Friday, June 29, 2007

Practically speaking, or, What It All Means

I don't think that I am afraid of death. Perhaps, though, my very lack of fear is merely the clearest indication that I have not yet accepted this inevitability, but considering how many funerals I have been to in the past 4 years, and that I was present for one person's final moments, I find it unlikely that that is the case. Two friends, in just over two years, have left long before it seemed their time, and with both, I received the news by phone. I have been thinking today about how similar my reactions were in both instances, and wondering at what this may mean. Both times I knew, seconds before I heard the words, what the terrible news would be, and both times I asked first how the caller was: "Are you alright?" And both times I reassured the caller that, yes yes, I was fine, and wasn't it sad, and oh, how her family must be handling it, only to immediately call my husband and sob into the phone about how she was gone. She was just...gone.

I am surpassingly astonished by humanity's sheer strength of will and ability to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds, and overwhelming reality. And yet, I am - with every loss - surprised by my own depth of feeling, and profound sorrow. I forget, as I hear the words that a friend, a coworker, a teammate, has died that the loss is not only one of her company, of her presence, but also of the very knowledge of her, of her merely being. I forget what great comfort I take in the thought that good people simply are, that they are in the world and are contributing to it with their wisdom, their humour, their kindness, their living. And so, when a good person is lost, I may not have lost a very close friend, a daily confidant or constant companion, but I have lost the assurance that - at least - that goodness is somewhere, and the comfort that the wealth of possibility and potential borne up in that soul will actualize itself over the course of a long and vibrant lifetime.

I have never felt, upon the death of someone near or dear to me, any inclination to participate in wild or senseless acts out of some sense of necessity to "live life!". But I do wonder, now, in the wake of another loss of another young life, what purpose there is in waiting to do....well, anything. My practicality dictates that now is not a good time for a child, but my experience tells me that there is no "good" time, and that, too often, our time is shorter than we'd planned. I do not want to live my life in fear of death, constantly acting in an attempt to cheat death of it's anthropomorphic desire to cheat me of living, but, likewise, I do not want to fail to live out of the fear of living unwisely or unstrategically.

I want to learn something from this, to take into myself some piece of wisdom or philosophy from which I can take direction and some solace in the knowledge that these losses are not meaningless, not without some worth, somehow.

I want the finality of these lives to have purpose, as these young women did in living.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jump up from my starbed and make another day underneath my California stars, or, Suzi

There are some very effective ways to ruin a beautiful summer day.

After several days of blistering, humid, drippy heatwave, today we have a break in the weather. It is sunny. It is breezy. It is comfortable and shining and lovely. And Suzi isn't here to enjoy it.

In the autumn of 2001 I was in my third year of undergrad, and I needed a job. I found one in the Glebe, an upscale, somewhat trendy, totally yuppified area of Ottawa, at a housewares store. It was nifty and cool, and had fun staff. Including Suzi. She only worked Thursday and Friday evenings because she had a day job at Carleton, working in the office of the very department I attended,and she was cool and funny and thoughtful and smart and interested in the same sorts of things I was. She knew the profs I knew, and had been to parties with them on occasion, maybe sparked up with one or two in particular. She had a nice boyfriend who was a musician and in a band, and she frequented the Aloha room, a tiny bar on the Bank St. strip most weekends. I looked forward to seeing her on our shifts together. She was taking undergrad classes part-time at Carleton, as well, slowing earning a degree in Religion, and we commiserated about the oddities of the faculty, and the pomposity of writers like Mircea Eliade.

And four years later I left the store and got a better job, a series of better jobs, and never really went back because the manager and I didn't really get along and I didn't want to see her again, so I never saw Suzi again, either.

Just last week, I was thinking about how I should start making arrangements to get started on finishing the last two credits for my degree, and how I'll have to call the department, and I wonder if Suzi is still their administrator, and did she ever finish up her degree, either?

Today I got a call from a dear friend whom I also know from working at that store, and she told me that Suzi has had cancer, and that she died on Tuesday at a hospice.

And it just isn't fair, that she was only married a short time to James, the love of her life; and it isn't fair that she never got to use all the knowledge she was gaining, all the wisdom she was cultivating. It isn't fair that she was only a few years older than me and now she's gone. It isn't fair that her husband is widowed before he's 30.

I wish I'd spent time with her, I wish I had made a point of getting in touch with her, but there's only so much time in a given week, and how am I supposed to know which of my friends is going to die young? We always think there will be more time. That's why people are stupid. We are really, really stupid, because we just don't get it, we just can't keep it in our heads that there is a finiteness to our time here, and we had better spend it the way we ought to, or we're just wasting space.

I left work early, because I had to, and I walked the long way to the bus. Traveling east, out of the core of the city towards the canal, the long, narrow swath of dark water that runs through the city, I soaked up sunshine and breathed cool, dry, fresh air, and it was pretty. Across the footbridge that connects the east and west sides of the canal, I looked north to the heart of the city, to the very centre of our nation, and appreciated how beautiful this place is, and how lucky I really, truly am to live here, to see it every day. And I listened to Wilco, with Jeff Tweedy singing Woody Guthrie's words, one song over and over again, because it felt like a song that Suzi liked, and it was simple and beautiful and uncomplicated, the way she was.

june 28b

There's a hole in the world, now. And I don't know how to fill it up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Unbelievable, or, What's Relative About This Humidity?!

It is 32 degrees. With the humidity, it feels like 39.


Happy day, or, Celebrate good times!

**Please note: I have put little-to-no thought into the construction of this post. My writing skills have, apparently, degenerated quite severely. It's unfortunate, and I am grieving for the loss of my brain. Bye-bye was nice to know you.**

Finally, I am connected to the world during the work day! Working an entire week without internet or phone was, frankly, bizarre, and rather unpleasant. Now I can waste the organization's time productively!

Fun and games have occurred since my last post. I had a birthday. Generally speaking, I do not look forward to the time of year known as "Late June". Why? you ask? Well, my birthday usually falls within - at most - 9 days of Father's Day. This wouldn't be a problem, except that my father broke up with my mother - and admitted to his 9 month-long affair - only days before Father's Day (and therefore, my birthday) in 2000. Happy 20th birthday, Darlene. Needless to say, my birthday was pretty low-key that year. Since then, my birthdays have been a little disappointing, with the exception, of course, of my 22nd birthday, which occurred the same day as my dear friends', Katie and Mike, wedding. Which kicked ass, by the way. It was fabulous. A booze-fueled, celtic-punk-soundtracked event that concluded with my friend Eileen (whose birthday was the next day) and I hanging out with members of the band and antagonizing resaurant staff at the local 24-hour diner. Brilliant night. Fond memories.

Anyway, other than that year - which required no actual effort on my part to make enjoyable - I haven't really looked forward to my birthday in some time. This year was no different. I was happy with 25, really happy with it. And I was alright with 26. But 27? I didn't feel ready for it, not really, not yet, so I wasn't particularly pleased to round the corner on the week and find myself staring down the barrel of my birthday. But some small, pleasant things happened to warm me to the idea, or, more accurately, indicate that it made no difference. For example: I went to our local Bulk Barn (oh! how I love Bulk Barn! barrels of bulk food, cheaply priced and easily found!) for some random things (I think I ended up with popcorn, Smarties, and falafel mix) and as I came out, there were about half-a-dozen high school aged skater-types hanging around in front of the store. And as I walked away to my car, they start hooting, catcalling. Now, as a feminist, I object to the objectification of women, and to male-types thinking that they can just get away with doing and saying whatever they want to women. HOWEVER, I think that many things are contextual, and when we're talking about a few 17 yo's and a grown woman, and they aren't doing or saying anything truly impolite, offensive, or threatening (last I checked "Whoo!" wasn't scary) I'm willing to cut a little slack. And, sadly, I must admit, it was a little validating to think I maybe don't look "old", or even my age. Sometimes I feel like I look older than I am (I have fatigue issues, and really fair, thin skin, so there are some dark under-eye-circle issues). Then The Man made fun of me when I got home and told him: "Oh no: you're turning into one of those women who needs the validation of younger men". Excuse me, Mister I-Go-To-The-Beer-Store-In-Shorts-and-a-Ball-Cap-and-Get-Carded-Even-Though-I'm-31.

But the birthday itself was good! It started with a nice haul of presents (first season of The OC! Whee! and another one I will introduce shortly....) and a shirt I had picked up the day before, so I felt pretty (always a good thing!). That evening we had dinner with The Man's best friend, He-Who-Shall-Be-Called-Chuck, at a newish restaurant in Westboro, Juniper. Oh. My. Such good food. Ottawa's answer to trendy haute cuisine. They actually thought - really thought - about vegetarian food. There was only one veggie main (though one fish and one seafood main as well, so there are certainly options for my fellow pesco's out there) it was delightful. Nifty, impressive, unexpected, delish. Cheap? Not on your life, but worth every penny for nice veg food I didn't have to make myself. And on a plate!! No bowls. I get so tired of people always resorting to the bowled meal for veggies.

Then on to the Manx. At first, it looked a little like we'd be the only ones there. We scammed a booth, and then felt guilty about occupying the space of 8-10 people when it was only the two of us (HWSBCC was double-booked for another party). But people showed! Old friends I hadn't seen in a while, dear friends I see all the was a great evening. My tiniest friend even chilled with us for a bit, which was great, because she's a sweetie.

Saturday we had a birthday dinner with the fam. A 'Que over at Mum's with the FIL as well. And how much do I love my Amazon list! FIL gave me knitting books! Ooooh......and mum gave me a gift cert to my fave LYS! Yarn and patterns....luverly!

And Sunday we had a shower for the Sis, who will be married in 18 days. It's insanely soon. It was a good time. I got to meet the flowergirl, whom I had never met before, but about whom I had heard much, and see her mother, who has been friends with the Sis since high school. Good times.

And now I'm working. With a chair intended for much larger people, and a folding table for a desk, my whiplash injury is NOT happy. I'm thinking that since I've wasted, oh, a while, writing this post, I will try to make it to 2-3pm before calling it quits. I can already feel my muscles spazzing out on me. Urgh.

All in all, a good weekend, a good birthday. I have other stuff to write but,'ll keep.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy days, or, A Return to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Good week. Good, good week. I'm back at work - finally! - and Monday, when I returned, my trainer had a paycheque for me! I had assumed that, because I hadn't been able to complete and return my paperwork to get onto the direct deposit payroll system due to my incredibly stonedness the previous week, that I would have to wait another two weeks. Silly me. So I got to have a little fun this week. I got a new cd, one of many I've been itching to get. You may recall I mentioned the artist. Let's refresh our memories, shall we?


Oh, yeah.

Seriously, though, he's pretty awesome. Fantastic alt-country, light on the alt, but done right. Lots of well-played guitar and banjo and mando. Super.

So then I went to Starbuck's and got myself a mug. A shiny new travel mug. I don't have a pic. It's blue. It's not really all that interesting. But *this* was pretty cool. It was parked outside the 'Buck's.


Isn't it cute? It's such a great shade of turquoise. I think I would like to hook myself up with a cruiser when we move into the city. Pedal to work in the morning, up and down the canal. Good times.

So on Tuesday we moved to our brand-y-new office. And look what was outside, just to make the move a little more interesting:


*Grrr...why is that one pic a different size? Gah!*

Hollywood! Some film called "Kiss Me Goodnight" was filming across the street from our office. Almost directly in front, in fact, and was occupying the entire city block. Whole thing was blocked off. Very inconvenient for us, considering we had boxes of files and a computer and a ginormous server to move into the space. Luckily there was a round-about way to get into the building, so no hard feelings, little film!

More to come. Off to bed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Something pretty, or, Ooh, isn't he dreamy!!

I'm nothing if not obsessive.

Go here. Play the second song. Repeat 40 times. That's my afternoon.


Isn't it wonderful?

Doesn't hurt that he's hunky, now does it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hoser, or, The Way Things Are

I haven't much to blog, since the past 7 days haven't seen me do very much except sit/lay/lounge and feel, well, somewhere between drunk and stoned.* But I have done some knitting. It's been a little slow, with all the druuuugs, but there has been definite progress on the FBIL's hose. Let's have a look, shall we?


Here they are, frolicking in the suburban jungle. Two pattern repeats are complete on the centre-front of the hose, and almost two of the pattern on the sides of the hose. And thank heaven's for Cristi's fabulous pattern-row markers!! Thank you for inventing these and sharing with the knitty world!! They have been a total lifesaver.

My life has become these hose. Today I watched the last 20 minutes of Once Upon A Time in America and worked on the hose. Then I watched CSI:NY...and worked on the hose. Then I watched The Magnificent Seven...and worked on the hose. And then I watched a show on TLC with Stacey London...and worked on the hose. There's a pattern, you see.

Must finish hose. Must. Finish. Hose.

*Not that I have any idea what it is like to be stoned. Nope, no way.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Missing Wit, or, Too Drugged to Care

Sleepy. Stoned. Muscle relaxants are....weird.

We lost the Stanley Cup last night. I'm so drugged up, I hardly care. I slept through the final period and didn't even see us lose.

We should eat dinner. I don't feel like cooking. Anyone want to decide what I should have? And then deliver it to me? And possibly help me eat it?

So. Much. Drugs.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You come Crash! Into me...or, Full Documentation

Last 18 hours have equaled NO FUN! Check it out:

As you can see, our car (with The Man and I in it) has had an adventure. Last night we were driving West on the 174 when traffic backed up rather suddenly. We stopped fairly sharply, but with space enough to be very safe between us and the car ahead of us. The Man exclaims "Oh, sh!t..." and then we were slammed from behind. I don't know how quickly the guy in the Honda Civic was going, and I don't know that he was on his cell (although The Man thought he saw a mobile up to his ear through the rear-view) but I do know that we were hit violently. We were launched forward, The Man slammed onto the brake (his foot was jarred loose in the impact) and steered toward the guard-rail to avoid the car ahead of us, although he/she appeared to move forward to avoid a pile-up. We were all alright. My head was sore from banging it on the headrest (fortunately we had both at the right heights) and we both felt rather queasy from the adrenaline intoxication, and I was feeling a little spacey and light-headed. While The Man exchanged info with the hitter (as we were the hittees) I called the police, and my grandmother, who were going to visit for dinner. The cop who attended was great. It was about 10C ouside, and raining, but he seemed very comfortable in short-sleeves under his Kevlar, and sort of yelled everything. He was cool. I liked him. The hitter was charged with dangerous driving, and after about an hour we were all back on our way (both vehicles, fortunately, were still drivable, though looking pretty wretched). On to Mama's and some standard Italian up the street from her place. The Man had pizza, I had chicken parmigiana (normally I avoid chicken, but darnitall, I wanted something hot and comforting and cheesy) and a nice visit with my grandmother. She's pretty fabulous, helping us out with fending off the government for my student loan debt. No collection agents for us!! Yippee!

The Man and I visited the clinic today to get checked out, and got a prescription for anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. We're alright, but finding that our injuries are slowly surfacing as time passes. Sore necks, sore backs, sore heads, sore shoulders, and lots of little nerve-y twinges to remind us that drivers often suck. Thank GOD! We left The Remarkable Wembley at home.

And I have a renewed appreciation for the time I spent at the Insurance law-firm. I called my old boss there, a fantastic young lawyer, and asked for some direction to avoid missing any important steps in dealing with this. While I hate how litigious Western society has become, at the same time, if this crash has any long-term effects, I will pursue some sort of compensation. We have both lost a day of work, and in no way is our physical discomfort decreasing. And heaven forbid I should have some sort of knitting-preventing injury! Whatever would I do?!

I apologise for the verbose and boring post. Have a fantastic, crash-free day. I'm going to snuggle my puppy for the afternoon.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Overwhelming enthusiasm, or, An Afternoon in Ottawa

The honking and general noise-making has - intermittently - begun on the main drag through my particular end of the city. In anticipation of Game 3 against Anaheim, you see.

*I don't know if you are enjoying my Bard-esque title posts as much as I am, but I have no intention of stopping! I have always thought the title Twelfth Night, or, What You Will made very little obvious sense, and thus, I have always loved it. So I'm trying it. And it's fun!*

Go Sens!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Is it always a terrible thing, or, The View Out My Window

For the past day or so, I've been thinking about gentrification. I believe that I currently work in an area which is undergoing gentrification, and it's really making me think.
Gentrification is one of those hot-button issues to which there appear to be two sides, and no real middle-ground. But the question which I cannot seem to fully reconcile, is whether it is, in fact, always a bad thing.
I recently read this post on the fabulous blog, Feministing, in which gentrification is most certainly argued to be a very bad thing. Wikipedia's article states that opponents to gentrification have proposed that it solves no problems, that the crime is not solved, but simply moved to a different area of the city. Perhaps.
If gentrification is the raising of property values - and thus, the value of a neighbourhood as a whole - could it not be argued that going about "cleaning up" an urban area is a form of gentrification, perhaps the first step to an all-out gentrified neighbourhood? How, then, do we account for the results of NYC's implementation of Catherine Coles and George L. Kelling's criminology and urban sociology theories, and the positive results that were effected (I know, I know, another Wikipedia link...I'm at work, I don't have time to search for links)? When petty and serious crime rates drop, property values climb, and when property values climb, so do housing rates, and we see...gentrification! But can we really argue that reducing crime rates is a bad thing? No! Of course not!
All that said, though, lower-income people, people on disability, on EI, on Social Assistance, sometimes the newly immigrated, or the mentally handicapped need affordable housing, and often need it to be in the city centre (where the highest density of jobs can be found, and public transit is ample).
So how do we balance these? And how am I supposed to feel when I look out of my Bronson Ave. former-Immaculata-High-School office window into the backyards of a row of tidy townhouse condo's, circa approx. 2002? When I walk past the other 80 or so that can be found on the nearby streets? The buildings torn down to allow the space for these new houses were quite possibly old, run-down, abandoned, unsafe, or highly damaged by vandals. And it isn't as though these townhouses are huge, sprawling manors, just little two- and three-story homes, suitable for an average-sized family.
Someone scraping by on EI and food shelters isn't going to be able to afford to live there. But I feel much more comfortable walking to the bus down those streets, than the streets that have not received the same attention. What does that say about me?


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