RambleMan

wandering exploring writing

Surprise!

I suck at keeping secrets. Wait…let me rephrase that. I suck at keeping my own secrets…things about me. I like telling people about me. I like talking about me. I have to consciously ask friends and family “so, what’s up in your life?” when I’m on the phone with them because otherwise I may not give them the chance to speak.

That said, I also like surprises. During my first year of college I was attending school in Calgary, Alberta. I had pre-booked my return flight home for the summer back in August when I flew down to start the year. I didn’t know exactly when my final exams would be when I booked the ticket, but figured I could relax a bit after them if they finished earlier than when my flight was. I get bored easily, though.

When I found out that my last final exam would be some 5 days or so before my planned departure date, I decided to check into changing the ticket. Sure enough, there were seats available on the earlier flights and it would only cost me $50 to make the change. I had no money, but I wanted to go home. I made the change and started planning the surprise for my parents of arriving early.

There were a few problems with my surprise plan. Firstly, I hadn’t brought my house keys with me and my brother was also away at University at the time, I think. Suffice it to say that there was nobody for me to call to get a key into my house without alerting my parents to my arrival. The second problem is that when I left home, the weather was wonderful and I only brought a fall-weather jacket with me. The temperature in Yellowknife when I wanted to return was around -50C. I would freeze within minutes of stepping outside in the jacket and running shoes I had on.

The plan – I would arrive at the airport and call home. Back then, the pay phones in Yellowknife were a dime to use and you didn’t put the money in until the person answered. Once they answered, you could hear them, but they couldn’t hear you until you put the dime in. I arrived, got my luggage and called home. My mother answered and repeatedly said “hello?” until I hung up. I didn’t want to talk to her, I wanted to make sure they were at home so I could arrive and be able to get in.

I left the airport terminal, got in a cab and traveled to my parents’ neighbourhood. I had the cab stop a few doors down from their house in case they were looking out the window – so they wouldn’t wonder why a cab was arriving at their house. I was cold and there was a brisk wind and lots of snow. I dragged my suitcase to their door and rang the doorbell. My dad came to the door and opened it and his eyes lit up. I heard my mother call from the living room – “who’s there?” My dad responded – “It’s Charles!” My mother responded from the living room “no, it’s not”. My dad insisted, “yes, it’s Charles!” My mother, having just had someone (I wonder who?) hang up on her wasn’t in the best of moods for a joke and responded, “no, it’s not!” I came in and went to the living room and my mom began to cry, surprised and excited to have me home early. It was a great surprise and I enjoyed doing it.

My latest surprise is more drawn out, involves more people and is proving difficult to pull off. The plan is to not tell my parents about the whole free money grant I’m likely going to get to help buy a home. They don’t know the program exists, let alone that I’ve applied for it, what I’m likely to get and that I’ll likely be approved.

My dad is a Plan B kind of guy. He worries too much. Throughout my life he has always cautioned me to have a backup plan for whatever I’m doing…be ready for the worst and such. I’ve always bucked this advice – I buck most advice. My theory with this particular advice is that if I don’t focus 100% of my attention on my intended goal, in my brain – even a little bit of it, I’m admitting that failure is possible…which increases it’s chance of happening. I don’t know whether probabilities are impacted by me and my positive thoughts, but I figure every little bit counts. I figure that should things not go my way, which has often happened in my life, I’ll deal with it. I’ll figure out what to do and get on with it. I don’t want to have a whole, elaborately planned out backup plan, though.

My parents know that I want to buy a house. They know I’m saving for a down payment and that I hate paying as much as I do for my apartment. They know that my plan is to buy in March or so of 2003. Even with that little bit of information, every time I mention the house purchase to my dad he cautions of the negatives of owing a home – unforeseen bills and emergency repairs, property taxes, utilities, lawns, snow, furnaces, hot water heaters, etc. He seems to relish thinking about the possible negatives that could happen. I know that he’s simply trying to caution me – share his life experiences to save me some possible hardship. I know me, though and know that I’m incapable of learning from advice. I have to experience everything personally to learn from it…sometimes repeatedly before I actually ‘get’ the lesson.

I’ve chosen not to tell my parents about the down payment assistance plan because I know my dad would obsess about it. He would call and e-mail me constantly asking if I had heard anything about it yet…am I approved, when will it happen, are there houses on the market, how much do I want to spend, can I afford it, etc. I’m already asking myself all of those questions and more and am obsessing about the whole thing enough all by myself. That’s one reason I’m not telling my parents about this. The other reason is that I love surprises.

I think it would be absolutely too much fun to go through this entire process of being approved, finding and buying a house and moving in without them knowing about it. Then, I’d tell them by sending them a change of address card in the mail. The latest plan removes the change of address card and actually has me taking a ton of digital photos and maybe a digital walk-through video of the place, burning them all on a 3″ CD and mailing that to them without any markings on the envelope or CD other than “insert in CDROM and view” or something equally vague. Maybe the last photo would be a photo of a change of address card with my name and new address on it. I think that would be a ton of fun to do.

I also think it would be very cool should I ever meet a woman I want to marry that if she’s okay with it, to get married as soon as we’re engaged. I have no interest in “being engaged” forever. My friends and family live across the country and planet so that there really is no central place where I could get married and it not cost a lot. I think it would be much cooler, surprise-wise to get engaged, marry right away and rather than send out engagement announcements, or wedding invitations, to instead send out cards announcing my marriage. Finding a woman who not only tolerates me but also will agree not to have a big whoop-dee-doo wedding will be quite the challenge.

My main accomplice in these surprises is my brother. He understands that our parents don’t NEED to know everything about us and allows the person to divulge the information at our own pace. The latest secret was my purchasing of this ThinkPad. There’s a whole story behind me getting it through a work computer purchase program that is allowing me to buy it through pay cheque deductions over two years without any interest being charged. I know my parents would understand the advantages of the plan, but I know they would focus on “you can’t afford that” if they heard I had a new $3,000 computer. I kept my brother updated on how much/little I had shared so he knew what to/not to say. Eventually, I did tell them in a conversation that fit it perfectly. They thought it was a wonderful decision and weren’t remotely upset about it. If anything, they’re jealous of me and want it should I die in a horrible car wreck.

The latest of our ‘secrets’ is that my brother has been influenced by me…he bought a ThinkPad of his own. Keep in mind that this is the computer guy who already has I think eight desktop computers networked in his house…he lives alone. It is rather surprising that he never had a notebook before. His reasoning has always been that he can’t customize it…open it up and add/remove stuff at his liking. He found his ThinkPad on eBay for $1500 and has since ordered I think $300 worth of RAM upgrades for it. He is loving it and having a ball remotely controlling the other eight computers from this new little box in his living room. He doesn’t have a wireless network like I do, so he’s not taking it out on his deck and has yet another network cable stretched through his house, but he’s still enjoying it to it’s maximum potential. Although he hasn’t asked me yet, I know that it’s hush-hush from the parents until he officially says they know, or they mention it. They just don’t need to know.

The other part of these secrets is RambleMan’s existence. A few of my close friends know about it, but my family doesn’t. I don’t bash them or anything, but I do feel more at ease knowing I can write without concern for what they might think of me. I can talk about the house and share prospective properties with you without worrying about receiving parental advice. My co-workers also don’t know about it…it’s very weird to have an online presence and not be able to tell people around me about it. The most bizarre part of that is that my account with www.powweb.com, my hosting service includes 250 @RambleMan.com e-mail addresses. There are many situations where I’d like to use them, but wonder if they’d track it back to me personally if I used one. I’m thinking that in time I may offer RambleMan up as an online journal place for guys to write online…give them free space and an e-mail address, and figure out how to grant FTP access to only their directory and go from there. Could be cool and would certainly make better use of all the space I have. I could probably even charge for the service and cover my own hosting costs. Let this posting serve as my offer to consider it if you’re interested in starting your own online journal through a sub-directory of RambleMan. I’m not saying it’ll happen at all, let alone quickly, but I’m willing to try to figure it out if you’re wanting to pursue it.

I’ve gone off on a tangent and need to get on with my day. Thanks again for dropping by.

Charles

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