2002-08-26 � sour lemons


I'm beginning to think it's time to do some serious feng shui on the House of Wee. After some serious scouring of various and, I'm sure, infinitely respectable, internet sources on the subject, I've come to the conclusion that the our staircase (which leads straight out the front door) is causing serious disruption to me wee chi. (disruption that goes beyond my inability to actually spell 'chi ' )

I'm convinced that the staircase is the sole reason why my sparkling harvest gold dryer died an untimely death this morning whilst drying desperately needed undergarments, forcing me to choose between going commando or wearing the same (and therefore less than lemon fresh) underpants that I wore yesterday (the ones with the aging elastic and inelegantly placed hole).

And I'm convinced it has something to do with the mercurial behavior of the air conditioning unit, the less than spectacular performance of my car, Jack's nasty cold bug, and the fact that, try as I might, I really don't like it here.

Where? Here. Here in the stinkin' greater Toronto area.

Here in the stinkin' burbs where it takes bloody forever to get anywhere good and costs a mint to boot. Here where my house cost an outrageous fortune and is way teeny-ier and far more troublesome than the former House of Wee.

Here where smog stinks my eyes and throat and humidity fries my golden locks on a daily basis.

Here where the only people I ever seem to meet are retired and bleary-eyed, eager to relay all their geriatric woes and bore me into a coma with tales of the war or alternately, are giddy with wealth and talk of nothing but custom-made couchs costing more than my car and the nuisance of planning elaborate escapes to London, Italy, the sunny south of France and their million dollar cottages in the Muskokas.

A couple weeks ago, the brakes on the wee car went abrubtly. I crawled to the dealership at about 30 miles per hour, praying for green lights, white knuckling it all the way lest some frolicking puppy or careless child skitter brainlessly off the sidewalk and into my path, relying only on the braking precision of my car to save their sweet skins. I arrived at the dealership sopped with sweat only to find I had to wait an hour and a half for the courtesy shuttle home. Turns out I was the only client requiring a lift home and so had plenty of opportunity for a long chat with the driver, a semi-retired gent with an uncanny resemblance to Ed McMann.

"Well, what did you do that for?" he asked in mock horror when I told him Jack and I had moved here from Calgary almost a year ago to the day.

Well, we didn't have a whole pile of choice about it. Jack is the major bread winner in the House of Wee. Cliched but true. He's the Creative Director for a national televison network owned by a large entertainment company that decided to consolidate all its' broadcasting interests into one big "media campus" in Toronto where "synergy" is THE buzzword. Jack was one of five people offered a transfer. The other thirty-plus people got pink slips.

And the simple fact is there wasn't any lateral positions for Jack to move into in Calgary at the time. So what do you do? You count yourself lucky to still have a job. and you pack up your wife and your dog and you move to the very city you swore you would never ever move to and try to make the best of it. That's what you do.

And I have tried to make the best of it. Not as hard as I could, to be sure, but I tried to adopt the same attitude that got me through all the moves I made with my family as we shuttled from one end of North America to the other. I went to four different high schools in four different states in four years. I've lived in Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, further north here in Ontario and in Manitoba. I've almost lived in Zambia, Australia, Chile and Indonesia (Dad always turned down the overseas jobs). And that's before I left for university and way before I was married. No, I wasn't an Army brat. My dad is a retired mining engineer. I've moved plenty since then, let me tell you!

I even had this stupid little story lifted from Reader's Digest or some place that I would tell myself and anyone who would listen when psyching myself up for a move. It goes like this:

An old man is walking down the road when a young couple pulls up beside him, rolls down the window and asks "Hey mister! Can you tell us what this town is like? See we're thinking of moving here and want to know what to expect."

The old man pauses, scratches his chin and asks the young man. "Well, what was it like where you came from?"

"Oh, it was great! The people were friendly and helpful, the money was great, the air was clean and fresh and scented with cinnamon and lilacs and we loved every minute we spent there."

"Well," said the old man. "It's exactly the same here."

Contented, the couple drive off. About a half an hour later, a second couple pulls up beside the old dude and asks "Hey mister! Can you tell us what this town is like? See we're thinking of moving here and want to know what to expect."

The old man pauses, scratches his chin just like before and asks the young man, "Well, what was it like where you came from?"

"Oh, dude, it sucked!" came the reply. "The people were mean and slovenly and never mowed their lawns. The air reeked of boiled cabbage and old socks. Crime was rampant, my business went bust, it rained every single day and we really can't think of a good thing to say about it."

"Well," said the old man. "It's exactly the same here."

The big moral of the story being, of course, that it's all about attitude.

But you know what? I've discovered I can be a ray of bloody sunshine and spout nothing but sonnets about roses and kittens, and that doesn't change the fact that the smog scorches my eyes and that traffic is constant and congested here. It doesn't change the fact that the cost of living is outrageous, that there are very few decent places to walk your dog and you feel like a criminal for having one in the first place. It doesn't change the savage summer heat and humidity and my almost daily experience with bad hair and back sweat. It doesn't change the fact that I feel like I'm being patrolled by the fascist provincial government on a daily basis with their stupid regulations about everything from beer to bunnies*. And it doesn't change the fact that I don't like it and I feel like I don't belong here.

Whoa! Okay, I totally did not intend to go on this rant today. In fact, on my walk with the wolf, I had composed this entire entry in my head about butterflies and jasmine scented fairy farts. I guess I've been repressing a little rage.

Fear not, should the locals ask (as they inevitably do) how I like Toronto, I'll spout my usual Mary Sunshine shit about how beautiful the trees are (and they really are!), about how I love to go look at the sailboats and the lighthouses along the lakeshore (and I do) and how nice my neighbors are (they're peaches, every one). I certainly won't mention that I think it's pointless to have all this beauty surrounding you and not be able to go out and enjoy it because of the smog alerts or the heat emergency. I won't bitch about not being able to go to the park and toss a ball for your dog (major leash laws). I won't whine because hey, sure, i can look at the sailboats and the lighthouses, but I wouldn't dare put a toe in the surf for fear it would dissolve right off my foot due to all the pollution.

I won't rant anywhere but here in this wee world where ranting is okay and I won't offend anyone. Because that just isn't nice. It's not nice to rant and whine at people who have possibly lived here all their lives and like it. And I'm nothing if not nice.

All I really need is a million dollar cottage in the Muskokas, a dryer that works and fluffs my undies and some good feng shui advice and I'm cool. That's achievable, right?

*Okay, truth be told, I'm not aware of any laws governing bunny behaviour here in Ontario. But I'm sure there are some. Like you aren't allowed to have more than two in your yard at the same time and one must be bi-lingual and the other must be a certified topiary sculptor or something.

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