Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's time

for some good news...

I was accepted into the U of C! This Fall I'll be registered as a student in the faculty of Humanities working towards completing my English degree. : D

Now, part of me wasn't even fazed I was accepted (I truly would have been shocked not to have been), and part of me feels embarrassed I don't already have a degree (to which I justify with, "Um, I spent 9 years in the media--education included, so it's not like I wasted my 20's"). Sure, I made a life altering detour by marrying a jackass and moving to Mexico, but considering Rob moved here the same year my marriage fell apart, I was obviously destined for sunnier skies.

What will I do with an English degree? What the hell does anybody else do with an English degree? Own a used bookshop? Send stuff to Reader's Digest? I don't know. I've always had a passion for writing, but have no idea how to channel that and currently lack the discipline for writing fiction.

If I do ever get off my duff and carry on with my novel, I'm convinced it'd be a hell of a story (or so I've been encouraged by a few of my English teachers, anyway). Plus, I just spell checked this document and there were no errors! (and then it occurred to me a new feature of blogger includes automatic spell checking) Sigh. I recall a quote from a Matt Groening cartoon about the writer's neuroses, "Am I just a hack?!"

Anyway, I was accepted into year 3, which I understand is quite good. Basically I had a fair bit of credit transfer from my Broadcasting diploma, which is great considering it was completed over ten years ago. That means I could have my degree done in less than two years. In reality though, I get four free classes a year from working at the University and will probably only do that much, so it'll take considerably more time.

Isn't this where I insert the "it's about the journey" cliche?

I'm really going to have to do away with the cliches--if I want to maintain my straight A average which began with my English courses in Red Deer, that is. : D

At least I've already blogged more this year than all of last year. Although, I think there's a direct correlation between that and the notion I might have at least one reader. So, who am I writing for, really?

Who indeed.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


It was brutal watching my oldest brother Darrin walk down that aisle Saturday morning. He looked the oldest I've ever seen him. Emotional lines cut deeply into his face--I know where that bit of writing comes from now. It was overwhelmingly sad. I didn't anticipate how much this would affect me-- I haven't had time. I was on holidays in California up until Wednesday last week.
I had just finished buying Darrin a birthday present at a music store in Westfield Horton Plaza, an outdoor mall in San Diego. I was amused because his birthday isn't until the middle of December, but I came across the perfect gift for him, at a good price, exchange included. I turned my phone on to text that to him (I keep it off because a phone rep once told me you can incur fees just from the phone being on roam). After it lit up, the dramatic chime played and I heard the sound I get whenever there is a message waiting. I'm always excited to get a text, but this time I was shocked when I read the message. "Oh my gosh," I said in one long exhale. No words would come to me and I could only turn the phone for Rob to read and comprehend my reaction.

Text letters on a green background, "Jonathan took his life last night and was pronounced dead at 10:45." I don't remember the actual time because I deleted the text message as soon as it occurred to me. I didn't want to keep re-reading it, wanting it to somehow explain why Jonathan hung himself, Darrin's step-son, Debbie's son. He was only 21.

Jonathan came from a blended family of four. Two younger brothers and one baby sister, Autumn, Darrin and Debbie's only biological child together. Jon's other step-father, Paul, immediately drove down from Edmonton after he found out, and was at the funeral along with much of his family. I only met Jon a handful of times.

The most significant thing he ever said to me was, "You must be Vicki's friend." He and I were randomly visiting my brother Kyle and his wife Vicki at the same time. The way Jon said it, all smooth, was clear he was trying to be charming. He was startled when I reminded him I was his Aunt, Darrin's baby sister. Vicki and I still joke about it. Jon seemed naive, and I always worried what he would make of himself, as he was mixed up inside and went down the wrong road often.

The ceremony was nice. There were quite a few people and lots of family I've never met. Littering the pews were a reasonable number of Jon's friends. My Mom bought one of the flower arrangements which sat on the pillar to the right of Jon's casket. There were several deep blue roses in amongst some white flowers I don't know the names of. The sounds of crying were all around; a girl behind me sang along to the odd sad song playing over us.

All good things come to an end, by Nelly Furtado, opened up the funeral. It was current and catchy. I think the lyrics explain everything. Jon sang it to Vicki weeks earlier, on several occasions. A certain catalyst of Jon taking his life was a batch of text messages sent back and forth between him and his ex-girlfriend, which lead up to him doing it. The only person Jon gave the opportunity to stop him was his brother's girlfriend, Rhianne. She didn't make it there in time. I think if Jon wanted to be stopped, he would have waited.

The pastor was very good. Of course he spoke about the standard Jesus stuff, how He died so we could live. How God sacrificed his only son so we'd be given God's grace forever. Then the pastor spoke of how one of his daughters was graduating that afternoon; he was full of happiness for her because her life held such promise. He asked all the young people to stand and then spoke of suicide. He pointed out how valuable they all were, and how they all had many possibilities to live for. It wasn't obvious to me if his words were effective. I worry anyone who knew Jon will use this as a springboard for doing something as devastating as what Jon has done.

The hardest thing for me is seeing the effect this is having on Darrin and his family, naturally. Even Rob cried when Debbie and Autumn were up at the funeral podium. It was heart wrenching. During the family viewing Friday night, Autumn said, "I don't think Jon would have done this if he would have realized the pain he would cause." She's eight years old. Still, we're told the hardest part is over.

I'm filled with sorrow when I think about how the rest of us will come back to our homes, experience grief, and return to a typical Monday. And because I feel so affected, I'm sad imagining how it's going to take everyone else a fair bit of time to process and accept this.

And of course I'm sad because there really is nothing I can do to make this better for any of them. I know everyone says you can "be there" for someone, but it feels like a small thing compared to the enormity of accepting the loss of your son.

Like everyone, I wish I could understand what really happened and why Jon did it. Especially when I'm sitting in a room full of weeping people, people who obviously loved Jon. It's an unfair reminder how some people can't see what's around them. A person is in a dark place when they can't see how they are loved.

It's hard not to expect an answer when I ask God, "Why?" I always thought that was a cliche, and now it's happening to us. Another cliche.

Kyle said on Friday, "When did life stop being so carefree and start being so serious?"

I've read the response, "Who said life was going to be fair?" Where did we get the expectation life was going to be fair?

I hope long after this weekend is over, they are all able to get the support they need, for as long as they need.

I pray whenever I think about them, which is often.

Jonathan Roman Joseph Bazinet, October 22, 1985 - May 19, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The telescopic tunnel that is the US

I had the pleasure of catching a bio on Gary Player, "Good Guys Wear Black", on CBS this past Sunday. You may or may not have heard of him, but according to Wikipedia, Player is "one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, ranking first in total professional wins, with at least 166, and tied fourth in major championship victories with nine. Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus he is sometimes referred to as one of 'The Big Three' golfers of his era."

Here's where I take issue: "he is sometimes referred to as one of "the big three". Gary Player is not "sometimes referred" to as one of the big three, he IS one of the big three of golf. If you put "big three golf" in the Google search engine, the first two references are of the Big Three as being Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus--it is not a perception issue. All three athletes were signed by pioneer sports agent, Mark McCormack, who promoted them by creating a made for tv event, "Big Three Golf" which launched the promotion of the sport and its players as a profitable marketing tool.

As a non-golfer, I have only been aware of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as being two of the great golfers of all time (aside from Tiger Woods, of course). I am extremely curious how I have not previously heard of Gary Player, considering how successful a golfer he was and how compelling his personal story is. Player came from modest beginnings in Johannesburg, South Africa, and rose up through the ranks of golf despite the shadow of apartheid and the resulting scrutiny. As a South African, Player was often criticized and threatened over his country's politics, despite not believing in Apartheid himself. Even with that kind of background, you'd think I would have heard the name Gary Player before.

I believe this is a US influence. It appears Gary Player's success as an athlete is undervalued in favor of recognizing and celebrating the other two US golfers. I would think the average person with as minimal golf exposure as I have would be as familiar with Gary Player's name as I am with the other two. In the television biography itself, some of the golfers couldn't come right out and say Player is one of the greatest golfers of all time, it was always he "might be" one of the greatest. I think there's a difference. And I think Player's record more than reflects his being one of the greatest golfers of all time.

Why does the US have such a hard time celebrating or recognizing anything outside their border? Jebb Fink, a local television personality, comic and former US resident, has joked about how biased the US Olympic coverage is in that as soon as a sport is finished, US media are immediately interviewing their athletes--regardless of how they placed, often in the the middle of the medal ceremony. "What's going on over there?" Jokes Jebb, waving an arm off to the side, "oh, some sort of ceremony, but here's our man Jeff who has just placed 166 in the Bobsled competition..."

The media bubble that is still in existence in the US is something which has bothered me for years. As Canadians we are so heavily influenced by the US, but it isn't reciprocal. I remember the US coverage of the 1995 Quebec referendum--it was marginal. Canada was on the verge of losing a province and I'm sure most US citizens couldn't tell you where Quebec was, let alone understand the effects of a Yes vote for Quebec sovereignty. But when OJ Simpson took off in a white bronco down the freeways of Los Angeles, the subsequent trial coverage was one of the most high publicized crimes in US history. This speaks volumes.

Enough said.

"For all we take in life we must pay." - Gary Player