Oct 28

Friends

I was thinking about that today while reading a message from an American friend that I’ve never met. Weird huh? I’ve never met Seth, but I still consider him my friend. I know we’ve talked a lot and bugged each other about who lives in the better country (it’s me), but I’ve never shook his hand, or sat down to a fridge full of beer with him. I’m going to invite him to my wedding, if he’s able to come, but then I wonder if that’s crazy too. I guess we’ll find out next summer, along with Dennis and Scott. I met both of them at work and I’ve gotten so that I go to the board in the morning to see if I get to go there for a pickup. I don’t know if it’s a familiarity thing, but I’ve grown to like the assholes. Okay, I guess I like them because they’re good guys, and maybe just a little bit sexy.

I then started thinking about a lot of my friends, and how we became friends. There are some crazy stories, with fighting, booze, and other illicit substances at the forefront of most of them. There are also a lot of stories that I don’t remember the beginning to. I wonder if any of you remember how you met me, or did I just show up and not leave? Some of my really good friends have no recollection of how we met, but some remember every detail like it was yesterday.

I remember how I met my best man, and best male friend, Joe. He was sitting in my seat on the school bus, because I was a hoodlum and had to sit directly behind the bus driver. It was his first day of school after moving here from Florida and it was grade seven. It turned out that he didn’t know anyone, and I lived close, so we became friends. We’ve done a pile of crazy shit together, and if the fun police would leave us to our ways, we’d probably do a pile more. We drifted apart while he was living out west, and then while I was, but there was never a time that I wouldn’t have done what I could to help him out, and I guess he probably feels the same way, but I’ve never asked.

He’s also the guy I’d trust the most with my best interests. I know that’s a strange term, but how else do you sum up: car, pets, plans of evil, money, guns, horses, dead hookers, rides to the airport, fake passports, family and my life into two words? I don’t think I can trust him, I know I can. Over the past twenty eight years he’s proven he is loyal friend, not only to me, but to others as well. I’m still trying to get info out of him from shit that happened in high school.

He has a true heart and a mischievous soul, so it’s only right that we ended up as homies. It’s also pretty handy that my sweet baby likes him too, but I guess that we have very similar personalities, so we should like the same type of people. I know that I like her friends. The ones I’ve met so far, anyways.

Back to my pal Joey now. He also loves his mom, but why wouldn’t he? She’s one of the sweetest and funniest ladies I know, and believe you me, I know a few. He has two, slightly hyper, but extremely sweet dogs, that he takes very good care of. He plans his days and evenings around them, and that’s how it should be.

One story that I do remember is when Joe, Steve and I were out in Cold Beer. Steve is Joe’s cousin, another friend that you’ll hear about later, and Cold Beer was a rowboat that someone else owned. The three of us grabbed a bunch of bottle rockets, a steel tube, a lighter and a bailing bucket, and set off to sea. We thought we’d try fishing with the bottle rockets, because they would shoot under water and explode like a mini depth charge. We got out onto the lake, and while Steve was getting the tube ready, I was getting ready to stuff a rocket in and light it. I could hear a hissing, and giggling, and when I turned to look, Joey had lit the whole bouquet of fireworks that I was holding in my hand. I threw them up in the air, not thinking that now they can fly around all willy-nilly, and they did. I started to freak out and tried to fight Joey, Steve was trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and Joe was laughing his ass off, yelling for me to “Chill, just chill”. Being from the sticks, I hadn’t heard the term “chill” before and started yelling back, “What the fuck does chill mean? We had a grand laugh, and no one lost the meat off their hand. Yet.

I guess I will sum it all up by saying that I have some really amazing friends, that I’ve accumulated over the course of my life, but Joey, you are the one I come to when the chips are down and I need to vent. You never judge me, and you always know the ways to cheer me up. (Yes one does involve guzzling a gallon of milk.) I will be proud to have you stand next to me as I get married to my best friend, and even prouder to have you choose the strippers and blow for the bachelor party. We all know that you have excellent taste in stripper flesh, and you drive a hard bargain. Cheers to you buddy, I am forever at your service.

Now back to Mrs. Birdman’s friends. Some were mutual friends, but many I hadn’t met yet. I honestly can’t think of one that I don’t like, and there are some that I just adore. There’s one lovely lady in particular, that works at a place where we pick up, and I now go in and visit whenever I’m there. Well, as long as it’s after 9:30. It’s a pretty sweet deal when you can double your friend base and also reconnect with lots of old friends that you hadn’t talked to for years. It’s also nice to have all kinds of sexy ladies stopping by for visits and whatnot. Yeah, I wish whatnot meant threesomes too, but alas, I shall have to keep dreaming. I figure that I’ve been a good person, so karma should take care of the threesome thing later, right? Seriously, before senility sets in would be nice.

Imma get get get get you drunk,

Birdman

 

Oct 04

Still no God

Before you start, you should read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this.

I’m going to start up where I left off last time, with me crawling back up the river to find a place to light. When I got myself to a flat enough spot on the shore, I thought maybe I’d have a little nap and get some much needed rest. I thought that was the most important thing at the time. Just a few minutes is all I’d need, and then I could worry about finding Aaron and getting our asses out of there. In Hudson’s Hope, the river is about ninety feet or so below the town, and the cliffs where we were are unclimbable. As I started to doze off, I heard yelling and whistling. Oh right, I was just with someone in the river. A few more yells and whistles, oh right, it was Aaron. I came out of my stupor, and started clambering towards the voice. It was starting to get dark by now, and the temperature was beginning to dip, but I saw him trying to find a spot to climb up the face and I tried a yell, but my voice wasn’t working very well. I was finally successful in getting his attention, as I got a bit closer and there was much rejoicing. I guess Aaron had watched me going down the river and figured I was dead already, so when I showed up there may or may not  have been hugging, I’m not at liberty to say.

We had lost our cell phones, wallets and keys, not to mention the matches, when the tube fell out of the canoe, so we had no fire and I was losing body temperature pretty quick. I had also lost my new glasses, but I wasn’t too worried about driving right then. Aaron hadn’t been in as long as I had, and he seemed to be in better shape. He was whistling and hollering up the cliff, but we didn’t know if anyone in the houses would be able to hear us over the roar of the water. My kidneys were starting to hurt pretty bad from the cold and being bashed around on the rocks and I got Aaron to rub them really fast to warm them up. I don’t know if it made any difference physically, but mentally I could feel warmth from the friction making it’s way through me. We were hoping Lannie had missed us by now and had called someone, but we had been known for dawdling before, so we weren’t counting on it yet. We started planning to wait it out until morning, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make the night at that temperature. I think I was hyperventilating, or something that was making me breathe very rapidly, and because of that my mouth and throat were getting really dry. I kept going to the shore and drinking out of the river to try and wet my whistle, but I would just puke it back up. I didn’t mind, because at least there was moisture in there.

By now it was really dark, and I was getting worried and just wanted to lay down, but Aaron was able to keep his wits about him enough to hear a boat in the dark. I couldn’t hear anything but blood pounding in my ears and him whistling. I’ve never been so glad to be with a person who whistled so loud in my life, because all of a sudden he saw a light on the water where he had heard the boat downstream, and when he whistled again, their spotlight started searching in our direction. He yelled to me to get up and wave my brightly coloured life jacket in the air, and I happily obliged. They came a bit closer and killed the engine, and Aaron let out another high-pitched tweet. The spotlight hit us that time and the engine fired back up and started heading towards us. I have to admit that I could never see the appeal of riverboats, but after that night I had a new found love for any craft that can run through rapids, sandbars and rocks, and not sink. When the boat thrust up onto the shore with the two RCMP officers in the bow, and my new boss driving, I almost cried, I was so happy. I may have really cried, I don’t know. I do know I hugged Rich Brown and the constables for saving us, and Rich gave me his survival coat to keep me as warm as possible as well as the welding tube full of our things that they had found on their way up. I felt like I should have went out and got a girl pregnant, just to give them my first born, that’s how happy I was.

It turns out that the people that were having a fire at the landing, saw the canoe go by upside down, and called 911. While the police were rounding up Rich and his boat, and making their way to us, one of the folks at the top of the cliff had called in to say he thought there was someone trapped below his house. I am forever indebted to those people, because I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. We were taken back to the landing where the fire was still going, and I stayed by the fire until the ambulance got there moments later. We went back to Aaron’s after the paramedics got us fixed up and his wife and son were more than a little happy to see him, as he was elated to see them.I had a hot bath and put on some dry clothes, but I was still having troubles with my lungs, so I ended up getting taken in to Fort St. John hospital and got something called a nebulizer to dry the water and crap out of my lungs. I guess my kidneys took a bit of a beating as well, but they were still working fine and I was alive, so what more could you ask for?

I was going to go looking for the canoe the next day, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t have it in me. Aaron said that if I got the canoe back, he was going to buy it off of me and burn it. I think he probably would have, but I wouldn’t have charged him for it. I went out with my friend Randy, who is a very experienced canoodler, to get back in and try it again the next week. We did it, and I’m glad I did, but I have to admit I was pretty shaky until I found out that you can go across the river and the rapids are minimal there. Hindsight, eh? Ah well, what’s done is done, and there’s no point in analyzing it to death. Where we went through was bad, but it wasn’t treacherous. We were ill prepared, and uninformed. We shouldn’t have gone in there without knowing what lay ahead of us, and we should have had our life jackets on, instead of laying in the canoe. I don’t think either of us will make that mistake again, and I hope you never do either.

I think it’s safe to say that the experience that day changed our lives. I still don’t believe in God though, but think Aaron might have gained a bit of faith.I know he quit smoking because it was one more thing that might prevent him from spending every possible moment with his family. I imagine he’s a lot more careful around water too. I know my outlook changed drastically. I no longer waste time on stupid shit, and I try to enjoy every moment I can, because you never know when it might be your last. This weekend at Thanksgiving, I think I’ll raise my glass to my pal Aaron, and give thanks that I had him with me that day. I can’t think of too many people I’d rather have in my corner when the chips are down, so here’s to you my friend. I credit you, most of all for us surviving that day.

What Aaron was fighting for

Aaron and his oldest boy

Make sure you look after each other,

Birdman

Oct 03

Well, that’s gonna take a while

If you haven’t, you should read Part 1 before reading this.

 

I guess it’s a bit more work than I thought switching the blog over, so Mrs. Birdman told me I should finish yesterday’s story. Seeing as she wears the pants in the family, I guess I had better do what I’m told and not dilly-dally.

So I’ve made a bit of an error on yesterday’s post. I didn’t have the homemade chicken balls before drinking the caesers, they were the next day. I guess it was just chips that I was eating with the booze. I went over to Aaron’s place for supper the next night, and we made the chicken balls then. I was still not feeling totally myself from the night before, but we decided after supper we’d take my new canoe for a trip down the river a ways. It was a pretty skookum canoe, and I was quite proud of it. I had taken it out only once by myself earlier in the week, and left it at Darcy’s, (the guy whose cabin we were drinking at) because he was right on the river and a handy place for a new canoer to take off from.

That was the canoe I had. Well, not this exact one, but that model. Old Town Tripper 172

We dropped Aaron’s truck off at the landing and there were a few people there having a fire and fishing. We then took the canoe in my truck, to Alwin Holland Park and launched from there. There were quite a few things that we forgot to do at that time. The most important was to find out where the rapids were, second would be to put on a life jacket. I had a welding tube to keep our keys, wallet and cell phones dry, and we threw that and the life jackets into the canoe and started our float downstream. I call it a float, because that was all it was supposed to be. From what we understood, the big shelf was up from Alwin Holland, and it was just a nice little paddle to the landing. As we were floating along, we started to hear a bit of rushing water, and asked each other what the fuck that noise was coming from around the bend? It sounded like a waterfall, but it couldn’t be, we dropped in after the big rapids. As we rounded the bend, we realized that there was in fact some pretty decent rapids there. Apparently, the amount of water the dam lets out, governs the depth of the river, which in turn governs the severity of the rapids. I guess the dam hadn’t let much out, because they were pretty rabid right about then.

This is up by the bridge. The shelf is downstream further.

Now I’m not an expert when it comes to canoeing, and Aaron hadn’t been in one since he was young, so we didn’t know that the little guy should be in the bow, and the big guy should be in the stern. That explains why it was so hard to keep us from turning around. He has at least a hundred pounds and almost a foot of height, not to mention he’s about two axe handles across the shoulders and a little top heavy. We were probably at least fourty yards from shore when we hit the shelf and went a bit sideways. Water started coming in behind Aaron, and then we hit the second one and flipped the canoe. I came up, grabbed onto the canoe and threw Aaron his life jacket. He had come up with half a cigar hanging out of his mouth, and spit it out, yelling for me to head to shore. I had always been told to stay with the canoe when you capsize, so I was trying to drag it with me. I had just bought it used for $750, and I sure didn’t want to lose a gem like that. The thing was, when I learned canoeing it was on the lakes and rivers of southern Ontario, not a river whose waters come from a hydro reservoir and are around 4C when they blast through those turbines.

I should have followed my friend’s advice, because the time I had wasted trying to save the canoe kept me in those frigid waters, bouncing off rocks and stiffening up my joints for a lot longer than I should have been in there. When I figured out that it was less than tropical and I was finding it hard to move, I let go of my precious watercraft and started kicking for higher ground. I looked back and saw Aaron make land, and was fighting to get to the shore before I went around the point. My body was giving up on me, and I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to get the chance to see my mom again, and tell her how much I had fucked up this time. I was too tired to even kick, and as I watched the point approaching fast I felt a hard rock smash my legs and my feet started touching ground.

With a renewed hope, I began to kick my way to shore, and made it, about twenty five feet before it would have been to late. I couldn’t make it up the bank because it was too steep and sandy, so I crawled on my hands and knees back upstream until I could get out of the freezing cold water. It wasn’t that I could feel anything but sleepy at that moment. My body was numb, and I could barely move. Everything I did was in slow motion, and I was just trying to find a spot I could rest. I had inhaled quite a bit of water and I started puking up my chicken balls and river water every time I tried to breathe.

I am going to leave off there, only because it’s time for bed, and I’m beat. I’m just going to let you know that you don’t have to worry. I live, and so does Aaron. Well, up until I wrote this we were alive. I can’t guarantee we’ll still be here tomorrow. Now kiss me goodnight and pass the sleepytime medicine.

Your dog just shit in my yard,

Birdman

P.S. You can find Part 3 right here

Oct 02

Contrary to what I’ve said, sometimes drinking is not cool

I thought that being a day of rest, I’d just tell a story about when I lived in Hudson’s Hope, BC (I suggest you Google that shit, if you don’t already know about it). I ended up there after I had become newly single, and really wanted nothing to do with women ever again. It’s a gorgeous little mountain town at the start of the Peace River, and home of the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon Dams. My friend Aaron lives in HH, and he and his wife are raising a beautiful family there. I had originally agreed to house and dog sit for them one spring when they went on vacation, because I couldn’t have dogs in the apartment and I was done work for the winter, so what the hell.

While I was there I ended up getting a job, making some great friends and almost getting my ass killed. I liked it a lot and I stayed until the snow flew, not that that means much when you’re in the mountains. When I got there in April I stayed with Aaron and Lannie for a bit, rented a trailer with a guy from work, lived in an old camper that I had bought for a grand and eventually moved in with a great couple that I rented a room from.  I mostly ate at Freddy’s Deli, On The Rim or Julie’s cafe, but I don’t think she has it anymore. It’s too bad, because she had superb home cooked soups, sandwiches and a great selection of unique drinks. The town is full of very talented people that make some really cool things. Jim Todd crafted some of the nicest longbows I’ve ever seen or drawn. The farmer’s market was full of home baking, fruits and veggies, honey, soap and crafts, all of which are made by local people. Truly worth jogging off the beaten path if you are traveling up the Alaska or Hart Highways.

Now onto a completely pointless drinking story… I believe it was around the first part of May that Aaron and I had eaten a meal of makeshift, homemade Chinese food, that we didn’t have the proper ingredients for. We then headed over to a buddy’s cabin for a visit with a bottle of vodka, a jug of Clamato and all the trimmings. It was your average visit, five guys sitting around drinking, smacking golf balls into the river, throwing sticks to the dog, eventually building a fire, and by around midnight we were riding the dirt bike with no headlight up and down the road. Don’t worry, it was safe, the headlights of oncoming cars gave us enough illumination to get over on the shoulder and out of harm’s way. My belly was starting to feel that I shouldn’t drink anymore, but I’m not one for wasting, so I finished my last caeser and climbed into the truck. I should mention that at this point in my life, I was not a huge drinker. This was the first time I’d been drunk in probably seven or eight years.

The reason for my not drinking much was a night out with Aaron several years earlier, after a good stint in camp. I either overindulged in the whiskey and tequila that night or someone slipped me some sort of pill that turned me into a complete asshole. Apparently I decided it was up to me to defend the slutty waitress’ honour, seeing as it was her night off and I think she was letting us do shots out of her tits. Good reason to walk around trying to fight the old perverts (like I was any different) that were grabbing her ass, right?  I guess I then got in a cab and not only puked all over the roof, but the interior as well.  I’m assuming he took me home because when the phone rang the next morning, I found it next to me on the bed, you know, right next to the pile of puke near the pillow.

I answered the phone, and it was my friend from work that had booked me a chiropractor appointment for that day. He wondered why I didn’t show up to my eleven o’clock session and was letting me know that they would see me if I went there now. I found my glasses in the aforementioned pile, rinsed them off, assessed the damage from when I obviously tore my shelving unit down and called a cab. I had to catch a plane later to go home for Christmas, so I needed to get my back fixed up now. Of course it was the same cabbie that took me home the night before, and he was quite surprised that I was still alive. He wasn’t too pissed off because I had given him a hundred bucks to clean up the cab and drive me home.

By the time we hit the third chiropractor office, we had found the right one. I went in, paid the receptionist and went to the washroom because I was feeling a little green. When I woke up, she was banging on the door to see if I was ok, I had no shirt on and there was a trail of bile leading from my head to the toilet. I don’t remember stripping down, but the tile floor was so nice and cool that I wished I had taken my pants off as well. I didn’t want to get up, but I knew they were waiting for me so they could close the shop up for the holidays. When the bone cracker saw me he wasn’t going to work on me because I guess I looked as bad as I felt, but after some persuasion, he fixed me up. A couple more dry-heaves and I started to walk home.

Ok, what the hell was I talking about before? Oh right, I was drinking caesers and I got dropped off at the house. I stepped onto the sidewalk, walked three steps and barfed a spray of red chicken balls out into the night as Aaron drove away, neither of us suspecting that what would happen the next day would change our outlook on life.

I hope you mofos like cliffhangers,

Birdman

Find Part 2 here.

Sep 30

The Summer of our Content (or, Shit’s About To Get Personal)

I want to take a moment to thank all of you for reading this blog, especially the people who actually subscribed to it. It’s a pretty big rush when people start messaging me to say they like my writing. It’s also very humbling to learn to do something while random people are critiquing as you learn, which is why I started posting on my Facebook. I figured if my work was going to be graded, it should be graded by people I know and trust. I know my friends wouldn’t get on there and say my writing is pure shit, but I also know that they aren’t going to keep reading if it is.

When I started the blog, I was looking for somewhere to write things down while I was waiting to get loaded or unloaded, and I was tired of Facebook. I got all excited when Google+ came out, and I could put up any stati (Our way of pluralizing status) that I needed to, but I had already started the blog and really liked writing actual stories. I now wish I had done some creative writing in school, but as most of you know, I wasn’t there much.

Anyhow, after my first post I noticed someone from the UK liked it, and I thought it was weird that people just happened upon it, so I started checking out the stats for the page. First day there were 4 views, and then usually over 30 until I posted it on Facebook the first time, 108 that day, and so far, it’s my biggest number. I realize that it was just everyone reading the previous posts, but I don’t care, because I’m an attention whore. That said, I realized that I couldn’t keep my real name up there, because some stories have a lot of truth to them, and while I don’t mind my friends knowing some things, I don’t need strangers being able to put a name or a face to the words.

I feel I’ve yammered on enough now, but I just wanted you all to know how good it makes me feel to know that people are liking this, and it gets me excited (not to the point of ejaculation, but very close) to see people sharing my stories on their pages, liking posts, and most of all, commenting. I thrive on the interaction, with everyone, and wish I had more time in the day to sit at the computer and write silly shit down, and properly respond to comments.

Now on with the story.

As I was feeling the chill today, I was reminded that summer is basically over. It’s been the best summer I can remember having because I am used to spending my summers working, or sitting by the phone, and waiting for work to call. That was one reason I left the patch, another would be that I was terribly homesick. I left here in 1999, and came back usually once or twice a year for a visit, but never got to spend more than a week or two, but last spring I had had enough. I began passing out when I would laugh, cough or sneeze too hard, so they started to do tests on me. I don’t know how many tests you’ve had done, but these were taking months to complete. Months of not working or having enough money to go drinking and other fun things that you do when you’re bored in the oilfield.

I then started getting depressed at having to sit in the apartment alone, no family around me, most of my friends 4000 kms away and I had an addiction to Evony. It is really a great game to kill time with, because you don’t have to pay to play it, there are a lot of cool people to chat with and it goes 24/7. I’ve made some great friends from that game, and I got to meet one in person this summer.

After I quit feeling sorry for myself, I decided that I was moving home. It was the worst feeling, going into the hospital constantly, not knowing if you had a tumour, an aneurysm or heart problems, and being totally alone. No one waiting for you to come out of the stress clinic with your chest all covered in wires and pads, and drive you home, because you don’t trust yourself not to start coughing on the road. Having to tell your family what was happening in a manner that wasn’t going to freak them out, even though you are completely scared inside because you wonder if you are going to not wake up the next time it happens.
It wasn’t as though I didn’t have any friends there, I did, but they had jobs and lives to live too, and not all of them lived in town. My one saving grace was my rekindled friendship with one of my oldest friends. Thanks to Facebook and MSN Messenger, I had a friend to talk to every day. It was that what kept me from a mental breakdown, and I don’t think I ever properly thanked her, so I’m doing it now. Thank you Ang. For being there when I needed a friend the most, and for giving me something to hang on to. I hope you know that I’ll always be here if you need me, and if you didn’t know it, you do know.

While I was clinging to my sanity, I was checking out Plenty of Fish, to see what the prospects were looking like back home. I came across a new profile of someone I had admired from afar for a few years, but had no idea she was single. I contacted her to see what was happening, and explained my situation. She was quite understanding about it, and I’m elated to say that we shall marry on the 9th of June next year. I have finally met my soulmate, and I am locking that shit down for good.

This brings me to my original story via the weirdest segue in the world… my amazing summer. Even though I was working an average of twelve hours a day, I feel like I packed more quality into this summer, than ever before. I had a reason to rush home after work now. There were people that were happy to see me, and I them. It seemed like we were doing something every weekend, and got to spend quite a bit of time at the cabin (one of my favourite places) as well. Then, in the middle of it all, we got to take a romantic, whirlwind tour of Canada’s east coast, which was the highlight for me. That was where I met my friend from Evony, (Shout out to Duke and his beautiful family) and I also got to meet a dear friend of my better half, and his better half.(Thanks you two, can’t wait til next summer). There were very few days where I could just lounge around, but it didn’t matter because I had a life again.

I played ball, picked fiddleheads, visited family and friends, and reconnected with the place I love most on earth… home. I’m finally home. Just the realization of that gets me all choked up. I don’t know why I was gone for so long, but I know it made me understand how important family and friends are, and it makes me truly appreciate what I have now. I know I haven’t got a lot of money or fancy things, but I wouldn’t trade my life for anybody else’s, and I know what’s out there.

I love you baby, and I love our life together. Every part of it. I also love puffballs and morels, but I didn’t get any this year, so I expect you to put your feelers out there for next year and find us the honey hole. Not that honey hole, you punch of perverts.

Sorry for the length of this whore,

Birdman