Wednesday July 23 , 2014

Archive for December, 2011

My Eighteenth Birthday, Still Awesome After All These Years

On my eighteenth birthday my whole life changed. I went from pretty much not having one, peerless, due to an extreme lack of recognition by my peers, to “who is she?” overnight. I was, literally, that overnight sensation you’ve heard tell about.

The setting was mostly The Vic, a tavern run by a sprawling family of Chows with a couple of Chans thrown in as waiters, but there was also Patti R’s house. In between, there was a snowbank and a lot of trudging through snow from A to B that I didn’t mind because, for the first time since grade two, I was getting the social recognition I’d been born to receive.

I was back, baby! Back, I tells ya!

The larger setting, of course, was Sault Ste. Marie. (“Sooey” – geddit?) And as luck would have it, my eighteenth birthday fell on a Friday night (I always think of Codco’s Friday Night Girls when I say Friday night because, before my eighteenth birthday, that’s exactly what I was – a Friday Night Girl, socially bereft, waiting for something, anything to happen to launch magnificent under-appreciated me into somewhere happening.)

The day itself was uneventful except for a new buckle up plaid shirt and pair of Howicks (yes, the year is 1977). My older brother and sister were away at university, so it was just me, Gram, my mom and my younger sister at home. My mom is notorious for not remembering birthdays, too, (her excuse was always the same, “Ohferchrissakes, you’re not exactly a widow with four young children, are you”) but she came through on my 18th. (In an ironic twist of genes, I keep forgetting my own middle child’s birthday – it started when she was sweet sixteen and she showed up to the apartment and we were having pizza and she said, “Yay! Pizza for my birthday!” and I said, “Hunh?”, at which point I remembered it was her birthday. If you’re a mother reading this, that’s a freebie, but you owe me one.)

The main event leading up to the main event had been getting my Age of Majority card, the magic decoder ring, the ticket to fun, the holy grail in the life of every kid growing up in Northern Ontario – the licence to drink, legally. I still have it.  I also still have the picture my mom took of me before I headed out for my special night on the town. My long straight brown hair is held back by a couple of Woolco clips, my eyebrows are plucked to thin strips. I’m wearing the same lip and cheek stain that lasted me through university. And I’m in my plaid shirt and Howicks, leaning forward in the chair, all ready to bolt forth into drunken adulthood. My childhood friend, Barb S, who was notorious (with me) for having written, “Fuck Off, God”, in a bible (she has multiple sclerosis now) while we were sitting through a sermon waiting for Sunday school to start was to be my companion for the evening. In her defense, she was an atheist (although she read “Altas Shrugged” when she was ten, recommended it to me, too, which I promised I would read as soon as I was finished the Little Eddie series), but she had a wicked crush on a boy who went to church (it was Central United, if you’re curious, where I later sat through a few sermons to be near a wicked crush of my own. Of course he turned out to be gay. Worse, my mom was the one to tell me, “His parents asked me to tell you he’s gay. Now stop bothering him.”

Barb was also notorious for her excellent handwriting, academic brilliance, early onset sexual relationships, part-time jobs, and love of home. She was a homebody, as they say, and going out with me on my eighteenth birthday was really just a favour on her part. No one was happier than Barb when my life suddenly started around the curve from Nowheresville to Funtown and she could exit the scene and head home to re-read her margin notes in the Lord of the Rings and wait for her cheating heart of a boyfriend, Pat, who showed up at The Vic and tried to pick me up (not literally at that point) around 9:00, to call.

And I am not being snarky. She beat me for the grade twelve English prize fair and square by being fair and square and I have no one but myself to blame. Also, it was her constant competing with me that catapulted me into graduating from high school in four years instead of five. (I figured if I was going to win any awards at all in high school English I’d have to do it in a grade not occupied by Barb S.) This would prove to be a bit of a mistake when I was catapulted out of Sault Ste. Marie, just when I had started to have fun, and into the University of Toronto, which really wasn’t quite ready for me or me for it, but that’s another entry.

Barb and I headed out to The Vic at an elegant 7:00-ish because there was often a line-up to get in on account of it was Sault Ste. Marie and The Vic was where everybody who was anybody who wasn’t either soft or hardcore went for 25 cent glasses of draft.

That’s right – 25 cents. Which meant that a newbie like me could get drunk on a dollar. And did. Many many Friday and Saturday nights. My tolerance for alcohol never shifting an inch. I’m drunk right now on three light beers. By 8:00 I was the life of the party and the party hadn’t even started. 8:00 was also when Barb bid her adieu on account of I’d been spotted by a long lost childhood friend who would become my comrade in arms in later years, but, of course, that’s another entry.

Still, it was while sitting with Ev, reminiscing about old times, old times, that Patti R happened by. “Who the hell are you?” she asked, intrigued. “Sooey. It’s my birthday.”

“Yeah. Okay. Why are you sitting with Ev?”

“We go way back, she’s used to live near me.”

“You mean, you used to live near her.”

“Okay.”

“You look familiar. Are you a McSooey?”

“Yeah.”

“Come sit over here with us. You can bring Ev.”

And so it began. Ev, who was always, always, always, the worst for hangin’ in on account of she was one of those mixed drinks girls always watching her perfect weight (stick to beer, girls – beer’s your friend – you can trust me – I’m a former anorexic) had a part-time job and always kept an eye on the clock because money meant everything to her.  She was also only sixteen and her dad, a sailor who’d escaped Estonia when the Russians showed up, was known to show up mid-evening at The Vic – for what and why we were never sure, but Ev spent more than one night drinking under a table because her dad was scoping out the place from another one, sometimes for a couple of hours, before heading home. For years, we would have to duck behind trees, garbage cans, whatever was handy because her dad was constantly trying to catch her either heading off to The Vic or drinking at The Vic – even after she’d turned eighteen.

“You think you’re so smart, little girl, I will catch you.”

He never did. Escaping Estonia is one thing, catching a party girl in the act is something else altogether. I almost felt sorry for him, as Ev would sit under our table at The Vic, drinking her fancy drinks. I knew from my mom that he was one of those stand up immigrant parents who’d expressed extreme shock and dismay at my father, who’d been the lawyer to change his name from something with too many consonants, not enough vowels, to something English admiral-ish, and mother for not ever once showing up at a PTA meeting.

“But your children. Their educations. It’s everything.”

Sigh. Immigrant parents. When will they ever learn, eh? I

… To be continued …

 

Going Down the Road

Subtitled: Thanks, Premier McGuinty!

I was recently visiting my 88 year old mother who lives in a seniors’ residence, probably the last of the middle class who will be able to afford such luxury. The residence is my old high school, renovated into bachelor, one and two bedroom apartments that come equipped with little fridges and microwaves but no stoves. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in a lovely communal dining room. The cost is somewhere between $3,000-$4,000 per month, so only seniors with good pensions can afford to live there. My mom’s a retired teacher, but already the rent is more than her pension, so she supplements the rent with her savings – proceeds from the sale of our family home.

No, the residence isn’t in Dubai, it’s in Sault Ste. Marie. Which also means that the proceeds from the sale of our family home are enough to cover the rent for approximately one year.

Not that it matters, but there will be no inheritance for her children (inheritance being something on which only the wealthy offspring of wealthy parents depend) but her children will probably have to pitch in to support her standard of living, one we will never be able to afford ourselves. Even my brother, the judge, was a criminal lawyer too long paid in paintings and pottery to be rolling in pension dough when he retires.

I plan not to retire because what little pension I have cost me ten percent in legal fees to get and would not be enough to pay the rent on my mother’s apartment for one year. My retirement plan is to keep working wherever I can find the work – just not very hard.

I’ve started practicing already. Working hard is a waste of a life, in my opinion, and although I’ve been cursed with Scottish Presbyterianism, it is my goal to bring out the recessive Irish genes of my grandparent cousins.

Yes. My grandparents were cousins. It’s why, according to my Uncle Gordon, we’re brilliant communicators, but otherwise, retarded.

But it’s all good because we consider ourselves very fortunate to have an elderly parent alive and well and not living with us, quite happily so, in fact. Because it’s a terrible fallacy among many middle-aged people that their elderly parents do want to live with us. They don’t. They want to live with other people their own age. If they’re like my mom, they want to maintain a certain standard of living, too, one she would certainly not find living with me. I don’t even have a car. I have a house and a mortgage and three kids in university instead.

And that’s all good, too, because my kids are all intelligent and healthy and all round awesome young adults who will benefit mightily from their university educations whether they ever get jobs or not.

Jobs are not the point, in my opinion. I’ve had jobs, lots of jobs, mostly of the reasonably comfortable office variety. Jobs are time spent working for money to pay for a certain standard of living. And in spite of what I said previously about elderly parents not wanting to live with their middle-aged children, I expect that this sibling society combined with a substantial decrease in government funded programs, in spite of the business as usual increase in taxes every year (my mother’s rent goes up every year come hell or high water, too) will lead us back together again one day, living cooperatively.

As a middle child, I staked out my middle child for future accommodations, however, as an oldest child, my ex did, too, so there may be some complications down the road for my beau. This is not to say that either of us have a favourite child in our middle child, but rather that we both recognize a sure bet moneymaker when we create one. That girl can be in the mall for ten minutes and snag herself three job offers. I’m a little bit like that myself except with me it’s office work. I was half tempted to give my ancient lawyer a copy of my resume when I noticed his regular assistant had left for other employment. He was a Conservative, too, albeit of the old fashioned variety, not the new psycho asshole breed.

The alternative, of course, is that siblings in the sibling society will all live together in old age. Or, better yet – friends. I’m at an advantage here as I have a bookclub full of people only other bookclub people would want to live with – and – a much younger beau who has more friends than your average Dungeons and Dragons player, that’s for sure. They buy each other presents and go to movies and have dinner and play rock band. No sex, though, so I’m still his actual girlfriend, on account of I’m female and they’re not.

Haha! Suck it, losers! The girlfriend with the vagina wins again! Dibs on the top bunk if we end up living together in geezerdom, too!

Anyway, this is just one of my work it out, life is what you make of it, entries, more musing aloud than anything else. But it was sparked by information my kids shared with me last night, which is this, and I quote: “Dalton McGuinty is giving us, like, $1,500 each!”

I mean, wtf? How is it that a solid political citizen like Dalton McGuinty only gets a major minority, as he so cleverly phrased it on election night, and yet is giving back to each of my three children $1,500 in tuition fees, a much needed much appreciated very significant tax cut of a certain type to middle class parent investors in the educations of the next generation of Canadian citizens – me – while a psycho asshole like Stephen Harper, a guy who clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about middle class me gets a majority from pretty much the same electorate?

I’m not a REAL political analyst, but I think it might help if we middle class people got our collective House in order before wasting much more time trying to plan out our individual futures. We’re really not making a whole lot of voting sense these days in all the ways that will matter down the road.

 

Study on Office Life

Some asshole conducted a study to find out how much our lives are shortened by sitting in offices working in front of computers all day.

Seriously. Asshole much, asshole?

Should we really be paying for this kind of information? I mean, what the fuck are we supposed to do? Stop working so we’ll live longer? Live longer on what? Garbage thrown at us by people who have jobs?

“Thank you, milady and milord, you are too generous. I shall take these banana peels home and make poverty pie for me suppah.”

And what percentage of the workforce that spends the day sitting in an office working in front of a computer all day before going home to sit some more in front of a different computer wants to live longer, anyways?

The only people who want to live longer are (is?) the 1% – because they don’t sit in offices working in front of computers all day – they have us to do it for them. Fuckers. It’s not enough that they live off all of us sitting in offices working in front of computers all day, they get to live longer doing it.

So yeah, I want those fuckers taxed right up to their greedy life sucking eyeballs.

 

Shorter Abortion Debate

Read no further, Sooey Says reader(s), if you think girls and women should not have access to legal abortion services, or if you know that they should, privately, but want to pretend, publicly, that they shouldn’t.

This post isn’t for you.

It isn’t enough, in my shrill and strident Feminist beeyatch opinion, for male dominated governments to claim they won’t introduce restrictive abortion laws. Girls and women aren’t living in a democracy if they can be made to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, or constantly threatened by their governments that they can be made to, and that’s it and that’s all.

As long as we can be made pregnant, whether by accident or deliberately – by men – we must also have the legal right to terminate pregnancy – guaranteed by our federal government and that guarantee imposed on any weasly provincial governments that try to get out from under. It’s a very basic right, however much some people may dislike it, that abortion services are safe, legal and accessible to girls and women all across Canada.

By the way, Canada includes Attawapiskat. Because I notice no one, least of national Aboriginal leaders, who all seem to be male, mentioning the fact that, in the middle of this ongoing crisis of poverty and neglect on Aboriginal reserves, Aboriginal girls – girls – are leading the country in human production.

As a Feminist, I’d be interested to know if that’s by choice, or lack thereof. Harsh, I know, but Feminism ain’t for sissies.

And I’m tired of spineless male politicians whining about how they’re opposed – personally – to abortion, blaming us shrill and strident Feminist beeyatches who just won’t shut up about it, so it’s gots to be legal or else.

It has to be legal or half of our citizens aren’t living in a democracy, ya bunch o’ numbnuts. Don’t make me shrivel your balls right off, ya hear?

You can’t make a basic human right illegal, so stop pretending you can and man up to reality.

 

Stephen Harper – Sooey Says Starts a New Meme

I’m starting a new meme with regard to Stephen Harper and it is this: He is spectacularly incompetent at basic governance. So spectacularly incompetent that Canadians, who actually got it together at one time as a country to force each other to save our pennies for a rainy day (we have an Employment Insurance Act, after all), are not receiving their duly paid into employment insurance cheques.

Which makes the Government of Canada look suspiciously like a private insurance company that doesn’t pay out on its claims because it’s slippery and underhanded and always looking for a way to profit from consumers.

Except that, we’re not consumers when we deal with our government, our duly-elected government, we’re citizens. And I don’t recall any talk on the campaign trail of ripping us off in our time of need.

Temporary snag? Well, there’s no postal strike. So what’s the excuse? It’s not like Stephen Harper himself isn’t behind the high level of unemployment in Canada these days. His government knowingly implemented cuts across the public service, during a recession, including axing the public servants who provide evidence based research on which government policy is made.

Which means that any public servants left working in a department that depends on evidence based research for its reason to be might be better put to use processing employment cheques for the people who used to provide it, than staring at their computer screens all day.

Meanwhile, quite as if all this wasn’t in the cards because that’s how he seems to have planned out his mandate, he blew the country’s fortune on photo ops and buying no return big ticket items from hither and yon. Then he, step by partisan policy step (all policy is made in his office by creepy weird lickspittles) alienated potential markets for our one crazily expensive (in both the short AND long term) to develop natural resource – the tarsands.

So, as Jim Flaherty is increasingly covered in flopsweat every time he prepares to tell another whopper about the perfect shitstorm his boss, Stephen Harper, has created for Canadians, John Baird takes the reins on a tour designed to prepare us for world war. And yes, even while Israelis themselves, the sane ones anyway, are questioning the direction their country has taken of late on all matters Israel, the world war will be over Israel.

Because, although timing is everything to most governments, timing seems to be irrelevant to Stephen Harper – who IS this government. That’s why I think it’s time he was exposed as spectacularly incompetent, as opposed to having a secret agenda. There is no secret agenda. What we are seeing is what we are getting – spectacularly incompetent governance.

Update: Apparently, there are over 360,000 Canadians, once hardworking taxpayers, waiting for their legally mandate employment insurance claims to be processed, and Stephen Harper is lecturing the rest of the world about fiscal management.

I mean, really, who started the rumour that his guy is some sort of evil genius? Stephen Harper? Because for a guy who reportedly doesn’t like to travel (although I doubt even Trudeau was in keener pursuit of photo ops abroad) he sure does seem to like to shit in his own nest.

It’s our money, not his, that we’re allowing him to squander. And employment insurance was our money for a rainy day. This isn’t even a rainy day yet and we already can’t access it. At what point is Stephen Harper no longer fit to be Prime Minister of this country? When people who used to have jobs and homes and savings no longer do because the Prime Minister is more interested in playing “Boys’ Own Adventures” than governing?

I’m not a REAL anarchist, honestly, I’m not. But the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. And now is not the time to be squeamish. We want a government to raise us up, not put us down. To put it in the Canadian economic terms we can all understand, even Stephen Harper groupies, living in a house beside a tent full of shivering hungry paupers, is not going to raise property values.