Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yes, I know it's a big BIG surprise!

You Are Beer!

You don't need to get totally wasted when you hit the bars.
More of a social drinker, you just like to have fun with your friends.
And as long as the beer keeps flowing, you're a happy camper.
But don't mix things up: "Beer Before Liquor, Never Been Sicker!"

This became obvious over Creemore #2 at Pub Italia with LH. Knowing that a cool drink, great company and deep-fried mushrooms, zuchinni, peppers and cheese awaited me at the end of a long day trudging dusty roads made it worthwhile.

It's going ok. Really. The "FEAR" rears its head sometimes, and I suck it in and try to keep on breathing. I meet people, mostly nobody's home, occasionally I throw Census forms at people in their cars, as they're driving away. No dogs trying to kill me yet, which is nice.

I hit retirement residences; it's good, because if they're home, older people will sit with you and patiently fill out the form and talk with you. I hit highrise apartments, where a polite fellow helped fill out his form while his kids ran around in the hall, darting back to check on our progress and zipping around again, like electrons circling an atom.

I've haunted houses with listings for BSMT apartments that don't seem to exist. Faced roads where the Civic Addresses across from each other weren't "#34, #35, #36" as you would expect, but "#8" across the road was "#1" and so on. That was fun. Like stepping on lego bricks at night in barefeet is fun...

It was hotter than Delhi yesterday. I packed my folding cooler with all the water bottles I had, a salmon sandwich and a burrito. I thought it was pretty funny packing all that water. And it was less funny the more I guzzled it. LH said that if you don't have to pee all day and you're drinking loads of water, it's transforming into sweat. Go figure. Guess it was a smart move bringing water. By the end of the route, my clothes were soaked, my hair frazzled, my face red and my temper thin. Definitely need to burn the clothes (although washing them would be more economical :-P)

The thought of beer, the friendly service at Pub Italia, the cool A/C, the dim interior, LH's smiling face, food, gossip and recharging the old post-work batteries...kept me going. It helps having goals, no? Sure it does :-)


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Feed your head

Summer is a time for loafing, lounging, relaxing, sipping and reading! Anyone have favourite books they've enjoyed the last few weeks? Any nail-biting thrillers? Popcorn munching silliness? Deep philosophical quandries? Share!

I've been ploughing through books, savouring some, sitting on others. Earlier in the summer I was in a spiritual vein, mostly while travelling on the bus to and from work (which gave me almost an hour of reading time each day!) When I started getting dizzy, obviously, reading on the bus wasn't helping at all. Eventually I had to take up driving to work, so had to give up reading and travelling altogether (for safety reasons :-)

So, I read Ram Dass' "Journey Of Awakening", "Be Here Now", "Grist for the Mill" (with S. Levine) and "Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba". One of the stories from "Be Here Now" that really stuck with me was an old Sikh legend, Dass recounted...


I keep the Hazeldean Library phone system busy; every now and again I return home and the voice of Stephen Hawking would be on the answering machine saying: "THAIR- IZ- A- BOUK- WAITING- FOR- YOU- SOOZHAN- MAHRZDAHN- UNTIL- JOOLAI- 24TH.." and I'd go pick it up. And buy some books out on the little trolley for a couple of dollars (which is how I found a first ed. paperback copy of PC Wren's "Beau Geste". Wow :-O)

I just finished reading John D. MacDonald's "The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper", one of the later Travis McGee stories: very enjoyable read. Please, if you haven't read a John D. MacDonald...haunt used book stores, garage sales and the libelberry for any with a colour in the namesake. You will not be disappointed.

Previous to that, I savoured Charles de Lint's "Medicine Road" from the Subterranean Press. A library request, since I can't pick up his $40 hardcovers the way I used to. Beautiful story set in Arizona. If you want to take a road-trip and can't afford the gas, or the vehicle, or even to blow off from work for a month; pick up the book and de Lint will be your happy tour guide. His colourful characters channel his love for the SW, his delight in music, food, architecture, culture and faerie mythos. Lavish illustrations by the talented Charles Vess top a tidy book which is sort've a sequel to "Seven Wild Sisters". Finally, there is a wonderful sexy Bi Coyote-Woman in it too. Ya can't lose! :-)

Last but not least, if you have a penchant for complicated alien culture, or haunting Russian folk-tales, fantasy or s/f, deliver yourself into the skilled hands and imagination of C.J.Cherryh. I picked up "Rusalka" on the aforementioned Trolley, and it was part I of a trilogy: not cliffhanging like LOTR, each of the books are self-sufficient. BUT they do relate to each other ("Chernevog" is set 3 years after "Rusalka".) I finished the former and realized that I'd been holding my breath for like 3 days! Front covers by the master of gnarled trees and perfect light, the late Keith Parkinson, help to cap the beautiful descriptive words of Cherryh. Reading this stuff in the summer freaks you out because you want to huddle under a quilt and sip vodka by a fire. Even though it's 40 degrees outside: quite the feat!

So, what next? I have a tatty 1930's hardcover "Nevada" by Zane Grey, the aforementioned "Beau Geste", many comics to plunder, I wouldn't mind re-reading Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones", since I'm in a writer-mode. We'll see. What have you guys been reading? :-D

Monday, July 24, 2006

Not For The Timid

Well the loose ends are coming together in a big...yarny lump. In chronological order, I attended another training session with the local Census dudes (and dudettes.) Guess where the training was? 19 Fairmont.. which for the uninitiated, used to be the old Atkinson Film Arts animation place, I think. It had the feeling of familiarity one gets in studios: twisty labyrinthine passages, places where you unexpectedly come across niches of offices and the odd photocopier. Good vibes, as they say. Although I think Clayton mentioned that the place was haunted!

The training went well, and many of my (see above) "Page of Anxiety" moments were alleviated. Yes, we actually got to role-play at work! RPGing.. although not as fun as the Clay/Keith/Robbie combos that I love and so rarely get to enjoy :-P But, it did make things less scary. I can now say "I'm from Statistics Canada" and not stutter. I think that's a plus. (Possibly one of the reasons the "Chief" did not send me west last week!)

I have phone #'s, and someone actually called me. Most of the time I'm waiting for calls, or leaving messages and waiting to hear back. In between, I have been working on designs for Decode Entertainment's take on the whacky world of "Ivy & Dummy". When I have minutes, I sketch in a tiny notepad and then scan, tidy and send them to Toronto. This one is one of a bunch of my faves so far. They're Xmas themed 'cause we're currently doing and I&D Xmas special...

It'll be fun getting back to doing what Sue does best: which is Design! YAY! That makes the dark heart/soul combo in the middle of my chest jump up and down and let sunshine and rainbows bop around once more.

Sue also enjoys writing. I've been getting MUCH writing done the last week or so (in between waiting for all the phone calls.) I've got a few roughs started for "Assignment 2", which is a Fantasy themed piece. Yes, that was fun to do: my biggest challenge is to TRIM the woids! Like.. write a story.. 1,000 words long. Beginning, Middle, End. Protagonist... etc etc. I started working on my *outline*, looked up and it was 1,250 words, by my MS Word-knockoff's word count. Crap.

But, I have an outline for a future "Sword of Superhamster" story. Remember that? I doubt that anyone does.. it was from a LONG WHILE AGO. 1981 to be exact! :-D I actually was thinking of dusting off the old beast, reprinting it and maybe passing it along to a trio of blond girlies I know out in Carleton Place.. and maybe a couple of other little sweethearts I know on the Big Rideau. That would be fun :-) I think the drawings in the book are eminently colour-able. And the story holds up ok too, even if parts of it are a blatant MP & The Holy Grail meets The Sword of Shannara rip-off! :-O

So, I have my Census silver bag, 100 names, a stack of 2A's a couple of 2B's and even a Form 6, if I find a farmer in my district. You never know. If I bump into a grow-op in Britannia, and they admit to having an agricultural product for sale, I could be in business. But.. it might end up being an episode of Sue vs. "The Fabulous Furry Freak Bros." trying to fill out a Census form. Or more likely the frantic scurryings behind a battered door with squeals of "It's a RAId! Flush it! Flush it!" with accompanying SFX in the BG.

The Fun Starts Now

Or around 1:30pm Whenever I feel the urge to hit the open hwy. with my silvery bag in hand, my clipboard at the ready and the steely look of the BORN ENUMERATOR. Welcome to the Page of Anxiety! I am Writing the Book!

Agent S.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Big wheels keep on turning

Yes, this is how I'm feeling lately. Spinning Spinning! Not too unusual I guess! The exciting adventures as an NRFU Program enumerator continue. I missed a Monday meeting because of a mix-up, but Thurs. there is another one. Hurray :-) So, I'm just poring over the material and trying to keep it all straight in the old cranium. We'll see friends... which will crack first..?

Fun times at 40 degrees with the humidex! Life doesn't get meltier than that. Thank G*d for central air. Of course, we haven't had our hydro bill yet... Eeep. At Midnight last night, just as the lightning and thunder were building up, Clay locked himself out of his room! You have to understand that the twinkie who "built" this house (or at least "maintained" it) installed 4 different doors in the upstairs hall, all of which are outside doors with different locks. And yes, we have no keys!

So, there I was, perched on a kitchen chair at the back of the house with a long screwdriver, trying to pry the window open. And the lightning's flashing all around. Um... not my brightest moment I reckon! No luck. We tried picking the lock, and because of wooden molding beside the knob, were unable to use a shim (or credit card) to pop it.

Finally, after cursing, thumping, and trying everything but: Clay struck the knob off with a hammer. It took a few blows, and me peeling up the metal with my pliers. But eventually the knob came off. And the lock mechanism (at least the bolt that kept the door shut) could be clearly seen, and opened.


Today I finished & mailed my first assignment for the Institute of Children's Literature. It felt good finishing it up (after only 3 months or so of procrastination.) You may think that the Institute is a scam to get money, but they don't accept just *ANYONE, and yes, you get 6 College credits when you finish the course.

Speaking of which, I Googled the ICL and discovered a hilarious site called Silver Ladder Studios. Creator Shane's stuff had me in stitches! Highly recommend reading not only the *"Rejected: a little fun with the institute of children's literature" but also some of the other weird things on this site. They had me laughing. And I can tell you, I really *really* needed some laughter the last little while.

Well, Cheerio and goodnight, sweet darlinks.


PS Happy, Happy Birthday Lianne! I hope that the cowboy boots fit!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Gang

I drew this sketch last month for my buddy Susie's get well card (which is why she isn't in the piccy.) Our gang.. Catherine, (Me!), Diana, William & John (the tall dude at the back)used to be like glue, all through the Winter & Spring. But, as I look at STC and the curves life throws you sometimes, I realize that we have all been flung off in different directions.

We used to get together every second Friday for lunch at the Fast Food Garden at Holland Cross (if you check the ad for the restaurant outside, it actually says "Fat Food Garden" which makes me laugh :-) We'd hit the hot dog guy once in awhile, we'd chill at our desks and talk, play with John's computer games, plan creative things or just gripe.

Now, William is at Bluesfest, Susie, Catherine & Diana are in Hull doing PISA (so I guess, they're like a mini-splinter group), John is scanning at Tunney's and .. well, who knows where I'll end up? I miss our little "gang de co-cos". So, I guess I'll just have to plan things apres work to get us together; like forays to the Easy Garden in Bells Corners, or comic & toy stores, or walks along the parkway with Catherine, Alan and Mango!

If my post seems calmer, that's because it is. Well *I* am, anyway. I heard Friday that I am to be posted locally, so that took a big worry out of my thoughts. Not that I didn't want to go West, I just was having many sober second thoughts about the whole venture. I have to say mentally, I'm happier to be away from the computer, although I miss my friends. Being outside on training was cool, if nerve-wracking, but it was absolutely beautiful out there--it was one of those soft, summer evenings that just blossommed into a late golden pink sunset around 9pm. Much nicer than pounding a keyboard from 7am - 3pm.

I don't know if I'll solely be in the Ottawa or Kingston, or further afield as the needs arise. We'll see what happens. More news as I git it!


PS--HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN!!! Don't eat too much cake :-D

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Well, what next

It's been a blurred flurry of activity, stress, stark terror, excitement, madness. Never, ever wish for "change", especially if you're happy and warm in your own particular pile of sh*t! Cause sometimes you get what you wish for. Good Lord, never anticipated the whirl and speed with which this project is thrusting. All tentacles, no head. If that makes any kind've Chthulian sense.

We had another day of training, going through a stack of documents that only served to confuse me even more. People who had been out in the field collecting Census from lost souls that hadn't yet been "got" told their stories. I felt the mad fear running through my veins, as I envisaged my own trial of fire in the field that coming evening. Flight/Fight panic pounding in my blood..and the irony is that I had chosen this. But why? I hate having to knock on doors, interract with people--what the hell came over me? And now I'm just rolling along in this pulsing ball of wax going "What do I DO? What do I DO??"

After training, I had a modest supper at the Cottage; the very place I'd had my first beer with Leah, wayy back in the Fall (seems like a lifetime ago!) Spicy quesadilla, rice and a cold Steamwhistle to wash it all down. Did more Decode sketches for the "Ivy & Dummy" promo project, that helped keep my mind from jabbering and gibbering. Helped keep me from running to the car and skiving off from the field experience.

Got back to Stats early and NW, the Chief of Survey Operations Division was there. I connected better with her today, I think. There were 9 of us in total, with our crew Supervisor Eric. We carpooled to the first place (because after, we were to try and do field work downtown at the condo where the old Daly bldg used to be on 700 Sussex. Yes, the same condo where Alanis Morissette lives! ooh!)

My hands were shaking, and I couldn't breathe. I tried to stay cool and calm, my cultish-alien silver satchel on my hip. This swell girl, Xi-yun was amazing; she knocked on doors and rattled off the spiel without a pause for breath and while the people blinked in amazement, shoved a 2A form their way, along with a pen. I tagged after her, trying to learn by osmosis the procedure, and get a little courage to rub off on me as well!

When we'd finished with our first bldg, we headed for the Market. It vaguely reminded me of my 2nd class of Driver's Ed, when our instructor took us to the Market on a Saturday morning. All the feelings were the same: fear, woeful unpreparedness, more fear, oh yes and the knowledge that no matter what came pass, you were liable to fuck it up somehow. And the fear.

I shouldn't have worried though, because after hoofing it for close to 3 1/2 hours, all over the Market, up Sussex, down Clarence, up Dalhousie, down George and across to York... 90% of the places we tried to get into were barred to us. Either people slammed their phones down when we tried to call to get buzzed in, or security dudes had no clue as to protocol for our non-guest, non-tenant status, or places were simply locked with a blank keypad to which we had no cypher or key to access. The excersize served to rub out the fear, like an emotional brillo-pad on over-wrought, rusty nerves. By the time we were clustered on Dalhousie, like a lost tour group, all I wanted was to get home Home HOME.

Thankfully, the lady who'd carpooled us there was in the same frame of mind, and (eventually) homeward we sped.

Rumours abound! Two of my friends take their first tour tomorrow, and are flying out to either Fort McMurray or Grande Prairie AB. As far as I know, I am probably on Monday's list...but I have no idea where I'm going. Could be AB, could be Montreal, could be Toronto, heck maybe even Ottawa/Gatineau or Kingston. It's good to be in the loop, eh?

More news as I get it! Now, to prepare, clean, shop, pack, read, phone, organize... ACK Pfffblblpbpttt! (As Bill the Cat would say.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Agents in the field

Well, there's a crisis at Stats and folks from "head office" (that's us!) are being recruited to Go West and help out. Apparently there's almost 1.5 million Census Forms still at large, and lots of them are in AB, particularly in the more northern regions. We had a meeting Friday with the people organizing the push and trying to explain what would be necessary. It sounded really interesting: 3-4 weeks out west, working 37.5 hours a week, but most likely Sun-Thur shift, interviewing people who hadn't had a chance to fill in their forms, both short, long and the really long agricultural form "6"

I applied for the position, just the thing to defeat the anxiety, panic and doldrums I'm stuck in. Or is that a rut? I don't know.. but an all expense paid trip to someplace I'd never been (including accommodation, rental car, salary, food, gratuities) sounded like the cure I needed. Of course at the end of the meeting we headed back to our section, all chatting and curious. BT was at the door of our area, urgently talking with a group of mostly women: "Oh you know, you'll be talking to people who REFUSED to fill in their forms! They could be crack dealers, or it could be a grow op! And you'd be all alone, a woman, no cell phone!" "What if it was a pig farm and they were all psycho??" And on and on and on. And the inevitable "Of course if you were a guy, or in pairs, I wouldn't worry at all!"

This angered me so much. I felt this rise of indignant rage at the gender-bashing injustice pour into me. I said "If I lived my life in fear, I'd never leave the house. What stops you from walking out and getting creamed by the #86 in front of your building? Anything could happen!" (Besides, some of the guys in our group are smaller than the girls.)

BT "Well, what would you do if this really hostile pig farmer came at you?" Me: "I'd clock him in the jaw!" Of course, I'm taller and broader than say, my buddy Catherine, but still.. geez! Of course, with my luck, I'd end up trying to get Census forms filled by people in a dog-patch farm right out of "Trainspotting". "It's ok, d'you guys mind if I just walk through and count you?"

My friends Myra & Joy piped up at the crack house comment "Wow! That'd be our lucky day!" It was just so strange to be encouraged to take this opportunity to go west, help head office with the special project on the one hand, and on the other to be completely terrorized and intimidated by our Supervisor over the possibility that solo female members of Stats in the field could be murdered, fed to pigs or worse... Maaan.

Anyway, it's probably moot, cause I didn't get a confirmation email this morning. So who knows. More later this week--!


Saturday, July 01, 2006


From The Man of Steel and myself, Clay & the animules, hope y'all have a Happy Canada Day & a sweeeet long weekend.