Friday, May 30, 2008

Sometimes those ol' country guys'll surprise you

I'm not a huge country fan. The parental units have some seriously messed-up radio station playing in their bathroom in the mornings ... and always seem to forget to turn off the radio when they leave. Probably so that I won't be sure they're done in there, thus preventing me from using up the hot water with my showers when I visit. But I digress.

Today I heard a song playing that made me look up the lyrics. It's George Strait's "She Let Herself Go". Allow me to share, with help from www.songlyrics.com:

He wondered how she'd take it when he said goodbye.
Thought she might do some cryin': lose some sleep at night.
But he had no idea, when he hit the road,
That without him in her life, she'd let herself go.

Let herself go on a singles cruise, To Vegas once, then to Honolulu.
Let herself go to New York City: A week at the Spa; came back knocked-out pretty.


When he said he didn't love her no more,
She let herself go.

She poured her heart an' soul into their three-bedroom ranch.
Spent her days raisin' babies, ironin' his pants.
Came home one day from the grocery store and found his note,
And without him there to stop her, she let herself go.

Let herself go on her first blind-date:
Had the time of her life with some friends at the lake.
Let herself go, buy a brand new car,
Drove down to the beach he always said was too far.
Sand sure felt good between her toes:

She let herself go on a singles cruise,
To Vegas once, then to Honolulu.
Let herself go to New York City:
A week at the Spa; came back knocked-out pretty.

When he said he didn't love her no more, She let herself go.

Is it sexist of me to be surprised when I hear a male country singer singing these words? Probably is. Lesson learned, I suppose. "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Defender of The Universe. Ish.

So, is being a jerk to a jerk still being a jerk, or is it being a conduit of the universe and defender of the karma?

At the movies on the weekend, an ape of a man sat in front of me with who I assume was his son. These two were up and down, in and out of the theatre, and chatting throughout the movie. I was annoyed by the up and down, but couldn’t hear their chatting so by and large I actually managed to ignore them.

Maybe 20 to 30 minutes into the movie they appeared to be finally done with their random migrations, so I settled in to my seat. I put my feet up against the middle of the back of a seat to the left of Ape Man to be more comfortable. They remained there for perhaps half an hour before Ape and his spawn got up again.

When Ape returned, he noticed my feet on the back of the chair to the left of him. He stood right in front of me and said “Wanna get your feet off the damn seat!” It was not a question.

(Let me just pause at this juncture to say this – right here – this attitude and this tone of voice and this attempt to bully me after he and his son had been so inconsiderate of others themselves led us down the path of the eventual confrontation.)

So I said “Sure, as soon as you get out of my way.” He did, and checked to his left to see I fulfilled my end of the bargain. I had.

But it didn’t stay that way. After maybe 5 to 10 minutes, I put my feet back up because it was just so much more comfortable and they had been there with no incident already for about half an hour before he physically saw them.

Again, they remained for another 15 to 20 minutes until, again, Ape happened to physically look and see they were back up (and I’m talking physically turning his head 45 degrees because they were that far away from his seat). He turned around, HIT ME in the leg and said “Take your feet off the seat!”

Well, just call me Jane Goodall cuz I just ain’t that easily intimidated by Apes.

I kept my feet where they were, matched his tone and said while pointing at him “Do NOT touch me.” When his repeated demand went unresponded by me, Ape stood up and called out loudly that I "stink" (really? with the way that theatre was set up, my feet were actually closer to him when they were right behind him “properly”, and he didn’t notice a single whiff the whole 45 minutes my feet were to the left of him), I’m "a pig" and I "disgust him". Then he and his son moved seats.

Let me just say, I do get annoyed when people put their feet on the back of my seat, or in the crook between seats right by my head. But in the middle of the seat next to me is the seat next to me. It’s not my seat, so I have no domain … so neither do lesser-evolved species on the org chart. And I did have a choice – I knew my comfort was annoying this Ape and I knew this Ape was … well, an ape. So, had I not put my feet up the second time, I know that would have likely been the end of the confrontation.

But our small initial interaction – his brief attempt to bully me on the heels of his own inconsiderations– convinced me on a molecular level that if it leads to confrontation, that’s just the way the ball is going to bounce in this matter (which reminds me of the time I did a personality test and it came back that I was “cold-blooded.” I thought it then and I think it now: Que sera so what). It also probably would have been different if he hadn’t been with a child. I was perhaps bolder knowing this guy was probably going to be toned down to a degree in front of his child (Can you imagine? If this ape hit me even in front of his child, what kind of beast must he be when he is on his own?!)

So I ask you again, is being a jerk to a jerk really being a jerk? Or is it just the conduit through which apes reap what they sow?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Edmonton

Since moving to my new neighbourhood, I've been taking pictures of things that have struck my fancy or caught my attention. This week I missed a shot, though. Walking to work I saw what I thought was a discarded child's toy in a parking lot. When I got closer though, I saw that someone had placed (or driven) a remote control truck dead centre into a parking spot at the end of a long line of parked vehicles. I laughed for half a block. It was so completely something I would do with the hope that someone would notice, but all the while figuring that I'd be alone in my amusement. It felt good to know someone else out there is on my same wavelength. Sadly, today when I finally remembered to take my camera to work, it was already moved.

So here are some shots I didn't forget to get:

My first morning in my new apartment, I woke up at 6 a.m. It was a cool, clear morning, and I went for a little walk to see my new neighbourhood in the early light. The way the first bright rays of the sun illuminated the colourful downtown buildings cast them in this ethereal light that seemed more magical when put in the background of this dingy bridge and melting trail down to the river valley:

Then there is a house on the corner of a block that has a huge lot that its owners just do not take care of. In the corner of the lot is what I think is a crab-apple tree with this lonely little swing, perhaps the joy of some child long ago but now just swaying amongst the overgrown grasses and random litter caught in the blades. (I also had to get a pic of it when it had snow on it -- more poignant that way!)

Speaking of snow, when I turned to leave this lot I saw this neato VW that was literally shimmering. It was a dark shade of purple, but the wet snow gave it a kaleidoscope effect that I was happy to see was captured to some degree by my camera:

Within days this week, this tree outside my office burst with green buds and new leaves. But what I wanted to show you is the tree behind it. It's difficult to see, but I think the poor thing is literally dead to the world. While the fore tree has exploded with new life, the background tree's white scraggly branches have remained stark and brittle.

Worse still, however, is that its energy-challenged state is mocked by the plastic grocery bags that have wound themselves around its twigs as a testament to its lifeless state, blowing in the gale winds we've had here lately as if calling attention to the tree's pathetic state to all who pass.

Finally ... I want this house:

Too bad I'm likely moving from the city. And I have no money to buy a house.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quelle Surprise:

I didn't clean up this weekend. Well, I tidied up. And I finished packing up the things my sister said she'd store for me since my new apartment has decidedly less storage. And I did half a sink full of dishes (I think I need to borrow my niece. I hear she's in a cleaning mood -- speaking of which, when is Aunty Day?). Ooh -- I walked to the grocery store (yes, the walking part is significant) and bought actual items of food rather than frozen or prepackaged stuff.

And I stood at various vantage points in my apartment and made a mental list of what I'll sell if I'm going to Toronto -- which is pretty much everything except my tvs (one will come with me), my couch, my end table and my coffee table. I may even dump my closet of clothes in its entirety (let's face it, very little in there even looks good on the hanger.) There is something really liberating about wiping the slate clean and starting over somewhere else. I'm a year away from being 40 years old, and feel like I've pretty much run this life into the ground about as far as it can go. Maybe I can get it right in the next 20 years. I don't count the first 20 -- so much of it was dictated by academic requirements that it didn't really leave room for individual choices (... which could be why I did more with my life in my first 20 years than I have in my last 20. I peaked personally at age 20. That in itself is so very depressing)

Aren't I about a decade too young for a mid-life crisis?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sorry - must have dozed off

I managed to get my CFC application off Tuesday afternoon. Which is good because it isn't due until May 14 (and should be there today) ... but is bad because I had planned to send it off May 1. As usual, I tragically underestimated the amount of time it would take to do something. Specifically, my "letter of intent". Which, I believe, is just a snooty way of saying "letter of kiss-ass".

"Tell us how you plan to utilize the program." Really? Do people really answer that question in any way other than "I plan to listen during the program and complete the assignments."? And if I were to answer it differently, would that get their attention enough to read the two scripts I took the time to write?

So I kissed ass. Like that's something that's new to me. In my day job with the provincial government it's known as "bs-ing" -- and is actually another of my life-long talents. I believe it is what my sister refered to when she'd shout "you're such a little liar!" when we were children. What can I say? You go with what you know. And I say if you can't prove it, it's not a lie.

Life is easier when you make up your own set of rules.

So now I sit, staring at my tv, kind of stunned. So much writing. So much creating. So much b.s. I'm kinda spent right now. And my apartment looks like Office Depot popped by for a visit and blew up in my front room. I have pencilled in cleaning up for Friday evening. Get a nice jump start on the weekend. And finish unpacking from my move.

Well, technically, if it is not in a box and it is on my floor, it is "unpacked". So I guess I have to finish "putting away" from my move.

Let's sit back and see if I do any of that this weekend...

(p.s. Did I tell you I have "inflammatory ulcers" on my eyeball? Not sure? Well I think you'd have remembered, so I guess I didn't. Why did I mention it now? Cuz it's gross man, and if I'm grossed out you need to be grossed out. Sheesh, use your head. I'd post a close up shot of what an eyeball with inflammatory ulcers looks like, but the antibiotics and steroids are actually doing their job and it wouldn't make you lose your lunch anymore, so why bother.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dancing with Mysel-elf

I had a moment of such joyous abandon this morning, I should have been an inspiration to others. Instead, I think I made people very very uncomfortable. But first, what lead up to the moment:

I took the day off work yesterday to work at the shelter to lend a hand with the oiled ducks. Taking a vacation day to volunteer somewhere, you say? Is that wise? Well let me answer you with some background: We have been without an executive director at work for almost a year now. We've been without a chair for the committee since the start of March. We found out that in the fall Alberta Health and Wellness was drafting legislation to disband the committee I work for, so the department was looking to pull my job out from under me without mentioning anything. And finally, a few weeks ago the man who would be our executive director's boss if we had an executive director said that the fact that we haven't had a chair for two months "should tell [us] something about the future of the committee."

So Friday's choices were basically two-fold:

1) Put in 7.25 hours doing a boring thankless job out of loyalty to an employer who has no loyalty to me and is actually setting in motion the mechanisms by which they intend to kick me to the curb without notice.

or

2) Put in 8 hours making a difference to staff who are working their fingers to the bone for something that I desperately believe in, and be a part of giving unfortunate creatures a fighting chance at surviving their tragic predicaments.

Yeah. I wrestled with that decison for 2.5 milliseconds. And shall wrestle with it even more briefly should the shelter require my two hands this upcoming week. I have 25 vacation days coming to me. I can take them here and there when the shelter needs me -- or I can take them in a row starting immediately. Department's choice.

So the day at the shelter was exhausing, and at times very sad ... but overall quite exhilarating because I was making a difference for once, and spending my time somewhere that I was appreciated. Ah, self-worth. There you are, my friend. It's been so long.

Of course, because I was standing right there when our director of wildlife services determined that she didn't have time to do the Global morning show today to talk about the effect of litter on wildlife, I was roped into doing it. I set my alarm at 6 a.m. to be on-site by 7:30 a.m. although I wasn't to be interviewed by Seanna Collins until 9:50 a.m. I taped it so I could see how I did. Verdict: not overly articulate, but functional. I was talking too much, though, and she started kicking my foot to indicate I needed to shut up so she can speak to someone else. I guess it beats staring blank-eyed and stammering "I uh ... umm" over and over.

SO, it was 10 a.m. and I was actually awake, dressed and out of my apartment on a Saturday morning. I went to Costco and bought new eyeglass frames (I need a new prescription, so I just bought the frames. I'll get the lenses later). I can't decide if I like them as much as I thought I did at the store.

These are my old glasses:

And these are the new ones:

I just don't know.

After getting the glasses I decided to see a movie. (this is where the joy comes in) Just as I was pulling into the parking spot and about to turn off the engine, Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself" came on the radio. I turned off the car (mustn't sit and idle - bad for the environment) but kept the radio on to listen to the song.

But I found I just had to dance. And not just some shoulder bops and head bobs. I was rocking out with the shoulder shimmys and torso swings and head banging and I cranked the music and sang along. I saw people walking by - didn't care. Twice someone pulled into the space next to me, only to pull back out of the space and park someplace else when they saw me. One man approached, I think concerned I was having a seizure -- but nope. Just dancing with my sel-elf. He walked off I think a bit miffed that I had concerned him for nothing (thanks anyways though guy! nice of you to double check)

Then the song ended and I got out of my car like nothing was odd. And as far as I'm concerned, nothing was. Why can't someone rock out in their car? I was parked. I was posing no hazard. People gotta lighten up, man. A little Billy Idol never killed anyone.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

500 Ducks Enter Toxic Pond and Only 5 Come Out

I’m over my initial sarcastic anger at Syncrude. Of course it isn’t as simple as workers didn’t want to go out into the cold to do their job. But decisions were made to delay the implementation of prevention techniques, and it isn’t the decision-makers who suffered (unless they lost their jobs … and even so, that isn’t really on par with sinking to the bottom of a toxic oil-filled lake when all you wanted was to rest your wings after a day’s migration).

I teared up when I saw the Edmonton Journal’s headline: 500 Ducks Enter Toxic Pond and Only 5 Come Out, seen here: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=1f6b1f26-f2d3-4c76-85b7-ade44fd699ce&k=29815

And it's not like I think oilsands workers would be immune to that statistic, either, as easy as it would be for me and other wildlife-lovers to point our fingers at them and shout "Shame!" I remember two workers from Syncrude driving an injured goose down to Edmonton from Fort MacMurray so that the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton could help it. Then they turned around and drove the six hours home. Individual people aren't the problem -- but they can be the solution.

There’s a time and a place for finger pointing and accusations, and there’s a time and a place for sitting down for a rational discussion and honest critique of events to prevent repetition.

All I can think is that right now is the time to try to save the ducks who made it out alive. We can speak for the 495 other ducks once that is done.

Have you ever seen the meticulous work necessary to try to save an oiled duck? The Edmonton Journal has a video on that too. Go to http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/videogallery/index.html and choose “Cleaning Oiled Birds”.

That is staff from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton, the organization I am proud to be a part of, who are working to give the birds from Syncrude a fighting chance. We work hard to raise our profile in the community and the province. Every now and then, the need for us in this province becomes painfully transparent.

If you found this blog, and you care about the work WRSE does, visit http://www.wildlife-edm.ca and get involved. Individuals are the ones who will be the solution.