Saturday, January 24, 2004

I just mailed the president of Nigeria my broken toaster. It was actually quite expensive to ship. I put the letter down in one of the slots. It stuck out like an untoasted slice of white bread.

President Olusegun Obansanjo
Federal Secretariat
The Presidency Phase II
Shehu Shagari Way
Abuja, Nigeria

Dear Olusegun Obasanjo,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the financial opportunities your countryman have offered to me this past year. Unfortunately I could not take advantage of these business ventures. It seems like a national crisis that all these wealthy Nigerians cannot access their millions without the help of random foreigners. The reason I could not help them is that I keep most of my savings in my underwear drawer. Shh! That is a secret between me and you, Olusegun. Don't tell Minister Isa Yuguda (link is not the actual honourable Mr. Yunguna but a close facsimile). I saw a picture of him on the web. I don't trust a man that wears a hat like that. You know I'm talking about. What a Freak! Anyway, here's my toaster, treat her well. Her name is Shirley.


Earnest Borgnine

Alright kids, feel free to follow my good example and send your broken appliances to other national leaders. The internet is full of wonderful information. Don't just throw things away. Post them to strangers!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

On the radio, the topic of blogs and diaries was discussed by the usual self-important voices. One woman dismissed the majority of blogs for the same reasons I did a few entries ago. We differed in opinion on their historical and artistic significance. She was hopeful that the transitory nature of the web would allow these vacuous vanities fade back into the ether of bits and bytes. I disagree. I am sure the first Elizabethans were as self-absorbed and shallow as the authors I and the woman on the radio were complaining about. I am fascinated by the dull everyday musings of anonymous strangers. The other day I read a few entries from a house wife. Every entry was complaining about each of the other household members. Little Johnny left his snow boots at school. If the husband says, “you should have. . .” she is going to punch him. The woman filled her journal with nothing save for very uninteresting and even inarticulate complaints about these two males in her life. There was an interesting affection threaded through the lines of criticism. It was as if only through fault-finding that she could express her love for others. How do you express something for which you do not have the vocabulary? In speech we do it with inflection. ‘I love you’ can be a sinister threat when said with a menacing tone. So, why couldn’t the daily grumblings of a house wife not be the incantations of motherly adoration.
There is art and life in there. My guess is radio lady was raised on a diet of Titian and Shakespeare and she is unable to recognise worthy art unless it is clearly labelled and pre-digested for her

Monday, January 19, 2004

I didn’t write last week. I tried to take a more dedicated approach to my work. Since I spend the majority of my waking life there, I thought it a good idea. I am still paying the consequences. I will write more about it later this week. I am still processing all that happened.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Passion and Purpose.
This is foremost upon my mind at regular intervals of the day. I work with people full of both. The enthusiasm with which they discuss the most inconsequential minutia of work place trivial staggers my mind. I cannot help being envious. They have found the grail we all seek.
Life if anything is unreasonable1. Two words prove this point. Paediatric Oncology. Yet, we as living creatures still attempt to divine or impose reason and purpose to an existence which clearly has no interest in colouring within the lines. I have tried to find purpose. I sought it in religion, but once you look behind the curtain, the wizard of God is not so frightening and all powerful. Like some of my co-workers, others find it in their vocation. I think they have it right. If you know the universe doesn’t give bonus points for being something we humans hold in esteem (i.e. world leader, holy man, celebrity, or sports star), then why shouldn’t mail clerk be a trade worthy of single-minded devotion. Why is pretending you are a discontented office worker on TV more interesting than being a discontented office worker in an office? Why is the perfected placement of a staple upon a page less worthy of a gallery wall than the conceptual art which usually pollutes those spaces? There is still a part of me that can’t buy it. I can’t see the work I do as anything more than moving this bit of paper from one tray to another. Even if I ignored society’s valuations, I would still rank my work quite low. Street sweepers and zamboni drivers would definitely gain some ranking. Those things are cool.
Again I have scrawled questions which rattle around my head but never seem to answer themselves. Maybe, today I will force passion and purpose into my daily work. We shall see.

1 This is the second time I have used 'life is'. I will try to refrain from this in the future. This is also the second time I have used a footnote. I will not refrain from this. They are fun.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Life is monotonous, no? Even international spies have to shave, eat breakfast, defecate, and all the other daily activities that save oneself from being a hungry, hairy, constipated human being. This daily tedium forces certain compulsions. For me behaving in a socially acceptable manner when presented with the multitude of everyday tasks is like holding a bit of elastic and at every conditioned response to the world the tension is increased. The tension becomes more and more difficult to bear and the only way this tension is relieved is by reacting in a more natural way. For me, the natural response is rarely the acceptable one. To maintain an acceptable level of tension between what makes me content and what keeps me from being arrested, I have a few little flourishes to me daily existence.

  1. I sign everything ‘cookie monster’. Credit cards, legal documents, anything. This has never been a problem. Cashiers still check the back of my card against the ‘cookie monster’ scrawled upon the receipt. Once again I think it’s the suit. My badge of respectability. ‘Well, if the nice man’s name is ‘cookie monster’, who am I to argue. After all, they wouldn’t let a fraudster wear a suit.’

  2. I overreact to every leaflet hander, Garunga1 and petitioner that approaches me on the street. The Garungas won’t approach me anymore. I think it was the repeated and enthusiastic shouts of ‘Cowabunga’ from across the street and the insistence on piggy back rides. To the question, ‘would you like to sign our petition’, I usually shake my head violently, shout ‘no!’, and clench my head like it’s about to explode.

  3. I lie when it is not neccesary. ‘How was your day?’ ‘Terrible. My dog Shakey died.’ ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ ‘Thanks. What the hell am I going to do with a half
    full bag of dog food? You want it?’ ‘Uh. No. thanks.’

  4. I act suspicious in stores. When I am in a shop by something, for example socks, I don’t just carry them to the check out. I act like I am going to steal the socks. I look around cautiously and then furiously shove the socks down the front of my trousers. I give another furtive glance around me, and then proceed to continue shopping nonchalantly. It really makes the security guards day. I like to get two or three following me and whispering into their walkie-talkies before I get into the checkout queue with the suspicious bulge in my pants and the rest of my shopping.

1. Garungas are the Hindu Amway. They try to sell you books and music with the ferocity of telemarketers. They usually prey on old ladies who will give them a bit of change just to get them to leave her alone. The only way to placate them is to say the word, ‘Garunga’. Which I think is some sort of binding contract for your soul. P.S. does your online journal have footnotes? I don’t think so.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I have an uncle that lives in the middle-of-nowhere Texas. If you've been to Texas you the place I am talking about. 90% of the state is in the middle of nowhere. There must be something in the water in the middle-of-nowhere. About once a month, a crazed aging white man with a gun goes nuts in the middle-of-nowhere Texas. Sometimes, this guy will have friends, and they'll starting shooting at the friendly FBI agent or telephone repairman or anal probe wielding alien. Those three being prime examples of the agents of a vast conspiracy of non-white non-Christian yadda yadda yadda. Well, the uncle in question is not a dues paying member of such theories but he has tendencies and it’s only a matter of time before the late night phone calls to AM radio talk shows begins. Occasionally, I get emails from him. Usually, forwards with quick notes to illustrate the points of interest. Sometimes, they are musings about life which could be summed up by one of two headlines 'Your life is shit because Jesus hates you' or 'wash your hands because killer germs will eat your face'. Today's correspondence was a forward. It was the same story I mentioned in my last post. This was unnerving for me, because we both shared a reaction to the world. It is my belief that despite sharing a measure of DNA, there was nothing that connected me to this man. Yet, there is something in our outlook on life that made us pause and reflect on the same piece of news. I forwarded my reaction to this online diary. He forwarded his to everyone on two continents that share his last name. His reflection upon the news was different, 'I told you they build foreign woman sturdier', but the catalyst for reflection was the same as me. Is this an early sign that I am only a decade away from leaving civilisation, building a house, and emailing paranoid missives? Wait am I being paranoid about becoming paranoid? Jesus send me some duck tape, the alien Jews want to impregnate me.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

A 90 year old woman was found alive in the rubble from an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people eight days ago. Her first request was for a cup of tea. I feel there is a lot of wisdom in that simple statement. What do you do after a terrible tragedy? Start living again.