Archive | December, 2011

Toyota Matrix

30 Dec

I used a car co-op car today to do various things in North Van., including seeing the Maggie May and her two wee ones.  Her littlest, almost 3 months old, has the cutest small head, like her father, says the Maggie May.  Confusing – like the baby’s father, not Maggie’s father. Cute.  Even when the baby was screaming in my lap (as babies do on my lap) I kept noticing her cute little head.

Her older sister who is now two, is generally less impressed with me.  Whenever I go near the baby, the poor dear gets very stressed.  “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she screams.  I believe she thinks I am going to kidnap the baby.

Maggie tries to help.  “Hug Karen,” she’ll say to the toddler.

“NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

Maggie had her usual share of trashy magazines to share with me.  “And look,” she said, wielding the Vanity Fair special Hollywood scandals issue.  “It’s really meaty, tons of great articles.”

“NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed, “I want to take that home right now!”

No, she is not done with it and she originally said I couldn’t take the latest US magazine.  But she eventually relented.  I promise to return it, Maggie May.  The latest US!

Available car co-op cars were rare today, so I had to walk about 15 minutes to get to an available one.  But it has been my favourite so far – it’s brand new (unusual for the co-op), only 3,600 kms on it.  New car smell.  And it drove really, really nicely and easily.  A nice little car. Tis my favourite so far and worth the walk.  I’m using up my $750 credit too rapidly  – I’ll need to slow down a bit.

Maggie got me all excited about this new show on in the afternoons on the National Geographic channel – ‘Mayday’.  It recreates – very well – plane crashes and dissects why they happened.

“I’m not really interested,” I said at first.

Five minutes went by.

“I now live for this show.”

Maggie and I get along so well – we both like gossip magazines and trashy TV and analyzing in intricate detail why Ashley Judd no longer looks so good (botox mainly).  As I’ve said before, the Maggie could be a model.  She is blonde, tall and hot.  But she is modest in a genuine way and has been a great person to hang out with during my unemployment.  She seems to enjoy the adult company as well.  So win-win and etc.

Indeed

29 Dec

“Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.”- George Burns (1896-1996)

Thank you, Mr. Burns.  He speaks a truth.  So Leo the Shaw Cable guy comes over early!  Like an hour early!  He gets me all set up in like 8 minutes with wireless.

“Leo,” I said, “This seems too easy.  Let me shut it down and then turn it on again so that I can make sure it works.”

Okay, says Leo, who then goes to use the washroom.  Why did I feel weird about him using the washroom?  Uh well, no matter.

Okay, yeah, so the washroom still works although the washing machine downstairs has broken down.  What’s nice about living here is that the washing/drying is free.  Except there’s only one machine.  And it breaketh.  I phoned the owner and she asked would I be there tomorrow to let the jack of all trades/master of none guy in.

“No!” I said.  I mean I’m going to Maggie’s to watch Anderson Cooper (which may be a repeat this week, Maggie May). 

“Oh,” said the owner.

“If you give me free rent next month, I can be home,” said I.

No, no, she’ll figure something out.  There are 12 suites in this mansion from 1911 that I live in.  We each get evenings to use the laundry machines – mine is tonight.  Uh well.

So yeah, back to the wireless.  I spent most of the afternoon using the computer from bed, still in my pajamas.  This is probably not the best use of my time.  While my place is tiny tiny, when I didn’t have wireless I still couldn’t reach the cord to my bedroom and only used it in my living room.  This was probably better.  But wireless! So the next time I have the stomach-nearly-killed-me-next-door-neighbour-made-me-chugalug-warm-water-flu, I can bring the computer into the wee washroom!

Just trying to look at the bright side.

Make sure you read the comments – Thomas has written a few about his job search and his experiences in retail.  You could even comment on his comments.  And then I could comment on your comment about his comment.  And then he could comment.  And then you could comment.

And on and on like that.

I am, it is true, always encouraging the commenting.   Feel free to comment on that with your own, well, comment.

Since Fred felt it necessary to point out my typos, I’ve gone back and corrected a number of them.  And I’m doing a few things so that you can read this without so many of the dreaded errors.

I get it though.  When I read something with lots of mistakes, I shrivel up inside and have less respect for the writer.  So, you know, yup, Fred, but it woke me up a bit.

Seems there’s been a huge winter storm in Toronto and -18C.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Ha.

Ha.

Hee.

It was pouring rain but 9C here today, something I obviously took advantage of by barely going outside.

Oh, god love a duck.

Nope, still don’t think that I want to go back into ESL yet, I really don’t.

Quite the funeral there in North Korea. I don’t know, this taking over son doesn’t seem to have quite the joie de vivre of the other guy.  Time will tell.

Here’s a seasonal joke, cleaned up a bit for a PG audience:  Jesus is a young lad and rushes outside to play, leaving the door open.  Mary shouts after him, “Close the door!  What, were you raised in a barn?!”

Walking

28 Dec

I don’t so much mind walking.  I certainly do a whole lot more of it now that I don’t have a car (see smushed up car in an earlier post).  Today Michelle invited me over for leftover turkey and the like.  I could have easily taken the bus but I decided since I had the time that I would walk.  I live in Kitsilano, Michelle in East Van.  I’d say it’s about a seven kilometre walk.  When I used to drive it, it felt much shorter, ha.  It was pouring rain but what the heck, said I.  It took about an hour and a half and was a good idea for about the first 45 minutes.  Then I felt it was less of a good idea.  Nonetheless, it is a rather natural way of getting exercise and saves me the $2.50 bus fare.  Yee haw.

The winter rains have hit at last and with a vengeance although it isn’t too cold out yet.  But the clouds are low and the rain, she is strong.  Yup.

Yup.

Yup.

Uh huh.

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah, I met B. for coffee yesterday, also in East Van.  He told me about this cool website – librarything.com.  You can get free copies of books and review them and such. 

“I didn’t want to tell you because I thought you already knew,” said B.

“I did not know.”

I’m thinking of starting to apply for ESL teaching jobs again in the New Year.  While this does not thrill me and even causes a little  (but not a lot!) of bile to rise at the back of my throat (not the stomach flu again!) I think it is a good idea.  What would be ideal is a part-time teaching gig that would pay the bills and enable me to have the money to buy underwear at Superstore on the odd occasion, while still enabling me to feel like me. 

I need to start getting up at a bit of an earlier hour more regularly – I think 8 am is a good start.  Otherwise, once that work starts flowing in, my body won’t know what hit it.

And finally, I discovered during last week’s stomach flu scourge, that I actually enjoy Jello.  So I bought some.  I am not ashamed.

And finally, finally, thanks to my wee United Church minister Beth for calling me back on her post-Christmas week off.  Above and beyond, Minister Beth.  Did I mention that she brought me Gravol and Gatorade before church last week?  That is the kind of stuff you don’t forget. So if you live in Vancouver and happen to be looking for a wee wee (wee) church community that doesn’t take things literally and often has pastry and has a minister that will bring you Gravol et al before she has to go and be churchy, let me know.  I’ll hook you up.   No need to be scared away by what may appear my urging you to join a church – no, no, no, no, no and finally, no!!!!!!!!!  I’m still an agnostic but am too anxious to be an atheist and the old people at this church are really  nice to me. But in general I speak too fast for them and the whole hearing aid deal so I often repeat what I have said.  “I REALLY LIKE THIS AWESOME PASTRY YOU BROUGHT,” I might say.  I do mumble, it is true.   When I become a Mormon, then I will definitely try to get you into the temple.   I shall be a Mormon with a dash of Scientology with a little Buddhist mindfulness meditation thrown in. 

Oh and finally, finally, finally, finally, Shaw cable is coming by tomorrow to flick some kind of switch which will apparently speed up my internet from 7 to 50, whatever the heck that means.  This after I called them two weeks ago and said, ‘You are too expensive and stop raising your prices without telling me and getting away with it and hate you and all that you represent.  But whatever you do, don’t take away the Oprah Channel or the channel that shows the Waltons every weekday from 2 to 3 pm.  It’s channel 118 but for some reason shows up as 120 on the guide.  DO NOT TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME EVER.”

They are taking the sports channels or something and taking $30 off the monthly rate for six months, followed by $10 thereafter.  There is a rather large chance they may screw this up and take Oprah and the Waltons away as well.  That would obviously be intolerable.  They are supposed to show up between 12 and 2 pm tomorrow afternoon.  We shall see.

Boxing Day

26 Dec

Oh, Boxing Day.  Seems some folks still line up overnight at places like Future Shop.  But really, Boxing Day is now more like Boxing month.

For my American readership (ha!  I should be so lucky!) Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when there are massive sales.  This originated in England, I believe.  Kinda like Black Friday but with fewer stampedes of people crushing others to death. 

So Christmas Day was not too bad at all.  I’ve found all the Christmasness a bit harder this year – partly because I don’t have a job (breathe, I must breathe) and partly because I was sick and bored at home the whole week leading up to it.  It was like I’d added a whole new level of boredom to my more normal level.  Plus it all makes me rather anxious to sit around

 that much, that kind of thing.   Plus my usual Christmasy feelings – the emphasis on family is rather overwhelming when say, you don’t have your own family.  And I had more time to think about that and blah blah.

In the New Year, perhaps a partial frontal lobotomy.  I joke, I joke.

Anyway, in the afternoon I went over to the Glenda’s.  This was the first time since she’s had children (30 years) that both of her kids were away – one was off in Calgary with his wife’s family and the other is teaching ESL in Korea (plenty of jobs there, apparently!).

“But there’s always Karen,” said Glenda. 

“Yes,” I said, sighing, yes.

Glenda’s Uncle Ron was there too and also a post-grad physics student of Ian’s from China.  He’s 19, sweet, socially awkward and a genius, according to Ian, who is actually a genius himself. At one point the discussion turned to neutrinos (spelling?) and testing in mines and waiting three years and synchronizing the clocks and all sorts.  And the so called ‘god particle’ which apparently has absolutely nothing at all to do with god.  Glenda is very able to keep up with this whole physics discussion thing and Jong really did come alive once the neutronos were brought up. 

Last semester at UBC, Ian taught a Physics 101 course and told me I could sneak in on a lecture if I wanted. I wanted!  He does these great demonstrations that keep the students interested.  Somehow I never made it there though.  How about in January, I asked.  Hmmm, seems he’ll be teaching a graduate level course with only 10 students. 

“Oh,” I said, “I probably couldn’t get away with that.  Will you be doing a Physics 000 soon?”  Seems not.  Uh well, there is always next September, when he teaches the 101 again.  “Of course,” I said, “If I’m still unemployed then, I WILL BE LIVING IN A BOX.”

Ian got Clue for Christmas and wanted us all to play it.  Remember Clue?  Colonel Mustard in the library with the rope?  Well, the new edition is the same idea, just bizarrely complex to understand the whole new myriad of rules.  And there are new rooms too I think.  The understanding of the rules took about 45 minutes.  I was about to throw in the rope and knife and give up, but Ian wanted to keep going.

I don’t want to brag, but I may have won.  Ms. White in the kitchen with the axe, I think. 

Glenda made a lovely ‘turducken’ (sp?) but I asked if I could avoid the duck part.  She said okay, then threw a leg at me.

On a final note, I desperately need a haircut but as usual, I’ve lost my hairdresser’s phone number.  He usually intuits my need and calls me, but not this time.  Hope he is okay.  ALAN HAIRDRESSER CALL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tis pouring rain today but I’m putting on my Mark’s Work Wearhouse boots (on a great sale last month) and heading over to Commercial Drive to meet B.  Will be good to get out of the house I have to say.  There are some good fruit and vegetable markets out that way and cheaper than over here on the West side.  Go figure.

Merry, Merry

24 Dec

Well, here it is December 24th.  Yee haw.

My stomach is still not the happy camper that we know and love it to be.  Frustrating, I say, frustrating.  So, as I obsessively do, I go online to see what others have to say on the topic of the never ending stomach flu.  Cause really, nothing is keeping me from The Glenda’s turkey tomorrow.

I texted a few folks.  “I WILL NEVER GET COMPLETELY OVER THIS AND I WILL BECOME GAUNT AND NEED A FEEDING TUBE.”

“You’re so dramatic,” Toast texted back, “You are so funny.  Just stay away from the Chef Boyardee.”

True.

But if I never see rice again, it will be too soon.

Online, I find a MORMON woman’s blog.  You know my obsession with all things Mormon.  Keep in mind though that I don’t actually want to become a Mormon, I just want to read about them and look at pictures and watch Sister Wives.  That last bit of the comment will weed out the everyday Mormon from the more fundy one.  The everyday Mormon will make it clear that it is only a tiny offshoot of Mormons that still go for polygamy.  Donny! and Marie Osmond are not polygamists, by the by. 

Anyway, so this woman is writing about how her whole family – all the kids, her hubby, herself, they all just keep going on and on and on with the tummy flu.  Her son asked to get a ‘blessing’ (hmmm, maybe a higher up Mormon popping by with oil and such) and the blogger said no and she wasn’t going to pray for healing anymore or actually really ever pray at all anymore and she was giving up and her faith in god was shot due to this never ending illness that had befallen her family.  Wow!  This was like manna from heaven for me.  Now, mind you, her post was a year old so I checked out newer ones and she is still Mormon.  I think she may just get overwhelmed rather easily, which, well, uh huh. 

I was vaguely disturbed as I count on my Mormons to be calm and faithful, gentle and sweet.  Any Mormon missionary I’ve ever seen has been a)white and b) a cherubic like young man.  Women are allowed to go on missions now though and black folks.  Now until 1978, the Mormon church thought that black people had the mark of Cain and thus could not be in the priesthood.  Something changed and they are now allowed in, although I’m unclear on just why they would want to be.

Do Mormons celebrate Christmas?  Oh they must, they must.  It’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t.  Do Scientologists?  They must, they must – Suri Cruise seems to be.  Oh, Scientology, oh Scientology, how lovely are your branches.  You’d sing that last sentence to the tune of, “Oh Christmas Tree.”

I am doing two things for sure this holiday season, regardless of what my stomach or that Mormon Mama say.  One – I am going to my wee United Church’s wee short service at 7 pm tonight.  Two – I am going to the Glenda’s and eating turkey and stuffing tomorrow afternoon/evening.  If I have to sit in a shopping cart to get myself there, I will do this.  Not sure what that means.

Boxing Day, I am getting together with B. and we are having hot apple cider – ok, so that is three.  Three things!

Now, if you had to choose between having a constant sore throat or a constant upset stomach, which would you choose?  Oh sore throats.  The worst one I ever had (so far) was in 1994.  Turned out to be staph infection.  Wowza that hurt so much I could barely eat.

I once had a flu that lasted for two months.

Oh, the Mormons.

Oh and I was excited to see that commenter Thomas is still around – just busy with his seasonal job, poor fellow.  He promises stories of his own unemployment and sounds like he has a good sense of humour too!  In 1991, I had to do a seasonal job at what was then Lady Foot Locker in Metrotown.  $5 an hour plus like 25 cent commission for every zillion sales you made.  The pregnant manager (wow, that kid is like 20 years old now) was cranky and once punished us all by not letting us have a lunch break until 3 when we’d been there since 8:30.  Wow, I was awful at that job.  I didn’t know how to greet customers, so instead I followed them around the store.  I remember – 14 easy pieces – you could somehow make 14 outfits out of like 3 piece of clothing or some such.  I still proudly remember selling a pink track suit to a woman and I made 25 cents in commission!  I suspect more seasonal jobs aren’t too far behind.

Merry merry to the Mormons and to everyone.

yup

24 Dec

I’m a little blah but am committed to doing at least a blog entry a day.

Yup.

Funny how my stats go from 95 one day to 29 another.  Me thinks something isn’t right.

I rode my bicycle the rather short trip to the grocery store earlier.  Twas good to get the muscles working again.  It was raining but not too cold out. 

Now it is rainy and dark so no white Christmas round the west coast of Canada.  The mountains are full of snow though and people who go skiing and such are said to be having a great time.  Cypress Mountain management seemed darned proud on the news last night that they were the first of the mountains to open.  Good for you, Cypress Mountain.

Christmas Eve tomorrow – I think I’m going for a walk (in the rain) with B. in the afternoon and then off to my wee United Church in the evening.  Then Sunday, I’m really looking forward to an afternoon/evening at The Glenda’s.  Both of her (adult) children are away this year so it is just going to be her husband, me, her and her uncle I think.  I may have missed a person or two in there somewhere.  Glenda’s home is very cozy and conveniently on the bus route since since the car crunching, I am without transportation.  It’s one of those start-stop type routes, so, you know, bring a Gravol.  I have to say the most boring bus ride I was ever on was the Toronto-Ottawa route – 5 hours.  I can’t read on the bus and there weren’t any movies.  I think I slept and then thought thoughts of quiet desperation or something like that.  I prefer the train.

Talked to C. today briefly.  She asked if I thought about what avenues I’d be pursuing in the New Year.  “I’m definitely going to eat more oranges,” I tell her, then realize that she needs a bit more in the global sense.

“Oh, well, I, uh, I uh.  Um, uh, uh uh uh uh uh uh, um, uh and ahem.”

“Sounds like you’re all set then,” she said.

“Sounds like.”

C, as I’ve said before, is more Zen about these things.

“Worrying won’t help.  It will just drain your energy.”

“I worry about the draining of the energy.”  I responded.

We spoke about some of the more recent changes at our former workplace – it’s like an earthquake that has constant aftershocks.  No, no, that is a terrible analogy.  Anyway, and I believe I can say this because I’m being all vague and such but in a specific way, the boss is leaving in the New Year.  I’m not surprised by that – she has put up with more in the last two years than one should as a boss.  She wasn’t perfect but I always felt the ship had someone at the wheel when she was there.  What is it today with me and the bad analogies.  With her gone, I’m picturing a lot of drifting. 

Well, in the New Year I do have that article coming out (it is going under the editing knife as we speak) and am doing that ooh wow 12 hour sub admin work at my wee church and then that freelance piece for the Courier.  All and all it ads up to – hmmm, I still need a real job if I want to say, eat.  So, yes, yes and yes.  I will keep one eye closed as I look back into the ESL world – January though is a bit of a dead time.  Just one eye looking won’t be so bad.

Lovely chatting.

Strange days indeed

22 Dec

Most peculiar.  Back when I had a job, I worked with a real hippie-ish dude.  Long hair, coyote bones in his file drawer, that kind of thing.  Every year on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, he would wear all white and play ‘Imagine” over and over for his students.  I miss that kind of thing.

I got a lot of social support from my former job.  Most of my colleagues were, like me, quirky in some ways.  Some of us got along and some not so much, as per usual.  As the number of students dwindled, so did the size of the teachers’ room – a wall going up here and there to rent some of the space.  So we all got physically closer by necessity.  There was some bloodletting of course but not as much as you’d expect.  I did work with one woman though who had a basic dislike of me.  Fair enough.  This dislike showed itself as awkwardness for years, some basic sighing at comments I’d make regarding this and that.  But over the last I’d say six months or so, the dislike took the form of being ignored.  Again, in a small room this is awkward.  She liked to bring stuff – you know heart shaped chocolates and such on Valentine’s Day.  I remember last Easter she brought little chocolate eggs and put two in the mail trays of only the people that she liked.  Apparently the people that she didn’t like included me and about three other people.  I, as I tend to do, obsessed.

“I didn’t get chocolate eggs!!!!” I said to good pal, Glenda.

“Really?”  Glenda laughed.  “That is so 12 years old.  Want one of mine?”  No, I think I said or maybe it was yes.

So I don’t miss that kind of office, uh, pettiness.  But for the most part it was not like that.  We had a good time together, unwinding during breaks and at lunch hour.  As our staff got smaller and smaller (seriously, for awhile there it was like one long slow death which oddly, has kinda not died), you ended up sitting with people you hadn’t sat with before.  It turned out well.  I really enjoyed those last several months sitting with M, A, Y, G, C sometimes and a few others.  I somehow had gotten my hands on 80’s Edition Trivial Pursuit and we would try to guess the answers.  It was Canadian edition so many of the answers seemed to be Bob and Doug Mackenzie but no matter. 

The salad days though, those were the year before, doing the Vancouver Sun (when we still got the Vancouver Sun) crossword with W, M and sometimes G.  Great fun. 

So I miss that a lot and am not sure I will be able to find such camaraderie again.  I spoke recently to someone who is still there but thinking about leaving.  She has other pans in the fire really.  But it’s hard, she said, her co-workers are like family.  I understand that.