A New Meaning for the Term IQ

I even learned what to do if I happen to run into one of these guys! (Source: Siku News, 2010)

Today I had the good fortune of attending a cultural orientation workshop.  It was a great introduction to the Inuit culture, and how they have survived in such a perceived inhospitable environment.  Myself, and a number of other employees – both new and old – attended to learn about guiding principles known as Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (pronounced kaw-yee-mah-yaw-too-kan-geet…approximately).  We also learned about Inuit history, tools, games and heard many fascinating stories from the two Elders who attended the workshop.

I have quickly learned that I am butchering a most interesting language – Inuktitut.  It is a fascinating language to listen to…sounding somewhat of a mix of an Asian dialect, with a bit of French and Middle Eastern languages thrown in.  That’s probably a horrible description actually, but that was my first impression of it.

IQ is essentially represents Inuit traditional knowledge.  Its principles read like a version of the ten commandments – though there are eight principles adopted by the Government of Nunavut.  They are wonderful concepts to live one’s life by – and I’m happy to be cognizant of adopting them into my everyday work and life.

 Inuuqatigiitsiarniq:  Concept of Respecting Others – When people show respect towards others, their relationship is strengthened and the community grows.  A strong community is capable of supporting those in need, and provides a safe environment to foster caring and more respect.  Respecting others can also be extended to respect of one’s surroundings, including the environment.

Tunnganarniq:  Concept of Being Open – We all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves.  When people are open to others through communication, a positive relationship can be developed.  These positive relationships mean consensus and acceptance to all viewpoints – or at least an understanding.

Pijitsirarniq:  Concept of Serving – The ability to serve others and the common good contributes to the leadership style of the Inuit.  It is important to understand that all members of a community are able to contribute in their own way, and each contribution should be valued.  Being selfless in serving means to recognize that your viewpoint is not the only one to consider, but is just as important as those of another.

Aajiiqatigiingniq:  Consensus – Decision Making – Decisions of any magnitude often require the agreement of a number of different viewpoints.  The concept of consensus within decision-making is important – there are often shared goals which require collaborative efforts to reach.  Resolution of conflict is one such goal, as Nunavut is a place of many different perspectives and that can lead to many conflicting viewpoints.

Pilimmaksarniq:  Skills and Knowledge Acquisition –  Living in such a difficult environment requires that its inhabitants attain skills and knowledge that has been passed down through the generations.  When one acquires such skills, one is empowered to lead their life in a productive and successful manner.

Qanuqtuurungnarniq:  Being Resourceful to Solve Problems – The climate of Nunavut means that while there are resources, they may be limited and should not be overextended.  The ability to be innovative and resourceful to tackle any and all problems is important for Inuit survival upon the land.

Piliriqatigiingniq:  Collaborative Relationship or Working Together for a Common Purpose – The Inuit believe that the whole can be more important than the individual and that working together for a common purpose is a worthwhile endeavour.  This concept also supports the idea of developing strong community relationships and concensus building for decision-making and problem solving.

Avatimik Kamattiarniq:  Environmental Stewardship – The relationship between the Inuit and the land is a strong one.  The culture has traditionally hunted and lived off of the land for generations, and protection of the environment is essential for their way of life.

These principles are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, they overlap greatly and are truly common sense.  To be honest, I think more organizations need to adopt these principles – they promote a peaceful and inclusive working environment where all are valued and looked to for input.

I’m looking forward to learning much more about the Inuit culture in my time in Iqaluit.  I hope to be able to attend more workshops like this one – and I’m sure community events will promote even further learning opportunities.  I still don’t think I’ll be able to switch gears and go out on the land to hunt anytime in the near future…  😉

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The Roof is on Fire!

There IS a tree in Iqaluit!

Sunday ended up being a lazy day for us. We did get some local lurking done thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, but for the most part we didn’t get much further then the boundaries we’ve already been to. We did get a chance to get a peek inside The Source and pick up some batteries for Suzanne’s pump. I’m actually surprised at the selection of wares they have available. Once again I underestimated the resources available here. Unfortunately one unavoidable necessity of life ends up being laundry. We’re limited in what we can wear until the bulk of our clothes arrive with the rest of our stuff so we ended up using the laundry machines here at the Capitol Suites. Sunday has always been D&D day at AC’s for the past few months – meaning Dinner & Dominoes (not the roleplaying game… although at this point I wouldn’t mind that too much either) so it felt kind of vacant as the evening hours rolled around.

We need to corrupt some people as soon as we get a place…

We ended up having a pretty good dinner at The Navigator Inn. I’m loving being in a place where fish is bountiful. Down south if you get something like salmon it’s usually ridiculously expensive. While it may seem idiotic to say that something is “cheap” up here in the land of expensive living, seafood tends to be one of the cheaper items on any menu in town (and in the grocery stores) so I’m a happy camper. Char is the equivalent of salmon up here (I have been properly corrected by our local biologist buddy Missy that char is salmon – just a northern breed) and is plentiful and the shrimp are the size of Mrs. Fields cookies so if you like seafood, you’ll be in heaven. Suzanne had finally succumb to a couple of the local artisans and purchased some rather nice authentic Inuit crafts. It’ll be awesome if we had a place to put them.

Just kidding. She got them as gifts for others. We have a rule. No purchasing stuff for ourselves until we have a place to put it.

After dinner we came back to the hotel to chill. Suzanne is battling a bug that’s trying to creep up on her so taking it easy for the night seemed to be the best course of action. I was happy that my Giants finally won a game so I ended up rounding off my first football watching day in Iqaluit by flipping between the Grey Cup and the Colts/Chargers game. As much as it pains me to say it (being a devout NFL fan and all) the Grey Cup game was far more entertaining than the Sunday Night NFL one. The Walking Dead prevented me from watching most of either game. No they weren’t banging on our windows or anything. Just referring to the TV show. Not that I’m complaining. That show is so engrossing that I, the king of all things football related, doesn’t care about missing games in order to see the new episodes when they debut. Regardless I did catch the end of the Grey Cup game after the show ended. Nice finish. Congrats to the Als for the two-peat.

I guess I kind of gooched myself by saying I wouldn’t be blogging unless I got snowed in or had something remarkable to tell. Suzanne was bad and stayed up late watching crazy Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness. I caught the beginning but passed out shortly after it started. I think she must have conked out at around 1:30am or so. As luck would have it, we celebrated our first week here with a good old fashioned abrupt wake up call at 2:27am. We were awakened by the very piercing sound of the fire alarm going off in the building. As we scrambled about looking for socks and cats, I thought foolishly to myself “This is a rather odd time to be having a fire drill”. Thank goodness Suzanne had more of a head on her shoulders than I did because she quickly got the Terrible Twosome into their carriers. By the time we got out into the hallway, a couple of other weary guests were just starting to appear from their rooms. Everyone looked confused. We smelled no smoke in the hallway and no one was running for their lives so we calmly made our way to the lobby where we encountered some other guests who were sitting around in various stages of dress. The noise from the alarm was deafening so we made our way to the foyer where it was quieter. Someone needed to let the firemen in when they came because they locked the doors after 10pm so it seemed like a good a place as any to wait. The snow was starting to come down and neither of us (or the kitties) were quite equipped to be outside the building at this point in time unless we absolutely had to.

A pair of fire rescue personnel arrived on the scene in a few minutes. One went upstairs to inspect where the source of the alarm was coming from while the other monitored the board next to where we were waiting. After about 10 -15 minutes they declared it safe to go back to our rooms. Apparently someone had discharged one of the fire extinguishers on the 3rd floor. That was all the information we were able to wrangle from them at the time. To be honest I didn’t care that much so long as it was safe. My head was pounding and I’m sure the cats were a bit rattled by the sudden evacuation so I was just happy to get back to our room. That makes me 3 for 4 with fire alarm situations now. This goes all the way back to when we lived on Waterloo campus at St. Paul’s. I had the privilege of dealing with an evacuation there. I later had a repeat performance when we were living on Vanier drive. I don’t think we every really had to evacuate at Courtland but we set off the smoke alarm there numerous times because we had no exhaust ventilation for the stove so basically whenever you cooked something – anything- it’d go off. I guess it’s just fitting that I kept the pattern alive by having yet another evac in our new stomping ground. I must just be a magnet for this craziness.

Anyway after a wonderful two and a half hours of sleep I found myself walking Suzanne to work once again. I decided to skirt the airport on the way back to the hotel so I snapped some photos along the way. The falling snow, a pair of rather ornery looking dogs and a flock of mutant ravens prevented me from lurking too much. Oh well. I’ll get some more photos eventually.

Please note that there were more photos in this post but thank you WordPress, Internet Explorer and the “Andrea theme” for screwing that up completely. If you would like to view any of the images that were linked to this entry please visit the photobucket dumping ground. Any photos I take of Iqaluit (and any neighboring areas) are originally posted there so if you want to stay up to date just keep checking there every so often. Sorry for the inconvenience.

A Deep Breath

I really haven’t been in the mood to blog much lately.  I’ve just been wanting to take in all my surroundings and process things.  I’ve also been enjoying the fact that I (almost) have an appetite again, and I’ve been able to get full nights of sleep – for the most part.  The most tumultuous upheaval I’ve ever experienced is not quite over yet, but the biggest headaches are out of the way for now.  And now, I can breathe.

I’m just glad that Ian’s been able to keep many of you updated with our initial reactions and experiences in Iqaluit.  It’s been a serious learning curve that we aren’t over yet, though our levels of comfort are steadily on the rise.

It’s hard not to feel comfortable here.  The people we’ve encountered thus far have been very helpful and friendly – aside from a post office experience.  I haven’t really had a chance to be doing what I will ultimately be doing for my job, but my division had its annual meetings this week, so it was a fantastic introduction to the people I’ll be working with, and what they’ve been doing over the past year.  I can already see the partnerships that I’ll be involved in for the coming years.  I have to say, I’m still very nervous about the job itself.  I feel that expectations are high for me and I certainly hope not to disappoint.

There are a number of things that I wish I had known prior to coming to Iqaluit.  However, lots of them really can’t have been helped.  Regardless, here’s some of the things that would have changed the way I prepared to come here…

1.     I wish I had known just how many ways an offer of housing could fall through up here.  Our housing situation has been a roller coaster from the beginning.  There are days where we have housing in theory.  And there are days we are homeless.  We are still holding on to a few shreds of hope for a more permanent solution to housing, however are working into several layers deep of contingency plans.  If I’d known that we would have had this many issues, I most definitely would have placed my name on housing waiting lists when I first accepted the job offer.  In fact, I actually would have considered putting myself on a waiting list back when I applied for the job…just in case.

2.     I wish I had known just how hilly Iqaluit is.  I probably would have started working on my cardio sooner.

3.     I wish I had known that the temperatures here in late November were on track to rival a mild southern Ontario winter.  I probably would have packed more in the way of rainboots and less in the way of parkas.  We could have safely packed away our parkas and deep winter freeze-style gear with the movers and been quite comfortable.  Walking to and from dinner tonight saw Ian and I with no mitts or hats and jackets open.  It has been a strange couple of months in Nunavut for weather – at least in this part of the territory.  I’ve heard many comments regarding the fact that normally there is a solid layer of hard-packed snow out on the land by now, with sea ice beginning to form in Frobisher Bay.  Today, we actually saw someone boating…

Source: Nunavut News

4.     I wish I had known that we would not be in a unit with a full kitchen.  We likely would have just packed away all of our kitchen goods and sent them with the movers.  It’s hard to use a saucepan or pot in a microwave or on a toaster.

5.     I wish I had known how cool YakTrax were for walking on ice.  I think I would have picked up a pair of these for my boots long ago.  It’s amazing the amount of confidence you can gain in walking on icy surfaces when you have these on.  However, it should be noted that extremely smooth and wet ice can still be very slippery, even with grippers on your boots.  Ian and I found that out tonight as we giggled and slipped our way about town – trying to safely navigate the icy and hilly walking paths without falling flat on our faces.  No wipeouts yet though!

6.     I wish I had known that while vegetarian food does exist in Iqaluit, foods that can be traditionally served meatless typically are not.   I found an egg salad sandwich the other day that I’m pretty sure was filled with chunks of bacon – though I cannot confirm that they were not soy bacon – and cheese ravioli that I was served tonight was served in a meat sauce.  I have to learn to ask more questions about the food prior to ordering it I suppose.  Not to worry…I’ve become pretty adept at picking around food items that I do not wish to eat.  And since Ian will eat pretty much anything, we’re a good pair.

7.     I wish I had known to bring my camera to work today.  We visited Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park today – and it is stunning.  I cannot wait to see it in the summer.  It is gorgeous and hilly with plenty of hiking and camping possibilities.  I will most certainly head out there in the coming weeks on a nice day and will certainly bring the camera to show you just how beautiful the north can be…

Source: Inuksuk Adventures

What I’ve learned so far

As I enter day 3 of being here, I’ve learned quite a bit in that short span of time. Mark and Milissa have been awesome guides to understanding the ins and outs of how this city and its people flow. I’ve always been a big city person. Not by choice but by circumstance. Heck, the housing projects I grew up in even had a larger population than this (about 10,000 in a six block area). That doesn’t mean I don’t welcome the small town way of living. My ability to adapt to my surroundings is my greatest asset. I’m not Survivorman by any stretch of the imagination so roughing it on the frozen tundra isn’t going to be in my foreseeable future, but contrary to what I (and many others who are ill informed) imagined this place to be it’s really not that big of a learning curve. Here are some of the things I’ve picked up so far:

  • It’s Iqaluit not Iqualuit. This is something you better learn and learn well because both spellings have entirely different meanings. Iqaluit (pronounced Eee-cal-oh-wee) means “place of many fish”. Iqualuit roughly means “unwashed buttocks” so be very conscious of how how you spell the capitol city if you intend to send any packages here. You could very well be insulting someone if you misspell it.
  • It’s pronounced Nun-ah-voot not None-ah-vit. That’s a quick way to tell who’s new and who’s been here.
  • People are actually friendly and courteous here. I’m not going to try and make it out to be a Utopian society or anything like that. I’m sure it has it’s bad eggs mixed in but for the most part you get a genuine good vibe walking around town. Having come from NYC where it’s an unwritten law to never look anyone you don’t know in the eye to this is probably the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. If you’ve read any of my blogs you know I’m certainly not a “people person” and being here puts me well out of my comfort zone – but in a good way. I would like to like people and it’s hard to not like people here. It’s still very strange for me to have someone stop their vehicle and let you cross a road. That’s something that just doesn’t happen very often anywhere else but is like an unspoken rule around here.
  • This is a humble community. I’ve never encountered a true community atmosphere before. I can see from just being here a couple of days that there’s definitely a everyone-knows-everyone feel around here. I don’t feel ostracized being a newbie, but I certainly feel out of place at times. For example Suzanne and I went out for dinner last night to a place called the Grind and Brew Cafe. It’s touted as having the best pizzas in town so we figured we’d give it a try. It’s right on the waterfront and could easily be missed if not for their illuminated sign. The interior is very small and rustic. The three person multi-purpose staff was very friendly and welcoming to the point where we felt infectiously jolly and chipper ourselves. As Suzanne feasted on a 10″ cheese pizza (surprise surprise) and I a smoked char pizza, we watched as locals came in and out. They conversed with us, the the staff and other patrons in both English and Inuktitut (the regional language) depending on what was the preferred dialect. Even though we were undeniably and noticeably new, we were welcomed into the fold without hesitation. The displaced feeling came solely from me having never really experienced that sort of community atmosphere before. You know how it is. If someone is nice to you the defensive wall immediately pops up because you think there’s an ulterior motive behind it. It’s hard for me to accept the fact some people are actually pleasant. Regardless the owner (I believe) gave us a menu on the way out and let me know they they deliver as well. I told him it’s my goal to try everything on the menu and that I didn’t believe I’d be calling for a delivery, I’d be coming back in for sure.
  • It’s expensive but not that expensive. That statement can be taken with a grain of salt depending on how tight you are with your money. Having paid a visit to a couple of the grocery stores I’ve had a good look at some of the food and supply costs. Some products are marginally more expensive while others are 2 – 3 times more. I’ve seen stuff like detergent cost anywhere between $29 – $38 while fruit and vegetables are comparable to gouged southern Ontario prices. Weight has a lot to do do with it. I’m glad we stocked up on cat litter, cat food, and detergent beforehand. The rule of thumb seems to be is if it’s bulky, heavy and rather pricey in the south stock up on it before coming up because it’ll be REALLY expensive up here.
  • You can be a vegetarian up here. That might not be the case with some of the more isolated northern communities but in Iqaluit you can be a vegetarian and be quite comfortable. Suzanne was delighted to track down her Schneider’s (Fake) Chicken Burgers at Arctic Ventures (one of the local grocery stores) so she was content. There’s also a selection of fruit and vegetables that you’d find at any supermarket in the Ontario as well. The freshness though is defendant on when you go shopping. We were advised that if one of the stores , NorthMART, gets their shipments in on Tuesdays so if you want the freshest produce it’s best to go Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
  • Locals hock their wares. Many local Inuit are artisans and often approach you looking to sell hand crafted sculptures, jewelry and nick knacks. It’s an interesting aspect to adapt to. For example Milissa took us out to dinner at The Water’s Edge Seafood & Steakhouse our first night here. While we dined we were approached by at least 4 – 5 locals (not at the same time but in intervals throughout the dinner) who were looking to sell their products. They approached each table and didn’t day much – just simply displayed what they had on hand. With a simple glance and a soft “no thank you” Milissa dismissed them with no problem whatsoever. They’re not rude or pushy but definitely invasive if you’re not prepared for it or uncomfortable with that manner of intrusion. I know my father would probably lose his mind after the first proposal. I must admit when it first happened I said to myself “What the hell?? I’m eating! How can someone just roll up and try and sell me something??” But after seeing the process unfold a couple of times it occurred to me that this is just a way of life round these parts. Note to self: eyebrows up means you’re interested. Eyebrows down means you’re not.
  • It’s a menagerie of different people. You’ll find people from all parts of Canada around here. While there this a very high Inuit population I’ve seen a variety of racial backgrounds while I’ve been trooping around the city. One of my concerns (as always) has always been that feeling of being an ink blot in a bowl of milk. That’s an unfortunate byproduct of growing up in the States. I can’t say I’ve dealt with any level of racism that my parent’s generation had to contend with but I’ve had my experiences with the darker side of humanity for sure. I grew up surrounded by many different ethnicities. Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, African American – that’s what I know. That’s what I was around for a great majority of my life. It’s been a long and exhausting period of adjustment being in Canada. There’s racism here for sure, but not nearly at the level it is in the States. Being overly aware is something that’s ingrained in me and hard to break. However being immersed in a such a mixed culture has made me feel very at ease with the world around me. I doubt I’ll ever really let my defenses down but it’s liberating to be able to fall asleep at the controls every so often up here.
  • Function over fashion. Oh man. It’s so awesome to see that functionality reigns supreme over glitz and glam up here. From the buildings to the fashion, it’s functionality over appearance in every aspect. This is not to say this isn’t a beautiful city to behold. As you’ve seen from the handful of pictures the structures are colorful and have intriguing designs. Many of the newer residential apartment buildings look kinda like facilities you’d find in southern Canada but the older buildings and residences have a definite rustic feel to them. I remarked to Suzanne yesterday that it reminded me of the Fallout video game series. In it you encounter many communities that don’t look like much on the outside but are quite eclectic on the inside. It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like around here come summer time or as I like to refer to it as warm fall.
  • It’s cold but a different kind of cold. Yeah it goes without saying that if you’re not a fan of the cold then this is not the place for you. However I find that it’s a different kind of cold than the south. It’s hard to explain. A lot of it has to do with the contrasting humidity levels but the dry cold up here is quite invigorating. If you’re layered properly it’s actually quite enjoyable to just walk around during the winter. Mind you I have yet to experience some real deal Iqaluit weather like blizzards and -65c wind chills so I may have have to eat crow with regards to my statements above when i get hit with that. However I’ve been here so far and haven’t even worn my parka yet so I’m having fun right now.
  • No time for technology (for now). It’s amazing how little interest I have in blogging at the moment. Yeah I’ve written a few entries in the past couple of days but I’ve forced myself to do so. As much as I want to let everyone know the experience, my desire to go outside, explore and experience the world around me greatly exceeds my desire to play around on the computer. Sure this is another lengthy Ian entry but it’ll probably be the only one for the remainder of the week unless I find myself snowed in or have some really incredible experience to share during some down time. The amount of walking you do up here is great for your health. The air is crisp and clean. Noticeably different from down south. I’m even considering doing a weekly weight check to see how all this outdoor activity affects it. I’m currently 228lbs as of this morning’s weigh in. Let’s see if this is end up being the fitness program I’ve been looking for.

I’ve probably forgotten a slew of things to add but Lord knows I got time to add them in the future. We’ll probably be taking a foot tour of the city this weekend so be prepared for another onslaught of images. Till next time.

First Impressions

Well now. Having been on Hoth  for over 24 hours now, I’ve settled in enough to finally let people in on the first tidbits of our little adventure. The day we arrived was a whirlwind of events, sights, faces and temperatures that’s hard to put into words. I’m sure once Suzanne gets a moment to breathe she’ll post a more accurate account of what exactly went down on days one & two. Rather than steal her thunder I’m just going to supply you with a photo gallery of shots (mostly by me walking around town today) of our first two days here. The image below is a link to the photobucket gallery. I didn’t feel quite like individually posting them in this entry because quite frankly I’d like to do things within the next 10 years. It’s not the complete set of images but a select few from the click-happy paparazzi photos I was taking. Thank you to everyone who supported us on the journey up especially Claudia, Dan, Uncle Mark, AC, and Wendy who had to put up with our mental breakdowns over the past month. Enjoy!

Halfway to the High Arctic

It is just after 9 AM, and Ian and I are sitting in airport in Ottawa…awaiting our flight to Iqaluit.  This is a remarkably quiet airport compared to Pearson International.  It’s refreshing actually.  In about four hours or so we will be in our new home.  Ian is currently recording some video of an Air Canada Jazz flight with propeller engines.  It is quite possibly our plane.  Yikes.

Jemaine and Brit are resting comfortably – except for the occasional set of meows from Jemaine.  He was a little upset on the flight during take-off and less so during the landing.  I don’t think I heard Brit more than once, if that.  Both cats are exhausted from the long night spent making final preparations for the journey.  Ian and I are as well.

Thanks to everyone who came out to AC’s place last night.  It was really nice to have the pre-send off party.  Thanks to AC for helping with all of our laundry, and with the miscellaneous items that will be worked on now that we’re gone.  Thanks to Uncle Mark for making the extremely early drive to Pearson with all of our gear.  And thanks to mom and Dan for everything.  You guys have helped out more than you can imagine and we both appreciate it so much.

It would appear that we’ll be walking out on to the tarmac in less than an hour.  So I think I’ll be signing off until our flight lands this afternoon.  After a quick orientation around town and some much-needed rest, we’ll be back online.  Here’s hoping things normalize soon for us.  This has been an overwhelming day.  Week, even.

We miss all of our southern Ontario and New York friends and family.  So don’t forget to write…

The Day Happy Ian Went Away

Yes it’s 3pm Saturday November 20th and I’m still blogging. I’m sitting here in the corner of our empty living room munching on a ham & cheese sammich that AC made for me, chugging down what’s more than likely one of the last pops I’ll be having in a long while – least till I find my hook up in Iqaluit. Yes I’m a popaholic and like any true addict I’ll find my fix one way or another up there. I’m looking at the few Rubbermaid bins laying around with various wares in them and am kinda taken aback at how easy the packing and moving went yesterday.

Wilke Movers Ltd came knocking on our door promptly at 8am. The three man crew of fellas (whose names I can’t quite remember) flew through our apartment in a flurry of packing paper and cardboard cartons. They were so bloody quick that for most of the morning Suzanne and I were on our toes trying to keep them from packing some things we wanted to have on hand away. They seemed somewhat unchallenged by the packing job put before them and often asked us several times if we were sure there wasn’t anything else they could bag and tag. Their zealous approach allowed them to have most of our life boxed up in about 3 hours. They finished early and bid us good luck up north. It was 11:45am and they said the movers probably be around at 12:30pm. We thought we’d have a little bit of time to do some last minute sorting but lo and behold, as the clock tolled 12pm the movers arrived full of life and ready to do some heavy lifting.

Once again we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off as the movers scurried in and out of our apartment like little worker ants. There were pleasantly thorough with their inventory cataloging and care for our stuff.  Poor Suzanne couldn’t witness the controlled chaos of the movers firsthand because she had to make a last minute dentist’s office visit. Let’s just say that she took longer getting her teeth worked over than it took for them to load the truck. Our modular existence made our move insanely quick. They were handing me the papers by 2pm. She returned home at around 3:30pm all drugged up and achy and we took the foot off the gas a bit and worked at a snail’s pace sorting the little amount of belongings we had left. We had an engagement set up for 8pm with some friends, but the stress of the day of moving caught up to us big time. Although running on little sleep and even less food we weren’t about to let our adoring friends down.

I have to admit. It wasn’t quite how I expected my last Friday night in Ontario to be. I feel rotten for being the crap on the shoe near the tail end of the evening, but as the night progressed (or devolved from my point of view) I slipped further and further into a grimy and unpolished mood. I certainly wasn’t my normal chipper self. You know how you sometimes have to put on the smile even when you’re really not in the mood to, just to not disturb the flow of the evening? Well my ability to do so came to a crashing stop at roughly 11:30pm. Having started the festivities at a bar… no correct that… a good ole boy watering hole I should have know a tailspin was imminent. It was apparently “hip hop night” in the redneck bar which I found to be painfully ironic. Even though it was deemed “hip hop night” I think I heard maybe 3 or 4 actual hip hip songs in the short time we were there. I suppose that was a blessing in disguise considering I’m one of those blasphemous black people who doesn’t care for hip hop all too much. Being the only person of color in there though (and an inescapable New Yorker for life) let’s just say my radar was on uber-sensitive. After witnessing some of KW’s drunken finest on the dance floor and mowing through a pretty sad batch of nachos, I was pleased to see another brutha show up. Unfortunately he didn’t seem too thrilled to be there either. The conversations at our table centered around work, the people at work and the experiences at work. The problem was I didn’t work there. These were my wife’s work friends so I was kind of in smile-and-nod mode while I nursed my Blue. Don’t get me wrong. I dig my wife’s work friends and love them to death but when they get into chatty-office-talk mode, I end up tuning out and drifting off into Ian’s make believe world.

Anyway, no one was really having a great time at the roadhouse so the entourage decided to pick up camp and move the party to another location. Word of advice for people out there who have friends who like karaoke. Do not go with the flow if that’s not your bag. They won’t take offense and you’ll end up saving yourself a lot of pain and torture in the process. I should have taken my own advice. Maybe it was the fact that I was over-tired or maybe I was just so desperate to hang out with them that I went along with the crowd like a silly little lemming. We ended up at yet another local dive called The Corner Pub. Yes… it’s actually on the corner of Charles street and Ottawa. I’ll openly admit it wasn’t nearly as bad as the other place. In fact it was quite cozy, welcoming and friendly. I’ve never been one for the bar scene anyway so I went in with a chip on my shoulder. Add to the fact that it was karaoke night, that spelled the untimely death of Happy Ian. Karaoke is Japanese for tone deaf. Did you know that? Despite some rather surprising performances by Jimmy and Laura, my night was spent listening to the unmerciful massacring of good songs by the locals. Once again work-talk followed us all the way from the roadhouse and continued at the Corner Pub. Jimmy, my only source of non-work related conversation, was too busy making new friends and showing off his vocal talents so I just sat there watching muted hockey on the big screen.

Did I ever mention how much I LOVE hockey?

Anyway the night pretty much ended with me throwing in the towel and heading back to AC’s house for the night with Suzanne. I felt bad being the stick in the mud but I was totally out of my element. I recall sitting there most of the night wondering what the cats were doing back at home. It’s sad that I probably would have had a better time in the empty apartment with the cats than I did at those lovely bars. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing though. It was great seeing everyone one last time and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. I’m just sorry I was such a downer for most of the evening.

Oh well… guess I better get back to sorting again. Just wasted yet another hour proofreading the dang thing. ;p