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