Thursday, November 25, 2010

FREEDOM!!!!?? : The Unemployment Apprehension Game

Well, here it is, my last day at work! I'm ecstatic! (And a little uneasy.) This job has, at least, afforded me the ability to pay most of my bills..... That's about it. This job has allowed me to do a few things that most jobs otherwise wouldn't. I get a little exercise a day, I deliver mail in a government building. I've gotten an inside look at how some government agencies function. (No - I'm not talking about the President/CEO of the Alberta Health Services eating a cookie either! Disgusting little man that he is.) I've been able to catch up on my book reading. (There are quite a few amusing ones out there.) As well as post to this blog and try to come up with something worth while reading... It's a dead end job, and I'm glad I've only spent just under four months at it. That being said, I still feel a tinge of guilt...

While I am happy that this chapter of my life is over, I still don't like the idea of being unemployed. Dead end job or not, I'd rather be working. Why? There are a few reasons... For example, I'm 29 and capable of working, and I was raised to be productive and not slack off... You know, do like your supposed to - support yourself and not live off of other people.... I feel guilty when I'm not working and being a positive, contributing member of society... I feel like I'm a drain on society when having to access and use the EI/UI system. As much as I enjoy the thought of eatting bon bons on the couch infront of the TV everyday, it gets boring suuuuuuuuuuper quickly... It's great for a week... Maybe two tops... But honestly, I get bored super quickly and I need something to do... You'd think I'd clean the house etc... But I won't... I don't live in a sty by any means... But I don't live in a sterile environment either.

Four months after my start date, I had no idea that I'd be quitting to relocate... If anything, I thought I'd be quitting because the job is boring, the pay sucks, or I was annoyed with the one co-worker enough due to his extreme laziness and far less than truthful behaviour. What ever the reason is for leaving, I still feel like a leech on "the system" and I haven't even left for the day yet, much less applied for the minuscule EI Benefits. I guess that's the point of the "Benefits" being so low, to try to kick start those lazies that don't have much ambition or drive. In the current economy, I hope I don't have to use the UI Services long... Depending on the length of non-work, I'd almost be inclined to apply to sling burgers and fries again... This is after being educated twice at the Post-Secondary Level and 10 years after the last time I had to flip burgers to make stuff happen. I guarantee, Fast Food is not the ideal position in the world... In my mind, it's still a cut above being an unemployed bum.

It's not always about me; but I do feel the need to work until I can't anymore...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ode To Edmonton: Farewell with the Possibility of Return

My moving to Edmonton in May of 2003 was a whirlwind affair. The guy I was seeing at the time mentioned his plan to move here for welding work, and I told him that he wasn't leaving BC without me. I sold my car to the boyfriend's brother, as I didn't think it would've passed the out of province inspection, and it gave me the cash needed to make the transition from BC to Alberta. The next day we packed up his "Twinkie" car and were on our way. I was an inexperienced 21 year old and left my parents a note telling them what I was in the process of doing.

I didn't really know much about Edmonton prior to moving here, I had never been to Edmonton before. I knew that my Dad's Aunt lived here... That this is where the Oilers played, and clearly at one point Gretzky and Messier had played here too... I had heard of the massive West Edmonton Mall, but obviously having never been here, I'd never been to the 6 block mall... As my seven and a half years in Edmonton wind down, I've found myself reflecting on my time here.

We're heading into what would've been my 8th winter here... Let me tell you, the winters here are something I'd like to forget but never will. Edmonton's the first and only place I've experienced such bitter cold in the later part of the year. (That's not to say I haven't experienced cold weather, just not like this.) Last year, Edmontonians were subjected to the second coldest place on the planet honors.... (I think we hit -50 or somewhere around there. Ya, it sucked serious toes man!) We were second only to a place in Siberia... (And that place knows how to rock the damn cold!) My first winter here it took some serious adjustment from what I was used to in BC. I grew up in Vernon, so I was used to snow and I'd seen maybe -20 to -25 that I remember... I called my Mum on her birthday at the end of October in 2003. I had to hang up with her so I could go have a hot shower to turn my purple feet back to a humanly colour. I won't sit here and say that I enjoy the winters here in Edmonton, but I'd have to say I've acclimatized.

The rest of the seasons in Edmonton aren't bad like the winters... The only qualm I have is with the City of Edmonton is in the Spring. The whole "joke" about "If you dont' like the weather in Alberta, wait five minutes" can be applied to Edmonton. I've seen snow under the most bizarre of circumstances... But why the hell does it take the City until May, even June, to clean the sand and crud off the streets after the bulk of the snow is gone in late March/early April? Edmonton could be one of the most beautiful Cities on the planet... But instead, with regret I say, Edmonton is a dirty city. Between the streets being dirty, and in dire need of repair, to the litter and homeless on every corner... Edmonton is just dirty. I know that other Cities and Towns have the same sort of problems with litter and homeless, but send out a street sweep already!

Edmontonians have perplexed me for the entire time I've been here... I've run into people here who were the nicest people in the world, and would bend over backwards to help you. Others are just so cold, fake, self serving and rude it makes you want to punch them in the face. Again, I realize there are people like this everywhere and its not solely an Edmonton issue. Just don't mention the shittiness of Eskimos or Oilers, that may get you a tongue lashing at the very least. (Actually, I remember being at a bar in Edmonton, and a guy with a blood shot eye that was almost swollen shut and an otherwise bruised and swollen face walked in for a beer.... The story went that he was down in a Calgary Bar to watch the Oilers Vs Flames game, he wearing an Oilers shirt and the Flames fans beat on him when he went out for a smoke. Maybe that says more about Calgary though?) One pay day, my first year here, I headed to the bank to deposit my cheque after my shift. It was winter, so it was dark earlier, and I walked out of the bank with a wallet full of $20's on my way to pay my rent... Some guy attempted to take my purse but I managed not to lose it. It wound up costing me a coffee for the guy, who just happened to be hungry... Bizarre to say the least!

All Edmonton/Edmontonian cutting down aside, if Edmonton was so bad - I guarantee you - I would not have stayed as long as I have. Edmonton has given me the resume I have. Just before I moved here I had just graduated from College and was raring to get into the working world. I papered the town, meaning Kelowna and Vernon, and got one call back saying "Thanks for your interest in our company, we'll keep you on file." Within a week of moving to Edmonton, I had a few interviews and was hired and working. Edmonton's economy, over the years I've been here, has allowed me to feed my job "A.D.D" in that if I got bored or frustrated at one job, it was easy enough to go out and find another. I have job hopped here, and it's given me a diverse set of skills and experience that I may not have otherwise had.

I've gone back to school here and graduated in April of 2009 from Grant MacEwan College. (Now Grant MacEwan University.) It was quite a trip to go back after 5 years of being out of school mode. The course I took introduced me to a wide variety of characters through my classmates. The time spent at Grant Mac was definitely a benchmark and a time in my life that I'll never forget. If I were anywhere other than Edmonton, I doubt I would have gone back to school... To be honest, I don't even know if the course I took is offered anywhere other than Grant MacEwan.... Makes it that much more memorable... Even if it is partially due to the student loans which are now in the repayment stages.

Being that Edmonton is one of Canada's more major centers, it opens up some events that I may not have otherwise enjoyed partaking in. I don't ever remember there being fireworks in Vernon for New Year's for example. As pathetic as it may be, I've never been to an Oilers game... It's a little ironic that I have been to an Eskimos game though... Edmonton is one of the festival capitals of Canada, and for that I'm grateful. Some festivals don't cost a dime and are a great way to kill an afternoon when broke. Others do cost but I've been told they are well worth the price of admission. My personal fave has always been the Heritage Festival. The Heritage Festival asks for donations to the food bank as admission, but it doesn't seem to be a mandatory admission. There are pavilions for different countries that feature food, clothing, dancing, art and basically anything you can think of to show off a particular country's culture. I can't explain it, I just know that I love it.

For all the crappy people I've met and had to deal with, I've met a few really cool people that I am now fortunate enough to call friends. Some I met through work, others school, and the most interesting are those I met quite by accident in a random event. Either way, these are the people I will miss and carry with me until the end of my days. My first friend in Edmonton was Missy. I had been talking to her for a couple years because she had emailed a boyfriend of mine and I knew she was the ex. So I laced into her telling her to move on and leave my boyfriend alone. It turns out, we now have the same ex - as he's no longer my boyfriend either - and we talk to each other, but not that ex. Anyhow, after a couple years of chatting, it took me moving to Edmonton to actually meet. She bailed my ass out a time or four. She moved back to BC years ago, unfortunately. Van, Ian and my other CFF friends managed to show me what it meant to work but how to have fun while doing it. The local hang out for some of the CFF crew was a bar called the H2O. I've only had "happy birthday" sung to me once, and it was from my H2O crew. This is also where I met my roommate called Candy Apple. No she's not a hooker, or a stripper, and yes - that's her real name. She and I had a riot living together...

Finally, the on again/off again guy in my life, Klaus. I actually met him while at work for CFF. He was, and still is, a driver for the company and I was an office worker. He always thought I only wrote the bad things about him, but he's also given me some good things to report too. He's bailed my ass out of situations it shouldn't have been in. He drove me to the Okanagan over the Labour Day long weekend last year, without me even having to ask. He's taken me camping numerous times, and actually - he's the first one to ever take me fishing. He's brought me home Christmas trees even though I know damn well he hates Christmas. (His birthday's Christmas Eve, and if that was your birthday - I think you'd probably hate Christmas too.) He's made me laugh (almost as much as he's made me cry) and I've don't ever doubt the fact that he loves me.

Now I've got what's left of today, and part of tomorrow, to endure before I can say I'm done with my current job... Trust me, this one was an easy one to quit... I've got about 3 and a half days left in Edmonton... Though I am guilty of calling this place Deadmonton, Hellberta, - Edmonton will always have a piece of my heart.

It's not always about me; I have a feeling I'll be back one day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dude! Bros Before Ho's!... Or Not!

I attempted to get this post going yesterday, but I just couldn't bring myself to do so. I've got the whole six year relationship heartbreak blues going on.... I took the extra day to think about what Bros before Ho's really meant. While contemplating yesterday, I looked up the female version of "Bros before ho's". I found that most women even use the same term as the men, as it has the same effect. There are a few female equivalents out there, though. "Chicks before Dicks",  "Lasses before Asses", "Sistas before Mistas/Sisters before Misters", "Venus before Penis", "Besties before Testes", "Friends before Mens", "Dolls before Balls", and the list can go on. All still boil down to "Bros before Ho's".....

When I first heard the term "Bros before Ho's" I really liked it. In my mind, the statement meant not letting a someone your dating/seeing etc come between you and your best friend/group of friends, because your friends would always have your six, long after your relationship would be over. Now though, I find the term "Bros before Ho's" a Bachelor/Bachelorette statement. Soon, you will understand why. I have a feeling I will be playing Devil's Advocate here, as I could debate both sides of the statement. Why? I used to like the gist of the thing, but now, I'm torn. I can't find a black and white answer, just a whole lotta static... But I can tell you, I am leaning towards not being a fan... The six year relationship can, and will, be used to debate both sides of "Bros before Ho's".

I remember in high school, ya I know I'm digging here, but it's still an example of both sides... So anyhow, in high school, I had two friends - one named Linda and the other Angelina (Yes, their names have been changed). Linda and Angelina were pretty close to being Best Friends. Linda finally got asked out by her ultimate crush of a life time, John. (Yes, his name is changed, too.) Linda and John were having a typical eighth grade romance until Angelina got in the way. Angelina guilt tripped Linda until Linda dumped John... What was Angelina's problem? She didn't have a boyfriend at the time... A few weeks after Linda and John broke up, Angelina found herself with a boyfriend. When Linda said something to Angelina about it, Angelina figured Linda was jealous... Linda chose "Bros before Ho's", but Angelina was just out right selfish and wanted both... In the end, Angelina moved away the following year and John and Linda never dated each other again.

My own story, with out getting overly personal here, goes a little like this.... I met the ex at work 6 and a half years ago. We had an on again/off again thing for the first four years... During our whole relationship, the ex would always put his friends before me. I, on the other hand, shot myself in the foot. I usually put him first, or I was depressed over our recent decision to be "off again" that I pushed the few friends I had away.

For the past two years, we've been on again. We moved in together and there didn't seem to be much issue... Other than I had alienated myself from all my friends and saw them once or twice a year. They all got tired of my excuses as to why I couldn't go out... Then they stopped calling as much and the invites out were few and far between. When I did go out to cut a little loose without him, he'd ask "Oh, going to see your other boyfriend are you??" And then he'd laugh hysterically.... Then he'd be calling..... "When are you coming home?" or nastier "I hope you're having fun! I hope it's worth it!" That further put the kybosh on any hope from a social life. (I know, it's a story of control here... That'll be coming in future posts.)

He, on the other hand, still kept his "Bro before Ho" routine. He'd always say yes to helping a friend out, but I felt like I had to beg him for a hand. He plays as a part of a pool league team, not just one - but two pool league teams... This year, instead of taking me out on my birthday... He played pool on one of those teams. Why? Because he was the captain of the team, it was the first night of league for the fall season... AND he couldn't let his "Bros" down and miss a game... OK, so I wasn't impressed, but I wasn't a "Ho" and let him go... He promised to make it up to me the following weekend... He didn't, he had to go down and play in a pool tournament at the local bar with his "Bros". Not impressed, he kept saying he'd make it up to me, never did. Two years before that, same thing... Instead of taking me out for my birthday, he had to go watch football with his friends at the bar... The weekend I had to fly back to BC for a family emergency, do you think he drove me to or picked me up from the airport? Nope... He took the Friday afternoon off, using the excuse that he had to drive me to the airport... Never did... That weekend was a year end pool tournament for the summer league... Couldn't let his team of "Bros" down, you realize... He called me early Sunday evening saying he just got back from the end of the pool tourney. I asked him if he was picking me up from the airport... He said no because his car was out of commission. He couldn't get a hold of his Mum to borrow her vehicle... He'd been "trying all day" to get a hold of his Mum... He doesn't have a cell phone, and he'd just gotten home from the pool tournament... Because he puts his "Bros" before his "Ho" and that's exactly why he's "SINGLE"!!!!!!!!!!!!

I guess my point is, that I've gotten over the whole idea of "Bros before Ho's". I hope there is more of a happy medium that can be reached. What if you always put "bros" first and miss out on the right girl/guy, you know, "THE ONE"? And if you always put the "ho" first, then your "bros" might not always be there...Good and true "bros" won't mind sharing you. And if you find out it's not the right "ho", your true "bros" will accept you back... (And then they'll probably harrass you after your broken heart has healed.) If it's the right "ho", he/she might not like your friends, but I'm sure he/she will allow you to go have a "bro night", as long as your friends don't cause you to do stupid/hurtful things. (Like a poker night with the guys, or a shopping trip with the girls...)

It's not always about me; I'm more of a loner... Don't get me wrong, I can be social and I've got "Bros"... I hope to find a "ho" again one day, too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Illustrated & Otherwise Decorated People

Ever walk down the street, see some one and think to yourself, "What would possess a person to do that to themselves?" Don't be a fibber now! This question has been asked throughout the generations, and will continue to be asked until the end of Human Existence.

For example of the generational question, my Dad - back in the day - had long hair... We're talking long, hippy down to his waist hair... And it drove my Gramps nuts... Why? Because Gramps couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind "Would do that to themselves!" Now a days, it's Dad's turn to question today's fashions. (Particularly the "Gangsta" way of wearing your boxers majority on the outside of your jeans, and your jeans almost falling off... I don't even get that but... That's not the point.)

Well, hair and clothes can be changed, cut, dyed or whatever needs to be done... This post is about a little more permanent "possession" of self expression... I'm talking Tattoos and Piercings. (A little T&P if you will.) Some don't enjoy Tattoos or Piercings, period... They figure if "God" wanted them to have either/or, they would've been born with them. Other's just plain don't like either, it's just a gut reaction. Fair enough, that's their right and choice. Others associate Tats or Piercings with Tribal/Cultural meanings... Others with Gangs and Jail. Others yet with Bikers, Hookers/Sluts, or Sailors. General riff-raff basically. Whatever their opinion, they are entitled to it. Doesn't make them right or wrong.

The other side of this proverbial coin, are the Tattoo and Piercing enthusiasts. There is a reasonable expectation, for those who choose, to have the ability of self expression through Tattoos or Piercings. I'm a little more towards this end of the pole. My brother has/had both his ears pierced and his nose and tongue at one point too. I remember when I was about 13-14 years old, I came home from school one day to my parents asking "How do you like our tattoos?" They were freshly done and looked fake, so I didn't believe them at first... Until weeks later when they still hadn't "washed off." Now Dad's got two and Mum's got 4.  I, myself, am both Tattooed and Pierced.

I, currently, have four earrings in each ear (yes, grand total of 8) and have my nose pierced as well. My first piercing was in my ears at the age of 6. At one point I had my naval and tongue pierced too. My naval ring "migrated" out on it's own, and I had it removed as it was less than a pleasant experience. I'm a bit self conscious, and realize I'm a little pudgy... So I've never gotten it re-done... No one'd see it but me, and it hurt enough coming out the first time. My tongue ring lasted about 9 months. I played with it, for what seemed like every waking moment. I wore braces on my teeth for about a year and a half or so... I was worried that my teeth would go back crooked, or I'd wind up chipping a tooth... They were both fun at the time, but ultimately not for me. In the past, whenever I felt like I needed a little external pain... I got something pierced... It may strike you as a little bizarre, who wants pain - right? But I'm 100% perfectly honest with that statement. My piercing days are done though, I've had all the places I wanted pierced, pierced. If someone walks by with an eyebrow ring, or piercings not visible... That's their right, it's just not my bag.

As mentioned, I am tattooed as well. Currently, I've got three. I don't regret a single tat, they all tell a story. I got my first tattoo at the age of 20. It's the sign of Virgo, which is my Zodiac Sign. It's about the size of a toonie and is on the left side of my chest. (For those who have never seen a toonie, it's slightly bigger than a quarter.) I got this one done with a couple of friends in my college days in Trail, BC at a place called the Wolf's Den. I don't regret it, I just regret the placement of it. If I had it to do all over again, I'd get it done in a different spot.... And I'd make sure it didn't look like the initials of "MR". (I get that a lot, who's MR?) This one really didn't hurt much, but he must've hit a nerve in the middle of the "M", as it got my attention... It took maybe 45 minutes to do....

My second tattoo is on my right shoulder and is a little smaller than the size of an average drink coaster. I was about 24-25 when I had it done, and it was done here in Edmonton at a place called Divine. It's a fairy/elf sitting on a crescent moon giving the thumbs up. He's got clouds that form a castle behind him and butterflies and stars surrounding him as well. The story behind this one is a little long... Basically, it represents family. (That's why the elf guy is giving the thumbs up, in remembrance of my Grandpa.) This one took about an hour and a half, closer to two hours... I had a friend with me and by the end, I wanted to punch him out... This one hurt a little more. (Still worth it though.)

And finally, my third and favourite tattoo. This one is a "tramp stamp". (Tramp Stamp = a lower back tattoo.) It's a Celtic Maple Leaf with the words "Taylor Made" above it and "1981" below it. This one is amazing and I love it the most. Long story short, I'm Canadian first and foremost, but have a heavy history of Scottish Ancestry. My parents were married when I was conceived, and my last name is evidently Taylor... Hence "Taylor Made" and I was born in 1981.. Pretty basic, eh? This one hurt the least to be honest... It took about an hour and this time my Mummy came with me. This one I had done at Genesis Designs in Vernon, BC, evidently where my parents got all their tattoos done.

I am no where near being done with my tattooing.... In fact I've got an idea of my 4th tattoo, which I hope to get within 6 months of being back in BC.... And as part of that idea, I want the "MR" situation remedied so I can be completely happy with all my "Body Art". That being said, there are certain places I won't have tattooed as a girl... Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to these kinds of tattoos, I just wouldn't have them done to me. Firstly, "Sleeves". ("Sleeves" are where you have your whole arm tattooed.) I know quite a few people, including women, who have a sleeve... Or one in progress at least. They look awesome when their finished. It's just not for me. Anything on the face or neck... It doesn't have to be a Mike Tyson face tattoo, or the back of the neck or anything... Again, on other people = awesome. Me = Lame. Finally on the "Not for Me" roster = arm tattoos period. I wouldn't get one on my wrist, even on the inside of my wrist... Or on my bicep like my Dad's... Or on my forearm... Call me sexist/caught in the past, but to me - it's more of a "Manly" place to get tattooed.... Just like some people are weirded out by men having "Tramp Stamps". (I AM NOT DISSING ANYONE WHO HAS TATTOOS THERE! My point is, they're just not places I would have tattooed.)

So whether you look at Tattoos and piercings as a form of art and self expression... Or if you see them more as self mutilation and "disgusting"... That's your torch to bear... Some do flaunt their tattoos and piercings... Even if they do, look the other way if you don't like it... No one's making you look, get one or pay for someone else's. All three of my tattoos are easily covered... All I have to do to hide my 8 earrings is to wear my hair down... And half the time, most people don't even notice my nose ring... Unless the light hits it just right, or I actually point it out. If all you have to worry about is someone's tattoo/piercing habit, I think you're sitting pretty in the world.

It's not always about me; go out and be creative! (Or at least practice being tolerant of other people!)

Winter's Finally Found It's Way To Alberta... Permanently for the Season =0(

Mother Nature has taken leave from playing games.... She's turned her winter furnace on...... And I don't like it much... But She didn't ask my opinion, and never will... This is one of the perks of being Canadian, I guess... And the further North you go, it tends to get colder...

We had been spoiled by above seasonal temperatures... Granted they were just a few degrees over freezing, but hey, who am I kidding? I'll take it! There was a bit of a threat of snow just around Halloween.  Mother Nature has decided to get "back to normal", whatever Alberta considers to be normal this time of year. (All I can hear is that commercial, Get back to normal, whatever your normal is.) I could feel the cold weather coming in my knees... They started to ache about a week ago. The high temperatures are now below 0 degrees Celsius... The slick streets of rain soaked streets was a sign of what was to come, and what was to come arrived today in form of light snow... I think this is the beginning of the end, snow will most likely be here until the Spring Thaw. I hope the wind, and the wind chill factor it brings, keeps to a minimum this year!

I remember back in BC, cousins from Australia had made the long trek over seas for a Christmas Vacation. (Crazy, I know.) They were excited to experience snow, some for the first time. (Some of my Aussie cousins were born and partially raised here in Canada, so they had snow experience. The friend or two they brought over however, were the opposite. They were born and raised in Oz, and therefore snow was a treat for them to play in.) They waited... And waited... And waited... But the snow never came. They had to make the drive up to Silver Star Mountain, one of the local ski hills, to allow the snow first timers to actually see snow. It was one of a few "Green" Christmases I remember in Vernon... Although, I've got to be honest with you... They're more like "Brown" Christmases. Doesn't leave one very festive, I can tell you that.

I remember my first winter in Edmonton... I could have cried, almost on a daily basis. I was spoiled by being raised in the Interior of BC, where if you see -20 Celsius for a week straight it's considered cold. Well, Alberta cold is a little different from BC cold. Alberta cold is drier, and way colder than -20. I called my Mum on her birthday at the end of October. I had just gotten home from work, and I was freeeeeeeezing! I stripped off my boots and socks as I talked to her and told her I'd have to call her back, she asked why... I told her because my feet were purple and I wanted to go have a shower to make them the right colour again... She gave me motherly grief and told me I was living in Alberta now, I could wear more than one pair of socks.... I was though! At the time I was wearing three pairs of socks and boots that were supposedly rated to -25 Degrees... I've acclimatized since... The first couple weeks of the season always usually suck though!

There are reports of the treacherous QEII having cars slid off to the side already. (The QEII = Highway 2/Queen Elizabeth Highway that runs from Edmonton to Calgary.) I believe it, this highway scares the hell out of me, and for good reason. This time last year I was working in Leduc, considered a surrounding area of Edmonton, and I was on my way home from work and got cut off on the highway... Well, I had shit tires on there, hit ice and fish tailed into the ditch. I wound up writing off my car and losing the job. It's alright though, we hit seriously -50 last winter... We were the 2nd coldest place on the planet that day... Second only to a place in stinking Siberia! It didn't feel a degree over -30, but when it gets that cold, how are you going to regulate the difference? (Other than machinery starting not to wanna work!) I hate this time of year sometimes! (If it weren't for Christmas, I think I'd try to by pass the season totally.. I admire those who were smart enough to have homes down south for the shitty winter, and lake front property for the summer.)

I realize no one can control the weather. (Wouldn't that be some shit if we could, eh?) I know there are certain people who love this time of year... Whether it be for the skating, skiing, snowboarding etc... Or for the sheer fact they prefer the colder temperatures... I'm not one of those people... I can feel a drastic change of temperature coming through the aches in my knees... Because of my hooped knee situation, I'm not one for winter sports... Hell, I'm liable to fall on my ass on the way to the car and take myself out of commission for a week... I've done it before... And I can't take extreme temperatures... Hot or Cold.. What can we do though, except to accept it and prepare for it... Or we'll just be those annoying, bitch about the weather types... No one likes a whiner!

It's not always about me; if it were, snow would appear on the 23rd of December and bugger off on the 2nd of January! (Except on the ski slopes, I'll compromise with y'all there!) And there's no excuse for such cold weather! -15 tops!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Get Out of The Road!

Ever follow behind someone who has left their blinker on for 8 blocks? Ever been stuck behind someone, other than farm equipment, going 40 km/hour on the highway? Ever pull up to a red light to look over at the next car, only to find a little old blue haired granny? The type that you wonder if they can actually see over the steering wheel, without the aid of 6 telephone books? I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful to the elderly... (Elderly in my world is 65 to 70 years old +.) They've made it this far in life and probably have a million more stories than I will at their age...What I'm concerned about is their safety as well as the safety of others.

I'll use my grandparents as examples to show that I mean no harm or offence by this post... My Gramps, I really don't remember ever riding with him... (Ok I can remember once, when I was like 4... I had a fat bowl of Fruit Loops before he drove me home to my parents' place... All I remember was feeling like crap... Then barfing all over his car... To this day, 25 years later, I still can't handle the smell of Fruit Loops, let alone eating them.) But I imagine, being that he was on the road a lot for work, that he was a pretty good driver... I only remember one story of an accident with him behind the wheel... Don't remember if it was his fault or not... My Grandpa was a very cautious driver. I remember him saying, on more than one occasion, "There's right of way, then there's dead." I remember one time Grandma & Grandpa left my Aunt's house in Kelowna after a cousin's birthday party... We left about 15 to 20 minutes behind them and wound up passing them on the way home to Vernon. Like I said, he was a cautious driver. Maybe he ought to have been, he worked for the Department of Highways in BC. Just sayin'. My Nana has a similar story. We were headed to my Aunt's for Christmas, my cousins and I left about the same time as Nana. The cousins and I had to grab cigarettes and a couple odds and ends before heading out to the Aunt's.... On the way, we passed Nana, who was going about 30 KM/Hour... I remember waving like an idiot, but Nan didn't even notice... She had her hands on the wheel at 10 and 2, and was very focused on the road. Mind you we had a butt load of snow, and Nana was always a worried driver. Finally, my Grandma. I remember Grandma used to be a really good driver. She used to have to commute every day for work... But now that she's pushing 80, I won't ride with her if she's driving... She scares me that bad... And if you try to say something to her, she turns nasty... "I've been driving longer than you've been around! I don't need this from you!" So I stopped saying anything... I've also stopped riding with her. I still love her a LOT though... If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be worried.

 I know what I am about to suggest may be considered age-ist.... And maybe the thought is already in place... Maybe the elderly should have to take a road test from a certain age on... Kinda like 16 year olds have to do to get their licence.... Only the elderly would have to test to keep their licences. Remember, driving is a privilege not a right. I've worked in a government building, more specifically the building where Environment and Transportation is housed... I over heard a gentleman, maybe around 70-ish, talking with a driving examiner... This gentleman had written about 4 different tests, twice... So grand total 8 tests later, his licence was pulled... Why? Because he failed all 8 tests... He was disappointed, and maybe rightfully so... After driving of 55+ years, then being told you weren't allowed to any more would be hard to handle... That's a lot of freedom taken away. (As a transit bum, ya, that's a LOT of independence taken away.)

I realize that elderly people on pensions can't afford cabs, or a personal driver, or even those personal driver rental things you can do. (I know there's a company here in Edmonton called "Driving Miss Daisy" that is geared to elderly people... They take them to appointments, grocery shopping and other errands etc.) I know that if the elderly person isn't close to a bus route, that may not be an option either. If the elderly person, say my Grandma for example, loses or surrenders their licence, they should be able to depend on family for a ride etc. My Grandma has always been active and likes to walk, but lugging groceries home... Forget that noise! Grandma has 4 kids and soon to be 5 grand kids in the area... I'm sure one of the 9 can help out... I'm sure if Grandma called my Dad even and said "Ross, I need a ride to the doctors then the drug store... Can ya help me out?" I'm sure my Dad'd say "Ya Rena, deal.... What time's your appointment?"

My point here being, I respect the elderly and I worry about every one's safety... The elderly's eye sight may be deteriorating... You ever seen an older person without glasses? Their reaction time may not be as good as it used to be.... (Sometimes you have to explain a joke to Grandma twice before she gets it... Even though you know damn well you told her that same joke 5 years ago... And she got it the first time around back then.) They may get lost or confused easier.... Alzheimer's and Dementia tend to hit later on in life... (I realize that licences can be revoked... Usually if a letter is sent by a Doctor stating that the specific person shouldn't be driving anymore.) Some days when I did drive, I'd park the car and sometimes forget where... As harsh as it may seem, I think the elderly should have to road test after a certain age. It's for every one's best interest.... Driving is a privilege NOT a right... Could you imagine a little old lady or man dying in a car wreck while they were behind the wheel? Not fair, if you've made it that far in life... I hope they pass peacefully, not in terror...

It's not always about me; I hope I have sense enough to surrender my licence before I become an old lady who is hell on wheels!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget: A Walk to Rememberance Day

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."

Today is a day set aside for us to remember those brave souls who have fallen on our behalf. I dare say that everyone has had War directly, or indirectly, affect their lives.

It wasn't until I was 20 that I was told that my Scottish Great~Great Grandfather fought in World War I. Unfortunately, he was one who forfeited his life for a greater cause. His Granddaughter (My Nana) went on to marry a military man in my Gramps. He was set to be deployed to Cyprus and the Congo, but wound up never having to go. (This was probably for the best for everyone... Nana and Gramps ultimately had 9 kids to care for!)

The tragedy that was World War II cemented my existence. Of my four grandparents, three were born right here in Canada. My Grandma was the unique one, she was born in Switzerland in the early 1930's. By the time my Grandma reached the age of 8, the rumblings of Nazi Germany were becoming more apparent to her Father. (My Great Grandfather.) He had been to Canada before and figured it would be a good place to move his family to.

I asked my Grandma what she could remember about her time in Switzerland. She remembered things being rationed. I guess Grandma didn't have much of a sweet tooth as squirrelled away her sugar rations... Maybe she used the sugar as leverage, as she mentioned that she would use it to bargain with her mother (my Great Grandmother) - for what I don't know... She was 8! She told me about the boat ride over to Canada and what a bizarre experience that was. I guess as my Great Grandparents Gysler were on the dock waiting to board the ship with their 4 children, a Nazi Soldier clicked his heels and gave "the Solute" and Great Grandpa refused to solute back at first. After a little convincing from his brother, Great Grandpa finally did solute back and then was able to embark on the journey to Canada with his family. Grandma says she  remembers people getting sea sick and throwing up over the sides of the ship and the ship was a little bit hard to get used to at first.

Once the family got to Canada, Grandma remembers going to a male relative's house. (I can't remember if Grandma said it was her Uncle or her Dad's Uncle or cousin... But it was a relative.) Grandma mentioned that she saw there were swastika's on the rain barrels. Though Great-Grandpa planned to briefly stay at this relative's, after such a sight - the plan had changed. The family settled into a Canadian life and the school aged kids began school, which was hard at first... Their first language was German, so they had the added difficulty of learning English first. Great Grandma and Grandpa rounded out their brood with two more kids after coming to Canada. (Grand total of 6 kids.) Grandma and her siblings became Canadian Citizens and went on to raise Canadian children and saw the likes of Canadian grandchildren. (We're onto the third generation of Swiss Canadians as some of those grand kids have kids now.) My Great Grandparents Gysler also became Canadian Citizens. After they passed away that's how they stayed as they were buried in Vernon, BC.

I briefly dated a Paramedic who was in the Armed Forces. We didn't get too serious and only dated a matter of a few months. I don't know if it was something I did, or the fact that he was preoccupied with his deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan - and rightfully so - but we didn't make it to his departure to the Middle East. Though we weren't longer together - I did breathe a sigh of relief when I heard that he had made it back to Canada safely after his tour of duty. I've even seen him once or twice since as well. No hard feelings... Maybe a few of gratitude... I always thought he had kind eyes, which is part of the reason I dated him in the first place.

I have recently heard of the White Poppy Campaign. This campaign encourages people to wear a White Poppy for a culture of Peace. Those associated with the campaign, wear a white poppy to symbolise "the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers". The poppies are really beautiful, and so is the idea... But the idea is also offensive and might see the Campaign getting sued by a Legion. Remembrance Day is a day of REMEMBERING those who have already lost their lives in order to protect our rights and freedoms. I'm all for World Peace and all that good stuff, but pick a different day to promote your ideas! I'd rather not see another war in my life time, but I know for a fact that Wars have happened in the past, so don't insult my intelligence.... And far above my intelligence are those who have perished in Wars past. We're supposed to remember to honour those fallen and hopefully never see another person die again.

I took a walk through St Joachim Cemetery today and thought about both the World Wars, Vietnam, Dessert Storm, and now in Afghanistan. I came to the hallowed ground where a monument stood dedicated to such souls. Around this monument, were the rows and rows of Military Graves. Some were of those who were lost in the Great Wars. (World War I &II) Some were those who had served Military Duty and were fortunate to return and live the rest of their years in a country they fought so hard to protect. I feel greatly indebted to these Fallen Fellows.

It's Not Always About Me; Thank you all you Military Personnel who make me proud to be Canadian! Today I wear my Poppy in Your Honour.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grow Ups Vs Grow Downs

You know what they say, It takes all types to make the world go round. Two of those "types" are people that need to grow up already! and the other would be people who need to "grow down". Both groups can be equally as challenging to deal with or entertaining depending on how you look at it.... Either way, where would the world be with out either set of people??

We've all met at least one person in our lives that we've sat back and wondered if they've had a single day of fun in their whole lives... "Why so serious?" People like this need to lighten up, have a beer, or smile - I guarantee it won't crack your face... These types of people just need to "Grow Down". Life is a serious game, no question there, but no one gets out alive... So relax and have a few laughs and enjoy life a little bit before you go!

I've been accused of needing to Grow Down a time or two... I know how hard it is to put on a happy face if your stressed out, worried about something, have a deadline, or life's just taken a big giant crap on your head... You don't exactly feel like laughing and having a good time... (Maybe that's more a sign of Depression than the need to grow down?) Having to "Grow Down" is just about as hard as growing up some times... You can get caught in a rut, and it's just easier to stay in the mode. Or there are people who are so focused, know exactly what they want from life, and may not slow down to enjoy the journey... They're more concerned with the destination....

Grow Downs can be challenging to deal with due to perceived tension... This could be due to the lack of joking around perhaps? The Grow Down being too serious, if you will. I've known a few Grow Downs in my day... I've seen the Grow Downs getting toyed with... It's been a variety of people not working as quickly, or in the direction, as the Grow Down would like... This has known to get the "Downs" flustered... Also have seen people trying to joke with the "Downs" and the jokes get them spun out of shape as well.

On the other hand, I'm sure it's more likely that we've all met someone that we've wanted to smack up side the head.... "Why can't you act like an adult for once?" These are the people some wonder about... Have they taken responsibility for their lives? Do they always act like kids? There is a fine line between people joking around or having fun, as opposed to someone who genuinely needs to understand what it means to be a grown up/adult. It's OK to be immature, joke around, and have fun... As long as your priorities are in the right order.

Believe it or not, I've also been accused of needing to Grow Up as well... I still have 90% of the stuffed animals ever given to me... I enjoy the occasional cartoon... I like cute little things... I'm 29 and not 100% sure what I want out of live... I have an idea, and I also know what I don't want. I know some 15 year olds that know exactly how they want their lives to play out... Does that mean they need to Grow Down? My bills, since I've lived in Edmonton at least, have always been paid... I've usually worked since being here, and have made it on time... (I'll admit, there were times that I called in sick because I was too hungover to go in, and yes - that part I needed to grow up about... I'm happy to report that I have...)

Grow Ups can be fun... But they usually are more frustrating... Ever had a friend who was a kid in an adult's body? They can be fun when you need to go blow off steam... They will show you a good time, don't get me wrong... That being said, ever had a roommate that needed to grow up? You know, the ones that their half the rent is never on time... They never clean up after themselves... Turn off a light/TV etc after myself? Are you foolin' me? Frustrating... Worse yet, ever know anyone that still lives in their parent's basement... And they aren't enrolled in any post secondary educational institution... That haven't just lost a job or gotten out of a crappy relationship/situation... Did I forget to mention they're 30+? Frustrating....

I hope most people are a happy medium of the two... They know when to be a Grown Up... They know when to be a Grown Down... There's nothing wrong with having fun, there's also nothing wrong with being serious... As long as you can find a balance between the two polar opposites.

It's not always about me; I'm a little bit country... I'm a little bit rock & roll...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Familiar Distance: Family Taking the "Fun" Out of Dysfunctional

"Let me ask you this about this life we live
And let me try to swerve some of this attention you give
To them distant ass relatives over in Hampton and
If they really miss you so much
Why don't they just call you then?
If you wanted blood, would you still have love?
Or in fact does the blood make you think you have to love?
Look I probably love my family more then anybody here
But my homies are family too
Third cousins get outta here"

- Homies by ICP (Insane Clown Posse)

I've got family all over the place. My family stretches across most of Canada - predominantly in BC, but there's some in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec too... I've got some down in the US of A - in Texas, North Carolina, Maryland and a few other places as well. I've got family over seas - Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Scotland just to name a few. These are just the places I know about, I'm sure there are more blood relatives out there in various other places as well. Family is one of the most important things out there... But where do you draw the line when it comes to Family Loyalty?

Family dynamics have always perplexed me... I dig that certain people just don't get along, blood or not... My brother and I are the perfect example of that... If we were getting along, my parents thought something must be up... Guaranteed though, if someone did something to my brother... I'm 99% sure I'd want to kick their asses... There's an unwritten rule in my mind, I'm the only one allowed to talk shit about my brother, and I'm the only one allowed to stomp on him... It's my right as an older sister.  I'm sure my brother would agree from his side of the story, and say the same thing... He's the only one allowed to hate me and talk smack about me... The less we see of each other, the better. Siblings, still putting the "fun" in dysfunctional....

Parents... Yeah, some people hate their parents... (Some you can't blame, they've got reason to hate their parent(s) - others are just spoiled brats who dislike because their parent(s) had the gall to use the "N" word... as in NO - not the bad "N" word.) I've always had a decent enough relationship with my parents... I didn't always like them, but they never gave me reason to go all "Menendez" on them. Some days I'm sure they understood perfectly why some species ate their young. I still remember the day it dawned on me, "Hey, Mum and Dad aren't big, fat idiots after all." I'm sure they remember it too, or at least marked it on the calendar. Parents - the originals in putting the "fun" in dysfunctional.

Grandparents... Who can say a bad thing about their grandparents? Some can - I'm just not one of them... I knew all four of my grandparents... They were all cool... They'd get me all spun out on sugar... Slip me a couple bucks here and there.... Gave the rest of the family a place to meet up and visit... I think Grandparents invented the "fun" in dysfunctional.

Aunts, Uncles and first cousins... I was fortunate enough to have 8 biological aunts (2 sisters for Mum, 6 for Dad) and 3 biological Uncles (1 bro for Ma, and 2 for Dad). In all, I've got 20 cousins... Those 20 cousins produced 4 second cousins... There was never a shortage of kids to play with over the holidays - until we got older, moved away and didn't get home on the holidays. Aunts/Uncles/Cousins - the reason "fun" is in dysfunctional.

Anything other than my parents, younger brother, grandparents, and a few aunts, uncles and cousins.... My loyalties can't be counted upon. I know is sounds harsh, and I honestly wish nothing bad on the extended family.... I've just noticed some stuff over the years... Since my Grandpa passed away in 2001, I've noticed his family has become more withdrawn from our sector of the family. My family from Texas will come to Canada, and go to Vancouver Island where Grandpa's older brother and sister live.... Do you think they stop in the Okanagan to see my Grandma, Mum, Aunts, and Uncle? I don't recall hearing about that visit... These people are each other's Cousins/Aunts/Uncles/Nieces/Nephews. It's not like they are distant relatives that have never met. It aggravated me, I've come to terms that the "fun" isn't there....

My Dad has an Aunt who has lived in Edmonton for years. Since I moved here in May of 2003, I've seen her maybe 3 or 4 times... The only reason I did see her the 3 or 4 times is because when my parents came to visit me from BC, we went out for a few hours to visit her as well. If it weren't for my parents, I doubt I'd ever have seen her. My Mum's cousin's family live just outside of Edmonton... The Cousin's granddaughter was pregnant and they were going to come to Edmonton to do some shopping and made mention of meeting up for lunch or something... It never happened.... The cousin got sick and passed away suddenly and that was the end of that. Back in September, I did see my Grandpa's brother's granddaughter. (My 3rd cousin??? I'm not even sure how the labelling works...) At any rate, she's a sweet girl and brought her 6 month old son out to Edmonton to visit her Dad.... If it wasn't for Facebook, I doubt I would have seen them at all.... I noticed in her status that she was boarding a plane and was heading out this way... I asked if I would be getting to see her and her boy. It took her Mum pointing out the fact that I asked her on Facebook to get the ball rolling... Taking the "fun" out.

I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but if that's how they want to be - fine! Let them, I'd love to get to know them better, hang out and maybe become friends as well as family... More allies in this day and age, the better. If they aren't interested, there's not much I can do... Except turn close friends into family.... I've got a close friend that I call my sister. She's got one son that I refer to as my nephew and he calls me "Auntie Lauren". I've been "adopted" by her family and I consider them my 2nd family. I'd probably step up to bat for them faster then some of the people that I am blood related too.

What's my point... Sometimes I forget even... I guess what I'm trying to say is, you can't pick your family... You can pick your friends... And sometimes, your friends come before certain members of your family... Who you going to help move? Your best buddy in the whole wide world? Or your third cousin you haven't seen since y'all were 10 years old? Who you going to call to pick you up from work if your car breaks down? Best pal in the world? Or someone who won't come see you under any other circumstances?

It may sound like I'm bitter and promoting hate or resentment... But I guarantee I'm not. I've been bitten by the Genealogy bug and want to trace my family tree as far back as I can... I've even got family from Norway on my Facebook. When I was in Whistler working the Olympics, I managed to get a few days off in a row. I jammed to Vancouver and Victoria to see family. I saw my Dad's younger brother, his wife/my aunt, and both my cousins in Vancouver. I then went to Victoria, saw one of Dad's younger sisters and two of my cousins... I also went and saw my Grandpa's older sister and brother, that were mentioned earlier on, and one of Grandpa's younger sisters. I'm not a hater... I made the effort....

It's not always about me; is blood really thicker than water though?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Not to Be Ghetto Fab: Confessions of a Former Ghetto Superstar!

My definition of Ghetto may differ from yours; so lets clear that up right now. My definition of Ghetto, to put it simply, is a rougher/tougher area of town.... Maybe a little more prone to crime or unsavory types. A few Ghetto's in Edmonton may include China Town/Tent Town/The Inner City Ghetto, 118Ave/Cromdale Area, and The Stadium Area (which evidently, is in between the two.) That being said, I've lived in some pretty Ghetto neighbourhoods since moving to Edmonton.... I've lived in all three Ghetto War Zones... (Keep in mind, I was a 21 year old naive, small town girl when I first moved to E~Town.)

When I first moved to Edmonton, I lived around the corner from the Cromdale Hotel.... We're talking less than a block from 118 Avenue. 118th is essentially one of Edmonton's "skid rows". It didn't take me long to figure out I was living in a rough neighbourhood. I got up insanely early to catch the bus to go cross town to work. I trodded half asleep to the appropriate bus stop only to find a drug user passed out, still tied off in the bus shelter.... Naive or not, I stayed out of that bus shelter and a good ten feet on top of that away... The bus I needed got stopped at a red light, and I was getting approached by a strange looking lady. Turned out she figured I needed some company... Thankfully, the light had turned green and I was outta there before anything else strange could go on... The boyfriend, I moved to Edmonton with, and I thankfully broke up shortly after our arrival in the City of Champions, and the basement suite we were in belonged to his cousin. Heartbroken none the less, I moved out three weeks after the transition into Alberta. I was glad to get out of that neighbourhood... 118th is supposedly the "Avenue of Champions" and is where Rexall Place - where the Oilers and Oil Kings play. It's filled with pawn shops and seems to be the strip for Street Walkers... A couple years after, the Cromdale was shut down due to the drugs and people the activity brings... The City is actively trying to clean up the area, and rid it of the Hookers as well.

I didn't last at my next place long either. I moved in with my friend Missy, her husband at the time, and their few month old son. I wasn't happy there by any means. The husband was a bit of a creeper and pissed me off, my nephew was only a baby and was up throughout the night, and everyone seemed broke all the time. I was dealing with the recent break up, move from BC, move to a new area in a new city, getting to work for really the first time to support myself... I liked the neighbourhood, but I couldn't hack it.... I started looking for my own place, and after a month and a half with my pal and her family.... I moved yet again. (So now I've moved three times in about three months,) I guess I'm drawn to the Ghettoness of this City.... I moved from nice, quiet, family orientated neighbourhood into China Town.

I was in an area called McCauley, which is technically a block off China Town, both areas are just outside of Edmonton's Down Town area. I figured it was OK, the rent was dirt cheap for my bachelor suite in the basement of a converted office building... Everything was included in my rent with the exception of my phone & personal bills. Everything!  It should have tipped me off that there were bars on my tiny little window. When my Dad's Aunt, who has lived in Edmonton since forever, caught wind of where I was living, she flipped her lid..... She figured it was dangerous, and my parents didn't rest easy until they came from BC to see for themselves. To be honest, I loved it there. I spent roughly a year and a half in my tiny apartment. My room in my current residence is approximately the size of my whole bachelor pad... My bedroom, living room, kitchen and dining room were all one open place... My bathroom was just to the right of my front door where my large boot/jacket/clothes closet was... About three, maybe four, blocks away was the Main Headquarters to the Edmonton City Police... That being said, the Reman Center is on the same block as Headquarters... About six or so blocks from my apartment building is a correctional facility as well... I should tell you I only had one issue in that year and a half. I came home one night after the late shift at my job, I got there around 8ish maybe, and there were Police that had taped off the whole block... They wouldn't let me into my building... I didn't know what was going on until I called the Cop Shop to see if I was able to go home. The story was that someone held up the Clinic two doors down and was looking for drugs... The Clinic had none on site, due to the roughness of the neighbourhood, and the would be robber held some people at gun point... Nice eh? Other than that, no issues - even when I would walk a couple blocks after a night at the bar. The worst I ever got was "Hey, do you have a smoke/quarter" or "Hey Pretty Lady, wanna come party with us?" I miss that place, and to this day wonder why I ever moved out of the place....

The third and final Ghetto-fied place I lived was between China Town and Hooker Alley, in the Stadium area - the Stadium being where the Edmonton Eskimos play. With in a week of moving in, there was a double homicide about 4 blocks away, just around the corner from where I walked every day to get to the train I took to get around... Scary... A month later there was another murder, this time closer to 118th Ave... (Both China Town and 118th Ave were within walking distance... Both about 10 - 15 minutes away, just in opposite directions.) Again, I didn't have any issues. I wasn't affiliated with any gangs or anything, and I made sure my roommate knew where I was going, when to expect me back and all that common sense type of stuff... (Geez, my roommate, at the time, was in the midst of becoming a lawyer!)  For the most part, I was a hermit and only went outside after dark for a cigarette or when I really needed too.

I guess you can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can't always take the ghetto out of the girl. I enjoyed my time in the less than great areas of Edmonton. Call me crazy... But I lived to tell about all three 'Hoods.... I didn't do any time in the "Gang Land" part of the City (Millwoods) and I'm alright with that... =0) Don't get me wrong, Edmonton's "Ghettos" may pale in comparison to most places... Say next to LA, 118th would probably look like a prime piece of real estate... Hell, even next to East Hastings in Vancouver, which I only briefly witnessed, the Avenue of Champions looks like a holiday spot. Let's face it, this girl wouldn't last 5 minutes in those ghetto's or on the mean streets of say Detriot, Chicago, or New York either... Edmonton's ghetto scene may not be as bad as some, but they're bad enough.

It's not always about me; but I did live in the Ghetto and survived to tell about it...

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Legend of Ogopogo

Okanagan Lake is nestled in the Okanagan Valley area of British Columbia, Canada. Settlements surrounding the Lake include Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon, Lake Country, Peachland, Summerland and Penticton. The lake is home to two islands, Rattlesnake and Grant Islands, and a floating bridge connecting Kelowna to Westbank as well. Okanagan Lake is 135 KM in length and 5 KM wide with the average depth of 76 Metres. Many creeks run into the lake while it flows out to the Okanagan River. The lake is home to many fish species including Rainbow Trout and Kokanee, but the most famous resident of Lake Okanagan is the Legendary Ogopogo.

I grew up in Vernon, BC, which you will notice is located on Okanagan Lake. Vernon is a small town/city with the population of about 36,000 residents. I was born and raised in the area and took it for granted... Vernon really isn't known for much... Other than the fact that it's got numerous orchards, hosts a slow pitch tourney every summer called Funtastic, is a beautiful place to visit and has The Army Camp. The Ogopogo has been featured on TV a few times, I remember seeing a bit on Unsolved Mysteries about it... You know who got credit though? Kelowna, because it's the biggest Okanagan City... I tell you what, that really bummed me out! Why? Because the Ogopogo is all of the Okanagan's creature... Not just Kelowna's!

For those of you who are not familiar with the Ogopogo's Legend, the creature is essentially Canada's cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. Aboriginal People of the area have been seeing the Serpent like creature since the 19th Century. The local Salish Natives have named the creature Naitaka, which translates to "Lake Demon". The first mention of the Ogopogo by a European Settler was in 1860, when the man reported his horses being drawn under by an unforeseen force as they were swimming in the Lake near Rattlesnake Island. The first physically documented sighting was in 1872, when the area was being colonized by European Settlers. With the aid of advances in technology, there are a few photos and videos that are claimed as proof that the monster does indeed exist. Some say that the photo/video evidence aren't clear enough to definitively prove that the Ogopogo exists. The images could in fact have other explanations.

The creature has been described in similar was to that of the Loch Ness Monster. The Ogopogo is reported to be 40 to 50 feet long, with a variety humps on it's back. British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker believes that Ogopogo could possibly be a Basilosaurus, a primitive serpentine whale creature. Some skeptics believe that the images caught on film and video were mistaken with natural wildlife including a lake sturgeon, otters, beavers, snakes or other Marine life. Others feel the images were that of inanimate objects such as logs or something called a seiche. A seiche is a standing wave in a lake that moves below the surface in a serpentine motion.

Though not as famous as Nessie, the Ogopogo is one of the Okanagan's claims to fame. As to be expected, there is much merchandising associated with this lake monster. I've sent my share of postcards that depict cartooned versions of Ogopogo, I've sent one of my nephews a stuffed Ogopogo as well... Items don't end there, as you can imagine...

It's not always about me; though I've swam in Okanagan Lake, I've never seen the Ogopogo...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Does This Safety Vest Make My Butt Look Big?

In my years here in Edmonton, I've held a number of different work positions. I've been told that I change my job like I do my underwear, and I've often joked about my job A.D.D. (A little insensitive maybe, but true.) I've left jobs for a myriad of reasons, from low pay, to a long commute time, or not liking a certain person/people within the company. My biggest problem in the past has been becoming bored though and getting myself into trouble... You know what they say about idle hands... So today isn't exactly a tremendous feat but, it's officially my 3 month anniversary here at work. Whoopty doo Basil!

My current employment finds me sorting and delivering mail within a government building... Boring.... Most of my day is spent either reading a book or fiddling on the Internet... As you may imagine, the pay isn't great here, but it's enough to pay the bills. Every so often though, I'll get a call saying there's work available doing janitorial stuff in a trucking/freight office... It's a couple hours outta my life, and a few more bucks in my pocket.... It's an added bonus that I can basically go at my leisure after work... And still have time afterwards to lead a "normal" life.....

The Trucking/Freight Company I clean at, I am actually quite familiar with on a different level... I spent about three and a half years at the joint as an employee... I was a paper monkey/paper pusher of sorts. It was a unionized shop, office staff included, so any positions within the office had to be posted and filled within the company before anyone new could be hired to fill a position... This was pretty sweet, if you will remember - Idle hands and I get bored quick.... I filled quite a few positions because of this blessed union rule... Kept me out of trouble for a while. I was, at one point or another, a bill tear-er, the East Outbound girl, the West Outbound girl, the Appointment Clerk Assistant, and finally the Appointment clerk. I spent most of my time as the Appointment Clerk... By the end, it was getting pretty bland... I would come in to start my shift at 7 AM, and by Noon (on busy days) I'd be done my work and would have to kill three and a half hours... Which got me into trouble for "fraternizing" with the drivers of the company...

To be honest, this freight/trucking company is where I have had the most fun working, period. (It's also the place that I bitched about the most.... I even quit once - only to return 3 months later.) After I got the hang of what was expected of me work wise, I became "just one of the guys". (I got it down to a science... So, I felt pretty smart after my initial feelings of stupidity in that way...) I considered some of the dock workers and drivers friends, and they me. I even made a few friends with drivers from different companies that had certain contracts through us.

I recruited Miss-Ow, my Edmonton Best Friend, to work here. She and I worked in the office together before she left for BC. It was a riot! For my 23rd birthday, she decorated my desk with balloons and streamers... Made my birthday pretty memorable that year. She gave me a pin that said, "It's my birthday, wanna spank me?" which was a huge hit with "the guys". Miss and I had code names for pretty much everyone... Some of the looks we got! Holy! Some people just didn't appreciate the originality of this BC Duo! I also brought a friend, Vee that I met at my first job here in Edmonton, over to this trucking company. After Miss-Ow! left, Vee was my sanity and comic relief.

This is where I met my best male friend, who we'll call E-Head (not because he's does E or anything... Another inside joke.) I'd walk out to have a cigarette when I knew that E-Head was at the warehouse. I'd come down the stairs, and if he was in sight I'd yell "E-HEAD'S A BITCH!!" to which he'd reply, "Yeah? Well I learned everything I know about being a bitch from YOU!" E-Head and I had a lot of fun together at work. On good days we'd joke around, I'd ask him if the reflective safety vest made my butt look big... He'd tell me no, my butt made my butt look big. On bad days, I'd cry on his shoulder and tell him my "Whoa is me" stories. I miss seeing him on a daily basis... In many ways, he helped me keep my sanity as long as I stayed there too. He was my best bitch, and I told him as much. I haven't seen E~head in over a year, but I did talk to him last week. We seemed to pick up right where we left off... Maybe he really is my best bitch after all.

It's also the place where I met a boyfriend/common law husband, we'll call him K. (Miss-Ow! and I called K, Signore - pronounced "sin- your-ay" - the Italian for Mister. I don't remember why we called him that... Maybe it was the closest thing we could come up with to Senior?) My relationship with K has always been pretty volatile, and it didn't help that he is 20 years my senior. I won't get into the details, we just seemed to be arguing all the time and were always off again/on again. (K was the main reason for my crying on E~head's shoulder. E~head tried to tell me to move on, but as a stubborn girl - I figured I knew better.) I went on a few runs with K, who was a trucker, and it made me feel really special.(Especially being that I had bugged the head honcho to let me go on a run, and it never amounted to anything.) I got to see what K did all day and I finally felt like his girl. 

I had other pals there too. I got along with about 85% of the people there... A trucker, we'll call Second Honey, and I had a mutual crush on each other. He was married and I was still with K, it was a running joke that if we became single, we'd date. Around work, I'd call my mutual crush guy my second honey - which almost acted as a nickname. Another pal, Pet It, took me to see the CP Rail terminal one time. It was our little secret being that, by this time, the head honcho was completely ignoring any of my requests to go on a run with a driver. I was chummy with a member of the management team, Mr R. When things would get a little hairy, I'd beg him every day for a pink slip. He called me "Pinkie" after a while... (I was also known as "Red" because of the colour of my hair.) It was Mr. R who hired me back for my second kick at the freight can. After work, a group of us, including K, would go down to a bar called the H to have a beer, hang out and sing Scary-oke. Every Friday, for a period of months, I'd either be going into work still drunk, hungover or I'd be calling in sick. From what I can remember of the nights spent at the H, it was awesome! Everyone had fun.

The cool people started leaving, or getting fired, and the whole group dynamic changed. I had quit drinking, so I couldn't even "escape" to that realm of fun. It just wasn't the same, but in all honesty, I don't regret my two tours of duty at this trucking/freight company. I could bitch and complain, piss and moan... But why? I left twice, and the second time stuck... It's been just over 3 years since I've worked as a freight employee. Every time I do set foot on the property to go cleaning though, there's a bitter sweet burning sensation. I remember the good times with great and endearing fondness.... The memories of the rough times make my heart sink and break a little bit... Every time.

It's not always about Me; with my impending move to BC, all I will have left of Edmonton are my memories. I am fortunate enough to have some good ones. I'll miss Vee, E~Head, Pet It, and even K. I already miss Mr R and Miss-Ow! You guys (and girls) rocked my world!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Purging Hoarders: No Need For Intervention

Well, I've decided to take the plunge and move from Deadmonton, Hellberta (Edmonton, Alberta) back to my home town of Vernon, BC. I'm still a little leery about moving back into my parents' house... I know with the economy the way it is, I'm not the only one that has been faced with this decision... I know I won't pull a "George" from Seinfeld, it's just a pit stop to help pay off some bills in order to reach my ultimate goal of Victoria.

Now that my decision has been made, it's time to pack... My parents' just sold and packed up their house of 17 years. Ironically, in that process, they sent me stuff that I had been storing in their  basement for the last 10 years. I hadn't realized the sheer amount of stuff I had collected over my 29 years..... I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder by any means... Now that I have everything, it's time to purge before that statement is no longer true.

I had gone through the boxes prior to them being sent. I parted with and purged books, clothes, stuffed animals and other knick knacks. Now it's time to trim the mountain even more and repack. I know what it's like to have certain memories be tied up in material things. That connection makes it hard to part with an item... Going through the pile, I came across things I had totally forgotten about and decided to keep because of the memories they brought up. My pile is slowly shrinking, none the less.

I think I found the "cause" of my minor case of Hoarding. This past summer, my Grandmother also moved. This was a "down sizing" move for Grandma, but the only thing that seemed to downsize was the size of her house... Not the amount of material she has in that house. I'll give her credit, she has let go of a few things, not nearly enough though. I realize that there is a lot of stuff that reminds her of Grandpa. Almost 50 years together - It's to be expected... But certain things I just don't understand. I don't know how many sets of dishes she has - all I know is, she's got far too many... And she's got typical "hoarder" lines like "Well, you never know when they'll come in handy!" or "You'll need extra plates for Christmas!" I love my Grandma - like I say, I think I got this Gene from her! (But I swear sometimes that Lady's just straight up stubborn!) My Mum and Aunts have decided to pull their own "intervention" by volunteering their time to get her organized. Maybe they'll get a few sets of dishes to Value Village.... Or my one of cousins that could use a set...

So, you know what I'll be doing for the next month... Getting rid of clothes that don't fit or have gone out of style... Getting my own dishes down to a reasonable amount... Getting rid of the kids books I no longer have use for... Getting rid of old things that no longer have meaning - like knick knacky gifts from ex's... Old computer stuff... I forsee a few trips to Value Village and Computer Recycling places...

It's not always about me; At least I'm not like an episode of Hoarders where there's garbage laced around the boxes... I guess I'm a purging hoarder of sorts...

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Movember Movement: Men's Health Issue Month

Sweet 'Stache MacDonald
Happy November! Now that the Zombie Fog has lifted, I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween! November 1st is All Saint's Day and marks the start of the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, in the Roman Catholic Church. November is quite a busy month otherwise too! Not only do we observe Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day, the month acts as awareness month for Native American Heritage Month, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, COPD Awareness Month,  National Novel Writing Month, Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, American Diabetes Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, and Crohn's & Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Month.

Lanny MacDonald
I've had a few of the above Conditions or Causes affect my life, another movement associated with November has affected my life as well... November has also been dubbed Movember, to raise awareness and support for Prostate Cancer/Men's Health issues. As a female, I obviously don't have a prostate... But I do have a Father, Brother, Uncles, Male Cousins, Male Friends, and I also had two Grand Fathers. I'd like to keep as many of them around for as long as possible!

In January of 2001, I lost my Gramps to Pancreatic Cancer... In September of that same year, 9 months almost to the day, I lost my Grandpa to Bone Cancer. Grandpa's relationship with cancer didn't directly start with Bone Cancer however... Roughly 8 years prior, it all started when Grandpa was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer... This post is dedicated to both my Gramps & Grandpa, and to anyone who has fought these types of Cancer and survived... And especially to those who didn't.

Staches Galore! -
Every Good Cowboy's Gotta
Have One!

Sam Elliott -
Lanny's "Mo" Twin/Rival
Movember, what can I say about it? To sum it up as best I can, without plagiarizing, is the month when Men are encouraged to grow a "Mo"-ustache to support and change the face of Men's Health Issues/Prostate Cancer. I flipped through a news paper, late last week, and saw a picture of ex-NHL-er, Lanny McDonald in a Movember Ad. He has got the sweetest 'stache I have ever seen in my life.... and he is the perfect guy to be the face for your ads! (It also reminded me what the month of November was to stand for.) I can think of a couple runners up for the best moustache - Tom Selleck, Hulk Hogan, Ed Brimley (The Quaker Oats guy), Sam Elliott (the only one that can truly rival Lanny Mac for sweetest stache! Just my opinion) and Santa - real or not... The main cast of Tombstone - including Sam Elliott- all seemed to sport Mo's... Some were pretty decent even! But Mr McDonald, in my opinion, holds the title of All-time Best Moustache. No Contest.

Aged to Perfection!
I won't preach, but I hope people see their doctors and do what they have to in order to keep themselves healthy... Whether its from Prostate Cancer, just like anything else. All I know is, I miss both my Grandfathers. It's been almost 10 years since they've passed... I think about them all the time. The pain of losing them slowly subsides, but I catch myself crying in remembrance from time to time. I also remember that Grandpa himself, had a pretty solid 'stache.... I can't think of any time he didn't have one - though I've seen him in pictures clean shaven... I don't recall ever seeing him clean shaven otherwise though. He always had a salt and pepper growth under his nose. and are good sites to read about the month of Movember, get involved if you can.

It's not always about me - I'm going to shave my moustache off right now. (Just Kidding!!!) I am looking forward to seeing a "Mo" or two... Maybe someone has the ability to put Lanny & Sam to shame?