Ethnically speaking I was born in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia. Currently known as Slovakia or the Slovak Republic. It’s considered the “poor” side of the country. Farmers and hardy peasant stock. The low people. [Say it like Barry White]
Historically the blood-crazed hordes who would sharpen pointy sticks to fight off masses of heavily armed invaders. Thus saving the collective asses of the snooty Czech’s. History: written by the winners. ;-)
I’m told it’s a beautiful place. You literally trip over Castles. Vodka is three dollars a bottle. The alphabet has two vowels and seventy-six consonants. It’s okay to be melancholy, it’s expected. Maudlin, done properly is a sign of mental stability. “Is Josef still smiling?” “No, no he’s crying again, he’s okay”. [Say it with a thick Slavic accent] I’ve never visited. I should. Ninety percent of my relatives still live there. I’m not sure if I can commit to being pickled in Vodka for a week. Oh no no…they don’t take no for an answer.
The city of my birth. Vranov.
My family along with countless other families fled Eastern Europe prior to the onset of the Russian Revolution. My father being adamantly opposed to Communism and oppressive regimes in general. Ironically exactly the way he raised us. Austria being packed solid with refugees were showing people the door. We moved to India, somewhere near Bombay. They needed Electrical Engineers desperately. We happened to have one in the family.
Our house in India. This is the only picture I have. Try not to smudge it with your fingers.
Unfortunately I’m sketchy on the details. I was very young. We left India. Moved to Brooklyn, New York for several months and finally settled in Toronto, Ontario. Because my father took a trip there. Innocently shopped at a Canadian Tire–stood behind a man in the checkout lane who worked at Ontario Hydro– talking to his friend about desperately needing Electrical Engineers.
Little Monika in Toronto. You can already see my “sunny” disposition shining through.
After ten years in Toronto we moved to Thunder Bay. I’m not going to explain why. You already know.
I was twelve. It was culture shock. The buses come every forty-five minutes, if they show up at all. People look at you. I spent my childhood in a city where eye contact was a gross impertinence. I grew accustomed to it…slowly. It’s a great place to live if you’re an “outdoorsy” type and love snow peppered with biting, stinging cold air. This is crucial. We have eight months of winter. As an added bonus one of the highest crime rates per capita in Ontario. But we have Persians. Sweet soft cinnamon pillows of dough covered in pink icing. Invented, here.
The Sleeping Giant. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Legend says he’ll rise one day and kill us all. It’s a long legend. That’s the gist of it.
As a card-carrying Canadian I came here to dispel some myths about Canadians. But… that would make me appear hypocritical considering my paragraph outlandishly stereotyping my own nationality. [Every single word is true] I’m not an angry person nor am I easily offended. Unless I love you. Then every damn word is a dart. So… I’ll let it go. Except for one thing.
Rick Mercer. What the hell?
This looks like the cover of a Peter Gabriel album. I think it’s called “Pretentious”. [For the record, I love Peter Gabriel.]
You were funny when you had your East Coast accent. It was charming. A perfect complement to your dry wit and impeccable sense of comedic timing. You’re boring now. Generically flat. Sucky. Reclaim your accent. Be an individual again!
A quick guide if you plan on visiting Canada.