Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Grown Up Crushes

I think someone has a crush on me. It's both complimentary and unnerving all in one. It's a co-worker, married at that and I have been observing the behaviour closely, just to make sure that I'm not jumping to any conclusions.

I'm almost positive that I'm right. He just returned to work after a two week vacation and rushed over to talk to me. It wasn't good enough to stand at a respectable distance, but I noticed that he found some excuse to get as close to my chair as possible. I'm usually not the nervous type but I must say that it does make me feel uncomfortable.

And there lies my question. When does an innocent crush become sexual harassment?

I guess that depends on the people involved and the degree that it bothers you. I did notice one day before his vacation, he stopped talking to me for a minute to rub my arm, pretending to admire the blouse I was wearing. I must admit the colour was a breathtaking blue, but I've never been compelled to rub 100% Cotton myself. It's not like velvet, is it? I figure he just couldn't control himself any further and had to have an excuse to touch my arm.

If I was really distressed by this transgression, would that be considered sexual harassment? Or am I just experiencing the actions that will lead up to a full blown sexual harassment episode? Not sure what I should do, if anything.

I've tried to be very short with him when he comes to ask for guidance from me. It's part of my job to monitor his work and show him how to do his job. I don't encourage any discussion more than what is work related, but he finds ways to small talk as much as he can.

I'm sure it will all work out, but it just struck me the other day when I was thinking about it, that if I was attracted to him it would be great, but because I'm not, it's offensive.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Fuller, Firmer Breasts and Cheap Viagara

These are the things that I can get, according to the spam in my email. My question is this, why is it that sometimes I'm a male and occasionally I am a female? Why do I get these types of emails? Is it linked to web pages I have visited? *blushes* I mean or to web pages my guests have visited?

Just a random thought as I go through the process of pointing out the spam, once again, to my email service and clean the crap out of my inbox.

Hope Springs or Sprang!

What a stupid, stupid movie. Hope Springs that is. I was looking forward to immersing myself in a funny, romantic comedy this afternoon, but instead I just spent the last hour and a half waiting for something to get better.

What I want to know is, how do you get a movie full of established actors and the movie turns out to be a flop? Colin Firth, Minnie Driver, Mary Steenburgen; they are all established actors. So what the hell happened? I'm not commenting on Heather Graham because I've never seen her in anything before, nor am I interested in seeing her in anything again. What a total dud. She may be the reason why this movie sucked so much. Actually, it isn't her fault, more likely the asshole who created that character. What a lame character. Someone who has to guzzle half a bottle of whiskey in the car before she shows a tourist a local attraction, because she's nervous? Come on and then afterwards, expresses her joy by stripping naked in his room, which incidentally just happens to lead them to jump into bed together where they attempt to have sex. Even that was not a success. But for some strange reason he is drawn to this clueless, blond bimbo like a moth to a flame.

His attraction only grows stronger when his fiance arrives, even though the contrast between intelligent, sexy, sophisticated, Vera and weird, silly, Mandy is like comparing a Filet Mignon to a Big Mac.

This movie is actually based on a novel, New Cardiff written by Charles Webb, the author of The Graduate. How disappointing. If the movie had been a good movie, I most likely would have decided to read the book, but I will definitely not waste my time now. Perhaps that isn't fair, and perhaps the book is better than the movie, they usually are, but not so according to a short review I just read here.

Well, if I suceed with my objective by writing this review, to save you the $4.00 rental fee, then I will be happy.

Now onto other more pressing issues. Today was supposed to be another visit with the Grandparent's. We (my mother and I) left early this morning. Early for me on a weekend. It was 9:55am when we said our goodbye's to Sammy, the dog. Sounds easy doesn't it? To say goodbye to Sammy. But that's where you are wrong. It's a difficult thing for my mother to say goodbye, if even for a few hours, to her precious.

I try not to get jealous of her affection for my dog. I can drive, afterall. He can't. So what if he's cute and my Mom can read his mind. I know that I am a good person, goddammit, and I can drive.

I'm rambling, getting caught up in the anxiety of my own insecurities. Please forgive me. We did leave the apartment only an hour after our planned departure and headed on the open highway to Bowmanville.

It was pissing cats and dogs when I pulled out of the underground garage and I knew that this would make my Mother nervous.

"Do you think we should go?"

"Oh yes, I'm alright Shelly, just drive carefully, you know how slick the roads can be when they're wet."

"Yes Mother, I know."

Carefully I drove through the sidestreets of Mississauga and carefully merged onto highway 410 North to the 407. The rain pelted the car mercilessly. The sky grew dark as the rain poured down even harder. I could feel my car start to hydroplane ever so slightly at the exact moment that I felt my mom's body stiffen.

"Do you think we should continue?"

"No, I really don't see any clearing of any sort Shelly, and we've been on the highway for half an hour. I say get off at the next exit, now."

And that was it. Our journey was cut short. Off the highway I went and made a big circle back home. Oh well, I can read this afternoon, or maybe I'll rent a movie. Yes that's the ticket.

That's how I ended up departing with $4.00 and sitting through that horrible movie. It's Mother Nature's fault. If it hadn't been for the rain, I would have been sitting comfortably in my Grandparent's home, listening to my Grandfather retell his favourite stories.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Blogrolling and rolling and rolling

I have an overwhelming sense of loss of control. Why? Oh perhaps because I have just spent the whole day reading other people's blogs. I can't even remember now how I stumbled across blogspot.

It happened, innocently enough, I'm sure. Not that long ago. I was surfing and most likely chatting when I came across the site. Ahhh, it's coming slowly back to the forefront of my mind. I was bored. Looking for something to read. I have a few friends that have their own blogs, which I read on a regular basis, but they had failed to update. Nobody was online to chat with, and yet I knew that here at my fingertips was the world, just waiting for me to find it.

I had heard of other people reading funny blogs. I had no idea where to find them and so I googled Blog. I started to go through the hits and blogspot was one of them.

I was impressed with the great looking templates. It seemed so easy to get up and running. I had to make one for myself. Just an experiment. I probably wouldn't use it, besides I already have two other blogs that I have a hard time keeping up with.

That was the beginning. The initial set up, short post about irritant of the moment and then I started to randomly read different blogs. It started with the "Blogs of Interest". They were very interesting, funny, addictive. I knew there had to be more out there. The next blog button provided me with some very interesting and funny reads.

I started to bookmark the different blogs that I found amusing or interesting. I noticed that on some there was something about Blogrolling. Hmmm, what could that be?

After a little bit of reading I was setting up my own blogroll. Adding those links that I had stumbled across, but unfortunately, while adding the links I was getting caught up with reading the posts. I swear that I have read almost all of Unlucky Man. Some of the funniest stuff I've come across. I was laughing out loud at his antics. He reminds me of a younger, wilder, James Herriot, minus the animals of course. Or perhaps it's just the British humour that I find intriguing. I love it. His ability to detail his daily meanders which seem to involve quantities of alcohol and embarrassing moments with humour and innocence is very intoxicating, pardon the pun. I feel like I'm in the middle of a novel and can't wait until I get a moment to myself, to read the next chapter. It's not a novel however, so I can only pray that some new misfortune will befall him so that he will humourously recant it for my entertainment.

In the end, I did manage to get some of my new found reading material (links) posted with that "blogroll" function. I'm pretty proud of myself. I have limited Html skills or knowledge but eventually, after cutting and pasting the blasted link into almost every imaginable spot in the template, voila...there it was.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

B. B. King Blues Festival, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, Ontario

Last night, August 23, 2004, I attended the B.B. King Blues Festival at Molson's Amphitheatre, in Toronto. It was a perfect summer evening. The sun was shining bright and hot when we arrived around 5:00pm. Probably why the lineups for $11.25 draft beer (for the large 1 1/2 pints) were so long. You could purchase a regular for the low price of $8.00.

The high prices didn't deter anyone from chugging down the cool ale. The lineups were long and steady all night. The cool thing about the Amphitheatre and probably most venues is that you were allowed to take your drinks with you to your seats, but you couldn't smoke in the seating area. So in other words, you could get piss tanked but you could not smoke a nasty, cigarette. Nor could you stand up and dance, because the people behind you paid good money to sit quietly and listen to some quality Blues live.

I couldn't stop my body from moving though. I wanted to dance so bad, I could hardly stand it. At one point, when my friend and I were returning to our seats after his smoke break, I stopped him before we reached our aisle, so that we could stand against the wall and I could finally dance. We were approached very quickly by the security who politely requested that we return to our seats. I looked around for the flashing sign to indicate that we should be putting our seat belts on. I didn't see one, but being the obedient Canadian that I am, I followed orders and reluctantly returned to my designated seat.

Once in my seat, I boogied as much as I possibly could so that my body would think I was dancing and I waited patiently for the next smoke break so that I could get up and jiggle to the beat on the way to and from the smoking area.

The line up was wonderful. Between 5:30pm sharp until 10:30pm we were serenaded by The Muddy Waters Blues Band, Dr. John, Shemekia Copeland, Elvin Bishop and BB King himself.

I had a great deal of fun, in spite the fact that I couldn't dance. The saddest part of the evening was when B.B. King played his last song and introduced the musicians one by one, the conservative crowd didn't get it. I don't think they comprehended that it was actually his last song and nobody called for an encore. He introduced the musicians, said good night, the lights flew on and that was it. I was dumbfounded. Never before has a concert ended so quickly. But I don't blame him, the crowd was so sleepy that he must have wondered why he was there.

I don't want to give the impression that he wasn't appreciated because the applause and cat calling, was generous following each tune, but as far as I'm concerned, everyone should have been up shaking what their momma's gave 'em.

I loved the concert and would highly recommend any Blues fan make sure that they catch it.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


This seems to be my theme right now. Not that I knew what was going on right away. It took an innocent comment by a friend to make me step back and take a look at my life from a different angle.

The comment, "it would be good for you, give you some purpose to your life" was in reference to my applying for an acting position within my department. It would be a temporary thing, from September to March and the only drawback would be working an afternoon shift. It’s to do the same position that I am doing now on an acting basis, but my current assignment is going to end in November. So it would give me the opportunity to possibly remain at this pay level for a longer period of time, gain more experience and help to increase my pension level for that day down the road when I finally retire.

It pissed me off. How dare he insinuate that my life had no purpose. Just because my daughter is 20 compared to his 6 year old son, doesn’t mean that I do not have a purpose. So I thought about it. What else would he think. I’m not tied down to a daily obligation of making sure she is picked up from school, driving her here and there and making sure she is looked after properly in the evenings when I’m not there etc. The only thing that I have to worry about is whether or not there is food in the refridgerator and conditioner for her hair in the morning. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I don’t have a purpose anymore.

I don’t have a husband. He left 11 years ago, and still nobody has stepped up to take his place. Yes, I’ve had relationships but even the one that I thought was going to be forever and ever decided that he preferred screwing someone else, or a number of somebody else’s. My daughter is grown, independent and contributes financially to the household. She doesn’t require much intervention on my part. We’re more like roommates than mother and daughter.

My social life has dwindled as my friends have found new relationships to take up their time.

So what is my purpose? I’m not a wife, not even a girlfriend (but more on that later), hardly a mother, that leaves me with a title of nondescript government worker. Is that all I am? I’m the person who people love to hate. I work for the dreaded government. Oh they love to love me when it suits their needs. Can you tell me about my claim? Do you know when I’ll get my money? How do I apply etc.? I know that what I do is important. I appreciate that it does provide me with a good deal of satisfaction. I help people and that is a good fit for me.

I guess I just never stopped to realize that I was in the middle of a transition in my life and quite frankly I guess I’m not handling it as well as I thought.

I’m not needed anymore. I’m not the glue that holds the family together. I don’t have that husband that can't get out the door without me providing him with his clean clothes, the blades to his razor, the lunch box in his hand and a coffee in the other. I allowed that to be my purpose for so many years that I ignored other things.

When he left, my daughter (who was already, in reality more important than him), became my only purpose. I did a good job of raising her. She’s an intelligent, confident young woman with goals and motivation. I’m very proud. But now what?

The guy that made the comment was probably afraid that I was making him my purpose. He suffers from that ailment that inflicts most males, commitment phobia. He has nothing to worry about. I’ve been relatively happy with the casual arrangement that we have. The only thing lacking is that it always appears to be only one sided. It works when he is available and needs something and hardly ever the other way around.

I made the mistake of mentioning to him the possibility of my taking this job. If I’m successful at the competition it would mean working 2:30pm to 10:30pm Monday to Friday. He only seems to squeeze me in on the occasional weeknight when he doesn’t have his son. More and more the mother of his child is not able to look after him because her stripping job is so demanding. He steps up to take advantage of the extra time with his son. That is not a problem. I understand that completely and have never questioned the fact that his son does and should come first. When my husband left, I chose not to become involved with anyone because I didn’t have the energy to share myself with anyone other than my daughter. Or maybe I was just too emotionally drained by the demise of my 14 year marriage that I thought I couldn’t handle a relationship. In any event, I do understand that children are first.

He immediately assumed that I was asking his permission to take the job. I wasn’t, but after I said I was going to apply for it, I realized that if I was successful, that I would end up eliminating the one little amusement that I have. I decided to share the news with him, looking I suppose, for a flicker of sadness. That’s not what I got. It would seem that after 2 years of getting together on average, once a week that the thought of my not being available was not an issue. That hurt.

"I think you should take it. Go for it. Just think of all the stuff you could do in the morning before you have to go to work. For what we have, we could still manage to get together occasionally because I’m usually home around noon. I think it would be good for you, give you some purpose in your life."

That was it. That was what the past two years amounted to. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was never meant to amount to anything, but I am only human and over time, I have grown quite fond or attached to him. I marvel at how easily men seem to be able to stay detached. I always think that I am capable of this, but I’m not. I can’t stop my heart from feeling. It does this naturally. I can’t stop from nurturing, because I do that naturally as well. And when he needed that quality, he was very quick to call.

So it wasn’t just always about sex. I was there to listen to him as he worked through his problems, be it, the stripper mother of his child, or his work, or a traffic accident. It didn’t matter. I was there and I was the one he wanted. That made me feel good. I felt privileged that he would turn to me. It cemented in my mind that he does consider me a good friend. He has shared information with me that I’m sure some of his other friends don’t even know about.

"I think you should go for it…" without any hesitation. It was like he was jumping at the opportunity to end "our" thing. I felt foolish. I wanted to run away and hide as quickly as I could, because in that moment, it was like I was standing naked in front of a crowd of spectators at a sporting event or concert.

After a few awkward moments, I left. What more can be said, that he didn’t say in those few short sentences.

But those words have had me thinking about it ever since. Now I’m determined to figure out what my purpose is. Does anyone ever really know or feel like they know what their purpose is? Is this just a natural part of the transition that we go through when our children grow up and start to leave? Is this empty nest syndrome?

Those are some of the questions I’m left with. At least one thing is certain, I am in a transition and it’s up to me to decide which way to go. Nobody else really cares.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Trip to Bowmanville

It’s a grey, dreary, lazy Sunday afternoon. I don’t really feel up to doing anything productive today. I do feel as guilty as hell about that, but not enough to change anything.

Yesterday I took my Mom to visit my Grandparent’s in Bowmanville. I made a promise to my Mother that I would attempt to take her to visit them as often as possible when we made the decision that she would move back to Mississauga to live with me.

Her parent’s are elderly but in very good shape. My Grandpa is 90 and my Grandma is 86 (or 87 or 88, can’t remember). Grandma is not as sharp as she used to be. Grandpa is. That is the problem. He is lonely for conversation with people and Grandma gets perturbed by it, but more on this later.

My mother has a terrible fear of being a passenger in a car. Her anxiety levels are unbelievable and start to elevate when the decision to make a road trip is made. We were taking Sammy (her precious and once the dog I called my own) along for the trip. He hates cars as well. I haven’t decided if my Mom makes him nervous or he makes her nervous. Just imagine what impact that has on me, the chauffeur.

The production of getting ready to leave started early. I had to unload my trunk of the crap left over from my mom’s apartment, the stuff that had to come to my place rather than going into storage, so that we would be able to fit Sammy’s buggy in. Sammy is wheeled in and out of the apartment in a bundle buggy transformed into a Doggie Stroller by placing a plastic crate in the bottom, upside down, a square of plywood on top and a nice plump pillow for his fat little bum.

Unloading the car took two trips. The first one was me with the pushcart, to haul the big jug of water, that I purchased last weekend, up to the apartment. I was alone and had to stop continuously to catch it as it started to slide off the side. I managed to lose it completely on the ride up the elevator and it banged head first into the elevator door just as we approached my floor. The elevator opened and I struggled with it, hopelessly, my ass propped against the doors until I finally gave up and threw the jug off the elevator with the dolly close behind. Once out of the elevator I was able to right it onto the bottom of the cart and balance it all the way down the hall.

I forgot to mention that our intentions were to leave early in the morning. Or should I say, early for me. I usually like to sleep in on the weekend. I don’t think that is unfair, after all, I am up at 5:30 every other day of the week. I did jump in the shower at 8:30 and immediately got ready to leave.

When I walked in the apartment with the jug of water, my mom was busy washing Sammy’s face and brushing the tats out of his hair. I thought to myself how smart of her to make sure the dog looked good to go visit my Grandparent’s and wondered when she was going to throw a comb through her own unruly mop of hair. Rather than risk asking that question, I dropped the jug of water and walked out the door without saying a word. I heard the door open and my Mother call after me when I was down the hall waiting for the elevator to arrive, but decided not to answer, pretending to be on my descent to the parking garage.

The next load required me to transform the dolly into a cart a la "wagon like" so that I could load the two laundry baskets, filled with various items onto it and lug them back upstairs. My mom showed up at the car with our other non-doggie stroller, bundle buggy, just in case I had too much to handle on my own.
We managed to completely clean out the trunk, which left plenty of room for Sammy’s stroller and any other items that he may require on the trip, like his little bed.

Back in the apartment with the last load, I grabbed my purse and started to say goodbye to Melissa. My mother perturbed started to rush around getting herself ready and extol on all the things she had already accomplished that morning just so that she would be ready in time to leave. Again, I wondered how critical fixing Sammy’s hair for the road trip was, but decided these thoughts were best left unspoken.

I looked at the clock. 11:15am. Early. Yes, well the thought is what counts, isn’t it?

"Mom, you take him downstairs so that he can relieve himself, while I get the car and I’ll pick you up out the back."


"Do we have any eggs?"

"I don’t know Melissa, look in the fridge."

"I guess you don’t have time to bring some up from the store before you go do you?"

My look gave her the answer, but just to be sure I said "NO".

My mom, Sammy and I left the apartment and headed down the hall. I overheard my Mom tell Sammy that she was happy that she was taking him outside because that way she could have a quick cigarette before getting into the nasty car, where her nasty daughter doesn’t let her smoke.
I ignored that comment and decided to myself, that yes I did have time to buy some eggs in our convenience store, located on my parking level and run them back up to Melissa.

A little while later, perhaps 7 minutes, I drove up the driveway to gather my passengers and could see my mother parked on a small retaining wall waiting impatiently for me to arrive. The look on her face indicated that she was ready for an afternoon nap. I wasn’t going to let her get away with backing out of the trip.

I did hear about how late it was as we drove away though. Of course, this would be my fault, for getting Melissa some eggs and taking them up to her. It had nothing to do with fussing over the dog’s appearance for his trip to Grandpa’s.
I explained that my clock in the car is set fast and rather than being 11:45 it was really only 11:30. That’s my trick to getting to work on time each day. Doesn’t always work, because I usually remember that the clock is set fast. :o)

The drive was pretty quiet until I got onto the ramp from the 410 to the 407. The sign says 70 km per hour. I was doing 100 km. Still fairly slow to me. If I had been driving alone, I could have made that curve at 120 or 130 km easy. But I was driving differently, acknowledging my Mother’s fear and trying to be as slow and easy I could. In fact, I was even driving a different route than I would normally take. Rather than attempting the trip on the busy, fast, hair raising 401, I opted for the more expensive, less driven route of the 407. Most people will refuse to drive on it because of the expensive tolls so the trip is not as horrendous as trying to negotiate your way between cars and transports, all driving far too fast on lanes that are narrow from construction or pot hole riddled from ill repair.

It was a nice, boring and uneventful trip. There is a junction however, where the money-pit highway ends and you have to travel south to catch up with the 401 again. At this point, on the other side of Toronto, the 401 is not as busy as when you are travelling through the core. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the erratic cries and screaming. These are part of the deal when you drive a fearful passenger. The sound effects make you want to swerve head-on into the guard rails to miss whatever it is that you haven’t seen. Luckily I have enough experience with my mother’s antics to realise that whatever it is that caused her to yell or scream out, is really nothing worth losing your life over. Most likely some asshole driving in the lane two over from you, decided to change lanes to exit the highway or move around a slower moving vehicle than ours.

It was almost serendipitous when we arrived at the end of the 407 only to see that we were unable to turn South. A Police car had the road south blocked. Our only option was to continue, straight ahead on highway 7. A two lane, black top that winds through little communities through the countryside.

I forgot that my Mother is nervous on two lane highways as well. There was nothing I could do though, we were on a road trip and part of the deal with a road trip is that you have to drive, in something. The something just happened to be my car.

We did arrive alive, finally after stopping briefly to say hello to her ex-husband Stew in Whitby, and my uncle Carl and Fiena on the outskirts of Bowmanville. It was only 2:30pm. Not bad. An hour and a half trip turned into 3. Not only was I tired, but I was very hungry.

Grandma and Grandpa were mostly happy to see us. At least for about the first hour. After the first hour, the conversation starts to dwindle while everyone thinks of something to talk about. We usually spend a good part of it discussing how my Grandma can’t hear anything because her hearing aids aren’t working properly. One needs a new battery and the other one that does have a battery doesn’t appear to be turned on. We know this by the vacant look on Grandma’s face during the conversation and the way she just smiles and nods her head. When she does catch what we are talking about she is very coherent and has intelligent comments to make. That is however, if she can raise her voice above my Grandpa’s. He is usually so anxious for conversation that he talks loudly above the rest and she usually gives up.

I found the whole experience exhausting. Compounded by the Fish and Chips that we bought after our arrival, and I could not keep my eyes open. I did open them when I heard my mom yelling something about me not spilling my pop. My Grandma was concerned when she noticed me sitting in the chair, with a can of pop in my hand and my eyes closed. She was gesturing to my Grandpa that I would spill it. She didn’t know that I had already drained it earlier, but just didn’t have the energy to pull myself out of the chair and put it in the garbage.

They convinced me to lay down on Grandma’s bed and have a nap and so I did. I easily drifted off into a deep sleep while the voices of my Mom and Grandpa droned on and on and on. An hour later, I felt like a new person. Ready to tackle the drive home. I made the announcement and the preparations for the return trip began. Soon we were travelling west. The trip home was only an hour and a half. In spite of my mother’s nervousness we neither encountered any close calls or became a statistic. I don’t really feel like doing anything at all today though. Not sure why.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Black Out 2003

In memory of the Black Out from 2003, I decided to repost my recollection of that day.

And Out Of The Darkness…

There came cursing and swearing as tempers flared at the inconvenience of it all. I’m writing this before we suffer another blackout albeit temporary one. The newscasters are forecasting rolling blackouts much like California endured.

Really, California eh? Hmmm, when was that? I didn’t realize that California suffered a blackout recently. Or was it a long time ago? Damn, why do they make a statement like that and then go onto the next topic without providing a little bit of background information. Now I’m going to have to spend my time looking for the information. I’m curious.

Welcome to Shelly World. Your inside look at the Blackout from the point of view of one ordinary Canadian. Well, ordinary really isn’t true, but I digress…on with the story!

I was planning on working overtime. The second night this week. It was expected after a week off when our backlogs are so high. Surprised at the bonus of it all. Take a week vacation, come back and get 6 hours of overtime at time and a half to help make up for the money spent while I was away. Pretty cool!
Fifteen minutes before the shot of darkness I was at the work rack gathering files, old files and resolving myself that I was going to stay and finish everyone of them, even if it meant staying longer than my 3 hours and not getting paid for the extra time. I really wanted to make a dent in them. Old claims generate extra work in the form of enquiries, that take precedence and in effect slow the completion of the files, generating more enquiries and the vicious cycle continues on and on and on. I was determined to stop my madness.

My manager had just walked up to my desk with one of those cursed enquiries. This one from a fellow that had contacted his MP (member of parliament). So of course, that got higher priority than anything else. I dropped the files on the corner of my desk, grabbed his and opened it up to see if I could just plug it through quickly and quiet the whiner. I was immediately pissed when I realized that his file was much newer than most, he had not waited without money as long as the other 25 on my desk. He was in the pile to be done although and may have gotten done in spite of his harassing the MP. Further investigation although indicated that I was going to have to contact the employer to verify some information. Naturally they were not available. I left a message tossed his file onto my ‘call back’ rack and put my hand on the next file.

I was cruising through that claim with the finesse of an experienced figure skater, my skates were my fingers pressing the keys with confidence, sure footed or fingered…hehhehee, I was in the final stretch, on the last page just split seconds from pressing accept and putting this person into pay and POOOOF. Everything fell into darkness. The fans, radios, elevators, computers, fell silent. The silence coupled with the darkness in our office was creepy. I swore loudly. Other’s cursed quietly but the sentiment was the same. Frustration. It never fails when you make plans to tackle something, or are under the gun with pressure, something or everything jumps in your way trying to prevent you from making that goal.

Jeeeezus Cuhhhhhrist, I HATE this place. Damn it all anyway. 4:15 pm. How long will this last, shit I hope not long…oh well, I’ll just stay however longer I need. I need to get these done…I can’t stand this.

Voices raised and people scurrying back and forth replaced the regular office noises quickly. My boss was still there.

He smiled at me as he approached, "You were thinking you were gonna stay weren’t you Shelly?"

"Uhmmm, yes that was my one desire for today!"

"Well, sorry to disappoint you but I would like everyone to pack up and head for home now, while it’s still light outside. This could take awhile because I was on the telephone to the MP’s office when our power went out and theirs is out too. This is not just something that is affecting only our building. They have heard that the subways downtown are not running."

He quickly did a head count and made sure that all were accounted for and that everyone understood that they were to leave immediately and then he disappeared down the stairwell to his car. Four of us were the last to leave. We’re women after all, we had the washroom to attend to, keys to find…well, you know what it’s like. But we were good girl scouts and we stuck together on our journey to the underground parking garage. Which was BLACK.

I now know why I park directly across from the door to the stairwells and elevator. It’s not laziness to save a step or two, it’s because in cases like this, I can still see my car and my way to my car. The emergency lighting was very, very sparse, but it was lit up in the parking lobby that was directly across from my car. Before I got into my car and headed away, my good friend Lorna gave me a piece of very good advice.

"Take the highway home Shelly. If all the traffic lights are out like they say, you will be safer on the QE than traveling through the city."

"Ok, I will, thanks Lorna…see ya tomorrow!"

Shit, I guess I’m going to have to stay late tomorrow night instead. Friday night. Damn, what a sad life I have. Working overtime on a Friday night and it won’t make not one bit of difference to anyone. Well, the clients will be happy. But nobody will be sad for me as I sit at my desk in this cold, lonely tower of cubicle cells.

Ok, well let’s get the hell home before the friggin traffic gets worse. I just hope the highway is somewhat clear. Oh nice people, HAVEN’T YOU HEARD…when the traffic lights are out you are to treat EACH intersection as a four way stop. That means number one, bring your fucking car to a stop. Stupid idiots. Ahhhh, thanks buddy for blocking that lane, I’m outta here…thank god, I’m through my first hurdle.

Hmmm, Kipling isn’t too bad. We’re going pretty fast oh ohhh, spoke to soon. Oh well, I’m on my way, just going to remain patient. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, I just don’t want to get smashed in a car accident. I wonder if my cell works. Damn I hope Melissa gets home alright. How is she going to cross Hwy 10. It’s going to be crazy. Will she be waiting for me? Should I just drive right there, or go home first and see if she’s at home? Damn fucking cell phone. Figures it won’t work in an emergency. Hmmm, I should turn on the radio and see what’s happening. Shit what’s that car whipping through that parking lot like that so fast for? Hmmm, what is that place? Oh I see, "Power Ontario". Locking the gates up tight. Interesting. I wonder… They were saying that there were real imminent threats recently. Could it be? What a better way to bring a country to it’s knees. Cripple it quickly.

The radio announcers were trying to act encouraging as they informed the listeners that all of Toronto was in a blackout situation. Take your time as you head home, stop at all intersections without police directing traffic. The common sense heeding came steadily in place of the normal nonsensical banter that is usual for this time of the day.

God, I love my air conditioned car. I feel so sorry for those poor people without it. It’s friggin hot.

Shit I wish I could get a hold of Melissa. I’m never gonna make it to the mall by 5:00pm. It’s 4:40 now and I’m not even on the QE yet. Geez, what is going on up there. Friggin assholes. Oh damn I hate this. I wonder if I’m making the right decision going this way.

"This just in from our connection to CNN on the internet people, it is not JUST Toronto that is without power, this blackout has affected all of Southern Ontario, New York, Detroit, Ohio…looks like the whole Eastern Seaboard is out. Now we do not know the cause of the blackout yet and well, it’s just better not to speculate at this point. But it is very serious."

Holy shit. This is big. Dammit. Look at us in our little metal boxes jockeying for the best lane, the quickest spot to get home. I just want to get home in one piece. I’m not going to risk going to the mall for Melissa. She’s probably already at home by now. They would have closed the mall when this hit. Ahhhh, finally a policeman. Thank god, they’re out here. Maybe it will be better on the highway. Not too far now, I can see the exit from here.

Home free now. Ooops, maybe not. Geeez where did all these cars come from. Dammit doesn’t anybody believe in the better way? Shit! Oh my god, what about Antoinette, Dennis, how are they getting home. Oh geeez, how could I forget they don’t have cars. Antoinette could have come home with me, at least she would have been almost home that way. Dennis, well, he could have come home with me too I guess and I could have taken him home later I guess when the power comes back on. OH my god, I wonder where they are … I can’t turn around now. Why wouldn’t they have said something. I’m going to have to tell them tomorrow that the next time they should ask…I’m so fucking forgetful, I can’t remember who has a car and who doesn’t. This is just ridiculous. Oh this is going to be fun trying to get across three lanes while everyone tries to come over here to get on the 427, ok, there’s a bit of a gap, too bad buddy, I’m coming in..thanks! Ok, one down, two to go…here we go, another one, and another, whew. That was easy. Now I’m staying put until I have to get off. Frig there is NO good lane on here tonight. Now why is that transport trying to come into this lane. What the fuck difference will it make. Too bad buddy, you want over here, get behind…hurry, you stupid bitch, move up, don’t let him in…there. Shit she’s a friggin idiot. Where did you get your license you stunned bitch? Out of a bubble gum machine? Yeah thought so! Good, yes move into that lane…thank you! Buh bye honey! Now we’re going. Wooo hooo I’m actually doing 60 km’s now. Damn now I know why people like automatics over standard shift. Goddamn clutch is a pain in the ass in stop and go traffic. Ok, here’s my exit. Ahhhhh, almost home. 5:10 pm. Not as bad as I thought it would be. Now to get up Cawthra and through all those lights without incident. This should be fun.

Oh my god, I don’t believe it, look at those assholes, speeding along Dundas, they have to be doing 60-80 clicks through that intersection and they aren’t even slowing down. Fucking idiots. I swear people are crazy. It’s not a nice world that we live in. I just want to get home..I hope Melissa is there. Should I try to drive over to the mall? No, just go home, see if she is there…
Hmmm, I dunno, damn I’m not going until SOMEBODY going the other way stops. We could be here all night..oh there THANK you somebody with sense, stopping, going now, whew, made it. Shit I can’t wait to park this car.

I continued to try my cell phone needlessly. I knew that it was down, but I had this huge desire to further aggravate myself while I tried to stay out of the way of the wayward drivers rushing home.

I let out a huge sigh of relief when I finally made it up the drive to my underground parking garage and my door opener card actually worked. It was really creepy inside though when the door closed. I park close to the doors where you enter and exit outside and once that door was shut, the blackness was very thick. I sat for a moment trying to get my eyes accustomed to the darkness before I stepped into it.

Damn this is freaky in here. Maybe I should have parked outside. What a perfect place to get jumped. Hehhehehhee, fuck who would want to jump me? They would be in for a real surprise as I pummel them, hehehhehee. Ok, good lights thank god. Now, I wonder if the elevator is working. Should I try? Or should I climb the eight flights. I’ll try first. Oh that’s a good sign the light is on. I hear something moving up and down the cables, voices…sounds promising, I think it’s coming, oh it is…goood!

The door opened and the elevator was filled with 5 men. I didn’t hesitate to jump on. I don’t care how crowded it is, you’re taking me with ya. They were all telling tall tales of their horrendous trips home and I smiled knowingly, because like them I had just survived the ordeal and made it home scratch free.

The elevator stopped and four of the men disembarked, leaving me with one.

"You realize you and I are taking a huge risk on here." He announced to me as the door closed and the elevator started it’s trip upwards.

"I know, but when I thought about climbing stairs or taking a chance on this, I figured I’d take the chance. Besides I know they always have an elevator that works on generator."

"Yes but it won’t last forever!"

I smiled at him as the door opened at my floor. "Well good luck, I hope you make it the rest of the way and have a pleasant evening!"

Thank god…I made it.

I opened the door and could see that Bryce was home already.

"Bryce, have you heard from Melissa?"

"Yeah, she’s getting a ride home with someone from work so you don’t have to go get her."

"Oh good. When did she call?"

"About 15 minutes ago, she said she’ll be here around 5:30."

Thank god for that. I hope whoever is bringing her home is careful. Not much longer, only 10 minutes and she’ll be home. I should call my sister and see if she was out in this…

I called my sister and mom to make sure that everyone was safe in their respective homes. Of course, my mom was panicking about the situation and what was she going to do with Sammy if the elevators weren’t working? None of her concerns could be rectified by me or anyone else for that matter. This was far bigger than any of us and we were all going to have to cope the best way we knew how. Thankfully, my mother or sister mentioned that some people in condo’s did not have water and I quickly run to fill up my tub before our water disappeared. I also filled our drinking water jug and stuck it in the fridge that was still somewhat cold. Our water stopped as I was filling the bathtub. But at least, we could use that water to flush our toilet. Next I rushed around gathering up tea lights and candles and placing them where I could find them easily.

Bryce went downstairs at 5:30 to meet Melissa and moments later they both appeared. Melissa was beat red from walking all the way home and then climbing the stairs to our apartment. It seems that her friend’s mom refused to give Melissa a ride home. I’m not sure how a mother could do that. I know that I WOULD not have done that in any circumstance. I was happy that we were all safe and sound in our little haven. Safe from the craziness outside.

Then the boredom settled in. What do you do without the internet, music, tv, cooking devices, water, a refrigerator? Within an hour all three of us were sound asleep hoping with all our might that when we woke up the nightmare would be over.

It wasn’t though. Melissa and I woke up around 10:00 and sat outside on the balcony marveling at the darkness of the city, the stars that we can never see otherwise and the screaming of tires as young punks raced the dark streets in their sports cars. We talked about a lot of different things. Took the time to laugh and commiserate like we haven’t in years and as I looked at my grown up baby I was proud. Proud of all that she has become and proud of our relationship. This is what a little darkness can bring. It brought a lot of light to my world, by slowing things down enough to bring us back to the basics, life, love and family.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Reality Sucks

Reality TV that is. What happened to good TV programming? Why are we so obsessed with watching other people progress through their day? Have we taken "people watching" to a new extreme?

I was home early from work today and decided to zone out in front of the TV. I am not familiar with any of the programs on at that time, so I numbly sat flicking the remote looking for something interesting to spark my curiousity. There were those "justice" shows, old "friends" episodes, ancient "seinfeld's" and then, there she was, larger than life, Tammy Faye Baker, back on TV. That sparked my curiousity. Not for long though. Why would I want to endure even 10 minutes of her and her new housemates, Vanilla Ice, Ron Jeremy, on Surreal Life? Or for that matter, who else would?

I don't know about anyone else, but I can hardly stand to watch regular TV anymore. It seems the only types of programs that are available en masse are real life crime shows, Judge shows or reality shows that typically highlight interpersonal relationship problems up close. Where can a person go to escape reality? That's what TV used to do for us. Perhaps more people will return to reading as a perferable past time. I know I have.