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Reports

Saturday, 5 April 2003
--> Pembroke, Ontario, Canada (day 2)

After Lori warned me about her crazy family situation and her crazy parents last night, it all ended pretty well today.
This morning I woke up and I introduced myself to Lori’s mum (65) and dad (73). Mum was in the kitchen, ready to prepare us something to eat for breakfast and dad was the man I saw most of the day watching the continuously-repeated and milked-out developments on the war in Iraq on CNN. He did not say much.

Outside it was snowing, which occurred to be very strange. “This is Ottawa and it is April. It’s very strange that it snows at the moment, it should be getting spring already!” I thought I had seen enough snow so far, too…

“My father has not talked to me in quite a long time,” she told me, which I found rather awkward. I soon found out that the problem Lori has with her parents has to do with the huge age difference between them. There is not much of a touching ground on shared interests if your parents are that old, so they won’t care that much of that little girl. “And I actually was a mistake,” Lori told me during breakfast. And it sounded that she is treated like that all her life.

After breakfast the first thing we had to do was to get out. Just because there “never is a reason to stay at home,” Lori told me. “But I have also warned you before, Pembroke is boring too. Not much happens around here.”

So of course I had to ask her why she was still staying with her parents at the age of 26, while she can’t really go along with them and is that negative about Pembroke. “Why don’t you go somewhere else?” I asked.
“Where too?”, the asked back to me.
“I don’t know, why don’t you go to Ottawa to find yourself a job and a place to stay?”
“What should I do there? I have no education and not much money.”
“You could apply for any job then, pay the rent at a small place and start again from there – especially if this life here seems to appear this miserable.”
“It’s not that bad. I don’t really want to leave Pembroke.”

And there she struck me again because I couldn’t understand what keeps her in Pembroke while she hasn’t said anything positive about this place.

Pembroke is not listed in any travel guide book I could find. It is not even listed on my map, however it has a population of 14,700 residents and thriving community along the Ottawa River, according to the the official Pembroke website.

The main tourist attractions are the Pembroke Heritage Murals. “A bunch of artists were given a loathsome of money to paint the boring brick walls of the downtown shops and these murals came out of it.” But it gave the town at least something to be proud of, I guess.

Then also, Pembroke has a beach along the river, a boardwalk to walk on, a marina to watch boats and some parks to walk trails through. Pretty much directed to an older generation of people.

We drove around and around through Pembroke. We could not see that much because of the snow that kept falling down and that created this foggy layer over the entire world.

It suddenly reminded me of Squamish, one of the most boring places of the province of British Columbia. I just never realised that perhaps every province in Canada has its own Squamish.

Hold on! There is some good news coming from Pembroke! For those who know Tom Green; he originates from Pembroke, Ontario!

Tom Green once had a show on a local television network in Ottaway in 1994. Then he got discovered in Canada by the Comedy Network in ’97 and discovered in the US through MTV in ’99. Tom Green is now a host of the Tom Green Show and a serious Hollywood actor.

I also found out that Ken Tremblett, also an actor, comes from Pembroke. But he does not count because I have never heard about him or any of his work yet.

And Lori told me that In 1884 Pembroke became the first community in Canada to have commercial electric street lighting and a town hall lit with electricity.

In the afternoon Lori took me along to a visit to her oldest sister Beth (42) and family and pets, who live 10km out of town. Beth had only heard about me and my way of travelling through Lori, so it was still a bit “all too crazy” to her. She even assumed that anything popular on the internet must have anything to do with porn, so “you must be a porn star then?” she laughed at me. Ha-ha. And some more nutty remarks were made while we gathered in the downstairs television room where I could send out a report about an earlier day, to you my dear reader…

Some people might never really understand what this website is all about and will only probably gain (just a little bit) respect when they would actually see and read the website themselves. Until so far, I will be that “crazy guy” that Lori invited over, for some people.

Slowly the evening settled in. Lori made it clear to me that we would not have dinner with her parents at home. She always seems to take care of herself, and tonight she took me out for dinner at the Williams Coffee Pub in town.

I still found Lori a fascinating case to study. I kept on wondering what she would be going to do to make her life more worthwhile than she had explained it all to me.

She has no job, she told me, and when she needs some money “I’ll make some tainted glass art and sell it to get around.” She has some friends in Ottawa she usually spends most of the week at, but it stayed foggy to me what goes on there.

It was almost like a mystery life she had. I couldn’t understand it easily. My questions did not get many commonly logical answers.

“Hey, maybe it’s something for the people on your website,” she said during dinner. “Maybe they can advise me what to do.” Of course, that’s always worth a try.
“Why can’t you come up with something yourself?” I then asked.
“I don’t know. I am uneducated and I have always been told by others what to do.”
Aha! It suddenly got a bit more comprehensible to me now. I guessed right by saying: “I think you don’t dare to make any decisions on your own, especially now you are almost on your own. Because you never could.”

And that was something to raise the eyebrows a bit. And it was interesting thought for her (and for everybody who is thinking along for Lori).

To keep the rest of the night useful, Lori took me along to one of the two small movie theatres in town and we watched the movie "Phone Booth". Set entirely within and around the confines of one of the last phone booths in New York City, this movie follows a low-rent media consultant who is trapped after being told by a caller - a serial killer with a sniper rifle pointed at him - that he will be shot dead if he hangs up. I was a good tease for the nerves I must say and at the end a good movie about honesty and self-respect.

We ended up getting tired and bored with ourselves at a local pub called G’days where we bothered the dreary waitress with unanswerable questions as What is the most exciting thing that happened in Pembroke in the last six months? Hah! But at least it gave us something to do, before we headed back home to a sleepy house.

Good night Pembroke!

Ramon