Wow.

So I haven’t been as prolific with writing as I’ve been promising. But I do have a small development on the family tree front, and I didn’t even lift a finger.

A few days ago, I got a message through 23andMe from a DNA relative, wanting to share ancestry reports.

Sometimes it piques my interest, because I’m always curious to see who contacts me and how much we’re actually “related”. But I’ve always tempered it with the fact that our DNA matches are usually less than 1 per cent. So I’ve always taken it with a grain of salt.

Last Thursday was different.

When I opened 23andMe and looked at the DNA comparison, it wasn’t less than 1 percent. It was just over 4 percent.

It still doesn’t sound like a lot. But considering the only other family member to submit a sample – and score much higher percentage-wise – was my brother, I wasn’t going to dismiss this.

I agreed to share my ancestry results, then took a look at some of her information. One of the family surnames in her profile РJenkins Рbelongs to my maternal grandmother. That provided a bit more proof to me that we were related. But to what degree?

I showed the result to a co-worker (who’s also of Jamaican descent and currently obsessed with untangling her family roots). She showed me this really cool thing that I’d never heard of, called DNA Painter, where you take the number of shared DNA material (measured in cM), plug it into a box, and it tells you what your probable relation is. It gives you a number of possibilities – so it’s not exact – but it guesses as close as it can, based on the information. It’s a really cool tool!

This morning, my relative sent a message. She mentioned how surprised she was that we matched with such a percentage. She’d also looked at my information, and said what I already thought: we were related through the Jenkins family line. But then she mentioned the name of her grandmother (which tweaked something in my brain, and I have to confirm that with my mom), and named the town her grandmother was from.

Oh, we are DEFINITELY related, I thought. So I responded, and told her my grandmother’s name.

Bingo. My grandmother’s name apparently has come up in conversation with her family.

So our grandmothers were sisters — we’re second cousins! (Or half-second cousins, if DNA Painter is correct, since I don’t know who my relative’s grandfather was.)

She lives in Philadelphia, and one day very soon, I’m going to give her a call.

I guess it all just goes to show you that when you’re doing family research and you have a long lull or hit a brick wall, once in a while, something – or someone – reminds you that it’s worth it.

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Playing Catch-Up.

Hey, thanks for visiting!

It’s been a few months since I last posted . . . and then disappeared into the wind.

Here’s the reason.

Way back in March, I briefly – and cryptically – mentioned a project I joined. I can now say that it’s with a small independent game company that creates video games. They already have one game – a dating sim set in a middle school – which has been well-received.¬† Now, they’re working on their next two mobile games, one of which is a second dating sim.

I’m freelancing as their newest writer on the dating sim. And by “newest”, I mean I’ve never written for a video game before. In fact, I’ve never worked in a capacity where I’ve really gotten to flex my creative writing muscle before.¬†It’s been a challenging, anxiety-inducing learning curve. But – in fits and starts – it’s been fun to see this plot and its characters unfold before my eyes.

It’s also been very time-consuming (obviously – it’s a job). When I wasn’t at my full-time job four days a week, I was writing on my days off and after work (or at least trying) to try to make my writing deadlines. And admittedly, I haven’t been as fast a writer as I’d like.

As a result, it’s been an extremely quiet summer for me. No trips. Not a lot of vacation time – just time off for special occasions and as I needed it. Not a lot of time to myself. And until recently, not a lot of socializing with friends, or even my mom. (Between Easter and the end of July, I’ve seen her maybe three times, which for me is unusual.)

That’s currently come to a halt.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I’m on a writing hiatus until¬†October. Maybe longer – it all depends. But it’s just a weird feeling when something both so intense suddenly hits the brakes. I hope it does resume. Someone picked me – a complete beginner – out of a crowd and is taking a chance on me. It’s a really creative group of people, and I would like to finish what I’ve started. (If you’re a completist like me, you understand.)

In the meantime, I’m okay with this. Even though I was¬†actually writing,¬†I didn’t have any sort of work-life balance while I was doing it. So I’m looking at this hiatus as a chance to play catch-up with other parts of my life. Maybe re-configure how I manage my time so I’ll be ready if/when things resume.

And I hope it will not only be good for my mental health, but that it’ll actually jump-start my creative juices – which would be a great side-benefit.

I’m going to attempt to not stop writing completely. Which is what this space is for, right? To keep that muscle working, even if it’s at a lower resistance.

So it’s probably a good a time as any to finally get around to some travel writing that’s been on the back-burner for the last couple of years. No, you read that correctly. I don’t know how good they’ll be, since time can soften and fade experiences and memories. But thank goodness for travel diaries! At least those will keep me somewhat accountable.

So check back here throughout the month of August. You may actually get some online reading material for late summer.

Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

Bye, Milda.

I was chatting with my mom yesterday – vocalizing my frustration with something; I think it was tax-related – when my mom said, “I have some sad news.”

Turns out my great-aunt Milda passed away the day before.

It’s sad, but not heartbreaking, and certainly not surprising. The woman had just turned 102 (earlier this spring).

Whether people liked her or not, she lived a long life, a decent life. I have no idea what the cause might’ve been, other than old age. If she went to sleep and never woke up, I can’t think of a better way to go.

I’m fortunate and glad I made the effort to visit her a few years back.¬† At the height of my family research obsession, the answers she gave me might have been miniscule, but they told me the research I’d been doing on my own was on the right track.

And now the last branch of my grandfather’s part of the family tree has fallen. This may very well mean I’ve done all I can do with respect to my enigmatic great-aunt Ellen. Who knows?

But for now, I’ll say: Rest in peace, Milda.img-20160318-wa0002716373213.jpg

Safe Space Check-in & Life with Plants (So Far)

In January, I mentioned wanting to make an effort with my living space which, if you recall, looked like this:

imag1556448783292.jpg

I’ve been making slow steps here and there (and hitting you over the head with it), and as of several days ago, looked more like this:

imag1610-1279892775.jpg

So, marginally neater. Most surfaces are still covered with paper clutter (my specialty), but I’m not stressed. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

In clearing and tidying one space at a time, I’m reminded of another (tiny) issue: it looks a bit devoid of personality. Of course, it’s evident someone lives here. But who?

To perk up my apartment, I’m finally starting to invest in some indoor plants.

Apparently I’m not alone in this. The New York Times recently published this article about how millennials are filling their homes and workspaces with plants.

Until recently,¬†I’ve only really owned a leggy dracaena plant (in the top photo) that I bought my second year of university. (I briefly had a baby aloe plant, but the lack of all-day sunlight – and no window sills – resulted in its unfortunate demise.)

The plant used to reside at my mom’s house. She had the space, the right type of light,¬†and¬†she’s got a super-green thumb.¬†Then I moved, and she told me it was time to claim my friend.

Travel’s been the main reason for not having more plants. I didn’t want to wander off somewhere for two or three weeks and leave them to die from a basic lack of attention.

But since I can’t afford to go very far and my leafy companion looks bit lonely, I figured I’d try again.

I’d fully intended to start slowly – doing lots of research to make sure I got plants that were hardy, relatively low-maintenance, etc.

But one evening, my friend Renee offered me one of her spider plant babies — already a solid size with decent roots — and I happily accepted.

After I’d gotten it home and placed it in a jar of water, I briefly panicked. I had soil, but no small planters with drainage.

Enter YouTube. This enterprising green-thumbed spider plant owner was super-helpful and informative, and by the next night, voilà:

imag1579202849878.jpg

I call my plant Val (for the cheesy Valentine Day-themed tumbler I bought from Dollarama to keep her in).

She seems to be doing well – she’s sprouted two leaves. So far, I’m doing something right.

Of course, this has now sparked a bit of an obsession.

Three weeks after bringing home my spider plant, I went browsing with a friend at Home Depot to get some ideas for other types of plants …

And against my better judgement, walked out with a lemon button fern.imag1601824270745.jpg

Now, some people say ferns are easy to care for; others say they’re among the fussiest houseplants around.

I’m doing my homework and trying my best, but let me put it this way: I don’t think I’m winning the fight to keep my fronded friend – dubbed “Vern the Fern” – alive. Vern currently doesn’t resemble the photo you see here.

Amid all of this, I’d been on the lookout for a plant that I¬†thought was cute, but turns out to be¬†one of the plants to own, according to Instagram and plant lovers: the pilea peperomioides, a.k.a. the Chinese money plant, missionary plant, pancake plant, etc.

When I started researching pileas, online information suggested that one’s best bet was to get a baby plant from another pilea owner, as trying to buy one can apparently cost you $30.

Thirty. Dollars. It’s like the Cabbage Patch Kid of plants.

However, one of the Facebook groups I’d joined had been (and still is) on pilea watch. The first time someone posted a sighting of baby pileas at Canadian Tire – for a fraction of the standard price – word got out and they were gone in almost no time.

The second time there was a sighting, I marched myself to the store the following afternoon and got one of the last three plants.

imag1611-1978273529.jpgFor now, I’m the proud owner of a baby pilea. About two weeks after bringing it home, bugs started emerging, so – thanks to some Facebook advice – I dumped out the soil, washed the plant and roots as well as I could, and re-potted it.

This is what it currently looks like. I’m watching it closely to make sure (a) it’s bug-free and (b) it lives. Keep your fingers crossed.

I’m currently on a break from plant collecting to make sure I can handle caring for my leafy new charges.

It’ll be a while before I successfully create my own private Wakanda – and I’m not aiming to own hundreds of plants – but I think I’m on my way to making my abode a little more homey.

 

 

New Podcast Episode: Modest Dressing

Hey folks,

Hope you’re making the best of your Friday (or Saturday, depending where you are in the world)!

Earlier this week, my friends and I put out the newest episode of our podcast, Sip & Bitch.

This time, we decide to discuss whether or not there’s actually a trend in modest dressing happening right now, while sipping on some Kir Royales.

We all had our own thoughts; you can decide for yourself.

You can click on the link below, search for us on SoundCloud, or find us on iTunes.

We also have a Facebook page – please stop by (if you’re on Facebook), when you have a moment.

Enjoy!

 

Purging a Little Bag-gage

Some of you might only know me from this blog, or perhaps my podcast.

But if you know me in real life (and some of you do), one thing you’d notice is that I rarely go anywhere without at least one bag on my shoulder or crossing my body.

How many I carry at once depends on what I’m doing. You might be seeing me right after work. Or going to a clothing swap. Or going to work out. Or lugging groceries … you get the picture.

Which leads me to today’s post.

My name is D, and I have a bag hoarding problem.

I have a number of fabric/reusable bags in various stages of use or disrepair. But my real problem lies with my collection of plastic bags.

But D, you ask, you do know you can recycle plastic bags, right?

Um, why¬†yes, I do. But I hold on to plastic bags, because you never know when they’ll come in handy (and not just for disposing items).

I recently decided to do a bit of cleaning and discovered just how many bags I’ve saved for such occasions:

20180213_163216Um. Yeah.

Believe me when I say that this photo doesn’t fully show the scale of my “little” problem.

There were bags within bags, shoved into other bags, crammed under my desk, balled up in one of my closets.

I’d been putting this task off for months, simply because it’s so time-consuming. But about two weeks ago, I got tired of it.

So I pulled up my sleeves, pulled out all these bags, and got down to sorting.

I started with the obvious: recycling bags that have holes or have disintegrated over time.

(Something I learned: over time, biodegradable plastic bags pretty much become plastic confetti that gets everywhere.)

Then, my floor covered in plastic, I made piles according to size and shape.

20180213_175532

Another thing I learned:

I’ve spent a lot of time at Popeye’s Chicken — and I do mean a LOT. It’s a dangerous habit and I need to watch myself.

After arranging the sea of plastic into something a bit more orderly, I went from pile to pile, counting how many of each I had in total, and then cutting down those piles by at least half, but usually much more. So if I had, say 30 bags, I tried to limit the pile to between 10 and 12.

The only exceptions to my arbitrary rule were shopping bags big enough to line my garbage cans, and clear produce bags I could use for organic food scraps.

I also had some big sheets of plastic (former dry-cleaning garment “bags”), which I stored in case I need to paint or re-pot something. (You never know!)

I’m sure there’s a faster way of doing this.¬† But to make any headway, I chose to do it this way, because seeing what I was doing as I was doing it helped make the task a little less overwhelming.

I spent maybe an hour and a half, two hours at most, but I think I made a decent-sized dent.

The shopping bags meant for garbage cans were stuffed in a small cardboard box that will act as a dispenser. (This was something my mom did in her previous home.)

And after a few trips to the recycling bins in the basement, I felt a small sense of accomplishment.

That is … until I went to store a couple chairs in one of my closets and found this:

20180213_192111**sighs**

See? I told you I had a problem.

Having run out of steam, I shoved it in a corner out of mild frustration, but I did tackle it last week.

We’ll see how long this period of reduced-bag living lasts.

What “problems” or tasks have you put off, and are going to tackle this year?

It could be on your spring cleaning to-do list, or perhaps it’s something that’s been hanging over your head for months, and you’re finally going to do something about it.

Let me know in the comments, if you have time!

Getting A Little Creative

March has just begun, and man, it’s starting to feel a bit busy!

Last month – when I’d originally planned¬†to release this post – the year was still fairly new, and not much was going on.

I was going to reflect on how I hadn’t been feeling particularly creative over the last year, how – despite recent changes at my place of employment – my job, and the duties it entails, have sort of remained the same.

But as I was about to type my intentions into existence … things already have started to shift. Kind of.

Before I get to that, let me back-track a bit.

Last year was supposed to be when I finally started making changes at work – even if they were temporary ones. I contacted a more senior colleague to pick her brain, and perhaps throw my name out there.

Long story short, we couldn’t align our schedules, so I didn’t get to meet with her until¬†mid-July. (The story’s a bit complicated, but it was out of my hands, and I won’t bore you with details.) That meeting led me to dropping by other people’s offices to chat. So at least people know I’m still here.

I’m still struggling to build that bridge, so I’m in the same spot as before. I’m trying to find a way to work on my skill set in my current position, but it feels awkward and uncomfortable.

Maybe I’m suffering from a fear of change, of failure, and of imposter syndrome, so I’m sabotaging myself. Perhaps there’s a part of myself that believes – wrongly – that I’ve worked hard enough and am now entitled to things that I probably haven’t earned.

Colour me conflicted.

Outside of work,¬†I wasn’t achieving creative fulfillment, either. I mean, I had been working on the ongoing podcast I do with my friends Ren√©e and Kath. But it was the only outlet, and I wasn’t parlaying that into other endeavours.

I think a lot of it was probably the result of feeling drained after long days at work, which meant a lack of motivation. If I spent time away from social media, it wasn’t to work on my writing – I spent more time watching Netflix, YouTube and *cough* other sources of TV streaming.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with watching Netflix and YouTube as a release. But I didn’t balance it with anything else. And the time I could have spent cultivating another creative outlet, I chose to spend it watching the fruits of other people’s labours.

So this post was going to serve as a type of self-pep-talk …

Which brings me to the present.

I suppose I’ve somehow been putting this sentiment out into the universe … because while things work-wise are still the same, things outside of work are actually starting to pick up.

For starters, the podcast started its third season in January. If¬† you’ve been visiting regularly, you’ve come across my recent post(s) promoting the most recent episode(s).¬† I’m trying to do a better job of showcasing it this time around.

(If you’re on my main blog page –¬†not¬†the page for this entry – scroll down for the most recent episode.)

Also, one of my other friends – a very talented writer/screenwriter – approached me in February about joining a project she’s connected with. I’m at the beginning stages of this journey, which means I’m simultaneously excited, and terrified.

(That’s all I’ll say about it for now, but I’ll reveal more further down the road.)

So I’m taking teeny, tiny baby steps toward being more prolific. It won’t happen¬†overnight – far from it. But this is a very good start.