01
Apr
08

99 + 1 too many things about me

One of the things that used to hold me back from starting a blog was the thought of having colleagues read it, slide on over to me and say, hey, you are one bizarre individual… Then one day I said what the hell, I’ll start a blog, and they can read it all they like. I just won’t reveal too much about me.

Now after a year or so of posting, I figure they know as much as you do, so here goes:

  1. See that photo at the top of this blog? Add a bunch of overhead cables and telephone wires, and that was our family’s view out of the front window when I was growing up.
  2. When I was born, I was driven home from hospital in a banana box placed on the floorboards of an old Austin.
  3. My elder brother wanted me to be a girl. I know because he wrote that in a letter to my mother right after I was born. I don’t hold it against him.
  4. Had I been born a girl, my name would be Fiona.
  5. I’m glad I’m not a girl.
  6. My earliest memory is of me standing up looking through the bars of the crib, that same brother coming in and saying, “there he is.”
  7. I don’t know if that was a dream or not, but I can see it clearly.
  8. I was only three years and eight months old when JFK was shot, but I remember where I was and what was going on around me.
  9. I’m the youngest of four children.
  10. My sister, the family’s first born, was killed in a level crossing accident when I was seven. She was 18. Damn that Canadian Pacific Railway anyway.
  11. They say she was like my second mother, constantly taking care of me as a baby.
  12. I have always missed her. 
  13. Not for what might have been, because my memories of her are vague, but for what never could be.
  14. For the past six generations, my family has been afflicted with a hereditary skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa.
  15. I consider myself to be very lucky, because I don’t have it, nor can I pass it on.
  16. We didn’t have a television until I was nearly eight. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for holding out that long.
  17. I grew up during the Vietnam war.
  18. I’ve been fascinated with that country my whole life.
  19. I started delivering newspapers when I was eight. I’d often read ours before starting the route.
  20. The Canadian town I grew up in was a one-company mining town. Anaconda –  an American company – owned it.
  21. I was skipped a grade. I did the first half of Grade 3, then was moved over to the other side of the room to do the second half of the year in Grade 4.
  22. School mates were angry at me because they thought I’d deserted the gang.
  23. I also had a terrible time adjusting, because all of a sudden I had to write with a pen, and didn’t know how.
  24. I was an overweight kid from the age of eight ’til 12, when I made a conscious effort to lose weight. It worked.
  25. Perhaps too well, because when I hit Grade 8, skinny and a year younger than the other boys, I was picked on.
  26. Don’t worry, I’m over it.
  27. I first went skiing when I was 10 years old, and hated it. I went another couple of times that year, and hated it even more.
    Then the next year, I went skiing again, and was hooked.
  28. I am still absolutely nuts about skiing.
  29. Photo break:
  30. eastern-townships-skiing.jpg
  31. I wish we lived closer to the Alps.
  32. I have a deep scar on my chin from a skiing accident when I was 12. Back in the day, they used to have so-called safety straps attaching your ski to your ankle, so that when you fell and the skis released, the ski wouldn’t flit down the hill and impale someone. I fell badly and my ski whipped around, smashing an edge into my chin.
  33. That happened on the Harmony Bowl at Whistler, back when a lift ticket cost a kid like me all of four Canadian dollars.
  34. Blood everywhere, six stitches.
  35. I spent a year ski instructing at Cypress Bowl, one of the three areas close to Vancouver.  The job’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
  36. We used to spend hours either playing street hockey, Canadian football, soccer or baseball until it was so dark, it was dangerous to play.
  37. My first real girlfriend had an identical twin. They were beautiful girls, always leaving me at a loss for words not only for that, but because I couldn’t tell them apart when they greeted me.
  38. Then on January 27, 1977 at precisely 4:20 pm Pacific time, I kissed one of them.  After that, the difference was unmistakable.
  39. I learned to drive in a 1972 MGB, but I have fonder memories of a 4-door 1970 Plymouth Satellite.
  40. The first three years I had my driver’s license, I was in five accidents. I haven’t been in once since.
  41. If you don’t know what I mean by real girlfriend, then don’t ask.
  42. I used to run around in the BC coastal rainforest behind our house from the time I was old enough to be let loose out the back door.
  43. It was like a forest village, with a stream to catch frogs and make dams, great hiding places under old stumps and logs, a clearing to play little games of baseball, a hill for a lookout, and patches of huckleberry, salmonberry and blackberry to plunder as Spring slowly ripened to Summer.
  44. When I arrived back from my first long trip away from home – a year-long jaunt with a backpack through most of western Europe, Egypt, Israel and Turkey when I was 20 – I discovered they’d clear-cut my forest playground to put in a fucking trailer park.
  45. First day back from that trip, one of the first songs I heard was, “The Rodeo Song.” Its first line, “Well, it’s 40 below and I don’t give a fuck, got a heater in my truck and I’m off to the rodeo” didn’t make sense to me.
  46. It made me wonder if I was coming back to the right place.
  47. I miss Canada a lot, but I think it’s mostly nostalgia not for the place, but for the careless days of youth.
  48. I can speak French and German fluently. I prefer to play Scrabble in French, though I haven’t for a while.
  49. I sometimes dream in German.
  50. The first five words I learned in Cantonese were five, four, three, two and one in that order.
  51. I have an extremely good memory for places and dates.  That skiing photo was taken in February, 1992 at Owl’s Head, Quebec.
  52. I can be very self-deprecating. That’s a good thing, because it puts me in some good company.
  53. I love learning new things, even if some of them are unpleasant.
  54. For example, I had to learn the hard way the meaning of narcissistic personality disorder.
  55. I don’t have narcissistic personality disorder.
  56. I dislike crowds intensely.
  57. I have no superstitions save one: I never write anything in red ink.
  58. I have climbed to the top of two of the three pyramids at Giza, Egypt. They say you’re not allowed to do that anymore.
  59. In the winter of 1980 – 81 worked as a ski patroller at Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, Israel.
  60. I paid my way through university and for that backpacking trip by working for the Canadian National Railway at a job that doesn’t exist anymore thanks to the fax machine, a device now overtaken by email.
  61. Thanks to that job, I know what it’s like to live in pretty well every town between Prince Rupert, BC and North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
  62. I used to work for Overwaitea Foods packing bags and stocking shelves.  One day, the manager came up and asked me to start stocking the frozen food section.  As I was doing the job he came up to me again and said, “the reason I’ve asked you to do this is we’re serious about training you for management, and this is the job we give everyone who’s starting out in that direction.”
  63. Feeling horrified, I looked up at him with a bag of frozen peas in my hand and said, “Well, I’ve registered for university in the fall.”  He looked disappointed, and two hours later, I was packing bags again. 
  64. I was robbed in Nice, France in 1980. Two years later, I was robbed in Cannes.  Watch your stuff when you’re on the Côte d’Azur.
  65. When I started scribbling things down for this, my goal was to have 100 entries in the list.
  66. I believe the secret to boring the crap out of everyone is to tell them them everything, so I’m going to stop here.

© 2008 lettershometoyou


15 Responses to “99 + 1 too many things about me”


  1. April 1, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Aww, I feel so sad for your poor grocery store manager. I can just see his face. I had the same thing happen when I was a temp office monkey. They wanted to make me permanent and asked if I was looking for a job. Not one like this one, I told them. I still feel kind of bad about that. I did the same thing one summer. My college got out later than the others so I was at a disadvantage in finding summer jobs. I had to lie to employers and tell them I dropped out of college so they would hire me. Then in August, I had to tell them I “changed my mind” and was going back to school after all. Went over like a lead balloon.
    Fiona and Ian are such nice names; your parents had good taste.

  2. April 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Damn, I was enjoying that. You could easily do the next 34 without being boring.

  3. April 2, 2008 at 8:46 am

    what happened to the twins?

  4. April 2, 2008 at 9:33 am

    good nurse –
    The short story: my one married a real estate agent.
    The other one I haven’t a clue, because I haven’t had any contact with either in nearly 30 years.
    The long story involves the break-up. Ouch!

    charlotte – well, if I’d gone on any more, I’d have been talking about pistachio vs chocolate ice cream. :-)

    CN,
    Don’t you hold that one brief moment as a pivotal event after which life could have taken two completely different paths? That’s the way I always look at it. I have to admit it was tempting to stay with them. Before they broke the unions, the money and benefits working at a grocery store in Canada back then were fabulous, and as a young person, it was all pretty tempting. Delayed gratification just seemed so mature…

  5. April 2, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”(wink!)

    Just wanted to tell you that I get a kick out of reading your blog. Yours is one of the few that inspired us to start our own.

    Cheers!

  6. April 2, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I just love your blog. Thank-you for the interesting insight into your wonderful life. I think when you view someone else’s relationships, it enables youto see your own more clearly.

  7. April 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I loved all that info. I don’t even know you and now I feel like I know you. I’ve gotta say I had the same sort of angst when starting my blog. People would read it and know what a nut I was or whatever. But, what the hec. So, I started it anyway. Thanks for the post on my blog! Yours is great, and very insightful and informative!…and I love the pictures!

  8. April 5, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Hey thanks for sharing, many common connections! Love the picture, the teeth clenching determination. You need to find a way to get closer to the mountains, it is an antidote to urban life! BB. P.S. Apologies, I will put a coffee spew warning on the blog next time!

  9. April 5, 2008 at 11:01 am

    What is wrong with mentioning the finer points of pistachio vs chocolate ice cream? I really enjoyed the list. There is a certain poetic flow to it all. My family used to go down to the eastern townships every weekend to ski. Owl’s Head was one of our favourite places to ski. Thanks for bring back the memories of those weekends.

  10. April 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    i enjoyed reading this. don’t get the title, though.
    ;)

  11. April 7, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Hi Sulz! The title explained: I wanted to write 99, but stopped at 66. And you get to choose from the list which is the one too many. :-)

    lilalia – if my memories brought back yours, there’s something there. Oh, the ice cream… well you know, it’s just that it doesn’t really matter, you know? I just don’t think it’s important to who I am.

    Beave: I wish I could move mountains, because I don’t think I’m going to be moving from Hamburg in a while, that while being retirement. :-)

    lwayswright: thanks very much for having a read – and you’re welcome back anytime!

    Rebecca and CaliGerm – you get a mention in my next post. ;-)

  12. April 7, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    No TV and a forest to play in – that’s the trick for a good life, I do believe. That, and the knowledge to know that even if you don’t like skiing at first, you can try it again and love it. It’s never to late to change your mind.

    I used to have a boss who said it was bad luck to write numbers in red, but the company he owned ended up in bankruptcy and he got in trouble with the law for fraud even though he always wrote numbers in black or green. I think about him whenever I pick up a red pen, which isn’t all that often.

  13. April 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    I thought this was a most interesting post. Appeals to the nosey parker in all of us, I think, and not boring at all. It also brought back a few memories for me. I’m sorry to hear about your sister – how tragic. When I was a kid we used to play down by a completely unprotected level train crossing – picking blackberries, putting pennies on the tracks and standing there while the train whizzed by, crossing over to get the bus to school every day etc. Totally insane and no one ever said anything.

    (Glad to see you’re feeling better and back to posting again.)

  14. April 29, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Why didn’t you like the ski instructor gig? I’ve lead ski vacation package tours and such in the past and love it!

  15. April 29, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Hi Christina – it was actually a level crossing accident where she was a passenger in a car, six in the morning, no barrier like they have in Europe, no flashing lights, foggy… She didn’t stand a chance.

    Ski Board: I would love to lead vacation package tours – that sounds like a blast! But standing in the torrential rain trying to determine which whining, snot-nosed kid should go into which lesson group ain’t my idea of a good time. Besides, I could have made just as much money collecting unemployment benefits, waiting for the good days, and ski bumming it!


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The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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