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Up, up and away!

21 Jun

airlpane

I am in St. John’s  Newfoundland for work and due to a cancelled meeting I came to the airport earlier than expected.  I thought I might be able to get on an earlier flight, but due to delays and fees it didn’t make sense.  Instead, I am sitting here beavering away on work bits and of course watching and listening to people around me.  A father travelling with 3 (of his 6 kids) just told one who is misbehaving that ‘a knuckle sandwich was coming his way if he didn’t start listening.’   At airports I see many emotions and behaviours: love, impatientness, crankiness, sadness, anxiousness and totally bizarre bits too (just to name a few).

The last time I was in St Johns I was sitting in the exact same seat I am sitting in right now when quite a raucous broke out.  A guy came barrelling out of the bar making these insane animal like noises.  In just saying ‘guy’ I do no justice in aiding you to understand the situation.  This ‘guy’ was similar in size to John Goodman or John Candy.   A very large guy.  So he comes barrelling out, making said noises and falls flat on his face.  Some airport people came along and called 911.  As people started to take notice a few locals who knew him came by. ‘Ahhh, now see that’s Jamie and he’s been having a rough time lately.”  Rough time lately?  He is at an airport (so for the sake of this story I am going to assume he was waiting to get on a plane).  Jamie drank enough at that bar to put his 300 pound self flat on his face (and someone served him the booze which induced this state). It was highly likely that he was meant to be on my flight. To understand why I was so glad that he was not going to be on my flight I must give you some background info.  A few months prior to this incident I visited my oldest brother in Grande Prairie, Alberta. There are a lot of oil rig workers that come and go through that airport.  A group of guys fresh off a month of work arrived drunk for our 11 am (yes) flight.  I am not sure why they were allowed to get on the flight in the first place, but it happened.  Shortly after take off my worst nightmare happened.  The biggest guy in the group projectile barfed all over the place.  A few times.  It was awful.  Like I am gagging right now thinking of it. One poor old lady who has the unlucky recipient of being hit with his Stand By Me Lard Ass spray was brought to the front of the plane to get cleaned up.  The stewardess said to the lady ‘Do you have a change of clothes in your carry on?’  to which she replied ‘No dear I don’t.  I mean, I wasn’t planning on being vomited on.’ I literally had to teleport myself out of that plane for the rest of the flight. I looked autistic with my nose plugged, eyes closed and head turned toward the window.   I was rather thankful that Jamie was face down on the floor rather than getting on my flight and inducing my ‘in-flight-barfer-PTSD’.

Gosh, Grande Prairie flights have really caused me some trauma come to think of it.  Another flight I took there I was seated in the front row of the plane.  It ended up that a guy who had been airlifted to Edmonton because his barbeque had blown up in his face was coming home and was going to be my seatmate.  Alright.  So he comes on the plane with a full face of dressings and his arms were also bandaged up big time.  It was kind of like being seated next to E.T.  Because we were seated in the front row and it is a small commuter plane we were very close to the washroom.  So he gets settled in beside me and just then an older man made a very anxious and quick beeline for the washroom.  He was in there for quite sometime.  When he came out the worst smell I have ever in my life been exposed to hit me.  I was wishing I was the guy beside me as his nose was all bandaged up so his smell was likely blocked.  My father has been known to make some vicious smells, but this guy trumped them all.   People in the front rows couldn’t contain themselves.  In  unison I heard people say ‘Oh my God’.  Just before the flight was going to take off he made another trip.  Honestly, I don’t know what meal or road kill that man ate to cause that vile assault on my nostrils.  I know there are tickets for violating noise bylaws… this guy should have been given one for breaking a smell bylaw and creating a massive disturbance.

It is close to boarding time now, so I sit here with my fingers crossed for no bodily function dramas on my flight.  If anything happens I will let you know…

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Kiss Me I’m Irish – Kind of

17 Mar

St Patrick’s day has always been one that represents utter foolishness for me.  I really do have a soft spot for the Irish.  My grandfather was a McCarron or as my ‘likely autistic but never diagnosed Grand Uncle Eddie’ says ‘I am Eddie McCarrrrrroooonn’.   One time another Grand Uncle, Leonard (brother of Eddie and Grandpa), decided to scoot into the bathroom at a family St Patty’s day party and literally poured a bottle of green food dye in his hair.  Leonard’s hair was usually a wild mound of white locks so his new ‘do’ was crazy.  I remember he had green dye coming down his forehead and all over his hands. I don’t think I understood what being drunk was at that time.

I’ve been to Ireland 3 times and had some of the biggest laughs I’ve ever had while visiting there.  I don’t know what it is about the men.  They can literally be a 7/10, but when they start to talk and joke – all of a sudden they are a 9.   One of the trips was with my friend Alexis at a time when we were both single. The below picture was taken outside of the Guinness Brewery.  This close talking fella had snow on the roof but a fire in the oven.  His large Clydesdale horse is standing outside of the picture.  He was a foolish flirt.  He asked me ‘Do you talk in your sleep?’  to which I replied ‘I don’t think so’ to which he said ‘Want to prove it?’.  Thus the large laugh taking place.

Irish

When I lived in Toronto I worked as a sales rep for a wine and spirits company.  I had some big Irish brands in my portfolio.  I would often have brewers from the various distilleries come to town and because I covered downtown/had large stores I would scoop them at the airport and show them the market.  The Master Distiller from Jamieson’s Irish Whiskey was in town for St Patty’s Day once and we got along quite well.  He invited me an event which he was the guest of honor.  That night I found myself sitting at the head table listening to people speak Irish and sipping whiskey. They literally played happy birthday on a flute and sang happy birthday individually to every person who celebrated since the last meeting. I started committing mortal sins by adding ice, orange juice, whatever I could to  dilute my drinks.  I hate whiskey.  Before I knew it I was pie-eyed drunk.  It seems the old guy can handle a lot more than me as he seemed sober.  I had planned to go meet my girlfriends but ended up in bed by 9.

The next year we partnered with Diageo (company which represented Guinness) to have a big old St Patrick’s Day Party.  I had been allotted a certain number of tickets – rather than being strategic and give them to customers I gave them to my girlfriends.  As people started pouring in it became very apparent that this was going to be a fun night.  Texts/calls started flying and in the matter of minutes I had about 20 people coming to the event and only 5 had tickets to give out.  I decided to rip out my country girl charm and chat up the head of security before he got too busy.  I asked him lots of questions, made him laugh, told him my role, brought him water, etc.  Over the course of the night I asked him to let in at least 15 extra people.   He obliged and I remember him saying ‘People usually ask for 1 or 2, what the hell Nova Scotia?’  I think we even had a cousin picture taken with him.  I was on professional duty until lets say 8 pm.  After that I jumped into the foolishness.  There are two specific memories which come to mind.  One involves a very large Australian rugby player and the other a police officer who was in and out of uniform.   My friend Sue (who is somewhere around 5’9) and I were hoisted into the air by this said Aussie.  At one point this beast of a man had the both of us on his shoulders running the length of the hall.  Now, if I recall correctly (and my memory usually does not fail me) he was almost 7 feet tall and if we were sitting we are half our height so we were over 10 feet in the air and he had already consumed copious amounts of beer.  At this point a police officer saw what was happening and decided that he needed to intervene.  It happens this officer was rather attractive.  Once we were back on the ground the said officer became the victim of our antics.  It seems we must have impressed as once off duty he and his partner came back in plain clothes to have some pints with us.   I think we may have even gotten driven home by police officers that night.

March 18th over the years has involved having some of the worst headaches I’ve ever had and even naps under my desk. Oh you Irish.  You have a way of getting me into trouble. Tonight I am doing something far more Canadian than Irish – going to a hockey game.  Alas, I will still have some beer in honor.

Mile High Club Failure

3 Apr

mile high club

I am usually a very positive person. It takes quite a lot to ruffle my feathers. I usually wake up feeling happy, motivated, and ready to take on the day. This winter has positively gotten the positive side of me.  I have tried everything to be optimistic about this winter – took a trip thinking it would be close to being done when we got back.  Nope.  I have terrific winter apparel (North Face parka, Sorel winter boots, hats, gloves) but even that can’t help me any more. Every morning I look at getting dressed with the same enthusiasm as going for a root canal. I spent $32 on tights the other day; on wear one both ripped. My boots are salt stained. Last night ‘Steady Eddie Maurice’ lost his cool. He came home to find our garage drain had decided to back up and in turn filled the garage floor with water.  The water soaked boxes which were on the floor and their collapse caused all of the boxes on top of them to fall over and spill, resulting in sopping wet papers.  I shed my ‘Debbie Downer Winter Attitude’ and talked him off the “I AM DONE WITH WINTER” ledge.

This morning I woke up and read something that made me feel much better.  A few months ago there was a story in the Chronicle Herald about a man and woman (not a couple) who engaged in sexual acts while on a flight from Toronto.  Upon arriving in Halifax the pair were arrested and charged with plane sex charges, mischief and causing a disturbance. The police would not confirm whether or not the man and women previously knew each other, but they did confirm that the “act” was not intercourse. RCMP stated that “the people involved were not naked though the clothing was partially open.”  In an interview he broke his stone cold face when he said this with a smirk on his face  “Others around the area knew what was happening.”   I have always wondered about The Mile High Club and the impracticality of it, but this story really got me thinking.  The flight from Toronto is only 2 hour and this flight landed at 5 pm which means it wasn’t night time. Now, I don’t know about you but in the MANY flights I have taken out of or arriving in Halifax, the most I have ever wanted to do with a seatmate is talk as it is typically someone from NFLD who is afraid of flying or an oil rig worker heading west.  There are TV screens on most Air Canada planes which cause people to be completely disengaged with their seatmates.  This mornings article had another piece of information which wasn’t in the previous writings: the wife of the man involved in this “situation” was waiting for him at the gate!  How is that for a “Honey I’m home surprise”?!  I am sure he said “I was just watching a movie and all of the sudden this chick started on me” or “I was asleep, woke up and the woman in 4D was undoing my pants” or “I took medication before flying and I blacked out. I don’t remember anything.”  The length of this flight is what really has me baffled. So, let’s say they met on the flight and by the time the captain turned off the seat belt sign things were happening.  Maybe turbulence caused his zipper to come down?  All the bumping might have done it.

So, when I think about how cruddy the weather is I think about these two airplane lovers – they need to deal with the weather, criminal charges and an enraged wife. Later today I am boarding a flight bound for Toronto… hopefully I won’t get escorted out by RCMP.

Good Things Are Happening!

19 Nov

Once upon a time I had a boss named Wayne (no idea if he reads this or not) and he always said “Good things are happening”!  He was extraordinarily positive, had boundless energy and forced us to do push up competitions in our office.  He was a pretty rare guy.  I read the paper daily and most days I feel much worse when I finish it than when I started.  Recently I wrote a letter to the editor daring them to report on “the good things happening” in our province.  On that particular day the best part of the read was the obituaries; at least they told stories of love and the positive things people did with their lives.  Why do we need to hear about losers like Rob Ford, Kim Kardashian and Mike Duffey over and over again?

In an effort to focus on the positive I want to share with you a story which recently has impacted me.  I volunteer as a Doula. What is a Doula you say?  Directly translated it means I am a servant to a labored woman!  Basically I act as a support person to pregnant women who are in need of extra support.  The program I volunteer through aims to support: low income families, single mothers and new comers to Canada.  After returning from Africa in October I felt very impacted by my stay in Tanzania.   Shortly after returning I received our monthly list of mothers needing support.  On the list was a woman from Rwanda looking for support during the birth of her first baby.  I immediately contacted our coordinator and said I would be most interested in helping her.  We got all the paperwork done and shortly after I met “Sweet Marie” who has full of baby (due in only a few weeks) and her kind husband Tele.  Over the course of the next few weeks I learned so much about them; their journey coming to Canada, their culture, the distinct differences between life in Canada and Rwanda, and of course their excitement for the birth of their baby. They have no family living here.  It made me reflect on what it would be like for myself (or most anyone I know) to have their first baby – there would be showers, visitors, food offered and lots of general support.  All they really have is each other.  When visiting them I realized they were in need of many items for their baby.  I decided to post on Facebook  a request for anyone having baby items to spare to pass them over to me so that I could give them to this growing family.  What happened next amazed me.  I received (and still am receiving) so many items that I filled my car from top to bottom – Millie (my dog) had to sit on top of 3 boxes of diapers when I delivered the first load to them tonight.  When I showed up at their door Marie’s mouth literally dropped as if she saw a ghost and she started to cry.  I felt like Oprah when she would give viewers some crazy gift.  This wasn’t anything crazy it was basic baby stuff, but to her it was as if I showed up with a million dollar cheque.  

Last Monday the baby arrived after 4 (yes 4) days of labor.  I was able to support them throughout this as it was very much out of Tele’s comfort zone (men do not attend births in their country and he felt very nervous to be alone during the process).  Little baby Lina made her way into the world and my goodness is she ever beautiful. After losing 4 nights sleep and spending a week in the hospital due to a few minor complications I was concerned about her going home to be alone all day while her husband goes to work. A friend informed me of an amazing program at the IWK called EPS (Extra Parental Support) so I called and had them set up a visit from a volunteer once a week for 3 hours.  Basically this volunteer will do anything Marie wants – care for the baby if she wants to take a nap, do laundry, visit, etc.  Yesterday they came for the first time and she told me it was wonderful. 

The purpose of this post is to hopefully inspire you to “make good things happen”. Honestly, it is way easier to make good thing happen than to make shitty things happen.  We are so connected now that the click of a computer key gives you access to thousands of eyes.  My father says that Facebook is “the most blatant display of insecurity he has ever seen” – for the most part I agree with him, but when used right it can “make good things happen”.  

Through this process I have been: educated on another culture, made 3 new friends, further appreciate the amazing health care we have in Canada and made some “good things happen” with the help of many others.

 

I climbed a mountain and I looked around… Part 2

11 Oct

My father has always been a VERY conservative driver.  When we were kids we used to joke and say that nuns passed up.  On a regular basis Smart Alecs would “row” by our vehicle as Dad confidently drove at least 20 km’s below the speed limit on the highway.  Prior to heading out he would (and still does) check the tire pressure, oil, etc.  On top of being conservative in his pedal pressure Dad always takes back roads which are often dirt.  When he drives on a dirt road he is very considerate of his vehicle – he drives slow enough that he can avoid hitting most potholes.   Every time I was in a vehicle in Tanzania I thought of my father and how every driver I had defied every “rule of the road” my Dad follows.  The bus which picked me up at the airport took a detour to drop off a female tour guide at her home.  The road we took literally had the largest potholes I have seen and as well had “speed bumps” which looked to me like logs laid across the road with mud  packed around them.  Our driver hit that dirt road like he was Mario Andretti – less the race car.  Any thought you ever had of catching a nap after flying 24 hours was quickly gone out the window. The ride was similar to riding a mechanical bull at the Calgary Stampede. We dropped off our passenger at her home and made our way back to the main road. 
After doing my climb I went on a 3 day safari with 3 other gals.  Our guide was Emmanuel and imagine the fact that he does some kind of car racing on the side.  Our vehicle for the purpose of the safari was a Toyota Land Cruiser.  The safari involved a lot of driving on various forms of roads – paved, not paved, off road, etc.   It was our first time being on safari so everything was exciting and new.  For Emmanuel he had done it 100 times over so I think he sought excitement from the driving end of things, not by seeing an elephant standing with his penis hanging out.  The Land Cruiser only had seat belts in the front (where we weren’t sitting), so we were left to bounce and jostle around in the back.   I didn’t contact the Department of Transportation prior to hitting the roads; but it seems to me that the rules are made up as you go.  One of the national parks we went to was called Ngorongoro Conservation Area.  In order to get to the crater we needed to drive up the side of a mountain, all along the edge of the crater and finally down into the park.  The dirt road was something similar to OJ Simpsons story – there were holes everywhere. Let’s just say Emmanuel didn’t use the same precautions that my father did while driving on the that road.  We were driving so fast and bouncing so much that I think I got whip lash from my boobs hitting my chin – I need to wear at least 2 bras to do jumping jacks… I wasn’t prepared for all of this flopping.  As we burned along the dirt road we would come across members of the Mosai tribe walking with their herds of cows.  Cows are particularly important to the Mosai tribe as the size of the herd indicates how many wives the owner can have.  It seems Emmanuel didn’t want the owners to get another wife because he would burn right up to the herd and then slam on the brakes nearly hitting the cows.  I am more of a precautionary driver… you know if I was to come a long a herd of cows on the road in front of me I would slowly put on the brakes. I was holding onto bars on the roof in an effort to brace the bumps – that didn’t work and I think I broke my cervix as I felt like I had given birth the next day.
After the safari I needed to be delivered to the airport, buttttttt, we spent a little too long bartering at a shop, a few too many animals crossed the road and we hit rush hour in Arusha, so we were running late. ***I am usually pretty laid back about the whole timing of getting to the airport and sometimes like the drama of being late. I have always dreamed of being carried on one the 5 wheelers through the airport… beeping the horn and having people get out of the way while my hair blows.** I kid. Everything seemed to be further away than initially thought so I was worried about getting to the airport. Entry race car driver Emmanuel. It was starting to get dark as we got to the outskirts of Arusha so that made everything even anxiety filled for me. Although the roads have a centre line it seems you can pass, swerve, or drive beside anyone as you wish. Now it was dark with no street lights. Along the HIGHWAY (not a street or even a road) there were people walking everywhere in the dark, bicycles, motorcycles criss-crossing through traffic, buses with crazy exhaust… and us. Emmanuel drove 100 km an hour throughout all of this chaos – swerving in and out, headlights coming straight at us and a big piece of a bus flew off the side and went across the road. If a doctor had followed some of my vitals during the last hour of my trip they may have predicted that I was about to have a stroke. As in the last post I suggested that I thought I was going to shit myself when coming down the mountain – well this day ended in the same way….
Arusha