Friday, January 22, 2010

Ole Ladyyyy Whooooooooo.....

Being more of a suburban type girl, I have found it an adjustment living in a small town. It's usually an eventful day if I have an excuse to go to Walmart or to the bank. Coupled with the lack of excitement is the fact that this place has the highest percentage of seniors of anywhere in Ontario. It's true. With each excursion, I've made it my mission to see if I can find someone who does not have the definitive female hair, gray and curly or male hair, gray and straight. Should I detect someone bald, of either gender, it's always a bonus.

Yesterday, I made my weekly trek downtown and I use the term "downtown" loosely. Bank day. The traffic was particularly heavy and it took me 4 minutes instead of the usual 3 to get there. I hate rush hour. I felt a sense of deja vu as it were, very "Groundhog Day". In this case, it was the repeat of any similar trip I've taken over the past 2 years. I sought parallel parking on King Street. Murphy's law was at work. There were parking spots on the opposite side of the road but not in the direction I was driving. I proceeded to the next intersection, turned around and by the time I got back 30 seconds later, the spots I had seen were not only gone, but there were now spaces on the original side. I gave up and abandoned the van in a makeshift bumpy gravel lot, aka potential condo site across from city hall.

After walking into my financial institution I took my place in line. Woohoo, third! I soon learned, third assured me of nothing. I stood. I waited. I shuffled from one leg to the other. I stretched. I looked around dreamily. I stared in the overhead "robber identification monitor"wondering where the camera was hidden. All the while I was turning, squatting, waving, stretching and making faces to entertain myself. Everyone was oblivious, which, now that I think of it was probably a good thing. I had an idea. I yawned loudly. This did nothing to rouse the employees or speed up the process. In true small town fashion, pardon the cliche, someone was sharing the latest gossip with teller Leanne. Another person showed 100 of the newest photos of her grandkids to teller Leona and a third customer was sharing accounts of his recent surgery with teller Lynne. Curious. Is an "L" name perhaps compulsory for a job at this bank?

Ten minutes later, there had been no movement. I studied the two people in front of me. For some reason they were unperturbed by the fact that they had made no forward progress. I noted that for the 5th time this month, I saw someone (a woman, lest there be any doubt) with the same style purse as mine. Was it actually possible that I crossed paths with the same woman five times? Or could it be that I saw five different women with the same purse? Could my thoughts get any more fascinating? As I yawned yet again, for real this time, no longer all that happy to be customer #3 in the line, I took a notebook out of aforementioned "Stepford" purse and wrote a message to myself. "Ditch the brocade bag."

Notebook still in hand, I took advantage of the time to jot down some potential story ideas. At the very least I thought I might develop characters by describing the appearance and characteristics of people I'd observed that day...hooded quilted winter jackets, black gloves, elasticized waist pants in a wash and wear fabric, loose fitting shirts, white socks, sensible shoes. Yikes!

It was at that moment that I realized it. My description sounded all too familiar. I was turning into one of THEM.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What now?

Reading was sometimes a struggle. Writing never was. Ever since first grade, when I proudly deciphered the word "funny" in my "Dick and Jane" reader and printed said word all over a large white sheet of paper, I've been hooked. My first real success came a few years later when the teacher displayed one of my stories for Open House. It recounted an unfortunate incident involving my mom, a huge bowl of freshly brewed jello, a partially open fridge door and a linoleum floor. I was eight and it was funny. The teacher was impressed. My mother wasn't.

In high school, I encountered my first "stickler". She was quite a wonderful English teacher to whom I am indebted to this day. We flogged grammatical rules and parsed sentences ad infinitum. I'm fairly confident that this repetitive activity led to my affinity for the book, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves."

Although I never had a huge interest in penning the next great American novel (or Canuk novel as it were), I often wrote for enjoyment during the early morning hours when my world as a single mom was most peaceful. I saw myself as a bit of an Erma (that's Bombeck not La Douce) and so I began to slog, or should I say blog about daily events that struck me as odd, annoying or amusing. There were many.

It has sometimes occurred to me to offer my services to the local newspaper as a "proof reader". Unfortunately, prerequisites are rigid. Accuracy in spelling, grammar and punctuation are not necessary. A degree in journalism is.

So here I sit in the hopes of gaining some insight about where I might fit into the literary world. As I try to find "my voice" I will write about what I know best...my thoughts on everyday life, my experiences, my gripes and my history.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In the beginning...

Disclaimer: Any similarity to "characters" real or imaginary is purely coincidental. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Once upon a time, a child was born to a young couple. They named her Hildegard. It was a fairly common name in the land of bratwurst and beer. Many people chose to call their children (mostly the daughters) Hildegard after a well known nun. Life was good.

One day, the mom visited a mystic of another sort and was told that their small family would be going on a long long journey.

"Nein", said the mom.

"Nein", said the dad.

"Ja, ja" said the opa and oma enthusiastically, since the couple was living with them at the time.

So they said auf wiedersehen to their family, friends and homeland in search of a better life. With only a homemade strudel, $5 and a wooden trunk holding all their worldly possessions, off they ventured. Their long journey took them to a country known to them as Kanada. Here, the family moved onto an island in a small lake. They were very happy to own not one, but two small houses, one of which was their very own outhouse. Life was good.

After her 5th birthday, little Hildegard was able to begin her formal education. Her parents told her to walk to school using a shortcut across the lake. Sometimes, the lake was even frozen. As the mom was coming home from the supermarket one day, she encountered a bear. The bear was angry. The mom ran. Later that night, she went to use their other little house and discovered that it had been overturned by a group of hooligans, or perhaps another bear. It was time to move to the big city.

"Nein" said Hildegard.

"Meow" said the cat.

"Ja, ja" said mom and dad.

So they said auf wiedersehen to their friends, shot the dog, waved goodbye at the cat and left the island in search of a better life. With only some homemade sauerkraut, fifty dollars (which they got for selling the remaining house) and a 1950 something green chevrolet wagon holding all their wordly possessions, off they ventured. The long drive took them to a city known as Toronto. The family saw a sign "Flat for rent". It had a room, a kitchen and one "indoor" bathroom which they were very fortunate to be allowed to share with the other two families in the house. Life was good.

Despite being mocked for her odd name, her large brown lace up shoes and her lack of "show and tell" skills, Hildegard was developing into a well adjusted 3rd grader. She would do her homework dilligently, attend bible studies and get her own lunches (if eating cherry pie at the local diner counts). One day, in 4th grade, she decided to roller skate all afternoon instead of attending school. Then, in 5th grade, she knocked the neighbour's annoying 12 year old son off his tricycle. In sixth grade, she put gum on the teacher's chair. In 7th, she cut off her hair, wore tight sweaters and started complaining about boys. It was time to move to the 'burbs away from the evil big city influences.

"Noooooooo" said the landlord.

"Noooooooo" said Hildegard.

"Yes, yes" said mom and dad.

So they said goodbye to their friends, their neighbourhood and their city life. With only a homemade bundt cake, a $500 down payment, a 1960 something silver corvair and u-haul truck to carry all their worldly possessions they headed for suburbia in search of a better life. Their long journey took them to a place called Bay Ridges. Here, they purchased a brick bungalow with their own private bathroom, three bedrooms, living and dining room and a kitchen! Life was good.

......to be continued

Friday, January 1, 2010

A bird by any other name...

So, how did I happen to select the name Robin as my internet persona? It's a story that began many years ago when I discovered computer "chat". My teen children had installed a function called ICQ on our computer. Occasionally, when I was actually allowed to use said computer, I perused the site. I unearthed a few people with whom I enjoyed regular conversations. It was suggested by one that I go to yahoo since it was more user friendly, fewer lags and so on. There were also singles chat rooms. I needed a "name". Not being very savvy in the workings of chat rooms and "some" of their users, I selected an ID. It seemed appropriate at the time. It was spring. I was a kindergarten teacher. I picked the first thing that popped into my head..... robinredbreast. BIG MISTAKE!

The rude questions and lewd comments soon became tiresome if not repetitious. Honesty in chat was not a prerequisite and before long, I learned something. IQ's were not necessary, performance skills were. There seemed to be some kind of presumption associated with my choice of ID and I really couldn't fathom. I finally settled in a room with some lovely people. I'm pleased to say that I still have a few of those nice people as facebook friends. Anyhow, it was then that I selected a more "innocent" yet familiar name for myself. Yahoo Room 7 in the 50's age group became my chat home and my new alter ego became RockinRobin. Much better......Thanks Elton.