Tag Archives: real life

I Done Been Bugged: A New Era

We like to think We Get It.

We’re all big-hearted people that grasp other people’s adversities — yada, yada, yada.

The trouble is, a lot of us don’t talk about our adversities, so how could you possibly grasp what you’re not even aware of?

I’ve been really bitchy for a while now, and it’s only in the last couple weeks that some of that has begun to evaporate. The trouble has been a few things, and I’ve sort of been sitting on it more than talking about it, because sometimes talking about it just doesn’t fucking help.

In fact, when it comes to cockroaches, talking about it makes it worse.

I’ve never understood pest problems, or why people lived in shitty buildings, or how you could sit idly by while your situation worsened and worsened.

But then it happened to me.

About five weeks before I blew my back out, in September ’08, I saw my first cockroach. I cleaned everywhere, but they kept appearing here and there as a result of a garbage-collecting Dumpster-diver on the first floor (fucker). Then I blew my back out and had to live on the floor for about six weeks as they escalated in numbers.

The last 22 months were an endless battle.

Honestly, I’m not sure I would have moved had I had the money. After all, once you get a cockroach infestation, I mean, geez — have eggs, will travel. You’re best to stay put once you get people working on the problem.

Right around then was when my bathtub faucet started to malfunction too. Naturally, having a hot bath’s a bit of a necessity when you have a back problem brought on by fucked-up overtense muscles.

For the last year, I’ve been running a bath by using the shower.

Then there’s the decaying kitchen floor.

It’s been a really fucking long two years — just on the “around home” front.

See, I don’t write about money and shit very often. It’s not really your business how I live. But here’s the thing: I’m pretty smart about how to live The Appears-Good Life on a budget. I buy cheap wine that isn’t lighter fluid, I know how to make little pieces of meat go far in tasty brilliance, and I buy a few “quality” ingredients to give me the impression I’m living it up.

But what I’m really doing is living very cheaply in an expensive city. I don’t buy clothes, go to fancy salons, or any of that jazz. Life hasn’t made income very disposable for me. When I eat out, it’s usually because others are treating me or because I’ve budgetted two weeks ahead to afford that dinner-and-a-beer.

And that’s the way it goes. It’ll continue that way now that I’ll be returning to school to learn basic business accounting and other self-employment skills for the next year, too, while I journey down the Working-for-Me future.

So when it  comes to “home life”, it’s really important that I like where I live — because I’m financially, & writing-hobby-wise, required to stick around a lot.

This spring, the cockroaches reached the worst point ever.

They began escalating in February.

By the end of May, I’d now had a couple cockroaches in my bed (clutched one under my pillow one night), had them crawl on food, and other horrifying things — all for someone who’s had a lifelong terror of bugs.

Despite 18+ months of persistent problems, I’d never had them outside of the kitchen or in any kind of numbers like they’d now become — and they had full reign of my home, invading every corner in a matter of weeks.

I couldn’t invite people over for shame I’d have a roach run up the wall in front of them.

In my part of the world, cockroaches are NOT common, and there’s a stigma attached to having them. And the fucking people who say, “Why don’t you move?” ARGH!

Like it’s that easy when you don’t like what you’re dealt. Just pick up and go? Not everyone’s reality allows these things, and a little more empathy and less judgey “Well, gee, that seems easy to solve” sanctimony would go a long, long ways.

You want to bankroll what life requires on my behalf? No? Then don’t fucking ask why I didn’t move. Because: Money.

Well, I finally learned the laws and realized I had a very, very easy time to file an official complaint about the state of living. At the end of May, I called City and reported my building, then I called my landlord and informed him that, NOW, I wasn’t working, and NOW I had the time to make his life a living hell if he didn’t stop making mine one, now that he had 6 months to get started on it. I said I had a very, very strong desire to fulfill that threat, and a REAL GOOD way with words when it came to writing letters to politicians and shit.

Unbeknownst to me, because of the cockroaches, an inspection happened immediately (without notifying me of entry, thanks!).

Two days after, pest control was begun throughout the entire building for the first time!

Three weeks later, I saw my last roach. It’s been nearly 2 months after pest control and the last week or two has finally seen me begin to fall asleep without the last thought before I shut my eyes being of all the cockroaches I’ve seen, or of grabbing one as I flopped over and stuck my arm under my pillow in bed.

Yesterday and today, my landlord has begun to repair my complicated bathtub problem.

Next month I get a new kitchen floor.

I wish I’d gone to the city sooner. Thank you, City of Vancouver.

We think the government doesn’t give a shit, or that the system will never help us, but all we’re doing is just removing a possible solution from an otherwise grim outlook where we need ALL possibilities to be explored.

This morning, I was telling a friend about how much life in The Time of the Cockroaches sucked, and I got all emotional and began tearing up and gasping.

I hadn’t realized what a burden it’d been and how cynical it made me of life and people while I fought and fought for resolution to my problems — but I fought in the wrong direction and went to the wrong people.

Fighting the fight isn’t good enough.

Fighting the fight requires it being the right kind of fighting, and against the right opponent. It means knowing where to turn and what you need.

But, mostly, it requires you believing you’re in the right to pursue that goal.

I became outraged at the end of April, flew into a rage on the phone, but with the most calculated and well-thought series of viable threats I’ve ever strung together.

And now I await my landlord’s return with the Final Parts so that I may once again bathe with pleasure. And without hot water dripping from a shower.

___

We do things wrong.

And things go south.

And, if we’re lucky, we learn a lot about ourselves in the process, making a difficult experience not have been in vain.

I’m lucky. I’ve learned a lot. I know what to worry about in life now, I know when life kinda sucks for realz. I also know I’ve only scratched the surface of what others endure. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot.

Don’t think you know what people are living with. You often haven’t got a fucking clue. Lord knows most of my friends didn’t.

People are People: Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Come morning, everything always changes. New. Nice. No fuck-ups yet. Yesterday’s badness has fallen away, but it’s left me in thought — not surprising, given I dig thinkin’. And here’s the thinkin’ it produced on humanity in general.

Sometimes we get unfortunate reminders of just how far-ranging humanity is. Good people, bad people. Ugly-ass people.

It’s like that moment from the creepy ’50s sci-fi movie where the scared teen boy looks in the camera and whispers, voice shaking: “We are not alone.”

A popular poster of a reliable friendship.

People bring out the best and worst in each other. We feed or flounder off whatever is projected at us. Here on the interwebs? Hoo-whee! We get schooled but good on humanity here.

Anonymity is the greatest thing to ever happen to cowards.

Some people thrive from hurting others, get adrenaline from it. We shake our heads and mutter “I don’t understand.” But what’s there to understand? They’re nuts.

There’s crazy then there’s The Crazy, as my bi-polar friend says.

It happens. Hate happens. Shit happens. Life happens. It happens.

One of the haters from this past weekend sent a bunch of extremely personal emails to the presenters, using our open lives to launch their attack.

I won’t indulge the meglomaniacal jerk’s wish to get limelighted. There’s a reason I moderate comments, his will never be published.

Stupid fuck, as if. Waste yer time if you like, pal — no blogspace for your hate!

But, boy, it reinforces my thinking on people.

I’ve always been that person who knows, if I have five REAL friends when I die, I’m a lucky gal. Most folks just walk away. That’s reality.

Trust me. Wait until life gets hard. Most people will walk. The ones who don’t, they’re keepers.*

The best thing that can happen to you in adversity is to find out who’s real and who’s not. At least then you’re on sure footing. Look at the lemonade you’ve made from those lemons: Now you know who’ll take bullets for you.

And don’t kid yourself, you’ll be surprised when the sieve of life separates the real friends from your illusory ones. It’s often not who you think it’ll be that makes the cut.

Here’s what I know: Good people assume most people are good. Sure, they are. But, the bad, they take up more real estate in our lives.

Have you ever heard the saying about retail, that 80% of your customers take up 20% of your time, but the other 20% take up 80% of your time with their bullshit? That’s kinda like people in real life, too. That 20% of people really know how to dial up the angst, betrayal, lies, and fear.

That consumes us, it takes over. If we let it.

Most people in life have serious flaws. Just remember that. Remember your own imperfections.  Most don’t have it in them to give “true” friendship to more than a few people. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make their cut.

You’ll have a few real friends in your life. But not many.

Welcome to Realityville.

Hey, your dead-body-removal crew should never have more than 6 people in it anyhow. That would make it too difficult to kill those who know your secrets. Too many to bury in your average backyard. Hardy-har-har.

But, seriously, it’s true. There’s only so many people you can rely on. Everyone else, sooner or later, will fail you. Most fail in small, meaningless ways, but sometimes in huge ways. We dismiss the small failings, but they should serve as indicators for The Bigger Things, because some chances hurt too much to take.

That penchant for flaws is not some price we pay in modern life. People have always been flawed. We just like to dupe ourselves into believing everyone has our moral code.

But they don’t.

And we act all shocked when we see this. Really? You didn’t suspect dickheads roamed the planet? Nazis? Killers? ZOMBIES?

I’m really not surprised some asshole spewing vitriol has emerged from this weekend. I’m only surprised they’ve been sitting around making notes for months, trying to create a destructive picture of who we are out of snippets we’ve revealed. Oh, yeah, there’s a healthy life.

That’s what I’m surprised about. Takes a special knack to be this pathetic for this long.

The rest of it, it’s just life as usual. Like great writers say, betrayals come in love and war, and every other time of year.

I’ll smile and chat with most people, pass a few moments in their company, but when the crunch-time comes, I know they’re not who I’ll be calling.

When the word comes down, handshakes are exchanged, tallies added up, I remember: I never would’ve called them for that dead-body haul anyhow.

Would those you’d call still come when asked?

Then you’ll be just fine. Forget the rest. Seriously.

*And people walk for myriad reasons, not all of which deserve your judgment. Sometimes our own battles don’t allow us to be there for others. We have to make our choices. Don’t take it personally all the time. Take it for what it is: Revealing who WILL be there. Don’t judge too harshly those who can’t be.

RANT: Can I *JUST* Talk?

It’s worth reading the note at the end of this if you really ARE in my life, because what I want online versus from people in the flesh are very different. Thanks.

This morning I’m feeling a bit hamstrung by the life I’ve carved for myself.

I know even saying this is going to ruffle some feathers, and I just don’t give a shit.

First off, I love the relationships and dynamics Twitter and blogging have offered my life. I love the fact that it has opened me up with both friends and family.

But here’s the reality.

This is where I use my voice — here and in Twitter.

Just because I say something doesn’t mean I want you solving my problems. It doesn’t mean it’s a cry for help. It doesn’t mean I need your guidance or moral input. It’s just something I wanted to say.

It also doesn’t mean you have a fucking clue what I’m talking about, world. Continue reading

Tube or Not Tube, That is the Question

It’s Monday and my weekend has vanished. My place isn’t a complete disaster, but I won’t be inviting any company over just yet.

I’m all right with that, though, because I enjoyed my downtime. I caught up on some TiVo and accomplished a few little things. Most importantly, I met cool new people and had some fun in the sun.

It was such a contrast to the holing-up and hiding I’ve been doing so much of for so long. Oh, sure, call it “me time” and it seems so deliberate and purposeful. Most of the time, though, it was really just hiding. Not because I was scared of anything, but just because it was easier. Continue reading

And The Hits Keep Coming

This is the kind of posting I would instinctively run carte-blanche on The Ditch, but I thought I’d say hi. Hi!

I’m having a horribly pseudo-Monday Tuesday that just keeps packing punch after punch. Waking up was all wrong. I woke up, And Something Felt Wrong.

But I, a true trouper, forged ahead. Sure, my jeans were worn a couple times already, but they would do. The laundry could wait. Breakfast, I decided, could not. I made myself ham, some supah-dupah² strong java, toasted me some baguette (bad, but so good!), and made a couple over-easy fried eggs.

One which I dropped immediately on the floor.

The floor I cleaned last night. Thus, egg was partially salvaged, and if you judge me, man, you’re gonna hafta walk a mile in my shoes of the day, I shit you not. You just don’t know, man. You just don’t know.

I got to the office and realized in total fear that I had forgotten to set the VCR (we don’t got no stinking TiVO yet, so keep that yap closed) to record the all-important, life-altering episode of Rockstar due to air this evening. MY GOD, I thought! I’ll have to do without lunch break, and no supper break, and rush over to job 2 ASAP apres job 1, I decided.

And then I worked like a demon. Sort of.

Work was a no-brainer until someone raised up the gates of hell about five hours into my shift, and whazzo, there it went: Hell in a handbasket. Suddenly, fires burned that needed putting out, rivers boiled, and phones rang. It was, I assure you, evil very incarnate. Oooh, evil.

But I coped. I coped and I coped and I coped and I got out of work two minutes late, hopped on the now-rain-soaked scoot and zipped across the downtown core to the plastic ‘hood of Yaletown. I scuttled my little hiney up to the TV monitoring station and threw myself onto the documentary with a vampiric intensity. Then, felled by the evils of a poorly written, badly edited script, I was forced to spend the next 105 minutes editing the mockery of a language called English, written by someone who’d clearly been a jester earlier in this life or last’s.

I rushed out, three hours to the minute, in the hopes of getting home just in time for Rockstar. And I did. It was 7:53. Then I learned it was on at 9, not 8. Doh. My bad. I still have 32 minutes left now.

A month or so ago, I couldn’t really get any work. WELL, that was then, this is now. My old job wants me, my new job wants me, my ESL students want me. (And presumably you people might even want me.) I can’t say no fast enough! I’m too tired for this shit — why can’t the money folk rear their ugly-ass heads next month, HUH? (And some will. This is something I’m anticipating, and I may make good on it.)

In between all that is this podcasting shit that needs to be taken to another level next week, now that I knows me how to record and all. And a website needs building. Blah, fucking blah! Oh, the chaos of it all! (See gear here.)

But next week will be more sane. I will cut back evening work to just tutoring, about four or so hours, and then I will work one weekend day. Presto, instant fascimile of that elusive thing called sanity.

Of course, I’m medicated, so what the hell do I know about sanity anyhow? Hi, I’m Steff, and this is my Fog.

(Heh.)

No, minions, I’m here to tell you that, despite Their Best Efforts, still I stand. Bitter and needing a stiff drink, but stand I do, and stand I shall. And, one day, I shall spend money I have earned on toys and things that I covet.

(I’m drooling over a 160gig external drive being advertised at Best Buy. Me wants. Me wants! Rowr. But I’m adding it to the list I have that keeps on growing a la Jack-&-the-Beanstalk. Magic!)

Oh, hey, and here’s a couple photos for you. Podcasting gear (shweet!) and the crazy centaur guy I saw at the Luminares festival this year (a celebration of light; which explains why he has a huge, glowing, red penis. I had asked him to pose for me, but he kept wiggling his glowing ember of a penis in my face, so it naturally looks motion-blurred. Yes, that’s one quick dick).

From Poutine to Self-Love, Baby!

I should not be writing.

Another probably painfully tiring day awaits me tomorrow, before what is liable to be a mockery of a weekend, on which I believe I need to work Sunday, but the verdict is not yet in. (No, not real work. Taking a bunch of kids to a space museum. Yeah, who’s your sex goddess NOW, huh?)

I should not be writing, but I am.

You see, I took a terribly sinful break earlier today on what has been a gruelling couple headtrip days, and I acquiesced to the evil that lurks within: I submitted to my craving for poutine. If you’ve never had poutine, then you’re probably not Canadian. A pity for you, you poor fuckers. You’ll hear about it, and you’ll think, “Ew, ick!” but really, that’s just your ignorance talking, or perhaps it’s the silly little granola-loving freak you nurture deep within. Either way, it’s all about the fat. Mm, fat!

Poutine’s french fries smothered in cheese curd and gravy. In other words, it’s potatoes that died tremendously worthwhile deaths. And I salute them! So do my lovehandles. But I do digress.

There, there was a paper lying about. I shouldn’t be so brash as to call the Province a newspaper, because it’s hardly a good newspaper at all. It’s a tabloid. It’s the McDonald’s of news for people who are news-tritiously challenged. Or chronologically challenged, and I was the latter. Oh, and apparently the former. How convenient.

Dammit, again with the digressions!

Lemme get to my fucking point, shall I? They had a story today about seven Vancouver chicks (you go, girls) who’ve opted to get married to themselves.

Yep.

They’ve all got the gowns and they’re doing a public ceremony down on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach, and when it comes to the “Do you take this…” part of the ceremony, I think it’s going to be changed to, “Do you take yourself, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until your dying days?” or something like that.

I wanted to fucking stand and cheer then and there.

It ain’t some feminazi gig or anything, boys, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s about saying, “Hey, I don’t need no man for happiness. I can provide that to myself.” None of us really needs anyone… it’s just nice to have them.

Like Margaret Atwood once said, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I happen to believe that goes both ways, but too many women are too fucking obsessed with getting a ring on the finger and being validated by having some studmuffin by her side. It’s a sad state of things, and I would have thought we’d be farther along by now, but here we are: same shit, different story.

I made a brief comment about the “How to Get the Guy” show the other night, a show that still pisses me off on premise, even though the things it’s saying are sort of on the money. Yes, good ways to get a guy. Just bad ways to keep them.

If you’re not yourself when you snag a guy, it’s gonna be pretty fucking hard to keep yourself in that hyper-perfect state. And when you’re not that woman anymore, is he still going to be interested? Or are you just the dating equivalent of spam – building up an average product into something extraordinary, only to have it fall flat? Only you can know.

These chicks, they have the right idea. They might be being weird about it and taking it a bit far, but hey. Whatever gets you through the night, baby. You want to embrace yourself, love yourself, and make a commitment to yourself, then I say more power to you.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week, wondering what all my stress and frustration about this job search is coming off as for the masses. I mean, you all look to me for whatever the hell it is you want to find here on these pages – mantras about your body type, tips on hand-jobs, profundity on being single, scathing commentary on whatever the hell the flavour of my day is… Honestly, I have NO idea what you’re here for, but I’m thrilled you tumble onto my doorstep, and I thank you for it.

But here I am, in all my flawed glory: Stuck in a financial conundrum that I know will end, but I’m terrified won’t end on schedule, my fears and my horrors hanging out for all to see, and the fact that I’m brutally, completely human. I’m as fucked up as anyone, man. I don’t have it all together, and I probably never will. Do any of us? No, probably not. We just play the roles well.

It’s that old, “I’m not a doctor; I just play one on TV” schtick. I ain’t no guru, baby, I just play one on the ‘net. I hurt, I get vulnerable, and, baby, I get scaredy-scared some days.

In the face of all that, I found myself there on Commercial Drive, strolling around in the mid-afternoon sun, a few minutes to kill, when my cellphone rang. Yes, yet another job interview call. (I’ve sent resumes around for just under two weeks, and by Monday’s end I’ll have had eight interviews, all for “real” jobs, so let that tell you what it will.) The funny thing was, this was an agency, and I responded to an ad of theirs earlier this week. I got The Big Rejection Letter. And there she was, calling me now, about an ad I responded to earlier today, knowing full well they’d already rejected me once this week.

She goes, “Your name sounds familiar!”

“It should, I applied earlier this week and got The Big Rejection Letter. But I’m stubborn, and it sounds like a great job for me.”

“Well, it’s a new posting, and I’m glad you’re persistent! I’d like to have a chat with you and see if you’re a good fit for our client!”

I got off the phone (the appointment’s at 9:00am, for an advertising co., one of two interviews tomorrow) and felt SO FUCKING SMUG.

The thing is, keeping your head together and being strong and loving yourself in the face of adversity’s the hardest thing in the world to do. When you’re single, it’s even harder. And that’s why I love hearing about women like this, the ones who say, “You know what? Fuck convention. This is about me.”

Oscar Wilde said my all-time fave quote that I keep citing here and should finally just put in my fucking sidebar, that loving yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. It’s times like these when I need to consciously try to love myself. It doesn’t come with ease. It’s work. Every damned day right now, it’s work. Every employer I talk to, every resume I send, my first thing I tell myself is, “I fucking ROCK. I can DO this.”

I don’t really believe it… but I play a guru on the ‘net, you know, so it’s convincing.