Friday, October 30, 2009

ask the colonial ghosts if they live in your bones

Even though my bedsheet Casper the Friendly Ghost outfit and hippie costume days are long behind me, I still get envious of Americans at Hallowe'en.  It's mostly the fault of those tv shows where all the little trick or treaters trip merrily down their perfect Stepford streets, comfortably attired in their gossamer fairy gowns and natty little Freddie Krueger outfits.  We just can't compete with that.

I am constantly reminded of the vast difference between our countries at times like this.

Top five clues that you are spending Hallowe'en in Canada:
1.  It's Hallowe'en, not Halloween.
2.  They are chocolate bars, not candy bars.
3.  You have to make your costume 3 sizes too big so that you can get your snowsuit on underneath it.
4.  If you put on a nice blue sweater and tuck an Abbey Road album under your arm, everybody knows who you are supposed to be.
5.  We get Coffee Crisps and Hawkins Cheezies.  And that more than makes up for having to wear snow boots with your princess outfit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

top five things I found today

1.  yet another stash of stale Hallowe'en candy from some long forgotten year, fortunately not the kind I like

2.  freedom from having to apply any more eye drops.  Freedom!

3.  my muse

4.  the MS Office 2003 installation disc

5. a nice sunny spot to work, but not too sunny that I can't see the screen 

Did you find anything good today?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

maybe all I need is a shot in the arm

People lined up outside for six hours yesterday to receive their H1N1 vaccinations, on the first day these vaccinations became available.  In a city of one million plus people, there are four clinics.  

Those in the high risk groups - pregnant women, young children, and those with existing medical conditions - are the people who are being targetted to receive immunization first.  Exactly the demographic you want lining up in the cold for several hours. 

One of the clinics is about a 45 minute walk from Casa Zombie, and with the shop owners in that strip mall complaining yesterday that their parking spots were co-opted by flu shot seekers, authorities are planning to crack down on parking spot violators today.  I'm not entirely sure where they will park, as street parking is quickly snatched up by commuters driving to the nearby C-train station, a train station which also has inadequate parking.

I'm considering offering a shuttle service for flu vaccination seekers.  Fifteen bucks to park in front of my house and I will drive you to the clinic and pick you up when you are done.  Bring your own child seat. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

will you come home from wherever you are till the last one is rounded up

I'm still learning how to live with this new reality, it seems.  It's a very slight ripple in the larger scheme of the world, of course, but I am all about the minutiae.  I live in the details and the minor adjustments of angles and shading.  

I have found it's best not listen to Lightning Dust or other mournfulish bands while driving about running the sort of errands that I used to do on the way to pick the Resident Offspring up from school.  

We spent a lot of time together in the urban assault vehicle, after all.  It was where we perfected our Scottish accents and where we determined definitively whether Don McKellar or Tyra Banks would win in a fight.  Pah-leeze, Tyra would not even mess a single hair in one of her fierce weaves as she demolished poor Don.  I still carry my travel mug in the backseat cup holder, ready to go for that after school coffee.  

At home, oddly enough, the emptiness is less pronounced, despite the strangely clean dining room table and the unrumpled bed in her room. I guess this is because we skype most every evening, sometimes spending hours in front of the webcam, not necessarily talking a lot, but sharing snippets of info that come to mind or that surface on Oh No They Didn't.  I've taken to making little pictures with pen and ink or paint chips as we talk, and to periodically running the web cam around the room to show off the progression of the art project or how peaceful the cat looks sleeping on the spare room bed.  

And I am slowly rediscovering weekends, the time that used to be reserved for family, as a time to connect with other friends. 

I'm getting there. The quick tears of the early days have been replaced by a deeper ache that comes with the knowledge that life has changed irrevocably.  But without change, there's no discovery, no growth, no new life.

How have you adjusted to change in your life?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

someone's gonna bring me round

The only thing nicer than being recognised for something that you just do for fun and therapy, is to be recognised by someone whose own work you respect highly.  So when the pithy, opinionated and potty-mouthed (these are all complementary terms, by the way) Wandering Coyote bestowed an E for Excellence Award upon me recently, I was very touched.  

So touched that I didn't write anything for a few days.

But I am ready to take my bow now.  So just let me grab the mike here for a minute.  I'ma let you finish, but Wandering Coyote has the best blog of all time!

Evidently I am now to bestow this honour upon ten other blogs worthier than mine.  Shouldn't be hard.  There are many more than we have room to list.

Jen - irreverent, foul-mouthed, fearless
John - consistent, northern big-shot, too damned funny for a book guy
Allison - thoughtful, poetic, plaid-wearing
Beckeye - sassy, pop culture goddess
Justrun - deep, big-hearted
Dr Monkey von Monkerstein - weird, smart and righteous, crown prince of the internet
Bloody Awful Poetry - way too witty for her age, lengthy posts that are never TLDR
Sean - music guru, pop culture god, wickedly sly humour
Doc - helluva story teller, awesome accent
Charlie - way too entertaining, and I don't care that he already got this award from WC

Please check out these worthy blogs;  you'll find something in each of them to make you glad you made the click.  You may even want to buy these blogsmiths a congratulatory drink. 

Fist pounds all round.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

maybe all we need is a Swedish dance party

Yeah! That's much better!

Just remembered that the Raveonettes are actually Danish, but they are dancey enough to belong here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

indie boys are neurotic

I have become a wearer of scarves.

I am not entirely sure how this happened to me. You remember me, the one who for years first bemoaned the very existence of scarves as entirely unnecessary, then scoffed at them as pretentious? Well lately, about 100 years after the rest of the world has been artfully draping silky or nubbly or diaphanous ribbons around their swan throats, I have been finding myself eyeing up the scarf racks that festoon every store from boutiques (although they would only have two in the store, of course) to drugstores.

I test drove the style first, wearing scarves to a couple of concerts recently.
It was a pretty safe thing to do, akin to wearing camouflage, as scarves have been an integral part of the indie kid uniform the world over for the past several years. No one stared, no one whispered behind their hand.

Today I wore a scarf while running errands. With a rock pin nonetheless. I may have created a monster.

Don't be surprised if you see me wearing one of these some day soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

rows of houses bearing down

Is there such as thing as late onset Seasonal Affective Disorder?

I have always loved cloudy days and have even gone so far as to alienate myself from most of the population of this city by complaining that it is too sunny here. Lately though, I find myself having to retract those words.

Maybe it's because I don't need to drive as much as I used to this winter, so I am not spending several hours of the day with the sun directly in my eyes, attempting to control a 2000 kg urban assault vehicle by prayer alone. Maybe it's because this house looks better in the sunlight. Maybe it's just because of my forced inactivity during my eyeball convalescence, which has pretty much turned me into a slug.

But whatever the cue, lately I find my energy and motivation popping up and down like a Whack-a-Mole on speed. The sun peaks through the clouds - oh I'm going to vacuum, exercise, go shopping, clean the bathroom, write that article, do the filing. A minute and a half later, the sun ducks back behind perpetual autumn cloud cover, and it's oh no I'm just going to sit here, whatever was I thinking.

I am not unhappy or anything, just lazy. Of course it does not help in the slightest when friends send me monster awesome parcels that make me just want to curl up all weekend and explore my new goodies. No, this does not help in the least. You are an enabler.

Do you ever get SAD?
How do you keep your energy levels up in the winter?
(and don't tell me to go skiing)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

with my face head down just staring at the brown formica, it's safer not to look around

Feeling particularly uninspired these days to put a decent sentence together, I was thrilled to see that first Charlie and then Wandering Coyote have offered me a way out of that eternal blogger conundrum - what to write when you have nothing to say.

I am not saying that Charlie and Wandering Coyote have nothing to say. No no, they are always the epitome of pithy wisdom. And sometimes they are torch bearers in the parade out of the darkness.

Fifty Things I've Never Had:

1. a tattoo
2. the desire to go to Vegas
any idea what to do with those doilies my mother-in-law gave me
jail time
the urge to watch Oprah
6. seal blubber
the ability to ignore a crookedly hung picture
dreams of flight
9. bed bugs
11. tolerance for apostrophe abuse
a self-help book
13. sex in an airplane
14. false eyelashes
the notion that hot tubs are a good idea
16. an engagement ring
a religious upbringing
18. the ability to control my rage when I see vanity plates
19. a purse dog
20. a Rick Astley album
the need to deploy a parachute
22. stilettos
23. an interest in cars
the patience to read an entire book of poetry
25. a firm grasp of calculus
26. lice
27. a weave
a university scholarship
29. twins
30. a tree fall on my car
31. an ability to crack my knuckles
32. cruise wear
33. a younger sibling
34. an alligator bite
35. the illusion that I am beautiful
36. central air conditioning
37. my legs waxed
38. a restraining order
39. tea with Thom Yorke
that fourth wisdom tooth
the ability to eat creamed corn without thinking of baby poop
42. skinny legs
43. the desire to climb a mountain
kidney stones
45. a hot air balloon ride
46. a night in an igloo
the ability to resist a Scottish accent
48. my own hard hat
a union card
50. writer's block for more than a couple of days
What about you? Got nothing to say? I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the sidewalks are watching me think about you

She didn't even turn around after she passed through the security gates, just breezed through as though she had been flying solo for so long that it had become something entirely mundane. It should have made me mournful, I guess, should have made me miss her more, but it really just left me with a feeling of satisfaction.

It had been a great long weekend, the first trip back home for the Offspring Formerly Known as Resident, and it was evident that she was finding her place in the world. Independence suits her; she has an aura of confidence, of self-knowledge that I never noticed before. Sure I will miss our silly banter and our talks about nothing at all. Yes I kept forgetting, as we sprawled on the chesterfield guffawing at crappy horror movies, that she had ever left home. But leaving home, going away to university, was the right thing for her to do.

But where do you go once your only child has left home? What keeps us in a city we have called home for over a decade, even if it's not a city that I ever particularly warmed to? Since the OFKAR has never really cared for this place either, it's not like we have to maintain a sense of home for her in this particular geographic location. But what now?

As we drove home from the airport last night, I looked hard at the passing landmarks, ignoring the fact that I had passed these places innumerable times over the past years, and tried to see them through the eyes of a newcomer. Was this a place I would chose to make my home? I'm not sure.

But if not here, then where? I have always relied upon having a strong sense of place, a strong tie to my home. But this city is so very different from any other place I have lived. It's a city where I have never really gotten to know my neighbours, where I have never really felt a part of the community as I have in other places. And yet, I think it would be a mistake to leave, at this point anyway. Because even if we were to return to the city where I felt most at home (which we won't be doing), I really don't think that you can
ever go home again.

Or can you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

I wonder if there's an app for that

bottle one: one drop two times a day in left eye
bottle two: one drop four times a day in left eye
bottle three: one drop four to six times a day in left eye but not within one hour of any of the previous drops
bottle four: one drop three times a day in right eye
bottle five: one drop four times a day in right eye
bottle six: same instructions as bottle three, but for right eye

I sure am glad this week's eye drop regimen is a lot less complicated than last week's.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

what are Top Five Things for Which to be Grateful, Alex

- turkey, the magnificent bird
- a weekend with the Offspring Temporarily Known Once Again as Resident, who has adjusted so well to a life of independence in the big world
- sprawling on the chesterfield watching crappy horror movies with the Offspring and forgetting that she had ever left
- stalwart friends, who understand me
- family who accept my oddities

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

last few desperate hours

Here in the foothills, winter has been flirting with us for the past week. This afternoon it got aggressive, and decided that enough is enough, either we put out or it pulls the car over, slices our throats, and throws our bodies in the ditch.

The highways are under whiteout conditions. The fools people who chose to live in the hilly north end of the city can't get home because of the ice on the hills and bridge decks.

This is not a time when I would chose to venture out to the mountains. Fortunately, the
Marthas and I took care of that a few weeks ago, when one could still hike 6 kms up Johnston Canyon in short sleeves. Even if we did need windbreakers for the gondola ride to the top of Tunnel mountain.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Elliott Brood STILL throw one shit-kicker of a party (plaid redux)

Dicken's pub - October 4, 2009
lineup: the Wooden Sky, Elliott Brood

Conventional wisdom suggests that Sunday night might not be the optimal time to hold a barn burner of a concert, but conventional wisdom obviously does not know Elliott Brood. The crowd that packed Dicken's Pub, threatening to seriously strain the integrity of the basement bar's foundations, did not care that they had a work week to start the next morning. Like every Elliott Brood audience I have ever been part of, they knew that the band was going to deliver a high calibre, highly interactive, joyous experience, and if it meant chafed hands and raw throats the next morning, well that's just the price that you pay when you get sucked into the exuberant vortex of this band.

It's been quite the year for Elliott Brood since they last made my head explode. Despite being robbed of the Polaris Prize after being short listed for their excellent album Mountain Meadows, and despite Casey Laforet being clobbered by a collapsed lung (which I asked him about at the merch table last night, he's fine), they maintain such a joyous presence onstage that everybody in the room goes home feeling like they participated in a revival of the spirit, in a celebration of comrades and co-conspirators.

We were thrilled to be able to share the night (and the last free table in the place) with Susan (one half of the cutest BLIP couple in the country). She was such a stalwart soul to brave the ocassional snow and the wind gusts that cut to the bone to head downtown solo on a Sunday night to meet us.

We were congratulating ourselves on our awesome table scoring prowess, right up against the dance floor as it was, but didn't factor into it that said dance floor would soon overflowing with grinning Elliott Brood fans. I felt somewhat badly that Susan (who had never seen Elliott Brood before) was not really able to see the action onstage through the sea of backs, but somehow the magic of the music and the chemistry of the band managed to translate through all that flesh and plaid. The Wall of Plaid, as we lovingly named the four similarly attired fans who parked themselves in a row in front of our table, were entertaining enough all by themselves anyway.

The Wooden Sky opened the evening with a drop-dead gorgeous set of haunting and raw alt-country songs. Alternating between heart-wrenching ballads that morph into singalongs and gritty roots numbers steeped in experimental sound, they played a set that was at once haunting and racous. It made me very glad that I was being true that evening to my life's motto of always buy the cd.

When Elliott Brood took over, they launched into a hearty melange of songs that were at first heavily geared toward the old favourites, which was great, but I was really glad when the band shifted into selections from the exquisite Mountain Meadows. There's a very good reason that album caused such a buzz in indie music world. In true form, the night was a real conversation between band and audience, with quick-witted quips flying back and forth ("we're going to swear all night!"), with consensus being reached on what frontman Mark Sasso should name his expected baby ("okay, it's agreed - Awesome Sasso will make a great name for a boy or a girl"), and with aluminum baking sheets and wooden spoons being doled to the crowd to encourage audience participation ("sorry, we should have more, but Edmonton cleaned us out!"). Not that we needed much encouraging anyway. You had to look pretty hard to find even one person not clapping and singing lustily along with Write It All Down for You during the encore. Most of the rest of the set too, for that matter.

Even with all the love in that packed and sweaty room and with all the enthusiasm on both sides of the stage, the thing that I found particularly heart-warming and perhaps indicative of just how magnanimous the members of Elliott Brood really are, were the shout-outs to the opening band. Not once, not even half a dozen times, but probably more like seven or eight times, the Wooden Sky were applauded by Elliott Brood, and in turn by us, for their fine performance that night. That's a hell of a decent thing for a Polaris short-listed band to do. It's no small wonder that people had travelled from Lethbridge, Regina, Windsor, and god knows where all else to see them last night in Calgary. They knew they would be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed.

And once again we readily believed every word when Mark, Casey, and Stephen told us that we kicked Edmonton's ass.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

feeding your head

So I'm on this Facebook thing now. Have you seen this, have you heard about this? It's a bit of a clusterfuck in there, isn't it? I'm not entirely sold.

Blogger is a three course meal, each course prepared and presented with the greatest attention to detail. Photos to appear in Epicure magazine.

BLIP is a smorgasbord. Sure it's all you can eat and sure there's a lot of green jello salad on offer, but there are also truffles and Kobe beef. You just have to choose your selections carefully.

Facebook is walking into a Macs store and running your arm along the shelves of chips and hoagies, dumping them all onto the floor and then sitting down amongst the pile of bags, ripping them open at random and pouring them down your throat.

They all have their time and place, I guess. What do you think?

Friday, October 02, 2009

germ-free adolescent

I spend my days putting in eye drops. It's what I do. People ask me what do you do, and these days I reply I put in eye drops.  And wash my hands.

This week it's 32 drops per day. And I need to wash my hands between each drop. This is on top of normal hand washing, of course, and I have always been a bit of a handwashing enthusiast, subscribing to the belief as I do that a kitchen is a veritable landmine of death germs. But none of this antibacterial soap for me, no sir.  No one is going to accuse me of contributing to the downfall of civilization by superbug.

I now have the cleanest hands in the history of hand cleaning. There is no way that anybody is ever going to catch H1N1 from shaking hands with me. 

Plus I am singlehandedly contributing to a healthy bottom line for each and every soap and hand lotion company in the western world.

How many times a day do you wash your hands?  
How much is too much?  

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I'll take a blown speaker over a blown pupil anyday

Eyeball #2 has been successfully sliced and diced (yes the lucky panties were worn). It doesn't have quite the extreme clarity of vision that the other eye has, but that could well change, since there is still a bit of swelling, and the surgeon informed me at the post-surgical check-up this morning that the pupil was not quite properly in place yet.

Yes, the thought made me gag a little too.

I was ready to accuse them of inadvertently leaving a paperclip in my eye yesterday, but then the Eye Fairy came by during the night and removed it. I am not even going to complain too much that I did not find a dollar under my pillow this morning. She can have that paperclip for free if she wants.

So while I am lounging about on the chesterfield, watching Pixies documentaries and complaining to the Spousal Unit that I simply could not dream of going
anywhere near the stove "on account of the eye, you know" (with eternal gratitude to Sean for the ironclad excuse), I have outsourced a few items that you may find of interest.

Okay, I still wrote them, but they are elsewhere on the internet, so it feels like someone else did. Like kissing your elbow.

It was an evening that started as a soundtrack to a creepy and surreal David Lynch film. Images of abandoned farmhouses, startling flashes of ominous flocks of birds. Yet it morphed into a wizard populated video game awash in orchestral pop. Beautiful boys in star wars tunics making play on church altars.

Want to know more? Please head over to New Canadian Modern to read my full review of the Final Fantasy/Timber Timbre concert.

Or if books are more your style, you may be interested to know more about Vincent Lam's Giller Prize winning book of short stories Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. I've posted my review over at The Bookworm Collective.

You may just be able to pass your med school entrance exam once you have read this book. You will certainly be able to impress and entertain family and friends with your knowledge of crash carts and code oranges and other sexy emergency room terms.

Pass me the remote and another bonbon please.