My Friend Jen


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.






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.



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.








Songs on Repeat: Modern Girl

I think I always knew about Sleater-Kinney, but I never really listened to them before I heard this song.  Like really heard it.

Sunny days and nights

Sunny days and nights

If I had to guess, I would say that the song is probably supposed to be sarcastic in undertones, judging solely on what I’ve learned about Carrie Brownstein’s sense of humour on Portlandia.  And since they’re sortof punk rock, it might just be a commentary on how people rely on material possessions to bring them happiness.  Here’s what comes to mind when I put it on repeat.

Listening to Modern Girl reminds me of the way I felt about Hole’s “Violet” back in the 90s.  It makes me want to wake up really early, drink coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes while I drive a really long distance shouting the lyrics at the top of my lungs.  This song picks me up, it perks me up and makes me feel like I can face the world.  The entire world.  It doesn’t matter to me what social commentary Sleater Kinney meant to disseminate with Modern Girl.  I blast this as my anthem–not because I’m a punk rock socialist. It is my anthem because my life, my whole life, IS a picture of the sunny day.

I have a beautiful baby who loves me.  I have an amazing husband who loves me.  I can get a really fucking awesome donut if I want, and buy a television if I really wanted to.  And even if I didn’t have any of those things, my life would still be full of sunshine.  Because that’s how I want to see it.

There are so many things that can stand in the way of happiness.  Things that seem so important to the value of our lives, but instead of propelling us forward, they push us down or hold us back.  Negative thoughts and actions have no purpose, but rather, they simply sap your drive to live and your will to see all that is good and lovely.

I don’t live in some weird euphoric utopian paradise zombie state, though reading back on what I’ve written, it may sound that way.  I hurt and I cry and sometimes I think I simply can’t go on.    Dwelling on those horrific feelings, while it seems to temporarily offer comfort and relief, doesn’t really offer any value, to me or anyone else.  It simply draws energy away from the things I want to accomplish in this life.

Kensington Sunshine

Kensington Sunshine

I grew up in a pretty negative environment, surrounded by some pretty significant negative influences.  I was so negative I can remember an era in my life where I would actually say to people that I didn’t want to live past 30.  My first thought now is to laugh at such immature rationale, but when I really reflect on the implications of those things I was saying, I get scared.  If things hadn’t changed and I hadn’t made a conscious effort to shed the negativity, I might not have made it to 30.  And I never would’ve been able to enjoy this extraordinary life that I get to live today.

Happiness is a choice, and several years ago I made that choice to be happy.  Surely I have days now and again where again I find myself smack in the middle of misery and despair.  But I try to remind myself about the choice I made as quickly as I can.  Rather than slowly wasting away in the dismal and gray, I can choose to live on and thrive in the shining sun.

Peruvian Sunshine

Peruvian Sunshine

Thank you, Sleater-Kinney, for writing and recording Modern Girl.  It helps me remember to make that choice.  Over and over again.  And that’s what makes me a modern girl.

When the rain clears and out comes the sun, it's accompanied by a rainbow.

When the rain clears and out comes the sun, it’s accompanied by a rainbow.

Anniversary Traditions

I just looked it up.  It was actually March 5th.  Turns out that’s actually my pal’s Parks’ birthday…funny coincidence.  I didn’t even know there was a Park’s when I moved to Toronto.

In 2006, I made a pretty significant life decision.  I quit my job, packed up my shit and moved here.  I had exactly 4 friends on the north shore of Lake Ontario.  And now, this is my life.  Lake Ontario at the bottom  of my street, and Queen Street is just steps to the north.  I listen to Parkdale sounds as I fall asleep at night, and I wake to Parkdale sounds in the morning.  Deep in the throbbing heart of Parkdale, I am at home in my Parkdale House Of Dreams.  Until 2006, I didn’t even know what a Parkdale was.

West Queen West upon entering Parkdale  “You’ve Changed”

Coming to the decision to move away from my friends, my family, my love, was actually easier than I thought it was at the time.  I had been to visit my dear Kindred on several occasions, and cried whenever I left.  So I moved, and my life changed. Of course I miss my friends, and it was challenging to make new ones, so that part wasn’t easy. But the rest really was pretty simple.  It didn’t matter that I was surrounded by tons of really rad people who I really really really  love a whole lot, I always felt lonely in the Cath.  I knew that if I stayed in Niagara I would live a sad lonely life.  I needed things to change.  I needed to be alone to end the loneliness.

I had some ideas about what I was walking into by leaving, but I can assure you that those ideas are so vastly different than what I found once I arrived. There was this thing that was happening when I moved here, and I’ve realized that time was standing still for me then.  It was standing still for all of us. I really wish that I could actually paint more than just paint by numbers, because I would paint it all as a giant mural.  And it’s a big fucking party mural.  A really fun party.  The one night only affair that lasted for years, that still finds itself revived in a pub or on a deck, or in a kitchen–over a hot stove here and there.

The Cloak
The cove children

I don’t actually believe that things happen for a reason, and I don’t really believe in fate or pre-destination.  It doesn’t actually matter, fate or no fate,  when you’re too busy living.  Sometimes the universe owes you a favour–you simply accept its kind offer of amazing and be thankful.  So, thank you, universe, for this, and all the other things that have followed.
There hasn’t been much else in my life more right than that move I made in ’06.  A few things, but not many. Anyways, I’m big on anniversaries, and starting annual traditions and reflecting on special times in my life.  It’s all very special and amazing.  I do love it when there are things to celebrate.  Birthdays, New Years Day, Thanksgiving, Mondays.  Celebrations truly are some of the best times of our lives, wouldn’t you say?

There I was yesterday.  Here I am now and where I’ll be tomorrow–ever so much to celebrate!  I know March 5th, 2013 has come and gone, but each year I try, at the very least, to remember the time with celebratory thoughts.  I try to remember how I felt then, and how it feels more right every day.  

From Rancho Relaxo, to the Starbank, The Market, Neutral, Maggie’s, the Cloak and Dagger, the backdoor of 106, Croft, Sneaky Dees, The Magpie, The Press Club, Euclid, Roxton,  to the corner of Grace and Harbord.  

The Dakota, Lakeview, The Gypsy, The Park, 909 and my dress, the dog bowl, Squirrelys, The Paper Place, Preloved, Queen and Dovercourt, The Cock and Tail, The Gladstone.  The Dufferin jog, the now bricked up stairway under the GO overpass. Streetcars, Lamport, the amphitheatre, the Caddy, Salvador, the Rhino, Meher’s deck, Capital, Not my dog, The Village of Parkdale mural, Thrift Town.  Mezzrows and Tibetan protests.  The CN Tower. Going Steady.  The Golden Dogs, White Cowbell Oklahoma, and the Wednesday night residency at the Cameron. Bikes. The people.  The people on bikes. The transit.  The vibe.  The sounds.  The weather.  The fresh flowers on the street corners.  I look around me at the city and I am in love.  In love with the people and the places.  I have never in my life felt more at home.

On the sunny Sunday afternoon that Cindy and Juliee drove me into town, this song by Bjork came on.  Just as it was supposed to–this song played and I laid eyes on the city that had become my new home just at the moment where Bjork says “this is where I’m staying.  this is my home.”  In March 2006 I came home for the first time. Happy anniversary, Toronto.

Roommates Ruling Supreme

Every spring I used to plan a party with Gord to celebrate another year of us ruling supreme as roommates.   This spring, I’m planning a different kindof party.  A party that I’ll surely celebrate for the rest of my life.  I look forward to the traditions that will follow.

You Wanted a Hit.

If you want a hit, you’ve got to make it happen.
I fuck things up all the time. Like seriously, all. the. time.
Somehow I keep doing the exact opposite of what I want to do. There are things I want to be better at. 
Things that I want to improve. And for eff sakes, it takes a lot of fucking focus and determination.  Mostly it’s just shit that only I notice. The impact on others is minimal, I’m sure. Maybe it’s not. Who knows.
The bottom line is that I have a lot to do and I’m having a hard time staying on top of life. I don’t mean menial daily tasks–I washed the bathroom floor with baby wipes while Marigold was in the bath the other night. Wait, does that make me a bad mother?? Whatever, it was efficient.
I’m talking about personal improvements, quality of life goals. Making things better for other people. Having an impact. Living an extraordnary life. And doing it all in a way that makes sense for my little family.

I want a hit. And maybe just wanting it is enough? Because I still feel pretty good.

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Let’s File this Under: "Things I want to remember forever"

Sometimes music changes things.  Sometimes walking changes things.  Sometimes time changes things.  Somehow, I have become increasingly content.  Maybe it’s not contentment, but things just feel right.  I would probably be a lot happier right now if Marigold hadn’t torn the “A” key off my laptop a few months ago.  It is making this typing incredibly difficult.

Ron Leary : The Road in Between
The walking, the living, the family, the job are all things I’m really enjoying.  I get to see my friends a lot. My skin has never looked better.  I dare say, I have never felt better…

Maybe it’s all the lattes.

Anyways, I really like that song by Ron Leary. It makes me happy. And I want to remember it forever.

Work-a-hol, not nearly as good as Alch-o-hol

I guess the first step is admitting it. I’m a workaholic.

And, I’m exhausted.

Over the last few months, I have been spending my days watching Marigold learn to grab things with her hands, learn to roll over, and learn to stick out her tongue. Not high in stress levels to be sure. Don’t get me wrong, staying at home and looking after a baby is very tough, but not incredibly challenging. At least not for me. I love my little baby so much and think she is the most amazing thing in the world, but spending every day all day with her (at this age at least) probably just wasn’t in the cards for me.

Leaving her to go back to work was heartbreaking, because I knew I’d miss her. I’ve spent 24 hours a day for the last 150 days with her, save for a few hours here and there. She’s my best friend. I’m her best friend, of course it was going to be hard. Fortunately, she’s staying home with her other best friend, her daddy, who loves her just as much as I do. Thank god.

The transition for all of us wasn’t as difficult as I thought, or at least not in the way I anticipated it to be. I thought I would spend the first day crying in my office because I missed her so much, and that she would be wailing and whining all day waiting for me to come home. Not so much.

I was also worried (and I can say this, because I know Martin doesn’t read my blog) that I would come home to a disaster house everyday. That I would be the one to walk in the door, clean the house, make dinner, do the laundry, look after the baby etc etc and then fall into a nervous exhausted mess and end up locked up somewhere. I have been surprised everyday, that this has not been the case in the slightest. And in reality, it would’ve been impossible, because I just don’t have the energy.

Of course I have high expectations for my home, and men often just don’t get it when it comes to having a tidy house. But that’s ok…I knew I couldn’t expect things to be done my way any more than I could expect Margiold to be dressed clothes that match. Let’s be serious.

He’s doing an excellent job. Accomplishing more than I thought any stay-at-home-dude ever could! And she loves being with her daddy, and he’s great with her. The dishes might not always be done, and she might be wearing a yellow striped onesie with pink polkadot pants, but the house is still standing. And frankly, I’m so happy to walk in the door when I get home, that I really don’t care that much that things are not done the way I would do them.

You see, this is a really big step. I am a boss, a manager, a director. Not just in my job, but in my home life too. To let this go is an amazing accomplishment for me.

So that being said, the whole transition was more difficult for me than I thought be in a way that’s different than I thought it would be. Does that even make sense? Let me explain.

My day goes like this…times are approximate
630-wake up feed the baby from one side, then pump the other
7-745 shower and get ready
745-8:30 Drive to Richmond Hill
830-12ish go go go go work work work work
12-1230 pump
1230-4 go go go go go work work work work
4-430 pump
430-5 clean up any last bit of work before I leave
5-6 Drive home
6-7 Feed the baby and spend time with her while Martin preps dinner
7-8 have dinner and mind the baby
8-10 try to relax and spend time with Marigold and Martin
10-1030 Nurse the baby to bed
Sometime after 1030–go to bed.

There is not one second in my day that is for me, except for maybe when I go to the bathroom. And before you jump on me and tell me to get used to it, fuck you. I’m sick of people telling me it’s only going to get worse. I know this is the way it is when you have kids, but I’m just telling you how it has been for me, ok?

Furthermore, my maternity leave Employment Insurance deposits were screwed up, so I haven’t received the proper payment in close to a month, and we made an error in budgeting for Martin’s last pay, so we are incredibly broke. Which, if you’ve been broke before, know that it’s one of the most stressful things in life. I don’t know how people do it regularly. We’ll be fine and it will all work out, but it’s just one more thing to add to the list.

On top of that, my job is pretty demanding, so when I’m not working or doing anything, I’m thinking about work. The problems, the solutions and how we’re all going to get through all the bullshit that goes on are always on my mind. My day is filled to the brim with things that need attention immediately, which leaves little time for planning, evaluation and staff development….and in my opinion, these should be the key functions of my position. So, that is how I spend my free time. Thinking about work.

I was anticipating that I was coming back to a changed workplace–that things were different now. This is what I was told. Unfortunately, the differences are small and the issues that I felt needed to be addressed, hadn’t in my departure. In fact, in some ways, things are worse, since neither of the two people that were hired to replace me, worked out.

That being said, I have a team of 5. Three of those teammates were there prior to my departure, and have made me very proud. They have worked so hard in the face of adversity, surrounded by crazies and lazies and have managed to come out on top. The amount of effort, time and dedication that I see in my employees, I think, is unparalleled. This is the most rewarding part of any job that I have ever had, and this is why I am a boss. Seeing people change and grow with my guidance is more pleasing than any other accomplishment in my life and it is so worth the investment of my effort and time. And the fact that they were able to keep the ship afloat in my absence is thoroughly impressive. More than anyone else could ever know.

I find it difficult to leave the office every night. I am almost exasperated because in order for the necessary changes to take place to improve our workplace, I feel as though I need to put in the hours like I used to. I can’t do that anymore. I have a life, in fact, an excellent one. And I need to enjoy it…and staying at work till all hours of the night will not allow me to do that.

I’m not bragging here, but I have a fucking awesome position at a rapidly growing company, I have a nice home, and I have a handsome soul mate who is perfect for me in every way who loves me and our little family more than anything. He is faithful and loyal and committed to me and our family in a way I’ve never seen from a man in my life ever. I have a beautiful, healthy and hilarious daughter with a super rad name. I have my health, and I am pretty and sexy (though, a little flabby), and I’m funny, nice and generous and smart and successful and people like me (I think). I have what so many people want in life. I am so lucky. And I don’t take it for granted.

But I am a workaholic. And fighting that addiction is pretty tough. It’s not like heroin or anything, like I’m not going to die from shooting some bad dope into my veins, and the risks are not nearly as bad. But, hurting my little family is too high of a price to pay to see someone else’s company succeed. I’m not giving up on my job by any means, I’m just working at making work priority #2. Martin and Marigold need to be #1. And that’s the part that I’m struggling with inside. My job defined me. My success and dedication have been who I am for the last 10 years, and especially the last 3. The party Peattie that everyone knew and loved in my personal life is gone now too.

The hardest part of any of this is figuring out who I am now and who I want to be. The non stop party days are over. The work till you drop days are over. I have to find the right life/work/party balance that works for my new life….a balance that Marigold will love, admire and respect when she’s old enough to figure it out.