Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Heathen gives it up for Lent

The Man refers to me as The Heathen.

I should explain... My converted Catholic brother always makes comments when there's a family gathering that involves churches, communion, baptisms or weddings. He tells me, no matter what the time of year or the weather forecast, he expects impromptu lightning strikes wherever I may sit or stand. It happened at the MC's speech at his wedding (his very Catholic brother-in-law). It happened at my neice and nephew's baptisms. It happens whenever his in-laws say grace at a meal. Chairs close to me are pushed way back to give me a wide berth. I'd like to say it's because of my wide ass, but I know differently. They fear the wrath. They fear the lightning. They fear their association with The Heathen.

The Man has picked up the torch, especially since I do not go to church (if god is everywhere, then he'll hear me pray in the john). I also went to the Heathen School (public and very non-Catholic). I grew up with no set religion, no need to venture into a church every Sunday, no church choir, and that's okay with me. The Man is a non-practising Catholic. We don't go to church. We do not say grace at meals. So, it was much to his amusement that I announced that I was going to give up something for Lent.

So, I have not had more than four sips of pop (soda for those in the U.S.). No Diet Pepsi, no Coke Zero, no Diet Sprite or Gingerale. I've had small sips but I have yet to crack open a full can or bottle for myself. And, I'm jonesing.

But despite my ability roll someone for a Diet Pepsi, I have succeeded. I have not succumbed. And, I dragged The Man along for the ride. I figured since I was willing to go without, he should too. It is, after all, for his Catholic diety.

The Man figured it wouldn't last, or at least he hoped since I pursuaded him to give up peanut butter until Easter. It's his arch-nemesis. If it's in the house he will eat it every single day and sometimes twice a day. I think he's having peanut-butter inspired dreams and withdrawl. I heard him mutter in his sleep last night "I will smother it in peanut butter" with a licking of the lips. I think there was a dry hump in there too.

Employment schmoyplent...

It's off to work I go... well, it's off to Employment Ontario tomorrow morning. I signed up with the government agency to see what new, mad skills I can learn and perhaps write a smashing new resume and cover letters since they've changed so much since I last pounded the payment. It seems I'm in the dark ages  and, along with a snail-pace job market, may be the reason why I haven't had any luck to-date in securing an awesome, amazingly high paying job - my dream job or at least something that bears a resemblance to an ideal position.

I've revamped my resume countless times now, taking advice from here, there and everywhere to beef it up and promote the hell out of myself. It's gotten to the point where I don't know what else to include and even how to start a cover letter. I'm hoping fresh, young eyes will help, one with more of a finger on the pulse of the job market.

I'm also looking into courses being offered by the government - retraining for this old ass. It's all part of a master plan to reinvigorate myself (and the job market openings available) since the last job had me through the ringer. My self-confidence took a real beating and my self-doubt was running rampagnt. I didn't even think I was worthy of velcro enclosures on my sneakers. I'm not as stressed as I was when I first left Cell Block C and I'm smiling more, but I find myself looking at job ads and wondering if I could handle the job. I apply for them anyway with what I hope is renewed hope and vigour. I hope it rubs off. I hope I can reinvent myself one more time.

My last reinvention was about 10 years ago. I'm due for another. Ten years ago, I was happy. I felt young and vibrant with endless possibilities on the horizon. I'm working on getting that feeling back.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A united voice

I'm a regular follower of a really inspiring blog - Fickle Feline. Kat's sense of humour is what first hooked me. Since that introduction I've learned that she is a dedicated mom, great blogger/writer, photographer and quilter. She's also an advocate for autism. A long-time friend of mine has twins, a girl and a boy. His son is autistic. And he's a beautiful soul. Kat understands. Her son Max is also autistic, and through his parents' dedication, he's making great progress. It's amazing to see such dedication and hard work pay off. And for that reason, Fickle Feline the blog is one of the first blogs I visit when I log into Blogger.

Today, she posted a request and it's one that I wanted to share with you. There is a child who will no longer receive funding for treatment, a decision being made by the College of Psychologists in Toronto on April 4. Here is his story...

Date: April 4th 2011

Time: 10a.m. until noon (12)

Location: 151 Bloor Street West, 9th Floor, Toronto, Ontario

From Norrah W.:

This is an important case, because the college was simply going to dismiss it. It is my understanding that after appeal it has gone above the college to the Regulated Health Professions Board. The family is coming forward and sharing all the info regarding the case, and pleading for as many as possible to attend the hearing. This is an opportunity to show everyone; government, media and professionals that we still stand united in our advocacy and will not settle on second rate services and funding for our kids.

This is also an ELECTION year and this isn't just about autism, this is about people with disabilities being dismissed, ignored, discouraged from taking action by proper bodies to protect their well being and public interest. THAT is something that binds the ENTIRE disability community and we and the care takers of that community have enough numbers in Ontario to COMPLETELY decide the outcome of the next government.

So I ask who is showing up for two small hours and if you can't do you have media contacts have you contacted them?

Historically the village has not been large in numbers so send a family member if you can't go, a therapist, a friend close to your family who knows your beautiful child, if you want to sit and be passive then truthfully the worst will continue to happen to our children and people with disabilities in general. We are the bottom of the pole, yet largest in numbers when you factor in five of our care givers, just five votes for each person with a disability and we have a new government.

It takes a couple of hours and a voice, as well as the ability and want to pass it on. It takes a voice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dentist with huge digits hands down icy ultimatum

It's a two-post day but I figured if I'm on the road curtailing the advances of one Willie Nelson co-pilot, I should leave you with a little something more than a sexy Willie Nelson pic. You're welcome.

In between picking lint out of my belly button and getting acquainted with the Jersey Shore crew (yes, daytime television sucks donkey balls), I actually got out of the house and away from all things electronic. So, why not pay a visit to my favourite demon dentist?

It wasn't by choice. Well, it was my choice to chew on an ice cube and potentially crack or break a tooth but that's neither here or there. The outcome was sharp, shooting pains out of one of my top molars into the central vortex of my brain. Cold water, hot water, tepid water, a soft whole wheat roll... it didn't matter what touched my tooth, it friggin' hurt. And, judging from my last visit to the dentist where drills whirled and my dentist's gargantuan hands threatened to get lodged in my small mouth, I thought it was adviseable to get the tooth checked out. It is, after all, an original and one I wanted to keep for the time being.

The good news first. An hour after calling to set up the appointment, the tooth miraculously stopped hurting. I mean there was no pain despite hours of poking and prodding when before a cool breeze would set it off. The even better news is that I didn't do any permanent damage from chewing ice. The tests proved the absensce of  pain. He poked, he prodded, he made me bite down on what I thought was a silver bullet to see if I would writhe in pain. Nothing. Yay me. I even stepped up my brushing and flossing regime to impress the crap out of the dentist with the largest hands in the history of dentists.

The bad news is that there will be no more ice cubes. Sure, I can use them to cool down a drink but they must, MUST stay in the glass and melt naturally. I must resist the urge to chew. That's the hardest part since I've been chewing ice cubes almost my entire life - or for as long as I've had teeth and was able to put ice cubes in my drinks. The dentist thought I'd learned my lesson earlier on in my adolesence when I'd actually cracked the enamel, forcing him to paint a seal on my upper and lower molars. But, the temptation is always too much.

But resist, I must or it will result in monthly visits to the dentist's chair and a reintroduction of needles, drills and those damn dams. Besides, I think my family has already contributed enough to his Muskoka cottage, high profile cars and bi-monthly vacations. It's a small price to pay.

On the road again...

Willie's too sexy for his overalls...
I think Willie Nelson has kidnapped my mind, body and soul with those four little words. While I find Willie Nelson cute in an old-overall-and-braids-on-a-guy sort of way, I don't think I ever dreamed of knocking boots with him (thankfully). But, I think I'm on his wave length when it comes to road trips.

The best thing about being sans work is the free time I have to visit with friends, and it's because of this free time that I can hop in the car and travel three hours across the province to the thriving metropolis that is Napanee, Ontario. So what's captured my attention to justify a fill-up of the tank and a Tim Horton's travel mug in my hand? My Japanese friends on the last leg of their Canadian visit.

Kaede is now registered to attend school in Belleville, a nice private school where she will finish up her high school credits. Her computer is set up and by now she's BBMing her friends on her new Blackberry. Joy will have visited Costco or Walmart to stock up on all of the gifts she's meant to bring back to family and friends.

On a side note, did you know if you're visiting from Japan it's considered ill will to leave ANYONE off of the list of touristy momentos. So, Joy must stock up on everything - from maple syrup to Canadian flags and figurines to give to everyone from the grocer to the mailman (mailperson?). Everyone who knows of your visit is to get a gift. To do otherwise is considered a slight.

Considering the state of affairs in Japan, I think Joy will be stocking up on basic supplies we in Canada take for granted. I know she can't take back fruits and vegetables or risk confiscation, fines and worse, she may take back packaged snacks - items she can easily hand out and ones that will fly under the radar of the Japanese equivalent to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. So, it may be a visit marked by jaunts to the super stores in the area. All I know is I'll be happy to properly catch up, which we haven't been able to do with the fly-by visits we've had in the last five years. And, it gives me a chance to get to know the older Kaede and Emily so I have a different picture than the 10- and 5-year old versions I still have in  my brain.

So, I'm on the road again and I will keep Willie Nelson as my co-pilot - just as long as he doesn't try to tickle me with his beard or his braids. I hope my overalls from 1983 will still fit...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Japan calling... well, sort of...

Over the past two weeks there has been an influx of people leaving their homes in Tokyo and my dear friend was one of them, taking her half-tank of gas and heading to the Narita airport with her fingers crossed that her car would get them there. It did, and now she's staying in her friend's downtown Toronto condo. Leading up to her departure, however, Tokyo was not a tranquil place.

She says that reports here in Canada have been a little apocalyptic. I don't agree. I know that traditionally Japanese people are orderly. A 3 km lineup for gas here would see more than a few raised fingers, a curse word or two and revving engines. There, not so much. Everyone patiently waits in line for their turn at the gas pump, and if the pump runs out before they get their turn it's a jaunt to the next station promising petrol. I also think that the government are not telling them the full story about the danger of the nuclear reactor situation. Face masks or no, health risks are still high.

Joy flew into Canada with her two daughters. She left her husband, home and beloved dog behind - not on purpose - but because her husband is part of the search-and-rescue turned search-and-recovery in the areas hit by the tsunami and near the nuclear reactors spewing out radiation into the atmosphere. He takes his job very seriously so he stayed to help. Bless him.

It's also part of the plan. Joy had expected to fly into Toronto this past Friday. She was two days early and for that I am thankful. And although she was tired when her and the girls finally touched down, I think she was thankful to see a familiar face at the gate, holding up a welcome sign and a coffee. She's here until March 31 and then it's back to Japan, back into the arms of her husband and the aftermath. She's leaving behind a daughter, her oldest whose set to finish out her high school career in Canada.

I'll be taking the next couple of days and driving to see her and the girls in Napanee. I can't wait to properly catch up with her when jetlag and travel are a mere memory. What is not is the panic back home, with limited food, gas and much-needed infrastructure. It would be so much worse if the public on a whole was not so well-organized and stoic. My heart goes out to Japan and its people. I'm just glad most of my people managed to find their way to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Late Night TV does not agree with me

I think Horatio Caine is stalking me. I'm used to stalkers, really - The Man was one in a former life. But late night television, more specifically re-runs of CSI Miami have me dreaming about Horatio and the fact that he reminds me of a childhood game. And besides, it's always on in one form or another.

Does anyone remember the oldie but goodie "What Time Is It Mr. Wolf"? I had to explain the premise of the game to The Man. Apparently pick-up hockey and baseball were the only games worth considering in Gaspe. But for me What Time Is It Mr. Wolf was the epitome of childhood games, up there with Red Rover and Hide and Seek since it was quick to organize in the 20 to 30 minutes of recess time we got at the local elementary school. It needed no props like Dodge Ball and it hinged on our personal level of fear. I was a level 10, apparently.

That level rose as I was watching yet another re-run of the sunglass-wielding Horatio Caine and his team of CSI specialists. Cue drama: Horatio looks across the water, raising his hand to his face to remove the sunglasses ever so slowly and deliberately to deliver one of his gems. "Someone's going to pay for this, Mr.  Wolf..." And what time is it?

It could be 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, 2 o'clock but it's the dreaded "Dinnertime, ARRRGH" that would have me screaming to get away since meal times did not follow the regular schedule. It could come at anytime and you could be Mr. Wolf's next meal if you had freakishly short arms and legs like good 'ol Scribe. It's true. Just ask Anasatan and Mags.

Horatio calls on Mr. Wolf a lot, I think  for the power in  the name and I'm fully expecting Greg Wolf to growl at Horatio "Well, Mr. Caine, it's dinner time" and kids, grannies, old men fishing on the pier would run willy nilly down to the board walk, arms flailing, fishing poles and bait forgotten, mothers and young children being pushed out of the way... in all, pandemonium.

It hasn't happened yet, but I'm on the lookout. It's always dinnertime somewhere in the world, and my legs need as much notice as possible.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Damn you, Oprah

Last night, I was tired. Down to the bone tired. And then I turned on the TV.

I have recently discovered Oprah's new channel and with the Rogers' VIP package we get with our property maintenance fee, we get it. Yay me! Yeah, not really...

To steal a line from a film geared to the female demographic (I can almost hear The Man saying this in his generic female voice), I weep. I'm a weeper. Can you guess which movie star uttered those words? Okay, I'll give you a hint... he's English, he screwed his kids' nanny and starred with Robert Downey Jr. Yep. You guessed it - it's Jude Law.

But I'm not talking about Jude, Downey or any other actor. I'm talking about Oprah and her choice of running Tuesdays with Morrie at 1 a.m. and my inability to turn the television off even when I got uncomfortable with the subject matter. And I wept. I wept for Hank Azira's character when he visited his favourite professor. I wept for the ideals he lost after graduation. I wept when Jack Lemmon's character entered into his final days with ALS. I wept at the goodbye.

Like Mitch Ablom, I suck at goodbyes. I still remember my final words to my mother-in-law the day she died of pancreatic cancer. I wasn't ready to let her go. I wasn't ready to believe that it was hopeless. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. So, instead, I told her she was the best mother-in-law I've had. It was true. It was jokey and it made her laugh. I hope she knew just how much I loved her even though the words weren't there.

I've said goodbye since then to people older than my 46-year-old mother-in-law. Some were expected. Some weren't. But they were easier because I wasn't as close. I wasn't as invested. That changed this past May when I had to say goodbye to Christopher.

I thought that it was getting easier to accept. I thought I was  moving on but then that damn movie came on and it all came rushing back - the waiting, the hoping and the final goodbyes. Morrie was old; Christopher was not. Morrie had a full life and touched many people; Christopher was not as lucky though he has and continues to touch people with the life he did manage to lead.

I know I've written about Christopher before. I just can't seem to stop. I still miss him every day and will often touch his picture posted on my fridge and smile. I don't think that will ever stop.

I'm a weeper. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and in Christopher's honour I won't change my caring nature. I will also remember to tell the people I love how I feel about them every chance I get so when it's the time for goodbyes there will be no doubt.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Don't worry. I'm not about to write about Charlie Sheen. That kind of crazy has been seen enough over the last two weeks. There's nothing winning about it. He's spiraling and the amount of publicity over his demise is somewhat nauseating. The winning I'm talking about is the actual kind... receiving something you didn't have before for free or with proof of purchase.

Canadians take their coffee consumption very seriously, especially when that coffee comes from Tim Horton's. In certain areas of the country you could throw a cat and hit at least five of the establishments. Have you ever been to Hamilton, Ontario? Except, of course, the 10-minute drive I took to Cell Block C. It's the only stretch of road with nary a Tim Horton's in sight. There's not even a coffee shop. The horror. I've bought about five coffees since my escape from the joint. Considering I had at least one coffee a day six days a week, it's a considerable downsize. And, now that the Roll Up the Rim contest is on, I expected to win at least one coffee or doughnut in the contest's duration. Those ain't good odds. But this year is different. I've bought five coffees. To-date, I've "won" three coffees and one doughnut.

The Man has since threatened me with bodily harm and told me in no uncertain terms to shut the hell up. Not very hospitable, I know, especially since he's already benefited from at least one of my wins. So while he's plotting my murder and keeping my winning stash of Roll Up the Rim wins, I'm heading out to buy a lotto ticket. I'm figuring if on a roll (get it?) with my coffees, the lottery is the next obvious step.

I may be pushing my luck, but I now have it in writing if I end up pushing up daisies. If The Man is so vicious with just a winning coffee cup, can you imagine if my numbers are chosen over his? So to the detectives investigating my suspected murder case, it was the boyfriend. It always is. Especially if there's coffees involved.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When dads are wrong...

Dennis De Young is pictured on the far left, looking more like
a painter in parachute pants than the lead singer of a band...

It doesn't happen very often. Dads can be wrong. At least my dad can.

When I was about 15 or 16, I fancied myself a singer. I had sung in choirs and operettas all the way through public school and I was quite good. That is, until I started listening and singing to songs not on my dad's preferred list. My father grew up in the 30s and 40s. He was  born in 1932 and was exposed to some of the greatest music in the history of the world (his words, not mine). Big band... trumpets, clarinets, saxamaphones... you name it, he loved it. And, when I was younger I loved it too. I learned how to do the fox trot to the stylings of Count Bassie, Louis Armstrong. In the Mood was my favourite song, though Little Brown Jug was a close second.

Then I entered my teens and Count Bassie was replaced by Wham!, INXS, Depeche Mode, but my favours were reserved for one band and one band only... Styx. I was in much infatuation with one Dennis De Young. It would have been Tommy Shaw since he is the cuter one, but a friend of mine had already secured him as her boyfriend. Runner-up... Dennis De Young. I sang their songs every chance I could get. I played them over and over again, so much that my ghetto blaster ate two of cassettes that I had painstakenly recorded from the 33. Yes, people, an actual record that people spun on turntables. The cassette tape stretched, snapped and I felt the tears come on. How was I supposed to sing about Mr. Roboto and the fact that music as we knew it would disappear?

My father hoped and prayed for the demise of Mr. Roboto and any other song I chose to play at top volume on the ghetto blaster that he regretted buying me for Christmas. As he so lovingly and repeatedly pointed out: "Styx stinks. Count Bassie is King." I thought it was Elvis Presley but that was just me... his king was Big Band and that was the only music worth listening to.

He also thought it was his place to school me on my singing. Me, a regular choir member who won place after place in the choir, year after year, performing in as many operettas as I can recall. His reasoning: No one else was going to be so lovingly honest by telling me that I sounded like a dying cat. It was years before I sang in public again for fear of attracting a band of feral cats.

Years later, he now suffers from a selective memory and tells me he's always loved my singing and remembers fondly the times I would sing around the house (P.S. I'm always singing and will even sing to the dog if I'm inclined).

Friends of mine are regulars at karaoke and had invited me to come along. And, they convinced me to sing. It was my first time on stage in a long while (I had taken singing lessons back when my divorce first became final - it was a rebirth of sorts). Kenny had brought his new recorder (he'd bought one to capture his performances as part of a speed metal band) and turned it on for one of my performances. He played it back to me the other day and  it took me a minute to realize it was me who was singing and it was actually good.

I sang "I will remember you." The notes were dead on, the tone was mellifulous and I thought "damn, now that is not what a dying cat sounds like." I wonder if I can manage a Styx song now and if I'd remember all the words. One thing is for certain: Dennis De Young is not the hot tamale I thought he was. And what's with those pants!?!?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's March, people!

There's nothing lion-like about this first day of March. While there is still a slight chill in the air, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the squirrels are running willy-nilly in front of my car... and Scribe has a bit of a spring in her step.

I'm sitting at the William's Coffee Pub with coffee in hand and laptop in front of me. I've got only 30 minutes left of battery life so it's my cue to begin to log off and pack up. The moral of this spring story for me is that I got out of the house, if only to sit amongst fellow coffee patrons and peruse the job ads on, Workopolis, LinkedIn and other sites promising great jobs for great wages. Fingers crossed, friends...

Besides signing up for a free webinar on the secrets of getting hired by new-age employers, I also did something I should have done back in December... my Drive Clean test and my licence plate sticker renewal. I've been driving around town all illegal-like and it was doing a number on my psyche. It's not so much that I was scared of Big Brother and the Ministry, but I was getting a little nervous when I spotted the Po-Po, even if it was 500 metres away. What if this is my time.... when my luck runs out...

So, to give me better odds I bit the bullet and handed over the $120 for the test and the renewal stickers so Scribe can now say she's legal. It's a weight off of my shoulders, and I couldn't believe it was weighing me down.

Speaking of weight, tonight I will hit the gym again to get the cobwebs out of my head allow me to sleep soundly for the remainder of the week. It's my new routine: get up, look for work, get the frig out of the house and into the gym for a little head-space clearing.

At least now I don't have to worry about running into the very understanding policeman/woman on my way to lessen the weight, both literally and figuratively from my shoulders (and other areas too).

Happy March 1st, blogosphere.