For you, the dress code is casual.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

By the way

I teach ESL sometimes. This past week, I had a breakthrough with two kids, one eight-year-old girl, and a 12-year-old boy.

The girl, she writes "Curse you!" in a story she wrote for me. There was something else, too, but what eight-year-old exclaims "Curse you!" It's so awesome. Before, she was writing these boring diary entries. "We had noodles. I went swimming." Now she's writing about why a girl's called Hannah Banana, how come Curtis dyed his dog's tale pink, et cetera. I love it.

The boy, he simply took an exercise I created in which I take a place, say a swimming pool, and I get the kids to list out everything that would be experienced through the five senses. Sight: Fat men jiggling in swim trunks, pools, puddles, lap clocks, et al. We make a list of everything in class and at first, the kids are always sort of slow to come up with description, but you contribute a really great visual like "fat men jiggling in speedos by the hot tub" and the kids come alive with suggestions that take you by surprise. So, anyhow, he had this great experience of taking everything that was there and enriching it with, like, "stepping out of the sauna, I feel the cold air whipping my skin."

Holy shit, dude, 12! Right fucking on.

I've taken to pushing my kids lately. (GayBoy, the above kid is the one I was bitching about when you, I, and P had beers at H's last week, that I couldn't motivate him -- he shocked me that night!) I've begun mocking them. I tease and taunt them when they fail to wow me. I make fun of them for failing to take chances. If they take chances and fail, I laugh it off and praise their balls. If they take a chance and it succeeds, I praise them to their parents with the kids in earshot.

The lesson they learn is, "If I'm going to be mocked for playing it safe, then I have nothing to lose. I'll take the chance, then, Alex, for $200."

I'm really proud of the advances I see. There's a great deal of pride to be found from making kids excited about stories.

And curse you if you disagree. ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Coming Soon: The Further Adventures of Steff

Storytelling is a passion. When telling stories is your thing, there are certain elements you seek. Holding an audience’s attention. Knowing what it takes to be surprising. Understanding the language shared by those you seek to entertain, in both literal and figurative senses.

There’s something spellbinding about telling a good tale. You think it’s great hearing one, but there’s magic in the telling.

I’m a storytelling junkie. I mainline it like any dirty freak would. It feeds me, drives me, and keeps me going. It's a high I can't get enough of. One that leaves me grinning like a giddy fool when the fix comes in right.

I’m a paradox. I can work a crowd or a room like no one when I’m in the mood to do so. But I love to be alone. I keep to myself as much as I can, but when I decide to be in people’s company I drink ‘em in, but mostly, I tend to enjoy either telling a story, or simply hearing myself talk.

I enjoy a good written story, sure, and I’m proud of myself if I’m the one done the writin’, but the real heart of the beast for me is in spoken word.

I have these rare, beautiful nights when even I’m amazed at the tales I’m telling. Whew. It’s like something aligns and I’m just in a zone where everything’s got this believable, diggable vibe to it, and people are just soaked into me. It’s so fucking rare, but god. On those nights it’s like I’m my perfect self, a perfect storm of Steff, and the connections and bonds I develop with people when I’m in that place, it’s just magical. I wish I knew the combination. I wish I could be that person all the time. It’s the healthiest addiction I’ve ever had, and something noble I try to pursue.

When I lived in the Yukon, I volunteered at the Yukon Storytelling Festival. It was a June weekend, and… a sad moment just hit me and I realized I haven’t seen that t-shirt in years. Shit. The stupid things we keep, and the significant things we toss – how incongruous it all is.

I was in the Yukon, living at 702 Strickland Street, in a shitty rundown house separated into 7 different apartments. (Mine: Blue shag [I shit you not] basement suite with a shower stall only It was 11’ wide by about 32’ long, in entirety. Like a trailer. I’ll tell you about it another time.)

Tangent. I knew I wouldn’t be in the Yukon forever, so I decided to do everything I could to meet people and experience it while I was there. I volunteered everywhere I could, met tons of people, and had phenomenal experiences.

It was a June weekend when I was at the festival, I heard a series of native storytellers doing their thang. It was such a great experience. I completely forget the stories, mind you, but I certainly remember the vibe of that day. I remember looking around that tent on the river and soaking up all those rapt faces and thinking, “Why, I want to do this.”

And while I certainly need to try harder to do it in writing more often, telling stories is something I do every day of my life. I can’t help but relate stories, and they’re always slightly entertaining, but some days they’re just great. But that’s life for you. Some of the happenings are just wild, and being able to tell them in a way that’s true to the event is a pretty wonderful thing.

What a fitting time to learn a new love, too. A time that was simply one of the most amazing of my life.

And here I am, today, entering what’s bound to be a wild, wild summer, and I’m scared too much is gonna go down and my past is gonna slip further from me.

My goal now is to try and turn the Ditch into a uniquely me place. I’ll tell my stories of my experiences. If my older posts like When Friendships Die and the Legend of Tagish Elvis are your bag, well, my aspirations are to return to that. It’s arrogant perhaps to wonder if one’s about to tap into a dream or two, but I want to lay down my old stories for a couple reasons besides that.

First, I’m getting older. Who’s kidding who. 33 in seven months. Second, I’m having trouble now remembering some things from the past and it scares me. I’ve led a rich and interesting life, and to forget any of it is an insult to the experiences I’ve been blessed to enjoy. This is an active attempt to really appreciate my roots. Third, because it might be fun to remember more consciously the past that preceded The Bad Things of my mid-20s. We can forget those good memories. We’d like to think we won’t, that the bad memories are easily blocked. But happiness is a fleeting thing, and it’s an impossibility to remember. Recalling happiness is like recalling scenery in fog. You may have a very good impression, but the true essence will never be there.

So, that’s where I hope to go. To storytelling. I’m not a fiction writer, not really. Maybe one day I’ll toy with it again. I’ve had successes in flash fiction (1,000 words or less) but never the long form, and it’s the latter I wish I could do. One day.

But telling stories… I do it a lot. I don’t know why I haven’t laid down more of the great, fun experiences I’ve had in my life and I sometimes wonder if I don’t appreciate them as I should. And here we are.

Stay tuned for the Further Adventures of Steff. ;)

Friday, February 24, 2006

So, like, if flies have 200 eyes,
why the fuck can't they see the door?

I'm just running a bath, need to relax, and the g'damn fly is just zipping around the bathroom in the same zigzag formation, like someone's tied him to a stake in the center of the front yard.

Door, fly. Gaping hole in wall. Go. There.

Aural Pleasure, some thoughts.

It’s a Friday morning. I’m spent. Done.

Every night this week, I’ve been up past 2, 3, 4. My mind’s a little too active, too many ideas, and well, my body’s been a little too active, but enough on that. I’m stiff all over as a result of a workout a couple nights back, it’s been a while since I’ve had this all-over “how do ya like me now” muscle stiffness. Feels good, feels not.

S’okay, though. It feels.

So, I’m stuck. A conundrum. Where to go now. I’ve brazenly gone and asked all my readers on my sex blog to contribute to a slush fund for podcast equipment. Someone’s gone and done the whole, “Yeah, but you can do it cheaper,” thing.

I know. I probably can. Then the image question enters the picture.

More specifically, the question of “what is my image” becomes the issue. Is it that of a perfectionist who controls mood and detail to heighten an experience? Or is it as a kamikaze, life-for-the-moment, and do-it-any-way-it-takes kinda perspective? I really don’t know. Maybe it’s both.

I know what I want – I want a sexy, fun, irreverent show that’s geared to 18-34 year old listeners. It’ll be edgy, hip, now. It won’t just be about me, it’ll be about sex in the world today. The news, the politics, the culture. And there will be rants. And there’ll be eroticism. It’ll be a whole bag of goodness.

But what will better suit it out the gates, a high-quality production, or a low-fi gritty do-it-like-you-gotta kinda vibe? And then, what’s going to fit better on me?

I have a pretty husky, sultry kinda voice, like a female disc jockey or something. That could work well with a low-fi sound, or it could fall apart. I don’t know.

I’m gonna let my readers decide. If they can chip in, they’ll get the show I have in my mind, a longer, more professional sounding show. I’m details-oriented, I’m confident I’d do it well. If they don’t chip in, I’ll have to wait until I have the cash to make a low-quality version fly, and reduce the amount of time for the broadcast, etc.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

So, that reader called me on asking for the money, sort of, saying they’ve done theirs for cheap and all that. But, seriously. Think about it. A) I have a thousand readers a day, I have a built-in audience, and I want to do a great program with great quality, if I can. It’s why they read me – my drive for excellence fuels my content, suggestions, and style. But, B) Asking can result in you getting some pretty amazing things. There’s no harm in asking.

I might just get what you want. Would that be so wrong? My pride stopped being useful to me long ago. Yeah, I’ll fuckin’ ask. Then I’ll move on if I’m told no. A biggie? Non, monsieur.

Should be fun to see what shakes out. Have a good weekend, folks, and feel free to way in with unsolicited advice. ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fuckin' hockey

It's the semi-finals of the Olympic men's hockey today. Canada's squaring off against Russia. It's the second intermission, and panic's mounting. We've had maybe a dozen shots on goal all game. We're down one-nil.

We have some of the greatest players of the game playing all on one team and they can't find the fucking net. Well, I don't know, I've never played, but I've heard that aiming the puck in that general direction's a good start.

Sigh. It chokes me to be so bitter at my boys. I love them so. But shoot the fucking puck. How hard is it?

I was worried as soon as the thing happened with Gretzky and the gambling scandal. Of COURSE Gretzky didn't know about it. The guy's golden for a reason. He has more integrity than any sporting person I've seen in my time. There's very few players who sit in that realm of being great on and off the ice, and the only people in my mind right now are Gretzky, Ali, Ripken, Jordan, people like that, with ethics to match the egos. He wouldn't get involved in something that stupid.

Being Canadian and being a hockey player are up there with being a dad and a man for Gretzky. It's what he is. He won't fuck with that. You just understand that.

The implications were just ridiculous, and I can't really sit back and say I think the press was using its head by even mentioning it. Back in the day, journalists would've sat back and said, "Yeah, but look at who it is. Are you serious?" They'd wait a day to see what else came, and then they'd run with it. Maybe someone with an exclusive would run something, but the rest would wait before repeating the tale. Ahh, maybe I'm a romantic.

Anyhow, that shit's wearing Wayne down. My boy lost his mom this year and it clearly has been kicking his ass. He didn't need his wife to be involved in this scandal, too. Wayne's an incredible man, but there comes a time when a load is so great it makes it impossible for you to express those positives about yourself that help energize others.

I wonder if he's lost it for this tourney. And maybe he should've stepped down.

But there are a couple dozen guys in that room who should've fucking stepped up before now. They shoulda watched the women, took the inspiration, and remembered what they learned in PeeWee: If you're gonna score, you better shoot.

The third period's starting. Oh. Did I mention we've been shut out two games in a row, haven't scored in 10 periods? Right. That too.

The Deed Is Done

Cut. That's a wrap, Henry! And... print.

In the movie of my life, it seems another scene has done played out. I walked out of what was essentially the closest thing to family I've really known for the past few years. My bosses were classy ladies. Flawed, as any human tends to be, but in very unimposing ways. They were damned fine people to know and work for, and the best bosses I've had to date.

The co-workers, a couple kinda got under my skin, and one sort of really fucked me over back in the fall, which just left me feeling betrayed, but there were a few really awesome people in the office, too, who I'd never decline a drink with.

But I'm so fucking glad it's done.

So, this was the sunset I found as I left my job this evening. I timed it that way, you know. I left at 4:25, figuring I could be at the beach by 5:35, just in case. As I rode into work, I saw a band of light on the horizon of a very grey day, literally and figuratively, and grew optimistic of what I might find when I left later. And this was it.

Oh, today? My mother's birthday. I planned quitting on her birthday* so my Record of Employment would be dated for it. My mother always regretted not pursuing her dreams younger in her life. Dying at 57 will do that to you. My tribute to my mother, on her birthday, is my doing exactly that. Giving a dream some fulfillment. Where this leads, I don't care. I'll enjoy the time I have, hope for the best, do my best, and see what washes out. I'm easily appeased, and life's too short to sweat it.

So, sunset, meet readers. Readers, meet a foggy West End sunset in the last days of winter. The sunlight refracts like mad off the light misty fog, resulting in this crimson bath. Love it. Created by nature, brought to you by Steff. ;)

*Things just came to a head this month, and it took a week to decide to do this, a week to screw up the courage, and then I pushed things back a couple days to do the symbolic birthday thing. I'm not that creepy. Just weird timing, might as well do something about it, you know? Ceremony and ritual's kinda cool sometimes, and this is one of those times. Adds a dramatic punch, eh?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Overheard while taking a walk

It's my last night working the job that's been my bread and butter for nearly six years. I took a moment, fittingly, to walk over to the harbour at sunset, but there wasn't much of one to speak of.

On the way back, strapped for caffeine now in the form of my monster venti Americano, I passed one of the upscale highrises to find two young girls shouting into the building's intercom. These are cute little bouncy brunette white girls on Razor scooters with little short skirts and cute jackets, around 9 years old.

"Would somebody want to buy an apple?"

Confused silence. Intercom crackles, buzzes, and snaps. "What?"

Girl, shouting louder & faster: "Would somebody want to buy an apple?"

Girl's friend, laughing and yelling: "Or two!"

Silence again. Crackle, buzz, snap. "What in the Sam Hill are you people talking about? Jumpin'--"

Girl shouts: "Apples!"

Silence. "I gotta move. Goddamn junkies." [CLICK]

Yep. Love this hood. The speaker, if you can't imagine it, has all the clarity of the McDonald's drive-thru intercom, which is to say about as much clarity as you'd have after a six-day crack-shooting binge. Girl #1 mutters, "Oh, well." I hear a buzzing-beeping amalgam and know they're trying again, attempting to buzz yet another suite.

Cute kids, but I really wanted to say something to the effect of "flogging a dead horse" but their sunshiney effervescence deserves to be shattered into endless shards on its lonesome, via fate's innate cruelty.

So, I simply walked on, laughed boisterously, sniggered, and enjoyed the moment, wondering how overpriced the apples are, anyhow.

And this is the first and only time I will have ever blogged from this job. Can't really go out all upstanding like, now, can I?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Exterior -- Steff's Apartment Building -- Night

Prologue: A man of Middle Eastern descent lives in my apartment building, on the ground floor. He's one of these guys that glares at you when you pass him, drinks constantly, and who is always building things in his living room. He has a futon, a table, and technological gadgets everywhere -- tools, precision building equipment, etc. That is, on the rare blue moon the window blinds are wound open. I'm waiting for Tom Waits to reprise his "What's He Building in There?" about my co-tenant.

Me, I think the guy's a freak. GayBoy, he thinks he's a terrorist.

Scene: Steff and GayBoy talking in the frigid February night as GayBoy's scooter warms up for the ride home.

GB: Hmm. He's not home.

S: Who?

GB: The Terrorist.

S: Would you stop calling him that?

GB: Well, he's not home.

S: He's probably at the bar.

GB: Oh? A drinker?

S: I see him at the bar.

GB: Yeah, well, in his line of work.

S: Shush. I think the manager's mentioned something about his drinking.

GB: In that line of work.

S: Like, having to prop him up at the door on numerous occasions, apparently.

GB: Yeah, I've heard that can be a problem.

S: In that line of work.

GB: Exactly.

S: Oh, come the fuck on. You'd think Al-Quaeda would have classes on how to be inconspicuous. "Now, when you establish your sleeper cells, avoid renting ground-level garden apartments with large bay windows in the living room, where you design and assemble your chosen weapons of mass destruction."

GB: Well, fuck! They ain't making 'em like they used to.

S: Right, anyone can get into Al-Quaeda now.

GB: Looks that way!

S: The manager says he claims it's a sewing machine. No, a knitting machine. There have apparently been comments.

GB: Fucking right there have, I bet.

S: Why don't you just report him to CSIS,* then?

GB: They probably already know about the fucker.

S: Right, the knitter with a drinking problem on the ground-level front-of-building suite.

GB: Ain't makin' 'em like they used to.

S: Clearly. Night.


Yep, just another fine conversation. Really. What's he building in there? Fuck, man. But you know what? GayBoy and I have at least one totally preposterous conversation like this a night. You know what I'm really looking forwards to about unemployment? More of our random chance encounters, those ALWAYS have a moment like this. I should just start trying to write some of these out sometimes. Hmm. Mental note. :)

And for those who miss them, coming up soon are retrospective stories from my past:

*When I was thrown from a horse in the Yukon (GayBoy was there, too)
*When my car accident got me on TV
*When Norm and I chased the forest fire
*When "Jerry Garcia" ate his marijuana on the bus
*The Waterbed Murder that happened six condos down from me in the Yukon

And I'm sure there's more. I've been regretting not writing about more of the strange events that have unfolded in my life, and I know they'll start slipping as I amass more and more of them, so... I'm on a mission, and it's happening here, same bat-time, same bat-channel. In theory. ;) It ain't a matter of inspiring me, honey, it's a matter o' settin' me on down long 'nuff.

*Canada's foremost intelligence agency. Shh. Be vewwy, vewwy qwiet. They're listening.

Fight Club! What movie Do you Belong in? brought to you by Quizilla

I'd tell you about it,
but the first rule of Fight Club is,
we don't talk about Fight Club.
The second rule?
We DON'T talk about Fight Club.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Seven years past

I had a lot of disruption to my sleep for about 8-10 days there, and the last few months have just been pretty much nose to the grindstone since about November 1st, if not before that. I can’t remember the last time I had 3 days off in a row, other than when I was sick over Christmas. Beyond that, it would have been October. I’ve been slaving to the almighty dollar for a long while now, barely making ends meet, and the light at the end of it all is finally visible. Soon.

I’m so, so, so tired now. Soon, I’ll rest. Today’s a shitty day. The anniversary of finding my mom’s cancer was seven years ago today. I was seeing There’s Something About Mary at the old rep theatre near my house. I smoked a joint or two, walked back home, knowing my mom was to be in surgery until about when the film completed.

I walked in, checked our messages, and had a message from the doctor, whose name escapes me now. I remember that night so fucking clearly, in some ways. The message, “I operated on your mother. She’s in recovery now, but there’s something I need to speak with you about. Call me as soon as you can.”

Cancer, I thought. I’d been suspecting it would be. It was supposed to be your garden variety hysterectomy, but the grapefruit-sized hard mass I felt through the walls of my mother’s tummy as she waited in that hospital room that morning said anything but routine to me.

I refused to have a phone conversation. I wanted to be in person when I heard that. I sure as fuck didn’t want to be alone, that much I knew.

I’ve had that experience you see on every TV show. Not my dad, not my brother, not anyone else in my clan. Me. The one where you walk into a ward and the doctor is chatting with some nurses, all friendly like, when he hears who you’re asking for, and his face falls to something more grave. This doctor did that. Grave face, dark complexion, difficulty expressing it. “Perhaps we should step over here,” he said, “and talk.” He looked at my mom’s friend who’d driven me. “In private,” he muttered, and took me into a private office, told me I should take a seat, told me the deal.

Cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer. We don’t know. Cancer, cancer, cancer.

That might as well have been the conversation right there. There was cancer. Rare. Aggressive. Mysterious. Three cases before now in Western Canada. One woman maintaining, the other two dead. Didn’t look good. But they were “hopeful.” Yeah, and likely smoking grass and singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, for all the good it did.

I was stunned, floored, and rightly fucked. I didn’t know what to do next. Called my brother. Cancer, I said. He didn’t believe me, he’s always been obstinate. So, I said it again. And again. Finally, he clued in. He took care of phoning all the relatives, which was probably a bad move, since my mother wouldn’t know herself until two more days had passed. There was nothing we could do, so we left.

GayBoy was working that night, doing dishes and shit at the bar he used to work at back then. My first stop was to see him. I don’t remember what really happened, he didn’t know what to say, really. Promised he’d try to come as soon as possible, but his coke-addled boss kept him by raging until 3.

It didn’t matter, sleep wouldn’t find me for a few days yet. I got home, my mom’s friend left me there, and I sat there in the dark, in a corner, and just waited, sobbing softly in fear and fright, until my friend would arrive before 4.

I remember GayBoy coming with beer and dope. He came in and I don’t remember where the conversation went, what came next, but I do remember that he somehow managed to lighten me up enough that I actually laughed while we watched the TeleTubbies.

That was the night, essentially, seven years ago. He stayed until it was light, probably shortly after 7, then left. But that was all right – it was light out, and the monsters only come in the dark, right?

No, it doesn’t hurt like it used to, not really. But the day rolls up, says, “Think about me,” and you just can’t get it out of your head. This is probably the best anniversary of any kind I’ve had in regards to my mom, and I think I’m well past that really hard place, but there are days when the least you can do for your departed is to spend a little time reflecting on them.

So, Mom, wherever you are, I’m sure you’re enjoying that crimson sunset out my window as much as I am. It sucks your sunset was so muddled and sudden, but I’m glad you had a few years before your death where you truly lived. It makes me glad to be taking such a risk right now… although I’m still scared, but I’m doing what it took you 47 years to learn – I’m living my life on my terms. Here’s hoping, eh? Thanks, for you know what.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Let the games begin

Oh, right, they already have. But not just the Olympics, I mean.

I quit one job today, and I think I ruffled their feathers, but I don't care. I was being paid 40% less than my other jobs, so y'know, no biggie, right? The job that matters, they know I'm very likely walking this coming Monday. And I have an open invitation to return.

No, no severence, but I keep my self-respect, I keep a couple good friends, and I keep an outstanding reference, as well as an open opportunity to work in times of need. I'm not sure I'd price that at $3,000 on face value, but I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Then, it'll be all about waiting to see if the government approves of my claim. God, let's hope.

Anyhow, I'm quaking as much from hunger as I am from my nerves. The hunger, I can do something about. The nerves, well, a little toke might alleviate some pressure, but it'll be surface only.

Still... a good day. My record of employment will be dated on my Mother's birthday. She would be proud of me for having the balls to quit to attempt my dream, but she'd be terrified, too. She'd smile about my quitting on her birthday, since she always wanted me to grow up to be a writer. I think she was sad sometimes, felt there was so much beauty in the world but had no means to express it. That her daughter wanted to be a writer was always something she loved, and that my dad loves today. I know the parental concerns about moves like these, but I'm glad to know the support is there, deep down, on both fronts.

So, a small thing, that dated ROE, but inside, I'll be really happy about the significance.

Gives me something to look forward to; tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of the cancer being found. A week I hate, this. But with good movement, good news. Nice.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Working towards illumination

Ah, sigh. Complications. The bane of my existence.

It's cloudy this morning, which pleases me. Sun would be incongruous with my mood. Not that I'm bitter or angry or anything, no, just tired and wish I'd have the clarity that sunshine would suggest I'd have, you know? Clarity, well, that I ain't got.

Talked to my boss yesterday and everything, it seems, has been a misunderstanding. She'd have given me more hours if I said I needed them. It's that simple. And I believe her. I need to find a way out that in no way leaves a mark on them, and they need to know the law for the next time around, so the next person doesn't have the tantalizing option of screwing them over for the $3K+ of severence it'd mean receiving.

But me, I've always believed money's not something worth doing certain things for. Ultimately, I need to sleep alone in the dark each night, and regretting my behaviour towards others is one of those things that interferes with beauty sleep. Sigh. Wish it weren't so, but it is.

I'm going to chat with my doctor, I guess, and see if my plethora of recent back problems (basically almost eight weeks solid of pain in varying degrees) and my constant stress when being around that office is enough reason to need to quit.

The bad thing is, I only find out whether I'm approved for (un)employment insurance after three to four weeks of gov-led scrutiny. Patience? Not my cup of tea. In fact, another bane of my existence. I want what I want when I want it. Now, dammit.

There are different levels one needs to consider actions on, I guess, and for this, I need to consider if I'm really right. If I really do decide to go back to work normally, the 9-5, etc, will I, in fact, give up the ambitious goals I have for this year? (Keeping in mind, my goals are about things I wish I do, steps I wish to take, and in no way suggest any particular outcome from my actions -- the end result of my efforts isn't part of the consideration here, it can't be, it's too unknown.)

I know I will. I know I'll be lulled into the complacency of office life. There's always next year. Trouble is, next year, I may have taken a wonderful lover and have new considerations. Maybe I'll luck into a good deal on a house, settle down, find myself permanently attached to a mortgage. Right now, nothing, fuck all -- little debt, no house, no car, no obligations, no dependents, and no large expenditures looming. If this isn't a time tailor-made for taking risks, when is?

And I fucking KNOW that, right? But there's this niggling goddamned whore of a voice taunting me from deep down inside. Psst. You quit, there'll be instability. You quit, and your precious little balance goes right out the fucking window, sister. You quit, and you're dancing in the unknown. It's dark out there, better bring a light. Good luck with that. You silly...

We all have those voices, the nagging self-doubt, the paranoia, the confusion. Mine are simply louder today than they've been of late. It's scary.

But it's also the full moon. I wonder what it is about the whole full moon / weirdness thing that makes times like these so emotionally intense? So much swirling around inside? It's weird. I think it's just something that baffles scientists, they can't figure it out. Imagine being the scientist who devotes his life to trying to figure out how and why the moon's positioning affects our psyches? He'd be laughed out of his lab. Laughingstock.

But I worked in retail far too many years to dismiss the moon phases. People get fucking weird at full moons, and some new moons too. And I know I'm too fidgety and weird.

I wanted to do a bike ride today, but I'm tired and I need to do a seven hour work shift, so I'll just kill that bastard, sleep in, and if I have it in me tomorrow, I may even try to take my bike up to the university, through the trails, down to Kitsilano for a little lunch, and then head back home again. That sounds like a pretty destructive yet restorative day to me. Work out all of this frustration I'm feeling. Sex would be good right about now, but a bike ride will do, and has none of the stupid emotional entanglements. Ha, but that's another story, dear friends.

Anyhow, gonna sort out this conundrum sometime this week. I think it just means quitting. I think it means that, until I sign that line on the quit form, I'll be feeling these jitters. Hell, that place has six years of my life rolled up in it. The person I've changed into in my time at that company, man, I love this girl so much more than the one that started there. They really played a large part in giving me the support and network I needed as I worked through the hardest years of my life. They really, really were a family, for a time. I guess part of this that I'm feeling then isn't just insecurity. It's just sadness. I have a hard time letting go of people I care about, and right now, I'm getting teary just thinking of what walking out that door means this time.

It means I'm all grown up. Holy fucking hell. I've been sitting around and thinking that taking the summer off was such a 21-year-old thing to do, and I've been feeling a bit sheepish and all. Maybe, just maybe, it's the opposite. It's ballsy as hell, and it's what only a confident adult should be doing.

You know, money's been the bane of my family. All those arguments, those fights, they were always about money. My mother died practically bankrupt. Two of the three remaining members of my family have declared bankruptcy (never me). Money is a terrifying thing. If you've got it, you're scared to lose it. If you don't got it, you're terrified it'll remain outside your reach.

My past six months has taught me that, yes, it's really fucking hard, but when I need to be industrious and find the money that eludes me, I always manage to do so. I'm proud of how I've managed. And there's a lot of men out there thinking, "Yeah, but I've done that," etc, but it's different for a woman. We can't get hired on at manual labour jobs -- it's waitressing and shit like that that we can always find, and the pay is drastically lower. Getting by on sheer whimsy's easier as a man, just because of the nature of the jobs available, and THAT'S why I'm proud of myself. I grew balls. ;)

This is one of those rare times when writing really resolves an issue. I hadn't been thinking of my sadness of leaving, and I hadn't considered the industriousness with which I've overcome some of the problems that have come my way. It's still really hard to say, "Yes, I'm done," and sign the line, but geez, at least I have some better reasoning.

Now, to drastically improve my day: Strawberry pancakes. Yeah, you know your mouth is watering. Ha. This is one of those off-the-cuff self-obsessed writings, ergo, fuck editing. Tomorrow, I'll post pictures I took of the cops and fire department clogging up my alley as they busted a meth lab across from my building yesterday. HEY, thanks, fuckheads, for mentioning the explosion potential. Nice.

Friday, February 10, 2006

One for the Cosmos

Hey, if there's such an energy crisis,
why haven't scientists figured out
how to harness farts?

I mean, they're gas, right?
And wind power, too.
Holy hydro double-punch, Batman.

Conundrum: Thinking Out Loud Again

Wow, weird.

I have to decide how to proceed, and I need to do a few things on Monday. It turns out my employers are breaking the law, and I have legal grounds to quit. Or so it would seem. I'm doing some investigating, which I'd been putting off for too long, on what my options are for leaving my job.

I think it not only looks like I'm entitled to employment insurance legally, but also for 5 weeks of severence, if I quit.

But now, a conundrum. I have an absolutely glowing recommendation from this job. The woman would sell me to anyone. The question now is, do I potentially burn that bridge to get what I want?

It's not just a matter of torching a letter of recommendation or a glowing reference, nor is it a matter of ethical conundrum (they're good people, they didn't mean to shaft me)...

It's complicated. One, I let them know I wasn't planning on returning. I've made no secrets on that count, they know I was unhappy and that I had 1.5 feet out the door. Two, I was on "stress leave" at the time and can probably play the "but I wasn't thinking straight" card. Three, what's the dollar value of a recommendation/referral? How does a personality offset that value? Four, would my employers play hardball? I bet they would.

(The law they're breaking: They have changed my hours without putting anything in writing. During this duration of time that I've been back, I've worked a few weeks that constitute the legal definition of "lay-off" which means they have, in effect, terminated me, despite continuing to have me around for their convenience when the need arises. Illegal, apparently. And rightly so.)

But finally, in the cosmic scheme of things, with a couple little signs I've had lately, I think there is no greater time for me to take the chance to cash in on a dream or two. This feels like my time. Like my momentum's building. Is this the challenge I need to face in order to stake my claim on what pursuing this dream of mine is worth to me?

I don't know if you've ever read the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I was talking with this guy on Wednesday about "signs" and how following and reading them can change your life. I totally should've mentioned this book then, but it slipped my mind, despite being on the chair opposite me.

Coehlo's book -- one of my all-time favourites, despite its simplicity -- is a fable about a young Spanish shepherd who has a dream and decides to take the chance of pursuing it. It's about reading the signs and coincidences that come up around us, and learning how to use those to better our situation and move towards our dreams. In it, the boy is told, "Look, if you believe in your dream, you must give me 10% of what you own, and I'll show you how to reach your dream."

The conundrum for the boy is, and this is what he ponders, does this dream -- a dream that may never transpire, may never conclude the way I wish it to -- does the idea of this dream mean so much for me that I'm willing to put this all on the line in order to take the risk of getting all that I dream?

I knew I'd have to do a few things, jump through some hoops, in order to achieve what I want. I need this time, I need to quit work, I need to follow my hopes in spite of all these fucking cynics who say, "Yeah, but..."

Yeah, but it's what I want. It's what I need to do. I've got to fucking know. Can I do it? Can I take this chance and do something utterly risky and provocative and unique and get my work out there? Inside, you know what? I think I can. I gotta. I think I can come out of this on the right side of things.

I have never, ever felt something this strong, wanted something as much as I want this. It's fucking consuming me.

If I quit, cite the Employment Standards section that they're in contravention of, I'm entitled to 5 weeks' pay, which is more than I could've thought I'd be getting for QUITTING, and that would pay not only for the entire project I have planned, but maybe a week away somewhere.

But I would hurt people I have come to know and love, I think. I don't know if there's a way I can cite the standards section without having it come down hard on them. I would need to have a way to make them understand that, for me, that's a lot of money right now and it's a dream coming true on paper.

I'm stuck in this conundrum of knowing that there has never, ever been a time where I have needed to put myself before everyone and everything else than this day, now, and knowing that I might possibly shoot myself in the foot when it comes to betraying a trust I've had with some really good people. I don't know how it will play out. I don't know if there's something I can do to make it all work in a way that allows me what I want and allows my ethics and heartstrings to stay intact.

I do hate having to do anything to hurt anyone, but sometimes it's the only way out, right?

Let me say this: I'm sick of the skeptics and cynics who seem to raise their brows curiously at the notion of me spending six months with an innovative plan to get my writing out there. They tell me how hard it is, how long a road it is. Yeah, well. I didn't fall out of the dream tree with my eyes closed, wishing for pigs in flight and a layer of frost in hell or anything. I have a realistic, constructive, innovative idea. I have desire. I have ambition. And some days, I even have a little talent. My balls are on the table. I'm different. I have to believe that. I have to believe that every now and then someone like me -- with dreams like mine, and confidence like mine, and a willingness to jump without a net -- someone like me does it. They get it. They do it. It all works.

Yep. Call it whatever the fuck you want. Naivete. Foolishness. Pie-in-the-sky.

I call it a plan, Stan. I call it a six-month adventure that'll make me stronger, more creative, and maybe help me make a few connections. Or a six-month road to everything I've ever wanted. Either way, sounds like a trip. Count me in. Pack my bags. I'm off like a prom dress.

But first, to decide how to proceed. Monday, I'll investigate, get some more ducks in a row, and see where that leads. Tuesday, I'll maybe have a decision made. By Friday, I hope to have quit.

Meanwhile: Parasailers en masse off Spanish Banks on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Stormy beach photos

The rare whitecaps off Vancouver I mentioned in yesterday's posting.

The trail down to Vancouver's Wreck Beach, which is the only beach facing west instead of north or northwest in the city, so you don't see any frickin' settlers, which is nice.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Philosocky 101

When do you finally know
a sock pair has gone bad?

How long does
an unmatched, lonely sock
sit there, waiting, waiting and waiting,
for its life partner?

I did my laundry and I'm tackling my socks now. I have this pair of socks by the brand "Lucky" and one is missing, but I have a pair of socks that are lucky, and one is missing. I have about five or six other other lonely, unmatched socks hanging around, too.

And I've just cleaned my room (but not my closet, and not behind objects) and I'm thinking, "Why, some of these have been missing months... surely, it's time?"

But which has been missing longest? I don't know. Which do I care least about? But then what happens if its lifepartner arrives, and I've unceremoniously tossed his straggler already?

You know, you might even start to think this could be an analogy for real life, all about loneliness, and how long is too long to be alone.

Interesting thoughts on the day of a first date.

But, you see, I'm stubborn, hopeful, and resistent to concession. The socks stay. Soon, I shall thoroughly clean my cupboards out here and in the hallway, and if that fails, I will pronounce the Search and Rescue mission kaput, and Recovery unlikely.

Until then, the unclaimed, neglected pile goes back to its rightful perch atop my formica cabinet. Ever the optimist. Or is that apathist?

Life has conspired to give me an incredible day off. A wind has blown all the bleak away, and the sun is dominating the landscape.

I was to work a full day today for one employer, and realized that if I called another employer to see if their busy week was still on full boil so I could work there for fewer hours, and more money. So, I called, and got given a four-five hour shift. "Great," I thought. "Now I need a good lie for why I can't work for X."

Then, an hour later, X calls to say she's going to be out of the office all day, and I could either work at home or have the day off. "Great!" I blurted. "I've been needing a day off!"

So, this morning I get up, catch the red of the early sun rise, groan, crawl back in bed, pull the covers up, bury my face in the pillow, and catch one more hour dead to the world. I rolled out of bed at 8:30, began stretching my stiffness out, when the phone rings.

"Hey, Steff, it's Y. I just wanted to tell you that the power's out here, and you can't come in until at least 11." Great! More time! So, I slowly finished housecleaning, enjoyed a slow, hot shower, then got dressed, and called into the office: Power's STILL out!

Hey, look, ma -- the day off! So, now my plan has changed: Coffee on the beach, some photography, etcetera, followed by hopefully a nice evening with nice company.

But even better? I've found out that the money I've been waiting on so I can quit my jobs other than tutoring? My wait's done! A check's going in the mail tomorrow. Next week, the check arrives, and I quit and move on with my life.

I fucking LOVE these kinds of weird little serendipitous coming-togethers. My life ROCKS some days, and THIS is one of those days.

Now, if I'm lucky, this wind means there are awesome whitecaps at the beach. It also means balancing my scooter's gonna be dodgy, but hey, man, it's a good day for a challenge!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My ESL client will be here in 10 minutes and I want nothing more -- nothing -- than to lie on the floor in my now-clean living room, my eyes closed, and listen to music with no obligations in the world.

Mm, sigh. It's nice having a rich fantasy life.

Bah, work. :P (Fortunately, I know it'll probably wind up being fun.)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sombre Thoughts On The Friday Fly

I'm getting grumpy. It's one of those days. I lost one ESL client last night, another tonight. It all adds up. Strangely, last week I was wishing for more time off this week. Now I've got it, and I'm grumpy. I guess the cosmos agrees, I need a mental break. I just don't know how to take one right now. Financial need versus emotional, versus mental, versus physical, none of it computes.

I'm kinda tired and grumpy, but it's a dreary day. I was going to go for a ride this morning, but it's colder than I want it to be, and I'm deflated. I've been bouncing on my balance ball, and I call that enough exercise.

I've got to have a snack, then I'll leave earlier than I'd planned for tutoring, since it's such a short day now, just two hours. Then I can get out earlier and maybe take some dreary-weather shots of Granville Island before I buy fruits and veggies and maybe a side of protein for dinner tonight. I think I'll come home, tidy up, and prepare a thoughtful dinner for myself. I haven't done that lately, and I really think it's important sometimes. Cooking can be as creative as anything, and when we get into food ruts, it's kind of indicative of ruts in other areas of our lives, as well.

But, yeah, the "go" button's fizzing out on me. I think I need some time to myself, some time from the world. I can only imagine me on some stormy beach, wandering and thinking. How blissfull that'd be. Wind roaring, waves crashing, the chaos slowly getting so loud and real that you have to decide the noise inside your head isn't nearly as bad as you thought it might've been. That's what I love about the surf. And then, there's this realization that these chaotic, punishing waves aren't just that... they're rhythmic and they swell and fall in this not-too-perfect assigned-by-nature kind of cadence.

It's easier to remember that it's sort of the same in real life, when you're standing and staring at that sea of fury. Moments of calm, false lulls, furious lashing storms, deceptive surfaces over dangerous undertows, and some days, glass-smooth peace. Life comes with it all.

Living here in Vancouver, though, it's easy for me to look at the sea and think it all looks so smooth. A protected harbour, whitecaps mean maybe a two-foot wave when there's 100-klick winds. It's only when I get over to the island or down the coast that I remember the bitch for what she is, and I realize that the more unstable and surprising she is, the more I love her. Kinda like life, too. I bore easily, really. But I'd just love a little boredom right now. Sadly every day lately seems to have at least a little time being stolen by someone or something. I want a block of time that's all mine. Three days, four. Not a lot. Just a little, for now.

Today, I feel weary to the bone, and I dislike this feeling. It is ill-suited to me. It makes sense, though, and that's the sad thing. Anyhow, I'll leave early. A walk by a soon-to-be less-glassy harbour might indulge my edgy sentiments later this afternoon. For now, a snack, then a nice oily hot bath to relax me before I head out in that cruel, cool world.

(Monday is my only entire day off this week. That day, I'm using to put up some ads for my language services in my hood. Self-employment is cruel at times.)

(I think I was just spammed by a cynical Yoda. The email address was "" What, a statement from the cosmos there, too? DELETE. Heh.)