Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome home!

Woo, Florida-land!
I love arriving in Orlando, it feels like arriving at my other home. I love wearing summer clothes again, I love falling asleep in the sun reading, I love sweating, and I love two-hundred-thousand-million other things too!

I also have the nicest banker ever here. She remembers me from opening a bank account SIX (!!!) years ago, then pissing around with random investments, attaching family members to my account, etc. I've probably seen her four times in my life, but she's such a pleasant person!

Amateur traveller mistakes so far: blisters, and forgetting to pack band-aids and face wash. Apparently the sandals I wore for two summers straight now hate me and are slowly trying to eat my feet. I wish for them not to succeed.

I also had a tv dinner thing for supper sitting on the pretty bed in my hotel room while watching the Golden Girls. Living the dream, baby! GG was appropriate as the show is set in Florida (though I believe Miami, not in Lake Buena Vista with the I-4's traffic blabbering in the background). Note: I plan on eating excessively and blowing too much money at the Food & Wine Festival so don't think, "Pfft, some vacation," based on my food choices. At Epcot, I will eat ALL the food and drink ALL the drink.

Signs of being in Florida-land (adding 'land' to the end of place names makes them seem more fun and magical!):

- I was at a mall that I can easily see from my hotel room window. Getting there requires two bus rides or an hour walk.

- The frozen food section(s) of the grocery store had more product than a few convenience stores combined.

- Buffets everywhere. Coupons for $1 off also everywhere. Good chance indigestion and heart burn is also everywhere.

- People wearing jackets and pants in 25C heat. A few ladies were seen wearing proper boots with jeans. I was seen sweating and wearing as little clothing as legally possibly.

- The tap water tastes like pool water that a donkey just peed in. Delicious.

- Hard, prickly grass that is very uninviting for laying on and reading a book.

- Smile on my face. Like this --> :D

- A herd of people trying to get into Giradhelli's chocolate shop so they can get a free sample. I suspect 0.0005% of 'shoppers' actually buy something. Half of those purchases probably melt in the sun.

- Earl of Sandwich! (Erin - I'm waiting for you! Hence awkward tv dinner.) (Brother - I may order the chicken caesar in your honour.) (Everyone else - hello! Thanks for reading. You are beautiful in your own special way.)

- Pick Out the British Tourist - one of my favourite games. It's just so easy and obvious.

In an unrelated note, I advise against watching the entire first season of Lost right before boarding a flight. Every time I un-did my seat belt I pictured the plane dropping and me smashing into the ceiling, or when I was in the washroom, the plane ripping in two and me being stuck with the tail-end survivors. As I have not yet seen season 2, I'm not sure how they fare, but I know they exist due to my Lost/wikipedia addiction. I need to be stranded with a doctor, former member or the Iraqi Republican Guard, and former paraplegic, please. I have no survival skills and am scared of fire, I need those people.That's all, typing on my phone is annoying and the free wifi is rather cranky. Vacation rocks the body that rocks the party!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Last Chapter

Big Fish, where the end is pretty good.
Note: not so well written, but sometimes revisions and rewrites can't capture emotional moments.

Deviating from my usual 'make the people laugh LOL LOL LOL OMG' objectives, something not so wonderful happened - my grandfather passed away a little over 24 hours ago. I missed the initial phone call as I was out embracing my secret weekend Bar Star identity. It didn't matter that I don't have caller id or voice mail, I knew right away what the call was when I saw at 2:30am that I had missed a call. Cue intense dreams for the six-hour sleep that followed.

Death has not really, fortunately, touched my life very much, therefore, when it does, I feel like a confused eight-year old and put on my brave face to cover my racing head. And, I tend to use a lot of commas and start sentences with prepositions (Bad Jennifer!)

Not being well versed in the 'ideal death', I figure this one went as smoothly as it could. Our Thanksgiving weekend trip to Quebec City was cancelled last minute (very literally), Big Brother was flown home as it was realised the text of Grampie's last chapter was starting to flow.

Old age...

The last chapter - the chapter that is written once you know the conclusion is coming - was long enough to come to grips that the end was presenting itself and to mentally prepare for good bye, but it was short enough that Grampie was (hopefully) not stuck feeling like his soul was slowly being taken for days, weeks, or months on end. It is also comforting to know he was ready to go and knew it was coming. He commented to my papa (his son in law) that when he saw his own reflection in the mirror he could see there wasn't a lot of life left behind his eyes. He expressed that he was looking forward to being with my grandmother again soon (who died in 1999). In a moment of discomfort, my mum said to him, "Don't worry, you'll be with Mom soon," and he responded,

"Yes, and I can't wait to see her again."

Upon my mum telling me this, my heart snapped into 846.5 pieces. It makes my eyes leak, but it was comforting. To see death not as an absolute end, but the gateway to another beginning.

Death is the one absolute question in life that you cannot answer. No one knows what it's like. You can see people die and react to it, but you can never get into the mind of that person in those last moments. Even near death experiences are probably not the same. A near-death experience may not have the final acceptance of your own death. And since you never know, you can create your own image of what death might be like.

I believe right before death, there is a very beautiful moment. It could be a flash, it could be a solid minute. Maybe it's in a dream. But a beautiful moment that takes place between the body's struggle to keep moving and it's acknowledgement that the fight is over - not lost, just over. That's when you have your beautiful moment. Knowing pain has vanished, awaiting your afterlife, and feeling free. I think in that moment you see beauty and feel the stress lift from you. I can't explain what the beauty looks like; it might not look like anything, but it's that feeling that washes over you when you're so happy you feel like your soul and heart are smiling. It's almost like arriving to the door of a house knowing what's on the other side is exactly what you want and taking a moment before you open the door to recognize once you walk in, everything will be perfect. It will be exactly how you want it, and everyone you love is waiting for you on the other side. That moment before death is like the moment outside the door. You made it and the success of making it lies on the other side. A celebration or a welcome home. Burdens, sorrows, and weights have been left behind. The faces on the inside will be happy to see you, not be sad with mourning washed over them.

Grampie knew what was inside that house and was looking forward to going there. Sitting at the bottom of the lane, waiting for the fence to open and invite him in. So now his fence has dropped, he has made his way up the lane, and I hope he's in the house and he's at peace and feels smiles, beauty and happiness in his soul.

In rambling, incoherent conclusion, I suggest you watch the most beautiful death scene from a beautiful, wonderful movie: Big Fish. I'm not putting words together very well because sometimes deep feelings don't translate well to bloggie blog text. (And yes, this video is worth ten minutes. It's worth twenty, even. Watch it twice. Oh, then watch the whole movie so the ending makes sense.)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Weekend predictions

The last time I was in Quebec City, for mere hours.
It's October long weekend! Thanksgiving weekend, for all the non-Canadian readers. Historically this was celebrated by Europeans giving groups of aboriginals small pox and burning their homes. Now we celebrate by eating too much, laying on the couch, and rolling around on the floor playing with the family pet. It's weird, no one questions it when Kitty is sleeping or stretched out on the floor, but everyone feels the need to turn it into a conversation topic when I do it. ("Fascinating, tell me, what was her childhood like?")

There is also another tradition among my immediate family over Thanksgiving and other long weekends - take off and play. Example: Easter is a four-day weekend. I have no idea when I was last in the same province country as my parents on Easter. Last year I road a camel on a desert safari on Easter Day. My parents were in Arizona eating tacos with illegal Mexican immigrants.

This Thanksgiving my wee family will all be in the same province! In the same hotel room, even! Dear Brother is departing Upper Canada, we're taking off from the Isle, and we're rendez-vous-ing (I'm practicing my French) in Quebec City. Or, as those from the province of Quebec call it, "Quebec". Confused? So are the anglophones who don't have the luxury of differentiating via direct pronoun or lack of direct pronoun. ('Le Quebec" = province, "Quebec" = city, "La Quebec" = MASSIVE FRENCH GRAMMATICAL ERROR)

PS: don't think this means you can break into our homes. People will be there. They will beat you with a baseball bat coated in rusty nails that have been dipped in gonorrhea.

During my 28 years on Earth, I've gotten to know my family quite well. Thus I have a fairly accurate idea of what will happen this weekend.
  • My parents will want to toss me from the car for reading aloud every single sign we drive through Quebec (the province). I like reading French signs with an over exaggerated French accent.
  • I will not be responsible for any early morning driving shifts because I don't understand things before 9:30am.
  • Brother will dedicate himself to finding all the English television stations.
  • At some point Father and I will wander away and secretly eat really greasy, bad-for-you food, washed down with a glass of goose fat. Brother will binge eat 90 bags of chips. Father and I will instantly gain 5lbs of fat, each. Brother will somehow increase his muscle mass and reduce his cholesterol.
  • We will go to a mall. If it's sunny, I'll feel guilty for being inside on a nice day. If it's not sunny, I'll feel guilty for making Papa and Brother wait, even if we are planning on buying matching coats. (Although apparently double breasted coasts are bad for my body shape, which is so weird, because I have two breasts.)
  • If someone brings cards, we'll probably have to play poker. I don't enjoy folding (folding = not playing and sitting silently) so I either win everything or lose within fifteen minutes and then roll around on the floor playing with the family pet. In this case, Pet won't be available so I'll just wander the hallways until I find a stray.
  • Someone will vomit or not feel well. Traditionally that was me in earlier family vacations. Then Jeff beat me by developing, ugh, MONO while we dragged him all over Central Florida in 1994. We didn't know he had it until we got home; Parents thought he was just being grumpy and teenagerish; I thought he was going to slaughter me. This time I predict it will be Father because he has some weird elbow thing happening.
  • Someone will lose something. Likely a sock. (Jennifer or Roy.)
  • Someone will spill something (traditionally Jeffrey - see Milk Pouring Crisis of 1994-1997).
  • Someone will get food on his shirt. (Roy.)
  • There will be snoring (Papa!) - followed by yelling (Brother!)
I might turn this into a bingo game and distribute it to people around us.

I'm actually quite excited as I have spent minimal time in Quebec (both with the 'le' and without) beyond Gatineau and have spent minimal time with Brother this year. I also get to prove to my family that I'm not bilingual, but can usually avoid getting overly confused by the French language. Anything I don't understand I shall use the excuse, "Oh, I'm much more accustomed to the Acadian or South France accent."

Happy Thanksgiving! Give thanks, and thank that you are able to give. (MacPhail proverb written during the tragic years of prohibition and rum wealth.)