Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Suicide Cells

I ran into one of my neighbours the other day. He's an interesting character; a recovering alcoholic with some mental health issues, he loves esoteric religions and conspiracy theories. Some mornings on my way to work, he'd walk me as far as the soup kitchen and we'd talk politics and doomsday scenarios. If I ran into him at the grocery store I'd buy his groceries for him but he'd always offer to share his food. Sometimes food allergies and issues are a blessing.

On his good days I'd sit on the stoop with him and he'd try to teach me french. On bad days I'd usually just listen him rant or bemoan. On one bad day, after a good friend of his had died he said, "I just don't get it, I just don't see what all of this is for. What are we even doing here?" So I told him my theory.

"To love and to be loved."

He looked at me like I was nuts.

"Well," I continued, "We're not very good at it, obviously, judging from the mess we're in," I made a sweep of my arm to acknowledge the wider world, "but we have to keep at it, don't we?"

When I ran into him over the weekend and told him I was moving he said that was sad. "You are one of the kindest people I've ever known." This is, of course, complete nonsense. I am, among innumerable other failings, impatient and judgemental.

But, there are biological cells whose sole purpose for existing is to tell other cells to keep on living and I want to be the human equivalent of those cells. I will consider myself a successful human being if I can make the people I meet see how important it is that they exist. Even the schizophrenics. Even the panhandlers. Even the suicide bombers.

Particularly the suicide bombers. Nature abhors asymmetry and we are creatures of nature acting and reacting in accordance with those laws. It's quite possible that without the few committing evil every day there would be no room for the million acts of good.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost and Found

Somebody please tell me what to get the best mother ever for Mother's Day. She spent her entire weekend helping me pack and clean, which is why I have time this evening to sit in front of my computer and why I owe her the ultimate Mother's Day. My brother was equally fantastic and cooked us dinner Saturday night for which I owe him a world of thanks.

I took pictures of some of my favourite objects that I'm leaving behind including:

I wore these shoes all of once. I don't care. They still made me smile every time I looked at them so I say it was money well spent.

This is a fragile souvenir the Van's brought back for me from a trip to Mexico. They claim that they met a blind glass blower and asked him to make me a violin. (I have always wanted to learn to play the violin. Unfortunately it's still on my bucket list.) Anyway, the glass blower had not only never seen a violin, but he had no idea what a violin was or what it might sound like so Mr. Van described it to him as he sculpted and this is the amazing result. Sadly I haven't a clue who to pass it on too so it will be preserved.

When I woke up this morning and turned on the radio one of my old Uni profs was on the news talking about the bombings in Russia. He was a tall bald Georgian whom I suspect of giving me poor (for me) grades in retaliation for spurned advances. Okay, I wouldn't have described them as advances until after I saw my grade and then heard his reasoning for it. Then, in retrospect, I had a slow dawning that lead to outright wondering. But, the grades didn't ruin my GPA so I didn't bother wondering out loud. All of this is to say, hearing my prof and his Russian accent, triggered a memory and I know who the creator of the "Very Mixed Up" CD is.

Sort of. I can't remember his given name anymore but I took to calling him Lost Boy. He was a sweet, intelligent Jewish boy. A jazz guitarist I met when we were both temping for Financial Corp X. We would go for lunch together and he would pretend to speak any language I could think of. Japanese, Swahili, Russian, it didn't matter. He couldn't speak any of these languages mind you but, if you also didn't know how to speak them, you'd never know that it was all gibberish. His Russian impression always reminded me of the Canadian Foreign Policy Prof. 

I remember Lost Boy asked me out but he didn't really have a plan. He was very nervous and anxious so I said, "We can just go for coffee." This seemed to make him even more agitated. When he picked me up he blurted, "I don't like coffee." So I explained that it was just a saying, a euphemism for any sort of beverage he might like. After "coffee", I probably had tea because I don't like coffee either, I fell down the stairs. I'm not surprised we didn't get much farther than that.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Long Goodbyes

Well, my co-workers managed to ruin my joyous departure by making me feel like I'll actually be missed, which made me all sad and weepy. The company took me out for a gluten free meal at EAT! and gave me a $40 gift certificate for MEC which I plan to use towards this sweet number.

My two favourite workmates gave me their own going away presents including a Canadian clock/bottle opener/compass combo which I could have used when I was lost on a mountainside in Nepal so, aside from being a poetic gift in the "you are here" point you back home sense which made me teary, I am certain it will be useful.

Today was the first time I've realized the full consequences of what I'm about to do. I'm giving up stuff, yes, but I am giving up people too and that's not nearly as easy. On the other hand the hugs are good.

Friday, March 26, 2010

So Long Cruel Cubicle

It's a beautiful day to be paroled!

"Because right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train. " - Jim, The Office

Update: It feels like someone pulled a great big sliver that had been festering for five years out of my soul.


Did you know that children laugh an average of 300 times a day while adults average only 15? That's shocking. And just all wrong. I refuse to let those little hooligans beat me at anything. From now on it's 301 laughs a day or there's no wine with dinner.
P.S. I had a boss who thought LOL meant lots of love. That's worth at least a giggle which is, in turn half a laugh, right? 300.5 more to go...


The Walrus is offering 1 free copy of their magazine here. You will have to vote for the cover (pick the umbrella lady!) and they'll tell you all about it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Returned and Filed

I have finished my tax return.

I get a giggle every year out of the "Odour-reduction Credit" available in my province. I imagine upstanding citizens sending in receipts to be reimbursed for their Axe purchases.

On the other hand I am baffled by the option to change your birth date. If I'd known it was that easy I'd have revised myself back to twenty-two ages ago.

I am already contemplating spending part of my return on frivolities. I know, I know. In the meantime I got one of my other favourites as free wallpaper.


Apparently Taiwan feels the government does have business in the bedrooms of the nation and they want help marketing it. $32,000 CDN is up for grabs and the best I can come up with is "Don't Masturbate, Procreate" which is not only obvious but plagiarized. "Do a cutie, it's your duty"? If you can do better, and that's surely not a stretch you can let me or the good people at As It Happens know.

I'm far more sympathetic to the French attitude anyway. Of the 40 reasons Ms. Maiers gives not to spawn I think "The child is a kind of vicious dwarf, of an innate cruelty" is by far my favourite. Not yours of course. Your child is delightful I'm sure. Mine on the other hand would be a cheerleader princess or something equally monstrous that I'd feel no end of guilt for birthing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have spent the last two days trying to ensure all the music I still have on CD and want to keep is transferred to my laptop. In doing so I have unearthed a trove of mixed CDs. Most of them don't indicate who they were from but I can tell almost immediately who made them by the type of music (electronica was workmate John from my temping days, whole albums were Ted who just wasn't creative enough for play lists), the packaging (Jon's handwriting was feminine and neat, James had horrible taste in music but he put a lot of artistic effort into the covers) or even just the brand of CD (David always used Maxwell's and Steve Verbatim's). I've been enjoying tossing the odd one in and skimming through it - the Ex had a penchant for novelty songs that can strike you as funny again years later - but mostly they end up in the trash uncopied (sorry guys).

But there's one that I cannot place. It starts out with Norah Jones "Sunrise" then on to some Herbie Hancock. There's an Eva Cassidy cover of "Early Morning Rain", some Strunz and Farah and even Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy"(I am tickled.)

I love this album. I am baffled that I can enjoy a mixed CD this much and be so completely at a loss to determine who it's from.

The Dude crossed my mind, he's the only one I recall loving jazz as much as I do, but he was a carpenter, not a keyboard monkey, so burning music was not his thing. In fact he always bought music which, when you consider the innumerable other ways he found to break laws, is really quite a paradox. Besides, there are also no spelling mistakes on the neatly typed cover which includes time codes. He could not spell and was not the sort who worried about time.

Unfortunately, while both my computers will play the disc, I can only copy up to the seventh song. After that it runs into issues.

If it was you, please let me know. Maybe we can work out now what we couldn't before? Or at the very least I could trade you some bootlegged Lhasa for some more Silje Nergaard.

Dessert for Breakfast

I recommend chocolate pudding for breakfast to make Monday feel like Saturday if only for a few precious moments before the mad dash begins:

1/2 Avocado
1 medium sized banana
1 tsp honey (or experiment until you find what suits your taste)
2 T cocoa (good quality pure cocoa- not hot chocolate mix people)

Shove it all in a blender, preferably on Sunday evening, blend and store in the refrigerator over night. It's full of protien, potassium and antioxidants so while it tastes like dessert it's actually healthier for you than most carb overload starts to the day, so you needn't feel the least bit guilty about being so indulgent.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Was I Really This Young?

Was it really only 15 years ago? How amazing that I have memories of this girl's heartaches and troubles, real and imagined. Isn't it good that we get to keep growing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

If You Are Lost, No One Will Try to Find You

I went to see this for $5.00. But you can see it for $20.00, and I think it would be worth it. I also enjoyed the story of Jeremiah Barnes and the visual aesthetic of Fear and Trembling which I think is the anatomy of a panic attack. The packages are all handmade and beautiful unlike the mass marketed Muppet slides I had as a child. Bonus: You can get a lot of mileage out of your ViewMaster by making your own slides!

Being short, I usually have to sit fairly close to the screen for movies at Cinematheque, particularly if they're subtitled (Note to any filmmakers who stumble upon this: Why don't you put subtitles at the top of the screen? Not that I don't love the abdominal workout I get from bobbing and weaving in my seat while trying to see around the heads in front of me, but there's enough empty space up there, is it really necessary to tuck the subtitles away at the bottom?). Today, however, being that the screen was, well, in my hands, I got to sit in the back, in a chair sponsored by... Nick Burns. Love it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bringing Awkward to a Whole New Level

I met a friend for lunch today. He's a smart, handsome man with a great sense of humour who I absolutely adore. I always enjoy his company, usually a bit too much and a bit too long and this lunch was no exception. For some reason, probably because all I had was salad, albeit the tastiest and most expensive salad ever, the wine had gone to my head by the time I wandered back to my cubicle 2 hours later.

Fortunately I had finished all my work before I left so I answered a few personal e-mails and was surfing the internet when my boss came to my desk to say goodbye. She's taking holidays next week so I will never see her again. This meant I had to pretend I was sad and believed her when she said how much they were going to miss me. This is not entirely untrue, they probably will miss my work but my departure is nothing but a relief to her. Her underling and his banshee, two bratty bullies who manage to make most everyone miserable at some time or another, have been trying to get me fired for a year resulting in a lot of throw downs which I invariably win but are certainly not worth anyone's trouble by my estimation.

In any case she seemed to be at my desk for an interminably long time, suddenly wanting to be chatty or something, while I sat, terrified that my inebriated self might let loose with something akin to the truth. "Smile and nod, smile and nod", I thought, leaning back in my chair hoping she couldn't smell the wine. And then, with absolutely no prior warning or cues she lunged at me for a hug. Due to my alcohol delayed reaction time, and the angles-her standing with me seated- I managed to punch her in the chest while trying to ready my arms for reciprocation. She recoiled briefly but recovered almost instantaneously, completing the pass.  Some people, I thought to myself, are so awkward and by some people, I definitely meant her.*

(*sidebar: I love hugs. Just not attack tackle hugs... from her)

Bon Chance

The Crazy Kite. The Postage Stamp. The Garbage Game. My workmate took me to play bingo. I have always wanted to play but when we got to the community center I was glad I had never attempted to do it alone. The lingo was like a foreign language, the caller boards as indecipherable to the uninitiated as a Czech train schedule and the players as wary of you as border guards. You are, after all, competition. Fortunately I went with a pro who not only translated for me, but was skilled enough to watch both our cards at once. I still managed to completely bungle one of my games which had us both in tears we were laughing so hard (this is not unusual, we cry from laughing at work too) but I definitely caught on faster under her good guidance.

In games of chance I am a loser. I was certain this would be my edge in winning the "UnBingo" -where you win for not having even a single number on your card called-but even that was beyond me. I still had a great evening listening to the guy across the table muttering and cursing with every close call, the collective disgruntlement every time someone called "Bingo!", watching the mad dashes for the canteen line and the tables lined with bingo dabbers and lucky charms.

I also got to meet my friend's cats. She's allergic to them but she loves them more than anything in the world, with the possible exception of her son (and I do mean possible). They're both beautiful creatures- Stewy is the reason "'fraidy cat" is in the English lexicon and Carter is placid and softer than anything else I've ever touched in my life- so I can see why she would never give them up. Still, I consider this a testament to her great big beautiful heart.

I spend most of the hours of my life with family and co-workers, none of whom I got to choose, so I am amazed at how often I find friends among them; good people, with big hearts, who like me or love me despite, or possibly because of, all my idiosyncrasies and foibles. Calculating the odds, I say, that's pretty lucky.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Recipe for a Big Bang

One of my favourite things about Buddhism is the recurring references to cooking and food. Granted, most religions are obsessed with food, but it's largely with the rules, rites and rituals of food. So far in my reading, which isn't very far at all yet I admit, Buddhism seems to have one important rule and that is that food be made, served and eaten with loving attention and care. Different branches of Buddhism do seem to adhere to different dietary rules and, from what I gather, monks have an extensive list of rules regarding food and etiquette but, as in all things Buddhist, the most important element is loving attention and care.

As someone who managed to end years of physical pain and suffering by changing her diet, a discovery and alteration that required much attention and care, I appreciate this thoughtfulness towards food. My own healing led me to all sorts of shocking discoveries about the foods we are sold and eat. A lot of what's on your average grocery store's shelves I doubt any intelligent, thoughtful human would willingly choose to eat but our inattentiveness has lead to careless consumption and is allowing our most basic sources of caloric fuel to be irrevocably altered and contaminated.

So I bake gluten free bread for practical reasons yes, but I also bake bread as an act of subversion, spiritual grounding and growth. I spend most Sundays creating chaos in the kitchen, but today, as I folded hemp flour into my mashed bananas to make a hemp banana bread, a worry crossed my mind that my inner hippie might be out of control.

Later, as I set the second loaf, sorghum bread, on the cooling rack I remembered the Freegans and thought, "Or maybe I'm just the new mainstream, relatively speaking." Then I placed the glass loaf pan, still warm, in the sink and it spontaneously combusted. An instantaneous rain of glass shards cascading through the air left me gaping in awe at the remains of my favourite loaf pan and thinking, "Then again, there's nothing more radical than that."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Office Obits

It is with sadness that I have to announce that C. has resigned her position at Financial Corp X as of Friday March 26. C. has decided to pursue a career in Teaching English in other countries.
Please join me is wishing C. all the best in her new career and we will miss her greatly.

Team Leader Estate Services and National

                                  *                               *                              *                                *

Quitting a job in the corporate world is sort of like attending your own funeral and bearing witness to all the insincerity and hypocrisy people unleash. Unless of course you really are a saint. There's good reason you should be dead at your funeral. I have removed my name for privacy reasons but it was misspelled in this e-mail. 'Nuff said. "Ummm, that's my stapler."

I will  miss a few of my colleagues, and the view from my fifteenth floor corner cubicle, but it's mostly just five years of my life that I will never get back. Let's never do this again shall we?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Premature Climax

-----Original Message-----

From: Me

Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 3:09 PM

To: Mr. Millions

Subject: RE: NOTICE:):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

Tell me a story

The Psychotropic Drugs Are Free With the Healthcare

I knew I couldn't posisbly be the only one who's afraid of Stephen Harper and his creepy, "I like to eat babies" smile.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Referenced Memory Error

It's my ex's birthday today! Happy birthday to him, wherever he might be. In the eight years we were together I think he remembered my birthday once. Six years after we divorced and apparently I still can't forget his, like my memory bank has enough free space for this kind of thing.

Do you think I remembered to bring my overdue movies to return after work?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life as a Verb

I am in the midst of making some dramatic and hopefully profound changes in my life. I am at turns excited and terrified. Fortunately the scary days are few and are more like minutes or hours than days. But today is Monday, and I am tired and the sun would not shine through the fog that seemed to wrap itself, like  a blanket of desolation and despair, around all my doubts so they got right cozy and settled in a for a spell.

On days like this it helps to run into an inspirational character like Doris Haddock. She is my hero.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fix

Let's say you're in the middle of watching the achingly lush "Bright Star" when you recall the raspberries in syrup you bought in the afternoon as a hearkening back to your youth. They aren't your mother's raspberry preserves in a mason jar but they are as close as you're likely to ever again be as your mother has destroyed the raspberry bush and taken up playing Wii over canning. So the consolation raspberries cross your mind but you are watching this velvety romance and you think, raspberries are simply too delicate and sweet, you need something rich. Hit pause:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Few of My Favourite Things (Today)

"...A man in perfect physical condition, at rest, has a heartbeat of approximately one beat a second, sixty seconds per minute, so forth and so on. How many heartbeats do you suppose is in twelve hours? 43,200. So the rhythm of our own heartbeats is the rhythm of the universe. We are in accord with the universal rhythm."

-Joseph Campbell (on the conclusion of a series of mathematical equations present in basic mythologies that describe ideas about the cosmos and the universal rhythm)  That's beautiful.

Science Tattoos Some of these are beautiful (and witty) too.

Requiem for a Dying Planet The sound track to Werner Herzog's "Wild Blue Yonder" perfectly evokes a longing for home.

"Leaves of Grass" -How much do I love Edward Norton ...

Saturday, March 6, 2010


the only thing worse than no tea
is bad tea

this is also true of sex

and blog posts

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


There is a collective sigh every Monday morning. 
The grunting nods, slapping-not shuffling- paperwork, the extra cups of coffee all agreeing, 
"Let's get this over with."
Somewhere under the flashing florescent lights 
and between the rhythmic clicking of keyboard keys, 
clickety clack clackety clique like cucharacha castanets, 
is a profane soul- mine or yours- begging 
to not be forgotten. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Graffiti on Perfectly Good Skin

I am in one of those phases where I am profoundly awed by how good it is to be me.Yesterday, for instance, I went out intending to pick up some groceries and ended up with a pair of tattoos, a new friend who introduced me to some great poetry, and even a few new books. I don't know how much more you can expect before calling it a perfect day.

"Poetry has nothing to do with poetry.
Poetry is how the air goes green before thunder.
Is the sound you make when you come, and why you live and how you bleed,
and the sound you make or don't make when you die." - Gwendolyn McEwen