Though I didn’t know it at the time — how could I, I was but a lad of 16 — my blogging alter ego, The Observer, was born 25 years ago today.
Twenty-five years ago, my family took me to the airport, dropped me into the hands of chaperones who would keep me out of the gulag (or at least out of serious trouble), and I set off on my first real adventure.
Well, that’s actually kind of unfair. The problem with “adventure” is trying to understand it through perspective.
They say that when you put enough people in close proximity for long periods of time, their biological rhythms come into synchronicity. People start thinking the same, they pick up each other’s habits and nervous ticks … and of course catch each other’s colds. And … uh … we all got terribly, terribly ill and declared to everyone that we weren’t able to work for the day. Planned a couple of weeks in advance. In unison.
Okay, yes, we all played hookie. We had a good reason. We’re helping out Mt. Norquay with some of their marketing needs. And who are we to pass up an opportunity to experience our client’s business while taking a much-needed day off to go skiing?
Though … is it worth mentioning that I haven’t been near a ski hill in about 25 years?
So when you last left me, dear reader, I was sitting in the Denny’s in Red Deer (the only place I could find that was open sufficiently late), biding my time before heading down to the Greyhound station to find my 3:00 (am) bus for Edmonton.
I honestly wish I could spin a yarn of difficulty, with a late, packed bus, screaming kids, barfing drunk people, a tired and beligerent driver, getting lost in who-knows-where Alberta before the engine gives out and stranding us in -15 C weather. I wish I could tell you that, because it would be a lot more interesting than what happened.
I got on the bus at 3:07 (the bus was a wee bit late), and I got off just after 6:00 (I didn’t look at the clock). I had two seats to myself. No-one made a sound save for the driver, who was very nice about announcing arrivals, and drove very well (so far as I could tell, anyway — I was trying to get some sleep, which I think I managed). I arrived with my head attached.
The worst part of this segment of the trip has been trying to find a decent place in Edmonton for breakfast. Your run-of-the-mill diner is hard to come by, though that’s likely due to the fact that it’s the downtown core, and not the funkier parts of town.
But I sit here, in the Three Bananas Cafe (eating a breakfast sandwich), looking out on the Edmonton City Centre building in his purplish glow, watching the signs at the top of the CN building tracing out the company’s logo over and over.
I know what you’re thinking: Red Deer? Music? Honestly, what on Earth are you thinking, Geoff? You haven’t exactly had the most … inspiring of times in Red Deer. Okay, I admit, I’ve not got the best stories of this, our third largest city in Alberta, but it’s far from the armpit of Alberta. And I had good reason, y’know!
Back in July, during the Calgary Stampede, the Tragically Hip played the Calgary Roundup, the outdoor concert of the year. I had wanted to go, but I totally messed up where the tickets were sold (stupid me, I thought it was Ticketmaster), and by the time I’d realised it … it was too late. Sold out, and I was out of luck.
This is what brought me to Red Deer.
For me, 2012 was a bad year. Between a host of medical issues (brutal chest cough that led to pulled muscles, to appendicitis, to strep throat, a couple nasty colds-cum-killer flus, and a minor outpatient surgery), ridiculous amounts of stress, the ever-present struggle of being a parent to young children, a general malaise, and an unfulfilled burning need to travel, it’s truly a wonder I got out of bed in the morning.
So it wasn’t with any reservation that 2012 walked out of my life on Monday night, yet it still managed to leave me rather depressed. Sadly, 2013 woke me up looking already a lot like 2012, so I’m not sure if I’m able to look at this new year with much hope yet. Instead, I suppose I shall have to try harder to make things work more my way.
This not to say that I “didn’t like” 2012. It’s hard not to like an entire year in one’s life, especially one that brings so many new things to learn and experience. I just wish it hadn’t been so darned painful…
[Ed. Note: I’ve stripped out a bit of unnecessary bit at the beginning, and it was suggested that I sanitize it for sensitive eyes…]
So last week, I was huddled with my mom back in Oakville, Ontario. No, I didn’t publicize this because — and utterly no offense meant to anyone — I didn’t want to see anyone but my Mom (and by extension, my sister and her family).
The story here isn’t the journey to Oakville, or even the events in Oakville. This is about my trip home to Calgary.
Ten years ago today, I boarded a shuttle bus from a hotel in Vancouver, and met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure — nay, honour — to know and work with. (Believe me, I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years. This does not come lightly.)
It was a chance of a lifetime — something I knew then, and greatly appreciate now. A chance to connect with thousands of fellow Canadians, and experience our nation in a now-unique way. The memories were fond when it ended, and they’re stronger and more wonderful with every new day.
I’ve had people ask: Would I do it again? Damn right, I would!
Well, kids, this vacation is certainly having some ups and downs. I’m taking that as a good thing, by the way, since without variation things can get a little dry. That’s also a joke, incidentally — “dry” isn’t a concern around here. It’s rained every day so far (we have thunderstorms as I’m writing this), and not far away, flooding is so bad that highways are being washed out.
You’re both sleeping right now. Soundly so. You’ve both had a big, exciting day, and I’m frankly amazed you made it as long as you did. You normally don’t pack this much into a few days, let alone a few hours.
We’ll see how you do for the next few days…
For over 100 years, we’ve had a rough international agreement about at what point the sun is directly overhead, because this is when we assign an arbitrary time known as “noon”. We’ve divided the world into “zones”, which for some reason makes sense.
Like most international agreements, it’s not perfect, and many governments have gone well out of their way to thoroughly botch and/or screw around with the implementation — so much so that, in some cases, the concept of a time zone really makes no sense at all. Given the rise of the internet, the massive synchronisation between continents in real-time, and the presence of global companies, it’s frankly a wonder why we even think time zones are a good idea anymore.
So let’s get rid of them!