Five Quick Ways to Feel Better

I’ve had two coffees this morning, but I still can’t think of a strong opening sentence for this post. I’ve got an abundance of cliches rattling around in my head, so why don’t you just pick one on the theme of ‘life’s peaks and valleys’ and insert it here? I’ve been in a valley since mid-October. It’s a new record for me, and it’s not the weather. I’ve run the gamut of feelings about what’s happening for me from scared to resigned, but I’m starting to notice a trend. When I put a bit of effort into lifting myself up, it works. Sometimes it’s temporary, but even temporary is awesome right now. So, for those of you who are enjoying a long walk through the shadowlands, here are five quick ways to feel better.

  1. Move Your Body

    I won’t presume to tell you how to do this. You know what you like, and if you don’t, you’re probably smart enough to figure something out. I’m on a tight budget at the moment, and I’m feeling anti-social most days. Walking has been working well for me. I know it’s February in Canada. If the temperature dips below -10, I wait until the afternoon when the sun has warmed things up to a more palatable -7 and time my 30-40 minute trek to land at the bus stop to meet the kids. I bundle up, and I’ve been listening to audio books because I’d been lamenting my lack of pleasure reading time. The fresh air, the crisp cold, the occasional flash of a cardinal or blue jay at a neighbour’s feeder, these are all helping me have more energy. I feel more connected to the fabric of the universe. Plus it’s breaking up all the time I sit at a desk to work. YouTube has gazillions of exercise videos including yoga and pilates. There’s bound to be something for everyone.

  2. Make a List of Things You Love

    I’m a list junkie. When I die, someone will find lists that cover everything from all the bills I need to remember to pay to reasons why I continue to indulge my love of writing. Instead of resolutions this year, I made a list of ‘Things I Want More Of in 2018’. I didn’t tie this to money or success. I focused on simple pleasures, and things that I know make me happy. Like quality scented candles and journaling. Make your list. Keep it handy. When you’re feeling low, try at least one of the items on the list. Don’t include things that may land you in jail.

  3. Call a Friend

    Do you do hide away from the world when you feel bad? I do. I feel like I’d rather not bore anyone with my tedious problems. I’d rather just deal with things on my own than have to launch into yet another conversation about the things that aren’t going well. It turns out, (and I think there’s probably some science behind this) that bottling up and hiding away is the exact opposite of what we should do when we’re feeling crappola. I’ve been better at this recently, and the trick is not to take up the entire visit with your own pile of messy life stuff. Share a little, and then be an ear to your friend too. Your vulnerability may help them open up, and before you know it, it will be clear that we’re all flawed and we’re all struggling. Then you can both cry or laugh and move on to talking about how much you hate Donald Trump. Before long, you’ll feel like a valued member of the human race again.

  4. Do Something for Someone Else

    One of my favorite ways to get out of my own head is to do something meaningful for someone else. You can start small with this, like helping your kid finish their chores, or shoveling the neighbour’s driveway. Or, you could make a larger commitment, which can sometimes mean you have to leave the house and be around people. You’ll gain some perspective, and get a nice little slice of that connection to a greater purpose business.

  5. Feed Your Body

    Take your vitamins. Set a reminder if you have to. Be aware of the food you choose to consume. If you need a few potato chips to add a bit of joy to your day, have a small bowl instead of a whole bag. Keep a stash of chocolate in your desk, but enjoy a row with tea or coffee, and make a bar last the week. Eat foods that make you feel strong and healthy. Avoid foods that cause bloating and gas. Be aware of what you put into your body, and make clear decisions about how you want to feel. When you have a day where you ‘eat your feelings’ (I have these, believe me), be gentle with yourself and have a re-set the next day. I just realized I forgot my morning vitamins, so I’m going to take those now.

Do you have more to add to these five quick ways to feel better? Share them in the comments below.We’ve all got tried and true methods to lift ourselves up a little.

If you think you might need professional help, don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor. Any mood-altering prescription should always come hand-in-hand with ongoing therapy. The tips above can help, but you may require deeper treatment, and some help with regulating your brain chemistry. I’m not a doctor, but I care about you, and I hope this post was able to bring a bit of light into your day. You can also check out this post on natural ways to boost your energy.

Can We Meet for Coffee?

Get a cup of something warm before you sit down to read this.

I’ve been meaning to write. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been staring at the mockery of my barely-touched bullet journal thinking, “Hey, I’m supposed to write a post a week.” I haven’t even made it as far as opening a new post page until today.

I snapped a couple of photos on my walk this morning, thinking the rather bleak, snow-covered road against the solemn slate sky seemed like some kind of metaphor. (As a side note, the walking thing has been executed with regularity. I dare say it may be all that’s keeping me sane right now.) If I had an image, maybe I could write something. A little snapshot of this particular January in my life. At the very least I could throw it up on Instagram and appear both connected to nature and committed to exercise.

These words dribble onto the screen, and yet I’m not sure if I’ll hit publish. How have I gone from willingly, eagerly even, opening my veins here to feeling stunted every time I look at the home page of my blog? I can recall, (albeit with the haze of a woman looking back on a more substance-enhanced era of her life), a time when I would race to the keys whenever there was a crisis brewing or tiny victory to celebrate. I never felt lonely when I was posting about my life.

My newfound reluctance to share could have something to do with the handful of devastating times where my candid vulnerability online came back to bite me in the ass. Those moments when my own truth-telling didn’t coincide with the schedule of the other parties wrapped up in the drama. Or the instance when my polyamorous relationship was outed to my in-laws by a spiteful extended family member with an itchy cut and paste finger and a current familial email list. (Hi, hope you’re healthy and well, by-the-way.)

For the first time in years, I’m compelled by the urge to vomit all of my sorrows and frustrations here, yet I’m reaching for the little paper bag instead of wanting to hit ‘publish’. I haven’t cried to a girlfriend yet, not really. I haven’t even really seen a close girlfriend, in person, in a setting in which I could cry. We could blame Facebook, for creating a false sense of keeping in touch, but this hermit-like behavior on my part could just be a by-product of approaching middle age. I’d have to drive somewhere, select an outfit, put makeup on that I will inevitably smear with tears, and for what? To have them pat my hand and say “You’ll get through this.”

Of course I’ll get through it. I’ve been through crazier shit than this.

What is the poop-mire I’m currently wading through you ask?

No big deal really.

Just a relationship crisis that strikes at the heart of my childhood trauma. A delightful little reminder of how I’m nowhere near finished with my own therapy. Lucky for me, I live in a town with a month-long waiting list to see a therapist.

Oh, and a major restructuring of our family dynamics. I’ll get into that more another day.

Lean financial times. This is a slow time of the year for nearly all of our businesses and my efforts to generate income can be described as feverish at best and absurd at worst.

A crisis of faith as I dip my toes into the dauntless task of pitching the novel I’ve been working on for nearly five years to agents who are bombarded by similarly hopeful would-be authors. Yesterday I got a rejection in only an hour and forty minutes. Yikes.

This feeling that my light is dimming. That I am growing invisible. If I could just lose five pounds, or get out in public more, or may just a little Botox here and there. Jesus Mary and Joseph, did I actually type all of that? Should I be looking at hormone replacement therapy? Is it time?

The bizarre conflict of both feeling lonely and like I don’t have the energy to go anywhere or see anyone who might have a sympathetic ear.

Okay, so that’s all the whining I’m prepared to offer up for today. Maybe that’s why I’m not posting. In the constant deluge of horrible news, my petty little problems seem like a gross thing to clog someone’s news feed with. I’m sorry if you’re rolling your eyes reading this. I know I have a lot of beautiful things in my life too. It’s just that I needed to connect. Sit down with a coffee and share a little. Please feel free to unload whatever’s bringing you down in the comments section below. I’ll publish this post, just so you know I’m listening. And the best part is that I don’t even have to leave the house.

2018 Wish List

Happy New Year!

Photos by Kyle Andrew

I hope the festive season was good to you and those you hold in your heart. This year, we slowed things down for the holidays. We knew we wanted to try something different after a particularly maudlin 2017 Christmas, but this decision was reinforced by a series of daily meltdowns I had leading up to the holidays. (I can’t talk about that yet, but I will soon). Christmas Day was spent at home, all day, in our PJs. My parents, brother, auntie and dear cousin joined us for a small turkey feast and we played cards, ate too much, and shared some laughs. This felt so completely right, that it’s gotta become a new tradition.

Tweens hugging

Another new tradition is crafting a list of things I’d like for the brand new year. I won’t call them resolutions, because I feel the pressure just typing those letters. I wanted to write something for you as we sail into the New Year, but everything I started to craft sounded like trite horse shit. I’m sitting on a mountain of change, and I can’t talk about it yet. I’m avoiding sharing my feelings with you because they’ve been messy, and unpleasant, and embarrassing. Instead, I give to you my 2018 wish list.


  • More fun ways to exercise
  • A return to a keto lifestyle
  • Increased energy
  • Gratitude for my healthy body
  • Creativity in the bedroom
  • Time in nature
  • Time in the kitchen
  • Stress management techniques that work
  • A sense of security


  • More face-to-face time with my friends
  • More time connecting with my kids
  • Down time
  • A gratitude practice
  • Bubble baths
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Frivolous ways to spend time
  • Opportunities for volunteering
  • Dinners with family
  • A sense of security
  • Truth bombs on the daily
  • Saying no to things that make me anxious and resentful


  • Crafting time
  • Journal time on the regular
  • Crafts with the kids
  • A sense of security


  • Organization
  • Discipline
  • Growth
  • Daily writing practice
  • Regular efforts at promotion
  • A published novel and/or literary agent
  • A sense of security

In addition to this list, I intend to spend the next few days mind-mapping all of the ideas rolling around in my brain when it comes to work. I don’t actually know what mind-mapping is, but when I imagine myself doing this, I’ve got colorful markers in hand and I’m puking out random ideas onto an empty page. I have some power over my work life, and I’d like to exert control where I can.

Another thing I just did, not because I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, but because my SEO optimizer prompted me to add some internal links, was go back through this blog and ready every post I’ve ever written around January 1st. This hurt my heart, and in particular, I could see a real turning point in 2014. As I type, I find myself yearning for the articulation and joy of 2016 (my brother’s awesome photos really say it all, though). These posts are inconsistent, but I’ve linked you here in case anyone would like to read my evolution:







Kid drinking milk christmas pajamas

It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in 2018. It seems that each year, there’s a sea change, and trying to prepare for such a thing seems like a guaranteed way to get washed out. I’ve become an expert in self-reliance, and that’s something. In fact, I think that’s everything, now. I can count on myself. I can take care of myself. I believe I’m a good mother, though certainly not perfect. I have sometimes believed that I’m a good partner, but I don’t know about that anymore.

I’d like to find stability and trust in 2018, even if that means trusting my own two feet to carry me the rest of the way. If I’m deeply honest, (and vulnerable in the ways you’ve always seemed to love), I’d like to know that lasting romantic love does in fact exist, and that it’s safe to trust another person on a profound level.

What’s on your 2018 Wish List?

No Mo November (On Surviving a Shitty Month)

I thought I was dying this November.

I realize that’s a dramatic statement, but when you’ve been around cancer as much as I have, the slightest ailment is a cause for panic. I was EXHAUSTED, so much so that I demanded a full blood panel from my doc. I’ve been anemic before, and was certain this was the case. Otherwise, it was the Big C, because that’s how rational I am. I wasn’t anemic. Nor was my thyroid out of whack. All of my blood looked fine. So, what the hell?

November and I have a long-standing, love/hate relationship. (Here’s another November post, if you like this trip down memory lane.) Two people who I adore died during this particular month, and I think you can guess how. This sorrow seems to live in my cells, filling me with a non-specific melancholy that most people experience in February in this part of the world. The gray feels grayer, the cold feels colder. I can count on one hand the number of times I leave the neighborhood in a week. Maybe this grief is what had me dragging my butt.

Life has been stressful. Relationship stress. Financial stress. Work stress. This is enough to make most people want to stay in bed. Maybe the tired feeling was on account of these old demons rearing their heads? Thing are on the up now, thanks for asking.

hands and wedding bands

I officiated the wedding of my Aunt Gigi and her partner Bob this November, from his hospital bed. This occasion marked a bit upswing in my mood.

I spend a lot of time on my ass, at my desk, working away. I’ve grossly neglected my exercise routine. I’ve slipped from the nutritional choices that make me feel best. This could be what was making me exhausted.

An average-sized five-year-old often ends up in my queen sized bed, wedged between daddy and I. Sometimes he thrashes about like he’s being chased by a Ticklemonster. He’s become an ace at falling asleep on his own, in his own room. We haven’t quite nailed the staying there part. My family doctor suggested installing a baby gate to keep him contained. I found this horrifying. No judgement on those of you who have employed similar methods, but my doctor has obviously never seen a five year old take on a baby gate. Anyway, there’s another reason to feel exhausted. No sane woman could sleep in the company of a little boy who flails about and a man who snores like a demon.

So, what am I doing?

Taking vitamins, as regularly as I can. I don’t always remember, particularly on weekends, when our routine varies.

Saying NO. Holy shit, I’m bad at this, but I’m trying. I’ve had to say no to something very special to me because the mental drain was giving me anxiety. That was a tough one.

Holing Up. I’d love to spend time being social, but until that stops feeling like work, I’ll continue on this hermit-like path. You’ll occasionally see me at writing group meetings, and to drop my kids off at rehearsals. I suppose I’ll have to do some holiday shopping soon. I used to go crazy if I didn’t get out of the house and connect with other humans at least once a day. I used to appear before hundreds of people in my underwear about every other month. This homebody thing is still relatively new for me, and it’s novel. So are yoga pants. I’m a legit suburban mom with a mini van now. Most days, I’m okay with this.

Exercising. There’s just no way around this one. If I don’t move, I feel like crap. I get down on my body, I lose my drive (yes, all of it) and I feel spacey as hell. I’ve started walking for 30-45 minutes after dropping the littles at the bus stop. (Ew, that’s not a euphemism). The key to staying motivated is a good audio book. I only allow myself to listen when I’m walking. It’s working for now. I intend to keep going, even when the snow starts. Please send me your book recommendations.

Self-care. This is a difficult concept. It doesn’t mean pedicures and hair appointments, though it could. I think self-care is about doing things that make you feel good. For me, that’s putting a full stop on work after 5 pm so that I can cook for my family, or help my little dude create a book about dinosaurs. It means reading a novel for pleasure, and not because I’m getting paid to read it. It means tea and chocolate and doing absolutely nothing for ten minutes. A little bit of self-care each day seems to be helping to battle the melancholy.

Listening to my body. If want to sleep, I sleep. Even if I’m in the middle of the workday. Twenty minutes with my eyes closed, and I can easily see a difference in productivity.

So, I’m finally seeing a difference. I realize that it’s also December, which has more than a little to do with this shift in energy. Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week, because I take the mornings ‘off’ to meet with my writing buddies. These women keep me focused on my passion, and they offer the most amazing encouragement, and validation. If you’re a creator, find your people and make them a regular part of your life. Weekends are spent caring for my family and decking our halls. I love Christmas, and Yuletide, and everything connected to staying cozy and bright. I intend to carry this forward until the Spring.

Is it just me, or are there certain months of the year that consistently suck? November is mine, but I’ve survived another one. A big thanks to chocolate, and novels, and my ever-patient family.

Postcards From Vegas

The airplane window is cool against my forehead. I know the vast expanse of black below is the desert and I wish it were light outside so I could see it. The inky void gives me the same sick, small feeling as the ocean. Little lights and street grids emerge and suburbia unfolds. Then tall buildings and flashing lights, a frenzy of color. Vegas looks just like the movies.

Photo by Dave.D Photography

The airport is a hive, even at 11 pm. It’s actually 2 am for me, and I’m resisting the urge to whine about getting into bed. I’ve never done tired well. We roll our suitcases for miles. I teeter at the top of the escalator, and then try to imagine getting on in heels after a few martinis. This feeling is to become the one I associate most with Vegas.

Nekky apologies profusely for the hotel (the Rio), insisting we got a great rate, and it’s most convenient because that’s where the conference is. It seems silly to apologize. I wasn’t even planning on going, and was happy that we found cheap airfare. The outside of the hotel makes me think of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Inside, the lobby of the Rio smells like the air freshener they use at bus stations. Then it smells like the smoky bowling alleys my parents would drag me to when I was four. It looks like the movies here too, but not the ones with George Clooney.

The check-in line has us waiting for over an hour at 12 am, which is now my 3 am. I want to cry. A huge monitor above the reception desk loops various attractions: an art exhibit by an ‘iconic American artist’ I’ve never heard of, a topless country and western review, The Thunder from Down Under (naked Aussie men who all look identical, except one has a ponytail), and an orange-skinned pair of entertainers wearing what can only be described as ‘sexy for Jesus’ outfits. I shudder as I realize they are Donny and Marie.

The lobby is louder than the tarmac and the people at the gaming tables are expressionless and badly dressed. A dealer takes over for her colleague. She wears a sports jersey and her hair and makeup are perfect. Her smile is inviting until the table empties, and then she stares off into space. Is she thinking about her kids? The bills that need to get paid? Her boyfriend who sometimes scares her? Whatever it is, we both know it could be worse.

Our room is a corner suite with a spectacular view of the strip. There’s a Ferris wheel in the centre of everything that doesn’t seem to be moving. Later I learn that each pod is a slowly rotating bar. I know Nekky wants to go for a drink, but I can’t possibly, so I slip into my pjs.

“What’s Adam up to?” I ask.

Adam is Nekky’s old friend from the conference circuit, and he’s most of the reason why we go to these things.

“He doesn’t get in until tomorrow,” Nekky smiles. “But it’s okay babe, pace yourself.”

We lie on our bed and look at Vegas shows on Nekky’s laptop, finally deciding on Absinthe because it was most recommended by our friends, and because it was the raunchier of the circus offerings. I’m eager to see how Vegas tackles cirque burlesque. I learn that both Penn and Teller and the Chippendales have a residency in my hotel. Magic for everyone.

I fall asleep as Nekky orders tickets and makes a reservation at a steakhouse in Caesar’s Palace for after the show. Thursday night will be our date night, just the two of us in Vegas.

The sunrise wakes me up because we didn’t bother to close the curtains. Everything is pink and golden and we are surrounded by red mountains that call to me. I check the brochures to find out if I can get to them. Time and budget make this impossible.

We get dressed and I spend an hour putting on makeup. Nekky wants to take me to the Wynn, a schmancy resort, and go window shopping. He doesn’t have to be in conference mode until later in the afternoon.

“You won’t believe this place,” he says.

In the lobby of the Wynn is an indoor garden. Giant orbs of bright flowers dangle over a lush jungle. I know better than to ask if they’re real. There’s a foot path over a koi pond leading to a carousel made entirely of blossoms.

We walk into Chanel. I make eye contact with the slender shop girl and pretend that I belong there. She looks immediately at my shoes and catches my lie. Next stop, Cartier. The handsome man with the impeccable suit and white cotton glove indulges us because the store is empty. He has the good grace not to wince as I remove the gaudy pendant from my favorite thrift shop to try on a $15,000 necklace.

“I’ll just give you my card and you can get whatever you like,” Nekky says.

I laugh too loud, but the clerk doesn’t let the smile leave his warm, brown eyes. I decide he’s genuinely kind, and is therefore pretending to fit in here too.

More shops, and my sinking feeling gets deeper. Who are the people who can drop three grand on a purse and not want to throw up afterwards? Could I ever? We stroll through the gaming floor, which is prettier than the Rio, but just as stinky. The guests here are better looking, and I notice a few outfits, on actual people, that I’d love to snap photos of.

The menu posted outside the buffet makes us drool, and we’re pleasantly surprised by the price. I’m wearing a strapless denim romper that can barely contain my ass, yet the hostess turns us away because Nekky is in a tank top. She is gracious, and encourages us to visit the gift shop for a t-shirt. We drop $30 on a shirt that clings to his delicious muscles, and the lunch is still a great deal.

We eat for hours, and enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. I can stay low carb (minus the bottomless glass of wine, and the essential trip to the dessert buffet), so I don’t feel disgusting once I’ve had my fill. The place is utopian; vaulted ceilings, marble everywhere, a riot of flowers cascading from the ceiling, brilliant sunshine pouring in. The wine has made me feel beautiful, and Nekky’s got this gleam in his eye that tells me we should have skipped dessert and used the extra time back at the hotel.

Outside it’s 100 degrees. I haven’t felt this hot all summer. I lie on cool white sheets and watch a home reno show while Nekky quickly changes for work. I follow him down and hit the pool, where I’m scheduled to meet Marty, a friend from college who happens to be in Vegas. I haven’t seen him in eighteen years.

Marty is quieter than I remember. He’s got less hair and a few extra pounds, but he’s still handsome. He always had this slightly impish quality that women found very endearing. It’s like no time has passed. We catch up on each other’s divorce details and parenting anecdotes over margaritas in sippy cups, our feet dangling in the pool. He’s also here for a conference, and it’s his last night. I invite him out with us later. We’re going out with Nekky’s conference crew and I warn him that I can’t predict what will happen.

A nap in the hotel room. A wardrobe change, and more makeup. I try for fake lashes, and immediately feel regret as the glue makes my left eye start to drool (which continues through the rest of the evening). We meet Marty in the lobby of the Venetian, another posh hotel. People are still smoking everywhere.

Dinner is at SushiSamba, but I’m not hungry, even for Brazillian/Japanese fusion. I get sandwiched in a booth with about twelve people. Conversation is fantastic, particularly with a young man named Brian. I love how brilliant he is, and I’m amused by his stories of hedonism, non-monogamy and circus people. Sometimes it’s better to listen quietly and let people assume what they want about me.

Finally Adam slides into our side of the booth. I haven’t even really said a proper hello yet. Adam is the funniest person I ‘ve ever met. He’s not the type to wear loud shirts or monopolize attention. His funny is the deadly kind; the outrageous by-product of a genius intellect and an attitude of zero fucks given. Adam seems subdued, but it’s early yet. We settle up the bill by throwing twelve different credit cards in the centre of the table. I wonder if the server wants to kill us.

Half our party goes home to bed, and the rest of us go off in search of adventure, Adam at the helm, and Marty happily in tow. We end up in a Rock and Roll themed bar. A middle-aged man grabs us as we saunter by. He gives us all drink coupons, and escorts us through no less than three levels of entry until we finally end up in a sparsely-populated space with a stage. A band is tuning up to play. If there are other women in the bar, I don’t see them. A guy sitting at a table in front of us looks at me the same way I eyed a pair of boots in the Alexander McQueen store earlier.

I perch on a stool right in front of the band, because I’m not willing to make my way through the bleary-eyed men at the back of the bar. Marty stays with me and an old hippie named Paul, while the others hit the bar for drinks. He’s hanging in there, Marty. I wonder what he thinks of this Vegas version of me. Does he think I live like this at home? He seems amused by our aimless wandering, and up for anything that might come at him. It’s kind of like theatre school all over again.

The drummer from the band is 25, tops. The bass player, maybe 24. The singer/guitarist looks like he’s pushing 50. This disparity makes me nervous. I don’t have a poker face. If they suck, I won’t be able to hide it.

“Hi there, who are you here with?” The singer begins his set by speaking into the mic and addressing me.

I sit up straighter on my stool. “I’m here with myself,” I volley. He glances at Marty.

“Oh yeah?” he sneers, “Cause I was gonna say, that guy is much better looking than the ones you’re usually with.”

The drunk guy at the table guffaws. Paul the hippie shakes his head, and Marty’s eyebrows shoot up. My face is like stone. I don’t blink, despite the hot sensation that is creeping up my neck.

“That’s an old joke. Sometimes it’s funny,” the singer says, and then launches the band into their first song.

I’ve been on stage most of my life. In no universe would I begin a performance by insulting my audience.

The band is decent, though there’s no way I’m enjoying them now. Every time I glance in the direction of drunk table guy, he’s staring at me like he’s had a stroke. Finally, Nekky and Adam return with drinks. I try not to chug mine, eager to get the hell out of there. I tell Adam about what has happened with the band. Adam glances at the singer, then he wanders off.

Moments later he returns with a giant Connect Four game; the one that stacks coins in a vertical grid until you complete a matching row. It’s nearly as tall as he is, like the rolling black boards of my elementary school days. He parks it before me and as all of our party watches, slack-jawed, he begins to try to get the pieces out of the grid. Everyone knows you pull the lever at the bottom, and they all drop out, but Adam is meticulous. He makes a silent show of painstakingly sliding each and every piece out of the top of the game, and drops it on the floor with a tremendous clatter. Soon the rest of my company is in on the action, and I’m laughing so hard, my fake lashes come loose. The band leader looks like he wants to punch someone. I’m willing to bet I’ll be first.

After the song ends, he says, “Yeah, go ahead everyone. There’s lots of games here, just make yourselves at home and pull one up to play. We don’t mind a bit.” His smile stops at his lips.

We meet a couple who are about to stage a fake wedding to fool their work friends into thinking they got married in Vegas. At first, we agree it might be fun to get in on their farce when she asks me to be her maid of honour, but then I learn (from the woman, who can barely make consonant sounds at this point) that they are an actual couple, who have both left marriages and children to be together. She really, truly wants to get married. He doesn’t.

“I can’t take part of your sham marriage, because it’s kind of cruel. Also, you both deserve to have a real one,” I say. I blow them kisses as we leave the bar. For a second, I think the woman might leave with us.

Adam takes us to a casino called Ellis Island. This place falls several Michelin stars below the Rio, where we are staying. I try to pretend I’m not scared, but I refuse to hike across the gaming floor to the bathrooms without an escort. This is where people who actually live in Vegas hang out, and this crowd isn’t like the one at the Venetian. A woman in stained velour pajamas with a full set of rollers in her hair stares blankly at a slot machine as a cigarette dangles from her lip, begging to be ashed. There might actually be a full set of teeth between the four guys at a gaming table to my right.

We’re here for karaoke. The bar is rammed, and I flip through the massive binder of selections. I must choose my song carefully on this strange turf. As the next singer takes to the stage, I realize many of the patrons are regulars, and actual singers. Really good singers. I play it safe and choose Nancy Sinatra. It will be two hours before it’s my turn to get on stage.

Just before I go up, a beautiful full-figured girl in a summer dress takes her turn.

“I came here to Vegas to chase down the man that I love and bring him home. He ended up choosing the other girl.”

She’s not that drunk, but her emotion gets in the way of her Mariah Carey ballad. It’s a shit-show of confused octaves and poorly-planned high notes, but the crowd is endlessly supportive.

I follow her act, and dedicate my song, ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’, to her. What I lack in vocal range, I make up for in choreography. In my mind, I’m in the Clooney version of Vegas, but we’ve traveled back in time to the sixties and George loves the way I pedal out the Mashed Potato in my white go-go boots. Sad girl and I hug it out afterward. None of my friends take the stage, but we stay long enough to close the bar.

I’m too wired to sleep until the sun starts to rise. My hotel room wind-down is the final three episodes of the series we’ve been watching. Nekky is kind enough to close the curtains before leaving for the conference in the morning. Four hours of sleep is all I manage before my body says it’s time to get up and face Vegas again.

To Be Continued…