Mewdell's Musings

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Ken the Cat has Ringworm. How do I know this? I HAVE RINGWORM!!! That’s right: I have an inter-species disease.

Innocently at the doctor for an unrelated foot problem, I asked him to check out a spot on my arm, which I had been assuming was nothing serious.

A little known fact: I have the most easily bothered skin on the planet…it’s a rare day that I don’t have a pretty impressive rash to show off to my friends and family (it’s my party trick).

Given my history, I wasn’t expecting any comment from the doctor.

The doctor examined me with a hand-held microscope, and then recoiled with horror, and immediately went to the sink to wash his hands.

“Do you have any horses at home?” he wanted to know.

This definitely topped my list of “strange questions asked” that week.

“How about dogs, cats? Any barn yard creatures?”

After I told him I had one cat, he nodded, and told me I likely got my Ringworm from Ken the Cat. I would need a cream to treat it for four weeks.

“Will there be enough cream for Ken the Cat?” I asked. Sadly, Ken would require something stronger, and apparently, human doctors can’t prescribe Ringworm cream to beasts - clearly a medical inefficiency.

Ringworm is not “worms”. The doctor informed me that it was named before scientists knew what it was! It’s a fungus that lives on animal hair and, apparently, human skin.

I felt better for a brief moment learning that I didn’t have worms…but then, that calm feeling was immediately replaced by one of disgust and repulsion at the thought that a fungus was growing on my arm…and that it was apparently growing all over Ken (he who insists on sleeping on my head at night)!

Even though I had cream for myself, the doctor told me it was useless to treat it until ground zero - Ken T. Cat - was being treated.


Taking Ken to the vet is a stressful experience for both me, and the poor little guy - and it’s pretty much the same routine every time.
He absolutely hates the carrying case I need to put him. Ken is a powerful cat. Weighing in at 13 pounds, he is twice as long as most cats I know, and he really knows how to use all four of his legs to avoid getting in the case.

I had to call down my neighbour Philip to help me wrestle Ken into the bag.

From there, there’s the cab ride to the wrong vet (this happens every time. Every time, I get out of the cab, watch it drive away, and THEN realize I’m in the wrong spot).

This happens because my vet is hard to find, and the driver wants me and Ken out of his car as soon as possible, so he just stops at any old animal hospital, and boots us out.

I’m usually very distracted in the car because Ken is howling and carrying on something ferocious. When he isn’t acting like a wrongfully convicted detainee at Guantanamo Bay, he’s panting and gasping for air as though there is none in the car. I’ve learned to put my coat over the carrying case so that Ken doesn’t realize where he is…sort of like putting a burlap sack over the head of someone you’ve kidnapped so they don’t know where you’re taking them. It works a little.

Ken hates the cab, and would prefer that I walked there. His wish is my command, since I always get out of the cab 20 minutes walk away from where I need to be.

Once we arrive at the office after a stroll down a busy street, Ken is set free from the carrying case, and runs all over the place in a frenzy, knocking over all the supplies, and finding a keyboard or computer to stand on for five-second intervals.

The Vet Assistant - right on queue - makes a disparaging remark about Ken designed to make me feel like a bad pet parent who needs to spend more time at the vet’s office, due to my incompetence with animals.

This time, she said: “Ken’s fat - he’s going to need to go on a diet so he doesn’t die prematurely”.

Other times, the assistant has said: “Ken has an enlarged heart - he’s probably going to die of a heart attack before his time” and “Did you bring these toys? They’re death traps.”

To test for Ringworm, the vet had to shine an ultraviolet light on Ken’s face and neck to see if any bits of him light up. Then, he pulls out a few fur samples, and throws them in a test tube.

I have to wait for two weeks to find out how serious the Ringworm infection is…but the vet doesn’t think it’s too bad. Until I get the results, I have to wash Ken twice a day with a special soap.

I shudder to think what a more serious treatment might involve. Poor little guy:

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2013 Retrospective and 2014 Resolutions

What to say about 2013? While it would be easy to say that much of it was a colossal waste of time, years like last year have to happen. They are slow, painful, difficult, and stressful. They leave you feeling as though you accomplished nothing.

However, nothing can be farther from the truth. As I learned, sometimes, the biggest growth occurs when you’re standing completely still.

I had big ambitions for 2013, but to be honest, for most of the year, I was sort of “checked out”. I think it was my first time experiencing the effects of a deep depression. I have never slept so much in all my life.

Ordinarily, I need about six hours sleep, and I get up at 5:45 a.m. so I can get myself to the gym, and get a head start at work. Not in 2013. I could barely stay awake during the day. I needed about 10 hours of sleep each day, and I still felt unrested. Ugh.

Worse, I had no desire to get up and tackle the day once I was awake. I often thought it  would be easier not to wake up at all. (I’m pretty sure that’s when you know you’re in trouble).

Despite all of these things, it appeared that life was moving along. I still had a few major accomplishments: I gave my first professional presentation (and used those same skills to orchestrate some organizational change at my company), I ran my first half marathon, and I took on a few ambitious projects, went on an exciting vacation, and made new friends in my apartment building, and at work - but overall, I couldn’t escape the emptiness I felt inside.

A few things collided to create that perfect storm of negativity - the feeling that I could be accomplishing more with my life, a badly broken heart that affected me more than I thought it would, and some difficulties myself and my colleagues faced with the office bully. These three things made each day tiring before it even began.

Luckily, a few good things came together at the end of the year to help lift me out of the pit of despair. For starters, my new neighbour Emily and I became “goal buddies”. I didn’t realize until Emily and I started meeting up each  morning how important it is to have a friend who motivates you to set and achieve goals.

We help each other define and reach our dreams, and we do it during the most productive time of the day: either at the gym, or at the beach to walk Emily’s dogs at 6:30 a.m. And, since we are both A (++) personalities, we have no end of exciting ideas to bounce off of each other.

I found my reason to get up early again, and to get to the gym.

In early December, I got a head start on planning for 2014. Determined not sleep this year away, I decided I need to do all the living I didn’t do in 2013 in 2014…and I need to spend some time addressing the issues that caused me so much strife in 2013.

I’d like the theme of 2014 to be “the year of opening doors”. It seems to make sense.

For starters: feeling like I could be doing more with my life and all of the negativity that caused me. I absolutely could be doing more, and I know it. Bad feelings are helpful things sometimes - they give us the kick in the ass we need to take action.

So it’s my job to open doors to bigger ambitions this year. That is, in fact, why I disappeared from my blog. I had to put a number of activities I enjoy on hold for a few months while I devoted myself almost exclusively to working on a project I’ve been thinking about taking on for the better part of five years, but was too intimidated to try.

It is ambitious, but I know I can do it. If not this year, another year. We’ll see how that goes - I completed the final step in stage one of the process today. Now I wait and see.

In the mean time, I’ve also taken on more responsibility at work, completely by accident and due to unforeseen circumstances, and am currently building out a small team to help me meet some steep deliverables. I’m excited to be training and working with some young, aspiring marketing enthusiasts…so excited, that I’m only half way excited about what fruits my other special project might yield later this year.

New responsibility and working more closely with new members of the team also helps me better manage our group dynamics at work, to foster a more inclusive and trusting environment. There is no room for a bully on my team, and I’m not going to let the office jerk push around my new colleagues, that’s for damn sure.  

Sometimes opening doors involves closing a few as well. I’m proud of myself for taking some steps at the end of last year to close the door on my broken heart, so that I can open up again to new relationships. Getting hurt is miserable - but, it also leaves you stronger, and smarter, two things I would never have achieved without going through this painful process.

I am keenly aware that I never have to feel the way I did again, and I’m determined not to, by being smarter about who I let in to my life, and tightening up my criteria on what I really want in a partner.
January felt like a really long month in a really good way. I haven’t had so much fun in over a year. I felt like I lived every minute of this month - getting to the gym, seeing my new and old friends, working on special projects, and exciting projects at work, and so on.

2014…exciting times!

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I recently took the Myers-Briggs personality test because my uncle had been bugging me to do it for years, and it seemed like something that should be fun and enlightening to do. 

I have to say, it really was eye opening. The interesting thing about taking a personality test, like the Myers-Briggs test, is that everything is a surprise in a completely unsurprising way!

I mean, you’re learning about yourself - and usually, when it comes to matters of the self, you’re the expert. But it’s crazy how accurate a personality description can be, and how uncomfortable reading about yourself is.

As it turns out, I’m an INFJ personality type. When I read the description, it was kind of like looking into a mirror. They got so many of the details right!

For example:

"(INFJs) know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions."

Ummm…yes. I’d have to say that’s correct.This drives my friends, who need to do lots of research before making decisions, crazy. I think, when it comes to making decisions from big to small, I’m like Andy from “Little Britain”.


Are Andy and I similar in both personality and appearance????

I don’t have to even think about it before I say: “I want that one…” (And I really do want it, and, unlike Andy, I will actually be happy forever once I get it). 

In fact, I often feel quite a lot of guilt about coming to decisions quickly, even though I know its the right choice for me. I think we are conditioned to believe that big decisions require lots of thought. Clearly, for me, this is not the case.

More interesting insights from this site:

"INFJ personalities are drawn towards helping those in need – they may rush to the place of a major disaster, participate in rescue efforts, do charity work etc."

See, all these years I thought disasters just kept finding me, and that I had horrible luck! Nope - everywhere I go, I’ll find a cause. It’s just who I am inside, and I just need to roll with it.

I was surprisingly unsurprised to learn that most INFJs are excellent communicators, especially written communicators. In fact, as a group, we are much more comfortable writing than speaking. (Yep - I can verify that).

I also found the observation that most people mistake INFJs for extraverts really interesting. This happens to me all the time. Infuriating! Because people refuse to believe that I’m an introvert, they don’t give me any damn space or alone time, even when I ask for it, which can make me really irritated. 

I think it’s because people don’t really know what “extrovert” and “introvert” means. 

I think people assume that extroverted means the same thing as good, friendly, well spoken, comfortable in (and in front of) a crowd, and that introverted means bad, shy, quiet, unfriendly, and even anti-social and hostile. 

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m very friendly, and not at all shy or quiet (at least, I have no issues projecting my voice when I want to be heard), but in a large group, I am definitely a wall flower. I get tired easily in large crowds. In other words, you will never find me at a street festival by choice. :-)

I’m not a particularly good networker…I like talking to people I already know because I find small talk insincere, and I don’t find acquaintance-type relationships with others very satisfying. 

Instead, I will pick one person in a group of 1000, and get to know that person inside and out over the course of many months. That’s just how I operate.

After a hectic week, I do not enjoy going to loud bars. I don’t even particularly like large gatherings of people I know because I find it too difficult to talk to each individual in a way that interests me! (read: I really really hate small talk).

No - after a hectic week, I like nothing more than to retreat to my lair, work on a project, and cuddle with Ken the Cat. Or, if I’m feeling extra social, having over a group of no more than three friends who can entertain each other without my intervention. 

That is bliss.

An interesting fact: I didn’t realize until now that my personality type is the rarest one - apparently, less than 1% of the population shares it. This explains a lot. 

I’ve spent the majority of my life feeling like I don’t fit in (and feeling crazy about feeling that)…but now I know I don’t have to feel crazy anymore: I don’t feel like I fit in because I really don’t! 

I’m just picking up what the world is putting down! (Maybe this is a disturbing realization, but I believe that knowledge is power, even when you don’t like what you just learned).

The world is not designed for fringe personality types, that much is true…but I wonder how many truly effective people have rare personality types? I suspect quite a few.

The company I work for is planning on bringing in personality tests to determine everything from who gets hired to who gets fired. It also looks like they’ll use such tests to determine who gets promoted (and to which jobs), and who stays still. 

While I think personality tests are really cool, and really insightful, I think that sort of use for them is a mistake. Not because the tests will lie. More because people have gross misconceptions, biases, and even prejudices about what various personality types can do, and should do.

Using a personality test to promote some personality types, while discriminating against others seems to be a dangerous game. It reminds me of the same arguments about “strengths” and “weaknesses” used to keep women from voting, to keep us out of the workforce, and then underemployed. We just weren’t “suited” to politics, certain types of work, and, later, equal pay. 

Susan Caine’s book “Quiet” clearly show that introversion is not a choice, but rather an orientation that is, at least, 40 - 50% hereditary. 

I wonder if we’re going to start to see the next wave of human rights issues emerge? It isn’t such a long shot, IMO.  

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Brand standards

I got some very disappointing news - the video I created for my company in less than two weeks (nothing short of a miracle) will not be presented at our regional meetings next week.

Why? It fails to meet brand standards.

As a reminder, the reason for producing such a video was two-fold.

1. We needed to pilot a new system of collecting video from the field, and needed a system so basic and fool-proof that even a video neanderthal (like me!) could create it flawlessly.

2. We needed to create something to act as a guide for the rest of the system (and something to act as a standard we could use at head office to reject poor quality videos). In other words, the example we created needed to meet all  of our brand standards and then some, have the best picture quality and sound quality attainable, and hit on all the points we want our future videos to touch on. This would give us the ability to reject sub-par videos we get from our franchises.

I’m the first to admit it: I was the wrong person for this job. I was wrong in part because I’m not deficient enough in the skills required to pilot the new process, and also partly because I’m not detail oriented enough to enforce our brand standards in a common sense sort of way.

While I may be self-proclaimed video neanderthal, there’s more to making a film than grip skills. Ability to set up a shot (photography), and ability to ask open-ended questions that can result in sound bites (journalism background) are something I have in abbundance. I was set up for success in more ways than my new vice-president could possibly anticipate.

And in terms of intuitively interpreting our brand standards, what they really needed was a brand evangelist who gives a care about our “clean cut image”, and not someone who is legally minded who dislikes “the man”.

I’m a perfect storm: If anyone could find a way to give the finger to the brand while meeting “brand standards”, it’s me.

When I arrived at our franchise location to meet the stars of my production, I met Michael, the operations manager. He looked like a young “somebody”.

I couldn’t put my finger on it…but there was something about his moustache that reminded me of…well…unfortunate historical events.


It occurred to me, after a night of scouring my university history books, that Michael had an OUTRAGEOUS Joseph Stalin moustache.

He also had everything else we needed to make the video a success.

Michael was well spoken, understood the company, polite, a hit with all of our customers, and was all-in-all a good-looking fellow who stood about 6 feet 4.

But I’m not going to lie - it was hard to see all of those qualities due to the giant caterpillar growing on his lip.

"I was sitting on the bus last week, and these guys sitting across from me were drunk. One of them pointed at me and said ‘LOOK AT THAT GUY’S CRAZY STALIN MOUSTACHE’." Michael was confessing this to me on our way to a job we were doing. 

I instantly felt less judgmental. At least I wasn’t the only one who saw the moustache first, and the man second.

It got me thinking: what’s with the resurgence of dictator-style moustaches in hipster culture these days? Do people just not have access to a wold history book? Do they just not realize who they look like? 

But hey - I’m not the type who infringes on personal freedoms of expression. 

So I consulted the brand standards guidelines:

"ALLOWED:," they read. "Well groomed facial hair".

There was no way that moustache grew like that on its own. It was definitely groomed to resemble Stalin’s. Even I - someone who has no experience growing their own Stalin moustache - knew that.

"The Stalin Moustache stays," I decreed, during editing.

Not only did it stay, Michael became our spokesperson. He, and his moustache, were in each and every shot in the final cut of the video.


The VP had nothing but positive things to say about the video production. The picture and sound quality were perfect, and it hit on all of our value props.

"But," he said, "I don’t think we can use this for our regional meetings. What’s up with the moustache? That’s not our ‘look’."

It’s not like I didn’t see his point, but according to our brand standards, that well manicured Stalin moustache was exactly our look.

Not wanting to take this criticism sitting down, I sought a second opinion. I took the matter to Alister, our graphic designer and brand steward.

His comment?

"People have moustaches these days!"

He angrily stroked his own thick moustache, and added: “The problem isn’t with the moustache. The problem is with the brand standards. The brand standards should be revised to say ‘allowed: groomed facial hair, except for moustaches resembling Stalin’s’.”

My contact in Public Relations was outraged, but on the VP’s side of thinking:

"Where did you find the homeless guy to be our spokesperson?" he demanded to know.

As it turns out, we will be re-shooting the video to get all of the same points, without the same Stalin moustache.

I’m hoping - no - praying that this job goes to someone else. I just don’t think I have the heart or stomach to demand that someone shave to be in our video!

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I’ve been given a new project at work to tackle, and need to have a prototype delivered in about 8 days. It will involve me going out on the company’s trucks to video both our truck drivers and our customers.  

We’re creating “the perfect video” to act as a model video for all of our franchises. We can use the prototype to show franchises what we want from them in terms of video they take out in the field so that we get the right quality of material to use on the company website.

In fact, it was my idea to do this…but it turned out to one of those great ideas that quickly backfired once I realized I was going to be responsible for actually delivering it in less than two weeks.

After scrambling for a few days to get everything I need together, I had the difficult job of finding a franchise owner who would be willing to have me “ride along” on the trucks for a few days.

When detailing this to my new VP over the phone this afternoon, he had a suggestion for me:

“Just ask Richard. You like Richard.”

While I’m normally pretty good on my feet in these sorts of situations, there was a long and dramatic pause on my end of the phone after that statement. Richard is one of our franchise owners here in Vancouver. He hates head office and has…well…an “unorthodox” communication style.

“Well, sure I like him,” I said. “He’s met me at the office several times.”

Richard used to come in to the office unannounced all the time to talk to myself and a few other people on the team at length about his ideas, so much so that I believe he was asked to temporarily stay away!

He admits that he’s an eccentric character who needs to “go against the grain”.

Once he emailed me to ask me about what he could do to improve his page on our website. After doing a detailed analysis of his page, and sending him my recommendations along with a few questions, he responded with a haiku.

That’s right: a haiku.

I had blocked this moment from my mind until today, when I re-discovered this carefully measured poem about nature in my email archives while looking up his phone number.

Richard has generously agreed to let me tag along with his team for as many days as I need, and, I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t use a poem to express his joy at being asked to participate in the pilot.

This is definitely going to be interesting.

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The Narrow Boat

I’ve been struggling to plan a trip for my sister and I to take together this fall. Both of us have gone through a few large life changes in the past month or so, and have strangely found that we are in exactly the same place mentally, emotionally, and financially. And both of us have a desire to get away for a quick vacation! 

Aside from the part that neither of us could commit to dates (my work schedule has been hectic, and Trish is in the process of moving), the only thing we really have in common are our genes…the way we choose to spend our time travelling is drastically different.

This is probably why I couldn’t plan our trip! 

If I was going by myself, I wouldn’t plan a thing (other than my country of destination and my flights). I find I have a better time when I show up and let my vacation happen around me. Trish definitely prefers a bit more structure than me (which, I guess, is none at all).

I was racking my brains on how to reconcile our different travel styles, and how we avoid the weeks before and after Trish’s move and both Canadian and American Thanksgivings (arrrgh) when I got my bi-monthly phone call from my friend Jerome.

Jerome has evolved from colleague, to mentor, to good friend over the couple of years that I’ve known him, and I always enjoy a good chat and/or visit with him when we get the chance. He’s one of the few people I can spend an hour talking to on the phone.

Both of us lamented over wanting to get away, but not having had the time to plan. He and his partner, Dominic, always go away to England to “narrow boat” for a week or so at this time of year, but they need a third hand at least to help them navigate the locks.

Narrow boating is apparently a big deal in England. You rent a narrow boat, pack it full of friends and booze (an equal amount of both), and then navigate up and down the canals of rural England at no faster than 3 miles per hour, through a complex system of inland locks. At that speed, of course, you really do see it all!

It being last minute, they were lacking their third attendee. Jerome went on about it for some time before it occurred to us both that I should just go with them, and wait to travel with Trish until the new year when I was actually in the mood to plan something.

I mean, seriously: narrow boating? Who does that? (You certainly don’t do that in Canada). I feel very British…and very historical. It’s so eccentric, I just have to do it.

Jerome and Dominic don’t waste any time - we’ll be leaving this Thursday for our 10 to 11 day trek around the English countryside, and it looks like we’ll be kicking things off in a place called “wotton wawen”.

The best thing about this trip - other than spending it with Jerome and Dominic - will be squeezing in a visit with my good friend Duncan. Duncan and I have been friends for years, and the last time we saw each other was when I took a quick and impromptu trip to Italy in the Spring of 2011.

Since then, Duncan has moved out of London to a new town, he has a new job, and possibly a new and exciting life to tell me all about. I can’t wait to hear his stories…wait for it…IN PERSON!

Hopefully, we can show the English how a proper Thanksgiving is done…I just hope they have small turkeys and pumpkin pies. :-D

I’ve never been to the British countryside before…this is EXACTLY what I want to do to get away from it all. Two more sleeps!

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Dick and Jane

A few year’s ago, I went to this event called “the hive party” with my neighbours. It was a strange independent theatre event put on by a whole bunch of local theatre companies.

The concept was a bit strange…in order to see the shows, you had to find treasures, keys, and sometimes the actors themselves (!) to get in.

The Electric Theatre Company’s performance was set up so that only one person could be in the audience at any one time…and they made a documentary parody about their show for everyone else to watch since only five people, or so, would ever get to see their play.

I happened to be one of the lucky individuals who saw the play - called “At Home with Dickand Jane” - during the course of the evening…followed up by their “making of” parody. 

And just yesterday, my neighbour found part of the film on Vimeo!

I love it when one of my favourite things from the past pops up in my present…it’s kind of like finding five bucks in a long-lost jacket pocket.

I bring you: “At home with Dick and Jane” - the film part:

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Birthday surprise!

This year I promised myself that I would make fewer gifts for others, and spend my spare time making fun things for myself. Sadly (or is it sad?) I haven’t been able to keep up with this resolution.For example, for my sister’s birthday last week, I really wanted to do something for her that would compliment her new hobby: spray painting. Yes, that’s right, Trish is a spray painter! And she’s really really good at it!
I’m not a spray painter. I wouldn’t know where to go to get her supplies…and, after my recent visit to Toronto I got the rude awakening that I’m no longer familiar enough with my OWN city to know where all the cool kids paint these days.
Gone are the days when graffiti alley was “the” place to see some of Canada’s best street artists, it seems.
I couldn’t even gift Trish the hard work of finding a decent wall to paint. o_0
But, as I was walking down the street 10 days before B-day, I realized that I did know how to make websites…and since Trish and her partner want to focus on legal permission walls, why not showcase their work to try to get new clients?
It was the most brilliant idea I had all week.
So, I set myself to work creating their website. :-D
I had to pull in some help from my colleague at work, Amar, and my friend Mark in Toronto. They helped me with some of the development work. And I got Trish and Liz to take me all over the city to see their work in action (without them knowing a website was on the way, of course).
I even went to a BBQ unveiling their latest masterpiece: the Shae and Dante mural. Trish and Liz were approached by a guy who asked them to paint one side of his new garage. His only requirements were that the piece include a beat boy (LOL!), and that it include the names of his two young sons - Shae and Dante.
Trish was super surprised! Bwahahahahaw.I have no idea why I made it a resolution to be less generous this year. It’s a bit ass backwards. Especially since I actually really enjoy making gifts for others…probably more than I enjoy making things for myself.

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The “Shit” Memorial

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I ran in to the building manager, Kevin. He was running down the hallway.

"Is it still there?" he wanted to know. "Did you see it when you came in?"

"See what?" I asked.

"Oh God, you didn’t step in it, did you?"

Step in what? I was confused.

Kevin rushed passed me to investigate the entrance to the building. After a quick look around he proclaimed: “Good! The shit is gone.”

"Shit?" I said. "There was a heap of shit in the hallway?"


"It was big - kind of like a human left it there," Maxime said. "But I think a dog did it, not a person."

I was inquiring about how the shit that had been in the hallway got there in the first place, and since Maxime is home during the day sometimes, he was as close to a material witness as we were likely going to get.

"I didn’t see anything," he said. "But I smelled it all."


Apparently, after piecing together several people’s testimonies, we concluded that the new folks downstairs with the two big golden retrievers had accidentally let their dogs run loose in the hallway while they were in the laundry room. This is how the shit got in the hallway.

I’ve heard stories about “shit-in-hall syndrome”. It happens at buildings that have a lot of dogs in them. I just never thought it would happen to me. The Seafield has always been low on pets, and, until recently, Ken the Cat was our official building mascot (and he only uses the Mod Cat - never the hall)!

All of the new tenants in the building have dogs of various sizes. It was bound to happen, I guess.

Of course, I saw (and smelled) nothing. By the time I got home after my yoga class, the owner of the guilty party had cleaned up the mess. I had forgotten all about the incident, until I saw this:


"What’s up with the flowers in the hallway?" I asked my neighbour Brian, who had called me just as I arrived home from work. The flowers, vase, and table had just appeared in the entrance way of the building, out of nowhere, sometime during the day. 

My first instinct was to think hard about whether or not Maxime had screwed up royally during the day - and whether he had issued an apology, and a gift of flowers, to my neighbour Brian to patch things up with me before I got home.

This is actually a common occurance at the Seafield. When someone screws up with me, they apologize to Brian, and shower him with praise and gifts. This is, in fact, the number one reason that flowers end up in the hallway. Brian and I don’t know why people apologize to him instead of me, but we suspect it’s because he’s around at convenient hours, and 100% more approachable than I am after a major fuck up. 

Brian didn’t know the story behind the flowers, but we both agreed that the positioning was a bit convenient: it was right on top of the scene of yesterday’s crime.


"Don’t you think those flowers look like…well…a "shit" memorial?"  I said to Maxime, as we left the apartment later on that evening. "It’s almost like someone doesn’t want to forget the great hallway crap of 2013."

Maxime agreed that the positioning of the flowers, vase, and table were no accident. Out of all of the places in the hallway, why decorate the place where the shit had just been?

We shared this sentiment with my neighbour Ross, who we met outside on our way out. 

"Flushed, but not forgotten," he remarked, with a chuckle.

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Five years in Vancouver

Every year, I celebrate my anniversary with Vancouver because it seems so unlikely that I’m actually still here!

I really never imagined that I’d still find myself in this beautiful place since there were so many compelling reasons to pack up and leave. Eviction and economic-induced job loss (twice!), it really is a miracle that I haven’t yet run for my “old home” of Toronto.

On my anniversary, I hold a big BBQ in the alley beside my building. All of the neighbours affectionately call these gatherings “alley rats”, which makes no sense at all (no rats ever attend), but that’s what we say.

This year I changed it up a little bit. I asked all of the guests to bring a story from the past five years to share with the group, in addition to the usual food and booze. Of course, it all went horribly wrong.

First of all, the story didn’t have to involve me, it was just supposed to be a fun story, but nobody got that. Also, very few people actually remembered to think of a story, and some of the stories that were shared were…ummm…not celebratory in nature.

For example, my neighbour Wendy said: “I remember when you gave that radio interview to Stephen Quinn (note: a famous Vancouver radio personality), and I remember you were so down and out with no friends because you spent all of your time on our court cases. Yep. That’s what you said to him.”

I didn’t remember saying that - but I suppose it’s true.

The first three years I spent in Vancouver, I had very little spare time to make friends and enjoy the city. Nearly every moment I wasn’t at work, I was preparing one of our numerous court cases with several of the other neighbours in the building to stave off the evictions.

I found Wendy’s comment interesting…she remembered possibly the WORST moment to share! Why do our brains do that?!

She didn’t recall the time that I finally gave in, and joined her on a Sunday morning at her church (which made us both very happy - she got to share something that meant a lot to her with me, and I learned that you don’t have to have a religion to get something out of going to church).

She didn’t recall the Thanksgiving we spent together, or the movie nights we had with our other neighbour, Cynthia.

She did’t remember my favourite Wendy memory of all: our music night. A while ago, I was learning a bunch of 50’s and 60’s rock songs on the piano. Noise travels faster than news at the building, and Wendy was hearing all of the songs she had grown up with coming out of my apartment. She really wanted to sing along.

So we planned an evening for her to come down, and sing along to all of the songs I knew. It was a late night, for sure. We stayed up talking, drinking tea, and sharing music with each other. I think we both shed a few tears (of joy) at finding kindred spirits living only one floor apart. Our brains are very interesting things.

Clearly, Wendy and I have many amazing moments that are worth our attention, but it’s so natural to focus on the one negative one (or, the problem).

Something to be mindful of…

Filed under summer-writing-challenge