Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Not To Do When In Recovery

As someone who is in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol substance abuse, I am sometimes asked "what do you do for fun?" Many people cannot conceive of a life in which one abstains from intoxicating substances (including me on occasion). For me, the trade-off is worth it, as I do not vomit blood or wish I was dead quite as often. Still, many people in society view teetotalers and abstainers as sanctimonious bores, or worse, members of the Conservative party of Canada. I try my best to thwart stereotypes by maintaining the same dishevelled appearance and hopeless attitude from my using days. I do admit though to being guilty of bursting with gratitude while radiating health and contentment every now and then.
As a service to those living in sobriety, and to those who love them (or tolerate them) here are a few handy tips on what not to do when you are in recovery.
1)  Volunteer to be a designated driver for a frat house
2)  Wrestle the drink out of the hand of anyone over 90
3) Say to friends who invite you to their place for a meal of Coq Au Vin, "GET BEHIND ME SATAN!"
3) Lecture teens on the evils of what you used to take enormous pleasure in
5) Refuse to eat blue cheese offered to you at a reception because the last time you did you were "tripping for hours"
6) Boycott your local diner because it serves eggs with hash
7) While a priest drinks consecrated wine during communion yell out, "easy there fella!"
8) Say to the Pope  as he sips champagne at a state dinner, "I used to revere you."
9) Get kicked out of a state dinner
10) Offer to give anyone a piece of your mind. You need those precious few fragments for yourself.

May 2-4 weekend, comin' up in Canada. See you on the hiking trails!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

An Apology From Bennettworld

 Image result for save face

To: Readership
From: President & CEO,Bennettworld

Dear Stakeholders:

It has come to our attention that many of you were disappointed with the quality of the January blog entitled Pestilence.

Please accept our sincere apology for any inconvenience this may have caused you. At Bennettworld, quality writing is our top priority. No, wait -- it's safety. Safety is our top priority. No ... wait ... it's quality writing. Quality writing is our top priority, with safety being a close second.

We understand that the author of this blog, Ms. Carolyn Bennett (not the MP), suffered from severe bronchitis for several weeks during the winter. This may explain the absence of a blog entry for February (DISCLAIMER - does not, nor does not suggest, absence of blog entry was due to illness). We apologize unreservedly for the shoddy, if not hallucinatory, tone of the piece.

In the interest of transparency, we include with this correspondence a selection of letters and emails we received concerning the blog Pestilence. It is our hope that you continue to read this blog for the mild chuckles and obscure musings it provides.

President & CEO

"My wife and I were dismayed by the astounding lack of substance in the January blog. One only has to read the blog of a pre-teen to find more trenchant social commentary. We are NOT amused!"
- Mr. & Mrs. R. V. Crowley
Eau Claire, Wisconisin

"My bridge club usually enjoys sharing the latest bon mots from Ms. Bennett's blog. The piece entitled Pestilence, however, we found self-indulgent. Thankfully, the piece was brief."
- Miss Wilma L. Chalif
Tusla, Oklahoma

"Why would Ms. Bennett think anyone, besides me, would be interested in the inflamed mucous membranes of her respiratory tract?
- Ms. Pauline D. Steinmetz
Novak, South Dakota

"Phil Kessel is more of a man than you'll ever be, Bennett!"
- Dion Phaneuf

Friday, January 30, 2015


I am writing this blog on Friday January 30, 2015. Christmas Day 2014 (December 25, for anyone unfamiliar with Christmas) I contracted a viral infection. I believe I caught the bug on a plane en route to Saskatoon. I could be wrong. I could have caught it from a telephone, or a human being, or a turnstile. All I know is that for just over five weeks (has it only been five weeks?) I have had a cough that rattles everything in my vicinity.

At week three I broke down and went to my doctor. She asked if I wanted antibiotics, just to shut me up. I relented and said yes, even though I knew they wouldn't do anything. They did do something though. They made my face swell up. I looked like Phil Kessel should, every night he is on the ice trying to pretend he's a team player. I dislike Phil Kessel. In fact, I dislike the Toronto Maple Leafs. No -- I find the storied franchise and its fans preposterous. But that is another blog...

Excuse me, I just dredged up some mucus, in the shape of Phil Kessel.

My cough erupts from a gooey subterranean nether region, somewhere between Michigan and Hades. If Boris Karloff had a baby, it would look like the chunks I hork. I sound like a gunner who smoked three packs a day on the Eastern Front.

Has it only been five weeks?

I don't know why I am so sick. The human body is a marvellous thing, when it is not gross. This is not a bacterial infection, and I don't have pneumonia or whooping cough. It is simply a persistent invader. Kinda like Phil Kessel should be, in the offensive zone.

I will shake this off soon. Either that, or I will be pulling along an oxygen tank on the subway. One good thing -- people move away from me on the TTC. It's great, but a little sad.

So, don't cry for me Argentina. Cry for Leaf Fans. I will be okay.

When is Dyson going to invent a vacuum for post-nasal drip?

Stay warm.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

It Is A Wonderful LIfe

     I gauge my emotional health on how I react to It's A Wonderful Life. Most years I smile at the familiar sentimentality. On a couple of occasions I've fallen asleep before the climax (that's what she said - BOOM!) This year, I felt George Bailey's desperation. I let out a maudlin sob at the end. The fact that the film  ran on CTV last night, December 6, may say something about our nation's morale. This is the earliest I remember the movie being broadcast.
      Is it just me, or is the news really bad these days? Is anybody else troubled by what's going on in the world? Before you say "'twas ever thus", hear me out.
      The other night I was staring glassy-eyed at the telly, while Dan tapped on his phone. Peter Mansbridge, growing balder by the minute, read this off the teleprompter, in reference to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for action on climate change:
            "Ban Ki-moon made it clear -- he has no time for climate change deniers, and no time for any country that doesn't put the survival of the global population before its own domestic wants and needs."
     "Hey, Dan?"
     Tap, tap tappity tap. "Yeah?"
     "Did you just hear what I heard?"
     Tappity tap. "What?"
     "That the survival of the global population depends on countries taking action on climate change."
     "Ban Ki-moon has no time for Canada."
     Tappity tap tap tap.
     "Nothing we can do about it from the couch right now."
     "But. But. never mind  ... good night."
It's stuff like this that made me drink vodka from a jar on the subway. Now I shoot back the strongest chamomile tea I can brew.
     Survival of the global population, huh? I wonder what Ban Ki-moon is trying to say.
     I remember my dad being gripped by the oil crisis in the 1970s. Aged ten and wanting to appear precocious, I followed the news and attempted to express my outrage at rising oil prices. "Dad, this is a damned situation," I remember saying, it being the first time I used a curse word at home. My father responded to my trenchant commentary by grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and shoving a bar of soap in my mouth. I think I offered my opinion a year or two later about Watergate, something I had no understanding of either.
     What is a person to do about the survival of the global population, at 10:15 p.m. on a Thursday?
     Not much. 
     But as George Bailey and It's A Wonderful Life demonstrates, it can go one of two ways:
     1) Jump off a bridge.
     2) Make a difference in the lives of others through acts of courage, generosity and kindness.
     I'll take door number two, Monty.
     And I'll watch reruns of Seinfeld before bed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Twas The Night Before Vote Time

Twas the night before vote time, and all through the ward
Not a drug dealer was stirring, not even a Ford.
The putdowns and smearing were strung out with care
In hopes the electorate soon would be there.

The children were tossing all angst in their beds
while visions of Daddy loomed in their heads
And mamma in her muumuu and Rob in Leafs cap
Had scrawled the last promise in a long list of pap

When out from the basement there arose a great clatter
Rob hoisted from his chair to see what was the matter
He shuffled to doorstep and then he did shout
"Hey Doug, vote's tomorrow -- get the fuck out!"

The stairs creaked and buckled as the big man came up
From smoking from bong and drinking from cup
He rubbed his wide face and with eyes all a glisten
He vowed he would fight, to the people he'd listen

Rob outstretched his hand to his very big brother
Then gave him a hug, and one for his mother
More sluggish than buzzards, Rob's posse they came
up from the basement; Doug called them by name:
Now Lisi! Now Loser!
Now Dixon! Now Bloods!
On, MamMo! On, Liti!
Before the street floods!

To the front of the driveway
To the wheel of car
Now dash away, dash away
Dash away all!

Doug was all dressed in sweats, from his top to his feet
His clothes were all wrinkled and stained from canned meat.
A bundle of signs he had flung on his back
and he took a big hammer from out of his pack

His eyes how they drooped, his dimples how creepy!
His cheeks were all bloated, his scars were all weepy!
His voluminous mouth flapped with a huge breeze
and sweat poured from brow, and onto his knees
His sibling young Rob planted hand on Doug's shoulder
Asked, "Make me deputy mayor, if I get older?"
Moved with compassion, and a trifle disgust,
"Rob, badass motherfucker, it's done!" Dougie did cuss.

Then no words were spoken as both got to work
They joined their ill posse, and assorted ill jerks
They planted Ford signs on lawns tidy and neat
Any person protesting is one that got beat.

Once finished they sprang and to team they did yell
And away they all flew like bats out of hell
But I heard them exclaim. 'ere they drove out of sight,
Happy Mayoral Election to all, and to all a  good night!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rejected Business Ideas

Ministry of Government and
Consumer Services
Companies and Personal Property
Security Branch
393 University Avenue, Suite 200
Toronto Ontario
M5G 2M2

19 August 2014

RE: Business Registration

Dear Ms. Bennett:

Thank you for contacting the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and for submitting your business ideas for registration.

After careful consideration, we have made the decision to rejected your application. You may wish to review your business plans, marketing strategies, financing, and overall concepts for your proposed enterprises. To recap, they are:

1) Bad Ass Baby Tattoo Company: Tattoos for the infants of ink aficionados.

2) Drive Thru Urinals: A complement to fast food drive thru windows. Allows the driver and passenger to relieve themselves via urinal or catheter, to save time. (You may wish to approach the Canadian Intellectual Property Office with this, as it is more of a patent)

3) Racoon A-Way: Do-It-Yourself animal removal kit. (Shovel, ax, large garbage bags)

4) Rent-A-Crank: Service provider. Acting as proxies for parents, elderly people nag and cajole successful younger adults, to keep them honest.

5) Gee-Had Me: Lighthearted greeting cards and novelties for Islamic extremists.

6) Old Tyme Movers: Environmentally friendly eco-movers, using horse drawn covered wagons. Fee charged by the hour.

7) Look Up: A computer app for mobile phones. Alerts busy texters when to raise their heads and focus on: crossing busy intersections, paying for food, buying groceries, boarding public transit, driving vehicles, engaging in conversation with a human being physically with them, swimming, bicycling, hiking etc, etc.

8)  Public Pylon: 24/7 on-call service that places traffic pylons around your vehicle, to reduce the risk of parking tickets.

9) Bad Ass Tattoo Removal Company: Hard-edged tattoo removal for the whole family. Sterilized needles optional.

10) Be Me, Be Free: Cloning service. Send replicas of yourself to events and occasions you rather not attend: e.g. board meetings, parent-teacher interviews, one man/one woman shows, family reunions, church, children's dance recitals etc..

We suggest you further investigate and develop your proposed business ideas. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we think you should abandon them all together.

Thank you for submitting your business ideas. The fee for each concept will still be applied


Faceless bureaucrat

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Miracle on the HI-360


From Kahului, Maui's main city, the little town of Hana is 52 miles away, or about 84 kilometres. Hana is nestled in the island's rugged eastern coastline, and according to the  
Go Hawaii tourist website, is considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. I would call it a backwater, if not a marijuana outpost. The drive to Hana can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete, because it consists of narrow one-lane bridges, and hairpin turn, not to mention spectacular scenery. A person is apt to toddle and gape.
The Hana Highway (HI-360) has 620 curves and 59 bridges. That's a lot of body and dental work. The road weaves its way through lush rainforests, towering waterfalls, plunging pools and breathtaking seascapes. Did I mention the hairpin turns? If you visit the Go Hawaii website, you will see I lifted some of the Road to Hana description, and changed the adjectives. Gosh, you'd think I was a speechwriter for Prime Minister Harper. I am merely setting the scene expeditiously, to get to the funny part.

I had just come off a gig in Honolulu, and Dan and I were vacationing in Maui. Yeah, I had a gig in Waikiki. Was booked in December 2013, at the height of the Toronto ice storm. (The internet is a wondrous thing at times, when it's not a black hole for attention spans. A company from Australia found me on the You Tube --but that is another blog to procrastinate writing.) All the tourist websites and books said to DRIVE THE ROAD TO HANA. I must confess, I am getting cautious in my advancing years. I thought the drive may be a little too tiring for Dan, because there was no way I was going to attempt it. I do not own a car, have never owned a car, and only drive the cars of other people when they are inebriated beyond repair. I am an dyed-in-the-wool urbanite, right down to my library canvas tote bag and metropass. Nevertheless, I shook off my apprehension, rented a car, and appointed Dan as chauffeur for the week.

 Maui is not a big island, but beautifully craggy it is. I imagine it is like Newfoundland, without the sleet, snow and people saying "I's the B'y". As Dan turned the wheel one way and then the next, and as the car climbed the road to Hana, I felt vague unease. One false move, like say texting a client, or eating a burrito, and we'd plummet off the side of the road and explode like cars did in the TV show Mannix.  It was more than that though. I felt, in my gut, that something was going to happen, and that something would not be good.

I pretended I was relaxed and happy. I had every reason to be; I had just come off a successful gig, and was remunerated well. The drive was every bit as amazing as the tourist books said. Dan parked the car at a remote beach, and we headed for the water.

That is, he headed for the water, and I was stuck guarding keys and wallets. I watched him frolic in the big surf, thinking it was a bit rough. My stomach clenched some more. I glanced over at a bbq hut in the distance, and saw a man leaning on a shovel, his eyes closed.

I turned back to the ocean, to see Dan climbing up from the beach, heading toward me.

Without his glasses.

Dan wears glasses. Dan needs glasses. To see.

     "Darlin', I lost my glasses in the ocean," he said.

And that's when I flew into a rage. Looking back at it now, I supposed I hadn't completely shaken off my apprehension.

      "I knew it! I knew it! I knew something was going to FUCK UP! I had this feeling ALL DAY LONG, something was going to FUCK UP. And something FUCKED UP."

I paced around in a fury, at the same time steeling myself for the tortuous drive back. I would have to get behind the wheel, be the responsible one, and draw upon my driving school knowledge from 1996.
     "GET IN THE CAR NOW. It's going to take six hours to get the hell out of here!"

What happened next is what I like to refer to as "Miracle on the HI-360."
Not wanting to endure my wrath for an interminable journey back, Dan insisted on driving. Being a coward, and an angry coward, I let him. For the first 20 minutes I hollered anytime the median line disappeared . Then, I started to relax. Dan was driving well. Not only that, he seemed to drive better without his glasses. He took hairpins turns with panache, exceeding the 15mph speed limit, and then some. I resigned myself to driving once we hit towns and the city again, but no, he kept going, passing other cars and keeping up with the highway traffic going 65mph, all the way to Kihei where we were staying.

Unwinding with beverages on the lanai at the condo, I asked Dan why he insisted on driving.
     "It was either I drive, or you mad at me for the rest of the day."
     Yes, Miracle on HI-360. The thought of someone ranting in a car for six hours gave him new vision. And it gave me insight into my own catastrophic thinking, and my need for control. If you take the Road to Hana, remember to just enjoy the ride.