‘Kinky’ morning bus rides

April 22, 2010

Scene One: He was sitting a few rows ahead of me, legs splayed, owning his corner of the bus seat with the unchallenged authority of a business suit among jeans. The man fairly oozed masculine pride. His newspaper was spread as wide as his knees on the packed rush-hour bus. He turned the page, and I watched him try to shake a kink out of the main article. But in such a tight space, he only worsened the puckering.

Then it happened… Right in front of everyone, the man abandoned all pride (masculine or otherwise), ducked down his head, and poked out the kink with the tip of his nose. What can I say? My day was made~

Scene Two: The jam-packed bus pulled away from the curb. I grabbed hold of the only support within reach, a dangling, flimsy rubber hand-loop. As the blocks lurched by, I did my best to stay vertical. Putting the ol’ brain to work, I improved my stability by twisting/tangling my wrist up into the strap to limit slack, thereby reducing the egregious strains on my musculature. In theory, quite logical. In practice? Nothing like starting the day off hanging like some half-frozen pig carcass in an overloaded butcher’s trailer, swaying gently back and forth…

All well and good till you have to untangle yourself. “Excuse me,” I called out at my stop. The crowd pushed back to let me pass. Or rather, they pushed back to clear a stage for me to completely mortify myself! It took a full five agonizing seconds for me to extricate my arm. Go ahead, count five Mississippis. It’s a loooooong time. And you can bet it’s an infinity to any poor girl caught in an inadvertent S&M scene before breakfast! What can I say? Their day was made~


Every writer’s dream…

March 25, 2010

Card's inside caption reads: ...And Live The Dream!

It’s every writer’s dream… a free-wheeling roadtrip across Canada with nothing but your wits and words to get you from A to B to N (Alberta to B.C. to Newfoundland). As I type this, Patricia O’Neill – one of Calgary’s best storytellers – is busy whittling down her life to fit in the back of a car. She’ll be blogging her way across the country (web address coming soon!) as she winds her way through the stories, people, and places along the road. It is rare in this life to be offered a chance at true freedom, and there are too few people brave enough to grab hold of the opportunity. We’re proud of you Patricia! Go forth woman… and live the dream!

Update: You can follow Patricia’s incredible journey on her blog – Moving in the Write Direction

For the first time on my walk home from work… the gate by the tracks was open

March 4, 2010

So I went through…

7.2 minutes later: There I am, inching along a narrow mud-slicked ledge, fenced suburbia to my right, a perilous 20′ icy-cliff drop on my left – with only a paved off-ramp to catch me! One slip and I’m rush-hour roadkill. Clinging to the sparest of twigs, I creep forward, only one thought in my mind…

“This is so cool!”

There’s something ridiculously wonderful about getting lost in your own city, especially on your most familiar route. When was the last time you allowed yourself to explore? It’s spring isn’t it? What better time to dive sneaker-first down a rabbit hole?

Just be thankful your invite got lost in the mail!

October 5, 2009
Watch out for this sign!

If you see this sign... You'd better watch out!

Starts out all innocent...

Starts out all innocent...

Then they invite a friend...

Then someone invites a friend...

Then the friends start adding up...

Then the friends start adding up...

And pretty soon you've got a real party!

And pretty soon you've got a real party!

I came across this charming ‘cow tree’ in New Brunswick last month. There was magic in that warm August air, and I couldn’t resist bringing some back to Calgary to share with all my readers. Of course, the ‘real’ lesson here is that the inherent romance of some settings can even, on the rare occasion, transend species. Oh Newton, how different your future (and all of ours!) might have been if you’d planted yourself under a cow tree on that sunny afternoon in Lincolnshire.

Why I don’t ride the bus to work…

July 9, 2009

I woke up to a grey morning today. The sky was grey, my sweater was grey, and my threadbare brown ‘cozy’ hoodie (because when the weather won’t make the effort, why should I?) has been verging on grey for years. I stepped out the door, already late, into a grey drizzle. It was a bus morning.

The rush hour bus is a grim way to start any day, stopping and starting and stopping and starting, all through downtown gridlock. But today, there was no way around it. I rolled up my torn cuffs as discreetly as I could in a bus full of business suits and shiny shoes, and stood by the back doors to wait for my stop.

I was well on my way to daydreaming myself out of my funk when the bus slowed and settled by the curb. I pushed the doors, but they didn’t budge. I pushed again, and jiggled the long handles… nothing. The bus hissed and I felt the jolt of the flyweel kicking in. Great, just great.

“Back doors,” I called out. The bus jerked forward. “Back doors, please!” I shouted over the crowd, who had all turned their heads to watch.

The bus driver glared at me in his mirror. I shook the doors again and glared back.

His answer came back biting: “Could you at least let me get to the bus stop first.”

This is why I walk to work ~ sigh.

Risking it all atop the Calgary Tower

February 11, 2009

There’s a switch in the cloakroom – forty-five minutes one way, sixty the other. “Is that where you control how fast it goes around?” I ask the pretty hostess.

She nods. “We speed it up at lunch,” she says, “because people have less time.”

I can’t believe the power she has, and here I’d been wasting my time envying her pin-straight, white blond hair. I fight the urge to try the switch. Imagine, one quick flick and somewhere deep inside the tower, giant gears are thrown into motion – diesel? Electric? How do you turn a building? The hostess shrugs it off. But what’s the power over one floor, when, with her hair, she walks out and the city turns to her.

I want a taste of it, and my friend and I have a window seat, so I lean down and pull the grey metal sill slowly round, hauling us hand over hand around the circumference. My friend laughs. I guess that’s why she’s my friend. I’m on top of Calgary, watching a panning shot of New York. Cities are all the same at night, each window a separate distant sun. People from the country say there aren’t any stars in the city. Sure there are, but it helps if you look at it upside down.

My friend orders mussels from PEI. I order the carpaccio. This is a night of firsts, and raw red meat is as daring as they’ll let me get in this conservative town. When our plates arrive, I’m overwhelmed by the sweet buttery scent of my friend’s dish. The heaping pile of black mussels are shining in a pool of pale, summer yellow sauce. The carpaccio? How can a plate of thinly sliced, overly salted, strips of raw meat compare to the vision across the table. Here I am jealous all over again.

“Do you want to try one?” my friend asks, when she sees me eyeing her meal. “They’re so good, slimy, but a good kind of slimy.”

My carpaccio is a bad kind of slimy, and utterly, disappointingly, safe, while the mussels are so irresistibly dangerous. You see, I’m allergic to other shellfish, but, I’ve never actually tried mussels. She would let me if I asked, and the temptation takes all the flavour and fun out of my raw meat. I’m chewing on rubbery slivers of what had sounded so exotic just minutes before. All I can think about is how easily one of my friend’s fleshy nuggets would slide down my throat. Can you have an allergic reaction from your stomach? When would it set in? Would there still be time?

“I’m allergic,” I confess, knowing how easy it would be to lie. But how many of us have it in them to throw it all away?

“But,” I say, “can I dip my bread in your sauce?”

Might as well save myself for dessert.

(Image source)

Geologist Trapped In Calgary Tower!

February 4, 2009

“I would suggest going with Perrier or bottled rather than Calgary tap water,” implored our server, and I do mean ‘implored’.

The revolving restaurant atop the Calgary Tower is a swanky joint, don’t get me wrong, but upselling water? How uncouth! My friend and I were stunned. I would expect that sort of behaviour from a Subway Sandwich Artist (been there, done that lol), but from a debonair, expertly coiffed, professional waiter?

He continued to plead his cause, hand clutching tightly cuffed wrist, to us and to every one of his other tables, with phrases like “overly fluorinated” and “just like sucking on a penny”. We heard him give his well practiced speal a full three times within the space of ten minutes. I suppose I should mention that my lovely friend and I were the only holdouts – Calgary tap water all the way!

Of course, I had to ask about the ice cubes ~wink~

“Distilled water,” he said, and yes, he did use a Brita at home. I began to suspect there was more to our server’s story, especially when he went on to explain why we Calgarians find ourselves using so much lotion after the shower. And no, the conversation wasn’t headed in that direction ; )

Could there be, dare I say it, a “passion” behind his upselling? I’ve always been fascinated by what people chose as their “cause”, that connection to a part of the world that’s wholly theirs and theirs alone. What’s yours?

“I’m sorry for giving you a hard time,” I said, “but you seem to be so…um…passionate about this whole thing. I’m just curious where it comes from.”

He smiled and confessed, rather sheepishly, “I’m actually a geologist.”