It’s a funny thing, love

Hi my mommy!

How you doing, Ma? Today is the 6th anniversary since you died in your sleep. Your death ripped a hole so big in my heart I didn’t understand how to keep on living. For a long time, I couldn’t. I was stuck in my grief, a zombie going through the motions. I was so angry at how you died, and so very ashamed at how I had been a selfish daughter. I couldn’t forgive, and I most certainly could not heal. I blocked all of it out, all of it, for years, paying a steep price: I didn’t know then that you can’t chose to only blot out the painful emotions. Denying myself the bad stuff meant also shutting off access to the good stuff. To love. To joy. To gratitude. #noneofthecolors

3 years ago, I began to un-thaw. I wrote this. It was the first time I allowed myself to really remember you. 2 years ago, I began wearing your ring, as a talisman, to keep you close and keep me grounded. 6 months ago, I fixed the watch you gave me, and since then I’ve worn it every single day. I stopped wearing any other bracelets because they can’t compare to my watch despite its scratch marks and slight tarnish. These two pieces of jewelry form my armor against the world. Tony Stark has his electromagnetic reactor. Batman has his batsuit. Vanilla has a ring and a watch. Same.

3 years ago, the moments where I experienced joy and love so deep I couldn’t block out the feels, started to multiply. It started with Qc cousin #2’s wedding. Continued with Dynamo’s wedding. Solidified with the return of Allie to Montreal. I really wish you could have met Allie, Ma. She knows how to love, that one. Patiently, so very patiently, she has let me grow comfortable with her endless generous love – for the longest time I didn’t feel worthy of it, because I was unable to reciprocate as selflessly, and that seemed unfair to her. As my world wobbled this past year, she was always there, a pillar of peace and quiet acceptance. (P.s. she just had a little baby boy and he is SO CUTE #auntievanillaisready #boyisgonnalearn). But that’s the funny thing about love, Ma. The more I accept it in my life, in it’s various forms, the more I open myself up to it, the more I find myself stumbling on incredible examples of it. I might not have been able to see many of the colors this year, but even when the sun stopped shining and I wasn’t sure I could make it to the next day, there were people around me to catch me and stop me from falling deeper and deeper into darkness. Coworkers. Friends at the gym. Family. Strangers.

Here I am now, once again able to see the colors. You know what the best part is? Every time I experience a moment of love or kindness, I am reminded of you. That’s what you were to me, my mommy – kindness and love personified. When you died, my capacity to see kindness and love was suspended. But somehow, with time and with the best friends and family in the world, I see them again, and that allows me to carry you in my heart after a long absence.

I’ve missed you.

I woke up on Monday, and felt an overwhelming urge to visit my Ma. I love the Mount-Royal Cemetery. I find it spectacularly beautiful. And rather than photograph it in black and white, I chose to photograph it with all of the colors. Because there is something so very fitting about the contrast of vivid blue skies and luscious green leaves that are so very alive, with the tombstones that bear silent testimony that loved ones lived and died. This birdhouse in particular seemed perfectly poignant. Why shouldn’t the birds that watch over our deceased be a little more comfortable and cozy?


Vanity, dentists and drugs – part 2

On Monday, I had my wisdom teeth removed. Leading up to the procedure, I was a tad nervous. Anxious. Panicked. Hysterical. I convinced myself that since I am very vain, the Universe would take this opportunity to smite me by giving me facial paralysis. Obvi. Because that is the kind of thing the Universe does. Jackass.


Instead what happened is my dentist took my request to give me all of the drugs – ALL OF THEM – very seriously, such that I fell asleep in between each tooth, and left the clinic with a woozy smile. Allie picked me up, and brought me to her home to take care of me. I promptly passed out and bloody drooled all over her fluffy white pillows and blankets. Oops? For 2 days, she prepared me smoothies and home made soups, made sure I remembered to take my meds and we worked from her home in comfortable companionship. Monday was also my mom’s birthday, she would have been 65, so after I woke up from my drugged up nap, Allie bundled me into her car, and drove me to the cemetery, so I could wish my Ma a happy birthday. Really, I am the luckiest girl ever to have such a friend. Her cat tried to eat my laptop, a totally understandable impulse, and pawed at me until I gave her cuddles. I felt loved.

Behold, a pic taken immediately after the extraction at 9:30am. 10 hours later, the swelling had already significantly subsided.

By Wednesday, when I went back to work, there was no bruising, and hardly any swelling. I have a ridiculously high pain threshold, so I didn’t even feel much discomfort – I just noticed that I was exhausted, bc that is how my body manifests pain. I’ve been cleared to do light exercise, so I went dancing on Wednesday, and am really looking forward to seeing my #squaD at the gym tomorrow.

So instead of punishing me for my vanity, the Universe rewarded me with a supersonic recovery. Biggest inconvenience? Not eating real food, and not being allowed to drink while I am on antibiotics! Even that has a perk, because I am noticing my taste buds getting a tune-up: I have a newfound appreciation for the simple things like fruit smoothies, lentil soups and porridge with maple syrup. I can’t remember the last time I lasted 5 days without eating at least 3 cookies, or consuming a pound of chocolate over a week.

This is me dancing on Wednesday. 2 days after dodging facial paralysis. Not bad, eh?

To add to what feels like a windfall of ridiculous good luck, I got asked out on a date from a cute dude (not the cute one in the above pic) that was at Wednesday’s dance class. Originally, Cute Dude proposed we go for a drink once I am all done my antibiotics, which was nice, but I am not a fan of delayed gratification. But luckily for me, I realized that I have not yet had any ice cream, either to welcome the sunnier weather or as part of my recovery diet plan, and we all know that ice cream has magical properties that make the world a shiny, happy place. So, apparently, I am going for ice cream with Cute Dude this weekend.

No facial paralysis.

No swelling or bruises.

No serious pain.

2 days of blissful cuddles and love with Allie, William and the cat.

A renewed appreciation for healthy simple food.

A potential date.


Had I known that pulling my wisdom teeth would be such an awesome experience, I would have done this years ago!


Cat therapy

Allie asked me to house-sit during her two week honeymoon with William. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, it’s been 9 days and so far both cat and plants are still alive. #overachiever

The first few times their cat clambered into my bed and snuggled in the crook of my knees, I was startled. Now, if I don’t wake up to her paws stepping over my shoulder to curl up next to my face for a 10 minute session of morning breath cuddles & purring, I am a little disappointed. Wonders’ll never cease.

Last weekend, I kept it low-key. My funk has mostly stopped sliding out of control – treading water totally beats being pulled willy-nilly by the current of my shadow – but I’m nowhere close to being fully myself. I am still exhausted by life, and after the previous week’s hectic wedding activities, I was craving the hermit life.

I don’t own a TV – I am rarely home long enough to make it worthwhile, and I definitely have the type of personality that is susceptible to binge watching shows on Netflix to the point that social and professional life are compromised. So just like I don’t bring any junk food, candy or bread into my home, no TV. 

Allie has a nice TV. 

What better way to spend my Saturday evening than with wine and some good entertainment? Allie’s cat definitely thought it was a good idea.

Scrolling through Netflix, so much appealed to me, but I kept coming back to the Sherlock (BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch aka Bae aka the only man other than Jon Stewart that I’ll ever love). My mom discovered Sherlock when it first came out in 2011: we watched the first season during my family dinners. We loved that show! We intended on watching Season 2, episode 1 together soon after my 28 bday, but she died before I could get my shit together to go visit her.

Many people encouraged me throughout Seasons 2-4 to keep watching the show. I couldn’t bring myself to. 5 years, I refused to watch that show. My godmother even offered to have sleepovers where she’d cook and coddle me and we could watch it together, just us girls. I couldn’t.

Until this weekend, buoyed by all the love from Allie’s wedding, in her condo, with her cat purring next to me. It still hurt, but I felt safe enough to try work through that painful mix of emotions.

Season 2: done. #toldyaIdbingewatch

Fall is upon us, which I always find hard, I miss her awful, but clearly the gaping wound caused by her sudden death is finally starting to heal. 

Who’d have thought a fur ball would do me so much good?!

Fairytale weddings require leprechauns

It was Allie‘s wedding this weekend. She looked like a princess, got married in a castle in Vieux-Québec, her knight in shining armor looked dashing in his blue suit and spiffy bow tie, and it went off without a hitch.


Remember Brown Socks and Tinker Bell? Here they are, still happily married and adorable 2 years on.

Since Dynamo couldn’t make it to the wedding because of Mini-Boom’s late arrival 6 days ago, Brown Socks and Tinker Bell took it upon themselves to keep Dynamo informed of all of the proceedings. Which is why I got periodic texts from Dynamo throughout the day, including edifying ones such as:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Brown Socks deserves to spend a few hours in a special area of hell. We all know that one should NEVER photograph a woman eating. Especially a woman scarfing down delicious poutine at midnight after a long day of wedding festivities.

My friends, y’all. Can’t take them anywhere in public.

Allie has asked me to house sit her condo during her 2 week honeymoon. (Incidentally, she still doesn’t know where her honeymoon will be. Her hubby William – so named because he is British, he is her Prince Charming, he has a similar hair sitch to Prince William, and theirs is a fairytale marriage with a happily ever after – has not told her, only instructing her to pack clothes for a warm climate & her hiking boots. She will find out their destination upon arriving at the airport… assuming it is a direct flight. I find this so romantic, and indicative of the levels of trust between Allie and her hubby. Allie, to put it mildly, is a bit of a control freak. Yet she completely trusts that William will plan an idyllic honeymoon. Le cuteness-overload!) I’m under strict orders to not kill her 2 plants and cat during their 2 week absence. Never let it be said that I back down from a challenge, no matter how formidable it may be!

Her maid of honor, upon hearing of this arrangement, commented, “You know what Vanilla? It might do you some good to take care of a living creature.”

Allie’s friends, y’all. Can’t take them anywhere in public.

Some weddings are boring. Some weddings are lame. Some weddings train-wrecks where you wonder if the couple will make it to their first wedding anniversary.

And then there was Allie & William’s wedding.

It was a celebration of the beginning of their Happily Ever After. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, least of all Allie’s and William’s, that theirs will be a marriage that lasts until death does them part. Their bond is almost palpable. They bring out the best in one another. While neither is blind to the other’s faults, they chose to celebrate each other’s constant work at becoming all they can be, and in doing so, they are a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is a wondrous thing to observe.

A perfect day. Everything went off without a hitch, every guest from the wee babies to the great-grandparents was on their best behavior. There were many tears throughout the day, but only of joy. My cheeks still hurt from smiling so much.

Not gonna lie, I really enjoyed dressing up. Baby pink is not my go-to color, but the makeup artist and hairdresser were brilliant in giving me that slight edge that made the look me, without ruining the romantic, soft, elegant vibe Allie worked so hard to create. I felt like a million bucks. More importantly? I felt like I belonged in this fairytale.

Once upon a time, I would have felt that the happiness Allie has found was not something I could aspire to. Her unshakeable belief in the worthiness and goodness of all the people she loves would have felt like a burden, something I was unworthy of. Without doubt, I fall short of her vision of me, but rather than feel shame, I want to knuckle-down and work on becoming the good person she believes me to be. And in doing so, it no longer feels quite impossible that one day, I will experience a fairytale of my own.

That Allie. What a force of nature.

Google + bachelorette prep = unexpected results

Today is Allie’s bachelorette. I spent last night and all of this morning prepping for it. We will be playing the game “pin the dick on the groom”. I printed a 3’x5′ poster of the groom. Next step: I googled “dick pic” so as to have a visual for my artistic drawing of a dick & ballsack. My Google results were slight unexpected.

Behold the first FOUR screenshots of my Google results.

Andy Dick, Dick Cheney, an eggplant and a blurry pic of Trump

Wtf google. Those do not look like any dick pics I’ve ever gotten!

Why? I really have not googled Dick Cheney that often

Google apparently does not grasp the concept at hand

And in case y’all are wondering what my saved images are? I wondered myself, and it turns out, I have bland taste in saved pics

My full Google search results can be found here.

Clearly Google knows me too well when 99% of my search results = Dick Cheney and Andy Dick and NOT penises. #politicsoverporn

This is why they call me Vanilla.

Nevertheless, I successfully achieved my task at hand.

Things i never thought I would have to say: 

  1. do we have enough penises?
  2. should we let the girls bedazzle their penises?
  3. oh no, that’s waaaaay too big
  4. is my ratio of balls to dick accurate?
  5. I think I’m gonna adopt an impressionist approach to penis drawing
  6. how should I transport all these penises? I don’t want them to get damaged.

What a morning filled with good, wholesome fun. 

I swear. I SWEAR I do not have a Dick Cheney fetish.

Squad goals

For someone who has such a disastrous dating track record and a legendary bad taste in men (if I like a guy, even only to the extent of finding him good eye candy, he ALWAYS turns out to be somewhere along the scale of “clueless asshat” to “full-blown psycho jackass”; I’m like one of those divining rods for finding water, except I uncover assholes disguised as attractive males) I consistently do the opposite when it comes to friendships. Over the years, in all areas of my life, I’ve developed the most standup, awesome, diverse, honorable set of friends, a diverse group with different backgrounds & professions. #humblebrag

Allie is one such amazing friend. I met her around the same time as Dynamo, during my first year back in uni as a full-time student. I was an angry, unpleasant person in those days, too busy battling my shame of having failed out of engineering. Allie was in my elective acco class about detecting and preventing fraud #actuallyinteresting #notboring. She quickly pegged me as someone she wanted to get to know, because we had so many acquaintances in common, and I pegged her as the only student in the class that might pose a threat to my goal of finishing with the best grade. I adopted the mantra “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”, whereas she thought we were on a path to be friends. We did a project together and I decided that I would keep her as a study buddy. Yes, I really did evaluate people in terms of their usefulness to me back then. #charming

We completed the rest of our undergrad together. I look back on my interactions with Allie during that time with shame. I was frequently annoyed by her mannerisms, how emotional she would be, a talkative clingy drama queen (#ironymuch? I was not particularly self-aware back then!) I mean, she would call me, instead of texting! WHO DOES THAT?!?! I was consistently rude to her, short-tempered, and judgmental. Yet, for some reason, she persisted in viewing our relationship as something approaching a friendship, instead of a nerdy association. This lasted close to TWO YEARS. The girl was persistent!

Then my ex dumped me out of the blue. The life I thought I was working towards with him was no more. I was gutterless, stuck in a degree I hated with few friends, as I had spent the past 2.5 years ignoring humans, focused only on achieving a perfect GPA. I didn’t know who to turn to, I was disoriented by my new reality. Allie watched me struggle, and gave hugs and encouragement. Suddenly her phone calls didn’t seem like an archaic form of communication, but a sweet way to check in on a friend. Suddenly, I was the one crying emotionally while she listened quietly and without judgment, and then shared her bag of jellybeans with me. When I wanted to drop out of school during my alcoholic haze, she reminded me of the inspiring disciplined study buddy she relied on, and prodded me to get back in touch with that side of myself. My ex’s sudden absence – the one person I’d counted on to always be there – made me appreciate the people that were actually there: Allie, Dynamo, and Blond ‘Fro, amongst others. #majorsilverlining

Over 6 years have passed since that watershed moment. During that time, Allie and I studied and passed the UFE together, got hired at the same accounting firm, in the same department, worked stupid hours. We survived office politics, terrible clients, always pushing each other to be the best damn versions of ourselves we could be. We worked out together, discussed diets and boys endlessly. When she announced her intention to move to NZ, I was dismayed. But I was her cheerleader, encouraging her to follow her dreams despite her inevitable huge doubts and fears. She stayed in NZ for 3.5 years, during which we texted almost daily, emailing often, seeing each other during her Xmas holiday visits. She moved back home 2 months ago, and the hole in my heart disappeared.

One month after her move back to Mtl, she rented a chalet up north, and invited her immediate family and her close friends to spend the weekend with her and her fiancé to celebrate their engagement, their first home and her birthday. Seeing Allie surrounded by her family was a revelation. This is a family that radiates love, generosity and integrity. They care, fiercely, about each other, and about every person that they love. Yes, they are all up in each other’s business (they all call each other ALL THE TIME!!!), but that is because each member’s happiness is dependent on every other family member achieving their happiness – so yes, they will meddle/help/irresistibly push each other to better themselves. Just like Allie has always done with me. That weekend, Allie asked me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding. In that moment, I became an honorary part of the family.

I spent all of last Saturday with Allie, her mother, and her childhood BFF (the maid of honor) shopping for Allie’s wedding dress. While it was only the second time I met her mother and BFF, I feel like I’ve known them forever. We talked of everything, personal and trivial (although, really, no one can possibly believe that the degree of bedazzle on a wedding dress is a trivial topic, right?) Vulnerability is something that comes easily to those ladies. If I had to label the feeling of that day, it would be one of wholesome, uncomplicated love. The love we share for Allie, and Allie for us. The joy in knowing Allie was one step closer to cementing her love with her man. When I am with Allie, it seems simple to be wholly oneself, yet connect wholly to others. The further I distance myself from her orbit, the less that seems possible.

Girl’s got it. I am so incredibly grateful that despite myself, she decided to adopt me.

Allie, Vanilla & Dynamo – at the weekend chalet getaway.

P.S. She said yes to the dress and we cried. And celebrated with champagne and jellybeans.