It’s kind of hard to avoid thinking of Halloween when it becomes so prevalent this time of year Plus, I keep remembering to oh-so-many-years-ago when I decided to run a slew of Fast Fictions during Halloween week (way before it became vogue to do so ). Anyhow, I was kicking around the idea that I should put up a Flash Fiction (at 568 words, it doesn’t fall under my category of Fast Fiction which is 200 words or less) piece this year simply because it’s been so long. I initially wanted to run a new “My Eyes Burn” pieces… but decided I couldn’t just put one of those up as they tend to run in series.
I decided, instead, that for this year, I would just write a short/ cute little story. Nothing horrific, nothing bloody, just something that could make my wife smile Of course, as she sat across from me doing her own work and saw me smiling to myself, she asked what I was up to. I told her I was simply writing her something and she immediately wanted to know if I was writing about Gnomes. Or Bunnies. Or Gnomes with Bunnies. Damn it. Now I *have* to do that. But before I get to that, let me at least share this quick piece with everyone
Mickey tried to be brave as Frank kept badgering him.
“I bet ya can’t do it! I bet ya can’t!” he kept repeating, literally turning it into a chant.
“I can, too!” said Mickey, sounding braver than he felt.
It was the same thing every year. October 30. Mad Night. The eve of Halloween, when all the so-called ‘bad boys’ come out to play.
Mickey wasn’t really a bad boy. Truth was, he never got into any trouble. Not because he was afraid of causing any, but just because he tended to not see the entertainment value that others, like Frank, did.
This year, however, he knew he couldn’t walk away. He was eleven years old now and in Junior High School. If he didn’t prove he could handle a little trouble, his next five years of school would be a nightmare.
“Watch. I’ll show you what I can do,” he finally blurted out as he screwed up his courage and lunged for the gate in front of him.
Frank ducked back onto the street and hid behind a parked car while Mickey crossed the walkway and made his way to the door of Old Man Boris’ house. This was it. No turning back now. He would ring that doorbell and take off before anything could happen to him. All that talk about giant spiders was just talk. No one kept pets like that! He’d show Frank that he wasn’t afraid.
As he got to the door, he took one quick look behind him to ensure Frank was watching him. If he was going to go through with this, he needed a witness. He saw Frank hiding but before Mickey could turn back to the door, Frank suddenly yelled out and ran away screaming.
Mickey whipped his head around and a yell escaped from him as he came face to chest with the monstrous Boris.
“Good evening,” he said, with a voice that sounded like heavy rocks sliding down the surface of a mountain. “How may I help you?” he asked.
Mickey, mouth agape and eyes bulging out, just stood there, literally shaking with fear.
“Yesss?” drawled Boris as he leaned forward and downwards, putting his face a few inches from Mickey’s.
Mickey tried to get his mouth to work but the only sounds coming out were little gasps and wheezes as he tried to get his breathing under control and slow the crazy beating of his heart.
Boris tilted his head and furrowed his brow at this strange boy standing before him. “Are you unwell?” he asked slowly.
Mickey finally managed to snap himself out of his stupor and in a surge of adrenaline he pounded his chest, took something out of his jacket pocket, and yelled, “TAG! YOU’RE IT!” In one quick motion he slapped Boris on the forehead and took off before Boris could react. Mickey kept running at top speed, never looking back, as Boris blinked in surprise and straightened up. He reached up, removed the sticker from his forehead, and looked at it blankly. It was a black cartoon bomb with the word “boom!” written on it in yellow. From behind him, inside the house, he heard laughter.
“He did it! He really finally did it!” laughed Frank hysterically.
“You have some very strange friends, son,” said Boris as he walked inside and closed the door behind him.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist
Last month, a friend of my parents had been admitted to the hospital to undergo surgery. The docs opened him up… and then closed him back again. There was nothing they could do to save him. Afterwards, they told him he had only a couple of weeks left to live.
I can’t imagine what went through his or his family’s heads at that point, nor, if I can be honest, would I ever want to. If one were to think of life as a game, it seems a little cruel to imagine that the “reward” for living/ playing the game would be death. My own beliefs are completely against that simply for the fact that I can not believe that the beauty of life (from the natural world around us, to the beautiful moments of living and loving) could be “wiped away” with something as natural as expiring without it being more than just “death”. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Anyhow, one of the things he did do as part of preparing for the end was to take the time to reach out to everyone he had known to just say good-bye, to thank others for the times they spent together, and just basically have one final discussion.
I will say that my parents were both extremely touched and grateful to have been given that chance to speak to him before he passed on. They were obviously very sad to learn of his imminent death but for the length of that phone call, they were all able to reminisce, laugh, and be grateful together for the times they spent together and the things they all did for each other over the years. I think it was a beautiful way to leave behind the right memories because as they think about him from now on, just as they did when he finally passed away 2 weeks later, it will always be about that phone call and not about anything negative in the “I wish I had told him…” way.
I was saddened to hear that he had passed on as I both knew and liked him. But my esteem of him was definitely raised when my parents related the story of his good-bye. It made me wonder – which is usually the case when death stops in for a visit – if I’m living the kind of life where it would be okay for me to pass on. You know, the whole “live every day as if it were your last because one day you’ll be right” mantra.
Now, I know the kind of life I’ve lived, and the “type” of person I’ve been over my last 40+ years, and I have come to terms with many of my “stupidities of youth” which I sometimes feel lasted for many, many years And I can say that I’ve reconciled or accepted how things are with everyone I’ve ever needed to (apologizing where appropriate) except for perhaps 2 people in varying degrees in my more recent past.
If I were to die today, I know how everyone would/could remember me and know that there isn’t anything important that is “unsaid” and there is a certain peace that comes with that. Those who know me, know how I feel about them, and that is a comforting feeling. For the two I mentioned above, well, I know they come around here every now and then so there is still a chance they will read what I’m writing now and know that one day I will reach out again.
I guess the main point I’m trying to make is to remind everyone, again, that life is way too short. That is true if you’ve lived 5, 10, or 500 years. When you’re at the end of it, it’s all a blur. You could be standing there regretting that you never climbed Everest (which is something I’ll never understand because you don’t need to go that high up to see the beauty of the world unfolding before you) but you should, but you shouldn’t be regretting not having said something important to someone you know and love. As another reminder, the truth can be said for the reverse as well. Don’t wait for someone to be gone to miss them and regret words you should have said.
The people you see each day frame the kind of life you live. Make sure you surround yourselves with the right ones who will bring light to your soul and not the ones that will suck the light out of your soul and leave darkness behind. A smile is much more powerful than a frown if you know how to use it right.
Today, August 30, 2013, marks 10 years that Chantale and I have been married. 10 years of wedded bliss and also (from back in May) 10 years of living in our first home. As anniversaries go, it’s both such a big and little number. Considering we expect to be married (on earth) ’till death do us part’ it’s a small number. Comparing it to so many other things in life, it’s pretty big.
Every year, we celebrate this day as a family, especially since 6 years ago also marked Charlize’s re-birth at the repair of her heart. This year, I had originally wanted to do something “bigger” and had been kicking around the idea of taking Chantale back to Paris for a non-rushed vacation. But then, several months ago, we started thinking about everything we’ve lived through and where we’re at in our lives and decided that instead of spending money on a lavish vacation, we would reorganize our finances and invest into our home. True enough, with all the saving and planning we’d been doing these last 10 years, we were able to make this new dream possible and completely revamped our backyard.
The first step of committing to purchasing a spa gave us the oomph to tackle this project. Taking inspiration from the many “Decking” shows we’ve been immersed in for the last couple of months, we went ahead and designed the kind of deck we wanted to have. And then, all the special tweaks and specific items we wanted incorporated!
What began as a great idea took shape during August in amazing fashion! Chantale’s design ideas were fantastic and we now have an absolutely stunning 3-level deck with some pretty cool triangular gazebos, with a spa as a nice separator We also (finally) installed a large shed in the yard so we can get stuff out of garage and store it there (leaving more space for the car in the winter!). And, with the small crack in the foundation fixed just last week, it’s clear to say that we’re good and ready to enjoy our backyard again!
Not only have we reclaimed the yard, but we feel we’ve extending our living space (in a way) because it “draws” us outside now and is comfortable to be on We’ve all gotten more reasons to go outside now, especially with Kyle getting that Basketball net he wanted for his birthday, and Charlize getting swings like she wanted So, you see, 10 years is definitely a big deal and I love that we’ve been able to celebrate it in such a way as to last many more years (as opposed to a trip that, however nice, would still only last in memories after a short period).
So, best friends for over 15 years, dating for over 13, living together for over 12, and now married for 10 years! What a wonderful, wonderful, life! I’m so blessed and grateful for the beauty of it all
Happy, happy, anniversary, my love! To the future!
There’s this great quote I came across last month from Maria Robinson. She states, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
It’s such a profound, yet simple, quote that I actually printed it up and have a copy of it hanging on my wall at work. I did this for a number of reasons. At the most basic level, it’s a reminder that nothing goes exactly the way we wish or hope it does. Sometimes, things muck up, or even start in a bad way. That doesn’t mean it will always have to BE that way, so why not leave the past in the past and move on? Aim towards the new or better ending.
The image attached to the quote is one of a tree at sunset. It reminded me of Rafiki trying to give little Simba a lesson about growing up (for those of you who’ve seen The Lion King). Things in the past can still hurt, but we shouldn’t dwell on them. Instead, we should just face forward. Let bygones be bygones, or leave the past in the past, or today is the first day of the rest of your life. Whichever way you want to take it, the lesson is that negative actions of the past can only drag you back, keep you down. Either forgive and move on, or forget and move on, if you can’t forgive and forget.
This kind of thinking comes up in my day-job as well. With Development, bugs happen, or scope changes, or whatever. Some frustration is bound to come up, but the best approach is to simply say, “Ok, what have we learned from this, how do we resolve it, and ensure it doesn’t happen again?”. It’s not the way you wish the work had started, but it’s now up to you to look at it with eyes towards getting a better ending.
See? That’s the beauty in the simplicity of “LifeTruths”. They can apply across the board, so long as you’re willing to step outside yourself sometimes and see things in a new light. I apply it to everything from work, to home, to trying to keep a regular blog going…
I find myself thinking about all the projects I’ve been constantly juggling over the course of many, many years and how much my priorities have changed.
After the zaniness of the ’90s, I made a conscious decision to focus primarily on my family. This meant that outside of some very specific/ big projects, my writing was going to take a backseat. Obviously I understood what it meant (and what it still means) in terms of everything from building an audience to keeping momentum going. However, I felt and still feel that it is more important to be there for my wife and kids than anything else. Family is my priority.
What made me realize (today) how different my thinking and priorities are came from the fact that there are a lot of “local” events this weekend that I would love to attend, yet they can’t ever be considered important enough to battle over which one wins.
The Comic creator and fan in me would love to be in Toronto for the Toronto Comic Art Festival. The media fan and writer in me would love to be in Ottawa for the Ottawa ComicCon. What seems to have been “forgotten” is that Sunday is Mother’s Day! A day to honor my wife for being an incredible mother to my four children. A day to remember my own mother for all the things she’s done for me my whole life. Putting all that side-by-side is really a no-contest event.
Of course, if my wife had wanted to go to any of these events, I would gladly have taken her . The point is the same, though. She takes precedence!
Death has been on my mind recently. Whether it be because I’ve been watching too many violent television shows, or that I’m going to be celebrating another birthday next week, or that I recently heard of an ex-colleague’s passing, I can’t escape the fact that it has come into bouncing into my head. So, as a means of moving beyond it, I’m going to fall back on writing therapy
There’s a scene in “When Harry Met Sally” where Harry (Billy Crystal’s character) is discussing death with Sally (Meg Ryan’s character) and boasting how he had spent “weeks, months” thinking about death and that it made him ready for the day whenever it happened.
It’s an interesting discussion point because it’s almost impossible to consider. How can you be ready for something that takes you away from your loved ones? Granted death is just the end of the road for our mortal coils and we all have to accept it and accept that those who live on will mourn our passing, but that doesn’t mean we can all feel that we’ve wrapped up everything we needed to and can move on.
Personally, I’m not afraid of death. I don’t believe everything just ends there. I see it as the “start” of a new journey. Who’s to say that our dying in this world/ life isn’t a childbirth into another life? If every physical object in our universe does not disappear but simply changes or transforms (like paper burns into ashes, for a quick example) why should who we are cease to exist? Why can’t we transform into something or someone else? That, however, is a discussion for another day. All I wanted to say is that for me, it’s not the end. It’s like moving to another country with no communications protocol (be it telephone or internet) back to where you were.
When you take away the “fear” of death, then you have nothing to fear from dying. But my not fearing death does not make me ready for it. Besides the truth that I don’t want to leave my family behind, that I don’t want them to go through the emotional turmoil of carrying on without me, I don’t want to die just yet. I love my life and everything around me. My family, my home, my career. It’s probably one of the best “time” in my life at the moment – where we’re able to actually enjoy the fruits of our very hard labor of the last few years. We still have so much more love to give and laughs to live for. Who would want to leave when there is so much happiness all around us?
When the time does come, sure, I’ll be “ready” in the sense that I won’t have a choice. Looking at it today, however, I hope that time doesn’t come for a long, long, time!
I realized (again) that I hadn’t posted of any of the events that were planned and executed upon in the last couple of months. January had the Family Disney Trip, February had me returning to Emeryville for a week followed by a weekend jaunt to Chicago to visit my extended family and led into Chantale’s birthday celebrations (yes, multiple ) and then Melyssa’s birthday celebrations (also multiple!)
So, there were a lot of emotions and thoughts running through my head these last couple of months about getting older (and now actually looking back on old photos of me as a child with true nostalgia, almost seeing them in a completely new light) as well as doing “more” of the things I love.
As much as I want to share further on what’s bouncing around my head in regards to getting older (more those around me than myself), I think what’s pushing me a lot lately has been creativity and the need to create.
Back in January, a friend of mine sent me his new CD (“Lucky Drive” by OceanRoyal) and then afterwards, talking to him about it (the making of it, the difference with the first CD, playing gigs, studio collaboration, etc) made me really miss that period of my life. However, no longer being part of a band makes it harder to re-live Of course, being a writer with manuscripts to polish off and set free, that’s where I can put energy towards.
The same feelings hit me when I went to see Serena Ryder in concert and got to hang out at the foot of the stage. Watching her up there and grooving with the music, getting caught up in the energy of the band made me want to get my own stage and rock out… But, again, no longer having a band puts a curve on that rush, so the next best thing is writing.
See, for the last year or so, I’ve had to focus on “bringing home the bacon” and taking care of my family. Having devoted all my available time to carving out a new career, there was very little time to think about my own creativity. Whatever small time I could find went to help out my fellow writers as I worked on collaborations and did a lot of copy editing and proof reading. It was enough to make me feel connected while I helped roll out a huge and very satisfying project to Canada.
Now, however… blame it on Spring, or on things moving along at an even pace, or that I’ve just been filled with external creativity and energy… but it’s not enough. I *need* to get some words down. I need to see those scenes in my head played out “on paper”. I need to share the discussions and situations characters are going through.
This means, of course, that unless I can make time for myself to sit down and write creatively again… I’m just going to explode. And that won’t be pretty
As I listened to Kyle cough away last night – counting the time between coughs – I had to reflect on the fact that even with all the experience we have with dealing with Asthma emergencies with children, it’s never cut-and-dried. The 9 years we lived through emergencies with Melyssa were nowhere near as critical and panic-inducing as the 7 years with Kyle (although there was definitely that ONE night where the 9-1-1 ambulances arrived at the nick of time) and taken together, there are a heck of a lot of stories there.
The truth, then, is that what I tried to summarize back in this story (http://cowbird.com/story/21903/The_Fear_
Every situation is either slightly different, requiring a minor approach tweak, or different enough to revisit all past situations to come up with the best solution. Last night felt exactly like that. Here he was, coughing away at a regular enough interval to be concerning, but not wheezing or rasping, or anything that we’re used to seeing when he’s in a “usual” crisis.
For example, there have been incidents where he’s letting out a cough every minute (when he’s gone to bed/ attempting to sleep), and after a few minutes it’ll start to stretch out. A cough every 5 minutes. Then, 7… 10… 20… and eventually asleep. For him to be consistent at every 4 minutes or so was peculiar. He has been fighting a bit of a cold, which never helps, especially when you consider he’s prone to viral-induced asthma attacks.
At one point I had to look at my wife and basically ask what the hell was going on with my internal turmoil. We’ve been fighting asthma attacks for 16 years now (not counting my wife’s own personal issues when she was younger). We’ve got so many varied experiences with asthma from allergy-induced, to various medications, to “homegrown” techniques to get out of crisis, etc. We’re Asthma Ambassadors for Asthma Canada and part of the National Asthma Patient Alliance (NAPA) supported by Asthma Canada. Heck, she’s on the Board of Directors as well!
…And yet when that coughing begins it’s like a Primal instinct to want to do the right thing without overreacting and trying to come to the best solution (which doesn’t always involve spending 3 to 8 hours in the asthma ward hoping to not catch anything else especially during high flu season).
I guess, in a way, the battle will always continue. After all, as it has been often stated, Asthma can only be controlled and cannot be cured (at least at the moment). You know, I just realized something else – something that does make us valuable NAPA members. This feeling of fear (or maybe controlled fear) that we still go through with when it comes to our children? It doesn’t go away. So when it comes to speaking with other families trying to handle the stress of asthma issues, we can definitely relate with them. And the sharing of these events always helps everyone to remember that they’re not alone and that help does exist.
Every crisis is like a mini-badge (or scar!) that we have to wear and carry with us as we walk through our lives.
After Kyle finally fell asleep, my brain continued to go through scenarios, almost refusing to settle down enough for me to sleep. Eventually I did, and the first instinct I had when I awoke this morning was to strain my ears to ensure he wasn’t coughing. The silence was both deafening and frightening. After a couple of hours he woke up and came down for breakfast. He still has his cough, but it’s nothing like yesterday. Regular doses of his inhaler along with rest and keeping his nose “empty” have been very beneficial. His afternoon nap was also restful.
So, we continue with our treatment as per our Asthma Action Plan, and add some “cold fighting” elements to it as well (like ensuring he gets plenty of Vitamin C) and continue to keep an “ear” out on him. Winters are tough, and with the temperature drop of 2 nights ago (going from 4 degrees Celsius to -15 degrees Celsius) we were already on guard. But never “on guard” enough to take things fully in stride.
Here’s hoping it clears up completely by tonight/ tomorrow morning…
When this year started, I noticed that the drive into work wasn’t as tough or congested as it had been in the previous month. At first, I thought that perhaps folks were still on vacation but seeing as we’re in the 3rd week of January and everyone is back in school and/ or work, that wasn’t really flying any more. Heck, at one point I was honestly starting to wonder if there had been a mass exodus of folks out of quebec because they had finally had enough of the political quagmire we so often find ourselves in.
Turns out, I have to thank the opening of the new Highway 30 extension for this reduced traffic on the 20 westbound! What an absolutely pleasant surprise! No more wondering if it’ll take me 30 minutes or 90 minutes to get home or to work! No more trying to figure out the ideal moment to leave the house and avoid the rushes. I have left at different times both to/from work and I have consistently had a good 35 minute drive!
I feel like I’ve regained days back in my weeks. It’s unbelievable. I honestly have more energy in the mornings AND the evenings now – as opposed to coming home completely wiped from sitting in traffic.
I always knew this 30 extension was going to be a good and viable thing (for congestion, for business, for the area I live in) but I definitely didn’t expect to directly benefit from it the way I am now! Here’s hoping it’ll last a long, long, time!
I don’t remember the last time I “stood” at the beginning of a new year and looked “forward” through the calendar positively thinking about the high-level plans/ thoughts/ wishes/ hopes that the upcoming days/ weeks/ months will bring.
Although there were a couple of moments in past years, there was usually enough apprehension edging around the corners that all I could hope for was a good/ proper ‘next couple of weeks’.
The interesting thing is that it’s not just a matter of enjoying the moment and hoping that the future will be good (as used to be the case). It’s more of enjoying the moment and reveling in the knowledge that the future will be good. There is something “good” coming up on a both personal and professional basis throughout the year! I look at my calendar and see all these little points of sunlight where an activity or a celebration will take place and it makes me smile. So much to look forward to, so much to do, to share, to experience. I can’t say if it’s more or less than last year, but I can definitely say that being home at least ensures that I get to definitely experience more with those I love.
I’m not trying to be cryptic by not talking about specifics. It’s just that I’d rather live through them first and speak of them afterwards – or just before in some cases . Like, the fact that we’re heading to DisneyWorld next week. It’s been years since our first visit and we’ve been hoping to go back for so long… until Chantale finally said, “we can do this now!” and we made all the arrangements. I booked the flights, she booked the lodgings and experiences. It’s going to be awesome
Before jumping into 2013, I realized that there was one thing from 2012 that although mentioned on Facebook, I never cross-posted or discussed here.
Those who’ve known me for a while know that I spent 9 months living in Emeryville, California (away from my family) while my team and I immersed ourselves in the RelayHealth product used in the US for clinical connectivity. Our job was to understand the product and modify it so that it can be used in Canada. One of the big things was that we came in at the same time as a process change was being introduced in how Agile was done. Because of my experience and knowledge, I helped with the move from Scrum to Kanban and built a process centering around knowledge sharing through VersionOne. The new Kanban process was shared with the whole company and rolled out during 2011.
After 9 months, my team and I came back to Canada and launched RelayHealth.ca – suddenly, Canada had a solution for clinical connectivity! Although the best benefits will be found when physicians connect with you through the system, a patient can still benefit from managing their own data, right now, with a free and secure account. I’ve posted the links before… but here’s the video overview again:
So, what’s all this to do with me wanting to take one last note here? Simple. I wanted to point out (or boast if you will, but boast out of being very proud more than anything), that all the hard work was very much appreciated and recognized! A few months ago I was flown to Austin, Texas and presented with a very prestigious award from McKesson: the 2012 Chairman Award for Innovation and Collaboration! This huge award (clocking at 25lbs!) finally came in and I took a photo of it along with another award from the Product Development team. It is that photo I wanted to share So, here it is:
It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, leaving my family behind. But it was all done in order to bring to Canada something my family and I truly believed in. And now, here it is. You know what’s allso really great? Agile made this
So. Has the Christmas season felt like Xmas this year? Kind of hard to say, really. Sure, there were plenty of family visits and way too much food to eat and tons of presents… but it also felt like *something* was missing. Peace, perhaps? Tranquility? The ability to sit for more than 5 minutes without needing to rush to do this or that? Was it all about responsibility and very little joy?
I’m sitting here, on my bed, testing out my new bluetooth keyboard and pretty much digging it. Size-wise, it all feels like my Netbook which is quite nice and compact, but it has the benefit of not being SO bloody slow. I know that whenever I spend a bit of time writing/ working on my netbook, I recall how much I enjoy it, but the time it takes to get it booted up and loaded just takes away so much from that feeling that I rarely take it out any more. Maybe the best thing to do with that little toy is to strip everything out of it, completely. But to do that, I need a replacement system for my ginormous iTunes library and photos. Shrug. In the meantime, this new setup of keyboard and iPad is great.
Now, to get back on topic, what I was trying to say is that I’m sitting here typing away while outside a huge snowstorm is raging. It looks beautiful, as long as you don’t need to go out anywhere! In truth, this is the kind of weather I love to watch happen, snuggled at home with the Xmas lights on, the fireplace sending out heat, a nice vegetable soup bubbling away on the stove… maybe a movie on to keep the kiddies entertained interspersed with some time for reading or playing games.
I guess, to me, that’s what some peaceful time at home entails. The chance to spend time both alone and as a family throughout the day. I’ve got everyone at home today except for Melyssa. I was supposed to pick her up today but the weather is not going to make it possible. I guess it will have to be tomorrow. In the meantime, lounging around the house is going to continue as I’m off from work for a few more days
The new year is shaping up to be interesting, but I’ll leave the details of that to another day….
Okay, so it seems that it’s not just my personal schedule that changes every 3 months or so, but my posting habits as well! I can hardly believe it’s been over 3 months since I last logged on here and posted (although I do still log on and read!) but there you go. Can’t argue with the posting dates.
I think the hardest part of coming back to posting after such an absence is that it’s almost impossible to write an update that can properly cover all that has happened in the interim. 3 months might not sound like much, but it is, and a lot can and does happen.
I remember at one time writing about how when we moved to our new location at work that I would potentially have a few minutes in the mornings to post a little something before starting my day. And yet the reality is that because of other schedule changes, that hasn’t been possible. So much for that. Now, with Xmas around the corner, I believe I may have found a way to do it!
See, when I leave for the day, I don’t really touch my computers much at home (except to perhaps watch a show or movie). The one gadget I do carry around in the evenings is my iPad – usually to read comics but lately more to play games What I always thought I could do was also use it to post or write more. But, guess what? I hate the keyboard interface and two-finger touch-typing on the device. So, I asked Santa to get me a bluetooth keyboard that I can use with it! Yay! Real typing!
Will this make me post or write more? Maybe. But what it will definitely do is make it easier for me to do so! That means the final edits on the re-release of The Anti-Bodies can be possible, along with more creative work! That’s a good thing Writing blog posts… I miss it. I do. As cute as it may sometimes be to tweet little zingers or update FB with family pics, I do miss being able to spill out my thoughts on these blogs and “leave a little something behind” for my kids to read in the future and know a bit more about me.
So, as we get to winding down the year, and surviving the silly panic of our so-called day-of-doom, I just wanted to pop in here and say hello. If I don’t make it back before next week, then I send out well wishes and hopes for Happy Holidays to everyone! May your heart always smile!
It’s crazy how things can change from one day to the next. Almost every single day for the last month now I’ve been wanting to write, share, type, get stuff off my chest and out of my mind… but just unable to do so. Just. So. BUSY.
Today is not any different, to be honest, but I’m forcing myself to take the 3 minutes I need to at least write these words here.
Casey’s been gone for a few months now and we’ve always known we were going to get another dog. It’s just been very difficult because we were looking for a new companion but couldn’t really do so without thinking/ comparing it to our beloved pooch. In fact, Casey’s loss and my last post here was also something that weighed heavily on my sharing stuff on the blog. Everything else after that event just seemed… insignificant in some ways. It was hard to go from that to a rant on traffic or thoughts on digital comics or anything, actually.
But now, to get the next chapter of our lives started, I’m very happy to announce that we did get ourselves a faithful new companion this weekend What started as a momentary “check-in” at a not-so-local pet store on our way to picking up James for his early birthday gift (Star Wars Identities exhibition at the old port) turned into a “there she is!” moment when we laid eyes on this little pooch.
Before we knew it, papers were signed, monies exchanged, a promise to return early Sunday morning to pick her up was arranged. This did indeed happen yesterday morning and the rest of the day was spent marveling at this little fluff ball and all the adventures that await us Already, in just a short day, she managed to thoroughly impress us – having immediately understood the concept of asking for the door to go do her business in the back yard So, we know there’s plenty more to come!
For now, though, my 3 minutes are up. I’ve already posted a lot of photos on Facebook and figure I’ll send up another one here before I share it there Say hello to Cleo (short for Cleopatra) – the latest little Queen to join the family
As a kid growing up, I had a lot of pets. I think I can remember something like 5 dogs, dozens of cats, and various birds, hamsters, fish. I would mourn when they “disappeared” but we were never without furry companionship for long. Outside of a few that were lost to accidents (traffic) or illnesses, many simply were not there from one day to the next. My mom would tell me that they were too nice a pet and some mean people had taken them away. So, you can imagine that I grew up not liking my neighborhood very much because I thought it was populated with pet “stealers”.
From the time I left home at 25 I wanted a pet but couldn’t for various reasons due to allergies of the people around me. I had pretty much given up until I was about 36 years old and my wife and I got our little Bichon Frise, Casey. I’m sure I wrote all about it back in 2003/4 as it led to a lot of … “fun” times in some cases. The point, though, was that we had our first new family member (after having gotten our first car and home together and gotten married). Cassiopeia, named after the constellation of course, was known only as Casey to everyone else. She fit in with us so wonderfully and grew to be an incredibly intelligent dog. Her patience with the children was beautiful and we never worried about her.
As she got older, she became more assertive in the sense that she demanded (such as it were ) to be trusted to handle herself and soon enough she had free reign of the house even when we weren’t home. True enough, there were no “accidents”. In the last couple of years, she still pushed the boundaries on certain points (like trying to jump on the couch or sleep on our beds) but she also understood that it was a privilege for her to share those spaces with us When she did, she was quite happy, of course.
One interesting thing about her was how she seemed to have been prone to issues throughout her life which always seemed just a little bit out of the norm and which were always resolved thanks to my wife’s diligent search for answers – from the skin rashes she had as a pup to the weird crystals in her urine to treating a herniated disk with acupuncture! You know, when you think about it carefully, she was almost helping us prove that we could handle anything that came our way and that we could beat it together – which is pretty much what you could say about Kyle’s extreme asthma (and allergies) and Charlize’s open-heart surgery.
But, as I wrote a few weeks back, things turned for the worse again and the medication given us had horrible side effects. What I didn’t write after that was how we had blood work done on her and it came back that she had extreme iron deficiency which could have been caused by one of three things, two of which were terminal (leukemia or a bone marrow disease), one of which was degenerative (AHIA). We put her on prednisone and changed her food and within a week all the weight she had lost was regained (no food was denied her and she ate like a queen!). She was still a little lethargic but in good spirits. We took another urine test and all was good. We had another blood test scheduled for this week. But we never made it.
Last week, things began to degenerate again. By Friday, she was having trouble going up stairs and not eating. On Saturday, it got worse. She was no longer going up stairs, she shuffled a lot more, she looked miserable, and her weight had dropped even lower than before. She hadn’t eaten in two days and then… her stool went liquid and bloody. Her body was breaking down and there was nothing left we could do that wouldn’t require lots of invasive procedures and thousands of dollars.
It was an excruciating day to get through but as the evening started rolling in and she started whimpering in pain, we knew it was it. We had made a promise that we would not let her suffer and she was now at that state. This was the one “issue” we could not come back from. All the research we did about showed that she literally should have died 3 weeks ago when the symptoms first showed themselves. We gained those extra weeks by our efforts but now it was the end.
I can’t quite put it into words, although it’s a simple enough task. Maybe I don’t want to put it into words because it’s so painful to write about. Just thinking about that weekend I can see everything unraveling before me like a movie and I can’t sit back like a viewer because the size of the emotional hurt is something I never expected in my life. We were saying good-bye to a member of the family, handing her over to the doctors and knowing they couldn’t “fix” her. Walking into a clinic with arms full and leaving with an empty blanket. Watching her slowly “fade” away while always looking straight into our eyes… the pain of the truth that she was more than just a “dog” and that she was truly part of the family… it was unbearable.
We had been mourning her for a long time already – if not specifically these last 3 weeks. Every day we saw her, thinking that this could be “it” was painful. Sharing the news with Kyle and Charlize was very hard, especially Charlize. Her casually asking a few days later if Casey would still be there for her when she was bigger was just as hard. Trying to plan and execute a pre-birthday party for Kyle all the while seeing this little pooch just lying nearby, knowing we couldn’t ease her pain was too much. Finally saying good-bye… was heart-wrenching.
Going back home and confirming with the kids that she was gone was not easy. Going through Kyle’s birthday was not easy – especially as this was the first birthday she missed. And that’s where I really started feeling her absence. James and Melyssa couldn’t be here for Kyle’s birthday, so although we missed them, since they’re not always here you don’t get a sense of a “piece” missing. Casey… well Casey was supposed to be here! Casey has always been there to greet in the morning and trip over in the evening. This time she wasn’t. And bit by bit, it was like more little stab wounds hit us as the lack of her presence was felt. The door chime is usually followed by a bark… not any more. Walking through the door always meant a white fluffy face looking up at you or jumping on your legs… not any more. Getting dressed in the morning always meant a yawning stretching dog rubbing its nose on the carpet… not any more.
And then, yesterday, when James and Melyssa finally got home from their trip, I went to see them after work to (a) tell them the news, and (b) take them to the movies. Breaking the news to them was just as hard as 2 weeks ago telling them how sick she was. All I could think of was my telling them at that time that “it doesn’t mean she’ll be gone while you’re on your trip” and that being the trigger for them to break down… and now the reality that that’s exactly what had happened was being revealed.
We honestly thought she was going to pull through from this. At worst, we expected that we were going to have to be giving her a pill every day for the rest of her life – almost like a lot of people have to do! Maybe we were trying not to think of the alternative, maybe we were conning ourselves… but I think it’s more to the point that she had regained her weight that first week and had shown some sparks of who she was…. Now that everyone in the family knows, perhaps we could heal. I’m sitting here typing this and all I can think of is how she should be at my feet right now keeping me company… but she’s not… and my feet are cold… and I’m out of tissue.
I can (and will one day) replace the family pet, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop missing my Puppy. :(
The kids’ soccer season has been a little bizarre this year. Where Kyle (being in U7) only plays once a week, Charlize (in U5) plays twice a week. Actually, now that I write it out like this, I realize that it’s almost the same but that Charlize has more practice time. See, Kyle’s games are 1 hour long and we usually meet 30 minutes prior to get some warm-up and training done. Charlize usually has about 45 minutes of training and a 15 minute game Mondays and Wednesday. Considering the age groups, this makes sense. Teach the younger ones the basics and throw in some game play. Expand the older ones’ knowledge and give them game time.
Anyhow, that’s not where I was going with this entry What I was trying to get at was that Kyle’s first 4 games were all held on Saturdays at 7am. The reason for this was that school was still in session so this was how it was planned out. During those 4 games, Chantale and I watched the games by the sidelines, a little… perturbed at some of the things being taught and confused as to how the goalie was always completely ignored. After 2 games, we moved forward to offer help and coaching (considering how much time Chantale played in days gone by). This offer was quickly accepted and Chantale was happy to be able to train and guide the kids while the other guy managed them.
But then, school ended and the games started falling on Mondays. The coach could no longer make it and we slowly ended up taking on more of the coaching/ managing of the team. Actually, Chantale took over and I became more an ‘assistant’ who warmed up the team and coached the goalies. The problem with all this was that all WE had was the duffle bag with the spare balls! We had no coaching tools like the game sheets, or the practice cones, or the goalie gloves or the goalie shirt! Heck, apparently there was a huge rule book in there as well that was not passed along!
This went on for quite a number of games and then yesterday, when Chantale could not make the 6pm practice, I went there and started warming them up and she showed up before the match started. Of course, this time the Ref wanted all the things no other Ref asked for before! The Game Sheet, the Goalie wearing a different shirt, etc. We explained our situation and we managed to get another coach to loan us the sheets and, luckily, the commission office was close by so we got in touch with them.
During the game, the commissioners came out and told us that the game rules had changed and we could not play with 7 players on the field but 5 (this was also told to the other 2 games going on so it seemed like news to everyone – although why these kind of rule changes came in mid-season is beyond me). But the best part of it was that they heard our dilemma and got us set up with all the stuff we needed (except for the rule book). At least we felt better as a team! And we felt better as coaches, too, as a number of players’ parents have been telling us how much their kids enjoy playing now. Heck, I love that there is so much participation in that our team always had at least 3 players in reserve for every game, and this during the games we played 7-on with!
With less than a month worth of games left, it’ll be a good, fun, ride to the end of the season now As for next season… well, who knows. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves doing the same thing again, but this time doing it right from the get-go. Time will tell for sure.
But considering how I’ve even started getting involved in Charlize’s games in order to keep the girls there more focused (the coach is busy on the field so he has no time for the bench or the goalie), I see continued participation in our futures…
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it seems like any routine (or schedule) we get into only really lasts for a couple of months before things change and we have to update it For example, I got home from Emeryville at the end of February. We got into a specific routine for a few months (as I adjusted to working locally) and then tweaked it when school let out.
Today, however, with Chantale starting her new job, we’re back to facing questions that we haven’t had to in almost 2 years! Lol! Back then, I was heavily restricted by hours of children pickup/ drop off because of the different places each child went to AND the insane commute I was putting myself through. Now, and for the next couple of years starting in September, really, both kids will be going to the same school. That means one place and time for both! And, with Chantale and I basically working 1km from each other, it also means either one of us can do the picking up or dropping off and on the rare occasions that either one of us have to be out of town, we’re both capable of doing both without impacting our work schedules! That’s quite the relief
(and I can’t even describe how wonderful it feels that Chantale will be close enough that we can head out to lunch every now and again! I love having my best friend within walking distance! Another huge benefit (or long-term gain) being derived from the short-term pain of me working in the US for 9 months)
So, with all the proper harmonizing of our family schedules, all that’s missing is for me to carve out some time that I can devote to writing so I can finally bring some of those projects to fruition a little faster than the current timetable!
Lately, I’ve come to a rather disturbing conclusion in that I find it impossible to do “nothing”. The one thing that so many people long for seems to be something I can not accomplish. I know I used to be able to do this without effort, which is why this bit of news is so disturbing to me.
I’ve tried. Many, many times, have I tried. Especially on weekends. I start each Saturday or Sunday with the best intentions of just getting up, grabbing a toast and coffee, and then sitting down and just reading (that’s truly my definition of doing “nothing” – not having any pressing matters to allow myself the luxury to just “read”). At most, I can get in about an hour’s worth. While also making breakfast for the kids. While also doing some minor kitchen chores. So, in effect, it’s “interrupted” time.
Then, when I get to the bottom of my coffee mug, I suddenly (instinctively?) feel that my time of leisure is up and I have to get cracking on taking care of the household weekend chores (you know the kind). Even when there isn’t anything that requires my immediate attention, I feel guilty about taking any further time to myself. After all, there just aren’t that many hours in a weekend and shouldn’t I be doing something more important with my time? You know, like playing with the kids, or getting outdoors, tackling some renovation chores, maybe groceries, etc, etc?
It’s a little insane if you ask me. The entire work week is so jam-packed that everything happens in that manner: one to-do item after an another being handled, taken care of, rescheduled, or added. Going full-tilt like that from the moment I walk in until the moment I leave (which does not take into account the rushing to get in and the rushing to get home). Heck, just today I walked into my team area and stated how surprised I was to see so many people there during the lunch hour. I was quickly informed that lunch was an hour ago and my brain almost shut down at the fact that 6 hours had already passed since I walked in.
I guess another thing that doesn’t really help is that the evenings fly just as fast. From walking through the door to getting through supper and whatever comes next (twice a week now being soccer for the kids) followed by bath and bedtime, it’s a quick blink of anywhere between 2 and 3 hours. That just doesn’t feel like quality enough time to spend with your family. You see why I’m looking for the Off switch? So we could all just stop (or at least slow down enough) and enjoy the moments that are all too short in life…
Is it any wonder that the best part of our family vacations (that we try hard to ensure we have every year) involve us heading into the “woods” somewhere and spending a long weekend removed from everyday life (including the internet, television, and all those trappings!) so we can recharge ourselves and our family with just a log cabin and our thoughts for company? Whatever the cost, those moments are just priceless…
Now, I just have to hang on for another month before we can enjoy this year’s outing…
I have to say I’m a little surprised at how tiring these short jaunts to Toronto have been. I never thought a one hour flight/ commute would be as tiring as they’ve been, but there you go. The last few day trips were somewhat hard but I used to think it was mainly due to the hours of the flight (ie; I would get up early -thus a short night- and go full out until it was time to head back home) which usually meant 15 hours from leaving home to getting home.
This week, as there was a lot of work to be done, I stayed for 2 days. Sure enough, the first night I was *so* wiped I ended up falling into a deep sleep at 930pm and went right through until 630am! Woah! I woke up pretty refreshed and ready to tackle another day.
Day 2 was just as busy (if not more so) and before I knew it, time to fly home. Guess what? I landed in Montreal and was completely wiped again! Sure, the flight was one of the not-better ones I’ve had (which is weird considering the 767-300 flights I’ve been on have generally been smooth) but that wasn’t enough to tire me out. However, sure enough, I was hit with giant fatigue and headache. Sigh. Here I am the next day and my head still feels like it’s been used to bang a gong.
I guess, in the end, I’m just going to have to learn to plan my flights a little better – otherwise I’ll end up needing to swallow down more Advil than I already do! All in all, though, I love what I do so much and being part of the ground floor Agile project plans are always extremely exciting, so no way am I complaining!
Today was such an incredibly busy day that there was absolutely no time to think about anything in any “long” fashion. So, my brain simply jumped from thought to thought as I tried to chop off as many items from my to-do list as possible. After all, with a new employee starting today and the US being on holiday tomorrow, I had to ensure she was technically operational today. Especially as I’m flying off to Markham tomorrow (and back on Thursday night). I’ll be missing Charlize’s soccer game tomorrow night and Kyle’s on Thursday night but it couldn’t be helped at this point
Wow, another point in just how scrambled my brain is today – I had a number of thoughts and ideas I wanted to relate quickly just about an hour ago. But now, after starting to pack and getting the kids to bed, my short term recollection has decided to take a vacation. Which can only truly mean one thing: I need to get some sleep. Although not an extremely early flight, I’ll still be getting up at 5am to be ready.
More tomorrow, probably from the airport lounge
In thinking back on how we celebrate Canada Day there are always 2 things that stand out for my family: Biking and BBQ. Every year as we enjoy the holiday, we naturally seem to find ourselves outside. Whether or not it has to do with the fact that it’s usually sunny, we’re always drawn outdoors and that always translates into biking. Afterwards, a good BBQ of either burgers or giant franks just tops it off
This year, along with the usual, we also took advantage of my in-laws pool to cool off before the Euro cup final (disappointing as that match was). The biggest treat, however, was that this Canada Day was the day that Kyle decided he would no longer have training wheels on his bike! Yup, we took them off and he was determined to ride . It was great to see him try over and over until he had the hang of it . Chantale got some good shots of him but I don’t have them with me to share at the moment
Heck, even this morning as we went back out again, he didn’t need my help at all! He took his bike and off he went . A nice early morning outdoor playtime.
Ps- in Casey news, she seems to be doing so much better! No more illness, a good appetite, and no real accidents overnight. In fact, this morning also had no blood in her first stool. Fingers still crossed that no real damage was done to her insides because of that medication.
One of the things we had been looking forward to this weekend was that outside of the Eurocup final on Sunday, there was nothing planned but lazing around and relaxing. This morning was supposed to stretch as long as possible in “lounge” mode, as a start. Well, that’s not at all how it was.
Last night, while Chantale and I were watching Smallville season 7, Casey suddenly got up from her bed and was sick. Chantale got her outside while I cleaned up the mess and when they came back in, we were a little concerned but hoped she would be okay. After all, she had eaten and seemed to be in good spirits.
Before long we were all asleep and then at 5am, Chantale and I jump out of bed when we hear Casey vomiting. Again, she takes her outside while I start cleaning when we find that sometime in the previous 4 hours, Casey had the runs downstairs!
Lots and lots of cleaning and disinfecting later, the pooch had been sick over and over, even with blood in her liquid stools. What a morning. Chantale investigated Casey’s medication and found tons of online postings of the large number of dogs this stuff has apparently eaten up. Metacam? Wow. Pain medication that can kill you.
We spent the morning keeping an eye on her while Chantale cooked various meals like ground beef and rice hoping the dog would stop being sick. The food has been staying in and Casey looks better (I gauge that by her tail wagging) so we’re trying to make her rest. We left a message with her Vet but haven’t heard back yet.
We’re just hoping nothing is seriously wrong internally…
Casey had been acting extremely lethargic ever since the weekend. Absolutely no appetite, sleeping most of the time, just no energy to do anything. I could get her to come to me for a quick hello (which everyone else had trouble doing) but she would quickly turn around and go back to her bed.
We couldn’t figure out what it was so after going through a long period of the shakes yesterday morning, we managed to get an emergency visit with her vet in the afternoon. Casey did get an energy boost from being at DMV and smelling all the animals there, but when we did get to meet with the vet, she could not really give a full diagnosis outside of Casey being slightly dehydrated and having a sensitive back.
Some may not remember, but Casey had a herniated disk three years ago and we managed to heal her by using Acupuncture instead of a $5,000 very-risky-and-not-guaranteed surgery. I thought I had written about all this but the only two instances I found of this period was in these two posts:
I had ended that last post with the note that we were going to see a vet but never followed up with what happened. Basically, after we considered all our options, we went forward with Acupuncture as a treatment plan and she responded extremely well to it! In fact, after a couple of weeks, she was pretty much “completely” healed. Acupuncture suddenly seemed like magic to me
Anyhow, we did give her another treatment yesterday and we saw an immediate change in her. It is always funny to see how she pretty much “melts” into my arms as I keep her from doing whatever she can to remove the needles, though Before we left, we also gave her a kind of re-hydration treatment (electrolytes injected just under her skin which got absorbed by her body during the evening). Her appetite also improved so now we’re just going to keep an eye on her and check back in a week.
All this to say that considering what we went through 3 years ago, it’s wonderful (looking back now) that we were able to get all this time together and that this form of medicine has had a lot to do with it!
Kyle is a short month shy of turning 7 years old. And guess what he’s been asking for ever since School finished last week? He wants us to read him Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as fast as possible (or at least a chapter a night) so he could be allowed to watch the first movie!
See, we always had this agreement with James and Melyssa as they were growing up (and as the HP books were being published) that they would be allowed to see the movies provided they would finish reading the books. Seeing as James was the same age-ish as Harry, he got caught up quickly and able to read on his own. Kyle is not yet there although he can read and make out sentences It would just take too long. Plus, if anyone has ever read to a child before, you know how satisfying it is to get them caught up in their imagination where they visualize what you’re speaking
Anyhow, we’ve been doing this every day with him and the amount of questions that keep coming out of him are hysterical. He asks questions we know the answers to, and gets a little frustrated when I tell him that “we haven’t learned that answer yet in the story” and to just wait a little longer Heh.
Of course, he being such a sensitive little soul, the biggest trouble he had with the beginning of the book was why the Dursley’s were SO mean to Harry. He got so sad hearing about another little boy (who’s supposed to be a hero!) being so mistreated by his “family” !
Another interesting part (for me, personally) is remembering just how much was changed (or rather shortened) from the book to the movie. That’s the part I’m also getting a kick out of. But, there’s nothing that beats sitting on my chair in my bedroom, small light open by the nightstand, Kyle sitting on my lap intently listening, as we delve back into a world of magic
What a wonderful adventure
Years ago, I could never have imagined myself not being online on a regular basis. And the definition of “regular basis” for me really meant blogging, interacting with friends, reading, etc. When Facebook came around and blogging (at least the reading of blogs) took a hit, I understood but at least kept up my own writing. With Twitter, nothing really changed. Slowly, though, I did find myself staying away for longer periods of time and yet although I was still online, I was more in an observer mode.
I’d read Twitter feeds, or some Facebook feeds and outside of sharing photos on FB, I had no time for anything else. Every couple of weeks I’d log into my blog and read what others were up to, but, again, not being able to put any thoughts down. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until I went looking through my blog this week, looking for posts on the asthma-trauma we’ve had to deal with as a family. As I had become an Asthma Ambassador for the Asthma Society of Canada, I was asked to share some stories and I knew I’d find them here. I had to go back two years to find something! What? How could that be, I asked myself?
Sure enough, the true realization that all those pretty little conversations I’ve had in my head for the last couple of years have only BEEN in my head. Wow. Sure, I’ve lived through periods in my life when I felt I had no time to keep up and managed to tweak some form of anything on a semi-regular basis. At one point, I even tried blocking time on a daily basis just so I could take a moment and “escape” the daily routine. Eventually, it cleared up and things went back to normal. But this drought? Not acceptable to me. So many magical moments gone unrecorded – even if in private. I have to fix this, and I shall. No more waiting for tomorrow, no more waiting for a specific point in time “when things will happen”. Yes, yes, Yoda, I know. Do or Do Not. Sometimes, it’s still a lesson to be (re) learned
Now, let me post this so I can start to draft out some future posts as well. After all, I’ve got some catching up to do!
A month since my last post? Really? Wow. I know I was struggling with finding/ making/ bribing time to write something here, but to not even be able to complete the 3 drafts still waiting to go out… phew.
Take-away from all this? I’m a heck of a lot busier than I thought I was going to be! Full-on mad rush of a month was March but now that it’s finally over, I’m hoping to be able to breathe a little easier. We’ll see how that works out.
Maybe if I ever manage to actually take time out for lunch I could use it to throw down some digital thoughts…
Okay, not really I just feel like I’ve been offline for so long that I may as well have been on another planet
I’m still in the process of re-integrating myself into everyday life here in NDIP and I must say it’s been really, really busy. It’s taken me over 2 weeks to get a semblance of order restored in my workday -to a point where I don’t feel I’m constantly running- and I think we’re getting there in the home life, too.
See, one of the first things that we’ve been working on at home is an early Spring Cleaning, starting with new furniture! So, a few new commodes, plus some shifting around of the other ones, the throwing out of a lot of old clothes (or rather, bringing it to goodwill), and just getting our home cozy again.
All of which pretty much guarantees a shortened online presence. Heck, even my social media time has been greatly limited. Oh yes, and speaking of Social sites, I just recently joined a new community that a good friend of mine (Paul) brought to my attention: Cowbird.
I’ve only just started using it, trying to find my voice, but you can see my pages here: http://cowbird.com/author/mike-aragona/#
Gotta run, back later!
I think that sums it all up for me. Just wow.
From the 2.5 months of hanging on, waiting for this job that was given to me to finally be unblocked after being put on hold at the last minute, to flying to San Francisco on a day’s notice (after finally and formally signing the contracts) to being blown away by what I saw at Emeryville (and even jumping right into the discussions and giving examples on the boards during my first meetings) to getting to fly back home that same week and arriving at midnight as the clock struck and announced my birthday…
…through the week of prep and the angst at leaving my family, followed by meeting my team and us all flying back to San Francisco together, getting our TN Visas, and getting settled into the hotel that changed its name 3 times while we were here, to the many months, weeks, days, and hours of working, living, laughing, and growing together…
To going back home. For good.
So many moments, so many experiences, so much of everything… and we kept on going through it all because we believed in the project so much, and because my family was strong enough to survive this very difficult separation, and that thankfully my wife was able to ensure our children were never lacking.
And now it all comes down to this. 4 suitcases, stuffed as stuffed can be without breaking open, 9 months of “living” packed away and ready to be tossed into a plane’s cargo hold… my hotel room, so much a part of my daily life already packed away in my mind, and me sitting at my desk, on this laptop, watching the clock tick away as it counts the minutes and hours before it’s time to get up tomorrow morning, for the last time, and head out to the airport.
to. go. home. HOME.
I’m going to miss being here, but I’ll be back every now and again. But my heart will finally be whole again as I’ll be physically reunited with my family. We survived. Wow.
It probably won’t feel “real” until Monday morning when I get up to get ready to head out… only to realize I won’t be flying back! Phew.
Home… just a few short hours away…
So, CBC Books was holding a “Break-up” contest on Twitter and they had Tabatha Southey (@TabathaSouthey) a Writer and Globe and Mail columnist as a judge. For 12 hours (10am-10pm EST) folks were invited to basically tweet “dear john” letters. The prize? an iPad. But, as cool as that could be, the fact is… just like the “day without wikipedia” it became something I started on a lark and then couldn’t stop And now, just like that day, I wanted to capture my tweets here in my blog. So, without further ‘adieu’…
- This is the end, beautiful friend…
- Remember when I said I loved you? You can forget it now.
- You had the key to my heart. Now it unlocks the cellar.
- How can I miss you if you won’t go away?
- You will find your things next to my heart. On the sidewalk.
- If you’re still reading this, then I have to adjust my security settings. (* I actually got an RT on this one from the judge )
- You are a treasure. I want to bury you in my back yard.
- I’d say you are my Valentine, but that is *SO* last year.
- I got the message and the message is clear. Now, it’s your turn. Get. Out. Clear?
- Started my new diet. Lost 150lbs of ugly. You.
- See you at the airport! If I`m not there, make sure you get on the plane!
- Let me get to the point: it’s over.
- What do these words have in common? Finished. Over. You. End. Done. Give up?
- I will always cherish you. From afar. Far, far, afar.
- I keep thinking of where I found you, and if I can lose you the same way.
- I finally understand why a Preying Mantis eats its mate.
- Once Upon a Time, there was us… Now there is ME.
- Hershey’s gave me Kisses, you gave me Herpes.
- Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! Yeah, that would be you…
- I wrote your name… on this Restraining Order…
- The tree with our initials carved on it was struck by lightning.
- Couldn’t tell you to your face, so I’m Tweeting it instead… Buh-Bye!
- I’m not a Quitter, so consider yourself Fired.
- I hope you get this note. It’s the last I’ll ever send you.
- I’m right. You’re wrong. I’m here. You’re gone.
- Love is on the Menu tonight. I’m ordering out. What about you?
- Even the Superbowl takes a commercial break for entertainment. And you’re no Superbowl.
- Remember when I said I’d love you forever? I exaggerated. #canadawrites
- When I tell you I’m in the mood for love, your reaction should not be to ask why.
- Letting you go was like winning the Lottery. Suddenly, life was beautiful!
- In the PrimeTime of our relationship, I regret to inform you that notice of Cancellation has officially been given.
- Wait, you didn’t really think I was serious, right? Weren’t you joking, too?
- I loved you like a hurricane… but now you’re just a blowhard.
- It’s not that I don’t love you, I just love ME more.
- Let me lie to you… I want to stay with you forever.
- If the door doesn’t hit you on the way out, I’d be glad to do it.
- Don’t you want somebody to love? Ditto. Know where I can find them?
- Did I forget to tell you I was leaving the country? Today?
- Wedding? I thought you said ‘Bedding’. Oops, my bad.
- Without further Ado, I bid you Adieu…
- This is the first tweet of the rest of my life… without you.
- Thanks for playing along! There’s a nice parting gift waiting for you!
Does get kind of hard to stop after a while… but I’m going to leave it at that – even with 20 minutes left to go. Let’s see if I can resist the temptation
…aaand had to sneak in that one last “Thanks for playing along!” gag… Ok, now I’m done.
For the last few weeks now, pretty much since the holidays, the end-date of this first phase of my current project was set in that the return date was one of two days: the third or fourth week of February. Even when it was confirmed last month that it would be Feb 16th, the reality of it hadn’t really sunk in.
After all, when you’re working what feels like round-the-clock, days all kind of blur together (let’s not even talk about hours). But that has always been okay since the whole reason we kicked off this Small-Canadian-Team-in-the-US phase was to get us all to live and breathe not only the lifestyle of our environments, but the company, processes, and project itself. On that count, it has been extremely successful as we have all been fully integrated into the daily goings-on and not just as participants, but as collaborators and “influencers”.
And now, this phase is coming to an end as we prep for The Voyage Home and setting up shop as an East-Coast and Northern expansion. Again, with all the work we’ve been doing, I haven’t had that feeling of “I’ll be home for good”. Until last night.
Finally, as I walked to the local Target in Emeryville and passed by the Bay Street Shopping Area on my way back, the streets and buildings I’ve been looking upon for the last 9 months suddenly looked… “different”. Always familiar, but with a tinge of “dusk” that hinted at an “unspoken” countdown clock. In that slow red haze, during an extremely comfortable 12 or so degrees, my vision of my surroundings started to gather some of that “nostalgia dust” which (I know) will cloud my future viewings with a sigh of “comfortable” feelings. Remembrances of so many walks and actions throughout this city, as well as all the good friends I made here.
It is nice to know that this “end” is really just another change and that there will still be a number of opportunities (and needs) to come back here from time to time, but the best part is that I know those future “visits” will be akin to visiting a childhood home. Emeryville will never be just another “place” to me now. It will be a fond reminder of Professional, Personal, and Family Growth.
I do look forward to future visits, and as much as they will be fun and enjoyable, there is still nothing that compares to the feeling that it WILL be a visit and that I will quickly turn around and go back HOME to my FAMILY 9 months away from my wife and children still feels like an eternity and it’s about time we all stop hurting at the pain of the separation
Why did we do it, you may ask? For the same reason I told one of the nurses who helped take care of my daughter during the open-heart surgery that saved her life over 4 years ago. My wife and I wanted to do our part and give back to Canada, to HealthCare, and to the Montreal Children’s Hospital for everything they made possible in ensuring our baby girl would live. Watching her medical folder grow and grow and grow and thinking about how easy that information could be lost, or how her Pediatrician was not always in the know of what happened to her (or what happened to my son during his asthma attacks)… it was and still is a little frustrating.
So, when the chance came to be part of a team that would help bring an Electronic Health Records solution to Canada, the sacrifice of 9 months seemed very minor in comparison to the years of my daughter’s life given back to us. Americans have had access to the RelayHealth solution for almost 10 years now (http://www.relayhealth.com/) and very soon (for those who haven’t read all our press releases) it will be ready for Canada as well (http://www.relayhealth.ca/relayhealth-ov
And that is a good thing
I’m sitting here feeling a little dumbfounded, or perhaps more in a state of shock.
For months now, I’ve been sitting in my room here in Emeryville, trying to put to words all the gamut of emotions that I’ve been struggling with for over 8 months now. I’ve been wanting, and failing, to share what it’s meant to be over 2000 miles away from my wife, my kids, my home, and work at one of the best (if not THE best) companies I’ve ever worked for in my life.
What a mixed blessing! To be constantly wishing to be with my family, and yet to be so engaged, motivated, and immersed in my work that no day EVER felt like I was going to “work”… on a professional front, who could wish for anything better? On the personal front… ouch.
My wife put together a great summary yesterday about it all, broken down into how much has gone “on” while I’ve been away, and how much I’ve missed out physically if not virtually (thanks to the absolute joy and wonders of Skype). As difficult as this distance has been, we have been truly blessed by a number of things. When those really important moments came, I was there, in person. Kyle’s 6th birthday, Charlize’s 4th birthday, seeing Chantale’s grand father one last time prior to his passing, and then being able to make it to the funeral. Such important life moments and I never once felt like I was a burden on anyone at either company or department I was involved with.
I used to joke back in June 2011 about how great it was working here and that I could easily see myself taking over a role here but for the fact that: (a) my family, my home, were back in Canada and I would not move them out here, (b) what we’re trying to do for Canada is the reason I came down and I want to see it through to full completion/ implementation, and (c) my job/position/career back in Canada is going to keep me more than busy enough!
But it’s definitely a great feeling to be wanted And I realized I deviated somewhat from the original intention of this post, so let me adjust.
I first came down to Emeryville the week of my birthday, back in 2011, for a few days. I actually made it back home ON my birthday that first trip which was an amazing gift on its own. Afterwards, I flew back down with my team on May 23rd. And from then on began an adventure I will never forget – even if I didn’t manage to capture it fully here in my journals. The point is, though, that at the forefront of my mind was how I was missing my wife, and missing watching my kids grow up. During my first few months, Kyle started Grade One and Charlize started PreSchool, while Melyssa started Secondary 3 and James his first year of college. Again, with good fortune, I was able to be there for Kyle’s first days, too. Unbelievable.
We got into a virtual routine with me spending a lot of time on Skype “living through” whatever events was going on back home – from the “mundane” mealtimes to just lounging on the couch watching tv together. That virtual presence at least kept me connected and kept me sane. But as the vacations came, and such wonderful times were spent back home, it became harder and harder to fly back to San Francisco. We always knew that, soon, but not always soon enough, that final flight home would come.
Well, tonight, for me, that time is finally scheduled. I booked my flight home and the flood of emotions that tore through me brought tears of joy and relief at knowing that I *will* be home for my Wife’s Leap Year Birthday, and that I will once again be physically part of my children’s everyday life. Call it sappy, call it what you will, but as much as I will miss the amazing friends and colleagues I have made here, nothing can replace the people I’ve devoted and committed my life to. That’s just truth of the facts
One Adventure is winding down, but another Adventure will begin the week after it as we continue with our plans for world (or at least Canadian) domination!
I spent most if not all of tonight re-living about 7 years worth of memories. It was basically a high-level reading of over 1000 blog entries and I found the experience quite fascinating. Why fascinating? Is my life that unbelievable that what I’ve lived through is so captivating? Well… yes, actually But it’s not just that.
What really amazes me is that when the past is looked upon through the veil of time, age, and experience, what really bubbles to the surface is just how *much* stuff we’ve lived through! In everyday conversations it’s quite easy to lose the details of a lot of events. But when you’re reading through your personal history, and those specific memories are triggered, it’s like… wow. How did we do it?!
The best/ quickest example is just taking the events of children. Charlize and her open-heart surgery; Kyle and his asthma and allergy attacks. Two “general” examples which summarize soooo many events. Re-reading those events brings home the fact that if it weren’t for the need to see everything through to (and believing in) a healthy end, it would be extremely easy to fall apart and cease to function (as a parent, as a person).
All this, of course, doesn’t even bring up the memories/ stories/ events of the whole 9 months of going through the Pregnancy, Delivery, and bringing Baby Home phases! Those, as well, can sometimes feel like a lifetime on their own!
So I say, again, how grateful I am that my wife and I have kept a journal for so many years, simply because these memories might not matter much to those outside of ourselves, but they’ll matter to our children and our eventual grandchildren. After all, the same way I wish I knew my own Parents and Grandparents better than I do, it’s only natural that those “to come” will want to know about our lives, our trials and tribulations, and ultimately, our incredible joys.
And you know what? That’s just something you’ll never be able to get through Facebook or Twitter.
Not much more I can add to today’s blackout from so many online sources as a protest towards SOPA and PIPA but feel free to read Wikipedia’s thank you message: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Con
For my part, I knew of today and understood the concern and could see how even Canada would eventually feel the impact. However, I had no thoughts towards doing anything about the day… until I read one of Dayton Ward’s (http://daytonward.wordpress.com/2012/01/1
I was quite amused and thus wrote up a couple. And then, slowly, became addicted, and the couple multiplied. Like the bunnies that china built the Great Wall to keep out. Even when I declared a self-imposed “stop” to my tweeting after bringing in some Canadian content, I found that I could just…not…let…it…go! That time finally happened when Wikipedia came back online and I figured I’d spend the last few hours of my evening doing something else (like maybe reading comics or watching The Sarah Conner Chronicles )
However, before I drop the subject completely, I did want to keep the tweets for posterity, here, in my blog. These are just the ones I wrote and none of the re-tweets I did (because there were quite a few jewels in those, too! ). Without further a-do, and with the hashtag removed, I bring you my pearls of wisdom (although some will only be understood by those living in The Great White North):
- BC was initially created as a unit of weight meaning “Before Calories”
- Tumbleweed are sticky ashes brought together by the breath of medicinal weed users
- The elbow is the funny bone because it is used to poke others in the ribs (aka ribbing)
- The Grapefruit is neither a grape, nor a fruit
- Luke was originally Vader’s daughter Lucille
- The Secret Service James Bond used to provide Her Majesty was in the bedroom
- The Moon is not made of cheese, it is made of Yogurt
- A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, Barney was the King of Dinosaurs
- Badminton was initially created by a group of men trying to kill a bee
- George Stroumboulopoulos (@strombo) is secretly the President of Canada
- Rick Mercer (@rickmercer) wrote the Canadian Nationial Anthem
- More Canadians take dog sleds to work than Snowmobiles
- Every book Stephen King has written is based on a true story
- Clark Kent is Batman
- Peter Parker is Superman
- Ringo Starr is the only Beatle to survive living Under the Sea. All the others drowned.
- Canadians have no running water, but plenty of Tim Horton’s coffee
- Petting a cat from tail to head builds enough static to stick them on a wall
- In an emergency, coffee can be used for blood transfusions.
- Gone with the Wind is about one woman’s struggle with flatulence.
- Canada has 13 timezones, one for each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories.
- Canadians are legally obliged to keep Moose or Beavers as pets.
- Harry Houdini never died, he was just misplaced.
- The Godfather is a book/movie about a man finding out that God is his father.
- Dog is actually spelled C-A-T.
- PONG was originally created as a counter-measure to LSD.
- Orville and Wilbur Redenbacher flew the first airplane.
- Betsy Ross starred on The Golden Girls.
- Ice Cream is made with ice mined from Icebergs.
- Smeagol was Frodo Baggins’ uncle, Bilbo, known to friends as Gollum.
- Old McDonald had a Farm. He grew Pot.
- Yoda was created when a Muppeteer accidentally dropped Grover in a pickle jar.
- Natural Spring Water is collected by means of plastic pipes, not metal.
- You can use Scott Towels to pick up Gas Leaks.
- The Planet of the Apes is a documentary.
This weekend, as I was folding the laundry, I was struck by the number of Superhero t-shirts my little boy has. I smiled at the fact that (a) he loves superheroes as much as I did when I was growing up (and to a large extent still do), and (b) he’s lucky enough to actually be able to HAVE such great t-shirts!
Superman, Lego Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Iron Man, Spider-Man… I folded and folded and just got a kick out of all the designs, thinking back to how simple/ sterile the ones I grew up with looked in comparison.
Everyone knows there’s lots of money in marketing, and such products as these (along with toys, of course) are cash cows for the comic companies. But, I wonder if anyone also knows (or cares, really) that these products also give little boys and girls (and their parents in some cases!) a lot of joy Probably not, but that’s okay, too
I’m just glad I can get to share in this love of superheroes with my kids (or, that they can share in my love of superheroes ). It is a lot of fun and sure makes for some great memories
So this morning, in an effort to try to make commenting on this site (at least on the portal site) easier I tried to install a few authentication plug-ins. I tested the google, yahoo, and WordPress ones but couldn’t get the other protocols (like Facebook, twitter, and OpenId to work). As I went about trying out a few others, I suddenly hit a memory error I could not recover from. Repairing the site wasn’t working so I fell back to the immortal words of a friend of mine (Tommy, you know who you are) and took the Scrap-and-ReWrite route.
Luckily it was easy enough to do with me just losing some tag management. No biggie. Doubly-lucky that it didn’t take that long although I will spend some time tweaking again – later.
In the meantime, I activated the remote protocols which allows me to use an iPad app to post here . This comes at a good time when -like now- I’m flying home and hanging about the lounge waiting to board. I know there’s a storm back home but it’s clear in Vancouver. Boarding should begin soon so I guess it’s time I make my way over
But I couldn’t leave without mentioning that the Maple Leaf Lounge here in YVR is as great as I expected it to be
-updated manually as the Remote protocol did not cross post this entry to LiveJournal