Saturday, December 31, 2016

Why 2016 Was Such A Great Year. (A.K.A. My Very Last Burning Man Blog Cross My Heart And Hope To Die)

Ria and I give hitchhiking two thumbs up!
My daughter Ria and I spent an unforgettable week in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada in August at the arts-culture-alternative lifestyle-mud-orgy called Burning Man and we hitchhiked out, heading to Reno, where we would; A) get a shower and B) catch the first of three flights home.

We were tired, dustier than Pig Pen from Peanuts and got picked up by a very generous and affable Tina, who had also been at Burning Man. I rode shotgun in Tina's Yukon while Ria sat in the back.

It was easily the most comfortable environment either of us had been in since leaving home a week earlier. The car was air conditioned, it had leather seats and Tina offered us cold bottled water.

She was also a delightful conversationalist.

Tina worked for a software startup that was offering online doctors' appointments. She said the technology was particularly attractive for patients who were infirm or simply couldn't or didn't want to leave their homes.

Imagine the Catch-22. How does some poor guy suffering from agoraphobia get help if he's too anxious to leave the house?

Enter psychiatry via Skype! Great idea, right? (Burning Man was lousy with California brainiacs like Tina. Every conversation I entered yanked me back to first-year university when I kept finding myself surrounded by people who knew so much more than I did about everything.)

But that's not my point.

Because of her line of work, Tina was keenly interested in learning about the Canadian health care system.

But for her purposes, I was the wrong guy to ask. Because the conversation went something like this:

Tina: "There's long wait lines at your hospitals, right?"

Me: "Never been a problem for me. I've always gotten the care I needed."

Tina: "You can't get a family doctor very easily, right?"

Me: "Can't say. I don't know of anybody who  doesn't have one at the moment.

"In fact," I told her, "my stock answer about how the Canadian health care system works is that I come from a huge family. We go back years. We have young people old people dead people and live ones. And I'm pretty sure that not once has the Canadian health care system itself ever let us down."

Holy! Family! Meet Zoe, Mateus and Michel.
I kinda think I let Tina down.

When I started this blog a few minutes ago, I titled it the 10 Best Things that Happened in 2016, but in fact, the list was so long--starting with the arrival on earth of my grandson Mateus--I realized I wouldn't be able to keep it to 10.

Of course tons of sad stuff went down since Jan 1, 2016,--it always does--but mostly? The people I hang with know how to find joy--and by that I mean true happiness--on a minute-by-minute and hourly basis.

And added up, that means, well, for example: Via Facebook Messenger about an hour ago, I was able to share one of the best motorcycle songs ever--Richard Thompson's 1952 Vincent Black Shadow--with my daughter Eva, two days after signing over the ownership of a 2004 BMW bike to her. The thought of her enjoying the bike makes me use one of the best words ever: Verklempt!

Then my whacky sister Norma phoned me to say she and her husband Paul are in town and will be attending the annual Bravissimo! New Year's concert at Roy Thomson Hall. My good friend the violist Douglas Perry is performing at said event and Norma wanted his number so she could invite him to supper with them afterwards.

Through  the course of the seven-minute call Norma and I managed to psychoanalyze, diagnose and prescribe long-term and short-term mental-health treatment for every other certifiable member of our family and we laughed so hard I had to hang up and quickly move from the living room where the phone is to a much-smaller furnished-with-porcelain-things room.
 My well-balanced daughter Ev  

Point being, a few years ago, I realized that I never ever lie awake in bed fretting about the huge problems.

What keeps me awake is the small stuff: How will Helena react to the news that her VW won't be ready at the garage? (She bought a Beetle this summer. My pal Nigel Simms said it gives her the right to punch me daily. Get it? A punch buggie)

Or this. We have two cats and the littler of the them--Kiwi--has the trots and sometimes doesn't make it to the litter box.

I worry that I will be wiping up after Kiwi from now until they pack me off on the ice floe.

Or this: Will I get that story about the mining woman done on deadline or will I be forced to come up with some transparent excuse and ask for an extension?

I hate knowing people are mad at me. Or sad because of something I said or did.

Such are the things that really keep me up at night.

There must be people out there flip flopping round on their Simmons Beautyrests sweating global warming and international currency-exchange rates.

But not me. I'm boring. I just stew about people.

So the good news is, even though off the top of my head I can name a couple of people who aren't doing so well and I hope my brother Tom gets a doctor's appointment soon, the vast majority of the folks I deal with are far better off now than they were this time last year. Go figure.

Happy New Year.

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