What a Difference One Year Makes

The Story of Us

A little over one year and twelve hours ago, we were speeding to the hospital going the wrong way along a one way street. In front of Police Station, no less. What followed was a whirlwind of wonderful insanity.

The whole event occurred in far less time than we had imagined, which was both a blessing and not so blessed.

Looking back now, it seems like that was a lifetime ago. Cliché? Perhaps. But it certainly is true. While a lot has remained constant, there have been an equal number of changes.

There is an unwritten law that people who are expecting children have to be told that it’s going to be a horrible experience full of sleepless nights and grated nerves. While this may be partially true, there are far more moments of pure bliss and wonder (lack of sleep may be a catalyst for this, though).

This year has been a busy one. What with Baby J, fixing up the house, grading for Black Belt, four weddings, breathing was forgotten at times. But we made it, and mostly intact!

My status in most circles of friends has changed, leading to changes in the way that people interact with me. The change was not unexpected. The interactions? Well, let’s just say that anyone who is planning on raising kids should be aware that there can be a stigma associated with being a parent.

Funny, that.

Scheduling things has also become a challenge, what with nap schedules and feedings and so on. It was bad enough before, as we tend to book things far in advance because that’s what we do. Now there are a few extra variables to consider. This doesn’t always help when it comes to last minute changes.

In any case, whatever disappointments have hit me from the outside world tend to be pushed out by the awesome light that is my family. In some ways, there is a new distance between us. Where there was once two, there is now three. And that third one is a pretty demanding one!

But then, in some ways we are also much closer. I have watched Mrs. J wear the hat labeled Mom with more finesse and style than she gives herself credit for.

Our little monkey is not short on love from either of us.

And she’s an awesome, ass-kicking little shrimp who takes my breath away every time I look at her. She’s a little dancing, singing, talking dynamo who gives me an extra big reason to smile anytime I think about her.

So yeah, there have been some ticks in the negative column. But the ticks in the positive column are so numerous that you can’t see the white of the paper anymore.

One of my new favourite phrases is Hi Dada!


Happy Birthday Kiddo! Who knew that the best present today would be the one that you gave to us?

Birthdays Along Give Gathering


Some people believe that birthdays are days that should be celebrated with great fanfare. I’ve never really been one of those people.

My feelings have nothing to do with aging, and little to do with being shy. Honestly, I’m not sure why I feel the way I do.

It might have something to do with the fact that there have been times in the past (before Mrs. J came along) where my birthday has passed with no acknowledgement, save for a phone call from Dave.

Couple that with the fact that my birthday falls on the May long weekend and you have yourself a winner…er…loser for attendance at events thrown on said weekend. It’s the first long weekend of the year, and people tend to be out of town. It’s just the luck of the draw.

So, over the years, I grew to expect nothing special for the anniversary of the day I was born.

Then Along Came…

Mrs. J is accustomed to spending a good week or so celebrating her birthday. While a grand fanfare is not demanded, she certainly enjoys spending her time enjoying spending her time.

I think the only thing she enjoys more than celebrating her birthday is lavishing her loved ones with the same treatment.

And so, my birthdays have been a little bit different for the last seven years.

I usually get two cards, one in the morning and one at night. Each one is carefully picked out and a beautiful message is usually contained within. Mrs. J also gets me very thoughtful gifts. Things that I could use, or that would mean something to me. Sometimes she even bends her rules slightly and gets me something practical that I desperately need.

We sometimes even get to leave the city. One of my birthdays was spent in Niagara Falls, another in Québec City.

So, while I don’t really expect a lot for my birthday, I certainly look forward to it. Even if we do nothing, I know that it will be a wonderful weekend with my wife.

Give the Gift of Gift

I mentioned that sometimes Mrs. J bends her rules and gives me a practical gift. To some this may be a bit disappointing, but I really appreciate it. Getting something practical enables me to spend my money on something else that I may want in the future.

Let’s face it. Practical certainly beats a weird surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, one should appreciate the gift-giving efforts. I’m sure, though, that each of you can think of a gift you have received that made absolutely no sense, as if it screamed I have no idea who you are, but here you go anyway.

This is why Dave and I have created the most efficient and fun gift-giving system.

We will each ask the other what we want for our birthday (or Christmas, for that matter). It’s usually something small, like a DVD or a CD. Then, we will also give something else that we feel the other would like. This way, we each get something we want, as well as a surprise.

This might sound odd to some of you. Perhaps even a bit mechanical. However, if you disagree, let me know when your birthday is and I’ll give you something you would never, ever need, use, or ask for.

For anyone curious about the treasures I got this year…

  • Books – J-Pod by Douglas Coupland, The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
  • DVDs – The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, Cube, Cowbow Bebop Remix Volumes 3,5,6, Father of the Pride
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker
  • A 90 minute F/A 18 Hornet flight simulator experience
  • A cast-iron frying pan from Georgia for interior camping*
  • An assortment of fishing lures
  • A one-hour swimming lesson from a national-level Canadian athlete
  • A vintage camera
  • Gift Certificates – MEC, Canadian Tire
  • A boxed set of playing cards with a rulebook and notepad
  • Beef jerky from Chinatown
  • Various drinks – both at the bar, and a thoughtful 8-pack of beers from around the world delivered to my front door

You’re probably scratching your head, but these gifts all meant a lot. My friends are all very generous and wonderful people. Not to mention imaginative.

The Gathering

If anything, I like using my birthday as an excuse to bring together all of my different friends in one place.

I have a very wide variety of friends, most of whom would probably never meet each other under normal circumstances. However, I find that cross-pollinating the groups is a really great thing to do. You never know what sort of overlap you may find.

It was no different this year, when I invited a bunch of people to the Duke of York pub in the Yorkville neighbourhood. It’s a huge, traditional-looking place with lots of seating, a wide assortment of beers on tap, and good food.

I booked a table for twenty. I figured that it wouldn’t matter if we were short, because most places aren’t really busy during the long weekend, on account of people being out of town.

It was a great party. Lots of people came out for drinks. A number were unaware that it was my birthday **, but that didn’t matter. It was just an excuse to get together to have fun.

Everyone got along really well. Much better than I had hoped. Many connections were made, some that will last beyond the weekend. That was really the best gift of all.

I’m sure everyone has memories of Saturday night that they could post here. Shatton already did.

My favourite memory was at the end, when my friend Carlos was saying goodbye…

Carlos: You know, your friends are all really interesting and fun. They’re really great people.
Jorge: I know. That’s why you’re here, too.

Thanks again for a wonderful time, everyone! I know not everyone could make it***, but it was still a great evening!

* – Cooking a fish caught during the trip in anything less would be a sin.
** – This is completely fine. The last thing I wanted was for people to change plans on account of me. I also didn’t want people to think it was some kind of gift-grab.
*** – You know who you are. It was especially good to speak to some of you telephonically that day.

Happy Birthday!

Best Wishes to Barbero

I just wanted to take this quick second to wish my friend Zac a Happy Birthday…

Pale, like a vampire
With spidery limbs to climb
Like no one’s business!

Happy Birthday, my friend.