Prisoner Transport: Part 1

I stood at the end of the lane waiting for the school bus to pick me up and take me to a new school to start grade 9. The bus was small as there were only a handful of us in this particular pocket of the county who were designated to attend a junior high in the city.

The small yellow bus stopped and the door popped open.

“Are you John?” the driver called out. I nodded and climbed onto the bus. The driver was an elfish woman with a gravelly voice that must have come from whiskey, cigarettes, and a lifetime of yelling. It was a voice I’d only ever heard in the movies. I looked around at the collection of misfits. Bad haircuts, ill-fitting clothes, and a fashion sense that indicated limited access to chain clothing stores. There were the gangly, the sort of fat, the acned, and the crooked-toothed. The place had the atmosphere of first-time convicts on the way to do hard time in a federal penitentiary. You could smell the fear and anxiety.

I sat beside a larger kid with a bowl cut and apple-red cheeks. His hair was much like mine– no style, not cut by any professional, just there on his head with the odd piece sticking straight up like it had never occurred to him to comb it, or wash it, or put it right in some way.

“I’m David Lightfoot,” he cheerfully introduced himself. I had never met anyone named Lightfoot. I shook his hand.

“Do you like Motley Crue?” he asked.

“Yeah, sure. I guess so.” I was bluffing. I had no idea who Motley Crue were. That summer my cousin Sharon had given me the Loverboy album Get Lucky and I had pretty much worn it out, mostly because it was the only record I owned.

“I got a Sony Walkman for my birthday. I can bring it on the bus if you want. You can listen to the tape.” He was being really nice. The bus drove on. After a few minutes of chattering about his family, nervously, he suddenly put his head in his hand. And threw up. The vomit had pooled in his hands and he looked at me in pleading, heartbreaking, way and said, “Oh geez, I’m sorry. That’s really gross isn’t it?” He must have been searching for a place to put his throw-up because he looked around furtively, but, finding no solution, he dumped the contents of his hands on the floor.

He vomited again. It was loud and plentiful. He caught this batch in his hands as well and then dumped it on the floor. It splashed and splattered.

Again he apologized: “I’m really sorry about this, man, this is really gross.”

The smell filled the bus and soon everyone was plugging their noses and making noises of disgust. But no one was angry. In fact a few of the kids were laughing and soon we were all laughing.

When the smell hit the bus driver, her head whipped up to the rear-view mirror and she yelled, “What in the name of God is that?”

Through her chortles, a curly-haired, bespectacled girl with braces said, “That kid puked all over the floor. Ewwww.” She pulled the front of her t-shirt up over her nose.

“Guys, I’m really sorry. I don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

The bus made a detour to a gas station and the driver borrowed a hose and managed to wash out most of the vomit. By this time even she was laughing and shaking her head. We had all gathered around outside and had made fast friends with each other now that we all shared a minor trauma. Even David was laughing. He kept apologizing, but by now no one really cared. It was funny. And thanks to David we were all a little less afraid.

For that whole year riding the bus was the best thing about going to school.

Bird on Boy Violence: A Story of Survival and Triumph

The other day I was talking to joeyfullystated about flying critters that attack, so I thought I’d write about my brush with bird rage.

It was a humid day in mid-August. I was probably about nine or ten, riding my heavy framed, red, CCM, no-speed bike (a bike with gears was for rich kids) down by the railroad tracks, minding my own business.

I had about a one-second warning; the hair on the back of my neck stood on end just before the attack commenced. A big red-winged blackbird swooped down on my head like a kamikaze pilot on meth and dug her feet/talons into my scalp and began pecking my head. Really hard. This bird was drilling my skull as though her last meal might be buried in my cranium.

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I. Was. Terrified. And it hurt. I jumped/fell off my bike and began swatting at the demon, but she merely had to fly away. She was also screaming at me. I don’t speak bird but I could understand that she was pissed about something. I wanted to say, “Your outrage is manufactured, good madam, for I have committed no transgression.” But I was ten so what really came out was: “Aaahhhh! Fuck off you shit bird asshole bitch.” As I swung wild, impotent haymakers, she continued to swoop and dive, claw and peck, and I could not figure out what the hell to do. As soon as I jumped on my bike and began peddling, she took advantage of my unprotected head. So I alternated, peddling for as long as I could stand and then jumping off my bike to swat, spit, and throw some rocks–but it was all for nought.

After what felt like a day and a half but was probably more like ten minutes, I managed to bike out of range. I pedalled hard for a good while and then stopped and looked back. She was nowhere in sight. I took a deep breath and ran a hand through my hair. I was bloody and bruised but I had survived. The day was mine after all.

Now I am here to share my story of survival and to let others know that if you’re ten, riding a red bike by some train tracks, and are attacked by a mother bird likely protecting her nest, then you are not alone. And it is possible to survive, and even flourish after, such bird on boy (or girl) violence.

Envelope please…..And the Winners Are…………

John Callaghan:

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This was a lot of fun!

Originally posted on saneteachers:

The moment we’ve been waiting for!  The Get the Party Started Caption Contest winners are…….drumroll please…..

1. “How we all felt the day after watching the red wedding.”

CLASSIC  This top winning response is brought to you by John Callaghan of http://getoffmylawnplease.com/ fame.  There are 3 reasons why this quote won the top slot in this contest.  First of all, it made me laugh out loud.  Secondly, John Callaghan is a wonderful blogger and Game of Thrones enthusiast which gives him a HUGE boost in ratings from me.  And lastly, I’m pretty sure everyone guessed this is me as a baby in Elemendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska. Sooooooo…….it is easy to say WINTER IS COMING.  *ps.  This has nothing to do with this “prize,” but all of a sudden I’m getting to know a number of Canadians. John, I’m glad you are one of them.  Sorry?

1. “Bill tipped his…

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You Can’t Fight City Hall

For anyone new to this blog, I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on in my life. Due to my massive following of about 150 people, I had decided it was time to take it to the next level and fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a cult leader. You can catch up by clicking the links. Or not.

So last week I went to city hall and asked, politely, if I could please get a permit for a cult. Though I plan on breaking all sorts of laws and cultural mores, I’d like the launch of our (and by “our” I mean “my”) cult to at least get off to a smooth start. I had the notion that maybe the Mayor or at least a couple of city councillors would attend the opening. Maybe even a photo op of a ribbon-cutting ceremony. I have big dreams.

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Well, I was practically laughed out of the glass pyramid that is our city hall. Jeremy, an insolent peon with a bad comb-over and a moustache that looked like a sickly caterpillar clinging to his lip for dear life, told me, smirking, that no such permit exists. My fury rose up in me and I was never so desperate to have a cowering flock on which to vent my rage. Jeremy then closed his window and put up a sign in chicken scratch: “Gone for lunch.”

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“May your computer be afflicted with a thousand viruses, Jeremy. From this day forth you are a sworn enemy of me and my minions,” I yelled. I may have even shaken my fist. Man, I really need to work on my curses.

The bugger did not even turn around but just gave a dismissive wave as walked back to an inner sanctum of cubicles where he no doubt would be having a bag lunch of tuna sandwiches.

“May the bread of your tuna sandwich be soggy, Jeremy.” Ugh! Now this was getting embarrassing.

I stood simmering and red faced, filled with impotent rage. I now know your pain, Martin Luther King. I too have a dream.

I sincerely hope you guys are appreciating all the work I’m doing. I wonder if there’s some sort of support group where I could talk to other potential cult leaders who could understand the work I’m doing. It’s lonely at the top.

Better Late Than Never

It has been a really busy week and it’s only Wednesday. We’re finally going to buy a home of our own and there is a LOT to consider. But the process isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. Our one regret is that we are purchasing much later in our lives than most people, but I suppose it’s better late than never.

If you’d told me 15 or even 10 years ago I’d be in this position, I wouldn’t have believed you. It will be in some ways a relief to be out of our building. As I write this cigarette smoke is being blown into our back bathroom through the ventilation system. And when we got home from talking to the realtor yesterday, we found this notice slipped under our door:

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This happens a lot. Now I just need to remember to shower extra long before 9 a.m., or the smell of cigarette smoke will be the least of our problems.

Apology Fail

In some ways I live a mildly sheltered life. I work and live in a community where people are decent and kind to each other. Respect is given and received. So I’m shocked when I see and hear something that’s this ugly and cruel.

Britt McHenry is a “reporter” for ESPN. She had her car towed. In the big wide world, this is a minor inconvenience. But upon retrieving her car, McHenry said this to the employee of the towing company:

“I’m on television, you’re in a fucking trailer, honey.”

“I’m in the news, sweetheart, I will fucking sue this place.”

“Do you feel good about your job? So, I could be a college dropout and do the same thing?”

“Lose some weight, baby girl.”

Here are a couple of pictures of Britt McHenry:

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As you can see, she was likely not hired for her sophisticated analytical and critical thinking skills. She is basically a piece of candy with a word-hole and opposable thumbs that facilitate the holding of a microphone. Even after McHenry was told that her tirade was being filmed, she continued berating and insulting the employee.

Soooo, of course this gets on the interwebs and shit blows up. People are PISSED. And in a spectacular display of non-self-awareness McHenry issues this sweet little gem:

“In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”

What nonsense this apology is. “Take the high road?” Seriously? This implies something was done to you, that you had been wronged in some way. Your car was towed. That’s it. You weren’t forced to cage fight a rabid chimpanzee. You didn’t have Rick Grimes cut off your hand with a rusty axe after being bit by a zombie with Ebola. You’re not Sansa Stark, for crying out loud.

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I was watching “House of Cards” late last night and I think the words of Zoe Barnes might sum up another, more important, lesson for McHenry: “But remember, these days, when you’re talking to one person, you’re talking to a thousand.” And I’m willing to bet that most of those thousand have been belittled, degraded, and punished for not having won the genetic lottery, and though McHenry might have some fantastic bone structure, it does little to stop her from being a walking, talking pile of ugly hatred. Now get in that goddamn cage and fight that chimp!

 

 

 

Grandma and Me

This is one of the few pictures I have from my childhood. And it’s my favourite.

Early in the morning I would pad quietly to Grandma’s bed and then wait patiently for her to finish saying the rosary. She would scoop me up, putting me on her knee, and ask,”How are you today, John?”

I remember her floral print dresses and big black purse.

I’ve been told I was her favourite, but she died when I was still little; it would be a long time before I was someone’s favourite again.

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It’s Too Damn Hot

This encore presentation is brought to you by Colette at WriterInSoul which is a blog everyone should check out and is a favourite of mine. Just don’t ask to take a look at her stuffed bear!

So it seems my complaining about the cold has been heard, and then some, by the gods, and now they have seen fit to teach me a lesson. The temperature here in frozen Edmonton has finally turned a corner and we have some glorious temps of +10 and sunshine. This is good. But the heat in our building is on full blast. And by our building I mean our two-bedroom apartment. This weekend the temp indoors has been hovering around +26 to +27. We have had to leave our windows open and that helps, but we live across from the air ambulance helipad and when the helicopter is taking off and landing the noise is pretty intense. And to complain seems to be in really bad taste: Old man shakes his fist at air ambulance: “You damn ‘clinging to life victims’ and your need for immediate medical attention are too damn noisy!” Old man shuts balcony door in callous disgust. Yeah, so that isn’t going to happen.

So I called the leasing office and, of course, no one is there. I called the security desk. I was told that maintenance was only on call for the weekend and only come in on weekends for emergencies. I was going to ask, “Is heat stroke an emergency?” But really I wasn’t having heat stroke. I was just uncomfortable.

So this morning I called the leasing  office. Every time I deal with the office it is a different 12-year-old. No, not really 12, but young. The turnover rate must be around 90%. I’m assuming the pay and working conditions must be just a touch north of sugar plantation slave in 1743. I was told the whole building was one giant concrete crock pot and they are working on getting things fixed. I assume this means telling the shirtless, bald, on punishment detail maintenance worker that he can stop shoveling coal into the massive furnaces which I can only assume talk in the voice of a devil, laughing and demanding to be fed.

So, though I could be really annoyed about yet another example of how this building seems to be run by children with no adult supervision, I am grateful. Do you hear that, gods? I said I’m grateful! Spring has arrived and now I look forward to long days and a massive blue sky.