Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Road rage and other such nonsense

The other night I had the good fortune to sit down in front of the television which was tuned to "Canada's Worst Driver."  I watched with utter horror as five people were asked to pull into four spaces in a parking lot, with the last person out losing the challenge.

The most appalling were two of the drivers, one who asked her friend to get out of the car and save a parking space by standing in it, and another man who just pulled into the parking space from the other side while another driver was trying to park.

Now, having been a part of not one, but two collisions in the past year (hello terrible insurance rates) I can't claim to be among the highest caliber of drivers, but I've learned from my mistakes and am now a lot more careful.  I think good driving is something that is learned and continually practiced. 

What I'd like to blog about is courteous driving, which I think is a fundamental element in what makes a good driver.

Here are 5 things I've seen recently on the road that do not qualify any of the drivers in this incident for the courteousness award.

1. You know those signs that precede passing lanes that say "Keep right except to pass"? Well, in this particular passing lane, which I entered with the intention of passing the slower car in front of me, there was a sign with this message at the beginning and the middle of the passing lane. Yet this ridiculous driver insisted on tootling along in the left lane, so I drove into her blind spot, just praying that she wouldn't suddenly have an epiphany and change lanes, and I passed her on the right, glared at her and wondered if she was driving in that lane because she didn't know left from right, or if she just preferred the smoother ride of the lesser used lane. When she looked at my car in surprise I realized she just didn't know I was there. Mirrors are on the car for a reason honey, use them.

2. Tailgaters... If I'm going 110 km per hour on the highway, and you are also going 110 about 2 seconds behind me and a large buck runs out on the road, is it then my responsibility to hit the deer, let the antlers puncture my windsheild and possibly parts of me so that you don't hit me from behind? The physics are simple. You can't go from 100 to 0 in 2 seconds unless you hit something stationary.  We all have places to go and things to do. Giving people space on the road is not only courteous, it's just plain safe.

3. Letting someone in... I run into this frequently in the city, where I might let someone whose lane is ending into the line of traffic and get people honking at me, or them.  I never know which.  But seriously people, if YOU were the "stupid" person who had the choice of merging into traffic or driving into the median or wall beside you, wouldn't you appeal to the mercy of other drivers?  Well, apparently people in rush hour are too busy waiting in line to care about other people.  If you were walking down a narrowing sidewalk would you push someone into the wall or out onto the street rather than walking single file? I don't think so.

4. Parking... Ever pull into a parking lot and see a vehicle parked over two parking spaces? Or how about someone who has parked so haphazardly that if you do happen to park beside them, walking away on the same side as your door is going to prove difficult? Oh and my favorite, how about the people who park so close to your car that you must suck in and squash your appendages, holding your hand between their car and your door, just so you can get in and drive away?  I think more time should be spent on parking in drivers ed. I also think people who park in the above listed ways should be shown no mercy and ticketed. 

 5. Not acknowledging other's kindness.... Ever let someone in and have them not raise their hand or nod a thank-you? Ever motion for someone to walk or drive ahead while you're stopped or in a parking spot and have them drive on? Ever pull over to help someone on the side of the road without a word of thanks?  I think this is one of the key reasons why people just cut us off, don't let us into their lane, steal our parking spaces and generally just ignore our genuine needs on the road... because they don't expect other people to act kindly or courteously toward them.

Just a little food for thought.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just doing my job? What journalism profs don't tell you.

Well, as a result of a little too much Stampede-ing last night I ended up being late for work.  However, platinum seats for the Chuckwagons and Grandstand Show were worth it.  Thankfully people in my office know that I will make up the hours when our other reporter goes on vacation. 

I walked in this morning thinking it was going to be a great day. I had a photo session booked with a restaurant owner whom I'd interviewed Friday.  The restaurant is under new management and the menu has completely changed (the story) and as I was doing the interview, I was getting hungry.  The food is reasonably priced and sounds AMAZING.  I came away from the interview feeling good about it.

Apparently the manager/owner did not feel good about it.  I walked into work today to find that the story has been wrenched from my fingers with the explanation that the owners were a little uncomfortable with a question that had been asked, and the fact that I didn't want them to read my story before we published it.

The question I asked? "How do the previous owners feel about the changes?" The answer was that they were happy with the shift in management and were simply moving on while the new owners took over.  The previous owners in fact were friends of the new ones and that relationship was all good. No controversy there.  Fabulous. I thought I made it clear that I understood, but do recall that the interviewee was a little defensive.  I explained myself completely however.

Then came the request to read my story before it had been published.  As far as I knew, we do not do this. Period.  I explained that I would call if I was unsure of anything and that I'd even read quotes back to check for accuracy.  Then I learned that the competing newspaper reporter in town let them read his story before publication.*  I was appalled but maintained what I thought was my "journalistic integrity."  When the interview ended, I again assured the owner that I wanted to write a positive story and that I'd for sure be back to the restaurant for a meal. We agreed to meet sometime today for a photo with her partner.

Fast forward to today.  I mentioned to my co-worker that I was going to finish the story today, and he hastily said we needed to chat about this.   He explained that he'd chatted with the owners who said they were uncomfortable with the interview, mainly because I'd asked about the previous owners and because I wouldn't send them a copy of my story for their perusal before publication.  I was also informed that they already felt uncomfortable with my editor/publisher because of a previous incident involving a letter to the editor that got edited. As it was put to me, I "ignited some discomfort that was already there" by asking a question. Oh, and you know that thing we never do?  Apparently, with community stories, we do let people read before publication. Also we don't typically ask "controversial" questions.

WHAT? Where was the lesson in our journalism classes about never letting people read your story before publication except when you do?  Also, where is the section in the handbook about questions you don't ask?  

I don't fault the system, the professors of ethics courses, or the people who write journalism handbooks.  I can't fault myself either for asking a question I thought readers might like to know.  For the record, I was going to phone the previous owners of the restaurant as well, because I wanted more than one source for my story.

I feel bad on a personal level that an interviewee was made to feel uncomfortable.

I also feel bad that my co-worker has to smooth things over and explain to them that... "She's new to this sort of thing, and doesn't realize that we actually throw journalistic integrity out the window and let people read our stories before they're published. Oh and that we don't ask questions that might possibly have a negative answer." 

I feel like a bumbling fool.  I also feel like I'm right. I'm not sorry for at least attempting to do my job.

As G.K. Chesterton once said, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly." Meaning: If we wait till we're perfect, we'll never get anything done.
 

*as for that other reporter and competing newspaper, keep an eye out for another blog post.

Friday, July 10, 2009

At a snail's pace

One thing I've learned on my internship this summer is that slow days are to be dreaded.
Currently, I'm sitting at my desk having already pursued every lead for several stories that I can think of.  I've even looked through past papers to see if I can further milk another story by creatively thinking up a new angle. 

I start to sort through paper, gathering the ones that are blank on one side to staple them together to make notebooks.  Though right now, with nobody to interview and no one calling me back, these recycled notebooks are not all that useful.  

I resist the urge to check facebook yet again because I know nothing new or interesting will have happened in the last minute.  Then again perhaps someone has taken a "Which piece of stinky sports equipment are you?" quiz.

I consider having a nap, but realize that with no door on my shared office, this could be a hazardous decision.  I've attempted to hide behind my computer screen, head in hands and eyes closed, but all I ended up with were two red marks on either side of my chin where my hands had been.

I want to be productive. I don't want to just sit here wasting company time, staring at the phone, stapling paper together and hoping someone will call me. 

My saving grace is that at 10:30 a.m. the Catholic Women's League has asked me to come and take a picture of them presenting a cheque to the food bank.  Now I'm pondering how to take the classic "cheque presentation" picture from a new and creative angle.  How do I make it less posed? Less boring?  We have maybe eight cheque presentations from some group to another per month, and all the pictures are the same. Boring, boring, boring. 

22 minutes till I have to be there.  It takes about one and a half minutes to get there, making it about 20 minutes till I need to walk out the door.

I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather be weeding my garden (which I really detest doing) or having my teeth cleaned (not big on the dentist) than sit here for an agonizing day of time-killing and doing the "trying-to-stay-awake" head-bob. 

Thinking my iPod might be my salvation, I take it out, slip the earbuds in and realize that the battery is almost dead.  Shuffle seems to be mocking me because "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles (probably their most depressing song) has started to play.

And with that, the iPod has died... fabulous.  

Now, not only do I have song lyrics about a man blowing his brains out in my head, I have no sweet relief from the "at work" radio station that the person in the next office insists is "good most of the time!"  I'm sorry, but any station that consistently plays dated Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion and Wham songs is just not "good most of the time."

It occurs to me that I should ensure there is a memory card and fully charged battery in my camera before I leave.

If I've bored you to tears with this blog post, well... I just hope you didn't get this far.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Two point one children.

I had a semi-revolutionary thought the other day, and I just thought I'd briefly share:

We're all familiar with the image of the average family - a mom, a dad, and two adorable children. 

Granted, this image of "average" is changing drastically over time with the increasing blending of families as a result of divorce and remarriage, single parents, families with same-sex parents and Jon minus Kate Plus 8 followers that just want a corral of cute kids to take to the zoo.

Nevertheless, one or two children seems to be what many people desire. If possible, a boy and a girl.  A co-worker said to me a few weeks ago after trying to organize which parent would take who to soccer practice, "Don't have three... two is enough."

Two is definitely enough when prize packages to Disneyland or any destination are for "a family of four."  I felt this discrimination when I was 8, and my brother and I had a new little sister, ruling us out for this "family of four" prize. 

I heard on the radio the other day about how it's "time to ship the kids off to camp for a week, and take that much-needed break."

These and a few other occurrences got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, the problem with having more than two kids, and the idea of the "much needed break" for parents is that people don't like kids.

Think about it. Why is it that sit-coms no longer carry that essential "cute child" like Rudy and later Olivia on the Cosby Show, or the Olsen twins on Full House?   Why is it that there is a decrease in the yearly averages of people having children?  Why is it that a mother who has had four or five children is chastised and frequently told she is crazy, insane, or "must be very organized."

We talk about the overpopulation of the world being a problem, but in my humble opinion, this is a total farce.  You can parade starving children in Africa before my eyes, but their starvation doesn't have to do with overpopulation of the earth. It has more to do with allocation of resources.  Show me a starving child in Africa and I'll show you five overweight North American children.  

I heard someone say that it would be "selfish to bring children into our increasingly demoralized society."  To me, that's just a front for "I don't like kids."  
This is not to say that people should be having kids left and right, just for the sake of "liking children." It is a lot of work to raise a child, but often the reason kids are bad, or act out is because their parents don't know how to do their job.

Selfishness is the root of most of these problems.  Why is two kids the ideal? Because it's all most people think they can handle while maintaining their job, their home, their "me time."  It's not about the kids at all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A lil' romance.

How can I advertise on my blog that I'm married and then not blog about it?

I was just surfing some tunes on my iPod and came across "In My Life" by The Beatles, which was the song that my husband and I choose to open our wedding dance.  It always stops me in my tracks when I hear it, and I think about how much I love my husband and being married to him.

I love being married.  I know lots of people who don't think they'll ever get married, and well, each to their own I suppose. But here's a few reasons why I think marriage is awesome.

Food: My husband and I are both self-proclaimed foodies. We like cooking and more importantly, eating.  We love hot food, sweet food, sour food, ethnic food, and comfort food.  If it looks remotely edible, he'll eat it.  I tend to hesitate a little more.
 
But more to the point, cooking together is a challenge - especially in a small kitchen, but it's also a great lesson in communication.  If you don't pay attention to where the other person is, you might get burned, or slice your finger, and if you don't chat about what you feel like eating, a little too much Tabasco might slip into the frying pan and you end up drinking a litre of milk with your meal.  We've (thankfully) never burnt one another or sliced any body parts, and we haven't yet had a bad meal together.... even if all the milk was gone after the Tabasco incident.

The other plus: if it's one person cooking, the other person does the dishes

Fun: I think my husband is an incredibly fun person.  He actually once said to me "If it's not fun, it's not worth doing."  This doesn't mean he spends his time playing games, never does housework, and life is a vacation.  He's actually taught me that anything, including weeding the garden, doing the dishes, or house cleaning is what you make it.  His philosophy is: If you believe it's going to suck, it will, so don't believe it.  

He sees the beauty in work.  This is something I'm coming to grips with myself.  Many people work all week in order to spend their weekends having fun.  My husband combines the two.  He just loves his job.  I think if everyone loved their work, the world would be a happier place.  
This is more of a lesson I've learned through being married than a reason I love being married, but I suppose lessons learned could be the reason. This was a big one.

Fighting: I know. You're thinking "What? This is something you love about marriage? Masochist." But actually, I do see incredible value in fighting.
I must put a disclaimer on this however, and say that violence and the kind of fighting I'm talking about are two vastly different concepts.

It might help that my husband and I are both fairly confrontational.  If something bothers me, I don't mince words, and neither does he.  However, then the feelings get involved... and lets not even talk about those raging hormones that peak once a month.  His sensitivity is one of the reasons I married him, but since I'm a fairly blunt person, sometimes the combination doesn't work very well, and I have always had a temper that's like a leaking gas tank... all it takes is a spark.  My close friends and family don't enjoy being the subject of my wrath.

But one thing we've acknowledged is that feelings should be expressed, and if these feelings are so intense that a raised voice need be brought forth, so be it.  Our fights are quick, sometimes loud, but they accomplish things. Two key ingredients to a good fight: we both admit when we're being unreasonable and we bite our tongues and let each other say our piece.  Our altercations have brought forth results. For example, clothes get put in the laundry basket, not on the floor beside it (my bad), whomever has cleaned the bathroom last does not have to do it again the following time and the tea-leaves do not sit in the tea pot till they grow mould (it's gross, but my bad again).

Marriage hasn't always been easy.  My suggestion for unmarried people who are seeking to be married is that if you want your life to be easy, don't get married.  Then again, don't have any friends either.  

As for me, I really hope that when I hear "In My Life" fifty years from now, I will still close my eyes and remember more good times than bad, all the great meals we cooked together, and all the lives that became a part of ours and made our memories worth having.



Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'll just say it: I don't like cats.

They're cute, cuddly, furry little creatures unique among all others.  As kittens, they lure you in with their pathetic little meows and their tiny furry limbs and sweet little faces.  Then they become cats. Cats who rub against your legs, marking you with their scent, which is actually a tiny spray of urine. Cats, who scratch your furniture, who lurk around your house at night, sometimes crawling into your bed.  Cats, who lick themselves in order to bathe, whose litter boxes smell grotesque enough to make a grown man gag, and who, if you stopped feeding them, probably would never come back, no matter how much you loved little "Fluffy" or "Snowball".

Wow. That got a little personal. 

Lets just say that I'm not an animal person. I've never had a pet that wasn't a goldfish and don't particularly understand the "love" that "animal people" experience.  I don't begrudge my animal-loving friends their petting, cuddling, animal loving time.  I used to think I resented cats because I'm allergic to them, but upon examining this little unending chagrin with the feline species, I realize that its roots extend deeper.  

I've had terrible personal experiences with cats.  Once, I was taking a walk and noticed the creepy six clawed cat that used to hang out where I lived following me.  I turned around, bent slightly and said "Hi kitty," and it jumped up and clawed my neck.  I even bled a little.   This is the same cat that used to lurk on the roof of the porch and scare people half to death by jumping down right beside them.  Cat lovers would say this cat was just a playful trickster. To this day, I think it was one of the forms of the devil incarnate.

At the moment, there is a cat with kittens camped out on my porch.  Now, the people we're house sitting for live on a farm and they don't necessarily need to feed the cat, because there are plenty of mice around for it to eat. The abundance of farm cats seen daily lurking around trees and machinery are evidence of this.  However, they've taken a liking to this particular black and white cat with a short tail, and we feel it's our duty to keep it coming back.  And of course, since it had kittens a few weeks ago, they need to eat too.  The problem? This cat, having borne it's offspring, is now in heat, attracting a few male counterparts often late in the evenings who meow at her loudly.  This is the original catcall.  Now, I lie awake at midnight... 1 a.m.... 2 am... and pray that this feline just stops playing hard-to-get and takes one of her would-be lovers up on their offer.

I firmly believe that if cats were people, they'd be the snobs of society, perhaps the aristocracy who attend private schools and consume only the best restaurant food.  Cats do not care about their owners.  They do not comfort you when you are sick, or care that you had a terrible day.  It is human beings who project their own personalities and feelings onto what is purely instinctual for cats.  That "sympathetic meow" was really "ok, so when are you going to feed/pet me?"

Now, if you have a cat, simply enjoy cats, miss your dead cat or perhaps you are that cat-lady with 29 cats, I'm not sorry that I've expressed my feelings about cats and will not apologize for my opinions.  My guess is that if you are any of the above, you knew you wouldn't like this post when you read the title.  Continuing to read was your choice. Good day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My office.

You know, I always have this fear that "people" will find my blog and use it against me. Perhaps this is what prevented me from blogging before this. I've been trying to keep this as anonymous as possible so that nobody's name is named and I'm only associated with situations purely circumstantially.

Anyway, on with the post.

I adore people watching.  Everyone is so unique, not only in looks, body language and culture, but in the way they deal with certain situations (read: anger, sadness, stress) and the way they live their lives.  I think the people in my office are interesting to observe.  Considering that this is a summer position and I'll only be with them a short time, I'll never really know them all that well, but here's a little peek into what I've observed thus far. Consider it a virtual tour.

There's C, the accountant/administrator:  She's probably over 50, is married and has a couple kids older than me.  She struck me as a "no-nonsense-tough-momma" type at first, and from what I've seen, I was right.  She also has a raspy-smokers voice, which is oddly comforting.  She calls everyone sweetie, but not in that patronizing, "I-think-you're-an-idiot-but-I'll-be-nice-to-you" way.  It just glides off her tongue like she's known you for years and you're about to sit down for apple pie.  She doesn't put up with excuses, and doesn't like hypocrites or liars.  She knows everybody in the area, so if you want the dirt on anyone, she's your go-to-lady.  
C is also my personal Google-map in human form.   This town is not adequately Google-mapped, so I rely on C. I've never gotten lost by following her directions, which is more than I can say for Google-maps sometimes.

There's J: The head-lady around here when the real head-lady K isn't around. 
J told me she loves to write, and she's good. I really admire the way she chats to people as well. Her husband says she works too much, but she actually likes her job, which I think is great. If there were more people like her in this business, I'd enjoy my job more too.
She has a human skull on her desk, which struck me as a little strange, but you've gotta take things as they come.  I asked her about it one day and she explained that it's name is "Bob".  "Bob"  has awful teeth.  J said that when she's having a bad day she looks at "Bob" and sees that it could be worse... she could be like him, no body, no skin, no brain... or worse, she could have his yellowed, crooked teeth.  She got him when she was dating a medical student 20 years ago.  The secret of "Bob's" plight was further revealed to her when she interviewed an archaeologist who said that judging by certain features, "Bob" is actually a female, probably from India. 
I think of ways she could have possibly died every time I see her, but it's rude to stare so whenever I look into the office, I try to keep my eyes on something else. 

There's A: Probably one of the most interesting people, but the person I know least about.  She's in her 30's, has a husband and two kids.  She's one of our advertising people.  We seem to have more ad people than reporters here... but I digress. One of the first things I learned about A is that she sells sex toys.  That gave me more insight into her life than I wanted, but she doesn't emanate what I imagine to be the "sex-toy-saleslady" personality, she's the person I would least suspect would sell such things and when I do hear a snippet of conversation about it, it's as if she's selling Tupperware.   Upon further reflection, this is a good thing, because nobody wants an extremely awkward sex-toy saleslady. Anyway, from what I've ascertained A sometimes has a hard time doing her job, and C hounds her a little bit to do more. The other day they had a friendly little tiff where C said something like "Well, if you weren't back there reading your book, a little more work might get done around here!"  When C said book, I imagined a romance novel with some busty blonde and a body-building beefcake on the cover. I think perhaps I have judged A a little bit and need to broaden my constructivist framework.

G:  G is the only male in this office.  Enough said.

Just kidding. He's pretty easy to get along with. Enjoys his job and was quick to give me tons of tips and contacts when I first arrived. Given that I took over his job while I'm here and he was shifted to writing for the area's seasonal newspaper for the nearby tourist destination, this was very helpful.  Oh! Did I tell you that I am in charge of filling two sports pages every week?  This isn't too difficult, but I was a little intimidated when this was assigned to me, because I'm not a sports-fan generally, but it's turned out to be great.  But back to G... J says he has a head like a chicken... and it's true, he is a bit all-over-the-place, running around and having to write, write, write at the last minute.   He's entertaining to work with because he's a great storyteller.  
C and J both say he needs a girlfriend... which is hilarious because I thought he was gay when I first met him.  Again, I think I may have judged him a little too quickly. He's got a poster of Jim Carrey's YES MAN on one wall, but some sexy trick rider girls from the Stampede on the other... what does this say about his personality? I don't know, but time will tell.

Last but not least, K, the boss.  She's the publisher of this whole thing and comes into the office two days a week.  I think she may be judged a little harshly by everyone, but if you saw one of her conniptions, you'd perhaps think she's permanently PMSing too.  She does publish two weekly papers and a women's magazine and has a family.  She's a little high strung. In fact, she's on stress-leave for a week right now.  C makes a real effort to get along with her, but she's even taken a beating.  One day, she went into a rage over the phone and everyone plotted to put all their old fruit peels and tea bags into her garbage can, stick it next to the air vent and shut her office door so that her office would smell putrid when she came in.  They didn't do it, but I thought I was having a flashback to high school during the devious planning stages.  I think just being straight with her is the best idea... and if she yells at me, I can take it. She's always been nice to me though, so perhaps I just haven't made mistakes that were terrible enough, or haven't caught her on a bad day.  

Whew... well that was lengthy, but I think the people in the workplace definitely make a difference in how enjoyable the job is.   So far, the quirks and craziness of my workplace has been interesting to say the least.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whammy.

"Whammy!" is an expression that can be heard frequently around my office.

Occasions when people will shout "Whammy!" include:
-When an article is finished
-When production is finished
-When we've scooped the other local paper (which really isn't hard to do considering they have one reporter and a 12 page paper.)
-When the coffee has finished brewing
-When someone has gone to Tim Horton's and come back with Tim-bits.
-When someone has found the pen they lost.

The list could continue.  One thing I noticed is how quickly I picked up on this phrase.  I still haven't adopted it, but I find myself thinking it when I encounter any of the above situations.  

Language is a funny thing.  There are so many expressions I use daily that I identify with certain people or places, but I've never really noticed myself adopting them till today.

Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My joy, their grief and conflicting emotions.

That twisted-knot feeling in the pit of my stomach is there again.

I just had to make a call to a family whose son recently died about a donation their making to a school sports program in memory of him.

It sounds pretty simple, and as a sensitive soul, I was able to handle it with as much respect and gracious compassion as I could muster.  They invited me to their home to chat about it, and I was taken aback.  Just like that, I was invited into someone's personal space to talk about their dead son.
Startled, I hastily suggested we meet shortly before a memorial service they're having at his school next week.  On neutral (comfortable) ground.

In the last minute and a half though, I've been asking myself, "Is it actually my own comfort I'm concerned about?" Probably.  But as a reporter, I felt I would be invading their very personal space by stepping into the home where this young man lived, played, fought with his sister and bother, laughed, cried, ate and slept.   Part of me thinks about the great story it would make, but part of me is revolted that I would even think to publicize their pain, which, in this small town, is already fairly public. 

Even I, from a different town entirely bear some small connection to this boy.  This connection, however small, gives me that spooky feeling I get whenever a coincidence, happy or sad, occurs.

On February 12th, 2 days before my wedding, I was in an excited flurry, going here and there to get everything ready for my big day.   Elsewhere, about 45 km away from me, a young boy in a pickup truck was passing a semi on the highway which hit his truck and killed him.  

On February 13th, my husband got a phone call from his cousin, who said she wouldn't be able to come to our wedding because her boyfriend had lost his young cousin to a car crash the day before and would be going to a funeral.

5 minutes ago, I realized that the cousin, whose death had prevented some of our wedding guests from attending was this boy whose father I'd just spoken to. 

I realized that on what would be one of the happiest days of my life, the saddest days of the lives of this family were beginning.  Their boy, who would have graduated this month with his girlfriend at his side, was gone from them.  The guests who would have come to my wedding to see my husband and I begin our life together, would instead attend this funeral to mourn the ending of a life.  

I distinctly remember hearing the reason our guests couldn't attend our wedding and thinking, "What if that had been my friend or my cousin who had died?  Would I still get married tomorrow?"  But I quickly dismissed the thought and went back to cutting ribbon for my table-centres.  

Somehow knowing exactly who it was that I was indirectly thinking about brings up a new feeling that I can't quite identify.  The contrast between this family and me is so real when I think about their pain, my joy, and how timing connects us in this small way.

It makes me want to write a better story, not for myself, but for them.  Somehow because I was so happy while they were so sad, I feel I owe them that.

 


Monday, May 18, 2009

Just stand there then.

Sometimes I can be rude.

I'm sure it isn't just me. It must happen to other people. When words just fall out of the mouth and you aren't really sure where they came from or why you said them out loud, but there they are: Out there. Naked and cold, waiting to be dealt with.

This happens to me every so often, mostly in moments of high stress or emotion. Sometimes I think I should carry some duct tape so that when I come to these situations, I can at least think about why I carry duct tape and just shut up before I have to use it.

(As a total aside. It is duct tape... NOT duck tape: "Duct tape got its official name in the 1950s when it was commonly used to secure duct work for forced air furnaces." - 3M website)

One of these situations took place on a recent trip to Australia. I was on a boat in the Sydney Harbour on a glorious sunny day with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, snapping pictures of the coastal scenery when, just as I was about to snap what I deemed the perfect picture of a lighthouse, another couple came and stood right in my viewfinder.

Then, the terrible words that I am constantly reminded of whenever I claim that I'm not rude, swam to the surface of my being and "fell out".

"Just stand there then." I said, unfortunately loud enough for this poor smiling couple to hear, turn around and apologize profusely to me, whom they would probably remember for the rest of their lives as "that rude photographer," or worse.

I think I sputtered an apology and tried to back down as my boyfriend looked at me in utter disbelief. He, who is one of the most friendly, personable people I have ever met, though I do admit my bias, never would have committed such a social blunder.

He still married me, despite this flaw in my character, and is unfortunately now the victim as well as the witness of these moments of indiscretion.

He actually suggested that I name my blog "Just stand there then," and I did, because it reminds me not only of my unapologetic nature that sits beneath the surface, but of my instinct to stand up for myself, no matter how unjust the cause. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder to take my assertiveness and use it for good, rather than for ruining someone's day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The first one.

I can't believe I'm sitting here blogging. There are so many other things I could be doing, but somehow this world, this bloggers world, has captivated me.

Of course, there will be many posts following this one, but for some reason this one seems very important. It's the first one. The one that sets the tone for all the others. It's a little bit daunting because it has to be readable, yet punchy, vibrant. Something that draws a reader in and makes them want more.

Well, let me tell you, I'm no arrogant fool in thinking that I'm the most fantastic writer, but I do have some great stories to tell, if you're into my narrative style. Sometimes I can ramble aimlessly, and I can't really promise that I'll be funny or even profound. However, if I were to sell you on one thing, it would be that I'm honest.

Lots of people say that they're honest and don't really mean it. How would you know I'm not lying though? There's an element of trust that you don't have if you're reading this for the first time with no idea who I really am. You're just going to have to see how this plays out, aren't you? How do you trust that a novel will be good? The first chapter? Well, welcome to the first chapter.

There. How's that for an introduction?