Suzy Snapper
Friday, June 30, 2006
Canada Day 2006
As I prepare for Canada Day weekend (or as the L'il Ms Thang says 'Canaday'), I am planning to take a lot of time to reflect what a fantastic country I live in.

This morning, the Globe and Mail reports on some of the vicious and disgusting thought patterns of the Toronto terror suspects. It makes my patriotic side get about as protective as a mother bear with her cub. This is my country - my home. And I am damned proud of that.

Yesterday, I spoke to a coworker who was originally from Colombia. At the age of 38, realizing that her then-preteen son would be conscripted to fight the guerillas decided to emigrate here. She arrived with her husband and her two children, with very little English and leaving behind her beloved mother and family. All to ensure that her son had the opportunity to chose to live his life the way he wanted. 4 years later, she can speak English and has forged a life for herself and her family but feels terribly homesick. Like a fish out of water. But as she told me her story, one thing was clear. She was proud to be able to give the chance to her family that she would not have had and the safety and security not even possible in her home. She was proud to be Canadian. And as a Canadian, I'm proud she chose my country.

Tomorrow, I will get up bright and early. I will dress in red and white and drape the flag on my door. I'll get in the car and drive 30 minutes each way to pick up Ms. Thang and bring her back to my place, where a parade starts at 10am.

This is Ms. Thang's first Canada Day parade and at 4-1/2, she's at a perfect age. She is already very excited about 'Canaday' and how 'Auntie Sue says I need to wear red and white cuz I'm Canadan'.

I'm proud every day but tomorrow, I get to wear it on my sleeve.

Now for something a little different, borrowed from Devon:

Four jobs I’ve had:
--sorting autopsy photos at the police station
--dive store bookkeeper
--construction assistant for a major retailer
--pharmaceutical r & d buyer

Four Movies I can watch over and over:
--Forrest Gump
--Lord of The Rings trilogy
--Gone With The Wind
--Anything Jon Cusack

Four Places I’ve lived:
--Richmond, BC
--Vancouver, BC

(Only ever lived in two places)

Four TV shows I love:
--Grey's Anatomy
--Law & Order: SVU
--Ghost Whisperer

Four Highly Recommended Shows I Haven’t Seen Much of:
--Rescue Me
--CSI: Miami

Four Places I’ve Vacationed:
--South Africa
--Washington, DC
--Cairns, New South Wales, Australia
--Cambridge, England

Four of my favorite dishes:
--'smushed' chicken (breaded/malletted chicken with a lemon sauce)
--steak with blue cheese

Four Sites I visit daily:
--Hollywood North Report

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now:
--Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
--My backyard

If you want to play, great. Drop me a comment and let me read your Favourite Four!
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Beach wildlife
Went down to the beach by my house the other day, and it would appear that one fellow was just a little too happy to see summer arrive. The looks on the other beachgoers were this man strolled around the water, through the concession stand - stopping to sit on several benches and then through the parking lot.

Did he lose a bet? Was there a candid camera hidden in the bushes watching our reactions? Or did this man simply think nothing of strolling his septugenarean body encased in a well-loved, well-used Speedo?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Trying something new
I'm not a high maintenance kinda gal. Just the opposite, really. I was the kind of child that if you gave me a sock to play with, I would have been content for hours.

However, there is one thing I do draw the line at. Camping. Roughing it. My definition for the past 15 years was 'roughing it' meant the hotel didn't have Pay Per View.

Camping, in my experience, has meant frozen nights and digging trenches to keep the rain out of the tent. Or eating raw-ish food that never cooked properly on a half lit Coleman stove. While I'm not a drinker by nature, any time I found myself camping, I found it was the only way to get through the time.

But times change, right? And you should never say never.

My brother and his family have now convinced me to go camping wth them this weekend to a beautiful area of our province named Princeton. It should be over 100°F and is nestled at the junction of two rivers amidst high ranging canyons.

It will be my brother, his wife, my niece and her husband, my parents and the two little ones. I don't think we've ever been able to all travel at once - ever, so that alone is an event to behold. Given my parents advancing age, I would say it will also be a memory to be cherished forever.

What convinced me, over and above the sentimentality? The chance to do a real adventurous photo shoot of some of the quaint and not-so-quaint ghost towns along the way. The whole area is littered with relics and memories of a time when the area was full of gold fever. My brother and his friend have found some lesser known places as well, not marked on maps that are apparently breath taking. Check out some of the areas on Ghost Towns.

And there's horseback riding. I haven't been on a horse since 1996. And yes, in my true fashion, I fell off. Or was treed. Depending on the angle you were at. Of course, I did it with grace - not losing my hat while my best friend held up 9 fingers in judgement.

So this weekend, after celebrating Canada Day in the morning with a local community parade, I will traipse into the interior to spend two nights sleeping on the ground. With my family. Priceless.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
There but for the grace
As the saying goes...sometimes you get a little slap upside the head at how incredibly fortunate things are.

I got an email today from my brother saying 'Did you know so-and-so?' My brother, I may have mentioned is a police officer in a local suburb here. I don't remember him ever asking me anything like that...when he's at work, family does not collide. I responded 'Yes, we worked together quite closely at my former place of work.'

The email returned almost immediate. Call me right away, it said. And he gave the police station's number.

Although I was in a meeting, I quickly requested some privacy as I felt something must be wrong.

Turns out my former coworker, aged 51 decided to take his own life today.

He and I were made redundant on the same day in February 2005. I found work rather easily and never really looked back. I saw it as a new door opening, but for him. it was a door closed.

Unfortunately, this very learned man - who possessed a Masters degree - found employment difficult and unattainable. I don't know the details but it would sound like the last 16 months were very challenging for him.

I remember hearing from friends after I was made redundant that he took it hard that day. While I smiled and thanked them for the opportunity, eager to start my next adventure, he was the opposite. Shocked and apparently couldn't believe that it was happening to him.

He was an intense man, and while we didn't always see eye to eye, I did respect his skill and knowledge in a field I knew a mere tip of the iceberg. Things that I struggled to understand, he picked up with ease.

When I first heard, I was shocked but not entirely surprised. His intensity was extreme. His moodiness legendary, but from what I'm told, a very loyal friend once one passed his gruff exterior.

As I sat and pondered it, I began to feel very sad. For me, this past year and a bit has been a great ride. It has pushed me, taught me, frustrated me and so much more. I am in a place now that I never would have thought possible back then.

Yet, someone whom I shared that path with, whom I worked with for many years had a very different outcome.

It gives me great pause tonight. May he now be freed of the pain he was obviously in, and may he rest in peace.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Little C

Welcome to your new life, C-Man!

You couldn't have picked better parents if you tried. They have, along with their friends and family, been waiting so patiently for you to join us all. Now that you're here, the world is a much better place.

Born on Monday, just a little after 3, to my best friends. I couldn't be happier.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Photo Madness
Last night, I had the chance - first time in absolutely weeks - to get out and take some pictures.

Nothing makes me happier than walking along our waterfront and soaking up the sights. Last night was another first, as well. I walked the better part of 2 miles with NO knee pain. It is well and truly done!!!

Yesterday, I also decided to take the next step in my photography. On June 27, I will begin taking courses at a professional photography school. A lot more expensive, but I think I'm at a point I need to learn the next level. It will mean losing a night in an already very hectic, busy time but at the same time, if I am serious, I need to make time.

Taking the picture above was an interesting moment. While I walk, I am fairly introverted. I don't really pay attention to the people around me and kind of get lost in the moment. I'm a pretty shy person, until you get to know me. Enter the wharf and my elderly aunt, who is going through a very challenging time in the mental faculty area. Each night, she gets more and more paranoid. My Mom and I are now used to receiving up to 10 phonecalls each from her on any given evening. Every 20 minutes or less, the phone will ring. They will be increasingly frantic or argumentative. She will accuse us of lying to her, for example. 'What's that noise?' 'Nothing, there's no noise', 'I can hear something, you're lying', 'Um, the TV, I think you can hear the TV', 'No, there's nothing on TV.' Not answering the phone makes it worse. The phonecalls will increase to every 5 minutes. Getting angry doesn't work because she doesn't have the mental acuity to realize it.

So to put it mildly, my Mom and I are both at the end of our ropes on this. Which is why I went for a walk.

As I'm on the wharf trying to set up a shot, the phone rings. I look and it's her. I don't answer. The phone rings again right after. And finally again, on the 3rd call, I answer. But, unbeknownst to me, I had caught the attention of a couple of people walking along because of the distinctive ring tone.

After speaking to my Aunt and attempting to calm her, these people came over and struck up a conversation with me. To my surprise, my guard was down and I ended up chatting with them for nearly 15 minutes. It turned out they went to school with my brother. We exchanged phone numbers and emails. Now THAT was a real first.

I wandered along the rest of the way, smiling. Maybe stepping outside of my comfort zone isn't such a bad thing. And maybe, just maybe, my camera is a little bit of a buffer to break me out of that shell.

For a few moments, I even forgot how stressed we've become with my Aunt's health. Of course, a half hour later, the phone started ringing again and that magic was lost. At least I got a few minutes anyhow.

Other than that, a lot of time lately has been spent at ball parks.

My niece is back pitching. Before she had Hayley, she was a promising pitcher with scholarship offers from some of the best schools in the US. But at the tender age of 18, headstrong and under pressure, she chose to turn them all down and move away with her would-be husband. Hayley came soon after. It's good to see her back on the field though.

The circle does revolve though. After years of saying she wanted her kids to be involved only in what they wanted, now she has become hopeful that Hayley will pick up her Mom's athletic ability. And I think the Little One may just do that.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Grad 87

I'm an organizer by nature. It's something that's deeply ingrained in me, but at the same time, if I can't give 125%, I won't even start. Apparently, this is a sign of perfectionism. Although, given the state of my house, it looks more like laziness.

I graduated from high school in 1987. The height of the 80's. The Bangles 'Walk Like An Egyptian' will forever bring me back to my graduation year.

High school was a dichotomy of highs and lows. Like many young girls who didn't really know where they fit in, I often felt like I belonged in a completely different world. I was a smart kid, but didn't want to show it. I was horribly embarassed when I got the highest marks of our entire school in English on the government final exam.

I was a geek, not yet comfortable in my own skin. Yet longing to be one of the popular kids. The stuff they make movies about. Except the popular kids were my friends up until Grade 8. We all knew each other and were very close up until the age of 13 when I began to become withdrawn, and they became extroverted. I was not one of them.

When I left high school, I didn't have any close friends to speak of. I had my boyfriend, who went to another school and had been mentioned in the school yearbook as the one most likely to marry soonest after high school. What a laugh, looking back now.

Time went on. I chose work over school with the intent of becoming a stay-at-home mom. My subsequent engagement eventually crashed and burned in a very explosive and life-altering way and I found my 10 year reunion looming. One of the popular girls was organizing the event, and she happened to live a couple houses down from my parents, whom I was back home with after the crash. I thought, what a great opportunity to show them. Show them that I wasn't at all who they thought I was back in high school. Why do we do this to ourselves?

It was a farce. The cliques were in full gear, and I again relived those outsider feelings. I felt an imposter. The crowning moment though, was when the ultimate powder-puff Cheerleader-esque came up to me and said 'My therapist has told me I need to let go of my anger. I've hated you for 25 years and I just want you to know I don't anymore.' Considering we had met at age 10 and she was only 27 at the time, her math skills left something to be desired.

I left that night glad for the experience but relieved it was over. And I vowed it was over for good.

Flash forward 9 years. Last week, I was asked to rejoin the organizational committee for the 20th reunion. This will be next year, sometime in October.

My organizational skills are tingling. Databases to make, people to track down. The mere thought makes me motivated to get started immediately. But will this just be a re-run? Will I be reduced once again to that 17 year old unsure little child? I'm 36, never married, no kids. That little girl who's only dream was domesticity is long dead. It's not something I often worry about - my life is better now than I ever dreamed, but there is still that little part of me that is somewhat vulnerable to the past.

I'm determined to make this a positive event, rather than a rehash of the former.

So I ask you, my dear friends, what do you think of reunions? What did you like at yours, if you had one? Why did you go, if you did? And if you didn't, why not?

Monday, June 05, 2006
Catching up
You wouldn't believe it, but I am.

Over the weekend, between all else that is going on, I started trying to catch up on my blog reads. There were 11,000 unread posts according to my nifty little Bloglines reader. Cutting that in half right away, and then half again, I'm down to the nitty gritty. Had intended not to post again until I was at very least caught up with my friends.

But, having said that, it has been a couple weeks again since I posted.

The new job. I am lukewarm with it. It has a lot of long term potential and some real quick wins in terms of organization. My specialty, besides buying, is streamlining processes. There are many very obvious areas of improvement here, but I am biding my time. I am new and I know from experience, I don't like being told how to do my job by a new person so it will go on a back burner. For the next couple months, I have resolved to learn their systems and processes before suggesting anything. As I told my boss, you've been in this business a lot longer than I have.

Unfortunately, the people are a bit more of a quandry. Hot and cold. While I know breaking into cliques is difficult, and I have been guilty myself of being exclusionary from time to time, it does make it a bit challenging. There have been three people in this position in the last year. People are bound to be a bit closed off, until they know I'm staying. It's natural.

But, what isn't natural, and what I'm biting my tongue on, is downright rudeness. There is one particular lady who feels the need to be quite stroppy with me on a regular basis. I get a strong feeling that she's sort of testing me and I am determined not to let it get to me. She has worked here her entire career - 30+ years and is somewhat of the Queen of the roost. So I keep my mouth shut, smile and be kind. Time will improve things, I am quite sure.

I have a few other topics worthy of posts of their own, and now that I can post from work on my lunch I may actually get around to it.

Some of the other challenges and joys going on right now...the planning of my 20th high school reunion. My Aunt's stroke and worsening dementia. Being able to put some proper closure on The Dude situation. Oh, and Navy Boy? Yes, he is back stateside and in touch. Not to mention, my knee. Much better, but still a little touchy.

In any case, I hope you are all well. Take care, and don't be surprised if I pop up on your comments very soon!

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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