Strange February Dreams

I’ve been having weird dreams again.

Last night, I had a couple of incomplete ones.

Dream # 1: I dreamed I was at some sort of meeting … only it was in a room akin to either a really large classroom, or a small-ish auditorium.

I don’t remember much about this one, except that a lot of people were present – I suppose it was some sort of seminar – and I was talking to this one fellow I seemed to know, but whom I couldn’t place.

Thinking about it this morning after I’d gotten up, he kind of reminded me of this person I used to work with, who passed away a couple years ago. This in itself is kind of creepy, so I won’t go any further than this.

Dream # 2: I’m in the mall, because one of the big stores is having a sale on jeans. But on the way to the sale, I stop in at a store to try something on … and somehow forget to put my shirt back on, and leave it behind. Strangely enough, I am aware enough to shield my chest. (With what, I don’t remember. My handbag, perhaps?)

So essentially, I get to the store with the jeans sale, completely clothed from the waist down, shielding my naked torso with the nearest shirt I grabbed from the rack …  all while simutaneously thinking:

(1) I really want to find a good pair of jeans on sale, and

(2) that my bare back is starting to get really chilly from the draughty air, and that I should really find the nearest changeroom and put on the shirt I’m holding over my chest.

And I remember thinking these things without being particularly panicked.

So, yeah. I should really start depriving myself of sleep again.

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Not Even In Winter

In another part of the city on Saturday night …

A friend of mine and her boyfriend were leaving a relaxing dinner at their friends’ house and were heading out to other parties – including the one I was at – when they witnessed a young woman being attacked by a guy.

She was apparently bawling and screaming, as this guy was yelling at her, jerking her around by her wrist, and chewing her out when she fell on the icy sidewalk.

My friends tailed the two of them and called 911. They discovered that horrible guy was that young woman’s boyfriend, and it sounded like they were having a domestic dispute. Understandably, my friend was freaked out.

I certainly hope that woman – wherever she is now – is okay. I can’t fathom what might’ve happened to her if my friend and her boyfriend weren’t around to see that.

It also makes me realize how much I take my personal security for granted. It’s funny (strange, not ha ha) … but for some reason, I have my guard up much more when the weather’s warmer. Not in winter. Don’t ask me why.

It’s quite a sobering thought. So for women like myself, who travel home by themselves often, a reminder to be careful. Pay attention to your surroundings. And stay alert. 

I certainly will be making more of an effort to.

A Letter to the TTC

Dear Toronto Transit Commission,

I couldn’t help but notice the changes to your service, most notably the increase in buses last week on 43 of your routes, during the day.

While I will concede that my trips by bus last week on one of these said improved routes has made my one leg of my commute slightly more comfortable, I hope that there are more service improvements on the way, specifically in the evenings and late at night.

Why, you ask?

Well frankly, as someone who use public transit as her primary means of getting around – and as the daughter of a retired TTC employee – I have to say:

Your night service SUCKS.

Case in Point # 1:

Friday, February 22nd. I was at Yonge and St. Clair, out with some colleagues from work. After straggling for way too long and missing the subway, I decided it was now time to catch the Yonge night bus. (Note that the night bus is commonly known as the “Vomit Comet”.) I took my place at the designated bus stop at 2:08 a.m.  It was freezing cold. There was no bus shelter. The bus didn’t arrive for another 10 minutes or so.

I caught the bus and made it to Yonge and Finch. But guess what? I don’t live at Yonge and Finch. I live and McCowan near Steeles. That’s three buses. 

When I got off the bus and walked over to the next bus stop in my journey, because of the fact the Finch bus had taken off 5 minutes before I’d arrived, I had to wait 25 minutes. In the cold. There was no bus shelter. And a three-quarter- length hooded parka can only do so much.

I eventually got home at 3:45 a.m. If you do the math, that’s 1 hour and 37 minutes, counting from the time I waited at the bus stop at Yonge and St. Clair.

(Note: two weekends before, I also took the night bus, but at Yonge and Davisville. I think 2:08 a.m. was the time I got on the bus. And it was snowing. It took me one hour to get home. Imagine how long it could have been, had the subway been running. Hmm.)

Case in Point # 2:

Saturday, February 23rd. I went out to hang out with some friends on Dundas, just west of Bathurst. I made a point of leaving a bit earlier than I usually would, so that I could actually catch the subway and save some cab fare.

I left my friends’ party at 1:10 a.m. I still ended up spending $57 in cab fare.

Why?

Well, apparently the Dundas streetcar stops running at 1:07 a.m., three minutes before I set foot outside. There was no schedule posted at the stop I was standing at, probably because you only post your schedules at major stops.

I think I stood outside for a good 15 minutes. I finally saw a streetcar, but it was out of service. Luckily the driver gave me a lift up the street to Dundas and Bathurst, and he informed me I’d missed the last one. I inquired as to how long the north-south streetcars ran. He said the last Bathurst streetcar headed northward from the bottom of its route at about 1:35 a.m.

So I took my chances and waited. When I didn’t see a streetcar after a few minutes, I decided to take a jog up to the next stop. After a few minutes at that stop, I checked my watch: it was 1:31 a.m., which was cutting it ridiculously close. So I half-ran, half-walked up to the stop at Ulster Street.

By 1:42 a.m., there was still no sign of the streetcar, so I did what I was trying not to do: I had to hail a cab.

I must say, TTC, I had the nicest taxi driver. (I’m sure your streetcar drivers – like the one that gave me the lift to Dundas and Bathurst – are just as friendly, but I NEVER GOT TO FIND OUT.) He asked me how my evening was, and I explained to him the predicament which led me to flag him down in the first place.

And you know what? He mentioned how much money people like me are pouring into your system, and that the service wasn’t getting any better – just the opposite. (Mind you, he profited from the fact I lived so far away, but still.) He even cited an example of another city subway system – New York’s, actually – which he said was better than Toronto’s.

I’m fully aware that Toronto isn’ t New York. But let’s face it: the crusade to get more people out of cars and into buses, streetcars and subways isn’t working. I currently live at home and have been trying to save money being used on $60 cab rides, by using your transportation system. Somehow I think The Better Way has actually proven to be worse.

Not that you’ll consider these, but here are a few suggestions I think might help people like me trying to get home without the huge expense.

End subway service later. Except for New Year’s, the train service ends ridiculously early. Unless I’m at an establishment that’s around the corner from a train station, I’m effectively screwed about 98 percent of the time. The last train eastbound leaves Yonge and Bloor station at 1:48 a.m. (The “official” train, that is. I’ve been on the unofficial last train before, so you can’t fool me.) If I was in the Yonge and Eglinton area, I have until 1:21 a.m. to have a hope in hell of going northbound. What’s the deal?

I’m not saying the trains have to run all hours of the night. But how about an actual decent time – say, 2:15? That’s around the time a lot of people are finding their way home. Too late? How about rounding your service up about 12 minutes to, say, 2 o’clock? That would work for me. And at the very least, I’d pay $25 dollars for a cab from Kennedy Station, instead of $55 or $60 from the heart of downtown.

Extend streetcar service. I know a lot of them have a long route. But why do I have to leave wherever I might be downtown at 12:45, just to get home? That’s ludicrous.

Do something about the night buses. I personally think service should be slightly more frequent between 1 and 3 a.m. (since I’m a woman travelling at night by myself) but I’m not going to win that war. But honestly? If I have to wait a half-hour for a bus, give me some shelter so I don’t feel chilled to the bone when I have to wait for one in the middle of winter. This might be a good start to shaking your “Vomit Comet” moniker.

I don’t expect any of my requests to be considered. But just take note of this:

Like a lot of people who travel home at night, I’m not a rambunctious or drunken individual swinging off the subway or bus rails as if they were monkey bars. I’m not screaming at the top of my lungs or laughing hysterically, trying to bring attention to myself on the way home. And I’m not vomiting anywhere inside the interiors of your vehicles.

I’m just a person who likes to have a good time with friends and co-workers, and then just wants to get home afterwards, in one piece, in an orderly, inexpensive manner. Just because I don’t call it a night at midnight, doesn’t mean I don’t deserve decent service.

And frankly, I can’t always bother my friends to let me crash at their apartments until the following morning. And I don’t have the money to buy a car or pay exorbitant rent, or buy a house, otherwise I’d already be doing that. Actually, I’m trying to save money so I can do one of those three things.

But it doesn’t help when I’m actually forced to find an expensive alternative to find my way home because the public transportation system in my city – which is trying to get me to use them even more – doesn’t provide the proper resources for me to take advantage of what it’s trying to offer.

Just think about that.

Sincerely,

Loquacious D

Insufferable Sickness 2, Loquacious D 0

Just when I thought I got the okay to leave the Chicken Soup Posse two weeks ago …

I was sidelined by blocked sinuses and a fever late last week.

I haven’t left my house in three days. My ears still pop, and my raw, tender nostrils alternate between blockages. And it’s driving me nuts.

Of course, when I do leave my house tomorrow, it won’t be for Family Day mischief in Toronto like a number of grown adults my age.

I’m going back to work. Like 60 per cent of us in this province.

Yes, I’m being whiny. But still …

*sigh*

Time and a half … Time and a half … Time and a half …

Writer’s “Blah-k”

Hey kids,

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile, given my recent streak.

It’s turning into hell month at work. On top of which, I’ve been dealing with long commutes due to the weather and subways not working, and the early February blahs.

So I think all of that’s been contributing to a bit of writer’s block. Hence the dearth of posts.

But I promise – if I think anything worth posting about, I will be back. I swear.

I think I just need to survive this week first.

Lates.

Eight Billion Bytes

So after talking a lot of smack, resisting the flashy ads and buying the competitor’s product, only to have it completely cack out on me just over a year later …

I broke down and bought an iPod late last week.

Not just any iPod. The pretty, shiny 8 GB iPod Nano with video. And it’s a nice shade of metallic blue.

Yes, I am a hypocrite. But I am now a hypocrite with an MP3 player that works.

So – as is expected in the honeymoon phase of buying a new iPod – I am obsessed with loading music onto it. Not just the music I already own, but music that I’ve always wanted, but didn’t want to shell out between $14 and $26 for the CDs.

I got a $100 gift card from my brother for Christmas, which was the impetus for buying the Nano in the first place. No word of a lie, but the day after my birthday – which was when I bought the iPod – I started using the card … and I burned through that sucker like a match through gasoline-soaked rags. I had 44 cents’ credit remaining about two days later.

That since has evaporated. And the hunger is just growing.

I’ve loaded a few of my CDs on it. But iTunes just keeps calling my name. And calling. And saying, “Hey – that band on that late-night TV show is catchy. Vampire Weekend, hey? Hmmm. Let’s go to iTunes and see if they have it.”

And before you can say “Audiobook”, I’ve clicked on another 5 or 7 songs and charged them to my credit card.

I know I can’t keep doing this. So if anyone knows of a bunch of virus-free sites where I can download some music fo’ free, please lemme know. Because I’m starting to fail at this “gotta be frugal” thing already, and this month’s barely three days old.