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Monday, 26 October 2015

WAKE UP AND LOOK UP

Standing at a bus stop... I see a young couple come out of the convenience store with a bunch of bags and a 3 year old, who was holding his mothers hand. The man was buried in his cell phone, looking down, with a load of bags in the other hand. The woman had bags in one hand with the kid on the other side. First the young man almost gets hit, walking out onto the street, without looking, at a crosswalk. The couple freaks out at the suddenly stopped beeping car and the little boy gets upset and starts to cry... 

They cross the road and stop on the sidewalk. The young woman then realizes she has to check HER phone and gives the bags to the young man to hold, so she could check her texts. The upset little boy, who is still crying, stands confused and completely ignored. The two adults juggle their items around, so the young woman can root through her purse for her phone.   The young man and woman start to argue because the man is losing patience, having to hold all the bags while he waits.  

The little boy sees a dog on the other side of the street and darts into traffic........................ 
My heart skipped a beat as he ran toward the curb.... The street was very busy with large spurts of cars, trucks, transport trucks and buses. The spot they had chosen to stop was on a blind turn... Cars had no view of pedestrians in this spot.  There was NOTHING I could do because they were too far away to even hear my voice over the traffic... There was a dump truck gearing up in the distance, two buses coming the other way....  The kid face planted as soon as he left the curb. His mom looked up from her phone just as a car came roaring around the bend. The car saw the mother just in time to swerve around them. Traffic then stopped and quickly was backed up from the woman and man picking the kid up and freaking out. More cars were now beeping at them and each other not knowing what was going on. 

The 5th car back, behind a bus, I see a man and woman in the driver and passenger seat. There are two kids in the back... THE DRIVER AND PASSENGER IN FRONT ARE ON THEIR CELL PHONES.  
I wanted to walk over and smash their phones. ALL of them.  
There were 2 people at that bus stop with me. One with an ipod and headphones, in his own world clicking through songs and a pregnant woman (ON HER PHONE) Who looked at me when the cars piled up and asked me what happened. 

In the end NO ONE who was present actually learned a lesson! The couple blamed the cars for going too fast, the pregnant woman simply said "oh, that's neglectful." sarcastically, and went back to texting. The car behind the bus had no clue what happened and everyone went on with their lives.  
We live in a world where no one pays attention anymore. Be safe people. 

Don't text and drive.. or even text and walk. WAKE UP AND LOOK UP. You can actually die or kill someone.  IT'S NOT WORTH IT. 

*And people wonder why I am happy without a cell phone.  

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

WINNING THE LOTTERY OF LEARNING

When I was a kid I wanted to know everything. My mother likes to tell the story that my first word at 6 months was 2 words, "What's that?" and I have never stopped talking since.

My curiosity had no limit but growing up in a small fishing community with little going on and little resources for learning, I figured out quickly there were a lot of dead ends.

It was never completely clear to me if my parents had the philosophy that "You should learn everything on your own if you are going to learn at all" or if they just wanted me to stop bugging them with strings of complicated questions. I'd like to believe it was both.

Learning to read needless to say was fun and exciting for me. I recall watching reading rainbow and getting excited about anything that involved stories or facts. We didn't always have cable though or even a color TV, so BOOKS were the juiciest most succulent fruit I could get my hands on. Going to the school library was an exciting treat for me. I can have answers! Finally!!! But there was a limitation EVEN IN SCHOOL to my learning.

Every 2 weeks or so our class would have library time and we would get to pick out 2 books to read at a time. I had been taught to appreciate what I had and not to be greedy, selfish or feel entitled to more of anything but this was absurd to me. For a few years I managed to cope with this limitation by reading books my dad had lying around the house.

The problem with that was that my dad's collection was entirely consistent of Stephen King books or western cowboy novels. NOT books for children. As interesting as these books were, I had more of a taste for true stories and non-fiction. Although reading the drawing of the 3-Dark tower 2 by Stephen King at the age of 10 was educational about sociopaths, gunslingers, drug smugglers, split personalities and addicts.. It certainly should never have been a book a 10 year old is subjected to understanding.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy which involved gangs and scalping natives was a pretty intense read for me at age 11, a bit different from the Goosebumps books my classmates were trading back and forth and I did appreciate these as well written stories but I wanted to know more about the world and the nature of things. My biggest question that haunted me and I am sure many children about everything was "But WHY".

SO I DEVELOPED A PLAN:

At lunch time every day we were left unattended for 15 minutes at a time. Our teachers would take turns going back and forth from the staff room to check up on us in grades 4-6. I had my eye on the time and each day I would wait till the 2nd check up to sneak down the hallway, past the teachers staff room and into the library. There was little time to get in there, read and sneak back to the classroom before the teachers check up. I learned to find the exact book I wanted, hide under the librarians desk and speed read as many precious words as I could. This strategy worked for a very surprising amount of time. I didn't do it every day, I tried to be strategic and pay attention to which teachers were really attentive and which ones gave the once over glance for trouble, before quickly returning to the staff room. There seemed to be a schedule and I had a grip on it.

One particular teacher who's name I won't mention, loved food. She was always keeping snacks around and I knew how important lunch time was to her. Every 2nd time she was on duty for 2nd shift I would be sure to have a reading session. My friends were fairly oblivious. I didn't let them in on my secret or strategy and sometimes if they noticed I'd tell them I just really had to go to the bathroom.

It all worked, it all was worth it and I started to feel comfortable with my strategy. So comfortable that I snooped through the librarians drawer and would reward myself for a job well done, by helping myself to one of her mint candies she kept in a big container. In my whole life I cannot EVER recall stealing anything. I had been taught that it was wrong and have never been tempted to justify such a thing. To this day I feel that, that was probably why I got caught.

A DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET:

The teacher who liked food a lot was supposed to be on duty, I expected her for the second round so I quietly, like a NINJA snuck past the staff room door to the library, ran to the scholastic book
I had been reading about self training in memorization. I reached up and took 3 mints from the teachers desk that day thinking (She won't miss 3 mints out of 100!) Two pages in to the 3rd section, the library door creaked open. It was the most haunting sound and I almost thought it was a ghost, until I saw Mr. Coady.

A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER!

I sat trying not to breathe or make a sound. My heart was racing as I quietly sucked on the mint I heard him say: "Hello?" "I know you are in here!" I considered that he thought he might be talking to a ghost because the room was empty. He couldn't see me but I could see him standing tall with his hands clasped behind his back. Through the tiny gap of wood in the desk, I thought I could see him smelling the air. His nostrils were flaring. Could he smell the mint? No. There's NO WAY… "You can come out or I can find you." He said. But he seemed not to even be know which direction to send his comment. A minute passed that seemed like an eternity. I swallowed the mint in a guilty gulp and came out from under the desk to surrender. "What are you doing in here all by yourself?" he said. "I, I just came in to read." I replied nervously. "Come on I'm taking you to the office." he said and
I willingly went along.



I was not the kind of kid who got sent to the principal very often and when I got there he was quite surprised to see me. He sat across from me and in the sweetest tone asked me to explain exactly why I was found under the librarians desk, when I knew that I was supposed to stay in the classroom. I told him I was there because I wanted to read a book. He was confused. I explained that I really liked to read and two books was not enough at a time. He started to write notes down and asked me more questions. "How many books would you like to take out?" He asked. "As many as I want! maybe 6?". "Do you think this is a problem for everyone, the two book limit?". I said "Well sir I don't know but I have been sneaking in to read more for a while. It's not fair really, I just wanna read and now I'm in the principals office because I'm in trouble for it." I felt defensive and he sensed that I was quite upset. "Alright well, I would like you to go back to class and I'll think about what we will do."

I went home that day scared that he had called my parents and told them I'd gotten in trouble but they did not seem to have a clue. The next day I went to school and was called to the office first thing
in the morning. I walked down the hallway with my little heart beating out of my chest. My principal was waiting with a smile. When I sat down he told me that he had good news. He had talked to all of the teachers and made it known that I was given an exception. I COULD TAKE OUT AS MANY BOOKS AS I WANTED!

I jumped out of my chair and loudly said "YESSS!!!". He motioned for me to sit and contain myself with a serious expression. "Now I want you to know that this is not something we would normally do but you brought it to our attention that some children have additional needs, so we will allow you to take out as many books as you want but you have to do it the proper way. You need to sign them out, so we know which ones you have."

That day was one of the most exciting days of my life.

FAST FORWARD TO NOW:

So today the Halifax Central Library opened up a block away from where I live. I was there to cut the ribbon with many other excited readers. They gave us safety scissors which made me feel like that child again. It has been a few months since the closest library was shut down for the move to this big, beautiful building, so my anticipation and excitement was overwhelming. I stayed up all night and was there an hour early. When the doors opened I knew EXACTLY how I was going to explore.

Among the thousands of people who thought the front door was the only entrance I had scoped out librarians going in and out from the side. I asked if that door would open after the ribbon was cut and found out it was. A countdown from 10 to 1, I positioned myself at the very far end of the ribbon, closest to the side door, where there was NO line up. I chopped a piece of ribbon off to use a a book mark and ran to the side door. I was the first of 100 of thousands, to pile in. I ran to the elevator went to the 5th floor and started on the roof. Looking out at downtown Halifax I could see my apartment and I felt on top of the world.

To come from a small town in Newfoundland all those years ago, having to sneak into the school library to read.. Now to be standing on a one of a kind, landmark structure of unlimited knowledge
feels like I won the lottery of learning.

BUT I WILL NEVER FORGET: Where I came from. I will always have gratitude for the wealth of knowledge I have access to. AND I will never steal another mint from a librarian.




~JBN~

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The BEST Story EVER.



What you are about to read is a miraculous true story about how I learned: If you put your mind to something you can really get exactly what you want and sometimes more.

It was the kind of day you look out the window and the weather does not entice you to come outside. Kind of dreary looking, grey with occasional drizzle, sort of chilly and muddy. I had just gotten off work and had received a message from my boyfriend at the time (Now my husband) Caesar. Caesar is a well known busker that has for many years dressed up as what ever rock and roll act comes to town. He dons a costume and plays outside shows for fans who like to take pictures with him and enjoy an up close, pre show of some of the tunes they will get to hear inside.
This particular day Caesar was planning to busk outside of the Metallica show on Citadel hill. Neither of us could afford the whopping $125 ticket price. So Caesar had suggested we both watch from the outside after he busked or maybe we would get lucky and score some cheap/free tickets as sometimes he does while busking.

I managed to convince my roommate at the time Meghan, to come with me to rock out with Caesar and watch from outside the fence.
When we got there Caesar was standing on a black bookshelf he had fashioned into a stage, with his initials CZR and 2 lightening bolts spray painted in silver on the side. He was in a power stance, with his guitar, dressed as a mix between Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield, belting out Metallica tunes to the line up of people waiting to go in. As I watched him brighten up everyones day and bring smiles to all the faces, I felt a tapping on my shoulder. A man wearing a live 105 Jacket had appeared out of no where and whispered to me: "Do you guys have tickets?" (Referring to Myself and Meghan) "No, are you selling tickets? or are you looking to get some?" I replied. He ignored my reply and asked in a whisper voice "Are you both over 19?". "Yes, yes we are." The guy wasted no time and handed both me and my roommate FREE tickets, told us they were the last 2 and to enjoy the show.

I could hardly believe it, we both jumped up and down like little kids but then I realized that Caesar and some other friends who had now gathered with us to watch from outside, did not have tickets. We decided after some thought, to sell our Free tickets to some well deserving Metallica fans in the line up, for a discounted price. After all we would still see the show from the outside and we would be among friends.

You would think that this story couldn't get much better than that. IT DOES….

As we stood enjoying the Pre-show, two young ladies gleefully holding hands, came up from behind me and seemed intrigued that I was having such a wicked time rocking out to Caesar as he busked. One of them spoke up and asked me, "Is that your dad?". I wasn't thrown off by the question too much, as I realized they were young and to them our age difference was rather apparent. I replied "No actually, that is my boyfriend." The girl who had spoken seemed shocked and said "Really?" I said, "Yes." Then the second girl as if I was joking asked "Really?". Again in a calm and serious manner I replied, "Yes, he is my boyfriend." To which they both in sync Replied: "COOOL!"  As confused as I was by their final conclusion and that they both replied in stereo as if it were a programmed response, I shrugged it off and went back to rocking out. The girls joined us for a short time and before leaving to get a cab, asked if I was going in to see the show. I told them I didn't have a ticket and one of the girls proceeded to take off a brightly coloured wrist band that said STAFF on it. She told me she was working the early shift at the event, was now off for the day, then suggested that I try and get in with her bracelet. I thanked her, put it in my pocket, thinking sarcastically: 'As if that will ever work'.
Caesar packed up his gear and we all headed to watch the last opening band from outside the fence. I told everyone about the bracelet and said "I have to try. If I get in I'll see you all later, if I don't I will see you in a couple of minutes." In reality, I seriously thought it was funny and there was NO WAY it would work. I approached the gate like I knew what I was doing, looked right at the ticket checkers and flashed the bracelet that I was tightly holding onto my wrist, with my middle and ring finger. They waved me through. THEY WAVED ME THROUGH!

You would think that this story couldn't get much better than that. IT DOES….
As I walked into the concert area I was baffled, excited, over the moon. But I had no one to share the experience with. I looked to see if there was a way I could get away with passing the bracelet over the fence without being caught (so I could sneak my friends in).. but alas security would be sure to see me.

I went to the top of the hill and looked down. All the people looked like tiny ants. It was surreal to me. Being from Newfoundland I have rarely ever seen that many people in one place, at one time and it fascinated me. Here were all these fans from all over the maritimes coming together to see one of the most well known bands ever. And I was lucky enough to be a part of it…
 The thing is though, that going to concerts never made a lot of sense to me. I can understand if you get an up close experience but to be one of thousands, looking at tiny dots onstage or staring at jumbo-trons the whole time, for $125? It just seemed impersonal and not  worth that kind of investment. I like being on stage or right in front of the stage but for this show VIP tickets were (I think) $225 to even be in the up close section.

As people were starting to fill the concert grounds, my internal monolog took over….
What do I have to lose? I came this far. Who says I can't get in front of the stage or on the stage? Who says I can't maybe even meet Metallica if I want? No one. If I get kicked out trying to get in front of or on stage, I have NOTHING to lose. I come out with extra money in my pocket, at NO loss, AND still get to see the show from outside with my friends. There is nothing and no one holding me back right now. I HAVE TO TRY!!!!

I could feel courage and excitement welling up inside me, my feet began to move. I leaned forward like a toddler just learning to walk and followed the momentum… Halfway down the hill, the internal monolog suggested that I go get some fuel (Beer) for the under taking of this adventure. I bought 3 beer tickets because they sold 3 at a time, then got in the long line up for my drink. Once I made my order, they told me that you get 1 beer for 2 tickets, leaving an extra ticket that was useless, unless I lined up twice again for a really long time. It was their frustrating and genius plan I suppose, to stop people from drinking too much, too quickly.

As I sipped on my beer I saw a friend who seemed also on his own. This guy is a HUGE Metallica fan and was obviously stoked to be there. I mentioned the drink ticket scam and he admitted he also had fallen victim. We decided to use both our remaining tickets to split a beer before the show starts.
I explained to my friend how I had gotten in for free and that I planned to see if I could jump the VIP fence. Without any further questions he said: "Let's go!" We approached the VIP section, realizing it was not "A Fence" It was 2 fences, spaced apart, with security posted approximately every 10 feet on one side or the other.

The odds of us making it in did not look that great. We both were silent for a moment, when a friendly dude next to us lets call him "Drunk guy", turns and says "Are you guys excited or what? Wooooo!" I answered his rhetorical question with a serious statement. "We are looking to get over the fence." Drunk guy, wastes NO time and bends over with hands clasped, to help boost whichever one of us is willing to step up. I proceed without thought, to also bend with hands clasped. My 6'4(ish) friend stepped into our hands and used the first fence as a second step, he flew miraculously into the air like an albatross and sailed gracefully over both fences landing in a small clearing on the other side. Security saw him and he started to run disappearing into the crowd. He.. He did it! Drunk guy high fixed me and suddenly I felt someone pulling on my jacket from behind. It was a security lady! "Hey! are you with that guy?!". "NOPE." I replied and slipped out of her grasp, weaving along the fence in the opposite direction.

It IS possible! I told myself, as I lost the security that had been tailing me.
    
At that moment I saw a guy, by himself, sizing up the fences. I could tell immediately that we had the same goal and without hesitation walked directly up to him and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Wendy!" I said smiling enthusiastically. "I'm Dave." he said, sort of thrown off by my overwhelming friendliness. "Lets start a restaurant!" I said. But I could almost hear crickets because he did not get my Wendy's/ Dave Thomas-restaurant reference/joke, so I skipped to the point. "What are you trying to do Dave?" (Even though I knew the answer) "Well. I was TRYING to see if there was a gap somewhere in this fence so that I could slip though, but it really doesn't look promising." "Me too." I said with a huge smile. "Well are you having any luck?" he asked. I told him that my buddy had made it over, down on the other end but security might be a problem and he said: "You lead the way there, I'll follow."

I took Dave's hand and dragged him to the spot where drunk guy was. The second that "Drunk Guy" saw me, he yelled "YOUR TURN!!!" and bent with hands together. Dave reacted as I had and did the same without question. For some reason in the adrenalin rush, my brain had just decided to follow whatever comes next, without using proper judgement. I stepped into the hands of a guy I met seconds ago and a guy who was obviously drunk then let them hurl me into the sky.

2 things I DID NOT take into account:

#1 When my friend had jumped the fence, there was a clearing where he had landed. NOW there were people, packed together like a sardine can, because Metallica had just hit the stage.
#2 My friend was 6'4" (Ish) and I was much shorter. I did not have the same long limbs that assisted him with take off and landing.

In mid air, in the freakin sky. Here I was.

It was like a movie going in slow motion as I sailed though the air making the biggest jump I'd ever made in my life.

Internal Monolog: "THIS-WAS-SUUUCH-AAA-BAAAAD-IDEAAAAAA!!!!"
THUDD***

I landed on two tall guys, who had no clue I was about to drop on their heads, from the sky. They managed not to take too much of the landing and moved quick enough for me to hit the muddy earth below. Now I was afraid that they would be mad I had landed on them and was in a panic that security had seen me. One of the guys looks at me, in a ball, on the ground and asks dumbfounded: "Are you OK?" I opened one eye, squinting and realized that they were not upset. I stood up and cheered "YEAHHHHHHH!" And security walky-talkies near by, began to conspire.

"Uh oh!"

Like a cartoon road runner, I shot through the sardine-can crowd toward the front. Instead of seeing dust clouds behind me, it was more like that mud hero race. I seemed to have lost them after some creative ducking and weaving but found myself in a mysterious clearing. I looked in all directions and thought "Why the heck is no one standing here?" In every direction beside this muddy circle there was a packed crowd. My attention was suddenly drawn to a short guy, trying to see over the crowd at the edge of the clearing, just ahead. Metallica was introducing a song and there was a break in the music. They tore into their next song and the short guy turned directly around to face me, closing his eyes and began to swing his arms like a human windmill, with legs.

I was IN the MIDDLE of the MOSH PIT!

Before I had any time at all to really react, bodies were flying EVERYWHERE! The short guy came at me so fast, he actually punched me in the face. I had never been punched in the face before so my reaction was: shock. But I didn't have time to even recover. The guy who punched me, stood there apologizing repeatedly after he realized I was female. I said "That alright, just don't do it again." And as I held my right hand over my face, I felt a SHARP elbow hit me with the full force of body weight behind it. Another dude had been pushed from several feet to my left, had flown off the ground backward and his elbow connected with my side.

I was now being propelled by an astounding, gravitational force, that spun me in circles, sideways. (Another slow motion moment)

Internal Monolog: "THIS-WAS-SUUUCH-AAA-BAAAAD-IDEAAAAAA!!!!"

Arriving at the right edge of the mosh pit, I gathered myself and decided: This is it. I'm in. I'm still alive. I AM GOING TO FRONT ROW CENTRE!

The first 20 people I passed didn't seem too impressed but then I hit "The WALL".
If you can imagine every Metallica fan in the Maritimes who has been a fan for LIFE, who has paid $225 for their VIP, maybe even flown from Newfoundland to get there…. Picture a thousand men dressed in black, mostly in their mid to late 30's-40's with tattoos(some that say Metallica)/piercings, real tough looking dudes. And here I am, by myself, a scruffy looking gal with no make up, in a ponytail, greasy/muddy, came strait from work, wearing a pink rain jacket and jogging pants.
NO ONE was going to let me pass. They had either left their girlfriends at home or had a good grip on their ladies arm (So as not to lose them in the intense crowd) enjoying the show. As I squeezed between a huge guy with a bald head and beard, he took me by the jacket and flung me backward (as best he could in the limited space). "Where the (Expletive) do you think YOU are Goin??!!!"

I took a huge gulp, then a deep breath. I knew I was doomed if I didn't pass this man. If I didn't get through this wall, I would be stuck and the story would end. There was no way to physically break this wall so….

 I turned around and made my face look like a mix between a small creature begging for food and a deer in headlights. I don't like to lie and this part I'm not proud of, but it was the only way I could think of at that time.

"I'm so sorry.. I.. I was just trying to get back to my boyfriend. He's up at the front. I went to the bathroom a half hour ago and I can't get back to him." My quivering lip and doe eyes broke his heart. The guy actually looked at me and said "Aww" sypmathetically. "MOVE! Out of the way!!!!" He began to clear a path for me and explained on my behalf, the whole way to the front, that he was heroically trying to help me find my boyfriend and that I was lost.

The next thing I knew. I was THERE. Front row, slightly right but mostly centre, to take in the last few songs of the Metallica set. The guy, just left me there and retreated to where he had come from, without even giving me a hard time that my fake boyfriend was not there.

You would think that this story couldn't get much better than that. IT DOES….

As I stood there looking up in awe all I could think of was that NO ONE is going to believe this insanely amazing story. I took in the last couple of songs AND THEN THE ENCORE.

*******FLASH BACK*******:

The first time I ever heard Metallica I was about 9 or 10 years old in my hometown of Flatrock Newfoundland. Every year, we had an outdoor concert with local talent and traditional artists during the summer, that drew the largest crowds I had ever seen (Maybe 200-300 people). They would get busses of seniors from the city to fill up the space and to celebrate our traditional music and heritage.
At that time, I had only ever heard old country, traditional music and some classic rock.
I will NEVER forget: Standing in front of the speaker for the local talent part of the show, the seniors still ready and waiting to dance to the next band. Up on the stage stand 4 teenage boys, dressed in black with long hair and funny looking guitars. One leans into the microphone and without any introduction growls the words "SEEK AND DESTROYYYY!!!!" It was another one of those slow motion memories- Old ladies scattering, as the sound of distortion blared from the speaker next to me. It was like magic to me. I didn't understand what it was or how they could call it music. This is nothing like what I know of music. It absorbed me and left a huge impression in me for the rest of my life.

********FAST FORWARD********

Metallica comes back on stage for the encore and plays THE FIRST METALLICA SONG I EVER HEARD. I felt the universe had given me this. It felt so destined. BUT NO ONE WILL BELIEVE THIS STORY!

You would think that this story couldn't get much better than that. IT DOES….

There were two Jumbo-trons behind Metallica and a cameraman on the stage was panning the audience, capturing around 100-200 people per shot. Suddenly I noticed there was a guy directly behind me crying his heart out. This guy was having a religious experience and kept repeating "My favourite guitar player! Kirk Hammett!!! Kirk Hammett!!!!!" As I turned back to the stage I realized that the camera man was laughing at this guy. He thought it was hilarious. So as the camera moved in our direction I saw the zoom lens and the panning of 100-200 became less and less. I knew he was going to get a shot of this guy behind me so I waited…

Just as the other camera cut from Metallica to this shot I JUMPED IN THE WAY! My face filled the Jumbo-Trons behind Metallica for a few seconds. Long enough for everyone who knew me to see and long enough to take a snapshot of. The show ended. I got two Kirk Hammett signed guitar pics when he threw them. I ran up to everyone I know, that I could find on the way out and before I could open my mouth they said "How the heck did you go from NO ticket to front row?"

I have included a picture with this story of my face behind Metallica… The day I realized, I can do anything I put my mind to.

Conclusion:

If you want something. Go get it. You lose 100% of the time you don't try.