Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nine months newlywed: thoughts on marriage so far.

Photo by Adam Pap
We just passed the nine month mark on our marriage. It feels a bit like the time Brian hit 199,999 km on his motorcycle, and we toddled around a parking lot til the tachometer hit 200,000 so he could take a picture. When we did that with the bike, we paused for a moment and tried to drink in the strange feeling of being present for a significant moment in time that will never be duplicated. I kind of have the same feeling about hitting nine months, maybe because it's so close to a year, or maybe just because this was the month I had time to take note of the date.

I can't imagine the last nine months without Brian. Well, first off, half of the adventures I've had since August 2011--good and bad--would not have been possible without Brian in my life.  But all these adventures have been better with him by my side. I have been honored to support his journey through college, sometimes by cheering him on and sometimes by proof reading. I have been grateful to have him there through my health stuff, my career changes, and the Great Bat Fiasco of 2012. I have been moved to tears by the simple domestic reality of folding laundry while he roams around downstairs singing songs to the dog. I am filled with happiness.


I'm curious about when I might expect to stop feeling a bit inadequate. I think of all the ways that Brian shows his love, and sometimes I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I can never find enough ways to show him, too. Everything still feels so surreal, like I'm going to wake up and he'll have just been a dream...or that one day I'm going to do something so despicably annoying/reprehensible/weird that he will just stand up, grab his coat, and walk out. And I wouldn't even blame him because he's much, much too good for me. This isn't a self esteem issue, I swear; I firmly believe that other newlyweds must have these feelings sometimes, too. I think it comes from the mind-boggling realization that someone you think is pretty much heaven-sent, would ever possibly happen to feel the exact same way towards you. It is one of those gifts in life that makes me believe in a higher power. Some things are so glorious, they must be the work of the divine. And that's how I feel about my Brian.

Happy nine months, Bri. Looking forward to watching our tachometer flip over to 1 year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Short Story: the Hepburn-Islam mashup

Katharine Hepburn makes everything look classy.
Hell, she's using a saucer in the CAR.
I have begun blogging these short stories because my BFF is moving away; an  explanation is here  


It's been raining a lot in Ottawa. I've been looking for my umbrella around the house but it's just not showing up. In my teens, I never carried an umbrella because I felt they were hazardous eye-poking devices, and I hated the awkward social courtesy expected when walking with an umbrella-less friend: how I'm supposed to squeeze our heads under that tiny shelter, without poking out anyone's eye, I don't know. But now that I'm older and no longer sporting the 'Corey Hart wet look' hairstyle that was pretty much rain-proof, I'm ready for an umbrella. The risk of eyeball injury is apparently less distressing than walking around with flattened hair all day.

Nonetheless, the single dollar store umbrella we used to own seems to have wandered off (Mary Poppins, I presume, is behind it), and so this week I attempted to pull off the Katharine Hepburn in-a-convertible look: I took one of my big shawl-shaped scarves, draped it over my head, swished it around my neck, and strode out of the house. 

It worked for keeping off the rain, but as the bus stopped in front of me and I got a good look at myself, I realized I looked nothing like Ms Hepburn. With a particularly modest floor-length skirt on today, plus my also modest long rainproof coat, I looked eerily similar to the Muslim women I used to counsel in my old job. In fact, I know this is how I looked because when I got on the bus, the driver and passengers, now familiar with me after weeks of travel together, looked at me with raised eyebrows, as if to say, 'Well that was a quick change in your life journey, considering yesterday, you were wearing an outfit similar to Britney spears circa 'hit me baby one more time'.'


Adding to my absurdity, I got to work and one of my workplace rituals played out, as it does every morning: the keypad molestation. Every day I get to work and realize my magnetic key card is in a pocket or bag on my person, but I'm unsure of location. Our keypads are fairly sensitive, so I can usually get it to acknowledge my card through a couple layers of fabric. So instead of dropping all my bags and my coffee, I begin rubbing various pockets up against the keypad. The result is that I appear to be giving the keypad some sort of vertical lap dance, rubbing my hips, butt, and boobs up against it. Somewhere along the way, the keypad will decide I've been demeaned enough, and it will happily beep me through. But I guarantee you, this is only after several VIP's have walked by me, and maybe a tour group or two.

I'm learning to accept that the only time anyone is going to mistake me at work for a cast member of Sex In The City is if the show comes back and does an episode where Carrie converts to Islam, loses her mind, and starts rubbing herself all over walls.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bats in the attic: not always a metaphor.



Several years ago, Bryan Singer's Batman: the Dark Knight came out, and I found a favourite quote: Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again. I use this quote a lot, and my Bestie MJ finally had enough one day; she was telling me about a tough experience at work, and when I said, 'Why do we fall?', she looked at me with distrustful eyes and said, 'So the bats can get in our hair!' Remember this for later. 


I am awakened by the sounds of our pug, Mr Darcy, scrambling around on the floor. Figuring he's having a seizure, I spring up in bed and blearily peer over at him. It takes me a few seconds to realize that he's attacking something...something that has escaped him and is now flying around the ceiling fan.
The Something has brought a friend, I see, as my foggy vision makes out not one, but two giant angry bats. They spin wildly around the room, endlessly following the blades of the spinning ceiling fan. Like some terrible Tim Burton mobile. 

source: Cdn Museum of Nature
I must have started screaming, because Brian is up in a flash, but still confused. He decides to stand up even though I'm screaming at him to duck. Me, I slither off the bed like a snake, and begin walking like a chimp on all fours towards the stairs to the first floor. Brian eventually catches on as the two big bats whiz past his head, and he shouts for me to go downstairs, which I'm already doing, sticking as low to the ground as I can in a crab walk position on a steep incline. 


When I get downstairs, I lock myself in the bathroom, and it's only then that I realize I've left the love of my life to fend off two crow-sized bats. It occurs to me that neither of us knows how to deal with this. I open the bathroom door a crack to check on Bri, hollering that I'd like to know what the plan is. When I don't get a response, I step out of the bathroom and stand at the bottom of the bedroom stairs, where I shout, 'Don’t you let those bats touch you, or we will make you get a rabies vaccine!' Of course, this is when Bat One, confused and maybe mistaking my shrill voice as one of his kin, flies directly into me.  

source: Cdn Museum of Nature
The creature bounces off my forearm and ricochets into the living room. I scream one long, high note reminiscent of Beaker from the muppet show, and furiously scrub at my arm. Now YOU have to get a rabies shot, says my brain, and I start to yell to Brian that I need to go to the doctor. He runs downstairs, reassures me that the bat hasn’t given me rabies by running into me, and then heads off to deal with the bats, which have regrouped in the living room. I can’t figure out where to go, so I keep wandering back and forth, crouched close to the ground, wondering what Brian is going to do. Full panic has set in and I keep looking at my arm for signs of scratches. One of the bats dips out of the living room and straight into my previous refuge in the bathroom. I drop flat to the floor in the hallway, grab a towel out of the laundry, and throw it over myself; crouched in a corner, I call my parents.

Mom answers the phone. She’s actually up with a touch of insomnia, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Sobbing, I tell her, “There are two bats in my house, and one of them touched me!” She sounds surprised and amused, but keeps her cool and gives me directions for Brian: get a towel or blanket to throw over the beasts. At this point I start laughing as I say, “Mom...oh my god...there are literally bats in my attic.” She laughs heartily at this. Mr Darcy finds me in my towel fortress and curls up in my lap like a cat, presumably  to better protect me, or maybe to secure the best view from which to watch my breakdown.


Brian informs us that one of the bats seems to have left through the patio door—at least, he assumes so because it’s disappeared and the door was open. I’m more skeptical. He heads into the bathroom with his blanket-cum-net, and I fill Mom in on the whole story. I hear Dad wake up on the other end of the line, just as Brian comes out of the bathroom and says that Bat Two has also disappeared. Dad shouts out ideas of where the bat may be hiding, but all come up empty. He suggests looking for a tiny tuxedo left behind, a la Dracula.

We surmise the beast must have escaped back into the house through the giant gap in the bathroom door frame, and then must have escaped through a window. Again, I’m dubious. We close the windows and Brian shuts the door to every room as we climb back into bed.  


I reluctantly lay down, but absolutely insist on wearing a hat. My brain, shocked and exhausted, just keeps repeating one thing over and over: 

“Why do we fall?”
“So the bats can get in our hair.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blog News: We're speaking, reading, and blogging!

Man alive, the last couple weeks have been awesome for the NEST. We’ve got some great news, and can’t wait to share it: 


Last year saw the debut of Ottawa’s premier social media learnathon, called Social Capital. Social Capital (also called SoCapOtt for short) is a one-day conference gathering 250 social media fanatics and providing them with some of the smartest and coolest social media savants available. And this year, the speaker lineup includes Brian and me! We’ll be offering a session on ‘putting the soul back in social media’—details to come.

This is super exciting for us. I attended SoCapOtt last year, and was completely unprepared for the eye-opening, mind-expanding speakers and round table discussions. It was at this conference that I had my great lightbulb moment and realized I had found my mothership.

This year, the conference is offering four learning streams:
Personal Use: for the blogger/tweeter/Tumblr-er/etc who would like to expand their knowledge, influence, and personal goals.
Small Business: for the independent business owner who is looking to better harness social media to grow their brand and business.
Professional: for the communications pro who’s looking to solidify and streamline a great social media strategy for their company.
Non-profit/Government: for the community service or government worker who is looking to expand their offices’ reach and image via social media.

Personally, I’m going to recommend mix-and-matching; sometimes, what you really want to learn is in a different stream than you thought it would be, and that’s great!

The SoCapOtt conference is on Saturday July 21st this year, and tickets are already on sale. Be sure to grab ‘em early, because last year they sold out and there’s no way to beg, borrow, or steal an extra pair!


The next incredible honor is Blog Out Loud Ottawa. BOLO, as it’s generally known, is “an Ottawa-based get-together for bloggers, lurkers, and anyone who likes to hear good writing. “ In its fourth year, this event takes place this year at the Arrow & Loon pub in the Glebe, on June 14th. You can learn more about the event here, but in a nutshell, it’s an opportunity to hear over 20 bloggers read out their best post of the year…and this year, yours truly is included in that lineup. We hope you’ll come out and listen to all these incredible bloggers. It should be an amazing evening, and I nervously, yet excitedly, await my opportunity to read!


Thirdly: last week, I (Jordan) wrote a post for the Wellman Wilson blog. Wellman Wilson is a social media consultation firm here in Ottawa—a damn fine one, with two of the smartest social media Jedi I’ve yet met. The owners of this company only recently joined forces, which means they’ve amalgamated their efforts, and their blogs. I heartily recommend subscribing to their blog for some of the best, most user-friendly social media news and knowledge you can find. So imagine my utter amazement when they agreed to have me on for a guest post! The only catch was a (joking) request from Lara Wellman that I provide a photo of myself, dressed on theme with my post. The topic is branding, and I specifically talked about what happens when you don’t pull together a cohesive ‘ensemble’. Well, if Lara Wellman and Karen Wilson want a photo,then  sister, I’m gonna get one for you. Here’s the rest of the shoot for you to enjoy, but be sure to check out the actual post, too.

A great week for us here at the NEST. We’re feeling pretty proud of our writing, our social media knowledge, and our presence in the community. It’s so wonderfully affirming to be recognized in these wonderful ways, and for this, we are both incredibly grateful.

Monday, May 21, 2012

This week in pictures: newlyweds in the nest and beyond

Brian had a genius idea the other day: there are many things we get up to in a week that don't get posted as a blog post because, well, then we wouldn't have time to be doing these things in the first place. But we do tend to snap a couple pictures here and there. So here's our week (and a bit) in photos, with a tweet-length description beside each. Light reading for a Monday afternoon.

Funny pic: I don't know where this 'Club Soda' is, but I totally want to go there and hang out with these hip cats.

I didn't follow any of the earlier bear story, but this just sounded like the Wile E Coyote writers had hijacked this bear's day.

Mom solidified her status as Coolest Ever by getting us tickets to Bryan Adams. 2.5 hr non-stop playing. Heavenly.

A robin laid her eggs in a nest she built on our balcony. Sadly, they were eaten by something. This bothered me all week.


My first time EVER baking from scratch: oatmeal chocolate chip muffins! They were really good! Brian LOVED them.

This 'mushroom' headline was so obscure, and the imagination makes such visuals, that I had to save it for further perusal.

Brian participated in a rock climbing competition. This sign indicated that the gym is high enough to die. Twice. (He did great, though.)

Gaining confidence in my cooking, I created these no-bake energy ball cookies from the Moxley website. They're delish.

The Punk Ottawa flea market provided me with a new mushroom item. So did the highJinx yard sale.

We planted our garden this Sunday, and it was worth the mild heat stroke. Soon we will have veggies; we shall fight the squirrels for them!

More baking: I managed to set my beater on fire, then the oven, by using wax paper in the oven to make these now-dubbed 'fire cookies'. Oops

Missing pictures: Jordan makes bean dip, and we both see Tommy Emmanuel (the guitar legend) in concert.

That's it for now! If there's any of these that you'd like to see explained with greater elaboration, don't hesitate to comment below. I think the fire cookies are worthy of their own post, quite frankly. They managed to still be tasty, and their recipe has been repinned on my Pinterest repeatedly.

On with Monday...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ottawa Comicon: to boldly convene where no one's convened before.


Last weekend, Ottawa hosted its first-ever comic book convention, or 'comicon' for those in the know. This was a big deal for me...well actually, for a lot of people, because some of us have just never had the opportunity to head out to San Diego for the major comicon. For us local nerds, tthis con was like having the mountain come to Mohammed. We have talked of little else for months preceding the event.

The back door line to get in. 1.5 hr wait.
I was raised on comic books, thanks to my dad. He got us hooked on the XMen from an early age, throwing in the occasional spiderman or Batman title. I learned about justice, honor, hubris, and spandex from the heroes on the pages. I found role models in the female characters--women portrayed as surrealistically beautiful, yes, but also powerful, assertive, and yet, still sensitive.

Don't roll your eyes, I'm being serious.
Anyway. Walking in the doors at Ottawa Comicon, my dad in tow as my official photographer for the day (all these photos are his), there was a palpable atmosphere that can only be described as 'happy nerd vibe'. I thought of the years when my comic book obsession made me a pariah amongst female peers who were far more interested in Cosmo than comics, and I smiled. This here was my 'It gets better' moment. So let me just say to all he young nerds out there: you may get teased a lot right now, and you may find your potential mate pool to be sadly small at present, but one day you will go to your first comicon, and you will know it gets better. You are not alone, not at all. The nearly 20,000 people who showed up for Ottawa's event proves that quite nicely.

We observed that the organizers seemed pretty overwhelmed by the turn-out--in fact, there were people lined up around the block, most waiting over an hour-and-a-half to get in. Hopefully next year, there will be better organization, and hopefully some more entertainment going on in the main hall, because the space was a bit too focused just on selling/buying. But it was still great to walk around, see the Magic card tournaments, the incredible artists in Artist Alley, and the many, many costumes on the fans. The talk of the town wasa couple of weird pyramid-headed monsters from a game called Silent Hill...a game I will never, ever go near, now that I've seen some of the nightmares that are found in it.

The Comic Book Shoppe had a large presence, and it was at their booth that I finally caved and bought something: a pair of Batman bootie shorts. I have already found an opportunity to wear them, I swear. They hosted the Magic card tournament, and sported some of the best-costumed staff.

I enjoyed watching people gawk as they noticed my
Magic Card tournament.
Battlestar Gallactica-inspired tattoo (the one that Brian and I share), because while they may have had some rockin' cool costumes, clearly I am queen of the nerds, having adorned my skin permanently with a giant sci-fi tattoo.


Many celebrities were present for signings, but the fees were high (a separate cost for signature, photo, etc, and some as high as $80), and the lines were long, so we stayed away. I did, however, see Lou Ferrigno from a distance, towering over his fans.

I also caught a glimpse of Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek TNG)
Happy Jordan!
up on his feet, shaking hands and beaming at his fans. (Beaming as in smiling, not transporting somewhere. Sorry, that could be confusing given the fan base.) I was wrought with jealousy, however, on Sunday as my BFF and Brian came home from the con where they'd been helping out at a vendor booth. Apparently, they actually got to chat, touch, and eat fudge with Data. I'm a bit fuzzy on how the fudge got involved, but the looks of nerdy joy on their two faces was priceless.

Putting aside the celebrities, shopping, game tournaments, and panel discussions, I think one of my favourite parts of the comicon was simply being surrounded by other sci-fi and fantasy dreamers. It's a pleasure to be amongst others who understand what it's like to love a band of characters so much, they become real for you. To be with kindred spirits who have also cried when a superhero has died, or who have cheered aloud when a villain has been vanquished...that was a really great experience.

Oh, yeah: and getting my photo with a storm trooper...also pretty damn cool.

The original Delorian.