Tuesday, August 11, 2009


With the approach of NaNo for yet another year and my impending unemployment I've been having urges, particularly the urge to write again. My inner perfectionist is huddled in a corner crying, "if you can't do it perfectly, don't waste the effort" but I think I just need to start posting again when I feel the urge to write something, rather than feeling too much guilt that I haven't posted anything in far too long and feeling the need to summarize all of the major things that have gone on in my life since I last wrote. Those who need to know the major things already know them and those who don't probably don't care so I'm just going to move on and write about what moves me, when I feel like it. While I'm at it I just might give my inner perfectionist a kick to keep her quiet for a while.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ice cream truck

There’s an ice cream truck that circulates in our neighbourhood on sunny summer days, which typically causes one of two reactions in the general adult public. Reaction 1: nostalgic tears spring to your eyes as you lean out onto your doorstep to watch the neighbourhood children toddle after the slow-moving musical freezer on wheels, a loonie clutched in their sweaty little hands. Reaction 2: you try to fling yourself off of the highest altitude location in your residence to stop the ear-piercing agony of the Piano Man Re-mix: fucked-up boogaloo.

In our house, the typical reaction is that Paul’s head snaps up and (I swear) his ears perk up like a hound on the hot scent of a criminal. The words ‘ice cream truck’ leap unbidden to his lips and he’s at least four steps towards the door before he comes to his senses. I typically start laughing, not at Paul, but at the fond memories of my post-university roommate’s ongoing battle with the ice-cream truck.

We lived together on the 9th floor of a University area high-rise apartment complex which the ice-cream trucks frequented regularly (the street out front, not our 9th floor apartment). Doug was a textbook reaction type 1: nostalgic joy and the burning desire for just one more Rocket Popsicle frozen to his lips to cap off his summer experience. I was more type 2: “Does that bloody thing have to drive so slowly? Surely it must be out of earshot by now!”

The first time we heard that haunting Piano-man remix, Doug checked his pocket for change and wandered to the elevator. I didn’t even look up from my book. He was back within minutes empty handed. “I couldn’t hear it anymore from the main doors.” The second time the truck went past, Doug dove for his change and sprinted for the stairs. I sauntered out onto the balcony to watch him chase the snail’s-pace treats down the street. Sure enough, the truck was out of sight by the time he reached the road. He returned to the apartment empty handed, strategizing for the next appearance. There was a third performance, later in the season, but as before he came no closer to attaining frozen treat nirvana. From then on, when the ice cream truck went past Doug would just go out onto the balcony to shake his fist and mutter obscenities in its general direction.

Most people mature a bit after University but with the help of the ice cream man Doug went straight from carefree youth to crotchety old curmudgeon. At least that’s my best explanation and I'm sticking to it.(Happy Birthday Doug!)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I was informed at work today that I have inspired my coworker to wear sweater-vests. I'm not really sure how to take this. It's not like I inspired her to write the great Canadian novel or to travel the world or help others. But then it's not like I inspired her to do coke or slit her wrists either. I guess inspiration just isn't my superpower.

Monday, January 21, 2008

WWF meets WWF

It's been a hockey couple of days.

On Saturday night we went to watch a Panda's game at the U. It was a choir alumni event and we were booked into the "skybox". For 5 bucks, we got our game tickets, pizza, pop, munchies, door prizes and cheap booze. Not bad at all for a Saturday night. We were left wondering why on earth we didn't do this when we were students. It was a good game. We won 5-2 and scored an empty net goal in the last 8 seconds.

The game was against the Winnipeg Bison and we're the Pandas. Of course this match up had me speculating when on earth bison and pandas would come in contact without the intervention of man and what would happen if they did. It was a case of WWF meets WWF: World Wildlife Fund meets World Wrestling Federation. I was of the opinion that the bison would take the panda easily, while Paul said that the Panda could just take a bamboo shoot and stick it between the bison's legs, just like shoving it into the spokes on a bicycle. I maintain that even taking into account the use of tools the bison would prevail. Having worked with bison I have a more than healthy respect for their power (I saw an experienced worker get gored through the shoulder despite the chute and cattle prod.) We then debated a match up between a polar bear and a bison (polar bear wins), brown bear and bison (bison wins), a grizzly and a bison (tie). Really we should have been speculating about why our team is called the Pandas when Pandas are indiginous to China.

Tonight was my first hockey game in a year. I injured my wrist in January and so was out for that term, then I injured my foot and was out for fall term. I was pleasantly surprised with how well my foot held up; I was able to play the entire game. It took me a while to get used to playing again but after a few shifts it all started coming back to me. I missed both the physical activity and the team environment. It's good to be back.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Valiant Monkey

Last week we went for lunch with Doug before his flight. After lunch, I noticed that our driver's side lock looked a bit funny. Sure enough someone had broken into our car. The contents of the console and glove box were strewn about; the change from the Monkey Pit* (about $10) and our pink card were missing. We got off incredibly easy since all of Doug's luggage was in the trunk, including his backpack and iPod.

The whole incident was filled with irony. Firstly, we lived roughly two blocks from there for 2.5 years without ever having a problem, even though I left my car unlocked on more than one occasion (unless you're a mechanic there is no way you can steal my car, nor would anyone want to) and yet the first time we returned to the area someone broke in. Secondly, everyone warned us about the perils of moving to Millwoods. We haven't had a single problem here but back by Southgate we got robbed. Thirdly, Paul has been searching for his cell phone headset since April. Somehow the thief managed to find it and leave it conveniently on the seat. We searched for 9 months and didn't find it, the thief randomly pulled things out for 5 minutes and did. He actually saved us 20 bucks.

Had it just been the small change we would likely have shrugged off the incident, but the missing pink card added a new dimension to the issue. What can be done with a pink card? Well, the police pointed out that it is usually taken for identity theft purposes, although I don't really know what you can get with just our insurance information and address. Secondly, it includes our full address and since we were out, the thief would know that we were out and could therefore feel free to burgle** our place. We rushed home to see if this was the case, but again we were lucky.

I had trouble sleeping that night, tossing and turning and starting awake. I was left with a vulnerability, a sense that security was lost; someone had pawed through part our lives and taken what they wanted with unknown motivation. The car felt dirty and tainted and so did I, by association. It surprised me that such a small loss, coupled with the potential for much greater violation, had such an emotional impact. It's taken a while for that security to return; some areas still feel stained and I'm uncomfortable when forced to touch them. They're like a bruise on the psyche, not a lasting damage but a real one nonetheless.

* Years ago, Kaley was in the car with one of her toys, a banana full of plush monkeys. One of the monkeys got left behind and Paul stuck it in his ashtray with the spare change, so when searching for change we would say, "check in the monkey". Loanly, our newer vehicle, has a little pit with a lidded bin where we keep both the change and the monkey***, hence: The Monkey Pit.

** "Burgle" is a funny word, don't you think?

**Fortunately the thief took the money and left behind the monkey, though his ear was torn in the struggle to defend his home. Valiant monkey.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Our New Year’s party included the traditional burning of regrets and tying wishes to the hope tree. This year, I had no regrets to burn. There are many things that I regretted, particularly work related, but I’m not in any way ready to let go of them yet. There were things that I should regret, particularly in the past couple of months, but I don’t and I refuse to feel bad about it because I’m already seeing how much good will come from them. I did have a list for the hope tree, starting with the fervent wish that my brother’s girlfriend will beat cancer, and while there are things that I hope for myself and the rest of my family and friends, everything pales in comparison to that.

Now, poised in this moment of stillness at the beginning of a fresh new year, I’m in a different mental space. I don’t in any way feel compelled to compile a traditional ‘New Year’s Resolution’ post. Instead, I give you a list of what I do not resolve:

- There will be no resolution of personal wellness as there is no point: I woke up sick this morning, having succumbed to whatever Ivy brought back from Porto Vallarta.

- There will be no resolution of weight loss: I have already been losing weight thanks to a change of attitude, a change of body chemistry, and a change of environment. (I can’t even measure this change since the battery in the scale died last night and the hell if I know where the batteries are packed.)

- There will be no financial resolution: we will just keep chipping away at the mountain that is our mortgage. Right now all of our debt is good debt and hopefully my car limps along for another year so that the situation stays that way.

If I were forced to make a resolution (Really, who would do that? Hands up! Give me all your resolutions!) it would be to do more things that make me happy. This is more of a change in attitude than a resolution. I do far too many things that make me miserable; why on earth would I do that? Possibly because I think they are expected of me and I don’t know how to say no, or more likely because I live my life on the basis of delayed gratification. My actions reveal that for some reason I believe if I work hard and suffer deeply things will be that much better for me in the future, that there’s some hidden scale that will balance out in the end. Since I don’t really believe in an afterlife, I’m not really sure what I’m waiting for. I’m living for the future, but I don’t really know why. Doing what makes me happy sounds like a selfish goal, but if you know me you will realize that it’s not. I donate, I volunteer, I organize events for large groups to donate and volunteer, I’m responsible, dedicated and I like to make people happy. The good of the world makes me feel good, so why not be guided by what makes everyone feel a little better year-round?

No resolution of change is required for this year because I am already in motion toward change. I am somehow altered on a fundamental and subconscious level, and I’m gaining momentum. I am more comfortable in my skin now, but less comfortable in my life. This inevitably leads to growth: keeping the core and shedding the restrictive exoskeleton.

Triple Threat

The end of the year found us with over 50 people packed into our new house to celebrate the Triple Threat of New Year's Eve, our housewarming and Paul's 30th birthday (at midnight we rolled over to both the new year and Debbie's 30th birthday).

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Gary, Steve, Tara and Debbie hanging out in the living room.

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The kitchen was full all night (possibly due to the chocolate fountain).

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Gary played high-stakes go fish with Julia.

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We had the Wii set up in the living room and the Xbox 360 in the basement (unfortunately neither of them are ours).

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Contrary to appearances, Paul and Keith are swimming.

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Paul's parents rocking the Guitar Hero.

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Baby Tara loved our water wall.

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Kristy played with Julia and Elena for a very long time. (Please ignore the dead body in the background, she was trying to stay out of the picture).

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Jacob hung out with Doug.

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Steve, Tara, Paul, me and Ira.

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We received some very cool housewarming gifts, most notably the 'devil duck' from Melly and the Housewarming Kit from Tara and Steve (gift cards to HBC, Home Depot, IKEA, Earls, and movie passes in a giant jar of jelly beans).

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We decided that Devil Duck could hang out with Literary Ninja Duck.

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Happy New Year!

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Somehow we jammed about 50 people in our living room/kitchen area at midnight. The photo doesn't do it justice.

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Paul's chocolate cheesecake birthday cake (with Elf Poop decoration).

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Debbie's ice cream cake, which turned out to be the bane of my existence. I didn't take it out of the deep freeze early enough and it took an hour to hack off 7 slices. I honed my technique and bruised my palm on that bastard. More than 10 people told me to put it in the microwave but I couldn't get it off of the styrofoam.

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You can tell it was a good party because we ended up with frosting in unusual locations (this is just one example). Also, someone left behind an octopus that says "brown" in a Marvin the Paranoid Android voice. I'd say that by the end of the night our house was thoroughly warmed.

Monday, December 31, 2007


PseudoChristmas - Turkey dinner potluck-style with your family of friends, (somewhere between 20 and 45 people). Often accomanied by power outage or flood.

I was looking today at the history of our PseudoChristmas. It was originally started in 2002 by Kristy, Beth and Cara. The 2002 event took place at the Party House on University Ave with 22 attendees and included a secret santa gift exchange. PseudoChristmas was declared a success.

2003 - 35 of us packed into the Party House. So many things were cooking at once that they fried a fuse which took out both ovens and the furnace. This was also the year of the Hamwrap Chorus.

2004 - at Rachel's church was much more subdued. There were some hard feelings over the event and many of us were sick (expected 33 but less attended). The traditional power outage in the turkey-cooking home was right on schedule. Doug made Ham Wraps. Never again.

2005 - at Kristy's church with an even more expanded guest list. In keeping with our disaster theme, there was a flood. We topped out in the neighbourhood of 43 guests that year.

2006 - out at Amanda's parent's place for both PseudoChristmas an New Year's with a packed house (about 37 for dinner and more later on).

2007 - we ramped it back and scaled it down; there were 22 at the first PseudoChristmas and 22 tonight, although 6 more swung by later on. For the first time in several years we all crammed in at one long straight table at Kristy's place.

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Paul was on turkey carving duty.

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Half of the table.

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Little Tara was the primary entertainment for the evening.

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She had all of the boys wrapped around her little finger.

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We had Snoopy Snowcones for desert. This was a bad plan and will not become a tradition.

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Chris arrived as a surprise with kids in tow.

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Julia grinning at her goofy sister.

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I don't think Elena held still for more than 4 seconds the entire time she was there.

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Jacob the over-achiever is already finger walking.

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The boys spent much of the night in the kitchen, for some reason.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007


This is the fourth year running that we've had a game of shinny hockey during the holidays. Each year there is progressively less of 'shinny' about it and more of organized hockey. This year we even had two goalies rather than knocked-over backwards nets.

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Shiny 3


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We ended up in the unusual situation that all of our players (besides the goalies and Lisa, who had never played before), usually play defence. Sarah informed us that Jamie wasn't defence: he didn't know what he was, so I told him to play centre. Look at him go!

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Shiny 4

He shoots! He scores!

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Paul and Doug go head to head.

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Ira decided he was going to play laying down for a while.

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Shiny 7

Doug's Dad brought out the Zamboni for a photo op.

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The players (from left to right): Jamie, me, Bob, Paul, Ruthie, Ira (goal), Romy, Steve (goal), Doug, Gary, Debbie, Chantal, Lisa.

This was my first time back on the ice since last year's holiday game. (I wrecked my wrist two days before our first game in January and couldn't play this fall with my injured foot.) I was able to skate for almost half an hour without too much pain in my injured foot, which means that I should be able to play at least half of the first game of the season, perhaps even more if I recover more quickly. The only really painful part was squeezing my foot in and out of the skate (and watching Paul slide headfirst into the boards without a helmet. His head is pretty hard but his shoulder is going to be spectacularly bruised.) I was also pleased to find that I can still reliably raise the puck enough to hop it over sticks, a skill I'd been working on before the injuries took me out of the game. I'm definitely not skating as well as I'd like to, but at least some of the other skills are still there.

I'm not saying anything about how the rest of me feels, although I have to admit that the word 'ache' springs to mind.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to pick up a girl

I went out dancing with the girls tonight (Melly, Cara, Chantal, Kristy, and Sarah joined us later). It was a bit of a strange crowd: less busy than usual, and a higher guy-to-girl ratio. We’d been dancing for less than half an hour when we suddenly realized that we were pretty much surrounded. I rapidly began to have distinct sympathy for deer surrounded by a pack of ravenous wolves.

There were two guys (non-creepy good dancers) to one side looking like they were having a good time, but definitely interested. There were three guys in matching uniforms of striped golf shirts and ball caps dancing on another side (I use the term “dancing” loosely here. They get points for effort). To complete the circle, there were two creepy guys in open white button-up shirts over wife-beaters kind of swaying to the music, but mostly just staring at us.

One of the uniform guys, the really tall one, seemed distinctly interested but also fairly shy. The dance floor was pretty packed at that point so such a big guy had very little room to move. He danced just like one of my favorite friends, kind of goofy but with the beat, not really bad. He likely would have done okay on his own if his friend was either less drunk or less dumb. The friend came up and “warned us” about the two good dancing, non-creepy guys across the way. He said to “look out for them” and also that “they’re gay.” Okay buddy, push off. Eventually he got the picture and took the rest of his pack with him.

As for the wife-beater jackals, just imagine them there all night, only as a succession of yucky, creepy guys who would occasionally grind up against us or stare blankly at our chests while swaying to something completely other than the music. Seriously gross.

The two good-dancing non-creepy guys just kept on dancing and having a good time. Sometimes they wandered off for a bit, but they eventually danced back over. Sometimes one would go off and the other would stay and dance with us, never intruding on the group but staying nearby and obviously enjoying the music. We left the dance floor to grab drinks and found them pleased with our return.

Eventually, after about two solid hours of dancing, they began to integrate themselves into the group a bit. All along they’d been somewhat mirroring how one or another of us was dancing, maybe making a bit of eye contact, but still no body contact. Now there was more direct interaction: dancing with one of us, more eye contact, or some casual conversation. It soon became fairly obvious that the younger of the two was interested in one girl in particular and she seemed to return the interest.

I struck up a bit of a conversation with the older of the two. He was beginning to look a bit worn out and was sitting out a song every now and then. He sighed that we were hard to keep up with. Every so often he was kind of signaling his friend to see if he was ready to leave (which the friend definitely wasn’t). I teased him that he shouldn’t have worn a sweater for dancing at the bar and that he was giving up just as we were saying that we admired their persistence. He said that it wasn’t exactly a test of their friendship since the younger guy really just lived in his basement. I replied that it was funny because we’d been warned about the pair of them earlier. He laughed at that and replied that they were definitely not a threat, that they’d been in there once before dancing to Wham and Boy George. Not that they didn’t like girls, but if they were the kind of guys that we needed to be warned about, they would have been humping our legs by now. I pointed out that the other guys must have just felt threatened because they could dance and that we were perfectly happy to hang out with non-creepy boys that can dance. He said we didn’t need to worry about them, that they were willing to put in the time. I mentioned that we appreciated that they were helping us fend off the creepy guys. He followed it up with an uncanny imitation of one of the creepier jackals. “If only finding a girl were so easy”, he exclaimed, “I wouldn’t have to use my brain at all!”

Eventually the dancing started to wind down and he convinced his friend that it was time to go. The friend was too shy to ask for a phone number, so Sarah made sure that arrangements were made and everyone left happy.

It turns out that there are still nice guys out there, not just wolves and jackals. They’re just a rare breed (Noncreepius gooddancius).

(As for me, I enjoyed the dancing, but I am definitely too old for more than 3 hours non-stop. My knees are angry with me, my hips aren’t speaking to me, my back is giving alarming twinges, and my feet checked out hours ago. I’m going to die at hockey tomorrow.)