Thursday, September 30, 2004

Haiku for today.

Carefully scripted,
The presidential debates
Accomplish little.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Their Indefinite Substance

Andrea saw the stars as infinity reflected in the inky blackness of her coffee on a moonlit patio. Marcus saw the stars as blurry fabrications - any meaning lost as their light strains through our atmosphere. Both wondered: What colour are the stars when gleaming in the eyes of a lover? But they were not lovers - nor would they ever be.

Lost and alone in the desert a long time ago, Mary de Jesús, Andrea's great-great-grandmother, found the stars at once incredibly useful and painfully not. Out of their indefinite substance she was able to fashion herself shelter, clothing, even companionship. She found though that their light could not provide sustenance. Her body lay beneath the stars barely half a day before becoming buried in the indifferent sand while the stars watched, unfeeling.

Antonio Luis Cardella, Marcus’ great-great-grandfather, was the designer of exquisite hourglasses. He could speak all day of the process he went through to craft his breathtaking creations, telling all who would listen everything down to the last detail. But the one thing he would not tell was where he procured the sand to fill the glasses, and he swore on the stars in the heavens above that he would take this secret with him to his grave. Antonio was an honest man, and stuck by his word.

No, Andrea and Marcus were not lovers – nor would they ever be. Nor could they ever be. Andrea saw the stars as everything - Marcus, nothing.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Anywhere, Buthere -

All cities are all cities. Take that sentence, dear reader, take it and do whatever you want with it. To your hearts content, you can bounce it around inside that imperfect sphere-like chunk of bone you call a skull. For all I care you can throw it in a blender, hit purée, pour it into a squat glass, and suck it through a Donald Duck straw. Go out right now and purchase the best meat grinder your funds will allow, feed through it that very line of words, and throw it on the barbeque. (Use a tangy sauce and season to taste - invite the neighbours!) You can hot-blend it, can it, and spread it on your toast next spring. Fold it up really small, tuck it inside that useless little pocket (you know, the pocket inside the other pocket) in your designer jeans, forget it there, and send those jeans through the washer. Cut it up, burn it, and bury it in the backyard. Feed it to the dog! Do any of these things, and that sentence will hold meaning, will still ring true. All cities are all cities. A sentence; a collection of common letters turned rare. Live by it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Mifbon, Talornek -

They said they wouldn't hurt us and I had no reason not to believe them. But the trip between there and here was an awkward one (to say the least). It always is.

Now, trapped in this dreaded room, I have time to think. Perhaps too much time. One thought pervades my mind:

Hotel walls are thin.

Try as you might, you can not ignore the words on the other side, muffled at first, then clearing as your ear gets closer and closer to the wall.

I like a man who can keep chaos in check.

Who doesn't, you think, as you press your ear flush. Stories, so many stories, are told and untold on either side of a wall.

How did you end up here, here with me?

Some stories, my dear, are greater than even you.

You are cruel.

I am.

You haven't told me your familial name, only your first.

They called me Freddy Rimbault.

Frederick Rimbault - like the author?

Not like - the very same.

Mr Rimbault died a few years back.

You are correct.

They say he was very secretive, mysterious, ambiguous.

You know, now, the nature of the man you share your bed with.

I have his book in my library, you know. Your book.

His book.

He wrote beautifully. If you are indeed he, could you not write something as beautiful? Something for me, right now?

I can not.

Tell me your story, from the very beginning.

Every second is a beginning.

Tell me your story, I need to know.

My story is complex - perhaps even a little unbelievable.

I'm gullible.

Well, as I said, each second is a separate beginning, so I hardly know where to start.

What are you thinking about right now?


Go on.

We stayed in an upstairs room in London, overlooking the rooftops of the stores in the old marketplace below. I had not much money at the time, and just as the rats on the store rooftops scrounged for food, so did we. It was a simple life, but a happy one. We had each other. We were in love.

You said your story was unbelievable. There is nothing so unbelievable about love.

Ah, you have never been in love then.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

When I Was a Security Guard

Once upon a time, due in large part to a nasty virus that was threatening to overtake my city (snicker) and destroy the industry in which I worked, I couldn't get a job. Nearly six months later, desperate, and almost at the end of my government-funded vacation, I did what any other able-bodied, hopelessly unemployed person would do: I became a security guard.

Sounds flip, I know. Like I just sort of became one. In truth, it was just that easy. One day I'm playing Doom in my pajamas, guzzling coffee, and eating boxes of saltine crackers, and the next day I'm being issued a maglight, notebook, ill-fitting blazer, and, most importantly, a clip-on tie.

A couple of days later, after some token training sessions, I was put out into the wacky world of corporate security. (The incredibly useful training sessions came complete with American training videos from the 80s, with all the stereotypes you could ask for: the tough, white, mustachioed, hulk-like security guards in their neatly pressed uniforms - epauletts glistening. The slight, black, too-fly B-boys, recklessly hanging around a mall with their crazy, crazy rhymes. The flashy, Mexican pimp with his hoe-slappin' hand at the ready, getting all rowdy-like in a clinic waiting room. With those characters crammed into my head, along with all of the completely surreal situations they found themselves in, how could I go wrong?)

So prepared was I, that soon after this most enlightening experience I was dispatched to guard a multi-billion dollar piece of property - all one million square feet of it - housing two of Canada's largest companies and one obscenely large American financial company. Well, so it wasn't like I was alone or anything - there was another guy there too. That's only what, 500,000 square feet apiece?

Was I overwhelmed? No. Funnily enough I wasn't. To be overwhelmed, one would have to take the situation seriously. One would have to feel that there were consequences for one's actions. One would have to actually be a security guard, heart and soul.

I wasn't - I was the night shift.

I was just one of three who worked those hours. (By choice even. You see I thought that I'd be able to get a lot of writing done at work. I didn't take into account just how uninspiring being a security guard would be.) There's something different about night shift security guards: they do not care. Remember that. Think that tired-looking guy sitting at the desk in the lobby of your apartment building cares about your well-being? He doesn't; he's just there because he couldn't find a job in his field. Does that jaundiced guy who sits in the booth in the underground parking garage all night make you feel safe? He shouldn't; he's just there for the pay-cheque.

I know what you're thinking: But that guy who sits at the desk in the lobby of my office building sure looks like he cares about his job. When I leave late at night, positively aglow with the magic of Cubical-land, I even see him patrolling the outside of the building! Now, I hate to disappoint, but that guy is most likely either (a) trying to stay awake (and you should thank him for even making the effort), or (b) it's his turn to get the coffee. In fact, I'm willing to guarantee that if there is a fire in your building, that guy is not going to waste his time trying to remember the procedures for properly evactuating certain floors in a way that best minimizes property damage. No, not that guy. You'll be lucky if that guy stops to put the building into general alarm before becoming the first one out the door.

As my good fortune would have it, I wasn't sitting at a desk in my office building. No, I had the luxury of working in an enclosed room we called the Control Centre. It's a place kind of like the room on that Las Vegas TV show. Only without all the action. And the good-looking people. And the fun. None of that stuff, no - just a bank of computer monitors, out-dated CCTV monitors (all the radiation we could ask for!), and a few panels filled with lights for alarms that we were supposed to understand. But we never really did understand. Or care.

Most nights were spent in conversation with my partner, usually plotting against the day shift, laughing about hypothetical situations, and otherwise shirking our responsibilities. If we weren't engaged in idle chat (which rule #131, in section 2.7 of the Standing Orders forbids. Which reminds me - I'm not even going to get into the outrageous, Kafkaesque bureaucracy of that job. Let me just say, though: forms for filling out forms. Oh yes) we were sleeping, or hacking the satellite to watch movies. Yes, it was quite the job. And what's worse is that I did it for almost a year.

All of that ended about 5 months ago when I took this job, and it's taken this long for me to even write about it. And while my current set-up is mind-blowingly boring, and I should seriously look into whether or not Worker's Compensation covers you if your job triggers a mental illness, the pay is markedly better, and, most importantly I can say: At least I'm not a security guard.


My current gig is up next month and I'll be unemployed once again. Who knows where I'll end up.

Friday, September 3, 2004

Lux Motel, Ibiza, Spain 2 -

An open letter to the lady at the coffee shop

How does your coffee suck? Let me count the ways.

First I'd like you to explain the process by which you make your coffee so very flavourless. From what I understand, coffee is produced by a very simple process of percolating H2O through ground coffee beans. I also understand that coffee beans are, by their very nature, a rather pungent bean. This leads one to the very natural conclusion that all coffee should, in the very least, have some modicum of flavour. In this, you have proven me wrong. So wrong. So flavourless is your coffee, Coffee Shop Lady, that I am, at times, able to convince myself that I am drinking water. Dish water, that is.

This leads me to the subject of the very interesting colour of your coffee. For a liquid so devoid of flavour, one would expect that it would also be utterly devoid of colour. But this is not the case. No, your coffee does not possess the typical rich brown hues commonly associated with coffee. Maybe you found that particular colour to be unpleasant, unappealing, unattractive. Maybe you found the mundane brown colour so unsatisfactory that you set out to invent a new colour for coffee. Thus, you somehow found a way to lend a rather unique yellow colour to your blend of coffee. A yellow colour that, when mixed with cream, becomes an interesting malarial off-white colour. (Rather pretty, I must say. Inspiring, even. I might, in fact, paint the walls of my home that very colour - should I ever have a home again.)

And the texture. Texture? Yes, texture. How is it that I manage to consistantly find grounds in my cup? And not even just at the bottom - which would be almost forgivable - but somehow floating throughout, as though defying the very laws of physics by which most of us have to live. Yes, you've somehow managed to instill the curious quality of neutral buoyancy in your coffee, and for this you do deserve some reluctant applause.

There are many other things I'd like you to explain to me, Coffee Shop Lady - the dirty cups your foul beverage is served in, the displeasing temperature at which you choose to serve it, and, indeed, the deplorable conditions of your establishment in general - but these will have to wait for another time.

You see, I have something to do right now; I'm really craving a coffee. And, due to my rather lackadaisical approach to dealing with such pressing matters as these, you'll be seeing me in about three minutes. You are, after all, the closest coffee-selling outlet to my current residence. Yes, in about three minutes I'll walk through the door of your repulsive establishment, I'll smile and ask for an extra large double double to go, and in thirty seconds more you'll slide a big cup of that disgusting brew across the counter to me. I'll pay you, thank you, even, and raise that paper cup to my lips in joy, taking a sip. Sating my addiction.

Thank you, Coffee Shop Lady. From the very bottom of my nauseous guts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Lux Motel, Ibiza, Spain -

Our subject wears so well the role of a writer – the worn cardigan sweaters, the brown-checked loden coat complete with leather elbow patches, the almost-expired Oxfords – that he is, at times, almost able to convince himself that he is one. But he isn’t. No, not this guy. To be a writer you would have to actually write something first.

Okay, that’s unfair, and might even be a little misleading. Allow me to clarify; it’s not that our subject never writes. No, he does, in fact, write – just not often or very well.

But look, we’re in luck! he’s writing right now, all hunched over his laptop computer, bathed in its soft blue glow, a pile of dishevelled wavy black hair spilling forward over his horn-rimmed glasses. Ah, yes, a writer, indeed. Watch how he first types furiously, then stops to think, stroking his stubbled chin, pondering, contemplating, ruminating, before resuming his work at a maddening pace.

If we were to look over his shoulder – which we won’t because it would be the epitome of rudeness to disturb a writer at work – we would find that he’s filled the entire screen with writing. Not bad! we would think. But upon further inspection we would find that the writing is not so good – correction - is bad, even. One might even call it the worst writing one has ever read - if one were wont to be so honest.

But wait! the subject appears agitated. Let’s give him some room, shall we?

All of a sudden the writer highlights all the words on the screen and lets his finger hover over the delete button momentarily before bringing it down with a satisfying click.