Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Friend Jen

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The first time I met her was at a bus stop in front of Lakeport high school at night.  I was headed to my first high school dance.  It was grade nine, and my christian high school didn’t have dances, for whatever biblical reasons, and I was nervous.

Jen was already too cool for school dances.  She was leaving the dance–she had better and more interesting things to do and cooler people to hang out with.  She was dressed in all black, the jeans tight on her skinny legs, her long red hair had a slight feather to it and the wings of her eyeliner were extended further than I had ever seen on anyone since the 80s.

Her tough exterior and aloof coolness were intimidating to this square and dorky church girl.  The friend I was with introduced us, and I felt lame.  I was definitely not as cool as this girl and there’s no way she’d want to be friends with lame preppy little me.  She was rock and roll.  She was Jen Hatcher.

The following  year, I transferred schools, and started attending Lakeport myself.  But badass Jen had already been kicked out of Lakeport or some shit, so our paths never really crossed again, until much much later.  That brief meeting must have made some impression on the both of us, though, because years later we met up again, and there was no question that we knew each other.

I was in university at the time, and had landed my then dream job, working at Scizzions as the receptionist.  Jen was working as a stylist at the same salon, and was a bit standoffish at first.  I’m certain she had kept her distance because of my lame quotient, but running into me at a Sick Boys rock show upped my cool factor by about a million.  So then we were friends.

We worked together almost every day for 5 years, along side our other co-workers, and I often describe that time as “working with my best friends everyday”.   The pranks we pulled were outrageous and often ended in uncontrollable giggle fests while clients were left waiting for their hair cuts and colours.  We took liberties with each other’s personal property that no coworkers should ever take but our senses of humour made it work.  The laughs and our friendship extended far beyond the walls of the salon as we often spent our free time together too…smoking cigarettes, sharing secrets and spilling drinks for hours before passing out on each other’s couches.

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I learned a lot about Jen in that time, and we became very very close friends–Another unique friendship with a special soul that I have been so fortunate to collect in my lifetime.  So please, let me tell you all about her.  My friend, Jen.

My friend Jen was born in the 70’s and grew up in the 80’s.   She’s always loved (hair) metal, which is totally weird for someone our age.  I liked metal for a spell in the 80’s, when I wanted to be like my babysitter.  I listened to Motley Crue’s Theatre of Pain, maybe more than most 8 year olds, but Jen loved it all.  Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, even Ratt.  She’s been to more Cinderella concerts than is even conceivable for someone in their 30’s and if there was a world record for use of the kyuss  in everyday life, she’d own it.  Jen is a skid.  A rockin’ 80’s skid.

But beyond her skiddy tastes in music, is a beautiful and loving sweet soul.  She is the kindest, most gentle human you’ll ever get the chance to meet.  She is friendly and cheerful, and has hoards of friends.  She is bright and sunny and motivated and ambitious.  She’s even sensitive, though she’s not likely to admit it.  She is empathetic and loving and wonderful.  She is the truest of the true, the bluest of the blue and the best god damned friend you could ever ask for.

Jen Hatcher has been there for me in some of the most difficult and trying times in my life.  Always offering a shoulder to cry on, a hand to lend, or pages of words encouraging me to do something with my life.  Urging me to follow my dreams.  Pushing me to turn my life around when there was no one else that could do that for me.  She was there cheering me on and chairing my fan club when I felt alone and scared and was ready to give up.

She’s tougher than tough, stronger than strong and has endured some extremely challenging times in her life–things that could literally crush anyone’s soul. And she has lived through it all with remarkable grace and poise and patience.  The world would be a better place if we would all strive to be just a little more like her.

I could go on for days, and it still wouldn’t do her justice.  I am so lucky to have such a incredible and amazing friendship with Rock and Roll Jen.  I never saw it coming that cool autumn some 20 years ago as Meatloaf blared from the high school gym.  But beyond the eyeliner and tight jeans was an extraordinary spirit so unique and special who has come to mean so much to me.  Ultimately, I’m writing because I’m inspired by her and I’m grateful every single day to have her in my corner.

 

My friend Jen.  Keep on rockin’, you skid.

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Just Me and My Parkdale

Every once in a while, all things align to make for a great day. A really special day. The best day even.

A day where plans are loose, some freedom is in sight, and your best pal is in town.

People on the streets are happy and the air is light. No where to be, no one’s schedule to follow and the day just unfolds itself for you with almost no effort.

And at the end of the day you just can’t seem to fire your way into the number one spot for all time galactic hero, but it doesn’t matter because there’s still the walk home. It’s quiet and oddly bright and it feels like you have the night all to yourself. Just you and your Parkdale.

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A Very Marigold Birthday

The last few weeks haven’t included much more than two hour stints of sleep, eating and sitting topless on the couch.  Oh, and clogging my friends news feeds with pictures of my children.  I’m kinda tied to Alice and the couch for the most part, so for entertainment I take pictures of my kids, post them on Instagram and share them on Facebook.  At least until the weather is a bit nicer.

Oh GOD I never wanted to be a mommy blogger–I just wanted to write about my life, but I guess my life right now is mostly about being a mummy. Gone are the days of passing out on a toilet in the basement bathroom of a bar on Queen from too much to drink and waking to write about it the next morning.

And here I am, again, to tell you more about my child-centered life.  Among the night feedings and diaper changes, I had been preparing feverishly whenever I found a few minutes, for Marigold’s third birthday.  I really wanted it to be very special for her, so I asked her what she wanted.  Decorations of orange and green, she said.  A small vanilla cake, she said.  Katie’s mummy, she said.  All of these things were a surprise to me–she doesn’t have favourite colours as far as I know, and I didn’t think she knew the difference between chocolate and vanilla.  And we haven’t seen Susie (Katie’s mummy) since last summer I think.  But these were the things she wanted.  And I wanted to make it happen.

We had a small party with her nearest and dearest.  She helped me bake her cake and I worked my butt off whenever my boobs were free.  And here are the results:  a very special party for my special little girl.

Waiting for the guests to arrive and the party to start

Waiting for the guests to arrive and the party to start

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Handmade Paper Birthday Pennants

Several days of cutting and stringing together for the party pennants

Even the dolls decorated!

Even the dolls decorated!

Orange and Green Party Table

Orange and Green Party Table

Handmade cake and paper cake toppers

Handmade cake and paper cake toppers

She’s growing up, and while part of me wishes she would stay 3 forever (because she’s just so goddamned cute), I’m excited to see what kind of person she grows into.

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Hungry Hungry Hippos is a great gift for a 3 year old and her pals

Hungry Hungry Hippos is a great gift for a 3 year old and her pals

Mummy & Marigold

Mummy & Marigold

Living a Life of Love

The weeks and months leading up to my maternity leave were slightly stressful. Stressful only because the pressure I put on myself of course. I love working. I love working hard–I love accomplishing things and being good at what I do. I also enjoy being a part of a growing company and building a team and providing products and services I believe in. While it sounds like a cushy deal, taking a year off for maternity leave, for me, is a lot harder than it sounds.

Don’t be mistaken, I love my family, and I love being a mummy to Marigold and a wife to Martin, but it really doesn’t define me as a person.  It’s not the be all, end all of me.  Neither is my job.  I am the sum of these things and many others–all of which make me who I am.

While my current job isn’t exactly my dream job, it’s still awesome and I like the company and love my boss and the people I work with.  The hardest part is the timing, of course.  Putting my career on hold when things are positioned for growth in a major way isn’t the ideal scenario I had imagined when I first found myself with child.  I hadn’t expected that I would be getting a new boss, and that I would need to make a new and lasting impression on someone when I was tired, bloated and irritable. I didn’t think that I was about to miss out on something really rad for the next year.  I hate to miss out on things–I love to be right in the action!

I’m sure tons of other women and men go through the same thing when they take their respective parental leaves. I truly am grateful for the opportunity to take the full 50 weeks to spend time focusing on my new baby and growing family.

The last time I went on mat leave, I was literally counting the minutes before I could walk out the door and not return for several months, even though I was still there late on my last day.  This time I was really sad to go.  I was having sleepless nights thinking about the many projects I had on the go just before clocking out for the next year, and as my last day crept closer, I had expected my stress level to spike, but it slowly dissipated.  I was ready to go, and I know that I’m not in any real danger of being left behind at work.  I’m confident that I’ll be able to return and pick up where I left off and just spend this year focusing on real life–and my family.  What a treasure.

Almost three years ago now, I revived my blog because of this overwhelming need to write it all down.  I needed to tell everyone how I had never loved as much as I loved right then. With hormones running rampant, I’m sure, I was plagued with so many feelings and emotions, but it was the love that overflowed.

When I first discovered I was pregnant with my second child, of course I was thrilled, but there were hesitations that I hadn’t expected. I was worried about how I could possibly have TWO children (people survive with many more, I know I’m ridiculous) and look after them successfully. I was worried about our finances, and the size of our apartment. I was worried how Marigold will adapt. But most of all I was worried that I couldn’t possibly have any more love to give to another child. I just loved my little Marigold so much that I didn’t think it possible to have the capacity to love a new addition to our little family.

Two Peas on the floor, under a blanket

Two Peas on the floor, under a blanket

Martin gently reminded me that love multiplies as a family grows–and we have a never ending supply! We have found love in places that we never even knew existed.

The hardest part has definitely been dealing with my feelings for Marigold.  It’s weird, but I miss her.  I still spend time with her everyday, but she’s no longer my one and only, and I feel bad that my attention is divided.  This has been the greatest source of postpartum tears.  She is the most amazing big sister in all of the land, and I’m so proud with how she is handling it all.  She is a huge help with Baby Alice, and I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard her say “Don’t worry, Baby Alice.  Big sister’s right here” in the last 10 days.  And it melts my heart every time.

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One night I went to lay in Marigold’s bed with her before she went to sleep because I just missed her so.  I couldn’t stop the tears from coming, as they so often do these days.  I talked it over with Marigold, and for a not yet three year old, I’m impressed with her understanding.  I apologized for not spending as much time with her as I used to.  I got up to let her fall asleep, she said to me as I was leaving “Baby Alice needs you, Mummy.”  She totally gets it, and it just made me cry harder.  I’m so proud of her and I’m amazed at how awesome she is every single day.


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Baby Alice is just perfect from head to toe and I loved her just as much as I did Marigold when she was placed in my arms.  It’s like there’s a love explosion in your heart when you give birth–I would do it over and over again because the feeling is incredible.  And the results–well, they’re incomparable.

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So our love has grown.  Martin was right–I didn’t have anything to worry about.  We’re a family of four now.  I’m truly grateful for all the things that I have in this life, and I honestly don’t take it for granted.  I came from nothing, and now– I have everything.  And it’s definitely not lost on me, this extraordinary life of love.

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Alice's First Bath

Brown Eyed Ram

I don’t really believe in astrology, but historically I’ve found myself to be more friendly with capricorns, aquarius’ and tauruses.  Never really found myself close to an Aries, and as such I think of her as quite the an unlikely friend.  Not only is she an Aries, but she’s also 9 years my junior and I met her only because I hired her way back in 2010.  Unlikely a friendship as it may seem, she’s pretty much been by my side since then.

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Slightly more casual than her interview outfit

I remember what she wore for her interview–it was quite formal, a white blouse and a high waisted black skirt.  I don’t think she was wearing heels though–she wasn’t able to really pull off heels until about 2012.  I was looking for someone at the time to be part of the department I was building in my previous company, and between her, and one other girl, I knew I had found the right people to take on the job.

Both girls were cheery, with great personalities and teachable spirits.  Their experience was limited, but I knew I had found a couple of gems, so I snatched them up, not a moment too soon.  When I changed jobs in 2012, I had stumbled on a company primed for growth, and I felt like a mountain of work was just around the corner and I could never face it alone.  So I called on Smash.

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AKA the Dude

She had kept the ship a-sail for me while I was maternity leave the first time–she is smart, dependable, reliable, creative with a lot of really great, though sometimes zany, ideas.  We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, since she came to work with me again, more ups than downs though.  We’ve had a lot of laughs and good times, but the work pace was much slower than what we were used to, and sometimes our frustrations with work and our desires to move more quickly drove distance between us.

There were times where I felt like she was judging me.  There were times where I felt like she hated me.  There were times I felt utterly, totally and weirdly responsible for any unhappiness she felt in life.    And I can only begin to imagine what she felt about me–Picky, bossy, fussy, know it all Peattie.  I am fairly certain she wanted to tear my head off at times, but fortunately we got through it….all body parts in tact.  While it sounds crazy, it might do you some good to understand that we literally spend at least 40 hours a week together, face to face, less than three feet apart–and have for close to two straight years.

A good laugh usually cures what ails ya

Friends through the bad times

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And friends through the good times (photo credit Smashing Through Life)

We were open with each other on almost every subject and we trusted each other in more ways that we had trusted other friends in our lives.  And now as I start my maternity leave, I am trusting her again–with my job.  Finally, after waiting patiently, things are starting to happen.  She’s been promoted into the role she came on board to do–at a critical time in the company’s history.  She’s taking on significant projects and has some key objectives she’ll have to deliver on this year.  And it’s a lot.  It’s a lot for anyone.  But I know she can handle it.  I am excited to see what this year brings for her because I know it’s going to be amazing.  She’s surrounded by some really awesome people at the office, who I know she can count on to make things happen.  She’s gonna do great!

On Friday night, after my last day of work, she helped me carry my things to my car and what we thought was going to be an emotional goodbye, didn’t really turn in that direction at all.  I had cried earlier saying goodbye  to even the most pesky co-workers, and there wasn’t a tear in my eyes saying farewell to my long time side kick, pal and protege.  She made a joke about me missing her the least, but the reality is–I will miss her the least.  Because I’m not going to miss her.  Sure I’ll miss seeing her beautiful face every day, I’ll miss  the sound of her laughter, and I will definitely miss the poor nutritional choices we made on a daily basis (guilt free).  But I’m not going to miss her.  She will continue to be a huge part of my life, filling up a special place in my heart while I’m at home with my babies–our relationship runs much deeper than 9-5, Monday to Friday.  We don’t need to be three feet apart to maintain our friendship–it’s going to last for a long, long time…no matter our proximity.

I certainly got a lot more than I had ever bargained for the day I hired that brown-eyed ram, Smash.  I thought I was simply getting a recent graduate for a product specialist.  Instead, I got a life long friend.  A lady who is truly awesome in every way.

I love you, chum.

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Heart Beating, Eyes Shining

Years and years ago, I came home to the Valentine’s Day gift that would keep on giving.  He kept on giving for the next 14 years.  Or taking, or eating, or growing or however you want to look at it.

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I’ve never had a pet as long as I’ve had Grip.  Most of my cats “ran away” or got hit by cars.  I looked after my Nana’s dog for a long time, but whenever she returned from her travels, “Impy” went back with her.  None them were around as long as Agrippa.  He’s been mine for about 14 years.

14 years is a long time for a kitty, especially a really fat kitty.  How he got so fat, I’m not really sure.  He just kept growing and growing, and then he grew some more after he was neutered.  His origins aren’t entirely clear, but from what I remember, he was found in a field in a box, then brought to a pet store, then home to live with us.   There was a time where we thought he might be a mountain lion, he was getting so big so fast.  Eventually he stopped growing at around 35 pounds.

The worst of it was not his size, but he was a total bastard as a kitten.  He used to tear around our then apartment, climbing up people using his claws, scratching, biting, attacking at every opportunity.  I can think of at least 5 people off the top of my head that likely have permanent scars from his misbehaviour.  We couldn’t control him.  We’d lock him in his kitty carrier to calm him down, but he figured out how to unlock it.  He’d get the gate open, and come tearing out faster and more furious than before.  Probably the meanest cat around.  But he was so very very sweet too–if there ever was a Jekyl/Hyde kitty situation, this was it.  He would curl up at night between our pillows and cuddle with us all night long.  In the morning we would wake to the sweet smell of his kitty breath.  I’ll miss his kitty breath the most.

Grip spent the majority of his life eating diet food and having human sized poops.  He was so big, he relied on Simon to keep him clean.  He was a total pain in the ass, but I spent many lonely nights cuddled up with him in my bed.  When I had no one, I always had Tubby, and I’m certain that there never was another pet that loved their master as much as he loved me.

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He was confused when Marigold was born, and he watched me like a hawk when I first brought her home. He eventually took to her and they became very good chums.  He tolerated her hugs and tugs and kisses, and often looked for her if she was away visiting her auntie or grandparents for the night.  She loved him, and he loved her which made this whole thing incredibly difficult.

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Last Tuesday, we said goodbye to Agrippa, the Roman statesman kitty.  It was his time.  I asked some of his old friends to say a few words about him.

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On Agrippa:

“Oh poor boy. He was scary but still part of the family.  He wanted to hurt me but not bad enough to lose his comfy spot”

“Cat Heaven is a little fatter now.”

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“Whoa is that a cat?”

“Hard to believe that he was such a fiesty little thing. I will miss that girth.  Actually, he was a demon. He would attack us for no reason.”

“When I read that Agrippa had died, the first thing that came to mind was Gord and Andrea’s place on Spencer…We ate, we talked, we napped. We put on music to propel us into the night, then came crashing back home. We talked into the early morning until we fell asleep, then we got up and started all over again. What was it, that magic we created? I don’t know. But Agrippa was there, and is still, presiding over some of my fondest memories.”

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“He is the best damned cat that ever lived.  A true legend.  He was a great friend.  Over the years, I’ve thought about him often and I’ve always missed him very much.  Today, I’m really sad”

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Thus ends the long and obese tail of Agrippa.  If there is some sort of kitty after life, I’m sure Grip has found Simon and they have banded together to form the unholy army of the night they always dreamed about.  But rather than causing kitty mischief, they’ve found somewhere cozy to snuggle up and groom each other.   Lazy bastards.

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Little known fact about Agrippa…his favourite band was the Pogues (Simon was more into Neil Young).  This song goes out to him.

So long, Tubs.

January Celebrations

January is an especially special time around our house, and it really is nice to have something to celebrate in the cold, dark month of January.  Martin was born in January.  January 20th, to be exact.

I love his birthday, not just because we get to celebrate his existence, also because it’s when things started for us.  It’s the beginning of us.  I had met him long before his 30th birthday party, but it was that party that ignited the cliched spark that now burns brightly on a daily basis.  Barf, right?

Long before I came along....

Long before I came along….

I sometimes find myself thinking about what would’ve happened if I’d declined the invite to his birthday party way back in 2009, and I can barely fathom what I’d be doing right now.  Certainly not sitting on the couch watching him play video games, with a giant belly bursting with baby.

He’s changed a lot in the last five years.  Or maybe I just know him so much better.  I’m not sure which–but it doesn’t matter, because I only love him more for it.  And I am certain it will be that way until the day we die–I count on it.  We are fully committed to each other and we will work hard to make it last forever.

Together

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I was watching Marigold kiss and play with her little wind up frog and found myself saying to her:  “You might have to kiss a lot of frogs….”.  I had to kiss a lot of frogs, and suffer a lot, and I mean A LOT of serious heartbreaks before I fell in love with Martin.  I wouldn’t say that it was worth it, but what I would say is that it helped me realize and value what I have in my husband today.  I had an amazing life before he came along, but he really has made my life so very nice.  And for that, I am extremely grateful.

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In light of all that, the lady McWaters’ of  Parkdale celebrated by baking a cake while their Mister/Daddy slept late.  We ate a lot of cake batter before it finally made it’s way in the oven.  Our dinner was delicious Indian and we took it real easy.  It’s a far cry from that first birthday we spent drunkenly belting karaoke at the Duke five years ago, but the celebration in my heart is just as strong.

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**sorry for the blurry photos!!

And just like that, Toronto got a little less sweeter

Laugh if you want to, but my favourite book is Anne of Green Gables.  I’ve read the entire series a few times, and some particular installments in the series,  more times that I can even remember.  Lucy Maude is a great story teller.  And if you’ll remember back to when you read Anne, or even if you didn’t read the story, you probably can probably recall bits of the tv movie that aired on the CBC or you took a class trip to some high school performance of the play.  You might even remember Anne’ bosom chum, Diana.  On January 1st, my bosom chum got on a plane.  And just like that, Toronto got a little less sweeter.

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It hasn’t been such a sweet place as of late–the political storms, the weather issues, and the transit follies.  Surprisingly to me, I find myself sometimes wondering why we continue to live here.  Though today, I drove through the city, and I’m happy to report that it was easy to find all my old loving feelings for the city.

I took the long way home and remembered that there are so many places around with so many great memories attached.  Memories of me and my bosom chum–the things we did, and the places we met up, the places we took pictures.  I’ll sure miss her while she’s gone.

Magical Adventures

Magical Adventures

I had already lost her earlier this year.  A result of  the time and space and the things happening in our lives that began to naturally separate us.  An undesired side affect of desirable life changes, I suppose.

I met her in December 2005, at my kindred’s birthday party on Robert.  She was wearing mauve, and I knew instantly I wanted to be friends with her.   Later, I saw her kitchen and wondered even more about how we were going to become friends. And then, months later, after having moved to Toronto, I found myself meeting her at Spadina and Dundas on our way to see Final Fantasy at the Music Gallery.  I’m sure you’ve heard this before.

After watching Owen Pallett perform incredible magic on his violin, we headed back to my apartment on Robert for leftovers of the food I had made earlier in the day.  There was souvlaki, spanokopita, dolmades and tzaziki–probably the most elaborate Greek meal I had ever prepared.  I played her all my favourites from the latest Belle and Sebastian album.  We danced around my apartment, smoked a bit and I’m sure had some drinks all before exiting the back door to make our way to the Cloak.  There was nothing unusual about the path we took on our way over to see the Gospel Sundays, but AJ’s keen eye noticed a weird lumpy case sitting on top of a postal box.  After stopping and inspecting the case, we revealed the contents.  A violin.

We found a fucking violin on the side of the road after having just attended a concert featuring the violin!  

There was no one to be seen in the immediate proximity of the violin, and we left a note on the post box for the owner to contact us.  We never found it’s rightful owner.  AJ still has it today.  I don’t think she brought it on the plane though, but one day, she’ll learn to play.

It’s a special and unique friendship story that I will carry in my heart forever….re-telling it at whatever chance I get. A cosmic beginning to the friendship I had been looking for all my life.  I don’t know how else to describe it–our friendship that is.  I have a lot of people I really truly love in my life that are special to me in a lot of different ways.  Friends for greater than 30 years, some.  Others I’ve known only for a short time, and others still, who I never see or talk to, yet they continue to reside deeply in my heart.

What developed with AJ is a cosmic friendship with a bosom chum.  And I’m sure she feels the same way too.

Bosom Chums

Bosom Chums

I miss her, I do.  But I already missed her.  In a lot of ways I feel alone without her, and I have for the last while.  I’ve shared some of the most incredible moments of my life with her.   She has this ability to make any event, situation or circumstance magical.  At times I wonder if she IS in fact some magical and mystical creature like Loch Ness or Big Foot.  But she photographs well and I’ve seen her reflection in the mirror with my own eyes.

I have three biological sisters, and I am not close with any of them, and speak to them very little, if at all.  There’s a myriad of reasons for this I suppose…distance, age gaps, lack of common ground.  I haven’t thought about it enough to really understand why…but we’ve never been close, so I’ve never felt that that sister connection was missing in my life nor was I even aware that there even is such a thing as a sisterly connection.

As AJ and I grew closer over time, I grew to love her immensely and care about her in a way that was unfamiliar to me.  The only way I can describe it is that I must love her the way that sister’s love each other.  And it is a love that will never die.

The second time one of your very best friends moves away in a matter of months isn’t fun/  It is, in fact,  exponentially lonelier.  I don’t think I have fully accepted the fact that she is gone, and I’ll probably become drastically more aware, when she is not here when this little baby arrives.  I know for certain, though, that her pursuits are noble and I’m excited for the chapters that will unfold for her after her short stint away at school in Northern Alberta.

So I wait for her return, and I think of her fondly.  My magical, amazing and lovely bosom chum.  Sweet, sweet Alana.

30withaj

My 30th birthday sleep over

foggy alley in Toronto

In the Alley by the Pie

Giant Guinness

A stroll after Saturday Afternoon high tea

herfaveholiday

Turkey Coma on her favourite holiday

luxardo

Straight from the bottle

matesofstate

On our way to see Mates of State

Thirty-Five

My friend wrote and recorded this song once, “Isn’t it Nice to Be You”.  The last time I heard him play it,  it seemed like he looked right at me and smiled.  And he nodded, the way he almost always does.  He nods a lot.  As he sat in front of those 88 keys I felt like he was assuring me that it really was nice to be me.

Isn't it nice

I didn’t know it, but being able to think about that smile and the nod has really helped this last little while.

Sometimes things don’t go your way.  Good things, bad things, catastrophic things can happen to anyone at any point in life and it’s easy to get sidelined and forget the things around us which we can continually count on.

For the last three weeks, I have been worried about things that I cannot control, and a future that I can’t see, yet still deliberately reminding myself about the abundance of love and joy I have in my life and little family.  And how I should, quite easily, be content with just that.

Teacups

See–look how happy they are!

A few months ago, I was reading magazines, as I love to do.  And with every page I turned it seemed like the each article I read, blurb I scanned, picture I looked at was there to reinforce the difficulty of conceiving after the age of 35.  That magical number that all women have in their head as the childbearing age of doom–35!  It was just a few months before my 35th birthday, that seemingly dreaded day at which conception became impossible.  We wanted to have at least one more baby and 35 was just around the corner.  Yikes.

What I didn’t know at the time was that we had already conceived.  Less than a month after we were married.  Not exactly what I had expected to happen, especially after reading such doom and gloom about conception at 35.  And now here we are, expecting our second child, in February of 2014.  We’ve told our families, and we’ve told our friends, making it all seem so real and imminent that it could never go away.

But I got the results from my first trimester scan at 13 weeks and they were not entirely favourable.

The call came as I was riding the streetcar to work one morning.  As the tears rolled down my face, I quietly got up from the coveted single seat and weirdly exited the streetcar only 2 stops away from where I got on.  My doctor explained over the phone that the down syndrome risk was not increased, however, there was a 1 in 81 chance that our baby has Trisomy 13 or Trisomy 18.  This means that the baby could potentially have a third chromosome 13 or chromosome 18.  Strangely enough, I had done some research on these syndromes the week prior, so I knew that possible outcome was really quite terrible.  I completely fell apart when I first got the news, and could barely keep it together in the days following that awful call from my doctor.  Fortunately, I was scheduled for vacation the following week, with little to no plans, so I could essentially hide out and be as anti social as I felt.  Over time, I started to focus on the math of it all, which helped me control the tears whenever I had to broach the subject.  The good math, as in our potential risk, and the bad math—the stats for babies with this disease.

These stats, by no means, are 100% accurate, but here’s the way I see it based on everything that I’ve read.  About 40% of Trisomy 13/18 pregnancies carry to term, but the average life span of the baby is 2.5 days. Only 1 in 5000 are born alive and 5-10% of live births make it through the first year. Only 1% live to age 10.  For more accurate stats, feel free to do the research, it really is rather heartbreaking.

Now to put this into perspective, our risk for trisomy 13/18 is only 1/81, which is a 1.2% chance that there is something wrong.  Small risk, right?  As my very wise boss said, when you’ve got a 1% chance of winning the lottery, you’ll never win.  But when there’s a 1% chance that there’s something wrong with your baby, that 1% becomes a very real possibility.

We were called to Mount Sinai for genetic counselling, where a very friendly and knowledgeable, counselor explained the results of my first trimester blood tests–the two proteins were low, whatever that means, which is a sign that there could be this chromosomal abnormality.  The appointment was surprisingly comforting and we had prepared ourselves for a long two weeks leading up to meeting her.    She confirmed the research we’d done with affirmations that this abnormality was certainly lethal to our child, while offering other potential explanations for the test results.  She discussed the next steps–the additional testing options we could choose from and answered our questions as thoroughly as possible.  She even talked to me about what my choices were, should the baby be confirmed Trisomy 13/18 without casting judgement.

We had opted to have an amniocentesis, scheduled for the following day–where they stick a needle in your belly, through your uterus and into your amniotic sack to gather the amniotic fluid.  The fluid contains the baby’s cells, which once retrieved, the scientists break apart to examine the chromosomes to look for abnormalities.  The dangers of an amnio are quite small, especially at Mount Sinai, and the test will give you 99% accurate results.  In 2-3 short days, we could have all the answers we need.

The amnio itself was the most amount of stress I have ever experienced, concentrated in a few short minutes.  But it didn’t take long, and the care of the doctors was fantastic.  We’re fortunate to have such high quality of non-discriminatory medical care available to us, with relatively low amount of hassle to get the best.  Doctors and counselors at our disposal who are positive and caring with a genuine interest in our health, both mental and physical, at no extra cost to us.

The results of the amnio came in just 2 days later and we are overjoyed with the news that I received over the phone.   Our little baby has only 2 of each of the 13, 18 and 21 chromosomes.  There is no chance that this child has Trisomy 13/18 or even Down’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I have read wonderful stories about families with a living Trisomy 13/18 child that has blessed them tremendously–but those stories are incredibly few.  I admire the parents that have lived through this, or any other challenge to the health of their child, and have come across to the other side and are able to share their story.

It is not lost on me that the other calls that were made to patients awaiting their results were not so triumphant.  In fact, the counselor said calling me was the best part of her day.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to get the negative results.  And my heart goes out to other mums and dads that have been anticipating good news, and are met with very real devastation when the call does come.

The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult–we mostly kept this to ourselves, only talking about it when we chose, and only sharing with a select few.  And now, we can breathe a sigh of relief.  Of course you never actually stop worrying until your child is born healthy, and even then you worry, I guess, until the day you die.

Before hanging up, the counselor asked me if I wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.  We’ve opted to wait the whole 9 months for the surprise.  And now all I have to do is wait….

My 35th Birthday, Pregnant.

My 35th Birthday, Pregnant.

Are you there Gord? It’s me, Peattsa. Treatsa Peattsa.

I’ve had a terrible case of what I can only assume is writer’s block for the last month.  I think it’s all the things that I want to say to, or about Gord that are preventing anything else from coming out.  Words, I mean.

For those who are not actually Gord, or those folks who don’t know him, he’s my pal.  And he’s moving away.  Really far away.  This is for him.

Gord.

drunk guy in a funny sombrero

Happy Gord

I’ve started these prose about a hundred times in my head.  And all I can think is that there is absolutely nothing that I can truly say that could ever impart to Gord or anyone else exactly how I feel, but I’m going to try.  Addie and Kris, his sisters, might get it.  His mom, Laurie, might have some idea.  Maybe even Golnaz might see where I’m coming from , but she gets to keep him.  Really anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting Gord probably has some idea of just how incredibly awesome he is as a human.  As Delay said to me the other night while hugging my tear stained face:  “We all love him.  But he’s your best friend.”   Everyone loves Gord–I love Gord, you love Gord, EVERYBODY LOVES GORD! And now, like many nights over the last 6 weeks, I am crying my eyes out because that awesome will be so, so….So far away from me.  That someone great will be gone.

Rockin' in the early days

Rockin’ in the early days

7 years ago, I moved in with an almost total stranger and had no idea what I was in for.  I knew he played music, that he had a great sense of humour and that he might be a little, well, quirky.  I pictured him hanging around the apartment in a burgundy velvet blazer all the time, keeping the apartment entirely too tidy and being incredibly uptight.  My expectations were way off mark.

Sure it was awkward at first.  We were strangers, sharing an apartment, and Gord had just come off the craziest roommate ride of his life.  Here he was, left to the clutches of another possibly crazy lass in her mid twenties.      I’m not sure how he managed to hold himself together, yet he somehow did.

I was young and afraid and sad to have left the “love” of my then-life behind.  I didn’t know much about Toronto or the people in it or really what to expect from the new life I had happened upon.  When my home-town friends visited, Gord welcomed their wandering and drunken asses, just as warmly as he welcomed mine.  I got to see that he wasn’t uptight nor was he too tidy.  He began to relax, I began to relax and we started to uncover ridiculous amounts of common ground.

Won't you join us and our big ugly dogs?

The invitation to our first roommate-a-versary party.

Our Parkdale Hub of Love

Our Parkdale Hub of Love

Gord was there in the break up times, the stressful times, the munchies times, the boozy times, the Jackson 5 times.  He taught me to eat popcorn with a spoon so my fingers didn’t get all buttery, and he tried to teach me about jazz chord progressions—which was a futile effort.  Our home became a love hub in Parkdale.  Where I made pies and dips, and we served copious amounts of snacks in the kitchen nook.  Where countless friends and visitors felt welcomed and loved.  Where they laughed and cried and ate and hugged.  Where we drank a lot.  Where we smoked a lot.  104 Spencer was teeming with good vibes and positive energy–I was heartbroken when we had to leave.  We were both devastated when our landlord informed us that he wanted to take over our little apartment of splendor.  But the universe, as we all know,  has its way of moving things along.

What Gord might not know is how tough it was for me to give up the life that I had with him to move in with Martin.  I don’t regret the decision at all obviously.  What I’ve gained is immeasurable by comparison, but the hurt I felt when Gord and I parted ways is a sorrow not much unlike what I feel today.  I cried for a month straight after moving out of Spencer.  Poor Martin, I’m sure, was confused by this as it should’ve been one of the happiest times in our lives.  But Martin persevered, my immediate sadness waned, and life carried on in the awesome way to which I had become accustomed.

It seemed only fitting for him to give me away.

It seemed only fitting for him to give me away.

I do realize that, much like our move back in 2009, this isn’t the end of Gord and Peattie, and that the internet exists and that there are cellular phones and email and text messages which will aid us in keeping in touch.  There won’t be the parties or the gigs, though.  And I’m pretty sad about that.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this–believe it if you want, ignore it if you don’t:  I am Gord Light’s biggest fan.  I love his music.  I don’t just love it because he was my roommate and he’s my friend.  I love it because it is awesome.  He is, hands down, the most musically talented person I have ever met and will ever meet in all of the days of my life.  Before moving in with Gord, I thought I was pretty good at music.  Next to him, I look like “Introduction to the Recorder” from Grade 4 music class:  Hot Cross Buns style.  He is a god damned musical genius.  The voice of a groovy and soulful giant comes out of his neck, and his nimble fingers are quick to learn any instrument they touch.

Stage Setup at the Cameron House

Stage Setup at the Cameron House

His songs are interesting, his lyrics are thoughtful and witty, his hooks are catchy and the chords are always complicated.  He would write melodies and harmonies on the bus to Mississauga in his fucking head for christ’s sake…without an instrument  in sight.  He can do all the things I ever dreamed of doing with music with nary a second thought.  His soul was called to music, there is no doubt about that.

I remember that first gig at the Cameron…that one he spoke about on stage the other night.  That first gig where he played virtually all his own tunes.  I was shocked at the time that it was somewhat of a first for him and his burgeoning band.   Fast forward 7 years later, and I found myself sitting in shock at his EP release last Wednesday.  There I sat, with tears streaming down my face listening to “Left Turn at Albuquerque” thinking about the drunken wreck I’ll be without him, and how he’ll be dancing out in Golden, not Toronto OR Bermuda for that matter.

I watched on Wednesday as he played “You’ll Never Know” on his uke, and remembered how, about a year ago, I was driving through Parkdale thinking that it was finally safe to stop worrying about things changing one day.  I thought then that if things had lasted this way so far, there was a good chance that we would all go on living within a 5 mile radius of each other for the rest of our lives.  That there was a good chance that I could always count on a HKM happening every Monday, somewhere.  I realized while listening to him sing about the moment being gone that I had been so very wrong–those moments are fading away now.  Things are changing.  But in the sadness of my heart of hearts I am still grateful.  I am still grateful because I know that we never took those moments for granted and we never will.  Those special times will forever live on in our souls and they are something we will share for the rest of this life and on into our next.

Gord & The Flaptones

Gord & The Flaptones

We almost always did what we could to make the best of our lives–Gord and I and our little crew.  We were always thankful for the things we had:  the good times, the friends, the hugs, the snacks, and oh god–the laughter!  We have thoroughly enjoyed everything the universe presented us with, and if ever one of us was down, the other was always there to find the silver lining.  I can only hope that we will carry on as such on opposite ends of the country.

The positive, look at the bright side, hugs-a-lot Peattie was not who I was before I met Gord–I was sad and depressed and barely enjoyed living. I can’t contribute the entirety of my positive mental shift to my old roommate and chum, I can, however, say this:

Knowing Gord Light has changed my life.

And I’m sure if you know him, he’s changed yours too.

So long, Gord.

So long, Gord.

Goodbyes Are Never Easy

Five years ago, I secretly started my Blogger blog.  And now, I’m moving.

In the beginning, no one knew about my little blogger space except me. I had written publicly in other spaces to share my travelling adventures as a software trainer and to keep my friends up to date on my new life in the big city.  One night, I came home with some very personal thoughts on a friend that was moving, and wanted to share them. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to share them with, so I wrote them for me. For the next year, I barely even remembered my little corner of the internet.

When Marigold was born, I had this overwhelming urge to write my story.  I picked up my blog again and this time I started sharing.  I’ve discovered so much about myself in writing, and I truly hope that one day, when I’m old and grey, I’ll be able to read what I have written and remember my life.  I hope that I will laugh and I will cry and I hope that I have made you do the same.

I’m obviously over emotional about a web address change.  I’m going to continue to write, and you’ll find all the same content, same style, same voice and similar layout at my new address, the only thing changing is my URL, so I’m not saying goodbye.  I’m just letting go of “blogger” to move on to something bigger and hopefully better.  Goodbye Help Peattie Remember, hello LadyBirdMagpie.com

Cutting the Donut

We had donuts for our wedding cake.  Though poor quality, these hilarious pictures ensued.  Thanks Glory Hole for making our wedding delicious!!!

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