Thursday, May 31, 2012

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson.

If ever there was a shit-eating grin it belonged to Gary Robinson. And because, over the years, there was occasionally spillover – from his birthday, on to mine – I always wake up on May 31st and remember to say, "Happy Birthday, Gary Robinson".

Shortly after my parent's marital shit hit the fan, my brother and I found ourselves living miles from our comfort zone, in the ski resort area of Collingwood, north of Toronto. Gary was one of the "city" kids, or "skiers" – a group of supervision-free teenagers, displaced for one reason or another, to our respective shag-carpeted ski chalets north of Toronto.

There was Stephen Rawn. And John Laughlin. The Sterio kids. And Reggie Margesson. The Bryce boys I remember fondly because Andy, the eldest (now a Priest) used to climb through my bedroom window. And then there was Michael Moore, who came to live with us shortly after the Toronto School Board strike, and never went home. I love Michael Moore.

Together, we rode Mrs. Dawson's school bus – the stereotypical bright yellow tube of hormones that would pick us up from Blue Mountain and Georgian Peaks – hang a serious left to pick up a few country kids on gravel roads overlooking the Bay – before looping back toward Georgian Bay Secondary School, where we would quite often eat a muffin, then hitchhike back home to go skiing.

But that's another story.

Gary and I were just pals. Gang members of a Club drawn together by place and time. Besides, he would never be interested in a tomboy like me. Like a sister, I think he took me to dances so he could ditch me and go after someone a little more "fun". I haven't seen Gary in years, and I hope he is okay. Last time I saw him was at a funeral – and it was a funeral held at a bar – so it was a fitting place to bump into someone like Gary, who always enjoyed a beverage or two.

I tried to find him on Facebook just now. Apparently there are thousands of Gary Robinsons in the world – but none of them appear to be mine. Anyway, the Gary I know wouldn't be sitting at a computer desk, reaching out for cyber friends. Unless he'd changed. Alot. If there was a Laughbook, I bet could find him. Gary had a 1940's gangster's laugh. More of a rolling, sinister, chuckle – and as you can see from the above photo (if you can get past the glare on my forehead and that centre part and hey, note how fucking perky I was) – his laugh was always accompanied by a grin.

A wonderful, shit-eating grin.

Gary and I share this birthday season with Inkwell Boutique on Market Street. In these days of hasty emails and text messaging, maybe it's time to slow down, and catch up with old friends the old-fashioned way: Drunk dialing at 2am. Or write them a letter on Inkwell's custom letterpress stationery. This unique little shop is celebrating their first year of business, this Saturday from noon until 6. They are promising cupcakes, and who doesn't appreciate a good cupcake.

If you happen to bump into Gary today, tell him I said Happy Birthday.

Tell him, I hope he's happy. Tell him, I am sorry I don't get "home" very often. Tell him, I regret losing touch. Tell him, I hope he has plenty to chuckle about, and healthy kids (and a healthy liver) and good friends who love him. Still.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Raising lovely little bastards.

I watched and chuckled this week, as a navy-blazered father smugly taught his children that doing what is right, is not as important as getting something for nothing. That lying and condescension and bullying are funny, and that money and appearances and a free ride, are more important than integrity, respect, kindness, or hard work.

Oh well, fuck them.

This week, I also had the privilege of lending a hand to two teenagers whose parents have taught them to "give more than they take" from this life. The 'give more than you take' message is also the mantra my Little Bastard has been hearing since he could reach for the last cookie.

Laura Hebb and Grant Millier aren't spending the summer sailing, or sitting in the basement playing Xbox. In a few short months, the Halifax neighbours will be embarking upon a “Journey for a Lifetime” with Coalition For Kids International. As ambassadors for Canada, Laura and Grant will travel to some of the shittiest areas of Poland to grant wishes to underprivileged and terminally-ill children.

Let me repeat: Grant wishes to terminally ill children in Poland.

I don't have alot of spare time to wax on about how great these kids are, but my laundry list of things to do before I go on a completely selfish adventure of my own, is nothing compared to getting these kids on the road to what already appears to be quality lives.

So let's cough up, shall we!? Laura and Grant need to contribute $3900 bucks each for the Foundation, and it's easy to help. Trust me when I say, you are not funding a European holiday for these two! Even the smallest donation will make YOU feel better.

And it's not even about you.

Click on the sentence below:

I want to help raise amazing kids and not assholes, because the world has enough assholes already.

Please be sure and enter Laura Hebb and Grant Millier's names in the JFAL Participant area so they can assign your donation to these special kids.

Wow, I feel better already... and I earned the right (tongue in cheek of course) to call Laura and Grant's incredibly warm, funny, and selfless mothers the honorary "Douchebags of the Day."

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May day.

The Little Bastard has been watching back to back episodes of Mayday, which can only mean one thing: We're going on an airplane.

It took 3 Lorazepams and a gin and tonic to get him on our flight to Peru last year, and that was just for me. The kid is a nervous flyer  – who isn't? But he also loathes my idea of a so-called vacation.

Unlike many people content with a swim-up bar and seven days of all-inclusive Caribbean bliss – I prefer a bit of an adventure with my umbrella drink. If I am going to get traveller's diarrhea, I want it to be memorable – for instance – outside my tent, in the middle of the Urubamba. Finding the Southern Cross is easy when the nearest softly-lit washroom is 2 days away, by donkey. My child on the other hand, prefers 5 stars, 800 thread count sheets, a toilet, and tickets to a professional sporting event.

To thine own self be true.

Since writing the above sentence, I drove the Little Bastard to school and witnessed a cyclist being struck by a car. The cyclist had an apparent death wish – no helmet, and he was wearing headphones. The driver was elderly, and hopefully wearing adult diapers, as she likely shat herself when the blue haired asshole landed on her windshield like a bug. The kid was okay, and the old gal will likely lose her license – but my point is – life can change in an instant.

Why sit around a pool, when you can dive in?

Take for instance, Halifax Investment Advisor, Bernard Miles. To him, a bull market means running his ass off, down the streets of Pamplona – inbred bovines in hot pursuit. Bernard's idea of a holiday is participating in July's annual Festival of San Fermín's running of the bulls. According to him, "What guy doesn't have a bit of an inner Hemingway?" Too many of them, I say.

Bernard doesn't invest any of my money, because I am spending it – but if I had two nickels to rub together, I'd give it to someone who is wise, and knows how to live. Like Bernard. My child will inherit a big fat sense of adventure – hopefully not for a while – although I admit to a recent obsession with The Big C – in real life – and on television. Watching Laura Linney dealing with her destiny is not only brilliantly funny – it leaves me in tears. Screw RRSPs and tucking money into a 401K. This is it.

So, off we go, in 13 days. Plenty of time for my clients to load me up with work, on the off chance I fall off a cliff or get run over by a drunk Croat. And, while this next adventure is what I call "soft" compared to last year's schlep to Machu Picchu – it does involve 6 flights, 3 days of 'Anne Frank goes to a coffeeshop' in Amsterdam, and 7 days of biking the Dalmatian Islands. The fact that we'll have our own washroom onboard a yacht, means this next adventure is my attempt at striking a happy balance.

If you're feeling somewhat under appreciated and in need of an adventure – call Maritime Travel, or consider joining this weekend's Merlot Militia in Annapolis Royal. The old HMCS Cornwallis military base has gone through a bit of a renaissance since closing its doors back in 1994. Today, as the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, this multi-functional property – nicely situated on the Annapolis Basin – is host to a series of Boot Camps. I use the term Boot Camps loosely, as this first 2-day retreat is designed for those whose idea of a push up is a demi-cup underwire bra. To enlist, or to design your own Boot Camp, call 1-888-830-4466.

Not content to sit around eating bonbons all day, Annapolis Royal is where explorer Samuel de Champlain wound up, on his scurvy-riddled search for beaver. As we all likely will, Champlain eventually stroked out – shitting his pants one final time – leaving his relatives to bicker over his estate.

My bet is, Champlain left this world with a smile, no regrets, and some fucking incredible stories.

Happy May Day, May Day.