Monday, July 21, 2008

Lost And Found

Hey all, or those of you who still check for a pulse from this space. It's with some contempt (for self) and obligation (to self) that I get re-established in this franchise. It's like leaving someone or something good for no good reason other than cowardice and then being too afraid to look behind at what's left.

Eventually enough time goes by or enough things happen that you just want to tell someone or anyone that will give you enough time and listen. I've been to lots of places that must be cobble stones to the doorstep of Hell but then again I was never that good at following the beaten path so I didn't manage to dance with El Diablo and I'm still waiting to see what tricks the Magic Man has up his sleeves before I slip off those shoes.

Having the load of life/shit that was dumped on and swam in by yours truly at the beginning of the year sure made it hard to see clearly what was in front of me. Surviving was living and that kinda living makes waving the white flag an appealing option. When you're tired of it all, enough so that you pretty much fall asleep at your boss' desk as he's dressing you down, it seems the way to go. Problem is though, when there's that much of __it flowing, there ain't much that stays clean and I needed something to wipe the windshield so flag option was out.

Everything seemed far away and the only things that seemed close weren't friends, relatives or hope. It was during those times when I understood how people who chose not to stay the course could fall prey to the grips of the drugs and drinks. Fortunately I'm Chinese and I have an inborn allergy to some (all) alcoholic products so that option was automatically ruled out for me. As for the other option, I've seen enough of what little substance is left after the substances have passed their course that I left that sleeping dog lie.

I wanted someone to reach out to me and pick me up to tell me things would be ok and know it to be true. I needed something tangible in front of me, something I could count on every time when I wanted it. I was needy. I was selfish. As such, I was left with arms wide open, clutching at anything and everything forgetting to raise the proverbial umbrella only to drown a little further when I lifted my head to curse into the downpour. I've never been one to not "be there" and the times when I needed a fraction returned I grew accustomed to disappointment to the point when surprise greeted a connected call.

Left wanting, I sought the company of quantity as clearly quality was something I found to be beyond me. Who and what I needed wasn't there or just not able to help. Misery shackles you with interesting bed fellows both figuratively and literally and the final disconnect between the physical and the emotion/factu/actu/sexu/spiritu/al had me a step away from being the furthest from who and I what I considered to be "me" I'd ever been. When it gets to the point where the things you love doing and experiencing don't matter, there's something seriously wrong.

As previously mentioned, somewhere between here and Hell I got lost. I can't really remember where it was that happened, I can only say that it did. It started with wanting to get back to writing in an act of re-connecting, but with what I wasn't too sure of at the time so I didn't. The thought was there so I let that count for something. Fools credit, but I had to get it from somewhere.

As it should be for everyone out there, but unfortunately isn't always the case, my redemption started with my family. I've gone on about them before and how much they mean to me and how great they are both individually and even more so as a whole. In their own ways they sunk a few hooks in, here and there, and carried about their unusual awesomeness. Eventually the tides began to recede and I was held far enough out of the undertow to get a foot hold.

We're not always a touchy, feely bunch but we know how to get it done when we need to. I guess if there's ever a group of people you don't want to give up on you, it'd be anyone in my family. Yes, I know there's a certain degree of personal bias there but trust me it only takes us once and we'll have you signed up. Yeah, there are times when we want to kill each other and we each think the others are useless twits but when the time comes we know where to turn.

There's a lot that's happened since my feet were planted again and I look forward to processing much of what has transpired. Hopefully there's still an audience to read about it when those times come.

So if you see any of these faces looking at you and you're wondering what the hell it is we're looking at, we're probably laughing at something but ready for anything.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Say Hi To My New Lady

Hi folks, been away again for a much needed mental and spiritual break by the Gulf of Mexico down in Florida but am back now. So here we are, and I have opened my heart to a new leading lady. As it was with Jade I'm in need of help for a name for her... Any and all help is appreciated.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Luck In A New Year?

So As the Chinese New Year nears for some of you and is already upon the others, I rejoin the ranks of the blogging. I'm hoping that this new year of my ancestral heritage brings about a complete reversal of fortunes brought in with the new year of my adopted heritage. Let's think of it as a do over, the release of version 2.0 to make us forget that V1 ever happened.

As some of you may have or may not have noticed, I've been absent from this and all of your pages for some time. In the past, I've just been plum lazy or have been on trips where I've met up with some of you, and this time, I dearly wish that it could have been for one of those reasons... There's been bad luck and then there's been the type of shit show that's been my life for the last month. If it weren't for a trip to NY to visit with Eve and S'Mat I think I may have punched a ticket to be Britney's suitemate in Beverly Hills' Loonie Lodge.

This is by no means a sympathy plea, more so a tainted blood letting... It started about a month ago with a very nasty rumor going around my work place that I was one of the people that had for lack of better terms been falsely submitting statistics to boost my performance numbers. Now I know I had done nothing wrong, but it sucked having people from different shifts talking behind my back and hearing all the crazy versions of the stories being circulated when people were respectful enough to talk to me face to face about it. It was always fun for me to go into work, but now I was beginning to dread it. That episode came to a head when one of the top bosses came in and addressed my unit and said jobs were on the line if the investigation into the matter turned anything up... Great. A big scare tactic to motivate the troops...

That had been nagging me for a while so a road trip to New York seemed to be the perfect solution. It was fantastic and I'll write about it later. Upon my return, it got worse, much worse. The very first day of the new work week saw an innocent man shot and killed by rival gun-toting ass clowns who fired at each other with no regard for the lives around them, including that of their victim, Mr. Mao. I was the first to arrive on scene and had the very sad experience of having him take his last breath in my hands. Let me just say that it isn't anything like what you see on T.V. or film. There were also a pile of things that went wrong afterwards that drew a lot of criticism for those of us that were involved... It was the second innocent murder victim in less than a week for the city and this one stung. Mr. Mao was stacking oranges at a fruit stand and was working that evening as a favor to his boss as he had quit his post a few days previous...

So after a 17 hour work day and a short sleep, I was not exactly in the mood or frame of mind to get back to the job. I guess fate was reading my mind and took care of that for me. Let this be a lesson to you all to never help your mothers... My mother had returned home with bags of salt for the water treatment system in the house. The filter is in the furnace room of the house and as I brought one of the bags down, I noticed that it had sprung a leak at the bottom. I decided that it would be best to hoist it up to the opening of the system and just let the salt out from the cut in the bag. I hoisted it up but I didn't notice the pane of broken stained glass leaning to the immediate side of the system. I noticed it as I let the bag down. I think my exact words were, "OOOH, wow, big cut, big cut. That's no good!!!". A little bit of a bloody mess here, a trip to the hospital and three stitches there and voila, a day off work. Just what I did and didn't need to deal with the previous day's events. Just when that day couldn't get worse, my mother dropped my camera and thankfully only managed to break a lens filter. Though not the actual lens, it's now $60 I don't have.

The next few days saw some of the fall out from the homicide still sifting through the air, choking a few collars tight and fraying collective nerves altogether. As that settled we were all devastated with the news that one of our workmates had taken his own life over the weekend. There is never a good time to receive news like that, but this really stung. He was always such a pleasant person and you could always count on him to have a smile on his face and to try and put one on yours. "Hi handsome" was the trademark greeting and it's not easy turning corners in the building and not hearing that anymore. The viewing and funeral came at the end of the week and that was not an easy time either. The support in numbers that showed up for the funeral speaks to the impression he made but also to the true sense of family that comes in my line of work.

I'd love to say that was the end of it, but alas... We've recently been made to wear name tags on our clothing to make us more accessible and approachable or something like that... One night before our meeting, my partner and I switched our tags, but that move went un-noticed and we failed to get the laugh we'd set out for. We forgot about it and went about the night. At the end of the shift, another supervisor at the station noticed and got right upset about it all and threw a tizzy. He gave us shit and said he was doing us a favor by addressing the matter. So much of a favor that he had us write letters to the top boss explaining our actions... Seriously of all the things to get mad at... Having that fresh on my plate, I then proceeded to go home just to get into an accident 8 houses away from my front door... My beautiful baby isn't so beautiful right now, but she must have movie star blood in her because a little cosmetic work and she'll be back at it in short order.

To wrap it all off, a close relative on my father's side succumbed to his batter with cancer this past week and we had the funeral for him yesterday. It's never easy even with the knowledge of his illness in our back pockets going into it. So that in a conch shell has been the state of affairs that constitute my life for the past few weeks.

Now I know a lot of people in my position would have taken a dive off a spring board into an empty pool by now, but somehow I'm still plodding ahead with my head up. I don't why or how I've managed to keep at it, but I'm thankful that I have. I smiled today and I actually stopped to enjoy the moment. I was walking along in a near blinding snow storm on my way to my grandparents when it happened. I was listening to "Welcome To The Black Parade" while the wall of white enveloped me. I stopped and just let it all hit me. The song changed to a Metallica cover of "Whiskey In The Jar" and it might as well have been "Ride The Lightning" as I was stunned by a wave of blue. I thought it was a powerful camera flash, but the accompanying clap of thunder sounded otherwise... A winter thunder snow storm. I loves me a good snow fall and thunder storms are funtastic in general so having both at once was cause for a small celebration.

Hey, baby steps still get you to where you're going.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bad Day

I know that I've been A.W.O.L. again but there's been a lot come up in my life, none of which has been good, so I'll be back someday... In the mean time, take a moment and enjoy this on me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I'll Play You For It

Christmas is a time for all of us to enjoy friends and family, to put aside everything that is going on in our busy lives to busy ourselves with festivity and generosity. This isn't some half baked fluffy statement, it's something I believe so stuff anyone out there who thinks it's a load, you're free to eat a load. Now that was in the spirit of the season now wasn't it?

I avoided the shopping malls for the most part because I can't stand to see the ugly side of Christmas. I don't mean the commercialization of it, but the frayed nerves, short tempers, snotty shoppers and the parking lot buzzards. To me it's all about the family, spreading good will and embracing a little peace among man. Don't get me wrong peace with women is great too.

Given all the shittiness out there, it warmed the old lump of coal in the chest to read about a story from the battle front in France during the first world war. The English and German soldiers were at a deadlock in ground battle on Christmas Eve when they decided to put their weapons down for one day. They came out of the foxholes and embraced each other as brothers, not in arms, but humanity. They played a game of soccer, sang carols, shared meal and drink and posed for pictures. Never mind the fact that once Christmas was over, the recommenced blowing the shit out of each other... The spirit of the story remains.

That story stuck with me and the other night, my partner and I went about making peace with a few of our regular customers. We had been on a detail at the local residence for society's miscreants when we came about a large spread of Christmas turkey with some of the traditional fixings. We were offered a meal and who were we to turn down a turkey dinner? After finishing up, we asked if we could take some turkey back for some of the other guys, with the intention of actually distributing it out on the streets. The guardsmen said to fill our plates since all of the extra was just going to find its way into the bins.

So with 2 plates with about 8 pounds of turkey, another plateful of fruit cake and a cup of apple sauce, we were off. What a sight I must have been, piles of turkey on one side, fruit cake in my lap, and a bag of contraband on the other side riding along trying not to mess myself up. Our first encounter was with one of our local street ladies. She didn't seem to be high on anything so we stopped and waved her over. She had a smile on her face as she skipped over to the car. They know the routine when we stop and talk so she made nice. We asked her how she was and she said she was fine. We then asked her if she'd eaten lately and she told us that she hadn't and was starving. We figured she might like a plate of turkey and asked her if she'd like one. I couldn't blame her for not really believing us but when she saw we were serious she was over the moon. So off she went with the biggest smile on her face and off we went to find our next unsuspecting target.

We stopped off at the 7-11 and immediately saw the perfect candidate for the fruit cake. He was kinda squirrelly looking and had a full length, cruddy grey down coat on. He didn't seem like he was giving the clerks a hard time so when he came out, we talked to him. He said to me, "Hey you've got to help me". I asked him with what and he explained that he needed to find a shelter for the night. I asked him if he was hungry and if he'd eaten lately. He told me that he hadn't. I asked him if he'd want a big plate of fruit cake and he emphatically said, "OH YEAH!" Now this plate must have weighed 2 or 3 pounds and I didn't feel like carrying any of it with me so I gave him the whole thing. This is how the rest of the conversation went:

"WHOA Thanks man!!! But you've still got to help me find a shelter."

"Sorry, I can't do that right now, I've got to take care of this."
*holds up bag of aforementioned goodies*

"Can't you go to Seaton House for the night?"

"Nope, they don't like me there, I've got a bowel problem and they say I stink up the place."

"Whoa, you've got a bowel problem and you're going to eat that whole plate of fruit cake?!?! Dude you're going to shit yourself!"

"Uh... Yup, probably. Heh heh."

"Umm ok man, just make sure you get your pants down first when that happens."

"Ok thanks guys."

After giving a couple of slices of turkey to the folks at the front desk, we still had a 4 pound plate of turkey still to give out so off we went. We scoured the streets and found our last (un)lucky mumbly (affectionate slang for street folks). We spotted him in a coffee shop as he was just sitting down to a fresh cup. I pointed at him from the other side of the glass and motioned for him to come over to the car. He was uncertain at first but when I pointed him out again, he came out. The "normal" looking customers in the shop started to look at me like I was some sort of asshole on a power trip for abusing this guy.

He came out and came up to the car. The same routine came about where I asked him how he was and if he'd had a good Christmas so far and if he'd eaten his Christmas dinner yet. He replied that he was ok, but he hadn't eaten any dinner for days now and was starved. *Perfect* I asked him if he'd want a 4 pound plate of turkey to fix that problem. His answer was predictable and this was the exchange as it happened:

"Sure I would, but you're kidding right?"

"Nope. I'm serious, I've got a 4 pound plate of turkey for you, but you'll have to play me in Rock, Paper Scissors for it. Best 2 out of 3. You win and you get a 4 pound plate of turkey."

"Oh, I don't really know how to play that though."

*blink blink*
"What do you mean you don't know how to play!?!?! Everyone knows how to play R.P.S.!"

"My kids know how to play, but I'm not very good, I lose all the time."

Now I'm getting pretty animated with my hands and the people inside the coffee shop I'm a complete asshole for looking like I'm yelling at him.

"Well, ok, just try and see how you do."


Round 1: Me, Rock - Him, Scissors. "Aww damn..." "Hey don't walk away it's 2 out of 3."

Round 2: Me, Scissors - Him, Scissors. *I think I know why he loses all the time...*

*pedestrian walking by is utterly confused with what he sees and hears going on before him*

Round 3: Me, Paper - Him, Scissors. "All right!"

Round 4: Me, Paper - Him, Scissors. " Woo Hoo! Where's that plate?" "Here you go buddy." "Thanks man!"

As we drove off, I could see him walking back into the coffee shop and the other customers asking him what I'd been harassing him about and then he smiled and pointed at his mound of food and said, "IT'S TURKEY!!!"

Gobble gobble everybody. Hope your Christmas and other holidays were enjoyable and if you made it to the end of this post, good for you, you get a big star beside your name in my books.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oh No You Didn't...

Me, aka: Jim, J, Jamie

Sister, aka: Ali, Nos, Alison, Snos, Snosage

Brother, aka: Jeff, Yerf, Jeffery, Beefy, Boom Boom, Beefy Boom Boom Buffet

Mom, aka: Moo, Amber

Step-Dad, aka: Joseph

* * * * *

Me: Man that thing is huge!

Sister: You mean as big as *points at Jeff's ass*

Me: Ha ha ha ha ha, yeah, well, maybe not.

Jeff: Shut up, I know you two are talking about me. My ass isn't that big.

Sister: Yes it is.

All: Ha ha ha.

* * * * *

Me: So how are we supposed to cook these things, just put a little oil on the pan and go from there?

Mom: Yeah, oh well, I guess just trial and error.

Me: Hmmm, Mike is coming over to watch the Leaf game, can I feed him the first one?

Mom: Ummm, sure *big smile*

* * * * *

Step Dad: AH!!! The Cowboys and Packers are playing on Thursday!

Me: Yeah? What's the problem?

Step Dad: I'm going to have to miss it.

Me: Why, what else would you be doing at that time?

Step Dad: I promised some friends that I would go watch their son's concert or something like that.

Me: Is there anyway you can get out of it?

Step Dad: I don't know maybe I could tell them I broke my leg or something, I really don't want to go but they came to our event, but really bah.

* * * * *

Me: How do you like this new shirt?

Brother: Quite frankly, I just don't give a fuck. *turns and walks away laughing*

* * * * *

Family: *eating lunch*

Mom: *way out of left field* BRITNEY SPEARS IS ADOPTING CHILDREN!!!

Sister: WHAT?!?! Where do you get your info?

Mom: 680 News

* * * * *

Sister: Oh Suri's really cute...

Me: Yeah, she is, who is that one there?

Sister: That's Shiloh, Brad and Angelina's kid.

Me: Ah, (next page) who is that one, she's cute too.

Sister: That's Shiloh too, of course she's cute, she's got Angelina and Brad as parents.

Mom: Let me see, oh, she's not cute at all, she's got such a big forehead!

Sister: Yeah, well look at Jeff.

Mom: Well, Jeff's a good looking boy.... Now.

Me and sis: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

* * * * *

Mom: Ali, do you want a cupcake?

Sister: Ok

Mom: Do you want one?

Me: No, it's ok, Boom Boom can have one when he gets home.

Mom: No! Boom Boom isn't allowed to eat it!

Sister: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Mom: What are you laughing at? I don't even know who Boom Boom is...

Me and Sister: LIAR!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Well there are certainly times of the year when we have to take pause and reflect on some of the other things going on in the world other than what we see and take at face value to be normal. Case in point, I just turned 28 yet I was again told by one of my co-workers that even though I looked like I could be in college, that it wasn't ok to go about dating college girls and in addition to that, I acted like I was 6 years old... To those who know me, they could very well agree that I don't always act my age and that the world is a little sugar coated place in my childish eyes.

Now I am not about to disagree whole heartedly with what some of those folks are saying, because c'mon... I am a bit of an asshat at times, and I know that I ought to act a bit more my age as the number associated with that word increases, but perhaps there is something to acting a younger age or at least seeing the world non-judgingly as kids do; no difference to colour, taking a person's word and intentions to be honest and seeing the good in people no matter their appearance.

At work, I run into all types who leave lasting impressions on me: the drunken club girls who shamelessly and in some cases bralessly and pantylessly advance on the uniform, the "emotionally disturbed" who also sometimes offer themselves, but that's a vomit inducing story for another time, the self righteous arse plugs who believe they're entitled to everything and find every single thing wrong with us until they need us, the crack heads / hos who sprinkle our streets with their own brand of delightfulness. Then there are those who look the part of someone who, if not for downward gazes at the ends of our noses, we'd never pay attention to.

You know the type, they occupy the spaces outside shops, drug stores and banks. We often don't bother with any sort of interaction asides from dropping change into a cup or saying sorry, most times not even that and walking on. Now granted most of these types are as useful as the grease on a burnt out pan, but like Asian drivers, if you look long and hard enough, you'll find the odd good one among the lot. If you take some more time to listen you may even find out that they have a story and sometimes it's a story that can change you or at least the way you look at things.

Andrew is one of our locals, we have a run of the mill exchange that goes on between us whenever we stop and talk to him. The routine goes as such, we take his name and tell him to move on, and sometimes he gets a citation or two for his efforts. Unlike some of the others we deal with, he goes about it with us all the time with a genuine smile and he holds no malice towards us at all. After each encounter, it's a "have a good day sir" and a "take care of yourself Andrew" and off all of us go about our ways.

We're all "busy" to a degree with our lives and the rigors of the work day, to the point where as soon as we are done with one thing, we move right on to the next without any pause. So caught up are we that we pass things by more so than the world passes us by. One day some point back, I picked up the habit of asking some of these folks where they were spending the night or how things were on the streets just as a manner of making conversation on some level other than a "professional" one. It was after doing that with him that I got to hear Andrew's story.

He's a survivor and he's had one fight after another on his hands for as long as he can remember. He'd worked odd and end jobs here and there and hadn't been afforded a stable family or surroundings as he grew up. Along the way, he had his episodes with drugs and less amicable relations with my employment agency. He'd also contracted Hep C along with H.I.V. to tie it all together with a fancy pink ribbon. I found most of this out one day when I just put everything aside and just sat and talked with him for a while.

It was amazing to me to hear from him that he wasn't angry at anyone or anything in the world. He had made his peace with everything and I was at a mild loss as to how it was all possible. He went on to explain that he was told a few years ago that he'd be dead by a couple of years ago and yet here he was still alive. He went on to tell me that he'd also beaten Hep C and that the doctors were at complete loss as to explain how it was no longer even in his system and not registering on his blood tests. As he figured, he was on borrowed time and was going to do the best with what he had after all, he was a dead man walking.

He keeps himself going by selling the odd news paper and by the generosity of passers by who drop off food to him. He realizes that he's not going to be working in a bank anytime soon, but as he says each time, he's doing the best he can. The last time I saw him the other day, I asked him where he was staying as old man winter had decided to pay an earlier visit to town and the weather wasn't exactly conducive to comfortable outdoor living. I was more than a little shocked when he told me that he had a place of his own and even showed me the key to his apartment.

He went on to explain that he saved enough money throughout the course of the summer to put down $600 to secure a place. He'd gone to one of the local community centres and had, through a worker, set up a place where he could leave whatever money he made throughout the day without any worry about losing or being robbed of his money. It was nice to see the pride he had on his face and the genuine smile he had when he told me about it. I kinda got the feeling that he'd been waiting for some time to pull out that key and show it off to one of us and I really hope the look and happiness I had on my face for him was what he had in mind.

Early happy holiday wishes everybody.