Did you know that yesterday was The United Nations International Day of Happiness? I didn’t either until I got to work yesterday. My office building was celebrating with smiley face balloons and cupcakes in the lobby.

I really love smiley faces. I was the girl who dotted the Is in her name with smiley faces from ages 10 to 12-ish. I still sign cards with my name and a little smiley underneath. When I add Flora’s name, I do a little flower for her. (I still haven’t figured out a symbol for Sean, which feels like unintentional exclusion.)

In honour of yesterday’s International Day of Happiness, here is a list of things that make me happy right now.

  1. Picking up Flora from school.
    When I get to Flora’s school, I can look in a large window and see the kids in the after school supervision room. I love finding Flora in the window and watching her go about her business. It’s gratifying to see who she is when I am not hovering over her. I also love the huge tackle-hugs I usually get when I get to the classroom door. They make me feel loved. (I’ve written about this before. The card I mentioned in that post? Still on my cubicle wall.)
  2. The snow is melting.
    I just wish it would stop snowing so that there was no more snow that needed to melt. This winter has been hard and like most of my North American pals, I’m more than ready for it to be over.
  3. The jeans I’m wearing right now.
    Sounds ridiculous but it’s true. I like the colour, the fit, and the feel of them.
  4. Seeing older couples being affectionate together.
    When I see older couples holding hands, or one half holding the other’s arm for balance, or generally being affectionate, I think “I want that”. I want to part of that couple who sits in their matching rocking chairs cracking jokes with each other. I want to have my hand held when I’m 90. I’ve let Sean know this, and I hope we pull it off.
  5. Seeing the lake on my way home from work.
    My GO train station is near the lake and we pass through parkland and nature right before we stop. When I sit on the south side of the train, I can look out the window and gaze into Lake Ontario. It makes me feel centered and calm. Now that the days are getting longer, I get a better view of the water. It’s a nice way to end off my train ride and move into my evening.

I am grateful for these and so many other little – and big! – things that make me happy. What making you happy these days?

Questions with Sean

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March 10, 2014 // life, sean, silly

Sean and I are home alone for a few days while Flora is visiting my parents. We’re both working while she’s gone, so it’s not a vacation, but it kind of is.

Even when we spent our first afternoon together doing our taxes and watching Sunday afternoon sports. (Guess who did what?)

In honour of our time alone together, I decided to ask him some random questions I found online and see what kind of responses I get. Here’s what I got.

1. What movie(s) deserves a sequel?
The Goonies, because people want to know what happened when the Goonies grow up. I’d like to see them as adults adventures with their kids, or having their own adventure.
Top Gun, having because Michael Ironside, that’s why.

2. If you were in a witness  protection program, what would be your alias?
Max Power.

3. What is the best sports stadium/arena you have been to?
Where I’ve seen a game: Cowboy Stadium, Dallas.
Where I’ve toured the facility but haven’t actually seen an event: Fenway Park, Boston.

4. If you could be a member of any TV-sitcom family, which one would it be?
The Banks family from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – they have a butler and who doesn’t want to have an Uncle Phil?

5. What do people do too much of today?
Use their cell phone cameras at concerts. You paid big money to watch the show. If you want to watch it through a screen, buy the DVD. I didn’t pay to watch it through your screen.

Thanks Sean for playing along and answering my questions. Love you.

My favourite album of 2013

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January 3, 2014 // life, music

I don’t keep up with current music the way I used to. That happens in your 30s when you’re not in the entertainment industry. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will.

When I heard that Monster Magnet (Wikipedia entry) – one of my all-time favourite bands – was releasing a new album and doing a North American tour, I got a little excited.

Here’s how I told Sean:

Texting with Sean about Monster Magnet

Good thing I know how to get caps lock on my phone.

By the time I got home from work, Sean had already purchased tickets to the show. He’s good like that.

I listened to the pre-released tracks online, put the release date into Google Calendar and scoured music blogs for any information I could get on Last Patrol. On release day, I purchased the album from iTunes as soon as I got home from work. I’ve played it constantly ever since.

An aside: Tracking and learning about music (and everything else) is so much easier in the internet age. That really makes me appreciate the work and effort music (or any pop culture) superfans put into their fandom pre-web. Zines and tape-trading took more effort and likely cost more when you don’t include computer/smartphone/internet costs (since those are used for more than supporting your fandom). Think of the postage costs alone!

The concert date rolled around and I was getting a little worried. The show was on a Tuesday night and it was going to start late. Going to work after a late night isn’t as easy as it used to be. Sean and I arranged for a friend to babysit. I was looking forward to having a night out with Sean to see a concert that I was really excited about.

My early morning after a late night never happened. The show got cancelled the day before it was scheduled to go on. Suck it, influenza. Sean and I were both  disappointed, but probably not as much as the guy I saw on Facebook. He said he was flying in from Thunder Bay just for the show. I really felt for him – I’m not sure if he was able to cancel his plane ticket.

Sean has recently gotten back into vinyl and he’s been expanding his collection. As much as I appreciate digital music and its portability, rock music sounds so much better on a turntable. Sean picked up the vinyl version of Last Patrol, and the gatefold really makes the artwork pop. This record was pressed on orange vinyl, which makes it extra cool. Sean’s turntable is set up in our mancave and I snapped some pictures of the album last night (click for larger image):

Monster Magnet's 'Last Patrol' on vinyl

Rock music really does sound better on vinyl.

Have you read this entry and still not looked Monster Magnet up on Youtube? Here’s the official video of the first single, ‘Mindless Ones’. If you like your rock music heavy and with a bit of trippiness, you will like this.

Do you pay attention to music? How do you keep up with your favourite bands? Tell me about the music you love.

Books I read in 2013

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January 1, 2014 // books, life

I read a lot in 2013. I track my reading using Goodreads (you should add me if you use that site) and participated in their 2013 reading challenge. I challenged myself to read 35 books in 2013 and I ended up reading 62 different books. Here’s a list of what I read in 2013, sorted in the order I read them in.

A summary of my list: lots of trashy stuff, but lots of not-trashy stuff too.

What did you read in 2013? What was your favourite? What books do you recommend, and what books should I avoid in 2014?

What I read in 2013

We Need to Talk About Kevin
5 of 5 stars
The first time I tried to read this, I had to stop. This book is brave in its depiction of motherhood.
Maine
5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were imperfect, and often unlikeable. The story drew me in and the author did a good job letting the reader in on the deeper story bit by bit. So much better than saving the big stuff for the en…
Noughties
2 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this more than I did. I suspect that I’m too Canadian to get the British intricacies. But ultimately it was pretentious and confusing.
Trinkets
4 of 5 stars
Fast read. I enjoyed it.
Losing It
3 of 5 stars
Light and fluffy and very predictable.
Entwined with You
3 of 5 stars
I understated that this series went from being a trilogy to a five-book series. I think there was some heavy editing to stretch this book (and series) out. The ending felt like it popped out of nowhere.
Debutante
3 of 5 stars
Fun read but main characters weren’t very likeable. I didn’t expect the ending that happened. That presented more questions versus tying things up. Room for a sequel I guess
Forget About It
4 of 5 stars
Enjoyed this book a lot. Funny and light.
The Pretty One: A Novel about Sisters
4 of 5 stars
Easy, fast read and I quite enjoyed it.
The Perfect Marriage
2 of 5 stars
A fast, plot-driven read that glosses over details.
Dolls Behaving Badly
4 of 5 stars
This was a fun read. The characters were relatable and the story moved along quickly. The main character’s voice changed slightly throughout. At first I thought that was weak writing but realized that was a result of the growth she was d…
The Engagements
4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the intertwining of the stories and the story of Frances Gerety in this book.




goodreads.com

 

I spent a lot of time Not Writing this year and I am disappointed in myself.

The year started off strong and I even signed up for a month-long online writing course. (Alice Bradley’s The Practice of Writing, which appears to be offline for updating so I’ve linked to her blog’s homepage.) I really enjoyed the course, but struggled to find the time to do the daily exercises. When I got really behind I would go through rapid-fire catchup sessions while Sean would get Flora ready for bed. Then, when my colleague went on a two-week vacation, I was doing a lot more at work and was just too burned out to write at night. Truthfully, there were probably only a few tough days at work, but once you start on a Not Writing cycle, it’s hard to get back to Writing. I acknowledged that I didn’t give the class the attention that it deserved – or that I wanted to give it. I have the PDF of all the class notes in my email, and I haven’t had the guts to even look at it yet. The course ended more than six months ago. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t just keep up and keep going.

I still feel ashamed, and I’ve wondered many times over the last few months if I should just give up writing and blogging altogether. I’m still here so I haven’t given up yet. but I haven’t figured out how to shut the negative voices up and just write anyway.

I’ve written a few blog posts and percolated ideas since then. I know logically that writing leads to more writing, which leads to better writing. I know I need to kick my own ass to actually make the time. I’m hoping the dark and bleakness of winter will encourage me to write. If not that, football season and Sean’s new Xbox will keep me away from the TV so that’s one distraction gone.

So many people/magazine articles/advice givers/general know-it-alls say ‘get up an hour earlier’. I already leave my house by 6:30am on weekday mornings. In a perfect world, I’d be leaving at 6:15 and getting out of bed at 5:45am at the latest. I just can’t get up any earlier. I stay up after Flora goes to bed so that I can have time to myself. Sometimes I even spend it with my husband. (Blasphemous, I know.) I’m usually in bed by 10pm, and I need that sleep. I need that time with my husband. I need that time with myself. I want to use more of that time to write, but lately, I’m just so burnt that I can’t do more than read or play The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Those hobbies are valuable to me too. (I started playing Tapped Out because Sean was playing it and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Now it’s one of the few video games we’ve ever played together, which is a nice bonding experience.)

I’m writing now, so I’m hoping that will open the floodgates a bit. Maybe that will lead to some actual Writing. Or just plain old ordinary writing. I’m willing to start small.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by melissa price-mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.