[ love and comraderie ]

Sunday, August 02, 2009

And At the Sound of the Bell *Beep* Turn the Page, Please

There's been a whack of days that has brought more dense cloud cover, with all its humidity, and downpour to the region of late. The flora love it and so do I. Well, maybe not the humidity, but the monsoons, I love. It washes the filthy land that the lovely ayis (a really nice way of addressing the nice Chinese women who clean up the crap you may or may not have contributed to) try to keep tidy. They put things back to where they should go.

I'm doing the right thing.
I'm doing the right thing.
I'm doing the right thing.

Brute force threats of torrential rain turn my bra straps into Vulcan-like death grips. Godspeed You! Black Emperor pounds my amygdala. The alternative is rapid-fire Chinese in sharp, staccato, crescendo forte bursts. It is always the signal that a meeting among Chinese teachers is 2 minutes to close. Gosh, I'll miss those.

School's out for summah!
School's out for evah!

This year's curtain call leaves me with a mixture of gladness, sadness, excitement, and a bit of irritable bowel. A full stop was placed at the end of my tenure of my first and only job I've had abroad here in China. Specifically Suzhou.

Home of the canals. Aortic canals, the breeding grounds of the world's stealthiest (!) mosquito. But they bring about the most dazzling displays of dragonflies, one insect that I'd like to be if I could choose the next biosuit. Suzhou, a place whose dialect first sounded more Kling-on-mid-fight-scene than Earthbound. Suzhou, a place that when I'd first arrived had seemed soulless, mean-spirited, void of any culture, and peppered with people that were mostly concerned with the accumulation of generally useless but really shiny stuff.

One of the reasons I moved to this country was to find my place in the world, because the place I'd called home my entire life stopped feeling particularly homey. Communities were dissolving into single family unit insularity. Self-reliance, the new cooperative. The magical street that I grew up on, where all kids were allowed to freely play or roam into any neighbour's house to raid refrigerators for spoonfuls of leftover spaghetti sauce (yum!), or freezers to split a popsickle with a best friend, can now be carbon dated. Invitations, once only sent out for events that required requisite pretty party shoes, were now needed for "play dates". They do that here among some rich, white people, but more often than not kids just roam free, exploring their neighbourhoods.

I also came to this new country in hopes to find my people.

I was explaining to a 4 year old the other day that nearly everything about her was in a state of growth; her arms, her legs, her fingers, her nose, her heart. But the one thing that wouldn't grow any bigger was her eyes. And even though she'd grow up to see things beautiful, disgusting, and all things in between, her eyes would stay the same size, even when she got as big as me.

For the most part, my "people" are 3-6 year olds. To this set, there is nothing but wide eyed acceptance of any scheme, nutty or otherwise. Everything except vegetables sounds great. And their self-esteem is so malleable at this stage that you can override a bad installed program and swap it with one that's Sky's the Limit, Baby™.

I'm still marvelling at how one job was at once the easiest, yet hardest, most fulfilling, often thankless, whirlwind love affair this person has ever experienced. I remember once worrying about the sudden torrents of tears, sweat, pee, snot and blood that I would suddenly be covered in. Mom is an obsessive-compulsive hand washer, so some things rub off. I eventually developed an immunity to the kaleidoscope of DNA that was produced by the collection of creatures who either fell, or found that the hardest thing in the whole world was to share, or say sorry, or to give a hug after they had personally caused another pain. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a greatest fan of repetition, but there is one thing I never get tired of: explaining the merits of fair play and the absolute valour involved in great friendship.

There was the gaining of a new posse of righteous chicks to run with. A gang of beautiful, interesting, occasionally troubled, but luckily questioningly introspective, girls. Maybe I was the only one, but I marvelled at how fast it was to fall in love with them. Just like with children. Being around the right women feels like being towel dried/hugged by your Mom. And when we're being honest with ourselves and each other, true epiphanies get eked out.

For most of my life, against whatever odds, I've searched for that person who I could be with forever and ever, 'til death did us in. But experience and too many National Geographic videos in succession proved otherwise. Love was simply the vehicle for furthering the species.

Sure there were the rare examples of absolute faith and fidelity. But magic is often the first thing that gets pummelled out of you. Santa's got a B&E record that spans the globe; the Tooth Fairy, who has painstakingly built her fortress, moat and all, entirely of tiny, enameled pearls, finally gets done in by a scourge of gingivitis and a planted crack pipe. They are legion. But it's the one where the girl lives happily ever after with her prince which had largely dominated the imagination of this one for the longest period of time.

And though the arms and legs and other bits grew magnificently well,
Sometimes the only thing the eyes grow are dim.
And sometimes the light goes completely out.

But nothing lasts forever
(admittedly a nihilistic sounding phrase).
Rather, nothing remains the same,
If you're really lucky, there are those that come around that shake hope back into you.

And I'm a lucky girl.

In truth, I sort of implicitly asked for that gorgeous monkey and exactly the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

At my farewell party, my other boss, Qian Bing sat next to me. Well, he actually had little choice as my hand kept patting the seat next to mine, calling him over like a chihuahua. We were talking about when we first met. It was during my job interview.

Me: You didn't like me.
Qian Bing: That's not true.
Me: Yan told me!
Qian Bing: I'd just never met anyone like you before, so I didn't know where to put you. We couldn't understand all the goodness that you possess. To the Chinese, it takes time to understand natures and personalities. There was nothing that was ever wrong with you; you've got a killer personality. It was us who needed to adapt.


And then he said, "Enjoy your adventure. If you're having a great time, please don't forget about us. But if you're not having a great time, please come home. We will always be here with open arms."


I'm leaving home

Ah, it will work out.

I'm moving to Chengdu, Sichaun (Szechwan), People's Republic of freakin' China, where I will be studying Chinese at a university; I will buy a guitar (or ukulele, I can find one); learn how to play the former, or keep practising the latter; and I'd like to work with some of the children that were affected by the monstrous earthquake that hit the region in May 2008.

Though I find myself so incredibly attached to this place that I had once dismissed as soulless, mean-spirited, void of any culture, and peppered with people that were only concerned with the accumulation of mostly useless but shiny stuff. It's not that way, largely. I didn't understand them yet. I just needed time to get to know them.

I just needed to adapt.

Grateful to be here.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ready, Steady... Go!

I'm just going to start.

Though I have a natural propensity to want to document chronologically, I'm afraid I can't. I haven't been keeping the whole thing up. I've been busy doing some other stuff. And having a great time.

Okay, so after a 2 year hiatus, here's something.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Great Firewall

This is a test.

This is only a test.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pulse Check

By clasping two conductive metal handlebars, information is sent to a stroboscopic light source, which shoots an illuminating representation of your* infernal throbbing into the cool night's sky.

A wonderful exhibit at Harbourfront that is on until June 11th, 2007.

* In this case, my wonderful friend Barbara Anne.

Monday, May 28, 2007

38 Going On 39

I was in the middle of a useful Chinese lesson, learning how to say, Who farted? when Ack, the ex-husband/ best friend called. He wanted to lubricate himself in preparation for a meeting he had scheduled with a banker later that evening. Though I don't have much money to spend on non-essentials right now, pints and burgers are one combination that I find kind of hard to pass up. Besides, I don't have that much time left in Toronto. And Ack is my best friend.

The Comrade: I'll be ready in 7 minutes.

I've been having a huge problem with banks these days. Just to access my pittance, I have to either maintain a really high balance or pay a monthly double digit figure just for the convenience of accessing said pittance. But only to a degree, because some corporate body decides for me how much of my own money I can access daily. They tell me things like, "Oh, it's for your own good. It's a safety measure, just in case someone tries to hold you up at the bank machine."

Say you have a lot of money and a kid. And say one day you found your kid missing and in his place was a ransom note. You couldn't just go to the bank and say, "I'd like $20 million in small, unmarked bills, please" and get it A) on the same day or B) without paying a shitload of money for your own money. There are people who have the sole job of brokering transfers of unimaginable sums. This process can take up to a week. Ack's new friend has this job.

Ack had met the banker some months back through a friend and his new girlfriend. An aerial photograph of their double date looked sort of like a Audi shaped quadrangle represented by two towering Bay Street power women up front, strung loosely to a couple of puny film pawns in last year's H&M. A small Minolta capture of the big city zeitgeist.

I'd written about Ack's friend a couple of years ago. He's a writer, director, producer. He was the one who was disappointed with Tim Burton's scrambled eggs. He'd stolen an idea from me and used it, without my permission, in a script he'd pitched to the CBC. I'd called him the Applier because he was the one who made a play for me in Ack's house when our bellies were full of his chili and beer. After a flat refusal, I'd suggested we go down the street for a public drink in a neighbourhood bar. At one end of the L shaped bar, I was busy thumb wrestling with an old friend. At the other, the Applier was putting new moves on a young lady he'd just met with Crystal Gayle length hair. It's good to know that some aren't deterred by a little rejection.

Within a week a conundrum loomed.

Crystal Gayle turned out to be exactly half amazing and half annoying.

• equipped with an undulating vagina that does all the work for you. Time to recline!

• calls several times during regular business hours to tell you about who she went to the zoo with, losing a hair elastic, what she ate, etc.

• makes delicious and nutritious fruit smoothies in the morning

• blares Kid Rock as an accompaniment to the smoothie

Eventually, annoying won. To get rid of her he rented a stack of ill fated romance movies, looking for break up dialogue. Apparently, the crème de la crème was: I need my space, baby..

This guy has actually sold scripts, plural.

Most recently, the Applier had been caught and released by one of the Bay Street power women. She sent him back to again fight his way upstream alongside all the other minions. He didn't understand it. Act III had been rewritten and got final approval. Look! It says right here on page 174: They lived happily ever after! They did, dammit!

The Comrade: So, this time she needed her Space Baby?

On an outing a few days ago, Ack and his banker friend got a lecture from the freshly dumped and newly embittered Applier, who now had to write an epilogue to his magnum opus. The satellite photo revealed the Audi replaced by a rusted tricycle, with half ravaged streamers and a tiny corroded license plate bearing "Xanadu".

According to the Applier, there are some women who have never been in love before; who have never left their safe circle of friends; who trade superficial, cursory relationship stocks while sipping Cosmos and tapping Charles Jourdans. If it pans out, great. If not, it's no big loss. It would never be a real investment, just a fun penny stock. These women are pleasant enough, sweet even, but lacking real substance.


Because there's nothing really special about her, and she's been known to spout the mantra We Have An Obligation to Our Shareholders, without a hint of irony,

Ack: I've got to break it off with the Banker.

Neither a shareholder, nor a client with unimaginable sums of money, Ack was simply prospecting.

We started with a pitcher of Stella.

The patio was filled with the same daily regulars, the ones who continue to pay off owner Dharam's mortgage and to set aside his childrens' educational nest egg. As it was a statutory holiday, these people had clocked in early to enjoy a full day of sun. The only variance amongst them was their differing degrees of pinkness.

There was a couple I'd never seen before. Aged hipsters with hair-do's and humungous designer sunglasses (I almost wrote shun-glasses). They were the food-free, but liberally-boozed types. They reeked of the film industry. Production side. I thought I recognized the girl. I thought she was someone I once knew. Vicky from Montreal. I used to call her Vichyssoise. Cold and tasty potato soup. It's actually better warm, with a drizzle of truffle oil.

I waited until Ack and her date were away from the table.

The Comrade: Vicky.
The Comrade: Excuse me, is your name Vicky?
Annette: [slightly slurring, and peering from behind humungous shunglasses]: Did you say Nicky?

Annette invited herself to come sit with us. If we didn't mind.
What can you say? She'd already gathered everything together.

The Comrade: Where's your friend?
Annette: He's gone.

Ten minutes earlier I'd commented to Ack how everyone has had a "domestic" on that particular patio. I'd had 3. With the same person.

It turned out that the guy who left was an ex-boyfriend from years back. They were purely platonic friends now. He had been talking her down. Annette was broken hearted from the most recent break-up with a man who was either a physicist or a scientist of some denomination.

Once she sat, she spewed a continuous stream of dissatisfactions. She'd never been married. The last man she was dating was too boring and too depressing for her. She wanted someone else. She wanted someone more cheerful, I guess. She didn't need anyone as a reminder of her own depression she'd lived with for years. She deserved more. She was doing so much for herself. She's read all the current bestseller self-help books; she talks to her family and friends about her problems constantly; she's taken yoga; she's tried mediation.

Each time that Ack or I tried to make a suggestion, she talked on top of us.

I hate being talked on top of.

And then she began to repeat herself.

Annette: I'm 38 going on 39.

She had made this statement no less than 6 times in the hour we were together.

Annette: I just want to be married!
The Comrade: Why?
Annette: I'm 38 going on 39.
The Comrade: I know. Why do you want to get married?
Annette: Have you ever been married?
The Comrade: Twice. It's overrated.
Annette: Twice? I've never been married once! I've never even lived with a man!
Ack and the Comrade: [in unison] Really?
Annette: What?!
Ack: Nothing. It's just that usually people will have cohabited by this time.
Annette: So, there's something wrong with me, right?
Ack: No, I didn't say that.
Annette: Well, I used to party a lot. I don't anymore. I want to settle down now. I'm 38 going on 39!
The Comrade: We know. You've said.
Annette: Oh, so now you hate me.
The Comrade: No, I just think you're a narcissist.
Annette: That's mean. How am I a narcissist?
The Comrade: We don't know you and you just sat down and told us every little thing that has irked you in the last year, without hearing a single word either of us have said to you. All you do is churn your problems over and over. Every person you know has had to listen to your story. More than a few times, I suspect.
Annette: [drunk and crestfallen] Now I feel bad.
The Comrade: Don't feel bad. I believe the Universe brings people together.
Annette: Me, too!
The Comrade: And that everyone you meet has a message for you.
Annette: I believe that, too!
The Comrade: You're a narcissist.
Annette: You're so hard! You could be nicer, you know!
The Comrade: You want me to be nicer?
Annette: Well, yeah. I think if you said things nicer, then I would take it in more.
The Comrade: [rubbing her back] I think a lot of people have been saying kind and gentle things to you, but it hasn't worked. Besides, isn't that why things didn't work out with the last guy? You were never satisfied with who he was. You kept trying to make him into something you wanted him to be.

And when I said that to her, I said that to myself, too.

A couple of years ago, when I visited the Czech Republic, Ack's native land, I remember sitting in (Good King) Wenceslaus's Square flanked by Ack and Fatty. All of us were eating street meat and chugging travellers - 500mL cans of beer. My eyes rested on a family from Japan. There was a father, a mother and a 4 year old child.

Choosing to carry one of the heavier shopping bags, the child was determined to be a useful one. The bag, however, was just as tall as she was. The plastic traitor slid under a pretty party shoe, tripping her not yet coordinated self. Cobblestone flew to her face in a split second. I was blinking wincingly as I waited to see what the parents would do.

The father walked away entirely. The mother watched the child for a few moments then simply crouched down and wrapped her arms around her own knees. When the mother crouched down, the child went around and hugged her neck from behind. She gave her child a temporary place to go, but her maternal arms never once comforted her. She was teaching the child to learn how to comfort herself.

The tepid back proffered when young is merely a set of training wheels destined for the compost in life's solo journey.

Sometimes when we're 38 going on 39, we think our life should look a certain way. Maybe we won't have kids, but we think there should be someone next to us. Handsome, not handsome, it doesn't really matter. A family cottage would be nice, though. Skinny dipping. Someone to travel Europe with. But when we're with you, sometimes we girls treat you boys like science projects. We put all of our energy into this one creature: honing, editing, organizing, diapering.

Because if we keep ourselves busy with you, we never have to look at ourselves.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Staggeringly Amazing

There is a little internet add-on that I have attached to my Firefox browser. It is called StumbleUpon™.

It is a random website generator. Well, not completely random; you set your interest parameters and it does the rest, roulette-style.

Every day I am dazzled by what humans can do. Guess what I found out from this excellent science site?

When we take a deep breath there are more molecules of gas in our lungs than there are stars in the universe. It's true; just a couple of litres of air that you breathe in contains more molecules of nitrogen and oxygen than we think there are stars in the known universe. There are a gob-smacking 50 million (50 x 10^12) molecules in the lungs of every person on Earth. And when you breathe them out they all get mixed up in the air around you. So each of us, every time we breathe, is taking in a few molecules that have been breathed previously by everyone, and everything, that's ever lived!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shirley, Good Things Come in Threes

3 things that have never happened to me before happened within 3 days of each other.

It was the week preceding my big presentation at the teaching English as a second language (TESL) course. I had to prepare a mock 45 minute lesson plan for a class of 16 kindergarten kids. 15 of those 45 minutes involved a real teaching demonstration. Doing well on it was something that I thought about constantly and often got a nervous puck over. For the duration of the course, regularly scheduled dates and important relationships were placed on hold until the next available opportunity, which turned out to be weeks later. This included paid work and, sadly, power-lifting pint sessions with pals.

Anomalous Scenario #1:
As was having a mild anxiety attack: Should the presentation include 5 little monkeys, or an equal amount of ducks? Which?! I decided to take it to the road. One of my best qualities is knowing when to stop doing something when it's going badly, or around in circles. I switch it up by doing something different for a little while. Clarity usually comes during a walk. That day I was riding my bike. I was sailing under a CN rail bridge, narrowly escaping bombs by the roosting pigeons above. Thoughts of how a species that can court and crap at exactly the same time momentarily distracted me from weighing the swinging or winged conundrum.

For a few seconds, I was part of an angular hard shadow that the late afternoon/ early evening waning sun casts. For those who put in a full day of Trinitron gaping, subtle shadows within larger ones become like textured backgrounds in created 3D environments. At 5:30 on a weekday, when the sun turns into a Nazi interrogator, and when the only thoughts perforating grey matter is How am I going to close that deal? How many more ridiculous changes are they going to request? How much more hog must I suck?

Thoughts ricochet from how to stay on top of your game, to pitying your shitty life circumstances. 100 points for touching on your unbearable home life, 200 more for being chronically unhappy; you're the Pinball Wizard. The song that's playing loudly on your iPod mirrors your frustration, confirms your uniqueness. The silver Honda, the one you saw in the magazine at your doctor's office that time when you were waiting for the rectal exam, corners just as the ad said it would. 244 horses move in symphony as you turn hard onto your street - that shitty street with the shitty apartment you took on a whim. Good thing you're moving out of



Oh, look!
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse...

You've hit someone
on a bicycle.

The impact knocked her fedora clean off her head.

She landed
on her back,
Thank God.

Then bounced back up
And said... well, actually yelled:

The Comrade: [who was fully prepared to throw her U-lock at the silver Honda if it didn't stop] Were you wearing those fucking earbuds while you were driving?! Because that is against the law!
Driver: [alarmingly calm, but noticeably shaking] No, it's turned off. Are you alright?
The Comrade: Look at my bike!
Driver: Let me take you to a hospital.
The Comrade: [ visions of 8 hours evaporated before my eyes ] I am NOT going to the hospital.
Driver: Let me take you to a doctor, then.
The Comrade: Buddy, this could not have happened at a worse time! I have a very big presentation this Saturday!
Driver: I'm sorry. What do you want to do right now. Do you want to call the police?
The Comrade: I WANT to have my bike fixed!
Driver: [aware we were not alone] Of course I'll pay for that.

I live in a formerly zoned-industrial neighbourhood. Housing was created for factory workers, so there wasn't unnecessary filigree applied on veritable bunkers. When the factories closed, unskilled labourers went on pogie (CDN)/ the dole (UK)/ won the lottery (USA). To this day, there are grease, blood and urine splattered taverns that dot the main artery. From 11:30 am onwards these taverns are packed with leathery former factory workers and their offspring. The pittance that is their pension or unemployment cheque is cashed by their friendly neighbourhood bartender cum banker. During my interaction with the driver, no less than 6 tavern regulars had my back, ready to pounce. They were all a little slow from rheumatism and the gout, but it was a precious gesture nonetheless.

The Comrade: Thanks, fellas. It's okay.
Driver: Tell me. What can I do for you?
The Comrade: I need to return a video!
Driver: Okay. I'll take you wherever you need to go.
The Comrade: And I need to go to the liquor store!
Driver: Just think of me as your personal chauffeur.

I neither went to emergency nor the doctor's because A) I think I know my body well and B) I'd probably end up with some incurable disease completely unrelated to what I came in with. I did agree to have him pay for a series of shiatsu massages (5 / 75 minute sessions) and, of course, to pay for my bike's repairs and a tune-up. Strangely, both my body and my main vehicle are maneuvering better post accident than pre.

I quit my job at the Beer Emporium. Quitting is not an anomaly for me, it's actually the chief evacuation device I initiate when employment is no longer savoury; I just needed a preface.

The Lovely and Very Amicable General Manager: (notably crestfallen) Why?
The Comrade: For so many reasons.
The Lovely... GM: Like?
The Comrade: The number one reason is because I cannot work for someone I have no respect for.
The Lovely...GM: [inhales sharply]
The Comrade: Not you! Your partner. I think he's abusive, manipulative, disingenuous and cruel. And that really is tip of the iceberg stuff.
The Lovely... GM: There's more? What else? Can you tell me?
The Comrade: I'd love to. How much do you want to know?
The Lovely and Very... GM: I want the truth.
The Comrade: (stepping into shadow, a flashlight's beam illuminating chin to brow) Are you sure?
The Lovely and Very... GM: Yes.

Anomalous Scenario #2
I was asked if I would do an exit interview.

The Comrade: It would be my pleasure. Though, I expect pints!

[Well, it's not as if the entire experience of working there was a complete sham.]

I arrived two days later, post shiatsu, deeply relaxed. It had been my first rubdown since the accident. Terry cloth pressure lines created a road map all over my face and cleavage. I ordered a pint and put it on her tab. She eventually escorted me to a table for 2 adjacent to the washrooms.

While I was systematically running through the bullet points of what I considered to be the restaurant's flaws, and this included, but was not limited to:
• sexism
• racism
• favouritism
• fickleness
• food so putrescent that it made one pee out of one's ass
• abuse
• nepotism
• bribery

And since she was asking, I told her that I thought that all roads of amateurishness led back to the chef. I included footnotes of course.

She was very interested and respectful of my opinions, but at one point I noticed her attention had been momentarily distracted. I turned to see what she was looking at.

Three feet behind me, in the corridor leading to the washrooms, was a man in his late 40's, crouching, while reading some restaurant propaganda on the walls. I thought nothing of it and returned to our conversation. Moments later, I caught that same man, in my periphery, walking away.

The Very Lovely GM: [whose eyes followed the man who was making his way towards the exit] I think he just took something out of your bag.

I'm reading Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman right now. I just learned yesterday that the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of the of the limbic system, was the responsible party in the following:

Without thinking, I leapt out of my seat, ran through the very full restaurant, jumped in front of the perpetrator, took my 2 open hands, threw them on the perp's chest, grabbed shirt and chest hair while yelling:

The Comrade: What the fuck did you just take out of my bag, motherfucker?!

The restaurant went silent.
Why does it seem like even the sound systems are cut during those moments?

The guy was at first startled, then shocked, then indignant. He wanted to prove his innocence right then and there, so it was his idea to go back to my seat and check my things.

The Comrade: After you... asshole!

By this time, a floor manager arrived on the scene. When I returned to the table, I noticed that my rather large MEC bag, which I distinctly remember tucking snugly between chair and wall on my left side, was now fully underneath my chair, zippers facing the washrooms. Keep in mind that this bag is large enough to hold a tucked 4 year old, and with enough secret compartments for a Harry Potter side plot.

The Comrade: Explain the location of the bag, buddy!

The perp had been pulled away from the raving maniac who didn't find anything missing from her bag. He probably got the manager to apologize for the rude and obviously incorrect allegation. Perhaps there was an offering for a free dessert next time he came in. Who knows? He was hurling enough back at me that for a moment I thought, Did I just make the wrong allegation? But then, the Lovely GM said,

Nope. He totally tried to steal your bag.

And then the amygdola kicked in again. Throwing my finger and screaming,

The Comrade: I know you fucking tried to, you asshole!

This time the restaurant didn't go silent, but I'm sure they were looking at me like I was the crazy person as the perp was whisked away by the floor manager. The Lovely GM told me that two weeks prior, a woman who was on a blind date sat in the same seat as I had. The date was arranged by this organization. Their distinction over other dating services is their patented 10 different dates with 10 single, rich, yet lonely, people for $1,000 feature. Not only was her date blessed with the combination balding head and hirsute body, but she'd had her handbag and briefcase stolen during the brief engagement.

A Recap:
1. I was hit by a car while I was riding my bike. [ Do NOT tell my mother! ]
2. I was asked to perform an exit interview.
3. Someone tried to steal my bag.

I've been thinking about this a lot. At first I was thinking that numbers 1 and 3 were only two things and that there was third thing to watch out for. But 1 and 3 were near misses. Then I was thinking, Maybe they were designed to help prepare me for my journey to China. There are 40 times more people there and I'm going to have to be very extra careful at all times. But then I thought more about it.

3 days.
3 things that have never happened before.
What is the common thread?


Though he seemed like a really nice guy, the guy who hit me was a liar. He had been listening to music with earbuds in. He would never admit it because it would lead to a lot of personal problems if ever discovered. Had I been pedalling a fraction of a second faster than I had, I wouldn't be writing this right now. His response reminded me of the one I'd given upon the parental discovery of cigarettes in my high school pockets. They're not mine! I'm just holding them for a friend... obviously! God! Where I've always been a supremely bad liar, he's been a gifted one. He's in new media.

In his vision of the future, all television programming will look like this. Imagine watching Steel Magnolias, the hockey game, and La Traviatta, while receiving the latest numbers on pork bellies. All at the same time! Think of all the time you'll save! I love corporate evangelists. They really convince themselves!

Whenever I told people that I was going to do an exit interview, they thought I was wasting my time. It's not like anything is going to change. I didn't think it was a waste of time. If someone wanted to hear my opinion, I was happy to share it. Maybe it would help. Maybe it was bunk. But there could be no changes in the world if there was only silence. I learned days later, from the sous chef who had quit the day before I, for similar reasons, that the chef whom I had pointed an accusing finger at was beginning to look at his own behaviour. Apparently, he said: If we lost someone like [the Comrade] because of my actions, I'm going to have to examine my behaviour. I also learned that new sensitivity measures are being implemented against some of the "isms" I'd brought up.

Now whether I believe this or not, remains to be seen. But if I have made the path a little easier for someone else, then my attempts were worth it.

Which leads to incident #3. That guy was a born scam artist. He got off lucky. He only ended up with a little turd in his pants and spiked blood pressure for an hour or so. But maybe it's enough to make him think twice about what he's doing and who he's doing it to.

In the end it was the ducks that won over their simian counterparts. The kindergartners, my 21-65 year old fellow student teachers generously, though begrudgingly, submitted their will and better judgment to a person who thinks the world can be a better place if we held hands more often, sang loudly and danced around like pretty butterflies. They did put their foot down when I was trying to get them to Take Their Little Bodies Pounce, Pounce, Pouncing!

I think I got the best mark in the class.

I bought my ticket to China. I leave on July 13th of this year. I have no job prospects as yet. I'm going to wait to apply for jobs once I get there. Making plans for a year's tenure from a different country makes no sense to me. I'm taking advantage of the time I have right now while happily and gainfully unemployed. I'm getting all my ducks in a row, so to speak. One of the ducks is a kind reference letter the Lovely GM had written for me.

I'd rented Rocky Balboa the other night. I actually enjoyed a double bill of Charlotte's Web, followed by the Italian Stallion. Suffice it to say, it was a bawl-fest at my house. The last Rocky installment confirmed my excellent taste in the gigantic crush I've had on that character since I was 8 years old. One of the best bits in the film was, "I stopped thinking about what other people thought a long time ago... The only respect that matters in this world is self-respect."

I can honestly say that when I look in the mirror, I smile back.