Sunday, November 30, 2008

She Works Hard for the Money


While I was a student at university I waitressed and then finally graduated to bartending. I absolutely loved working in the service industry. Never in my life have I made as much money as I did then. The mid to late 80''s were still the golden age of the service industry. Expense accounts still existed for businessmen and women and the GST had yet to rear its ugly head. I was fortunate that I got into one of the more upscale establishments that my city had to offer because there was a small fortune to be made. I remember going to school full time for my third and fourth year at uni plus working at least 30 hours a week serving. I was taking home a minimum of $600 to $700 each week which was a small fortune to a 21 year old. After graduating university I found it very difficult to give up.

By then I had become so accustomed to the tips always having money available to me rather than waiting a fortnight for a pay cheque - which we actually also got but that was just gravy - that it took me a year to finally leave the industry. I had made a lot of great friends my four years serving. Some of them were like me, students, but many were "career" people, this is all that they would end up doing. Unfortunately serving is looked down upon in the frightfully white collar city that I reside in that had I stayed in service, I would have been perceived as a failure. Back then that apparently mattered to me although I have long since gotten over that mentality. I was dragging my feet though in making my exit. Not only would it be difficult to get used to the substantial reduction in earnings but suddenly I would be expected to be part of the land of the living. Part of the allure of bartending was that you didn't start work until dark and the people that you encountered were by far much more interesting than their daytime counterparts.

As luck would have it, the decision was taken out of my hands when I had a bad fall the week before Christmas and broke my kneecap. After crutches, a cane, physio and not driving for five months I knew that it would be tough to go back to bartending or waitressing anytime soon but I now desperately needed an income of any sort. Plus my confidence had taken quite a beating. Getting my strength back in my leg and as a result my back, et al was slow going plus when I did make an early attempt at returning to bartending I had forgotten how messy we could be and those we floors behind the bar were just another accident waiting to happen.

My immediate loss of income right after the accident also made things tough going. But you gotta take the good with the bad and as the majority of tips are never declared by servers, they end up never paying tax on this income. As a result they are then denied the benefit of collecting any type of Employment Insurance as you can only end up collecting what you contribute and if you contribute a big fat zero then you are not entitled to any thing more. So hah on me. After about three months sitting at home with my dog I started to get a little restless and started to look for a "real" job. I found one and I went to work for what turned out to be a pretty darn nice company. For nine years they treated me well and in return I think that I was a definite asset for them but I always remembered my serving days with fondness. I was starting to get itchy feet. I wanted something a little less ordinary than going to work Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm with three weeks vacation each year and some time off at Christmas and blah, blah, blah.

I was bored and I was getting bored with myself. Surprisingly enough I even managed to spend seven of those years pretty darn squeaky clean. For shame, for be continued... 

HIGH PRIESTESS OF PUNK returns in high style next!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Paper Chase

For the first time since I started blogging, I've been confronted with a situation regarding a series of comments left by someone else after one of my recent entries. I am left with a situation where I am not even sure how I should handle it. Up until this point, I have never felt the need to impose any sort of restrictions on anyone wishing to comment on any one of my entries. I have been fortunate enough not to have been a victim of anything really hostile directed towards myself, so haven't felt any need to intervene and do any moderation. Yet...

The other day when I logged on to check my journal, I noticed that there were twelve comments for my entry, 99 Channels and Nothing On. Now, even on a good day, I think the absolute highest number of responses that I have ever received is something like four or five, never mind twelve! Something was indeed strange I thought especially as this particular entry has got to positively been my most innocuous to date! All of the comments were from the same person and not one even bothered to address the topic of my entry. To get an idea as to what type of comments that there might have been, you can check out this blogger's site,
Born of the Spirit.

P.S. OK, I don't feel comfortable censoring, regardless how inappropriate these comments may have been so I have allowed these twelve comments from my previous post to now be visible. Anyone that might be curious to read what initially almost caused me to do something utterly foreign, please allow yourself enough time to wade through them all as there are a lot, not to mention that each and everyone is most definitely on the lengthy side. Oh, make sure you're in a nice, comfy spot as well!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

99 Channels and Nothing On

So, I am in the middle of colouring my hair - used to colour it for fun, now I need to hide those pesky grays! As I've got just over half an hour before I need to rinse all of this crap from my head, I thought that I would share some info with you that we've never touched on before this - some of my favourite tv shows!

I, of course, will watch television just like anyone else, although, as I find most of today's tv choices pretty horrific, I  will admit to not watching an awful lot of it. Now, if I am fortunate enough to discover a show that catches my attention and happen to love though, I then become a completely different person - obsessive is a fitting description I should think. Right now, I am most definitely obsessing over Battlestar Galactica, and am literally counting the days until its return. For anyone who cares, the second half of Season Four (Episodes 13 to 22) returns on January 19, 2009. Seeing how the last time a brand new episode appeared on tv was back in June of this year, its about bloody time! Holding my breath in anticipation.

Another show that I never miss is Without a Trace which just started its seventh season. Other than these couple of shows, I don't really have any other never miss shows although I've developed a fondness for a few series this past year and a half, and they are fast approaching this status. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I almost never, ever miss Gossip Girl now - lets call this a guilty little secret shall we? - or The Hills - enough already! Pretty slim pickings to be sure.

Earlier this fall, I discovered Sons of Anarchy, which is almost done for this season, although it's been renewed for a second season so tres cool! Sons of Anarchy is an FX television series starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal about the lives of a close-knit motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in the San Joaquin Valley in Northern California.  I have also developed a fondness for a show that just started this fall and so far there have been seven episodes shown, and its called Life on Mars. Unfortunately, from what I understand, I won't be seeing any new episodes until some time in the new year. I hope there is an episode eight as this last episode was very much a cliff hanger. Grrr.... 

Christmas Is Coming and the Goose is Getting Fat!

or something like that...

It's starting to look a lot more like winter outside now, as it has been snowing on and off for the past few days - I'm in southwestern Ontario, Canada for those that don't know. I guess that this also means that it is starting to look a lot like Christmas, especially as there is now less than a month left to go! Yikes. I've bought a few presents, but not nearly as many as I'll eventually need. I also bought a brand new artificial Christmas tree about a week and a half ago because I came across an amazing sale. I got a 7' artificial one with over 1200 tips plus a metal base at XSCargo for only $19.99 - the store clerk said that theirs were the best prices in the city, and I see no reason to disagree with him as I've been checking prices for artificial trees this past year as we were overdue for a new one. To say I was thrilled to find such a deal would be the understatement of the year.

Sara didn't want me to set it up yet, but this was almost two weeks ago, so I am now seriously considering putting the tree up this weekend. It will be the first of December in only a couple of days after all. I can't really put it up though until I buy some new lights for it anyway. Somehow in our two moves in the past year, I've managed to misplace a whole boatload of our Christmas decorations. I think that I may have put some in the Building Manager's storage room and as technically we're not really the Building Managers anymore, I can't really go and snoop around the building - at least not without feeling a bit on the guilty and uncomfortable side. I know that the Bargain Shop has sets of 50 clear indoor lights on sale currently for only $4.00 a set so I can easily grab a few sets without breaking the bank! Traditionally, I like to limit the number of different colours used when I decorate, and I plan on sticking to this. My colours of choice are royal blue and silver, and any of their variations, hence the clear lights. I think these colours used together end up looking very elegant and sophisticated, plus it is easy to add to my decorations each year if I stick to the same colours. I also need to buy some additional decorations because we are moving up in size from a 5' tree to a 7' one, so I've got that extra couple of feet to fill out on the new tree! Just have to be careful not to decorate too low down on the tree as the cats go mental trying to remove all of the shiny, pretty cat toys!

I reduced my methadone dose to 50ml a couple of weeks ago and am now finally starting to feel comfortable on this dose. This was by far, my most difficult reduction to date. The first ten days were utterly horrible and near unbearable, but I managed to stick it out and am glad that I did. I almost ended up returning to 55ml but in the end, didn't have to. If I didn't get to the clinic within twenty four hours of my previous dose, I would start to feel as if I were in major withdrawal. I had certainly begun to forget how awful opiate withdrawal could be, and am kind of glad that I was given a reminder as this will ensure I don't allow myself to become cavalier about treatment, etc and end up convincing myself that it wouldn't hurt much just to try one pill just one more time! Not that I had/have any intentions of doing this, but it doesn't hurt to be extra, extra careful. Anyway, if I didn't make it to the clinic within that 24 hour period, my body would start to rebel against me. My limbs would start aching so badly, I would start to grind my teeth as I got more and more agitated, my nose and eyes would start to run like mad, and my general disposition would change dramatically. Of course, within a half an hour to forty five minutes of dosing, everything would appear to return to normal.

Won't be taking my MMT for granted anytime soon that's for sure! 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

98 Pound Weakling

Pretty much from the very start, I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with methadone - I took my very first dose of methadone in September 1999, nine years and two months ago. Now a decade ago, I was in pretty grim shape physically. I had allowed myself to waste away to near nothing, and at 5'7", I barely topped the scales at 105 lbs, so potential weight gain from this particular treatment was very much a non issue for me. Or so I thought. Within no time, I started to experience a rather dramatic metamorphosis and actually started to look rather healthy. A decade ago, this didn't really bother me all that much as I desperately needed a few more pounds on my body, but now I find myself in the middle of a most unpleasant and unsavory situation.

Funny, what kind of effects, a decade ends up having on our changing bodies too. I now find my self, at the ripe old age of 45, waging an ever increasing losing battle, not to mention having to deal with, until now, some really foreign emotions and thoughts. Its frustrating enough on its own coming to terms with this change, but having to deal with the accompanying boatload of emotions, doesn't help at all! For someone who had never had to give their weight so much as a second thought before all of this, this new reality has been monumentally difficult and stressful.

I've now since discovered how easy it is to be cavalier about weight and diet, et al when no problem exists. This should seem quite obvious, but surprisingly enough, it isn't at all. I've since discovered that its much easier to be without vanity when no struggle exists. If there is nothing to obsess over, there is nothing to obsess over. Now, unfortunately, I seem to have something to obsess over, and that something would seem to be the size of my jeans! I will admit though, that I am still not in possession of a scale so I have no idea what my actual current weight would be, or the actual number of pounds gained these past couple of years. Honestly, I really don't need to have anymore of this rubbed in my face, anyway. The fact that I no longer wear a size five or seven is pretty indicative of the amount gained that I certainly do not need any more confirmation, trust me.

OK, OK,  I know exactly what each and everyone of you are about to say to me now. I know that methadone alone is not the sole guilty culprit here. In fact, there is next to no research or findings or even studies stating that weight gain is even a direct side effect of taking methadone. Logically, I am all too aware of this fact, but, I am also very aware of the undeniable fact that I started to aggressively gain weight once I started Methadone Maintenance Treatment. This is a fact that is next to impossible to challenge! I get it. Suddenly, you're no longer on some endless quest to feed that monkey. After a few months on MMT, your life actually starts to return to what others take for granted, boring and routine. With this, your appetite returns and with a vengeance, although for everyone else, this is normal. Most probably, you even become more sedentary, so its really no surprise that the body ends up having such a huge transformation. Logically, I know this, but it still doesn't end up making my current situation any better.

I think what really bothers me even more than the weight gain, is the fact that I can't help but constantly stress over it. In the past few months, I find myself thinking about this more than I ever obsessed and agonized over drugs! Maybe I'm replacing one with the other. How's that for irony? Grrrr....I can't believe that I am actually publicly ranting and whining about my current situation either, although this just illustrates how depressed this whole situation has gotten me. My mother's constant comments certainly don't do much to help my self esteem either. There is nothing like a conversation with my mother to make me feel ten times worse than I already do. She has a knack for pummeling me ever further into the ground. Its not like I am a beached whale either - I am currently wearing between a size eleven and thirteen, with the larger size starting to no longer feel quite as tight as it did about half a year ago too. Each and every time I see her, she ends up fueling my self obsession with the weight, even if I've somehow managed to finally reach a place where I feel a modicum of peace.

OK, no doubt I could go on endlessly on this subject if allowed, but even I have to admit that I am starting to bore even myself! Enough already. Get over yourself! 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Emperor's New Clothes

Today was Jim's first day of his six week physiotherapy rehab and I guess all went fairly well. He said that he was pretty tired once it was all finished but is pretty optimistic about the whole program, which  is great to hear. I ended up going with him today, sort of...I took the bus with him there and back, but that is where any similarities end. I had a laundry list of errands that I had planned to do while he was in physiotherapy, but the moment that I saw Value Village all my good intentions completely disappeared!

I had so forgotten how much I loved to browse through Value Village for hours on end as I hunted and searched for the ultimate fabulous find and bargain! Today I made out big time! I ended up getting six items which totaled $34.00 tax included. I got a white 100% cotton Tommy Hilfiger Jeans boat neck sweater as well as a red cotton/acrylic Tommy Hilfiger Jeans mock turtleneck. Both of them are in mint condition and barely look as if they have ever been worn. Sweet. I also got a Beechers Brook black angora round neck sweater and a short sleeved cotton/spandex blouse with a very tiny black and white check to go with it. Finally I grabbed a handful of Old Navy Perfect Fit short sleeved t shirts in red, salmon, yellow, khaki and brown, cause these are my absolute favourite t shirts as they fit me exactly the way I want a t shirt to fit - I've never actually bought one at Old Navy either, only at Value Village

I find that at the best of times, shopping gives me a buzz, but I get an even bigger buzz when combined with killer deals! Now, this is one addiction I can easily rationalize and justify, not to mention get used to! 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

retail therapy and physio as world class events!

As Jim is now finally strong enough, yesterday he had his first physiotherapy appointment. We were only there for about an hour and a half as the initial appointment was just an assessment so that they could go on from here and develop his treatment plan. Starting on Monday, he has to attend this clinic for a minimum of six weeks, Monday to Friday from 1pm to 4pm. That sure is an insane amount of physiotherapy! Combined with the fact that this clinic is just shy of an hours bus ride one way, this means that he will be spending five hours each day minimum with physiotherapy. I know that he prefers that I accompany him to all of his appointments, and in fact, anytime that he leaves the house, but for this I won't be able to all of the time. Certainly, I will end up going with him for the most part anyway, but I imagine that there will be days that this will be impossible, as I will have my own medical appointments.

Even though this clinic is literally on the other side of town, the fact that we only need to take one bus - no transfers, cause I hate whenever I have to change to another bus - makes this journey that much more attractive. Also, there are enough shops that I like going to out by the clinic that it shouldn't be too hard for me to occupy the three hours. I guess that it could be way worse in so many other ways that this is a pretty small commitment when you stop to look at the big picture, so to speak!

Went shopping with my Mom and Sara today and our outing actually remained reasonably stress free considering the length of time we were out and about. As I've mentioned before, my Mom and I used to enjoy a pretty strained relationship, but this now seems very much, a part of our pasts. Even when we were in a constant battle, my Mom never failed to be overly generous where it concerned Sara, her grand daughter. I couldn't even hazard a guess on how many items of clothing she has purchased for her these near two decades. Most likely in the hundreds, and today was certainly no exception. Sara was only able to manage to hold on to one of her winter coats from last year, information that I only recently discovered as well as infuriated me. She absolutely swears that she has no idea where the other two disappeared to, and by the time that we had reached this part of our conversation, I wasn't even sure that I needed or wanted to know.

Two evenings before our scheduled outing, my Mom and I spent about an hour chatting on the phone. At this time, she mentioned to me that she had planned to buy Sara a new winter coat, and if the prices were reasonable then she was going to grab two for her. Now, no amount of protest from myself looked as if she could be made to change her mind so there seemed no point in continuing. Obviously, the more items that she gets for Sara means the less that I'll need to get for her in the future. And its not as if she can't afford to do this for Sara. My Dad made sure that my Mom would want for nothing once he had died, and from where I am sitting, he certainly seems to have been immensely successful in this regard. My Mom owns her condo and her condo fees are not only very reasonable but include the cost of all of her utilities. Other than these fees, the only other monthly bills that she has are for her telephone and cable.

One thing that I have managed to learn over the years is that there is no sense trying to go toe to toe with my Mom regarding what she will purchase during one of our many items, and today most certainly was on of those days! We really only managed to shop in one store today - Winners - as my Mom needed all of this time to buy a criminal amount of stuff for Sara, Jim and myself. Spending $679.00 at a "discount" outlet in less than three hours is quite the feat! I'm sure that if this were an Olympic event my Mom would be the reigning champ hands down!

She did get Sara her winter coat, plus two others! Sara made a few admiral attempts to dissuade her Granny from buying all three, but there was no way that anyone of us would have ever been able to do this successfully. Any time that we approached her, my Mom would head off in the opposite direction. When we did finally reconnect, it was to go off with one or her recently widowed neighbors to discuss their next scheduled restaurant outing. Now as I mentioned earlier, Sara got three brand spanking new winter coats to wear. They are all beautifully made with each one designed to be worn to a specific type of event or to an outdoor concert. I had a bit of a struggle within myself trying to avoid the inevitable argument that I knew was on the way as well as taking Sara aside to inform her that "resistance was futile". Once that was out there, it was smooth sailing for the shopping.

My Mom also bought me a gorgeous down filled ski coat in black by Calvin Klein. Its one of those ones that are filled with down and are poufy to the touch. She also bought Jim a new coat. His is from Kenneth Cole and also black. He'll look awesome in it that's for sure!Mom also bought him a pair of dressier casual pants in a darker beige with a very small check/plaid. Not to feel left out, she found a beautiful coat by Calvin Klein for herself. It is a dark gray boucle with an empire waist. It looks utterly smashing. Sara's first coat choice was a black three quarter length w/gray stripes by Dickies, then she found a full length all black one made out of a heavy cotton w/fur lined hood. The final coat she received is what I call a bomber coat made of black wool, also with a fur lined hood, coming to an end at her hips. Sara also scored the cutest 60s inspired minidress made of wool with purple and black stripes and, finally two new sexy bras. All in all, not too shabby indeed!