Saturday, November 13, 2004


Writer's guil(t)

Believe it or not, my day job is 'wordsmithing'. Or rather, that's the term I like to use when I refer to my budding career in Public Relations.

I write all sorts of documents, for all sorts of organizations - none of which make me question my morals or social responsibility. I assure you.

My mentors, all confident, beautiful professional women, and have instilled in me a new writing-related value.You see, in the days of e-media, the art of writing has stepped aside to:

1) Save time
2) Save space

And, considering that a ridiculous percentage of the population is functionally illiterate, AND we are instructed to write at a Grade 6-level when appealing to the masses, it is the duty of the loyal few to stay true to rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Language evolves. Haven't we bastardized it enough?

As a Canadian writer, I have particular pride in preserving Canadian English, and resisting American-style. This is not elitism, but rather a silent plea to be recognized as a distinct nation.

We have no late nites in Canada. Nor do we add color or flavor to our prose. We avoid inappropriate behavior and never gossip about our neighbors. I am not saying this in self-defense.

What am I getting at? I am guilty of breaking these rules in this journal. And, I feel that guilt.

A meeting of Canadian English and American English does not frighten me as much, however, as the thought of the complete disintegration of the base language. I fear for the fate of English in both nations. After all, we don't have the best
role models.

To think it has become the international language of trade. What have we done!?

As writers, albeit online, we have a responsibility to carry the torch. I am forced to disagree with the (I can't bring myself to capitalize his 'p') president of the United States, when he says:

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
- George W. Bush


Teaching our children proper English is everyone's responsibility.Well, except the president's, because he's clearly incapable.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The cosmic power of suggestion

Long ago in Gotham, during a personal experimental growth period, I arranged to visit a new age Healer---a well-off, middle-aged transient woman who would be in the city for only a few weeks, but would find time to help cleanse New Yorkers' muddy auras.

Hours before the meeting, I'd intended to call and cancel our session. I, of course, had no idea what a session involved, and for $300 I was willing to invest in the concept of time healing all wounds instead.

She beat me to the phone and trumped my card. Apparently, she is a seer as well as a healer. She called my sublet home - located on the charming, but dirty edge of Williamsburg - and said in her charming yet authoritative voice: "What are you afraid of? Aren't you ready to face your future? Can't you deal with your issues?"

It wasn't that I really had any pressing issues to manage. I was happy. I was having an adventure in the city that never sleeps - except on the subway. My real issue was that I could think of more fruitful functions for my green American moolah.

She gambled on my personality, and challenged me. It was a dare - and I fell for it. She pulled me in with her cosmic mind powers of manipulation. I was no match for her.

In my own defence, I thought this woman was legendary. I thought her mysterious Swiss abilities were known everywhere the L train rumbled. A documentary was to be made of this woman's incredible will to survive and overcome all obstacles! This was a woman who ousted malignant tumours from her own abdomen with cosmic mindpower! Don't tell me you wouldn't find that inspiring!

Just don't. Please.

Surely, $300 would seem insignificant once I'd been healed! Or, maybe I would just walk away with an empty wallet and a tepid tale.

I do believe in mind over matter, though. I admit it beacuse I am not the first to admit it. When my grandfather passed away, I inherited a leaning, dog-eared tower of his book collection. Among titles like: Geometry and Nature, Natural Dyes and Edible Plants of the Northeast two other texts mingled with the arts and sciences: Cosmic Mind Power Explained and, even more intriguing: Secrets of Cosmic Mind Power.

I arrived for my appointment with an open mind and fat wallet.

She welcomed me, explained the process and brought me into the bedroom where a massage table awaited my damaged aura. Without touching me, she began examining fluctuations in my energies. Her hands hovered barely above my fully-clothed body.

Her talent was not limited to seeing auras, but also to decode them. She would blurt out random words, and interpret my ethereal reaction. I was fascinated. Although I was laying face down, with my eyes closed, I could sense the location of her hands at all times. My skin rose toward her in goosebumps. I was enjoying the cosmic voyage. I casually drifted into a space that allowed me to believe that this was something other than a hoax.

She blurted out that I was a writer. I would write six books. To accomplish this, I would have to oust the word, "want" from my mind, like she ousted tumours from from her belly.

You either do it or you don't. Regardless of what "it" is, she had a point. Saying that you will do anything in the future is a waste of breath. Who knows if you'll do it? Who knows if you'll be hit by an SUV instead. You are or your aren't. You do or you don't. This cozy in between place where we like to dwell is the quicksand of progress and achievement. Stop talking. Start doing. It was quite a lecture, really.

She doesn't believe in predicting the future. She looks at your path, and then tells you what you are capable of doing if you get off your fat ass and scrub your dirty aura free of cosmic scum. My mom could have done the same. But, I don't trust her. She told me I was pretty when I was ten. I've seen the pictures. That woman is capable of deceit.

Any of my friends could have advised me as well. But, there is something intrinsic in the exchange of $300 that makes you want to believe you're getting your money's worth. I really wanted to believe - but, it was struggle.

Then, she found my pain.

A combination of poor posture and computer work had resulted in a jabbing discomfort in my back. It had been there for months and it was affecting my life, and my moods. She found it. That was where I had been storing my negativity, and without physically touching me, she located it and repaired it - by drawing the cosmic goo of stress and doubt from me.

I was going to have to have a shower when I got home, she explained, to wash all that crap off my aura. I was exhausted. I was dehydrated. I was spooked.

I followed her instructions, drank some water and fell asleep.

For the first time in months, my back wasn't throbbing. I was amazed! Astounded! I was healed! I felt it was my cosmic responsibility to begin writing for a broader audience than my diary. I had to take this cosmic gospel and fly with it. Wait. Fly where?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Wanted immediately

Wanted: A little faith in a system---any system. Doesn't have to be in perfect condition, just has to be functional. Mine is dented beyond repair, need replacement fast. Donut will do. Just has to get me home.

Critical mass

Montreal

America

Bush in particular (av)

Bush leading (av)

OK, maybe this gives me some hope.

And this does, too. Finally, I can be proud of where I came from. No, not same-sex parents---Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Rarely are quizzes bang-on

But, the one I took this morn, while choking back my coffee and dwelling on the fact that my arm aches from being hyperextended by the female officer who reallllly hated my Michael Moore-ish-ness, was seriously bang on:

Your score is 0 on a scale of 1 to 10. You hate Bush with a writhing passion.You think he is an idiot, a liar, and a warmonger who has been a miserable failure as president. Nothing would give you greater pleasure than seeing him run out of the White House, except maybe seeing him dragged away in handcuffs.

You can take it here.

Monday, September 13, 2004

On 'big'

I'm supposed to be working on assignments for work. Instead, I'm working on a basement* theory:

Could the social ill that causes people to buy guzzler SUVs (and consider cycling a personal affront) be the very same as the one that makes them eat fast/processed food and watch TV indiscriminately?

Is this desire to be 'big' (physically or only by mechanical extension) related? Is this the same urge to expand that makes people support Bush's Iraq fiasco? Or is it the TV they've been watching indiscriminately?

Do they really just want to be 'big'? Or do they just watch too much TV? Even TVs are getting bigger.

Why is everything expanding *except* polar ice caps and populations of besieged nations?

*Basement theory = An unverifiable theory employing tautological arguments, usually developed during periods of sleep deprivation (or substance use/abuse) - commonly a thinly disguised rant about some aspect of Western culture.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Psoriatic identities

I am not American.

Never am I more acutely aware of this than when I try to register for an online radio station which reminds me between every 5th and 6th song that if I *were* the music would be clearer; I'd be permitted to skip over the depressing diddies; and I'd have access to a much larger selection. I am, however, not allowed to register. The service is not available to Canadians - but that doesn't stop the program from broadcasting its watchword - telling me that things could be better...if only...but, alas:

I am Canadian.

Ok, so maybe I was also aware of my Canadianonimity while on a road trip through the USA 2 years ago. More specifically, though, I was aware that I was not that which the local majority was. In Texas, the feeling that I was not Texan was predominant. When I was in Las Vegas, I realized the buffets weren't worth it. In Detroit, I was just grateful that the border was near.

There are aspects of the USA that frighten me - and then there is New York.

The bright-lights-Times-Square-New-York makes my ears bleed. But elsewhere, where you can hear the sweet squeal of the trains, feel the goo that drips onto your bare summer skin from the roof of the subway, the rush of the summer rains that wash the trash and old furniture further down the street, the cackling of the unsupervised children who attack bus passengers with water balloons at red lights, the hazard of encountering people who'll offer you directions even though they have no idea where they are, and the quiet, dirty streets and noisy, dirty bars - the city is my sinful, lusty, dirty fantasy---and my friends there: perverts.

I do love my current multicultural, multilingual Canadian province of residence: Quee-beck. And, I know some of my American friends and acquaintances love my Sinful Home to the North as much as I adore their Sinful City to the South.

Recently, in fact, a visiting amateur of this belle ville announced that Montreal is sooooooo fun, that *it* should be the capital of Canada, not Toronto.

I would have agreed.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Wedding fiasco - finest kind

Everyone loves him. We still do. He was the class clown, and the only one of us to actually make it to TV. This month he got hitched - the real kind of hitched - not the kind involving visas. This wedding, which doubled as a high school reunion, allowed us - former high school hooligans - to gather on a beach resort near our hometown, without taking turns horking on each other for old times' sake.

The event was also the indirect cause of the paddle boat incident I mentioned in the previous entry. A friend asked me to expand on the story, but I think this picture says it all:

Wedding Fiasco

And yes, that's my dress I'm dragging.

Reunion Fiasco

And no, we weren't serious.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Knee deep...

I looked down at my arms. Still attached. Excellent. Blood? None. Car still running? Hmm. Maybe I can just drive out of the ditch. Nope. Smell of gas? Check.

I asked myself this: Do cars really explode after accidents? No answer.

I turned off the ignition and opened the door - motivated by the B-movie feeling that I might blow up in an entirely anticlimactic fashion. I crawled out of the car, and stood for a moment, knee deep in itchy brown grass. How unpleasant, I thought.

I had quite a trek back to the edge of the highway, through a swamp and up a hill, but people met me halfway. Since they were so excited about running into the swamp to rescue me, I thought I'd just take my time and assess the damage.

The car was nestled in the forest, about 12 inches from the nearest large tree and suspended comfortably on top of a smaller one which had been unfortunate enough to get in my way.
You know, I really felt bad for that little tree. A transport truck, a family van and a sedan pulled over, its passengers all asking me the same questions. Everyone else just gawked as they drove past.

The truck driver offered me a bottle of water and everyone called 911. I insisted that all I needed was a tow truck, but passers-by who had witnessed the three 360s and backward plunge into the boreal forest at 100+ km/hour were unconvinced.The 401 highway is, after all, one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Canada.

It took about 30 minutes for the local emergency respondents to arrive - an all-volunteer gaggle. I apologized for ruining their Saturday afternoon, but one local woman assured me that I was just lucky I caught them before they started drinking beer. This was the same woman who hugged me while still in the swamp and wailed: "OH MY GOD!!!! IF YOU WERE MY DAUGHTER...!!! IF YOU WERE MY DAUGHTER...!!!"

Apparently I wasn't the only woman in shock. We hugged for so long that I realized I was doing it to make *her* feel better.

The volunteer firemen and ambulance attendants totaled about 10 men. They stared at me for a while and then trudged down to the ditch to check out the car. One-by-one they noted the proximity of the car to the large trees and told me I'd obviously used up all my 'lottery luck'. Another fireman referred to the accident as a "3-coupon fair ride."

They then planted themselves on top of the car and chatted. With several large men sitting on the hood, I was worried they might dent it. Then I took a good look at the situation and realized it was better to simply seize the photo opportunity. I posed, in front of the firemen, trying to look as indifferent as possible. I'll post the picture as soon as it's developed.

Then the police arrived - two handsome young bucks in aviators. I was never so glad I'd worn a skirt. The entire process was made very easy for me. A little flirting, a little signing of the accident report, a little flirting. He later insisted that I drive with him back to the nearest town where my car would be towed, because it would be more comfortable than the truck. He even put in a good word for me with the mechanic.

You see, I was only 2 hours into an 8 hour drive, on my way to a family reunion in the suburbs of Toronto. I had to get there that same afternoon, and the mechanics were all backed up. With a little pleading - and with the law on my side - my car was given top priority and put on the lift immediately. About an hour later I was told that my brake line had completely rusted out - contributing to my loss of control. I had no brakes. Apparently this is a common glitch for Hondas - and I mention that as a warning to those of you who have one.

I endured 3 hours of heckling by the mechanics and a discussion about God's Grand Plan. The work manager at the garage told me that God didn't intend to kill me, he was just trying to put things in perspective. I felt like Joan of Arcadia.

I drove the remaining 6 hours listening to old, mellow Bob Marley, desperately trying to stay calm and focussed as I navigated the Machine of Potential Death over the Ontario highways. I was in awe. It had taken approximately 20 people to come together to help me in order for me to be back on the road that day. Each of them mentioned both God and Luck. I couldn't help but notice that the section of highway where I'd spun off the road was the only stretch that wasn't bordered by a cement wall median or rock cliffs. It was either God - or the gap in the Canadian Shield that saved me.

I was emotionally vulnerable, a religious mush. Had a Pentecostal Minister been present, I probably would have sold him my soul. Fortunately, God had mercy and let me off at sending Thank You cards.

The day left me physically unmarked - merely a mosquito bite - and emotionally gooey.

How strange then, that a simple after-wedding party last weekend left me with massive bruising on my legs and scratches on my belly as a result of a sinking paddle boat incident. Sinking a paddle boat is supposed to be impossible.

God works in mysterious ways, indeed.

It proves that we have a responsibility as creatures of the Earth to learn from situations like these. And, that is why I am accepting it as my mission in life to spread The Word: God hates paddle boats.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Creationist guilt

Sometimes journaling provides me with an opportunity to exorcize my demons, and sometimes it haunts me. I've been told that at some point in a blog's existence, it will inevitably include information about a cat or other furry pet---which is painfully dull for others to read---and that most blogs fizzle and die within the first year of its creation. I'll have you know that although I have gone the way of the cat (just once, give me a break), I will not let my beloved blog die.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Life after midnight

The first of July has very special status in Quebec. It's Canada Day, but you'd never know it. Not unless you mistake abandoned furniture, parking impossibilities and U-Haul ubiquity for a party. I know I've mentioned it before, but not in a way that fully communicates the essence of a singular mass moving day in a city of 3 million.

I, fortunately, did not have to pack all my worldly belongings this year. For once, I've decided to continue my lease for a second year. The junkies, Urinators (yes, I capitalized the title intentionally as I suspect they are organized criminals), the Hippies (another malicious group aiming to drive me to insanity with pan flutes, mouth harps and bongos), and the party-time neighborhood have grown on me---like moss---soft, comfortable and strangely familiar.

Some good friends of mine, however, had to move from one end of town to the other. Since I have access to a car, we decided to make it a little adventure. The so-called adventure lasted until 3 a.m. By the time the move was done, it had become more like a night of the living dead.

The first load was fun. With the car full, my rear view blocked completely by a variety of objects threatening to impale me if I stopped too suddenly, my friend and I set out to settle into the better part of town. What really kept me going was Doug. He, an object of the move, sat perched on her lap and looked as safe and comfortable as an antique stuffed crow can. It was inspiring. Deader than dead, his spirit and ability to spook everyone who glanced in our direction was quite impressive.

If Doug can keep his cool after twenty years of thrift store existence and mediocre taxidermy, I can handle one night of hauling crap across the city.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Prisoner of my own conscience

I want to call my mom. She'll tell me what to do. She loves doing that.

It's Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day here in Quebec - a day of celebration and beer drinking, of hooplah and yahoos, the human kind---and I am trapped in my house, a prisoner of my own conscience.

I'd love to go on a nice bike ride throughout the city, but it's almost Moving Day. Now, it's not me who's moving, but I'm still affected.

Montreal is a city of pet owners and beautiful apartments. Sometimes, the two don't go together. And, when that happens, often pets are left to find their own new residences. One such creature was dropped off outside my livingroom window yesterday. It's currently mewing at me, perched atop my printer.

I thought it was the kitten who lives upstairs that was making all the noise. She's done it before. I'm not sure if her pothead owners believe in spaying/neutering cats. I'm not sure I can tolerate a yowling cat in heat. Regardless, I've become accustomed to ignoring that cat's confused pleas. It wasn't until my downstairs neighbor called and said she'd retrieved a kitten from her yard that I realized who was doing all the cat-calling.

And now, my boyfriend is pumped up on allergy meds and I am caring for this furry infant while the neighbor selflessly searches for its new and permanent home.

A note to the people who abandoned it: May you be neutered.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

How many is better than one? Are you sure about that?

It's in the living room now.

Nothing has been said about it, but I know it's here to stay. Its slender profile and well-designed parts earned it a permanent place in my home. There is nothing I can do about it.

Still, there are worse things than having a bicycle balanced against the 1930s, original finish fireplace. Besides, it makes my boyfriend so happy to greet it there every morning. I do wonder where we'll store it when my sisters and their two 10 year olds come to stay for a few days in July.

My house is becoming too small. Essentially we have three rooms. That loosely translates into: not enough. There are only two fo us, and the big balcony adds a significant amount of space in the summer, but I work at home. My living room quadruples as an office (complete with two computers, a printer, and school books and stacks of files), as leisure space to welcome guests, a guest bedroom and, now, as a bike storage facility.

Remember just two paragraphs ago when I mentioned that there are worse things than one bike in the living room? Well, let me clarify.

My boyfriend of nearly six years has become quite friendly with Ebay. He sells as much as he buys, but as you now know that I live in a three-room apartment, you may be wondering where all of this stuff is stored before it's sold. And, that is an excellent question.

Currently, there are eight bikes stored in our landlord's nearby garage. Out of sight, out of mind. I really didn't care how cluttered the garage might be until we received a phone call from the landlord, just hours ago, telling us she'll need it emptied before July 1st (the controversial Moving Day in Montreal).

So yes, there are worse things than one bike in the house. And it comes in nines.

Why do I allow bikes in my living room?

Well, this boyfriend of mine is an ex bike mechanic, ex bike messenger, bikeopheliac, brakeless fixed gear rider, Alleycat organizer, bike race winner, supplier of bikes to all my spokesless friends, and builder of my beautiful '67 Schwinn---so, it's my tortured way of saying, "I love you."

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Little Man Syndrome is OK when you're little


My nephew is turning 10 today. I remember the day my sister arrived at my front door to tell me she was pregnant. She was totally freaked out. She was married and settled with a house on the lake already, but she was worried about the huge lifestyle change that would be necessary. She began calculating the cost-per-year of his life/development and subtracted that amount from the Vacations-in-Mexico fund.


A decade later, there is this cool little man destroying her house and her yard, providing hours of entertainment and frustration daily. We love him to bits, and they've manage to bring him to Mexico twice already.

I just hope, that in the next 10-15 years, he doesn't somehow become the type of guy that is here in Montreal for the Grand Prix.

God, if I promise to believe in you, will you PLEASE make sure that doesn't happen?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

What am I doing?

There is something to be said for 9-to-5 jobs. I mean, I don't have one, but I am fantasizing about one. Having contracts is fine. There is a lot of variety in the writing I'm doing, but sometimes what is expected of me isn't very clear.

Having just completed a contract for an insurance company---preparation of all the documents (and a speech) for an upcoming conference---I've moved on to greyer areas. I'm volunteering my media relations inexpertise to help a friend who has recently opened a dance studio, and I'm working for bread-and-butter with a team to prepare a book honouring a major organisation's anniversary.

Now, knowing exactly what was expected of me would make it a little more fun.

Your very, very friendly neighbourhood policemen

My interactions with police are generally unconventional.

Growing up, police were for 'other' people, and television, only. In a town as small as the one in which I was raised, men of law only appeared on Halloween to catch vandals---and they never succeeded.

As a teen---drunk and disorderly---police were the guys you avoided. They were the only people in town you couldn't ask to go to the Liquor Store for you.

In Montreal, I realized that interactions with the police simply can't be avoided. I'm just happy none have been scary. In fact, my personal experience has been that the police are far more pleasant with me than I am interested in being with them.

In 2001, when I, and two friends, were mugged at 3 o'clock in the morning - on a quiet street in front of the wimpiest hotel security guard ever - I called the police for the first time. Actually, I just yelled at the dumbfounded security guard until he called the police for me.

Actually, he ran away from me and locked himself in his car and rolled up the window. It was while he was in the car that I convinced him to call the police.

We waited for nearly 45 minutes before the policemen showed up. By that time, we were starting to sober up, and boredom filled the gaps where adrenaline waned. Then, with renewed fervour, we all yelled our story to the two, young officers...simultaneously. They did the usual run-through. They asked for a description of the muggers (all three of them) and then we signed our statements.

The night could have ended there, but there was a twist! They offered to drive us around while they looked for those nasty criminals. As drunk as we were, even WE knew the muggers were long gone. But still, who can say no to a ride in the back of a cop car?

So we piled in. Three drunken girls on a Friday night in the back of a cop car. The seats were surprisingly comfortable - well broken in.

We really wanted to drive by people we knew, and there was a good chance of that, seeing as we were essentially taking a tour of the party district. And we weren't subtle; the lights were flashing. I had always suspected police to be a little trigger happy with the light switch.

Then the car sped through the middle of a busy park, past kids rolling joints, past people drinking in public and making out, and screeched to halt in front of the only Black man in the park. The officers lowered their window to question him.

You see, the description we gave the police included: Three fairly good-looking teen-aged guys in sweatshirts, big jeans and nice sneakers...oh...and they were anglophone...and Black.

Yeah, I know it's vague. And I am sure you are thinking, "Well that could be anybody."

And you're right. It *could* be anybody. That is, anybody other than a 60-year-old homeless guy - they were harassing him for our benefit.

But, what were we supposed to do? There we were, drunk and disorderly ourselves, in the back of a cop car, witnessing racial profiling and injustice. Well, I'm not sure what the exact right thing to do would be, but we were too inebriated to care. So we just started screaming at the cops. And then they screamed at us to shut up. And, we did.

The bum was left to pass out on the bench in peace, and all was quiet in the back of the car for a minute.

A little later, the police asked us where we lived, so they could drop us off at home. What a nice offer! Except we didn't want to go home. We had been heading to an afterhours party when we were mugged, so we thought we might as well go out and use our adrenaline kick. By this time, the officers were more than happy to drop us off. Perhaps the line at the door was a giveaway, but they didn't mind.

They parked the car and got out to give us all a proper good-bye. We "kiss-kiss" our friends here in Montreal...and since I'd never kissed a cop before...I...well...anyway...ethics, principles and morals be damned!

We got into the party for free. There are perks to having police escort. Policemen really are our friends - if you're a damsel in distress, that is.

And it just so happens that I am, on occasion, a damsel in distress.

***

Last night, however, my friend was filling that role, and I was her hacksaw-wielding knightette.

The key had broken off in her bike lock, as she was leaving work, and an unattended bicycle in that area would not last the night. Armed with vice grips and the saw, we set out on a rescue mission. We expected strange looks. If we hadn't been so inept, it would have really looked like we were stealing it.

To pull the cable lock taut, so I could saw through it, my friend leaned back as far as she could, pulling with all her weight. It wasn't good enough. So, being resourceful and ever the drama damsel, she layed on the ground with the vice grips in hand. It looked ridiculous, and very dirty, but it was effective. She assured EVERYONE who walked by that she wasn't stealing the bike.

And, in the midst of this...the police arrived, lights flashing. I was unaffected. I know they just like to flash.

I continued to work as both officers stepped out of the car to ask us what was going on. As hard as it was, I refrained from being "funny" and just continued to saw while my friend explained.

They asked for her ID. She showed them her bank card. They were satisfied.

I was the one with the hacksaw, but they didn't ask ME for ID. In fact, one officer showed me a better technique for stealing bikes. He was very helpful. I hope he's not that helpful with all bike thieves.

Now, I'm not saying that all policemen are flirts. Just all the ones I've met.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The san(ct)ity of marriage


They popped the question again.

We were in Ottawa, celebrating my boyfriend's mother's birthday. His family would have preferred that we were there to celebrate my mother-IN-LAW's birthday, though, and they made that clear.

After a nice lunch hosted by the "Uncles" (two men who've been living, traveling and presumably sleeping together for more than 30 years now), we bought some shitty gelato and went for a stroll along the Ottawa canal. The city is currently hosting the tulip festival-a colourful, yet painfully dull annual event. The city itself breeds mediocrity.

Sure it's multicultural and has lots of government funding. Sure everyone there has a job and a multi-level brick house with stone pathways leading to frosted glass and brass front doors and loon-print welcome mats, but I'm not ready for my 2.5 kids. I'm just not interested.

My boyfriend and I walked hand-in-hand and his brother walked alone (since his girlfriend wasn't able to come along and his wife has been out of the picture for years). My un-in-laws also walked together. Surely they'd have held hands if my boyfriend's dad had been able to stop taking pictures. The Uncles never walk too close to each other, and never hold hands in public.

It was later that night, following another meal of so-so Vietnamese food, that the un-father-in-law cornered me.

"Sooooooooooooooooooo..."

The way he drew the word out was meant to prepare me, I think.

"Have you two made any decisions about your relationship yet?" he asked.

I was relieved that my boyfriend was there to share the pressure with me. Last time they tried to get me to confess that I craved stability and the only way to really get it would be to convince my boyfriend to marry me. Until then, I don't think it had occurred to them that I didn't want to have a wedding either.

That first conversation was almost as uncomfortable as when the aunts referred to their non-Catholic nephew as an "idiot" and then remembered I was there.

This time, I shared the stage. My boyfriend's mother laughed nervously and his brother cackled.

I considered sharing my reasons for not wanting to get married. I thought of pointing out that the fact that two men who've loved each other for more than three decades aren't legally able to marry, and that if marriage isn't about love it must be about economics.

Considering my priorities--the things I believe will make me happy--if I have an extra few thousand to spend on a wedding, that makes me a complete friggin' moron.

To those of you who are married, I respect that. It was a priority for you. But, this is more in line with how I feel:

Traveling somewhere tropical, enduring 19-hour flight delays; helping each other through lonnnnng nights of the Shits because we ate the 'special' meat on some remote island; almost being arrested while driving through the mountains in BC because of mistaken identity; being sponge-bathed to bring down a three-day fever of 104 F-and-rising in NYC during 9-11; having the air let out of someone's bike tires because they disrespected me; having my '67 Schwinn fitted with the original handle grips of my dreams; having the house filled with ginger flowers when I return from a trip; choosing the perfect tiki lanterns together on Ebay...those things hold more weight for me as a symbol of everlasting love and affection than trying not to get too drunk on bubbly before the white-dress ceremony.

It's just hard to tell that to the Filipino-Catholic not-yet-relatives. They are so big on symbols of commitment, on official contracts.

And that's exactly why we settled for life insurance policies instead.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

More than just your average transaction


Starting May 14th, I'm going to have to stand in line at the bank like the rest of you. I don't expect sympathy; I'm just saying it's going to take some getting used to. I'm really not sure why he chose me, but for several years I've been getting secret, special treatment, thanks to a flirty young banker.

He was a simple, chubby teller who greeted me with an eager smile and unchecked enthusiasm, weekly. At first I thought he treated all the fertile girls this way, but then I began noticing that he'd put up a "Next Teller Please" card when he'd spot me in queue. When I'd near the front of the line, he'd lift the card and motion me to his booth. This went on for months. I was polite enough not to mention how painfully obvious he was in his flirtation, as, I suspect, were his superiors. Besides, talking about his attraction to me was right at the top of my "Things-to-Avoid-at-All-Costs" list.

The first real favour I enjoyed, involved my account status; there would be no more holds placed on my foreign currency cheques. I thanked him sincerely. Other people, regular people, have to wait up to forty days to get their cash. I loved this perk.

Then the transformation began. He lost weight, roasted himself to a tangerine
hue, and revamped his wardrobe with tighter, shinier shirts. He strategically unbuttoned those silky atrocities just enough to allow the occasional glimpse of a two-inch gold cross, nestled awkwardly, blasphemously in his chest hair. I knew what was coming. It was inevitable.

The managers were pleased with his way with customers and promoted this soon-to-be Greek God of Finance. With his own office, his confidence skyrocketed. From that point on, when I stood in line with the good citizens of Montreal, he'd emerge from his office, adjust his suit jacket and ask me in a rehearsed professional tone, "Are you here to seek advice about our Retirement Savings Plan, Miss?" Just so I wouldn't miss my cue, he'd wink, every time.

From that point on, he'd escort me to his private office immediately upon arrival, and in exchange for a little small talk, I could avoid waiting in line.

This interaction wasn't without weirdness, though. I soon learned that this fine young momma's boy was looking for a naughty-but-nice young wife to appease his traditional Greek family. I know this, because he told me. Flat out. He was the youngest of many, and photos of (seemingly) hundreds of his brother's children papered his office walls. His thick, dark eyelashes (the kind I wish I had) fluttered at me for the duration of each transaction, while I thought of him wanting to impregnate me. Oh geezus, I thought, he wants to have preggo sex.

I started weighing the pros and cons of this special treatment. "Special" carries many meanings. Each visit to the bank became more and more awkward. I began timing my visits with his lunch hour, hoping to avoid the inevitable woo session. I'd also developed a minor guilt complex. What made me so special, and why shouldn't I have to wait in line like everyone else? I mean, he'd pull me out of line before frail old ladies, matriarchs on canes. Ultimately, I decided to smother my internal socialist. A bank is no place for socialism, I reasoned.

Then, one night, I bumped into the banker downtown. Draped in his usual silky, shiny and glittering adornments he approached me. Me, who was pedaling an old beater bike in filthy Converse, rolled up jeans and a messy for-function-only ponytail. He was blind to my shortcomings, to my obvious incompatibility, so I knew he had it bad. I had to break the news to him, "I have a boyfriend."

I really thought that might scare him away, and I wasn't sure I'd mind. I was so naive. For the following three years, he continued with his "Retirement Savings Plan" tactic for getting me into his private office, and winking so I'd know to follow him there, but now with this addendum: "You still got a boyfriend?" I still blush when I say, "yes."

After several years of this, with only nine days until his departure for the greener pastures of the downtown financial district, I don't think my answer is going to change, but I'm sure going to miss not standing in line.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Geek love

I love my job so much that I have an urge to use profanities to express the fact. Am I normal?

Well, it's not really a job. It's good fortune. I'll expand after my meeting.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Extreme chocolate and random acts of violence

Since I'm currently avoiding the more-than-usual responsibilities I've yet to tackle, I'll just talk about something totally unrelated: ice cream...oh, and homeless, crazy people.

The wind was still cold, but the ice cream parlour was finally open. Imagine a sunshiny Saturday afternoon with only moderate guilt about not completing all the tasks I've set myself up to do. It was glorious!

Selection was limited because it's not even May yet and the freezers aren't cold enough to keep the ice cream hard, but even though it was gooey and melting (and probably left over from last year's stock), it was irresistible.

Armed with Cookies & Cream, Extreme Chocolate and the classic anomaly: Pistachio, we crossed the street to the ever popular sunny-side and found an available bench. This was the perfect bench: a little shelter from the wind, full sun, and no pigeons or squirrels to lustfully eye our cones. The only problem was that it seemed to belong to another unaffiliated venue.

We pondered the possibility of someone's irate Italian grandmother coming out of the restaurant to shoo us away. Upon establishing that we could take her, should she be aggressive, a homeless man approached us.

This man is a sort of institution here. His skin is leathery from the cold Canadian winter, his eyes are glassy, his nose wasn't properly set. This man's priorities switched from conventional to narcotic many years ago.

Now I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but, he looks violent.

Fortunately, being a Montrealer, I'm used to dealing with aggression from the homeless. A good friend recently brought one up on sexual assault charges. She didn't feel the need to involve the police in the "tit-grabbing incident", but upper management got tired of the man lurking just outside the window wagging his tongue at her. As it turns out, he was making the customers uncomfortable. The court date is set for next week.

But, back to my tale...

The 30-something homeless guy stumbled in our direction, empty collection cup in hand, and mumbled something. I could only assume he was asking for change. We responded politely, not wanting to pull out our wallets. There we sat. And he stared. And we sat. And he stumbled closer, and stared.

Something was happening
and apparently it was our fault. Realizing he wasn't planning to move away, we slid down the bench and stood up to leave. That's when he kicked me.

Luckily, his balance was a little off so when he pulled his foot back he stumbled a little and lost momentum. I was wearing thin girly shoes though, and they were no match for his steel-toed boots. He recovered more quickly than I thought he would and caught my friend in the knee with a weak roundhouse. We got off easy. The third, and imaginary person beside us yielded the hardest kick of all.

Ice cream still in hand, we decided the Italian grandmother was the least of our worries, and made our escape. It being a sunny day, we promptly bumped into a cowboy and some punk kids we knew. By this time, the incident had already reached 'hilarious' status and, unable to control ourselves, we began to reenact the scene and kicked our friends in the shins.

In agreement that the story was, in fact, funny, one of them kicked more imaginary people as he walked down the crowded street. So it's true. Violence does breed violence, even the weakest of efforts.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Tic-toc...

Might I have some time to write today?

Dammit--I just used it all.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Audience

I remember a lesson, from a writing class I took in Vancouver, that the way one writes depends wholly on the acknowledged audience.

I haven't been here very often. Why? Well firstly, I've been busy with two new jobs and school. Oh, and that volunteer position I do little more than feel guilty about.

Other than that, I know who may possibly be reading me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The year of the monkey

Who first hypothesized that with enough time and enough monkey power, primates could eventually randomly reproduce the works of Shakespeare?

Well, it may soon be time for that forethinker to receive a sorrowful pat on the back. If that guy Bush of "peeance freeance" and other garbled nonsense succeeds in changing the constitution to deny same sex partners the right to marry, I fear we'll witness in our lifetime, the true power of a single monkey.

Thank gawd they can't ALL talk.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

My Violent Valentine: Bruised hearts, puppetry and wrestling


It's time for me to update so you don't all think I am stuck, wallowing like a pity piggy, in my pen of
S.A.D. (that's Seasonal Affective Disorder for those of you who don't live here).

On Valentine's Day, one of my closest single friends came to my house to indulge. We'd decided to claim the day as our own and gave ourselves permission to drink red wine and gorge ourselves on freshly made brownies laden with Hershey Kisses. The pity party became a piggy party. What could be more appropriate?

Well, all around university campuses there have been posters advertising V-Days. Should you notice one of these and read the not-so-fine print, you'll realize this is a re-appropriation celebration of the day that makes so many lovers-scorned mournful.

V-Day, as opposed to Valentine's Day, doesn't take Cupid's shot lying down. Plans included renditions of the Vagina Monolgues and puppet-making workshops advertising the opportunity to show your vagina's true personality, but alas, I already had plans. Arriving at my house with craft supplies, my friend suggested we have a sort of do-it-yourself puppet conception session. And, so it was.

After consuming an entire pan of brownies and polishing off a nice bottle of one of my favorite econo-Reds, Casillero del Diablo, we created said puppets. Giggling and certain the night could not possibly be dull, we donned our winter gear, puppets on-hand, and set out for some Rockabilly action. On the way, we stopped at a store near the bus stop to use the ATM. While we were there a nice looking, preppy, clean-cut guy in an overly shiny black leather jacket and manicured everything dropped a loonie.

We heard the clink. We all watched it roll and ultimately find a new home for itself under the ice cream freezer. The man, obviously concerned about his image, looked at my friend and me. We could see the desire in his eyes; he wanted that loonie back. There he stood with a decision to be made. He shifted his weight to-and-fro, slightly favouring the direction of the freezer. Finally, he left with his pride intact and the loonie remained lodged under the unit.

Without hesitation, as the door clicked shut behind the preppy man, a truck driver who'd been perusing the map section of the depanneur was heard to mumble, "I'll get the damn thing." With relative ease, this man lifted the freezer, exposing the dirty loonie and told my friend to fetch it. She did. When she straightened herself out she motioned to hand him the coin. He told her, with a smile and a wink, "Keep it." I was tempted to thank him with my vagina. Cheerful and realizing this was the kind of night strange men would lift large appliances for us, we caught the bus. The 30-minute ride passed quickly, and only we knew what we had up our sleeves.

The bar scene was perfect. There was a mix of young and old. A faux-lace tablecloth adorned every table, and wilted roses topped all flat surfaces. The bartender, 80, called everyone "dear" and poured pitchers of flat draft like a pro. It was delightfully ridiculous and I didn't know anyone there.

Over the course of the evening, my friend introduced me to her boss and some acquaintances. There were several girls who personified indifference, even when they danced, and a few men managed to entertain me, just enough. I was having a good time. My vagina was getting a lot of attention and to my surprise, other women were borrowing it, making it talk and growl. My friend's vagina was eventually clamped to a Rockabilly's face. He wore it well.

There were lots of laughs and I was still having a good time when I was smacked in the head with a wilted, but thorny rose. Even in my warm and fuzzy draft-y brain I knew it was going to leave a mark.

Now, I know a lot of people have issues with Valentine's Day and I know some people have issues with the opposite sex in general, but c'mon. I'm not exactly sure what events led to this, or whether it was before or after the same guy sprayed beer from his mouth all over me, but I do remember acknowledging that I'd had enough. I'd been sitting behind him and after I wiped my shirt dry on his, I stood. And, then he stood.

A small part of my brain recognized him as the same guy at the last Rockabilly show who was being an ass to another girl. Almost at that same instant, he pushed me. Later I would realized he poked me with his thumb hard enough to leave a small bruise on my left breast, just over my heart. I think he was projecting.

True, I only did it because my brain was warm and fuzzy enough to allow for my body to react instinctively, but the singular most empowering move my self-defense instructor taught me nearly 10 years ago, resurfaced. With relative ease, I swung him to the floor. Then, I literally (and just once) kicked his ass. Not to hurt him of course, just to humiliate.

I was surprised, when my brain finally caught up with me, that he was laying on his back on the floor beneath me. His eyes were glassy and he looked mad. Really, very mad. I realized this might be the first Valentine's Day I'd be receiving a black eye. Instead of waiting for this to happen, I grabbed a chair and pinned him to the floor with it, by his neck.

With my vagina somewhere else in the bar, I conjured the balls to say, "Do you wanna go at it like this? Or, you wanna call a truce?"

Luckily, he called a truce and I took a cab back downtown with his girlfriend (who said he probably deserved it), and some guy who had a penchant for female wrestling.

Valentine's Day is one thing when you wear your heart on your sleeve, and something completely outrageous when you wear your vagina in its place. It was one of the most interesting holidays I've had.

What is Valentine's day if not for the hottest guy in the bar to be falling at your feet?

Friday, February 06, 2004

Old people 101

This project I'm working on recently required the creation of a radio spot to promote a non-profit organization. It only had to be 30 seconds long. I had no idea it was going to take me 10 hours to make it. OK, so it might not have taken sooooo long if my plan hadn't been so ingenious.

I chose to support a project that assists the elderly in Montreal. Basically, they pair up a fogie with a yungin' and, if all goes well, they'll help them shop and get to appointments...and go to picnics...and all that sweet stuff.

Imagine how good you would feel knowing that because you gave 2 hours each week, an older person was able to continue living in their own home? I mean, no one wants to be institutionalized and it really pisses them off that just because they are scared of breaking a hip on the ice, people start treating them like they're crazy.

To promote these people properly, I was going to have to give them a voice. So I wrote a script, armed myself with an audio recorder and realized: I don't know any old people.

Well I do, but Peter and John don't count. Even with their 0/20 vision they undress me with their eyes. In fact, if they slipped on the ice in front of me, I would suspect they just did it to cop-a-feel when I pick them up.

Where could I find old people? I mean, the whole point is that they can't get out of their houses in this crappy weather! Then, then I realized just how resourceful I could be, donned my boots and headed for the food court at the mall.

Now, I don't know if you've ever approached old people with a tape recorder and some papers, but it was generally like approaching an injured bird. They get really flustered as you near them, and wish more than anything that you would just go the hell away.

These people have been harassed by soliciters for nearly as many decades as there's been electricity. If they seemed like injured birds to me surely I was a frothing rabid toy-poodle to them.

To put them at ease once I introduced myself, I assured them I was trying to sell them nothing. And when I heard myself reassuring them, I realized I sounded like a door-to-door religious recruiter. Apparently I did, because the question to follow was inevitably, "Are you one of those Jehovah's Witnesses?"

OK, so I got off to the wrong start...there was still hope. I told them I was promoting a non-profit organization, supported by credible insititutions and can assist older people in need of a little extra help with grocery shopping and other errands...

At this point they would cut me off and tell me how old they were, what diseases they'd suffered, wars they'd fought, the number of children they'd raised and to which Christian sect they are part.

Then, I would remind them that I needed them to read a sentence aloud that I would record for this commercial. The most common answer: "No no no no no. Ohhhhh, no no no no no. Good bye."

I'm sure it would have been easier to convert them to Raelianism, than get them to co-operate.

Some of the people I asked were downright rude, some were mean, some were annoying, some were scared of me, some were really wonderfully sweet...

... but it took me nearly 3 hours to find them.

Old people, my friends, are simply people who've gotten old. I fear not all of us learn to be kind to our neighbors and love unconditionally...some of us just get pissed off.

In any case, I wish I had more time to share the bloopers of the project, the strange things said and just why it is complicated to have diabetes, high cholesterol and a bum knee...

But, with limited time and space I will simply share my successes.

A delightful woman, aged 86, was kind enough to yell into the microphone: "THERE'S GOING TO BE A PARTY!"

And a delightful man, aged 80 with a thick Russian accent, yelled "RHOCK MUZEEK, RHEALLY HLOUD MUZEEK, RHEALLY HLOUD HROCK HMUSIC..."

I didn't *ask* him to say that...but he did.

And it made my day.

So, thank you to the food court crew! May the coffee be fresh and the summer come soon.

Friday, January 30, 2004

What the Hell is going on?

Sheesh, I mention that Satan called and the next thing I know, the Blogger banner at the top of my blog page suggests that people who are interested in my blog might also be interested in:

"Related Searches: • satan • church of satan"

Thanks, Google.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Me, God or the Rabbi, none of us will answer your call, not at this number


Forgive me for not expanding on my Christmas story about drunken mothers, dirty old men and canap├ęs. I have far more important entities to discuss: God.

Last week a woman called my house asking for him. "Hello, is God there?" OK, so maybe she was asking for 'Gad', but how would I know the difference? Either way, I could safely answer, "You have the wrong number."

It is an odd coincidence though, considering that last week, a man claiming to be Satan repeatedly called my friend's house to tell us he was watching us through the window and would soon be gnawing our flesh to the bones.

The world was blessed with caller ID for several years, that mighty feature really helped keep prankers at bay, but the curse of *67 soon followed. It's the balance of good and evil. In any case, the most dreaded of all callers beckoned me by way of an incessant ring-ring today.

My day began with some wonky auto-dialer with short-term memory loss. It just kept calling and beeping at me all day long. I started imagining that the auto-dialer had an otherworldly agenda, and was calling as part of a tactic to take over the developed world. It's duty was to drive the warmbloods crazy, household by household, using our own infrastructure against us. Or, I dunno, something. Finally, a real human called.

Initially, I was relieved, but only initially. Ultimately, I concluded that the most annoying man in the warmblood world had acquired my phone number. The aliens must've gotten to him already.

He asked to speak with the Rabbi. Apparently, about 10 years ago, the Rabbi could be reached at my number, which lead me to believe this man hasn't spoken with his Rabbi as often as he should. In any case, I get this request a lot. Usually telling the caller they've reached the wrong number is sufficient. This time was different. I was asked to look up the Rabbi's phone number, instead. After assuring the man that I haven't a clue how to get in touch with the Rabbi, he scolded me: "Well, what kind of Jew are you then?"

"Actually, I'm not Jewish" I told him, and he seemed surprised. With a real desire to get to the bottom of this situation, he cleverly asked, "Well then why do you have the Rabbi's phone number?"

"Wellllllllll, it's not the Rabbi's phone number," I said, "It's my phone number."

"Well then shouldn't you at least know his number in case people call you who need to talk to the Rabbi?" he demanded.

"No, those people should look his number up themselves," I answered, now incredulous.

"Are you Sephardic? You sound Sephardic. You know what? I think you are an Orthodox Jew," he concluded, and I wondered what, exactly, he was trying to say.

"I am not Jewish, I'm sorry."

Now, completely annoyed, he raised his voice a little more and said, "Do you even know the Rabbi? Well, do you?"

"No!" I was relieved. We were finally making progress, I thought. Then, he asked the next question.

"Do you even know what he looks like?"

"No! No, I don't! I am sorry, I have to go now." I couldn't take any more.

"I think you should changed your phone number if you aren't going to give people the Rabbi's phone number."

"You know what!? The next time you talk to the Rabbi you can tell him that I would like it if he didn't give my number out to you," I yelled. He'd pushed me too far.

"You know I really thought you were Sephardic."

...click...