Transition - Weird Day

Posted on April 15, 2017 at 10:41 PM
Weird day--it felt like I had acute PMS, though that is not possible, and I went on a bizarre goose chase that eventually wound up on level ground. The roots of this twisted outing today, on a Saturday, go back to Thursday when the goose chase actually started, and when I again felt nervous about a housemate and did not sleep well on Friday night. 

I obeyed a directive by telephone interview on Wednesday to go to the Coquitlam Electoral District Office in seek of employment  as provincial elections staff. As recruiters were working with an outdated application bearing a Coquitlam address, I had been called to go to Coquitlam, but the Coquitlam people had worried that I would find the commute difficult (although I told them I was used to commuting to Coquitlam and that I knew I could make it there easily and on time) and instructed me apply in Vancouver. (If I hadn't spoken up to mention that I now had a Vancouver address, I guess things would have gone smoothly and I'd have a great elections job in Coquitlam by now.) The Coquitlam people didn't know where to send me, and had trouble using a computer to find out, so I made a guess and planned to go to the Fraserview Office on Saturday after the Good Friday holiday.

I've long had an idea of working for Elections BC, and had submitted an application for an officer position back in January, and that submission triggered a call in response in February informing me that the hiring would be done in April. This was puzzling and no explanation of the process was given me back then, although I have since learned they term these early applications, "intentions to apply." Oh, boy. Ever since the call in February, I'd been waiting for a call to invite me to go to an interview and it came last Wednesday. That person should not have sent me to Coquitlam as she learned when she talked to me that I had a new residential address, though.

While at the Coquitlam office, I phoned the Fraserview office to check as to whether I should and could go there on a Saturday and see about making an appointment for an interview. Someone told me drop by any time. I set out today, decked out for an interview and intending to get there well before noon.

I had a terrible sleep on Friday night. That was due to the disturbing presence of that strange housemate who sometimes bursts into a rage and directs anger towards me. I have felt seriously afraid at times. I sensed something on Friday , even though things appeared calm and had been peaceful the day before. I was getting drowsy enough to retire for the night when, sure enough, the guy began  clanging pots and pans and burning pork on the stove as a load of washing sent vibrations up through my room. I tensed up. I barely slept. I consequently felt yucky this morning.

I was ignorant that it was Vaisahki Day in the Sikh community, who would be out in large numbers celebrating in the streets of South Vancouver. I walked a few blocks to the Main Street bus, thinking that the trip would be straight forward. I waited and waited. One full bus went by without stopping. I waited some more. What was up? Finally, a bus stopped but would only go part way. A fellow passenger enlightened me on the festival, though everybody else around me was talking about a "farmers' market" and the bus driver offered no explanation. I decided to take the bus as far as possible on this route and walk the rest of the way, checking out the festivities along the way. 

The way was nearly 30 blocks long. I cut over to a side street, but could not resist going back to Main Street to see what was going on. (I had to double back to retrieve gloves I kept dropping en route, however.) Many men were proffering slices of pizza at street corners, and I eventually took a couple. Others were campaigning on issues. An anti-racist group was giving out helpful leaflets about the racial and religious divisions and state offences in India. Another was campaigning against fortune tellers and practitioners of witchcraft. I talked with them for awhile. Interesting. I took a photo of an awning bearing the name of the festival in nice gold print on bright red cloth, under which stern old men observed me. I moved quickly on. A parade was starting up the street's steep grade. There were paramilitary forces: Punjabi officers of the city police with their non-Sikh co-workers all sporting head-scarves. Cool. Then a Sikh biker group followed with their mighty machines painted bright yellow. I took a few photos.

I kept walking and finally came across the sought-after electoral office way down near the Fraser River estuary in a warehouse area. How inviting! How convenient!

There was a very competent manager there. After reception staff told me no interviews were being held, finally this manager came forward but only to tell me to go away. She thought I was at the wrong office. I explained my situation, and that elections BC staff had been sending me hither and yon, and that I had just walked about 25 city blocks to get there. The manager told me that such a phone call could not possibly have taken place, yet I assured her it had. "Who did you talk to?" she wondered. "Did you check the phone number? You must have called the wrong place." I assured her I had asked for confirmation that I had called the right place and received confirmation. The nice lady conceded and interviewed me. However, she said almost all the positions for which she was responsible were filled. She was the one who also informed me that I had evidently given "an expression of interest" in applying and not actually applied when I had replied to the JOB AD back in January. Anyway...she looked up the address of the appropriate electoral office and told me to go apply there too. 

Off I went, feeling even more agitated. I had to loop around the expansive festival area by transit. I went westward to the metro train station (Skytrain which goes underground a fair ways) and connect to an eastbound bus. As I was approaching the bus stop outside the metro station, a representative of Jesus Christ greeted me and asked me how my day was going. I told him I was flustered because of appointment mix-ups and transit issues. He offered to pray for me, and I accepted, though I resisted making an appointment to discuss the Mormon Bible with him at a later date. This bus was late and I was scolded for cutting the queue by entering the bus through the back door. "It is not safe to enter by the rear door of a 40-foot bus," the driver told us. 

Upon entering the Kensington Electoral District Office on Fraser Street--residents don't use that name, so how was I to know it?--I noticed a very distinctly mysterious and cool atmosphere of a doctor's office. A serene receptionist was busy calling people to invite them to interviews. I quickly filled out another application, adding notes about my situation, and passed it to her. "Fine, " she said. When I asked about the stage of their interview process and how soon they might call me, a got a subtly haughty response that "the recruiter would decide." "Do you think she might make calls on Monday," I queried. The receptionist wryly shrugged a shoulder and replied, "Maybe."

The task of the day finally completed, I wandered up the street in the direction of my place, contemplating taking refuge somewhere in the vicinity. I suddenly remembered that I needed to return DVDs to the Vancouver Library before I got fined for overdue materials. I asked someone who confirmed there was a library in the area. An attentive staff person duly noted my warning that a DVD I had tried had nearly destroyed my new laptop because it was damaged.

After taking care of the DVD returns and taking out more movies and books, I realized I was quite hungry. It was 1:30, and I had finished breakfast at 10:00 and left the house at 10:30. The pizza had not been sufficient. Of course, most Indian restaurants were closed, except for a Halal restaurant. The latter  broadcast a decent lunch special by means of a sandwich board. I went in and enjoyed a full tray, feeling too full to eat the naan, which I had packed up to take home. 

Feeling somewhat relieved, I figured I had better shop for more groceries. I accomplished that secondary task at a local discount mart, then headed for a bus stop. The normal transit route still blocked off, I headed for one some 6 more blocks away. En route, who should I encounter but some former associates of a Filipino activist center where I used to work on human rights issues. Hand-shaking and hugs amid the little huddle in front of an NDP candidate's office, whom I also know. More hand shaking and exchanging of regards. I promised to pay a visit another day.

At the bus stop was another long queue. I passed the time by chatting to a friendly passenger, giving him an account of my weird day so far. After I told him where it had ended up prior to my arriving at the bus stop, he said, "So it wasn't so weird after all." Yeah, that's right. He was very positive, talking about the free food he had enjoyed at the festival. The bus came after another substantial wait. This driver let some of us enter by the back door.

I got home and unloaded my bags to make a good cup of tea. I sat in the living room munching on a little chocolate and sipping tea. I was tired. Still some tasks nagged me, so I went to the computer. I allowed myself to check messages and issue a few responses. It so happens that more friends are touching base and sending out invitations: this time, they are the dragon boating lot. The job hunt may not be going so well (nothing out of the ordinary about that, in Vancouver life!) but my social life is regaining its former luster. I sent out a quick application nevertheless,

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, late career development, relationships, transition

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Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.

A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.

Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.

Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 

Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 

I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.

Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 

On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.

I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 

Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!

I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.

I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.

Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).

 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.

The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.

I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 

Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 

However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.

It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.

My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 

There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.

2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 

I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.

Ed Wise


15 January 2020