Happy Birthday Bruce, Lorrie, Isabel, Doady

Death as a Dinner Guest

Happy Birthday Bruce, Lorrie, Isabel, Doady

Happy Birthday Bruce, Lorrie, Isabel, Doady

Today was a good day. A long, tiring day that started far too early for someone who usually falls asleep between 4 and 6 in the morning, but it was still a good day.

And a bad day.

A bittersweet day.

Today was the family birthday party for all the people whose birthday is this month.

One of them is dead. Well, that’s how it starts.

He wasn’t, I don’t think, when they ordered the cake. Dead. And when we picked up the cake, there were no musical notes on it, which WOULD NOT STAND for VARIOUS REASONS and my aunt Dinny immediately called over the chief baker and had some musical notes piped on it as had been the plan all along because my aunt Dinny always goes to the top and gets results fast. The musical notes will be important later; this is foreshadowing.

But yes, my awesome, kind, funny, warm Uncle Bruce had been very unwell for a very long time, and had been in and out of the hospital recently. On his last day he was at home, and his wife was booked to help at a dance, and he wouldn’t hear of her staying home with him. He was good. Go.

So she went.

When she got back, they chatted about the night, she made some tea for them both, and before she could give it to him, he collapsed. It was all over.

In the same spirit, she wouldn’t hear of keeping his name off the cake. Bruce wouldn’t miss a party, particularly not a party where he’s the guest of honour! My family is one that takes party obligations very seriously; people practice for things like being the guest of honour, and making their initial “what I’ve been up to in the last six months” remarks.

Partying is serious business.

Partying is, in fact, the family business at Uncle Bruce and Aunt Donnie’s house, as well as their preferred activity: always an enthusiastic and talented musician, once he retired from his job as a genetic technician at the Experimental Farm, Bruce made music his full time gig. How good was he? Well, lots of Canadian people go to Ireland. How many get paid to go to Ireland to teach Celtic fiddling to the people who invented it?

That good.

And Donnie was always by his side, with a pot of tea and a sheaf of papers and often with a phone at her ear, running their road show with an efficiency that would be the envy of any nation’s chief executive even if it often looked like an octopus in a hurricane and felt like that to those suddenly caught up in it unprepared. And when they decorated the house for Christmas, you’d never seen more holly on more gilded fiddle ornaments. Joy and music and family with their four boys were where they lived, and South March was only the place where this glorious galaxy happened to intersect with Planet Earth.

So, in many ways including being named on the cake, Bruce was indeed at the party.

Cal was also at the party.

Cal liked my tee shirt: the one that says “Ain’t no party like a Gatsby party cuz a Gatsby party don’t stop until two people are dead and everyone is disenchanted with the Jazz Age as a whole.” In retrospect, I should not have worn that tee shirt.

Today is the first day Cal and I ever met; he’s married to a second cousin from a side of the family that my mother never spoke to, so we didn’t speak to them either. But Cal was charming and sat across from me at lunch, and he and his wife Gail gave me a birthday card with actual cash money in it (that’s how you know you’re still Kid Generation, even if you’re middle-aged) for my birthday, even though they’d never laid eyes on me before either, which was very nice of them. Cal had high cheekbones and bright blue eyes and excellent posture, and he was a sweet, low-key gentleman with a good sense of humour and was not in the least phased by the presence of my pinko politicking, purple-haired self as many gentlemen of A Certain Age are. We joked across the table about my shirt and all the hippies in BC and many other things besides, and listened to all the family stories, and stood up and sat down over and over for many, many family photos, and then it was time to go, so we all went.

Cal died on the way home from the party.

I expect that, wherever they are, Bruce is showing him around and introducing him to people, because that’s what Bruce would do, and since Martin Landau and George Romero died on the same day as Bruce, and Kenneth J. Lane died on the same day as Cal, they are probably having an amazing (and well-dressed) party right now.

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Agrees, Yoda does.

Yet — GASP — Another Blog Post!

Two in a week! I know, right? 

Here’s my first week with ID and medical coverage and what am I doing about it? Nothing whatsoever, that’s what I’m doing about it.

On the plus side, I have a TON of experience at this shit. On the minus side, I have a tooth that has basically been infected for the last year, on and off, plus swollen glands and an overdue cancer survivor check, which anyone must admit is an inauspicious conjunction. So I’ve got to get off my ass/buttular parts and on the road to getting an actual doctor’s appointment, which I literally forget how to do.

I’m serious. The last time I had a doctor’s appointment was like Three Cher Faces ago, and the Kardashians had not been invented yet, except the one toadying to OJ Simpson. So I have to find a doctor, I guess, and then make an appointment. No, first I have to dig through the welfare website, because I think I read that they cover dental stuff if you’re on benefits, which I am, and that would be huge. And I can do that now, which is long past doctors’ offices closing time, so brb.

Back. Wow, there are an unconscionable number of 404’s on that government website. No excuse for that shit, people. #BlameManagement. Anyhoodle it does look like dental is covered if there’s pain and/or infection and/or there sure as shit is.

Okay, email to one human being at the hospital with the cancer centre has been sent, asking for pointers to the right person to talk to. So that’s step one and step two down. Whew, this whole efficiency thing is exhausting!

The next paperwork step is taxes. You can imagine how much I’m looking forward to that. Taxes, cancer, and tooth extractions.

Life. A cabaret, it is.

Agrees, Yoda does.

Agrees, Yoda does.

Certificate of Citizenship

Who exists? THIS BITCH!

Certificate of Citizenship

Certificate of Citizenship

Well, it’s official: I exist.

After a significant number of years “off the grid” during which I often lived without electricity, usually lived without a fixed address, and quite often lived without any idea where I would be in the next two weeks, as well as a fraught month without any health insurance whatsoever, I finally have an official address. An official identity. Like a pedigreed dog or a downtown lamp post, I am papered.

I am an Ontarian.

So, anyone looking for raincoaster is probably not looking in Ontario, so on that basis I’m probably pretty safe from Them, whoever Them is/are.

Not sure Them were actually ever looking for me, but my ego won’t allow for the possibility nobody wanted to find me, particularly THEM, so one will continue to assume one has successfully thwarted Them for years.

And don’t try to talk me out of it.

Anyhoodle, the result of all seven months of hard task-mastering and world-class admin support by The Sister is that I now have a temporary Ontario medical card (actually a letter) and in four to six weeks will have my first government-issued photo ID since 1996, when I had a passport, now long since expired. Before that, I believe it was my BC Driver’s License, which expired in 1993 or so and I just never bothered to get renewed. And all of the old ID except the passport got lost when I was mugged in Vancouver a few years back, at which time I found out just how much trouble it was all going to be to replace, and just let it go. Because you don’t need ID if you live in the same place for over a decade and everyone knows who you are and GASP you even run a tab at the Ovaltine and Sunrise Market, no problem, and who can do that? I ask yez. WHO has that kind of privilege? It’s like being Cher or something, only Cher can’t get credit at the Ovaltine. So I let it go.

Which, yeah, in retrospect was foolish, but what good is retrospect? I ain’t got no time machine.

But I DO have a snazzy letter attesting to the fact that I am a Canadian citizen, born abroad, which has a pretty CANADA 150 maple leaf on it, so Yay for Good Timing, I Got The Cool Logo. And now an OHIP letter, soon to be an OHIP card, at which point I can go to yet a different government office, fill out yet ANOTHER government form, write a test of some kind, and get my learner’s permit, as a prelude to getting a real driver’s license, which would have drastically simplified my life last year with the bus kerfuffle.

Oh yeah, the bus. Still hasn’t come up for auction, but when it does, I might just go there now that I have government ID and I know what it’s worth as scrap. Without government ID even the scrapyard wouldn’t take it last year. Wonder if it’ll still have all the stuff, like the dehydrator bolted to the custom-built counter.

But with a driver’s license things like ridesharing become possible. With a driver’s license and a bit of work under my belt, I’ll have some money and can buy a second-hand car or van and then I’ll have mobility and options. With a van, I can even sleep in it for free, so as long as the insurance isn’t a money bomb I will be, however slightly, on the property ladder as they say.

Yes, welcome to the 21st Century, where the Canadian Dream is to live in a second-hand van.

Speaking of work, I’m currently Not-Procrastinating on it by writing this blog post, my first in quite some time (years?). I’m practicing, warming up. Originally, the ol’ raincoaster blog began because I was describing myself as a writer, yet had no writing to show anyone. So, I assigned myself 200 words a day here, and that’s what I still recommend for my students, although I suggest 5 days a week, not 7.

Burnout is real, y’all.

But recovering from the accident has taken far longer than I had hoped. My brain works superficially quite well, so if I were, say, a tv talking head, I could go back to work now or some months ago. As a journalist in a highly complex and constantly changing field, it’s currently somewhat reaching to try to go back to that position, so I’m warming up by taking a couple of assignments that should be easy for me. SHOULD be.

Let’s put it this way: one of them is seven months overdue. One is a month late. And the other, thank god, is with an organization that moves as slowly as I do.

But blogging again, once a day for 200 words, is going to help me. Help me get back in the swing, get back to proficiency and prolixity (I did do 48 blog posts in a 24 hour period once, after all). God knows what I’ll write about, other than myself and procrastination, but here goes. Wish me luck.

On the Road Again, AGAIN!

Veteran Hobo via Shorpy

Veteran Hobo via Shorpy

ICYMI: I’ve been trying to buy and live in a converted schoolbus for the last year and a half or so. I finally OWN the bus, but it’s full of black mold and would need to be stripped back to the frame and rebuilt, by myself single-handedly thanks to budget constraints, and completed before mid-September, when my pet-sitting bookings dry up. The bus currently has a rocket stove as its major heat source, and I have it on excellent authority that this particular form of heat source, ie an open wood stove, will NEVER EVER IN A BILLION YEARS pass inspection, and it must pass inspection in order for me to drive this bus anywhere.

And…

I have to be in Ottawa in September, to spend the winter and possibly longer.

So…

If I cannot insure the bus, I cannot drive the bus. If I cannot drive the bus, I cannot use the bus. So, it becomes about selling the bus (and all its contents that are mold-resistant; it has some useful and valuable stuff like a gas generator, etc).

I may put that money into an RV or a car and trailer. My friend the Bus Whisperer insists that trailers are not fashionable, and are therefore a much better deal than RVs, so that’s tempting. Also way more versatile; I could hardly take a bus to the grocery store, or go downtown with it. The question is, can I get both a car that can drive 3,000 miles AND a trailer I can live in for whatever I can sell the bus for? The Bus Whisperer says if I strip it out right to the bones, ie no glass, no rubber, nothing in the box, I could sell the aluminum body and then sell the rest and maximize my take, rather than just letting them do it. I can certainly do that; demolition isn’t a fine art, is it? Lots of exercise though.

I’m moving to Ottawa to take care of a family member with a chronic condition who just needs someone around in case. In exchange, I get to live rent-free for the winter, and concentrate on my writing rather than this pet-sitting treadmill which is taking up easily half of my working hours and getting me rent plus $20 a day. I can do a LOT better than that by writing.

And I’d get to visit all my friends in Montreal, Toronto, and New York. Heck, I’ve never even BEEN to NYC. Might even see the Maritimes, who knows? If I had a car and a trailer, I’d basically have complete freedom. Could pick up the pet-sitting again, could just do my own thing, wifi permitting. And nothing says I can’t do some custom, hackery renos on the trailer and/or car.

So, since there’s a hard deadline, and a three thousand mile journey, suddenly several decisions have become very simple. If something’s not possible, it’s just not going to happen, so what else can happen and how can that help me? I’m going to miss the coast like anything, but I fully plan on returning when I can. And you know, somehow I have a way of getting things done if I really, really want them.

come see me at social media camp in Victoria, May 5-7

Who likes free lunches? EVERYONE! Who likes saving money? Pretty much those very same people! Now you can attend Canada’s biggest and best purely social media conference in one of the world’s prettiest cities, save $100 on registration, and have lunch on and with me. Given the number of lunches other people have bought for me, it’s kinda the least I can do.

Kittens explain social media, they explain everything.

Kittens explain social media, they explain everything.

Yes kittens, I’m headed back to the #YYJ for another Social Media Camp, Canada’s largest social media conference, in gorgeous downtown Victoria. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s literally true and I don’t know anyone who isn’t thrilled at an excuse to go to this spectacular city.

This year I’ll be speaking on Marketing the Mystery; in other words, how to use social media to drum up interest in something when you’re not actually allowed to say what it is. I’m using the @WhatsPineApple campaign that we’re running for Steve Wozniak as my specific material here. What’s PineApple? All will be revealed by Woz at the Business Rocks conference in Manchester, April 21-22, which means I’ll finally be free to talk about it by the time Social Media Camp rolls around.

social media camp

I may or may not also be doing an informal chat-style talk on how writers can use social media to boost readership and sales. That depends on finding a room for it, or alternately on attendees buying me pints at the pub. I’m easy, and Victoria is the spiritual home of the Canadian brew pub tradition.

AND thanks to organizer Paul Holmes, I’ve got a juicy discount code for you, kittens! Regular camp tix are $699 and go up to $999 for the Rock Star pass, but a limited number of camp tickets have been made available at $599. But with this sweet, sweet discount code you get $100 off whichever package you buy, and you get a free lunch, on me. And with me. This is good news for you, as I am a restaurant snob and will take you somewhere nice, I promise. Your super-secret discount code is: Raincoaster.

Clicky, clicky, you know you want to. $200 off Canada’s best social media conference AND a free lunch with your humble editor in one of the world’s best undiscovered foodie destinations. DO EET. Guy Fawkes mask optional, we’re not formal here.