Posted by bernicky - February 26th, 2014

Mike Sides scared the shit out of me when I was a teen. It wasn’t his fault I was afraid of almost everyone all the time. Even now I’m not certain why that is. It could be any number of things. Separation anxiety caused by the death of my mother when I was two or my father three short years later. The forcible breaking up of what was left of our family as we were dispersed to foster homes. Growing up in an isolated part of town where I was my own company for years. It could just be that Mike had it right when he said: you’re an asshole.

That particular conversation stands out in memory because it was the first time I wasn’t afraid of him and it was the first time that I understood me from someone else’s perspective. He wasn’t being mean, in fact he was being quite gentle and it showed in his demeanour. We were riding in the back of Bernie Sides’ pickup truck in route from the Discus store Bernie was building to the wood shop where the parts of the store were being made. How the actual conversation got started is lost to the fog of time and memory but I do remember Mike had a harmonica and played it well. Suffice to say that the topic came up and he said: you’re an asshole. In my memory he grimaced a little when he said it and then patiently and clearly going out of his way to try not to give offence he explained what he meant. An asshole isn’t just an asshole – it is someone who you know is probably an okay guy but he just doesn’t know how to talk to or relate to other people. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, just that you don’t understand how to be with other people. He took no joy in telling me this and I did not thank him: I thank him now.

Whether or not he remembers that conversation, or even riding in the back of that truck playing harmonica, is without meaning. What matters is that, in that brief conversation, he explained to me in terms which I could understand my frustrations and fear when it came to just living day to day in the company of others.The conversation bettered my life. Knowing the impact words have keeps me mindful of how I use them now with others.

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Hockey morning in Canada

Posted by bernicky - February 23rd, 2014

Our daughter and I got up at six this morning, bundled ourselves into the van and drove sixty kilometres to Otterburn Park to watch the Canada v Sweden hockey match for the Olympic gold medal


It was a blast to spend the morning watching a hockey game with old friends and new and our daughter made all the better by a win by Team Canada.

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Posted by bernicky - February 12th, 2014

My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card. Nothing too exciting in that but the card contained an envelope and in that envelope there was money which I do not want.

If I regift the money then she will believe that I accepted the gift. There is no desire to accept the gift. There is nothing in me which does not rebel at the idea of keeping the money so it must be returned.

The phone call has been made and the message left that: the card and birthday wishes were appreciated (not true as I do not celebrate my birthday) the money would have to be returned. All that remains is how she will respond. It is not the first time she has attempted such a gift and one would have hoped that she would have taken note of the first response. At Xmas she gave me a box of chocolates which I promptly regifted without opening. It has already been made clear for years that I want no gifts from from anyone. There is nothing new in any of this.

If there is a dilemma here it is really a philosophical question of whether or not returning a gift which is unwanted but could be of value to the person who gave the gift is better than regifting and keeping silent. I opted for returning the gift because I simply did not want her to believe that I accepted it on any level.

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Posted by bernicky - February 10th, 2014

Otterburn Park was not a rich town. Lots of WWII vets on disability working dead end jobs, labourers with little room for advancement, office workers, postmen, deliverymen, salesmen, road crew workers, your basic blue collar town. At one time there were two English elementary schools and an English high school all that remains now after the Anglo diaspora from Quebec is a sole elementary school which feeds a high school thirty kilometers away.

There is a facebook group now for the town of Otterburn Park. It is a good group of about 700 mostly English people who have long since left the province for friendlier climes. What is fascinating is how much we focus on the positive. There is nothing wrong with focusing on the positive and I have censored my own thoughts severely when posting to the group but the fact was it was not all sweetness and light.

It was not a friendly town for square pegs though I don’t suppose any small town is. With the exception of a small handful of kids most of my life in Otterburn was spent in fear. The school bus was enough of a minefield that I did not take the school bus to school for most of the last three years of school and only took the late bus home because I stayed after school almost every day as much to avoid the bus ride home as to avoid going home at all.

Mostly I walked. It wasn’t really much of a walk (4k) other than the walk over the train bridge which was only a problem if the security guards were out or if you got caught with trains going in opposite directions across the bridge. Walking was both a good way to start the day after having delivered 120 plus Montreal Gazette papers in the morning as much as it was a good way of avoiding the banes of my existence.

Over the years my disposition has been tempered by experience but the fear and loathing of youth has not waned. I have, on two occasions, heard of the demise of people who were unnaturally cruel to me when I was young and can say without a hint of remorse I was elated to hear of their deaths. So too it will be if word comes to me of the untimely demise of a handful of men and women now in their late forties to early sixties. I will embrace with warm comfort their deaths and more comfort still the more prolonged and painful their passing. Were it possible, outside the realm of fantasy, to then raze their houses and salt the earth where they are interred I would do that too. Such is the stuff left over from youth.

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Milling around

Posted by bernicky - February 4th, 2014

Life moves quickly when you aren’t paying attention. Two weeks have flown by since my last post and nothing has actually happened. Work and more work and the occasional run but aside from that nothing really.

January and February are slow months on the living front the only excitement being on the financial front with the municipal tax assessment coming in. In one of those weird moments I realized that I couldn’t afford to buy the house I own. I also had to wonder who on earth would pay that kind of money for the house I live in. It has a new roof and a new furnace which is a plus but beyond that the valuation makes no sense to me.

The valuation does give me pause to consider the possibilities of relocation. Selling and paying off the mortgage would give me a goodly sum to find a place to live in a more minority friendly province. It is something to consider. Moving is an eventuality in my mind it is simply a question of when.

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