Friday, September 30, 2005

In which my head expands and contracts

Well that was a heady experience. Coming home to read such kind words from people. Spouse took great pleasure in reining in my ego as he read each comment out loud dripping with mocking sarcasm. He's had twelve years of opportunities to study all the negative qualities about me, so he's allowed. What negative qualities? Hmm let's see.

He has had to rescue me each and every time I have attempted to assemble an IKEA product. He has listened through my love of annoying forms of music. He has suffered through the ball experience. He has endured countless hours of me banging on the piano. He has accompanied me to eat Mexican food (my hands down favorite), even though he hates it. He lives with a sleepwalker.

Plus I've yelled at him scores of times over the years. He could probably detail each and every time I blew my top.

It's good to have him around, or I might fall prey to having a superiority complex.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My one and perhaps only HNT

I've always been a skinny guy. And while many would consider this a superior situation to being fat, the same kinds of comments are made, except when you're skinny, people will say them to your face. Things like "string bean", "cricket boy", "spaghetti arms" and the like.

True, I can pretty much eat my fill of whatever without gaining weight, and this fills some people with bitterness. But this is no reason for name calling.

Anyway, gay men are notoriously "package" oriented. Skinny and fat are both bad. So it was that I started working out back in my 20's trying to get that body to go with my face and other notable features.(wink) I bulked up, trained incessantly, crammed creatine and sundry other supplements and put some meat on my bones. The trouble was that I attracted the most superficial people. And I started to realize that the most avid bodybuilders were often the shallowest and most vapid. (and I believe, those with the lowest self-esteem)

Just watch, that drop dead gorgeous and super buff guy across the street is more likely to be checking his reflection out in the shop windows than noticing you on the other side of the street. When I see this, I think, "You look unbelievably beautiful, why do you keep checking yourself out?" The only logical conclusion is that they don't feel too secure about themselves.

So for the past few years, I have stopped trying to get bigger and content myself with the "swimmer's body" (which really means skinny but cute anyway) and maintain it. No more supplements now, just a healthy hour workout twice a week, hitting all the body parts. And I avoid seeing my reflection except in the morning getting ready.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quick question

I woke up again today one minute before the alarm went off. This happens so frequently, I don't really find it odd anymore. The strange part is that the time on the alarm clock is set twenty minutes ahead to allow for possible pushing of the snooze button.

So what part of me keeps track of time so accurately, to the minute, and also notes the fact that the clock is set twenty minutes ahead.

It must be a pretty smart part of me, but it definitely isn't the conscious part of me.

I am unable to explain how this occurs. I submit that science is unable to explain it either.

Even when I'm asleep, a part of me is still unbelievably aware.

Which part is it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just a thought

Well folks, I'm running late this morning. If I had been a good boy, I would have prepared a post last night. But since the couch attacked me and held me down while the television tickled me, I've got nothing. Except a random thought:

The body I inhabit will one day turn to dirt, and perhaps foster the growth of other living things. In a way, it won't die. The conscious part of "me" doesn't really exist, so it doesn't really die anyway.

If there is more to me than mind and body, then it stands to reason that that part chose this life. This possibility makes me pay attention more.

Monday, September 26, 2005

When are the new language models coming out?

Why is it that we say the "alarm went off" when what we mean is that the alarm went on? There are lots of illogical facets of English, as there are illogical facets of French. (For example the noun "vagina" is masculine.)

One of the biggest challenges teaching English as a second language is to get around these roadblocks of "doesn't make sense". Or the transitive/intransitive meanings of verbs as in "I'm taking off now," and "I'm taking off my shoes now" describing completely different actions.

There are many logical parts of the language, but since it was cobbled together from other languages, you can never say "this is a rule" because there are invariably instances where the rule is broken.

Sometimes I have students who resist grammar. They resist it in their mother tongue, and consequently resist it when they learn a second language. They want to intuitively absorb it like they did when they were kids. Unfortunately, your brain is only wired to do it that way as a kid; as an adult, it's important to understand why you are saying what you are saying. In our mother tongue, we can usually be accurate just by checking in our heads if it "sounds" right.

I often tell my students, "I know it's crazy, and it doesn't make sense, but I didn't create the language, I just teach it. I understand your resistance, but that's the way it is." And then I give them an anecdote about my experience learning French, to show them how I felt the same resistance to some fucked up part of French. (Don't get me started on the subjunctive conjugations.)

The scary part of all of this, is that we "think" using these languages that don't always follow a special structure, that are full of idiomatic expressions. (How does it make sense to say, "I was had!" when you are the victim of swindling?)

We have to think using language, but it's like having to cook using a butane lighter. If language is the tool for thinking, I'm looking for a better model.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A few moments this week

Caught Martha Stewart on her new stint "The Apprentice". It really cracked me up when it came time for the firing and her line is "You just don't fit in." (The I'm so sorry look on her face.) Donald, on the other hand, gets to stab his index finger in the air and proclaim "You're fired!" (All masculine, finality and judgement dripping from his face.) I guess if Martha did that, she'd come off too much like a bitch.

On Thursday, I saw this in downtown Montreal: A man in his 30's, tall, skinny, and with a large mane of dreadlocks was rollerblading down the street. He was wearing a skin tight, neon green body suit and bobbing to the rhythm of the music. Music? Oh yeah, all the while, and I'm not making this up, he was playing a ukelele. (and rather well too) It was one of the oddest sights and it made me grin helplessly.

Redoing the facade at our place is going to cost 25k. I'm trying to ignore it, but it won't go away. Ouch.

Rented and watched "Crash". It left me empty feeling. It was like seeing how everyone would be if they didn't have their PC filter on. Depressing.

The foot is mending slowly, though I did too much walking on Wednesday and Thursday, so at the end of the day it filled with liquid and got all puffy and elephant like. The upside was that I got extra services from spouse ;)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Regal Sara and a joke

Caught this shot yesterday when I was playing with the dogs in the backyard. Somehow I got this beautiful picture of Sara, paying attention to some noise she had heard.

Don't really have a topic in mind to write about. It seems I've done a lot of spouting off this week, and so I thought I'd give everyone a break.

How about a joke. You may have heard it but it still makes me laugh.

A guy is driving down the freeway in the car with his girlfriend. They are having a big argument about infidelity. Behind them, a man and his 10 year old daughter are driving home from her school. They pay no special attention to the car in front of them.

The argument in the car ahead becomes more intense, and finally, in a Lorena Bobbit moment, the girlfriend reaches over and pulls out her boyfriend's penis, slices it off with a pocket knife and then hurls it out the window.

The man and his caughter in the car behind this scene are discussing stopping for ice cream when the other man's member makes a big "splat" on the windshield of the car. The father quickly puts on his windshield wipers and washes the thing off. The daughter, agape, says, "Daddy, what was that?" He replies, "Oh nothing honey, just a bug, you know there's a lot of bugs this time of year." The daughter pauses for a moment and says, "The bug sure had a big dick, didn't it?"

And that's the joke. Heard it before? Think it's funny? Perhaps not, but I do.

Enjoy the day!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Udder madness

Do you drink milk? I used to drink milk. I used to love milk, ice cold, for any occasion. I drank a glass or two in the morning and as a refreshing quaff throughout the day. You get a kind of pudginess when you guzzle gallons of white lactose paint, so I switched to non-fat. And why not? Current wisdom dictated that milk was good for mind and body, savior of bones, an all American staple.

Then I read this book called Fit for Life which was really a book about food combining/separating to aid in digestion and promote healthy dietary habits. One of the things that struck me in the book was the assertion that milk was for babies and kids, that adults are not designed for milk intake. This made logical sense to me (I also used to be married to logic) since I couldn't see any other adult mammals sucking off the tits of lactating members of their species. Adults MAKE milk, for BABIES to consume. And with that, I stopped drinking milk. It was tough at first, but it's been so long now, I can't even fathom consuming a glass today.

But oh, do they try to sell us on it. The udder squeezers are spending gobs of money to keep you on a baby's diet. A cow baby's diet to be more precise. Are you a baby cow? No, you're an adult human. Doesn't it seem a little whacko? You're drinking what a calf drinks, sucking from the teat of its mother.

And I hate to break it to you, but if you throw some sugar in and freeze it, you've got ice cream. This is where I run into trouble too, I still can't resist an ice cream now and then. Even though my stomach always reminds me that it's not wired for that now.

Pay no attention to those clever and hip milk advertisements. Their goal is to sell the baby cow diet on you, don't get sucked in! (yuk yuk yuk)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A little ode to fall

I read somewhere that what we consider "the leaves changing color" is actually not quite the case. That the true color of the leaf is the color you see during autumn, the leaves having stopped producing chlorophyll, which is responsible for the leaves' green color.

All we've been seeing throughout the spring and summer is the chlorophyll clothing, and it is only now that we can clearly see the uniqueness of each individual leaf. You can try as hard as you like, but undressed, you'll find no two exactly alike.

I think about this now, the leaves yellowing, the sun angle plunging, the gusty northerly winds, and I can start to see the face of fall.

Yesterday, I saw two sizable geese formations in the sky, scribbly cartoonish formations, and if you listen real hard, you can hear them honk honk honking to each other, "Which way?", "This way.", "Which way again?", "This way, over here."

The plumage is also changing on the birds. The starlings are getting blacker and shinier, all the better to soak up the limited winter sun (they stay here, and shun going south for the winter).

What do we need a calendar for, the sun is yelling at us, the trees are disrobing, the birds are on the move and changing clothes, the wind has tickle again.

Can you tell I love autumn?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Killing the inner child

During my teens and twenties, I had some very obnoxious behaviour that, while intensely amusing for me, provoked animosity among others. I had plenty of annoying and obnoxious habits, and today I'll tell you about one that I killed. One of the tricks my body was good at then was regurgitating. I'd eat a meal and then hours later I'd burp up a chunk of something I had previously eaten. I'm sure this has happened to you, and you might flinch or groan, but probably swallow it right back, no one for the wiser. But me, no, I wanted to share this special burp with others. So I took to displaying the contents of whatever had been regurgitated to whomever I was with. I found that this nearly always produced a visceral and severe reaction, which caused me to be helplessly amused. By far the best reaction I could cause was the gag reflex. One time in particular, I had drunk a coke pretty quickly and then I had one of those "foam" burps (very tame in the scope of the regurgitation years) and showed it to Brian, my roommate at the time. He was some kind of sissy, boy, and he immediately started gagging, and finished by throwing up right there on the floor, just from having seen coke foam! Ah, I cried laughing, but after that, he was rather wary of me.

Over the years I learned that people did not like to see the regurgitated contents of my stomach. (Luckily for them, I stopped drinking milk somewhere around 25 and this diminished the frequency of regurgitations greatly.) I still liked doing it, producing a reaction, but I started to care more for my circle of loved ones and started to ask myself why I found so much pleasure from their displeasure. And I turned it over in my mind, and looked at it and pretty much came up with the following. It is sadistic to derive pleasure from the pain of others, and I don't want to act on my sadistic impulses because I don't want my life to be about causing others discomfort, in fact, I don't want the impulses at all, but I know I can only control my behaviour. And I worked on it. And I stopped. And you know what, slowly but surely the impulses faded, and now it's just not a part of "me" anymore. Hooray! (And let me just go on record and say that I'm sorry to all of those whose minds I scarred by doing this to them. Really, I'm truly sorry. You know who you are.)

I share this with you because I think this was a great growing experience for me, and I have applied it to other parts of my life with some success. It helped me when I thought of it this way: What am I here for, is this regurgitating thing "me", part of my "purpose" here on earth? Of course I had to believe that no, this wasn't my purpose. I wanted to be a contributor, not a detractor, a builder, not a destroyer, and finally a nice guy, not an arrogant asshole.

It takes work, probably one's whole life, but it can be done. What thing that gives you pleasure causes others discomfort? If I asked you to come up with the thing that someone would say bothered them the most about you, what would that be? (You know what it is even if you've never been called out on it.) And that's where you should start. Because, and I'm trying to speak from experience when I say, you end up a better person.

Do I sound pompous? I hope not, because I don't mean any of this that way at all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Eating my foot

Oy, I've gotta make this quick this morning. I keep thinking I'll get used to these early mornings, but no, it's torture rising when it's still dark.

Had a student join the class yesterday after having been absent the first week. As I normally do, I try to get to know the student a bit, so I peppered her with the usual questions. "Where do you live?" " How long have you worked here?" "Do you have any kids?" etc. After revealing that she had four kids aged 8 -18, I asked about the father. She announced that he had died last month. I apologized and offered requisite condolences. Then I brought my foot up and crammed it into my mouth asking, "And who is watching the kids while you're here at work?" She immediatley burst into tears and I went into damage control mode, moving quickly onto something else.

There was so much pain there, just waiting to jump out, only I didn't see it.

God I felt like a schmuck.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The inner children have taken over

If you're under thirty, you were probably brought up with the "celebrate your individuality" bullshit that has plagued been a growing part of our cultural identity. And there are some merits there, encouraging people to not focus on bashing themselves for being gay, interested in birds, having curly hair and whatnot. This seems pretty healthy on the face of it, why spend your life being miserable about an intrinsic part of you.


The result has been a little alarming. Now we have everyone walking around celebrating their own faults, and proudly announcing "that's the way I am, and I'm not changing." Just watch any evicted guest from a reality show. I wouldn't change a thing, they say, I am how I am and if you don't like it, too bad, they opine.

I think people may have missed the point of this cultural exercise in promoting healthier citizens. Because there is a difference between "curly hair" and "being an asshole" in that one is much more of a choice.

So when I hear those words, "This is how I am, and I'm not changing," I sigh, and think how that person has decided to never grow in their life, to never look at their behaviour with a critical eye, and to work hard at embracing their defects.

The result is a bunch of adults walking around acting like children and being proud of it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This 'n that for a Sunday morning

Ok, a little week in review thing because it's Sunday, the day I permit myself some relaxed writing with no topic in mind. If I had to rate the week on a scale of one to ten, it would have been a snoozy five. Nothing big happened, but lots of little things did.

First spouse put up a Saltine cracker on Ebay that I had found. No Jesus or Mary images on the cracker, but weird nonetheless.

I bumped the injured toe again, causing terrible pain and extra limping. I did some research and I guess I won't be walking right again for another 2 - 10 weeks. I'm sure hoping for two, because we leave on a cruise in three weeks.

The blog hobby is necessarily suffering at the beginning of the week because I have crack of dawn classes then. I've noticed some new people stopping by, and if you're one of them, I will eventually get over to your blog, and give a shout. (Eventually, by the way, is not a fixed time window) Know that it makes me smile to see new people stop by.

One of my favorites, Popfizz, took off somewhere and made a goodbye post with all of his commenters referenced. Very nice way to stroke everyone before disappearing.

Bug's Butt found out I wasn't straight (gasp!) when Popfizz outed me (though I wasn't really ever "in") and hasn't stopped by since. Hmm. Still dig his blog though.

Psycho gave a great tutorial on downloading movies (for informational purposes only of course) and spouse and I have been trying all weekend to do it. It works, but for example the "Moulin Rouge" download says "approximately 82 days to finish downloading". This is not so good.

Got "Lies and the lying liars who tell them" in the mail from Daddio, and I'll be taking it on vacation with me.

Had a trying time with spouse, and we had the "would life be better for us if we split?" talk (this kind of talk is the opposite of fun). I think the biggest source of friction (and possibly at the same time, the key to our success) is that I'm the kind of guy who can be happy in the present moment. (I tend to be trepidatious about the future, and regretful of the past) He doesn't really live in the past or future, but has great difficulty being happy in the present moment.

I won twenty bucks on a dollar scratchoff ticket.

It rained buckets the last couple of days. Sara felt it was her duty to pattern the floor with her muddy paw prints.

It seems a lot of people are having tough weeks, Rebekah and Dantallion notably. If I weren't so consumed by my own tough week, I could probably be more of a cheerleader.

Ok, there's more, but you've probably already moved on from this post. So I'll close by wishing everyone a great week, and if you want to cry laughing this morning, just click on Stereolabrat.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Brain teaser

During my last class yesterday, I did a little activity called the silly intelligence test. You know, full of questions like, "Some months have 31 days, how many months have 28?" And your first instinct is to say "one", but the answer is really 12. (They all have at least 28 days.) It's fun and tricky and a good way to end a Friday. Then just as we are wrapping things up, one of my students says this:

Three guys go into a bar and order three Heinekens. The waitress gets the beers and says $30. (This must be a New York bar considering the price.) The men pay and she goes to the register. The manager sees the waitress at the register and says, "Is that for those three guys?" And she says, "yeah." He tells her they are good customers and to give them five dollars back, they get the discount price. So the waitress is walking back to the guys and thinks, "How am I going to split the five bucks between three guys," and decides to put two bucks into her pocket and give back the men one dollar each. Which she does.

Now the men paid $9 each for their beers ($27) and the waitress put $2 into her pocket, so where is the other dollar?

Then she announced that she would have to check with her boyfriend for the answer and tell us next week. I thanked her for poisoning my mind.

It took me about 15 minutes on the bus ride home to figure it out.

Can you?

Friday, September 16, 2005

The M & M story

Warning: Pictures will be graphically painted, the folks may want to skip this one.

It is 1984, there are four of us in a hotel room in Lake Tahoe. I am with my then boyfriend Pete. Dan and Mia are there too, none of us a day over 20. It is winter, and as underpcapitalized college students, alcohol figures heavily in the weekend. (We had ways of getting alcohol, underaged as we were.) During the weekend, a big storm comes and buries the town in snow, and we find ourselves more often than not amusing ourselves in the hotel room. (free, a perk for working as a busboy at the Hyatt)

Steeped in debauchery one night, snowfall stamping out the world outside, the topic turns to tricks we can do with our bodies. Mia declares that she can make "pussy farts" at will. We all find this fascinating and coax her to demonstrate. While we squeal with horrified laughter, Mia repeatedly sucks air into her vaginal cavity and expulses it quickly creating the farting noises. Not to be outdone, I announce that I can "breathe" with my anus. (I had seen some John Waters film where a guy lipsynced a song with his asshole and this fascinated me. So I had practiced getting into a position where I could relax the sphincter and let it open. I found that air tended to rush in, a kind of vacuum having been created due to the position I was in - legs over head, butt sticking in air. Soon after, I discovered that I could close my anus and push the air out, fartlike, open again, breathe in and fart out.) Looking back, I would like to think that it took considerable wheedling and substantial amounts of alcohol, but the truth is probably more like I jumped up and ripped down my pants and yelled "watch!".

I demonstrated my well practiced abilities in front of my friends who were convulsively laughing. Then someone suggested that I could propel objects from my anus with my skill. This had never occurred to me, and I was game. Luckily a bowl of peanut M & M's sat on a bedside table, the perfect projectile for the job. It was then Mia who took a peanut M & M, approached, waited for me to open (I had to stop laughing first) and "breathe" in. She gingerly placed the peanut M & M into my open anus (I can't recall the color), I clenched and shot it clear across the room where it clacked against the wall and to the floor. More peals of horrified laughter.
I can only imagine it as I couldn't see with my face turned away, but I heard the "clack" against the wall.

And that was it. For years, that story would come up and be passed around. And as time went on, I learned to feel shame about it all, though at the time I was right proud.

Maybe I missed my calling.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

When obsession becomes malady

Alright, I love music as much as the next person. But I also know that some people take their passion for music a little too far. You know like the guy who's got the music on so loud in the car that your windows vibrate as he passes. Of course, if music is your business, one would expect you to be overly passionate about it, so the following may not apply to you.

Let me repeat, passion is good, music is good, your desire to force it on everyone bad.

Here are a few signs that your music obsession is becoming a malady.

- You make sure to wear your ipod on the toilet.

- You are with guests (at home or another's home) and a song comes on that you like. You race over to the audio equipment, increase the volume and announce to everyone (who think you're a freak by the way) that they MUST listen to this song.

- You find silence intolerable.

- In the car, you feverishly scan the radio for a song you like. When the song is finished, you rabidly search for another. This is especially bad if you are the passenger.

- You put down someone else's taste in music. (Would you criticize someone for liking tomatoes?)

- You cannot stop yourself from dancing to some special song and are unable to communicate with others during the song. This is doubly wrong if you do it mid-sentence, mid-conversation with someone.

- You cruise the internet looking at artists' fan club sites.

- You require music during sex. (Can be fun, but a necessity?)

- You have a list of songs you want played at your funeral.

- You develop an ear infection from the overuse of headphones.

- You care and can hear the difference between analog and digital recordings.

- You can't have fun unless there's music on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A collage of yesterday

I knew I wouldn't have too much time this morning, so the last few work days, I took pictures as I tripped around town giving English lessons. I think Montreal is a very visually stimulating city. I made a little collage of the day which you can see below. Tomorrow I'll do a real post, until then, enjoy the pics! (You can click for a larger version of the collage.)

Clockwise from top left: Olympic stadium, Flower bed on the way to class, Sunrise over the Lantic factory, Near Square Victoria the park is equipped with misters, Waiting for my students to arrive, Morning in my monkey suit=unhappy, Facing the Palais des Congr'es, Underground tunnel. Center picture is a flower in the backyard.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Excremental anecdote

I'd love to carry on about more unmannered celebrities but I have to blow out of here before dawn. So just a spot of time for an anecdote.

When I was a kid, my parents had all kinds of code words for things and they never cussed around me. One of the oddest was "bathroom" which replaced any word having the meaning excrement. This led to (what now seem to be) some odd admonishments. Mom doing laundry, "Torn, you need to wipe better, there's bathroom in your underwear." Outside in the backyard, "Torn, look out, don't step in the dog bathroom!" And where other families would say "number 1" and "number 2" my family would ask if I had to go "potty or bathroom."

To this day, I still sometimes say, "I've gotta go potty."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bitchy and boundaryless

You know how she's all poise and smiles on TV. Maybe you can see a bit of her iciness through that? I can, believe you me. Whenever I saw her in person, she was in sweats, no makeup, no smiles, poiseless. Whiny, petulant and miserable was more how she came off.

Ok, it's 1988 and I'm working at the Rose Cafe in Venice. Arnie's office is a stone's throw from the place and the original Gold's gym is down the street. I worked the breakfast/lunch shift in the restaurant. Arnie and his hanger-onners would come in most mornings when we opened after their workout. Arnie's order was always the same, "Oatmee-ew." Sometimes Maria came in with them. She was always surly and out of sorts. Her hard angular face without makeup made her witch-like.

One day they came in and sat down five or ten minutes before we opened. (The coffeehouse portion opened earlier than the full service area which started at 7:30) The never waited to be seated, they just walked in and chose a spot. Didn't really matter, they were usually the first customers there in the morning. Anyway, there was about six of them there that morning, and I went out and got their order, brought them their juice and whatnot and waited for the vat of oatmeal to come out of the kitchen. I was placing the vat into the slot on the line in the kitchen where we scooped it up to serve to customers. There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned and Maria was standing there pointing at her watch. "It's 7:30, Where's the oatmeal!" It was both bitchy and whiny, a most irritating combination. But mostly I was appalled that she would march into the kitchen area (employees only thank you very much) like she owned the place and so I said, "You go sit down, and I will bring it to you when it's ready. GO! Go!" and I made the brushing movement with my hands. These people have no boundaries, didn't they learn about boundaries?

A couple of times, I caught her telling Arnie that he was leaving too much of a tip and removing some money from the tip tray. This, my friends, is unforgivable.

Neither of them were the thanking sort and usually treated me like I wasn't there when serving them. Arnie gave lots of attention to the waitresses - but that's another story.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Coffee chat

Ah, Sunday morning, the pressure is off. Sitting before the keyboard with my coffee, I ponder a topic and listen to the birds outside heralding the day. It seems I'm usually a bit silly and sappy on Sundays, so why break the trend.

The week has been quite eventful and there are some memories made that I will carry with me for many years. At the beginning of the week, there were a few personal tales from the Katrina/New Orleans event that I will not be able to shake. I'm not going to go into it here, I'm sure you've read your share of horror stories too. Then Wednesday, I'll never forget sitting in front of the Olympic stadium on the curb, relocating my toe. It almost seems like a dream now it was so horrific.

I've also gone back to working five days a week. This, I haven't done in two years. I prefer four, but hey when there's money lying on the floor, are you going to pick it up? I have 14 classes and 43 students this session which will conclude just before Christmas. I have lots of new students, and this is great because I can drag out my tried and true activities that they haven't done before. Am I boring you yet?

The sun is definitely plunging in the sky. The arc is getting so low now that the garden only gets sun from 9-2. It was 43 yesterday morning (6C) , and so, very soon the leaves will get the hint and start changing color. (Though the peak color will be around the tenth of October) Summer will wrestle with autumn for a month or so now and we'll have warm spates mixed with cool blasts from the north. I adore autumn.

What else? Not much, I want to go play, stroll (limp) and ride my bike on this beautiful Sunday in Montreal. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shameless namedropping

Famous people I've waited on. (That I can remember anyway, there were so many when I worked in trendy Los Angeles restos.)

Meryl Streep
Michelle Pfeiffer
David Schwimmer
Goldie Hawn (several times)
Kurt Russell (several times)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (many times)*
Maria Schriver(many times)*
Richard Dreyfuss
Julia Roberts*
Joe Pantoliano
Rod Stewart (twice)
Barbara Bush
Pat Robertson*
James Caan

They're all just regular people, except for Maria, who's an unmitigated bitch, and her hubby, who is, well I don't need to tell you, just watch him being governor.

*interesting story there - one day it'll be blogged

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ditch the labels

The trouble with labels, and maybe language in general, is that it limits your experience. Labels tend to lead you to pre-judgement, like if you listen to someone who affiliates with the *opposite* political party, you tend to discount their every word. Or like when you go to an Italian restaurant and there on the menu somewhere they offer Thai chicken skewers with rice, you are surprised since this is an Italian place, why would I eat Thai food if I'm here and they probably don't make it very well anyway since it's an Italian restaurant. (People are often surprised that my favorite dish at California Pizza Kitchen is the Chinese Chicken Salad.) So can you see a bit how the label restricts your perception of things, closes your mind in a way?

I think of myself as a liberal, but this is not entirely true, in political tests I score mostly liberal, but also conservative in some areas. So I am truly neither. I am truly both, as, I suspect, are we all. Gay? Straight? Old? Married? Professional? How limiting! You're going to go through your whole life without trying something even once, because you are not that "way". Are you sure? Because you really don't know until you try it. (Admire, won't you, my generous use of platitudes.)

Language is really a system of labels. It defines how we see the world by labeling different things giving them meanings that are shared by all the humans using that language. Many cultural differences are products of the language they speak. There is a kind of bias in the language predisposing you to certain kinds of behaviour/views on the life experience. From those biases, prejudices are built, and in a way we cannot escape. The mind needs language to "think", yet your thinking ability is limited by the words and meanings assigned to them in the language.

The only true meaning comes from your own direct experience. Sure we need labels in order to distinguish gas stations from supermarkets, but some labels foster instant judgement, like lawyer, prostitute, conservative, Christian, lesbian, and Tom Cruise. You can't get away from it, and it's necessary to function in the world.

But here's my advice, don't label yourself.

Because then you are going to say "I'm this kind of person, so I don't do things like that," and poof, you've severely limited your scope of possible experiences on this earth. You've got this one chance to experience things, don't go boxing yourself in by the labels. The only label that should really count is that we are all human.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Toe woes

Okay, so yesterday started off as well as can be expected when it starts with an alarm clock (a thing unequaled in its insidiousness), and I managed to scratch out a post and get myself cleaned, fed and partially clothed when I walked into the bedroom and caught the wooden corner of the bed with my foot. Now, in my defense, it's dark in the morning, and I try to be quiet while spouse is still sleeping. But no, shooting terrible pain as I hopped up and down on one foot exclaiming "Shit" repetetively and loudly. This was enough to rouse spouse to see what all the hubbub was about. Finally I calmed down enough for us to inspect the damage. (I'm thinking it's nothing, stubbed toes always hurt like shit) and then we saw that my middle toe was all crossed over the 4th and pinky toe, roughly 90 degrees from its normal position. It looked either broken, or like a toe had been removed from its socket. Spouse immediately cried "Ew, gross" while laughing. This is precisely the response I would have had if the tables were turned so I laughed too, albeit a bit hysterically. Then he said, "Hey let me pull on it, maybe it'll go back!" I, clearly in a state of shock, agreed to LET HIM. So he gave a couple of yanks and there were some popping noises but it still bent over to the right. Oddly not much pain. The area seemed numb and like my foot was no longer a part of my body. Probably a bad sign but no time for that. Now, I was getting behind, I had to go teach a class, and the bus doesn't wait. So, I threw on my shoes and socks and hobbled to class and taught the lesson.

When I came out, I decided to have another look especially since a low throbbing pain developed during class. And I thought maybe magically, from being inside the shoes or something, that the toe would be back in its place. So I took off my shoe, and then my sock, and there was the toe, all bluish and swollen along with a good portion of my foot. It still pointed sideways. I had to do something so I put on my wincing face in anticipation and attempted to put the toe back in its socket. I pushed and nudged, grimaced and whimpered, and after several squishy sounds and crackling noises it seemed to find its place (kind of like putting a stick shift in gear), it went back - sort of . The magnitude of the pain during the squishing and crackling brought a quick rush of tears to my eyes, and now I can't even be sure if it's in its right place, still looks a tad crooked to me, but that could be the swelling. I hear there's not much one can do in this situation except let things take their course.

This is my old nemesis, the newborn gazelle syndrome at work again; gangly and uncoordinated at times, I fall going up the stairs, and break my foot walking into my own bedroom. You just know I'm gonna be that guy who accidentally gets hit by a bus.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The kind of drivel I come up with at six in the morning

I've always been the more responisible one in the relationship, both with friends and lovers. Why is that? I'm always the rock, the one you can count on. Put up in the mirror next to me, most people come out more flaky, flighty and insovent. So I ask myself - would I be happy in a relationship with someone rich and powerful and independent? Would I submit to control measures placed upon me by that person? Probably not, I believe, unless he's drop dead gorgeous with a cock the size of Montana. Wait. That sounds superficial. Anyway, we can toss that possibility into the same bin as winning the lottery, plus I'm married - so moot.

Still, I wonder about such things.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

C*%tmouth f%*ker from asswipe mountain

That came from Rebekah, while we were chatting - in reference to Mr. Bush. Every time I hear his name now, I think of this charming pet name for him and giggle gleefully.

The rigorous schedule begins today, and thus, little time this morning to post. So I will just leave you with this. Do you think it's time for a haircut? People keep saying to leave it, it looks good long, but I'm not so sure.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Torn's first meme

Well, as I understand it, I've been "tagged" to do a "meme". I use quotation marks as I am not yet arrogant enough to toss these words around like my own personal slang yet.

And because it relieves the pressure of creating my own topic for the day, I will dutifully comply.

7 things I plan to do before I die: chase a tornado, save someone's life, retire, live in the country, live in another country besides the states or Canada, take up photography, quit smoking

7 things I can do: speak French, wiggle my ears, find magic in everyday things, predict the weather, play the piano, teach English, comfort others

7 things I cannot do: hang onto resentment, abide mercilessness, any sport well, lie believably, sleep through the night without having to get up and pee, be spiteful, force 7 people to do this

7 things that attract me to the same/opposite sex: vivaciousness, kind eyes, sense of humor, ablility to appreciate nature, hands, defects, and humility.

7 things I say most often: God!, Why choose unhappiness?, Look at that cloud!, Crap!, Let's analyze that statement., That's a good question., Love you.

7 celebrity crushes: Gosh, why would you have a crush on a celebrity, that seems like a waste of energy to me - here let me lust after something I'll never get. That said, I like the talents of Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep, and I wouldn't kick Brian Seacrest nor Will Smith out of bed. And I have an unhealthy love for Oprah, Ellen Degeneres and Bill Maher.

7 people I want to do this: See above under "cannot do"

Thanks for that Christian.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Gibberish for a Sunday morning

I don't want to talk about NOLA, I don't want to talk about Rehnquist,
It's Sunday, the day of connecting to spirit, or hangover nursage.
It's cool, breezy and crispily autumnal this morning,
In the village, sweaty men still dance.
Round noon, you can see them coming out of the afterhours,
Large pupiled, and sweaty-sexy smelling.
It's a holiday weekend, so many of them will be tourists,
Attracted to this place of Easily Havable Sex,
But the locals are the hottest.

I don't want to talk about NOLA, I don't want to talk about Rehnquist,
It's my day to ponder and putter.
I'll take the dog for a walk,
I'll get a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, blog a bit of nonsense.
The kids upstairs will frolic and stomp,
And Serge will get rankled,
But I like the sound of children playing,
And remembering the fun I used to have.
I'm going to eat a popsicle with them later today,
And get it all over my face, staining it purple.
Sundays are the funnest.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Let's blame it on that wheelchair lady

So, this has been a rather serious week and I've avoided (skillfully don't you think?) touching on the chaos that has ensued in the wake of Katrina. This is partly because last weekend I posted about my giddy anticipation for the destruction videos, and it's like "Be careful what you wish for." I know it's not my fault, but I'm really bad (read, fall apart weeping) when it comes to unnecessary human suffering.

I've been saying this for a long time, the right is heartless, the Republican right which currently holds power in America. Did it just slip everyone's mind that people need water to survive? Possibly, because if you're a heartless motherfucker, you figure it's someone's fault if they haven't planned ahead to have water, unique disaster scenario notwithstanding. What, too bitter?

Five days to deliver water on our own soil.

Still others have suggested that NOLA itself, that bastion of debauchery, acted like some Karmic magnet attracting disaster.

Hmm, perhaps people have been watching too many "Lost" episodes.

As you can see, I haven't much of a point here (which is fine, nobody reads the weekends anyway) except this: When are we going to learn to stop the knee-jerk blaming game - and learn to be compassionate. I watch TV and it's a cavalcade of blaming - does that make us all feel better, if we can blame it away, compartmentalise it, speculate about political and racial meanings in the chaos. Here's the blame list so far from various media/bloggers:

The people who didn't evacuate. (It's your own damn fault for being carless and poor)
The Corps of Engineers (Didn't plan for this event)
The people taking up arms in the city (Hello, can you see some merit for gun control now?)
FEMA (Bumbling idiots)
Bush (explains FEMA's bumblingness / also gutted programs)
The National Guard/Military (slow response - undermanned and undercapitalized)
The city of New Orleans (Duh, your stupid city is below sea level)
Prejudice (how else to explain the unacceptably slow response)

A HURRICANE caused this tragedy, but I suppose that that isn't a suitable target for our endless thirst for blaming.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Why choose hate?

Is hate wired into us? Do we have a natural inclination (or need) for hatred or is it more a product (learning) of our culture, upbringing and station in life?

I've had some form of the following conversation several times in my life with different people:

Me: So what do your bad feelings toward such and such a person do for you. Because you're the only one affected by them. Let it go.

Reply: I don't want to "Let it go", you know sometimes I just need to hate something and feel dark like this.

Me: I'm sure you would agree that it's not a very pleasant state to be in, I don't understand why you do this to yourself.

Reply: Just leave me alone. (or in a few instances) Fuck you Mr. Perfect.

So when I read Bug's piece yesterday (and thanks BTW for post fodder for today) I understood where he was coming from but I felt it was a weak take on the issue of hate. We're programmed to hate so let's acknowledge and embrace it? (You know, men are probably programmed to jack-off in public to attract potential mates too, but that's been trained out of us.)

No, I view hate as a weakness, even a personality defect. This is just me, but over the years I've worked to eliminate hate and resentment because it truly is as they say: Hanging on to resentment is like your eating the rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.

Hate debilitates you, nothing else.

Here, come closer I want to tell you something. It doesn't have to go on like this, after all, nobody picks their toenails at a restaurant.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Has the first domino fallen?

So this is the thing that worries me. I'm talking to em yesterday and she mentioned that she was a bit upset after talking to her friend. After inquiring as to why, she said, "Oh, you know like this is the beginning of the end kind of stuff, the Peak oil scenario." I asked further questions and now I'm worried. Especially reading today that gas is anticipated to rise to $5 per gallon. Doubling in price again, much like the housing prices in many parts of the country have in the past few years. But this price rise is going to have some very serious repercussions, because it isn't likely to go down. While oil extraction and refining are running at capacity and there is likely less oil to be found in the future, prices will only continue to rise.

And here's the problem: shipping goods is going to become drastically more expensive. Consequently, everything is going to increase in price. Which means that suddenly everyone is a whole lot poorer, their purchasing power drastically reduced. And then nobody can afford to buy your house, because they have to eat first, so the real estate prices will crash. This is wholly different from the Internet crash, because this oil problem is not based on speculation, the quantity of oil is limited on Earth even as we guzzle it up in ever increasing annual quantities. Obviously, this can't be sustained, and so I'm worried, this could be bad, this period of adjustment to other energy sources and the possibility of descending into a depression-like era.
Normally, I'm pollyanna, "Oh, why worry about that, nothing you can do to stop it, so why choose unhappiness" etc. I guess it's because I want to somehow prepare for it, before it's too late. But how?