The Obsession Grows

When I first started this blog as a place to post my daily writing work, to hold myself accountable, a few months in, I wrote a post about my notebooks. Around that time I had come to realize that I had what could officially be called a collection of notebooks. I had never before been a collector of anything besides dust, junk, and words.

I hadn’t intended to start collecting notebooks, and I understand now that people don’t wake up one day and decide to start collecting something (well, some people may do that; I’m not here to generalize). I decided then to share my notebook collection on my fledgling blog with maybe 3 readers (I’m not just being self-deprecating—I didn’t exactly promote the blog that was only meant to keep myself working on my writing).

Here is that first post, written a little over 3 years ago. In the time since then, my collection has grown. That first post has notebooks going all the way back to my childhood, and in 3 years, I’ve doubled the amount.

I think it has something to do with admitting to myself and to my family that this is a collection. And since then, I’ve upgraded that admission to “obsession.” Now, my head isn’t turned by every brightly colored, spiral-bound notebook sitting on a shelf at the store. But I can’t help but love notebooks that are unique, interesting, related to something I like, or have a story behind them.

So now that I’ve returned to my blog after a year and a half hiatus, it seems like a good time to post about the additions to my collection. At the end, I even mention a few items that aren’t notebooks, but are worth noting. Warning: I plan to tell the story of each of these, and while these are not every single notebook I’ve gained since July of 2014, it’s still going to be a long post. Continue at your own discretion.

NaNo notebookMy parents gave me this NaNoWriMo notebook for Christmas in 2014. It was a new product in their store at the time, and I’d wanted a blank notebook from them for years. I was one (among many, I’m sure) who suggested they create a blank notebook instead of the confusing (to me, at least) notebooks they already had that seemed to have filled pages and maybe blank ones, but who knows without buying them. I’ve started using it for exactly what it says there–NaNoNovel prep notes.

notebook 2In April, 2015, my family went to Canada mainly to attend the farewell concert of a Toronto-based geek band. We went through Niagara Falls on our way home, and there I got this souvenir of the trip. It’s made of recycled paper, the cover is cardboard, and even the pen that it came with is mostly made of cardboard! This notebook is still unused.

notebook-3.jpgMy parents-in-law gave me this journal on my birthday in (I think) 2015. It has a very nice, squishy cover, and has various Bible verses on the bottoms of some of the pages. I started using it near the end of 2015 as a daily gratitude journal which I’ve continued with varying consistency since then.

notebook 4This notebook is one of my favorites. My husband gave it to me for Christmas in 2015. It’s one of my larger notebooks (so many are half the size of a normal, school-use notebook) and has a squishy cover as well. The clasp (shown in insert) is engraved with, “Dream, Plan, Write Every Day…” which is a motto I made up and used as a title to a series of blog posts with writing tips. I’ve used this notebook for some writing practice, and will continue to do so once I get back into the habit.

notebook-5.jpgThe story behind this one isn’t nearly as good as the others, because my husband insisted on getting it for me when we walked by a sale of monogrammed notebooks at JoAnn’s. But it’s interesting to me, because I never used to be the kind of person who cared about my initial on things, but I find I enjoy it now. This one is a half-sized notebook, but it’s lined, and has a cloth cover. It’s unused for now.

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It might be hard to tell from the picture, but this is a magnetic notebook. You can take pages out and put them back in, refill the notebook, move a page up so you can write on the bottom better, and even print on the pages and put them back into the notebook. I haven’t started using it yet because I feel like it should be saved for something really special. That’s a problem I’m starting to have with a lot of my notebooks though.

 

This notebook came from a preview trip to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky in July of 2016. It is handmade with a hand-carved wood cover and cotton paper. (The left is the front cover, the right is an informational insert that is still attached to the back cover.) It is beautiful and oddly square-shaped, which makes it stand out even more amongst my other notebooks. This one may be the hardest one for me to ever bring myself to start writing in.

notebook-7.jpgLast Christmas, my daughter came up with the perfect idea for a gift for me while we were at Barnes & Noble. Based on various clues, I knew she was planning to get me a notebook, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I have too many as it is and really shouldn’t keep getting more. She’s only 7 (was 6 at the time) and loves coming up with gift ideas on her own, so I didn’t want to ruin that for her, and let my husband help her buy this beautiful, soft-covered, hand-embroidered notebook. It is unused so far, and I’m torn between wanting to save it for something special and wanting her to see me using it.

notebook 9Just a few months ago, ThinkGeek opened a store in a mall near us. We went to the grand opening, and my husband insisted we both get something. I was able to resist until I saw this notebook. I didn’t even have to say anything; he grabbed it and didn’t give me a chance to argue (not that I would have much). I watched this movie quite a bit when I was younger, and it even has a golden ticket inside, because…well, how could it not? It’s unused so far, and low on the list of books to start using, which doesn’t bother me.

 

This is my newest addition, just picked it up last weekend. I went to a living history reenactment, the biggest one in our area. I saw this beauty in Daniel Boone’s tent, and ogled it a bit. It has a leather cover and (I suspect) bark pages, with a metal clasp to hold it shut. I held myself back for reasons I already mentioned (I have too many…), but my husband snuck back later and bought it for me. I’m beginning to see a pattern here…my husband is an enabler. He’s definitely one who shows his love through gift-giving.

Now I’m out of notebooks for this post, but in case anyone has gotten down this far (even just by skimming), I have a couple of other things of note in this vein:

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After desiring a Freewrite for a few years, but knowing that I couldn’t remotely justify spending that much money on something that was just for a hobby, I stumbled across the information that other such items existed. I don’t remember if I went looking for a substitute, or just got lucky, but I read some reviews and found out that the Alphasmart Neo was everything I wanted out of a highly portable, distraction-free writing device. They’re not in production anymore, but you can find cheap used ones online. So I linked it to my husband last fall and hinted about a Christmas gift, and sure enough, he came through! It can save up to 8 different files, transfers to your computer when you’re ready for that (though if you have a long file, that part can take a while), and the battery life has been incredible so far. I am highly anticipating using this in my first NaNoWriMo next month. I may have to sew up a padded sleeve for it so that I can transport it in my massive Handbag of Holding without worrying about hurting it.

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Lastly, this is my fidget pen. The little balls that are attaching that curved piece to the pen are magnetic, as is the very top of the pen, where the larger ball is attached. This thing keeps my hands busy for hours. I had noticed a tendency to take apart pens or mechanical pencils that I used while writing or in meetings, and I knew this pen would be perfect for me. It also came with the desk toy. (Video of pen in action) I don’t know about anyone else, but fidget spinners didn’t enter my field of vision until earlier this year. By the time I’d heard about them, I had already invested in this crowdfunded pen. Now I feel a little dirty, being part of a fad, but this is so much better and more practical than a spinner because it’s a pen.

I won’t make this post any longer by drawing out the conclusion, and instead just say that since I’ve noticed that I’m not the only writer who has a plethora of notebooks, feel free to show me yours!

Toronto Trip Day 2, Main Event

This is day 2 of my family’s trip to Canada to attend the farewell concert of Debs and Errol, a geek band from Toronto. For day 1, click here.

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So as I mentioned in my previous post, my family was staying in Errol’s guest room. It was a very generous offer, since we basically invaded their house for two full days. The room wasn’t big, but there was a bed for two, and a mattress on the floor large enough for the kids to sleep on. The door didn’t open all the way, because the mattress blocked it, but we fit comfortably inside.

The first morning there wasn’t the most pleasant it could have been though. Around 6:30 am, I woke up with a terrible headache. It might have been because of the overly warm room, though really, I don’t need a reason to wake up with a headache. It happens often. I knew it would be important to take some medicine, so I sat up. My movement was apparently enough to wake up everyone else in the room. Maybe being in an unfamiliar setting had them all sleeping more lightly than usually. Or maybe it was just the excitement of being where we were.

After I’d taken medicine, I lay back down to sleep and told the kids to do the same. When I woke up again a few hours later, I realized they hadn’t gone back to sleep at all. They’d been awake the whole time and playing on their mattress. Fortunately, they’d been pretty quiet, allowing my husband, Logan, and I to get more sleep.

We all got dressed and went downstairs. No one else was awake, or at least no one else was downstairs yet. It was only a few minutes before the rest of the house came alive. Logan had been talking about the four of us going out for breakfast. We were still discussing where, and looking at nearby restaurants online, when Errol’s wife, Keren, informed us that she was making enough breakfast for everyone, because she wasn’t sure who’d be eating there.

Logan still considered going out, but the more people started filling the kitchen, including ‘Manda from the basement apartment, and the more aromas from breakfast began wafting through the house, he wavered on his decision. In the end, we stayed and had breakfast with the Elumirs. The food was great (my family went nuts over the pancakes) and it was fun just talking with everyone too.

Errol’s sister, Lizette, called at one point, and he put her on speaker phone. The phone was then propped up on a carton in the center of the table and Errol and ‘Manda tried to talk to her amongst the din of breakfast. Lizette is pretty well-known amongst D&E fans as well, having been in Errol’s band-related webcomic in some form numerous times. It was pretty cool to talk to her, even if just a few words.

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This is the form Lizette took in the D&E webcomic. A text message.

After breakfast, Logan and I were asked what we wanted to do that afternoon. If we had made plans or if we had anything specific we’d like to see or do. A few ideas were thrown around—the aquarium, museum, library (apparently Toronto’s library is worth a visit?), science centre. The natives filled us in on how some of these activities were located downtown, providing more difficult driving and parking situations. Keren quickly went to the local library branch, because she said on Saturday mornings they gave out tickets to local attractions. She thought it would be too late, but it was nearby and worth a try. They were indeed out of tickets, but we appreciated her taking the time to check.

We decided to go to the Ontario Science Centre, as it would hopefully provide sufficient entertainment for the range of ages of our kids, and wasn’t downtown. ‘Manda had offered to be our guide for the afternoon, and Keren asked if we minded having their eldest daughter Ekko along. She did have to drive Ekko over to the centre though, as we only had enough room in our car for ‘Manda.

We parked some distance away so we didn’t have to pay for parking, and then walked. Along the way, we saw a business called Lena’s Nails, which we had to point out to my daughter. And speaking of my daughter, she had attached herself to ‘Manda even more by this point, insisting she walk with ‘Manda along the sidewalk as we went.

At the Science Centre, there was so much to see, and many hands-on activities, that we spent longer there than we maybe should have. We were in the kids’ area for much of the time, which fortunately had some things that were interesting enough that the adults weren’t too bored. While we were in that kids’ area, ‘Manda got a text that some other people were on their way to join us.

Let me stop here to introduce the Laymans. They are a family from Ohio who have been fans of D&E for longer than I have. Brian has done webhosting for them for years now. In October, Logan and I went over to Ohio to meet Debs and Errol when they were at a filk festival. The Laymans were there too, so we got to meet them as well. There are six of them—Brian, Denise, and four children. It added to the excitement of the event being able to meet them too. And they had made the trip up to Toronto for the final concert too.

The Laymans had driven in that morning and found out we were at the Science Centre, so they decided to join us. Once we met up with them, we found our group difficult to get moving and keep moving. We moved on to the next room, which was another kids’ area, and after spending some time there, it took several attempts to gather everyone up so we could move on.

The time came when we had to leave, though, and it took some help to calm Lena down. She had such a blast at that place. ‘Manda contacted Keren so she could come pick up Ekko, and then after Ekko was off, we walked back to the car. We stopped for a quick lunch on the way back to the Elumirs’ house. We went by the house and saw a spot right outside was open. Logan wanted to go around the block to park from the right direction though. We joked that someone would probably take it during that time, and sure enough, right when we pulled onto the street, someone was parking there. It was the Laymans! They had come to get their t-shirts—Logan had designed a t-shirt with the D&E banner on the front and “Farewell Concert,” the date, and “We’ll miss you!” on the back, and we’d offered to add anyone else who wanted one into the batch we were ordering.

We had to get ready to leave quickly, as the trip to the venue for the concert was about an hour away, via public transportation. They were unable to buy the required pass for our family nearby, so we couldn’t take the bus to the subway station; we had to walk maybe fifteen minutes. Logan and I were frustrated and a little embarrassed we hadn’t had much chance to get our money changed over yet, so ‘Manda kindly bought our day pass. Then it was time for an first-time experience for my whole family.

We rode on the subway, and while it caused a little anxiety for me, it was not nearly as overwhelming as I had expected. Still, it was a nice new experience. Lena insisted on sitting with ‘Manda and often asked if it was time to get off yet. She wanted to know what was going on the whole time. After the subway, we took a streetcar, which was interesting too.

On the streetcar, we came across two other people who were going to the concert too. They were sitting right in front of Logan and me. ‘Manda knew them, so it’s not like we were stalking other D&E fans or something. After they talked to her some, I introduced myself and Logan, and they did likewise–the Kesslers. I did know who they were, and I whispered to Logan that they do that podcast he knows about (it’s called Geekually Yoked). I didn’t mention that I was pretty sure he was the man behind “Ask Lovecraft,” partly because I wasn’t 100% sure (more like 90%) and partly because I wasn’t sure if Logan knew what that was (and yes, I was right about Leeman Kessler being “Ask Lovecraft”). I haven’t even mentioned that to him still to this day. Maybe he’ll learn about it for the first time upon reading this post. (Hi, honey!)

We had to walk a few more blocks from the streetcar, but then we found our destination: the ROUND venue. We went up a narrow stairway and into the dark room that would hold the concert. It was already crowded. I know both Keren and ‘Manda would have liked to have been there a bit earlier, but everything took longer having out-of-towners to take care of. There were many times over the weekend I felt like we were inconveniencing them. They were very generous with their time, space, food, and forgiveness.

Back on topic, I couldn’t see much when we got there, because my glasses fogged up. I was told that the Laymans had some space reserved in a back corner and that Brian was waving to us. Let me just stop right here to say how awesome it was that they’d saved extra space with us in mind. It really helped a lot that we didn’t have to find a place for all four of us, when it was already pretty crowded, and I was feeling so out-of-sorts by the entire adventure of just getting there.

We dropped off our coats and stuff on the table. Our twelve-year-old son, Brenden, wanted to stay at the table by the entrance with Ekko, who was selling items made out of perler beads. We told him it was fine, as long as he came to the table when the music started. He would have liked to stay there during the whole concert, I know, but we wanted him near us.

I took some time before the concert started to seek out a couple of people who I wanted to introduce myself to. People I knew online but had never met in person. Kari Maaren, who is a musician and would be performing that night as well, I know mostly because of two webcomics she does. West of Bathurst was one she did for seven years, though I didn’t read it until it had ended. She did a Kickstarter campaign last year to fund the printing of the comic in a massive book. I pitched in on that campaign. As this trip was approaching, she mentioned that they were almost done with the book. I mentioned a few times that if it was done when I came, maybe I could get my copy, instead of having it shipped. It wasn’t done, but that’s okay. I met Kari and later told her (probably not for the first time) how I’d read the whole thing in a week or so, how I was excited about the book, and how I was looking forward to the second read-through of the comic, but I was waiting until I had the book in my hands. I kind of gushed a little.

The other main person I sought out to say hi to was Ja-Mez. Those of you who are into the D&E universe at all probably know who that is. For those who don’t, he used to do a podcast with Errol and ‘Manda, and was in charge of livestreaming the concert that night. He was sitting near the front with a computer in front of him, and looked like he was pretty busy. I didn’t want to risk not having a chance later, though, so I stepped over and told him I didn’t want to take much of his time, but that I wanted to introduce myself. Then I left him alone.

Shortly before the concert was going to start, I took a quick trip to the bathroom. While washing my hands, someone said, “Nice shirt! I was going to get one of those, but I didn’t order it in time.” It was Debbie Ohi! I had met her at the filk festival in Ohio, asking her to sign a copy of her Naked! book for me, otherwise I would have probably gone and introduced myself to her that night too. Still, when I got back to the table, I asked Logan if it was weird that I was all excited that I had just been in the bathroom at the same time as Debbie Ohi and Kari Maaren (she’d gone in while I was in there too).

So then the concert started. There were several bands there to play before D&E went on, and it was lots of fun. Kraken Not Stirred did a fun Dr. Seuss-oriented song called “Oh the Places I’ve Been.” Logan really liked “I Don’t Need You (I’ve Got Netflix)” by Rock/Paper/Cynic. Copy Red Leader has a great song in “Crossing the Streams.” We’d seen that one live before, as they were at the filk festival we went to; we also bought their CD at that event. Kari Maaren was next, and we got to be part of her next album! They set up microphones to record the audience and we yelled “CanLit!” at the appropriate times in her song. That was awesome! The last warm-up band was Nerds With Guitars. I’ve heard of them a lot but hadn’t listened to any of their music. I really loved their sound, and Logan and I both thoroughly enjoyed a song of theirs called “Hero.”

There was an intermission as they set up for Debs and Errol. Brenden went back over to join Ekko selling her wares during that time. Logan went to get us some water from the bar. Then the show started.

I had brought my camera, but we forgot the second battery. Taking lots of video tends to drain the battery, so I wasn’t sure how long it would last. The best part of seeing D&E live is that no show is the same. There’s a lot of talking to the audience or to each other that is definitely spontaneous. They have some banter built into some of the songs, but even that doesn’t often come out the same as it’s planned. I have all of the videos on YouTube, so I won’t embed them here individually. I took videos from beginning to end, stopping now and then when I thought it wouldn’t be as worth taking. The original plan was to not record some of the songs that don’t change a lot from one performance to the next, focusing instead on the talking in between and the songs that varied a lot. I wish I could have recorded the whole thing. As I mentioned, the concert was livestreamed, and that video is still available to watch. The audio quality isn’t great, but at least it’s all there (including the opening bands). Here are the relevant links:

Playlist of my videos from the concert

Livestream of the whole concert

D&E on Bandcamp – The studio versions of their songs are all on this site, if anyone wants to check them out.

There are some things I want to specifically mention from the concert. At one point, Errol mentioned Lena, but he said, “What’s that little girl’s name again?”

She didn’t miss a beat, yelling, “Lena!” back. He “Leeloo” a few times, and she kept yelling it back. That interaction can be found here (queued up for convenience): https://youtu.be/oUEvCI7LVWc?t=56s

He did that one or two more times throughout the concert, and by the last time, half the audience was yelling, “Lena!” back at him along with her.

For two of the songs, “Tie After Tie” and “Undead Crawler,” members from some of the other bands went onto the stage to play and in some cases sing with them. “Undead Crawler” is one of my absolute favorites, so it’s worth checking out. Debs totally nailed “Make It So,” a parody of Frozen’s “Let It Go.” Another favorite is the “Happy Emo Fun Sad Song,” which is a live-only song that perfectly illustrates their unique personalities. (Wow, suddenly I’m getting emotional about them being broken up again.)

When they had one song left, Debs took a moment to express her feelings about this final concert, about how many people came out for it, and about how awesome their fans are. There may have been some tears, and not just from Debs. Then they ended on the song that was normally the one they opened with, “Geek Love Song.” It’s definitely a classic.

Of course, the crowd couldn’t let it stop there, as the standing ovation turned into a chant for “one more song!” They obliged with “Double Rainbow/More Than That.” And then it was over.

Afterwards, we wanted to make sure to talk to Debs and give her a hug, not knowing if we’d see her anymore that weekend. Plans for the next day were still a little nebulous. We made our way to the front of the venue, stopping along the way to talk to Alex James of Nerds With Guitars. He was impressed that we’d come as far as we had for the concert, and also said he was really glad people were willing to do that, because Debs and Errol were worth it. (We obviously agree.)

Also while we were on our way to the front, Ja-Mez came to me and apologized for what he felt was an abrupt conversation before the concert when I approached him to introduce myself. I can see how he felt he’d done me a disservice, but I could tell he was busy, so it hadn’t bothered me. Still, he was very kind to try to make amends for what he felt was a bad meet. I then asked him about the podcast, as I didn’t recall ever hearing a reason for why they had stopped, or an explanation on whether or not they planned to pick it back up again someday. If I remember correctly, he said it could still happen, but his schedule was busy, so that was why it was on hiatus.

After that, we became part of the crowd and waited for our turn to talk to Debs. It actually took a long while for us to have a chance, because so many people wanted to meet them, talk to them, get their autographs in the webcomic book they were selling that night, etc. We were sort of in an unstructured line, but it often seemed to shift to our detriment. The only thing about the situation that was really very bad was that Lena got so bored just waiting around. Well, that and I was paranoid that everyone that could help us get back to Errol’s house would leave and we’d have to find our own way.

Fortunately, we got our chance, gave Debs hugs, and said we didn’t know if we’d see her again. She said if there were any plans for the next day, she wanted to be kept in the loop. There had been some talk of doing an escape room the next day, and I was excited that she might be involved in that too.

It was getting late, and someone from the venue informed Logan that we couldn’t be there with Lena anymore. We were ready to leave anyway, so we met up with ‘Manda and a friend of hers who was going back to the house too, and left for the streetcar. ‘Manda was excited that the streetcar was a new one. We stood on the junction between the two segments, which moved under our feet a lot as the car turned. I very nearly fell into the accordion bellows behind me on the first turn.

‘Manda had informed us that if we were quick enough, we could make an earlier bus, but if we weren’t, we’d have to wait a while for the next (20-30 minutes). When we got off the streetcar, we had to go down some stairs to the subway station. Lena isn’t terribly fast on stairs, and we’d gotten behind some other people anyway. I didn’t think to pick her up until we were on the stairs, and by then, it probably would have been too late. The train was at the station when we were going down the stairs, but left before we got there. ‘Manda was worried we’d miss the bus after that, but fortunately the next train was only a few minutes later. When we got off the train, we ran up more than one escalator, with me carrying Lena this time, to make the bus. We ended up having a few minutes to spare, which was nice.

Back at the house, my family had a few snacks, as we hadn’t had a proper supper, and then went to bed. While we were eating, Keren left saying Errol had asked her to come get him at the bus station. He’d missed the bus and didn’t want to wait for the next one. He wasn’t doing too well after the concert. He’d already been sick for over a week, lost his voice by the end of the concert, and was just tired. I don’t blame him. He puts out a lot of energy on a regular basis, but especially while performing.

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Farewell, Debs & Errol!

So the main event of the weekend was over, but we still had a full day in Toronto and lots to do. That will be the subject for another post though. I will just close by saying that Debs and Errol will definitely be missed. They entertained a lot of people, and will continue to do so. If anyone reading this does not know about them, or hasn’t listened to their music before, I strongly suggest you do so. The band may be over, but their music won’t be going anywhere.

Toronto Trip Day 1, Arrival

On March 7, Debs and Errol, a geek band from Toronto, had their farewell concert. Being huge fans, my family decided to take a trip up to Toronto for the weekend, so we could not only attend the concert, but also meet several people from the area that we only knew from the internet. It’s been over two weeks since my family made that trip from Indiana to Toronto. I wanted to write this blog post shortly after we returned home, but I didn’t. With how long it’s been, I realized that it was time to either do it or give it up completely. The entire trip was such an adventure, and I really wanted to get my thoughts out there for anyone who is interested to read. So here goes.

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We left on Friday around noon, with two kids aged 4 and 12. We had a laptop for entertainment for the kids because we knew it was going to be a long drive. Google maps put it at seven hours. The first part of the trip was uneventful as went through Michigan to get to the border. The border crossing was much more exciting. We were told that their policy was to search anyone who had never been to Canada or had not been there in 10 years (my husband, Logan, and I had been there when we were teens, so more than 10 years ago). So they had us pull over, and they searched her car. We were in a parking lot that was covered but not fully enclosed.

We stood in front of the car while they searched it, and did our best to stay warm. The parking garage-type structure created a wind tunnel, and it was cold. I hadn’t grabbed my gloves or scarf when getting out of the car, because I was a little flustered. Fortunately the kids at least were bundled up. Even still, my daughter, the four-year-old, grew colder and colder, and I did my best to keep her warm. We were worried they would unpack most of our tightly packed trunk and we’d have to fix it before we could leave, but they either didn’t pull much out, or fixed it themselves. After they searched the car, they let us get back in to warm up while they performed some other checks on our ID, but said we would probably have to get back out again and maybe even go inside. Fortunately, they quickly said the check had been done, and we were free to go. So we were on our way into Canada.

I’m not much of a traveler overall and haven’t been out of the US since the times I went to Canada as a teen, so this was all an interesting experience. Somehow even though the road was not unusual in itself, just knowing we were in another country made me feel more anxious. I should mention I am a painfully shy introvert who is not good with new experiences in general. I tend to get anxious easily. When Logan and I travel somewhere I’m not very used to, he almost always has to do the bulk of the driving, because I can’t handle it very well. It’s not fair to him, but he knows it’s easier than trying to have me drive, especially in big cities. He had told me before we left that there would be a long stretch once we were in Canada that he would probably ask me to drive for. Once we are in Canada, thinking of this upcoming drive maybe very nervous. He has issues staying awake when he’s driving for a long time, whether he’s tired or not. So I knew it would be important for me to be able to help when he needed it. Somehow though, perhaps because it was another country and he was more interested, he had no trouble staying awake on this drive.

When we first entered Canada we noticed the gas prices. One of the first prices we saw was 102.9. In America of course we’re used to something like $2.33 on the signs. My first reaction to the sign I saw in Canada was to say, “Wait, is that $102 per gallon?” Of course I didn’t really think it would be that high, but I also did not immediately think it’s meant 102 cents. And Logan quickly pointed out to me that it would be by the liter, not by the gallon. I did not do the math to figure out how much gas was in our terms, but if I had, I probably would have forgotten as well that it would be Canadian dollars, not American dollars. Another thing of note on our drive to Toronto were the numerous warning signs along the road, which made us chuckle. Signs warning drivers not to follow too closely, because it will kill you; not to speed, because it will kill you; not to get too tired while you’re driving, because it will kill you. Every one of these warning signs said “Doing this kills. Don’t do this.”

After several hours of driving, we made it to Toronto. Coming into Toronto was a new experience for us as well. We’re from a state without many big cities, and this was bigger than our biggest city. We have both been to Washington DC, Chicago, other larger cities, but not often. We were like small-town hicks out of water. The road we were on was up off of the ground already and still the buildings towered over us on both sides as we drove through downtown Toronto. It was very imposing and a little overwhelming. Logan was driving around unfamiliar turns and turnoffs with people speeding by him.. We both remarked that when he went around curves he felt like he should slow down but if he did, he would be slowing down traffic. It was a unique experience.

The place we were going was in a residential area, so we left downtown behind us. Traffic thinned out and we felt like we could breathe a little. It was not difficult to find out if you’re going to, however we cannot find anywhere to park quickly. We actually went around the block a few times trying to figure out where to park. You see every other parking spot on the street was taken up by a giant pound of snow. We did finally see someone pull out of a spot and went around the block again so we could lineup to take that one. It was down the street a bit from where we were going, but at least we had landed.

Then we walked to the house, and everything got real. We had been invited to stay at the house of one of the members of the band–Errol. Logan and I had met him before, when they were in Ohio last October, but the kids hadn’t. His older daughter answered the door and let us inside. We quickly realized that Debs and Errol were inside practicing. He had mentioned that they’d be practicing for the concert that night, but I didn’t realize it’d be right there in the living room, or that they’d be doing it when we got there. Errol’s daughter Ekko showed us to the room we’d be staying in, and we proceeded to go down the street and start bringing in our stuff. It took us a few trips, and we kept telling the kids to be quiet going by the room where they were practicing. We didn’t want to disturb them.

After we were unloaded, Logan and I were a little uncertain about what we should do. The kids were much less so. Errol had already introduced himself to them, and they stood in the doorway watching the practice. Debs and Errol assured us that we weren’t disturbing them, and said we were welcome to come in and sit or whatever we wanted to do. In fact, Errol and his wife (who came home a little later) assured us that we were welcome to make ourselves at home the whole weekend. So we went in and watched the practice, chatted between songs a bit, and eased into the whole situation. I am always awkward and uncomfortable as a guest in someone’s home, much more so if I’m an overnight guest. I just don’t know etiquette and proper ways to behave and such, from either side, because I am not a very social person. Add to that that these two were basically celebrities to us, and it was a very tense situation for me. I did relax eventually though. Also during that time, ‘Manda, who lives in an apartment in Errol’s basement, came in. She is one I hadn’t met, but knew online and was also a fan of. She does some creative activities with Errol as well, the most notable of which (for me) is the NaNoMusical. I made sure to get off the couch and give her a proper greeting when she came in.

The practice was loads of fun, just being able to be there and be part of it. I even took some video with my Kindle Fire. Our daughter found a toy house in the room and occupied herself with that most of the time. In fact, it was difficult to pull her away from it when it was time to go to bed late into the evening. And speaking of our daughter, one of the best things about the weekend involved her. Her name is Lena, but when Errol first met her, he said her name back as “Leeloo.” She corrected him, but the nickname had stuck. For the rest of the weekend, he’d call her “Leeloo,” and she’d promptly respond “Lena!” The next day, we were all in Errol’s daily webcomic.

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This is Errol’s version of our arrival. It’s actually pretty accurate.

I’m going to stop this post at the end of Friday. It will be far too long if I write about the whole weekend, so I’ll continue in another post. Before I leave, though, I’d like to share 2 of the videos I took of the practice.

The song in this one is one of my favorites (though I realized recently that I have maybe too many that I consider favorites), “BSG.” At the end of the song, Errol decides to hold out the last note for a while, which is not how the song normally knows. I’d say it’s a good look at his personality when he’s not performing, but the truth is, he’s the same in person as he is when he’s performing as he is in his comic as he is anywhere else. It’s still fun though.

This second video shows the point where Errol first realizes I’m taking video. The interesting thing is that he actually seemed self-conscious after that, which is not a trait often seen in him. The song is another of my favorites. Also, he did hit the camera on my Kindle dead on.