Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I've got a feeling...

I think it's called fury?

All right, it has dissipated somewhat since the other night and actually, I'm not nearly as mad as poor Sparta was, knowing he had to get up for work in a few hours and listening to this plus many other instances of our next door neighbour being particularly obnoxious and boorish the other night.

We would just have managed to drift off to sleep when he would come back outside to yell choice phrases like "We can't do it that weekend, that's your bachelor party, BITCH!"

At one point, I'm pretty sure he was setting up beer cans and throwing things at them so that they clattered to the pavement ever so soothingly.

I've gotten used to the charming renditions of Nickleback songs this guy spews into the silent night air every so often, and frankly, I'm usually just happy not to be witnessing a screaming match between he and his wife. Before 11pm, I actually find his singing hilarious. At 3:00 am? Not so much. But for Sparta this is all new. And he is not impressed.

Fortunately as the hours ticked by, punctuated by this guy's shrieks, profanities and occasional retching outside our bedroom window, Sparta managed to keep from leaping outside and whacking the fellow into silence with his own beer bottle.

So now the question is, how do we deal with this if it keeps happening? Go outside and confront the guy? He is really not a friendly sort, despite his carefree serenading. I've actually nearly reported a domestic disturbance at his place more than once after hearing him bellowing at his wife.

Write him a note?

"Dear ridiculous neighbour,
Do you know you're being a jackass? Check yes/no.
Also, stop it.
Your sleep-deprived nexties."

Or do we call up the closest law enforcement types and make a formal complaint and let them act as mediators in the hopes of keeping things anonymous and avoiding confrontation with this guy?

Maybe we're better off just giving him some singing lessons and a book of lullabies.

* the sound bite above was actually taped earlier in the day, so you have to imagine that but with no cars or birds in the background and after several more alcoholic beverages.

** If you listen carefully, at the end you can hear him spit! Delightful!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tiny Wings: Part 2

Today, during my umpteenth assignment at the local racetrack, as I stood at the rails, idly fiddling with my camera and waiting for the horses to make their way into the starting position, I heard "You getting focused?" and realized that I was standing next to this man and his wife. Sure enough, no sooner did I see them, then a monarch once again fluttered by onto the track.

It was so strange to run into these people. These two characters who in my mind became confined to what I wrote down a year ago, a blog post come to life and standing in front of me.

Strange too because I'm sure the brief encounter we shared, though significant enough for me to want to record a snapshot of, wouldn't have stuck with them in the same way.

Beyond his comment about the butterflies, which made me feel worlds less alone at a time when I was more lonely than I could afford to admit to myself, both he and his wife were so generous and kind in their encouragement, urging me, a new and still shy reporter to "get in there and get the shot."

And yet, they did remember me, and today was no different. "There's a nice shot. Here, step in front of me, Kiddo," she said as he enthusiastically nodded from his walker.

We chatted a bit about how my job is going and they seemed genuinely excited to hear that I'd been asked to stay on at the newspaper. The woman remembered that the day we met had been my first time covering the races, and she noted that I seemed less nervous. I seemed to have a handle on it now. It felt good to realize she was right.

Seeing them was a reminder of the kindness of strangers, the kind who notice a butterfly among thundering hooves.

And, it was a reminder that those monarchs aren't the only ones. I've come a long way on my own tiny set of wings.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bonne Fete a moi

That's right, I am starting my 24th year by putting on my party clothes and...going to work! Is it just me or have birthdays gotten significantly less exciting then when I was eight and my friends and I got dressed up rode around town in a horse and buggy like so many squealing princesses?

Ah well, it's what you make it I guess. At least this year, if I so desired, I'd have an excuse to drink an entire 2-4*.

*Never happening

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baby, it's cold inside

After several weeks of eating questionable food from my adorable little (about a foot shorter than me) European refrigerator, and having no access to the freezer since it froze itself shut most determinedly about a month ago, yesterday, Sparta and I became proud caretakers of a brand new fridge.

I am pleased to announce that we now have a drawer just for cheese. Mmmm, cheese. What luxury!

However, I am not pleased to announce that Sparta thought this would be a good opportunity to reassess how many condiments it is necessary for me to continue housing.

At the moment, the answer is 25.

I am of the opinion that you can never have too many. I mean, you just never know when a tahini/sundried tomato/artichoke/peach habanero sauce craving emergency might sneak up on you! As long as they're within the expiry date, I fail to see the problem.

He may have muttered something about "hoarding" and "mess" and "when are you ever going to need an eighth of a jar of tapenade?"

I may or may not have muttered something along the lines of "YOU'RE an eighth of a jar of tapenade."


"Hmm? Oh... nothing. What?"

If anything, with a larger fridge, I should be stocking up on MORE condiments, yes?

Monday, August 17, 2009

My beeswax

One of the charming side-effects of having a massive clot take up apparently permanent residence in your leg (along with the whole constant threat of imminent death by P.E.), is that blood has a hard time travelling back up to your heart which results in some rather uncomfortable swelling of the leg in question.

Fortunately, compression stockings (combined with drugs) go a long way towards easing this.

Unfortunately, I hate them.

Because really, any garment that requires a daily battle involving textured rubber gloves to get me into it is bound to cause some resentment.

In cooler weather they tend to fall down, which just feels wrong (think stepping into a still wet bathing suit), unless I wear snug pants. Trying to discreetly adjust thigh-high stockings while bundled up in public often results in antics worthy of Mr. Bean in church (in a wet bathing suit).

Worse than that however, is the summer, when the rubber that keeps the damn things up, bites into my upper thighs and leaves seriously irritating blisters all the way around them.

This, and the fact that my legs aren't the same size, is the reason why I generally only wear one on my bad leg. Unfortunately, the "flesh tone" of the stockings I wear in the summer is not particularly close to the tone of my actual flesh and so, when I go out in a skirt or shorts, it does catch people's attention from time to time. What shocks me, is how many of them are vocal about noticing. I've had strangers do everything from visibly pointing out my leg to their friends, to stopping in their tracks to quiz me about it.

This weekend I braved a pair of shorts and told myself it was just too hot to care whether people were staring. Sure enough, people were. I'd like to assume it was because I just look so damn cute in shorts, but a young woman at Sparta's rugby game neatly burst that bubble by asking "why the stocking?"

I try to laugh it off. I generally throw on a bright smile and explain that it's a medical thing, I try to remember that most people just haven't encountered a young woman with my particular brand of medical mystery but the temptation to respond "Oh damn, I must have been drunk when I got dressed again" or worse, to say "I have a life-threatening condition that requires me to wear this, thanks for bringing it up," is strong.

Because as much as I can, for the most part, convince myself that it's no big deal and things could be so much worse than having people look at me and think "Fashion moron," a little self-consciousness creeps in. As does the more depressing reminder of why I'm wearing the thing in the first place. I have yet to come up with what I feel like is a satisfactory response for complete strangers who feel they have the right to know why I'm attired so outrageously.

To be honest, I'm not sure that I wouldn't ask someone my age the same question, and I'm usually not offended if someone asks me once we've already struck up a conversation but I can't help but wish people didn't feel quite so free to comment on my appearance just because I look young and healthy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Twisted sister

When I was little, I really wanted a sister. My mom had four of them and it seemed only fair that I should get at least one. When I was 5, my brother was born. I was mildly disappointed, but quickly got over it. And by "got over it" I mean, dressed him in skirts and called him "Leah."

Over the years, this grew increasingly difficult as by the time he was 14, he dwarfed me by about a foot. Since he started going to this thing called "the gym" in fact, forcing him to do anything at all (such as, give me a bite of whatever he's eating), has become nearly impossible. Braiding his hair, I'm sad to say, is out of the question these days.

So, what with his (selfish) insistence on being a guy and my parents being perfectly comfortable with the emptying of their nest, it seems safe to say assume I am not about to acquire a biological sister any time soon.

Recently I had a visit from one of my cousins. We were superclose when we were small, and climbing under the covers with her on the pullout couch when Sparta went to work in the morning brought back memories of lying awake and driving our parents insane with our incessant chatter and giggling. The time I accidentally bit her hand through the duvet while trying to muffle my laughter so we wouldn't be separated -a threat which I'm pretty sure had to be used every single time we had a sleepover- still makes me cackle.

I've been lucky enough to meet girls, now women, who more than make up for any number of sisters I could have imagined. Women who I admire and respect for their loyalty, brains, and creativity and can still be my face-pulling, weird-talking self around. Women who will by turns, embarrass/crack me up by yelling "Bad friend! Bad friend!" across a bar, or throw a drink in a creep's face for saying something insulting to me, or be my plus one while dancing with the elderly.

They are the ones who assure me I'm not crazy, for whatever crazy feeling I might be having, and who understand my passion or outrage concerning whatever cause I happen to be championing at the moment, because they have passion and drive to match it.

I've always felt perplexed and insulted by women who claim that they don't get along with other women, and prefer to be friends with guys. So often (not always) it sounds to me like code for "I prefer not to have to compete for attention" or "I don't think women are worth making the effort to find things in common with." I mean, give me a break, you can't find ANY women who you share interests with, or just like despite the fact that you have very little in common?

Maybe more than insulted though, I feel sorry for them. Their prejudice means they are missing out on the opportunity to connect with approximately half the population; the half that all of my amazing, hilarious, and supportive adopted sisters belong to. And that's just sad.