not a horrible start to the Year of the Pig

Thanks so much for applying. You totally charmed the Hiring Committee and we agonized over our decision. However...
It's been a week of kind rejections. Heart-felt rejections dripping with sincerity. From my dream workplace. From the sexy scruffy kisser with the puppy dog eyes.

But hey, I'm still smiling because I got a job offer with a great community organization, I no longer have to deal with dinner patrons, Ted got us tickets to see the Police in July and I look pretty darn cute in my new clothes.

Happy New Year!

Hormones set on purrrrrrr...

Watch out.


Friday night shiftfest

Understaffed. Slammed at 7:45. One of the many things I do not love about the dinner shift.

When I approached table 24 (who'd ordered the prawns, rock lobster, beef tenderloin, a bottle of Zinfandel and a cappuccino) and discovered their absence, I walked straight out the backdoor, adding up how much this D & D was going to cost me. I would have kept on walking and not turned back. I'd had enough. Fuck this job -- I'd been offered a full-time day job just this afternoon. But damn this loyalty. And the fact that you can only get so far in this weather without your parka.

Imagine my relief when I returned to find the couple at table 24 having a post-meal smoke on the front porch. They were relatively tipsy, but definitely well-fed. And they'd left a 30% tip. While it had started off rather shittily, the evening ended with a great tip-out. Plus the wine rep had left four or five bottles for us to sample. Free wine? Why yes, I think I'll help myself to a couple of glasses after closing. And that, I most certainly did.


Sure I was in the band. I was in the Symphonic Band. I was in the Brass Band. I was in the Stage Band. I went to Band Camp. My locker was in the Band Hall. My friends were all in the Band. We ate lunch in the Band Room. I even had my name embroidered on the sleeve of my Band jacket.

The only place in high school where an underdeveloped, awkward, timid, myopic teen could fit in was the band. And that I did. I was in a couple choirs too. And did musical theatre.

I've forgotten how much of a Band geek I was at Markville Secondary School. Under the despotic rule of Mr. Hill, we had 6:00pm rehearsals, and we had 7:30am rehearsals. If you chose volleyball practice over your woodwind sectional, you were as good as dead to him. He would not acknowledge your presence in the hallway. He had switched me over from the Baritone Horn to the French Horn because "the furthest the Baritone can take you is the Salvation Army Band."

When I told him I was transferring schools, he said I was making a big mistake. No Wayne, you made the big mistake of never putting me in the A Choir. Jazz choir was a gay old time: standing on the risers with a cardioid mic in your face; smiling with your mouth and your eyebrows; doo-wopping and swaying as if being in the Jazz Choir made you a member of the Music Department elite. I learned a shitload and took it all with me to St. Robert Catholic High School, where I made new band friends. And new musical theatre friends.

Sadly, I was never part of a marching band. But if I was, this is where I would have wanted to be:

What a fun way to work out! Sure beats the arrangement of "Living on a Prayer" we played in Grade 7.


February 1

Fourteen years ago, I was sitting in the dark living room with Ted, age 10, watching Batman: The Animated Series, when the phone rang.

Great-Aunt was in hysterics. "Oh San-san! Your Goong-goong's hung himself! I can't bring him down... What is your poor aunt to do?"

My Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle had doted on my brother and me as if we were their grandchildren. Their only daughter, Wendy, never had any children of her own.

The funeral was held in Chinatown, open casket, the hall decked with his favourite puffy chrysanthemums. It wasn't until years later when I found out that my dear Goong-goong had stomach cancer and couldn't live through another day of suffering.

Every year since, on February 1, we'd gather at my Great-Aunt's home for an elaborate dinner, to celebrate the life of her late husband. She'd cook something amazing, filling our bellies with Chinese and Peruvian dishes until we could no longer move. Every year after dinner, we'd hold her hand as she'd sob uncontrollably for Goong-goong, telling him how lonely she was without him.

Since his death, she has acquired a parrot and Lok-lok, an adorable, albeit pervy, little Shih-Tzu. She's taken in houseguests, sometimes strangers from her travels, sometimes distant distant cousins from her village in China. A few years ago, one of these houseguests made off with some of Goong-goong's favourite ties, as well as the pinking shears my Great-Aunt had used to cut him down from where he'd been found.

Two weeks ago, my Great-Aunt was diagnosed with cancer in the kidneys. This year's dinner for Goong-goong was, for the first time, a take-out spread. It felt strange to walk into their home and to not be greeted by smells of a home-cooked meal. I never thought the sight of styrofoam on the kitchen counter could bring a lump to my throat.

We all behaved as if it was just another year, chatting over this food that tasted nothing like Great-Aunt's cooking, shooing Lok-lok away each time he'd find a leg to hump. "These fucking beans are pretty damn good," declared my Great-Aunt and I giggled. Of course she didn't say this in English, but the translation from Cantonese is pretty close to true.

After dinner, she held Wendy, Ted and me tightly and wept, "I can't bear to leave you."