Life Lately #2

It’s time for another dose of randomness!

Life Lately posts are just a quick and easy way for me to let you know what I’ve been up to lately. Feel free to do this on your own blog if you like the idea!

1. Our daughter turned four yesterday! This year, we decided to just have close family for her party with pizza, ice cream cake, and presents because next year she will have all of her little kindergarten friends attending and chaos will ensue! I wanted to enjoy one nice, somewhat quiet party before then. This year’s theme was Paw Patrol, specifically Chase, the police dog.

A birthday braid for the birthday girl!

2. This Saturday, we are scheduled to have a family photo session with our friend and incredibly talented photographer, Tanya Plonka. Tanya has been our photographer ever since we got engaged and she has always made us look fabulous! But one thing that has not been fabulous is the planning and coordinating of our outfits for the photos. Fashion ensembles do not come easily to me, and trying to get everyone to fit into our chosen colour scheme has been a huge headache. Luckily, I was able to borrow some coloured jeans for my daughter from a friend, and I found a sweater for myself that I had to order online using two-day shipping. Once we are all looking our best and the photos have been snapped, I think my stress level will finally go down.

3. After Thanksgiving, my husband and I are heading to Vancouver for a weekend to visit some friends. The last time I was in Vancouver was for Expo ’86 when I was just three years old, so I don’t remember much. My husband and his friend, Travis, have done most of the planning for our trip, but I trust that they know what they are doing. My husband has been to Vancouver more recently than I have, so it should be a fun, albeit quick, 72 hours.

4. Recently, I proposed an idea to my friend, Erin, where we would go on a caffeine bender trying out the pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and McDonald’s to see which one is the best. It was then that she informed me she hates pumpkin spice. Ouch! My heart! (Hee hee hee!) Ever since then, if I find something pumpkin spice flavoured, I feel it necessary to text her a photo or mention it to her just so she can reply with the green pukey emoji. I have a good laugh. #sorrynotsorry ;)

They do exist!

5. I make it a rule not to talk politics on this blog because, quite frankly, I couldn’t hold up one end of a political conversation to save my life. But I did want to comment on one part of the election in particular — campaign signs you find on the side of the road. We are in Lethbridge, so naturally it gets windy from time to time (or all the time). You would think this would be taken into consideration when choosing the design of your sign. Signs that are high off the ground and held up by a metal frame don’t seem to stand up as well as signs that are anchored as low to the ground as possible with wooden stakes. That’s just my two cents.

That’s all I have for today. Hope you have a great week!

Growing up on the north side

Over the years, the north side has gotten a bad rap and been the butt of many jokes. Some say it is the wrong side of the tracks or that it is the ghetto of Lethbridge. It also smells.

But, as with many things, one bad apple spoils the bunch. The north side of the city really is not as bad as people make it out to be. How do I know? I spent about 22 years of my life living there and have fond memories of that time. So, gather around, children, and I’ll tell you a little bit about growing up on the north side.

You’re not helping, Cartman!

I grew up in the St. Edwards neighbourhood, which was the Uplands of its day in the early 70s. My dad, along with the help of my grandfathers, built the house I grew up in. As it was being built, my older brother (who was just a young boy at the time) would play in the playground behind our house, and grassland  was all that you could see north of it.

During my elementary school years, I would play with the boys who lived in the house across the street. Their dad owned a tree trimming business (which he still runs to this day), and I remember that their porch lights were never on for Halloween. We would ride our bikes on their driveway or jump on the trampoline in their back yard, but once the street lights came on, I had go inside.

I walked to school since it was only a few blocks away. Sometimes I would walk with my friend, Michele, who lived on the next street over. I remember singing Deep, Deep Trouble from The Simpsons Sing the Blues album a lot during these walks — I usually overtook the singing because I knew all the lyrics by heart and probably wanted to show off. We would meet up with Cordell and Sally at the corner of St. Basil and 13th Avenue and walk the rest of the way together, but split up once we hit the school grounds.

I liked to go on long bike rides to the various corners of the north side. I’d plan my routes using a LA Transit bus map we had laying around the house. I would visit school playgrounds and parks that I had never been to before, or I would look up a friend’s address using the telephone book and plan my route that way. On Sunday evenings in the summer, my parents and I would ride our bikes on the old bike path that started at the corner of Stafford Drive and 26th Avenue, headed east towards the industrial park, south along 28th Street, and then west on 5th Avenue until we hit 23rd Street. Once we entered the residential area north of 5th Avenue, we’d try to “get lost”, which meant I would try to navigate us through a bunch of right and left turns while knowing full well we were heading in the correct direction back home — I still enjoyed the idea of it.

But a lot of my childhood was spent in that very same park my brother played in during the construction of our house. It looks a lot different than it did when I young, but when I visit it now either alone or with my daughter, I feel a comforting sense of home. I used to climb the trees at the north end of the sandbox (which I apparently never told my mother about until recently), and remember tearing a hole in a pair of jeans when I snagged a branch on the way down. If I saw other kids playing in the park from our kitchen window, I would quickly get dressed and rush out to see if I could be included in the fun. My favourite thing was going on the swings and trying to swing high enough to kick the leaves on the nearby tree. I really had to stretch my leg out when I neared the top, but I’m pretty sure I touched them a few times.

I will admit one thing, though. The north side does smell — occasionally! The origin of the smell is often debated, but growing up I was told it was from the distilleries in the industrial park being cleaned, so I just went with that and avoided being outside when the smell was particularly strong. If you’ve heard something different, or you know for certain the exact origin of the smell, inquiring minds would like to know.

Fall 2017 Lethbridge Tweet-Up

Have you ever met someone in person that you knew online? Better yet, did you meet them at a Tweet-Up?

A Tweet-Up is an organized event for a group of Twitter users, and this past Friday, I along with some fellow tweeps organized one for Lethbridge! We all met at the Telegraph Tap House downtown for some drinks, appetizers, and great conversation.

Can I say that it was a hoot? Because puns are funny, right?

I’m no stranger to organized meet-ups with people I know online. Back in the day (about 2001/2002), I met people I knew in a Lethbridge community I created on LiveJournal. I planned meet-ups at the old Esquires location on the west side since the majority of the community attended the University of Lethbridge, and while some of the meet-ups were spent joking about how awkward the gathering was, the more we did them the more comfortable we became with each other. Today, I’m still friends with this group and I’m so glad we met when we did because we got through our young adult years together, which were awkward in their own way.

I think I’ve also mentioned before how I met a woman who lives in Edmonton through an official Buffy the Vampire Slayer message board. Again, another awkward meeting at first, but I ended up travelling to Edmonton on a yearly basis to hang out with her. Years later, she was a bridesmaid at my wedding and I attended hers.

Friday night’s #YQLTweetUp just ignited my love for meet-ups all over again! Somehow, I overcome my shyness and make jokes when awkward moments happen. And you know that you’ve thrown a good Tweet-Up when people stick around after the event has ended and head to another establishment for an after party (which I hope to attend next time!)

So, if you’ve always wanted to meet someone you know online, a group meet-up is definitely the way to go for both safety and comfort reasons. If you attend a Tweet-Up, you will make new friends and have a whole new bunch of interesting people to follow.

If you are interested in attending the next Lethbridge Tweet-Up, tweet me at @lethview and I’ll add you to our invitation list!

34 random facts

Recently a friend of mine posted 32 random facts about herself on Twitter — one for every year she’s been alive (it was her birthday). I liked the idea so much that I decided to share my own list of random facts.

One for every year I have been alive.

1. I came into the world backwards (I was a breech baby).

2. I don’t dance unless I like the song that is playing.

3. I used to be heavily interested in the lives of celebrities.

4. I have lived on every “side” of Lethbridge, but my favourite is the south side where we currently reside.

5. When planning my first trip to Europe, I was not interested in travelling to London initially. It was a stop on a Contiki tour I was on that included Paris and Amsterdam (the city I was actually interested in).

6. I have loved London since that first trip in May 2004.

7. I do think this is a lucky number.

8. I’m 5’9″.

9. You’d think someone of my height was good at basketball in grade school. Nope, but I kicked ass at doubles badminton.

10. I don’t swear a lot around people I don’t know very well. You will know if I’m comfortable around you if I swear openly and frequently. It also means I’m having a good time.

11. I’m most comfortable in a social setting of only two or three people (including myself). Any more than that and I withdraw from the conversation and become a fly on the wall.

12. I’ve met a few famous musicians, but my favourite has to be Matthew Good. I had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes, have some things autographed, and have my photo taken with him — all while hanging out in the front portion of his tour bus.

Photo by Tanya Plonka

13. And I do think this is an unlucky number.

14. I have trouble sleeping in on weekends because my internal clock is used to getting up when I usually do the rest of the week. I’m usually tired and cranky on weekends because of this since I tend to stay up later than usual.

15. Our daughter was named after a historical figure.

16. The longest I have gone without a Coca-Cola is 40 days (I gave it up for Lent one year).

17. After Kill Bill, my second favourite movie is Snatch.

18. My husband and I are fans of the TV show Corner Gas. One year, during the August long weekend, we stayed in Regina and drove to Rouleau to see Dog River in person. We have all the episodes on DVD as well as the movie, and we got to meet Brent Butt when he came to Lethbridge to perform stand-up.

19. Whenever I’m down in the dumps, I search YouTube for episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway? and that always cheers me up, but the videos have to be from when Drew Carey hosted the show.

20. I envy those who have had a best friend for a good portion of their life.

21. I got hooked on singing karaoke when I took Print Journalism at the college. I don’t need liquid courage to get up and sing either.

22. Robert Downey Jr. is my celebrity crush.

23. When I watch TV, 90% of the time I’m watching the Food Network.

24. I hate shopping for clothes and shoes. I rarely find something I like, and when I do I usually cannot find it in my size.

25. My favourite type food is Asian.

26. Minimalism appeals to me.

27. My favourite song is Like a Stone by Audioslave.

28. My favourite colour is blue and I dislike pastels.

29. The social media platform I struggle with the most is Instagram because I don’t take a lot of photos or think of taking photos of every day things.

30. Growing up, I preferred The Muppets over anything Disney. Still do.

31. I didn’t have to take Home Economics in junior high or high school. My mom taught me how to cook and bake at home.

32. My very first concert was Our Lady Peace. The last concert I saw was Matthew Good.

33. I have no tattoos but I have an idea of what I want for two when/if I get them.

34. My brother is 10 years, 7 months, and 18 days older than me.


The final chapter of Ammena

I remember being shocked and saddened after our dance instructor, Lise-Anne Talhami, announced that An Explosion of World Dance & Music 2017 would be the last annual show put on by the Ammena Dance Company and that the studio would close shortly after. I remember crying too, as did many of my fellow dancers who attended the same showcase night in late-March 2016.  The showcase night consists of snacks, drinks, and Lise-Anne performing short snippets of dances she  choreographs for the interest of the dancers who wanted to be in the 2017 show.

I chose a burlesque piece, as per usual. But I decided to do a second piece as well that was simply titled “Finale” and encompassed a number of dance styles that were performed throughout the years the show has run and showcased the diversity that Ammena has embraced and displayed with pride. Committing to two dances meant I had practice two nights a week, which was a pain for a homebody such as myself and a source of disappointment for my daughter who just wanted Mommy to stay home. But duty, and the stage, called.

Photo by Cameron Aldous

Before I was so lovingly dragged brought into the Ammena dance community by my friends Tanya and Lindsay (they know I love ’em), the last time I had performed in front of an audience was in the fall of 2000 when I participated in two one-act plays for a one-act festival in high school. How a shy, introverted person such as myself enjoys being up on stage I may never know. I had mad-crazy stage jitters for my first Ammena show in 2014, mostly because I had never danced in front of an audience before and I was wearing dance heels to boot. But it became one of those things where if you do it enough you don’t think about all the sets of eyes watching you or messing up the choreography here and there, and the costumes, heavy stage make-up, and even dancing in heels becomes fun.

Then there’s the people you meet and the friends you make: the ray of sunshine who exudes positivity and gives the best hugs, the powerhouse that doesn’t care about what others think of her and jokes about the different versions of her RBF, and the goofball who has a certain way with words and can easily cheer you up just by being her bubbly self. I had never been exposed to so many different personalities as I have with the few years I have been an Ammena dancer.

During the months leading up to the 2017 show, I had grown to dislike hearing the word “last” because it was always said in regards to the show: the last hair and make-up tutorial night, the Iast dress rehearsal, the last post-show get together, etc. I know its obvious my dislike was because of the sadness that came along with the word and the finality of it all, but it was almost like experiencing a slow, painful death. How can we make the word “last” more enjoyable, at least for my sake?

Emotions ran rampant at the Yates during rehearsals the week before the show. We were all happy to be together, we loved seeing the small improvements in our dances, but then someone would point out how we’d be doing something for the last time (there’s that damn word again) and everyone would start tearing up but would try to keep it together for the sake of their stage make-up. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with those who became emotional, but I don’t remember crying at all that entire week. I teared up here and there, but I think by that point I was too focused on avoiding  having to redo my make-up (pain in the ass!) to allow myself to break down. Part of me is mad at myself for not full-out crying the whole time we were at the Yates, but I think back to that time in the studio when Lise-Anne made the announcement and I realize that I had already mourned the death of the show. I was more interested in making it the best show Ammena had ever put on, and my brain wouldn’t allow sadness to distract me from my purpose.

And I think it’s safe to say that it was our best show ever.

Dearest Lise-Anne. Thank you for creating the Ammena Dance Company and, in turn, the Ammena dance family. You have brought together an extraordinary community of kind, loving, and empowering women who I don’t think I would have ever crossed paths with otherwise. I needed Ammena, I just didn’t know it at the start. I have great stories to share with my daughter when she’s older and great friends to share my life with for years to come. You did so much more than teach us how to dance, and if you didn’t know that before, you do now.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Photo by Cameron Aldous