Monday, June 23, 2014

Suck it up!

I've been mulling over in my head what I'm going to spill on Ragnar for the newest post.  No point in prevaricating about the bush...

I have some pretty amazing people in my life, that I know.  I get to interact with them from time to time.  Some are just online, some I've known for years and keep in touch with online, others of course are family and former co-workers.  Sometimes, you can look around and watch someone pull the curtains back on their lives and allow you to peek in, and see an entirely different world.  I think that's a gift.  When anything is revealed to you, those are jewels, of various values, that they entrust to you.  Something I pride myself on is my trustworthiness.  If you confide in me, you can be pretty damned sure I won't use what you told me against you in any way, shape or form.

There was a tragedy in Moncton recently, when a crazed gunman one Wednesday evening shot dead three of our city's cops, and wounded two others.  This caused Moncton to ground to a screeching halt for the following day and a half, with police issuing lockdowns and businesses closing until they caught the gunman, who'd evaded capture until the wee hours of the following Friday morning.  It shook Monctonians and Canadians alike to the very core, not unlike the terrorist bombing that happened in Boston a few years ago.  Police from all over the country descended on our humble city with armored vehicles, helicopters, and fancy equipment in an effort to speed up the process of rooting out the killer. Those cops were very young and in the prime of their lives, with families.  It was painfully sad to watch the state funeral they were granted.

One of my friends from way back in my mid teens was a cop.  She retired very recently, just before these crazy events took place, thank God.  She stopped by to see us here at the house to catch up on things.  This woman is a real life superhero; someone who charged toward danger while others fled from it.  She talked about those days days when it felt like martial law in the city for a very short bit, which led to her telling us stories about her countless other adventures as a cop.  She's a role model for women everywhere.  Tell her she can't do something and she'll do it, just to show you you're wrong.  She talked with humorous intonation and detailed verbal imagery about some of her travels during her career, and I for one was just spellbound.  I've always loved tough, smart women, and she's as tough and smart as they come.  Not to mention honest, driven, forward and uncompromising.

Then at work, an old friend came shopping and saw me as I was doing my duties.  What a great thing is was to see this guy:  my very first boss when I got a job at a corner store up the street from where I lived.  I wound up working for him again a few years later for several more years, and I tell you, he is bar none the best boss I have ever worked for.  He's the standard to which all bosses are measured, for me, and for a whole lot of others who have ever worked for him.  He's gone from running a corner store, to a restaurant, to co-owning and managing a big time distribution outfit on a global scale.  Despite his level of success, he still talks to me and treats me as he always has.  He was like a big brother/father figure to a lot of his employees.  I can look to him and say he's the smartest man I've ever personally known, and maybe even the most generous.  Generous of his time, patience, and wisdom, among everything else.  His daughter is also a policewoman in the city, and was involved in things the day all the commotion began.  I also used to work with her at the store he ran, back in our teens.  She's another heroic role model.

I communicate regularly with a friend of mine whom I've known as a friend of my wife's, who used to work with her long ago.  We got to know each other better as the years have gone on, ironically the most in the last couple of years, where she's been away, since she's moved out west, then recently moved back to the Island.  She's quite a brilliant little spitfire, having authored three books, always working on more, and always looking for ways to change things for the best.  When I think of the phrase "go-getter", she springs to mind.  She encourages me to write, because she thinks I'm good at it.  A compliment of the highest order coming from an author of three books and counting!  It's interesting seeing her trajectory take its path, because she's always pushing to make it happen, and there's that anticipation of what's going to come next.

My daughter just graduated from high school last week, from the time I write this.  She was looking sparklingly beautiful in her grad gown as she accepted her diploma.  She was rather screwed out of her french immersion certification, that a few other students got (many others never got it either that you would think would have), and she got a $1,600 bursary that went unannounced on her getting her diploma because of some weird issues about the organizers not knowing it soon enough.  Whatever, she still rocked high school, is fluently french, and is starting at a renowned college for esthetics this week.  The future is tremendously bright for her.  To say we are proud parents would be a tragic understatement.

Then there's my wife, who was also a former co-worker at that same fateful store back when we were teens, also working for the same guy.  She wound up actually managing that store, then managing another one shortly after that.  After toiling away at other jobs, looking to find her niche, she's now an accomplished post office outlet manager with great success.  Nobody does what she does better than her, and her comrades would tell you exactly the same thing.  With pride.  Add to that, that she is a second degree black belt in taekwondo along with our daughter, and actually taught classes, even though she has debilitating arthritic ailments that requires intravenous medication that runs up to north of thirty grand a year.  I'm positive there's no one that does what she does.  She handles a lot of crap at her work, asserting herself appropriately and with conviction when things aren't always going right.  She's gotten awards from pretty much every business she's been involved with, including the post office.

Both of our families are chock full of siblings with success stories too, ranging from post office workers, to CN workers, sign shop owners, real estate agency, bookkeeping, you name it.  Everyone with careers they can be proud of and assured of their futures and families futures with.

Then there's me.

I had my humble beginnings, working in that corner store for a long time.  Seven years to be exact.  Seven years on the overnight shift.  Got robbed a couple of times, had to toughen up and throw guys out of the store that were... significantly larger than me.  One time actually physically lifting a guy up off his feet and throwing him out.  I chased a Mt. A football player through the parking lot when he stole a handful of skin books, and caught him and took them back.  Pretty impressive, eh?  No?  No, I don't think so either.

I was promoted to assistant manager of that store at one point, fairly early on.  But, as things would tend to recur, I dropped the ball, mis-arranged my priorities, and my future wife usurped that title from me.  She deserved it, I did not, just to be crystal clear.  I did wind up leaving the store to search for a more meaningful career other than working night shifts at a corner store, though, and found salvation via getting hired at a newly opened tissue plant here in Moncton.  Big bucks!  The starting wages were jaw dropping for a guy like me.  The future indeed looked bright.  Until I broke my foot on the job, couldn't find my path back to the promised land, and got laid off as the dubious accident #1 at that plant.  They politely told me not to re-apply there again.  Yay, me.

Then I dropped into a funk for quite a few years after that.  I took a computer college course, which sunk me $5,000 in debt with nothing, absolutely nothing, to show for it, as I got no jobs related to said education.  But I did get a gig with my old boss driving for his restaurant, which wasn't exactly lucrative, but I enjoyed it for a good 11 years.  I wanted to get away from it, though, seeing if I could do better cash-wide.  And I did, moderately, working for a drug store chain.  Three of them, actually, as I settled at the one I'm at now for the last nearly four years.  I'm a receiver.  An okay job, but I'm not management, and certainly not getting wages that would suggest I'm even close.

I've been playing drums for a long time, since I was 13 when my brother Greg got me a little drumset for Christmas.  I taught myself how to play, and wound up in a few bands, playing cover songs, but not very many gigs.  I got a three man group together with a friend, and we released a CD, which I've heard virtually no praise for outside of friends (certainly not family), and after one for-charity gig at Moncton's university, ceased to exist.  Since then I've done nothing for gigs.  No interest from any outfit that might've needed a drummer, though I haven't really put myself out there.  Conclusion:  I'm really not that good.

So now... when I talk to my friends who are police officers, business owners, aspiring lawyers, managers, authors, etc... and they tell me their stories.... then they ask me what I'm up to and what's happening in my life?  Forget it.  How in the hell do I follow up so many success stories with what has become known as the failure which is my life.  I don't, so I really don't offer anything.  "So how have you been?  What's going on?  What have you been up to?"

"Ah, you know, livin' the dream."  And I leave it at that.  I will not dissolve your amazing stories with my absolute lack of one.  A day in my life is getting up in the morning, going to my adequate but perhaps meaningless job, and putting my day in, though working quite hard, so I can come home and be at my house with my wife and daughter, which is the highlight of my day.  If that's all I can thrill you with for stories, then I think I'll just keep it to myself.  Your life is far, far more interesting.  And I'm not being sarcastic.  I'm being starkly honest.

A lot of this kind of thinking has come upon me in the last year plus.  I did something to my knee at the gym that popped something, making walking a lot more difficult than it used to, though I'm not some kind of cripple or anything.  My wife even goes through worse than this every day.  But I've gotten x-rays, an MRI, and various doctors and therapists to look at this damned knee, and they all say that, other than some arthritis, there's really nothing wrong.  So suck it up, boy.  On those Tuesdays and Fridays at work when the job is most physical and I can barely drive home to work at the end of those shifts because of that knee, to those days at the gym where I have to cut my workout short because I can barely stand, I guess it's just in my head and I'm some kind of bloody hypochondriac.  It's time I changed my mindset, I guess.

With all my depressive issues, I've asked to see a shrink.  Two months ago.  I haven't even gotten a referral yet.  Christ, it's a good thing I'm not suicidal, right?  I'm starting to sound like Rodney Dangerfield now.  Just take more meds and hope for the best in the meantime.  What?  Self loathing?  Resulting sometimes in injury?  Well, at least you're not dead!  It's all in your head anyway.  Suck it up, boy.

I at least better see an ENT about those wicked nosebleeds, the last 2 of which might've killed me.  For real.  I'm not kidding, or exagerrating.  Ask my wife, who saw blood spewing from my nose and mouth at the same time so badly I was choking on it.  Okie dokie, referral on the way.  Two months later, no word.  Thank God, no nosebleeds since then, but I never know, because I wake up with those.  There was one time years ago when I woke up in a pool of blood in bed because I didn't wake up.  Bah.... all in my head!  Suck it up, boy.

You might think this is about self pity, a woe-is-me type of trip.  Maybe it is!  But I acknowledge that I've made this bed that I sleep in.  So be it.  But I will do anything I can to make somebody else happy, at least.  In fact, it's my life's mission.  To make my wife happy, my daughter happy and successful, and any friends I have feel loved.  Because I love each and every one of them.  I even want to do what I can for a stranger to turn their day around.  I do that at work a lot, or I should say, try to.

But make no mistake... I can be one hell of an asshole.  I know that.  I nearly broke up my entire family once.  There's peace there, now that I'm not there to fuck it all up, at least.  I don't think I do enough around the house.  I'm certainly no handyman.  I never took the time to learn in my life.  Again, hello, that's cuzza me!  What can I say.

But anyway, life is good.  I'm alive, have house, family, job, food on the table, some friends, and I thank God for it all every day.  No, really.  I know a lot of people just say that.

I guess that's enough misery for one day, eh?  Sorry for this blog.  But it's been just... hanging there.

Now it isn't.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Parallel Universes of Ragnar: The Purse

If you haven't seen it yet, here's the very first shot of mine at fictional writing in the form of a short story called....

The Purse

It was written from inspiration from a song from one of my favorite bands, with a link to that song at the bottom of the story.

Probably will do more of these.  It's a start, so don't expect Shakespeare or anything!

Feedback is welcome.