Tagged: winnipeg

I’m sitting in the ER at HSC

- by Alyson Shane


I got into a pretty bad accident on my bike today.

I hit a pothole and flew over my handlebars and skidded along the road on my head. 

My eyebrow is split open and I have a concussion, and earlier I could barely walk or understand what was going on.

Thank god I was wearing my helmet.

I’ve been in the ER for eight hours, and here are some things I’ve seen:

A man in a wheelchair pleading towards the nurses' station, saying 
“Please nurse, my chest hurts. 
Please help me, nurse”
and nobody helping him right now, 
because they can’t

they have no beds for him.

A grandma on her phone,
blind, also in a wheelchair 
telling her son that she’s been here since 8:30 AM

(st was 5 PM when she made that call.)

A young woman curled in a chair
feet tucked up under her
she asks the nurse for a blanket and the nurse tells her
they don’t give them out here
the girl starts crying

“I’ve been here since 2:30 PM” she wails

(she asked for a blanket around 6 PM.)

A man lying on the ground
on the “Covid symptom side” of the room
under a blanket, shaking
he was here when I got here at 4 PM

It’s 12:25 AM now.

All the while nurses 
and doctors 
and EMTs 
and other hospital staff
have been running around 
back and forth
stressed and tired 
their eyes weary above their masks
doing their best to keep up

but it’s not enough.

There isn’t enough funding 
not enough staff 
not enough beds
to help everyone.

The hospital up the road from my house used to have an ER, 
used to take some off the heat off HSC
but the Conservative government closed it a few years ago
and this scene is what we’re left with.

This is what happens when we defund health care.

This is what happens when we vote for Conservatives.

This is what happens when we look at people as dollars and cents
and not human beings who get sick
and get hurt
and need care.

And this is just one night when I happen to be here 
for 8+ hours 
to tell you about what I’m seeing.

Imagine what it’s like being here 
every night, 
trying to give all these people
timely, high-quality care
and being unable to 
because the health care system you’re a part of 
is stretching you 
and everyone here
to the limit

every day.

Please 
support our nurses
support health care workers
and never
ever

vote Conservative.

---

I was finally seen after 9.5/10 hours of waiting in the ER. A huge THANK YOU to the staff at HSC who took care of me and everyone else who was there yesterday. You're heroes and you deserve better than this broken, gutted, and under-funded system you're forced to operate within. I see you, and I appreciate you.

Tags: Winnipeg Life

 

John got the jab today

- by Alyson Shane


and I'm relieved as heck. Today Manitoba opened up AZ vaccine eligibility to people 40 and up so "Good Luck Luxford" hopped on the horn at 11:30 AM and by 5 PM today he was vaxxed up with the first of two jabs.

I gotta say, with how badly Manitoba has handled the pandemic so far this was an unexpected and happy surprise. Most days I get up and gird my loins and wait for the news about more cases, more variants, and more bad news, but not today.

No, today I got GOOD NEWS, and I got to witness a rare Nice Day on Twitter, which is where people wish each other well and cheer each other on and

for a few short hours

it feels like the old Internet I fell in love with

back when it was mostly just nerds and weirdos hanging out on forums and making art.

These days the internet is a different and angrier place, so it was nice seeing those tweets saying "just scheduled my appointment!" or "going in today!" and everyone piling on with gifs and well-wishes and congrats.

It was like the opposite of doomscrolling because every time I came back to my feed I saw all these messages of hope and relief

like we'd been holding our breath and we all let it out at the same time.

Everyone was either eligible or knew someone who was and being a part of our collective exhale is a feeling I know I'll come back to when this is finally behind us.

And though I know the pandemic isn't over, and though I know we're still in the middle of the third wave, and though I know that we've still got a long way to go before we get back to "normal"

god damn it

today I witnessed a Twitter miracle and the man I love got his first jab so I'm gonna call this a win.


 

RIP @howwon

- by Alyson Shane


aka, the #pizzafriday guy.

Howard was one of the first people I met on Winnipeg Twitter after I started "getting into" the platform. One of the first times he tweeted at me was a reply to a tweet I'd shared of a photo of a hot dog I'd just bought for lunch. Howard wrote:

"would have been better if it was pizza for #pizzafriday"

Howard was obsessed with pizza and let everyone know it, and #pizzafriday became one of those weird inside jokes that small towns and tight-knit communities have. He'd tweet "what's your position on #pizzafriday?" at local politicians, and reply to pretty much any tweet about anything other than pizza with a statement about pizza, like:

"I can pickup pizza at -24C or +24C"

"Eating pizza would never give you sore legs"

and

"I can eat pizza with or without pinkeye"

We only met in person a few times but every time he mentioned pizza. A few times I saw him actually eating pizza and BOY did he look happy.

Twitter has changed from when I first started using it. There's way more fighting and drama, and even though I'm lucky that the algorithm serves me up the best and brightest in my city, it's become less fun some days. Howard was one of those people who made our community a nicer, funnier, and more pleasant place to be.

Howard and his dry, pizza-loving sense of humour was the perfect example of someone who leaned into what they were into and brought joy to other people as they did it. He was a nice guy who wanted to spread happiness through pizza and especially double pepperoni slices (so I hear).

He was a fixture in the Winnipeg Twitter scene. It seems like everyone knew Howard, even if they hadn't met him in person, and based on the tweets I've seen about him today he was probably a lot more admired and appreciated than even he knew.

(I hope he knew.)

Tonight I, like many other people in Winnipeg, will be ordering pizza for #pizzafriday in his honour.

RIP Howard. If there's a heaven, I hope there's pizza there.


 

The COVID Carols [Lyrics]

- by Alyson Shane


It's been a hell of a year and we miss the people we love, so yesterday John and I booked a Peg City Co-Op car and took our band "Big Trouble in Little Wolseley" on a whirlwind tour of Winnipeg to sing some (masked, socially-distanced) carols to our friends and family.

We didn't just sing any ol' carols, however.

Since COVID-19 has made 2020 an "extra special" year, we re-wrote two of the three songs we performed to include lyrics that reflect all the weird stuff we've been through, with a few dashes of Manitoba-specific lore thrown in for good measure.

The Winnipeg Free Press recently published an article about how Manitobans are going carolling (though they clearly missed out on the carolling story of the year if you ask me) and we figured — hey, if you're doing some socially-distanced carolling, maybe you'd like  these extra-special lyrics, too.

Below are the lyrics to our two "original bangerz", and at the bottom of this post is an extra-special cover of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" dedicated to Manitoba's Premier (and resident Christmas-stealer) Brian Pallister. 

Enjoy, and stay safe out there!

---

The Twelve Days of COVID

On the first day of COVID my true love gave to me
A Costco shopping spree

On the second day of COVID my true love gave to me
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the third day of COVID my true love gave to me
Three face masks, two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the fourth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the fifth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the sixth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the seventh day of COVID my true love gave to me
Seven fundamentals, six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the eighth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Eight hands a-washing, seven fundamentals,
Six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the ninth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Nine rolls of T.P., eight hands a-washing, seven fundamentals,
Six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the tenth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Ten extra pounds, nine rolls of T.P.,
Eight hands a-washing, seven fundamentals,
Six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the eleventh day of COVID my true love gave to me
Eleven online orders, ten extra pounds, nine rolls of T.P.,
Eight hands a-washing, seven fundamentals,
Six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

On the twelfth day of COVID my true love gave to me
Twelve Bartley’s tweeting, eleven online orders,
Ten extra pounds, nine rolls of T.P.,
Eight hands a-washing, seven fundamentals,
Six feet of distance, five Zoom calls,
Four marathons, three face masks,
Two rubber gloves and a Costco shopping spree

---

God Rest Ye, Merry Winnipeg

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Don’t see your friends and families
This year on Christmas Day
You’ll save us all from getting sick
So we can hang in May
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

In Winnipeg, in Canada
You may be feeling torn
We’ve all been locking down so hard
Can’t we just have this morn?!
We’ve mailed all our letters
To give our leaders scorn
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Fear not then, says Brent Roussin
Let nothing you affright
This day comes new restrictions
But they’ll be gone by night
Follow the fundamentals
And you will be alright
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

---

And, finally, here's our rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" dedicated to Manitoba's least favourite grinch/person, Brian Pallister:


 

Fall is settling in

- by Alyson Shane

I can feel it in the air when I wake up and when it rains. The coolness that
came too fast this year, it seems.

Even without Folk Fest and Rainbow Trout the summer flew by, every day
heightened by the fact that 

winter is coming

and with it more staying inside and cozying up and baking and
other things I like and enjoy, honestly

but I'm not ready for it yet.

I'm hungry for more summer, more heatwaves
more riding bikes and drinking beers in parks and waking up to water the garden
and going for long walks and BBQing and

feeling normal
almost.

The other weekend we went camping in Spruce woods

(it was the last time we'll probably see our friends for a while, given how much
Brian Pallister and the Conservatives fucked this up)

so I'm glad we got to get together again
we went hiking and swimming in the river
and made amazing food and laughed until our faces and stomachs hurt
listening to The Boys Are Back in Town 

again and again for the lulz.

On Saturday around 2 AM I walked to the bathroom, up the winding path up the hill
the night was clear and still
I could see the Milky Way and satellites going by

there was nobody around, all the campsites nearby were quiet
it was just me and the frogs and toads and crickets
and my friends laughing in the distance

enjoying the night.

Calm, serene, (almost) silent
free of worries and fears and anxieties
for a while I stood there, looking up at the sky
breathing in the cool air and thinking

"I'm happy"

and feeling almost
bad
for feeling so happy
in all of this

but if there's anything the pandemic has taught me

it's that happiness is
fleeting
and not guaranteed

because those moments when you can
pretend, forget, ignore
that there's a dangerous world out there
look around and feel normal and content and
at peace
like the vice grip in yr chest has unwound
and
you can take a deep breath in again

those moments are what you'll cling to when shit hits the fan.

(Please don't let shit hit the fan)

Tags: Winnipeg

 

Somehow it's May already?

- by Alyson Shane


Yesterday we walked to our local coffee shop to buy beans and stood in a line on the sidewalk out front because only one person can be in the store at a time. Usually you have to walk all the way to the back of the store to pay at the register, but they had everything set up on stools and tables and this little mobile serving station made of wood.

It wasn't perfect but it worked. We got beans and two iced lattes and I never thought I'd be so happy to talk to a friendly face from the neighbourhood. I felt giddy afterwards and thinking about

just how nice and normal it felt

tugs at my heartstrings a full 24 hours later. 

We went to Food Fare and it turns out one of the Pandemic Things that I fail at is following the taped arrows on the floor in a grocery store because I spend so much time thinking about what I need and not enough time looking at the ground that I wind up walking down them the "wrong" way and needing to circle back and start over. 

But honestly it's not so bad. 

Wear yr mask. Smile with your eyes. Say "thank you" to every damn person risking their health and well-being to serve your community.

Yesterday was the last "trip" we'll take into the neighbourhood for at least the next few weeks until we know what community spread is like with eased social restrictions. 

Manitoba's cases seem to have plateaued so we're in Phase One of reopening but John and I are spooked by all the tweets and posts about busy patios and parks and too many people lining up outside of stores and not social distancing properly.

I'm sad and worried but trying to have a stiff upper lip about it since we're luckier than most and (hopefully) all another surge in cases locally would mean for us is more time spent hunkering down at home.

I was worried that the minute we eased social distancing guidelines people would go crazy and act a fool and once again the internet confirmed that I was right. It's upsetting to know people are putting each other and their loved ones in danger to stand in a too-crowded line or have a beer on a jam-packed patio

People seem to think they're safe and I hope they're right.

But everyone who dies because of the pandemic is someone's somebody and I can't wait until this is over.


 

Things are changing

- by Alyson Shane


the province is starting to confirm cases and things are going on lockdown

shows and events are cancelled

the universities and colleges are cancelling classes and moving online

buses are empty which is great because apparently they're cesspools

(gross, City of Winnipeg)

the lines at the stores are nuts, several aisles long

and businesses are being encouraged to let people work from home.

John's office went remote so he's home and I'm home since this is where I work, and we're cancelling any social plans and not really going outside for the next while.

We stocked up tp and disinfecting wipes just like everyone else

but we went the extra step of buying lots of canned goods and dry goods and freezing extra produce as well

(because you need to eat in order to use all that tp, duh)

and as far as social distancing goes I'm feeling pretty good about it.

I worry about my Grandma, though.

And other people's grandmas.

And even John because he's 39 in a few weeks and apparently this thing takes down people in their 40's now and there's no way I'll risk losing that strange bird if I can help it.

Hell no.

In a few hours I have a Zoom call with the TEDxWinnipeg steering committee to talk about our event in June and whether we'll cancel it.

I'm not 100% sure but I have a feeling that I know how it will go. Who knows.

Everything changes so quickly these days.

It's hard not to be glued to Twitter and the news and all the damn articles and that guy on Joe Rogan and

then there's the debate on Sunday night which you know imma watch

and you know they'll be talking about it in that big, empty studio with no people in it because social distancing

but I'm gonna try and not obsess.

At least we just got a ton of alcohol delivered so if things turn pear-shaped I can drown my sorrows in chocolate porters and box'o wine.

Stay safe and don't forget to wash your hands!


 

Coronavirus is freaking people out

- by Alyson Shane


One of the things about living in a relatively unknown place in the middle of the flat prairies is that stuff like this tends to skip you by or not matter as much

(SARS? What SARS?)

so while places like Calgary are freaking out and swarming Costco's at 10 AM to buy toilet paper in bulk

and events like SXSW and GDC and Facebook's F8 Developers Conference are all being cancelled amid fears that the virus will spread

and stock prices are crashing and the market is slowing

for the most part things here at home feel pretty normal.

Last week I took the bus multiple times every day

on Saturday I spoke on a panel at an event where about 100 people attended

and none of my clients seem all that concerned about the Coronavirus impacting their events and businesses all that much.

Last week we stocked up on cat litter and food and canned goods and Lysol wipes and toilet paper and paper towel and even bottles of water and cans of club soda and

I felt silly, honestly

I remember when people were stocking up during SARS and then that

(thankfully)

went nowhere

and that's kinda how this feels.

Like we're preparing for something that might never happen.

A lockdown or a quarantine situation that 

like the last pandemic

might just skip over my cold prairie province almost entirely.

But being prepared feels stupid until it isn't.


 

The Toad in the Hole Pub is moving up the street

- by Alyson Shane

**I wrote this back on November 19, 2019 and thought "what the heck! Let's publish it."**

Okay, it's only moving up the street to a different location which doesn't seem like such a big deal

until you walk into the current Toad in the Hole Pub location and realize that there's no way to re-create the 

unique ambience

of drinking here.

It looks like an old English pub and it's split between two levels. There are big, worn-out booths and beaten wooden chairs and what I've always suspected is a church pew along the front window that faces the street.

It's dingy and yellow, with green walls covered in wood panelling that looks dusty and sweaty at the same time; the result of hundreds (maybe thousands) of handprints and sweat and cigarette smoke from back when they allowed smoking indoors.

I love this dumpy old pub.

I've been coming here since I was 18, and had decided well before my eighteenth birthday that one of the first things I would do "when I was old enough" was start hanging out at The Toad.

I'd walk by when I was underage and stare at the people with tattoos, drinking hard alcohol out of small glass cups, smoking, hanging around a pub situated on top of a venue called The Cavern, and a bunch of tattoo parlours.

It was exactly the opposite of the boring, cookie-cutter neighbourhood I'd grown up in and I became obsessed with it.

When I finally moved downtown and was living in The Roslyn up the street I'd walk home from work, have a shower, and park myself at The Toad on one of the long wooden benches that overlook Osborne Street with a beer in my hand.

I hated sitting alone. It made me feel anxious, and I worried that the people around me would judge me for sitting by myself. But, inevitably, someone I knew would walk or skateboard by and stop to have a drink on the patio with me.

Because that's what happens when you sit outside at The Toad.

And if nobody showed up and you wound up having a beer alone? 

That was okay too, because nobody gave a shit.

(In reality, nobody anywhere cares.
I know this now, but didn't then.)

Back then they only had one bathroom for women, and during the summer or late on a Friday or Saturday night you might as well have given up and peed outside instead of waiting in the line to use the single-stall women's bathroom

(or do what I did and go for a slice at Lil Pizza Heaven next door and use their bathroom while you wait.)

I've spent hours here in various states of inebriation. Last spring John and I hung out here after we went for a fancy anniversary dinner at Sous Sol up the street and met a man who ran a dog grooming business

(or was selling it, I forget)

and a magician who did tricks for us for free. 

I haven't lived in The Village for the better part of a decade and I don't go to The Toad as often as I used to. It's just not as close as The Good Will or Handsome Daughter or even The Grove.

So I don't go here much anymore. But I'm trying to lately.

I want to soak up as much of this dingy, familiar, comforting

familiar

atmosphere before it's gone. 

Which, honestly, is never something I'd thought I'd have to say about somewhere like The Toad.

It's the kind of place your parents know, and because they know it and you know it you kinda expected that it would always be there. It's the kind of place you take for granted until it's gone.

But I'm here now, drinking a shitty beer that cost $3.25 for old time's sake. Basking under the greasy light of the Victorian-style lamplight fixtures hanging over me and hammering away at my laptop while sitting on that big church pew seat I talked about above.

The only other patron is an old dude with a huge white beard who hasn't taken his jacket off and is drumming along to the El Michels Affair blasting on the speakers at an alarming pace.

It's 3:37 PM on a Tuesday and the bartenders are doing shots with their friends.

I'm going to miss this place when it's moved and the space gets subdivided into a bunch of smaller units and and leased to franchises like Jugo Juices and gyms.

Sigh.

Nothing stays the same, kids.

So cheers to The Toad in The Hole Pub, a Winnipeg staple for so many

and to the memories made

(and sometimes not remembered) 

here.

Tags: Winnipeg

 

Sometimes Winnipeg gets me down

- by Alyson Shane

But then I hear songs like this one

about the importance of free, welcoming public spaces

how our downtown library should be a beacon for everyone

celebrating everyone who comes there

to learn or relax or just

read a book

and I feel so lucky to be from a city that

inspires such beauty in the face of ugliness.

Tags: Winnipeg

 

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