Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jelly Beans, Jeans, and Memories

I wish I was rich enough to have been able to fork out the money to save and fix the Jelly Bean apartments in Saint John. 

I used to live in the red one on the first floor, at street level, with my living room windows at face level of passers-by.  I absolutely got used to people staring in as they walked by, lol!  I LOVED this apartment.  It had so much character inside, and from what used to be a parking lot across the street, so much entertainment outside!!  (Oh the things I saw!!) 

Not to mention the fact that it was about a 30 second walk to work, literally.  It was also crawling distance from the pubs and the nightclubs uptown too!  (SJ actually had a kickass nightlife back then.)

Soooo many memories in that building. 

That was where a bunch of us would get together to drink before hitting the pubs, the clubs and the late night drunk food.  O'Leary's, Gargoyles, King of Donair, oh my!

Where I had, consecutively, two of the best roommates/brothers ever, living with me.  Colin, who was like an extra brother but without the fighting.  Then Darren, my actual brother, who returned to the Maritimes after a few years in Edmonton, and settled in as my roomie.




How could you not get along with this guy?!


Where we had countless before-going-out parties, dinner parties, chilled out on a Sunday morning, watched movies, talked about boyfriends and girlfriends, and overall contemplated life.

Where two of my dearest friends, Sherry and Jeff​'s story began.  It is where she got into his pants (her favourite story that gets a reaction).  Literally.  She liked the jeans he was wearing and wanted to try them on.  Apparently those were the right jeans to wear that day because if you fast forward to today, those two married and became three.  And they are still going strong.

Where there was the best (ok, only) walk-in closet I have ever had.  Sometimes I would just go and stand in it and look around and think, "Holy shit!  I have a full on walk-in closet!"  (Hey - it's the little things, folks!)

Where sometimes my parents would come up on a weekend on either a planned or a surprise visit and we would stroll down to the City Market (a 45 second walk, hahaha!).  They inevitably would buy me a treat at the market or take me out somewhere for lunch, or many times, both!  (Seriously kids, if you want to be an adult who still gets spoiled by the 'rents, MOVE AWAY!  The further away you live and the longer between visits, the higher the spoil factor when you are together.  Trust me.  I KNOW these things!  Tell the others!  But I digress...)

Where, if my windows were open, my friends and coworkers would shout "good morning" or "see ya tomorrow" at me on their way to or from work.  Or sometimes they would stop at the windows to chat before continuing on their way.  Some were so comfortable with it that if I was not in sight, they would shout in to get me to come out from whatever other room I was in.

Where some even stopped at the windows to chat with my parents or grandmother if they happened to be up on one of those visits.

Where friends and strangers alike would stop to talk baby-talk to my cat if she was in the windowsill taking in all the action.

Where I dragged a huge, seven-foot Christmas tree in, all by myself and managed to put it UP all by myself, laying on the floor trying to hold it straight with one hand, while trying to secure the screws of the stand against the trunk with my other hand (while the string of words I mumbled to myself were more colourful than a string of Christmas lights).  Then a few weeks later, got back on the floor, managed to unscrew it without it falling on me, finally dragging it back out all by myself again to reload it back into my SUV and lug it away to the dropoff (I am woman, hear me roar, bitches!).

Where I first started to think of myself as being "from Saint John" because my longer explanation about being "from Moncton but have lived in Saint John for __ years because..." was fading away.

It was where I LIVED.

And it was the last place I lived before leaving for Japan after which, nothing would ever be the same again.



Yes, we were sober in this picture.  Less sober than an hour before the pic, but more sober than an hour later...


After living abroad, then in Ontario, thus having been gone for a decade, I decided to go back to Saint John.  But the saying that you can never go back again was sadly a bit true for me.  Life was different now, I was no longer single, neither were my friends, and many things or places from my "first life" in SJ were no longer.

What really drove this home and took my breath away was the first time I walked down Wellington Row after returning, and stopped in front of my living room windows from before.  That is when I realized no one lived there anymore, things were in a state of disrepair, and I wondered how long this had been the case.  I wondered if anyone with the means would open up these apartments again.  It just seemed wrong to see them vacant and silent except for the whispers of our laughter inside and the ghosts of the times we had.  It was a stark reminder of the passage of time and the inevitability of change.

Change is inevitable, but demolition is not.  It would have been good to see these buildings have new life breathed into them, to allow them to change too instead of disappear into dust.

If only the money had been there. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Coloured & Striped Balls, Swimming, and Hockey

So the unthinkable has happened.  I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to join a hockey pool.  More accurately, I decided for the playoffs, a pool would be a good thing to participate in.  So I took the plunge and dove right in, if you will.  (See what I did there?  Glad you liked it...I'll be here all week, folks!)

Said pool happens to be made up mainly of people that actually have a clue what they are doing and have watched hockey more than once in the past decade.  People who understand how to make up their "fantasy" team with all the right folks from all the teams who were playing in the playoffs.  (Wait...is a team that you create for a hockey pool what the kids nowadays call a "fantasy" team?  I'm not up on all the hip lingo.)

Definitely part of my fantasy...
TEAM!  Part of my fantasy team!

I figured it might be a good idea to actually find out what teams were going to be playing.  I guess.  It would probably be embarrassing to choose someone from the Oilers or something.  At least I had no fear of being embarrassed by picking someone from the Leafs...even I know better than to do something that silly!  I will admit though, I did have a moment of wondering if Gretzky, Messier, or Yzerman were on any of the playoff teams (yeah, yeah, I am aware that would have been way more than a decade ago!).

The interwebs helped me with the list of the teams.  Ok, step one done.  Now to pick the players.


Of course I had a strategy.

Nothing works better than trying to pick players with really awesome names that feel good to say.  That's how it works, right?

Then I realized that I now know names mainly based in the land of retired guys.

Oh.  That probably will not work.  I decided that perhaps the magic of the interweb, the world wide net, would help me a lot.  The next logical step was to then click on each team and choose accordingly.


I clicked the first team and scanned the list and blinked.  Audibly.  Who the heck are all these people?  And they all have awesome names.  How am I going to choose?  This project was beginning to look like it would take all weekend and thinking might be involved.  Hmm...I was going to have to figure out a way to keep thought at a minimum because the sun was out and I really needed to get out there, not sit in front of the computer...thinking!  That is what weekdays are for.

Scanning the roster, much to my chagrin, the stats on the right were beginning to beckon.  Slowly, I began to tear my eyes away from actual names.  I started to look at the numbers, the wheels started to turn (the figurative ones in my head; I wasn't on a bicycle or anything), and logic took over.  I looked at some of the best stats, the players they belonged to, then chose a name...and to be honest, once I chose a name, I murmured it to myself to see how it rolled off the tongue, like whispering a spell or a prayer.  If, once I uttered the name, if I realized I had heard it before, that was part of my decision on whether to choose or not.  Hey!  There has to be some instinct involved in this.  I didn't always choose players based on whether they had the very best stats but strong stats nonetheless.



The next thing I know, I begin to feverishly go through every team, ensuring to look for forwards, defensemen and for goalies; the delicate dance to determine the right combination of players without making the fatal mistake of allowing a team to appear more than once in my list.  I scanned faster and faster, deciding almost became like breathing.  Until I entered the name of the very last player.

Then I sat back.  Shaking off the feeling of having been under a spell, I surveyed my new hockey pool team.  I looked at every name and said them all once more.  And it was good.  I grinned in satisfaction.

I still can't believe I had gotten so into it.  That I am now watching the games, yelling at the TV and concernedly paying close attention to who scored, who assisted, and who won.  I have become one of those people.

And now I watch.  And wait.  GAME ON!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Fostering Failure - We Tried to Foster a Cat...We Tried Really Hard


Because this is very close to my heart and brings me so much joy, I decided that even though I wrote and posted this just a short time ago, I really wanted repost this for the "F" entry so I could share it with everyone in the A to Z Challenge.  



This poor kitty has no home, they said.  Her owner passed away and she got loose, they said.  We can't leave her alone out there in the woods with winter and the coyotes.  

Would someone foster her, my friend with cat allergies asked the world on Facebook.  

I hesitated.  I kept going back to the picture of her over and over.  She was cute.  We can't really afford a pet right now.  But I thought it would be nice to have this little, warm, furry creature in our home just for a little while.  I missed having a cat in my life.  I knew if I mentioned it to my husband though, the answer would be no. 

So I chose to do the right thing.  I messaged my friend and started typing about how much I would like to take her but...  Then I deleted the word "but", and long story short, after a trip to my friend's place, I did what my brother and I did with our cats in the past when still living with Mom and Dad.  I said nothing but just showed up at home with her, was immediately met with complete shock, resistance, and a resounding "We are not keeping that!" from my husband.  (Pffft...I have heard THAT song and dance before...piece of cake!)  Then I did with him what I did with my parents in the past.  I threw her into his arms and backed away.

What is this place?  Where am I?

No way am I coming out from back here!
I let him know that it was not going to be permanent.  I explained her story and how she had been in the woods already for quite some time and how lucky it is she was even still alive.  He begrudgingly let his guard down a little when he realized we were only fostering her.

With my parents years ago, it took about 10 minutes before the ice completely melted and they were head over heels in love with our cats.  My husband though, is made of different stuff and set a new record on the time it took before he completely melted into a big pile of affectionate goo under the spell of this pretty kitty cat.  He lasted an entire 30 seconds.
This guy was a pushover!
Ah!  Another cat victory for me!!

But don't get me wrong.  I was sticking to my guns and was going to find her a good home.  As soon as she was re-socialized and used to being indoors again.  I was even hoping to take her to my mother's place to re-introduce her to dogs as well.  I figured she would be more adoptable if she was comfortable in any situation.
I'm especially comfortable in this situation.
She seemed like a fairly healthy, young, adult cat.  However, there was no way to know her medical history.  So, off to the vet we went to have her assessed and treated because we wanted to give her the best chance she could possibly have at a good, loving home.

Because really, who is going to adopt an adult cat that is going to cost a lot of money since she had no known medical history and was not spayed?  I know I probably wouldn't.  Definitely didn't have the money or time to commit to such a thing right now.

In the end, after one trip for shots and treatment for ear mites, one cycle of the cat having gone into heat, then a second trip to have her spayed, I began to realize I was doing a great job at getting her ready and attractively adoptable to a good, loving home.
I'm sorry, come again, you're taking me where for whatnow?
And that home is us.  We tried to foster a cat and we were already sinking all the money into her that I wouldn't want to sink into a cat I might see posted as up for adoption but that would need all these things done.

We fell for her, hook, line and sinker.  I hear the jingle of the tags on her collar, look at her food dishes with the really healthy cat food we are feeding her, listen to the sound of her purring, and realize...we've been had.  She has been playing us since day one and we didn't stand a chance.
Plotting an uprising and world domination.


We completely failed at fostering a cat.  But she was completely successful at adopting us!
I don't always take over people's lives, but when I do, I lay all over their clothes.

Echoes

She stood in the doorway looking pensively at the front yard, reminiscing about all the years she had seen come and go in this place, the haunting echoes of her daughter's laughter ringing through the halls of her memory.

She glanced to her left and gazed at the huge old silver maple and saw her five year old daughter hanging upside down from the branch, laughing and holding her skirt in place, defying without defiance in happy tones, trying to convince her mother that she knew what she was doing.

Further up the street, was her daughter cycling around at a lazy pace with her friends as they laughed and giggled then sat up straighter and got quieter, smiling and whispering as a group of boys approached to join them.

To the right, the flower bed stretching out from underneath the lilac bush was the spot where that five-year-old-girl-suddenly-18 posed for her prom pictures in a fiery red gown, grinning from ear to ear while groaning through gritted teeth, begging her mother to "Please make this picture the last one!"

The front walk wound from the steps to the driveway and she watched her daughter's train trail behind her as she glanced back, smiling, urging her mother to hurry up.

Turning back inside, she strolled through, room by room, which didn't take long in this little home.  Everything seemed so empty and the silence was bouncing off the walls.

It had been just the two of them against the world for so long, she wasn't sure what she was going to do now.  She raised an angel, that was for sure, but angels come with wings and wings were meant for flight.

Sinking back down into the chair next to the window, gazing outside, she sighed and took a sip of her tea and thought that since her angel had flown, now it was her time and even after all these years maybe, just maybe, if she gave them a good stretch, her wings might still work too.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dressed

She opened the gift.  She wasn't anti-gift or against dresses but she just didn't want to try it on.

She couldn't stand the sight of it simply because of who gave it to her.  It was expensive, beautiful and everyone was expecting her to accept it without question.  She glared at it as though it were a living thing; a hideous, horrible creature that should be stomped on until there was nothing left.

She sighed and every muscle in her body was tense as she stiffly lifted it from the box.  Clenching her jaw, she slipped it over her head.  Eyes closed, she slowly turned toward the mirror.  She stood very still for a moment then, holding her breath, opened her eyes.

She stared at the reflection before her, rage and frustration welling up, boiling until she let out a furious scream and in a surge of adrenaline, ripped it off over head as fast as she could and whipped it at the wall.

Chocolate, Coughing and Convalescence

Ok...so things were really hectic this week at work and I fell behind with blogging...not a good thing when trying to keep up with a challenge!  However, this weekend, I managed to rest up and am playing catch up.  Looking forward to less stressful weeks ahead and keeping up with my posts!
They are random, that is for sure.  Sometimes, it will be anecdotes and observations from a personal standpoint and other times, like today, short stories.  


She stared longingly at the bag of chocolates.  She was aching to eat one but her appetite was gone.  It was than a lack of appetite, it was the presence of an anti-appetite...there was no emptiness but a sinister sense of fullness constantly reminding her of why she was here.  And that anything she tried to ingest, even chocolate was...due to post-operative gasses causing so much pressure...horribly torturous.

Best to give them to the doctor.  It was only right.  Can't let good chocolate go to waste after all and having it by her bedside taunting her would drive her nuts.  Yes, she definitely will give it to the doctor on his next round to check in on her.  It was Valentine's Day, she had nothing else to give and since he pretty much saved her life, she felt the need to do something in return.

She still can feel the blood rush into her belly, escaping the vein or artery or whatever the hell she had unknowingly wrecked.  Such a small accident too.  She had fallen off her bike at least a zillion times in her life and had even been hurt worse, but never with these consequences.  The whole incident flashed back before her eyes:

The faltering and falling sideways and forward, feeling the handlebar jab her belly...but not that hard, or so she thought at the time.

Sitting in front of the TV that night relaxing, getting up to make tea and then coughing.  The cough of death...sort of.  The cough that caused that small rupture to burst wide and flood her stomach, swelling it instantly.  The instinctual terror that flooded the rest of her body and her mind.  The panicked escape from her apartment to the outside world, stopping strangers in the street to help her.

Then a steel table where doctors (or was there only one?) kept poking her in a desperate attempt to get a blood sample, finally succeeding by tapping a vein in her foot, go figure!

The mask they put over her mouth and nose, soothingly telling her to breathe in deeply and slowly and the fear when she didn't pass out in a nano-second like she thought she should, feeling the doctors marking her body, getting ready to slice her open to free the blood and stop it all at the same time.  Then, best of all, the few seconds of sheer bliss before passing out  (why is this stuff not bottled and sold in convenience stores everywhere?)

Then...the slow healing over the following days, her body pale from head to toe.  Constantly apologizing to doctors and nurses for being a bother because she felt like she should.

The agony after having just a bite or a sip of anything.  The friends coming in bearing more books and food than made sense.  The gratefulness for the care and protection she was getting from everyone around her, especially the doctor who figured it all out and saved her.

Yes, the chocolates were a meagre gesture but it was all she had and it was Valentine's Day.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Beautiful Besties

This is to celebrate the bodacious babes in my life.  I wanted to list some of my friends, the ones who are like the sisters I never got to have growing up.  Then I realized this list would go on forever.  So many amazing women have touched my soul over the years and have left imprints on my heart that will be there forever and who make me realize that having just one best friend is an absolute impossibility!

So to narrow it down for now, I am going to list the women I met after having left my hometown behind me as I ventured out into the world; who have also played a major role in shaping me into the person I have become so far.  But I will do it over the course a few posts...at random times in April; to list you all right now, here in one post...it would take ages to do!

So here's to you, my awe-inspiring sisters this is you through my eyes...while this barely scratches the surface of how amazing you really are and what I really think of you (of course I mean that in a nice way!), you will know who you are:

S - One of the kindest, most generous souls I know.  The first time I ever met her, she thrust the plastic baggie from which she was snacking, at me and uttered the first words I ever heard her say, "Hi!  I have some hemp seeds!  Wanna try some?  They're really healthy!  They make you poop, you know!"  And her parting words when she was leaving that day were, "You really need to come to my Fantasia party!"  I knew right then and there through my tears of laughter that she was a kindred spirit and we were going to get along juuuust fine!  She became a really important part of my life and always will be!  I completely admire her, how hard she works, what an amazing mom she is, the deep soul that she has, and most of all I really admire her gigantic heart that is the reason she is always so giving to others and makes a lasting impression on all whose lives she touches!  I am truly blessed to not only know her but to have the privilege of being her friend.

K - Smart, funny, and sarcastic as hell.  We met years ago over the phone, and for a few months, that is exactly how our friendship blossomed - strictly through phone calls.  A mutual friend thought she and I really needed to meet in person because that person felt that K and myself were meant to be.  And it finally happened.  We met face to face for the first time at a party and have never looked back.  From the time she was one of my customers whom I dealt with on a regular basis over the phone, to becoming fast friends at a work/client social event, I will forever count her among my dearest of friends!  (That is so NOT where you thought this was going, is it?  Hahahaha!)  She is one of the fiercest, strongest most independent women I know.  I want to be her.

J - The friend who convinced me to jump into adventure and move to the other side of the world.  She has a laugh that is quite simply larger than life and probably her most identifying feature!  There is never any doubt whose laugh it is when you hear it!  She is a stellar chef who came a long way from the really early days when Kraft Dinner seemed to her a monumental task.  A loooooooong way!  She is sharp, quick-witted and the world's foremost expert on pop culture as well as a bonafide music snob with her own bus to hell (she knows what that means!).  We will always share a wicked grin and a wink whenever we hear the word "sailor".  She leaves joy in her wake no matter where she goes.  She also does everything she sets her mind to...and I mean e v e r y t h i n g; from where she wants to travel to what she chooses as a career.  Her mind supplies the ideas, her actions supply the results.  As simple as that.  She has found her passion in life and everyone should be so lucky.  I admire her, envy her, and am fiercely proud of her.

Y - Beautiful, gentle Y.  Sweet and shy...or so you think until you get to know her!  She exudes class and grace and has an incredible lust for life.  Because of her unassuming nature, she is able to pull one over on others and avoid suspicion until she voluntarily laughs and confirms she is the culprit.  She is a generous soul who, when she knows her friends, she KNOWS her friends and is able to give her friendship, gifts, and time in ways that make you think she knows you better than you know yourself!  When I think of her it will always conjure up memories of my bike, incredible parties with incredible people and food, riding the train on our way to a disco party (one of us wearing an afro wig and the other wearing pigtails), and her musical laugh.  I owe her so much.

R - We met because she drinks wine.  A lot.  Not the "first thing in the morning" a lot, but the "hostess with the mostest" a lot.  She lived near me and the very first time I ever went to the supermarket in Japan and ran into someone I knew (like would have happened back home), she was that someone!  That is when I knew I had "arrived".  Since then, we have shared many meals, lots of cheese, and loads of wine fruit juice (you know, because we are health nuts).  We were easily partners in crime.  Like the crime of ditching our housework to meet up at the river under the cherry blossoms and drink for seven hours.  She is also responsible for having the party at which I met my husband.  She is a fun, free, sunkissed spirit responsible for numerous dance parties in her living room at her apartment.  I miss her so much it hurts!

I promised myself to limit this to five for this go 'round.  I will celebrate more of my "sisters" again very soon...(is this where I add "to be continued..."?)