jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I sometimes wish there was some kind of class where young people are taught how to flirt/communicate desire/take a no or a yes positively. I'm not sure if sex ed is the right place for it, but I feel like it's something that the Scandinavian countries probably already do. Who knows.

What's prompting this is a reddit thread of guys who missed hints from gals who were interested in them. It's a little sad because I think that's a lot of missed happiness. In the Reddit thread, someone pointed out that this wouldn't be an issue if women weren't so coy about these things. And of course, they're coy for a damned good reason - being sexually forward carries significant risk. As the saying goes, when asking people out, men risk humiliation and rejection, women risk rape and murder. And of course, slut-shaming is still a thing.

Significantly, for all of life I have hung out among geeks and nerds - a fairly socially awkward bunch. It's not like the men were doing much pursuing either. Looking back on my days in Grey Mountain Holt, it was significant for the amount of relationships that were not happening. This was a group with a common interest that went from a club to basically being a primary social circle for many of the participants, with a roughly 50/50 split gender-wise, and everyone was in their late teens to early twenties. We should have been pairing off left, right, and centre. Relationships weren't nonexistent, but they were rare enough to be noted when they happened.

I certainly wasn't doing any asking. I generally went with the be funny, and hope I don't come off as obnoxious or creepy. Often I failed. Still, a few women expressed interest. Mostly, not women I was interested in. I had no idea how to pursue, what to do if I was pursued, or how to deflect unwanted pursuers in anything other than the most pathetic passive-agressive way. It was a cluster-fuck of suck.

Now most people manage to maneuver through this and learn what skills there are in late adolescence. Still, a lot of people don't, which is why I think it would be a useful topic to teach formally. There's some problems though, and I'm not sure how to address them.

First, the moot point that, if this course existed when I was younger, I would have avoided it, even if it would have done me a world of good. I avoided gym class throughout high school, mostly because there was a dance component and the thought of it left me a quivering anxious wreck. I eventually took a continuing education gyn course over summer so that I could graduate. I kept it secret from my parents. Hell, the idea of asking women out fills me with dread now, though I have worked up the courage to do it on rare occasions, never successfully.

Leaving aside my personal drama, the bigger issue is that such a course has the potential to be a shit show of patriarchy, slut-shaming, and misogyny. Would you trust your high school gym teacher to be able to teach this stuff without dropping into "Boys: get all the pussy you can or you're not a man. Girls: keep your filthy knees together"? Plus, being awkward in the course would be fodder for bullies.

Currently, there is such a hunger for this course, that Pick-up Artist (PUA) culture has begun providing it as a secondary reason for existing. Unfortunately, the few good ideas they have (hygiene, attractive presentation, make your desires known) is completely ruined by their awful philosophy (don't take no for an answer, pester women who are clearly not interested, lie, no such thing as date rape).

Maybe not having the course is a better idea? I like to think it's possible to come up with a decent lesson plan. I hope so, since trial and error isn't that great. Can't we do better than that?

I do know a person who teaches a lechery course in the SCA, which is basically a course in flirting. For a one hour class in how to be more gallant than goofus in an SCA setting, it's pretty good. I think that's as good a proof-of-concept for the idea as any. And as I said at the beginning, this sounds like the sort of thing that would be taught in Scandinavian schools.

I'm going to think on what I would have personally wanted out of such a course. That's a first step towards articulating how it work. Difficulty: That's going to be like trying to figure out what I think would make a good brain surgery class.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
When I was a kid, I was in Cub Scouts. That means this all took place sometime between the ages of eight and ten. Call it 1976.

One of the other kids, a little asshole named Darwin, was showing off a project to the group, an electromagnet that he'd made for a merit badge. It was actually modelled physically after one of those big junk yard cranes you see in the movies. You know, something like this:
Eat your heart out Magneto

It had a lantern battery in the main compartment. The crane part was articulated, and the magnet could go up and down on a little line. It looked like model, was fully functional, was painted up really cool, and there was no way on Earth Darwin had done it by himself. I suspect his dad did it while he "helped" by fetching the occasional beer.

I went away thinking it was deeply cool. And I wanted to make one too. I wasn't too keen on all the model building, I just wanted something functional. I also wanted something a lot stronger.

This might end up being engraved on my tombstone.

I figured 120V wall current would make a magnet ten times more powerful than a 12V battery. There was only one problem with my reasoning. At no point had I learned that direct current was different from alternating current. Hell, at nine, I might not have even known that AC vs. DC even existed. It was all just electricity.

The Cub Scout manual had directions for making an electromagnet (basically, wrap wire around a handy chunk of metal and run current through it. Those instructions weren't anywhere near as sophisticated as these ones were. We had a lot of junk around the house, since we were pretty white trash. I needed a metal pole, a way to plug into the wall, and some insulated wire. I solved the last two items by taking an extension cord, cutting off the female end and then splitting it down the middle so that there were two insulated wires running out of the prong, ending in two severed wires. I attached the two ends to each other and wrapped it up with electrical tape. I didn't want to get zapped after all.

So now I have a cord that will do nothing but run current from one prong to the other. I wrapped it around the metal pole from my brother's weightlifting kit. It looked like the bolt in those instructions above, except the thing was a yard long.

I put some nails on the ground to test it, and I plugged it in. Several things happened more or less simultaneously.

  • I short out the receptacle with a loud BANG and some smoke.
  • The fuse in the fusebox trips, plunging the room into mild darkness. It was the afternoon, so there was still light coming in through the windows.
  • The pipe I was holding became instantly too hot to hold and I dropped it.
I flipped the fuse back and discovered that the wall receptacle had scorching marks on the bottom. The lower port never worked again. The upper one seemed unaffected, but a wise man would have not trusted it. And I had the wisdom of a nine-year old.

I dropped the experiment though, because to seek help would expose my experiment to my dad, who would have likely whipped my ass (it was the 70s). So I never got my electricity merit badge.

It wasn't until years later that I figured out what I did wrong. Working with electricity when I didn't have a fucking clue? Ok, the two things I did wrong, that and the fact that AC and DC were different things.

When my buddy [livejournal.com profile] garething got into the electrical apprenticeship program, I asked him to help me with some wiring things in the house, and he swapped out the damaged-for-nearly-thirty-years receptacle, and also saw some other horrifying electricity-related things I did in the house. In return for this favour, he made me promise never to fuck around with wiring ever again.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Friday night was possibly the most painful night of my life. I didn't know it at the time, but my appendix was inflamed.

The day started fine and I had food from the local cafe for lunch, a few pieces of fruit for snacks, and half a restaurant meal at Brewsters following archery. The "half" qualifier was because I've been trying to stay in my points target this week for weight watchers. The "Mac and Meatloaf" they sell is 32 points, and I only had 16 to spare.

From lunch on, it felt like I had a rock in my stomach, and I started to get chills after finishing my meal at Brewsters. Instead of hanging around chatting, I opted to just go home and sleep it off. There wasn't much sleep.

Around 11pm it started to hurt. There was nausea and I had the chills bad - I just could not get warm no matter what I did. Finally, the chills overwhelmed the pain at around 1am and I took a piping hot shower for about a half an hour. This warmed me up and also cut the pain down some. I moved the trash bin to my bed in case I barfed.

The pain returned and kept getting worse. A few times during the night I thought about getting up and going to the hospital, but didn't because of a combination of weird mental issues: Moving made it hurt more, embarrassment, denial that I had anything seriously wrong with me. The pain also moved around a bit, starting around the belly button and gradually settling in my lower right-hand side. For the record, it felt something like trying to pass broken lightbulbs. This only convinced me that it was some kind of food poisoning, and that the bad food was working itself out. I'd always assumed that appendicitis was simply a sharp pain where the appendix is. This turns out to be incorrect - the way it occurred is actually classic appendicitis symptoms. Around 5am, the pain subsided and I passed out from exhaustion.

I woke up around 10am Saturday morning feeling like I'd had the shit beat out of me. As in, I figured I'd had abdominal spasms hard enough that I thought I'd actually bruised my lower intestine. I mentioned this on FB, where several people chimed in with "maybe it's appendicitis". I didn't think it was (I was still working on the food poisoning angle). But I looked up the symptoms. The symptoms lined up so precisely, that I was of two minds. The first was "No no no, this is an absolutely inconvenient time to have appendicitis, so it can't be true". The second was "I guess I'm going to the hospital. Better take a change of clothing and some books because I'm going to be there at least overnight."

Sadly, there were no car2go-s in the neighbourhood, I had to drive my own car.

Foothills hospital runs a very tight ship. And I was lucky enough to go in when there weren't many cases. Now appendicitis is one of those things that gets you pushed up towards the head of the line, but even so, there simply weren't that many people around looking for treatment. It was -30 out, so that might explain part of it.

Triage and check-in took a few minutes. I was literally taking my seat in the waiting room when they called me in. Now I was in the hurry up and wait line of a modern hospital for something that wasn't immediately fatal. The ER doctor asked me a bunch of questions and did a bunch of tests with his hands. That's when I learned that "rebound tenderness" was a thing - specifically, a thing I had. The doc then sent me for an ultrasound.

After an hour's wait, I got in to see the ultrasound technician. The ultrasound showed an inflamed appendix sufficiently clearly that they didn't schedule an MRI. It was at this point that I noticed a certain repetitiveness amongst the professionals at the hospital - they were all asking me the same questions.

"Name?"
"James."
"Birthday?"
"February 30th, 1968."
"Any allergies?"
"Not to my knowledge."
I called the tech on it.

"I noticed everyone keeps asking me these questions even though you've got the answers on the chart you're holding - is it deliberate?"
"Yes, it's to ensure we don't make a mistake."
"Well OK then."
At this point I resolved to simply answer the questions no matter how many times I was asked and to do so without snark.

I hung around longer and they eventually found I was waiting in the wrong area - the area with the normal chairs instead of the super comfy recliners. They made me sit in the recliners. Eventually I met with the surgeon who was assigned to me. He had a gaggle of residents following him. They asked me questions, repeated a bunch of tests and then he asked opinions. At one point I think he deliberately low-balled my condition.

"The inflammation doesn't seem too bad - I was thinking of just prescribing antibiotics and sending the patient home."
"I would not feel comfortable sending this patient home."
"Excellent."
They then suggested surgery and advised me of the possible outcomes. i.e. complications that could include scars and death. The former I wasn't too worried about. The latter? Well more on that later. I signed some consent forms and they added additional questions that would, once again, be repeated at every stage:

"Have you ever had surgery before?"
"Yes, twice. First when I was six weeks old to fix a birth defect in my hernia. Second, when they knocked me out to remove all four wisdom teeth when I was twenty-two."
"Any adverse reactions to general anesthetic?"
"Not to my knowledge. Based on a small sample set, I come to pretty fast."
Around this time I cancelled the Oscar party I had scheduled for the following night, and also called [livejournal.com profile] nosarious to come get my car.

I waited in my recliner some more. Gave Gerry the keys and read my book. Finally, a nurse called me up.
"Good news, you've got a room and they're sending you straight into surgery."
In my mind I panicked a little - I was going to get cut open right away?!? Outwardly I just followed orders. Strip down, wait on the gurney. An orderly came and pushed me down to the OR. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only appendectomy patient in the queue and the guy before me was worse off so they slotted him in before me. The orderly then took me up to my room to wait.

Nobody looks graceful transferring from a gurney to a bed.

I got to cool my heels for an hour waiting for my spot in the queue. The nurses took good care of me and fed me (via my IV) some antibiotics, just in case. And I got to contemplate my mortality. All kinds of things could happen. I might have a bad reaction to the anesthetic, my appendix might rupture, the surgeon might fuck up. All in all, this could be my last conscious hour. And I took deep breaths and tried, unsuccessfully, to put it out of my mind.

Finally, I just decided that if I died on the operating table, that would be a "good death". Just turn out the lights and never turn them back on. I wouldn't even know anything had happened - no pain, no suffering, no existential angst. It would suck that I didn't have a chance to say goodbyes, but few people do.

Meanwhile the rational part of my brain would chime in "you know dying during routine surgery under these circumstances is long odds right? You probably face equal odds just by driving for a year."

They wheeled me back to the OR and I tried not to imagine myself on the Green Mile. Once there, in the holding area, I got a surprise treat, [livejournal.com profile] halfdane866, who works at the hospital, had left a note for the OR staff to treat me right (though I like to think they'll treat everyone right, even the jerks). The nurses in the holding area wheeled me to the OR and there was some light banter.

"We're not that good at this - hopefully we won't bump you into too many corners."
"I'm sure your driving skills are up to the task."
"Well you do have two women drivers, so who knows?"
"I would never make sexist remarks while going into surgery - I might wake up to find you shaved off one of my eyebrows."
"Oh, we can't do things like that - ethics."
Incidentally, aside from the lead surgeon, everyone who treated me was female. All the nurses, the anesthesiologist and her assistant, as well as the assisting surgeon. Since I generally get along better with female professionals than male ones, this suited me fine.

After the requisite questions from the anesthesiologist, we chatted for a bit. I think this was deliberate on her part to put me at ease. Turns out she knits, and wanted to learn weaving and had almost bought a loom off of someone a few years back named Anne. Since I know an Anne who was selling a loom a few years ago, this was an interesting coincidence. I suggested talking to [livejournal.com profile] halfdane866 if she was interested in the SCA.

Finally it was time. I was on the OR bed, stretched out like Jesus on the cross and had assorted tubes and wires attached. The surgeons had arrived and they were ready to go. The mask got put over my mouth and I was instructed to breath slowly and deeply. Also that I was going to dreamland, so I should concentrate on a good dream. I tried to imagine sex. At some point they turned on the anesthetic and the ceiling started to swirl. I think I managed to mumble "getting woozy now."

I came to. A nurse was there and was asking me simple questions to gauge my level of consciousness. I imagine she only had to ask these once, but it's entirely possible that this was going on for some time before I was aware of it.

"What's your name?"
"Pbbble."
"Do you know where you are?"
"arrgphhht."
"What's your name?"
"Jaaaaaaaaa."
Do you know where you are?"
"Fuuuuuupital."
"What's your name?"
"James."
Do you know where you are?"
"In the hospital." (Nailed it, first try!)
Interesting thing about being knocked out like this - it always feels like a slice of time has been removed from my life. Whereas I don't get that feeling from sleeping.

I was super anxious upon waking, because I felt like I was in danger of choking. My mouth and throat were super dry and that was contributing to the feeling. That my throat was sore from being intubated (because you stop breathing when they give you a general anesthetic). I focused on not choking as they wheeled me up to my room. I do remember reflexively correcting the orderly when he called me "Mr. Sire".

Back in the room I was given a sippy cup by the nurse. That and the effects of the anesthetic going away caused the anxiety to go away. By this time it was 10pm (I went into the OR at 7pm). I watched a little TV while the nurses and aides monitored me. Every 15 minutes for the first hour, then every hour until about 3am, then every 4 hours.

I slept. I answered questions, mostly "no" to "are you in pain?" and I observed that hospital beds are ridiculously comfortable. I followed up with the assisting doctor who observed that If I could drink, eat and piss, there was no reason not to discharge me.

That other appendectomy case in the OR before me? We ended up sharing a room so I got to listen in on his treatment. I feel inordinately proud of not needing any pain killers while he was asking for more hits of morphine. Inordinate, because from what I could glean from the professionals involved, I had the most routine and problem free appendectomy ever. Everything was caught in plenty of time to be taken care of with the minimum amount of intrusion. Roommate had a somewhat more problematic case. Even still, I suspect he was discharged a few hours later.

Total time in the hospital, about twenty-six hours.

So to Dr. McKinnon and his team, and to Nurse Mary Jane and Nurse's Aide Val (the two whom I saw the most while recovering), thank you.

And now off to my next adventure, where simple things like sitting up, blowing my nose, and being able to sleep on my side are all rock-solid achievements!
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Rosie and I decided to spend the afternoon window shopping. Being on Davie, we went into a sex shop that Rosie would later dub the Love Bucket. We browsed for just a moment, teasing each other about sexy-wear that was inappropriate for either of our body types when the clerk (a wee slip of a girl who, aside from her tattoos, looked to be about 14, but clearly was old enough to work in a sex shop) came up to us.

"I hate to ask this, but a man has fallen in the back, and I can't lift him back to his wheelchair. Can you help me?"

Thinking this was like my old man - a stroke victim with limited mobility who had simply fallen, I agreed. So Rosie, the clerk and I went back to... well, to the wanking rooms, to find an old guy lying on the floor in some distress. There was blood under his left arm which immediately told me that I shouldn't attempt to move this guy.

"Call 911", I say to the clerk.

And so I spend the next little while trying to make the old guy comfortable. I introduced myself to the poor old fellow (Doug), and found out that he'd "fallen asleep and fell off his chair". My initial assumption that Doug was a stroke victim bore out since he had all the same symptoms as my dad (one side largely useless, slurred speech, fantastic grip on his good side). He mentioned that he had broken his arm two weeks earlier in a fall and that he thought he had re-broken it. Holding his severely bruised left arm with his good right hand he pulled it up enough for me to see that, in fact, he had a compound fracture that had broken through the skin. That was where the blood had come from.

Well there was damn little I could do to fix his arm. I could have tried a splint if we were isolated in the woods away from civilization (though I had never done such a thing, and only had theoretical knowledge on how to do it), but since we were about five blocks from a major hospital, I figured I'd just watch him since the bleeding had stopped. Instead, I opted for simple thing to make him more comfortable. Basically providing pillows to prop up his head and hold his shoulder steady, and chatting with him.

He also wanted me to empty his ad hoc urinal (an empty Starbucks container), which I did. Between the blood, shaking his wanking hand, and emptying the Starbucks container, I figure I came in contact with at least three different bodily fluids. I could not wait to wash my hands more than Lady MacBeth, and I think I need to check with a Doctor before donating blood again. Not necessarily gross, since I had to look after my old man on occasion when he was incapable of cleaning himself, but worrisome because Doug was a stranger.

I have no idea how long Doug was on that floor - the clerk had only heard his calls after awhile and he wasn't on the observation camera. Also, he was hard to hear over the video loop in the wanking room: Lesbian anal fisting porn on a loop. It was quite distracting (not in a good way) when I was watching Doug. And the clerk couldn't turn it off, though she eventually figured out how to turn the sound down. Seriously, this was on a projection system that filled one whole wall of the room. It was literally larger than life!

As an aside, in addition to Doug's wheelchair, there was also six (!) chairs in the room. Personally, I see masturbation as a activity one does by one's self - or maybe with one other very close person as a way to mix things up. I can't imagine sharing a room with five other strangers. But hey, whatever gets you through the night.

After calling 911, the clerk came back. "The ambulance is on its way. I can watch Doug after I lock the front door."

To my shame I let her do this (I should have watched Doug until EMS arrived). However, before we leave, Doug asks me, in some exasperation, "What am I going to tell people?"

I look him dead in the eye, "you tell them you broke your arm rescuing kittens."

Doug smiles, "Yeah, I'll tell them I was rescuing kittens!"

I come to my senses after we leave the store and I tell Rosie, "We should stick around until the ambulance arrives, just in case". Rosie, of course, agrees.

Then came that eternal wait, where every minute stretches out to an eternity as you wait for an ambulance to arrive. Eventually I see once coming down Davie. Rosie waves it down and I pound on the door to let the clerk know they've arrived. Apparently, they weren't our ambulance (they just saw someone waving them down, so they stopped to help).

They came in and took charge. The clerk thanks us for sticking around (though in the confusion, she couldn't find the key to the wash room, so I ended up going back to the sushi restaurant we had lunch in before this whole incident, to wash my hands). I overheard one of the ambulance driver asking if Doug was alone or if he was perhaps a victim of assault (which he wasn't). It wasn't until the next day that I realized the ambulance guy was probably referring to me as the potential assailant. Oh well, I have the Internet, I don't need to go share the wanking room.

I don't think the clerk is going to be at that job long.

Some hours after our adventure, I saw Rosie off at her job du jour. "I could have done with less exciting things today, and more interesting things," she said. Amen sister, amen.

I hope you're OK Doug.

--- late edit ---

Rosie was going to write up her experiences, but never got around to it. I remember her telling me that the clerk didn't immediately call 911, and instead called her boss to see what to do. What to d was lock the doors apparently. I don't know if she then immediately called emergency afterward, or if Rosie browbeat her into doing it, but they did eventually get called.
jamesq: (Me in grade one)
...Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Anyway, I was chatting with one of my Aunts today and I asked her why some of my Uncle and Aunts (on the same side of the family) had different last names. The older ones have the surname Cyr and the younger ones have McGillis. I mentioned that a guy I used to know had McGillis as a last name and his family was also from Winnipeg, so maybe we were distantly related. At that point I also asked if McGillis was the name of a second husband, or if it was Grandma's maiden name.

Turns out that Grandma liked men - really really liked men (which elicited the comment from me "She was ahead of her time") - She was pregnant with my father when she was 14 or 15. Grandpa Cyr was her first husband. She then married a man who claimed to be named McGillis, but he was apparently a bigamist! So the guy I thought I might be distantly related to? Not so much, or at least no more distantly related than anyone else.

Anyway, Bigamist!McGillis could apparently keep a secret for a long time since my five youngest aunts and uncles shared that name. His real name was something like Valiquette or Valignat. Not sure of the spelling since I only just learned this today.

Grandma's maiden name? Durand. Meaning [livejournal.com profile] bungle_lord takes [livejournal.com profile] _thwap_'s place as a potential relative.

Just another reminder that complicated relationships are not a recent phenomenon. I always liked Grandma McGillis - she was the fun grandparent.
jamesq: (Default)
For those of you who don't know, I started collecting airplane bottles a few years back. Adding my latest batch in, I'm at 49.



Impressed? By way of comparison, I have a buddy with roughly 100 bottles of different booze. Full size bottles. Spirits, not wine.

It's a little weird because I don't have a hugely varying palate for liquor. White ales, Scotch ales, lagers, rum and coke - I'm happy.
jamesq: (Me in grade one)
A story my folks told was that my mother broke the Glenmore dam. At the time, it had a very narrow road atop of it connecting the neighbourhoods of Altadore and Belaire. This was when the Glenmore interchange was being constructed back in the late 70's.

Anyway the folks got into a car accident on top of the dam and about a week later they closed the dam to vehicular traffic. Not, I hesitate to add because of structural damage caused by my parents crash, but because the city finished the Glenmore causeway and opened it up to traffic. However, my mother was teased about closing the dam anyway.

Mom took the teasing because, so the story goes, she and my father had gone out drinking, and on the way back she decided (in her inebriated state) that dad should teach her how to drive. She ended up hospitalised for a couple days while they fixed her broken foot.

I mentioned this story while reminiscing about my folks with my siblings.
"Wait, you actually believed that story?"
"Well sure, why wouldn't I?"
"That's the story they told the cops so that dad wouldn't get nailed for drunk driving. Mom had nothing to do with that accident."
In my defence I was very young, and when I was older it didn't come up much.


The approach to the dam from the Altadore side. The building in the middle was what my mom dad ran into.


The road is gone, replaced by a giant pipe and a bikepath. It's probably safer this way, especially since the pipe effectively keeps teens from diving off the dam into the river below.

Dad drove drunk occasionally, though he did it less and less as he got older and it became less socially acceptable. I think he simply learned wisdom over the years rather then just changing his outward appearance. I know he would call others out on it (house guests attempting to leave a party drunk for example).

Here's the thing though, the attitude in the 70's was, sure drunk driving is bad, but you can't really stand in someone's way if it's their choice and besides, they can just be extra careful. You couldn't get away with that now - if people have an inkling that you're impaired, they flat out won't let you do it. You might get pissed now, but you'll thank us when you're sober. I've seen that in action.

So the point I'm trying to get to is that attitudes really do change for the better. Nobody says, drunk driving is politically correct talk, or that MADD is just a bunch of hippy do-gooders (well, almost nobody - there is no position so universally acknowledged as good that you can't find someone advocating against it).

Another example involving my folks. My mom's best friend was in an abusive marriage - like, "he punches me in the face because he cares" abusive. My dad told him that real men don't hit women. Asshole decided in his alcoholic state to teach my father a lesson and took a swing at him. Imagine Don Knotts taking a swing at Victor McLaglen and you would have a pretty clear idea of how that turned out. Dad only hit him once, but that was enough.

It didn't stop him beating his wife, nor did it stop my folks from socializing with them (though that was more so that mom's BFF wasn't abandoned). And I think that's another big difference between then and now. Even then everyone knew that abuse was wrong, but it was wrong in a way that was excused as "what happens in private is nobody's business - it would be great if she left him, but we can't interfere". Nowadays that attitude is largely gone. Your spouse shows up with bruises they can't explain and they'll have everyone giving them advice and you'll be getting the stink eye at best - ostracism and beatings at worst.

Things get better, children learn a better way.

While I don't think we should be complacent about the strides we still need to make, I think it's important to occasionally look back and see how far we've come.
jamesq: (Default)
An open thread in the Slacktiverse got me to thinking about movie firsts.

What was the first movie you remember seeing in the theater? I wanted to say Star Wars but I was nine and I'm sure I saw something before then. I'm not sure I remember the experience of it anymore (repeated viewings over the years have overwritten that part of my brain) but I do remember that before it I was bitching to my parents that we had to see it - I wanted to see Sinbad. Afterwards I remember thinking Star Wars was the best movie ever! While I don't think that anymore, I still think it was a pretty good movie. I never ended up seeing Sinbad.

So what did I see before that? Given I was a kid, it was probably a Disney movie (even though Disney movies largely sucked in the 70's). I looked back at the Disney releases and I think it might have been Escape to Witch Mountain. I can picture snippets of the movie and I can remember that I found it somewhat confusing (I was seven) and therefore didn't like it.

I also remember my mother taking me to a movie and a restaurant meal as a reward of sorts for being good at a doctor's appointment. Possibly the same doctor's appointment where I got prescribed Ritalin and was turned into a zombie for a few weeks. Was the movie Witch Mountain? Was my Ritalin prescription that early? I know the doctor's appointment was at the 8th & 8th medical center. I know that the lunch was at a restaurant that doesn't exist anymore (it's now the parking lot on the NE corner of 8th avenue and 5th street) which means we probably went to the Uptown (which I find kind of groovy - it's still my favorite Calgary theater - and it still exists).

Memory is a funny thing. Am I conflating multiple events into one? Every time you remember something, your brain modifies it a little - optimizes it really. Memories merge or are lost, you begin to remember the narrative more than the reality.

Anyway, other movie firsts:

The first movie to ever scare the crap out of me was Don't Be Afraid of the Dark it was playing in the afternoon one day when I was home from school sick.

The first movie I saw without parental supervision was probably one of the Marx Brothers movies. The Odeon Theater in Calgary (now the Marda Loop strip mall where Casablanca Video is) used to show comedy retrospectives when I was a kid and that's where I grew to love the Marx Brothers. Strangely Laurel & Hardy and Chaplin never did it for me. I suspect I've always been a fan of surrealistic verbal humour.

The Odeon was also the site of the first "restricted" movie (that is, requiring parental supervision) I ever went to. Grandma McGillis took me to see Blazing Saddles. Given that Blazing Saddles was released before Witch Mountain, I must have seen it during a re-release. I'm certain I was a tween when I saw it.

The first movie I ever skipped class for was The Wrath of Khan, which was playing when I was in junior high. This is noteworthy as also being the only movie I took a real risk in skipping class for - the next year I was in Bishop Carroll which was somewhat slack in taking attendance.

I also remember watching movies in a lot of old Calgary theaters:

I saw The Empire Strikes Back opening weekend in the old Palliser Theater (now the live Vertigo Theatre).

The Palace Theater (now Flames Central was where I saw numerous movies. I especially remember bringing three little girls I was babysitting for a weekend there to see Return of the Jedi.

The Grand Theater is now the home of Theatre Junction. I can't recall any specific movie I saw there, though I do remember that I thought the upper theatre was one of the nicest in town (for largely the same reason I like the upper theatre at the Uptown - it was a former balcony that was steeply set.

Calgary Place Theatres (now the Metropolitan Center) was where I saw Meteor. The things you had to suffer through being an SF fan in the late 70's/early 80's.

I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark about a million times one summer at the original Chinook theater. I think the last thing I saw there was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, just before they closed it for good.

I have fond memories of seeing Titanic at the Banker's Hall Cinema. I'm not sure what they ever did with that space when it closed, but I suspect the health club beside it took some of it over.

Esso Plaza was where I saw Porky's Revenge!. 'nuff said about that. It's now Fifth Avenue Place.

Westbrook Theatre (now the home of Jubilation's Dinner Theatre) was where I saw Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs! Whee!

I can't remember anything I saw at either Northland Cinema or Market Mall. I just wish they still existed as both malls are within walking distance of my house. Northland is especially missed because it was a second-run theater like Moviedome, but with less drive-by shootings.

I'm a little sad that some of these places have gone, but at the same time, they probably can't generate the profit they'd need to survive now.
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First memory, final moment... )
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Big boys don't cry-y-y... )
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I like people liking me... )
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I was tackled and had a bucket dropped on my head... )
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Some emo-ish discussion of what the difference between hope, dream and fantasy is, and how they apply to me... )

Now it's possible I've completely misunderstood the point of this exercise. If so, here is what I currently hope for, with a bit of detail:
  • A romantic partner - A woman not too dissimilar to me in age, who is reasonably intelligent, funny and good looking and has some commonality with me.
  • I'd like to get to a point where I have more leisure time to enjoy life. This requires me removing a fair amount of debt so that I can reduce how much I work. Probably not going to happen in the next five years, but it could happen in ten.
  • I'd like to get to a healthy weight.
  • I'd like to get to a point in my life where my mental problems no longer overwhelm me.

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