Thursday, January 31, 2013

Frugal February: The Goals

Well, time continues to march forever forward and the month of love (vomit) is upon us. February is a usually a pretty chill month for me, finance-wise, but I'm still feeling the pinch of Christmas (and will likely continue to feel it until Labour Day) so I've decided to make a firm effort to spend time with my first love: money. I've already bought The Boy his (unromantic but secretly awesome) Valentine's Day gifts, and I've asked that he take me out to dinner instead of buying me anything. Because, much like J-Lo, my love don't cost a thing (but an onion ring). No, really. That was the full title of the song. Check if you want, I'll wait.

See? It's all about the fried foods.

Anyway, I'm going to try and embrace the concept of Frugal February. Mostly because of my second love, alliteration. I'm not foolish or brave enough to make sweeping life changes but there are definitely some areas of improvement I can work on. My goals are:


Holy crap. I added up January's cab purchases and I spent $58 in credit/debit *alone* on cabs. Add in my cash fares and it's probably twice that, with me taking a taxi 2-3 times a week. Bus and walking combined, my morning commute is about 25 minutes. Which means cabs are mostly unnecessary but also cheap enough that I don't notice them adding up. In a month as inconstant, temperature-wise as February I doubt I can say "no cabs at all!" but I'm going to limit myself to 3 cabs this month, cutting my taxis by more than half. If I just got out of my bed 15 minutes earlier most days, I'd be able to avoid almost all my early-morning taxis. That's a mighty big "if", though. An "if" the size of a queen bed + comfy pillows.

2. Coupons

I order 'em, I open 'em, I forget about 'em, and then I make The Boy race around the grocery store with me on December 31st, convincing him we need 2 dozen eggs and a family-pack of Cheesestrings because "OhMyGodThey'reOnSale!!" Enough, I say. I want to use the coupons I have instead of continually ordering more. I'm not an extreme couponer at all - in fact I feel kind of guilty whenever I hold up the line with a few coupons. That being said, a dolla might not make me holla, but I'd do plenty for a twenty, y'know? I vow to use at least 6 coupons out of my stash when shopping.

3. Pretty frock purchases

Oh, this one is going to sting. I don't even add up how much I spend on clothes in a given month because I know it would make me cringe. And cringing causes unsightly wrinkles, and then I can't trap me a man, natch. My sister and I are total enablers when it comes to this but I'm going to try to "shop my closet" and *gasp* not make any new purchases this month. I don't even know if I can do this. I'm getting heart palpitations just thinking about it.

4. Eating Out

No! Wait! I changed my mind! *This* is the one that's going to be the hardest. Remember those halcyon days of yore when we looked at my taxi purchases and scoffed at the measly sum of $58 on cabs? Multiply that by 5 and you have what I spent on take out/eating out/drinks this month. And I should point out, I handle the lion's share of the grocery bills so that The Boy handles most of the restaurant/take in bills. Which means we ate out or took in about 12 times this month. Not including The Boy's weekly sushi lunches or Subway excursions or my paid-in-cash coffee and sandwich with my sister, or the tri-weekly trip to the office cafeteria to enjoy an "Early Riser" (read: Egg McMuffin without all the press). It's kind of insane, yo.

Eating out is basically one of my only vices and I don't want to get rid of it entirely (scroll back up and see what I asked for for Valentine's Day) but even that seems excessive for me. I'm going to cut that number in half. 6 take outs/restaurant visits this month. Which still seems like a lot but y'know what? We're two young and happenin' kids, unburdened by the costs of children or pets, making okay money - we're going to treat ourselves. However, menu-planning, lame though it may be, is going to have to become our friend. I forsee a lot of Manwich in our futures. No worries there.

5. No "Lazy" Fines

This is probably my habit that most annoys me, and it manifests itself in many ways. For example, I'll have a book from the library. I'll mark down the due date in my calendar. I'll finish the book. Then I'll get too lazy to bother bringing it back, incurring a daily fee as the days stretch into weeks. Or, I'll bypass taking out money from the bank I belong to because it's "too far away", then I'll take out money from a competitor's machine and swallow the 1.50 fine. When I learned they don't shut your water off right away just because you are late on a payment, I started paying that bill when I remembered it. Which is usually half-past too late. I want to try and go a month without late fees, overdraft fees, financial penalties and all and sundry money grabbers that only happen because I'm too damn lazy to check that due date, confirm that bank balance or make that extra walk to save a few bucks. I assume I'll eventually lose the use of my legs due to rapid weight gain or a loss of bone mass due to inertia, so I might as well use this body while I got it.

So that's it, that's the plan. I'll be checking in periodically to tell you how I'm doin'. But if you hear tears coming from my neck of the woods do send a polka-dot dress, size large, and an order of saag paneer, would you? Thanks. You're a peach.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fortifying for February

January is such a balls month.

It's no November, but it's kind of a kick-to-the-crotch all the same. Christmas is over, leaving behind a sparkle-covered mess in my house, and leaving my ass a comfortable 3-pounds-heavier. The weather varies between freezing rain and freezing cold. The only holiday is a stressful jerk and it's gone before I even have time to register its existence. Fresh fruit and vegetables still cost about as much as a new sofa, and taste about as delicious. I'm officially tired of almost all my winter clothes and going out for anything more than a drink after work has me so cold and tired that I basically carry a duvet with me at all times, out of necessity.

January and I are not on speaking terms.

That being said, there is light on the horizon, both figuratively and literally.There's something wild-eyes crazy about remarking on how "it's still so light out!" at 4:45 in the afternoon, but I say it all the same. We're almost at the point where I see sunlight when I leave for work and when I come back from it, which is a wonderful, marvelous development.

But I can do better.

I've been loosely following The January Cure on Apartment Therapy, and even though I knew from the start I wouldn't be able to do it exactly right, it's helped sort of shape me into both enjoying my space and recognizing what needs to be done. So far I've:

  • Day 1: Make a list of projects for 2013
  • Day 2: Set up an outbox  - a pair of bags in my kitchen, one to consign, one to give away
  • Day 3: Buy Flowers, Clean Floors, Switch to Green Cleaners: One of these got done. Prizes to who can guess what!  (At $5 a pop for a bouquet at the nearby grocery store, pampering is easy) When the current products are finished, I'll look into replacing them with green cleaners. I'm going to bribe The Boy with beef jerky to get the floors clean. There's just no way around it.
  • Day 4: Fresh perspective - sit on my ass and stare? Done.
  • Day 6: Choose a Piece of Artwork and Frame it - Framed 3 pieces, actually. One's up at my office at work, the other two will be hung tonight!
  • Day 8: Clean the Kitchen, Buy Flowers, Make a Meal - This was a half-assed day for sure. The flowers still looked awesome so I didn't buy new ones. The dog was staying with me that week and I was all alone so, while I washed the counters and stove top, threw out old food and did dishes, the hairballs that made their way into ever nook and cranny of my kitchen remained free-range and liberated. Plus, with only the two of us there (and one of us not allowed to eat people food) a meal was kind of superfluous. Made lobster for the first time when The Boy came home. Close enough.
  • Day 9: Create and Clean out a Landing Strip - (someone should really tell the good people at AT what that sounds like). Now have a place to put all papers as they come in before they're dumped, a tray to hold magazines, etc.
  • Day 10: Work on Your Goal Project - Picked a project from the aforementioned list and finished it - put up a shelf in the spare room, put out the water glass/carafe i'd received for Christmas on it + fancy Kleenex (3 ply + lotion, emeffers! How do you like me now, Hilton?!)
  • Day 12: Declutter Books and Media - we did a fair bit of this when we moved, but there's still more to go. I threw out 4 books (a triumph for me!) and we organized all of The Boy's DVDs into a DVD tower we bought off Kijiji. I still want to empty out another holder of magazines, throw away the jewel cases of my CDs to put them in a sleeve and give away some more books, so we'll call this half-done.
  • Day 16: Clean out Bathroom Shelves/Medicine Cabinet - I don't actually have much bathroom storage in the Tiny House but there's a corner shelf in the hallway that holds baskets of samples, extra medical supplies, perfumes, etc. I cleaned those shelves out as well as my makeup. Gave away some more stuff, threw out stuff that was gross. Felt most excellent.
  • Day 17: Looking at Living Room Lighting - This was actually a big one for us since, in the winter the living room can feel decidedly dark. We had an electrician come in last month to put in some plugs in the basement and we picked his brain on overhead lighting. It looks like we'll put in a chandelier this year, we're just looking at our choices on Etsy now. I think want one made of antlers. I don't know why, I just do. 
Probably because of this.
Courtesy of : 
Of the challenges left, they basically fall into three categories.

1) The Stuff I Have to get Around to - Days slipped away from me here and there but I still want to clean the bathroom, re-clean the kitchen and vacuum the bedroom. I'll try to put some papers away this weekend as well, even if it's technically February. And my parents have (very kindly) offered to take my "outbox" stuff and donate it when a charity calls to collect so that'll get done this week.

2) The Stuff I Kind of Screwed Up On- I bought the flowers the first weekend and loved the idea of fresh flowers making my kitchen smell nice. They lasted well into day 12 but now, on day 19... they could be nicer. I mean, they still emit a smell but not one you'd want to pitch to the good people at Febreeze, y'know? I also never took a photo of my "before" project so there is also no photo of the "after" Although, it was just a shelf so... |-------| <--- that basically does it.

3) The Stuff I'm Just Plain Not Gonna Do - Organize all my cords? I'm thinking no. The only place they congregate in any kind of number is under my tv unit and we kinda half-assedly cleaned up that system already. There's not enough of them to really bother labelling and colour-coding the whole affair. We good. A media fast? Get between me and my Community DVDs and there will be pain.

So, all that to say I've enjoyed the "January Cure" and found it useful, especially in a month where motivation is as hard to find as natural sources of Vitamin D.  I'm trying to use January as a catapult to a better, brighter, February, enrolling in yoga classes (a post for another day), resolving to cook more instead of eating out, and trying to adhere to a new challenge, SmartCanucks' Frugal February.

On that note, I'm also going to give NaBloPoMo another try. The February theme is "Love and Sex" so please look forward to my blog posts completely eschewing those subject in favour of discussing my unending cravings for quality cheeses. I absolutely bombed my last attempt a one-a-day blog posting, so let's see if having only 28 days in a month makes things go any smoother.

Catch you on the flipside of January, homeslices.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kind of a Movie Review: Les Miserables

Confession: I have an emotional connection to Les Miserables. Money wasn't exactly free-flowing when I was a youngster, so our family vacation each year usually involved a car ride to Toronto to stay with family friends and see a few big-city sites. The 6 hour drive was usually characterized by two things: 1) a pit stop at one of the Tim Horton's/Wendy's combinations along the highway and 2) my mother choosing the music we'd listen to on the car's tapedeck.

My mother's and father's musical tastes growing up could not have been more different. My mother worships at the altar of soft rock. Chicago is her inspiration, The Carpenters have her on top of the world. She played clarinet in high school band and rocked that muthafucka all over Europe playing music that sounds at home inside a cuckoo clock. My father, on the other hand, worked at a grocery store as a teenager until he could afford a $1200 turntable/speaker combo the better to horrify his mother and blast his vinyl collection of The Doors, The Rolling Stones, and Joe Cocker. The first date they ever went on was a Buffy St. Marie/Tom Waits concert so you know they must have been in love for that to work.

One thing that they more or less agree on is showtunes. They love the hell outta 'em. My mother owns everything Mssrs. Rodgers and Hammerstein ever put their names to and the two of them have been going to see the local amateur musical theatre company's productions for over 20 years. They both sing in a choir where Broadway has a big place as well as something called "Tin Pan Alley", according to the program for their latest show "Of Chorus, We'll Sing!" though what that means exactly remains a mystery to me.

On those long trips to Hogtown, in between the Kenny Rogers and the Peter Cetera, were one of two albums: The London cast recordings of Phantom of the Opera or the London cast recording of Les Miserables. Both albums were the highlight reel versions so, in the absence of any previous knowledge of the plot, key bits of storyline were missing from the narrative for us. For Phantom, that wasn't as much of a problem. I'd become mildly obsessed with TPotO as a child, mostly based on this book, a (warily given) Christmas present to me from my parents when I was 8. I ate it up, adored it. I also did a book report on the Leroux version in grade 8 so by then the remaining gaps in the story were filled in. But Les Mis.. well, that was a different story. I had no prior knowledge of the Hugo novel, the thick cockney accents (of France!) made some of the words hard to discern, and, let's face it, I was maybe 8 or 9 when we were listening to it so my background in French political history and living conditions of 1800s Europe were somewhat lacking*. I still loved Les Mis even if I didn't totally get it. With each passing year, though, more of what was going on was revealed to me. I think I can trace back the exact point I lost my childhood innocence to the moment when I realized what "Lovely Ladies" was actually about. I was never the same.

Turns out, through coincidence or serendipity, The Boy and his sister were also listeners of musicals on long car rides. Replace Phantom with Jesus Christ Superstar and we were virtually identical. They, however, had the non-highlight reel version so key facts like Eponine being the Thenardier's daughter and Jean Valjean's silver-stealing background had already been revealed to them many years prior- lucky jerks. When we heard the play was being brought to the big screen we were giddy with delight. They'd both seen the stage show but I never had. I finally got to see Phantom this past summer in New York and it made me feel 10-years-old again. I was so so excited to get a chance to see any version of Les Mis, let alone a big-budget musical spectacular. So very pumped, you guys.

We convinced my sister that she, too, had childhood memories of this sweeping, emotional epic but, seeing as she's 5 years younger than me, most of her memories of Les Mis are muted at best. But we didn't care.

"I remember the part where the innkeeper's wife says shit. That's about all."
"Good enough! Bring money for popcorn!"

So, now we get to the meat of the matter. 

1. Yes, the movie is over 2.5 hours long. No, it didn't feel like it. The sister, who can be the only true marker of this fact, since the rest of us would happily have sat in that theatre, watching that story unfold until we died of old age, said it didn't feel that long, and she commences continuous eyerolling at about the 85 minute mark during most movies. 

2. Yes, they can sing. Anne Hathaway does a damn good job. And hey, if you don't like her, she's not in it that much. I think she does a decent job of hiding her "Anne Hathawayness", which is probably what annoys most people. Chances are, you have someone in your life who reminds you of her. And you might not like certain aspects of their behavior. And when you finally figure out the parallel between them, you'll also stop liking Anne Hathaway. No? Just me? Cool. 

Anywho, I thought she knocked it out of the park. Hugh Jackman carries most of the plot and the music on his broad.. handsome.. ripply.. shoulders. No surprises there, but dude brings it home (zing! Musical-related jokery!). Samantha Barks just kills it, as everyone's favourite second banana (Garfunkel notwithstanding), Eponine. Russell Crowe, for all the pissing and complaining people do, is just fine. But that's it. Here's the thing. In the Glee of the Les Miserables cast, he is clearly Finn. Used to being the jock, unsure of himself, wanting to be accepted by the others, but scared to let his fabulous side show. Man up, Crowe. Blast those notes and hold them for heaven's sake. Don't save it for the shower, Gladiator. Belt. 

3. Yes, I was (and you may be, too) a broken shell of a person. 

Let me be absolutely clear: I am a crazy person. If I have a vivid dream where The Sister is a total, unrepentant asshole, I will then treat the real-life her with disdain and haughtiness for the better part of the next day. I know I have no right to be angry at her, she's done nothing wrong, but the fact remains that I feel weird about her until I shake the memory.

The same goes for artistic outlets. If I'm really into a book or a movie where the male characters are absolutely horrid people, then for a few days following the finish of said book/movie, there's a little steady drumbeat in the back of my head thrumming "Men. How could they???!" . When this happens, I'm pretty sure The Boy finds reasons to get really really involved with some video game or another until that blows over. 

So, if you know anything about what Fantine goes through in the beginning of that musical then know that I basically looked like this for a solid 15 minutes.

Total. Shell-shocked. Wreck. And The Boy has tread on eggshells ever since. I'm getting better. Men are, by and large, good people. But then.. the foreman.. the Captain... rage.. increasing..

Spoilers ahead if you want to avoid the gritty details:

Let's not forget that I had only the musical highlights to go by as a guide to story here. So while I was aware that Fantine sold her hair to pay for her child's care I had no earthly clue that she SOLD SOME OF HER TEETH. Let me say that again.


I just.. I don't.. 

Maybe it's because waking up from the dreams where my teeth are loose is the biggest relief ever (second only to waking up from pregnancy dreams, maybe), or maybe because French dentistry wasn't that much different from farming back then, or maybe it's because I'm irrationally attached to my teeth** but I just could not stop internally screaming for about 10 minutes. 

And, because I revel in self-schadenfreude, I just had to look up the character on Wikipedia to see if that actually happens in the Hugo book. And because it's Hugo, of course it does. 


Oh God you guys, it's been 48 hours and I'm still getting heart palpitations just thinking about it.

Add on deaths of children and revolutionaries and diseased women and unimaginable poverty and you can see why I was desperate for any laughter at all. And that's why I don't believe the critics who questioned the necessity of the Thenardiers and their buffoonery. Please. If they had stuck a LOLcat in the movie to release some tension at that point I would have suspended my disbelief for as long as required. Bitch is dark, son. Plus, stealing someone's hat is always funny.

4) I still only ever want to be cast as Mme Thenardier. I totally accept that I will never be a Broadway musical powerhouse. But when that dream was still a legitimate possibility, 10-year-old me wanted nothing more than to be the dirty, underhanded female companion of the Master of the House. Which should tell you something about me but I don't know what.

5) Is the movie perfect? No. Of course not. I mean, how many times can you watch Valjean escape from Javert without being like "WILL ONE OF YOU JUST SHOOT THE OTHER ALREADY??!" Turns out, less than 3 times. And I still think Eddie Redmayne's Marius sounds a bit too Kermitty for my tastes but, seriously, you guys. It was pretty great. Maybe it's just the nostalgic in me, but it was a really great adaptation of the show that, until now, existed only in my head. Vive la France musicale!

* Basically my understanding of France came from the largely forgettable Archie Abroad comics where Archie would show up in random countries with the gang, see the famous sights, have Jughead eat copious amounts of the local, well-known food item and the girls would fawn over whatever made the locals sexy. So France = Jughead eating croissants at the Arc de Triomphe while the girls wet themselves over Jean-Luc who was so sophisticated in his jaunty chapeau.

**I actually cried when one of my (perfectly healthy) teeth had to be removed in order to make room in my mouth. I may have apologized to it the night before for removing it from its home when it had done no wrong. Again, perfectly comfortable in my crazy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What I've Learned: (sort of) Owning a Dog

This past week, The Boy and his family went to a wedding in Saskatchewan. In January. Yeah, I don't know either. Over the Christmas holiday, his family and I were discussing the details, including their plans for their bird, Freddy, and dog, Suze. Given the prospect of driving her 3 hours round trip, twice, to stay with family, I volunteered, perhaps somewhat foolishly, to take care of them myself. I've already talked about the challenge of dog ownership here, but this was the first time I had the menagerie on their own. We're on the last day of 6 here and it hasn't all been easy, but it has taught me some important life lessons when it comes to non-human roommates. I share.

1. You will not want to walk. The dog will always want to walk. 

You can not walk, of course. You're the human. You pay the bills. You're in charge. But then they'll look at you like this:
As far as she's concerned, Pupperoni is her one true owner.

Your call still, of course.


I'll get your coat.

2. Some dogs smell, some dogs don't. How close the dog wants to get to you is inversely proportional to how bad they smell.

The boy's previous dog, Eddy, never smelled. He was a fastidious self-cleaner (gross) and, for a big dog never seemed to emit any odours. He mostly kept to himself but would allow you to cuddle him if you'd been particularly good that day.

Suze, by contrast, takes about 4 days post-bath to smell like she's been rolling in garbage (spoiler alert: she has) and cannot wait to get her little muzzle directly underneath your nose. You'd complain but, again, that face.

3. How tired you are is of no relevance to the dog. Especially at 3am. Especially if there's something near you she could be jingling her collar at.

Self-explanatory. My under-eye bags have bags.

4. Dog-walking is all about choice.

Plotting how she'll make you pay for this.
And make no mistake, you'll pay.
You can spend 15 minutes trying to put on the blasted dog booties while man's best friend refuses to lies down and then pulls a "no bones" on you, or you can spend those 15 minutes at the end of the walk, cleaning salt and grit out of her paws using 6 shop towels and a hand-pump of Body Shop coconut hand wash while she refuses to lies down and then pulls a "no bones" on you. It's totally up to you, person-who-is-very-much-in-charge-of-this-situation.

5. Find out how many calories are in a mouthful of dog hair, weight-watchers, because you'll be consuming one every damn time you eat. 

Short of shaving the dog down like a Sphynx cat, you will most likely find yourself pulling parts of the dog out of your mouth at every interval. Which is the closest you're going to get to eating my Lunchable, Suze, so back off.

To say nothing of the clumps of dog hair that now stick defiantly to my living room rug or roll lazily across my kitchen floor. I'm choosing to think of those as urban tumbleweeds, part of my 'western chaos' design scheme.

6. Past behavior does not necessarily indicate future results.

Like, for example, if every other day you've left the garbage on the ground and the dog has remained uninterested in its existence, do not assume you won't come home one evening to find the garbage overturned and its contents strewn willy-nilly around the kitchen. But only when you've just cleaned the kitchen. That's something you can count on.

7. Short of having a baby, nothing makes you more square than a dog.

If I had a nickel for every time I said "I should probably get home to walk the dog" or "I can't, have to see how the dog's doing", then I'd probably have enough money to get a petsitter and stay out for a beer or two. Something about having something completely relying on you for sustenance, entertainment and (in this week's case) company, made me a little nervous when I chose my own activities over hers. Maybe this dissipates in time but for me, it was hard to ignore. I managed to do some fun stuff this week regardless, but there was this stinging feeling in the back of my head every time I agreed to go out instead of going home to walk her. Some might say it was guilt. I say it's more likely her claw digging into my neck, indicating she'd like to go out now.

8. You will worry more than you thought possible.

Full confession: I'm a worrywart at the best of times. I will turn a situation over in my head 1000 times before going to sleep, and then turn it over 1000 times more in my dreams (except now I'll be doing it naked while falling down a flight of stairs in front of my 7th grade crush, natch). So every sniffle, growl, loss of appetite, stumble, howl, disappearance and snore is met with a "Are you okay, Suze?? Tell me!" Which is invariably met with a sneeze, a brow raise, and a return to sleep. Which Google MD tells me means she has full-body cancer.

Suze recuperating after her walk.
Or allowing her cells to reproduce some sort of superbug
from which she will never recover. Either/or.

9. You will miss them so much it's remarkable.

Maybe there's something about the clingyness of a dog, especially this dog, that makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside. Being greeted with all-out excitement is kind of fantastic, even if it's only because they think you're taking them for a walk or giving them their "treat" (joke's on you, dog, it's just your thyroid pill inside a Vache Qui Rit). I'll miss that feeling of being greeted with a little bark and a happy face every day. See, TB? Suze understands why it's nice to say hi to me when I get home instead of continuing to play Skyrim.

BONUS: 10. You will have no fucking clue what the bird's thinking.

Seriously, bird. You puff up, you deflate. You sing for an hour, you stay mute for two days. You spill all the seed on the ground, you want more seed. I don't even know. Learn from the parrots - they're trying to communicate at least.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012: The Wig That was


How you guys?

I'm cool, I'm cool; thanks for asking. Took this week off instead of Christmas week so I'm slowly dragging myself out of the gravy-and-party-blower-induced coma that I always throw myself into this time of year.

It took a little longer than usual. My bad.

So, I will tell you about my year.

No there is too much - let me sum up

2012 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

Got my bajingo waxed. Moved in with a boyfriend. Made a mortgage payment. Became a bridesmaid. Had a physical*. Did a voice-over for a piece of theatre. Threw a house party.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Enh, I made the most basic of resolutions last year but in retrospect, I kind of dug them. After years of vowing to not make any, it turns out I actually missed the year-end tradition of self-examination. So, I'll make them this year.

I want to read a book a month. I want to learn to make 13 new dishes I've never attempted before. I want to go to 13 new restaurants. I will try to stop filling the worry spots inside me with endless shopping. I will attempt better to myself and to others.

There. Wig'd.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope nope. But if you're in the market for an ultrasound pic, my Facebook friends list is lousy with them. *shudder*

4. Did anyone close to you die?
A  really lovely friend of the family died, though we didn't see her that frequently. I couldn't get out of work to attend her funeral but my sister did. She gave, without a question, the best hugs in the world. Her life was filled with so much light and so much misfortune. The world is a duller place without her.

5. What countries did you visit?
It was all about America this year. New York City for the first time! Also made it to Ohio for my dear buddy's bridal day. And Syracuse. Twice. For a reason that may rhyme with "fopping".

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A laptop that doesn't die whenever it's not plugged in for 5 seconds or more**, a budget I can work with, an inbox that's manageable.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 9th, the day of the aforementioned wedding... that whole week, really. I will never ever get tired of telling people how I came to be the bridesmaid of a girl I've only met in person twice (and one was when i was part of her wedding party)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I did all right, me. First off, doing all the moving and signing and organizing nonsense that came with buying this house was a huge accomplishment. Plus I, y'know, *found* us the house. Which I will stop reminding The Boy about right after i DIE. Also, you should see the charts and lists required to make our trip to Ohio/New York a success. I was half-tourist/half-robot and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Also? I put together a fan, a shelving unit, a dining room table and a glass table. If you know me at all this is pretty much water-to-wine territory. I'm useless.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Honestly? Losing my phone. I was so annoyed and upset after that and it was totally preventable. I've got to get a better system to keep track of things.Seriously.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not that I can remember. A one-day head cold or tummy upset here and there but I was pretty darn healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Jeez.. well, I already told The Boy he can't answer "the house" for every question on this so taking that out of the equation I've really enjoyed the queen sized bed I bought***. And I distinctly remember describing my new smartphone, showerhead and hair straightener as "life-changing" on more than one occasion. Also, my muppet, natch.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My bridal buddy was the calmest and coolest bride I've ever seen, given the circumstances. Commendable. And the way The Boy's and my families came together to make the most stressful and disorganized move EVER as successful as it was is nothing short of miraculous. We're very lucky people.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
About 48% of the American voting public ;) But seriously - y'all like talking rape, yeah?

In the personal realm, my dad's mood swings are hard to manage some days. And living with The Boy has definitely had its tense moments. But i still talk to them both so the damage can't be too deep there.

Also, ALSO: my parents opening their G.D. stockings without even thinking to see if my sister and I were interested in watching them at all. I have never been so furious on Christmas morning. Out of rage, I ate everything in the advent calendar.

Our advent calendar is made of fabric and stuffed with coins.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food, house stuff (not the mortgage, funnily enough, but the nonsense stuff surrounding moving and unexpected expenses, etc.). My eating out and clothes/housewares shopping is kind of an issue. But that's something to work towards.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
New York City/Wedding in June basically consumed my every waking moment for about 3 months. The end of some work stuff that meant my intense period of pressure was over. New Years in Montreal. Comedy shows! (Aziz Ansari, Lewis Black, and Louis CK. My life is pleasuretown)

16. What songs will always remind you of 2009?
Gangnam Style by Psy, natch.
Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
Blow Me (One Last Kiss) P!nk
We Built This City - Starship
A Case of You - Joni Mitchell
Down By The Water- The Decemberists

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder? Hard to say. Much the same, I think; pretty content. I'm hoping for an uninteresting year.
ii. Thinner or fatter? 7 pounds heavier, my friends. My boyfriend only knows how to make pies. Working on it, working on it.
iii. Richer or poorer? Poorer in money, but I'm actually living in an asset now so.. I don't know, I'll have Marcus in accounting run the numbers.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Socializing, cooking, reading, blogging, keeping up with out-of-town friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Being disgusted by people, spending frivolously, eating junk.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Stayed at my parents' place, ate cinnamon buns and smoked salmon (not together, but if you want to, no judging), watched Match Game marathon, had my gramps and uncle over for dinner. Ate until pukeage seemed imminent. Had a really lovely after-dinner conversation with the gang. Nothing different, all good.

21. How will you be spending New Years?
Spent it with my sister and The Boy in Montreal, a city I am nutso for. Shopped, ate one of the most hilariously over-the-top meals of my life, lounged, laughed myself sick at Kathy and Anderson's antics on CNN, watched the fireworks, drank, had brunch with a friend. Take that worst day of the year!

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
With a fine Venezuelan rum, yes!

Oh, and that guy that lives with me is okay, too.

23. How many one night stands?
Once you hit 20 the numbers start to blur.

24. What were your favorite TV programs?
Modern Family, Mad Men, Top Chef Canada, Anna and Kristina's Grocery Bags, rewatches of Arrested Development (still amazing).

Also, The Boy and I love/hate a tonne of Canadian game shows that we watch due to our extremely limited cable package. Supermarket Sweep, Bumper Stumpers and Talk About rule our life and raise our bile.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. I have a fetish for my own irritation with some people but my sister's been helping me discover the "hide from feed" button on Facebook so I'm getting past it.

26. What was the best book you read?
Let's not talk about how few books I've read since getting a smartphone. The Help was the most engaging book by far. I really liked it, even if I had a problem with the "White Girl Solves Racism" tone of it. Great storytelling, fantastic and rich characters, though.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
No real new discoveries. Except maybe for the Book of Mormon soundtrack, which is mind-blowing.

28. What did you want and get?
A cute little house downtown (with a dishwasher and laundry!) more time with The Boy, a visit to the city I've dreamed about since I was 10 years old.

29. What did you want and not get?
Security on where I'll spend the next few years, a new couch (I'm currently being swallowed up by our old one - please send Indian takeout if you don't hear from me in the next few days)

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I loved Wreck-It Ralph. Straight up.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I basically begged my sister and The Boy to arrange something for me and when they wouldn't, I grumbled and gathered some friends together at a local pub the night before and had a really fun night. Drank until I was funny, then played with a disobedient corgi until 4 in the morning. Next day, avoided the giant crowds downtown and had a picnic with The Boy and my sister near the canal. Later on, they both left and I spoke with friends on the phone until the wee hours. And then I was 30.

32. What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Hiring a moving company. A money tree. Acting more, maybe.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Let's say "Real-World Vintage". I discovered ModCloth this year and they're fantastic. But I had to remind myself I was neither a Suicide Girl nor a Mad Men extra and dress accordingly. I love most of my closet now.

34. What kept you sane?
Online shopping. That's maybe the most cringe-worthy thing I've typed in a while

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Pink is pretty fantastic - her live performance of Try made me want her in the worst way. John Hamm is a riot. Obama is all the sexy. Don't judge. And of course, for the 12th year in a row: Paul Rudd.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

There were a few things that really piqued my interest. The impeachment of Paraguay's president and the Venezuelan presidential elections (and Chavez's health, esp. lately) intrigued me greatly, though admittedly my focus was drawn there due to work. The American presidential election had me biting my nails and refreshing FiveThirtyEight about 3 dozen times an hour, for sure. And on home soil, the 2012 budget definitely held my attention. In a "got you by the short-and-curlies" kind of way.

37. Who did you miss?
My boss who rotated out of our division in August- he does amazing (-ly bad?) accents and had a laissez-faire way of doing business that was just my cup of tea.

And of course, the friends I adore who can't be with me in the same city. Technology makes things easier but it's no substitute for in-person fart jokes.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
One of my new coworkers who does fantastically hilarious things with a little program called "Microsoft Paint" is a fine, upstanding, gentleman who brings much laughter to my days. And the crew of people we met in Ohio were just tops.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
The only thing worse than not getting what you want, is getting it. I bet 2013's gonna be full of that, too.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"So everybody put your best suit or dress on, let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once."
-Death Cab for Cutie "The New Year"

*okay, I guess I must have had a physical before but not since I've hit double digits. Yes, Uncle-at-family-dinner, that means since I was 10. But it turns out I was fine, so joke's on you . 

**I literally have made this desire public every year since 2010. I feel good about 2013's odds, though!

***which also includes the incredibly over-priced pillows that are on it. Life. changing.