Tuesday, July 31, 2012

fog has lifted

Feeling much much better. Been running like the dickens at work which is how I like it. And everyone seems to feel needed and wanted bonding at these calls. Today is fridge day which means we get to eat all the leftover ice cream in the freezer. Just enjoying a big bowlful with a pot of tea with the guys in the truck bays, doors wide open, and shooting the shit.  Really enjoying this summer night, sharing a big old laugh and tons of stories with the guys, who are not only my crewmates but my guys who I call my family. I always wanted an older brother to protect me and look out for me and teach me things when I was a kid and and now I am surrounded by them. I wish I could tell them how much they mean to me and how much they have influenced my life and changed me for the better but that would be too mushy and they would probably just punch me in the arm and tell me to shut up.  Anyway, just happy and grateful today. xo

Sunday, July 29, 2012

one more thong..... I mean thing....

Add a man wearing a loincloth to share teepee time with in the below post and life would be pretty darn perfect. ;)

my dream home

Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to live in a teepee.  And I've been dreaming about it these days more and more....

I think I will have to find a little parcel of land so I can live in a tee pee at least part time.  To have my children scamper barefoot through the woods as I stoke the fire in the early morning sun would make me so very, very happy..... Just looking at this photo makes my heart catch in my throat.  xo

Saturday, July 28, 2012

life in a cardboard box

We ran a call for an 'unconscious person'.  Turns out it was the homeless woman we see everyday wandering around the neighbourhood by our station.  Her hair is matted, her feet dirty and bare, and her skin covered in dirt and with what appears to be a combination of scabies and body lice.  And today, she was having a sleep on the boulevard in the afternoon sun.  A passerby thought she was dead which is why they called 911.  I am glad someone cared enough to call because in a city as big as this I am sure people, as they scurry about their daily business, casually step over 'unconscious' people with nary a second thought.  I am still in dismay as to why there are so many homeless people in a country as prosperous as ours.  I don't have the answers.  Except maybe it's  time to reflect on how most of our daily 'problems' are not problems at all.  If I am thirsty, I turn on the tap to get a glass of water.  If I am feeling grimey I head to the showers with a bar of soap for a scrub.  If I am feeling lonely, I have family and friends I can call 24/7 who will drop what they are doing and be there for me.  Who does this woman turn to for help?  Where does she go if she is hungry?  I have witnessed with my own eyes this woman getting mocked as she walks by and it's  incredibly painful to watch actually.  So even if I can't solve her problems, or the myriad of other world problems I'd love to fix with the wave of my arm, the best I can do is to keep her and others in my thoughts and send out some compassionate vibes and hope that they find their way.

peace and blessings.........

Friday, July 27, 2012

somewhat better

I finally allowed myself to have a good cry followed by a pint of Sapporo, sashimi and homemade pistachio ice cream. Headed for a hot bath and early bedtime and I think I will be all sorted out. Back on shift tomorrow so at least I can keep busy enough to stop feeling sorry for myself which is a useless waste of time when I wallow like this. I'll allow it though. It's good to feel even if it feels like shite.

ever wanna say go eff yourself?

I am not sure why people choose to continue to lie to you when they aren't even with you anymore. Trying to be wise here and find some modicum of compassion but frankly I wonder if some people even deserve that. Some people are just plain shitty in their behaviour and I'm just doing my best to stop seething. Breathe, just breathe.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

i want off this train today

I can put a fire out, cut apart a car to extricate a person, and climb a 105ft ladder without flinching..... But then why oh why can't I get my daughter to just.stop.crying. It kills me when I haven't seen her because I've been at work and she is a cranky mess. Early bedtime for everyone tonight. Today is not one of my better days and I keep snapping at the children because they won't stop fighting. Hallmark can shove their mothering-is-the-best-job-in-the-world attitude. Mothering can be thankless and relentless. My patience is stretched thin and I am on the verge of having my own bawl fest except I don't have the energy to make tears. Sigh. I.need.sleep.


I don't normally like to whine since I especially hate whiners and all whining in general, but I am so, so, mentally drained. My brain neurons have been firing like crazy at work, and July, as wonderful as it has been, has been an incredibly busy month. I just got in from from shift a few hours ago and I'm too wound up to sleep. Might have to hit the rock wall and get a good climb in to clear my head.... Today is one of those days when I am envious that I am not a child because I can't crawl into a safe lap and be rocked to sleep.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

all things good

There have been some changes in my life.  Some changes have pushed me out of my comfort zone and it's been good for me.  Truth be told, it's been fantastic. We welcomed a new Captain to the other truck of our station yesterday and he seems to be a great fit with our 'family' dynamic. Anyone who likes to eat as much as I do and laughs at my jokes is a plus in my books. And this Captain is very knowledgeable to boot so it's great that I have another senior firefighter I can learn from and bounce fireground tactics with. My Captain is off on summer holidays for the next month so I get to be Captain for awhile which is always exciting and at times intimidating with the amount of responsibility the position entails.   Luckily, I have a strong and talented crew who know how do their job well. This cohesiveness gives me a sense of security, and everyone seems happy despite trudging around in the summer heat donned in full bunker gear.

Home life continues to ground me and keep me real.  Kids are thriving: Jacob continues to amaze me everyday with his kind, easy-going gentle nature, and Maiya is a very witty little girl talking a blue streak and who keeps me on my toes.  I have lots of extended family in town so it's been nice to reconnect.   In regards to my personal life, it is peaceful and easy and for the first time in years I feel safe to open up my heart and share a part of me that has been closed off for a long time.   I don't have to be afraid anymore because I can just be myself, and trust in all things good.  So yeah,  life is pretty neat right now.  For all the bad days I've had in my past, the present makes up for it so I am going to enjoy this epic time and let the future unfold moment to moment.  And just give thanks and be grateful that I am surrounded by people I adore and make me a better person because they bring out the best in me, and make me want to be a better person.  Here's to life, laughter and all the things and people I love... Cheers.  xo

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Some days I am at a complete loss as to how to parent.  There are moments when my children simply defy me. I suppose this is what children are supposed to do, challenge their mothers once in awhile but I tell you, when it does happen, it can be simply infuriating.  Jacob is usually the model child but when I ask him to do something mundane like take a bath after playing in the dirt all day, or change his shirt after he's wiped his nose or mouth on his sleeve for the umpteenth time, he will shout 'no! never!' and run away knowing I can't catch him. Sigh.  Boys like to be and stay dirty. It's good for them I suppose.  I can't really complain because he rarely gives me any trouble and the former examples are basically the extent of him challenging me which is really no biggie......Maiya on the other hand...... ... upon being challenged, stands square in front of me,  arms by her side slightly flexed as if she were about to quickdraw, looks up at me through her messy bangs with furrowed brows.  I don't know what to do.... except stare her down like an alpha dog. And she will stare back, holding my gaze with barely a waver. I cannot blame her for inheriting this strong-willed gene that has been passed down through the generations of women in my family.  The apple does not fall far from the tree.... Today, when she wouldn't stop messing around and torturing her brother with antics at the dinner table, I locked my gaze on her, giving my best attempt at the 'alpha dog' stare. She wouldn't budge or avert her eyes. I knew I was going to blink or laugh or lose this moment of power play.  So I did what any good mother would do:  I stuck my tongue out at her and walked away.  Maiya was so surprised she finished her food while Jacob was in peals of laughter. I guess I'm not so alpha after all. ;)


Growing up as a Chinese kid in rural Guelph and Ottawa, and being a woman in the fire business,  it seems as if I have, for the majority of my life, been on the periphery of things. I've always been a bit of a misfit.  I knew I didn't fit into the standard 'mould' or perfect Norman Rockwell painting. And for the most part, once I outgrew that horrible period of childhood taunting, i learned being different wasn't so bad. My parents were key in all of this. As barely-english speaking newlyweds, they came  to this country in 1967,  and fully immersed themselves and forged ahead, creating a new way of living from scratch. Despite the racism they endured, they still embraced the opportunities they had and made inroads despite their apparent differences with the rest of rural Ontario. They  were modern pioneers of their time so to speak.   My father became a PHD in biochemistry (he had to quickly learn how to speak in English to do so!) .  My mother was unwavering and steadfast and worked three jobs to put him through school.   Because of her commitment and support, my father is now a name in the science 'history' books for some of the breakthroughs he made in medicine.   They were, and still are a team. Through and through.  That is not to say they didn't have their ups and downs like any couple, but they had a common bond, and they endured.  Even though they are very much a traditional Chinese couple, they are at the same time very modern and Canadian in their thinking. Many Chinese households tend to be autocratic. But my childhood wasn't. I was never told what I could or could not do. I wasn't pushed into any career path.  I was only told that if I chose to do something it was my decision alone to make and to take full responsibility regardless of the outcome. They taught me how to stand on my own two feet and not to judge, or take credit, or give blame. My father lives by example.... he is the happiest man I know. I have never ( and I truly mean never) heard him criticize or gossip about anyone. My mother, for all the normal growing pains that we endured together during my teenage years, has one of the biggest hearts I know. She loves in a quiet way that is steady, and unconditional.  Small in stature, I often wonder if she knows how strong a woman she actually is... so grounded in such a quiet, determined manner.  She is the one who taught me that love is beyond words and descriptions and is as vast and as powerful as the universe we live in.   It is because I was allowed to grow up in a household where I could make my own mistakes, I quickly learned from them.  I was taught that as long as I wasn't hurting anyone along the way, I could become anything I wanted to be.   It took me awhile to figure out who I was. But the journey getting here has been rich with experience and lessons... some painful, some amazing... all of them good.   And here I am today, flabbergasted at how my life has been filled with so many blessings... I am incredibly grateful.  If being different, marching to the beat of your own drum, swimming upstream when everyone else is taking the smoother ride down, makes me a misfit, well then, that is a title I will proudly wear.  Living on the periphery let's you see the world at a different angle, and standing on the edge, is where I feel I most rather be. xo

Monday, July 2, 2012

sugar and spice and everything nice...

Upon finding out what I do for a living, I often hear people ask incredulously: 'You?  You're a fireman?'.  To which I simply answer 'yup'.  There are moments I feel like I want to prove to these people that yes, I am a fireman and a perfectly capable one at that but usually I just let it slide.  If they don't believe my gender, and stature can fill those big boots then there is no point in proving to them that I can. I mean, I know I can so that is all that matters. And I have to admit that I secretly smile inwardly when I am on scene and slugging away doing my job like a badass and I remove my helmet and hear joe public's gasp 'it's a firelady!'.  It's just so satisfying  lol   So what is the difference between a fireman and a firewoman?  Apart from the obvious dude body and chick body thing, I have yet to figure out the inherent difference.   The women hired on the job are females, but not girlie-girls if you know what I mean.   We can keep up with the banter and wit, swear like drunken sailors, and shovel just as much food down as the guys.  We passed the same physical, drive the same trucks, and haul around the same equipment.  We hold steady just like the guys and for those naysayers that think we are all emotional, think again. I think coming into this job you learn to keep your emotions in check.   To show a chink in the armor would be social suicide. But in reality, I think any emotions we may feel as women, be it insecurity or  moments of self-doubt, men feel the exact same thing. It's how we express it might be different. I think women have no problem in saying they made a mistake. We have no problem in saying sorry. And I think we are quicker to drop grudges.  I think it is because the competition or the challenge of the job is with ourselves, the woman, as opposed to proving we are better than all the men we work with.  Truth be told, I've always been my own worst critic, so any criticism received from guys is child's play because I've analyzed and dissected my position from every angle possible.  I do have to say it is a very special feeling forging the path for the next generation of female firefighters. It was unheard of when I was a child.  I was always a bit of a misfit growing up and growing up in rural Ottawa I hated being different. I wanted blond hair and blue eyes and wear twirly dresses like all the girls I went to school with. But now I love being different and standing slightly offset from the rest of the crowd, marching to the beat of my own heart and drum.   This post is for my daughter. Chase your dreams my Maiya.  Be courageous and fierce and loving and kind.  Be different, think laterally, and most of all, don't be swayed by the doubters and the haters, and don't listen to the noise all around you. The only voice you have to listen to is the song in your heart.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

i heart Canada

I hope every Canadian knows that they won the birth lottery. xo And to all the new Canadians to this country, welcome 'home'. I hope you love it here as much as I do.... This fantastic melting lot of people and places.

if music be the food of love...

One of the things I love about work, besides the job itself, is the oftentimes meaningless banter that goes on as we break bread around the dining table, which, as you know,  is the centre of the universe for firefighters.  After a good meal in the belly and post dinner tea and we come up with some great conversations.  For example, the other night we revisited the topic of the top five meatless sandwiches ever known to mankind.  Then we talked about which team was the most deserving of the Euro Cup.  And because my crew consists of many backgrounds, including an Irishman, a Welsh, an Italian/Spaniard, a German, a Cuban/Jamaican, and moi, you can imagine how heated the discussion became.  So I am not exactly sure at what point the conversation switched to matters of the heart.  Perhaps it was somewhere between the apple crumble and that second cup of tea.  But the million dollar question came up:  what is love?  Trust me here folks.  I wasn't the one who brought up the topic.  Seems like I work with some sensitive new age guys which is fascinating in so many ways.  You see, my entire crew is married.  Happily.  Granted, half of them are on their second marriages but they are happy after having sorted out the kinks in their first one.  So since I was the only one who is soon to be un-married, well, I kept my ears open as to what they had to say about this thing called love.  Can it even be defined?  Is it something that you can see, feel, touch, or taste?  Is it absolute?  Conditional or unconditional depending on the circumstances?  Does it tiptoe quietly towards you or does it smack you upside the head?

For me, I think love is or it isn't.  It's there or it's not.  And it's not regulated by time or space.  Simple as that.   It's also very different from that dangerous thing called infatuation.  My mistake with love in marriage was that I think deep down, I believed that I was unworthy of love, thus always sold myself short, believing that I was the fuck up.  But the truth is, I was just with the wrong person, and as such, I could never shine because the best wasn't brought out in me, which is a shame really.  But I digress.... back to the knights of the round table and their ideas on this thing called love:

The guys had various answers, none of which were based on looks surprisingly.  Rather it was how they felt around their other half and in a nutshell, these positive feelings of commonality, similar passions, trust, respect, friendship and physical intimacy were what ranked high among my crewmates.   Out of respect for their privacy, I won't divulge the exact details of their personal experiences of love, but I will leave you with this:  the overall concensus for the perfect firehall meatless sandwich would be the good old peanut butter foldover.  A sliced banana jammed between the former would fall a close second. ;)