Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The big thaw

At first, I was pleased to find out my new home was near a park. They are welcome outdoor meeting places after eight months of harsh Canadian winter. Being a young and fashionable city, at the first sign of thaw, we venture from our homes to splurge on a new spring outfit to show-off in these parks when the many cafe terraces are already packed. All winter we fantasize about buying beer from our local depanneur (corner store) and stylishly lounging in the sun on the baby sprouts of grass. We ignore the stench of the thawing winter collection of canine feces the dog-owners left behind because they didn't want to trudge through the snow to collect it. That is a serious lack of forethought on their part, and another reason Montrealers welcome the cleansing spring thunder showers.

Eight months is a long time, though. It is long enough to forget what else the community parks attract. Not only are we a fashionable city, we are a kind city. We love to feed the pigeons. We love pigeons so much, in fact, that we like to feed them our leftover dinners. It is through this charitable act that I have discovered pigeons will eat anything but okra. Personally I despise okra, so this is enough proof for me to claim okra is an anomaly of nature. Surely, it would be left decaying on the park grounds if the unleashed dogs wouldn't finish it off.

I like dogs because I like animals, but I don't especially like them. They are the only animal that has ever tried to bite, chase and mate with me. I had forgotten that all the local residents bring their dogs to these parks for their exercise. Now I am not a species-ist. I know they need to run and feel free, but if an owner knows the animal is inclined to attack strangers, perhaps they should take a moment from their cell phone conversation to hold the dog back before it jumps on someone. Once a stranger's dog bares its teeth at me and puts my calf in its mouth...I get a little nervous. What irks me, is that the owner of the dog then gets angry when I motion to yell and swat it. How am I supposed to know the dog wasn't just tasting me before the official sinking-in-of-the-teeth? How am I supposed to know when the owner will finally hang up and help me? Apparently the dog learned its manners from its master.

Unfortunately, the pigeons and the dogs are the easiest animals to deal with in the parks as our little part of the world thaws. We also have a healthy population of drunkards. I don't mind drunkards in the same way I don't mind strange dogs: we can live in harmony if neither tries to bite me.

On my way down the sunny street yesterday, two especially drunken drunkards began 'meowing' at me. Meowing? OK, I endured the barking and howling of Puerto Rican guys in NYC, the hissing in Italy, the marriage proposals in Cuba, the honking in rural Canada and the ass-grabbing in night clubs, but meowing? Did they make that up themselves?

I told them not to be rude and they told me not to be shy. I think we were having a miscommunication.

I arrived at my friend's house in time to witness her afternoon drunkard experience. I had encountered the same drunkard earlier on that day. He was alone on a park bench angrily screaming, "Ma mère! Ma mère!" I think his 'mère' really messed him up. In any case, my friend had just asked him not to pee on the grass next to her house and he seemed willing to defend his right to pee in public to the death. He came at her, arms raised as though he was already choking her and so she promptly retreated and called the police. They arrived in record time and ran him off down the street with a warning. He paused and stared at me, raised a finger and turned to see if the police were still watching. They were, he left, and peace was returned to the quartier. I might be nervous that he had made note of my face for future reference if he wasn't such an inebriated raving lunatic.

But, the pigeons, the dogs, the raving drunkards, they aren't the only seasonal nuisance. Exams are ending. The frat boys are celebrating. Hold onto your hats ladies, and don't walk alone at night.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

The resurrection

Jesus appeared on my doorstep a few days ago. Elvis sent him. Actually it was Elvis Furniture, a major used appliance store in the notoriously tacky east end of Montreal. My dryer had stopped drying my clothes and so I called the store to send a repairman. They cautioned me that it would be a "petit immigré qui s'appelle Jesus." Translation: a little immigrant named Jesus. The way he said it, I could only assume that he was keeping with the theme of persecution.

In any case, Jesus rang my doorbell and if he hadn't had a paper with the word "Elvis" on it, I wouldn't have let him in. He looked like he had been brought back from the dead. His hair was matted in such a way that he had four enormous, unintentional dreadlocks. He face was smudged with grease and head-to-toe of his barely-five-foot stature was covered in a brown powdery substance. Had he just emerged from the fabled cave?

In any case, I greeted him as I would anyone who had arrived to help me. He approached my ailing appliance with familiarity and said assuredly, "there is nothing wrong with this dryer."

"What do you mean? It doesn't work!" I said, convinced it was an evil plot from Elvis headquarters to avoid honouring the King's guarantee. But, he simply laid his hands on it, turned the dial and pressed the start button. Lo and behold, I heard a great rumble of another dry cycle beginning. In days like these, God has to get a word in when he can. Those of us who aren't especially religious benefit from lots of little miracles if we choose to believe in them.

The real theme of Easter has always creeped me out a little bit, but now I see that resurrection can truly be something beautiful. If Jesus can fix my problems that easily, count me in!

Now what about the rest of the world?

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Dress to kill

Those were the instructions on an invitation I received for a fashion mag launch party. How the hell did that phrase come about? Who am I supposed to kill? Isn't there enough death and destruction these days?

Dress to kill. That is hard to do when you've recently emigrated from Vancouver where you dress to survive. If only it was a polar fleece/gortex theme party; I'd be a hit!

I noticed, however, that some of our young and hip have residents really are dressing to kill. They adorn themselves with camouflage accessories and nouveaux cargo pants. There is even a window display, in downtown Montreal, that flaunts exclusively army-inspired couture. Talk about capitalizing on the misfortunes of others! There are also anti-war placards among the mannequins...I suppose to make it obvious that the reference is ironic. Somehow the spin doctors have figured out how to market camouflage clothing as a stand for peace. The Whitehouse should hire these people; they are geniuses.

I discovered this shop when I was on my mission to find my murderously hot ensemble.

I chose things I would never normally wear. I thought that was appropriate seeing as I would never normally want to kill people either. But the shoes...the shoes are truly a weapon. They are so pointy, in fact, that I am quite sure they would be confiscated in airport security.

Tonight I am dressing to kill, for peace.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Quiz me, I dare you!

Word History: The term (quizzer) first recorded in 1782, meant “an odd or eccentric person.” From the noun in this sense came a verb meaning “to make sport or fun of” and “to regard mockingly.”

But this quiz is certainly worth checking out.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Impotence and sensitivity

Yes, I have done it again! Since the war started, I have managed to get myself told off twice. Not a hardship comparable to anything that is happening in the Middle East right now, but still, I am on a roll!

What I'm not exactly sure about is why many Americans take my anti-excessive-force stance so *personally*. Perhaps it is just another difference in the upbringing of an American, as opposed to a Canadian? When the government here in Canada screws up, the public collectively sneers, "There, you went and did it again...nice job goofs!" In the last few weeks I have been getting a sense that in the USA, the collective moan is "Look what you got us into now...well since we're here anyway, let's make lemonade."

Now, before I get myself told off again, I should clarify: I love lemonade. It's refreshing, simple. It reminds me of my first real experience with capitalism.

When the war was born, people were willing to talk about it. They would share information about what they saw on tv. They would express opinions and ask questions. Now it is a bastard child. The parents are arguing over who is responsible for it. One parent feels unloved by the other. The issues are clouded by emotion, and NO ONE is talking about the war anymore. Instead, we are talking about who offended who by saying what about whatever. And we are all tired.

The result from my last mention of news articles pertaining to the war, in hopes of hearing other opinions or getting another perspective got me a reaction which included the following terms: "rubbing our faces in it" and "arrogant".

Is this how individuals in America feel? Is it a guilt complex? Do they feel like there *is* something they could do and aren't doing? How can I be rubbing anyone's face in it? I am not in charge of anything. I am just another individual...like an American (but not one). I think maybe my right to speak out about it has been usurped...seeing as I'm Canadian...and I am *still* talking about it. This is what I mean when I say, "I think people want me to shut up now."

It has also been clarified for me that protesting is futile and maybe we should try to see the humour in it all. Am I missing something? Or am I being arrogant again?

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Breasts got in the way of my blossoming writing career

I haven't written anything for more than 'a long time'. Considering that my parents still think I was a Journalism major, that's pretty bad. It's strange then, that what finally prompted me to get off my rocker and set up a blog was pure frustration with what I've been reading in the media these days.

I joined my university weekly publication once and did a commentary on the content of men's magazines. It was my aim to call to attention the uninformed claims they make about women, and how to get them to 'put out'. None of the suggestions they offered their readers would ever work 'in the field'. To add a little humour, I actually measured the amount of breast-space there was. I concluded, that based on the rate of distribution for one year, if I were to cut out all the photos of breasts and tape them together end to end...I would be able to create a breast chain that would wrap around the equator. Tits sell and they have a lot of tits. That's all I was thinking.

To my horror, hours before being sent to print, the Psycho-Feminist-Extremist editor added this conclusion: "Magazines like this encourage date rape."

I told her off, quit the paper and so my disenchantment with the 'Press' began.

It's been a long time since I have written anything public. It feels good to get myself even a little motivated.