17 February 2008

Top 30 of 30 - Part 2

Well I have to say that I am humbled by the response to this entry. Thank you all for reading - I hope that if you are not included in the top 30 that won't mean that you'll stop reading my blog and shun me forever! No but seriously, if that is the case, let me know and I'll misremember an event in my life and suddenly enter you as a character in it!

I feel that a programming note is in order here, before I go on. The list, although it is numbered, is not in any specific order. I will admit that the events in the top spot is the most important event in my life, but other than this event, the list is in no particular order. All the moments have been important, although for different reasons and at different times - at such, it is difficult to quantify them as being "1 spot more important" or not. Having said that, as Casey Kasem would put it, on with the survey (insert inane top 20 jingle here).

#15 - Karma. Spring 1988 (I think?)
Hoping that the statute of limitations has run out on stealing, I am now going to admit to a crime; some of you may be shocked by this confession. Although I don't remember my exact age, sometime around the age of 11, I shot a vagrant and buried his bodies in the field behind Zellers. No just kidding, I think he was an accountant, not a vagrant.

Ok, in all seriousness, here are the facts. When I was a kid, I had quite a bit of G.I. Joe figures. If you remember, Snow Job was the snow recon force figure. Well twice I bought this figure and then lost it. Marc and I figured that we deserved that figure. We had already bought it twice. So we decided to steal it from the Zellers toy section. Marc played watch out for the store clerk while I pried the figure from the plastic wrapping. I still remember the meticulous workings of my fingers. I was so nervous. When I had the figure out of the package - i only needed the figure not his skies and gun, since we still had those from the previous versions we had lost - I slipped him into my front pocket. It seemed like the perfect crime. For the next week, I panicked every time I saw the police, as I was sure they were going to catch me. I avoided Zellers, in thoughts that they must have a WANTED poster up in the front entrance.

Eventually, I returned to Zellers. This was not far from our house. Marc and I would ride our BMX bikes to the store. On this particular visit, we forgot our locks, and left our bikes out front without a lock. Come to think of it, why didn't one of us stay and watch? I don't quite remember. In any case, as you can imagine, somebody stole our bikes. At first, I was convinced that our parents had picked them up to teach us a lesson - that we should always lock our bikes. But no, I returned home in tears. Our bikes were stolen. Of course, being a good little Catholic, I was convinced that God had punished us for stealing that G.I. Joe figure. Needless to say, I never stole another G.I. Joe figure again!

#14 - Vanessa's birth. November 25, 1981.
Finally, an event from my childhood from which I remember the date. That is not to say that I actually remember the date, but from historical records, known as birth certificates, and annual celebrations, known as birthdays, I can pinpoint the date to precisely this one.

As I considered events in my life, I hadn't actually thought of Vee's birthday, but once that I did, it was so obvious a top moment. Ok, I will admit that I am using the date as purely a marker. I was 4 years old, I don't actually remember my sister's date of birth. I do remember her coming home from the hospital when she was very sick at age 2. I do remember wrestling with her in the living room growing up. I remember watching her at dance recitals at St Columbus parish in Cornwall. I do remember her watching our baseball games and having all the other guys pay more attention to her than anyone else in the stands. I also remember watching her play basketball in high school. I remember her overcoming all her doubters by graduating from University. And finally I remember her finishing teacher's college. Shortly, I'll remember her passing her NY state teacher's exam too I hope :)

#13 Moving to New Brunswick with Joanne. September 2003.
A year and a half after graduating from an Ivy League school, and I still didn't have an actual job. This was, admittedly, mostly my own doing. I probably crashed after leaving Cornell. I didn't want to work, let alone look for a job. As such, I didn't. Instead, I pursued Joanne, my elementary school crush. Although I had put this later mission on hold for about 12 years, it was time to renew my pursuit! I spent a year convincing her that I was worth spending time with. When she was offered a job out in New Brunswick for the start of the school year in 2003, it was the perfect opportunity for me to get off my ass and find a "real" job. So I decided to follow her to New Brunswick.

What ever was I thinking I do not know. No disrespect to the city, but Saint John, N.B. is not the place to go to find a job. There is a reason why many maritimers move from back east to Ontario - there is work here, while there is none there. The move was the first steps I took in my adult life. I suppose it was only natural that I would fumble a little along the way. In one sense, Saint John was a lovely city and it was great to be living with Joanne. But I had no money with which to partake in the city's social activities. We together had a very narrow friend base out in Saint John. On the other hand, we had an amazing apartment. A $600 rent in Saint John goes a long way - fire place, hard wood floors, heritage home, chandelier. It was lovely. To boot, the video store around the corner rented movies for 99 cents - even with 22% tax, this is still a good deal! I spent more time in the public library than I have ever done in my life - thank goodness for free books. At the same time, I was also depressed at not being able to land a job. For goodness sakes, even the local book store wouldn't hire me on. The job would have paid $6.25/hr, and I wanted it so desperately.

In December, Joanne was accepted to teach at a University in Japan. Ironically, I did end up having an interview with a government job in Saint John just as I was leaving. I decided against taking it and crawled back to my parents home. A few months later I ended up getting a job with the government in Cornwall and eventually another federal job in Ottawa. But I'll always have those 4 months as an Atlantic Canadian to remind of tough financial times.

#12 Return of the Jedi. Winter 1984.
Little wonder that I should have a Star Wars fixation, as this was the first full length move I ever attended. Or at least, this is how I remember it. And really, in a posting about important moments, the memory of these moments is more important than the fact behind them.

My dad brought Marc and I to see Return of the Jedi at the Port theater in Cornwall. I remember being late to the film. So I would have missed the opening scene where Luke goes back to Jabba's palace. At 7 years old, I thought the Ewoks were great. The entire movie was mesmerizing. Going there with my dad, enjoying the big screen, having popcorn. These were not things that were common occurrences in my childhood. I was afraid of movie monsters for the most part. Of course, that should come as no surprise, as I am a bit of a panzie, as many of you would say! (love that self deprecating humor!)

Following the movie, I remember owing the vinyl disc with the Return of the Jedi soundtrack. I had the Star Wars action figures, the lunch box, and although I don't remember it, I must have had some Star Wars t-shirts and other apparel. Anyone born in the 1970s will be marked by George Lucas trilogy. In this sense, it is strange - in a list full of personal moments - to include such a cultural moment. Thousands of other men my age would list this event as a defining moment in their life. Similar to my entry for Nintendo, I would be a social moron - or a girl - if I just didn't understand Star Wars jokes. So label me a geek, but if you do, better take a long look in the mirror, because your probably one too!

#11 Poor sport. Sometime during grade 7.
Growing up, as I have previously alluded to, I was involved in quite a bit of sports. Like any good sportsman, I detested losing. I found it to be a venal sin, in fact! More than losing, I really hated lack of effort on the part of my teammates. Combining this egotistical attitude with a elementary school phys ed class was naturally a recipe for disaster.

At St. Croix, my elementary school, we often played dodgeball. What better way to take out pre-pubescent energy than to fling balls at one another's heads. As gym class was co-ed, these games mostly involved some guys gently throwing balls to girls they had crushes on, girls ignoring the game, and more immature boys (i.e. me) viciously hurling balls at record speeds in hopes of winning at all costs. What exactly we were hoping to win is now beyond me. As a side note to this particular story, I do remember a class mate hurling a ball at Marjorie Gratton, who fell over and broke her collar bone in the process. This gives you a context of the intensity we would play with.

One day in gym class, my team loss. I was livid. In my mind, a particular player, Jason Rose, had not played very well. Our loss, in my mind, was completely due to his lack of effort. As such, I felt the need to teach him a lesson. So, on the way out of the gym, I whipped a ball point blank at his head. Now, no need to worry, he wasn't hurt. Well, not permanently that I can remember anyway. The teacher of course saw me throw the ball. I don't quite remember what happened next, but I'm sure some yelling was involved. What I do remember is being sent to the principal's office. I remember sitting in Soeur (sister) Louise's office with my gym teacher. Needless to say , I was terrified. I was a good kid - really I was. I was not used to being in trouble. As such, this situation presented itself as a dire situation. Would they suspend me? Maybe kick me out of the school. For all I know, back in those days, she could have taken the yard stick to me and beat me.

Actually, what did happen was much more lasting and instructive. Both the teacher and the principal had noticed this lack of sportsmanship in me for some time. They essentially told me that if I wanted to continue to participate in gym class that I would have to fix my attitude. The teacher suggested that I could be a referee for the remainder of the year. As I loved participating more than anything else, sitting on the sidelines was not an option. I have long marked this moment in my life, as a critical "lesson" if you will. I know it sounds strange now. Do we really have life lessons? At the time, I was just frustrated with not being able to play. If my life was a comic, there was not a thought bubble in which I had some form of epiphany. I simply wanted to play. So I started being a better sport. I encouraged others. I played fairly. I didn't throw balls at peoples heads anymore. This is not to say that this change took place over night. It took many years. But I did become aware that sports are about participation and fun, not about winning and a poor attitude. No, this is not a commercial from the Church of latter day saints!

Stay tuned for the top 10!! I have really appreciated all the feedback from the list. If you think that I may be leaving out a moment that you know of, let me know. I have a list of 10 more events, but this list is a living animal and even when it is finished, it will continue to evolve. After all, it's my life!


Anonymous said...

not a direct comment on the list but didn't jason break marjorie's collarbone by pushing her off a swing?

that's how i remember it anyway - if this is so then jason deserved being pegged in the head...

jeez i loved ballon captif -

Anonymous said...

#11 is still a work in progress eh Rich?? (See: Softball 2007 - Pierre) :)

Anonymous said...

La suite! La suite! :-)

Anonymous said...

the words "what a bitch" immediately sprung to mind when you falsely advertised the second half of your top 30...

Anonymous said...

Joel stole my comment! :) Too bad we weren't even there to witness it...