Wednesday, December 31, 2003

New Year’s Eve. Hogmanay. This is the time of year where young gentleman place traffic cones upon their heads at jaunty playful angles. Tonight young ladies bedeck themselves in tube tops, mini skirts, and high heeled boots despite the freezing gales and frozen sidewalks. Tourists will follow the mobs looking like multi-coloured snowman in their enormous nylon parkas. My tendency for self harm has will lead me to walk downtown to the main street where the festivities are concentrated. The truth is there is an exquisite beauty in this night. All cities have an ugliness about them that I find charming and attractive. The same reason my kitchen table top has never been exposed to sunlight. Buried underneath clothes, books, jam jars, papers, and mugs, my table top exists. Disorder is comfortable to me. A nesting instinct. Rather than down feathers and shiny found baubles I populate my living space with the clutter of living itself. Cities have the same ascetic about them. Plastic bags pirouette above intersections. The steaming stream of urine emanating from man or dog shines golden in the low winter sun. Tonight, the wind is stronger than usual. The street is littered with the mangled corpses of umbrellas. Their limbs and canvas are torn and broken. The death of a thousand mechanical spiders to celebrate the New Year. This is the nest of half a million people. Tonight in the span of two hours, I will sip from my flask, wait for the fireworks, and collect snippets from a handful of my nest mate’s lives. The alcohol will magnify and intensify each tale. There is a man comforting two crying women. The comforting of one crying woman tonight would only be remarkable in its absence. Groups of young boys gulp from cider bottles. They will pose and posture for each other. Large groups of friends will gather to sing and hug, none noticing (or chooses to notice) each person positioning themselves closer to the particular friend they would most want to share the midnight kiss with. Tomorrow the streets will be silent. The New Year is left alone to consider the consequences of choosing to arrive. The people will make its acquaintance more soberly in a day or two when we all return from holidays.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dear Computer,

I hate your stupid face. You know your little friend internet. I hate his face too. I am going to start a neo-luddite group. One sec. Let me check google to see if someone already has; yep! Luckily, the pages are populated by post-modern ironic wankers. What I am looking for is a good ole' fashion technology-smashing riot. It won't be wool frames this time. It'll be these devil spawned contraptions that allow any early twenty-something to broadcast his angst to the world. A generation ago it was safely restricted to coffee stained notebooks and the occasional poetry meeting. I used to have the illusion there was hope for humanity. I was sure that our generation would come along and mend what the previous let go to waste. Here's that hope dashed. These were found reading another's online journal. They were consecutive entries.

Exhibit A
I've cried myself to sleep three times in the past five days
Exhibit B
Had a lot of fun last night, but I did get heavy with drink, and probably got a little out of control. I need to stop drinking. I can have fun while not being wasted. I've done it many times before. The boy of my dreams stayed with me last night. Very awesome.

For fuck's sake. Now if you'll excuse me I have to check my email and post this entry.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

We all have personal mythologies. Autobiographical histories that we tell in order to present a neatly packeaged version of the self we wish to project. These archetypical tales dressed as amusing anecdotes provide the listener cirb notes for your personality. I was invited to have dinner at at coworker's house for Christmas. The topic of previous jobs came up. I have another personal mythical tale about me working on a cleaning crew with two drag queens and the most bitter woman on earth but that vignette was held in reserve. This is the first time I have conversed with this person outside of work and it would be unwise to have his first impression of me be the tale of Magnolia Thunderpussy, the gold slippers, and the dirty bank. Fortunately, the conversation wound itself through and past various topics. Eventually, the topic rested at 'respect your elders'. Don't ask me to chart the topic progression from jobs to old people. Conversation threads are a strange and unpredictable beast. Besides, everyone coming to the simple conclusion that respecting your elders is indeed a good thing. This provided me with an opportunity to tell a personal legend from my repertoire. I use the term mythology and legend not because they are fictional. These stories have been recounted so often that their relation to real history has become irrelevent. What is important now, is the fact that out of the plethera of experiences which lend themselves to anecdote, these particular ones have stuck as ones worthy of recounting. They say more about me than what happened to me.

I used to be a waiter at a retirement home. It was for weathly old people who were self-sufficient but wanted to live in a community of other older self-sufficient old people and just to be safe have nurses near by. Inside this place, they had a psuedo-restuarant. The difference was their choices were pretty much dicatated to the patrons. The lady at table three has this condition therefore she can or cannot have this such food. I wasn't really in accordance with this doctrine. I felt that these people had paid their dues. The average age was eighty. In my mind, they won. They played the game of life and beat it. They were here past the average age, and for the most part still cognizant. They deserve anthing they wanted. Plus, they were paying for this place. There was one woman everyone called her the butter lady, because she ate butter. just butter. When she sat down at a table the waiter would remove the butter dish lest this woman snack upon it. Not me. This woman earned her butter. Butter she want, butter she get. I would, with a conspiring whisper, offer her butter. I would slip packaged butter pats into her purse as she held it open in her lap. We were like a spies handing off microfilm. We would both give a casual glance around to determine if our actions were detected and then carry on our usual business of waiter and clientel. Sunday was wine night. Each parton would get ONE glass of wine. One. No more. If anyone earned a tipple it was these people. Another glass, sir? Are you sure? with a wink his glass would magically refill. Needless to say I was dismissed from this job quite quickly. I think the other waiters were jealous of my popularity.

Friday, December 26, 2003

I received cookies from overseas. Which reminds me, I need a cookie. Un moment, S'il vous plait. Ahh, that's better. Peanut butter cookies with chocolate. yum. yum. yum. There was debate as to whether I eat the popcorn that came with it. Apparently, you put popcorn in the tin to prevent cookie breakage. I didn't believe this but S____ is far wiser when it comes to these things. Popcorn or no, the parcel came at a perfect moment. I needed a bit of cheering up. Read the last two entries if you need reminding why. Getting mail is one of those perfect pleasures of life. How awful would it be to exist without the post. I don't mind if it is a bill printed and sealed by a computer without the tiniest amount of illusion that a human is in correspondence with myself. It's just the process of getting these little paper gifts slid into your house for you to enjoy with your breakfast. Parcels. Wow! They can't slip those through the letter box. They have to ring your door. This is too important to leave at the door step. You must receive it personally. Sure I will sign for it. Thank you very much sir. Oh look this came all the way from overseas. Woohoo. At this point, the box could contain dog dirt and fish. I am just pleased that I have personally accepted a gift from another human being. The postman being the proxy for the originator of the package. Open it up. Home made goodness. I will eat the first layer of cookies immediately as a beneficence to the cookie gods. While munching, I read the hand written letter that rode shotgun with the cookies. My first instinct is to give an immediate reply by email, but this would miss the point of the intention of this correspondence. So, Instead I wrote my own letter. Mistakes were no longer vaporised by the pressing of the backspace key. They are left behind horizontal bars of the cross-out. They are still visible peering from behind their cell. The reader can now not only read what I meant to say but also the variations of it. A more fuller picture of what I intended to express could be ascertained by not only what I articulated but also by what I censored. Although, to be honest, Most of my mistakes were me starting a word I knew the meaning but not the spelling. I suppose spell check is definitely in the pro column of electronic mail.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I went to the grocery store today to pick up bread and milk. Captain was there (working on Christmas eve, mind you). He was back to sitting on the ground. It's very windy today. The winter wind does not play around in this town. It means business. It lies in wait around the corners of buildings and when you walk past it hits you like a train. Your breath rushes out of you as if you had been punched in the gut. You gasp for breath and hunch over. As soon as you reach the other side of the street, the wind withdraws and waits for another. It was unmercifully taking pot shots at Captain as he sat on the ground wrapped in a dirty blanket. One arm extended from the blanket mass to hold onto his hat which was placed upside down before him. He had not collected enough change yet to weigh it down. I asked him what happen. He shrugged his shoulders and blew it off. He said no bother and no worries. I left him at that. Walking through the grocery crowds, I felt extremely guilty. I felt some responsibility for this iteration of chairlessness. I tried to do a nice thing in my own goofy way, but it was ultimately a worthless gesture. Bread and milk buying is usually a quick and simple procedure. Today was different. I paced the aisles in confusion. I was so proud of myself yesterday. I met a friend for drinks and relished the recounting of my deed. My words are failing me today. I try to ladle sentences from my thoughts to type into the keyboard, but they slip away at the last minute. Only the larger words come to the surface. Frustration. Disappointment. Futility.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Christmas spirit was in my morning porridge. Rather than the warm glow promised to me by the company's advertising, I gained an aura of giving. The truth is I had been planning to do this for weeks but if the police come by I now can say it was the porridge's doing. I was all hopped up on oats. There is a homeless guy in our neighbourhood. Let's call him, 'Captain'. No particular reason, save for it not being his real name. He usually sits in front of the grocery store next to the cash machine. He's a pleasant guy. He mans his station for as many hours as I work at my trade. Occasionally, I see him walking around other parts of town. The aged homeless all have the same shuffling gait and facial expression. Their steps are deliberate and slow. Their feet barely lift fully from the ground. Their mouth is always open in awe, and their eyebrows are always trying to seek refuge beneath the canopy of grey and matted hair. Their eyes look past you. past everything. The whole expression could be measured as astonishment. Astonished they are here to shuffle another day. I don't know. I have seen Captain bandaged and bloodied on occasion. It might just be astonishment at surviving. The world kills far stronger men than him or myself everyday. I have chatted with Captain a few times. I have given him a few coins here and there. Today, I thought I would do Captain one better. Last night, I stole a plastic patio chair from a restaurant on the west end. I was on my way home. They hadn't locked it up. The idea occurred to me. I acted upon it. After my empowering bowl of breakfast this morning. I stencilled the word, 'Captain' on the front and back of the chair. I brought it over to the man himself. He was there (working even on this holiday week). I said hello and asked him how he was doing. He answered me but his gaze remained on the chair that had the same name as himself. I explained that it was for him, if he wanted it. He didn't have to worry about anyone stealing it, because the chair clearly had his name on it (maybe the restaurant should think of doing the same). 'Who's is that?' 'It's mine.' 'Does it have your name on it?' 'Yes. In fact, twice.' 'Sorry. My mistake.' He warmed to the idea. He sat down. He put his arms on the white plastic arm rests and surveyed the area around us. He looked approvingly from the new vantage point. He thanked me. Don't thank me. Thank the porridge.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

I went to O_____ by train. It was a long journey. Everyone was going home for the holidays. The seats were filled with grandmas handing out home baked goods from plastic containers. The people sitting beside these ladies had a dusting of powdered sugar on their laps. The aisles were filled with homeward bound students drinking tall cans of Foster's. The most exciting event of the trip was someone being caught smoking in the lavatories. They tossed him out at the next stop. His friends stayed on the train and continued the journey, waving to the smoker as the train pulled away. I occupied my time by chatting with the cookie dispensing grandmas which would take the seat across from me. When one reached her destination, she would gather her bags and disembark. Five minutes later, she would be replaced by another grandma. I would chat. I would get cookies. She would disembark and the process would begin again. For each one, I would invent a new life history and personality. Sometimes, I would be the French dentist. As I recounted my difficult childhood in the 18th district of Paris, I would lapse into non-sensical French as I struggled to find the correct English for, "Je pense que me donnez la pisse-chaud." Other times, I was the travelling American who just loved, 'this goddamn country!' Inevitably, I would tell them about my pet dog, 'Shakey'.

"He's real sweet but he's epileptic. Sometimes when I walk him, He'll get the fits and it's like I got a trophy fish on the end of a fishing line. Instead of a majestic Marlin breaching the ocean surface, I have a shiatsu spraying doggy spit from its foaming mouth. I would put him to sleep but the kids love when Shakey starts 'dancing'. If he has his fits at home with the kids, they'll get on the floor with him and 'break dance' giggling and beat-boxing the whole time. It's just precious."

Monday, December 15, 2003

Below the thin crust of socialization that calcified upon my being as a result of a public school education, the true me exists. He is a shit. He gets tourette's-like urges to shout or do the most absurd things in situations. The socialization is enough to filter the more exotic urges.
Have you ever watched the reaction of drivers who have been subjected to a rude gesture in critique of their driving skill? If you could harness the energy of the indignation of these drivers, you could power a golf cart and two electric pencil sharpeners. Even better is when a person sees a middle finger intended for another and interprets it as directed towards them. Do not ask whom the finger flicks off, for it flicks you off. The description of their expression can only be fully appreciated by a sophisticated analysis usually reserved for the contemplation of fine wines. Subtle notes of anger that linger below a robust suggestion of confusion.
As I walk the streets, I have the urge to make rude gestures to completely inoffensive people. I wear a suit. Everyone trusts people in suits. I wouldn't be readily ignored like the poor soul who lives on a couch in the empty lot down the street. He's a homeless person. If he is upset with someone and expresses himself with explicatives. People automatically assume it is a problem with him not them. Yet, if some respectable element of our society (i.e. suit-wearer) expresses indignation towards a person's seemingly inoffensive behaviour, their initial reaction will be to take inventory of themselves in order to identify some offence. Don't get me wrong. They will quickly come to the correct solution that the suit-wearer is indeed the jackass he is. This also gives me an amount of pleasure, because this person will secretly relish the recounting of their effrontery for which they were a victim. It would be a justification that the fault of their discontent lay not with themselves but the fact the respectable suit wearing men are plaguing the city with completely inappropriate gestures and shouts of 'fucking idiot!'. And really isn't that what we all want. Someone else to blame.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

In this city, Sundays are still a day of rest. The whisper of traffic that comes through the window arrives at long unhurried intervals. The winter sun barely makes an effort to cross the sky. It takes a short cut through the grey which hangs low in the west. The darkness and the wet chill this Sunday especially quiet. I will venture out later. The weather forecast calls for fog. This city wears fog like a royal ermine. I love to see her tall gothic steeples entangled by the viscous clouds that roll off the sea. The street lamps are reduced to a weak glow. Inside a pub, I’ll sit and watch the fog pull itself along the window. I’ll have a drink and take a slow walk home to watch the city show off its gossamer robes.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

I am no chef. I could not even qualify to be a chef's poofy white hat. If word gets out about the monstrosities that I have birthed, Romanian villagers will immediately make their way to my door with torches and pitchforks. I have witnessed the charred and mangled countenance of my creations dragging themselves from the oven only to be mercifully bludgeoned by me with a half-empty bottle of ouzo. I have stood over countless corpses of dinner, watching their death rattle, and easing my hunger with sips from my cudgel. Once again, my life is defined by a dichotomy. I enjoy cooking. It is a catharsis for me. Yet, ultimately, its result is inevitably a disappointment. I have burnt water and destroyed a pan in the process. I though the water boiling process could be much faster. I boiled water in one of those super fast electric tea pots, and simultaneously heated an empty pot on the burner. Licktey split. The water was boiled and I poured it into the preheated pan. The violence of the reaction was fantastic. I leapt like a cat to turn off the stove. The eruption from the pan not only did not cease but increased. By the time I was comfortably cowering under the kitchen table, the pot had calmed. The water was completely gone. The only thing remained was a burned residue at the bottom of the pot. Now that I have admitted to this, I am going to unplug the stove. I think it is for the best.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

"Watch out for the them." The new guy in our office is talking to Mr. Racecar.
"Who?" As I walk into the kitchen and pour myself a cup of coffee. Even I, occasionally feel the need to socialize.
"The Pakis."
Unfamiliar with the popular music of today, I ask, "Who are the Pakis."
"The Pakistanis. They have taken over huge parts of town. The police won't
even go into their part of town. None of them know how to drive. They have no respect for the law."
As I mentally note to avoid the new guy and give Mr. Racecar fourteen demerits (looks like he is two away from me hiding a dead fish behind his book shelf).
"Oh yes. That's very true. Did you know it is Paki custom for boys to kill a white man before they themselves are considered a man? Their monkey god demands it." I use the confused expressions like a batman utility belt smoke bomb and make my escape from the room.

Monday, December 01, 2003

I need purpose. direction. a reason for being. This above all is what
I lack. Unfortunately, I am, for the most part, am
disinterested. ambivalent. I say I need purpose, and I am
sincere. Yet, I immediately want to scoff at the idea. I listen to
co-workers discussing their hobbies and interests. How sad they seem
babbling about racing or gardening? They don't even drive the cars,
they watch the television. They watch little pixel representations of
cars zooming from left to right. My cat's favorite program is
racing. Why doesn't my cat ever get invited to watch racing with
them. My cat also likes to dig up gardens. He likes to fertilize them
as well, a generosity my neighbour never seems to appreciate. My
coworkers are as interesting as my cat. At least my cat is fuzzy and
cute. Mr. Racecar looks like a frog with its skeleton
removed. Mr. Racecar also never refills the coffee pot. Strike two,
mister. Things or activities can never give true purpose. It must be
another person. A protegee, perhaps. Unfortunately, a protegee
1)knowledge to impart (most of my knowledge can be headed
under 'Minimal effort, maximum return' which would fill two thirds of
a page.')
2) the desire to have a extended and personal interaction
with some other human being. Both present their unique difficulties
for me as a disinterested misanthrope.