Ephiphanies, 2017

On January 6, 2016, I sat in my favourite chair, staring out the window of my fifth floor studio in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, depressed as heck, pondering life, and writing about it. Questioning my career and almost every other aspect of my life, I’d been toying with the idea of returning to school — something I’ve always loved and found mostly fulfilling — for the past few months, but for what, I wasn’t sure. As I sat, writing everything that came to mind on post-secondary potential, the most profound realization hit me square in the face. I was one hundred per cent going to return to UBC after a 10+ year hiatus, get admitted to its creative writing major no matter what, finish my undergrad where my community of like-minded creatives would mushroom, and proceed to be the best at creative writing I could possibly be forever and ever. I hadn’t been so excited and certain of something for ages and when I checked the date on my phone to time-stamp this momentous occasion, you can imagine my astonishment when I saw “Epiphany” scheduled. I said to myself, “Self, how many more signs do you need? This is it!”

2016, Actually

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What does life look like one and a bit years later? Well, it’s come with almost as much mind-bending as Inland Empire, and as sure as I was that night in my chair, turns out that what I knew would be was not. I was wrong and/or changed my mind about everything. EVERYTHING. Here’s what actually happened.

I quit my coveted “adult” job as an editing and publishing specialist where I spent the last half-decade honing and using my communications skills and education, being compensated well, making regular RRSP contributions, and paying MSP on time for the first time in my life. A long-term live-in relationship with the one I thought was The One ended. I moved solo into my dream apartment in the heart of Vancouver (also a quick-fix that was way more than what a person like me should spend on rent) only to sublet it and move soon after, pulling the millennial’s signature move and shacked up with my mom in Victoria (one of the best decisions I’ve made, by the way).

I was accepted back to UBC to finish my bachelor’s. But because I got rejected from the creative writing program that I was one hundred per cent sure of, I was going to take the BA route instead and major in English. Then post-secondary life threw me yet another curveball when I got accepted into grad school in Victoria. So I skipped the undergrad altogether and started my master’s degree in communications.

Also, Epiphany is a Christian orthodox holiday, not a planned life moment I unknowingly scheduled for Future Laurel.

Embracing Chaos

If that A-ha! moment was so palpable and clear last year, why didn’t I commit to making my “creative writing dreams” come true, try harder, and apply until I got accepted? Because life happens and it’s ridiculous and unrealistic to think that moments of profound realization will always manifest, are worth exploring and pursuing to the end until they’re wrapped up in a neat little package. Life is chaotic. Things change and there are better options that we don’t know exist when we begin or continue any journey. In retrospect, I think I was more drawn to the packaged prestige and exclusivity of that creative writing program, not how it could be fulfilling and rewarding and lead to a more content Laurel in the big picture. And I found something better and more fitting for me, even if I did feel the sting of rejection initially.

Therein lies the challenge, because the question we’re inevitably asked when change abounds is “What are you going to do next?” or “What are you going to do with that?” over and over and over as though the chaos turned into order and we’ve got it figured out now, thanks for asking.

So I’m trying something new. I’m embracing the unknown, seeking comfort in the chaos, and declaring “I don’t know!” with confidence(ish). Because so many of these choices and changes were based on feelings in my metaphorical guts (and a lot of things beyond my control), it’s not always easy to articulate why we do something or what is at the end of it.

And whether you can articulate your reasoning or not, who cares. You don’t have to.

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What I Did On My Summer Vacation By Laurel Borrowman, Part 2

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It probably seems like my whole summer vacation was a vacation, but I worked too, just not like I did in Vancouver before summer vacation started. That was one of the points of moving to Victoria. Most of my work once I moved to Victoria was freelance writing for two companies. One was Yellow Pages Media, which did not involve selling advertising or the delivering or burning of phone books. I interviewed owners of local businesses and asked them to tell me about their life path to opening their micro brew pub or how they screen printed their first batch of greeting cards or how they concocted the recipe for that mango tempeh arugula salad everyone’s lining up around the block on Main Street for. I also took pictures of them and their store and then wrote the article and then it got posted to YP.ca. The initiative behind these was to beef up the business’s existing directory listing and give it more Internet presence.

I liked learning about the faces behind small companies and how they got to where they are. Most of them started out working in a tall office building with people staring at their phones in an elevator and casual Fridays. I still write for Yellow Pages.  

The other company I wrote for this summer is called Hootsuite Media. In May I ran into a fellow I hadn’t seen in ages at the Alibi Room and said hello, I haven’t seen you in ages! He said the same thing and what are you up to and I said I just quit two jobs and I’m moving to Victoria soon and what are you up to? He said have you heard of Hootsuite and I said more like Who-tsuite? and laughed because Vancouver. He said I am the managing editor for their blog and I said cool! Do you need a writer? Which made me sweaty because I’m awkward and terrible at asking for things on the spot when it comes to writing work. He said yes in a non-sarcastic tone, but inside I thought he probably just wanted to end the conversation. So we jabbered a bit more and went our own ways. I followed up with him a few days later with some writing samples and then about a month after that he needed a writer and asked if I was available and I squealed in real life and typed a professional YES in an email reply. So I wrote for the Hootsuite blog about things like Instagram and how many hundreds of millions of users it has and how your company can leverage them and its apps better and faster and the best practices to employ so more people know about your company.

I got Twitter notifications several times per day for a long time telling me a handle like Get2Media_420 has followed me or InstaHitz_Now has mentioned me and retweeted an article like “6 Quick Tips To Up Your Instagram Game.”

On my summer vacation, I gained upward of 20 new Twitter followers.

I also did media relations for a music and arts festival called Ponderosa. I wrote press releases and arranged interviews with bands and radio stations and newspapers and arranged advertising and wrote blog posts and helped Kris and Kia, the two best-bud founders, any way I could. I started working for Ponderosa 2 years ago and still work for them. You should come next year.

When you’re 32 and sleeping on the hide-a-bed in your mom’s spare room and someone asks what you do and you tell them you’re a freelance writer for a phone book company and a company that makes media for social media and do media relations for a small indie music festival, turns out conversations get awkward sometimes. If you ever find yourself in this situation, soak the moment in. It’s good creative fodder and you can’t make stuff like that up. Also, consider pursuing a master’s degree. Conversations about work got a bit lighter when I could tack that on.  

The thing about writing from home and walking LB and sorting life out is that it is not social in a way that most humans are social on a normal day. So when one day my friends Jenni and Brendan who run Harvest Road, a former Lion’s Club trailer converted into a bustling stationary counter service farm-to-table grill in the middle of the vast fields on the Saanich Peninsula, asked if I could fill in one weekend while they were short staffed, I said yes. It was going to be very busy and they needed extra help. I would stand inside at the counter on one side of the window and people would line up and tell me one of 6 menu items they’d like and I’d agree that was an excellent choice and write it down according to Harvest Road Writing Guidelines and take their money and return their change or card and their drink if they ordered one and tear the order out of the book and turn around and put the ticket in the ticket holder and call order then Jenni and Brendan would start making it. The guest would sit down until their order was called and pick it up from the other end of the counter and eat it. I’d do that again until nobody was lined up and then wash some dishes or stock the teeny fridge with pop or talk with Jen and Bren and make rap names for the ketchup bottle or the steel grill spatula like L’il Squeezy or Big Flippy.

I did all that well enough on the days they needed an extra body that they invited me to come back for some regular shifts. They are very particular about Harvest Road and worked really hard to launch it in May and had a vision to create something personal and special to share with their community and they did it. When they asked me to come back I felt happy and said yes.

I liked that I got to talk to people at Harvest Road even if it was mostly what can I get for you today? and the Harvest Burger is definitely the most popular! a hundred times in an hour because sometimes I’d go for several days without speaking any language except dog or parent and sometimes you just need to laugh with friends no matter how much you’re getting paid or how many times you have to ask would you like to sub the hand cut kennebec potato chips for fries for only $2.50 more? I hadn’t spent much time with Jenni since their Nicaragua wedding 2 years ago and many hangs with Brendan in years prior to that involved bickering over songs the Plain White Tees actually sang or the Internet being smarter than me and generally reinforcing our disdain for each other. This time we all just laughed together about cyclists not locking their cycles to the cycle rack and how twice-fried fries are made. I loved the Harvest Road part of my summer vacation. 

On my summer vacation, I spent more time on a boat in the boardwalk village where I grew up called Telegraph Cove, population 6, with my dad than I had in over 10 years. I visited twice this summer totalling almost 3 weeks, once for work and once for play.

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For work, I spent a week and a half as their deckhand/naturalist on the tours my dad and stepmom Mary ru on the Gikumi, the 60 foot wooden, freight-turned-whale watching boat that’s been in the family since 1980. They’d hired someone to come and work for them for the whole summer, but circumstances changed and he had to leave early. They found a replacement for most of the trips except one so they asked me because I’m certified appropriately and I think they wanted to put me to work and help me out. I said yes because my schedule allowed it and I could use the money and I enjoy working on the boat and I wanted to help them. Whether they asked a bunch of other people first or not, I was glad they asked me.

I worked two separate tours for them. The first was a private charter by a photographer from Scotland who was visiting Telegraph Cove with his family of 8 specifically to photograph whales and wildlife for a nature magazine he published in the UK. They chartered the Gikumi for 3 days, just them. The photographer’s partner was a veterinarian, as was her sister-in-law. There were 3 teens in the group, 2 of whom were under 16 and had swam across the English Channel. The other had a menagerie of pets like dogs and cats and rats and turtles and birds and lizards and 20 snakes. They all liked crisps a lot and when it was foggy one morning and took a while to find anything other than beds of bull kelp, they bundled up and sat on the back deck with tea and kept a lookout in case we saw anything.

We saw humpbacks and killer whales and Dall’s porpoise and Pacific White-Sided dolphins and a black bear on the beach flipping gigantic rocks like they weighed as much as styrofoam. My dad slowed the boat and got as close to the shore as he could without running aground told us to be quiet because sound travels quickly over water and everyone pulled out their mega telephoto lenses and snapped thousands of pictures. 

The bear carried on flipping rocks and didn’t seem to mind us.

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When their tour ended, we all shook hands and wished each other well and said come back soon. They went fishing too before they left to go home and caught too much and gave us an entire salmon.  

The next tour was one of their last week-long all-inclusives, where they hosted 11 guests for 6 nights, B&B style at their house. The guests were from Florida (2 realtors, a real estate lawyer, and a nurse), Wales (2 social workers and a fellow who might’ve headlined Wembley Stadium before his hair turned silver); Edmonton (2 classical music teachers); and Trinidad and Tobago (a lesbian couple who owned a chain of petrol stations).

Mary and her assistant made breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks everyday for everyone from scratch. I got up at 6 am everyday and drank my coffee on the back deck of the Gikumi, where I was sleeping in a bunk. One morning, it was so silent and the sunlight had just started to bounce off the flat calm water and a pod of killer whales swam by, about 100 metres from where I sat on the boat drinking my coffee.

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Good morning.

After coffee, I prepped the boat for the day. I made coffee and boiled water and tightened the lines so the boat was flush with the dock and guests couldn’t fall in. Then my dad and I spent 8 hours on the boat each day, where he did his captain thing, I did the first mate thing, and we shared duties on eating at least 1.5 of Mary’s muffins everyday in addition to the fresh hot soup and sandwiches and cookies that came aboard. I served food and washed dishes and talked with the guests or squealed giddily about the wildlife we’d see, like a pod of killer whales spyhopping incessantly through a tide rip for over an hour, or a humpback mom and calf that my dad found in the middle of a teeny clearing of 0/0 fog that proceeded to breach every 30 seconds for a half hour, between 100 and 2 metres from the boat, or several hundred Pacific White-Sided dolphins chasing us down the straight.

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Pod of killer whales spyhopping incessantly.

 

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Wee!

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WEEEEEE!

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WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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I think my dad and Mary worked about 20 hours everyday and the other 4 they were having nightmares about how much work they had to get up and do in less than 4 hours. Hosting and catering and captaining and cleaning and organizing 11 people all day everyday all is a feat of stamina and commitment, no matter how many times a humpback calf breaches. After I worked that trip with them, my respect for their work ethic and patience skyrocketed. I’d worked for them before, but it was always daily trips with different groups that were less personal and far less involved.

After the trip was over and the guests left and we all went wheeeeeeeeewph and my dad and Mary and I hugged a lot. I packed my things off the boat and into my car. Mary made me a salmon sandwich for the road and we said our goodbyes. I cued up DS2 by Future and then Hello, I Must Be Going by Phil Collins and then Shamebirds by Needles//Pins and finally Shots by Ladyhawk, which I figured would get me to Parksville for a pitstop and I began my drive back to Victoria.

 

What I Did On My Summer Vacation By Laurel Borrowman, Part 1

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On my summer vacation, I ate a lot of Freezies.

Summer vacation this year was pretty fun. I guess summer vacation started when I quit my two jobs in Vancouver. I quit my job at Central 1 Credit Union where I worked for 5 years as an editing and publishing specialist, working mostly with financial policies and procedures and forms in a 9-story brick building with about 300 other people. I rode the elevator everyday where most people would stare at their phones and the ceiling for the duration of their ride. My 12 immediate coworkers laughed at the same grammar and pun jokes as me. On Fridays at cookie time, most of them would talk about a new kitchen appliance that would be delivered on the weekend, their disdain toward the Canucks no matter how well or poorly the team was performing, or how much they were looking forward to sleeping until Monday. I also quit my hosting job at Save On Meats, a diner in the downtown eastside, where passersby would sometimes use the sandwich board outside as a weapon, where guests would sometimes use the bathroom for a nap or to use IV drugs, and where I’d often get yelled at for not allowing non-customers to use the bathroom.

After I quit those jobs, I packed up most of my studio apartment in Mount Pleasant, which I moved into alone after a breakup in the same building last September. It was across the alley from a freshly built condo with alternating purple and green glass balconies called THE EVAN. I think THE EVAN took about 5 years and 500 foul-mouthed construction workers running 500 jackhammers to build, even though I watched it start and finish and I’d lived there less than 2. I left my bed and favourite chair and couch and other stuff for an awesome subletter, who rented it from me for 6 months. I put my personal things in my storage locker. Then I packed everything I’d need for the summer that I could fit into my hatchback, including my bike and my dog, LB. Then I drove to the ferry after a night of watching Paul Anthony’s Talent time and packing with my best friend and I moved to Victoria for the summer.

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Leaving friends behind, even if temporarily and even if to go get better at being Laurel, is pretty hard.

I moved into the spare room at my mom and her partner Chris’s home in a Victoria suburb. It’s a three bedroom rancher with a big backyard, a carport, and a backyard with a pear tree, multiple tomato plants, a raspberry bush, and oodles of flower bushes, surrounded by a lush green lawn that Chris tended to and where LB pooped and snapped at flies, chomp chomp chomp, daily. It’s within a few hundred metre radius of a gas station, two churches, a college, and a medium security jail. Typical noises would be from things like one lawn mower, a three-person crew replacing a roof on the home where the annual summer potluck happens, or the neighbours calling over the fence asking if we wanted some plums or corn or the drill back. I slept on a hide-a-bed with a prominent cross bar and occupied most of the room. Mom cleared out some space for me on the shelves and in the closet and me and LB and all our stuff fit just fine.

Me and LB and Mom and Chris ate lots of delicious dinners together in the back yard. I hadn’t eaten that well on a regular basis since I lived at home 14 years ago.

The first week in Victoria was exciting. On my first night, a person in Vancouver I was sad I wouldn’t see for some time was in Victoria and we got to hang out and talk a lot and laugh so much and have fun. I was so happy for that visit. It was one of my favourite things this summer. Another thing that happened a few days later was when my friends in Gang Signs and Mu and Smoota all played shows on the same night and I rode my bike to all of them and had so much fun. I didn’t think Victoria could have so much musical excitement the way Vancouver did! Between all those fun people and things in just the first week and riding my bike everywhere, the summer to come was bound to be great, even in this new place where I didn’t know very many people.

June and July and August all came and went and no more weeks like that happened in Victoria on my summer vacation.

Every day this summer I went for walks with LB around my mom’s place. We walked through some trails where I let him off his leash and smell and roll in everything. We walked up the hill past the college to the radio tower and sat on a weathered wooden bench with initials and hearts carved in it and stared out at all of Victoria, across the Juan de Fuca Strait, to the Olympic Mountains in Washington. We walked around the sports fields and the suburban driveways lined with as many cars and trucks at each as varieties of recycling bins. We walked around the Panama Flats, which turns to a marshy bog in the winter after it’s rained for a month or so. LB would bound through the daisies like a little fluffy deer, disappearing when his paws were on the ground because at full bloom the daisies and the brush got almost as tall as me. We picked a lot of blackberries, which were everywhere and tasted so good. I got scraped by the thorns on my legs and arms trying to reach the high ones. Sometimes my mom and I walked together, picking blackberries and talking, but most of the time it was just me and LB.

Most of the time this summer, it was just me and LB.

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On my summer vacation, I decided I wanted to go back to school. Actually that was before I quit my jobs in Vancouver. I applied to finish a degree I started but did not finish over 10 years ago at UBC. I started a Bachelor of Human Kinetics, but I wanted to finish a BFA in Creative Writing. I applied to it and a week before my last day of work I received a rejection letter. They said a lot of people applied and they only admit 25 and I should not be discouraged, apply again next year. I  was admitted to the Faculty of Arts though, where I could enter year three with plenty of twentysomethings taking subjects like film studies and psychology and English in classes of 70 to 200 students.

After my summer vacation, I didn’t know what else I’d want to do, so I registered for psychology and English courses with the twentysomethings so at least I had a backup plan. Then my mom convinced me to apply to a master’s in communications at Royal Roads in Victoria, but I thought that was a waste of time because I don’t have a bachelor degree and I’m not good enough for that. But I called the admissions people anyways and reviewed the criteria for flexible admission and thought I might actually be qualified and if I was that would be a lot better than spending two years on a general arts bachelor at UBC where everything costed twice as much and I’d have to retrace many of those steps from over a decade ago.

Grad school applications are hard. I was very stressed because I had to get two reference letters and write a personal statement about my goals and intentions and why I should be allowed there even without a bachelor degree. I had to give them all my grade transcripts including my As from my writing and editing diploma at Douglas College and my Fs from UBC. I wrote a 5-page resume describing all my experience in media relations and copywriting and editing and communications and my technical skills and seminars and professional development. I was very nervous, but if you ever feel down on your life because you are 32 and sleeping on the hide-a-bed at your mom’s and don’t really have a job, doing a grad school application might make you feel better. You’ve probably achieved a lot more in the last 5 years than you think.

A week after I submitted my application, a Friday night, I was driving toward the Save On Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria because the Tragically Hip were playing their first show of their last tour. It was sold out and I wanted to see if I could lay on the grass outside and listen. I felt sad that I couldn’t go watch it inside and sad I couldn’t see it in Vancouver with lots of other people I knew were seeing it like my brother and my sister-in-law and everyone else on Facebook and Instagram. I listened to Fully Completely in the car as I drove there, which I’d bought for $3 at a thrift store a month earlier. My phone booped with the new email sound and I saw that it was an email from Royal Roads admission. I pulled over and looked at it and it was an auto generated email with a PDF attached and the letter was from the dean of admissions and it said I was admitted to the Master of Arts in Professional Communications program. Some people go to parties or a movie on Friday nights but Royal Roads sends acceptance letters and I thought that was pretty nice of them.

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It was better than any party I’d been to on a Friday in a very long time. I screamed and then almost couldn’t breathe and then I cried because I hadn’t felt so happy or validated in a very very long time. It was a very big professional accomplishment and I had to re-read the letter 6 times because I wanted to make sure it was true. Then I called my best friend who was in Portland playing a house show who didn’t answer at first but then called back and we screamed together while she was in ‘Merca and I was in Victoria trying to listen to Tragically Hip outside in Victoria on a Friday night.

I couldn’t hear the show very well from outside the arena and I was too antsy to sit still and I wanted to scream the good news from the top of a mountain so instead I got in the car and turned up 100.3 The Q really loud because the Tragically Hip were their house band so they were playing them all day that day. I drove around and listened to the radio really loudly for a while then got a bottle of cider and went to mom and Chris’s to share the good news and have a toast. They said congratulations and mom said I told you so and LB went OoooWWWWWrrrRRRRRRrrrrrwwwwwwwwwrrrrrr and licked my face.

It was too late to call my dad because he goes to bed early and I didn’t want to bug him, so I called him the next day.    

 

This Day in History: 850 Kilometres Down, 9000 to Go

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Five years ago today, my mom and I were on the second night of a month-ish long trip where we drove across Canada, from Vancouver to Nova Scotia and PEI together. I was going back to writing college in September and vowed to school the other kids with what I did on my summer vacation.

I recorded a lot of the journey and on this fifth anniversary, am feeling particularly nostalgic. The trip had just begun and while we’d planned some stops, attractions, and friends and family to visit, there was a lot we didn’t know. Would we bicker over music? Would we get lost and spazz at each other? We had mom’s pickup truck packed to the gills with our camping gear, a foldout map of the country (pre-smartphone era), and approximately four weeks to get from A to B and stop for X number of visits in between. And a lot of wine.

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This post was about that second night that featured the 4′ 8″, 89 lb great aunt Ev and the quirks of her lovely home (decorative bedside Miller Lite bottle included), in Golden, BC. It was also about arriving in Calgary and meeting mom’s great aunt Lil, a retired 90-year-old Roman Catholic nun with an outstanding sense of humour, and staying with her six roommates in a residence in Cowtown.

Read about that leg and more over here:

http://laurelborrow.blogspot.ca/2010/07/cross-canada-2-old-folks.html?view=timeslide

This Day in History: I Quit A Shit Job and Had a Lot of Momentum

I was reminiscing about the summer of 2010 today, which included a month when my Mom and I drove across Canada together from Vancouver to the Maritimes together and back. It was one of two best months of my life and I wrote a blog the whole way through.

I started that blog (which spanned months and topics before and after the trip) for a few reasons. I wanted to hold myself accountable for writing on a regular basis. I wanted to make people laugh. I wanted share experiences. Most of all, I just wanted to put my writing out into the world. I abandoned that blog a while ago for a few reasons. I went back to school, which took up a lot of time. I started to write and edit for work, which takes up a lot of time. And I guess I also just wanted to switch a more professional and portfolio-like, and less bloggy website because I don’t think anyone cares about blogs or what I have to say.

I’ve also lost momentum. I second guess almost everything I write to the point that just don’t write it, or put it off for so long that it’s irrelevant. So, in trying to be productive again, here’s the first instalment of This Day in History, wherein I share a post that I wrote on June 17, 2010. I had just quit a job slangin’ coffee in the community college, had been accepted to writing school, and was about to embark on the aforementioned adventure of a lifetime with my dear mother.

Read about it hear.

http://laurelborrow.blogspot.ca/2010/06/pedestrian-crossings-and-job-quitting.html

(All I want to do is tweaking this over and over and over but instead I’m just going to press Publish and not let it rot like so many other unfinished things as of late.)

Turn down for nothing. Except Sade.

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I went to a stagette in Seattle at the beginning of August and drove there from Vancouver with four other gals, three of who were joining from Victoria. The two of us living on the Vancouver side drove to pick the Vic trio up from the ferry so we’d all head south together. About 15 minutes from the ferry terminal, my Van cohort got a speeding ticket, mostly in light of my being 15 minutes late to leave. Upon arrival, team Vic were drinking El Jimadors in the pick-up lot at the terminal. It was 9:25 am on a Sunday and not a long weekend.

And so our story goes, as most of my favourites tend to: beginning with a bunch liquor, pals, and a road trip; ending with a list.

As a group of fairly responsible 30-year-olds who mostly “don’t party like we used to,” you can imagine we were indeed letting loose for this two-day trip. It didn’t mean everyone was about to eschew all responsibility on their respective home fronts for the party, though. We brought lots of water and a few snacks to accompany the duffle bags packed full of drinks. Our valiant driver stayed sober the trip down, across the border, a boozy Bellingham brunch, and a Bellis Fair-esque outlet malling. And when a cry for help came in from one’s boyfriend back home in Victoria, yes, it wasn’t ignored.

As said friend was texting frustratedly with her boyfriend about something to do with household chores, she got a bit impatient and decided to call him to clear it up. We were being loud as heck in the background, singing to golden nuggets of days present and past like *cringe* Ja Rule and Ludacris and Lil Jon when our pal tells us to just be quiet for just a sec.

So, turn down for what?

“Turn down because I’m on the phone with [boyfriend] and he doesn’t know where to put the recycling and it’s supposed to get picked up tomorrow and it’s like two weeks between pickups.” So turn down because nobody wants their kitchen to smell like old greasy cardboard piled under two previous weeks of greasy cardboard for the next two weeks.

This, of course, lead to our inevitable transforming of the song title from a statement to the undying question that has been pressing us all since the release of Lil Jon and DJ Snake’s absurdly popular track last December: Turn down for what?

Over the course of the trip, we pondered this question deeply over many conversations from Vancouver to Seattle, from laying on the hotel floor, to yelling over music in a dozen or so bars, to devouring crab risotto while overlooking Puget Sound, to throwing glowing balls all over an indoor bocce court, and concocted a list of things we thought Lil Jon would turn down for. I started a Note in my phone listing our witticisms. I continued to hone it with the idea that I’d submit it to McSweeney’s lists, because I love a good list (not you, Buzzfeed), and will someday have one published there.

Unfortunately, as witty as we may be, I can also be quite the procrastinator and a year behind pop culture sometimes. So imagine my surprise and dismay when I found this pop up in my newsfeed a few days before I felt like the master list was complete and ready for submission to the world of the internet.

This prompted me to google the subject for the first time, which lead me to realize that our question wasn’t only pressing the minds of me and the rest of the pre-wedding partying ladies. Not surprised.

Either way, I’m pretty impressed that we were right on one topic and close on a few others. But then again, you’d be an idiot to not turn down for Sade. See my following pre-Aux list, a collaborative effort by the five of us.

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The moral of the story? Don’t procrastinate. Just do it already. Don’t turn down. And maybe I’ll still submit to McSweeney’s.

#tbt: The McQueen Mixup From Last Week Has Been Resolved. Visual Reference Guide Included.

I was listening to a podcast last week in which the host, who typically discusses movies, music, creative process, and pop culture, spoke with the guest, this week a director, about the lack of really good movies in 2013. One that came up was 12 Years A Slave and its director, whose name is Steve McQueen. This confused me. I’m no expert on ’60s action movies, but I’m half-decent at recognizing an iconic name when I hear one.

I said to myself, “Self, isn’t Steve McQueen that bodaciously mondo-famous daredevil actor who died in 1980 and inspired track 19 on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming? Not a present day director winning accolades for a slave epic last year? On the other hand, said podcast host had also been discussing a McQueen with regard to artistic genius in the fashion world just a few days prior on a different episode. And on the other hand, who’s fronting that local psych band Vancouver digs so hard?

To the Internet!

In the time between becoming perplexed by McQueens and consulting the web, the conundrum hydra’d and I thought of several more celebrity names I may have conflated with personalities. Have I been obliviously spewing misinformation about alleged celebrity slashies who I’ve fabricated in my head? For example:

<me, at a fancy dinner party, joining a conversation wherein I’ve overheard the name McQueen> “Well, you know, it is pretty impressive that the guy directs Best Picture at the Oscars last year, but even more so that he could just as easily have starred as the daredevil lead in another, design the outfits to take Best Costume, and score the whole damn thing. Talk about jack-of-all-trades, am I right?” <nods head, clinks champagne glass with gusto.>

That is clearly not the case. Turns out I am thinking of five very different talented creative famous people (plus one extra, who’s just good to remember) and now that I’ve removed my foot from my mouth, I’ve created a visual reference guide so you can avoid this (what I’m sure is extremely common) awkward social slip in the future. Enjoy your Thursday.

Steve McQueen: “King of Cool,” American actor (1930-80)

Alexander McQueen: British fashion designer (1969-2010)

Steve McQueen: British director, 12 Years A Slave, Shame (1969- )

Steve McBean: Canadian musician, Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops (1970ish- )

Steve Albini: American musician, music journalist, producer (1962- )

Roger Rabbit: Zany animated star of 1988 hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Now listening to Fine Young Cannibals, The Raw & The Cooked