“You can’t knock the hustle.” — Jay-Z, “Can’t Knock the Hustle” Reasonable Doubt (1996)
It’s been a long time, I know. Here on the other side of the screen, the hustle is real, filling my schedule with so much that the blog became a sad afterthought for a while. Seeing your numbers drop is frustrating when you know you could keep it all going if only you had more time, but we need to keep realistic. You can’t force the words out. You can’t expect to mine gold from within when your soul’s worn out. Even when the gravy train’s speeding along and everything’s going amazing, you can’t buy into your own hype — because it’ll bring your house of cards tumbling down, leaving you emptier than you started, needing to rediscover to get back on that horse.
April’s underway and everyone’s dusting the cobwebs off, getting ready to take advantage of the little good weather we get each year. Bloggers in particular get chomping at the bit as brands look to increase their real-world visibility since influencers aren’t trapped in their homes anymore. 2015 got me started early — January and February came laden with more experiences and opportunities than I’d ever expected, but March really drove the point home that I’m going to need to handle the blog with a level of professionalism I’m not used to, learning how to continue evolving while keeping my message firmly in mind — a balance I think most too readily let slip through their fingers.
But let me do better than just talk about it and show you what went down in the month that kept me from the blog, feeling like a sign of things to come.
Jeez — has it already been two months since I did a “monthly” wrap-up post? Makes sense: time’s something that means a lot less once you become a parent — everything’s just one big blur.
I’ve struggled with this post for a while now. I’ll look at my life, wondering why anyone would want to read about the things I do — people think I live some glamorous “blogger life”, but I spend most of it at home or work, throwing in time for food, sleep, hygiene and commuting. After blogging for so long, sure I’ve started working with brands to introduce themselves to new audiences, but don’t get it twisted — there’s no one rolling out the red carpet when I sit down at home to get my blog on.
Sarah recently pointed out that I hadn’t taken a break since the two weeks I took off right after our son was born, and six months later — while I deny being burnt out — I definitely feel it. I can feel my annoyance with people I’d usually just ignore. I feel my mind scrambling to finish everything now, now, NOW as I do well with the beginnings and endings of journeys, but I loathe being stuck in the middle. I feel like everything’s in transition, and I can’t wait to make it to the other side with a better idea of the work I’m called to do.
Though it’s a smidge late for my monthly wrap-up, I’ve kept busy both on- and offline, making the most of my life despite an unappreciative work culture and the challenges of parenthood. I entered Tobago’s Division of Tourism and Transportation’s 60 Days in Paradise contest, hoping for some time in the sun and a change of pace from Toronto’s constant grind. I taught photography fundamentals to up-and-coming women in the fashion and beauty industries, taking a first step toward teaching and public speaking, two things I’ve wanted to grow in for a long time now. I’ve made sandwiches, reclaimed some of my ancient past from my parents’ place and dedicated my son in his first step of being part of our church and the community that comes with it.
All things considered, I’ve started Spring off in a good place, huddled indoors avoiding The Winter that Would Not End, and if you’re anything like my fellow Torontonians and I, you know that winter sorely overstayed its welcome! But here on the other end of Gore-Tex boots and thermal underwear, my teeth stopped chattering and fingers thawed long enough to tell you what mischief I did get into those 61 days….
Hanging with Team Trolling
Oftentimes, I can’t believe it’s only been 2 years since I started hanging out with these guys. If there’s a constant in my life outside of my home, taxes and a workload that just won’t quit, it’s the Trolls. Chatting daily on numerous platforms, we’re always up to something.
In March and April, the shenanigans happened at three places….
Cel’s Birthday at Pauper’s Pub
Unlike #SavvyMoney or #DoomzDay, we never came up with a good hashtag for Marcel’s birthday. That should be his gift next year!
Marcel’s girlfriend and her roommate convinced me to give Sons of Anarchy another chance after its first 5 seasons left me feeling lukewarm. Glad I did, because Season 6 is ah-may-zing!!!
Obtained yet another illicit roti delivery courtesy of Justin and Marie — part of Team Trolling’s Western Division — and all I had to do in exchange was pick some cables up from Infinite Cables. I’d make that trade any day.
Val didn’t wind up with credit card fraud on this visit to Pauper’s, which is always a bonus!
The Trolls Hit Pizzeria Libretto, aka Casey’s Favourite Pizza Joint in All of Toronto
red pepper, almond romesco sauce, Libretto herb oil
house-made crema fresca, lemon, chives, rosemary
spicy bomba tomato sauce, grilled crostino, grana padano
If you came here for a food review, might I direct you to Justin’s blog on the matter — I was there to take photos and enjoy the company. But no word of a lie — I haven’t found a pizza in this city yet that can trump Libretto’s Nduja Sausage pizza, and trust me — I eat a lot of pizza!
We managed to use our social media swagger to secure their semi-private room in the basement (sorry, table we bumped — feel free to holla at us if you want to tell us how you really feel), and with our special guest JennJenn of AwesomeJennJennnotoriety fame, it made for an excellent night.
By far the oddest server ever, who not only served us with style, but may have eaten the last piece of Marie’s delicious lemon meringue pie (thus coining what will only be called the “Catchphrase of the Year”), and convinced me to have another beer in the most unexpected way possible when I thought I was already covered!
Somehow getting JennJenn’s leftover proscuitto pizza switched with Lily’s… questionable white anchovy pizza. Sadly, neither pizza was eaten, with Lily throwing JennJenn’s out and Sarah throwing Lily’s out after it sat for days. It was probably for the best.
All Star Wings and Ribs
Freshly prepared Nacho Chips topped with a 1/2 lb. of cheese, diced tomato, jalapenos, and shallots. Served with salsa and sour cream. Add ‘Certified Angus Beef’ brand chili (4 oz.) Add grilled chicken (5 oz.) Add pulled pork
6 battered mozzarella sticks. Served with zesty cajun dip.
BBQ, Cajun, Creole Mustard
Sweet Chili Thai, Creamy Garlic Parmesan
Finally, we made our way to the northern Mississaugan reaches to catch Game 5 of the Raptors’ ill-fated first round playoff series. It’s hard to take photos of the food when your fingers are slathered in wing sauce, but I can tell you that the food, friends, “F Brooklyn” tee that Jo had thoughtfully provided, and a heart-stopping basketball game made for a very fulfilling night.
If only the traffic out of Toronto hadn’t been so horrible.
Most notable, other than keeping our server very amused with our antics, was the game and going H.A.M. as the Raptors blew our minds… and then disappointed… and then got lucky. JEEZ, Raps.
Oh, and schooners. Way too much beer in my life, people.
Held in King West Village’s 99 Sudbury, Ford threw a bash to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang, a muscle car journeying through cinematic time from 1964’s Goldfinger from the James Bond film series all the way to 2014’s Need for Speed (starring the likes of Aaron Paul and Scott Mescudi).
For me, #FordMustang50 was an excellent case study in what happens when you make yourself scarce, suddenly reappearing after a bit of a hiatus.
SPECS AND INFO Owner: George O’Hearn, Oakville, Ontario Colour: Blue medium metallic with matching medium blue interior (as ordered) Built date: December 23rd 1969 Sold new in Detroit and imported across the river to Wndsor in 2000 where the car was restored. 351 cubic inch Cleveland “M” engine and close ratio four speed with Hurst shifter. The car is an original “H” code (meaning it came with a 351 Cleveland 2 barrel). The transmission and rear-end are original to the car with only the engine being upgraded. Power disc brakes were added as a safety upgrade (factory available option in 1970).
Okay, not exactly true — I popped in at ReGiftTO, I managed to hit the Canadian International Auto Show, but it’s all different now. Any time I go out, it’s like I’m trying to make up for all this social time I missed in one big bang. I still need to learn a lesson about taking things in stride, but I’m not there yet.
Since 2013’s Blue Party, Ford’s helped me grow my appreciation for vehicles — but for me, the night wound up being less about the cars and more about reconnecting with the friends I’d seldom seen since my son made his début, and meeting new people who had all sorts of stories to share! I talked frugality and storytelling with an elementary school teacher; discussed the relatively new trend of urbanites who see no value in having a driver’s license; and even did okay in the trivia they held to award prizes (despite knowing almost none of the answers!) For a better look at the night’s events, I recommend hitting Christine’s blog on the matter 🙂
The 2014 100: Updates
Life isn’t simply some template for you to slot your experiences into — life evolves along with your relationships, environment and personality. With that in mind, maybe it’s foolish to compile a 100-item list of things to accomplish when a year’s barely begun — it’s good to have goals, but over a year, our interests and opinions can change. Much like I said last year, while the list won’t change by the year’s end, the person behind it definitely will.
All things considered, I did knock a few more items off of the list in the last bit….
6 – Open an RESP for DoomzToo
The maximum annual RESP contribution that the federal government will top-up is $2,500, which may seem like a lot, but between gifts, tax refunds and Universal Child Care Benefits, you can make it work. I won’t go over the rules and regulations behind them, but when you get a kid, it’s smart to get on this as soon as possible to take advantage of the magic of compound interest.
So with Sarah’s help, we got an RESP open, and in another couple of decades, hopefully we’ll see a return from the investment 😉
26 – Guest blog more often
Sometimes my ambition extends beyond my ability, and that conundrum presented itself repeatedly throughout March and April!
As a general rule, if you’re already struggling with content for your site, perhaps you shouldn’t be writing for others.
But despite that two-month slump, I’m coming back swinging for the rest of the year, ready to tell the world exactly what’s on my mind.
47 – Finish the family tree to the best of my ability
Thousands of entries and hours of research later, the family tree’s as far as it’ll get without going to Jamaica for more information. I remember struggling with making one when I was young, as much of my family history wasn’t documented or too muddled by generations of assumption and oral history. Perhaps it’s that feeling of frustration that drives me, never wanting my son to experience the same and giving him everything he needs to know about where he came from.
I’d love to eventually take this a step further and dig up some church records from all over the Caribbean, but until free time and a whole heap of money intersect paths in my life, I think I’ll consider this one done.
74 – See a doctor about the mysterious pain in my side
The mysterious pain in my side’s been solved — turns out when you’re unaccustomed to bending over to grab your kid from his crib, your body can react in unexpected ways.
When I pick things up, I bend with my knees — I’m better off with a bum knee than a bad back, after all! That, though, is not an option when grabbing a baby from a crib, as I’d often do with our son in the earlier days before sleep training.
The more I got him, the less it bothered me, until the pain had gone. Also, carrying a 20-pound baby around makes you stronger, like it or not. Yeah, I think my physical can wait ’til 2015.
So I did it — I finally did it. I wrote this post without putting too many people to sleep! It’s over a week into May, and things aren’t getting any quieter. The summer’s the busiest season for all the social activities in Toronto, and even with a baby, I have a feeling that this one’s will be a year to remember!
Catch you on the flip side,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands: