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smartygirl

the chronicles.

Negligence.

I have been abandoning my duties, neglecting them shamefully. You would think that, with massive amounts of spare time on my hands, I would have no trouble updating this page regularly, reviewing all of those books I've read, documenting my roadtrip, et cetera et cetera et cetera.

But no.

Partly (mainly) this is because I find myself lacking in free time, as usual. There are always things to do, ways to keep busy, people to visit, cities to explore, holidays to fret over, people to comfort, the list goes on. In the past month I've hardly been at home for more than two days running.

Everyone has their natural way of being. Some people need days of rest after performing the simplest task. And some of us are at our best when running at top speed. Or maybe slightly below. It's like the old cliché, if you need something done, give it to the busy person. I hate being not busy. I don't allow myself to be not busy. It makes sense, doesn't it? If I like being busy, isn't it my responsibility to keep it up, and keep my mood up?

The question is, what kind of busy-ness is it. Is it the good busy, or the bad? Is it the "I'm working on all kinds of fulfilling projects" kind of busy, or the "People keep making demands while offering nothing in return" kind of busy? Try to guess which I prefer.

Of course, you have to take the good with the bad. There will always be people who greet you with "I have a job for you" rather than "How was your day?" That's one reason I like to keep good-busy: it keeps me out of the way of the bad-busy people.

rant updated 20 december 2002. permalink

Brief updates.

For those of you who've been keeping score, item number five in the bad-things-happen-in-=threes triumerate was Dad having a stroke. He's actually doing quite well, considering, and happy to be home from the hospital.

Anyway, on Friday night I decided to do what I'd been thinking of doing - go on a road trip.

I narrowly missed hitting a wolf on the 190 who thought I looked harmless enough (I guess - he saw me coming and crossed anyway), checked out supercool Athens Georgia, got lost in the Florida swamplands, dipped my toes in the Gulf of Mexico, toured around Little Five Points in Atlanta, and now I'm in New York City, the big apple pie.

This is the short version, obviously. Details later.

rant updated 10 december 2002. permalink

An open letter to star sixty-seven.

Dear star sixty-seven,

I'll assume you're reading this. I'll assume that anyone crazy enough to make crank calls googled me long ago.

Please stop calling me and hanging up without saying anything.

I'm sure you think you're awfully clever, dialling *67 before my number, so that you show up as "blocked" on my call display. In some ways I guess I should be thankful that you do this, since it means I don't have to answer the phone. I know it's you, so there's no point. In any case, I have another code to dial. It's sort of like *69, except that instead of me finding out who you are, the number will be sent to a police database. They keep a file of such calls, you neveer know when they'll come in handy in court.

Maybe you don't know me very well. If you are who I think you are, you don't know me very well at all. If that's the case, you wouldn't know that I've been through this before, and more than once. I've had stalkers who called at all hours, stalkers who'd show up at my workplace, a stalker who would break into my apartment building and slip suicide notes under my door, even a stalker who bribed a co-worker of mine to sign him up to work on productions I was in back in theatre school.

Anyway, long story short, when I was younger, I blamed myself. It was obviously something I had done, it was karmic retribution of some kind. It was up to me to solve the problems of these people who wouldn't leave me alone.

Now I am old. Old and jaded. I have no patience left. If you have something to say, say it. But I can't solve your problems. You aren't solving your problems by calling me, either. What you are doing is creating problems for me. I can't solve these problems either, but I'm pretty sure the police can.

Do us both a favour, star sixty-seven. Stop calling me. I'm not going to answer. Maybe I'll get my roommate to record an outgoing message for me, so you won't even be able to hear my voice. Just stop.

Thanks,

smartygirl

rant updated 24 november 2002. permalink

I know I need a small vacation...

Okay, life is now officially upside down. Just about everything that can happen has happened. Time for a break. Time for a road trip!

I have thought long and hard about this, for at least five minutes, and come up with three possibilities. Let's look at each one and decide:

Option 1:

Drive to some hot exotic city (say, New Orleans?) and have a mad fling with an intriguing stranger.

Reasons why: Do I have to list them? Sex! Intrigue! Excitement! What has being a good girl ever gotten me? And warm weather! We've had ten centimetres of snow in the last few hours, and it's not stopping, and I hate hate hate it.

Reasons why not: Let's face it, I'm not the mad-fling-with-a-stranger type. I'm more the "let's get to know each other over a few months and then maybe hold hands" type. Most strangers have cooties. Besides, I don't know what the weather is even like in New Orleans at this time of year. And if it snows that stretch down south, I'd never stand the strain.

Likelihood of doing it: 1%

Likelihood of coming back to the real world if I go: 1% (n.b.: Kind of moot, since I'm not likely to go anyway)

Option 2:

Drive to Halifax to see Molly. I've been meaning to visit for ages and ages, so why not now, since I have the time?

Reasons why: See above. Molly is one of the bestest people I know! And I haven't been to the Maritimes since I was a kid!

Reasons why not: The Maritimes are not known for good weather. If we've had this much snow here, I shudder to think what it's like down east. Dying on the highway is not my idea of a good time.

Likelihood of doing it: 50% (On the one hand it's certainly more plausible than Option 1, on the other, Halifax is probably farther than I'd like to think)

Likelihood of coming back to the real world if I go: 50% (Rents are insanely low! But then there's that famous Maritime job market to think about...)

Option 3:

Drive to Guelph to visit Aunt Marg. Maybe even go a little wild and go down to Kitchener with my cousin Brian!

Reasons why: It's certainly more realistic than the other options, I know what I'd be getting into, and I always enjoy a visit with the rellies.

Reasons why not: Well, it's not exactly On The Road, now, is it? Not likely to be the stuff of memoir, is it?

Likelihood of doing it: 100% (I have visited regularly in the past. It is bound to happen again)

Likelihood of coming back to the real world if I go: 100% (It is Guelph, after all)

Well, I guess we all know where I'm off to next week. I was kind of hoping for something more exciting. Ah well.

rant updated 16 november 2002. permalink

... you might see a stranger... across a crowded room...

Another Thursday, another copy of NOW magazine, another glance through the I Spy Sightings column.

Ever since I saw Desperately Seeking Susan at an impressionable age, I have been fascinated by the concept of the I Spy column. I've read it compulsively since I moved to Toronto (oddly enough, the small country town where I grew up did not have one of these columns. Maybe it was because everybody already knew everybody anyway. Maybe it was because the only ads they ever received were along these lines: "You - shaggy brown fur, fangs. Me - shaggy brown fur, fangs. We exchanged glances at the watering hole. Let's hibernate!"). I will admit to going to the Carlton Cinema specifically to check out the blue-haired girl who commanded such devotion that there were ads singing her praises for months.

I've even been tempted myself on one or two occasions. Last spring, I broke up with my boyfriend three or four days after a very cute boy helped me when my car ran out of gas. At the time, I was too busy worrying about what an idiot I was, and struggling with a relationship which wasn't (obviously, we broke up) working at that point. But in hindsight, I wondered, hmm, was he flirting with me? I mean, he pushed my car out of the intersection, and drove me to the nearest gas station, and offered to stay while I got gas so he could drive me back to my car and fill the tank for me, but I waved him off. He was either flirting or the tallest boy scout I have ever seen. But did I place an ad? No, I chickened out in the end.

Could it be that there are legions of boys floating around Toronto who are in love from afar, but afraid to place that I Spy ad? Maybe someone finally got up the courage!

Today's ads, hmmm...

Hospital risk assessor from Vancouver at Dominion we discussed credit cards and inadvertently spinals on 22/10 continue over risk-free coffee?

Could it be? Maybe I was sleepwalking again and wandered into a grocery store and in my REM dream-state told some hapless stranger that I was a medical professional from the west coast? It's happened before. But somehow, I don't think that's the case this time. Next:

10/27 Goldfish JG with parents, call LM

When was the last time I was at Goldfish? Doesn't matter, I guess, since my parents haven't been to Toronto in four years, and none of those initials are familiar anyway. Hm, must brunch at Goldfish again soon, though. Their fries are the best. Next:

Officer Michael, U helped me @ my work

Oh, why bother. This is clearly not going anywhere.

But next week, I'll look again. It's like playing the lottery on a regular basis; there's always the fear that if you don't play your numbers one week, that's the week they'll come up. Maybe next week, someone will place an ad. Hope springs eternal.

rant updated 7 november 2002. permalink

News flash:

Aunt Marg is home from hospital, recovering from the angioplasty she had on Wednesday. All appears to be well!

rant updated 8 november 2002. permalink

News Flash:

Marg's surgery has been postponed until tomorrow morning (that's Wednesday 6 November) due to an emergency in London. So that means she will likely go home on Thursday.

Stay tuned!

rant updated 4:30 p.m. 5 november 2002. permalink

News Flash:

Aunt Marg has gone to London to have her angioplasty today. Brian will bring her home to Guelph tomorrow. I shall keep you all posted as soon as I hear more!

rant updated 9 a.m. 5 november 2002.

Monday, Monday.

Another sleepless weekend over, another weekend spent driving all over the province. Another weekend of bad news.

Well, not all bad news. Aunt Marg had a "cardiac moment" two weeks ago, but she's doing all right. Bored to tears, sick of being in the hospital, but all right. She's still cracking jokes so we know she's okay. She's moved from Critical Care to Intensive Care to what they call "Stepdown." A step down from Critical, but not quite a regular ward, I guess. Within the week (possibly tomorrow, but you never know until you get the call) she'll have an angioplasty done, and then she can go home.

I guess the silver lining here would be that she's quit smoking. Not an easy task for most people, but necessary in the end.

I've gone two years now since I quit smoking (if you were reading these chronicles back then, you'll remember me crankily counting the weeks). During those two years, I have had the odd puff, but strangely that's all I've wanted - one puff, maybe twice a year. That's it.

I guess I'm lucky, that I don't have an addictive personality. I've given up cigarettes, I've given up coffee at times, I've even had days where I've awoken and realise I haven't ingested chocolate in a month. Sacre bleu!

I find habits relatively easy to shed. I'm good at letting go. When I think of the various people I've watched try to quit smoking over the years - Greg tried to quit smoking to prove to me that he'd changed, to win my heart back; Jeff tried to quit smoking using laser therapy (I was interested, as I was a smoker at the time. "How many sessions does it take?" I asked him. "Oh, you only have to go in once." Once? One thirty-minute three-hundred-dollar session is going to break a twenty-year habit? Um, okay. I had my doubts. It lasted eight hours. Eight long, irritable hours) - watched people try and struggle and fail. Nothing worthwhile is easy, right? But for me it was easy, relatively speaking, and still very worthwhile, I think.

Here's to a habit broken, and a new lease on life for Marg. She didn't quit the easy way, certainly, but it will only get better from here on in.

rant updated 4 november 2002. permalink

What day is it again?

Yes, once again I am late with my Monday installment, but I have been driving around the continent with a head-cold, and so must be forgiven all. My sinuses are full and throbbing. My neck aches, and my wobbly tummy cries out for naught but chicken soup.

So no update today. But soon, soon. Soon I will have photos from Philly and stories to tell.

rant updated 22 october 2002. permalink

Follow-up thoughts on last week's ramblings.

Sometimes I find myself crabby for no apparent reason. There are plenty of reasons to be crabby, lack of food and lack of sleep being right at the top of the list. Lack of caffeine is up there, too. Also, toe-stubbing.

But there are days when I am crabby despite being well-fed and well-rested. There are days when I am crabby when I've had plenty of coffee and my toes are safe and sound. Why?

Add another thing to the list of crabbifiers: lack of alone time.

I'm a pretty social person. I'll smalltalk any stranger into submission. But there comes a time when I just need to stare at the ceiling, or off into space, and be left to my own devices. Sometimes I will use this time in an outwardly productive way: a cleaning fit, perhaps. Or maybe I'll write something.

Or maybe I'll just play solitaire for four hours running.

The point is, it's my time to unwind however I see fit, to let my brain shut down or speed up or what-have-you.

What does any of this have to do with last week's omphalosepsis? Well, maybe my frequent jaunts out of town aren't an avoidance technique at all. Maybe it's that, between work and roommates and social life and family responsibilities and everything else, car time is my only alone time.

I like driving alone. Nobody seems to understand that; people seem to think that driving across the province without anyone to talk to must be horrible. But I like it. I can holler along with mix tapes. And play the same tape over and over if I so choose. Or make notes I will never listen to on my microcassette recorder.

Not that I dislike having passengers, I just don't consider them necessary. I am perfectly happy to be lost in my own little world, stopping when I feel like it, or not at all.

So maybe that's why I spend so much time running around. It's my only chance to think.

rant updated 15 october 2002. permalink

Busy, busy, busy.

Ever have someone tell you something about yourself and then spent a week wondering what it all means, and what if (gasp!) they're right?

This has happened to me a couple of times. Once was a number of years ago, when a co-worker asked me if maybe I wasn't one of those people who likes a crisis and invites drama into her life. Moi? I certainly don't think so! But what if she was right? When I look at the various crazy scenarios that have taken place in my life, I don't see any way I could have foreseen or prevented them, but maybe it's all just a result of the kind of person that I am, that I'm attracted to, that is attracted to me?

I know people who try to create dramas in their lives. I know people who can create an epic saga out of changing a light bulb. These people make me cringe. I truly hope I am not one of them.

And I do try to learn from the mistakes of others as well as my own. When I see people following behavioural patterns that drive me up the wall, whether it's falling in love only with people who are completely unattainable or telling the same stories over and over and over, I try to see it as an opportunity to improve myself rather than criticise others.

Not that I'm perfect, or anything. Far from it. But I'm trying.

Anyhow, the latest matter brought to my attention: that I go out of town to escape my homelife. Now, I will admit that I have in the past thrown myself into work and/or school and/or volunteer work/projects/you name it, to avoid dealing with issues. Their was one memorable spring when my life was in three kinds of disarray when I didn't have a morning, afternoon, or evening off for three months. Every day, I was out of the house from ten o'clock in the morning till ten o'clock at night. Now that, I'll admit, was crazy.

And I have been super busy for the last, oh I don't know, three years, let's say. At the beginning of the summer, I was relieved to have a vacation trip cancelled - one less thing to do, thank goodness!

But lately the things that have kept me busy were obligations that couldn't (and shouldn't) be avoided. Standing up as a bridesmaid for one of my oldest friends, visiting my parents, work. And next weekend I'm going to Philadelphia, which I've been looking forward to for a year. And then there are the endless plans which seem to be made for me by other people.

I don't think I'm avoiding anything, but then again, I never sit still long enough to find out. Maybe I'm just deluded.

rant updated 7 october 2002. permalink

Almost October.

Once again the summer's gone before we had a chance to appreciate it fully. The last couple of weeks have been peppered with summer days, taunting reminders of what we didn't take advantage of in June.

That's always the way, isn't it? Too busy worrying about the future to enjoy the present. A few years ago, I made a promise to myself: never to let pride stand in the way of happiness. It's not as easy as it sounds: think of all of the things you haven't done because you were afraid of seeming foolish, you were afraid of regretting your actions and being held accountable by disapproving friends and relatives. How often do we truly throw caution to the wind? Honestly let go of the reins and see where the wind carries us?

Within reason, I mean. I'm not advocating doing actively stupid things, like bungee-jumping with home-made cords. I'm not saying "forget your diabetes and eat that chocolate bar!"

I'm saying if there's no good reason not to do something, what's holding you back? If the only reason not to do something that feels right and good is "what if it doesn't work out and then I'll have to deal with that 'there she goes again' eyerolling look from my friends once more" or "maybe it won't go the way I planned and then I'll feel really dumb" or whatever, well, that 's just not a good enough reason.

A good enough reason is a long jail sentence. Certain death. Nasty allergic reactions, surgery required to put things right again. Jeopardizing one's family's well-being. Other than that, why not try everything once? Or even twice? Better than lying on one's death-bed at the age of ninety-two thinking, "well, I ate my bran, I invested in low-risk bonds, I never exceeded the speed limit or stayed in bed all day or got a stomach-ache from too much ice cream." I mean, some of my happiest moments have been spent driving fast down an accidental detour while eating an ice cream cone (driving while eating an ice cream cone is tricky but doable; Mum's seen me do it). Just give me a map, a tank of gas, and some tasty snack foods with enough sodium and FD&C red #6 to give me cancer before my blood pressure goes through the roof. Plans? Who needs 'em. Just follow wherever the world takes you.

Maybe the ant's offspring will inherit more than the grasshopper's, but they all wind up in the same place in the end. Why not enjoy the ride?

rant updated 30 september 2002. permalink

I always get nostalgic in the fall.

One of the reasons I started this wee web page was that I wanted a beacon, a thing floating around that shouted my name so that if any old friends I'd lost touch with wanted to find me, they could.

Well, some people have found me, and there are others I've gone out and looked for. It's interesting to plug people's names into Google and see what you find - some people have scads of information about themselves, others vanish without a trace. Most people have left at least one footprint though. Most people seem at least somewhat findable.

I've left emails at various institutions, naming a shared school or city, asking: Do you remember me? Does [fill in the blank] still work here? Hello?

Sometimes it bounces back, undeliverable. Sometimes, there is only silence. Sometimes, there is a long story, half-remembered names and faces brought to light from under a decade of shadows. People are doing well. Or less than well, but still okay. Those who have yet to respond may be doing poorly, or may be such spectacular successes that they don't have time to spend returning emails from distant acquaintances

The most pleasant surprise is that people remember me. I tend to expect to have been forgotten, like the classmates in my grade one picture who I refused to label despite my mother's warnings. "Write the names on the back," she said, "so you'll remember." I was aghast (aghast!) That she thought I met forget (forget!) these people who were so dear to me, so pivotal in my life. What was she thinking?

I forgot most of their names in about five years.

Those I remembered were those I still knew - still at the same school, whatever. The rest were gone without a trace. Maybe I could visualise them in their day-to-day clothes, as opposed to their mis-buttoned blazers and frilly dresses, but that was

So I am honoured and excited to discover old friends anew, be they classmates from across oceans or old boyfriends or old drinking buddies. Don't be too shy to write!

rant updated 23 september 2002. permalink

Hypocrite? Who, moi?

After all of my ranting about not going to any Film Fest events because it's all so foolishly flighty, I ended up going to the closing night party. So, mea culpa. Do forgive me, I am but human.

Being at the party reminded me of one of the facts of life that keeps coming back: there aren't six degrees of separation, there are only three. Or maybe two. Chatting with a complete stranger (or so I thought) I met at the party, I learned that he knows some of the same people I do, including my roommate. Holy small world.

This is typical of this country, of course.

I have a theory that the reason why Canadians hate it so much when Americans say things like, "Oh, you're from Canada? Do you know my cousin Bob in Calgary?" it's not because they're erroneously assuming Canada is like a small town, it's because they're right.

I've already told you the story of being on a roadtrip and crashing a house party in a town I'd never heard of before only to discover that it was hosted by a guy whose sister worked with my cousin in Saudi Arabia.

Stuff like that just keeps happening. To the point where whenever I meet someone, the first thing I want to do is find out who they know that I know. Of course, it's like anything; if you try too hard, it doesn't happen. If two people sit down deliberately to discuss people they may have in common, they won't discover one. But if you try not to think about it, suddenly, say, the Fire Guy will come up in conversation, and it will turn out that not only was he the former neighbour of my ex-boyfriend, he also grew up down the street from the person I'm talking with.

I know some people who get freaked out by this, disappointed that once again, everything has come full circle instead of branching off in an unexpected direction. I find it comforting though. It's like when you apply for a job and they ask for references. Not that you should necessarily go to the mutual friend you share with your new acquaintance and say, "so, who is this freak and what prison did he escape from?" But if there is something iffy about the person in question, you should be able to rely on your friends to give you the warning signal.

I don't know why I think this way, actually, considering I can think of numerous examples where things didn't work out this way ("I'm so sorry. If I had known he was that crazy, I would have warned you." "I really thought this time was different, that he'd finally grown up"). Not that I'm incredibly cycnial, or anything. Oh, no. My problem is that I'm not cynical enough.

rant updated 16 september 2002. permalink

The day has arrived.

The anniversary of the world's worst airplane crash is nearly upon us. What better excuse to go into hysterics.

I wasn't going to do this. I wasn't going to write about the thing everybody is writing about. But to not write about it is still making a statement about it, a statement of a different kind. And I figure, if I'm going to make a statement about something, it had better be the one I intend to make.

And with all of the related small-minded foolishness that has filled the papers on this topic, I have a lot to say.

The U.S. is trying to use this as an excuse to go to war with Iraq. Nevermind that Iraq didn't specifically have anything to do with last year's hijacking. I mean, Afghanistan didn't have a lot to do with it either, but that didn't stop the U.S. from starting a war over there. One wonders why they didn't start a war with Saudi Arabia, considering that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals. But they're our friends. And they have all of that oil. Some things are just more important, I guess.

Another idea the U.S. government came up with was to block all foreign airlines from coming within 50 km of New York City, Washington D.C., and Somerset County Pennsylvania. Perhaps they forgot that it was domestic flights on American airlines that were hijacked last year. Foreign airlines had nothing to do with it. Not to mention that this bright idea, aside from being completely illegal and violating a number of international treaties, only came to them two weeks before the anniversary. Perhaps they couldn't come up with anything better, after a year of trying, and this was the only thing they could come up with to meet the deadline.

This is perhaps the most foolishly naïve plan they could have come up with. Yes, it is feasible to think that an anniversary attack might be planned. But do they honestly think cancelling some flights will make a difference? That potential terrorists would say, well gee, if we can't do it that day, we just won't do it at all, then. I have a sneaking suspicion that the bad guys are a little more determined than that.

There has been talk of making 11 September an advertising-free day on television and radio. This idea is born out of practicality more than anything. High ratings are expected for the endless tributes, but many companies are worried they'll look bad if they try to capitalise on them.

Fear of looking bad seems to be a prime motivator in many 11 September plans. People are reportedly avoiding cocktail dates and birthday parties on that day, for fear of seeming callous. Why, even Jennifer Lopez postponed the release of her new perfume, and New York's fashion week has been pushed back by ten days.

Whatever happened to all of the "If we do/don't [fill in the blank], the terrorists have won" rhetoric? Suddenly (why am I surprised), appearances are more important.

Maybe that's a good thing though, in a weird sort of way. I mean, if business-as-usual grinds to a halt because the of terrorists, the terrorists have won, and business-as-usual involves vanity above all, then the terrorists haven't won. As long as celebrities are more concerned with bad press than with world affairs, the American Dream™ has triumphed.

But what horrifies me most is that the "You're either for us, or for the terrorists" attitude still prevails. Freedom of speech used to be a right that the United States held dear, and considered self-evident and inalienable. Now all of a sudden, anyone who thinks that rethinking the foreign policy of the past could be a way to keep situations from getting out of control in the future - well, suddenly, it's un-American to disagree with the powers that be.

And that's just wrong. If you don't protect your freedoms at home, what exactly are you fighting for?

rant updated 9 september 2002. permalink

I have the Labour Day blues.

Another summer gone.

Every summer begins with great plans for going places and doing things and every summer ends with half of those things undone.

Real-life responsibilities get in the way of so much.

This past weekend has been a flurry of last-chance activity: last chance to get the bicycle up and running before it becomes next year's project, last chance to spend a day sitting out on the deck without fear of weather, last chance to wander the streets in open-toed shoes without feeling like a big dork, last chance to be lazy.

Okay, maybe "flurry of activity" isn't the right phrase for it, but you get what I mean.

Labour Day weekend symbolizes a return to work, to diligence, to progress. It's back to school time. The parade that rolls down Queen Street, with workers from all across the GTA proudly declaring their union allegiance, is a reminder of the value of work, and of working together. Many people consider unions more of a bane than a blessing these days, but we forget how much they've done for us. Weekends off, for example. Used to be that Saturday was a workday, too. And workdays stretched well beyond eight hours, in the "good old days." Paid vacations? Forget it. Benefits? Job safety and security? Forget them too. Just as we've become accustomed to electricity and running water, neither of which were commonplace a hundred years ago, we've become accustomed to our forty-hour weeks, our weekends at the cottage, our regular pay and raises. We've ceased to be grateful for the things we have, things which many people around the world must go without.

Of course, there are people who have an even better deal than we do. In many countries in Europe, with their socialist leanings, standard vacations run five or six weeks. There is talk of a thirty-five- or thirty-hour workweek. Such things seem unheard of over here.

That said, there are plenty of people in management who don't see anything wrong with scheduled overtime, who think workers should be grateful with the opportunity for extra pay. I once saw a sign at an ad company: you can't be a star if you're not here at night. Many managers work long hours and think everyone else should to.

However, there is a difference between working long hours because you've chosen to, and because you've been forced to. Some people are workaholics, some are not. And that's okay. You don't want success-crazed highly driven individuals in every position in the company: if you hired on the basis of a burning desire to make it to the top, you'd have huge turnover. High-end positions make up a minority of jobs. In accounting, in the mailroom, you need people who are diligent and happy to work nine-to-five. There's no point in expecting non-managers to act like managers.

The CEOs don't get it though. You'd think reminding them that if everyone wanted to be a CEO, they'd have a heck of a lot more competition for their jobs, would be enough. More competition, and they'd be expected to be more competent. They might even have to produce positive results, like profits, before being handed large bonuses.

Nope, they still expect everyone to work a fifty-hour work week and like it. Thank goodness someone is looking out for the rest of us.

rant updated 2 september 2002. permalink

I have a talent.

A blessing or a curse, I'm not sure which. I can fall asleep.

Anytime.

It could be a good thing; I used to have terrible insomnia when I was younger, so I know how that can be.

As a child I was restless, tossing and turning. I'd wake up up-side-down. Or sideways, stretched out across my narrow bed with my feet and head hanging over the edges. Or curled up in a ball, with the covers all twisted swirling around me, like an egg in a nest.

In high school I spent nights lying awake for hours on end, staring at the ceiling, trying different tricks to shut down my brain. Chamomile tea. Warm bath. Count backwards from a thousand. But the distractions were always there, waiting to waylay me; I'd be almost asleep and then I'd go to brush my teeth and then I'd be awake again. I'd be counting down from infinity and start thinking about the numbers, how they fit together. Soon my mind was racing, thinking I'd solved Fermat's theorem, turning on the light and rummaging for pen and paper, writing it all down and reducing the formula to discover I'd discovered nothing.

Oh, well.

Now I find I can sleep anytime. I wake too early, I drift back to sleep. I wake too late, I drift back to sleep. I know people who place their alarm clocks far from their bedsides, thinking that if they have to drag themselves out of bed to turn off the incessant buzzing, the movement will rouse them, will get the blood pumping, and then they'll be awake.

I can get up and brush my teeth and go back to bed.

I can get up and brush my teeth and have a shower and go back to bed.

I've even been known to get up bright and early feeling refreshed, go for a run, take a shower, have breakfast, brush my teeth, get dressed, and then go back to bed fully-clothed, for a before-work nap.

It's quite stunning. Or disturbing. I'm often late for things as a result.

I think it's a result of being born late. I was born seventeen days past due. It's a pattern that keeps repeating, over and over, every morning. There is no need to disrupt my soporific comfort. Curled up in a warm cozy place is my natural environment. Bundled up tight in blankets, undisturbed by sunshine on my cheeks.

rant updated 26 august 2002. permalink

Quick updates.

I have gotten mild heck from a number of quarters lately, to wit: "Whither the chronicles? Whither the rants?" To which I respond, it is summer, for crying in the soup! Summertime, when toe open road beckons, as does the quiet lake. When it's possible and pleasant to stay outside till all hours of the morning, smelling the night air, watching the moon rise over a slow-moving river.

The first cottage weekend of the summer was cold and dark. It snowed on Victoria Day weekend. A reminder of the preciousness of the days when lounging in a hammock is pleasant. This is why it is written that you must get your head wet in the lake at least once per cottage visit, as long as the temperature doesn't dip below zero. You might not be able to do it next time.

Maybe because of the weather, maybe because of other things. Every season brings more unexpected changes. We didn't expect his to be the last summer at Elizabeth's cottage. We didn't expect the family reunion to turn into a memorial. This has been a summer of good-byes. It will be strange to spend Labour Day weekend in the city; stranger still to crash Thanksgiving in Guelph with no uncle George.

But there are new beginnings as well. So many friends are getting married, buying houses, starting families. The weekend after Labour Day, I'll be at another cousin's cottage, celebrating the marriage of his daughter. And Mum is coming too, her first overnight trip in three-and-a-half years. I'm more excited than I ever guessed I'd be.

I guess my usual end-of-summer nostalgia is hitting a little early this year. Maybe it's the rain.

rant updated 19 august 2002. permalink

So. I experienced my first ever car accident this weekend.

It wasn't as bad as it sounds; no one hurt, but surprisingly expensive damage to the car. Who knew a new bumper could be worth $1500?

still, I was shaken. am shaken. Anyone who knows me knows I'm jumpy; sneak up behind an hear me scream. My nerves weren't designed for this planet.

And then there is the spooky factor.

Spooky because before it happened, I saw the motorcyclist in my rear-view mirror and thought, that woman is crazy to be on a motorcycle wearing only a halter top! What if she gets in an accident?

A minute later, she rear-ended me.

Normally, whenever I'm driving and any thought (good or bad) regarding traffic/weather/accidents etc. crosses my mind, I knock wood. Decades from now, when the med students are dissecting me, they'll wonder what those thickened spots on my skull are from. They're from superstition.

Yesterday, of course, I forgot to knock wood. And really, it was the only thing I could have possibly done to avert the accident.

spooky also because, as I was copying down (all the wrong, unnecessary) information from the motorcyclist's insurance, I thought hm, that address is familiar. Hm, the husband's name is right. I asked, and yes, she does know my ex. He used to live downstairs. In fact, before we split, we were over at their house helping to haul the Ducati out of the shed.

Small world, n'est-ce pas? And does this tentative connection mean I'm expected to settle things quietly, without dragging insurance companies into the fray?

I certainly hope not, as I'm the kind of goody-two-shoes who doesn't do things under the table. I have no desire to go to court, but if it must be done, it must be done.

diary updated 24 june 2002 permalink

I was telling a friend of mine a story from the days when I lived in Lowertown in Ottawa. "Our entrance was in the back," I said. "You had to go down an alleyway to get to it."

"Wait a minute. In an alleyway? What, do you live in alleyways exclusively?"

I hadn't thought of it before, but she was right. I may not have lived in alleyways exclusively, but I have done so far more than the average apartment dweller. I've lived in a number of places where others feared to tread. I had no problem wandering down an unlit alleyway in Kensington after last call, but some of my friends were anxious visiting me in broad daylight.

I got a little anxious too, after the drug killing and the arson incident and the home invasion. But that's another story.

I like alleyways. I like their narrow structure, I like the hidden buildings you find if you follow them, i like the sense of being in a labyrinth or secret passageway, hidden from the world. They're private, discreet, sometimes surprising. Walking down Spadina, even if you deliberately peered down my alleyway, you wouldn't see the dozen row houses on a hidden cul-de-sac. but they're there. Some alleys lead nowhere, some are handy shortcuts, some open on to neighbourhoods you wouldn't know existed.

I like that, the sense of being in on the secret, the discovery of the unexpected. Being off the beaten path. Hard to find, even if you look. A bit of quietude just steps from a busy street. Maybe it's because alleys have that fake euro-trash feel - narrow lanes between decaying buildings. Or maybe it's just that my rural upbringing makes me crave the ultra-urban - alleyway living only happens downtown.

Or maybe I'm just agoraphobic and don't even know it.

diary updated 17 june 2002 permalink

This week, I will go to a hair salon.

For the first time since grade nine.

I'm sure it doesn't sound like a momentous event to the world at large, but doing anything you haven't done in years and years tends to be nerve-wracking. I've developed a fear of stylists. Reading White Teeth I really related to the scene where Irie goes to get her hair straightened and the whole idea that salons are designed as torture chambers, to punish us for our vanity.

And all of the salon stereotypes are so horrifying. From shrill small-town gossips to homothexuals more nelly than could possibly exist in the real world, shrieking over split ends. The whole idea that you are supposed to be devoted to your hairdresser, and be punished if you stray, or don't go for treatment often enough.

Of course, these are stereotypes, based in myth rather than fact, but I fear that enough people expect that many hairdressers feel the need to live up to them.

Why must such spectacle be made of cutting hair? Why the mystique? Why can't it just be like any other service or product - you buy it when you need it, wherever is convenient. But no. People have let their hair be the keeper of their souls for thousands of years. Look at samson. There is a lot of ego tied up in hair - this is most obvious among metaldudes and big-haired tv types, but exists everywhere, in subtler forms. People spend frightening amounts of time thinking about their hair: Is it too thick? Not thick enough? Is it falling out? Is it going grey?

I have avoided this trap for a long time, mainly due to apathy. And stinginess. I have thought a number of times over the past few years that the time for a new do is nigh, but inevitably, before I made any appointments, I would find myself really bored and just go at my head with scissors in the bathroom.

This time, I have the appointment. I couldn't not make the appointment. It's free, and after I'd had the guy's number for a month and not called, I bumped into him at a friend's house, who introduced me as someone who wanted a free haircut. Really, how could I say no?

And so. To bang, or not to bang? The last thing I want is the Betty Page comparison. But layers make me think Farrah. What to do, what to do?

Pics to follow (maybe).

diary updated 10 june 2002 permalink

Four weeks later, dad is on the mend, mood improved and fitter and stronger.

The spooky part is, when he went back to the hospital for a follow-up visit last week, the neurosurgeon who saw him was my old dentist's son. Spooky because I remember when he was a shrimpy little kid, and it's kind of frightening to think that he is now a grownup with people's lives in his hands, quite literally.

It's the kind of thing that has the same effect as a milestone birthday: look at everything this kid has accomplished! Can I say the same? Well, no. I'm far too shaky of hand to consider something such as surgery. But what have I achieved? Have I written the great Canadian novel yet? Nope. Have I even gotten half-way through writing the mediocre Canadian novel? Strike two.

I suppose I should be glad for what I have. I could dress up my life to look super-cool to the casual observer (working at not-for-profit arts organisation that presents some of the world's top writers, artists, dance and theatre companies, living in the queen west gallery district). I look at my life now and think, five years ago, when I moved to Toronto, this is where I dreamed of being.

But there's always something missing.

where is that lasting impression I've made on the world? Sure, I'm still young, lots of people haven't achieved greatness by my age, but many others have, or are at least well on their way.

Part of the problem, of course, is fear. It is incredibly painful for me to submit stories anywhere. I am a big chicken, I fully admit it. So I'm working on this. I've started submitting to distnat wee webzines. And I've joined a writing group.

In fact, this thursday is our first homework meeting. The first where we've been given an assignment to complete, that we have to bring with us and read aloud at the meeting.

Naturally, I haven't started yet.

Luckily the meeting will be held at a pub, where liquor will be available in amounts as copious as my bank account will allow. Wish me luck.

diary updated 6 may 2002 permalink

I tell time by april tragedies: the ice storm, Greg's death, Mum's stroke. This year, it's Dad. This morning he's having neurosurgery for NPH. This is a good thing, it means he'll get better instead of worse.

I visited on the weekend, driving back late, well after dusk. The trees swalloy my highbeams like a black hole; the road seems to disappear into darkness twenty feet in front of me. It's like being sucked into oblivion.

My father is dying. My father is dying.

No he's not.

I have to stop myself from worrying needlessly about things that haven't happened. Two years ago (almost to the day), when Mum had her stroke, I drove up with my sister and her not-yet-two-year-old son (it wasn't till later that Mum confessed that seeing the whole family united at her bedside made her wonder if she was maybe dying, and we just weren't telling her). When it was time to leave the hospital, I ran ahead to bet the car so that the slow and unstable walkers - my father due do age, my nephew due to youth - would not have so far to go. As I sat in the car in front of the hospital, waiting, the seconds stretched to minutes, the minutes, hours. A scenario flashed before me like in a movie - replay us saying goodbye to Mum, the camera follows me running down the stairs and out toward the parking lot. Cut to hospital corridor: dad, my sister, my nephew toddling. Before they reach the elevator, a nurse comes running out of mum's room, bidding them return. Camera zooms down corridor, out window, hovering above my car, panning slowly down to peer in the windshield. Cut to touching scene as Mum bids farewell to (most of) her loved ones. Cut to still-panning shot: through the windshield you can see my impatient fingers tapping, checking watch. It's all over.

Of course, none of this happened.

Pushing it out of my head, I manage to be normal, to sing along with the radio, it's two-and-a-half more hours driving at least before I'll near home. I think about car trips, about how I've never had a passenger who could pack anywhere near as light as I do, at least in part because I'm too apathetic and cheap to bother with fancy shampoo and soap and stuff, and just use my parents'. This leads to a random though about cosmetics bags, and needing a new pocketbook, and my upcoming birthday, and all of a sudden I am crying, sobbing like a child with all of the desperate gasping for air and strange noises coming from my throat, yelping, barking, like a harp seal or and irish singer. My glasses are spattered, spotted with tears; my face screwed up in a knot, the skin on my cheeks tight with salt. I lick up my tears like I used to in childhood. I want my parents back.

I want them to be big and strong and all-seeing and all-powerful again. I can't bear this role reversal, this changing of places. I want to know that they will always be there for me, when I'm ninety, and they're a hundred and thirty.

I want to be a kid again.

diary updated 8 april 2002

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Last night, I watched the entire oscar broadcast, for the first time in probably ten years.

It will probably be another ten years before I do it again.

maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I was in a different time zone, where it might have ended before one o'clock in the morning. But I doubt it.

I am told the oscars are supposed to be less than three hours long, and this year's director promised (don't they all?) to finish it in under two-and-a-half. Sure. Even if that impossible feat had been accomplished, Joan Rivers would have found a way to fill in the time.

who gave joan rivers the right to criticise people's dress-sense, anyway? I mean, she was wearing what looked like green tin foil on her eyelashes. Ugh. And the surgery, the Botox, double ugh.

Of course, that's what everyone tunes in for. The insults and the outfits. The fringed tuxedos and the heroin-girls bearing their emaciated breasts. All of the thoughtful speeches about the necessity of activism and ethics get forgotten; people forget that Halle Berry is the first woman of colour to win best actress (and Denzel Washington is only the second man of colour to win for best actor), but they remember the dress.

Maybe that's a good thing, in a weird sort of way. Maybe people have actually moved beyond skin colour to dress colour - yet more shallow, if that's possible, but at least their dresses are something starlets have control over. It doesn't matter if you are black or white, as long as you are unbearably beautiful and have good taste in jewellery.

Hmm, maybe it's not such a good thing, after all.

In any case, even Sidney Poitier and the Cirque de Soleil are no match for today's fatigue. Next year, I'll give it a miss.

diary updated 25 march 2002 permalink

I've been reading about feng shui lately.

I know, I know, I can hear a collective "yeesh" go up as I type this. But it's the truth. Having just moved, I need to figure out where to put my stuff anyway, so I might as well see what the experts have to say.

So far, so good.

The spot I had allocated for my desk turns out to be the "creativity" area, and I've stuck my bed in the ideal position for someone of my astrological sign. Looking back at my old place, everything was focused in the "family" area (which has been my main focus for the past three years), and in the "career" area, I had a broken parking meter, with a red flag reading "time expired."

Not too auspicious.

So I looked at the "career" areas in my new place to see what I could fix. I adjusted the wonky blind on the front door, and removed some old nails and broken hardware. I put healthy plants in the "career" and "wealth" areas. I tidied up, so the "chi" could flow more freely.

And what do you know, that same afternoon I got the call (in fact I got more than one call, but unfortunately can't do everything). Tomorrow I start the dream job.

Now, you could say it had nothing to do with feng shui, it could be more to do with the fact that at the same time I was putting energy and thought into making positive changes to the apartment, I was also putting energy and thought into pursuing said dream job. It could be the simple fact that not struggling with the blind getting stuck on the door cut down on my irritation levels, and made me more pleasant, less cranky, and therefore more desirable as an employee.

But maybe just the act of putting conscious effort into improving one area of your life will lead one to making changes for the better in other areas as well.

At any rate, rearranging furniture doesn't cost a thing, and isn't hurting anybody. Might as well try.

diary updated 18 march 2002 permalink

The wedding syndicate is beginning to wear me down.

Maybe it's just the stag-party hangover I'm still nursing from Friday (which has less to do with excessive drinking, and more to do with being up till ungodly hours, sleeping bent up in a chair, and then getting up early to go to brunch). Maybe it's just the horrifying bombonnieres I saw at the truly frightening Royalton gifts store up at 4040 Steeles. I was at 4040 Steeles, of course, to help a friend pick a wedding cake. We also glanced at shoes and handbags and dresses for the bridal party, surrounded by other bridal parties, some of whome seemed alarmingly young.

The air in the cake shop was sweet with the smell of sugar. Fruits, flowers, angels, swans; you name it, it can be made with sugar. The tables were booked solid (you need an appointment to get a cake from the same shop as Honest Ed). The room overflowed with couples and families and gaggles of girls that looked barely out of high school, being shepherded around by one game mother. Some cakes were lovely, some silly, some hideous. I'm beginning to see why some brides end up caving under the pressure, just picking whatever's closest, and needing valium to make it down the aisle.

The more I see of wedding planning, the more I think I might elope, should I ever decide to get married. I love weddings, but previously I'd only seen them from the guest's pov: I receive an invitation! How lovely! Find an appropriate gift, pick a frock, and off you go, to dine and dance and see all of your friends, near and distant, wearing their best and beaming with joy for the happy couple.

Who knew how much planning was involved?

The wedding syndicate knew. Their job is to make sure every young girl grows up imagining a big wedding in her future, even if that dream is hidden deep in the recesses of her mind. Even the most feminist of my girlfriends feels a pang when she passes a bridal boutique.

It gets overwhelming after a while. Where did all of these tiny details come from? Why are they necessary? How do people get so tied up in such essentially meaningless questions as whether to do the garter toss?

It is addictive, though, in a car-crash kind of way. In search of info to help me be a better bridesmaid, I wound up at weddingchat, a discussion forum made up of seemingly nice people looking for advice, and seemingly obsessive people caught up in a dream not of their own making. And you are most emphatically not allowed to disagree with anything anyone says, or you will be nudged out the door, gently but firmly, your access stripped away thread by thread, until what's left is too boring to bother with.

It's pretty symptomatic of how the wedding industry views brides: entitled to their every heart's desire, but too foolish to know what's best for them.

Leave me out of it. If I get married, I'll bake my own cake.

diary updated 11 march 2002 permalink

Settling in.

Well, I've been in the new place for a week, and am settling in nicely. Sort of. There are still a million or so cardboard boxes lining the walls of my room, waiting to be unpacked. But still.

Funny how avoiding one unpleasant task can lead to getting others done. I started some seeds, so I'll be set to do some gardening on the back deck when the weather cooperates. I cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom, rather than unpacking. I've even started jogging around the neighbourhood (which lead to all sorts of wonderful side-street discoveries: a great cuban restaurant, a wonderful café). Nothing is more distasteful than unpacking.

Funny how the procrastination motivation technique described by Robert Benchley, in an essay entitled "How I Write," is generally more effective than any of those anthony-robbins-esque techniques. The key is to find progressively more distasteful tasks to avoid. I'll need to come up with something pretty nasty to out-do unpacking, that much is certain.

But it can be found. Tax time cometh.

In the meantime, there is much to do while avoiding unpacking. There is soup to make, bread to bake, this wee much-ignored-of-late website to update. Maybe I'll even get to work on the family tree.

Or maybe that's exactly the kind of tedious task I need to get myself out of cardboard country.

diary updated 4 march 2002 permalink

Whatever happened to logic?

The other day, listening to voiceprint, I was struck by the shoddy reasoning in an article about health and aging. Apparently nova scotia has a remarkable number of centenarians - 200 per million, a higher per capita figure than anywhere else in north america, despite the fact that studies show that nova scotians have poorer health over all (higher incidences of heart disease, etc.).

I immediately thought, if they have more centenarians, they probably have more elderly people in general, so no wonder they have higher incidences of heart disease. Probably the main reason they have so many old people is that nova scotia is a physically lovely place, with a relatively low cost of living. Lots of people move away when they're younger, as the employment outlook isn't the greatest, but then move back there to retire.

Apparently the scientists didn't even consider this possibility; they rush to the conclusion that the alleged longevity of Nova Scotians must be genetic.

Huh?

Why must people always leap to the most preposterous conclusion when something obvious and simple is sitting right in front of them? I guess demographic migration patterns aren't as sexy as genetics these days (I mean, look at all those cool clones! Go, genetics!), but how can one pretend to draw sound conclusions when one only looks at one narrow set of data, and ignores the rest? It's like the old cliché about the blind men trying to figure out an elephant.

Another example is Diet for a New America. I tried to read it, I really did, but found so many examples of shoddy reasoning and poorly-thought-out arguments that I couldn't stand it.

For example, a section on the effect of dairy products on osteoporosis featured college-age men as its subjects. Because ya know, twenty-year-old boys are so likely to break a hip when they fall. If college age men were having problems with bone density, this might be useful information. But as long as osteoporosis is primarily seen among older, post-menopausal women, I'd be more interested in seeing a study revolving around them. What role do hormones play, for example? But that is a question the book chooses not to ask. Throughout, author john robbins compares apples to oranges, or simply ignores secondary factors. The resulting statistics are nothing more than empty numbers.

Even worse, read any of Barbara Amiel's columns. She takes leaps of faith to a whole new level.

When I went to university, all undergrads were required to do philosophy 101, an extremely general course, which spent a whole semester on propositional logic, trying desperately to teach kids who'd never given thought to reasoning before that just because all dogs have four legs, and my cat has four legs, doesn't mean she's a dog, even if her name is Fido.

Yet reading the newspaper, one can only come to the conclusion that most people in the public eye slept through the class on critical thinking, if they bothered to take philo101 at all. Anyone with a shred of common sense would know that outlawing homelessness won't make an ounce of difference in the real world. And would know the difference between "raises the question" and "begs the question."

But I suppose expecting logic from our leaders (and the media who cover them) is too much to hope for.

diary updated 25 february 2002 permalink

Everything happens for a reason.

Almost three-and-a-half years ago, I was laid off from a job in television production. There was a merger, there was restructuring. I was bummed out, but what can you do?

Then, my mother broke her leg, badly. It turned out to be a lucky thing that I was suddenly unemployed, as I was able to move home for three (long) months to look after my father while she was in the hospital.

I've just been laid off again, or rather my contract's not been renewed (restructuring again).

I was doing my best to be positive about this: maybe my dream job is waiting around the corner! Maybe opportunity will knock, and I'll be in a position to answer!

Well.

Now my father's going into hospital for surgery (this is a good thing, 90% chance he'll improve). He'll be in for about a week. It's fortunate that I'm suddenly unemployed again, as I'll be able to go up to drive him to the hospital (in a city an hour away), to drive my Mum in for visits, to help get him settled at home again after.

Two wrongs make a right, sometimes. At least, two bad things can coincide in a way that makes each a little easier to bear.

I have to say, though, if I ever get laid off again in my life, I'm going to have a panic attack until I find out which of my loved ones is going to be hospitalised.

diary updated 18 february 2002 permalink

Once more, the fourteenth of February is upon us.

Myself, the best Valentine's days I've ever had were when I was single. Last year there was spad: we got together a gang of single girls and boys, went out for drinks and dinner as a group. Had a blast. The year before was a white trash girls'night: movies, JD, and a nasty heart-shaped grocery-store cake with a charming blaze orange "reduced to clear" sticker on it (we had real food too, of course).

Past boyfriends just didn't live up to expectations, even though expectations got lower every year. There was the guy who told me he thought we should break up on valentine's day. Nice timing. There was the long-distance dude who couldn't even be bothered to call. Even though I'd sent him a lovely package of home-made cookies through the mail. He didn't even say "thank you" until I asked if the package had arrived.

The following year... Well, I won't get into it too much, to protect the guilty. There was a massive hydro bill involved ("I thought I'd come here to warm up, since my roommates keep our house cold to save money"), misbehaving at a house party (how romantic! A keg!), and a frantic search for a lost wedding invitation (sorry, brian. We tried).

Annyhoo, whilst singletons moan about how sick they are of v-day marketing, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. If you're single, you have no expectations. You can shape the day into whatever you choose. It's yours to love or hate at will.

But for those in relationships, especially new relationships, there are all sorts of questions. How much is enough without being too much? Will the ooya* think you are terribly charming or unbearably corny? Will the ooya meet or exceed expectations? Or even remember? Or maybe thinks it's all a crass money-grab?

How do you articulate that secret inner wish for the v-day you've never had, without coming out and saying "I want x, y, and z" which kind of defeats the whole "romantic surprise" aspect of the deal? What if you are an enlightened twenty-first century fox who should be beyond caring about such things, but deep inside you've wanted a heart-shaped box of choccies since you were four years old?

Time will tell, time will tell.

Still, this was all much less stressful when I was single.

diary updated 8 february 2002 permalink

written around ten o'clock this morning...

A modern-day Sisyphus would not be condemned to rolling any rocks around.

He would be condemned to move offices.

I have moved offices many times. Too many times. It seems every job I've had, we've moved offices. Mergers, renovations, you name it. Everywhere I go, they move. It's like a curse. A friend even warned me, "you're never allowed to come and work at my company. We move enough already."

So here I sit, wondering why I am the only one in the office with no network cable. At least my phone is working now, I should be grateful for that. But being unconnected at work is the thing that makes one realise just how dependent we are upon computers. I can type, but I can't upload to the web, email anyone, or even print anything, or access any of my precious information lurking in the ether.

It's quite isolating.

In a way, it reminds me of the day I forgot my wallet at home. Containing all of my everything. I kept forgetting how dependent I am upon all of the crud accumulated there: damn, no coffee, was my first thought. I rummaged in the bottom of my pockets and pocketbook, no change. Then, with happy relief, I remembered: I can probably get a free coffee with my club card! I was happy for about thirty seconds before I realised that no, the card was in my wallet. All day I kept doing that.

And I'm doing that now. So much to do, so little access to the necessary tools. I keep thinking, "Oh wait! I know, I can..." only to realise that no, I can't fill-in-the-blank, not until I get a @*$&! Network connection.

So here I sit, typing away in notepad, trying to maintain my sanity, while waiting, waiting. Hopefully I can post this by end of day. If not, I'll go nuts.

diary updated 28 january 2002 permalink

Wow, it's only january, and already I'm falling behind.

oopsy.

I have an excuse (or two) though: I'm moving. Moving offices and moving apartments. I hope I never have to pack or unpack anything again.

Is it worth the hassle? You bet.

For three years I have shared an apartment with an under-employed middle-aged party boy. And I'm sick of it. Coming home to a place where one can relax without fear of one's freak roommate having a screaming match with one of his bimbettes will be a pleasant change. I'm also pretty tired of listening to the same "high energy dance hits of 1997" cd playing in heavy rotation in the living room. I was afeared that my I.Q. Was dropping by association. Felt uncomfortable having friends over. Was paying too much rent to be putting up with all of this crap.

But now, freedom! As of 1 march, I will be living in a cool neighbourhood (actually, Toronto life declared it an "up and coming neighbourhood for 2002" - can the moment have already passed? Thankfully, there is no starbucks yet!), with a cool roommate.

Funny, to look at my real estate history in this town, I seem to bounce from one extreme to the other. First lived in rosedale, one of Canada's most exclusive and expensive neighbourhoods, then lived in a converted warehouse in an alleyway in kensington/chinatown. Then back east to the current lovely condo in the ghetto (oh, how I will miss the doormen! And the sauna!), and now, to parkdale. "Up and coming" of course means that the neighbourhood has spent most of it's history going down, but it has that rundown charm that attracts artsy types and keeps it interesting. Friends of mine have a gallery/performance space just around the corner. There's a great ethiopian restaurant, and the historic gladstone hotel (where the nfb had its christmas party) is getting a much-needed face-lift.

Just knowing I'll be moving soon has lifted a weight off my shoulders. Packing? I'll cope.

diary updated 23 january 2002 permalink

Long time no see!

It's been a longer than usual holiday break, what with unexpected trips and family crises and all.

That's the downside to being a tightly-knit family. The upside, is that we each have an extended group of cousins we can relay on and relax with. The downside is it hurts so much more when you lose one of them.

A few years ago, a woman I worked with lost her cousin to a stroke (he was only thirty!). Our boss thought she was blowing it all out of proportion and "over-playing" her grief. I did my best to bite my tongue, rather than tell the insensitive boss, "just because your family doesn't like you doesn't mean everyone else's is dysfunctional." it was tricky.

My uncle George died just before new year's. He had lived a full life, and went relatively quickly and painlessly. All in all, we must be grateful for the ease of his passing. But we'll still miss him.

I used to go out to visit a few times a year; even before I had a car, I would take the Greyhound bus to Guelph to visit, and to pick fruit and vegetables in the garden. Grapes from the trellis over the patio (I've made dozens of jars of grape jam, not to mention grape icecream), raspberries from the patch in the back yard that were always too far to reach without getting barbs caught in my skin. But they were sweet!

We shared some good times up at the cottage, too. George and I built a cedar windmill from a kit. This was one of those gifts that no one really wanted, but was too good to throw away... It had travelled across the country, bearing battle scars from Canada Post, for close on three decades before it washed up on the shores of Lac Teeples. It was discreetly suggested that I might want to help out, George's hands being somewhat more shaky than they used to be. When we opened the box, we discovered that the thing wasn't solid cedar after all, but galvanised aluminum! No one was really sure why we thought it was cedar, either. Ah well. We built it, and it stands in the tall grass to tell us if the wind is moving.

We're going to spend a weekend up there this summer, just close family, to remember him. Maybe I'll even have learned the words to El Paso by then.

I feel priveleged to have known Uncle George while he was here.

diary updated 14 january 2002 permalink

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