Electoral Fate

Four years ago today, I placed the most important vote of my life. I emerged from my writer’s cave, showered, dressed, and then shoved my car into drive. Strolling into my polling station, a local church, I flashed some ID and wandered behind the tiny partition. I cast my vote in Toronto’s municipal election, shoved my ballot into the box and headed to the door.

And then I met my husband.

I remember blinking and squinting when I saw the familiar figure in the hallway, trying to place him before I approached, cursing myself for not visiting the eye doctor for those glasses I’d become desperate for.

When he turned around my heart fluttered in my chest in recognition. He took off his sunglasses and squinted in my direction and I smiled, the sunshine and the warmth of the atrium foyer engulfing us while we embraced.

You see, we’d known each other years before. And fate has a funny way.

He’d been friends with an ex-boyfriend of mine from nearly a decade and a half ago, and during those years we had a wonderful rapport. We’d managed to keep in touch for a few years after the relationship disintegrated, but eventually everyone drifted apart.

But I must confess, I partly ran away. I’d begun to feel a pull for this boy. We had sparkle. And it was all too much for me at the time, still too close to the past. One of the last times we all hung out the two of us traveling to a cottage party with another friend, a friend who says now, years later, how connected we’d been during those last days. But I’d ignored it, forcing myself down another path, one that came to an abrupt dead end six months before voting day.

But voting day wasn’t the first time we’d run into each other. Fate tried a few other times before we finally got it right, tossing us together randomly. I hadn’t bumped into a single other soul from the old crew over the years. Just him.

And as we stood in that foyer I felt the fingers of fate fold around us. And I knew he felt it too. The sparkle igniting the room wasn’t just from the sunshine. I’m not sure either of us were surprised to discover we lived within ten blocks of each other as we stood chatting for a few minutes while other voters ambled in and out of the church. Eventually we wandered out to our cars, both stating that we should get together to catch up. One over-edited Facebook message (me) and a phone call later (him) and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, if you don’t believe in fate and fairy tales, I’m here to tell you that they do come true.

And am I ever grateful I took the time to shower and wash off the coating of writer’s grime that day.

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A Creative Jump Start

Last weekend Mr. Z and I wandered up north for a few days of relaxation and a unexpected marathon of Downton Abbey (Seasons 1 & 2), and when Saturday turned into the loveliest November day ever, we wandered outside. Thankfully he remembered the camera and I wandered along behind him, mostly not watching for moose. Or bobcats. Or cougars. Or wolves. I was happily snapping photos instead.

I had begun to worry in the weeks prior that my writing mojo had evapourated and that my first novel was a fluke. I couldn’t seem to get into Book Two. But that afternoon it came roaring back. Sometimes it takes a little something different to jump start us, so now I know to grab my camera and head out for a long walk when I’m feeling blocked. Here are a few of my finds.

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And for all you doubters, we’d just had rain so were lucky enough to find some evidence of the creatures surrounding us…that wasn’t always in dung form.

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Wedding Day Shenanigans

One year ago today I agreed to do this:

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Seven months later, we pulled it off.  Here are a few moments from our magical day.

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My gorgeous friend, Dee, from Glamorous Planning, making me beautiful.

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And the result…my eyes have never looked so good!

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Little people!

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I love how my niece is about to go all zombie on me in this shot!

 

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This is one of my favourite shots of the day.

 

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Mmmm. Hubs had this bottle for years and years, saved specially for me. Okay, it was for his wedding day. I just happened to be the one marrying him.

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More smiles! AND champagne!

 

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Dancing Shoes! I think I should send this shot to Sketchers.

Happy, Happy Day!

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My Bookish Wedding

Less than two months prior to my wedding day, I stumbled across a post, picture or musing about a bookish wedding somewhere on the interwebs. The world went quiet as I sat back and realized I had to have this – or at least some of it.

A google-second later, I landed in book heaven. And also, a little bit of hell. So many decisions had already been made. Could I change them? Did I want to? So much work had been already done and my allocated wedding planning time was already in short supply as I was splitting the time with readying my novel for publication – which I was silly enough to schedule shortly after the wedding, a deadline I didn’t quite hit and had to extend from May to June.

I browsed the awesome ideas, wondering if I could use them or if I could incorporate some of them and some of the ones I dreamed up into what I already had planned. There were so many options from cake toppers to cakes themselves and book-stacked centerpieces doubling as hostess gifts. Everything could all be books! I realized I had some serious decisions to make – and one hands-on groom to convince – and in the end, some books and even some writing made it to our wedding, making this bride even more pleased with her big day.

First things first: A novel poked out the top of my wedding bag. Yes, there might have been a few cocktails consumed the night I threw it in there, because what bride has time to read on her wedding day? But I tend never to go anywhere without my book so my current read tagged along to my wedding. I wish I’d snapped a shot of it, alongside my shoes and jewellery, but it never crossed my mind – probably because I never had two seconds to crack it open.

More writerly than bookish, I decided to take the most jitter-inducing moment of any wedding and make it even more nerve-wracking. I wanted us to write our own vows. I wrote them in spurts, languishing and agonizing over the words again and again until perfected. Words of love, honor and cherish and “I promise to wake you with coffee and quiet on every morning I am able” (a morning person, my husband is not) gave us the perfect blend of meaningful with a few chuckles. I might even be a touch teary thinking about it now.

My Google searches uncovered that library cards were often used in a bookish wedding for initiations. Much too late for this, I re-purposed the idea and used them for place cards instead, immediately placing an order for library cards – yes, I was a bride on a mission. I then grabbed two hardcover books off my shelf, folded each page in half and then tucked them into the center until it fanned out accordion-style when laid flat. I slid the cards inside in alphabetical order.

Yes, I defaced a book. Two of them actually, but one now sits on the front table in our hall and collects our mail and various other items that would clutter the counter (someone tipped too much red wine on the other to salvage.) So I consider that a win. In case you were interested Jennifer Weiner’s In Her Shoes made the cut. Yes, Jennifer Weiner attended my wedding. Sort of. Sadly, I forgot to request the photographer take shots of each of these items, so this bookish aspect didn’t receive a dedicated shot, but in the periphery of the photos below, you can get the gist.

We also had a ‘Wordy Wishes’ guestbook. The dictionary that fostered my love of words throughout my childhood lay splayed open to the heart-circled word love. A frame with the following instructions accompanied it: “Circle a word to describe our special day, your thoughts of us, or your well wishes. Write some words, sign and bookmark.” Mini-bookmarks accompanied the dictionary so we could easily find the inscriptions we encouraged guests to write.

From bookish back to writerly, our kissing game was having the tables or individuals write a poem and read it out loud. Some guests stepped up to the challenge and spouted off romantic to silly poems, and even an R-rated one.

I heart my bookish wedding. It was perfect in every bookish detail and beyond, particularly my groom.

Commuters Behaving Badly

I have been fortunate enough for the majority of my adult life to be able to commute to work by car in locations that are not subway accessible (see the first point below) within a close proximity to my home. Or unfortunate if you take an environmental standpoint, but Toronto’s transit system is so antiquated that it would have taken double the time to get to work and when I don’t want to be there in the first place, why would I want to spend more time getting to and from the necessary evil?

Beginning last December however, I have been temping downtown and there is no other feasible way to travel except via the subway. And although there are advantages, like being green and the additional reading time, there are plenty of disadvantages. I’m sure transit lifers have more stories as I’m such a newbie. But I’ve seen my share and sometimes my novels don’t quite offer the escape required from the sardine machine.

Kudos to everyone who has traveled ‘the better way’ every day for decades because there have been many a trying moment in my last nine months (including a 1.5 hour delay where I had to stand on a platform. Outside. In February). I normally have my nose tucked in a book, so I probably miss much, but from time to time (especially if the book isn’t interesting, or if I get too sidetracked by annoying people), I turn up my head and take in the scenery.

In no particular order, my Toronto commuting pet peeves:

  • The Toronto Transit Subway System itself. Having recently visited NYC, we quite easily traveled via subway from time to time and were shocked at the staggering amount of lines and routes available. Toronto desperately needs to get its act together. It’s embarrassing.
  • Delays – At a minimum of once a week, there is a serious delay on my commute. At times it is more than once during what is supposed to be my 30 minute train ride. Today, for example, my penance for writing this was an additional 20 minutes due to several issues. Malfunctioning trains, idiots who press the emergency button because they have nothing better to do, fights on the platform, security issues and the thing they never talk about, all crop up on numerous occasions. I’m all for the emergency buttons. I am. For an EMERGENCY. Like when my grandmother fainted on the platform last year (she commutes to bingo. And I won’t even get into the stories she can tell). That’s an emergency. When you’re annoyed at your fellow sardines. That is NOT.
  • Pole Huggers –Go take a class if you want a pole all to yourself.
  • Pickers – Need I say more? See germs below.
  • Coughs that are not covered by hands, sleeves, newspapers. Nothing. It makes me want to crawl into a bubble. Again, see germs below.
  • Germs – The subway will make a germaphobe out of you faster than you can buy stock in Lysol. (see above).
  • Cologne and Perfume bathers – The sinus headache before my day has begun is fab.
  • For the boys: Even if my nose is tucked into a book, your crotch is at eye level and any adjusting you do is still well within in my line of vision. And so are your underpants when your jeans are around your ankles.
  • Mold – I realize there is probably not much that can be done about this, but my sinuses tell me loud and clear each morning that it should be a growing concern.
  • You love your music. I don’t. To channel my mother, and show my age, you’ll go deaf.
  • Screaming at fellow commuters and near fist fights. These are always fun.
  • Obnoxious talkers. You don’t need to speak quite so loudly. It’s a confined space. And I want to read. I know its not the library, but at 7:30 in the morning, please do not disturb my delusions that life should still be quiet and calm. Or at 5:00pm when I want quiet after a busy day (well, as busy as a temp can be), I do not need to hear your life story.

And two of my personal favourite moments:

  •  The groaning woman with bowel issues who had no qualms letting the entire passenger car know about it. Yet she wouldn’t get off. I really could have used some thumping music of above said offenders. How can you not get off, travel above ground to find facilities? This also proves the subway system desperately lacks restrooms.
  •  The drunken teenage girl I thought was going to fall onto the tracks until her equally inebriated friend dragged her back. (No, I have never been that drunk and stupid. That I can remember). Thankfully she got off the train before she could decorate it with the Rockaberry Cooler or whatever the cool kids are drinking these days.

All grumbling aside, I’ve also seen good. Seats given up for the elderly, infirm, stroller bound, or expecting women. Doors held open and people stepping off a busy train to wait for another to make room for a handicapped man in a wheelchair. Heck, I’ve even braced myself to catch a toddler and once, an elderly man, who chuckled profusely when he notice I had thought I might catch him if the train jerked and he fell. At least I made him laugh. There isn’t much laughter on the subway. Maybe there should be. Then again, maybe not.  I need to keep reading after all. And throngs of people need to keep doing what they’re doing. Unless they’re things on my aggravating list. Then they should stop.