Monday, May 30, 2005

Bring in the money! Stay awake! Down with Satan!

According to my friend Rob, this was the mantra of some cult in the 1970s. I can’t remember if it was a real mantra or a real cult, or if it was just from some reality-based TV-movie about cults with mantras.

Either way, as my father observed when I told him about it: “Hey, those are pretty good rules to live by, really.”

Stay awake would have been a good one for me on Saturday, when I ran a 10K. But I was feeling really tired by late afternoon, and decided, what harm in a quick little lie-down before a big run?

I’ll tell you what harm. I slept through my alarm and woke at 5:45. The race was scheduled to start at 6:30, 5 km from my house. I yanked myself out of bed, popped some Vitamin I* (ibuprofen), threw myself into my running clothes, and ran a couple of blocks to where I could catch a bus downtown.

Then I realized there was no way the bus was going to get me there on time (though it would have given me a place to stretch en route, and get my race timing chip attached to my shoelaces, etc…). And my bike, the obvious solution, is still in storage – not an option.

So I ran back the two long blocks to my house, found my car key, reset the house alarm, and drove to my friends’ place that was 1 km from the Start Line. I used one red light on the way to quickly get my bib pinned to my shirt (crooked and bunching my shirt) and it took two red lights to get my chip on my shoe. I parked and ran.

My bib clearly identified me as a runner for the day's event, and a few good folks on the sidelines cheered and laughed at me as I ran down the main street in the wrong direction toward the Start Line. About 300m from the start, the gun went off, the white race-pace car started driving and honking, and I just managed to slip into the crowds on the side when the Kenyans shot past.

Half a minute later I was pushing my way through the crowds and hopping the fence separating spectators from runners to join thousands of other people waiting to start the race. So after my impromptu warm-up run, and no stretching, I went and ran 10K.

Did I mention I did not train for this? Due to a very bad cold and respiratory infection, followed by the Curse of the Hotel Yorba, I have not run in nearly a month.

I may be foolhardy, but what really matters is, would the cult kick me out? Let’s see how I measure up.

Staying awake – I think I deserve a small checkmark, in pencil maybe.

Bringing in the money – I did bring in the money, figuratively, by finishing the race without stopping, even though I was ungodly slow. Check.

Being down on Satan – I resisted Satan for most of the run, though he did make me want to curl up and die in the grass by the side of the road at kilometer 7. The fight continues though, because Satan is at work in my left knee and is making me walk with a limp.

*Coined, as far as I know, by my friend Drew. Isn't that the work of a genius mind?

Friday, May 27, 2005

seasonal madness

Summertime always fills me with thoughts of running away from routine, making radical changes. It starts in the spring, when I suddenly have trouble sleeping and feel my limbs coursing with energy.

In the summer I want to just take off and do adventures in the woods or on the water. The city seems harsh and uncomfortable, and I am bored by women in short tank tops that show off their chubby bellies and bad lower-back tattoos, bored by men who wear those long basketball shorts and scratch their sweaty crotches in the heat, turn their baseball hats back and forth on their heads. Sticky things spilled and hardened on the sidewalk. The smell of pollution dense, the air heavy.

I want to go and work my body outdoors, far away from the city, every day, until I am ready to drop.

And when I drop after busting my ass all day I would ideally eat some BBQ ribs with good sauce, or occasionally watch a movie in a cold basement, nap on the sofa. Hammocks are also good.

Working the body is redemption from the malls, the cars, the endless reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond (EXCEPT ME YOU BASTARD!) and other banal trash that clutters the cultural landscape in the city.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

look for tongues and Vs and try to stay in the darkest water

I went and did a three-day tandem white-water canoe course this last weekend. It was a little scary to just head off on my own, show up on my own -- because it is a very well-established training camp for paddlers, it has a bit of a summer-camp chummy feel, and it was hard not to feel like the lonely new kid who doesn't know anybody or how things work there, showing up in the dark the night before the first class. I become very reserved, hang back and observe in new situations. Fortunately, it is a very welcoming, well-organized place, and by middle of the first day I was feeling relaxed enough to joke a little with strangers, and by dinner time I was actually sitting with strangers and drinking wine with them.

Other paddlers and the instructors I had all carefully asked at one point or another why I'd decided to come on my own. I just said "in preparation for a canoe trip this summer with my sister who lives up north" and left out all the gorey details of why I am without a paddling partner.

Anyway, it ended up being, overall, a very good weekend. Trying sometimes on a few fronts, but I met some interesting people of all backgrounds (CEO of a huge home-building corporation in Toronto, a blacksmith who does custom work, world-class paddlers and authors, a woman who works for a boreal forest conservation organization...), ate some good food, and tested some things that needed to be tested.

I wrote the following paragraph in an email to a friend this morning and copy it here (with a few quick tweaks I admit) because this is the best way to describe my main instructor:

I had this older guy in his sixties as a teacher, he has been guiding and paddling for almost thirty years. He was very clear about what he wanted us to do. He was lean but well-muscled and his perfectly-controlled form was beautiful to watch and to try to emulate. I thought he looked rather like Sean Connery in The Rock (an infantile movie) when he was all kitted out in his militaristic-looking black dry-suit and trim black helmet with a safety knife strapped to his PDF, with his dark eyes and his weathered face -- quite dashing, in that way that older self-possessed men can pull off, partly because they can not possibly know (or even care) how handsome they look. Then after classes when relaxing he looked just like a white-bearded grandpa, kind of frumpy in unflattering clothes, with big glasses. I liked him a lot (but am not actually attracted to such old men, at least not yet).

Another instructor I quite liked, was a red-headed fellow from Newfoundland who was very gregarious and spoke with a wonderful accent that sounded Irish/Dublinish. He said things like "Oh girl, don't get me started, I could talk the arse off an iron pot." He called every woman he spoke to "girl", and it was completely unoffensive, possibly because of the way he rolls the R, possibly because of the genuine warmth in his voice when he says it. He also introduced me to a new exclamation that I've added to my list of favourites: "Sweet adorable Jesus!" (and though I will not say it with the accent myself -- too silly -- consider for a moment the sound of that accent, which also means that Jesus was pronounced "Jaysis"). He was the sort to chat with everyone and make them feel at home but not get too thick beyond what was appropriate with anyone, I could see that quickly.

The last instructor I'll mention was the most testosterone-driven jackass/jahshah I've met in a long time. He was an assistant teacher in our group, and had me so close to screaming with frustration on my first day that I actually spoke to someone about it. He was very harsh ("No! You DID IT WRONG again! You've got to LISTEN to me! Keep your wrist turned outward! TURN IT!!!"), then would compensate for this inappropriately severe criticism (when lord knows I was thinking and listening and working so hard to get it right) with lavish praise ("You know, I think you are the most promising paddler in the group, you really show a lot of talent, I've been talking about you with [the head instructor]"). He also made comments like "You want your paddle shaft to be like your boyfriend -- vertical" and "I've seen quite enough of your ass all day". (I was in the bow.) As you can imagine, it was exhausting.

I have managed difficult men many times in my professional and personal life (fortunately none in my family) -- the chest-thumping gorillas, the thugs, the self-important idiots, the insecure sexist and homophobic assholes who violently suppress their above-average lust for the other fellows on their rugby team... but as a paying client of course, dealing with this sort of thing should not be my role.

This fellow's main redeeming quality was that I could tell he had a very good heart under all that -- he just was completely and honestly unaware of how he was coming across (a bit sad in a man well into his forties, if you ask me), what power he had as an instructor/authority figure, what was appropriate behaviour, how to inspire confidence, how to deal with different personalities and styles, and the very basic concept of patience -- in short, all the things that make a good person a good instructor.

The place I was paddling has an excellent reputation for professionalism and though white-water sports may be a bit of a "sausage fest" (as another student observed), there are a lot of highly accomplished women in white-water as well, and one of them runs this place. The school has an excellent reputation for a reason -- because this sort of thing generally does not happen, and on the rarest occasions when it surprisingly does, they respond appropriately and immediately, as they did in this case. I didn't even have to initiate the discussion, because another instructor observed enough to come and carefully ask me about it before I even had to consider the discomfort of "tattling".

I strongly suspect that he will never become an instructor there now. I would feel badly for him, but think of it more this way: it is not his calling and he shouldn't be wasting his time trying to become an instructor when it is so clearly against the grain of his natural temperament.

Some day I'll be better at the starboard on-side turn, and not collapse my left arm like a chicken wing, but sweet adorable Jesus, it's going to take some time and a lot of practice. And maybe another set of lessons with Sean Connery's white-water-paddling Canadian doppelgänger.

Friday, May 20, 2005

This is how I ruin songs

I know, I know.

The thing is, that song, the one I've been going on about, Wuthering Heights, by Kate Bush, really is a perfect sing-it-to-yourself song. Operatic, catchy, melodramatic, and perfect for wildly interpretive overly expressive vocals. It's the kind of song, that if you're alone, you can belt it out and express all the angst and loneliness and ache in your sad little heart in a joyous atonal celebratory human wailing -- that simply must never be inflicted on others. (Note: the bridge is hard to sing along with though, and not as satisfying, so I just block it out and hyperventilate through it to prepare my lungs for the next chorus.)

I am driving 2.5 hours by myself to a white-water canoe course this weekend, and I am going to listen to that song possibly 40 times on the way and sing myself hoarse.

Other songs that I think are great to sing along to, preferably alone (in no particular order):

1) original theme song for Star Trek rendered in falsetto while in the shower (value is in sheer self-irritation power)

2) Gender Bombs by the Stills (though until I checked the lyrics I thought "the girl will school you" in the chorus was "the guilt will screw you", so take note, psychoanalysts)

3) Rock Bottom as sung by Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (sing it from your heart straight through your nose, the unbeatable chorus: "Rock bottom, rock bottom, / I hit rock bottom when I fell in love with you")

4) My Little Blue Window by Elvis Costello "This is a calling card/ Or maybe it will be a farewell note / The poison fountain pen now requires the antidote... (skipping now to the chorus) My lovely hooligan / Come by and smash my pane / Til I can see right through / My little blue window". Not necessarily The Man's best lyrics, but who gives a crap when it is so satisfying in other ways? Especially this part, where you get to really cut it loose and practically yell: "How am I ever gonna make you see? / Nothing in this ugly world comes easily."

I can't think of any more right now. Confess now. What are yours?

two rights make a wrong

Not supporting genetically modified organism (GMO) agriculture = right

Eating vegetable-based protein (like soya products, tofu) instead of meat-based protein to minimize our ecological footprint = right

Deforestation of the Amazon= wrong

One would assume that if one was not eating all the beef burgers etc. from cattle that were raised on South American farms that were established through the destruction of the Amazon, one would be doing the planet a favour. One would assume that putting our money where our mouth is by buying non-GMO soya products would be a responsible thing to do, ecologically.

But we humans, we still find a way to fuck it up.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

what it sounds like

Just so you know, Kate Bush makes these words:

Heathcliff, it's me - Cathy. / Come home - I'm so cold! / Let me in-a-your window.

sound like:

Heethcli.... it's meeacatheee acome ho-oh-oh-ome-ah so co ho-ho-hoal let me ina your noh-ho-o-o-o-o-o

i.e. utterly incomprehensible.


I have been repeatedly, obsessively listening to the freakishly other-worldly Kate Bush's song "Wuthering Heights", which was supposedly top of the charts for a month in 1978.

The chorus, as you may know, is an almost inarticulate, dramatic, spiralling if-it-were-any-higher-only-dogs-could-hear-it version of these words:
Heathcliff, it's me - Cathy.
Come home - I'm so cold!
Let me in-a-your window.
I mean, I've always liked Kate Bush (usually in small doses), so that's no big deal. She's weird but she's clearly a genius of some kind, and I love that she really does her own thing.

The intense burning shame of it though is that I downloaded it from RUSSELL CROWE'S CELEBRITY PLAYLIST on iTunes. I mean, for the love of all that is holy...

(But isn't it amusing to imagine the burly stubbled uber-macho General Maximus blissing out to Kate Bush before stabbing a tiger with a trident?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

whales whales whales!

A few weeks ago I was at this really terrific Stitch n' Bitch, and one young woman there told us about a woman she knows who was having her "manifestation chart" framed professionally, so she could hang it on her wall and, you know, contemplate it, and "manifest" all the things she wants more of in her life.

We were told her chart included images of rainbows, money, and whales, and the repeated words "happiness" and "money" and "whales".

Because she loves whales.

So she can manifest whales.

Ahem. Well. On my manifestation chart, I want to have:

1) delicious brownies

2) muscles

3) clear skin in spite of brownies

4) four willing manservants to carry me on a royal palanquin where ever I want to go when I get tired of using my muscles

5) a souris river canoe, specifically the Quetico 17 made out of Carbon Tec, weighing a remarkable 40 lbs

6) people who owe me money to pay it the hell back with interest and then fuck off forever

7) a guarantee that I will die peacefully and with no real regrets at a ripe old age like 98

8) stronger fingernails, but really only on my right index finger, so I can claw better when I clawhammer, and develop my mad banjo skilz

9) a well-behaved, quiet, devoted and sweet black standard poodle to call my own

10) rainbows, money, and whales

What's on your manifestation chart?


Didn't post yesterday because I was stupidly busy. Or maybe I was just too giddy about this to concentrate. Oh Belinda, you had me giggling and squealing and jumping around the office like a suburban schoolgirl at a Britney concert (back when Britney was at her peak I mean, pre-Federline).

See, here in Canada we have this thing called the Sponsorship Scandal and the opposition (Conservatives aligned with the Bloc Quebecois) wants to bring down the current government (the Liberals) for it.

It's quite depressing, but my jaded take on it is this. $100 million is a shockingly huge amount of money to waste/steal/launder, yes, absolutely -- but it's still just a tiny tiny fraction of the government's purse. Sure, the Liberals have squandered tax dollars, and this particular scandal is
completely unsavoury, but 1) don't all governments squander tax dollars, just some disguise/hide it better than others? and 2) I am just too pleased with some of the things they HAVE managed to do with tax dollars, including supporting Kyoto, same-sex marriage, decriminalization of marijuana, etc etc., not to mention NOT GETTING US SUCKED INTO IRAQ -- even though these things haven't always been handled in an ideal way, at least there's serious movement/action in the right direction. What I'm saying is that the Liberals have been very bad, but they've also been pretty good -- and anyway, the most likely alternative is just so much much worse.

I just want to stomp off and throw a screaming tantrum about voter stupidity when I think about the possibility of this man, who my friend insists "looks like a serial-killing alien with a bad-fitting rubber face", leading this country. There was an excellent article in the Walrus Magazine about Paul Martin a while back (long-winded but good -- that man should be watched carefully) and then a much more unsettling one about Harper a few months later, which I would encourage every Canadian to read, and which, (beyond the fact that he backs policies that I just can't support), also gives you an idea why I dread the idea of Harper in power.

Here's a creepy quote from that article for you to enjoy:

But Shadia Drury, a member of the U of C department until last year, accuses her former colleagues of harbouring a more sinister mission. An expert on Leo Strauss, the philosophical father of the neo-conservative movement, Drury paints the Calgary School as a homegrown variation on American Straussians like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who share their teacher's deep suspicions of liberal democracy. Strauss argued that a ruling elite often had to resort to deception – a noble lie – to protect citizens from themselves. To that end, he recommended harnessing the simplistic platitudes of populism to galvanize mass support for measures that would in fact restrict rights. Drury warned the Globe's John Ibbitson that the members of the Calgary School "want to replace the rule of law with the populism of the majority," and labelled Stephen Harper "their product."

Something to think about anyway, don't you think?

I don't object to holding an election over the sponsorship scandal -- absolutely Canadians should go to the polls over it. But like many Canadians, I do think that the Gomery inquiry should be allowed to finish before an election is called so that voters are properly informed about the whole story and can see how the government responds to its conclusions. I also really really want to see a few of the very important Liberal initiatives (same-sex marriage being top of my list) go through before things all go to hell.

Back to the sugar that is Belinda Stronach's decision yesterday, I delight in three things:

1) Reassuring myself that the Bloc/CPC alliance won't be able to bring down the Liberals/NDP just yet -- or at least, it's much less likely.

2) Imagining Stephen Harper's reaction in private when he found out -- supposedly FROM PETER MACKAY for God's sake! Does it get any better!?!
(Update at 3:10 PM -- When it gets down to it, I'm too squishy and therefore feel a little regret about gloating when PETER MACKAY IS IN REAL PAIN, romantic pain, and admitting to a flock of reporters that his heart is "a little banged up".)

3) Not even really caring what her motives are, because at least it means I can sleep without the looming specter or a Harper/Bush North America!!! I mean, that would mean I'd pretty much want to just leave the continent. And there's just way too much good canoeing here for that to be easy for me, and summer's just getting started.

Thank you Belinda, for almost guaranteeing me at least one more summer of being pretty darn happy to be living in this imperfect but beautiful Canada!!

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Curse of the Hotel Yorba shin splints, because it made me run faster and harder than I ever should have, sprinting and leaping about like an uncoordinated and doughy-white Perdita Felicien-wanna be. I was even slapping my legs and stomach for percussion as I ran, leaped, and sprinted, (just to help flesh out the image for you).

Music has power.

And I have no shame or common sense.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

stompin our feet on the wooden boards never gonna worry about lockin the door

I can run faster when I listen to the White Stripes.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Favourite word in Arabic

Everyone knows my favourite word in Arabic is jahshah. That first H is a hard H, not the gutteral CH, but a hissed, flattened H from the back of the meaty part of the tongue (not the back of the throat).

It means jackass.

She says I wanna do right but not right now

It’s hard to do the right thing sometimes, and sometimes it’s easy. Like eating three pieces of chocolate cake in a row when you’re really hungry. In the first analysis, it seems fun, celebratory, playfully decadent. In the final analysis, it’s just misguided and a little bit destructive. Even if it’s homemade. Even if it's carrot cake.

I suppose you might try to balance it out by washing the chocolate cake down with a few glasses of milk (for protein, calcium), even though that still barely redeems the cake-gorging due to side-effects such as lactose-intolerance-induced bloatedness and farting, increased mucous in the throat, the sourness of milk-breath, etc.

Having been tempted many times in my life by cake when I’m hungry, I wonder how it is that sometimes that cake is actually fairly easy to resist in favour of a proper well-balanced meal (even if you have to prolong your hunger while you prepare it) and sometimes you just have to give in and eat so much of that damn cake, even with full knowledge of the inevitable, completely certified and guaranteed resulting mood crash, energy crash, and ass pimples.

I mean, nothing wrong with a little cake after a proper meal though.

On an obliquely related note, Gillian Welch's song Look at Miss Ohio is really really good (and is the source for the subject line).

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I am sick. I have the sickie smell (as my old friend James called it). That slightly sweet, slightly rancid odour on the breath, in the mouth, on the skin even.

My throat is a mucous factory, specializing in canary yellow. My sinuses are like balloons slowly expanding behind my face, pressing into my brain, and muddling my thoughts. These balloons are filled with something that feels like silly putty -- dense, slow, and most pliable when warm. Hard to breathe, hard to talk, hard to think. This cold makes me feel like I am walking through rooms filled with water, talking through a thick blanket, thinking with a brain encased in heavy layers of steamy yeasty bread dough.

It took me seven and a quarter hours to type this post.

Monday, May 09, 2005

asleep midafternoon as you so often are during the unmerciful hours of your despair

Jane Kenyon struggled with depression and wrote some lovely poems.

I don't struggle with depression per se, but oh Lord, oh Lord, I can feel down. And there are few things worse, in the down category, than feeling that I've made a mistake, grossly mishandled something, and/or hurt someone dear to me.

It makes me feel like I'm not grown-up, and has me despairing that I'll never ever be as wise and gracious as I hope to be.

my idea of romance includes: love notes inserted in my nostrils, bottles of vodka for no reason, a walk in the local dump

Loserlife. Just about everyone who has entered its hallowed electronic halls ends up calling it that, for a reason. Because it sucks, it's full of losers, and it makes you feel like a loser.

People post ancient pictures of themselves when they were young and hot. Everyone is looking for the same damn thing (men want women who are "as comfortable in an evening dress and heels as they are in jeans", women want men who will be their best friend and make them laugh all the time). Whatever.

Why have I ever used it then? Both times have been basically scientific, like putting a sliced grape in a microwave and watching for sparks.

The first time was a mere month after I split up with my masterfully deceitful ex, and I was feeling so bleak, pathetic, and alone, I just needed to know that there were lovely decent men in their 30's who were single. Though I posted in the "relationship" section, I was nowhere near ready for a real relationship -- but presumably that's where the men would be that I needed to know existed. That was my only lie. I.e. nowhere near the apparent average of 10-15 whoppers per profile, it's a wonder mine wasn't turned back at the gate.

I met a fellow online who seemed interesting and clever, and just as we were arranging to meet, he announced that he'd recently gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend. I spotted him in a grocery store six months later and he had a wedding ring on his finger, and he was ugly -- really quite unpleasant. Where did he get the pictures he'd posted that made him look so hunky? What trick, what flicker of the light?

In that same first period, I met another fellow online who seemed handsome, smart, interesting. We kept to first names only and met at a local pub. In person, he was homely, dim-witted, and dull. I could tell that I terrified him. I went home and deleted my profile completely, disgusted with the whole system.

A good friend of mine thinks I am too pragmatic when it comes to relationships. I said "it comes with the slightly anxious personality type" (with which I am blessed/cursed) - I can fixate on the future a little too much, and work too hard, in a completely absurd way, to guarantee positive outcomes. As though it were true that if I just planned everything well enough, life will turn out great. It's slowly sinking in, as is obvious to everyone else, that this is just not how life works. It may be why I am a kick-ass project manager though.

The thing is, I'm secretly a raging romantic, but so ragingly romantic that I think I could auto-combust if I gave into it. A girl in this world learns very young that being romantic gets her nowhere. It just means that it hurts more when you're the girl no one wants to kiss at a spin-the-bottle party, hurts more when you don't get asked to dance in some stinking gym with some damn disco ball twirling about. It means that all your life, you're perceived as too intense, too sensitive, too dreamy, too girlie, too goofy. It leaves your jugular exposed in too many situations. If I let myself be as romantic as I naturally might be, I would have to be institutionalized. (As it is, just enough squeaks through that, for example, I wept like a child at the end of The Office Special, but I won't ruin it for everyone else.)

I recently (like, five days ago) posted a profile on Loserlife again, because I got hung up on this notion that I needed to date a bunch of different men -- because I didn't date much before getting together with my ex, and I have suspected (in trying to figure out how I missed detecting what a fuck-up he was earlier) that if I'd just been exposed to more men (and I don't mean flashed in the park), I wouldn't have chosen him, wouldn't have made that mistake, wouldn't have been so burned, wouldn't have been sucker-punched by my inner romantic.

Met the first person yesterday through the Loserlife service -- not a date exactly, just meeting someone for a cup of tea. Again, he was nothing like his pictures, about 25 lbs heavier, and, though artfully concealed in said photos, had a mouth like large mammalian genital labia -- I AM NOT KIDDING. I couldn't even look at the lower half of his face when he talked. It lasted one hour before we both beat a hasty retreat. By the time I got home he'd blocked me from viewing his photos.

Talked to my sister last night (who makes up exactly half of what she writes on her blog, which is possibly reason to enjoy it all the more) about this (and some other more important things that were troubling me deeply), and she yelled at me, "Get off Loserlife. Now. It's depressing and stupid. Then move to the Yukon and live with me." I don't feel like moving to the Yukon just yet, but she's right about the other stuff. Even without her advice, I would have gone ahead and deleted my feeble second-attempt profile last night (as I did).

Sure, there's the odd success story, but in general, Loserlife, for me anyway, has been completely surreal, none of it grounded, none of it real -- because it's NOT real, and not just because I have poorly-thought-through motivations for playing with it. It's the whole set-up. Everyone is a little embarrassed to be doing it, nobody wants to end up accidentally dealing with a psycho, nobody wants to expose their true emotional state -- and the ones who do seem creepy. (e.g. "nobody responded to my last one but I guess I'm just not hot enough heheh. i'm looking for a girl who will make me melt in her arms and who is understanding and will love me for who I am. I can be moody, but usually i love to laugh and want to become one with someone. I am ready for that special girl. are you her?")

Even though it's probably obvious to everyone else, I am again concluding that the way to cure my trashed heart and feel normal again is not to run through these absurd and clinical experiments, but to let time and patience (the latter of which I have always been short on) do their magical thing, and it probably means a lot more time alone with my banjo.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Just like the Bronte sisters, sort of

What are you reading my crap for? Go read my sister's blog.

She recently ragged me out about my ant freak out:

"REALLY, you should be ashamed of yourself. They are just harmless little ants and you reacted like a sissy. I will not forgive you or think it's acceptable that you rushed out to purchase harmful insecticides because you are a sheltered, squeamish, spoiled-rotten Princess who can't handle a little bit of nature in your bedroom. It's obvious that there is rot around the window pane and these are carpenter ants gathering to do mother nature's job of cleaning up the mess: turning rotting wood into fertile hummus so that life can perpetuate. I am ashamed to call you my sister! If you can't handle a few lame and plump city carpenter ants, how are you going to handle the swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes, blackflies and noseeums, the threat of grizzly bears, wolves, constant rain, dangerous rapids on our canoe trip? Where is your spine? You are selling yourself as a wimpy spoiled city brat and I'm horrified. Also: what's so gross about them writhing and touching each other? Is it not a beautiful erotic thing? Can you not think outside the prescribed tv-box that says insects are the bane of evil, the sperm-spawn of satan? Fuck, man, I'm going to write a blog highlighting the time I wacked off to a bucket of earwigs."

Now THAT is good writing. I love you, Poodle in my Pants.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Antyville Horror!

I woke up this morning with a very sore throat and so called in sick of course. Unlike some of my otherwise very sweet co-workers, I do not go in to infect others when I am under the weather. I stay home, and nap, and drink gallons of juice, and watch more of The Office.

So there I was, napping, while unbeknownst to me, a secret horror was unfolding.

I wake up still feeling sick but a little more energetic after my nap, and remembering that I have an important appointment at 2PM with the bank today, I drag myself upstairs to my bedroom.

I am locating jeans and a t-shirt, and reflecting on how crappy I feel, when I hear a strange sound. So quiet it was a little hard to hear. A clicking.

You know that scene in the Amityville Horror (I am thinking of the old 70s or 80s movie, not the recent remake) where they go into a room in the house and it's swarming with flies?

Well, my bedroom, where I slept last night, where I woke up this morning, where everything was fine and normal and clean this morning, well, let's just say things had gone horribly AWRY since this morning.

Over on the window, there was movement. What kind of movement? A dinner-plate-sized, almost completely solid swarm of FLYING ANTS. And a few without wings, almost an inch long, with huge fat juicy bodies. Crawling on and over each other, and in and out of the tiny crack around the window frame. Licking each other, whispering to each other, carressing each other. (Or so I imagined.)

I nearly barfed.

Then I realized a few of the pack had wandered off. On the floor. On the dresser. ON MY BED. Those ones I killed right away, with a tissue and my bare hands.

I ran downstairs and searched frantically for some kind of murder weapon. Nothing. Just furniture polish. And Windex. Not powerful enough, though I did wonder for a moment if laquering them with wood polish would be terribly good (kill them slowly and cruelly) or terribly bad (make them stronger and uncrushable).

I came to my senses (briefly) and called the bank to say I'd be late for my appointment. Then I very very violently shook out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt (even though they were nowhere near the ants, just to be on the safe side), put them on, and got in my car. Zoomed to the Canadian Tire around the corner, and bought an armload of ant killers. The powder. The sugar-flavoured poison. The SPRAY.

Normally I'm not a big fan of using chemicals. Especially not of ones that say "harmful or fatal if inhaled" on the side of the spray can. But they were in my bedroom! Ants! With wings! Big ants! Licking! Writhing! Carressing! Each other!

I got home, ran up to my room, shook the can, covered my nose and mouth with my sleeve, blasted those tiny winged monkeys to hell, and fled.

Bank meeting went fine. Joanne at RBC, you're a good woman.

Came home, vacuumed up the corpses, which were littered about the window sill and floor and inert, like burned rice.

I swear to god though, if I find any in my bed tonight, I'm going to have to go down to city hall soon and investigate if this house was built on an ancient burial ground, or whatever.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

John Bigboote loves to comment

John Bigboote says:

Cowardly commentator.

John Bigboote says:

Not willing to sign his real fake name.

Banjeroo says:

yeah, who was that I wonder?!

John Bigboote says:

Hard to tell with all the other people commenting

Banjeroo says:


Banjeroo says:

so many

John Bigboote says:

It's amazing, I think I saw Camilla Parker Bowles on there

Banjeroo says:

I know, who knew word would spread to the Royals SO FAST (I mean, it was inevitable, but happened about a month sooner than I figured)

John Bigboote says:

And Fox is picking it up

John Bigboote says:

Crazy shit

Banjeroo says:

yes, that was a very exciting deal

Banjeroo says:

paris hilton is going to be asking me to join her on Simple Life 5

John Bigboote says:

When will the animated feature come out?

Banjeroo says:

after she gets rid of Kimberly Stewart

John Bigboote says:


Banjeroo says:


Banjeroo says:

Paris has been a big supporter from the beginning though. Tinkerbell apparently loves the site, and is just bonkers for the Terrier Song, even though I can't take credit for writing it.

John Bigboote says:

But you can take credit for bringing it to billions of people.

Banjeroo says:

Apparently Kids in the Hall merch sales are through the roof.

Banjeroo says:

as a direct result

Banjeroo says:

I am going to post this dialog, you know that?

Banjeroo says:

what name do you want me to substitute for your real name?

John Bigboote says:

John Bigbooty

Banjeroo says:


"You know, I've never been a big fan of alternative music, but these guys rocked the house!"

Apparently the hideous and aged blonde narcissist Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210 uttered these words after The Flaming Lips performed live at some dorky house party or something.

I am so depressed that I missed that episode.

And thank you Rik for hooking me up with the Lips.

Don’t let those sandwich artists push you around.

Strategy 1: Don’t be afraid to say, when they’re putting on the toppings, “please put on more black olives.” Then stand there, fix an unblinking stare on the sandwich, and keep saying as sweetly as you can, “Uh-huh, more… more… yup, more… more… lookin’ good, but more… more…” until they put enough on (or burst into tears and ask a bewildered co-worker to step in). Say “thank you”.

Strategy 2: Say “Would you please keep piling on the green pepper slices until I say it’s enough?” Monitor their progress with equal parts vigilance and encouragement. Say “thank you”. Repeat for each topping that you like a lot.

Applicable to both strategies: Say “would you please start with the toppings and put the meat/cheese on after?” This, as my co-worked Sean has pointed out, means that the subway sandwich will be more structurally sound when it's piled about 4 inches high with green pepper slices and black olives. Sauce will also help bind the structure through the magic of surface tension, but it will also make the bread soggy after a while, so plan carefully. (Consider, for example: How long will it be before you try to fit that thing in your mouth? Are you comfortable treating the toppings that fall out as a side salad? (Because if so, make sure you ask for a fork to eat it with.))

Strategy 3: Make your own damn sandwich. (And save yourself the inevitable nostril-and-anus-singeing sulphur-farts caused by whatever food-grade preservative they spritz the veggies with to keep them looking fresh in those clear plastic tubs.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


My grandmother Elsie was a bit of a textile nut. She noticed and appreciated texture, materials, pattern, colour. She was great to go shopping for clothes with. She'd say things like "I may not dress like I know style, but I know style." And it was quite true. Famous for her hand-knitted grey skirt and cardigan ensembles, Elsie had a good eye for line, effect, and quality, no matter what she was wearing.

Maybe it was from growing up around so many of her woven wall-hangings, but all I know is that from a young age, by a combination of training and natural inclination, I notice these things too. I like fabric, I like my hands working with it, I like spinning wool, I like thread, I like it all.

When I was a student in Vancouver, I used to sometimes go noodle around Granville Island, which for those of you who don't know, is a neat little slightly-touristy place near downtown that has a farmer's market and a bunch of neat little galleries and artisan shops and cafes.

One sunny day I went down on my bike by myself and wandered around, sun shining, helmet clipped to my backpack. Down by the grassy quiet bit towards the back of the island (away from the boats that face downtown), I decided to pop into a little gallery.

I don't remember anything of what I saw, except that on one of the walls was this one beautiful piece of art, made entirely from different scraps of cloth, coloured thread. Intense and fine detail, showing a lone figure, a young girl in a red dress standing on a point looking out across a straight to some islands across. The view was from about 100 feet behind the girl, and the composition was about 4 feet wide and 3 feet high -- the effect was that it had a very full-feeling perspective, an expansiveness, bright and airy. It took my breath away -- and then made me breathe more deeply. It captured a startling realism in its detail and accuracy of proportions, but the fabric lent it a fantastical quality -- as well as somehow making it feel strangely accessible.

I remember that after I got my wits about me and put my socks back on, I went and checked the tag. It was about $300. Looking back, even counting inflation, I can't imagine how it could have been that inexpensive. So many tiny stitches (and there must have been millions of them) -- it must have taken so long to create, and the result was spectacular.

I remember feeling that $300 was just too much for a student like me to spend on a piece of art. How could I justify it when there were books to be purchased, important adventures to go on, (and yes, of course, cold gin to buy, because it was summer after all).

I went back about a month later, reconsidering, wondering if there was some way after all, but it was gone, and the woman working in the gallery was new that week and didn't know anything about it. I guess I could have tracked down the artist if I'd been more persistent but I was unsure, and possibly a bit relieved that the decision had been made for me.

It's been so long since I saw anything original that I liked so much. I have thought about it many many times in the ten years since.

A couple of weeks ago, I went with a friend to a new friend's art opening. It was packed with local artists. One has a studio in the back of the gallery and she ended up showing me her stuff. She uses paint on canvas, and then sews fabric onto it, and adds these other layers of stitching in coloured thread. It got me instantly, all of it, but one piece in particular. So I bought it today. It's called underskirts. It's the first piece of original art I have ever bought, but I promised myself I wouldn't have my heart broken like that again.