Monday, August 24, 2009

United Breaks Guitars, but Skype Steals Credit

Have you heard about the whole United Breaks Guitars saga? This poor east coast musician (named Dave Carroll) was flying to memphis, or somewhere else in the states, via United Airlines, and the baggage handlers totally killed his guitar. Someone on the plane witnessed the whole thing from their seats.
He spent odious amounts of time on the phone with United after, trying to get them to pay for the repairs to the guitar, and of course, got nowhere. So he did what any self-respecting east-coaster would do: he told them he would make two revenge songs and post them on YouTube. And he was good to his word.
The Vidoes, of course, went viral. And it was then that United came through with an apology and some cash (which he's donated to a music school), and Taylor guitars, the makers of his broken guitar, gave him a new one.
The Videos are completely hilarious, and because I'm a total dork and I love spreading the joy, I'm posting them here for your enjoyment:

So, all this to say, we're glad that things ended well for Dave Carroll, and though our ordeal is much smaller, we're reminded of him in a current "situation" we have with skype:
A few months ago, M and I put some money on his skype account to call some of our wonderful relatives in Egypt. We spent a pleasant afternoon chatting with family on both sides, and when we were done, felt we'd made a great investment. Fast forward a few months to this week: it's now the beginning of Ramadan, and we want to call our family in Egypt, as well as my sister in Dubai, to wish everyone a blessed month. M tries to get on skype, but it won't accept his password. No sweat, he tries to change the password. And then, the persistent error message. Skype is having issues. Skype has not let him change his password for over a week, and won't accept the password he's putting in.
Ok, let's call them and tell them we're having this problem. What's that, they have no phone number? Ok, but they must have an email form. M fills out the email form, and as he's about to send, hits the next snag: in order to submit an email form, guess what you have to have? That's right! a password (ba-dum-dum!)
Almost at the same time, Skype sends M a message saying that they've noticed he hasn't gone into his account for several months, and that, the credit in it, if not used by X days, will expire. Oh, the cruel, cruel world... I debated the prospect of making a video a la united breaks guitars, but I can't play guitar and I can't be bothered to write (or sing) a song for the world to see, and to be honest, I can't compete with Dave Carroll. More than anything, I'd just like to get skype working again. Anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Time

I could try to write something more beautiful, more profound about Ramadan, but sometimes it's better to recognize when someone has already found the perfect words, and just borrow them:

This month is a feast... not of noise, but of silence; not of banquets but restraint; not of forgetfullness but remembrance. This month is a feast for the faith. - Tariq Ramadan

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I came across her writing

in a note on facebook, and though I hadn't seen her in a decade, though I couldn't quite place her location, her life, I felt I knew her essence again, could here her soft voice, her rising cadence, rushing forward, then retreating, as though each sentence was brought by the tide.
And I was transported to old coffee-houses during lit, to high school, to what was, oddly, my best writing time, the period in my life when I could, when I had the luxury, to bend over my notebook for seconds, turning into minutes, into hours, just to find the right word to fit the end of a line, a sentence, a feeling or thought.
I thought I was so tired then, so overworked, with my grade 11 lit and my algebra-geometry homework, with history and physics and world issues. I didn't know where I'd find the time to memorize Shakespeare and solve problems 3 a - i. I was overwhelmed.
It's almost laughable in hindsight, this emotion, this sense of purpose when I hadn't lived enough to have enough to write. And now, with something worth putting down, with my own stories, I am too afraid. If I share, will I be recognized? Do I want the recognition?
We are all afraid, have moments of defeat, of sadness or uncertainty, but we so rarely put them out there, so rarely want to use them as material.
I used to say, "I wrote this, but don't worry, I'm happy;" used to say, "don't worry, this isn't about me"; and usually it wasn't, but isn't life just a series of small joys and small disappointments building into larger moments? Isn't it normal in the day to have a moment where you don't have a clue, where you want to just stop? and then another where you could go and go and go to the ends of the round earth, where you would have to crash into a brick wall not to keep going?
She wrote about her life, and I could hear her in her words and I could see her brushing a wisp of straight black hair behind her ear as she read. I imagine one hand holding the paper, the other randomly reaching up to touch her head. Funny how we remember certain nervous habits, how her voice is still in my mind so many years later. How I can see her smile.
I told myself I wouldn't write for a living. I told myself I would write for life.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Who Knew?

Yesterday M and I and a few of our friends went for a bike trip around the downtown/lachine canal area of Montreal. It was supposed to take a couple of hours, 3 max. 6 hours later we were heading home with extremely sore legs, sunburns, hunger pangs, and huge smiles. I've biked along the Lachine canal before, but never past St-Pierre (the point where Highway 20 meets highway 138). Yesterday, we continued well past that point, and were rewarded by our discovery of Parc Rene Levesque, an absolutely gorgeous little peninsula off Lasalle, sticking out into the river.
On our way back downtown, we left the canal and rode back along the river path itself, through Lasalle and Verdun.
All I can say is that Montreal has surpassed my expectations for natural beauty and gorgeous, quiet neighbourhoods I didn't know existed. I'm somewhat in love with my adopted city right now. Stunning, and totally bikeable.

P.S. My sisters are back home in Cali and Dubai respectively. I miss them insanely but I'm surprisingly not bawling my eyes out every 5 seconds. I'm shocked at my resilience.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Acapella at its best

The whole thing is pretty impressive, but if you don't want to watch the whole vid, the first minute and 50 seconds are the coolest...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Going Home

On Thursday, all the angels go home (along with their parents, of course). I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, this flocking away, as though fall is here and the birds are leaving for warmer climates. I know Wednesday night will be hard. I've already warned my friends at work that I if they see me crying next Thursday, they know why...
Next summer, God Willing, each of the angels will be one year older, and one year wiser (although I'm not sure wise applies to anyone under 10, or even 20, and they're not even close. Maybe a better term would be 'one year more equipped to deal with the big bad world'?)
The two terrible two-ers will be terrible three-ers, approaching pre-school-hood, getting close to truer interactions with the world.
My oldest Angela will have finished first grade (first grade!), and she'll show off her reading with confidence and look up with that precious smile after hard words (her "did you hear that? Did you see that?" smile).
My oldest Angel just might manage to sit still a bit longer, having spent another year in kindergaarten and so becoming more familiar with desks, but honestly, this I doubt.
My little Angela won't be little anymore, she'll be a whole 4 and a half, and she'll keep doing her best "little grown up" immitations, and acting as though she's one of the big people, and pretending the terrible two-ers are her children.
I'm missing them already.