A Vacation of Firsts

I just arrived home from a vacation months in the making a few days ago. Vacation days were booked in February, and the following months were spent saving up funds and booking travel. After much anticipation and planning, things finally came together for a September 1 departure.

This vacation is my first since 2008, aside from taking a week off to move two years ago. A lot has changed since then: relationships have come and gone, I’ve moved house more than a couple times, I’ve started and left several jobs, and I’ve started over completely from nothing. A proper vacation was long overdue.

My vacation was amazing, and I had the opportunity to have so many experiences over the course of it, thanks to some pretty amazing friends and  family. I don’t know that I will ever be able to express my appreciation for helping to make this vacation possible.

The most amazing part of this vacation was the sheer number of first-time experiences I had. I attempted to keep and make a list, but it just got ridiculous once it hit multiple pages in length. I want to write about as many as logically possible. I will do my best not to make this boring!

Let’s start with the crazy stuff. On the second day of vacation, the first day of our road trip: we stopped in Redding, California, just off the I-5 for dinner, and then the plan was to head for the highway 299 W toward the coast. Minutes after we started to make our way down the 299 W, we discovered it was shut down due to one of the many fires in the area. I scrambled to find us a detour as quickly as possible, and ended up taking us down two regional roads: SR 3 and SR 36. Little did we know we were in for the ride of our lives…and not in a good way. It was the most terrifying experience I have ever had, to my recollection. We were detouring down these unfamiliar back roads full of sharp turns, at times with no lines painted on the roads or reflectors, and definitely no guard rails to be found the entire time we spent travelling those roads. It was made even more frightening by the drivers coming from the opposite direction around the curves driving 55-60 miles per hour, and that we were driving these roads well after midnight. We didn’t have phone service for the majority of the detour either, so we were also travelling blindly. We white-knuckled our way through the entire detour. Never have I been so thankful to arrive at a destination!

Thankfully, the positive first-time experiences outweighed the negative. I traveled into California for the first time and saw the world-renowned Redwoods. We visited two state parks while we were in California: the Redwoods State & National Park, and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We hiked two trails, totaling just under three miles. I use the term “hiking” lightly as neither of us are hikers. The tree growth in the first park was not as old as the growth in the second park, but it was beautiful, and an amazing thing to see for the first time! Even though we were dealing with wildfire smoke, it did not detract from the experience in the slightest. Seeing the Redwoods is the first thing I can confidently describe as awe-inspiring. And that was just the first park! The second park we visited was an old-growth park, where the vast majority of the trees were over a thousand years old. It has a completely different vibe from the first.  It felt like a truly magical place, and its beauty was almost overwhelming for me. We found a nice little nook just off the trail, and I now describe that nook as one of my “happy places.” It’s pretty amazing though that the Redwoods was just the first of several amazing destinations I experienced for the first time. The next one I was able to experience was seeing and going into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I saw it for the first time while we were driving up the coast, and smelled it for the first time when we were past the worst of the smoke. The ocean has a very distinct smell, sort of fishy almost but also refreshing! It walked into it the first time when we stopped in Newport, OR where we stayed at the amazing Sylvia Beach Hotel. It was so much colder than I expected! I had a lot of fun and very pink feet by the time we were done and ready to go eat dinner! We visited the ocean again when we were in Pacific City, and had a nice walk on a slightly warmer and sunnier day. The ocean wasn’t much warmer, but it was an enjoyable stroll along the beach. Even with a bunch of people around, it was kind of peaceful. We ended our walk that day with yummy beach coffee. Another first, although much easier to come by! I was really so lucky in that I was able to see so much of nature’s beauty on this vacation. I even got to stick my toes and hands in a real sulfur hot spring while I was in British Columbia!

I can’t forget though, the amazingness that was Powell’s City of Books. I can only describe it as a book lover’s dream. So, basically my dream. We visited twice and I did well in stopping myself from overspending – or spending at all! I can’t wait to go back… I NEED to go back…

Among the many other amazing firsts was the food! I tried so many new foods! I even discovered that I enjoy things I thought I disliked previously. Surprising myself in this way was actually pretty great. It reminds me why I try things at least once. I had my first actual food cart experience in Portland… more than once. It was delicious every time. Absolutely zero regrets. I had the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life twice from a food cart that came highly recommended, and I also tried a “sushi burrito” twice in two different styles: one spicy and one not. Both were fantastic. Who knew a giant sushi roll could be so satisfying! In keeping with my whole trying foods kick, I tried a new spin on an old staple of mine when we stopped for lunch one day: a salmon Caesar salad! I usually go for chicken, but I remembered that I wanted to try new things on vacation so I changed it up. And boy am I glad I did! It was so flavourful and the salmon melted in my mouth. It complimented the salad much better than I ever expected. One of my favourite new foods I tried was Korean, traditional. Arien’s mom cooked a meal the night before I left and it was excellent. I enjoyed it so much…spice and all. I was rather proud of myself actually! Spicy foods aren’t usually very nice to me. It’s funny though because I was told that she didn’t break out the big guns in terms of spiciness…haha. Baby steps! There was So much good food on vacation too. I will miss it. It’s just not quite the same at home.

This small recap of a few of the MANY firsts I experienced isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I have so many amazing memories from this vacation that I will remember forever.

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You Know Something’s Wrong When…

The world we are living in is a very difficult one to live in. On one hand we are surrounded by SO MANY great and beautiful things like friends, family, nature, the freedoms we enjoy – but on the other hand we are dogged by some of the ugliest things. Racism and bigotry are very much alive and well. Violence is everywhere we turn. Extremists of all kinds seek to dismantle all that we have worked hard to achieve as a society. This is becoming especially apparent with our southern neighbours, the U.S., based on recent events.

I have been struggling a lot with my depression this summer in and of itself, but watching events unfold around the world, mostly in the U.S. since Donald Trump was elected president, has been profoundly disheartening and has had a negative effect on my mental health overall. It has added to what has felt like a gradual spiral dive turned crash and burn into the ground. My mental health is in the shitter. My anxiety is at a 2-year peak, and my depression is the worst it has been since I went on medication approximately a year ago. I realize part of it is seasonal, part of it has a social aspect, but I feel like a large portion can be attributed to struggling to live in this world we have created for ourselves. I’m not saying I am suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, but it is becoming more and more difficult to go about my day knowing what has been happening elsewhere and thinking about what could potentially happen that day. It’s a very stressful way to live.

The events that took place in Charlottesville this month had a more profound effect on me than I ever could have expected, leading me to examine my own belief system and the way I look at this and similar situations. The fact that neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups feel like they have a place in society today is scary to me; bordering on terrifying. They shouldn’t have a place anywhere. I thought we as people learned from history, at the conclusion of World War Two, 72 years ago. I was so, so incredibly wrong.

I consider myself a feminist, and my political leanings are quite far left. I am very much against any form of racism, bigotry, or hatred; things that are very easy to say considering my privilege. Sadly, it is all I seem to see when I attempt to read or catch up on the news.

It’s difficult to handle these huge amounts of negativity everywhere when living with depression. I sit here and feel like I should be doing something about it. Single-handedly if I could, as impossible as that is.  I question myself constantly: Do I do enough? Do I allow it to happen? Am I helping to perpetrate racism and bigotry and hatred as a white person? I know there are opportunities out there, but most times I just do not have the energy or the motivation. It’s difficult enough to get out of bed every day and get my self to work, let alone do anything else.

It’s so hard living in this world. It makes me want to rage quit.

A Much Anticipated Purchase

I have been entertaining the idea of purchasing a fountain pen for ages, and for some reason I never bothered to act on the thought until last week. I found a reasonably priced basic fountain pen on Amazon and clicked the “purchase” button. It arrived three days later and I am IN LOVE.


It has a simple, yet elegant design and I am very impressed with it considering I paid less than $30 for it. I have spent a lot of time with it, both seriously writing and just doodling and it is the best pen I have ever used. I simply cannot understand why I didn’t do this sooner!


The pen I purchased is a the silver fountain pen with a fine nib from the Pilot Metropolitan collection. I also purchased some ink cartridge refills for starting out. It did come with a converter, but I think I will leave using it until I have a bit more experience. In the meantime, I’m just going to write like crazy with it. This could be a dangerous purchase for me. I could see myself owning many more in the future and many more colours of ink!

Inspiration

After a quiet holiday long weekend with some minor frustrating occurrences, I think I may have finally found the inspiration to write something of substance. It feels like it has taken years for me to get to this point.

I started it last night. I’m not going to talk about it here until I have something a little more substantial than a few sentences.

I just wanted to share that it may finally be happening after what feels like far too long. Thank you to everyone I talked to this weekend; you helped me to get to this point.

If only I could finally get these exams out of the way already…

An Eventful June 

June has been a busy month in the land of Lindsay. As a result I have been exhausted almost perpetually this month. Hoping for a relatively quiet July, and in turn time to recover. Time to recap the craziness! 

The beginning of June came with a midterm to study for and to write. I probably didn’t study as much as I could have, but I at least managed a 75% on the exam. I am okay with that. The quizzes for this class have continued to happen every week or so, and has kept me on my toes. My last class is tonight, and studying for the final exam commences tonight as well. 

Mid-June came with a big trip for my cousin’s wedding. The family came from far and wide and converged on Brandon, Manitoba for a long weekend. We flew out on Thursday, and returned Monday afternoon. Mom and I tried Airbnb for the first time, and it was a great experience. We saw family we haven’t seen in ages, and we had a fantastic time at the wedding. My cousin looked absolutely beautiful, and the wedding was a fun laid back affair. I was sorry to part with everyone again, but I was very happy to be home again Monday! I was also very thankful for my neighbour who acted as cat-sitter as well. The cats were much better for having someone able to look in on them twice a day! 



Traveling to and returning from Manitoba did a number on me. Luckily I haven’t gotten sick or anything, but I have been exhausted on a whole new level. No amount of sleep has had me feeling rested until today finally. This past weekend I took a few extra naps totalling 5.5 hours of extra sleep. I guess I needed it! 

This past Sunday night brought the Eagles of Death Metal concert at London Music Hall. I took a friend for her birthday. It was a super great time, even though I was crazy tired to begin with and even more so after… I did sleep well that night. A deep and satisfying sleep, even if it was short. It was one of the best shows I have been to in a very long time. Maybe I will get lucky and catch another great show sooner rather than later. 

Well, I’m broke now too, so the excitement has to slow down regardless. Time to rest!

Handy person?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Canadian holidays, we just celebrated Victoria Day, or “May 2-4.” It’s the first long weekend of the summer season, and usually marks the beginning of summer festivals locally. A lot of people go camping, others party, and still others use it as an opportunity to start gardens or plant fields and the like. I, on the other hand, used this long weekend to build a long-awaited headboard for my bedroom. 

With the help of my dad, we built a headboard from scratch. From buying the raw materials (wood, stain, screws, etc.) to cutting, sanding and finishing the wood, all the way to assembly and installation. It was fun and exciting, but also exhausting and much more physical work than I have been used to. I am only just getting back to semi-normal energy levels, so it still took a whole  lot out of me. I am, however, very happy that it’s done. I can assure that the cats are happy about it as well. They are finally starting to relax again and so am I. 

See the journey in photographs from end to start below! 

Superhero Weekend 2017

This past weekend was what I like to call “Superhero Weekend.” Not only does the latest big superhero movie usually open on this weekend every year, but it is also Free Comic Book Day on Saturday. Hooray for the first weekend in May being so awesome! And now, to chronicle it: 

It all started on Friday night after work, from which Jen (super awesome nerd-friend!) and I left a bit earlier than usual. We went to pick up her daughter and another friend before we picked her husband up from work and headed off to dinner. 

We had dinner at Under the Volcano, a local Mexican restaurant that makes some pretty delicious food. Because we had the movie to make, we called ahead and had a table reserved for us so we could get in and out quickly, which we did. Service was excellent, and the server was even jealous of what were up to that night. 

From Under the Volcano we headed straight to the theatre for our opening night viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We settled into our comfy reclining seats with our awesome movie theatre popcorn and drinks, for the one of the most anticipated movies this year. 

The movie was fantastic. Very enjoyable, especially with Baby Groot stealing the show! I won’t go into detail, because spoilers. 

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The next day was Free Comic Book Day, however, the weather was less than ideal, and Jen’s husband was unwell. Nevertheless, we three women took on The day ourselves. We did get off to a late start, but that was okay. We did things backwards from what we normally do and it worked in our favour. We avoided a few lines in Old East at Neo Tokyo and The Comic Collector, and stood in a shorter line at Worlds Away – we were in line for a half hour tops. Things went rather smoothly. 

Just as we were about to get into Worlds Away, my dad called, and we ended up meeting for lunch once we were done at the shop. Jen and Jose took the opportunity to go home and check in there to make sure all was well. 

We met back up downtown, where I got a “Joker” frappucino while I waited for them to join me in line at Heroes. It was delicious, and I hadn’t been in line long before they found me! The dreary weather worked in our favour again here, in the longest line also. Short wait times were the only reason I think we were able to complete the whole Comic Book Crossover! After finishing at Heroes (where I won a prize!), we made our way down the street to visit a friend at Über Cool Stuff and then around the corner and down the street to LA Mood. There was no lineup here, so we were in and out quickly, and were able to make our way to the last stop: the library. 

Unfortunately, we missed all of the activities at the library, but we were able to get our final stamps and submit our ballot for the prize draw. From there, we made a quick pit stop for a fun purchase and headed home. Despite the weather, it made for an excellent day. 

Hooray for Superhero Weekend  2017!

I think I need to try harder…

Wow. I am really not delivering on my goal to publish at least twice a month… At least I have an excuse this time, I guess? Sorta?

Most of the month of April involved dealing with some (what I originally though were) minor health concerns: fatigue, lethargy, semi-unusual aches and pains, etc.  They were causing me enough problems to affect my daily life, so I figured I should probably get checked out just in case. What I expected to be a simple, by the books doctor appointment ended with me having to go for testing for several conditions, including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. My doctor even booked my follow up appointment for me before I even left the exam room. This in combination with his urgency that I go get the blood work done as soon as possible, had me freaked right out. I went for my blood work the following morning and settled in to wait the LONG week before my follow up appointment. During that week, after researching (THANKS, ANXIETY), I almost had myself convinced I had lupus! It was good news, however, when I walked into my doctor appointment the following week. As it turns out, I am quite anemic. Who knew an iron deficiency could actually have serious effects on your life! Since then, I have been on some heavy duty iron supplements, and I am finally starting to notice improvements. I don’t think I have ever been so relieved as I was on that day. Knowing that I am dealing with something that can be fixed with a supplement is a huge stress release.

Before the doctor scared the poopers out of me, I actually made some minor upgrades around home. A new dresser, a bookcase replaced, a new vacuum cleaner… things of that nature. It has felt really good to make these changes around my home and update it a bit. I’ll have lived here for two years come July, and it was time for some little changes to be made. I also have plans to build a new headboard for my bed sometime this summer. I think it is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to have things exactly how I want them!

Along with these minor upgrades, the cats received some extra goodies as well. They now finally have a cat tree to climb and play on! Tobi loves it, and I’ve yet to really see Huxley use it, but I am sure he will in time.

Huxley has turned out to be an absolutely wonderful addition to my little family. He and Tobi play so well together, and he has taken to me as his human as I could have only hoped he would. He is very much a part of the family, and I love to my two babies as much as if he was always here. He has started snuggling in bed with my at bedtime each night, and it makes me so happy. As I always seem to be telling him, he is the best decision I have made in the past two years. He is very comfortable here and he knows he is loved.

Tobi went to the vet this month as well, she was overdue for vaccinations and I felt she needed a proper check up as well. We tried a different one this time, a new veterinary clinic that has opened up a short two minute drive from home. They took to her right away, and were impressed with how chill she was. She was given a clean bill of health, aside from her usual issues, and she got her shots as well. The highlight, however, was her weigh in. She weighed in at 6.6 kg, which is approximately 14.5 lbs. This is the lightest she has been since she was about a year old! After several years, she has finally attained a healthy weight. This new vet had absolutely no concerns about her weight because “she is clearly a large cat.” It felt so nice to have someone else understand that there was NO WAY Tobi could possibly weigh 10 lbs and still be considered healthy. We left the appointment that day with Tobi feeling sufficiently traumatized and me feeling completely satisfied with the service we received. It seemed just the news we needed to gear up for Tobi’s 9th birthday this past Tuesday. I bought the kitties a Meowbox to celebrate her birthday this year. It was enjoyed by all.

Tobi: “Is this all for me?!”

I am home from work today, not feeling well at all. I am taking this opportunity to practice a bit of self care, which included some blog activity, because I do miss it when I don’t write for it. It gets some feelings out there, and it helps me feel more social, being an introvert and all. HOPEFULLY I do a better job of staying on top of things in the future.

In the meantime, I will keep on playing World of Warcraft and reading up a storm. Since I finally  finished the train wreck that was The Goldfinch after a year and a half, I have been reading up a storm and it feels great.

31…

Two weeks ago on Monday… I turned 31. What a lame/boring age to turn. No milestones, nothing. I DID, however, have a GREAT weekend leading up to my birthday. I was able to spend some quality time with a lot of special people, and wouldn’t you know it? I took maybe two photos the entire weekend… SO out of character for me, I KNOW.

I hosted a game night on Saturday night (February 24), which turned into a great way to catch up with people I don’t see nearly enough. We played Cards Against Humanity, and my new game Bang!, which was a birthday gift. We ate nachos and those of us who didn’t have to drive drank. We were all merry. My friend Steph, took me out to buy birthday party supplies earlier in the day as her birthday gift to me, and it really made the day and night great. We played games and joked and laughed into the wee hours.

On Sunday, I planned a birthday dinner with some of my closest friends. Sadly, one was unable to make it due to work, but I saw her the very next day for our weekly movie night on my actual birthday. I invited my dad, my sister and her boyfriend, my super awesome friend Jen from work, along with her husband and daughter, as well as Wes and Ash and their cute kids. The food was awesome, and the atmosphere was pretty great too. It was so nice to be able to celebrate with a dinner surrounded by some of the people I care about the most. It was a really enjoyable evening. I went home that night very happy.

After an awesome (and exhausting) weekend leading up to my birthday, my actual birthday was very run-of-the-mill. I went to work, I ate free pizza from a local pizza place that offers a free birthday slice, I went home, I napped, I went to my friend Alice’s for our weekly movie night, and then I went home to bed. It was a good day, but very normal.

Overall, it was a great a 31st birthday, and it was awesome to celebrate it with as many people as I did.

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Since then, I’ve been working through some other things. I have been really tired and lethargic and sleeping poorly for weeks. I figured out that my B12 was low again (which was the cause last time it happened) and had to go back on my B12 supplement. I think it is safe to say that I have to keep taking it and can’t stop again; not if I want to function at least semi-normally. I’ve been on it for just about a couple of weeks now, and I am noticing improvements progressively as the days pass. I have started sleeping better incrementally, and I am able to come home and complete tasks that were falling to the wayside previously.

I am also working extra hard to get on track financially. I have a long road of breaking bad habits ahead of me, but I recently listened to an audiobook that is poised to change my life in big ways in terms of money management and savings and the future. I am excited about getting on track for real, for the first time. In the past I always dreaded having to deal with money, and I feel like I am finally not afraid to deal with it anymore. It feels pretty great. As a result, I am feeling more positive about other aspects of my daily life as well. I am getting more physically active again, slowly but surely. In no time, I think I will be working out and doing more healthy things in general.

I find it really interesting how making sense of one very important aspect of your life can make a difference in a multitude of ways, including translating into other seemingly unrelated parts of your life. I am already taking much better care of myself mentally – practicing self-care on a semi-regular basis as compared to barely ever before. And I have been much kinder to myself in general.

Things are also coming together for the two trips I have planned this year. The first is in June, to attend a family wedding, and the second will be a trip to visit my best friend who moved away last October. The flights and accommodations are book for the trip in June, and I will be planning for the second trip happening later this year just as soon as flight schedules come available.

Huxley, or The New Guy as I like to call him from time to time, has made himself very comfortable and is already friends with my friends who have met him. It’s funny how quickly it feels like they have always been here. I can’t imagine my home without him now, and it has only been 5 weeks. I’m not complaining whatsoever! He has been a great addition to my little family here and Tobi has accepted him also, which makes me feel happy inside.

I have an exam coming up in less than a month, and I spent my day today getting caught up on all of my reading. After 4 hours, I finally got there! Next step will be going through the study guide, which will start tomorrow. I am determined to do better than my previous two courses, where I ended up with C’s. I am thankful to have a study buddy, that’s for sure! I am also thankful for my bullet journal, which has done wonders to keep me on track especially during the toughest days. Maybe one day I will do a blog post about that. It’s not as creative and fancy as some of the others out there, but it works great for me.

This post kind of became a jumble of overall updating, which was not my original intent. It’s not very often that I have so much to say as I did today. Hopefully the next one will be more coherent!