Month: February 2012

Teens and Birthdays

I was an uncool kid, or at least I thought I was. I didn’t fit in to what I was supposed to fit in to.  I was not in the ‘In’ c rowd, and as a kid growing up in the 70’s, this was so difficult for me. I got over it when I realized that the ‘In’ crowd were not cool, and to this day, many of those ‘cool’ kids are still acting like kids.

This ‘cool’ and ‘In’ crowd still exist. This morning, one of my favorite students, a future arts major, came into the office. Today is her seventeenth birthday, and she wanted someone to know. She isn’t the type of girl to hang out with the ‘cool’ girls, or any girl for that matter; her best friend is a boy who is also ‘uncool’ to the guys and girls in the school.

These kids are by far, the nicest kids in the school. They don’t spend their time judging others, nor do they do nasty things to those who they consider ‘uncool’.

Today this girl broke my heart. It is customary in the school that when a student has a birthday, the other girls in their class place a homemade birthday card on her locker, with signatures from everyone in her classroom.  Today, the girl came into my office to borrow some tape. She said that she really wanted the other girls to do the poster thingy for her, but they didn’t, so she made her own poster. I almost cried. I am a soft hearted person, especially when it comes to kids. I guess that is what led me to this job.

I spoke about this to my boss, and together, we made a poster. At lunch, we got all the kids who frequent the room to sign it, and before she had a chance to see what we were doing, I went and placed the card on her locker. She didn’t say anything, but I seen her standing next to her locker, with a tear in her eye.  Hopefully this made her feel better about herself today.

My Valentine post for 2012

I was 17 at the time, and heartbroken over a girl.  I remember my grandmother’s words, they stayed with me forever. (My grandmother passed fifteen years ago, and I miss her every day)

“Ted”, she said, “The girl who will make you happiest is not even born yet”. I looked at her and asked if she thought I was some kind of a sicko?. “A sicko? Why would you think that?” she asked. “That would make me 17 years older than her. I cant go with someone 17 years younger than me, that would be crazy!” I said. She just looked at me with her loving eyes and said “Whoever this girl is, I may not get a chance to meet her, but you will know from the minute you lay eyes on her. It will be love at first sight.”

My grandmother was a wise woman.

When I was 26, my marriage ended. The girl that I thought was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life turned out to be the person I wanted to be the farthest away from. Again, I was heartbroken. My grandmother was there for me again, and she told me the same thing that she had said when I was 17. “The woman you will spend the rest of your life with is still only a child. Give yourself time, you will know when it is right”

She began to scare me now. How could she know, how could she have been so sure? She was by no means a fortune teller, but yet, she held fast that she knew.

As a young man, I spent many days with my grandmother. My grandfather was killed by a drunk hit and run driver back in 1970, and she spent the rest of her days taking care of her grandchildren, offering them her insight and her love, and her famous chocolate cake, which she made from scratch. When Nana (we all called her that) needed someone to take her shopping, she would give me gas money and I would take her to whatever stores she wanted to go to, pushing the cart and chatting. She was so wise, so comical, and she always had a positive view of the world, no matter how tangled up it got.

My Nana developed diabetes when she turned 80, and by the time she was 86, she was totally blind. A strong woman, she did not let this get her down, rather, she continued shopping, telling stories, and baking cakes. Her garden grew as well as it did when she had sight, probably from the stories she recited as she watered and cared for each plant. I loved my grandmother so much. When she turned 87, complications from diabetes caused her to take a heart attack. On her death bed, she held my hand and again, assured me that I must be patient and wait for that special girl, the one who I will spend the rest of my life with, and the one who will make me smile each day. In a little while, my Nana was gone.

I had relationships afterwards, some of whom I had hoped were the ladies my grandmother spoke of, but none of them were.  I got to the point where I was about to give up. I knew that I was still grieving my marriage, as well as many personal difficulties, and that maybe I was not ready for a long term relationship.

When I turned 40, I underwent surgery to remove a possible cancerous tumor. After the surgery, I asked my family and friends why it was that I always treated people with kindness and respect, and yet, I was alone. Nobody had an answer except for my mom. She said that it was because I have never met the right person yet. Mom reminded me to think of what Nana told me. I replied to my mom that I am no longer 17, or 26, or even 30, and that this person probably doesn’t exist. I was about to give up.

Once I recovered from the surgery, I went back to college to do a two year course that would allow me the skills to run volunteer groups in the community, and I devoted my time to helping others, especially seniors and the poorer families in the community.

The first day at college was registration day. I was standing at the door when I saw her. My heart sank. I stuttered when I spoke, and I felt like I did when I was a kid and I was crushing the prettiest girl in school.  When I went to talk to her, I think I may have said something dumb, I am not sure because it was a blur to me. Here I was, a 40 year old man, unable to talk to a woman. That was never a problem for me, as I am not a shy person, but for some reason, I was horrified to say the wrong thing.

She made it easy for me. I remember looking into her eyes and all of a sudden all my fears, my nervousness, my speech, and everything else that were working overtime calmed down. We sat and chatted, and it was so easy to talk to her. We laughed together, and we spent the rest of the day together, in class, at lunch, back in class, and we said goodbye at the end of the day. She said that when she was 17 she had a child, but that didn’t matter to me. She called when I got home, and we chatted all night.

I still remember the next day of classes. The day before, we talked about everything imaginable, except for one thing, our ages. After class, our conversation got to the topic of how old I was. She guessed thirty. I was forty.  I figured her to be about thirty. When I told her my age, she backed off quickly. I wondered why this was, until she revealed that she was only 20 years old.

Just then, everything changed. She said that her dad was only a few years older than I was and it would be spooky dating someone twenty years her elder. I agreed, and said that I couldn’t do something like this either. We agreed to remain friends. We were great friends. On weekends, I went to her place and we made pizzas that the three of us ate together. Her little boy loved it when I visited, and I loved being there. She came to my home and we made snowmen in the backyard. We went to community events together, and we remained classmates, helping each other with assignments and we studied for tests and exams together. She was the best friend I ever had and I was happy.

When I arrived home, all I could think about was her. Nana’s words rang through my head but I quickly put them to sleep. I began dating another woman because I could not see myself in a relationship with a woman half my age, but the relationship ended in disaster.  She got into a relationship with some loser who was using her and I seen it. I feared that if I said anything, she would hate me forever, but when I found out that he was a drug user and small time dealer, I had to say something. I said “You are too good for a guy like this. I am not saying this so that you will go with me, I don’t care if you ever go out with me, I am happy to be your friend, and as a friend, I am suggesting that you run for your life  and stay away from this guy.”

She didn’t break up with him just then, but eventually she did send him packing.  One evening, while we were watching television together, she asked me if I was happy being her friend. I said yes, and she asked if I was REALLY happy, or if I wanted something more. She said that she enjoyed being my friend, but she also added that maybe she could deal with the age difference if I could. These were the best words I have ever heard. I didn’t tell her, but I had spent endless nights at home dreaming that she would say those words. I knew it would not be easy, but since when is life easy? I knew others would judge us wrongly when they found out that I was twice her age, but who cares? She made me happy and I made her happy, and we both loved her son, so what was really wrong with this?

That was eight years ago in January, and we have set our wedding day for September 21, 2013. The age difference is only an issue for people who don’t understand true love, and who don’t see how happy we make each other, and who don’t see how right my grandmother was all those years ago.

There are some who will read this post and make a judgement that I am too old to have a 27 year old fiance. There are some who will read this and see that True Love is a love that conquers all, and that even time cannot stop love if it is meant to happen.

Tomorrow is Valentines day for most people in the world. Every day is Valentines day for me and my beautiful woman. I love life, I love how this happened, and I love her.

The Story and why the lyrics are important to me

On Saturday, I posted a link to a video of Brandi Carlile’s song “The Story”, saying that the song was stuck in my head. After listening to the song, and looking at the lyrics, it is no wonder. The lyrics tell my story so well.

“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to”

I think the reason why I am here, on this blog is that I have been writing stories all my life, not so much to have them read, but just to write them. But it IS important to have someone read my stories. It is important to have someone to tell them to.

Where would we be without autobiographies and other true stories? Fiction is one thing, but reality is so much more interesting. Most of my blog is filled with true stories, stories of how I became who I am; as a kid, I wrote stories, and basically drove them down people’s throats, trying to get them to read them. Now, I notice that every day more and more people are tuning in to see what I have posted.  In essence, the readers are making my stories important, and meaningful. Where would any of us be if nobody read what we wrote?

The song has recently been covered by teen singing sensation Vince Mira, but I think the original packs the biggest wallop.  Give it a listen, and tell me, that as a writer, the lyrics don’t touch you as well.

kids and growing up too fast

Yesterday I taught my first class. Not having a teaching degree, I couldn’t be too fussy, and being 48 years old, I am  not planning on going to university and working on my education degree.  Seeing how we couldn’t talk any teachers (the ones with the teaching degrees) to do the class, I was asked to do it. I taught a group of mostly grade nine girls (and one guy in grade twelve looking to score some grade nine girls) the skills needed to babysit.

The guy had a multipurpose agenda, as he not only wanted to meet girls, he wanted to gain babysitting skills so that he could buy an electric guitar and get girls.

Anyway, the class began at 9 on a Saturday morning, and guess what? We had thirty student sign up for the course, and 8 showed up. It’s a Saturday morning thing I guess. I actually co-taught with another worker at the school, a lady who did much the same job I did. She made up her mind that she was going to be the ‘demonstrator’ and I could do all the talking. She said that she decided this because she is a quiet person and I wasn’t. She is right, I can talk the ears off anybody when I get on a roll.

I was happy she attended for more reason than one. The biggest reason I was glad  she was there with me was the fact that I was in a room with 7 ninth grader girls and one guy out to get them.

I began teaching the course as soon as we got all the students quieted down, which was about an hour after they got there. Man those kids! From the texting and chatter and giggling, it took the better part of the morning to get them to SHUT UP. After that they were great.

I flew through the chapters at an alarmingly quick rate, all the time questioning them on the material, and trying to be entertaining at the same time. As it was early on a Saturday, my audience weren’t the most chipper, but we made the most of the situation.

When we got to the part where the kids had to learn to dress the three dolls we brought to the school, the guy (the one attempting charm in order to get girls) was the most successful. I asked him if he played with dolls as a child, and he smugly replied ‘Action Figures’. Ya, I had those too.

The girls never had a sweet clue how to dress a doll. I asked the obvious question of ‘Didn’t you guys ever play with dolls when you were little?) and each of them had the same reply. “Only until we were three or four”

Heavens! My friends played with dolls until they were old enough to have their own. Those kids didn’t play with dolls? Isn’t that a part of a child discovering who they are? Like little boys playing with dinkies and tools, and girls playing with dolls and dress up? What is going  on  in this world?

The girls said that playing with dolls was for babies. When I asked them what they did from the age of five until the age they are today, they replied that they spent time on the computer, texted each other, and played video games.  They claimed it was childish to play with dolls when you are ten or eleven.

I had to dig deep here, so deep that I had to bring up my action figure days and explain how I used to put different clothing on Evel Knievel so that he could do different death defying jumps, and how my G.I. Joe had different clothing for different situations, and how Steve Austin even came with different outfits, and that I played with those toys until I was at least 15. The kids laughed their asses off.

No wonder the world is the way it is. Kids don`t play anymore. You never see kids playing hopscotch or skipping, and the morning marble competitions are all but history. What will the kids of next generation do to grow up. Computer simulations of games and fun?

scars

In the office today, we were talking about the hard times we suffered as children while attending school. My co-worker and I are virtually the same age, and we both attended Catholic school back in the early 70’s, a time in which teachers were allowed to do virtually anything to students.

I told of the time where a teacher would not let me go to the bathroom. I was in grade two at the time, and I was busting to pee. I asked her several times, the final time almost crying out. She would not let me go, so I did what I had to. I dropped my pants and peed in the garbage can next to her desk. I then got strapped in front of the other students. Ten times on each hand.

The next time I needed to pee and the teacher would not let me go to the bathroom, I just sat there and peed in my pants. I got the strap again. Mom paid the teacher a visit the next day. I never had any issues going to the bathroom again.

My friend had an equally embarrassing issue. She had to stand in front of the class and do math problems on the chalkboard. When she had trouble getting the answer, the teacher took out a ruler and hit her hands until they turned red and then bled. She was in so much pain, she peed in her  pants. The teacher sent her home, it was a three mile walk and it was in late February. When she got home, the pee was froze to her leg and she almost had frostbite.

This was all back when we were both in grade two.

When I was in grade eleven, I had another equally embarrassing experience. While in school , I sucked in sports, especially in baseball. The gym teacher knew that I was not interested in playing baseball, but he made me play anyway. He knew that I was not a very great ball player, primarily due to childhood diabetes and terrible balance, but I had to play anyway. All the other kids had their turn at bat, but when it came to my turn, the teacher got everyone to come in from outfield, and surround me. He then got one of the players to pitch me a volleyball rather than a baseball. I still remember all the kids (even some of who I thought were my friends) dying laughing. They died laughing, and I died.

Being bullied by a kid is bad enough, but being bullied by a teacher is a thousand times worst. Those things never leave you. These  memories stay with a person all their lives.

I met up with my former gym teacher at the last reunion the class had, two years ago. He was sitting alone, a bald, thin half dead old man, with serious health issues. The former students wanted to get together and tell him how they felt about him. He sat there, as smug as ever, probably expecting a ticker tape parade or at least a gift from the former students, but he was really surprised when each student got up in front of him, and using the microphone, each student told him of how much they hated him. They said that they hated how he picked out certain students, and how he made sure those students were the butt of all his cruel jokes. They said that they hated how he used his power to hurt others, and how he thought he was hot shit.

And then, it was my turn on the microphone. At first, I was going to tell everyone how he humiliated me on the ball field that day, pitching volleyballs at me and laughing, but I am a better person than that. I got up and said how sorry I felt for the guy. The entire room went silent. Everyone was expecting me to create a scene by giving him what he had coming. I continued my speech. I said how I always felt sorry that a man who had the skills and the training to help so many,but instead, he chose to abuse this power, and how this abuse of power made him the sorry excuse for a man that we see in front of us. I went on to say how every other teacher that attended the reunion could hold their heads high, because they knew that they did their best to make sure that students were successful, and that the students left high school feeling that they could take on  the world. I explained that this man did none of that stuff. I explained how he had to sit at a table by himself while the other teachers sat in a group. I explained that this man was not even accepted by his fellow teachers, and how his cruelty has finally come  back to bite him.

And then I grabbed a volleyball, and hurled it towards his head. I spoke loudly when I said that he was lucky that I chose to use a volleyball, because if I had used the correct ball, I would have taken his head off.

And when it was said and done, he got up and left. He did not apologize to anyone. He did not rise his head either, he couldn’t.

The scars that he left me with were nothing compared to the ones he created for himself.

Thought for the day: I hate Thursdays Part II

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

WORSTDAY

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

My new week. Thursdays always seem to suck, and this Worstday was no different. Try driving to work, something falls from the old beat up truck ahead of me on the highway, I hit it, and boom, my tire blows out. I change it only to notice that the dummy spare is flat also. I pump up dummy flat, make it to my local Canadian Tire (note the word TIRE), purchase new (note NEW) tire and rim, attempt to book appointment to get tire mounted on rim and on my car, salesperson tells me that since it is THURSDAY, all their tire changing crew are gone until MONDAY.

After visiting four different service stations, only one was not too busy to fix my tire, but he is closed for business today. Fortunately (I dont type the word ‘fortunately’ very often on Thursdays) he agrees to fix my tire but I will have to put it on my car myself. He does however charge me double because he has to call in a mechanic who is off duty.

When I get back to work on my dummy spare, it is flat again. I pump it up, but no go, the damn dummy tire is ruined. I get cab to garage to get now fixed tire, (well not fixed actually) as the guy who promised to have tire fixed in hour is nowhere in sight, and my new tire and rim are clearly visible on his garage floor, untouched and unfixed.

I return to work, call him eighty times, and finally he answers and says that if I came to his garage right now, he can not only fix the tire, but he can also mount rim and tire on car. I tell him that I cannot because my spare is now flat also.

another cab ride to garage, I am now heading back to work so that I can put tire and rim (now together) on car. (In my office clothing)

WORSTDAYS

would you like a points card with that?

While driving across the island a few years back, I had a terrible experience with a cashier in a service station. I had been driving my winter beater on the Trans Canada Highway, heading to St. John’s. I had made a deal to part trade the old Chevy truck and some cash for a newer truck for next winter, but part of the deal was that I deliver the truck myself. The old Chevy was quite the gas guzzler, and the gas gauge was never that dependable. The gauge was only accurate when the tank was near empty.

Anyway, I was driving, not paying particular attention to my surroundings, mostly, I was beating my hands on the dash like I was playing drums to some of the old country tunes that played on the AM radio. The radio was about the only thing that worked on the old truck. When I took notice, the gas gauge needle was pointing to the E, which gave me only a few miles and I would be out of gas.

I noticed a little gas station just up the road, and as the old truck chugged along, I was fortunate to make it just five feet short of the gas pump. Talk about good luck!

I asked one of the service station guys to give me a hand to push the truck to the pump, but he looked at me like I was asking for world peace, and went on his way. I literally had to push the old truck myself.

When I finally made it to the gas pump, I noticed that the station was not that of the more popular gas companies, but some ‘Mom and Dad’ business where they must have bought their gasoline from some other gas station along the way. The prices were outrageous. I filled the old tank as far as it would allow me without spilling any of the precious liquid, checked the amount, and weak from pushing the truck, and startled at the cost, I staggered into the gas station to pay $150 for the tank of gasoline.

When I got to the checkout, I was greeted by an East Indian lady with a strong East Indian accent. “You find what you look for?” she asked. “Yes, all I need is the gas” I said. “You want points card?” She said, “Only ten dollar with $200 purchase in store”.

“I just want to pay for my gas, I don’t want a points card, and I certainly don’t want to buy $50 worth of anything in the store, I just want to pay and leave, thank you!” I replied.

“Points card gives you much savings” She said, in her strong accent. I wondered what an East Indian woman was doing in this part of the island in the first place, and began to get frustrated when she kept trying to sell me a points card.

“Points card get you ten dollar off dinner at Mamma Joe’s Seafood and Bar” she said. “I have a sea food allergy, and I really just want to get on the road, I am running late as it is” I replied, growing more impatient as time went on.

“Everyone gets point card. With $150 dollar purchase, you just pay twenty five dollar” she said, more forceful this time.

“I don’t want the damn points card. I want to pay for my purchase of gasoline and go home. I don’t want seafood from Mamma Joes, I don’t want anything in your dumb store. I just want to pay for my gas and get going, do you understand English?” I yelled.

“Calm down sir, give me your money and you can go” she said, sounding defeated.

When I went to offer her my credit card, she refused. “We only take credit cards from customers who own points cards” She said.

“Are you kidding me? You won’t take my money?” I questioned.

“Only cash from people without point card”

I went to the truck and got the $150 and threw the money on the counter.

“You sure you no wan point card?” she asked.

I just ignored her and walked out.

When I got to the truck, pissed and angry, I got in the truck, and attempted to start the vehicle and leave, but I forgot the radio on, and it must have killed the battery. As insane as this may sound, I went in to the service station and was greeted by the same East Indian woman.

“Do you have anyone that can give me a boost?” I asked.

“We do, sir, but we must charge you. Do you have a points card?”

“A points card, are you insane, of course I don’t have a points card. I want a boost, not a points card!” I yelled. This was like some episode of the damn Twilight Zone.

“How much is a boost?” I asked.

“You cannot get boost without points card.” She said.

“Alright Alright HOW MUCH IS THAT DAMN POINTS CARD?” I yelled.

“Points card is $50 without gas purchase. with points card and no gas purchase, boost is another $25 dollar” She said. “but with gas purchase of $100 dollar or more, boost is free”

“I just bought $150 worth of gas, you said the points card was $25 with gas purchase” I muttered.

“But sir, you bought gas, did not want point card, now you want point card, you pay $50 plus $25 for boost. Understand” She said.

I hauled out my wallet, and in a now desperate situation, I handed her my credit card. At this point I would have paid anything just to get back on the road and away from this cashier from HELL.

‘We not take credit cards from people without point card,” She said.

I began to see red. I ran to the truck to get my last $75, gave her the money. She buzzed some East Indian kid, he comes out with a battery charger, boosts my truck, it starts and before I get a chance to leave, he peeks his head into the cab.

“Wah, no tip, you cheap Newf” he says.

I leave before I kill him.

Top Ten methods of getting rid of pesky Jehovaha Witnesses

If you are like me, you are constantly getting pestered by the door knocking, pamphlet giving, religion pushing, red knuckled Jehovah Witnesses. Below is a list of the many methods I have used to rid my door of those pains in the asses.

  1. Throw holy water on them. This sends them scurrying faster than vampires on a sunny day
  2. Offer THEM a pamphlet from your religion. Mom uses the church paper. You should see em high tail out of the yard when mom has her church papers. They just don’t want them.
  3. Sic the dog on them. To do this, starve your dog, and hold his food away from his mouth while holding a pamphlet. Those rascals can really run when a dog is chasing them
  4. Wish em a Merry Christmas. They hate Christmas and Easter, and get offended when you extend holiday greetings to them.
  5. Lock the door, but peer at them through the window. This drives them mad, they knock til their knuckles turn purple and eventually leave
  6. Preach the New Testament to them. For some reason,they think they know it all and don’t want to hear anything else
  7. Dig a hole in front of your step, covering it with branches. Wait on the other side holding out your hand for a pamphlet. They will do anything to get that pamphlet into your hands, even fall in a hole.
  8. Throw them a birthday party. The Jehovah’s do not celebrate birthdays. Even better, bake them a cake.
  9. Dress in Halloween costumes, and when they come to your door, give them treats, reminding them that Halloween isn’t until the last of October
  10. Ask for THEIR addresses so that you can knock on their doors when they are busy living their lives, so that you can bother them with silly pamphlets about the end of the world and how everyone but them are going straight to hell.