Archive for April, 2006
On Easter weekend I went with my attractive blond companion to visit his parents et al in Pembroke, Ontario. Good Friday was a great day. A quick two hour bus ride from Ottawa to Pembroke, barbequed hotdogs, then off for a 3 hour hike along the river, through the woods, around the town – until we found a place that was open for business and sat down for a pitcher of beer and a plate of poutine.
That was Good Friday. And what a good Friday it was.
Saturday? Not so good.
Saturday, I went to the Pembroke Mall. And got lost.
Yup. Lost. At the Pembroke Mall.
The day dawned like any other. Eggs, bacon, toast – lots of coffee for brekkies. Then I said, “I’d like to do some shopping. I have a couple of things I really need to get and I never get around to it in Ottawa.” “I’ll drive you to the mall”, said my companion’s mom.
So off we headed in the car – a car I wouldn’t recognize even now if it ran me over – and I got dropped off. My companion’s mom’s last words to me being, “How will we know when to come and pick you up?” “I’ll call”, I replied (thinking, “D’uh…”).
After about 30 minutes of shopping, I had what I’d gone to the mall to get – a shopping record for me – and headed for a phone booth. Which was when a vague unease began to take over, followed in rapid succession by a sweaty panicky dread. I didn’t know their phone number. I wasn’t even sure of their last names. And I had no idea of their address. All I knew was that they lived a confusing and goodly distance from the mall.
I started swallowing. Still heading for the phone booth. “Calm down”, I told myself. “Think. You know his mom’s last name.” Out of the blue it came to me. My companion had referred to a family reunion down the road that he would be attending. “Aha!” I look in the phone book. Nothing. I call 411. “I’m sorry Ma’am. She must be unlisted. There’s no one in Pembroke with that last name.” I start pleading, “Her husband’s name starts with B. No wait… D. They live in a white frame -” “I’m sorry, Ma’am. That’s not enough information. I can’t help you.”
At this point my hands are so clammy with sweat the phone slips. I hang it up. “Think. Think. His cousin was visiting and her boyfriend is from Pembroke. Aha! I know his last name.” I count my quarters. FIve quarters, ten Schmidts (the names have been changed to avoid embarrassing third parties). I dial the first Schmidt. “Hi. I’m looking for Tyler Schmidt. Do you know him or where I might find him? I’m visiting Pembroke and I need to get in touch with him regarding a dinner party.” “Tyler? I don’t know any Tyler. And I know all the Schmidts. There’s no Tyler Schmidt in Pembroke.” “Are you sure? I mean, I just saw him last night at dinner and he told me to give him a -” “I’m sure. There’s no Tyler Schmidt in Pembroke that I’m aware of.” “But is there another Schmidt I could call who might have heard of him?” “Well, let’s go through the list: Orvil is a bachelor. Richard died this winter. Eva’s my sister and I know she doesn’t know any Tyler Schmidt.” And on and on she went through all ten Schmidts. Slowly but efficiently draining me of my life force.
The Schmidt hope gone, I headed over to the food court. A slice of pizza and cranbery cocktail later, I spot a cancer fundraiser in progress. I approach the two women. “This is gonna sound crazy to you, but my friend’s mom just dropped me off at the mall and I was supposed to call her when I was done shopping, but I don’t know her phone number, it’s unlisted, and I don’t know her address. All I know is that it’s pretty far from the mall and it’s somewhere near a high school.” “Haha! Lost? In Pembroke?” “Uh… Yeah. That’s right.” “Well, I get off here at 4:00. I can drive you around then. What’s your friend look like in case he comes looking for you.” “Well, he’s got wavy blond hair, about 5’11″. Good looking.” “Haha! What’s his number? Just kidding – hahahahahahahaha!” “Yeah. Well. Okay. I’ll just wander around until you’re off, then. If you see a good-looking blond guy – flag him down.” “Oh. Don’t worry, honey. We will!”
Anyway, in case you’re wondering, there are apparently no good looking blond men in Pembroke. Not one false call. And mine never showed up either, which I really had to take issue with later since he was from Pembroke and should have known that only a desperately pathetic woman would seriously ever in her worst nightmare want to spend more’n one hour at the Pembroke Mall. (I’d left his house at noon…)
So, at 4:00, as promised, the cancer ladies and I drove around Pembroke looking for the house. I won’t bore you with the details except to say that I was just about to ask them to open the door and push me out of the car and maybe I’d be lucky and roll over into a ditch where I could spend the night wallowing in the mud – when the house suddenly appeared – seemingly out of nowhere – right there. “Stop the car!” (It was just like Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street when she spots the house of her dreams at the end) “This is it!”
Very long story brought to a mericful end, the cancer ladies came in to meet the family. My friend’s Mom laughed that next time they’d put a sticker on me “If lost return to 123 Main Street”.
And just like in the movies, the cancer ladies waved goodbye and said, “Happy Easter, everybody!” And went merrily on their way.
Oh – and the cousin’s boyfriend? He wasn’t from Pembroke, afterall. He was from Petawawa. You’d think that wouldn’t matter so much except that, as he explained over dinner that night, when all the Schmidts got off the boat from Germany, half the Schmidts went to Pembroke, the other half went to Petawawa. Never, ever to have anything to do with each other ever again. So… I filled him in on the other half of the Schmidts. “Forget about them”, I said. “They’re dying out. Only Katerina had kids. One girl and one boy. The girl is a gym teacher and the boy joined the navy. Looks like the Petawawa Schmidts have won this round.”
Working Without Gratitude
I’m a pretty sociable person. In the old days, the only reason I went to work was to socialize. Luckily, I worked at the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park. But then I was out of the workforce for quite a few years looking after babies and toddlers and the only interaction I had with co-workers was when I’d go with my now ex to one of his workplace parties. It was pretty demoralizing, “What do you do?” “I’m a homemaker.” Then his/her eyes would roll back into his/her head and his/her mouth would drop open and after a while flies would start buzzing in and out and eventually a spider would move in and build a web… You know what I’m talking about. Yeah. That’s me.
A decade or so later, I find myself running an office pretty much by myself. No co-workers. A boss who only occasionally drops in. Just me, the phone, and my computer. Once in a while a fed/ex delivery person. That’s pretty much it.
Anyway, I was sitting here the other day, looking at the artwork on the walls, such as it is, and thinking, “We need a pick me up. A special event. A reason to keep going.” That’s when it hit me – I needed my own Employee of the Month contest.
Now, normally I wouldn’t be one to support such an event but since I’m the only employee, I figure I won’t have to strive overly much to win every month. Because no matter how great the job, I simply do not believe a person should ever go more than mediocre in terms of meeting workplace goals. Well, goals may be too strong a term. How about… requirements. Yeah. Requirements. My motto is: No Worker Shall Go More Than Mediocre In Meeting Workplace Requirements.
I know in this day and age such an attitude is frowned upon – I can’t tell you the number of times people have said to me of their employment, “I guess I should be grateful to have a job.” To which I always respond, “Why, dammit? Why be grateful? Why not be ‘In Your Face – SUCKER!’?” Because I honestly can’t imagine how such a concept (and for some reason I always picture shrikers like Conrad Black equating jobs (for others) with gratitude (to guys like him) whenever anyone uses “job” and “grateful” in the same sentence. Or I picture those long-suffering women employees who think they have to over-achieve in the workplace because they spent years running a home for ungrateful… uh… nevermind…
So yeah – I’m not grateful to have a job. Sure, I’m glad I have one. Because it sure beats not having one and needing to look for one. But grateful? To whom? I work, I get paid – it’s a fair transaction. I don’t see any need for gratitude from either side. In fact, I think gratitude has an overall negative impact on the balance of nature – resulting in resentment and a tendency to snipe about others because one feels unappreciated and taken for granted.
But back to Employee of the Month. I’m very excited about this upcoming contest because I can define the perimeters of the competition without being shown up by over-achievers and martyrs – since I’m the only contestant – and I’m really looking forward to rewarding myself with appreciation every time I answer a phone, or send an e-mail – while giving a little extra to the person on the other end. I figure I’ve got the sort of easy going workplace where I can afford to go the extra mile – not for the boss – but for all the other workers out there. I’m thinking, “Employee of the Month” isn’t so much for me, as it is for others – others less or more fortunate with whom I have job-related contact during my otherwise lonely and isolated day. And since I’m from Northern Ontario I could never go the extra mile for a boss – I really wouldn’t have any idea what the extra mile would be – er… that would fall within the Employment Standards Act…. But the extra mile for other employees just like me – that I can do.
Oops. Almost happy hour. Gotta finish up this blog entry. Until next time.
Employee of the Month
Is Religion Gay?
I had an argument last night with someone about Islamic fundamentalism and by extension – and here is where he begged to differ – Arab culture and I said, “It’s gay.” Or rather, “It’s homosexual.” Because certainly gay is the wrong word in this context, “gay” being, in my opinion, a North American term chosen to represented “out” homosexuals by those same “out” homosexuals.
And I was talking about something completely different.
Now, I’ll take a swipe at the other two religions (hehehe – I love doing that – limiting the insanity to three) later because I think they’re homosexual, too – but I want to start with Islam because it so overtly seeks to deny women. And I’m not just talking about their rights, I’m talking about their existence. To my mind, Islam attempts to cover up women in a way that suggests the men who call the shots in Islam really don’t like the female form to be visible in any way at all in public. This suggests to me that they feel threatened by it. And why would men in a culture where men hold all the power be threatened by women?
I’m just asking – why?
Because they’re homosexual. That’s why. Not gay – homosexual. I mean, all you have to do is take a look at any demonstrating crowd scene in any Islamic country and you’ll note quite quickly that there isn’t a woman in sight. And any time there is a woman in sight – she’s covered head to toe in a shapeless robe. Sure, Muslim men say that this is because they don’t want to be tempted to rape or behave otherwise inappropriately – but they WOULD say that, now – wouldn’t they? Homosexuality is a bigger sin than honour killings. Of course, being raped is a bigger sin than honour killings, so… I’m sorry, but how homosexual is that…
To be fair, Christian Catholics also deny women – not necessarily by covering them up, although the official women in the Church – nuns – only recently gained the right to raise their hemlines a tad from ankle to knee – and they still wear a similar headcovering to that worn by Muslim girls in this country – but by segregating nuns in convents, out of sight of the men who actually run the Church, and by not allowing women to otherwise have any kind of visible role in the elaborate ceremonies favoured by Catholicism. I mean, why so afraid of being around women? I’ll tell you why – because the men of Catholicism are homosexual. They don’t want women around because they don’t want women around. They rather be with other men.
Orthodox Judaism require women to shave their heads and wear wigs – the shaved head, I suggest, making them less woman-like, and that “two weeks unclean” thing is pretty clearly a sigh of relief for everybody that sex is out of the question for half a lifetime. Phew! Spend enough time worshipping and you could conceivably go for quite a stretch without being around a woman. I mean, who has the curly locks in Orthodox Judaism? Eh?
And since all of these religions view procreation as the only valid reason for having sex, well, that can really cut down on how often the male followers of these faiths have to do the dirty with a dame – riiiiiiight? Yeah. I’m right. That’s why normal heterosexual men aren’t big on Church goin’. Church goin’ is homosexual.
I know, I know – I’m going straight to Hell. But what do I care? Heaven is gonna be full of closet cases.
And Father Egos
Oops. In my haste to blame selfishness on mothers, I forgot the dads. Ah… the dads. The proud dads. Especially proud when baby is THEIR baby. Just when you think we’ve turned a corner – it has to be THEIR baby. And I know this to be true – that wannabe dads, wannabe dads of the seeds of THEIR loins. Not some other guy’s.
Back when I was wanting a baby – including wondering about adoption, my then better half said point blank, “Why would we adopt a baby when we could have a baby of our own?” I argued the line that having our own simply added to a baby glut, but he was adamant, “We can have our own, so we don’t need to adopt.” What he didn’t need to add was, “And if we can’t have our own, why the hell would be adopt? The whole point is to pass on YOUR genes – isn’t it?”
No wait… he didn’t NEED to add it. Because he actually DID add it.
I thought it was kind of politically incorrect of him but now that I’ve grown out of my politically correct phase in exchange for a realistic phase I can see that he was only being honest. He really saw no point in adopting children. If you couldn’t have your own – why would you burden yourself with someone else’s loin fruit? He may well feel quite differently now that our children are teenagers – I don’t know. I know that I could see the interchangeability of babies right from the first drop-in center we attended together – me and baby. But dads don’t have the same degree of interaction with other dads and their babies.
Oops. Correction. In fact, I learned the interchangeability of babies in the nursery of the maternity ward of Women’s College Hospital when I ventured down the hall to find my baby and feed her – without my glasses. Now that was a lesson in humility. I mean – humanity. I was squinting down at babies whose bracelets said “Mohammed” and “JingJing” before I finally lucked upon little Sooeyette. And I could have sworn she was better than all the other babies on the ward, too. Well, not so much better – as the same, as it turned out…
Not that newborns look any more alike than do new parents. Look at a picture of new parents holding their newborn in the maternity ward of any hospital. Proud, successful seeder from his loins papa, tired, overwhelmed, bewildered-looking mama, sleeping baby.
Anyway, not that there’s anything wrong with any of it, but I really think if credit is due anywhere it’s due to the people – women, and maybe even more so, men – who don’t feel the need to pass on their DNA and instead use their time on this earth helping out with the seeds of everybody else’s loins. Or not.
But doing whatever they do quietly. So that their bragging doesn’t drown out the bragging of the breeders.
I’ve been reading a few mommy blogs lately and aside from the fact that they all pretty much say the same thing – that being a mommy changes everything – (oh – and while professional mommy bloggers flog the latest consumer goods, amateur mommy bloggers flog sally anns and cheap easy recipes) they all also share a startling tendency to claim bragging rights for self sacrificing heroism.
Well I’m a mother and I can honestly say that, while being a mother changes a few things – I lie more than I ever thought possible, to give just one example – having children was quite a selfish decision. I wanted them, so I had them. And let’s be clear – I wanted to have them. No adoption for me – I wanted to spawn my own set of genes and raise ‘em right. Ridiculous in retrospect since as soon as each child was born it was quite clear even to me that s/he was his own person, unique, separate, given up to the everexpanding sea of humanity, an ego entirely beyond my control. And when it came to raising them, they turned out to be the self-raising kind – as I figure most kids are these days.
That’s why I know having children isn’t selfless. And because I’m honest (in the adult world, at least), I’m saying it out loud. How this ridiculous crock of selfless motherhood was born is a testimony to the power of mother lying, I suppose. Having children is selfish. Whether you’re doing it to bring forth extra helping hands for the farm or to dress up a mommy/daddy clone in designer baby outfits. I mean, we all know there are plenty of kids – even babies – to adopt or foster in this world. Plenty of kids going begging. Literally. Although in this country, at least, we’ve worked parenthood up into such a fine art that I’d have had to lie my ass off just to get a preliminary interview – or fill out the application to get a preliminary interview – to adopt a child. And unless you’re a professional couple making really good money, adopting babies from other countries is way too expensive a proposition. So, since I wanted babies, I had to have them myself.
A hero? Hardly. Self-sacrificing? Give me a break. So, why is it childless women are the ones considered selfish? The women who keep the economy humming, who look after sick friends, who don’t bore the rest of us with their stories of selfless motherhood and that tired bullshit line that becoming a mother changed everything. Good grief. Even 9/11 didn’t change everything. In fact, with each passing day it would appear it changed nothing at all. Sure, once you’re a mother, there’s no going back. But I know for a fact that the women who choose not be become mothers put a lot more thought into that decision than the women who do choose to become mothers. And I think I’m on pretty safe ground when I argue that the women who choose the latter do it for purely selfish reasons. They want babies – so they have them.