Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy New Year

I’m looking at an invoice from one of the smaller companies I hire for repairs and small projects. My eye is drawn to the bottom of the page where a brightly coloured sticker reminds me that “Jesus is the reason for the season!” These are not obsessive compulsives like those crazies who tried to get me into Amway that time, but rather a small family business who are using this way of telling me they like me, and they are willing to spend money on nice stationary to send to me. They are not interested in recruiting me and we have never discussed religion during work. They seemed happy for me that my friend was taking me to the Tattoo Convention for my birthday this year, and they always have a kind word for the person who takes over for me when I go on vacation. This is a small measure of political incorrectness I never thought I would encounter in the business world. I have had many men my equals in this industry look down on me and assume I didn’t know shit and I’ve had many superiors act surprised that I know what I’m doing. I kind of expect that sort of thing in this world, so I was very surprised to see a religious message on an invoice. Usually this is the happy holidays time of year and I myself composed a message to my preferred suppliers focusing mainly on the end of the year and next year coming. This divide in correct holiday decorum is not totally lost on me as my family has a very particular way of spending Christmas. They do it their way and that’s how it is. One family gathers to drink and belittle each other, we join our other family to be judged and ignored (more drinking) and then we do it all over again the next day for the aunt who is in church on Christmas day and only comes to open presents the day after. Since I was nineteen I haven’t bothered with any of it. One year I went to the casino with some friends after seeing Something About Mary at the movies, one year my friends and I made fun of our friend’s new girlfriend, the cocaine snorting stripper at the only open bar in the city. Mostly I stay home with my iguana and some nice wine.
This year was going to be different. My new honey invited me to spend Christmas with his family at their more traditional, nuclear family gathering in Vancouver. Light drinking and only mild abuse. It got cut short when his trip got changed and I would have ended up stranded on the coast all alone with a band of catholic Jamaicans. We decided to spend the holidays apart and see each other in the New Year. Champagne has never sat well on my tongue as I am a die hard whiskey girl; nevertheless, New Years Eve has always been the shining moment of my holiday season. The party hopping is usually the best fun I have all year, as is the decision as to which place to be at for the countdown. There are always last minute changes to the seniority list depending on such variables as “What did you get me this year?” “Did you invite my horrible neighbor to your party?” “Have we even spoken in the last two months?” and others. After moving to this city, my tastes changed again as I simply knew fewer people, many of them default friends by extension of various partners. My dad knows more people here as he is consistently in town for Bear Brunches, Divercite (gay pride) and other special family events. The New Year’s of 2004 found us bar hopping as father and daughter. We truly bonded over glasstops that evening. I live in the village, so we began our journey bypassing the Stud as my kind is not welcome (they actually asked me to leave their terrace once while I was seated with my dad having a beer. Boo!) We were planning to hit several places and end up at Sky when Dad cried out, “oh, just let me run in here and say hi to my friend!” We were in front of the Black Eagle at the time and I had no idea what their permissions were regarding daughters of recently outed middle-aged bears, but it was 20 below, so I ducked inside. He ran straight for the back through a wave of Hellos, but I was not sure whether I was welcome or not. I looked around and saw a few people seeming to enjoy themselves when all of a sudden a titanic, colossus of a man in a leather vest came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I was expecting something along the lines of “flap your cunt elsewhere!” but he invited me in and said it was fine and I should relax. I made friends with a table of Maritime Bears in for the holidays when my dad came back and said, “Alright Julia, you have to meet Rick. He’s met your brother and now he wants to see you in person.” Having a reasonable idea of what to expect in the dungeon of a leather bar, I was mentally swapping boustiers and bras for chaps and codpieces when I came to the back bar to see Rick. He was very thin, wearing only a white rubber bodysuit. A long rope hung down from his neck and was sportingly tied around his cock. I think of it as jaunty even now. He was smiling widely and we got into a discussion about film, his true passion. A few strangers were around and there was a lot of porn on all the various screens in the room. Dad went off to the washroom and Rick lined up some shots. As we continued talking we completely lost track of time. I looked up in one lucid moment and realized we were still in our first bar! And where the hell was Dad? (He claims to this day that he really did need to use the washroom and was not meeting a friend as I insist must be the case) The countdown started and Rick and I toasted a new and prosperous year for each of us. I looked at the porn on the TVs, the shiny, smiling faces, the rubber-clad bartender, the indoor chain link fence and I thought to myself, “Should this be weird? Is it weird that this isn’t weird?”
Dad came back and we went to a few other places after that. We ended up at the Club Sandwich before their vast menu change and after drinking there until about 5, we started back to my house, picked up a stranger on the corner, brought him home, had some drinks and called it a night.
When I told that story at my office the next day, a girl in leasing still dazed from the holiday asked where I was still getting served at 4 in the morning. I asked where she was in this city that she wasn’t getting served at 4am. It was New Year’s Eve! Also, I felt she had missed one or two main points.
My new years since then have been milder and more intimate, though still we gather and make merry in our own way. I don’t know what we would have done if I had been in Vancouver, but a standard countdown to a kiss seemed in my immediate future. I have so many friends this year who are far away and some who stay in on new years for much the same reason I lock the door and go free-range myself at Christmas. I know my boss is staying in with his family, my coworkers have various house parties to go to and my roommate will be up at her cottage with friends. I’ll definitely have a phone call, maybe two seeing as his countdown will be four hours after mine. Then maybe I’ll find someone dressed in a black patent leather pig-suit I can ride around on for a few hours, toast Bettie Page and go home. Or I might just invite my dad up again and see what kind of year it’s been for him.

Monday, December 04, 2006

boring titles abound

Hi Everyone,

The convention is over and the ballots set down. Bob Rae just gave in after round three and started posing for pictures with anyone nearby for no good reason at all. Iggie lost, but I'm keeping my eye on him. He's up to something along the lines of American Manifest Destiny, otherwise why wouldn't he have bothered running somewhere south of Abitibi? Dare some argue with me that Canadian politics is gaining prominence? It is not. But they're running out of land down there, we already took over Hollywood and our water, oil and lumber is currently theirs for the taking.

In the meantime, while the Christian evangelical movement quickly takes over the Conservative Party and droopy-eyed macguffins run rampant on the left, I am left with far worse a fate than I would had Iggie stridden Skyward via Parliament: a boring title. Stephane Dion won the leadership race. Few know much about him besides his environmentalism, making him the perfect candidate for 2008. No-one has ever heard of him or cares in the least what he might stand for. As long as he's not Harper, we're good. The problem is, I need to make fun of these people. I'm far too lazy and critical to bother joining any of these doomed-from-the-beginning pre-ordained races to the anti-climactic finish line, so I'm left with observation and hopefully the odd poignant truth. Hah!

But Stephane is pretty much the same in pronunciation as Steven. This leaves me with nothing until 2008 except Even Steven or Even Stephen, depending on whom I am discussing at the time, likely both. It'll be nearly a year. A whole year of Evenness, mild and forgettable differences, small changes. Again we are under threat of a no-confidence vote. Is anyone else ready for a three-strikes-you're-out rule on Parliament? If I have to go through another election again anytime soon, my drug and psychiatric treatment will single-handedly threaten the immediate future of our country's healthcare system.

I'm not happy with what we've got. I'm hopeful that things will be better soon. I just wish the laundry of ideals I get built up in my own head each time a chance for change comes around would not be repeatedly beaten against the brutally cleansing rock of history.

Stephane Dion is an secular environmentalist, an academic. Despite serving as a cabinet minister for both Cretien and Martin, he remains relatively unknown. Steven Harper is a born-again Kyoto killer, a rube, or so he would like us to think. A Rhodes scholar, he possesses no leadership ability and negative charisma, that is, when surrounded by others of strong personality, rather than being himself amplified, he diminishes all. He too was a relative unknown, and not nearly as publicly zealous as other ministers and politicians vying for the position of leader. He too nabbed his leadership after many many ballots in several conventions, though finally he had to entirely destroy the party he came from in order to lead the new party created in it's wake. Neither are winners. One an academic who teaches, publishes and diplomatically hosts opposing views. One a full-fledged loser, failing miserably over and over again at lauding his own policy. Let us be honest with ourselves, these are our leaders and our fringes, Jack and Gilles can only hope to boost or tame them as befits their mood. For the next year, or perhaps less, then, may you know a minimum of boredom when you repeatedly read my title: Even Stephen.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Iggie’s gone, so faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar

And where has this new apparent rock star come from? Is he a spider from Mars? At the moment we are facing yet another self-congratulating press determined to embolden voters and each other with the unspoken agreement that this is the time to compare another potential liberal leader to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The problem is, they’re nothing alike. The momentum and attention are completely fabricated. I can understand why, the liberal leadership race is both boring and depressing on scales beyond human comprehension. Nevertheless, Iggie’s not the guy and coming at it from the other side won’t work either.

He’s to the right of Harper and most Canadians on the war, and has publicly praised George Bush on the subject. He has also flip-flopped on the issue after a persistent aid slipped under the rope line, got him in a headlock and gently reminded him where he was. The question of Quebec nationalism is simple for him: he doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t respect the history of the question and there are more important things for him to attend to.

Like speeches insisting he can beat Harper in the next election, like public appearances, like photo ops. I guarantee an iggie win will lock the Harper Conservatives for a majority win. It will legitimize their current government and not even make good television doing it.

As I write, the Liberals are on their second ballot, hoping for a consensus, hoping someone will bring coffee and sticky buns. I don’t blame them for wanting to invoke Pierre at this disappointing time, but it won’t work. The stealth war continues with the only public light shining on the ad campaign in BC where the brave and stalwart postal employees refused to distribute hate. The churches are full from Atlantic to Pacific, and oil prices couldn’t be higher. They are fighting the wrong battles with the same tactics known over generations. I imagine early man secretly carving personal symbols onto wood and flat stones and then leaving them at cave entrances to be found in the morning. The liberal party of Canada has no idea how to win a campaign whether they have a leader or not. This will be won by stealth. Harper has had the last two years to legitimize himself, introduce laws and attempt to do.well anything really. He’s sent troops into harm’s way and sold the lumber industry down the river for a new pair of cowboy boots. He’s forgotten every Native agenda on anyone’s table anywhere and Iggie wants to differentiate himself from the merry harper by doing exactly that only more so.

Watch your mailboxes. Look for documents suggesting the Liberal party is well, liberal. Listen for speeches on the importance of values in the same sentence describing military action. We don’t have a rock star, though in the face of our bloated, smug machine, I wish we did. Libbie Iggie, get it together. See? I knew if put to the test we could forget about Bob

Rae.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Suffocation

During the year I hallucinated I wrote to heath Canada about asthma in children. I had been concerned about it for a while and the question that was formulated in my head was, how does repeated suffocation affect the developing mind? As a follow-up, what kind of personality traits can be attributed to such an experience in the long term?

My asthma was very poorly managed as a child. I had many doctors and many visits to the hospital. I didn’t get ventolin until very late in life and I take a lot of steroids. The pump I was taking during middle school was called Intal which to me felt exactly like a placebo. It did absolutely nothing for me at all and I really couldn’t see the point after a while. If I was angry or fighting with my brother he would make sure to run up the stairs where I couldn’t follow because on the middle landing I would just collapse and lie there blowing and gasping. Mum was always terribly helpful and compassionate by taking my medicine away and then laughing from the upstairs landing. At least I could count on dad to do nothing whatsoever. I’m describing a bad day, they weren’t all like that and Alex and I are very close now. I just remember having these bad dreams and talking in my sleep which are symptoms of sleep apnea. This is something that happens when you are unable to breathe while you sleep.

The school I was in was a trap of types. Where my teachers seemed to come over all surprised that I couldn’t concentrate when I was fighting to breathe most of the time. I didn’t generally get along with anybody and I tended to second guess myself a lot. I felt the high school I went to was a better place simply because it was so far removed from what any of the other kids were doing in the school I came from. Then the main administrator took sides with my mother against me and I was pretty much finished with that. The year after I dropped out of my art program dad actually tried to be a parent for the first time in years. It was pretty sad.

My main concern at the time was that since asthma is one of the most common diseases in people my age, and people my age are very stressed and anxious lately. Depression and anxiety are running rampant in people my age, who mostly have asthma. But when we were young, asthma wasn’t treated the way that it is now, not that anyone is looking for a cure. And I just consider that maybe, just maybe, repeatedly suffocating a child will cause symptoms of depression and anxiety later in life. You know, a tendency to panic and get the jitters? The drugs used to treat asthma are great too. They feel like you’ve taken speed. The steroids are mood enhancers, so if you need to go off them, take it from someone who knows, taper off. If you just stop them one day, you will consider suicide more seriously than you ever have thus far. I know you think you have, that was just a moment of despair between drinks. Going off of cortical steroids will bring you to consider such things as, if you want to use pills, take gravol first so your body doesn’t throw up the drugs involuntarily. You consider how much liquor is in the house that you can chase down after a bottle of pills. After losing that important ritual of snorting those things every day, if a fuse goes out in your house you’ll just sit there in the dark going ah, what the hell. I can’t be bothered.

So taper off the drugs if you happen to need to. My shrink sent me to a respirologist so that I could find a different drug to take that wouldn’t affect my mood so much. The guy gave me something that I swear was even better than the speed I bought at Club Soda from a friend of my ex-boyfriend’s during an electronic\industrial music show. I must say however, that purchase was a little more light hearted. And I would go back to buying drugs in that way if the boyfriend I was with at the time wasn’t one of the reasons I ended up at the shrink’s office. So now that’s out.

Health Canada did in fact write back to me to say that in fact no-one had ever looked into the long-term psychological effects of repeated suffocation on the human psyche. Well, thanks for letting me know. Is anyone going to bother now that I’ve brought it up? We have socialized health care in this country. If there’s an impending burden coming, such as thousands of people with unmanaged asthma who need psychiatric care because they choked and suffocated so much during their lives, I think it’s worthwhile to at least crunch some numbers. No-one is looking into the relation between asthma and long-term stress and how stress is managed and certainly, my doctor who prescribed me the steroids did not even mention the correlation between steroids and mood swings. Being as there is a lot of mental illness in my family, I figured that it would be at least worthwhile to look into that. You know, maybe I’m, uh, high risk?

When I tried to find a psychiatrist that was a fucking nightmare. You need to have a referral to see one, so if you don’t have a family doctor, like me, it becomes a little difficult. You see I don’t enjoy going to doctors, and I haven’t found a lot of them that I trust, so I tend to stay away. I went to a clinic near where I live. I was told to leave and come back three times at that place because the doctor came in later than expected. Finally I went home and called ahead before I went back to make sure someone was actually there. Normally that sort of thing would bring up a type of warning sign for me, but unfortunately I was hallucinating, so I wasn’t paying very close attention. I get there and I’m trying to keep calm, but not succeeding, and I tell the doctor what my symptoms are. He gives me five names, all of them are within my area of the city. He also prescribes anti-depressants for me to take. He had known me for 10 minutes. He did not know my family history, he did not take any blood tests. He had no idea what effect these drugs would have on me. He just did that because one of my symptoms was trouble sleeping and he thought it would get me off to la la land. I did not fill that prescription, but I did call all of the names on the list. None of them were able to take patients except one, who had a waiting list 3 months long. If I was to actually get discouraged enough at that point to just give in which is I’m sure what the reason is for this situation, but the part of me that actually asked for help is extremely stubborn, so I didn’t down a bunch of pills and whiskey, I instead called the one hospital in the city that is always taking new patients in all areas. I explained the problem to them, I told them I was having trouble getting a referral, so they told me exactly how to get one. Their walk-in clinic has an affiliation with another clinic outside of the hospital and I could get one there. So I did, and ended up finally with my referral. But only after explaining what was going on to yet another stranger.

It was a rough year. Chronologically, my boyfriend left for higher pursuits, (ass kicking to come), worst asthma attack in years which triggered 3 week long panic, hallucinations begin, can’t go back to work, can’t find doctor, more panic, find doctor, new job, hallucinations end, Christmas, iguana dies, get robbed, here I am.

I also wrote to a doctor who had written a book about the nature of bi-polar disorder. He was far more supportive than most of the people I met during this period.

The respirologist in charge of the sleep clinic at the second hospital I went to told me to have a breath test. I did it and it was possibly the most pornographic thing I have ever done. And I’ve done one or two things in my time.

I got to the hospital on the day of the test and I went up to where the lab is where I had to wait. I waited and finally went in when the techs came in and I saw them go in the very same door I went in but no-one called me. It was either that or wait around. I took a test that seemed normal, breathe into this tube so that we can measure your lung capacity yada yada yada, but then I was shown this glass box. And the lab tech said to me, get in the box. And I asked why and he said so that they could measure my breath when they cut of the oxygen. Cut off the oxygen. For someone like me with asthma and a few panic issues, I’m not sure this is the best way to go about treating me. So I look at the guy and he’s totally serious. He asked if I was nervous and I said yes, so he said we could do the test with the door open. So why do I need to be in the box at all if you can do it with the door open? So I get in and the door is open and that doesn’t help at all cause I’m still in this glass box. And I have to blow on this tube and he has me panting and blowing like a porn star. It’s a weird fucking test. I have to really really pant like a dog and then keep doing it when they cut the oxygen off. It was all highly unpleasant and I had the weird feeling that it was all some kind of bizarre joke.

There was really no need for me to do that. I just did what the guy said because it was easier than arguing. He was a lab technician, and he had no way of truly evaluating if this was going to do me any good or not. He was a lab technician. But I went along with it because apparently this test I took would help to truly decide how sick I am and whether or not I would be able to totally recover. I wasn’t even there for my breathing per se. It’s just the fact that my shrink sent me there in order to rule out any physical reasons that may have precipitated the hallucinations. We have a tendency not to question doctors because they have a title, but I see them pretty much like most people. They are people who have an education and they get to make educated guesses based on that education. They’re people with their own opinions and prejudices as anyone and after 10 years in medical school, you easily become a type of mechanic. After that point you totally forget that you’re dealing with a person who has a way of life that is being disrupted by illness that you need to treat. The treatment in and of itself can be intrusive to their way of life, but you don’t know. You’re a car to them. A rattle under the hood. Their trespass is assumption and the almost total shock when something new presents itself for examination and just possibly, to heal.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This is not America

Speak for yourself...

Howard Dean will give the keynote address at the next Liberal convention where a leader will be chosen. My previous predictions aside, it will be Bob Rae, the only man on earth more forgettable than John Manley, my pick last season. And in this party beset by squabbling, dependence on the mainstream media, poor use of intelligence and no leadership whatsoever, is it any surprise that they are looking to take advice from the only man who more publicly screwed himself out of a leadership nomination? Pick some winners guys, it’s getting embarrassing.

The Conservative Party did exactly the same thing when they allowed Stevie the monstrous luxury of steering Ottawa westward through the plains. He had never won anything he had ever set out to do. In political parties and in lobby groups he had failed consistently over and over. He managed to divide the vote in his own favour just enough not to gain any particular support, make allies or convince us he was a good choice, none of that. He made enough of us spiteful (and rightly so) towards our leader at the time who by the way, had no concept of how to win himself, that we chose him as a “viable alternative”. Martin, a true example of how to sit on your laurels, never once came on the offensive, never once reminded the country of our ridiculous, insane, exorbitant surpluses, never once reached out to Quebec, he simply perched there like a toad confused by new building developments near its home.

Enter Jack Layton who had the chance to get a few things on the table, came completely sideways towards getting anyone behind him on anything, and Duceppe who spoke eloquently, passionately, had a coherent message and didn’t back down. Those two undermined themselves, Layton on mandatory minimums, Duceppe on Quebec as a nation.

We lack leadership. Our government is currently run from a winning, yet minority party. They need to make allies, they need to work together with other parties, and they need to convince those who oppose them that their ideas are good. What we get rather than that sadly, is posturing, name-calling and dunderheaded idiocy masked as “getting things done”. Funding for the arts are cut, funding for the women’s lobby is cut, and for three weeks straight I was forced to ponder the Mackay-Rice Question.

Cheney visited Alberta a few years ago which had me screaming at the top of my lungs because he went straight to the premier, Ralph Klein and did not meet once with the Prime Minister. My head came off again this year when Steven Harper visited George W. Bush for his birthday bearing gifts of lovely shiny things. Harper has been taking cues from the under-the-radar, seemingly grassroots tactics of the GOP in the states. Word gets out for rallies via email forwards and direct mail. Huge groups of people gather and reporters scratch their heads wondering how they didn’t know about it sooner. These are usually religious groups who mix politics with the afterlife and tend to treat their own country’s policies with the same dogmatism they treat their spiritual lives. That’s how the Conservatives got so strong in Catholic Quebec without anyone figuring it out. And all the while the pollsters stand staring, saying they couldn’t possibly have seen it coming.

The Liberal Party appears to be trying something similar. The only thing, well, okay. There’s no nice way to put this: Pick someone who can win. The record of your mentors will speak volumes for the quality of advice they can offer. Stevie, are you there? This is for you too. The United States of America is not a democracy; it is a republic. They have massive divisions in a much smaller space, a much bloodier history and a vastly higher population. We in Canada don’t live in a democracy either; we are a constitutional monarchy. We may not take any appreciable cues from the British Royal family now, but our parliamentary system, its rules and regulations, its functions and properties, our principles of self-government in fact are based on management of a state on behalf of an absent leader. The Prime Minister is literally meant to manage the affairs of the country as needed, taking the occasional advice from the governor general who reports to the queen. We have far larger provinces, huge amounts of elbow-room, and a much smaller population in comparison to our next door neighbor. I don’t think based on these differences that it is unreasonable to expect elections to be run differently in our two spaces. We have a long history of doing uncomfortable things that shaped who we are. We have also a long history of addressing our own sovereignty. Our automatic deployment in WWI at the behest of England divided Quebec against the rest of the Anglophone country at the time, and set the stage for further divisions and ignorance for many years to come. Trudeau’s refusal to send troops to Vietnam made him extremely unlikable by our neighbor. We developed the CRTC with the mandate specifically to ensure that there is some Canadian content in the media we use to communicate to each other, we held two referendums on Quebec and chose by close margins to remain a country.

This is not America. We are Canadians and we expect if I may, something better. We deserve real information and not hate ads. We deserve real leadership and not headscratchers asking “how did that happen?” We deserve leadership. In the last few years, our citizens have been deported by another country as they tried to come home and our leaders and their hired help did nothing. Our activists have been placed in the custody of the DEA while committing no crime in our country. We have refused time and again to address any national interests held by First Nations, and finally the softwood lumber question has been answered by a duplicit fire-starter.

Liberals, for the love of God, reach back to your roots. Remember what made Jean-Chr├ętien fun. Remember how unlikable Trudeau was even here for quite some time. Remember the budget surpluses and for god’s sake remember that Howard Dean is going to offer only enough advice to ensure Steven gets a majority next time. Conservatives, you must find a leader who is more, well, Canadian. A flapjack flipper Stevie may be, but who in their right mind would cave on softwood at a time when we were winning, cut the GST and then claim to be fiscally responsible? He may compare his party to that of Paul Martins and sneer, but he must live with the knowledge that despite all the scandals, despite the misuse of funds, above and beyond all that, our country was rich and safe and free.

Jack and Gilles, climb up Parliament Hill. Do you remember what happens next? Stop it stop it stop it stop it, or we’ll all come tumbling down behind you. Get the schmooze back on, dust off your mojos. Start convincing other parties and provincial premiers that accepting these actions at face value is not an option. If I had to go through a no-confidence vote about tiny flags and golf balls because of Harper, you can bet that given a good reason like our Constitution, our sovereignty, our health-care or our fucking lumber, I’ll happily skip to the polls and again tell Harper what I think of him via ballot.

We have an obligation to run our own country well and by our own standards. Shying from the ideas of others is certainly not what we are about, nevertheless we must take whatever care we can to find our own way, our own values and yes, our own keynote speakers.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

why direct mail doesn't work so well up north

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2006/10/27/bc-davies-hate-mail.html

It doesn’t get better than this. I do not possess enough eloquence to lend anything substantial to this protest. I am so proud of these workers. There is no more I can say than Good On You. Don’t stop.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

another lil peekie

I'm happy with this bit, so up it goes...

My Nation’s Capital:

My life as a citizen was in the capital of the country. It is a place of indecision, of covenants and trades. It is a place of giving up what you are for where you need to be. The only industry is the government and those who do business with it. It is a place of giving up, a crash site rather than a launch pad. There is heritage, but it can be described as one giant suburb without a centre. It lacks the mass of a nucleus and is forever perfect, but lacking something essential.

For me it is the place of my little brother’s breakdown and subsequent redemption. It is the place of facemasks and small breaths. It is a place of secrets and ignored deceit. It is a place where no-one notices you and everyone notices, fascinated by elements of themselves. It is a place of conceit and self-importance. I was the only mermaid alive in that city and even the people who probed me so thoroughly with cocks and tongues never noticed the dorsal fins and thrashing tail.

I had relinquished my citizenship early. I felt steeped in entropic pain. Pointlessness and easy fear. I had avoided fishermen’s nets ever since I started drinking tea from small bags of trapped herbs. I wasn’t going to end up like them, and sometimes it came too close for demure refusal. There were too many. It was too much. A populace city with expectations and certain needs all of their own. There were plenty of men and there was family too. I always wondered why they were asking about men, humans. Wasn’t it obvious? I am certainly a remarkable creature, but let’s be logical. I lay eggs and there are few men who will tolerate a better half without a bottom half. It wasn’t meant to be. My species is such that wants joy and clear comfort. A round hook in the cheek and a long white dress would scratch and dry me out like late night pizza anchovies.

I had been a fish out of water since shortly after I squiggled out of the rip they made in my mother. She never quite knew what to do with me, and the other was overwhelmed. Happy, but unsure and ultimately focused on more immediate, personal problems. The next was the blonde one, and then they sewed up that dimension for good. Like all merpeople, we emerged ready and needed little training for the salmon run ahead. I envied his breath and wondered how he got people in this self-centred, fascinated city to pay attention to him so effortlessly. I too seemed to have a spotlight on me, but I was jealous of it and would never go gracefully into the shadows.

There were tunnels at that time. Mind tunnels I suppose your kind would call them. I found myself in familiar places, staring forward, not moving, not really thinking, on automatic. Someone shouts at me or shakes me or touches my shoulder and gently asks if I’m alright. Mostly I say I don’t know. There are times when faced with a decision I can’t cope with, there are tears and condescending smiles. There are humiliating doctors appointments. Nothing seems to be wrong. I can’t breathe, but I’ve never been able to do that really. Gills will probably come with womanhood. Like all other mermaids, there is a school rather than family, and no real need for intimacy. Warmth is dangerous in freshwater with leeches everywhere, but one single mermaid can turn a pond into a turkish bath when angered.

Where were the others? I know I know them, but I can’t remember where they are supposed to be. I’m not the only urban mermaid, but where are my memories? And who are the others anyway? How was it such a secret? Well, you’re talking to the girl who couldn’t do trigonometry to save the life of a loved one, but who could see the angles and depth of a desk and was thusly able to masturbate in the middle of class almost every day that year since the teacher stood higher than we sat. It was odd to me though, that more curious, though narrowminded peers never saw my fins.

It amazed me everytime I drove that I had something to push the pedals with. Seatbelts were always a problem for me, as was most confinement. I wobbled most when I came home drunk thinking, ‘this is how it must be to walk on a tail’

I was escaping since it began. First Jill, her cramped bowl of poison that I nearly killed her to get out of. Then I needed to get out of my ugly snowpants. Then the house, too often shouts and accusations. Many times confusing and mostly in her grip. Visitors while we were downstairs. Cars I didn’t want to get into and places I didn’t want to visit. I wanted to save him, but he was so far beyond even wanting help, it was a ditch behind a reef to even see him. Between the two of them, we drew a map of the city on the backs of our suitcases. My buspass never showed dorsal fins or gills and unsteadiness standing on a city bus is to be expected. I got away from both of them. Her first into his lobster trap. She cried and I was free of her whims and covenants. It was the best feeling. The most freedom from I had had in my life. It never occurred to me to look for freedom to.

There were always those who needed my insides and couldn’t find my configuration. Some were fascinating, but mostly it was loose curiosity. How do you fuck a mermaid anyway? Is there anything you need to push out of the way? Do you buy them a drink beforehand? I personally appreciate it, but it’s mostly just for show. And good luck guessing what an urban mermaid will want in her glass.

More than once I have been in this mental position. How did I get here? You get asked sometimes what choices you made that got you into the place or position you are currently in. It never felt like a choice to me. It was small trapped corners the whole way to this dead end. I look back and I can see the forks and branches now, but ahead of me was always a straight line into a 90 degree game over.

He had left and plucked my scales like petals to count out a juvenile question. We had been in a bar and I had tried to keep my cool. It was an interview to keep me. I couldn’t help but ask stupid questions, poorly worded as well. “Did you consider me for that choice?”. I couldn’t help but point out obvious and stupid realities. “We’ve been together for six months, and it’s been pretty good.” He reassured me that I was her type and I would receive a phone call if they ever decided on a threesome. How insulting, and how brimmed I was with self-loathing to still want him after he wiped my chest with a red stain and washed his hands of me.

There were questions then. What do I do? Who do I do it with? Does this girl really deserve to live? Do I have the energy to ruin her? This was the roadsign as I passed him, so impervious to my pain. No Way Out.

There was no reason to have had hope at that time. I saw only dead ends of each stubby, similar road. I was trapped at a crossroad, again with those fuckers. The corner of Laurier and It All Ends Here. My nation’s capital had exhausted my patience and I wanted nothing more than to curl my tail around the edge of a serrated knife and be done with it. I should have seen him coming at that time. There was no better place for him to lay the groundwork of his swamp in my memory. I never saw it for what it was. I was blind, arrogant, compulsive, narrow-minded and that most suicidal of all traits in a mermaid, shallow. It was the worst, most immediate choice I ever saw. My future lay ahead like perfect diamond cut clockwork in a reasonable home with a reasonable man. A reasonable job while I’m young and then as if by consensus of peers and particulars, a child. I knew that was death by asphyxiation, and no good ever comes of being what’s settled at the bottom of the pond. I sat right there on the warm cement, stretched my teeth, grabbed one fin in each hand and ripped as hard as I could. Screaming I tore at the fatty, dense flesh and used the muscles in it to pull the two halves apart harder. I heard the wet entropic sound of meat on the pavement. My bottom half was shaking uncontrollably as I tried to flex what was a tail into heels and thighs. I had no idea what a knee was supposed to do, and it gave me vertigo to turn on my flippers, push myself up and stand. My head was spinning, my sinuses were dry and bleeding from the unfamiliar air. I gripped the street post with shaking, sweaty hands and inched up. I fell against it several times as my thin fins slipped on the bloody ground. I slapped the bottoms of each half on the sidewalk and wobbled. I vaguely wondered how much more I would bleed. Forcing scales suddenly too dry and thin cartilege to hold me upright, I saw it all coming. One step and tears and pain. A second. Small mewling sounds I could hear out loud. My jaws met and I stepped again and again. Loping and swaying as exposed skeletal cartilage dried and began to harden. Momentum. Escape. Another slapping sound. More tears, more steps. Faster. Slap, stamp, stumble, slapping swaying, further and more. From that road sign saying No Way Out, I ran.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Finally

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061021.wbloc21/BNStory/National/home

That’s what I’m talking about. This is the reason I decided to vote for Duceppe in the first place. He is in his element, proclaiming sovereignty not only for the province, but also from the current leadership in the House of Commons. He has successfully gone on the offensive against the Merry Harpers and at once he has divided the Liberal party on a contentious issue at a time in which they don’t even have a party leader. I was looking forward to this kind of grandstanding from my favourite troublemaker, but I wonder if one piece of the pie is missing, or currently part of a top-secret strategy that will only become apparent in coming months.

The Harper Conservatives are now and have always attempted to win over not only the voting perspective, but the hearts and minds of their constituents as well. This hasn’t worked well for them until now, and now was the perfect time. The Liberals were on the saddest chicken run I have ever seen in my lifetime and Harper knew that the only way to get that many people to even consider the conservative platform was to hammer away at the Liberals publicly over and over and over. Privately, something very different happened. In the small congregations and religious gatherings across Canada, the conservatives went on a door knocking, direct-mailing frenzy and goddamit they gathered the people. For anyone, myself included, watching media coverage of the election, it didn’t seem even remotely possible that Harper could gain control of the country. The only hint I got was from the bizarre and often contradictory polling that showed him pulling ahead regularly. The problem with that, at least from my standpoint, was that the people doing the polling were asking questions comparing Harper to Martin rather than asking about Harper’s leadership per se. Remember kids: he’s led nothing! He won nothing before this election and my firm belief at the time was that they would make a good run for it, show the Liberals (who I had pegged to win with a minority) they needed to shape up and Harper himself would be re-schooled in the first lesson of electoral politics: you need to win to play. Sadly this did not come to pass. The Conservatives won in a ridiculous guard change that left me baffled and more uneasy than I have been in many years. The thing that didn’t sit well with me was the amount of seats won in Quebec. This made no sense to me given the Quebec voters history of going with either the person from Quebec or the person from the Party of Quebec. The Bloc has always been wildly powerful here and it truly made me wonder where the conservative vote came from out here. They won seats that the Bloc had been counting on. They are fixtures here and it left my head spinning. Not only could I not see the Quebec voters turning against the Bloc to such a degree, but Harper? No-one please try to tell me he’s “reaching out to Quebecers”, so why would so many of its constituents turn Harpward?

We are a province of Catholics and with the current trend of Conservatives to collaborate with religious groups is where we find the seed. To see where this has worked many times before, you have only to look south at the Roving-Bush-Cheyne. This strategy worked well over and over at a time in which the media coverage of various public speeches, events and party platforms seemed to show both candidates in a sheepish and non-sensical light. The difference though, is that at the grassroots, under the radar, churches and congregations everywhere were hearing the message directly. The internet as well was used to pass around dubious accusations via spam mail that would never be checked, simply passed on. They went further than we have to as our people are used to a different kind of election. There are still high profile new stories about how vicious the recent attack ads have become. We expect a certain level of leadership from all parties, and that includes being able to disagree professionally, without going down ugly roads. This time the ads were vicious, but while we were arguing about the low standards currently used by the major parties, they were in small churches and people’s living rooms. They went low for this deal, way under the mark, and the only way to get Quebec voters to turn conservative after so long was to get into the Catholic heart and mind and set the corkscrew in motion from there. They needed to know there was a candidate interested in Quebec affairs, and the only way to convince dyed-in-the-wool Quebecers that Harper was that candidate rather than Duceppe was to appeal to that sense of ineffable belief. Bring me to Ottawa, and I will lead you home. There hasn’t been an attack like this for decades, and that was the Catholic lobby themselves warning the country against Trudeau. There hasn’t been any need until recently for religion to enter into the political atmosphere. Until lately, our Liberals were atheistic-ineffectual whiners with sad, almost delusional commitment to such laughable issues as Sovereignty, Economic Growth, International Relations and Social Programs. The Conservatives were economic, we all agreed that Health Care and Education were things that need to be paid for and the disagreement tended to come from how to go about doing that. The Reform party and the Alliance were the fringe crazies with witless, though hilarious, posturing on the platform of “I hate you”. This is a new ball game up here. There is a genuine concern over those who are in power if they base decisions on their own religious beliefs. Galvanizing the base via religious gatherings is, I feel, a reasonable place to start. Those Christians for example, who believe in the End of Days and that the time is soon coming for it are less likely to give any credence to the need to curtail greenhouse gases and global warming. They are less likely to take a diplomatic and diffusatory position in the Middle East crisis, preferring to allow the space “to be prepared for the coming messiah”. There is a reasonable doubt in leadership of people who believe these things and more over, who believe that these credences should form public policy. Will Layton be able to stand up to that kind of irrational belief? Will he be able to convince the current company that he is a working-man’s working man? Of course not. Not if the Catholic churches remind everyone in their congregation Sunday after Sunday that there is merit to considering the life after rather than this one. Will Iggie sink to the same level and try to play the game of Rove? Of course he will. He can be almost the same leader as Harper with only slightly more charisma, and a party affiliation that at least has more fun on the weekends. If he wins the leadership, there won’t be a difference between the Liberal and Conservative Party and attempting to choose one or the other will result only in a dilemma equal to that of a poorly written sit-com.

Gilles, get your ass out there! Don’t leave us hanging with no-one to scream, no-one to set a hard line, no-one to remind us that we have to do something here on earth, in this life. You and I have not agreed on several tacs you have taken thus far, but I like what I hear today. You are one of the last few who can and will take a hard line, but you need to address your constituents. It is two years now since the election happened and don’t think there haven’t been events and gatherings since then. The next election could cost you even more unless you reach back inside and take back the base into the fold. I don’t agree with separation. I am a Nationalist who voted for you because I want Harper to have the hardest possible time doing anything in this country. I want every initiative he presents to be met with extreme suspicion, criticism and counter initiatives. I want someone to make appealing the idea of standing up in the House of Commons to him. I want him to dread the prospect of over-turning the gay marriage law, I want him shaking in his boots at the idea of involving ourselves any further in a nonsensical war in the middle east, I want him grappling with bladder control at the very thought of even the most minor adjustment to our Healthcare system. You are one of the few. No allies and a party dissimilar to any other in this country gives you the independence to make this thing work, but you have to get back your people, and give the conservatives not a hope of getting one more seat on the grounds that the next life will be better with them in charge of this one. I’m counting on you Gilles. Bloc them.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Near Misses

Small teeth on a burning bush

South Korea has shown its teeth in a calm attempt to rattle our dentures. They claim their wants are ends to proliferation, but not via the ongoing Beijing talks that they have boycotted up to now and more than likely beyond. There is a good chance it has something to do with improper table settings; nevertheless, the demand has been made. This is nonsense at it’s finest, not only due to the behaviour of L’il Kim and his henchmen, but the Domestic South-Western Burning Bush, who immediately went on a public rampage: Intolerable. Immoral. Dangerous. Our Merry Harper calls it Irresponsible, a subject on which he can speak with great authority. The world has threatened sanctions and talks have begun at the U.N. without so much as an attempt at confirmation that a true nuclear test has taken place. Iran looks on smirking, oh so little is left to do.

Next week the new Hot-Air Act will be announced as the cornerstone of the Tory “green” agenda. They will postpone a year for any substance in the act using the time to consult with industry and the provinces. Take heart citizens; this will in no way end the 1.4 billion dollar subsidies currently enjoyed on the Canadian Oil Index, nor will we treat Kyoto with anything less than xenophobic hostility in coming years. Don’t imagine either any talk of a referendum or open-air discussion on the subject of “the air we all breathe”. This is something best left to the experts, those just cynical enough to claim that the legislation put forth by them (rather than enforcing that legislation already implemented) in consult with industries and provincial governments benefiting from pollution is a “holistic approach” to lawmaking.

I pondered these topics as I walked along Queen Mary today; I approached the Metro lost in thought. I crossed at the lights, looked to my right and found no traffic coming the other way and crossed there too. I didn’t realize anything might be amiss until the woman shouting “madame, madame!” at me came over to berate me for crossing the street against no traffic. I was sure she was a fussy crossing guard until I looked closely at her sleeve and realized she was a police officer. Dazed I answered her questions as she told me I wasn’t allowed to cross against the light. Yes I said, I just looked and saw there were no cars, so I decided to go. As she took my information and began a ticket nomenclature, another woman came up to both of us. Apparently she and her son has almost been hit by a car turning far too fast onto the cross street, but in the excitement of me nearly crossing the street without incident save for a crazed maniac yelling at me to stop for my own good in the middle of an intersection, we missed the show. The cop said “that’s what we’re here for.” And the woman got mad. She pointed out that it seemed imbalanced that the cop would take time to yell at me for safely crossing the street and fail to observe her and her child nearly being run down on their way home. I think she wanted some kind of acknowledgment, but the cop stuck to her guns and wrote me a ticket for 37$, 10 dollars of which is noted as Contribution for something or other. I’m not just looking for traffic lights when I cross the streets anymore; I’m looking for police officers with far too much time on their hands.

And so we are threatened. Watch the automated signals only; leave no room for good judgement or decision. It is not about safety or correctness, but willpower and money. The city demands compensation when its agents observe a trespass. North Korea executes an attention-getting test and demands a seat at a table to which they have been invited and are currently shunning. I am on my way home now, on a train I would have taken from work at around this time. Normally no-one braces their foot against my right cheek to tie their shoes, but then, it is exemplary today. I am not accustomed to tickets for safely crossing the street, L’il Kim using our media as a teething ring, or a Tory green plan. I am heartened however by the usual role crazy cop, the natural belligerence of junior bushman and indeed our milder echo is familiar. These are all too natural threats and suspicions; we live day to day with them like dogs on leashes. Simply now, we must neither starve them nor let them loose. For they will devour us leaving only the small bones of our hope behind.

Confirmation

Hi Angie, it's me.

Last night we were mostly alone, a small crowd of mutual friends saying goodbye to Alan who is going away most likely forever. It wasn't a large public affair, and after we left together and slept. Finally and only once I got to see the House Band perform together, Alan on guitar, Anna on upright base, Denis on drums and Ben on his sax. Their friends and in fact they themselves have welcomed me, and there were nods of recognition when I showed. Yes Angie, these are good people.

We slept almost immediately when we got home, it was chilly and he asked how Clark is and if he would be alright without me for a night. I am a little concerned as he slept behind my air-conditioner instead of up in his terrarium, and I said so. This means that probably he will end up not underneath his lamp this morning like he should, but he is close to his full and plentiful food dish. I slid under the blankets and cuddled up and then moved over as he fell asleep almost immediately and began to snore like an odd, unrythmic metronome. There was no discerning what would come from the inhale to the exhale, all was loud, punctuated by monstrous gargling and snorting sounds. The screensaver was still on for what seemed like forever. I lay there in the dark room, finally moving a pillow in front of my face to block the glare of the too-bright beach scenes until the computer finally went to sleep. It was this same pillow I later put over my face in the hope of blocking some of the sound, but alas, there was no relief there. I turned over and ran my hand along his chest and down the side of his face in the vague hope that by simply my love alone, I could cure his sinus obstruction with my touch. I was wrong, and I heard him when he woke up ever so slightly and tried to snuggle next to me. His hands reached for my face and found the pillow on top of it. He turned over and tried to sleep again, but quietly. Yes Angie, these are good people.

This morning I did my best not to wake him or anyone, but Alan was packing up his car, and Denis had left to teach a class early. For once we were the last ones up, possibly for the only time in this relationship. I mooched into the kitchen after wake up snuggles and Anna realized I was not at work today. "I'm on vacation this week" I told her, and she made a separate portion of eggs and bacon for me. I sat down and poured some orange juice for Alan's last breakfast here. Yes Angie, these are good people. He even got me ketchup because he knows how much I like it on my eggs in the morning. There was coffee as well and small words suitable for early morning consumption.

I offered to do the dishes as I am at times a thoughtful guest. There is olive oil labeled aurora on the windowsill above the sink. There is green dishsoap and a man in red coming to tell me I don't have to do that and to stop: no-one expects me to clean for them.

It has been just over a month now and they are still the same with me. They are inquisitive, but there is a warmth to their curiosity that precludes a dissection of the more usual kind. They are trusting and, I feel, trustworthy. This is a new place for me and it is still difficult to sit back and relax. I don't really understand how this is possible without falling footwear and a snicker when the rug gets yanked. I am learning about simple gratitude and that not everything can be repaid. There are times when it rains and you're eating dimsum or turkey as an unnamed guest of an invitee when the only thing you can say is Thank you and wonder if you will see these same people again. I am learning about accepting good things. I am learning how to receive. I am learning how to say Thank you and leave it there.

I am still frightened and it has not been long. There surely will be some strangeness or complication, most likely by my own design. It has turned into fall and even the nice days are cold, though bright. I wonder what can happen at any given moment. I wonder where this encouragement comes from; why he seems so interested in my success and happiness. These are still mysteries to me and the only answer I can currently confirm is that he seems happy when I am happy. It is hard for me to leave it at that, but I am learning. I miss you and I wonder where you are in that most vicious of our cities. I wonder what it is like there now that Jane is gone from us. I wonder how much longer it will be before thinking about you and him won't bring unbidden salty tributaries. Unbidden and unfair, but that is for another time. I will see you in 30 hours. I will for the first time since April put my arms around you and exhale. I know for now you are in a place where the financial is the most important and therefore more easily focused on as you currently need to be. I know that soon you will return here to your birthplace, my chosen home, and begin a more intimate calibration of priority: a life itself. I love you, and until you are back with me where we can sit on terraces and yell, until we can confirm certainties from cardinal points in this town, until there is home for both of us here on the mountainside, near the water, I want you to know I am here with them. I am in good hands and not quite so pointlessly alone.

The work begins now in a safe place. There is music coming from the basement, and a sense of concern. There is commitment and orange juice when necessary. There is life here and strangely enough, there seems to be hope. I am beginning to think I will not end up like our lost friend, I will not end up like my parents or those ogres I have left lost in the desert. Make no mistake, though it is early, he is saving my life.

Yes Angie, these are good people.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunday Succor

Displace setting

Where do I start is for today a reasonable question. I got bogged down before I could fully address the soft-wouldn’t of several weeks ago that only our floppiest political party is bothering to mention. In coming days my open letter to my current MP, Gilles Duceppe. The scales tip once again and now I worry that too broad an anger may be unhealthy.

We begin with an immigration judge so hard up and desperate as to threaten the status of a South Korean woman if she did not have an affair with him. Her iron-stomached boyfriend videotaped an encounter she had with this man and sent it along to the Canadian Immigration Board. More to come, but for now he will hear no more pleas (for the time being) and his status is under review. Did anyone check that molestache he’s sporting? She should have caught on that this guy was out of line when she noticed the man in charge of whether or not she becomes a citizen has a Tom Seleck fetish. What else can be expected really? An immigration judge should not truly have any need to feel any purpose for what they do besides get what they can and then get the hell out. It means nothing to add to our great nation those who seek to live here for betterment or self-actualization. Who are we to fail to educate newcomers to North America in the true ways and means of our being? The fact that it made the news was grist for the mill, surely, for those who oppose open borders and favour more stringent landing policies. Make these people want to be Canadians, and then see how far they will go.

And for our own citizens? Those who already here and thriving, subject to our laws and umbrellad under our inalienable rights and freedoms? What do we make of another Edmonton woman’s pleas for privacy while miscarrying in a crowded emergency waiting room? As an example to all other provinces, their wedding-cake health system melting like so many delicate layers left too long in the sun leave questions of basic comprehension as well as compassion. In a province that has shown surpluses since before the tar pits spat back their prehistoric charges into neckties and cufflinks, can a moderate budget for sympathy be etched out in the operational expenses? This request has been made before in the same city when 8 years ago another woman begged for a simple closed door and got 40 pairs of eyes instead.

Peter MacKay’s love life is again in the public eye for reasons passing all rational understanding. My only hope is that in light of Murphy’s Law, Condie will cross the floor of the U.N. in a spectacular political strike set at the yet-unannounced Prime Minister for Britain, set to take Tony Blair’s place at some future point. I would like to tell you I’m picturing spiked heels and a sultry walk, but I just don’t think Pete’s got the ankles for them.

Funding is being cut immediately for any women’s activity not directly involved with cooking and sewing at the national level. Trudeau-Era funding enjoyed by advocacy groups that lobby for children, the status of women, Muslim women, les Femmes du Belle Province etc. must now fail entirely to lobby, activate or speak publicly. It is hard to abide by my doctor’s insistence that I not harm myself in light of such announcements.

A bloody woman begs on her knees, a tiny immigrant is coerced into her newfound home, this still better than what she has left; a lonely, frightened man in robes steals a freedom with no sense of his purpose, reason or accountability. The newest chief of staff to the minister for the environment could drown any of us in his homophobic, bilious ramblings. We near the end of year two and no Native has been lifted from crushing squalor to which they have been relegated for centuries. No meetings have been taken; no mention at all has been made. A man walks into a college and opens fire; he has no affiliations or particular hatreds. In response the main item on our list is conveniently the same issue that unified all four rich, white, male electoral candidates around one tiny campfire in the last election. Women nationwide are muzzled at the vicious butt of a well-greased dollar coin. These are merely symptoms. When we see uncaring leadership, direction without consequence, such violence becomes commonplace rather than the naked fringe.

This is a land without a leader but instead a secretive, compulsive, power-hungry mongrel with intentions more diabolical than his strategies. This is a country without a father. A person in charge to be sure, but who cares nothing for its principles, ideals or basic nature. A man with no respect for a character. He sees this place as simply the surface: a resource, a land. In cynical deference to an intolerant crowd of fanatical ideologues with no sense of urgency or long-term commitment, since their conviction in their own immunity to judgment allows them to wryly anticipate the destruction of all those around them who disagree, he steers us towards the Temple Mount and disavows our history, values and basic personality.

Though tempestuous, we are a soulful people. We tend to trumpet our distinctions from one-another, but there are fundamental principles on which we mostly agree. We seek at the moment a new source of power, a clean and safe energy that at last can fuel our growing economy without compromise to our home. I have now found the only solution available in these troubling times: harness the breathtaking torque available from the grave of Pierre Trudeau, all the Mackensies and Mackensie Kings, Diefenbaker (who though Conservative would never have willingly sold his party to the Zionists) Pearson et al. The sheer centrifugal force of these affronted giants spinning like turbines in their graves can safely fuel us into the coming election cycle with no side-effects but the release of our history into the atmosphere instead of greenhouse gases. And isn’t that in the end the goal? It seems so these days. There is a difference between dangling loose and dangling on the end of a long line and I can’t help but struggle against the jerking motion that has now become more spastic since the line has been cut. There is a place between my shoulder blades that aches for that connection point; let us only hope for my well-being that in 2008 it will grow back.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why so empty?

We’ve all had days like this. The frozen days when you look ahead and see a myriad things that need to be done. You can’t bring yourself to do any of them. The coffee is empty, you can’t muster the will to make more. You should be doing things, being productive, arranging items. We would love on these days to meet our friends later and tell them what we did, how we achieved what there is to be achieved. What did you accomplish today? I was going to write something about Peter MacKay, but I have to tell you, after Belinda, I can’t bring myself to be interested in his personal life. Fuck it. He’s going to make a royal ass of himself and our country as the Minister of Foreign Relations, so he may as well stot around with the poster child for Bush’s occupation of the Fertile Cresent.

I was going to mention the plan to remove America from the middle east by George McGovern and William R. Polk in this month’s Harpers, but they did their own justice in writing it and don’t need my notes and kudos. I could bring up Patricia Beer, a poet I’ve never heard of that came to me while poking around a used bookstore after the tatoo convention on my birthday last week.

There is no finishing because there is no getting started. The whole range of my rage will fizzle and become a dour frustration and back to the office on Monday. There still isn’t anyone screaming about the softwouldn’t, there’s still no coverage of Darfur on the news. My digital recorder still isn’t working, and I don’t know how to install the ethernet driver onto my new computer.

The big question remains Why Bother? from that comes, How to start? And once learned, What is it that should be begun? Why are these times so empty? I remember passionate rage and indignation. I remember ruining events I disagree with. I remember conviction. There doesn’t seem to be anything now but vague irritation. I’ve lately become more of a “fuck it” than my former, “hey, FUCK YOU!”. Was sweet JP this apathetic? Is that how he came up with Existentialism? He probably didn’t have a large green iguana to distract him.

I think this might just be it. This tiny sad, mediocre life could well be as good as it gets. This could be the most I can ever do.

Clawing out of the drowning rage, kicking off the iron anchor of sadness and shame can take wild amounts of energy. There are days of surplus when other items gain my attention and become targets for the surplus. But no righteous indignation today. I’m not even going to make my bed.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy New Year

Well kids, it didn’t happen this year, so I can only wonder what January will bring. The weekend of my birthday was Yom Kippur. There was a shooting last week, a bullshit sell-out lumber deal and an uncomfortable conversation at work. I didn’t get to put up what I wanted to, a birthday wish list was one thing, with a request for you Photoshop techies out there to put Anne Coulter in a burkha and send it my way. That I think was item number two, but sadly none of it happened. This year has been about reclaiming ground, set completely in a beachhead, about recovery. There has been nothing I can claim achievement for except making it to this point which I still feel is a cop-out way of identifying landmarks on your lifeline. I survived a lot. Tony didn’t, and I would do anything to be able to see him again, to put my arms around him and remind him that survival is small and will feel small despite a tremendous effort.

I must ask forgiveness of pretty much anyone who has been around me this year. I am irritable, bitchy, aggressive, listless and uninterested. I don’t have so little of what I used to be and the anger that that has been lost at least for now gives me desperation to punish any and all around me. I cannot even properly make lists at the moment, what should I apologize for? Do I have a birthday wish list? What are the reasons for this strange man to love me? Where are the people I used to be? What are the clinical reasons for the shooter to have walked into Dawson College? Who are these windy men who talked of courtesy the day my pylons blew away?

These myriad questions and more are the only amalgamation I have been capable of lately, the only list I can compile is one of questions I can never answer and must leave behind. Wine is poured and music playing. The final query, Why bother? must come last as it is the only thing left that can fuel answers to the others. These lists are all I can come up with for a year ended, my new year’s celebration, A.D. 28 in this the year of healing. I will be me again, so next year expect something amazingly clever in September’s beginning. Just not now.

What truly can be done?

What can we do but embrace each other and move on? What else is there but to press our foreheads to the ground and rub cement with our palms.

And from this will come a time and certainly a full election on mandatory minimums, gun control and anti-social behaviour. How then to measure a response? What good can come of the inevitable argument ahead and how is such a measure possible? Is there nomeclature for survival? That bizarre alchemy that fuels rage with guilt and leaves no room for grief and exhaustion? How to quantify a reaction and subsequent lifestyle? What is ahead for us now? Is there an intelligent discussion to be had on the actions of this madman?

And if there is will we have it? There will be blame, and swift change. Will an obsession ensue about “safety” and the difference between feeling safe and being safe?

Will the students and teachers gain extensions to end their terms? Will the family of the gunman be held hostage? Is someone somewhere worried about next years tuition fees?

How many questions can I tabulate without the answer to the immediate why? How can such a thing happen and what will we do when we wake tomorrow and wonder how many more days there are.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Is this the magnet?

Another notch in the post at the crossroads. Again the anniversary of my coming passes like leaves through a narrow alley. These are days of beginnings, of frustrations. Of failed attempts and machinations breaking down. It is a time to enjoy the smaller things as those mediocre disappointments multiply in these autumn weeks. Small beacons of joy remind us to look for microscopic, not planetary peace. Now is the moment for unfair comparisons, how am I not her? Where is my alliance? How are my convictions so fragile? This is familiar ground. I know the road paved with pebble sized successes. This is the bend where only survival is the titan act, that one thing that anyone can say they have done. There are other times of flying when we can compare notes and ask each other how high. This is a moment measured in inches above the waters’ edge, and how often your chin bobs down in the riptide.

The road signs are tiny patches of crabgrass in otherwise green weeds. Barely noticeable, they seem to snicker as you pass them wondering where the next meal may be and who will offer safety overnight. There are always patches where an arrow may have fallen. There are small gardens between pieces of bread; there are tickets and scarves on loan from friendly closets. These are the tiniest of kindnesses that must be recorded somewhere, in even smaller crossroads along neural pathways, chemical light reminders. If we don’t know how to mark these passages, or have lost our cartography, there is simply nowhere to begin. These things fuck up sometimes and finding the end is a lot of string tied together wrapped around itself. Ever looked for the end of packing tape and you tried and tried and tried and finally you got scissors or a knife and made another and pulled it off and it’s only about 4 inches because that’s where the end was? Once upon an ending I found a piece of panic stuck uncomfortably in the toe of my shoe. It pushed against the top of my foot and my focus on it slipped my ankle around the pavement of the underwater sidewalk. I got deeper and lower and still my ankle turned around each milestone until finally my head was under and I couldn’t see the rest of the way. There was a small rest stop in a bed of reeds, so I paused to take my shoes off and wiggle my toes again. The shop was tacky and sold sweet confessions. I got a hot chocolate and four minutes alone with a listener and then moved on my way. I’ll get there someday, but perhaps not from this trail…

I’m close to one third as old as I will be. There is no significance to this number. There is no social importance placed on it, there is no personal meaning. These ones are the worst ones as they are always the least expected upset. These are not achievement days or times of great works. But I can burn my lips with scotch from a raised antique glass as the sun sets on what was a rainy afternoon: I survived.