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Monthly Archives: August 2005

I would like to clarify my past football thoughts. They were written on very little sleep. And I was very crabby. What I was trying to say can basically be summarized as follows:

The Riders are too complacent. Complacent that they’ll turn it around. Complacent that the hitch pass will eventually work. Complacent to not change anything. Complacent to think that fans are going to keep coming to see this crap they call football. I’m sick of it. The end.

On to other things…

I went 24 hours without sleep yesterday. After my last night shift, which involved a whole pot of coffee being spilled on the floor and the near-explosion of a washing machine, my Mom and sister and I drove up to Waskesiu. None of us was really in a state to drive. Mom’s leg is broken. I hadn’t slept all night. Michelle had never driven in a city before. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep on the way there. I kept my eye out on things.

The day was beautiful and I was just happy to get away from Rosthern. It’s time to leave. High time. I was ready to leave a long time ago. We ate at the Hawood Inn along the beach, well, kind of along the beach, relaxed with bad magazines by the water, shopped and ate ice cream at the Big Olaf. I live to smell the Big Olaf. That is how I want heaven to smell like. The Big Olaf. I think I slept for a total of 20 minutes on the way home, woken up by callers calling the 650 AM sports show, lamenting and blasting the Riders’ loss. That sports show is so bad. I can’t stand listening to it. Just like I can’t stand listening o Rider fans anymore…

Today I was off to the dentist. I have great teeth again! I felt so tired that I almost fell asleep in the dentist’s chair, until the hygenist, who was none too gentle, hit a nerve near my gum line. I just about screamed.

When I got home, I turned on CNN. The destruction of Hurricane Katrina is mind-bogling. As is the description that it’s “just like Hiroshima”. But Hiroshima could have been avoided, was produced by a bomb dropped by Americans…I can’t accept that description. The contexts are way too different.

There are many sad stories, as many as there are about people who were stupid enough to think they could wait out the storm. Those I feel especially sorry for are those who were too poor, old, or sick to be able to escape. And for the animals. Especially a seal who was washed miles away from his marina home and left on a parking lot, finally shot by police as they couldn’t keep him dehydrated and had nowhere for him to go.

But the saddest story I’ve seen was a reporter interviewing a man who looked completely lost. In broken bits and pieces he was able to get out the story of he and his wife, hanging on to their roof for dear life. She finally was holding on to him. She knew they couldn’t hold on to each other very much longer. She told him to look after the kids. To go on. She let go and drifted away. The reporter cried. The man looked completely broken, beyond repair as he wandered down the street, his hand in that of a boy. He was completely lost.

There are a few lessons to learn from this storm. 1. Evacuate. Go away if authorities tell you to. 2. Superdomes are not always the strongest structures. Ask the Titanic. And finally: We have all of this technology. We think we can save the world. We fear terrorists, things we can stop if we try hard enough. We think we’re invicible. But Mother Nature can still kick the living crap out of us.

My ass Nealon Greene played a great football game. Pardon my French, but this rant has been long coming…

The Riders lose 19-15 today. Surprised? No. Happy? Yes. I win by the Riders would have just covered the myriad of problems this team faces. The biggest one: accountability.

You don’t play well? No big deal. You’ll play next week. Not getting the job done? We’re not going to bring in anybody to push you. We’ll let you “grow”. Since when did being a Rider involve this hippie mentality of equality for all?

This is PROFESSIONAL football, people. Competition regins supreme. You are judged by your wins and losses. And this Rider team has had more losses than I care to think about.

Heads need to roll. No longer can we be complacent and hope this team starts to win. I can’t figure out how the Rider coaching staff cannot see or ignore any of the problems that are so blatantly obvious. First thing that needs to happen: you put Danny Barrett’s job on the line. No more “Father Danny” mentality. He needs to kick all of his players in the ass and tell them that if they aren’t getting the job done, they’ll bring in someone who will. Look at Edmonton. They brought in another kicker to give Sean Fleming a kick in the rear end because he’s not having a great year. Players need to be pushed. If they’re not pushed, if nobody’s climbing up their backs trying to get their playing spot, the players are going to start slacking off because they know their jobs are secure. It’s human nature. The receivers need to be told that they’re got to go after balls, not just watch them sail over their heads. Greene has to start making better decisions, better throws and run the ball more.

Secondly, Roy Shivers need to tell Marcelle Beufeille to fix his playbook or fix himself a ticket out of here. The play calling of the Riders is predictable to the point that neither the running game nor the passing game exists anymore. Opposing defences know that 9 times out of 10, Kenton Keith is going to get the ball on first down and run it up the middle. The hitch play, a very low percentage play, needs to be buried. That play doesn’t work. And if you use it on 2 and 10 you’re obviously popping utopia pills, because that’s the only place that play works. The Riders also lack any deep offensive threat, and this is causing defences to play with 10 years of the line of scrimmage, which is why KK can’t run as in previous years. Defences have us all figured out.

Roy Shivers needs to tell his defence to quit giving up 2nd and long. Granted, the defence was outstanding tonight, considering they were on the field for probably 40 of the 60 minutes of the game. The defence is the least of our concerns right now.

The Board of Directors needs to step up and tell Roy Shivers that his job is on the line. He either needs to bring in the players to do the job, or consider early retirement. There is too much talent on the defensive side of the ball for the offensive side to not put up the same effort. Enough of the excuses of injuries, penalties and this “woe is me I live in Saskatchewan where we’re always getting the short end of the stick” attitude that has made us a province of whiners.

Do something about it. Be proactive. Quit waiting for the stars and planets to align correctly. Winning teams are winners because they make themselves accountable. The Riders are not.

My parents have been nothing but amusing this summer.

Yesterday my Dad returns home from work with a bandage over his abdomen. He takes if off to reveal a cut one inch in length. He misused his utility knife at work. Nice job, Dad. My Mom figured he needed a couple of stitches and tetanus shot, so off we went to the hospital, me laughing all the way. I had to go along. This was just not to be missed.

When we got to the hospital, I saw one of the nurses, whom I know well since I’ve dropped in there all the time since I was young, and said to her, “I’ve brought another wounded parent.” To which she laughed. Dad ended up getting 3 stitches (I was predicting six), a shot and a good story. He has to fill out an incident report at work now. How do you say: I stabbed myself.

Work has been hard the past couple of weeks. Last week one of our clients from the workshop passed away very suddenly. And this week, one of the residents at the group home fell seriously ill and is still in the hospital, with the doctors really having no idea what’s wrong. I’ve finally realized that my guys are getting old. Disabled people age at a rate much faster than you and I. It’s sad to see.

And it’s back to another set of nights. I actually slept for a couple of hours today, which was very weird. I never sleep before I start nights. Hopefully that means that I’ll actually be able to stay awake. We’ll see…

It’s 11:00 pm and I’m at home for the first night in 5 days. I hate working nights. There is a reason why God created day and He created night. There’s a reason why it’s dark at night and light during the day. We were never meant to stay awake all night. Oh well – only 4 more to go.

When you’re up all night, you think about a lot of things. For me, I mostly think “Why do I work here? Why did I come home this summer and work at this job that stresses and tick me off more and more with each passing day? When can I go home? Why does a 10 hour shift only have an actual workload of 5 hours?” and on and on and on…

But what I’ve really been thinking about lately is: Where do I go from here? I’ve got one more year in Vancouver and then what?

For the past 22 years of my life I’ve turned my attention to thoughts of why I haven’t had one guy like me in those entire 22 years who’s not family, the Riders’ omnipotent troubles and my ever imperfect tummy and have completely avoided the questions of what to do with my life.

For years I’ve been in music. Ever since I can remember I was always the one who could sing in play piano. And I’d have to do it for everybody, no matter how I felt. I’ve finally realized that I don’t have to sing at Grandma’s Easter dinner if nobody else in the room is going to offer to do anything. Plus, they want to hear a pop song. Not opera.

Before heading to the U of R, I specifically remember saying to my Mom, “What if I’m not supposed to be doing this?” My Mom replied, “What if you are and you end up regretting it for the rest of your life?” Good answer. And so I slogged my way through 4 years of music. There were good moments and bad moments. I hated practicing. But I loved being on stage. The center of attention.

Thinking back to 4th year, I now realize that ending up in Vancouver was a stroke of luck. It was my only plan. My only plan that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to follow through with. I thought it was just “passing time” until I figured out what I really wanted to do.

And then there was the January crisis. I woke one morning to the sound of pouring rain and a pounding heart. Why am I here? Do I really want to be here? Am I just doing this because everybody says I should be? And a three hour long phone conversation with my Mom convinced not to hop on the next flight home.

This summer a few things have become clearer to me.
1. I don’t want a 9-5 job. I thought I did. But I don’t. It’s too restricting.
2. I want to travel. After living in Vancouver for a year and then returning to the 1600 metropolis that is Rosthern has made me realize that there is so much out there. I don’t want to limit myself.
3. I love singing. There is nothing I love better than driving in my car, singing at the top of my lungs – nobody listening.

This is all so jumbled. Sorry. It’s the 20 hours of sleep I’ve had in the past week…

For the past couple of months I thought that I was going to get a Master’s degree in Musicology, then a Doctorate, find a nice cushy academic position at a middle-sized university that would allow me to sing if my career took off. I don’t think I want that anymore. I don’t think I ever did. I think it was my professors saying, “Now don’t let your academic talents fall into the background.” One of my profs told me that if I didn’t go to Master’s school, she’d find a gun and shoot me. True story. I laughed. She laughed. She thought I’d go. And so did I.

I thought I wanted to be Dr. Hamm. I thought that would make me happy. But it won’t. Writing papers and researching things the night before would make me terribly unhappy. I love learning. But that’s what the Internet is for.

Our trip to California reminded me that there’s a performer in me that is just aching to get out. I want to be in the lights, the camera, the action. I want to be a star.

For years I’ve told myself that I’m not pretty enough, not talented enough, not driven enough, not smart enough. That I don’t deserve to be a top signer. That I can’t be. That I don’t have what it takes. That voice inside of me has constantly held me back.

But the only place I’ve ever felt truly accepted is on the stage. On stage I can do whatever I want. Be the person I want to be. I can be the coy, sexy ingenue that I’m much too shy to be in person. I can be the smart, witty heroine that I know I can be at times. I can be the selfish, aggressive villaness that I sometimes want to be. And it’s all okay.

I don’t know if any of this means anything. I’ve made these self-deprecating speeches before. I have no idea if singing would truly make me happy for the rest of my life. But I guess I do know that it is a significant part of who I am and who I will be. It makes me happy. So does an appreciative audience.

So now I’m looking into summer programs and music schools in Europe, reading biographies of singers I love and trying to figure out how to kick this whole thing off, all the while trying to quell this voice inside me that says, “You won’t do it. You know you can’t. You’re too scared.”

Scared. Hell, yeah (pardon my language). The thought of being 10 years down the road, making my last ditch effort to get into music by turning to “Canadian Idol” scares the living daylights out of me. But so does not seeing how far my voice can take me.

It all comes down to how much I want it. Some days it’s not so much, some days it’s everything. But no more can I deny that I don’t want it. At least I’ve learned that much.

(I would like to apologize if any of this doesn’t make any sense or more any typos, grammatical errors – whatever. I’m tired. I’m cranky. I need some sleep.)

You know, I could have travelled forever. I never realized how much of a traveller I was until this trip.

Now that I’m home, I want to go back – mostly just to escape the 8 nights I have to work in the next two weeks – but seeing other parts of the world just gives a little perspective on how large the world really is.

To round up the trip, I’ve made a little list of – well, things:

1 – The number of 911 calls my Mom made.
1 – The number of thunderstorms we saw.
2 – The number of times it rained in the desert. Weird.
2 – The number of big fights I had with my sister.
2 – The number of times I had to sleep on the floor.
2 – The number of games the Riders lost while we were away.
2.5 – The number of hours I was scared on the Road to the Sun.
3 – The number of hours it took to get to the Grand Canyon (if we had taken the other road, it would have been much less…)
3 – The number of US dollars I had when I got back.
4 – The number of hours I spent on the Vegas strip. 4 hours too many…
6 – The number of rolls of pictures I took.
19 – The number of TV channels we had – in Vegas.
35 – The number of minutes we had to wait for Old Faithful to finally be faithful.
50 – The number of TV channels we had in Rexburg, Idaho.

I could go on and on…

Anyways, I’m home now. And the Riders suck. Today I heard a rumor that they were going to trade Kenton Keith and others to the Lions for Casey Printers. Okay. Dream on…

All right. It’s time to go to work. Only 6 more nights to go…

I know I was going to update much more often. But, our hotel in Anaheim would not allow me to post anything. Some weird “access restricted” thing. It was really annoying. Why? Because I last posted on Day 5, and today’s Day 14. Let me see what I can do…

Day 6: We make it to LA. But not before going through Bakersfield, where it’s 100 degrees. Kind of hot. It takes 1.5 hours to get through the city. Our hotel is easy to find. We get to the hotel. My Mom accidentally phones 911 while trying to get an outside line. We sleep. I have a cot for the next 5 nights.

Day 7: Disneyland. I wasn’t too excited. I thought, “Disneyland. A capitalist organization exploiting the dreams of young children.” I get there. I’m hooked. I was so excited when I saw the Magic Kingdom. I went down Splash Mountain. There’s an awful picture of me on the ride – could my mouth be open any wider as I’m hurtling to what I thought was my death, screaming all the way. I didn’t hum “It’s a Small World” at all after going through the ride. I decide that Walt Disney wasn’t such a bad guy. The parade and fireworks make me cry. It is the happiest place on earth. Much money was spent today. I was happy.

Day 8: Universal Studios. It takes us an hour to get there. I can’t breathe. Good thing for inhalers. The heat is suffocating. We take a studio tour, and I get freaked out by the fake earthquake, King Kong, a flash flood, and a shark just to name a few things. We go so close to the filming of “Desperate Housewives” that we all have to be quiet for a couple of minutes. We were officially on Wisteria Lane. I saw Jill Hennessey’s (Crossing Jordan) parking spot. And Jerry O’Connell’s. I decide that I want to walk down the red carpet someday. More shopping. More happiness.

Day 9: LA tour. This was worth every penny. Tara and I took a tour like this in NYC, and they’re the best way to see a bit of everything without the hassle of transportation. We went everywhere. Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, Walk of Fame, Kodak Theatre, Farmer’s Market, Venice Beach. And so much more. I see Judy Garland’s and Nicole Kidman’s stars. I’m inspired. Shopping. Happiness.

Day 10: San Diego. Sea World. I see Pendleton Air Force Base. And tanks on the side of the highway doing maneuvers. It makes M*A*S*H seem real. Shamu the killer whale is so cool. Seymour and Clyde, sea lions, had their own show – and they were acting! I fight with my sister. A tiny tiff. We’d been pretty good for a couple of days. Shop = happy.

Day 11: We head for Las Vegas. It’s so dirty. And so hot. It doesn’t seem nearly as impressive as on the TV show. We hit the slots. I win $12.50. In other words, I made $5.00. We then walk the strip where I buy a “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas shirt.” Nothing happens. Playing slots is extremely boring after 10 minutes.

Day 12: We drive, and drive and drive. We get to Hurricane, Utah, check in and then head for the Grand Canyon. A less than 2 hour drive turns into 3 1/2 hours because we decide to go through Zion National Park, and up this mountain that makes the Road to the Sun seem like any road in Saskatchewan. I feel as if I’m in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. The Canyon is insane. I feel oh so small. I almost write a poem, starting, “Oh canyon. You mirror the depths of my soul…” I dramatically read from a Grand Canyon book on the way home. I am ridiculed. But I got to go…shopping!

Day 13: I worry about my bank account. We drive from Utah, through Salt Lake City and up to Rexburg, Idaho because there are no available hotel rooms in Pocatello or Idaho Falls. I watch “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.” I am happy…

Day 14: We hit Yellowstone National Park. No Yogi Bear in sight. I wear my new straw cowboy hat. People stare. Old Faithful is pretty terrific. But I was getting a little impatient with her there for awhile. We find a hotel in Helena, Montana with Internet. My sister and I finally have it out. I’m surprised it took this long.

And so, there you have it. We’re planning to be home sometime tomorrow night. A few observations:

Americans aren’t bad people. They’re quite nice.
I miss home cooking.
I love travelling. I’d like to keep going, but everyone else wants to go home…
The Riders suck.
This has felt like the Griswold Great American Family Vacation. Minus a dead grandma on the roof of the car.
Hilariously, 2 of my aunts and their families are following us around the US. It’s as if they heard we were going and couldn’t take it, so they had to have their own vacation.
I can’t wait for a drink of real iced tea. Americans don’t know what they’re missing with their “unsweetened” crap.
Read “The Timetraveller’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. Great book. I spent 4 hours reading it in our hotel room in Vegas instead of playing slots. Go figure…

Tomorrow’s destination: Rosthern, SK. $10 says my puppy pees on me when I get home because she’s so excited to see me. Or – she just has to go the bathroom…

I just realized that I don’t really know how to spell San Francisco. I hope that’s right…

Anyways, since is the first blog of my vacation, and it’s Day 5, I’ll speed through the first couple of days:

Day 1: We made it to Lethbridge. We got lost trying to find our way back to the hotel. Worst gas station, ironically called The Gas King, exists in Lethbridge. I sleep on the floor because there are 5 of us. I’m very sore the next morning.

Day 2: I hate The Road to the Sun. It’s in Waterton Park in Montana and it’s super high. LIke, 5,000 feet in the air high. I hae panic attacks all the way up and down the mountain. Vacations are supposed to be stress-free. Not so. We drive and and drive and drive all the way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. People don’t pronounce the name correctly. Why would they? They’re American, not French. Here we find people who write their licenses on pieces of paper and stick them onto their cars. Interesting… I get a cot tonight!

Day 3: We make it to the Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach specifically, after a drive along the Columbia River and guessing our way through Portland. They don’t have well-marked highways in Oregon. We were in an industrial park for awhile, but it turned out to be the right way. Getting in and out of San Francisco was way easier than trying to navigate through Portland. Cannon Beach is like Waskesiu. We eat at this little seafood grill and I have steak. The ocean is amazing. But scary. Looking out into the ocean and seeing nothing and having no idea what’s going on underneath it scares the living daylights out of me. Another cot!

Day 4: Today is the longest day of driving ever. Highway 101 is the road that never ends. But it would be faster if we didn’t drive right along the coast on towering cliffs, that, 3 feet away from the edge of your vehicle, plunge into the Pacific Ocean. I’m scared the whole day. We find an outlet mall. I shop. I am happy for a brief hour. We do see some sea lions – for $8.00. What a rip off. We make it to Crescent City, California by day’s end. What a dump of a city. We ate at Denny’s, and it was worse than the gas station in Lethbridge. I have to sleep on the floor, but it’s a soft floor. Just before I fall asleep, I wonder if black widow spiders exist in California. It takes me awhile to fall asleep after that.

Day 5: Today. We’re now in Morgan Hill, California, outside of San Jose. The drive is better today. We stop in the Redwoods this morning. Another rip off. $13.50 to see big trees. I buy a cedar box because cedar smells so good. But it’s foggy the whole morning, so I can’t see the tops of the trees. Today’s road is curvier than yesterday’s, surprisingly. So, I take some Gravol. Good thing. We eat at Applebee’s. Not bad. We pass the Golden Gate Bridge without seeing it. That stupid fog rolled in again, and we saw the orange on the bridge, but not the top, and not what was underneath it. I was glad. Bridges scare me. Bridges in an earthquake zone: terrifying (remember: my imagination is much too vivid and creative for its own good). We find a Target. I shop. I am happy. Another cot!

A few other miscellaneous items:
I know the Riders suck right now. I’ve been reading about them.

There are no good chocolate bars in the US. No Caramilk, Jersey Milk or Smarties. It sucks.

I’m only buying postcards this trip. No silly souvenier-y things that I’m never going to look at again.

My brother keeps asking me: “What is wrong with you?” My sister says, “What’s happened to you?” And I keep telling her to “Tuck and roll” out of the van when she annoys me. Will we make it home without a major fight? That is yet to be seen…

Tomorrow we head for L.A. And then it’s Disneyland. And more shopping. And I will be happy.

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