The gate to Thunder Bay, the bay, is a crevice of lake funneling from Pie Island and the Sleeping Giant, another legendary character of whom we must contend.
I come from a magical place, at the end of the world. Thunder Bay sits on the northern tip of Lake Superior, a lake so fierce and mighty, she’s more like an ocean. Her Anishinabek name is Gitchi Gami. Her temperament changes on a dime. She’s taken lives, but also saved them. She’s fierce, but fair, and predictably unpredictable.
I’m Canadian, lived here my whole life, but I can’t remember the words to our national anthem. The lyrics aren’t forgotten, per se, just temporarily misplaced. I can mangle my way through the anthem at a hockey game— memory cued by the collective consciousness, confidence aided by Molson Canadian beer— but if unaccompanied, I’m lost. I take a shortcut at the prelude— “O Canada/ Our home and native land/ True patriot love/ in all Our Son’s command”— a left at the gas station near the scarecrow that resembles Don Cherry, to arrive circuitously at the conclusion, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee”. I’m missing the middle. I know there’s something about glowing hearts, our free land (ironic given you must be a billionaire to own in Vancouver or Toronto), and maybe a part about Celine Dion, but I can’t string the words together without taking creative license.
Growing up, my mom’s cooking was undoubtedly one of the best parts of life. Holidays were feasts and weeknights were sprinkled with elegant dishes like Croquette St Jacques, all the more impressive as a) my mom worked full-time, and b) I grew up in Thunder Bay, try finding Croquette St Jacques on a menu in the 1990s and early aughts.
My mom also cooked very healthy meals, packed with fresh ingredients and vegetables, which as a finicky toddler I didn’t necessarily appreciate. At babysitters’, I’d eat canned Heinz Zoodles and other processed foods laced with toddler cocaine, a.k.a. sugar. “Why can’t you cook like Auntie Karen?” I once asked my mom, perplexed why her homemade pasta sauce didn’t give me that crazy high like Aunt Karen’s Chef Boyardee.
I accidentally became a runner because I lied on a resume.
Relax, there was no full blown fraud; though I grew up thinking you could get any job by copying a resume out of a library book and reciting a mantra of “I’m right on top of that, Rose”. Thanks Christina Applegate.
My celebrities crushes are Jaime Oliver and Elon Musk. I live to eat and Jaime Oliver’s the cutest TV Chef*, hands down (*runner up is Chef Ben from Below deck). As for Musk, well, it seems I have a thing for bad boy tech entrepreneurs who want to save humankind; as also evidenced by my love for my partner, Kory (who, in addition to creating internet-connected indoor farming systems, also lets me cook for him, which requires a sense of adventure and lack of risk aversion in and of itself).
My first grown-up job was as a lawyer in the Waffle Building, a deceptively nicknamed high-rise in downtown Vancouver. The word ‘waffle’ typically conjures warm, fuzzy feelings. Memories of Sunday mornings. Smells of maple syrup and bacon. The warmth of a fireplace and quilted blanket. The Waffle Building was anything but cozy.
You can’t go home again, especially after you’ve suffered embarrassment on reality TV. A few years ago, I was a contestant in Season 1 of The Bachelor Canada. I didn’t last long, so I empathize with the women about to get dumped on TV.
After my first-and-only rose ceremony, I was hungover or, more probably, still drunk. The cocktail party wrapped filming as the sun came up and I hadn’t slept a wink. I was put in a white van filled with skinny women with puffy eyes and wine breath.
Disneyworld, the happiest place on Earth? I think not. Forget the lines jammed-packed with Crocs, khaki shorts, and sugar-high children who can’t stand still. Never mind the crowds, and dodging strangers’ family photos like landmines on your way to a restroom. Let’s talk about the rides. The nightmare-inducing, deep-rooted-trauma-causing rides of my childhood.
“Honey, I’m terrible at memoir writing,” I say, forlorn, my bare feet plopped on the leather couch near K’s lap, my Kindle hiding my distressed expression.