Summary of 2013
Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest: The Ongoing Saga of ****** Street
by Andrew Karagianis, December 31st, 2013/January 1st, 2014
I have been thinking about how to write up my “It’s become an annual thing” summary of the year. I have lots to write about, but there was no real cohesive theme in 2013 with which everything else revolved around – in 2012, my entire year was devoted to going back to school for Addictions. 2013 was a more regular year spent moving forward, slowly but surely, as an adult. Not a year of many milestones, but a year of enjoying life with my girlfriend, working in my field, and working my way toward a normal, conformist, middle-class adult life. In other words, everything 17-year-old Andrew worked to avoid 😉
I rang in the new year (2013) on King Street near Roy Thomson Hall with Ally. We then took the streetcar home, while I exchanged “Happy New Year!” texts with other friends. It was uneventful, but I was happy to spend the night with Ally, because the next day, I was off to work! Fascinating, right? I got my first job in my field in the middle of December 2012, and worked there every weekend in January. Let’s call it "Center 1". I didn’t really do much else in January. Work, hang out with Ally at her apartment, and go back to Dad’s house. But work in January was fun. It was a good group of clients to introduce me to another side of addiction treatment – the government-funded, waitlist kind.
February is where 2013 started to get interesting. I had applied to work at another treatment center in January, and in early February, I had an interview. The interview went well, although the interviewer took a call to hear that a client had stolen a counsellor’s car at the treatment center, which I should have taken as my cue to say “Thanks but no thanks”. Anyway, that same week, I had been hired at the center where I did my placement in the fall of 2012. Let’s call it "Center 2". I worked a few shifts at the other treatment center (Center 3), where the staff were decent, but I soon noticed problems. Clients were smoking indoors and in the van. A counsellor filled up the van with gas while the engine was running. I drove up there during the February snowstorm and ruptured my gas tank on a snowbank in their driveway when their plow operator asked me to move my car. And when they handed me the new-employee paperwork after my third shift, it included a non-competition clause. I spoke with the bigwig who interviewed me about having been hired by a competitor at the same time, and he told me that I had to choose one or the other. So I went to my mom’s to think about it, did the math, and quit Center 2. I called Center 3 to inform them. That evening, I found out that they weren’t going to give me as many hours as I had been led to believe, and so I made my dissatisfaction known. The next day, they called to say they had “withdrawn the offer.” So there I was, fired from one after quitting the other, feeling guilty and enraged. Thankfully, I got my job back at Center 2, and I’ve been working there ever since. Center 3 did not pay me for hours worked, and they have a reputation for dishonesty and being unprofessional. They will get their comeuppance, and I will be happy to watch them crumble.
For the rest of February and March, I worked a fair bit at Center 2, and learned to present the family program lectures. I didn’t work at Center 1 for a stretch of six weeks, and this “work a lot at one job; don’t work much at the other” went back and forth for several months.
Since I had met Ally in July of 2012, her rented townhouse on ****** Street had been a revolving door of tenants. In early 2013, it was her; a hipster in her mid-30s; an unemployed Asian guy in his early 30s; and a starving musician in his mid-30s. In March, Ally and I talked about finding a place to live together. Shortly afterward, her female roommate announced that she was leaving. Hallelujah! Ally’s female roommate had made our lives difficult for as long as we’d been there, what with her snarky comments, unkempt appearance, coconut oil shampoo, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Syrup, salad for every meal, claw-happy cat, pants-eating rabbit, music that sounded like jackhammers attacking a nest of raccoons, and the dark cloud and cold wind that always followed her into a room. We decided that I would take her place in the nice bedroom at the front of the house. I’d get to live downtown, with my girlfriend; neither of which I’d done before. I’d get that reserved parking spot, with quick access to the highways I needed to drive on to get to both of my jobs. Walking distance to all sorts of cool places. And we’d be done with shitty roommates.
Or so we thought.
But like an ad on YouTube (which I can’t fucking STAND), you’re going to have to read through the unrelated stuff in order to get to the meat of that story 😉
In April, I went to Niagara Falls with Ally for her birthday – we saw a Buddhist temple, a butterfly garden, a really cool aviary where I made use of my bird communication skills and called over a parrot, and had dinner at TGIFridays, where I typed up a get-healthy plan on my phone…and quickly forgot about it thereafter. April was also the leanest month of the year for me in terms of work – no extra shifts beyond the bare minimum. It wasn’t so bad though, because I spent the month packing for my move downtown. Packing takes a long time when you [probably] have the hoarder gene.
On May 2nd, Ally and I picked up a U-Haul in Midland, loaded it up, and moved my stuff downtown, with a stop at her parents’ house to pick up our new grown-up (i.e., double) bed. A twin bed is cozy for two, but knowing that you’re only an inch from falling out every night…coupled with the old bed falling apart about once a month…meant it was time for a change.
Anyway, after cleaning the alfalfa and rabbit turds off the floor in my new room downtown, it was nice to finally start living with Ally full time. Soon thereafter, a coworker at one job had to go on medical leave, so I got trained for admission work and picked up quite a few extra shifts, which continued until the end of June, when the boss discovered that I don’t have a Social Work degree…so she hired someone else for the position. She told me that I would have to go back to school to get what appears to be a less-relevant diploma than the certificate I just earned in addictions, so that seriously demotivated me for a good few weeks. That’s putting it nicely. Thankfully, my shifts started picking up again at Center 2, and until mid-November, it stayed that way. Anyway, I’m glad I learned how to do admission work, and at Center 2, too, they started handing me a lot of the assessments, which I was happy to do. As of this writing, I’ve done about 35 assessments between the two jobs.
Also in May, Terrance pulled out a feather and started bleeding, while he was still at Dad’s house. In August, he did it again, while living downtown with me, and again in mid-December (thankfully I was in the room when he squawked the latter two times, so I could put styptic powder on the wound immediately). A bird with a lampshade is a pissed-off bird.
June = lots of working. Hot afternoons stuck on 401. Shorts good. Money good. Can’t complain. I like summer. Who cares if it’s 35 degrees out! Also, new Sabbath CD. Awesome.
July began with Ally going on a ten-day meditation course. Although I had gone without seeing Ally for 9 days in December 2012 when she went to her sister’s destination wedding, this time, she was not permitted to use her phone. No contact for almost ten days. Thankfully, I worked a week of night shifts while she was gone, so the schedule adjustment provided enough of a distraction. I lived most of my life alone in the ‘relationship’ sense anyway, so I’m not afraid of being alone. But it was a daunting prospect, I must admit. We made it through, though ☺
On July 20th, I had a party at my new place. It was a good time overall, until V-Ron innocently (supposedly; you never know with V-Ron) called out to a black guy on the street – “What’s up, bro?” He immediately came up the steps and started giving everyone shit for saying “West side, bro”. I thought he must have been high if he was willing to fight like 7 guys at once…anyway, Ally threatened him off, and I’m sure he has no recollection of it. It made for a funny story for the rest of the night.
Also in July, I decided to have a look at that show I saw spoofed in Family Guy – Cosmos. I’m glad I did. Ally and I watched the whole series this summer. I wish I could find the words to describe how I felt while watching the first episode, but I can’t. It was so refreshing, even though the show was 33 years old, to see someone so wise talking about the universe and humanity with such a wide, long-term perspective. Part of what I liked about it is that Carl Sagan’s views on humanity were very similar to my own, so I felt like “Hey, finally, here’s a show that I can relate to!” I also liked how he ripped into pseudoscientific enterprises like astrology while retaining his composure. Although he’s been dead since 1996, Carl Sagan definitely became my idol in the second half of 2013. I’m reading one of his books now. Ally and I even made a Cosmos-themed Christmas tree this year (see photo!); painting ornaments to look like planets, with a Styrofoam sun on the top, and with Carl Sagan’s face in plasticene stuck to the front – which, by the way, was all Ally’s idea.
In early August, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for several years – had friends up to the cottage. Although they were Ally’s friends. But it was a good time nonetheless, and they introduced me to a new drink – Captain Morgan. In that time, spiced rum & Coke has replaced screwdrivers as my drink of choice. Screwdrivers were too bitter, anyway.
Also in August, my car was broken into. Pissed me off, but at least the scumbag cleared out all the junk in my car. It’s much tidier now.
Yep, August was an interesting month for me – remember the shitty roommate situation I talked about above? The one we so naïvely thought was over and done with? Well, in August, our Asian roommate underwent a transformation, from being simply lazy to being a prick. At first, we put up with his constant smoking. With parking his ass on my couch while playing Mehicán Black Ops at full volume. With leaving the burner on after taking the pot off the stove. With letting his tomato-can ashtray catch fire on the front porch. But toward the end of the month, our washing machine crapped out. When we contacted the landlord, she arranged to have it replaced. On the day the service guy arrived, I was at work, the musician housemate had to leave for work, Ally had to leave for her new job – and the Asian roommate had to go hang out with his friends. When the service guy arrived, the Asian roommate bolted out the door, leaving Ally to wait for the service guy to leave, and thus being an hour late for work herself. Our Asian roommate told her to just leave a key for the service guy and tell him to put it in the mailbox – yeah, that makes sense, given how close we are to Regent Park. When Ally confronted him the next day, he got his back up and defended his prioritizing friends over other people’s jobs. I guess when the government pays your rent, you feel entitled to lose your sense of responsibility. He also called her a racist because the service guy was black. No, dummy, it’s because normal people don’t leave their key in the mailbox and leave service people alone in your house. But when you have no possessions of any value in the house and rely on your housemates for everything from furniture to internet to pots and pans, I guess you have nothing to lose, right? Anyway, Ally relayed this to our landlord, who said there was nothing she could do. We had enough. We gave our notice. But the battle was not over yet. Thankfully we were able to take a step back for a week.
On September 11th, Ally and I got up at some ungodly hour to fly to New York. I had been talking about going there ever since I got back from Europe in 2008, and Ally finally called me on it and booked the tickets. It was great to get away! I have a detailed (some might say too detailed) summary of the trip typed elsewhere, but I’ll summarize the summary here: Arrived in Newark on the sweatiest day in recent memory; bought some American cereal; saw the Crack is Wack playground; ate at the Seinfeld restaurant; and saw a show at the Apollo – what an introduction! Next day wandered around and saw the Met – a shitty day for photography though, so I was grumpy. Next day, saw the World Trade Center memorial and went to Staten Island. The WTC memorial was well done, although the symbolism of the moment seemed to be lost on a few tourists smiling for selfies with the pools in the background – very disrespectful. The view from Staten Island was awesome, and helped pull me out of the funk I entered on the second day. On Day Four we went to the top of the Rockefeller Center, which was probably the highlight of the trip for me – such an awesome view! I took pictures up there for an hour and a half. Day Five was my birthday – Ally treated me to dinner at a fancy restaurant in Little Italy, where a fight broke out – and ended – within 15 seconds of sitting down. Awesome. We walked across the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn to end the evening with some nighttime pics while the rats scurried about. On Day Six, we kinda just wandered around until it was time to take the harrowing Megabus ride back to Toronto. Bad idea! That bus drove way too fast for a double-decker, and it was literally freezing outside that night. Next time, fuck saving money – we’ll fly both ways. We got home sometime around 5:00am, at which point I dove my frozen body into bed and got some sleep.
Not long after returning home, the roommate war started back up – this time, the landlord joined in. After asking her for Laundromat money to compensate for the broken washer, she got mad at Ally. We showed our rooms to a bunch of interested people; one of whom was on welfare. The landlord didn’t like that, and when we asked her about finding new tenants to replace us, she got even more angry, calling Ally “entitled”. So I sent her a reply, listing off a few gems that our Asian friend had said while showing the apartment to a few other interested people:
1. “I said in the ad that we’ll give brownie points to anyone who has a TV and can put the bills in their name.”
2. “Are you willing to put the bills in your name? We can’t because we don’t have credit.”
3. “We’re hoping to have at least one girl here, because otherwise this place would look like a pigsty.”
I never heard from the landlord again after that e-mail.
After that, we stopped putting in any effort to maintain the apartment. The slob game can be a two-way street. We found a new apartment that a friend of Ally’s was leaving, and happily jumped on board. Our moving day was exhausting, having to climb up two flights of stairs with all our stuff. I got in the shower afterward (details omitted) and laughed hard at something (details omitted), and my stomach went into a crippling spasm – I had to crouch down for a minute to relieve the pain. But it was so worth it. Our spirits were buoyed by comments about never having to deal with the old place again. We’ve only been here for two and a half months, but it’s in a nicer neighbourhood that isn’t a thoroughfare for gangsters and trash-rummagers; we still have easy access to the TTC; we don’t hear screaming rakins trying to kill each other in the tree outside our window; we don’t hear sirens every night; we don’t have to wipe cat fur off the counter; we don’t have to wipe slime out of the fridge; we don’t have to smell smoke every time we enter and exit the building; our landlord actually takes initiative to replace broken appliances, and we don’t have to deal with any roommates’ stupid bullshit!
The rest of the fall was fairly busy with work, Christmas shopping, photography, and so on. Ally’s brother and sister-in-law had another baby. Heather, David and I re-enacted some old pictures, ranging from approximately 1989 to 2003, which was a lot of fun, to give to Mom and Dad for Christmas, which they loved. My favorite re-enactment was of David and I holding up our Bibles in June of 2001 after we got confirmed. We re-enacted it by posing with our copies of The God Delusion. Jeremy’s Zoo party was a good time of sneaker-skating down icy sidewalks and getting kicked out of the Dance Cave, as is, of course, tradition (South Park reference!). As we transition into winter (who are we kidding; it’s been winter for the past month), I can only wonder what 2014 will bring. I spent most of New Year’s Eve working at Center 1, although I’m sure it was harder on the clients than it was on me. Then I came home to Ally and we spent the night in — can’t get drunk when you have to work in rehab the next day! I just hung up my new TTC subway calendar (that’s right!), and I’m off to work again soon. I know one thing I’m looking forward to in 2014: The new Cosmos series!
Anyway, I’ll end with a few bits and pieces that I didn’t mention in the chronological story:
1. 2013 was the Year of Weddings: I attended two weddings in January, two in August, and one in October.
-Best New Album/only new album I bought: 13 by Black Sabbath. Very impressed with the darkness and power of this comeback! Especially “God is Dead?”!
-Song of the Summer: “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. I hated Daft Punk before this song.
-Favorite Album of the Year: Casino by Al Di Meola. I first heard this album on vinyl at Ally’s place in 2012, and I listened to it all the time in the winter of 2013. I recommend it to any guitar players.
-Favorite Artists of the Year: Al Di Meola, Bob Marley, Dr. Dre, The Smashing Pumpkins, various electronic artists resembling STS9.
-Ain’t Nobody Got Time Fo Dat!
3. Books I read:
–The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins: The first few chapters were hard to follow, but the second half delightfully rips into the follies and dangers of organized religion as they play out violently in society.
–Broca’s Brain, by Carl Sagan: Not finished it yet, but it’s good. A collection of essays/articles from the ‘70s about space, science, anthropology, and so on. Ain’t nobody got time for fiction.
–In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Maté: I just started this one, but it’s good so far, and is well-known in the Addictions field, so I hope it will increase my understanding.
4. Things I did for the first time:
Attended a Muslim wedding ceremony; conducted two unsupervised family counselling sessions; made chilli – yes, this is a big deal, and it was delicious.
Didn’t play with my band at all; didn’t record many songs; didn’t use Flickr very much, partly due to a disastrous redesign; and realized my recent education still may not be enough for a full-time job.
Got my F licence; made my longest “me driving” road trip (about 870km; made more bearable thanks to David and Heather); painted for the first time in probably 14 years; finally saw New York City; noticeably refined my guitar playing; read an entire book; and made it to a year and a half with Ally as of this writing ☺
Tagged: , Happy New Year , Christmas Tree , Cosmos , Ornaments , planets , mercury , venus , earth , mars , jupiter , saturn , uranus , neptune , moon , death star , sun , Carl Sagan , fun