Black, Blue, And Colours in Between

PaintI signed into Facebook after work that Friday, the day before my previous post, the one that got me back into aMMusing. Sometimes I wonder why I sign into Facebook a few times a day as I do. More often than not it’s a downer, and the quick succession of one terrible and practically surreal event after another only seems to amplify the craziness and sadness that surround us. But as much as I have come to view Facebook as that train wreck we can’t help ourselves from looking at over and over, I hadn’t come prepared to read the status update of Cleopatrick, with whom I clearly had a falling out two years ago.

Just a month earlier, coincidentally on the day that would have been my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary, I read that he’d married his partner in a double wedding with his sister who finally married the guy she’d been with for 28 years. We hadn’t spoken in nearly two years at that point (more on that below), but that day we chatted through Messenger. He and his now-husband were leaving the next day for a week-long honeymoon in the Mexican Riviera, and I wished them a good trip — he assured me they would have — and that was that. I didn’t know if this chat signalled the beginning of a thaw in our relationship, but I didn’t give it too much thought because I wasn’t sure how I felt about that prospect.

Then, on that Friday a month later when I signed into Facebook after work, I read his status update: his husband had died earlier that day.

I immediately sent him a private message urging him to give me a call but, given the strain in our relationship, I wasn’t sure he’d respond; therefore, I also sent a private message to his sister and brother-in-law. It turns out he did respond within two hours or so, simply saying to give him a few days, which I perfectly understood. Around midnight, his brother-in-law filled me in: CP’s husband had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three months or so back. In other words, the guy had received his death sentence. He was in his early 50s, if that.

* * * * * * *

In my last post before deserting aMMusing, I announced that I was moving four blocks down the street to the top floor of a sixplex. Not having the use of my car but having three months to move, I started carrying some stuff over on January 15 (2014). The previous tenants, young engineering students from France, left some stuff behind such as a bed, a desk and a couch, so I began living at the new place even though I didn’t have all my stuff and only going to the old place on weekdays to work and watch Coronation Street. Thus I discovered that as long as I had an Internet connection, which I got as soon as I started living in the new place, I could live with little; in fact, I came to realized that I owned a lot of junk that only weighed me down. (I ended up filling nearly 20 garbage bags of stuff I either trashed or gave away.)

Still, moving is a daunting to me. It’s either that I hate packing or that I’m terrible at it — or both. But the mere thought of it is soporific to me. So, I hired professional movers to supply boxes and do all the hauling, and knowing that Cleopatrick wasn’t getting much paid work at the time, I offered to pay him for two days of packing and unpacking boxes. Fate had it that the move occurred on February 22, the date I married NowEx six years earlier. I got to reclaim that date from the calendar, changing it from what I knew was my worst “move” ever to what I hoped would literally be my best move ever.

The only thing I disliked about the new place was the wall colours. My bedroom was some weird pinkish purple; my office was an odd turquoise; the kitchen, hallway and living room were a bad “apartment beige”; in all cases, the ceilings were the same colour as the walls, which made everything feel claustrophobic. But I had resolved when I signed the sublease to get the place painted to my taste and at my expense.

* * * * * * *

With eight years’ seniority at my job by 2014, I had only 16 vacations days per year. Still, I had decided to take them all at once because two consecutive weeks off in the summer simply wasn’t good enough for me. I had therefore resolved that the first week would be a “staycation” to get the apartment painted and the next two weeks would be to travel to the Maritimes, as usual, to visit with Mom and maybe go as far as Halifax. Having seen how well Cleopatrick had painted one of his apartments and, again, knowing that he was short on cash, I offered to pay him the going per-room rate of a local professional painter except that I would supply the paint. He accepted.

Two or three days before I was to start my vacation, one of my brothers sent a message to my work e-mail telling me that Mom had been taken to the hospital. Long story short, she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which is sometimes referred to as “hardening of the lungs,” and needed to be on oxygen. My sister was on the last days of a trip to Corsica, so “the boys” (my brothers and I) resolved to tell her only when she returned that following Sunday and, given Mom’s condition at that time, we should consider alternating our time with her in Moncton rather than all converge together. It turned out that one of our cousins thwarted the first bit of our plan by sending our sister a message through Facebook, but whatever…

Later I took Cleopatrick out for fish and chips in the Village and told him that, in view of our decision to split our time with Mom, the paint job could go ahead as planned the following week. I also remember telling him that I wished to apologize ahead of time should I be short-tempered or distracted in the coming days, as I hadn’t seen Mom’s illness coming and I was a bit of a mess about it.

* * * * * * *

Thus began the most profoundly altering six weeks of my life, for in five weeks, Mom went from living independently in her own house to dying. I had always said that, as much as I found Dad’s passing difficult, I would be devastated the day I would lose Mom.

The winter of 2013-14 was extremely difficult in Moncton and it was really hard for Mom. But besides that, we’d noticed her declining slowly in the last two years. She seemed more and more frail and more prone to worrying. When my aunt (her sister-in-law) decided to move into a new home being built in our Moncton neighbourhood while my uncle would remain in their house, which was also just a block away from Mom’s, I could sense that she was slowly coming to terms with the thought of having to do the same.

Week One of my vacation (and the paint job) started — the first week of June 2014. The initial prognosis for Mom was that she could last many months and up to three years, depending on the stage her illness was caught. However, it quickly became apparent that she’d need to be on oxygen for the rest of her life, so just as quickly it became apparent, given there was no bathroom on the main floor at the house, that her returning to live there wasn’t viable.

Meanwhile, just as this news was coming down, my brother who lives in Moncton couldn’t be by her side at the hospital because most of the city was in lockdown for the manhunt of Justin Bourque — a guy in his early 20s who actually grew up four houses over from Mom’s — who had killed three RCMP officers and severely injured two. Mixed into my memories of perhaps the darkest chapter in my hometown’s history is the memory of a tearful phone conversation with my mom, who believed she was announcing to me that she would not be able to return home. “It all happened so quickly,” she kept saying, and she was right: one minute she was preparing to go do some kind of volunteer work as usual at the golden age club, and the next minute, as she was on the phone with her sister who’d called earlier than usual that morning, she realized that she couldn’t catch her breath.

And the paint job? Every day my siblings asked how it was coming along. “Where is it at? Sixty, seventy percent done?” I could tell they were surprised when I’d say it wasn’t nearly that far along, but I didn’t give it much thought because I knew that if I’d attempted it myself, I’d probably be nowhere, not to mention that the little I would have done would have been a frightful mess.

* * * * * * *

Cleopatrick would work Monday to Thursday, for he had a dishwashing gig in a restaurant in the Village on Friday and Saturday. With the paint job still ongoing, my siblings and I decided that Week Three of my vacation would be my week to be with Mom in Moncton, taking over from my elder brother and my sister taking over at the end of my week.

I’ll save the narrative of that week with her for another post except to say that on the Friday morning, my last full day before coming back to Montreal, I stepped into her room to find her with a full oxygen mask and her intake had gone from 3 or 4 litres the previous evening to 9 litres. I will never forget the way she looked at me as I stepped into her room, not turning her head but looking at me sideways as a child who had just done something wrong. It was devastatingly heartbreaking yet I didn’t let on, choosing instead to calmly ask her and the nursing staff what was happening. She was brought down for some new scans later that afternoon, but while I didn’t grasp that this was the true beginning of the end, I did know that this turn meant that she could no longer hope to go to that home she’d hoped to go to because her condition was beyond the level of care that could be offered there.

Back home that night, I sent Cleopatrick a message to tell him of this major change and that while I would be driving back to Montreal as planned the next day, I might be returning to Moncton the following weekend and work from there. To this day, I don’t know what motivated me to send him that message. Was I hoping that he’d reply to say that it’s okay because he just finished the painting? I really don’t know. I seem to recall being more preoccupied with the logistics of taking care of Mom, and somehow that note fitted into the logistics.

I don’t remember how many times and for how long I stopped on my way to Montreal, but the drive took me longer than usual. At one of my stops outside Quebec City, I texted Sweet Sam who I’d just met a few weeks earlier and agreed to go directly to his place for a drink before going home to my apartment. And when I arrived home around midnight, bone tired, I found that my place was still like a massive workshop: he hadn’t started the bedroom yet, the furniture therein was still in the centre of the room, and the futon in the office that could serve as a bed was covered with stuff.

With my back against the wall in the hallway, I crumpled to the floor and I began to cry. I just couldn’t deal with this. I had no points of reference to lean on.

* * * * * * *

The next night, my siblings and I had a four-way conference through Skype. The doctor had told my younger brother that Friday’s scans “didn’t look good,” but he didn’t elaborate. So my sister, who’s a physiotherapist, was going to have a meeting the next morning with the doctor to get some straight answers. Although all my siblings had hinted at one time or another that Mom might be dying, I had refused to say those words.

I logged into work the next morning and told my supervisor at work that I would be going back to Moncton by the end of the week and work from there, pending what my sister would report in the coming hours. By 11:00, having not heard anything yet, I called “home” and my sister answered immediately. All I remember her saying was, “…maybe 2 or 3 days…” and “…you have to come back right away…” And then, as I was sitting on the edge of that blasted futon, I essentially just hung up on her as I blurted “I have to go …I’ll call you back” and just started to wail in a way I had never before.

The rest is sketchy. I don’t remember why Cleopatrick wasn’t there, for it was a Monday and he should have been there. I do remember calling my supervisor once I could contain myself enough to call her, and I think this is a verbatim quote from her: “Log off and get the fuck out of here.” I know I decided that it was too late to start driving to Moncton, and I wanted to wash my clothes and go to bed very early after taking a sleeping pill. I don’t for the life of me remember how I got word to Cleopatrick that I was getting the hell out of Dodge. I do remember getting the text message from my younger brother telling me Mom had been moved to palliative care and was “resting comfortably” (as people always say when someone enters palliative care). And I remember asking my family for radio silence from a given point that day until my arrival in Moncton, for I didn’t know if I could finish the drive down while knowing that my mother had died.

* * * * * * *

Well, she didn’t die that day. Nor the day I arrived. Nor the day after that, for that matter, when they began administering the “end-of-life protocol.”

Nope! The protocol began around noon the last Wednesday of June 2014 and she died 20 minutes into the following Tuesday, July 1 — Canada Day. Every day until I die, there will be fireworks to remind me of the day my mother died, as if I needed reminding. But given my family’s warped sense of humour, we all said later that day she probably held on into July just so we could claim her government pension cheque for that month. And you know what? If the departed can look down upon us, I’m certain she had a shitface grin on her face, feigning indignation but thinking that we really did have her figured out after all.

One day I will write about those last days with Mom. We slept on lazyboys in her room, taking three-hour shifts, two by two, through each night. But one night, during one of my shifts to stay awake by Mom’s bedside with my younger brother, he brought up my paint job situation. “Isn’t he also friends with the Queen of Sheba?” he asked me, to which I replied he was. “How about asking her to call him to say that ‘Maurice is in a really bad way and needs to be able to get his apartment back so that he can begin to recoup’?”

I didn’t really like the idea off the bat. It felt like that would be a kind of provocation. But at the same time, I had grown indignant. If he had received that message I had sent the night before driving to Montreal, which I don’t know if he did or not, but if he had… If I’d received such a note and knew the state in which I’d left the apartment, wouldn’t I have taken an hour before going to work to go to the apartment and clear a space for a bed since the guy would be arriving after driving 10 hours or more from Moncton? I could see someone not being comfortable poking around to find the bed linen and that, but at least clear a spot? Then again, even if he hadn’t seen the note, the plan hadn’t changed: I was coming back from Moncton that Saturday night. Can someone be so lost inside their own bubble as not to even think of this on their own?

Anyway, the next morning, my brother shared his idea with my other brother and sister, and they all thought that if I couldn’t bring myself to do it, then it indeed was a good idea. But then we resumed our wait by Mom’s bedside, in awe along with the nursing staff over how this little lady just wasn’t ready to give it up. But after six days and five nights, she did.

* * * * * * *

It was either the day Mom died or the next day that I spoke to the Queen of Sheba. I don’t even remember if I’m the one who called her or if she’s the one who called me. I do remember that I sent her a few e-mails that week, so I may have sent her one when Mom did die. I’m not sure.

I do recall, however, her asking me if she would like it if she would come from Halifax to attend the funeral. As much as Mom had prepared everything to the point that it was almost as easy as just pressing a button to start all the funeral arrangements, I still felt overwhelmed by family and all of Mom’s friends that I feared I would hardly have time to see her if she came. “However,” I said, “I would have a favour to ask, but you can always say No.” And I sprung The Idea on her. “Gladly,” she said. “I can’t believe this even needs to be said to him.”

So the die were cast. But judging from what happened (or didn’t) in the two years that followed, my reasons for thinking initially that it wasn’t a good idea may not have been far off the mark. Except that while it may have been the cherry on the proverbial sundae, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on what else may have led to the strain in our friendship.

* * * * * * *

If you’re trying to figure out the math, here it is: When I returned to Montreal after the funeral, Week Six of the Paint Job from Hell was beginning, and after going back today to check messages we exchanged back then, it even went into a partial Week Seven, which I had completed forgotten about! Granted, when Week Six began, the job was much further ahead than the last time I arrived, but Sweet Sam, whom I suckered into helping me the night I arrived to bring up an awkward piece of furniture I inherited from home, was outraged by what he saw. I was just too exhausted and grief striken to muster up any more outrage. I just longed to have my cocoon back and understood more than ever why I prefer spending so much time alone rather than having to deal with people.

After the move in February, I had asked him if he’d agree to me hiring him to clean the apartment every two weeks and, again, he had accepted. So I asked him on what I gather now was the beginning of Week Seven if he’d consent to a post-painting “double cleaning” for an extra 80 bucks. Having resumed work, I then had to make a call and thus enclosed myself into the office; when the call ended and I stepped out of the office, I discovered that he had left. A few hours later he sent me a message, but along with an apology for having left without letting me know, he was refusing the “double cleaning” offer. But what poisoned the message and the apology was this line: “The circumstances of the past 6 weeks have been stressful for you but they haven’t spared me either and that is why I want to separate my work from my friendships…”

Even though I was all by myself reading this message, I felt like I was surrounded by an invisible jury asking me in unison, “So what did your last slave die of?”

* * * * * * *

This may come as a surprise to some, but in eight years of living in Montreal, I have made precisely one true friend: Sweet Sam. I have made two or three “more than acquaintances but less than friends,” but since sending back NowEx to Mexico seven years ago this week, I’ve been guilty of closing in on myself and, despite knowing that I shouldn’t, even declining some social invitations. (Right, Richard?)

As much as astrology is bullshit, I do like that they say that a Leo is fiercely loyal. That I am. And if I come to trust someone as a friend, I will open up to the verge of making myself vulnerable. So when a falling out happens in one of my few friendships, it really, really hurts.

Meanwhile, back during my short stint of therapy in 2011, I learned that I can take criticism as long as it’s justified, but I constantly struggle trying to figure out what is justified and what is not. I also learned that being bullied from a very young age for being a “faggot” has fostered in me a deep sense of outrage when something is not right or not fair, and as a result I always question myself about whether or not I’m treating others right — especially friends. And if a friend ascribes or suspects non-existant motives to actions I pose or things I say, that, too, really, really hurts.

Did I fuck him over? Did I short-change him into painting a roughly 725 square-feet apartment? Not according to the multiple people I asked and what I saw online. But then if someone receives value X for a job that others claim should take time T but then that someone takes T * 6 to do the job, who’s at fault if fault there is: the “employer” or the “employee”?

That line of inquiry seemed like a dead end, so I then turned to conversations or “incidents” during that time besides The Call from the Queen of Sheba.

One day I drove him home (I offered) and the sky ripped open once we hit the Ville-Marie Expressway. The next day he told me that he considered it a “white-knuckle drive” and he’d rather just take the metro thereafter. He felt uncomforable with my driving — he’s not the first one! — but knowing that I was in control at all times, I agreed that it was his problem and I didn’t offer again to drive him home, letting him take the metro instead.

I also remember how his partner didn’t seem to know what to make of me. Yeah, Cleopatrick and I had been a couple once …20 freakin’ years ago! Been there, done him, not interested in that anymore, not even remotely!

One thing that always bothers me beyond this undercurrent of jealousy or mistrust (if that’s what it is) is seeing a friend having to constantly report back on his whereabouts to his partner, or hearing of a partner getting tremendously upset that my friend returned home considerably later than he initially expected. And it’s particularly irksome when the delay was because I took my friend out for authentic Chinese food after a long day of work together, not because we decided to have a quickie for old time’s sake! You know, I’ve never, ever done that with an ex, and I’d especially not if he’s involved with someone else, so why am I always suspected of this transgression?

But one concern I did voice, which in hindsight I shouldn’t have voiced even though I believed (and still believe) was true, is how his partner seemed to be exerting the same kind of control on him as a previous ex of his used to. As his friend, I was troubled by this behaviour. And I was confused by it, too, because on the surface his partner didn’t seem like the type who’d do that. Yet what I was being told about how some events had gone down sounded like a repeated recording but with a different protagonist.

* * * * * * *

Whatever happened before and perhaps led to what I’ll call that “message of termination,” what resulted was a total discontinuation of contact.

Meanwhile, I’ll remind you, my mother died two weeks before. I had no friend in Montreal to really talk to. I had only met Sweet Sam a month and a half earlier. As kind and comforting as he was — and he really was! — he couldn’t possibly grasp the full depth of my grief as would someone who’d known me for 20 years and knew practically every detail of my relationship with my mother.

At one point I noticed that the partner had unfriended me from Facebook. Then, a year passed. Then almost another year passed, with only very rare and perfunctory messages, until May 14 of this year when I learned online that they had wed and then we had a more substantive chat through Messenger.

Then a Friday afternoon after work one month later, I read his status update: his partner had died earlier that day.

* * * * * * *

Once when my friend Da Big Goof come to visit me in Montreal a bit more than a year after Mom died, I tried to explain to him how I felt, just as I tried to explain it to you. And even as he set aside the painting fiasco, he was unequivocal as he always is: “A friend who lets you down at a time like that is no friend of yours.”

In my mind I agreed with him; in my heart I couldn’t let go and accept it.

And it didn’t help that other friends told me the same thing in their own (less blunt) way.

* * * * * * *

I called the Queen of Sheba on the night the partner/husband died, and at one point she remarked, “This is really shaking you up, isn’t it?” It was, and I really didn’t understand why. I still don’t, really, but some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind made (and make) me feel really icky, for lack of a more sophisticated word.

For one thing, how can I be indifferent to someone dying? Yes, I did have some worries; I wondered if I was the only one being cut off from Cleopatrick or if I was only an isolated case. But I also never thought the partner and now late husband was fundamentally a bad person. In fact, he had a very kind demeanour which just didn’t jive with what I was hearing about him, although I did hear of his very pragmatic (to no say “unkind”) opinions about end of life and dying. Was my perception about him completely off the mark or was there at least an ounce of truth to it? After all, juxtaposed to this thought, I couldn’t ignore Cleopatrick’s history of casting off some former friends, all on his own.

And then, of course, the mere thought of someone losing a loved one still strikes a very raw nerve in me. I know how badly it hurts. When it happens to a friend, there’s no question about how one is expected to be there; it just comes naturally. Except that didn’t come with Cleopatrick when my mother died, so what the hell am I suppose to do with this?

Then followed the darker thoughts, thoughts I feel ashamed to have thought, thoughts so unspeakably dark that they would be denied even though they may have been thought. I don’t doubt for an instant that those two loved each other very much, and in this case, until the end. But the fact remains that marriage among “commoners” like us is fundamentally an instrument to regulate property rights and onto which the notion of “love” has been attached only in the last few centuries. Love is not a condition of marriage under the law, and until a century ago in our Western societies, women were the property of men. In this case, someone’s property rights got a healthy boost, and it ain’t the dead man’s. However, deep down, I suspect that the idea of marriage was initiated by the dead man when his sad prognostic came down.

* * * * * * *

I think the fact I’ve just written such a long post is a testament to just how much I felt hurt and betrayed not to have Cleopatrick’s friendship when Mom died. But more troubling to me is how I reacted to his husband’s death.

It posed an obvious dilemma, as I couldn’t see myself behaving as he had despite what had gone down in the last two years. But then I would remember my history of lurching myself into “rescue missions,” although I think I’ve managed to control that impulse since I’ve gone through therapy. Then I was reminded of how he’d been the recipient of such rescue missions, for better or for worse, and I wondered if — perhaps feared that — this might be THE event that would draw me into a relapse.

More than two months have passed, though, and he never called back. I figure that the ball is in his court: I signalled that I would be there if he wanted me to be. He may have fallen back on his family, his late husband’s family, and their mutual friends, and that’s more than okay. But did he not call me back because he’s still “mad” at me or because somewhere inside him he realizes, now that he’s having to grieve a loved one, that he abandoned our friendship when I needed it the most?

I have other thoughts and questions like that, but better to just leave them unwritten. I just didn’t think that I would still have to deal with such situations at age 51.

Where Does One Begin?

Where Does One Begin?Oh blog, oh blog! For two-and-a-half years I’ve abandoned you but, despite appearances, I’ve missed you. I thought often about coming back to you but, for whatever reason, I never did. Until today.

People don’t blog like they used to when you were born, aMMusing. Now it’s all Facebook and Twitter. It’s not the same. Even the term “blog” doesn’t mean what it used to mean back in 2002. Then again, it didn’t mean one single thing back then, either. But when big corporations like the one I work for began having “blogs,” you just knew that the spirit would be taken out of it. When McDonalds opens up in a quirky and funky neighbourhood — I’m looking at you, Spring Garden Road in Halifax — the quirkiness and funkiness disappear.

Coronation Street‘s Mary Taylor was once made to say, without a hint of irony, “I avoid clichés like the plague!” Likewise, but with irony, I say that so much water has gone under the bridge in those 2+ years.

Mom has died. On Canada Day 2014 — July 1. I returned to work shortly after, as in less than a week after her funeral. A few weeks after that, I looked into buying a few extra weeks’ vacation so that I could maybe spend that time at some bed-and-breakfast, perhaps on Cape Cod or Fire Island — the loonie hadn’t tanked yet — and write in this blog. But I was denied permission to do so. Had I gone to a shrink to get an order to take some time off, then my employer would have allowed it. But, having already put my cards on the table, I couldn’t bring myself to do that, as it felt disingenuous to me.

Then yesterday after work, I signed onto Facebook and got some news that profoundly shocked me. That single bit of news has dredged up so, so much… And here I am finding myself coming back to you today, aMMusing. Mom’s death didn’t manage to make me do that; someone else’s did …although events and circumstances have made sure that the two cannot be disassociated.

It’s a hot mess in my head. Thoughts that, on the surface, have no relation to each other are somehow all interconnected. So here I am back to you today, aMMusing, hoping you can help me sort it all out with a few posts. And hoping as well that I won’t stop again for another two-and-half years.

Slow But Steady She Goes!

MovingIt’s really going to be a weird winter.

After my posting last week, I picked up my new glasses and then spent much of the rest of the weekend looking online for a new apartment. It was a discouraging experience because it became increasingly clear that I would have to settle for a one-bedroom given how much prices for rent have gone up. And all the while, I kept thinking about how much I hate the logistics of moving, made all the more complicated by the fact I won’t be allowed to drive starting this coming Tuesday.

And then I fell onto something I couldn’t ignore: a huge two-bedroom apartment in a sixplex, at the right price, only a few blocks from my current place. But the catch was that it was available three months too early. So I began consulting with family and friends to ask if it was crazy to consider paying two rents for three months to secure what seemed like the ideal spot.

I calculated that I could afford doing that. But more importantly, it would allow me to stay in a neighbourhood I love and would eliminate the stress of moving on a very fixed date and not having a car. I could carry a box or a suitcase of unessential stuff every evening and consider keeping the personal and office move separate. The more I thought about it, the more I felt this convenience was worth the high price.

I did investigate getting out of my lease a month or two earlier than scheduled (given that I’ve been an otherwise model tenant and all of that and the building managers would probably gut this apartment before leasing it to someone else), but I was refused. Worse, I will not be allowed to keep renting my garage space, something I didn’t anticipate given that I know of at least two people who live outside the building who rent at least three spaces. It makes me wonder what’s the point of being an excellent tenant for six years if you end up being treated the same way as a troublesome tenant. But no point being bitter, I suppose.

I’m going to sign the sublease at 6:00 pm today. Earlier this afternoon I spent some time looking again at Kijiji and, for a brief moment, I wondered if I didn’t go too fast. But what keeps coming back to my mind is not only the hugeness of the new place but also the convenience of its location given my circumstances this winter. What’s more, I will no longer have neighbours above me, and the area will be much more quiet than where I am now. So, reminding myself that I have literally months even after the move to come up with a permanent parking situation, I’m saying to myself that there are times when it’s okay to be a bit impulsive.

And you know what? Given how time goes by so quickly, I know that on April 1st (when everything will be done and over with), I’ll look back at December 1st (today) and feel like it was just a month ago. Plus now, as I imagine myself living in the new place as of mid-January, I’m getting excited about something that I would normally dread.

So now I’m off to run a few errands to take advantage of my last 30 hours of driving for the next three months. I still think that’s going to be weirder than the odd move I just concocted for myself.

Big Changes in the Works

PlanningLast week’s news is forcing me to come up with a new plan.

I have to admit that, each time I drove this week, I thought to myself, “Man, I’m really going to miss this!” I think 10 days is the most I’ve gone without driving since September 1991 (when not travelling outside the country, of course), and that would have been when the motor of my previous car had blown up. But I’m determined not to get into more trouble by risking driving without a valid permit.

I spoke with my sister earlier this week about leaving my car with her, but I got the sense that with winter and snow removal and so on, that’d be a big pain in the ass for her. However, I wasn’t warm to the idea of simply leaving my car keys with my nephew here in Montréal in case the car had to be moved on very short notice. What if he was out of town or just not reachable? Hence today I woke up with a bunch of ideas that constitute a plan.

  1. Last Sunday morning I bumped into my (very sexy, by the way) Venezuelan neighbour in the garage and I confided to him what’s happening. And this morning it dawned on me: Why not leave the car keys with him? I don’t doubt his honesty but, just to be above board, we could sign a piece of paper saying that I’m confiding my keys with him from December 3 until my permit is reinstated and that he is not to give me the keys under any circumstances until then. That would prevent us from appearing one day on L’Arbitre (Québec’s equivalent of Judge Judy) to argue that no, I didn’t lend or give him my car. However, if the car needs to be moved, he could move his and then mine. So that would save me a trip to Chelsea next weekend and not encroach the plans my sister had nor impose a PITA on her this winter.
  2. Given the span of time my suspension will cover, I won’t bother getting the winter tires installed, which they have to be by law in Québec from December 15 to March 15. However, since my tires are stored at Canadian Tire and the storage fee is seasonal, I’ll just pay the storage renewal before December 3. Then, when I’ll be back on the road mid-March, I’ll renew it for another season and get the oil changed.
  3. I just got word that the three pairs of glasses I purchased two weeks ago are ready. Good thing: The place where I bought them is a bit out of the way by public transportation. So this afternoon, I’ll go get them, go to Canadian Tire, and possibly get my hair cut.
  4. Some errands are just more easily done with a car and I have until December 2 to get them done. I just have to think about what those errands might be. But the biggest pain I obviously won’t be able to do before then is the next point…
  5. Last weekend I also got notice that my rent is going up $10/month. The amount doesn’t really bother me (although there’s a story I won’t get into that should make me bothered about it), but it’s giving me the little push I needed to get off my duff and move on April 1. Since that falls on a Tuesday and I have to think about the impact of moving on my job, I’ll use that extra week of vacation I plan to purchase for the move. And since I’ll have to rely on public transportation to view apartments, it’ll be a great test of suitability for my new digs. If a place is hard to get to by métro and bus, it’ll have to have a lot of counter-balancing positives to make it rise to the top.

    My first line of attack will be to call the new building managers to see if they have some vacancies coming up for April 1. I know I would be changing landlord but, from what I’ve seen in the last few months, these people take very good care of the buildings they manage. It’s crazy that I’m just on that line where I can’t get a mortgage but will have to pay as much as a mortgage payment in rent, but whining about this fact won’t change it.

It’s all very boring but I have a lot to think about and do in the next four to five months. And there I was wondering what life without debt would be like? Sheesh!!! I forgot that there are other curve balls in life than being in debt up to your eyeballs!

Some Things Just Bite, But What Can You Do…

Cop LightsIt looks like I’m going to have a “different” winter.

Remember when this happened in December 2011? In addition to the fines, that speeding infraction cost me 14 demerit points. Then, last month around Drummondville, QC, en route to Moncton to celebrate Mom’s 85th birthday, I got pulled over for a much lesser speeding offense that added 2 demerit points. But, in Québec, when you reach 15 points (for the first time), your license gets suspended for three months. Or so it says in the registered letter I just picked up this afternoon…

My suspension begins December 3, 2013, which falls on a Tuesday, and ends on March 3, 2014, which falls on a Monday. But “ends” simply means that’s when I can apply for a new license after passing a written test. Now I know the feeling of humilitation my father felt when he had to reapply for his permit, although he had lost his on grounds that his illness may have had rendered him insufficiently alert to drive.

Thankfully I live a block away from a métro station and there’s a grocery store right next to it. I don’t really need a car in Montréal. It’s just that, for me, not having a car is like a cowboy without a horse. It’s going to take some getting used to.

I also know myself well in some respects: As much as I have the willpower to accomplish some things and avoid others, I’m not convinced I can swear off driving with the temptation of a car downstairs in the garage. So, I’m thinking that I need to remove that temptation, and the first solution that came to mind is to bring my car to my sister’s and leave it in her driveway for the winter, if she’s willing.

As for the rest of my plans, I even figured out how to get by transit to the place where I will need to write my exam, and how will plan weeks in advance to take a vacation day from work or make arrangements to accumulate a day’s worth of overtime because, of course, that exam is only given on weekdays.

I’m not tickled about any of this, but I’m not totally miserable about it, either. Being miserable about it wouldn’t change the facts. Of course, if I’m reading the documents correctly, had those two extra points that pushed me over the edge appeared on my record two months and three days later exactly, I wouldn’t be in this situation since the points from December 2011 would have dropped from my record. It’s all the more unnerving given that I’m still not convinced that I was going the speed I was alleged to be going back then, but didn’t have it in me to contest.

So, it is what it is — and an even quieter winter than I was expecting.