Category Archives: Life

Tale of Two Blogs

I mentioned in some earlier posts about an e-book I got from the Simple Dude. There were all kinds of hints to building a bigger blog, but I thought that most of them seemed cheap and sell outish. I was later thinking that I should try them out, like the book says, to see if they even work, and voila! I now own another blog. It’s completely different than this blog, and I will never tell you the address, because if I did, it would tamper with my findings. I just want to see whether, if I change who I am, I can be a successful blogger. I realize that I should tone down my language, and twisted sense of humour, and I really have, even for this blog. There are some pretty foul thoughts that go through my brain, and it would take a pretty special person to understand that it’s just some of the things that I find funny, or weird.

This guy knows funny

That’s one thing I love about the Missus. She gets me, and she keeps me in check, but not by censoring me. I’ll run something by her, and she will tell me whether it’s funny, or not. If it’s funny, it’s funny. It doesn’t matter what language is in it, or how gross it is. It’s either funny, or it isn’t funny. Sometimes it’s downright hilarious, but because it is a little too raunchy, we don’t put it in the blog. Sometimes she suggests that I don’t put something in the blog, and I do anyhow, and then some people quit reading. Those usually are posts of murdering animals, and I have to agree with her, that they are quite graphic and sad, but I always feel that I have to be as honest as I can with you. That’s why I’m telling you about this new blog. It’s completely different than Change The Topic, because there is no swearing, no real humour (just that dumbed down shit), and no real names. It’s totally anonymous, and it is also a lot of fiction.

I already give you guys all of my real life, and I don’t have a lot of writing time right now, so I’m just putting a paragraph or two of filler in there. That will likely change when I get home, and have a bit of free time. I can tell you folks that read this blog, that I will keep you updated when I start actually following the steps in that other book, because I want you to know  how things go. Who knows, it just might work!!! I may become a financially successful blogger, and all I’d have to do is change a few things about how I write. Apparently if you follow this guys advice, the people that follow you will be telling all of their friends about your blog, and they try to promote each other as well, so if it works out like they say, I’ll be getting like 10000 hits a week within a year. I should also add that you have to have decent content as well. I can’t just copy shit from the internet, and expect people to give a damn about it. Who knows, maybe it’ll just be mediocre, and random, like this one, but I’m going to try to focus on the subject, and keep my eye on the prize.

And it's made in Canada

 

Yeah, I hustle pool. It pays the bills.

Maybe when I’m raking in the millions, and buying everyone subscribed to Change The Topic an electric car, I’ll feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Another way that I can get that feeling, is to look into Mrs. Birdman’s eyes when she is adoring me in the cocoon, or look in my Mom’s face when I give her that hug she’s waiting for. Those are the things that matter, and as nice as it would be to not have to worry about money, it’s way better to not have to worry about whether anyone loves you. This may seem a little arrogant, but I feel like I am well loved by a lot of people, and in turn, I give that love back. There is a reason that I have so much love around me, and it’s because I surround myself with positive, free thinking, generous people, that aren’t afraid to give someone a compliment, an encouraging word or a big hug whenever they want to. They aren’t trying to “one up” each other, or push someone else down, just to make their life seem better. They want people to succeed at whatever they do, and are always there to help in any way they can. It’s pretty nice that we can actually say that we are proud to have the friends we do. We feel that we’ve accomplished something tremendous when we look around at their smiling faces, and realize that we have more true friends, than most people have acquaintances.

I really mean that. Mrs. Birdman has often remarked at how many friends we now have. I have always taken it for granted, because I seem to be attracted to genuine people, and usually become friends with them. I had always thought that everyone was like that. She assured me that it wasn’t so, and then I started thinking. I began looking at people that were close to me, and thinking about how many friends they have. Some of them had tons, but most had a few close friends, and then the rest were acquaintances. I began to wonder why that was? Maybe they have trust issues, were burned before, or just don’t like people very much. I would really love to know, because we are sort of the opposite, and I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t go out and get a shitload of friends, and have fun with them. I know that’s what I’m planning to do for the rest of my life. I’m going to enjoy the company of people that I admire, respect, and truly like being around. I really can’t think of anything else that I’d like better, because I’ve been a truck driver for the last thirteen years, and have spent most of it alone.

Now it’s my turn to shine, baby.

We sure had fun the last time that we were down there, and when we woke up you had that weird tattoo, and somebody had curled my hair,

Birdman

P.S. We received a somewhat delicate question for Therapy Thursday, and Mrs. Hankey, don’t worry, we will get to it, but it will take a while for me to be able to figure out how to answer that one. Thanks for sending it in.

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Filed under Birdman, Life, Lucky Me

Money

Fuck money. Yep, I said it. It makes sense now. Yesterday I was all like “I need to work in the oilpatch, so I can have extra money for in the spring, because when I come home, I’ll have to take a shitty paying job that I don’t hate.” Yeah, well I know all kinds of people with shitty paying jobs that seem to enjoy their lives; they don’t have to leave their loved ones at home, while they try to hunt down a couple of bucks. That’s right, they enjoy their lives, and here I am, with my life at an all time high with no apex in sight, but I’m a miserable wretch. What the fuck is wrong with me? I need someone to sit me down and explain things when I get all crazy and shit. Maybe a good sound drubbing would have made me see the light, or an intervention could possibly have been the ticket. Either way, I would rather work two jobs, and get to see my beautiful ladies every night, than spend another month here. Did you see my birthday video? If you didn’t, go back a couple of posts, it’s fucking superlative. Mrs. Birdman made up a surprise video birthday card, and I honestly was laughing through my tears. Some of the people were dear, old friends, some were dear, new friends, but they all had one thing in common, they all wanted to wish me a happy birthday. I can’t even begin to imagine how she pulled it off, but I’m glad she did. It was the kick in the ass that I needed, and after watching it, I thought that I’d better get packed up, and get the fuck out of here, before it’s too late.

It’s about time to go, anyways. The price of natural gas is down, so things are getting pretty slow around here lately. I could go work somewhere else I guess, but I don’t see any point in that. I was going to be leaving in a few weeks anyhow, and I don’t feel like going through the bullshit of getting hired on somewhere, only to leave a few weeks later. Truth be told, I’m just grasping for excuses. Same as I was doing last year when I came home early. I am so in love, that it seems to overrule logic. I get to the point where there will be my intelligent brain in one hand, and my instinctual brain in my other hand. I always seem to drop my intelligent brain on the ground, and it usually ends up with gravel and cigarette butts stuck in the grooves. I didn’t even have to hold them after I watched the video that you guys made. I just decided, right then and there that I was coming home as soon as I can get out of this shitty camp. That’s right, I’m heading home. I called the boss, and told him that I was done as soon as this shale haul was over, but if he needed to work one of the other guys, that he could switch me out whenever.

The Players

Look at his wee little fingers

Of course he'll win; he has a pitchfork for Christ's sake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m hoping he’ll take me up on it, but who knows for sure? I guess I could ask God? Nah, I don’t think he/she knows. The only thing God knows how to do is to manipulate poor old Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts to get him/her some more money. God don’t give a shit how they get it either. As long as the Lord receives his due, everyone will be fine. Well, except for the people who can’t afford healthcare, and clean water. They don’t get off so easy, do they? But what they don’t realize is that they are actually the lucky ones, because they are going to be living forever, a lot sooner than everyone else. Oh yes, they are going to the promised land to be with their father, Curt Cobain, and Jesus. They don’t have to suffer here on earth, to help save the rest of the flock and get them on their way to heaven, they are the flock, and it’s time for them to go.

The Stakes

It's just a planet. There are lots of them out there

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand. Money. The root of all evil, or so they say. I think it would be more accurate to say that money is a tool of evil. We are the root. Not you and I per se, but people as a whole. There is corruption in all of us, and you can call it what you want, but it’s all bad. I guess it’s just how we handle it as individuals that sets us apart from each other. I know that some people can resist the urge to rob, cheat and abuse their fellow man, but then there are the ones that seem to thrive on it. They can’t get enough to slake their thirst for money, power or the infliction of pain. I sadly look at the leaders of our countries, religions, and most charities and corporations when I speak of these utterly douchy crimes against humanity.

———–Your Genes———–

Star Trek sucks, bitch

Make me a sammich!!!

Where'd them cookies go?

 

As a general rule, the average person doesn’t have the greed gene in them. If they do, it is dwarfed by the “drunk and angry” gene, the “I need to get high gene”, and the “I ate too many cookies” gene. Those three are closely related, and while the latter will some times be there on it’s own; it always follows the second one. We just don’t have it in us. I’ve never wanted to get something so bad, that I’d be willing to step on someone to reach it, and I sure wouldn’t throw a friend or co-worker to the wolves, just to get ahead in a career. Maybe I lack ambition, maybe I lack focus, but I sure hope I’m never lacking in integrity or class. I’m just throwing class in there as a hope, because we all know that I could use a little more of that. I should probably get a bit of couth thrown in there as well, because we all know what happens when I’m drinking.

Well, there you go, I’ve rambled on and gone over my thousand words again. Sorry JSA. I don’t know if I ever got to the point, but I’m going to be coming home early, and looking for work, because I’m sick of not slow dancing in the kitchen, cocooning, and tucking kids in. If anybody knows someone that’s looking for a guy to get things done, you let me know. I’m a relatively quick learner, and I have all kinds of hidden talents, so just ask me, and I’ll tell you whether I can do it. I’d prefer a work from home position, but if it’s not too far from Colborne, I’d be cool with anything else. I was thinking about designing and building some high end ice huts, seeing as ice fishing is legal on Rice Lake now, so if you’re looking for one, you know how to reach me. Okay, that about wraps this up, and I hope to see you very soon.

Roll on highway, roll on along, roll on Daddy ‘til you get back home,

Birdman

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Filed under Birdman, Humor, Life

Local Flavour ~ Keep Small Business In Business!

 

 

 

 

Last Friday night I found myself in the enviable position of having a free night to myself.  The kids were with their dad, and I was basically caught up on work, after a fun week of hockey photos nearly every night.  I was ready for a break and some time to unwind.

I had plans with one of my best friends to go out for dinner and catch up, as we haven’t seen much of each other in the past couple of months.  We spent a couple of hours chatting and examining our navels until the topic of where to eat came up.

I had been wanting to get dinner at a new little place downtown, called the Starlight (find them on Facebook here).  I heard about it from my friend Holly, who knows ALL of the best places to go for a nice dinner.  I had been there for both breakfast and lunch, and was very impressed each time.  It was decided we would hit the Starlight for dinner and see what we thought.

20 King St. W. in Cobourg

One of the things I like best about this place, is the feel of the interior.  It has this awesome, funky, warm vibe that is perfect for an intimate dinner with friends, or a cozy date night.  The warm colours and glowing fire place makes it very inviting to spend some time.  As soon as you walk in you feel at home, and comfortable.

It's swanky...but in a good way!

The menu is a bit limited, but not when it comes to taste.  Annie (the cook and co-owner) makes everything from scratch, and man she can cook.  We ordered the Moroccan special, Tajine, with chicken.  It came with a most delicious house salad with balsamic vinaigrette (mmmm) or the home-made carrot-apple soup.  It sounds awful, but it was absolutely incredible;  Warm and spicy with everything a soup needs to impress.   The Tajine was also incredible, on a bed of cous cous and full of flavour and colour.  For dessert, (and of course we had to try it!) there was home-made blueberry cheesecake.  Seriously, it was sublime.  Everything is so fresh and full of flavor, and totally home-made.  I have officially found my new favorite spot.  (Sorry Capers!)

We had a chance to chat with the other co-owner, Joey, who told us a bit more about the place, and generally made us feel very welcome.  Annie came out a few times to check on our meal, make recommendations and see how we were doing.

It’s been years since I remember seeing a cook look interested in what was going on out front, but I don’t remember a single time when the person preparing the meal has come out personally to see how it is being enjoyed.  It wasn’t the first time either.  She did the same thing the previous times I was there, which makes me think this restaurant has really figured out how to appeal to its customers.  We felt like honoured guests, not like people rolling in to occupy a table for an hour.  There was no rushing any part of our experience, from ordering to our final exit.   We truly enjoyed being there, and they seemed to enjoy having us.

As a small business owner, this kind of customer service impresses the hell out of me.  I recognize that we were just two in a long lineup of people that walked through the doors, but it’s pretty special when they can make you feel like you were the ONLY two who walked through the doors.  I think about how I can spend $50 at Boston Pizza, and see the waitress once during the order, and once during the obligatory ‘How is everything?’, spoken as she sails past the table.  Since joining my life to a granola like Birdman, I notice that the way he thinks about things has given me cause to re-examine my own opinons, or lack thereof.  He likes to rail on about Big Box stores, and the commercialization of nearly every life experience we have as humans.  He despises spending money on foreign products, and I have seen him check labels of dozens of shoes to find one that was made in North America, only to find none.  He really does try his best to make his dollar count in a global way, and as a casual observer who never thought that much about it, I have been ashamed at how little I do in my own life to shop locally and think globally.

It’s not that we don’t care about small business, but rather that we don’t really think about it.  When I consider a dinner out, my mind automatically goes to the larger, chain-type restaurants that are available in the area.  I don’t always consider the smaller restaurants and  bistros that often have better food, and cozier atmospheres.  It is true that some of these places might be a bit more expensive, but truly, we are talking about a dollar or two per entree, not dozens of dollars.  If I really stop to think about it, I have to admit that I am far happier to pay a bit more for a truly fantastic meal and experience, than save a few bucks and do what I always do.

I had Moroccan last night, and it was delicious!  I’ve never had anything like that, and I likely wouldn’t have if there had been dozens of choices of entrees, like at Kelseys, or Outback or whatever other big chain restaurant I visited.  I know I like the stuff at those places, because it’s all the same.  The sign outside is different, but the inside is just a differently packaged box that I am already very familiar with.

A good idea, plus there's boobs for the fellas...

Baby, you are rubbing off on me, in a good way.  I am trying harder to spend my money in ways that do more than just help me out.  I want to support small businesses, who struggle to compete in a global arena.  I like feeling good about where I put my money, and more importantly, where I don’t put it.   As soon as I tasted that delicious salad, I knew I had to tell as many people as I could about this fantastic jewel of a restaurant, tucked into our very own downtown.  If you haven’t heard of it, now you know.  Tell Joey and Annie that I sent you.  😉

 

Don’t let them pave paradise and put up a parking lot,

 

Mrs. Birdman

PS. If you have a great restaurant, or business that really impresses you, let us know!  We need to share the word and give people lots of chance to try new businesses that really need local support!)

 

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Filed under Granola Life, Life, Mrs. Birdman, Rant

And now…the rest of the story

We left off yesterday with our heroic twosome having to wash one last D8R, before heading home for the night. As they were running out of water, they started to grin wildly. Could it be that we would be done early? Oh the joy of it, we may be back in time to see the comedy show at The Lido. Yahoo, we ran out of water, we are free of our shackles at last. Now to pack everything up, and head for town.

Yeah, I know all of the high on ice jokes now. Leave it alone

We got back to the Northwoods, quite disheveled because of the hard days work we had put in, and the great fire extinguisher incident of  ’12. Before we get to that, I should tell you about the water stand. You know how sometimes you look at something that you have to do, and you just know that you have an easy, time-saving solution? That happened at the water stand, when we were filling up the steamer tanks. We had the tanks as full as we could get them, and I had shut the valve, but there’s always a pipe and a hose full of water. The times before, I had opened the camlocks from the front and the hose popped off, spraying me a little. This time I had figured it out; I’d open it from the side, and stand back. I flipped them partly open, and said to Chin, “I know what to do!” I then gave the ear a kick, and stood there on the ice, waiting for the gush of water to start. It didn’t. Instead, it sprayed out the sides and thoroughly soaked both of my pant legs and a shoe. I looked up and Chin was having quite a snicker at my expense.

Hope we're not to late to watch that burn

We then went to the shop, and cleaned out the steamer. Our work parkas were splattered with grease and other assorted filth, so we decided to pressure wash them off before taking them to the laundromat. I hung mine on the fire extinguisher and cleaned it up all nice like, then Chin took it off and put his on there. As I was spraying it off, Chin said “Whoa”, and pointed down. I was trying to figure out where the soapy foam was coming from, and then I thought ‘what the smell is that?’ (Fuck, I’m clever. Did you see how I combined smell and hell? Pretty good, don’t ya think? I totally shortened that sentence, only to write four more sentences, explaining myself.) Anyhow, we set the fire extinguisher off in his inside pocket, and we fire-proofed his left foot. After opening all the doors to let the cloud of bitter tasting dust blow out, we squeegeed up the piles of powder on the floor, and called the boss. Well, someone needs to get that extinguisher charged, and get a new pin for it. I don’t know where the old one went, but it sure wasn’t there.

I said to make her hair look pretty

So we’re in the hotel, covered in grease and grime, and getting into the shower. I had called ahead to The Lido when we were on our way back, to get tickets to Laugh Your Ice Off. It coincides with the High on Ice Festival, and they always get top notch comedians in there. I’ve actually seen quite a few shows of all types there, and I’ve yet to have a bad experience. I’ve also spoken with five performers that have played that venue, and they all love playing there. Brian, Byron, and staff have done a beautiful job of fixing the old cinema up. I remember when I first came to Fort St. John, and the Lido was the only movie theatre in town. I went and saw the Fellowship Of The Ring on my birthday, and gave a homeless guy my last four dollars. I was broke, and it wasn’t going to do me any good. I only had to go one more day, and I was getting some money for four night shifts hauling clay to pad a lease. The movie was amazing, and worth not eating supper that night, but all in all, my birthday was pretty depressing. That was eleven years ago tomorrow (Monday), and one of the darkest periods of my life. I guess I just didn’t know it at the time.

-28C with the windchill, and Chin needs to rest on the couch

Click on the logo for their website.

And now for something a little more upbeat. Chin and I went to the show, and it was hilarious. Chindaddy wasn’t drinking, so I think I out chortled him, but he said he was laughing on the inside. The opener was pretty good, but Kerry Unger, who was the headliner, kept ’em coming, until I couldn’t breathe, a few times. That was a great show, and although it sometimes got a little much with the mouthy, drunk bitch from Nova Scotia heckling away behind us, it never took away from how funny it was. There’s something about that little theatre that always makes me happy. I think it’s because of all the hard work that went into transforming it from a shutdown old cinema, to a 200 seat multi tiered showplace, that doesn’t have a bad seat. They have built it up in levels, and instead of row seating, there are booths and tables, for a more intimate night out. The acoustics are great, and the staff are top notch. I don’t know how many of you are from FSJ that read this blog, but if you haven’t been to a show at The Lido, get your ass in gear, and get down there; there is something for everyone.

 

I couldn’t find much on Youtube for Kerry Unger, but here’s one of his songs set to some really bizarre video footage. I don’t understand it, but just shut your eyes, and it will be okay.

I tested positive for loving you,

Birdman

P.S. Remember when I said this was going to be an epic story? I lied. I totally said that to make you come back and support us. Seriously though, tomorrow is going to be a really good one, so I suggest that you tune in for it. I promise you will leave here with a different perspective, or your money back

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Filed under Birdman, Humor, Life

I guess I should write something new

Don’t ask me why, but I just feel obligated. I guess it could be that I’ve taken on this commitment and enjoy it more than most things that I do. I don’t know why anyone would want to read about my life, but I’m more than happy to share it with you. So brace yourself for the story of the century, because Chin and I did it up right today.

It started at 5:15 am, when I awoke with a start. It seems that I had set my alarm wrong, so I was trying to pick up my phone and figure out how to shut that bitch down. I then realized that it was no mistake; I am working in some sort of hell, where it’s dark and hilly, and you don’t sleep very much. I packed my gear and met Chin at the car, where we danced like no one was watching. A few people actually were watching out of the window and laughing. I think they were laughing with us, because every time I’d smile and laugh while throwing my head back, they would let out a guffaw like you’ve never heard.

We then headed for Tim Horton’s to get Chin’s elixir of the fabled, while I had a green tea, and dreamed of days when I didn’t have to get up so God damned early. We went from there to the shop, to grab the steam truck from the wash bay, and we threw our stuff in it. It’s nice to get past the scales before they open, because neither of us have done up a log book in forever, and then we take that hilly jaunt down highway 29 towards Hudson’s Hope. We jump off at the Farrell Creek Rd. and trek the twenty six kilometres into camp, where we had a delicious breakfast, served by some attractive young ladies, and got some lovely wraps made up in a style that’s slightly reminiscent of Subway. When we were all grubbed up, we drove to the job site down the road and met up with Carl, who didn’t really want us there yet, so he sent us to see Kevin.

Unfortunately Kevin did want us. We are in high demand; the Chin and I, so we unleashed our spool of high pressure/high heat hose and started to furiously wash equipment and pickups. Aaron was there as well, and we ran into Kramer briefly, but didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Aaron kinda slipped into some old habits, so we weren’t able to talk to him much. It seems that it doesn’t matter how old you get; boys always love to play in the dirt. I was transported back in time when I saw him jump up into the hoe with a smile on his face. A time when my life was simpler, but not as full as it is now. When we just worked and played, and nothing seemed to matter much at all to us. I suppose I had a little grin as I watched him climb up there as well, because there are few things that makes me as happy as seeing him smile.

That's not Aaron, it's some guy in Colorado

Before you think I’m getting all Brokeback on you, I’m not. I got thinking about his shit-eating grin as we were packing up and ready to leave, and he sprung one last Cat on us that we didn’t know we had to wash. I begrudgingly went back to tell Chindaddy that we weren’t in fact done yet, like I’d told him, and as we were passing Aaron, Wayne, and Carl, Chin said “Look at him grinning”, and I did. First I thought he meant Carl, who probably has the most unique shit-eating grin that you’ll ever see, but then noticed the smile on Aaron’s face. He’s never been much good at hiding emotion, and that’s probably why I like him so much. Everything is genuine, and you can usually tell if he’s ticked off about something. I like knowing where I stand, and he always lets you know if you are pissing him off. Oh shit, my alarm just went off to get me up; I guess I fell asleep writing…again. Oh well, serves me right for thinking I could pull the coffee table up to the bed and just be “more comfortable”. Looks like this post is a little late, and I’m sorry, but not horribly sorry. I obviously needed some more sleep.

That's not Aaron either. My buddy Mike took this up in Helmet. Not pretty

Back to my pal Aaron, and his purty smile. He has this charming, boyish smile, that I have always loved seeing. Not because I find it attractive, but because it’s completely transparent. If you see it, it means that he’s really happy at that moment. It could be anything that puts it there, a joke, getting onto a machine that was a full time job, so many years ago, or when he’s talking about funny things that happened in days gone by. What I find inspiring, is the smile he gets when he’s with his family. They are the most important things in his world, and it shows when he watches them doing something. Maybe it’s the boys playing with their cars, or Lannie washing their faces after a hearty meal of pizza (it would seem it was just the sauce). Whatever is the cause of that smile; he doesn’t seem to know he’s doing it, and it’s infectious. Sometimes I just think about it at random times, and immediately call him up, because I enjoy hearing his voice, and finding out what’s happening in his life. It’s one of those things that I’d never thought too much about until yesterday, but now that I’ve written this, I’ll remember for next time. I guess I’ll leave off with a picture of my buddy’s smile, and I’ll let you judge for yourselves. There are many reasons why he’s one of my best friends, and that’s probably the one that got the ball rolling. I can’t wait to have him stand by me as I marry the woman of my dreams this summer, and I’m so happy that they will be able to make the long trek across the country.

I'm not saying what put this smile there, but they say that anything goes in Thailand

Do you like the way that you aren’t going to learn about the epic things that happened to Chin and I, because I spent too much time off topic? You can blame Aaron for that.

Pancho was a bandit boys, his horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants, for all the honest world to feel,

Birdman

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Filed under Birdman, Humor, Life, Lucky Me

I get down sometimes

image Some days I wonder how screwed up I really am. Today was one of those days.  I don’t know why, I just felt like a bag of busted nuts today. For you, that means yesterday, because I almost always write these the night before, and because you are reading this in the future, I need you to pretend that the present is the past. Got that? Then let’s get on with it. I’m sitting here in the Northwoods Inn in Fort St. John, BC, and I’m trying to get a handle on how far gone I am, mentally. I mean compared to others of course, because that’s the only true way to gauge your mental health.

You know that I’m kidding, right? I know that everyone has problems with varying degrees of severity, and that every person handles things differently. What I want to know is what should a person’s breaking point be, and what happens when someone hits that breaking point? Lots of time’s I’ve thought I had hit mine, but then I wonder and start second guessing myself. I’ve never contemplated suicide, cutting, or firing potshots into any group of people, so I guess my little anxiety attacks are relatively mild. Even though it feels like a big empty hole in my heart, I have to step back and look at myself from a different angle. Kind of like when I try to back a trailer into a tight spot, and fail several times in a row. I start to get frustrated, and ride the brakes, which in turn drains the air out and stops the truck. While the truck is airing back up, I get out, walk around the truck and trailer, and curse a lot. While I’m doing this, I’m gaining a new perspective, and seeing my situation in a different light. I can usually jump back in, and hit the dock within a couple of tries after that. It’s just getting out to look at it.

Life’s like that too. You get into patterns that you don’t like, but because you keep doing the same thing all the time, you find it hard to see what you need to do to change it. Maybe you just need to see it from someone else’s point of view, or alter one thing to upset the constant circle of events. I don’t know what I need to do about my little bouts of depression, except to write things down. I know that I can jot down a problem that I might not be able to say out loud, and I have no doubts that people will try to help me, because I have the greatest life partner, family and friends that there are. Before you try to figure out how to help me, realize that in reading something I have written, and enjoying it, thinking about it, and responding to it is actually what helps me get through whatever it is that I’m writing about. I’m not saying that you have to publicly comment,although I do love that, because it might be personal, but you could email me, send a message through Facebook, or call me.

I have no qualms about telling anyone who takes the time to read, exactly what is going through my head. I don’t know why I’m like this, but I suspect that there are a lot of people that feel the same. I guess that when I’m talking to someone, they feel the need to try and solve my problems, but that’s totally not the case. I understand the desire to help people, and I do it to, but most of the time I just want to hear what I’m saying, and how ridiculous it sounds. Joey is probably my best friend, because I can go to him and unload all of my buckets of drudgery, and he nods and listens, and at the end will say something like “Wanna go get some wings?” or “Let’s go get some hookers and a bottle of peach schnapps”. Do you know why I like that? It’s because those are three of my favourite things, and Joe doesn’t know how to solve my problems. Just like I don’t know how to solve his. I’ll enable and support him through his problems, but I can’t do it for him. It’s just the way things work in life. You can help people do things, but if you do the things for them, you aren’t helping them at all.

There, now I feel pretty good, and all I had to do was write down a few paragraphs on Chin’s iPad (I forgot my laptop), after brushing my teeth with the toothbrush he gave me (I lost mine). I will then email it to my phone that is charging on the cord that Chin lent me, which is different than the one he lent me today so I could charge in the steamer (Sometimes I forget things). Chin mentioned tonight that there was only one post that he could remember me flattering him in, and if there is, I’m sorry. Anyone who really knows me, knows that I do not flatter people. If I compliment someone it is heartfelt and true in my eyes and mind, because if I can’t find something good to say about you, there is no way in hell that I’d be talking to you. That being said, I’m very glad that Chin decided to come out here with me, because not only is he thoughtful, smart, and funny, he is also honourable, honest, and generous. He is an excellent travelling companion, and quite a charmer with the ladies. I’m glad I was able to see through his cynical, snarky outer shell, and get to know the guy I’ve come to depend on so much on this trip. I wish him all the best, and no matter where his path leads him, he will always be welcome wherever I am, and as with any of my friends, I will accept his collect calls from jail. I am now pledging my first born to him, but not because I’m to old to look after a baby, honest.

Oh, and to be clear, I’m very tired, and I really miss my family and friends. That was why I was so whiny earlier, but I’ve quit dwelling on the negative, and started focusing on the fact that I love you guys. You are what keeps me going, and even though you bastards didn’t share my well made video yesterday, I still look forward to burdening you with my problems for years to come. Thanks for reading my mind, my heart, and my stories, and thanks for all of the comments, to those of you that take the time. We really do appreciate any feedback we can get, and while I can’t speak for everyone, I always try to respond. Not because I feel I have to, because I like to.

So while you sit back and wonder why, I got this fucking thorn in my side,

Birdman

P.S. I received a comment that the posts are too long, and too much to read. I thought I should check with everyone else, just to see if I should shorten them down. Let me know, either here or on the Facebook page, or wherever you see fit. I try to do a thousand words a day, but that’s just a guideline.

P.S.S. I re-read the post and realized there was no swearing, so I changed the lyric from I can see her lyin’ back in her satin dress, in a room where ya do what ya don’t confess, by Gordon Lightfoot. Haha

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Filed under Birdman, Humor, Life, Lucky Me

Pharaohs and Pariahs

After I commented on Birdman’s previous post about my thoughts on consumerism and what holds real value for families, he and Mrs. Birdman asked me to write a little about my family’s trip to Egypt in 2010. I don’t know much about blogging but I know that I love catching up with the adventures of Birdman and Chin, Yvette and Mrs. Birdman (aka the fun police). Don’t worry, Mrs. Birdman, we all need the fun police or there would be anarchy. In my neck of the woods (in the fabled Landing of Gore), the fun police are also regarded as the “fun suckers” – say that 5 times fast. I dare ya.
Anyhoo, I told them I would give it a shot. Here goes.
I will preface this story with some background around our family’s treatment of Christmas since my kids have been very young.
My son was born in October and for Christmas that year, we had status quo. The requisite up early and drive around to a couple of sets of parents, some grandparents, take in a brunch and a dinner. Spend a fortune on gifts just because we were supposed to. Fast forward to the next year. My son is now 14 months old and is really, really into this Christmas thing. He didn’t know it until he opened his gifts from Santa and played gleefully with his shiny new toys but then he was hooked. For a half hour. Then we had to leave for brunch with the first set of parents. Leave all these great new toys here, get in a car and drive around all day. Cue screeching child. This happened again and again, all day long. That was the last year that we did that. Our family (my husband, son, soon to arrive daughter and me) stayed home Christmas Day, by ourselves, every year after that. We enjoy Christmas together without the mania and distractions of those earlier years. Sure, we have Christmas dinner with our families (mine the Saturday before Christmas, my husband’s Christmas Eve) but we enjoy the holiday as a family with some quality time away from everyone else.
Also, about the same time, we approached both sides of the family and had some frank conversations about gift giving. We were buying things for others just because we were “supposed to” and spending loads of money doing so. The result was that we all were in receipt of some crappy gifts that we would never use and credit card bills for all of the crappy gifts that we had bought everyone else. So we stopped. Just like that. No gifts for each other, no gifts for each other’s kids. Nada. The grandparents fail miserably at this but, well, they’re grandparents, so we cut them some slack. So there is your background to how we treat Christmas at our house. We buy quality gifts for our own kids and don’t get caught up in the hoopla that has become more and more overwhelming each year.


Cut to summer 2009. My kids were 12 and 14 and we were looking around for some vacation ideas. Posing the question “Where do you guys want to go for vacation” resulted in an answer that we hadn’t expected – they had decided that they wanted to go to Egypt. Not sure what to think about that, I told them I would do some research and get back to them.
Given that we aren’t typical vacationers and like to have some adventure, I looked to Gap Adventures (now Gadventures), a Toronto based adventure travel company. We had travelled with them before on an Amazon Jungle trip in 2008 and had a wonderful time. After some review of the many, many trips that they offer we settled on the 16 day Absolute Egypt trip.

The trip itself, spending money, vaccinations and flights were going to cost us about $12,000 for a little over 3 weeks of travel. Not chump change by any means but not completely out of range (about $1000 each per week- very similar to all inclusive in the south). And honestly, not a great deal more than the $8000 we had spent for a week at Disney in 2006.
Armed with facts and figures, we approached the kids with the offer to take them up on their wish to go to Egypt. In order to be able to afford to give them this trip, we had to outline some things that they were going to need to sacrifice. The choice was entirely theirs whether we went or not and was based on their agreement to the following:
1. They were going to give up all vacation for 2 years
2. They were going to give up birthday parties AND presents for 2 years.
3. They were going to give up Christmas (tree, presents, the whole thing) for 2 years.
4. They had to make all arrangements with their schools and teachers to be away from school for that length of time.


Wouldn’t you know it, they agreed to all of our conditions! Now we were committed.  We were headed to Egypt for Christmas 2010.
It was difficult. It was really hard not to buy our son a really cool present for his 16th birthday or one for my daughter’s 13th. And Christmas of 2009 was pretty short- just opening the travel packs we had bought them for the trip. But the hardest part was the criticism from other parents (those that I knew and those that I didn’t know but felt the need to weigh in on our decision). The mother of one of my daughter’s friends threw her a surprise 13th birthday party because I wasn’t. I had many people express absolute horror that I was subjecting my kids to present free birthday and Christmas. “How could you do that to them”, many would say. My answer was always that the decision had been entirely theirs and outlined all that I have talked about above. It didn’t matter. I was still judged by those that thought I was a terrible parent.

I remember going to a party at a friend’s house not long after we got back and was bombarded by people who had heard that we had been away for a month (A MONTH!) and wondered how we could afford it. Though I’m not sure that I need to explain myself to complete (or relatively complete) strangers, I did. I told them that we were by no means rich. We both have regular jobs and with my husband in construction, certainly times have been better. Honestly, we couldn’t afford to take the trip without giving up all of the other costly things that we did. But we couldn’t afford NOT to take the trip. We had the opportunity to teach our kids about sacrifice, compromise and choices. We had the chance to show them the world and a completely different way of living. We showed them how to spend 3 weeks with complete strangers from all over the planet and leave as friends (Facebook at least) with invitations to stay at their homes if we ever get to New Zealand, Australia or Dubai. The “other Canadians” – the evil ones- will make appearances in another blog about our trip.

And they did learn. I know that it was hard for them to go to school and have their friends talk about Iphones and Xboxes and the cars they got for their 16th birthday. It was as hard as it was for me NOT to give them those things. But they never complained (at least not to me or even that I’ve heard through the grapevine). They GOT it. They understood that this was their choice and they needed to stand by it. They know that money does not grow on trees and that there are consequences to choices, both financial and otherwise. They learned that they are very, very lucky to be Canadian. They CAN travel the world freely. They live a life that is much more modern and carefree than their fellow kids from third world countries.
They sacrificed by not having all of the baubles and shiny things that their friends did. We sacrificed by forcing ourselves NOT to buy the baubles and shiny things for them. But in the end, we got to spend a month together (3 weeks travelling and 1 week when we got home – assembling photo albums and catching up with friends and family). Uninterrupted, unplugged. Just us. Together. There aren’t many families that can say they have had that. It is more valuable than I can tell you. You get to see your kids in a completely different light. You get to have some really great conversations with them. You learn to just BE together. Those that have teenagers will appreciate that this alone is a feat. This is a once in a lifetime trip that we can share memories of forever. My kids now know how to manage international flights, missed connections, train travel, to learn to communicate in a foreign language and how to jockey a camel across the desert. If you can afford to, do this or something like this for yourself and for your family. It is worth every sideways glance and angst at whether this is the right thing. Because it IS the right thing. Or is was for us.
I’ll write about our trip itself in another segment, so stay tuned.

Go with your heart and do the right thing,

Alice

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Filed under Alice, Life