Thursday, June 28, 2012

Topless Women? Not On My Watch!

Last night I was riding home at around midnight, with a couple of friends.
On Parliament St, we passed a girl walking down the sidewalk.  She was crying loudly, and was topless.  Holding her arms across her breasts.

We stopped, and the female friend riding with us approached her to see if she was okay.  Her face was puffy and starting to bruise, she’d been beaten up.  I quickly gave her my t-shirt, which she took with a shy ‘thank you’.  She told us that her boyfriend had beaten her up, and she was headed back home to him.  We offered to call the police or an ambulance, but she turned us down.  One of my friends offered to pay for her to take a cab to somewhere safe, somewhere not with the boyfriend.  She refused, still crying, and wandered off into the night. 
The female friend was concerned, wanting to follow her, but the other male friend and I suggested that it was wasted effort.  We started to ride away, our friend suddenly annoyed with us for not forcing her to accept help. 
A block later, we passed a police station.  My friend ran inside to file a report.  As we waited for her, the beaten-up girl walked past.  An officer saw her and stopped her.  The girl told him what happened, and an ambulance was called.  We all made statements for a half hour or so, then went on our way home.

Apparently the boyfriend will be charged with assault regardless of whether she wants it enforced.  Unfortunately I doubt it will make any difference to either of them.  Probably completely futile.

I felt a bit silly, giving up a brand-new $50 t-shirt to her, but what can you do?  I imagine the shame of being forced to walk topless must have been awful.  So I’m glad I did it – hopefully it’s one bright point in her life at the moment, and shows that we’re not all assholes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Evenings Past

Sorry, I’ve been busy again.

After Monday’s post, my father (who doesn’t know about this blog) phoned to apologize for his behavior on Saturday.  I’m not quite sure what he misunderstood, but apparently there was something. It might have been the first time he’s ever apologized to me for anything.  So I’m not angry with him, but still don’t know when I’ll have another chance to return to Hometown.

Last night I had planned to go sailing.  However, a friend needed some support so I tended to that instead.  It would have been a great sail, but having a couple of pints and a long chat with a good friend more than beat the boat.  He pointed out that he’d needed the company more than he had expected, so I was even more happy to help.  Then I went home and instantly fell asleep.

Tonight I’ll be sailing.  The wind looks slightly lower than awesome, but still hopefully fun.  The waves will probably be sedate.  And my team has a plan.  We will do well tonight.  We might not win, but we’ll climb out of our standard range.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Waste

Wow, what a weekend.

On Father’s Day, I phoned my dad.  Apparently he’s been pretty lonely since my mum died, and I feel bad for him.  He doesn’t have many friends, and simply having 3 offspring (too old to be called ‘children’) living with him isn’t quite the same.
He seemed really ecstatic when I suggested we meet at a rugby game on Saturday afternoon, have a couple of drinks, and then head back to Hometown for the rest of the day.  I’d be going out in the evening to see a friend, but then Sunday morning we could spend time together too.
On Friday, I got an email from my brother, noting that the rugby game was off and I should head straight to their house instead.

I arrived Saturday at 2:30pm, and we chatted for an hour.  At one point, I asked if they’d started setting up mum’s headstone.  I had asked that they include me, I wanted to be there when they set it up.  “It’s already done,” I was told.  “Here’s a photograph.”  I was pretty annoyed at my request being ignored or forgotten.  Then, at 3:30, my dad got up, put on his shoes and told me he was going to church.  That was it, he left.
My brother was sleeping in his basement bedroom, and my sisters were in their rooms listening to music and drawing.  I was alone in their living room, watching tv and waiting for my dad to come back.  At 7pm, I gave up.  I went downstairs to give my brother the message:  “I’m pretty pissed off with what Dad did.  I rented a car, and gave up my whole weekend, and he only stayed here for an hour.  I’m going to ‘Friend’s house, and I’m not coming back tonight.  I’ll stay on her couch – there’s no point me driving back here.  He’ll just be going to church in the morning again, and I’m wasting more of my time.”
My brother agreed with me, and we said our goodbyes.

On Sunday morning, I did drive back to Hometown.  I went to the cemetery to see my mum’s gravesite.  I don’t believe in an afterlife, but it was important nonetheless.  I sat in front of the stone and talked to it as if it were her.  I told her that I had my own family to attend to, and that HER family didn’t seem to value the time enough to take it away from Wife.  She’d have understood, my father has always been somewhat selfish.  I stood up, walked back to my car, and started the ignition.  I turned it off, walked back to the headstone, and pressed my palm into the top of it.  The black stone was warm from the sun, and there was something reassuring about the touch.  Then I returned to the car and hit the road.

I had a great time that evening with my friend, but am furious with my father.  I spent $150 renting a car.  I gave up sailing on Friday night to spend it with Wife, as I wouldn’t see her all weekend.  I spent probably $50 on food, as I had to buy 3 meals (they don’t keep food at home).  I also gave up two days where I could have caught up on my studying, which I’ve been putting off for too long and it’s getting close to crunch-time.  All that for an hour with my father.  Friend could and would have come to see me in Toronto instead, so I really don’t count it that much in the equation…

I won’t be going back there for a while.  If home is where the heart is, then it is truly in Toronto with Wife.
The older I get, the more I see that my father's faults are still going strong.  I remember why I couldn't live with him.  I just wish I would remember it every time I feel guilty for not being as devoted to my family as my friends are to theirs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Weekend Ahead, Visiting the Family

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately.  I’ve been swamped with my new job, trying to gracefully exit my old one,  rehearse with my part-time band, sail, and possibly spend an hour or two with Wife.

That’s my plan for tonight.  If she doesn’t know how special she is, I’m skipping sailing in the beautiful weather, and a beer ‘n’ bbq on the patio afterwards, to spend the evening at home with her.

Tomorrow I’m renting a car and driving out to see my family for the weekend.  Other than the hour I spent in Hometown back in March when I returned his spare car, I haven’t seen my father since my mum’s funeral in February.  I just haven’t had any time.  This weekend I have time.  I think he’s getting lonely.  He doesn’t have many friends, social groups are tough for him because of his speech and mobility issues, and I think he just spends a lot of time sitting in front of the TV.  He sounded really happy that I was coming to visit, and VERY excited when I suggested that I meet him at an amateur rugby game that he attends.

Then I’ll see Wife again on Sunday night (if she’s not working).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Temper On The Seas

Last night I was skippering a sailboat for “tutorial races.”  This is where newer sailors learn skills like sail trim and maneuvers, with a little bit of stress to help push the education.  Usually it’s lots of fun.

Last night was not lots of fun.

I took 3 people with me, 2 beginners and one intermediate-level sailor.  One of the beginners instantly became a problem.  He repeatedly argued that he knew better ways to rig the boat than I, but wouldn’t listen to why his suggestions wouldn’t work.  For three races he kept telling us how we were failing, and how much better he could do than us.  The fourth race was his turn to shine.  Reluctantly, I asked him if he wanted his turn at the helm.  Steering.
He happily took the role, but instantly stopped listening to my suggestions. For the most part, I let people do what they want.  I’ll give advice, but unless you seem to be getting out of your experience/ safety level, I’m not really concerned whether my suggestions are followed.  So if I say that we can tack whenever you like, we can tack whenever you like.  If I say that there is more wind on the right side of the course, but you want to stay in the left-end doldrums, that’s your call.  I don’t care if we win or lose, this is for training.
Last night, some of my calls weren’t suggestions.  I told him to bear away to keep from hitting the committee boat (referee).  I told him four times before he finally turned away to avoid the vessel.  As we sailed along the start line, I suggested that we turn around.  He kept going for another minute, putting us in a very bad position for starting.  With no right of way, and 2 right-of-way sailboats bearing down on us, he commented that he wanted to do a fairly complicated and time-consuming maneuver.  “No,” I said.  “It’s not safe.  Keep going straight.”
He turned the tiller anyway, trying to gybe into the oncoming traffic.  I grabbed the tiller and forced it back to centre, at which point he started shouting at me to keep my hands out of his way.  “I told you to keep going straight ahead.” I growled. 
“Don’t tell me what to do, I’m gybing!” he shouted.
At that point, I lost my temper.  “I’m the f***ing skipper, it’s my boat, you do what you’re told, and don’t EVER fight me for the tiller!”  There was a lot more shouting back and forth, before I ordered him to walk up to the mast and stay there.  I realized that there was a good chance I’d shove him overboard, and then I’d be in the wrong, possibly with legal ramifications.

I sailed by the committee boat and shouted over that we were leaving the race and heading back to the dock.  It was too dangerous having an unpredictable a***hole like that on the boat, and I wasn’t taking responsibility for him or anyone else while he was on board.

He still didn’t get it.  He stood at the mast yelling “We haven’t won a single race!  You suck!  I went for a good move, and you panicked!  You panicked like a woman!”  At that point I bit my tongue and gripped the tiller harder.  I wanted nothing more than to walk up and put my fist through the back of his head.  I took a breath and suggested that if he wanted to talk like men, that we could discuss it over a beer once we got back on land. 
“I don’t want to talk to you!” he screamed, and suddenly seemed like a spoiled little bitch.
We got back to land, he did a ½-assed job of closing up the boat with the rest of the crew, and he sulked away into the night.  The rest of us sat back with a couple of beers.  I felt bad for those two guys - they'd wanted a fun night of sailing, and we'd brought the boat in an hour ahead of schedule.  A little unsure of whether I’d overreacted, I asked my remaining crew for honest feedback.  They were impressed with how I handled the situation, and honestly I could have been more forceful and still been in the right.  Wow.

I spoke with a couple other members about him, and he’s caught their attention too, however not quite as spectacularly as with me last night.  They also agreed that I was in the right, both with my demanding control and obedience, and in my decision to return the sailboat to the dock.  I won’t be sailing with him again, at least not without a good chat that shows he’s submitting to my (legal and moral) authority as captain of the boat.

Edit:  For the record, the captain's authority and responsibility is universally recognized, both morally and legally.  Most of us take it pretty seriously and do what we're told by the captain, whether we agree or not.  Sailing too many dangerous aspects to be democratic.  So it's a pretty serious offence to do what he did. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Evading School

I graduated from university in April of 2011. 
My program was tough for a couple of reasons.  One: it was night school, added on to working 50-60 hours per week.  Two:  I already work in the role I was being educated for, and sometimes had more knowledge than my professors.  Three:  Some of the students were competent, but some were complete morons.

I didn’t go to my convocation, graduation, or anything.  I wrote my last exam and walked out of the building exhausted.  I requested that my diploma be mailed to my house.  I ignored all the emails from the school (including one from my last prof, looking for a job).  I'm done, and just want to get on with my life.  I didn't make lasting friendships, I didn't have a life-changing experience, I'm not moving into "a new, exciting workforce."  I'm not twenty-one and moving out of my parents' house into my first shitty apartment.

When the alumni association started contacting me, I ignored them.  I have no interest in maintaining a connection with the school.  After 12 months, I received an email which threatened to stop contacting me if I didn’t reply to their requests for updates to my status and contact information.  Great, finally.
They have just started contacting me again, for a “where are they now” webpage.  And they’re starting to get annoying.

Maybe I should start making stuff up?  Like the Unibomber responded to his Harvard Alumni request – “the state of California has awarded me 7 life sentences for my accomplishments…”  hahaha

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Going Down With The Ship

Last night was absolutely the worst time I’ve ever had in a sailboat.
My crew finished the first race ninth out of ten.  We didn’t finish the second race.  We didn’t finish the third race.

We have a crew of mostly talented sailors.  And even the weaker ones aren’t actually detrimental.  However, any of last night’s crew could have taken a boat of beginners on the water and done a better job than we did as a team.  Honestly, I didn’t want to have dinner and drinks at the clubhouse afterwards.  I did because it’s traditional, expected, and I’d have looked like a whiny bitch if I just slinked home with my tail between my legs.  And eating and drinking with friends afterwards was a bit therapeutic.  But didn’t erase the frustration of the race.

I’m not particularly competitive.  Normally I’m happy to just know I’ve done my best and had fun.  This year is different – we’re constantly in the last couple of places (if we finish at all), but can’t figure out the problem.  The first time we blamed the boat.  The second time we blamed the boat. At this point, it’s obviously not the boat, we have a different boat each night.

Really, I’m thinking it’s the management.  Not because I know what he’s doing wrong, if I knew that I’d tell him and we could fix the issue.  But when the staff are able, but still consistently failing, the leadership is the only other variable I can identify.

We’ve got a plan to identify our deficiency next week, and I hope it works.  I love sailing, but am starting to hate the races.  I considered possibly quitting the race team, just attending the casual sail nights, but would feel bad about leaving my team solely for poor performance.  This year, I may simply be going down with the ship.  Literally.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Looking Up

Yesterday I had trouble sleeping, so I took the day off work.
It ended up being a good “mental health day,” sleeping in, having brunch with a good friend on a sunny patio, and heading out to race sailboats during a “small craft warning.”

I also got an email yesterday telling me that my job has been transferred.   I start my new position on Monday.  Out of the half-dozen in my current group, I think mine is the only positive change.  I’ll have new challenges that I’ve been looking to address for a while, and the things I hate about my current position will be reallocated to others.  The new job will be more strict, I won’t get 2-hour pub lunches, I’ll have to arrive and leave at pre-set times as opposed to my current flexible schedule.  But hopefully the benefits will outweigh the negative.

We’ll see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Not long after writing yesterday's blog, I had a recollection.  I was not the only confidant for my "troubled friend."  There were 2 of us.  I vaguely know the other, but have a lot of respect for him.
I found his contact information, and we agreed to meet for a coffee to discuss "the situation."
We talked for around 3 hours, and I got a lot of insight into everything.  While it didn't fix the issue, it enabled me to get myself to a better place.  Not only am I a lot more comfortable with how things are and will likely evolve, I am emotionally in a better position to support my friend.

So unexpectedly cathartic and therapeutic, it was one of the best days in recent memory.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pressure Drop

It’s been nearly a month since something very bad happened to someone close to me.  I had to promise not to say anything to anyone.  And I won’t.  I can’t even tell Wife.  And other than by listening and being supportive, I can’t help “the situation.”  Right now “the situation” seems to be in a holding pattern, but might get slightly better in a month or so.  I’m hoping.  Until then, I’m ready to sacrifice my own sanity for my friend.  It’s what a friend does.  I do believe it will work out for the better, and that by holding my stress in, we will produce the best result.

It’s starting to get to me.  I’ve been pretty stressed out, and have had to ask Wife a couple of times to be patient with me.  She suggested I talk to a therapist.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it will work.  The time and effort it would take to find a suitable counselor would be significant, as would getting to know and trust the therapist.  I’m hoping that “the situation” will get better earlier than I’d find someone to talk to.  And to be honest, I'm not really desperate enough to talk to a stranger about it.
Yesterday morning the pressure was pretty bad.  It might have been partially brought up by Wife and I discussing my options, but that’s only part of it.  It’s been a steady undercurrent since I was brought into it.  Yesterday was surprising though, I was tempted to start “cutting” again.  It’s not really an apt description, but seems to be the common term.  As a teenager, I was “a cutter.”  Like the valve on your cars radiator, opening myself seemed to relieve the built-up pressure, dropping it to a manageable level.  For whatever reason, I wasn’t a razor-blade guy.  I preferred to run a sewing needle along my skin, digging in to create a groove.  Then I would simply excavate, like a human Panama Canal.  Usually with a sewing needle, but I think I still have a knife somewhere for when the needle wasn’t big enough.  I remember the slow ripping, tearing sound the needle would make.  After a while, the pressure would dissipate, I wash away the blood, and return to my usual pleasant demeanor.  There was likely an adrenaline rush that helped too.  It’s probably been at least a decade since I’ve had this urge, really it’s been that long since I’ve thought about it at all.  And I’ve never before been able to explain the relief as well as I did typing this.  It makes me wonder if this time I’m making a decision, as opposed to the old times being more impulse-driven.

I have quite a few scars from this habit, mostly covered by tattoos at this point.  The tattoos take away attention from the scars, as well as create a cover that I’m not likely to damage for the sake of pressure release.  I didn’t cut yesterday.  Partially because I know Wife wouldn’t understand and would get pretty upset.  Instead I managed to just keep myself busy until I was leaving to meet friends.  By then, it wasn’t an option.

I wonder if simply getting another tattoo might help?  Then again, that would just add the stress of a few hundred dollars that I can’t afford to spend…

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hopefully Climbing From The Mire

I work for Rob Ford.  Pretty much.

I don’t actually work for the City of Toronto, I work for a large corporation.  However, my supervisor is Ford’s doppelganger.  He looks like him, walks like him, talks like him, thinks like him… He’s a complete piece of shit.  He stabs his staff in the back, lies to us about opportunities, and lies to other people about our performance to keep us from moving up (but always without the proof that Human Resources would need).

I’ve been working for him for 7 years, and have known him for over a decade.

Yesterday he surprised me by offering me a new set of responsibilities.  It may actually be a new job with a new title and pay grade, it may be the same title and pay with different tasks.  The surprise was because I had set up the meeting to justify why I should be moved from my current area to a new, challenging (and possibly fulfilling) one.  The same one that he told me he wanted me to take! 
The meeting started really well, and his mannerisms almost had me forget that he’s a 2-faced, egocentric prick that sells out his staff.  Then he lied to me (without knowing that I’m aware of the truth) and I was pulled back into reality before possibly saying something that I would regret.

Hopefully this won’t fall through, and in a week or two I will be on my way to something slightly better.  Still working for the complete piece of shit, however only knee-deep in it instead of the current waist-deep.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Consider Yourselves Punished

I'm in a grumpy mood today, and don't know why.

So i'm not going to write for you like some trained, literate, monkey.

No blogging today. 

World, consider yourself punished for making me cranky.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hate Those That Pay Your Way

In Ontario, the Catholic School System is trying to avoid hosting any “anti-homophobia” clubs.  I understand their disapproval, their doctrine states that it’s a sin and should not be promoted.

In Ontario, the Catholic School System is publicly funded.  Yes, my atheist ass pays taxes that are passed on to pay for mis-education and brainwashing that not only opposes my beliefs but opposes ME.  I don’t know why this religious system is funded by the Ontario residents, but assume it has something to do with a past politician trying to secure a sectarian system without threatening a large portion of the populace.  Less than half, but still a big chunk of the voters.  According to the Toronto Star today, a poll by Forum Research Inc. found that 48% of Ontario residents believe we shouldn’t fund Catholic Schools, while 43% believe we should.
I’m not saying that we should revoke funding.  Yet.  A 48:43 ratio is too close to go through the process of reconstructing or deconstructing a huge provincial school system.  Perhaps when we get a 66% or 75% rating that might be brought up.

Having said that, the Catholic School System is publicly funded.  This implies that it should follow the morals of the public.  Views have changed in the last 2000- I mean 20- years.  Canadian society doesn’t oppose homosexuality like it once did.  The violence and hate that is propagated by the “religious right” has been going on for generations, and stopping it can only be achieved by proper education.  I’ve seen it first-hand.  I don’t think I was ever bullied for my sexuality.  I was bullied, but I think it was the regular “I’m bigger and dumber than you and I need to boost my self-esteem” type.  However I had a friend in high school that was beaten to death for being gay.  Friends have been gay-bashed.  Friends have had guns put to their heads.  Teenagers around the world are killing themselves because of the very real fear that they’ll be shunned or hated.  When I was training for my volunteer position with the Lesbian Gay Bi Youth Line a decade ago, I remember being told that most teen suicides are sexuality related.

And this all stems from a lack of acceptance.  This lack of acceptance stems from mis-education and brainwashing.  This mis-education and brainwashing is not all because of the Catholic School System, but it holds some of the blame.  And as a publicly-funded system, it cannot continue to turn our populace against itself.

For now, they need to drop the “anti-“ doctrine, perhaps focusing on the positive sides of the religion.  Perhaps focus on the “do unto others” side, the “love thy neighbor” teachings in the bible.  Until we can remove this school system completely from my list of bills to pay, that is…

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Past And The Future

The weekend was pretty low-key.
Saturday was spent visiting with the in-laws.  At least 25 of them, I think.  They’re a lovely family, but it was a long and tiring day.
Sunday I finally finished the basement, and managed to clean the house for the first time in a few weeks.

The only really notable thing that happened is that Wife and I booked a holiday for our 2nd Anniversary this September.  We’re going to New York City for 5 days!  Broadway shows (on-and off- probably), MoMA, Guggenheim… that’s what Wife wants to do.  I’m happy just to people-watch.  I’ve been there a couple of times before, but always for work.  There was never much time for touristy stuff.  I remember wandering the streets of Chelsea in the middle of the night, loving the sound, energy, and freaks that surrounded me.  Wife has never been to NY.  I’m looking forward to it again, along with Broadway shows, the MoMA, Guggenheim, etc.  Our only pre-plan is to try to get tickets to The Book Of Mormon for our actual anniversary evening.
It’s months away, but we’re pretty excited.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fury Plus.

I’m angry.  No, I’m not angry.  I’m more than that.  I don't know what I am, 'furious' doesn’t even come close.

Two weeks ago a friend confided in me.  It was about something so awful that it took a while to comprehend.  I can’t talk to anyone about it, even Wife.  That's a promise I won't break.  Secrecy.

My closest friends have a higher value than my biological family.  I would kill or die for them.  So to be in this position where all I can do is listen and be emotional support is incredibly frustrating.  I can’t resolve the situation.  I can’t fix it.  I can’t protect those I value.  I feel helpless, and it’s adding to the feelings about the issue itself.

I’m not constantly brooding on the problem – sailing and working in my basement are distractions.  But any other time it’s there lurking…  It's starting to wear me down, but I can't think of what to do other than just eat it and wait for it to either implode or erode.