Monday, November 30, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 25: Why I Blog

I have to admit that the blogging break I semi-intentionally took was pretty nice. I was in Ann Arbor from Thursday to Sunday and I just didn't feel like picking up my computer to write anything. I am going to finish the entries I had left to write, although there's only one or two more to go because I had a few days where I didn't have a topic. At this point, I don't really care. This was an experiment and it ended up being a challenge as I picked pretty heavy topics and had several days I had no time to write. Anyway, on with the post...

Back in 2013, I talked about how I've been journaling on the regular since 1998. It's something I'm really proud of, and I don't think I will ever not chronicle my life's inane events.

Blogging publicly is newer to me. I started in 2006 when I found out I would be moving to Nunavut. I started the blog because in those days, there was very little information for people moving north. I chronicled our entire move north, our acclimatization into northern living, my subsequent move to Iqaluit alone, and what it was like to leave the north and move back to Ontario.

However, blogging has not been without its headaches. There was a period of time where I was receiving negative attention via blog comments from people who had personal, non-blog-related issues with me, and thought insulting me "anonymously" online was a good way to get back at me...or something. It was frustrating and I started to feel like I should stop blogging, because then I wouldn't be giving these people more ammo with which to insult me. In the end I decided to just keep on doing my thing and ignore the haters, so to speak.

Fortunately, the storm has passed and those people seem to have moved on.

These days, my life is a lot less interesting in that I am a stereotypical millennial living a stereotypical life in a stereotypical place. I like blogging about my daily life, and I think there is value in writing about various personal things that others may shy away from.

Here are the reason why I've continued to blog for 9.5 years:

1. To help others. This is really the main reason I blog. I get a lot of hits on my blog from people looking for information pertaining to jaw surgery. Likewise, I have read many jaw surgery and braces blogs in the past 2 years, and I am grateful for every person who shares their experience. I don't know what I would have done without these people, because it's through their stories that I could be better prepared for my own surgery.

Before the jaw surgery, I would get lots of hits pertaining to the Wilton classes I took, and long before that, my Nunavut blog was very popular on Google. I heard from several people when I lived up north that my Nunavut blog had helped them either decide or prepare to move north.

As far as the more personal entries I've written, I think it's important to talk about topics others might not be willing to write about. I am happy to see mental health become less taboo to discuss and I am happy to contribute to reducing the stigma. I understand and respect people's desire for privacy, but if no one is willing to discuss the gritty details of life, how can we ever grow as individuals and as a society? I personally lose nothing by talking about my issues with body image, anxiety, and other struggles. If it helps someone else realize they're not alone in whatever struggle we may share, I've done my (unpaid) job. We so closely guard our weaknesses in life, especially from friends and family, but I don't necessarily think that's a good thing.

2. To meet people. I've met a few people because of my public blogs, as well as my private Livejournal. My husband Anthony is one such person, as he found my Nunavut blog back in 2009 and added me to Twitter. I've met a few of my Livejournal friends from over the years as well as a few people who used to read my old Nunavut blog. I've also met some of the "original" Nunavut bloggers.

3. Because I have a need to write. I love to write for an audience, but I'm not at all interested in doing it professionally. Blogging is really the perfect way to write something people (might) read, and there are no deadlines, editors, or topics you have to mind. Also, I do so much private writing on my Livejournal that I enjoy flexing a different muscle by writing something meant for a wider audience. These entries are more work but I like taking my time and crafting something I can be proud of.

4. To help myself. The best thing about writing is that it makes it easy to organize and recognize your feelings about something. If it's something that's bothering me, I pretty much always feel better after I write about it. Seeing your thoughts and feeling written into words often has the ability to help you see more objectively, which can be beneficial. I can't tell you how many times I've written something in my Livejournal that was bugging me, only to read back on it and think, "Holy crap this is stupid/common/not a big deal."

5. Because hearing "I read your blog" is the freakin' best compliment ever.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 24: Driving Anxiety

Well, I'm sitting down to try and pump out a few entries and I really wish I had some wine and cookies or something I now have wine and Lindor chocolates. Yes, I wrote that sentence and then decided that I'm a grown woman and I need wine and chocolate, so I went out and got them.

Today the topic is about my driving anxiety. I'm actually a little uncomfortable writing about it as it's something I only recently acknowledged about myself. It's going to be a bit of a longer entry as I've half-assed some entries this month which I'm not happy about.

I mentioned it briefly yesterday, but I used to have nightmares about driving and getting into accidents. Either the brakes wouldn't work or I'd realize I was sitting in the backseat and no one was steering the car (okay there, brain). By the time I was 16, I wasn't interested in learning to drive. Considering my mom is a driving instructor, she wasn't too pleased with me. I was very involved in community theatre at the time and was always needing rides downtown and whatnot. I didn't really think about whether or not I would eventually learn to drive, I just sort of waited to see how I felt.

When I started dating my now-ex, he put the pressure on me to get my license. Right around my 18th birthday, I wrote the test to get a beginner's license. I still remember that I got only one question wrong; the hand signal for a right turn. My mom ripped into me over it and nagged me for ages, despite the fact it was the only question I got wrong and it's hardly relevant to everyday driving.

I did my driving lessons through the school my mom works for, although not with her. No way in hell. Driving around town during non-lessons with my mom was bad enough since we would use the school's car with the passenger side brake pedal. I was a mouthy teenager as it was and so let's just say that my mom got called a few choice words when I was learning to drive and she'd grab the wheel or slam on the brakes for no reason whatsoever. Teenagers and driving instructors do not belong in the same family!

I really enjoyed my driving lessons and I did well. For the G1 exit test (to drive on your own but with restrictions), I had to drive in heavy snowfall. For the G2 exit test (to get your full license), I had to drive in heavy rain. Both times the weather played into me getting one or two errors, but I still passed both with scores in the 90s. Fortunately my mom had lightened up by this time, and was actually mad on my behalf that they held me to such high standards despite the poor road conditions. Even my driving instructor was mad at the road test centre for giving me any errors because I was such a great driver. /humblebrag

Shortly after I got my full license, the anxiety set in. I had to drive to London for a show I was involved in, and all we had in those days were shitty Mapquest printouts. I hated driving in new places and when I inevitably got lost, I was bawling my eyes out, trying to find a road that was actually on the printout. I have since gotten a GPS which made a huge difference as far as my fear of being lost.

I moved to London later that year and don't recall having any problems, except that I hated driving in that city. I would borrow J's car on my days off to go shopping. It always ended up with me swearing a blue streak at other drivers (through closed windows). I still hate driving in London to this day.

My anxiety went away when I drove up north because let's be honest, 40kmh/25mph is driving fast up there. Also, driving from Apex to Federal Road (ie one end of town to the other) takes maybe 6 or 7 minutes.

When I moved back to Ontario, that's when I really started to have a problem. My anxiety doesn't bother me so much before I drive or while I'm driving; I never dread driving anywhere. It's after the fact. I know that my big weakness in life is ruminating intensely for days over non-incidents. Shortly after I moved back, I was in a parking lot and darted across a section of the lot, nowhere near an approaching driver. As I parked my car, some lady I must have startled slowed down and angrily mouth "FUCK YOU" at me from her car. Nothing like that ever happened to me up north, and it bothered me for weeks.

Any kind incident in my car wrecks me mentally for at least a day, if not weeks. I lie in bed at night and obsess over the fact I accidentally cut someone off, or came close to side swiping somebody. In the spring I was nearly in an accident that would have been mostly my fault, but not 100%. But for probably a month, I was so scared I was going to cause an accident. I go through these phases a few times a year where I am absolutely convinced I'm going to cause an accident.

Any time I make a dumb mistake while driving, I feel so intensely guilty that I can't shake it. It replays in my mind over and over and I have to swear to myself 7000 times it'll never happen again. I don't know if other people are like this, but to me it feels unhealthy. Logically I know that everybody makes mistakes sometimes and that it won't be the end of the world if I do cause an accident. Nobody is perfect and if I caused an accident, it doesn't necessarily make me a bad person. I don't drive drunk and I have tried to retain all my good habits from driving school. I am doing the best I can.

However, no logic could help when it came to the accident that Anthony and I witnessed in 2013. I don't think I've talked about it too much, but we were driving to Kincardine for a weekend. It was getting dark and out of nowhere, we saw a truck fly across the road ahead of us and end up in a yard. Long story short, we stopped to help, called 911 and discovered there were actually two vehicles. Both drivers were unconscious and neither survived. That was a first for me and I hope it's the last. I still don't like driving on rural roads at night, and I am brought to tears just by seeing smashed up cars as I drive by accidents now. It was a very sobering reminder about how dangerous driving can be.

Obviously, witnessing that accident didn't help my anxiety and if anything, it has become worse. Sometimes I lie in bed at night after a day of driving with no incidents, and I obsess over whether I was actually paying enough attention while driving. Nothing went wrong, but I could swear I could have done better.

A big part of why I hate driving is, of course, other drivers. I expect other drivers to use their turn signal, not hog the left lane, not roll through stops or turn into the wrong lane, but I've learned my expectations are way too high. People just plain suck at driving. Canadians best be glad I'm not the Prime Minister because holy moly would I ever change things when it comes to having a driver's license. Okay, driver licensing is actually managed by each province/territory but it is way too lax in my opinion. How I would change things could fill a whole other blog entry so we'll just leave it at the fact that some day I might just cut up my license with a pair of scissors and vow to take the bus everywhere.

I have no real conclusion for this post, because there is no denouement to my anxiety. I don't have a nice little bow to wrap it up in and present it to you like I'm somehow getting better, because I'm not.

I would be interested to hear if other people have issues with driving similar to mine, and how you manage it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 23: Being Childfree (Part 2)

In October I solicited topic ideas for this month, and one of the suggestions was that I discuss being childfree. I did discuss it a few years ago (see this post), but I focused more on the origins of my "childfreedom" rather than my current feelings about it. I feel like there is room to finish my thoughts on it, and so this will likely be the last time I talk about it. When it comes to life choices, too much talk can come across as sounding secretly unsure and trying in vain to cover the insecurity. That's why this will be the last of my posts about it.

If you didn't read my first post, this is a brief recap: growing up, my parents seemed to resent being parents and acted like raising kids was a mistake and a burden. My mom told me a few times her life would have been way easier if we/I weren't/wasn't around. Their harsh sentiments combined with their friendships with happy childfree people made a huge impression on me, and I decided in early childhood that I did not want to have children.

I do think it's entirely possible to overcome crappy parenting and I think my siblings and I are good evidence of that fact. We all have decent jobs, no criminal record, we vote, and we are otherwise productive members of society. My brother and his wife just recently had a baby which is awesome. I am so happy to see our family grow and change, since the dynamic has been the same for 24+ years.

I would be lying if I said that holding my niece for the first time didn't make my brain and ovaries go crazy for about a week, but I came out of the new baby fog back to the same old stance: motherhood is not for me.

For starters, I am an absolute wreck after just one bad night of sleep. Anthony and I recently went to Minneapolis for the weekend and despite the fact it wasn't an overly exhausting trip, I still ended up sleeping through my alarm for two hours on Monday morning.

After a few days to a week of bad sleep, I start to experience visual and auditory hallucinations at nighttime. For example, when I was an assistant stage manager for a musical in 2011, I was a little stressed out during "hell week" (the week before the show opens). Hell week involves several exhausting late nights in a row, and by the end of it, I was waking up in the middle night, hallucinating that I was backstage. It continued during the run of the show, with me waking up in the middle of the night and wandering around my room half-asleep, thinking I was backstage. I ended up having to take an afternoon off work to go home and catch up on sleep, as I was a zombie at work. This is just one example of my hallucinations, mind you.

I think about what having a child would be like: possible sleep deprivation for months, if not years on end. Would I even wake up for baby's cries? Would I become so zombie-like that I would potentially do something dangerous while sleep walking? I can't handle even one night of less than 7 hours of sleep. What about months? What about years? And even if I don't do something dangerous while sleepwalking, am I going to be in a compromised state of mind? Functioning on so little sleep, can I still be a good wife, friend, employee?

Some people seem to think that not having children is selfish, like apparently children are a debt you owe to society or something. My parents are well aware of my desire to not be a parent and they don't care. My mom has a granddaughter now and god willing, Anthony's mom will become a grandma in January, so I can wipe my hands clean of any lingering guilt I might have had about not giving them a grandchild. As far as the selfish remark goes, I don't understand how not having a child is selfish, but having a child isn't.  In many instances, children are brought into the world for purely selfish reasons, so I hope the whole "childfree people are selfish" thing dies a quick death.

I do admit that another large part of my desire to remain childfree is that I want to live my life in such a way where I really only need to worry about myself and Anthony. I want to be able to sleep in whenever I want, take naps whenever I want, disappear in a hot bath for hours on end, take an impulsive road trip, go to the bar with friends without needing to find a babysitter. Parents like to tell me that these things are so worth it or that it's different when it's your child, and I'm sure that's true. But looking at it from my perspective, I don't think I'd enjoy parenthood enough to sacrifice so much. I try to imagine a mini me smiling at me for the first time or saying something to me like, "You're my best friend, Mom!", and I feel zero desire to make that a reality. Imagining myself as a parent does not cause any emotions to bubble up in me other than indifference.

Of course, my subconscious loves to play the "imagine Jaime as a parent" game. I often dream about being a parent and I am always lousy at it. I mentioned it in my first post, but I often dream that I have a child and I forget about it for days on end. Someone will ask how my baby is doing and I'll be like, "Oh shit, I left that thing in the closet last week. I should probably go check on it, shouldn't I?" Then I spend the rest of the dream freaking out that I've probably just murdered my own offspring. I wake up sweating from those dreams.

Before I got my driver's license, I frequently dreamt about getting into car accidents. It was one of the reasons I waited until I was 18 to get my beginner's license. I look at the fact I have anxiety about driving and that driving constantly pisses me off, and I wonder if the connection between my parenting nightmares would be the same as my driving nightmares and how much I hate driving.

I think by far the biggest reason I choose not to have children is that I just feel no desire to raise a human being. I like taking care of things/people, but I don't want it to be a full-time job for the rest of my life. I am excited to be present for my niece's and future nephew's journey through life, and I am elated at the idea that I might get to be a part of their development, but I have no desire to be a primary caretaker. I don't feel any need whatsoever to help shape a human being into a happy member of society using my love and guidance. I understand that appeal to others, but there is nothing there for me. As I mentioned above, I imagine myself in various parenting situations (both the happy and the grueling) and I feel nothing. I used to feel disgust and repulsion, but now I just feel content with the idea that I don't need to be a parent. The older I get, the more content with it I feel...and that's all I can really say!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 22: Deciding to change my last name

Yesterday's post...I apologize for not being perfectly on schedule. I definitely underestimated how many days I would have where I just straight up did not have time to write. I am finding that I have to sacrifice other important things in order to get these entries done, which I'm not always willing to do.

I've talked about it before, but Anthony and I knew pretty early into our relationship that we wanted to get married. It was one of those cases of "when you know, you know." It still sounds silly to me, but it really was just like, "Yep, this is it!"

The first of several times I accidentally signed my maiden name instead of my married name!

All of this is to say that I knew very early on that I would take Anthony's last name when we got married. I didn't really think about it too much, other than sometimes letting my inner 14 year old girl take over by practising what my name and signature would look like.

Just a disclaimer that I am not going to use my last name in this entry as I don't like turning up in Google searches. I am fairly certain that I am the only Jaime "Last Name" that ever existed, making me that much more wary of using it here.

I'm not a traditional person in most ways, but taking Anthony's last name was important to me. I like the idea of sharing a family name and having my marriage be part of my public identity. We dated for over 5 years before getting married and in all that time, I didn't question it whatsoever.

That's why I was surprised when I found myself doubting the decision.

A few months before we got married, I had to apply for an employee ID card at work. I knew I wouldn't be getting the card until after we were married, so I had to ask my work to make the card with my new last name. Sending the email requesting it was surprisingly difficult. I stared at my words on the screen, not totally confident I wanted to take the plunge. I decided to take a night and sleep on it. I felt marginally better about it the next day, so I sent the email. That card was the very first thing I signed in my new last name.

The rest of the cards I needed to change did not present quite the same struggle. Still, it was weird to see a different last name next to my first name.

It hasn't helped that Anthony's last name is very Italian. If you see the spelling of it first, it's difficult to guess how it's pronounced. If you hear it first, it's even harder to spell. My own guess prior to our meeting was hilariously wrong. To this day I won't repeat how I thought it was pronounced, because I'm embarrassed at how incorrect it was. Anthony doesn't even know.

Having people constantly botch my name is annoying, although I know I am in good company as it's a common problem with surnames. I guess I've just been spoiled up until now.

My maiden name, Perry, is pretty generic and aside from the rare "Jaime Terry" showing up on things, I didn't usually have a problem. I now have to spell my first AND last name, usually twice for people. I realize it's not the worst problem in the world to have, but it has made accepting my new last name more difficult.

My other issue is that as far as I know, I am 0% Italian. I realize it's "just a name" but I've been calling myself a faux Italian as it feels weird to have a different ethnicity attached to my identity.

Of course, there is a Seinfeld episode that covers this exact problem:

If I ever give you a recipe for pasta or pizzelles, you may want to throw it in the trash. ;-)

If you have known me long enough, you may remember that I took my ex-husband's last name when I was previously married. I felt like it was a pretty seamless transition as his surname was English/Scottish and easy to pronounce and spell. I figured taking Anthony's last name would be as easy at that was, but since I am not even remotely Italian, it's been a lot more difficult.

My other problem is that taking a man's last name seems like a very outdated idea. I take issue with the fact that many men, my husband included, aren't even willing to discuss changing their last name after marriage. Why should we as women be expected to do something our husbands are not? And the idea that I'd be still be using my "maiden" name, like I'm some virginal young girl and not a grown-ass woman.

After considering all of these things, I still wanted Anthony and I to share a last name, so I just went with it. It's not a perfect solution, but I have made peace with it. I do really enjoy sharing his name and being "The Last Names." I also would really like to visit Italy sometime in the near future so that I can feel more connected to my phony Italian heritage. I need to find some low carb Italian recipes because it'd be nice to try cooking something Italian for Anthony.

Anyway, I hope none of this comes across as me having an opinion either way about whether women should or shouldn't keep their maiden name. I think the best thing you can do is be true to yourself and make the decision that you can live with.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NaBoloPoMo Day 21: Live blog of Michigan football

As per Anthony's suggestion, I'm live blogging today's University of Michigan football game. Since we started dating, Anthony has been amused by my novice observations about sports, which mostly have nothing to do with the game. I'm running out of ideas for posts so hopefully this turns out okay enough to post.

Today's Michigan game is against the Penn State Nittany Lions, which aren't even a real animal. I'm feeling optimistic that the wolverines, which are a real animal, can beat a mythological animal.

I'll be republishing this post every few minutes until the end of the game!

  • Kick off: Penn State has possession first. I think this means Michigan won the coin toss.
  • PSU gets the ball and runs to the 9th yard line. This doesn't bode well for Michigan's defense when it's only a minute into the game.
  • I don't like these stickers on Michigan's helmets.
  • Anthony is excited about a portly kicker on PSU but when a normal-sized dude lines up instead, there is disappointment abound.
  • First commercial break. I only watch TV in Michigan so I don't know any of these commercials. I'm sure I'll be sick of them by the end of the day, though. That's right, these football Saturdays last alllllllll day. I have to surgically remove the couch cushion from my butt by midnight.
  • Michigan now has possession. Oh I forgot to say PSU got a field goal when the skinny kicker came out. Score is 3-0.
  • I miss Jake Neck Ryan:
  • Anthony is upset about something but I wasn't looking at the screen.
  • I think he was upset about the "illegal touching," the funniest penalty/flag/foul/whatever they're called.
  • I don't like Chik-fil-a commercials when I am not in a place where I can get Chik-fil-a
  • Michigan gets a touchdown. Yay. 7-3 now.
  • Both teams have white pants today. How many teams have official laundry people who curse all this white? I imagine the grass stains are awful.
  • Some of these players are running out of space on their helmets for those dumb stickers. What happens when they do run out of space?!?
  • Rudock got sacked and then on the next throw, PSU got the interception. 
  • Marc hates the helmet stickers, too. I feel vindicated.
  • Coach Harbaugh looks confused about that penalty. I know that feel, I'm usually confused about what's going on, too.

  • Into the second quarter now. The game goes by much more quickly when I'm trying to figure out what to type here.
  • PSU nearly got a touchdown but Michigan's defense blocked it. I take back what I said earlier about our defense.
  • I can't wait until we order pizza.
  • Oh no, this stupid Dr. Pepper commercial. Do marketing execs sit at board tables and try to figure out how to cause peak annoyance levels in viewers?
  • T-Mobile offers 6GB of data for $30/month. WTF. I pay $80 for 5GB and that's a damn good deal in Canada.
  • Okay, I should probably focus on the football again.
  • Is Jabrill Peppers related to Brian Peppers? I hope not. I'm showing my age with this ancient Internet meme.
  • It's still 7-3 for Michigan. This is kind of a boring quarter.
  • PSU heard me and blocked the punt, whoops.
  • Aaaand Penn State got a touchdown. Score is now 10-7 for Penn State. Jabrill Peppers didn't seem to be looking in the right place when the ball was barreling at him. Shame. That happens to me sometimes too at hockey.
  • 1:57 left in the first half. I hope I can convince Anthony at half-time to order me pizza. These alcoholic root beers go down too easily and drunk live blogging is probably not a good idea today. Gotta stay awake to watch a giant, cartoon anvil drop on the OSU-MSU game later. Or at least, that's what I'm hoping happens. 
  • Grant Perry somehow helped with that touchdown. Good work, making us Perrys proud. Score 14-10 Michigan.
  • Half-time! Time to work on my blog post for yesterday!

  • Third quarter now. Anthony has agreed to order pizza, yay.
  • People keep talking about some red shirt but all I see are white and blue? Just kidding. I actually know what red shirt means, but you thought I didn't.
  • What do you think would happen if that Dr. Pepper guy went to prison? Would he fare better than Jared Fogle or worse? 
  • Michigan picks up a fumbled ball halfway into the 3rd quarter. Third down and goal now. We could use a touchdown to better secure the lead. Oh good, they get it over the line. I feel like this would have somehow gone wrong before this year.
  • Anthony wins MVP of this game for finally ordering me pizza.
  • It appears two players kind of lightly bumped into each other while running for the ball and a flag has been thrown. People are not happy about this.
  • Penn State sacked again. How often do you think sacks and illegal touching go hand in hand? Har har...happy now, Bryan??? (Bryan wanted me to blog raunchy football puns.)
  • Michigan failed to tackle a player properly until he had waddled over to the 3 yard line. My guess is a Penn State touchdown is imminent but of course, we have to go to a commercial first so Penn State can recover enough energy to complete the touchdown. Sigh. 

  • Fourth quarter! Maybe I should live blog more often...time flies when you're actually paying attention. 
  • Penn State failed to get that touchdown but I forgot to watch...they did get a field goal, though. Score is 21-13 I think. 
  • I just realized that this is my 6th year watching college football, which is longer than any of the players play, and I still know very little about it.
  • Why isn't the pizza here yet?
  • PSU is probably about to score another touchdown. Michigan's defense seems like they're just not quick enough today, but that's my uneducated opinion.
  • Another Penn State field goal. 21-16. 
  • This Dr. Pepper idiot again. Oh, now they have a hashtag for this guy. No, just no. Go to hell with this shit. No one wants to discuss your awful marketing campaign on social media. The only acceptable Dr. Peppers hashtag is #bringbackpitbull
  • There's 8 minutes left so if Michigan doesn't score during this possession, this game might become more of a nail biter. IMHO.
  • Michigan gets the touchdown, 28-16 Michigan now. Penn State will be hardpressed to get back into the lead but if they get it together, maybe Michigan's poky defense will struggle to keep up? Does this make any sense?!?! Is that an accurate observation?!
  • The above is an accurate portrayal of Jaime: Football Live Blogger.
  • Penn State crowd is unhappy with their loss. That's too bad. 
  • Well that's it, folks. I made it through a whole game. Time to eat pizza and fall asleep on the couch!

P.S. I sometimes tweet my thoughts about sports at Jaime Talks Sports, if you're interested in more absurd observations from a sports nut (and I mean nut in a bad way).

Friday, November 20, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Favourite things from weddings

I know, I know. I'm already done Saturday's entry and I haven't finished Friday's. I wasn't home at all on Friday except to pack my stuff and leave for Ann Arbor. Anthony and I went out last night so I really was not home at all yesterday.

Today I counted them up, and Anthony and I have been to 14 weddings together, which span 2010-2015. This excludes our own wedding. I had only been to one wedding before Anthony and I started dating, and that was back in 1994!

At this point, we consider ourselves wedding connoisseurs. Some of the weddings have been more memorable than others for various reasons, but we always have a good time when we're celebrating love with our friends!

When I was soliciting ideas for blog posts, it was suggested on my Facebook that I write about cookie tables, which are a wedding tradition in Pittsburgh (where we had just attended a wedding). I decided to modify that a bit and discuss my favourite parts of weddings we've been to. I keep saying, "we" but these are actually what I've liked...although Anthony did help me remember a few details.

These are in no particular order:

1. Great wedding favours. I'm always a fan of edible wedding favours but we've been to a few weddings with really cute take-home favours. One wedding gave each guest a laminated cookbook of recipes contributed by friends and family of the bride and groom. Another wedding had mini picture frames with a photograph of the couple. Another couple who have travelled a lot together gave these little boxes made out of folded maps, and inside was a mini travel journal and Michigan M-shaped crayons.

2. The cookie table! Of course I had to mention this. I had never heard of this tradition until our friends who live in Pittsburgh asked me to bring some Canadian cookies for their cookie table. I had to google this strange (but compelling) request, which led me to the Wikipedia article about it. I was immediately excited as I love cookies, and now I knew there would be cookies at this wedding. I think typically the cookies for the cookie tables are homemade, but I decided to bring cookies that are popular in Canada but not sold in the US. I brought Fudgee-Os, Mr. Maples, and Pirates. Honestly, it's kind of ridiculous that Fudgee-Os aren't sold in America, but hey, I guess Americans have been doing just fine without them. From what I could tell, the Canadian cookies got eaten up which made me proud.

Now that I'm thinking about it, we did go to a wedding last year in Michigan that had a table set up with more slices of wedding cake and vanilla frosted sugar cookies! The lady who had baked the cake and cookies was there serving up the goods, and they were so friggin' good that I think I went back for seconds, thirds, fourths and probably 67ths.

The cookie table from the Pittsburgh wedding

3. Having the ceremony and reception in one location. We've been to a few weddings like this and I think it's great. For starters, it usually means the whole event is a bit shorter as there is no break between the ceremony and reception. Secondly, it makes parking and driving much more convenient as you're not driving to and/or paying for parking at two different locations. As you may know, Anthony and I had our ceremony and reception in one space and I was happy about it.

Honourable mention: photo booths. Us and my princess brother at his wedding.

4. Candy tables! Not quite as unique as the Pennsylvania cookie table tradition, but pretty great nonetheless. Bonus points if the couple has provided "doggy bags" to take some home.

5. Open bar. I don't need to explain this.

Us on a party bus, on the way to a wedding in Minneapolis

6. Celebrity officiant. Our good friends who live in Cleveland had Andrew WK officiate their wedding which was pretty cool. Andrew even stayed for the reception with his wife. I only had the chance to talk to him once but he was friendly and polite. Pretty badass.

Also, Bone Thugs n Harmony were staying at the same hotel as us in Cleveland which was amusing.

7. Interesting venues. We've gone to some pretty beautiful weddings including outdoors in Maui, an old church in downtown Detroit, a botanical garden, and one of my favourite weddings: a top floor event space at a Vegas resort. Said space had a balcony with an amazing view of Vegas and the surrounding area, as well as a rare desert lightning storm.

The aforementioned Maui wedding

8. I think above all, my favourite thing about weddings (besides seeing our friends tie the knot) is getting to spend time with our friends. The best times in life are spent with friends, and weddings allow for lots of hangs with friends.

Honourable mention: weddings with cornhole (Photo by Victoria Way Photography)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 19: Places I Want to Visit

I've been fortunate in that I've already been able to travel, although the only time I've ever left continental North America was Hawaii in 2011, and Hawaii is still politically North American.

As far as countries are concerned, I've only been to Canada, the USA, and Mexico. I realize a literal world of wonders awaits me in other countries, but it has been very important to me to see Canada before I start venturing outside the country and continent. Why, you wonder? Well, for starters I am a proud Canadian and I love every corner of our country that I've been able to see so far. Secondly, Canada is so large, with so much to offer in every province and territory. Canadians are fiercely proud of their Canadian heritage, no matter whether they're from the mountains of BC, the tundra of Nunavut, to the fishing villages of Newfoundland. We are all part of something amazing and I like seeing how the culture of Canada plays out in every place I visit.

Next year I'll be turning 30 and I am planning to visit the Yukon, the last place I need to see before I've seen every province and territory in Canada. I wanted to visit them all by the time I was 30 but in reality, I will have visited everything between 2007 and 2016. Not bad.

This is my current "places travelled" map:

Once Anthony and I visit the Yukon next year, I'm going to start setting my sights on more faraway places. Here is a list of places I'd like to see before I die:

1. Tristan da Cunha. This is #1 on my bucket list.

I first learned about Tristan da Cunha in about 2009, from an article called "World's Most Remote Inhabited Place." I've always been fascinated with remote, isolated places and this is pretty much as remote as you can get. The Daily Mail wrote an interesting article about Tristan da Cunha which you can read here. Tristan is neat because people are not allowed to move there. There are just eight surnames on the island. The eighth surname is a new addition as of 2010 when a resident of Tristan married someone from the UK and they settled in Tristan. Everybody else is descended from the 15 original settlers.

2. Maldives. I found the Maldives one day in an atlas when I was a kid. Now that right there is a sentence you'll probably never hear from someone younger than me, as atlases are more or less obsolete! But anyway, as I mentioned above, I've always been fascinated by remote places and the Maldives seemed very interesting. I also had read that bananas were their main export and well, who doesn't love bananas?!

Male, the capital of the Maldives. Photo source

3. Antarctica. I figure since I've been so far north, I should go very far south. 

4. Spain. Ever since I saw the movie Morvern Callar (one of my favourites), I've wanted to go to Spain.

Photo source

I have less to say about these ones: 

5. Hong Kong

6. South Africa

7. Australia

8. Alaska (Anthony and I plan to go when we visit the Yukon)

9. Los Angeles

10. New York City

11. Norway

12. The UK (my heritage is mainly English/Scottish so I would love to see my homeland)

13. Mexico City

I think I should be able to knock out at least some of those before I die, at least the US destinations at bare minimum!

What about you? Where do you want to go?

NaBloPoMo Day 18: A Day in the Life

Sorry for being a day late again, but it's kind of hard to blog about a day in my life when the day isn't over! And sorrynotsorry, I wasn't about to stay up past midnight just to post it.

7:20AM: My alarm goes off (for the second time) and I get out of bed. I slept in a little bit today because I had been in such a deep sleep.

I try to do as little as possible before work so I can sleep as long as possible. Generally I do the bare minimum to make myself look presentable, then grab some breakfast to take with me to work (usually packaged cheese and a hard boiled egg, but this week I've been taking a slice of the banana bread I made).

Two things I always do in the morning:

Leah and I have a ritual where she comes into the bathroom while I get ready and she meows at me until I give her a 2-minute full body scratch. Afterwards, she leaves and leisurely rolls around on the carpet, temporarily satisfied with life.

I also always, always make the bed.

7:50AM: Leave for work. Running a few minutes behind today since I slept in.

This is my car for the day, a 2011 Ford Fiesta. Admittedly, it's my car every day but saying it's "for the day" makes it sound like I have multiple cars or am otherwise rich and important.

Today is unseasonably warm and I'm excited about a run later.

The last few days I've only been listening to Pete Yorn's Musicforthemorningafter album while I drive.

8:00AM: I arrive at work. Yup, I have a short commute!

8:00:01AM: The first order of business is to brew a sweet, sweet coffee.

Today's coffee, which I bought from Walmart (ugh) last night. I've never had it before but it's not bad.

Now I can take over the world.

The second order of business is to rip a page from my someecards daily calendar. Today's joke is eerily timely considering the latest about Charlie Sheen being HIV positive.

Also, it's only 9709 more days until I'm eligible to retire. It's flying by, I tells ya!

9ish AM: Because I am a coffee fiend, my coworker and I grab a coffee from Blackwater Cafe, a long time favourite cafe of mine which recently reopened.

Noonish: I leave for lunch. Since I live so close to work, I go home every day. Today I made a grilled cheese sandwich with the whole wheat bread I made last night, which unfortunately didn't rise very much. The sandwich turns out okay but I still can't chew crusts, womp womp.

I work on this entry a bit and then lie down in my bed to surf the Internet on my iPad. I love my relaxing lunches.

Another lunch time ritual: vitamins!

1-4PM: Back to work. I'm alone most of the afternoon which is always nice, but it can be hard to stay awake when it's so quiet. I don't think I could ever work from home.

4:10PM: Arrive home. The weather forecast can't seem to tell me with any certainty when or how hard it's going to rain, so I lie in bed for a little while with my electric blanket and iPad, trying to decide what to do with myself.

6:30PM: I awake from a nap, oops.

7PM: It's now raining steadily and since I don't want to seem like the most boring person on the planet when people read this, I decide to do a workout in my room. This the space I have to work with:

Basically I would have zero issues staying in shape if I went to prison, considering I have similar floor space.

And this is my plan for the night:

Time to work them gams. I go through this workout twice.

It's a workout from Runners' World magazine plus some other stuff I added in. I said the next time I trained for a long race that I would incorporate strength training. This is my first time doing this workout and I like it, but I'm sore the next day!

No workout is complete without some text messages to my sister, whining about wanting junk food.

8ish PM?: No dinner tonight, just a snack. I have days where I don't get hungry in the evening (besides the aforementioned junk food cravings) so I don't bother making myself anything more than a snack. I have other days where I'm insatiably hungry in the evening so don't worry, I do eat.

9:00ish PM: After surfin' the 'net for awhile, I take a hot bath with a glass of Natural Calm, a magnesium drink I've been drinking every night.

10:20PM: Anthony calls for our usual nightly chat. When we first started dating, we would talk on the phone three times a day, but we have since dwindled down to once a night, 3-5 times a week, haha. A lot of it is, "How was your day?" "Same old."

This wasn't last night, but I am talking to Anthony in this photo so I figured I'd include it.

10:55PM: In bed with my iPad. When I'm at home in Sarnia, I always, always watch ASMR videos on YouTube before bed, as they are super relaxing and basically knock me out. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's an article about it.

All ready for bed.

11:30PM: Lights out!

November 18th was one of the more boring days from my life, as you can probably tell. I do so much that when I have a day with no plans, I like to just relax.

I hope you enjoyed this boring version of a day in my life!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 17: Mish-mash

Today was supposed to be about cake decorating but I have no clue what to say about it! I apologize if you were looking forward to this entry. If you do want to read about my experiences decorating cakes, check out my cake decorating tag.

I don't really know what I want to write about today instead. How about just a random mish-mash of things?

I read something lately about feeling accomplished with oneself and I realized it had been awhile since I felt accomplished. About a month or two ago, one of my car's headlights burned out. I was going to take it in to Ford when my coworkers pretty much forbid me from doing so "because it's so easy to do yourself." So I bought a bulb and looked on the Internet how to replace it. It turns out that with Ford Fiestas, it's not quite as easy as larger vehicles. But with some help from a coworker, we replaced both headlights and I was happy about it. Then last night one of my rear turn signals burned out, and I wanted to fix it myself, without help. The tail lights were much easier to access and I got it replaced in under 10 minutes. I realize it's a minor thing, but I was proud of myself. I love not spending money when it's unnecessary.

More potential accomplishments tonight: lately I've been smelling -- or thinking I'm smelling -- bread baking in my apartment hallway. I've never made bread before but the smell finally got to me so now I am currently waiting for some dough to rise. I really want to finish off this night with some fresh bread. My parents used to make bread in a breadmaker when I was a kid. IMO, fresh homemade bread is one of life's greatest pleasures.

On Thursday I have an appointment to get a microdermabrasion done. I picked up some skin care treatment gift certificates in a local auction and I'm excited about them. I think I have pretty decent skin but there's always room for improvement.

Anthony and I are almost done the paperwork for to petition for me to get a green card, and we are planning to mail it in next week. It's exciting and scary all at the same time, because I have no guarantee that I will have transferred to Windsor by the time I have the visa in hand (probably a year from now). We've been waiting a long time for my work to move me, but eventually we have to get on with our lives. Being married and living apart has gotten really old.

Along a similar line, I've been tossing around ideas for my future American citizenship party. It'll be years before it happens; 2019 at the earliest. I will probably be more excited to plan that party than our wedding, haha. But clear your calendars between 2019 and 2020 now, if you don't mind. There will be apple pie, McDonalds food, plastic weaponry, and miniature American flags for some.

NaBloPoMo Day 16: My favourite recipes

Truth be told, I am not much of a cook. But I try, and I've come a long way in the past 7 years or so. I still need to follow a recipe; I can't just wing it when it comes to making things. That said, I love to bake and am a much better baker than I am a cook.

Anyway, here are some of my favourite recipes from over the years:

Simple Banana Bread I don't know when I first made this recipe, but the date on that blog is 2005, so perhaps sometime around then. I have made this so many times, probably 30 times. I even made it yesterday! It is the only banana bread recipe I use and it almost always comes out perfectly. I like it because it's so simple, and you can customize it if you so desire (I like to add chocolate chips).

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili. I found this recipe a few years ago and it is amazing. I even won our chili cookoff at work last month with this recipe. A few people have even told me this chili has ruined all other chili for them. It has a great texture and a nice, balanced flavour.

This is my favourite cookbook: Busy People's Low-Fat Cookbook. I got this in 2008 because everything has 7 ingredients or fewer. I don't want to violate copyright laws so I'm not going to copy out any of the recipes from it, but suffice it to say, this is a great cookbook if you're a beginner cook. The recipes are not the healthiest (low fat isn't necessarily healthier for you), but they are quick and easy. I have made several recipes from this and my favourite is probably the Banana Butterscotch Drops.

Simple Mac & Cheese:
Combine 2 cups each water and macaroni with 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp butter in a large saucepan. Cook on medium heat 15 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring frequently.

Do not drain. Stir in 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I like marble). Optional: 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted.

I got this from the back of a cheese package a long time ago and it has ruined Kraft Dinner for me!

Rice Krispies Mini Footballs (or squares). I use Cocoa Krispies and they are delicious. 

No Bake Oreo Truffles. Don't make these, because people will beg you forever after to make them again. They are too easy so if you decide to ignore my advice, make a lot of them. Then make more! They are a great gift if you put them in a nice container with some mini candy cups. Totally pro. 

Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake. I make this constantly when I'm doing the low carb diet thing. It keeps me sane!

The Best Buttercream Icing. There's a reason it's called the best!

Peanut Butter Buckeye Pretzel Bites For awhile, this was my most requested re-do from people. They are a little time consuming but addictive.

Cheesy Hamburger Broccoli Casserole. I have made this several times and it's always delicious. The photo on the site doesn't do it justice!

Ham Sham Spud Casserole. This is another low carb casserole and it's delicious.

Campbell's Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole. This is one of the first casseroles I ever made. I don't generally eat rice anymore so I haven't made this in awhile, but it's a good recipe. I like to cut the chicken up into smaller pieces.

Cookies n Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies. You will enjoy every moment of your decline into diabetes with this recipe.

Popcorn Cake. Yup, you read right. I've only made this once but holy smokes was it ever easy and delicious. I brought it to a BBQ and left empty-handed. Its unusualness makes it all the more appealing. 

Simple Spinach Dip. I make this once or twice a year. It's dead simple to make and always gets eaten up quickly!

So now that I've given away all my state secrets, please tell me one of your tried, tested, and true recipes!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Advice and Tips for Jaw Surgery Patients

I apologize for not writing this yesterday, but Anthony was in town for the weekend and we kept ourselves pretty busy yesterday!

This is an entry I've been meaning to write for awhile! Jaw surgery is pretty terrible for the lack of information you receive as a patient through "official" channels like your orthodontist and max fax surgeon. In fact, my ortho actually told me before I went through all of this that jaw surgery isn't much worse than wisdom tooth removal. Wow...excuse me while I pick myself up from off the floor, I was laughing so freaking hard at that absurdity. are my top tips if you're going to get jaw surgery. This goes for SARPE as well as Lefort I, BSSO, etc.

1. Read blogs and or watch vlogs! If you're reading this, you're already doing a good job preparing yourself. There is no way your surgeon or ortho can possibly provide you with the level of detail about recovery that a blog can. Read as many blogs as you can to see the wide range of experiences of jaw surgery.

2. Join a website like or any of the other jaw and cosmetic surgery forums around. Getting real-time advice can be very helpful, as well, you'll read more experiences. I was fortunate to have a group on ArchWired of others who had jaw surgery in June and July. Relating your experiences with people currently in the same boat as you makes you feel far less alone in this process.

3. Figure out a way to sleep upright well ahead of surgery. Do not leave this until the day you come home from the hospital to sort out. I still very much recommend the bed wedge I used, but a comfy recliner or something similar will be the difference between sleeping well and barely sleeping at all. Personally I used the wedge with a down pillow, then rolled a towel up and put it behind my neck for support. I did this for 30 days after surgery.

4. Get yourself a squeeze bottle or something else that makes it easy to get water past your gigantic, numb lips. Some people like the little Dixie cups because they can bend them, some people like square whiskey tumblers, but I was a fan of the sports squeeze bottle.

5. Netflix, Hulu, Shomi, Amazon Prime Instant Video, your DVD collection, Tivo, etc: they are godsends. I watched ungodly amounts of Netflix after surgery and you know what? It was great. It's distracting enough to keep your mind off jaw surgery, and there is so much to pick from. I ended up giving myself a bit of classic film education. I would switch between watching Netflix on TV to carrying on with a movie/show on my laptop in bed.

6. Everybody will say this to you and I certainly learned my lesson: do not skip meals after surgery! I made myself very sick on days 3 and 4 because I wasn't eating. I was weak, I was nauseated, I had bad breath, I vomited, I was dehydrated. On top of being a swollen, numb mess, I was completely miserable and felt like I wasn't getting better. In my case, I just wasn't hungry and eating was a hassle. You might feel the same, but don't use it as an excuse not to eat. Food helps you recover and digest all the medicine you'll be taking.

7. Don't try to do this completely alone without help. It is almost imperative to have somebody assist you even a little bit, even just the first couple of days. Some hours/days will be harder than others to get through.

8. Your experience with jaw surgery is going to be different from every single blog and story you read.  There are so many variables that no one can tell you for certain what your recovery will be like. I have to roll my eyes when I read things like, "You won't sleep after surgery!" or "You'll be able to eat soft food at week 3." Any time you read a definitive phrase like, "you will" or "you won't," replace it in your mind with, "you might." The sleep advice is particularly true for me. Everybody says your sleep sucks for the first few weeks, but I slept just fine right from the start. In fact, I slept 11 hours the night of surgery!

9. Ask your orthodontist and/or surgeon lots of questions. Don't be too shy; you're paying them (or your government is paying them) a lot of money, and you deserve to have all the answers before you go under the knife. I used to bring a list of questions each time I saw my surgeon and he would always say, "I like when my patients ask me lots of questions!" Sure your health care providers might be busy people, but they want you to be invested in and informed about your treatment.

10. Keep in mind that people might make negative or ignorant comments about your jaw surgery. I've seen several people online get very upset that someone didn't recognize them after surgery, or that somebody told them, "You're crazy for getting jaw surgery! I wouldn't!" Don't be blindsided by this if it happens. You are doing this for you, your health, and your confidence. People tend to get very opinionated about any procedure that affects your physical appearance, forgetting that the surgery is for your health! Get your gallbladder out and everyone is supportive; get your jaw fixed and everyyyyyyone wants to tell you why it's a bad idea. Ignore the noise.

11. Take photos and/or videos of yourself before and after surgery. Sometimes it can feel like nothing has changed, but photos will usually show otherwise.

12. Eat all your favourite foods before surgery. The harder, crunchier, or chewier, the better.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 14: Advice I live by

Today's post is coming to you from my phone while I sit in a bar with Anthony and watch U of Michigan football. Well, he's going to watch and I'm going to stare at my phone until I get this done.

Nobody commented on my French post so I can only assume it was complete gibberish. I did feel spooked after that there were terrorist attacks in France yesterday, too. Sad coincidence.

Today's theme is advice I live by.

Something I heard recently that I really like is "a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." In my life I've experienced both good and bad bosses in my career. Bad bosses easily distinguish themselves as they are keen to stay in a position of power over their subordinates, instead of elevating everyone up to their level as best they can while still being a manager. Outside of work, I have a tendency to be competitive and jealous of other people in certain situations, even if I never express it. The words about the candle help me remember that I lose nothing by being supportive of people around me, and there is a level of relief in that for me.

Of course, the classic golden rule is also something I live by and try to internalize as much as possible. It's easy to navigate confusing situations when you can ask yourself what you would want in that situation.

One thing you may know about me is that I read advice columns religiously, and have since the days when Ann Landers was still alive. After she passed away, I started reading syndicated columns online. When my favourite advice columnist, Dear Margo retired, I started reading Carolyn Hax. I like Carolyn's advice because she is closer in age to me than Margo and Annie's Mailbox, which means I agree with her advice more often than the columnists from different generations.

A recurring theme in Carolyn's columns is that you can't change people, you can only accept their behaviour and act in a way that gives you peace of mind. This has helped me appreciate my friends and family more for who they are and what benefit they provide to me, rather than focusing on what they're not giving me or what they're doing wrong.

I'm also a huge proponent of not worrying about things until they actually become an issue, I.E. "not crossing the bridge before we get there." There are so many things people worry about that never end up happened. Granted, I have no idea what it's like to have kids because I know parenting involves perpetual worry. But with everything else, I like to think I keep pretty zen.

Well, I think I have spent enough time staring at my phone during this game! Time to pay attention!

Friday, November 13, 2015

NaBloPoMo Jour Treize: Un blog en français

Salut! Aujourd'hui je doit écrire un blog en français. Je ne peux pas parler le français parfait donc j'utilise un traducteur...mais un peu seulement, je promets! Je suis surpris toujours quand je peux rappel des mots français parce que je ne parle jamais le français dans ma vie.

Je suis desolée pour tous les erreurs je vais faire, probablement. Je ne sais pas tous les tenses en français, donc je doit utiliser que je les sais.

Récemment, je joue Duolingo, un app/jou à apprendre des langues. Je ne pense pas qu'il est un app bon, tristement. Toutefois, j'ai appris quelques concepts nouveaux. Par exemple, quand je suis allée a l'école, je n'ai jamais apprendre l'idée de "le mien," "le sien," "le tien." J'ai appris des autres concepts que j'ai oublié maintenant. :(

Moi dans Montréal le decembre passé

Quand je suis allée à l'école secondaire, j'ai étée très, très stupide. On m'a offert l'opportunité à aller au Quebec pour faire progresser mes competencies en j'ai repondu, "Non, merci!" Pourquoi? Est-ce que j'ai vous dire que j'ai étée très stupide? Je le regrette beaucoup.

En 2009, j'ai pris les examens français à mon travail. J'ai passé l'examen de Lire et je pense que j'ai echoué l'examen de Écrire. Je n'ai pas prendre l'examen de Parler. Le gouvernement utilise les lettres A, B, et C à désigner les competencies de les langues secondaires. J'ai reçu un B de Lire, ce que signifie "fonctionelle." Pour l'examen de Écire, j'ai reçu un A, ce que signifie "un peu de compétence." (Oui, les lettres sont en arrière, pas comme l'école.) Mais, j'ai étée heureuse avec mes résultats.

Je souhaite que vous pouvez lire ce blog. Je pense que j'ai fini; j'ai fatiguée! Mon cerveau dit, "Ouch! Qu'est qui passe?!" maintenant. Merci d'avoir lu ce blog! Oooh c'est tot, seulement quinze heures!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 12: Nunavut

Today the topic I have chosen is Nunavut, and I'm not really sure what I thought I'd write about. I've been wondering what to say about it. Since I've moved back, people often say to me, "Wow, you lived in Nunavut? What was THAT like?" and I always want to say, "You want me to summarize 4 years of my life in one sentence?" It's an impossible question, so I usually just smile and say, "Life changing."

I wasn't sure if I should make this a top ten list with something like "top ten life lessons from the north" or "top ten Nunavut memories." But I decided, I already have the topic. "Nunavut, what was that like?" Talking about it does involve me talking about my ex which some may find tacky of me now that I'm remarried, but I'd like to think there is a respectful way to cover the topic.

In spring 2006, I was dating my now ex-husband, J. We were living in London, ON and both of us were unhappy with our lives there. We disliked our jobs and didn't have any hobbies or friends; we were just going through the motions. I was applying to go to college and was accepted into the Computer Systems Technology program at Fanshawe College. Meanwhile, J started applying to interesting jobs around the country. I will never forget our initial discussions about Nunavut; I was completely repulsed by the idea. As his application progress for a position in Rankin Inlet moved along in a promising way, I warmed up the idea and was absolutely pumped when they offered him the job.

Me in an igloo, April 2010

We'd been together 2.5 years at that point and felt like we were in it for the long haul, so we decided to get married before we moved, which we did, and it was a small but fun wedding.

After frantically researching the best we could about how to prepare ourselves, we moved up on August 1st, 2006. I spent August exploring town and falling in love with the north. In September I started in the Management Studies at Nunavut Arctic College, which was a fun way to spend the next 6 months as I got to meet people and make friends. One of my instructors had actually been an instructor at Fanshawe and had lived a few blocks from us in London.

I don't want to discuss specifics, but things started to get difficult in early 2007; however, we were enjoying ourselves nevertheless. By the time school was over in April, we had made some friends and I was offered a temporary position with the federal government. That summer was some of the most fun I've ever had. Saturday nights at the Legion, board game nights with friends, weekend nights at our friend's cabin, quad rides out on the land. It was awesome. I was covered in mosquito bites, but it was awesome.

Things started to go more downhill in August. For still unknown reasons, I started to form massive blisters on the palms of my hands and fingers. They were extremely painful and spread quickly. The doctors and nurses couldn't figure out what was wrong, and they were throwing pills and creams at me like nobody's business. It was very unsettling as the problem got worse, and the doctors only got more confused. It was so bad that my hands were literally immobile. I couldn't unzip my fly, open doors, wash my hair, use utensils, etc. I was on a steady dose of Tylenol 3 which wasn't helping. Eventually I was diagnosed with dyshidrotic eczema and to this day, I never seen photos of a case as bad as mine. The photos on the Internet are laughably minor compared to what I went through. Fortunately it has never come back, which makes the whole thing all the more baffling.

Cape Dorset, April 2009

However, as that nightmarish episode of my life was improving by September, there was more drama in our lives. It really isn't my place to talk about it on this blog, but suffice it to say, it involved J more than it involved me, although it sent me into a tailspin of stress and depression. We were both medicating ourselves with alcohol which obviously doesn't work.

By the new year, things had only gotten worse, and our relationship was massively suffering. I looked at my life at the time; I was 21 and felt I was too young to be going through what I was dealing with, so I made the decision to walk away from the marriage and from Rankin Inlet. I could have handled the situation better, but life doesn't hand you a manual about how to navigate divorce, especially as a 21 year old.

I was offered another contract in Iqaluit so I moved there in March 2008. I'd never lived alone before and found the adjustment difficult, but also liberating. By summer I was emerging from my depression and found happiness in my life in Iqaluit. I made friends, was going to the gym, loved my job...things were great. My best friend Tori even came to visit me in December 2008 which was one of the highlights of my time in the north. In early 2009, I was given a permanent position with the government and was finally able to move into my own apartment. I had either been living in a staff house, house sitting, or living with a coworker for that first year. Moving into my own apartment was amazing, and I really settled into life.

Repulse Bay, November 2009

2009 was a great year. I feel like that's when I really started to come out of my shell and make friends. However, Iqaluit is a small place and the more time I spent out of the house, the more people started gossiping about me, which was awful. Unsurprisingly, the gossip made my life seem a lot more interesting than it actually was. I'd spend a Saturday night at home alone and then hear on Monday about how wild I had been at a party. Yup, if the "party" was my couch and "wild" was me falling asleep at 9pm.

By fall 2009, I started to look at ways to move on from Iqaluit. I began the process of applying to become a police officer with the RCMP and was optimistic and excited about it. That December, I began talking to Anthony online, not thinking much about it. I went home for Christmas and we met up with zero intentions of dating, and yeah. Here we are 6 years later, married.

By the end of my trip home that December, I knew I had to cancel my application process for the RCMP and pursue things with Anthony. I've gotten slack about it over the years from various people but I have no regrets. I flew Anthony up in April and July 2010, the latter trip was to help me finish packing to move. I left on July 21st, 2010 with mixed emotions.

April 2010

The adjustment back to life here was difficult, but I refused to acknowledge it at the time. I had been so used to the idea that I was doing something unique with my life, and then suddenly I was back in plain old southwestern Ontario, unemployed, living with my dad. I also started suffering from anxiety about driving, which is still an ongoing issue for me.

It has now been more than 5 years since I left. At this point, I don't think I would ever move back. I enjoyed my time there and learned so much about life, but it often felt like living in a fishbowl. I enjoy my anonymity here, especially now that nobody recognizes me post-weight loss and jaw surgeries. I enjoy Chipotle down here and being able to go on a weekend road trips. Anthony and I have had so many adventures, and I am looking forward to moving stateside and starting a new life there.

Sometimes I try to think about what my life would be like had I not moved to Nunavut, but it bothers me to think about it. I feel like I "grew up" there for all intents and purposes, and it has made me into the person I am now. I feel like I appreciate the small things in life, like a warm breeze or a mailbox full of Amazon shipments. :-) I am grateful for the people who stand by me in hard times, and for 24 hour grocery stores. I made some lifelong friends there and have so many cherished memories, there's no way I would have been able to fit them into a top ten list.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 11: 5 months post-op double jaw surgery + sliding genioplasty

Today is 5 months since my surgery so I'm doing my monthly update.

Numbness: My palate has really improved this month. Right behind my front teeth and the left side just above my teeth feel numb, but everything else is good.

The fleshy part of my chin is still about 90% numb. At this point, I kind of doubt it's ever going to go back to normal, but such is par for the course with sliding genioplasty. I imagine it'll improve a bit but probably not completely. I'm okay with this. I barely ever notice it, and I've gotten used to constantly feeling my chin for food/drinks/drool when I'm eating in front of others. It does feel weird wearing my hockey mask because I'm still not used to my chin actually sitting in the little chin pad thing!

My chin muscles still feel very tight, too. This part does bug me a bit and I hope it improves.

Swelling: Today I feel like I look a little swollen, but I spent a lot of time with my face pointing downwards so who knows. It's still slowly coming along. The photos below were taken the other day, FYI.

Chewing: Progress with chewing has slowed down, but it's still improving. Small bites of food are the only thing I can manage, but I can make it through ham, sausage or chicken now, as long as it's thinly sliced. Biting into things is getting better but it's still much easier to just cut everything with a knife and fork, especially since my jaw ROM is still limited to about two finger-widths.

Bite issues: My left side is still open. The "Cathy" elastics didn't do much as far as I could tell. However, when I last saw my ortho, he said my overjet was relapsing so I'm in class II triangular elastics now. They are fun fun fun (note the sarcasm)! The nice thing about the elastics is that they are correcting my midline right now as well, which you'll know has been an issue these past 5 months.

My ortho doesn't seem to be too concerned that my bite still isn't right 5 months after surgery but I am getting frustrated. I'd like to feel like I'm actually getting closer to a debracing date instead of just treading water.

Anyway...overall I'm still happy. I still think about my jaw a lot during the day but it's getting easier to not be so focused on it.


Pre-surgery, I'm even wearing the same sweater!



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