downtown school life

21 Nov

I worked for a great downtown ESL school for years – about seven.  Then it shut.  Long story really.

Now I ‘work’ for another.

Work in scare quotes.

Not because it’s scary, ha.

Although really.



An hour here. An hour there. Often two hours separated by hours, like today. An hour in the morning and an hour in the late afternoon.

The downtown school hires lots of other ‘teachers’ (scare quotes again!  Actually Entertainers!) who get way more work than I do even though I’ve been there for coming on a long time now.

Because I couldn’t get 4..8/5 regularly on student evaluations.

The students are 19 years old and the school is always training them to give high evaluations.

It’s all weird and hard to explain.

Here’s the thing – this downtown school is the ‘best’ of the bunch.  The rest pay much worse.

Meh – late fall/winter is always like this for me work wise – really slow and demoralizing.

The downtown school normalizes really rather horrible treatment of employees.

The beat goes on.

I’m going to New York City in a few weeks for 10 days.


Slightly gaga

2 Oct

Was never a fan of Lady Gaga.  Not so much that I wasn’t a fan maybe but more I thought not for me and is there actually talent to go with the meat dress.

Turns out so.

Her Netflix special has been rather panned by critics but I enjoyed it.  Her song, Joanne, from her album of the same title, is very powerful I think. Poignant.  Brilliantly sung in my Neil Diamond loving opinion.

If’ you’ve ever lost someone, listen to Joanne.  Joanne, Gaga’s middle name, was her aunt who died at 19 before Gaga was born.  In the documentary, she plays the song for her grandmother and her father.  Not a dry eye in my tiny abode.


Not much else to say.  I’m done at the university and back to very temporary part time at a couple of places. Same old, same old.

Oldness of the same.

Not feeling great (menopausal nausea probably, which is TMI but this is a blog! An oversharing and rarely updated blog) but will go to my writing group tonight.  I am bringing “Classic Caesar” potato chips.  Won’t eat any myself due to the aforementioned health complaint but what a fun flavour.  Maybe clamato-y?  Who knows.  We had cinnamon bun flavour once and that kind of messes with your salt-loving mind.

Madonna thinks Gaga steals from her – maybe, I could see that.  But I don’t think Madonna could create a song like Joanne but maybe she could.

Seems Gaga has almost 72 million twitter followers.  Seems a lot.  She was just here in Vancouver which I didn’t think too much about at the time.  Now I’m suddenly Gaga-aware.

I have woken up gaga.

The Los Vegas tragedy will be over-analyzed as per usual and the mourning of 59 lives will be lost in the dust of it all I think.

I should try to wake up to more musicians.  It’s kinda fun and poignant at the same time.

Trolling Scott Baio

19 Aug

Okay.  I admit it.  I troll Scott Baio’s Facebook page.

Phew, there I admitted to my wee fan base of half a person.

Now, anyone under 40 or so will have no idea who Scott Baio is.  But for people of my generation, he was Chachi Arcola on Happy Days.  He was so cute and and so dapper like Joanie said and they sang that song and he had dreamy eyes.

I think nostalgia is big everywhere.  None more so than when Glenda and I went to see Donny Osmond at the PNE several years ago.  Swoon.  Thunk.  Swoon.  And oh he knew how to play to us middle-aged women.  THUNK big time.  And I hadn’t even been that big of a fan.

Lately I have been on a David Cassidy binge – not how he is now but how he was back in the day.  Swoon, thunk.

So awhile back I began to look at Scott Baio’s Facebook page. Holy cow.  Holy horse.  Holy all that is holy.

He’s a big Trump fan.  He was asked to speak at the RNC you may recall.  His profile picture his of him and Trump (to heck with the grammar in this sentence).  Because I both love and hate conflict (my 50 minute hour and I are working on this, check back in with me in about 18 years) I’m in there counter commenting.  He and his fanbase are the type of Americans who not only love Trump but love him arrogantly and without any reason that is actually factually correct.   And anyone who doesn’t is hit with endless amounts of comments about how they are crazy liberals and swear, curse, and the like.

Scott also has a foundation that helps kids born with I believe mitochondrial disorders, as is daughter almost was.  And that’s an amazing thing.  The foundation helps out parents in a myriad ways.

But now,  it seems, Scott Baio has taken a liking to white supremacists. I would say he was one but I don’t want to get sued. His commenters also love white supremacists. And they pull out the most bizarre information and interpret ‘facts’ in the most bizarre and disturbing ways.

Scott waited for several days after Charlottesville to post anything as I think he wanted to wait and see what Trump would say. Trump of course said what he did and boom, at the races again.

But the question really is, why can’t I stay away from his FB page?  I know full well that trolling trolls, especially trolls who are supported by almost every other troll in the comments section, is a huge mistake.  It will never ever get anywhere – white supremacist types feed off of people like me.  It is food for them and I know this.  I know all of these things intellectually very well.

But there I go anyway.

I think some of it has to do with me not having enough to do (I should find enough to do) or and not having enough people in my life.  Online white supremacist trolls are creepy and horrible but maybe it is at least a connection?  That seems a bit sad really.  And it certainly doesn’t make me a happy happy person.

Go figure.

What is my point? The psychology of trolls is apparently being studied quite extensively now since it is no longer new newish.

My other thing is why is Scott Baio so bent on defending white supremacists?   And why do I care that Chachi is doing this? Heck, Ted Nugent is doing it too but I don’t seem to care about that.  Meh, I was never a Nugent fan.  But Chachi ArcolA . . . .




Oh, here I am

7 Jun


My dad died three weeks ago this very day.  Passed of pneumonia five days after I had gone to see him across the country where he was living in an assisted living home near my sister.  I hadn’t seen him in 2.5 years and his health had gone downhill quite significantly.  His mind was still mostly there although muddled, nearly silenced.  But his body was worn, exhausted, weak.

It was unexpected though – right after I left he caught pneumonia and passed away.  Tearing up.

Tearing up.

Most folks experience grief at some point in their lives – it’s a difficult one for sure.  Deep pain, intense sadness, different than I might have thought.  I wasn’t close to my dad, etc. etc. same old story but, alas, he was still my dad.  He was so vulnerable seeming the last year or so.

On it goes.

Grief I find compounds my anxiety and also makes me kind of agoraphobic.  When my mom passed,  I only felt ‘safe’ in my bedroom for the longest time.  I moved away from that over the years but alas, here I am again.

Breathe. Let it be. Let it be.

Or something like that.

My work is as chaotic as usual. I had been offered some full time work right when my dad died but turned it down in favour of part time work, simply because I wasn’t sure I could cope too well.  I kind of regret that choice now but there it is.  I end up with lots of ‘alone’ time which I both crave because it feels safe and don’t enjoy.  Etc.  I may be doing a bit longer on the part-time at UBC front this summer so that would be good. Three other part-time jobs I was supposed to have didn’t work out – Langara doesn’t have classes running, one cram school shut down for the summer and the other I quit due to its policy of allowing students to not show up at the last minute and not paying me for that.  So I’m down to two part-time jobs! – UBC for summer and downtown school.

Tis what it is there.

The weather has been lovely and I’ve been riding my bicycle to and from UBC – the to being much more uphill. Takes about 40 minutes.  The walk from the bus loop to my building is 15 minutes so it is a time saver really.  Legs are mighty mighty sore.  I cycle past a string of beaches and it is beautiful.  Then I go up a long and steep hill.  Then I feel like wonder woman after I complete that hill.

Someone was writing in another blog I read about how Jesus would appear if he showed up today (if he ever actually existed at all).  She’d seen a fellow on a bicycle who looked Jesusy  and wrote this Or is he just out there, biking around with no shirt, his pants rolled up to avoid accidents, making eye contact with the needy. (

I liked that description.  Or maybe he’d show up as someone starving in a war-torn country no one ever writes about,knows about, or cares about.

Or at the bedside of a dying 81 year old man whose proudest claim in life was that he was a Jewish atheist socialist.

You never do know about these things.



Boredom, bike rides, book

19 Apr

The rain and wind continue unabated here in this city.  March apparently broke rain records and April seems set to do the same.  The weather is warming slightly but still . . . . brrrr and dark and cold and etc.

Neverttheless, I have returned to the bicycle after a long winter not cycling at all.  As such, my legs are feeling rather wooden.  This morning, bored and bored and unemployed and you know the drill, I decided to go out in the rain and wind (I really should get proper cycling in rain gear) and cycle up to UBC and back.  I stopped in at a library or two and found this book in the fast reads at my local branch – “Strangers in Their Own Land,” by Arlie Russell Hoschschild.  She is a well regarded and awarded sociologist who ventured into ‘arch-conservative Louisiana bayou country’ to talk to and learn about the lives of Trump voters.  She doesn’t write it as an indictment but rather as a sociological look at the rise of the right.  Apparently it is more comprehensive than the recent “Hillbilly Elegy” book.    Should be an intellectually stimulating book to read and one my dad would no doubt like.

That’s right – some of my non-fiction choices mirror his.  The horrors.  Although I don’t think he reads People magazine, the New Yorker or Soap Opera Digest.  He also avoids fiction for reasons I’ve never understood.  He used to mock my mom for her fiction choices and that ticked me off.  My mom had to drop out of school in grade 11 (from a small town, certainly multi-grade school house) and yet read voraciously her whole life.  It was to her great relief once when she found out that my sister’s erudite and extremely intelligent father-in-law enjoyed one of the same writers that she did.   And what of the classics?  Silly old man.

Sorry, I got sidetracked.  So is my bored and understimulated brain.

“We have compassion fatigue,” noted my friend T.  “You’ve been talking about being unemployed for so long.”

“Shit or get off the pot,” suggested my long distance friend, D.  Not sure what pot I am on, ha.

I did send out my resume to another downtown school and got a response requesting an interview.  The phone call was odd from the director of studies, even odd for an ESL school.  Then I got to reading reviews of working there from Glassdoor and realized that that work situation would be far worse than what I have (or have not) now.  Ugh.  Apparently endless hours of unpaid work (marking and what not) and poor to no curriculum and etc.  Typical of ESL and I know I complain of unemployment – but that didn’t seem like anything near a good situation. I had all ready replied in an e-mail just now that I would happily come in for an interview but my gut (and bowels certainly) were like, no.  So I maturely simply blocked the interviewer’s e-mail.  There will be undoubtedly a time to work at (another) terrible downtown ESL school but now is not that time.  When my EI runs out in the middle of June – then will be that time.

I know, I know.  The industry is so so bad . . .

Is it better for me to be sitting around doing nothing nothing? Probably not.

The one other ‘decent’ downtown school isn’t responding to my numerous ‘here I am!’ e-mails.

I have also applied to Costco, the art gallery as a cashier, and a few other various and sundry.  No responses.  What’s a gal to do?

Did I mention I’m going to Ottawa to visit family for four days in May?  I think I did.  If nothing else, that will get me out of my brain and out of this city for a few days.

Oddly, doing nothing for so long I find rather physically exhausting.  Go figure.

I do regret a lot of things but not going to that downtown school interview is not one of them I don’t think.  Of course talk to me again in a few months.

Oh!  There is a bit of sun.  Someone run out and take a photo.

I’ve had my hair dyed a great rich colour and my hair shortened to a kind of curly bob.  Haven’t had my hair this short in years.  I still look 51 but I like looking at the colour – a rich brown.  Am I repeating myself?  Probably.

No work and endless blah blah is making me crazy.

I must cycle off soon to see my weekly high school tutee, V.  We are working on a very difficult essay. Poor fellow.



18 Apr


Not much to say today.

I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.

I am still not sure what to do.

I am barely working at all – pretty much not working and I don’t think that will improve as the busy summer season comes along.

I’m going to Ottawa for four days to see my now decrepit dad and my non decrepit sister and her family, including my 20 year old awesome niece, C.  C. is training to be a nurse so she will take my blood pressure.  Hurrah.

Meanwhile. There is no work.  There is never ever any work.

I worked for 1.5 hours today (yup), early this morning, and then boom, nothing.  Rode my bicycle to the grocery store before the rains came again and made some very very not tasty beef stew.  The potatoes were mushy for one thing.  No matter.

I am mired in molasses and have no idea how to move forward but then I never ever do.

Yup.  That’s the update.

When it rains, it rains

26 Mar

Yesterday there was sun and some warmth.  A little context:  this has been an odd winter with an unusual amount of snow and now mainly and only rain, rain, rain.  Heavy rain, light rain, heavier rain.  Etc.

So yesterday was the first sunny day in weeks.  I rode my bicycle for the first time in five weeks to Stanley Park to meet R. for a rather spontaneous park in the sun situation.  Lots of joggers catching up on their jogging.  Lots of families and prams, cyclists, dogs, cats, emus, donkeys and the like.  The weather forecast said that this was to be the one sunny day for a looooong time.

R. and I walked and talked -we both live alone and so quack quack quack when we get together.  So much talk wants to get out of my head.  We sat on a bench and it clouded over.  I had a hotdog.

R. went home a bit later and I rode my bicycle around the seawall and popped in to see C., L. and eventually J.  That was nice.  Then I grocery shopped and cycled home.

That was a lot of cycling after a long winter of none.

The rains are back today and are to hang around for the next four years – that kind of a thing.

Today I am free till three when I am going to a wee pop up study at Christ Church and then may stick around for the service after.  There is an hour in between those two things but I seem to have a lot of experience with split shifts.  Ha.

My UBC gig is done – I managed once all was said and done, to work three weeks and a day.  Yup.  My Langara gig is also done – it may run again at the end of May which of course would be at the exact time of some possible UBC work.  Tis how it goes.

I have 3.83333333 hours at the downtown school this week and should be getting both of my tutees back.  I haven’t seen my high school tutee in over a month – I was sick, working, and he was away for spring break.  I hope he remember we are meeting – I have lost his phone number and can’t text him.  Eeeek.  So this week there will be a lot of sitting around in the rain kind of a thing.  As per usual I guess.  That doesn’t seem to get easier or more productive or any of that.  I have a bit of E.I. for a few more weeks so that will help to calm the nervous system.  September is the time again I will really have to get thinking again.  September is dead everywhere and 3.833333 hours is not going to cut it.

Oy, I am bored with the whole thing.  Bored bored bored and finally, bored.  A few folks I worked with at UBC are going (separately) to Europe – Northern Spain, Morocco and such.  Envy envy.  Although I wonder if I am too lazy for travel now – are we done yet? Ha. Eeek.

Surely there is a narrative other than my down and out-ness.  Surely.  Hey, don’t call me Shirley!  Nothing wrong with it – it’s just not my name.

Ha ha.

Ninety minutes of my 3.833333333 hours are at 8 am tomorrow morning.  Uh yes.  Tis okay, I am used to getting up early again (I think).


My frustration is not new.  Boredom, isolation, blah blah blah.

Oh it is my birthday this week!  Hurrah – March 30th.  The year unimportant.  Ah heck, 51 years ago my (now departed, still miss her) mother was very pregnant.  In those days, she had long told me, they put her under and she woke up with a baby yet it was not a C-section.  Not sure how that worked.  Maybe they twilighted up the mother so that they wouldn’t remember the incredible pain of it all.  Mom was 35 years old, downright ancient for having a baby in those days.  My sister was 3.5 years old at the time.  I seem to have popped out quite cute with a head of dark hair.  I’m sure I looked around right after birth and thought, “I’m bored!  I’m isolated!”  Wah.

This 51st birthday shall be gently celebrated at Ye Old Spaghetti Factory for reasons I am not sure of.  I couldn’t think of a place that had disco dancing in the early evening so, well, the factory.  I think I went there a lot in my 20’s when I first moved to Vancouver. Nostalgia kind of a thing.  And the bread!  Is the bread not great there.  Garlic butter!  Salad!  Spaghetti!  Ice cream!  There is a factory in Winnipeg and I’m sure I went there growing up although Salisbury House is a place I remember more.

Fifty one!  Lordy be.  Nine years to sixty.  Now, now, enough of that.

Let me try to jolly things up a bit here on the old blog.  There is a woman in her 30’s who lives in my wee building who, when I talk about something from the 80s, always makes it a point to point out that she was either not born yet or very very young.  I now apologize to people I did the same thing to when I was in my 30s  and they were older.  Ha.  But yes, I get it, you are much, much younger than I am.   A lovely and talkative young woman and her partner is pretty cool too.

Jollying it up.

I will end with this oft-quote from my father:  “I am too light for heavy work and too heavy for light work.”  Indeed.