my fondest memories.

Thinking about all of this makes me realize how alone I am now in Toronto. How my roots there extend no further than my local Starbucks on one side, and Holt Renfrew on the other. And it hits me- why did I leave this place?

This place they call “Canada’s Ocean Playground”. Where a four bedroom house costs less than a Toronto bachelor apartment, and the beach is never more than  a 20 minute drive away. A place where fresh seafood abounds, and there is so much fresh air and green space, it’s almost ridiculous. What’s wrong with me?

It’s not that I didn’t appreciate this before. I was never one of those kids who longed to “Escape”. In fact, I loved growing up in a small town. Being surrounded by family and community always made me feel secure and confident, like a big, warm (albeit, sometimes suffocating) embrace.

And then, when I hit my 20′s, something changed. When it came time to choose my career,  I found myself drawn by the bright lights, big city. With blind faith and ambition, I moved to a city I had spent a total of 5 days in my entire life.  Don’t get me wrong- I don’t regret my decision. In fact, it was probably one of the best of my life. I love living in Toronto- the culture, the food, the entertainment, the energy- it’s a constant source of inspiration, and I feel lucky to be there.  But it’s still not home.

I try to tell myself when I come back to Nova Scotia that nothing has changed. That it’s still the same place I knew and loved as a child. But inevitably, I notice that things are different. My young niece, a child at my last visit, now wears Katy Perry temporary tattoos and has a Justin Bieber poster hanging on her bedroom door. I’m surprised to learn that So and So has gotten married to So and So, securing the last remaining seat in this game of musical chairs we call life.  One by one, many of my favourite childhood establishments- including my high school- have closed up shop, victims of the dwindling, blue-collar economy. Overtaken by big box chains, the once charming, small town esthetic is slowly being replaced by suburban sprawl.

It sort of makes you feel like a displaced person-  living in a place that’s too new to call your home, yet feeling disconnected from the only “home” you’ve ever known.  Like the kind of thing they’d make a made-for tv-movie about. Or maybe the next installment in the Bourne series. (Probably not, though)

Anyway, I realize I’ve gotten pretty emo on you guys here, and that this post doesn’t even include a single gif of anyone making a stupid face, or any Real Housewives jokes. Sorry I’m not sorry for that. I was going to end by paraphrasing some John [cougar] Mellencamp lyrics, but although, like John, I was born in small town… I’m not quite sure whether I’ll die in a small town, too. I can tell you this though: I feel lucky to have grown up the way I did, and while I like where I live….I love where I’m from.

And if that’s not a song lyric already… it should be.

……..And just for good measure:

Question of the Day: Which do you prefer, small towns or big cities?