The year I wore skinny jeans and leg warmers in the desert

January 9, 2012

I owned leg warmers as a kid in the 80s.

They were neon pink and hideous.

Now I own leg warmers as an adult in the 2010s.

They are Fairisle print and spectacular.

And I wear them over my Blundstones.

Give me five years and I’m sure I’ll regret spending the $5, and refer to 2012 as “The year I wore skinny jeans and leg warmers in the desert.”

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The perfect spot

January 8, 2012

One of the things I really regret about the time I spent in the north, was not buying more local art. At the time, I citied lack of funds — which was true. But in hindsight I wish I had saved up a couple hundred dollars here and there and bought more carvings or a nice wall hanging or jewelry.

I have a couple really small carvings — including my legendary “leaning Inukshuk.” It’s probably the saddest soapstone carving in the history of the world, but I could afford it.

When I left Rankin Inlet, my coworkers had a little going-away potluck for me. They pitched in and got me a nice little bag, sewn by a relative.

Afterwards, Betty — the coworker I was probably closest to — took me aside. She pressed a small grey velvet box into my hand.

Inside was this: 

The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful Inukshuk brooch, about two inches high. I’m not sure if it’s soapstone or ivory, but it’s lovely. I nearly cried. It was totally Betty to do something like that. Go the extra mile, but without expecting anything in return. She’s one of the most generous women I have known.

For two and a half years, it’s sat in my jewellery box. I would take it out and admire it from time to time, but never knew how to wear it.

This Christmas my mom lent me a festive penguin to pin to my coat while I was home.

After I returned it to her, my jacket felt naked. Too plain.

This morning, it dawned on me. The Inukshuk. The left hand breast pocket. The perfect spot.

And the flight attendant smiled

January 7, 2012

Sully and I have a bit of a history with the Air Canada agents at the Charlottetown airport. It all dates back to once upon an Easter holiday (I believe) after both of us had consumed way too much food over too short a period of time.

The long and short of the story is a particularly ornery service agent took issue with the size and weight of my dog (who, admittedly, has always been just on the border of the size of animal allowed to travel in the cabin). He was the right weight on the way to PEI, but while there he had gained 5 lbs.

With less than an hour left until the plane was to leave, I was told he was NOT allowed on the plane, and the lady basically told me I was screwed. She said I wouldn’t have enough time to go buy a kennel to check him, and she wasn’t about to allow him on board.

Anyway, after much drama, she finally decided to let him on board if I bought an Air Canada-issue kennel at the low price of $80 dollars.

Ever since I get a little bit anxious leading up to any flight I take with the pup. I put him on a strict feeding diet so that he’ll meet the weight requirements, no easy task after a week or two with the parents.

My mom’s parting words to me before I went to bed last night was “If you see that lady at the counter, avoid her at all costs. Run. Away.”

Easier said than done.

This morning as I wound my way through the check-in line, I spotted her. I had a one-in-five chance that she’d be my agent.

I won the jackpot.

I considered faking a “my phone is ringing, you go ahead of me” but decided to suck it up and accept my fate.

In my tried and true way, I was ultra friendly and tried to make her like me. She struggled to process the payments for checking the dog on board and an extra checked bag. It probably took a good 15-20 minutes to get me through the line.

But she didn’t say anything about my dog. She obviously didn’t remember me (and with a last name like mine, that’s actually a bit surprising) and didn’t’ care how chubby my dog was (actually, we would have been fine — four days running the beach in Tignish did him good).

And to my surprise, as I boarded the plane, she passed me a new boarding pass with a smile, and said “I changed your seat. You’re in executive class!”

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So I flew in first class from Charlottetown to Montreal. The seats are like La-Z-Boy chairs, that you can curl up in. You can get all the beverages you please (in real glasses, no less) and they feed you breakfast — for free. I even spread my whipped butter on my lemon-poppyseed bread with a real knife.

And the flight attendant smiled.

It was so refreshing.

Kind of makes me consider upgrading (if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg and my first born child) for future long-haul flights.

Those chairs were amazing.

Resolving to wear pants

January 5, 2012

I don’t really do formal New Years resolutions. I don’t believe making hard and fast rules really works for anyone. “I will lose 50 pounds this year” “I’m going to quit drinking” “I’m going to get out of debt” are so absolute. “I will keep my house clean” “I will blog every day” might work for a couple weeks — a couple months if you’re really diligent. But really, it just sets you up for failure. And I hate failure. I really really do. Actually, this year I resolve not to fail at all. No failing, period. The end.

Right.

I’m much better at small, incremental changes. They may sound silly or insignificant, but  generally they have larger reverberations.

This year, I’m going to try to wear pants.

Real pants.

Real pants on the weekend and after work.

Okay, what I really mean is I am going to try to get in the habit of waking up on the weekend, taking a shower and putting on real clothes. Even if I have zero plans for the day. Schmooping around in pajama pants all day long is fine if you’re hungover or sick or whatever.

But there’s no excuse for acting and dressing like a sad sack all the time.

Ultimately it’s a self respect thing. Get your ass out of bed, be a grown up and put on a pair of pants.

Be ready to greet the world when it knocks on the door, rather than scrambling around trying not to look like a schlub who hasn’t showered in the past week.

So today? I have no plans to leave Danielle’s cottage. I’m not wearing any makeup and am hardly ready for any impromptu photo shoots, but I’m wearing pants. And even a cardigan.

And I don’t feel like a total bum.

Ice puddle inkblot diagram

January 4, 2012

I promised my sister I would mention her in a blog post. She was upset that she didn’t get a shout-out in the last entry. For the record, Danielle was at Pizza Delight, and she and I split a donair pizza and garlic fingers.

For people who don’t know what a donair pizza is, you’ve never lived. It’s amazing. It’s pretty much the best use of donair sauce I can imagine.

But I digress.

I have been hiding out at her cottage in North Cape, PEI for the past couple of days. It’s just outside the grand metropolis of Tignish (not Tigernish, as my autocorrect would like you to believe). Tignish is population 800. There is a Co-op store that closes at 6 p.m. and apparently everyone hangs out and drinks coffee in the parking lot at “Eugene’s” (?) — the local convenience store.

In any case, it’s got a rustic beauty, great for inspiring the pseudo-photographer in me, if only the wind and snow would let up a bit so I could actually play with the settings on my camera. Danielle jokes that my photo subjects are very “American Beauty”-esque, and she’s probably right. I do tend to be drawn to a “beauty in everyday things” sort of theme.

In any case, this makes me think of an ice puddle inkblot diagram.

Catching up over garlic fingers, diet pepsi and grilled bread

January 3, 2012

Almost six years ago now (wow, it has really been that long) I worked at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland and Vimy Ridge memorial in northern France. I was a tour guide at these two WWI monuments, though primarily at Beaumont-Hamel. I lived and worked and travelled through Europe for almost five months. To think I did this at the age of 21 didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time, but looking back, we were just kids having the time of our lives, not realizing this was an opportunity of a lifetime. 

It wasn’t all rosy, don’t get me wrong. I lived in a house with 7 other twenty-somethings. We fought madly over dishwashing and weekly chores. French elementary school children mocked my accent. I was chased into a trench by a herd of sheep. I had my first (and so far only) trip in the back of an ambulance (I was fine. My room mate was … well that’s another story). 

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This evening I had a mini-reunion with one of my fellow former guides. He and his partner were on a road trip through PEI before returning from Christmas vacation to Ottawa. We haven’t talked for years, but it was nice to catch up over garlic fingers, diet pepsi and grilled bread. 

I guess that’s what life becomes — especially if you do what I do, skipping from province to province to territory to foreign country. We come together over holidays and road trips, unexpected travel delays and planned layovers. 

There’s never enough time, but you do what you can, to keep those connections alive.

Hockey math

January 2, 2012

I spent January 2nd, 2012 calculating how many hockey teams per capita there are between the two countries. 

Thusly:

There are 30 hockey teams in the NHL.

 

23 are in the US

7 are in Canada

 

307,000,000 = population of US

34,000,000 = population of Canada

 

307,000,000 / 23 teams = 13 million people/hockey team

34,000,000 / 7 teams = 4.8 million people/hockey team

 

Now wasn’t that fun?

 

I don’t even really care about hockey.

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Also? For the first year in what must be almost a decade, my grandmother hosted a New Years Day (plus one day late) dinner. 

A sprint of salmon, scallops and many many many buckets of potatoes and carrots. The french eat marathon-style. It takes 3 hours to eat 7 courses. The Scots are worried someone might take the food from them, or there might be a famine of some sort. So we eat as much food as possible, as quickly as possible. 

Merrymaking in Moncton, NB

January 1, 2012

ImageFor the past couple of years I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in the grand metropolis of Moncton, NB. My parents drop me off on the PEI side of the Confederation Bridge. I take the shuttle across, and my friend Nathalie (from my Rankin Inlet days) picks me up on the other side. Then off we go to her cousin’s place where a lot of Alpine is consumed and general merriment made.

Before I left this year, the family joked that my annual trip has become a bit of a tradition. When I got there, I realized it hadn’t just become a tradition for me — but for them too. This is a group of people who have known one another for decades. And somehow, after just a couple of hours spread over a couple of years, I’ve become part of their lives in the same way they’ve become part of mine.

I support you

October 22, 2011

I’m not generally the type to re-post videos and insist others watch them (maybe that goes back to my Rankin Inlet days when trying to watch a minute-long YouTube video took half an hour) but I’m going to make an exception.

I figure if word about Jamie Hubley’s suicide has made it to B.C., and all over my Facebook, most people who read this blog will be familiar with his story. But for those who aren’t, Jamie was a teenage kid from Ottawa who committed suicide last week. Another case of a gay kid being bullied to death. This time, the son of an Ottawa city councillor, not that that should make his death more important, but certainly has made it more public.

It seems every couple of weeks there’s another story in the news about a kid who takes his own life because he or she (though most often he, it seems) can’t deal with the bullying, the negativity, the hurt anymore. Sometimes it goes back to sexual orientation, but not always.

And that’s where this video comes into play. Because yes, gay kids feel ostracized. But so do adults. Kids are cruel to each other, and adults are cruel to themselves. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’ve lost a friend to suicide. I have had several friends who have dealt with depression, and I’ve had my own dark periods.

I woke up this morning wanting nothing more than to just cry. So for about three hours, off and on, I cried. Why was I crying? I have no idea. My life is good, I have a job, I have a cute little apartment in a cute little house, I have a bit of money in the bank so if I feel like it, I can afford to treat myself. Even yesterday, as I was biking home from work I was thinking to myself what a wonderful life I am living, and how lucky I am. But none of that shone through this morning, as I wallowed in bed.

What’s going to get me out of this slump is my friends. I called one, and she let me talk. I texted another, and I’m going to spend the night with her family out of town. Both were exactly what I needed.

And that brings me back to this video, and what this young man is talking about. Sometimes those three little words — “I support you” — are all it takes. It’s so simple, so universal. Sometimes people just need to know others support them. It doesn’t matter how huge or trivial your problems may seem, a little bit of support can make all the difference.

So watch this. Feel inspired. Feel amazed at Scott’s depth, and tell or show someone in your life you support them. It can’t hurt.

You know you’ve become one of “them” when…

October 12, 2011

You start buying things like this:
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You see, about two weeks ago, one dreary afternoon after work (because I have afternoons off these days, more on that some other time), I walked into a Bell store fully committed to the idea that It Was Time.

I had been a good, Canadian, RIM supporter for two years … but the blackberry was getting old. I was no longer in awe over how “seamless” it worked (what? You can just click on someone’s number in an email and it will AUTODIAL!?!).

I had been wooed by the iPhone I had for work (phone 3 of 3) and was in withdrawal after I had to hand it over to my successor.

So I walked into Bell knowing exactly what I wanted, as I always do. I’m either a godsend or hell to sales associates. I’m not sure yet.

I wrangled me a sales guy, told him what I wanted. And for half an hour he argued with me.

Yes I knew the new iPhone was coming out in less than a week. No I didn’t care that your Android phone has a fun screen. I. Know. What. I. Want. You-infuriating-man-with-gorgeous-blue-eyes. At one point I even said to him “don’t you WANT my money??”

In the end I walked out of the store empty handed. He refused to sell me the phone I wanted.

Two days later I went to a kiosk in a mall in Vancouver and bought it anyway. Turns out he was wrong up and down. Waiting for the new phone announcement made no difference. The price didn’t go down on the iPhone 4. There was no reason for me to splurge on the 4S. And I still have no desire to buy a Samsung Galaxy (I owned a Samsung before my Blackberry. It was organized in the most counter-intuitive way possible).

So in the end I bought an iPhone. And the man-with-the-gorgeous-blue-eyes lost out on his commission.

And I’ve become one of those people who buys special Wired magazine editions about the world’s best apps… magazines that cost one-tenth of what I paid for my phone.

Also? I wrote this entire entry using the wordpress app. And I think that’s kinda cool. Feel free to roll your eyes. I’m a gadget nerd.