Thursday, December 30, 2004


You don't fit in. Well, let’s face it, you don't – and it bothers you. No matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you don’t care, no matter how many times you tell yourself that you don’t need to conform - that you’re unique, that you’re one of a kind, that you’re an individual - it still hurts you to know that others look at you differently.

You try to push those feelings aside, but they creep up on you. They bubble up from the depths of your unconscious, oozing out through cracks in the thin skin of your seeming. Infected, you scratch and scratch, but the rash of insecurity spreads. It’s in your walk, your talk, the way you part your hair. You are unsure of yourself – and it shows.

You wonder if anybody else can tell, and I wonder that you even have to ask. Of course they can – they feel it, too. That self-doubt, that dubiety. High-powered businesswoman that she is, even your neighbour feels it. It lives in those feelings of apprehension she has when she wears a new suit for the first time – all day long she thinks about her ass, and whether or not it looks big in black. Your doctor queries his decision to wear his new shoes - he’s distracted all day as he wonders if they make him walk funny. The cable guy is embarrassed by the stain on his shirt, the priest feels that his robes might be a little too short, and the dentist doesn’t like her complexion under fluorescent lighting.

No, you don’t fit in - it’s true. But none of us do, really. And fancy yourself to be unique all you like, but you’re really just like every other person on earth: chockfull of self-doubt, brimming with insecurity, overflowing with uncertainty.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

rat race

The crystalline skyline of a city is what defines it. It’s what draws a person in or pushes them away. Makes them stay or makes them go. Inspires or impedes. It grows slowly, almost unnoticeably, like a mould, a fungus - a cancer, certainly. The buildings awaken and push themselves out of the earth. They stand around in groups gossiping for centuries, telling each other secrets and spreading rumours, which trickle down to the masses and mutate, turning into folk tales and urban myths. The skyscrapers rise out of the ground to become glass monuments, our tributes to wealth, to greed, intemperance, and hedonism. They’re mysterious places - places the poor will never enter, and the rich will never leave.

More teeming than populated. More crawling than teeming. More infested than crawling. Yes, the cities are truly infested with life forms. Millions of humans inhabit these cities, from the destitute poor who inhabit the streets to the better off poor living in the projects. From the more adventurous students living in the bohemian downtown neighbourhoods to the homogenous middle class contentedly tucked away in their safe suburbs. From the rich secured in gated communities to the superrich encased high up in their glass towers. They’re all there. Somewhere.

Feral cats fight with rats for control over a pile of stuffed garbage bags in Chinatown. One pack of rabid dogs squares off against another in an age-old contest of dominance – at one time it was over a certain glade known to be the primo spot for scavenging; now it’s an alley known for the same. It’s ravens against crows, gulls against pigeons. The black squirrels versus the brown. Everyone trying to get ahead. Or at least stay afloat. Somewhere in the city, a neon Coke sign blinks out and in its place a Pepsi sign flashes to life. Not even the more civilised humans can resist the eternal struggle.

The corporations desperately guard their secrets with layer upon layer of bureaucracy. There are forms to fill out forms, charts to explain charts, procedures on the proper way to describe procedures, and spreadsheets to keep all of this in order. Rules, regulations, and guidelines ensure smooth boardroom meetings. Customs, manners, and etiquette ensure smooth lunchroom lunches. Workers are hidden away within a labyrinth of drywall and drop-ceilings, decaying slowly under row upon row of fluorescent lights. Cameras are everywhere, watching, unblinking.

When she leaves at the end of the day, the typical worker scans her hand to log herself out of the system and record her hours. Then she uses her pre-programmed pass-card to exit the building. Her security clearance allows her to open certain doors, and prevents her from entering certain others. Not that she’d even try, though – she knows better than to try to break the rules. She uses her pass-card to take the elevator to the company exit in the basement, and the door opens, revealing the subway platform. Everything has been designed for ease of use, for convenience, and for safety.

No longer are the Haves required to venture outdoors in the city and interact with the Have-nots. No longer are the Haves required to venture outdoors in the city and risk becoming a statistic. No longer are the Haves required to venture outdoors. Everything a Have could want is inside. She just follows the skywalk, crossing from her building to the one beside it for some lunch. She can simply walk through the corridors beneath the towers to get from corporation A to corporation F – that is, if her security clearance enables her to do so. The typical worker rides the train out to her suburb, gets into her automobile, and drives the remaining five minutes to her house. Then she watches some television, sleeps, wakes up, and has the same day all over again. Her life has been designed for ease of use, for convenience, and for safety.

She’s protected from the Have-nots: the Asian gangs fighting over drugs in the downtown core, the Russian gangs fighting over guns down by the harbour, assorted black gangs fighting over territory in the projects, and French, Irish, Italian, and Greek gangs trying to get a foot in the door. She’s protected from the pimps, hookers, and johns perpetuating their symbiotic relationship in the only way they know how, the junkies and pushers dancing their everlasting rhumba, and the homeless trying to keep ahead in an increasingly cutthroat industry. She’s protected from the club-kids and ravers, drunken pub-crawling students, and boozy suburban tourists out for a night on the town. She’s protected from murderers and rapists, muggers and pickpockets, burglars and carjackers, and other assorted rapscallions and vagabonds.

Most importantly, she’s protected from herself.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


How does it all end? This epic, this saga, this poem in three canticles - this simple story - how does it end?

You see two selves - one who spends her days chasing fantasies, pursuing these chimaera through dark and light, never quite catching them. Glimpsing, every now and then, these spectral beasts - whom she accepts as truth - she goes off running, chasing them again and again, only to find herself forever reaching a dead end. She ends her days cynical and alone.

The other self spends her days acquiring pieces of the puzzle. She's educated, she's got a job which challenges her, a husband who loves her, a home which comforts her, and a child who worships her. She accomplished all of this by letting go of those chimaera. Those fantasies, those spectres, those dreams. She turned her back on childhood fancies, on goals which any fool could have told her were unattainable. She settled, and she, too, ends her days cynical and alone.

So, what then?

In an entry from Leon Trotsky's Diary in Exile, dated April 3, 1935, Trotsky had this to say:

"Life is not an easy matter... You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness."

Of course, great ideas can't stop a Soviet agent from plunging an ice pick into the base of your skull (which is precisely what happened to Trotsky just five years after his writing this), but having a great idea, a passion, can certainly give your life substance.

Yes, it all comes back to passions, and it's funny that the idea of passions (or lack thereof) is now brought to my mind, just as it was nearly one year ago today. On Monday, December 29, 2003, I wrote of my envy for passionate people:
Impassioned people fascinate me. Even if they're passionate about something that the rest of the world finds dreadfully dull, it's the very state of impassionment [which] intrigues.

Today, a year later, I can add to it, this: An impassioned person is easily envied because her life certainly has meaning and substance thus significance. Her passion provides a focus, and gives hope that there is more to her story than her self.

And this is all one really needs.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The cool breeze

The cool breeze blows on him, too. That writer you love - that whatshisname - he walks down a street similar to yours, the cool breeze chilling him, freezing his lungs, his breath. The cold tightens his aging hands, those same hands which type those words, those beautiful words - those words which you love. He's muttering to himself, firming up a new dialogue. The words hang in the air, frozen, each a perfect cloud of vapour.

He tucks his chin into his scarf, much like you do, pulls his hat down over his ears, and tightens his coat around his frail failing body. He fantasises of Tuscan beaches, of lying in the sand, of too blue skies and emerald waters. He's struggling to keep afloat in the deep end of a Canadian winter.

Stopping by his favourite pub, the writer - whom you love so much - orders up a pint of beer and some inspiration for lunch. He tips the familiar waitress, raises that pint to his lips, and looks out the window, watching the wind carry huge snowflakes by. The very same snowflakes you watched whip by your apartment window just moments earlier.

Ah, beautiful melancholy - not to be experienced alone. Yes, the cool breeze blows on him, too. That writer you love - that whatshisname.

Friday, December 17, 2004


She followed me there, to that small spot between close and closer. We didn’t have to go far, then – just a lot of words, really, to say we hugged. More embraced than hugged, I suppose - hugging being something the experts do, and something neither of us has ever been good at. But we try, don’t we? For now, though, we’ll call it an embrace.

It’s like this that you find us, then, all maladroitly wrapped up in each other’s arms; an arm under when it’s supposed to be over, hips mashed awkwardly together at uncomfortable angles, each face trying to look at the other but the controlling shoulders to tense to allow this action to take place comfortably.

“You are an extraordinarily good hugger,” I lie, hoping to put a quick end to this absurd feat.

Instead, I’m pulled closer.

“I’ve never really understood that word – extraordinary. Two words, really, extra and ordinary. Doesn’t that mean I’m a particularly ordinary hugger?”

“No.” The word is almost squeezed out of me, and I’m thinking this might, in fact, be the never-ending embrace. “It comes from the Latin extraordinarius. From extra, meaning outside, and ordo, or ordin, meaning order. So, really, your hug is outside of order - or ordinary.

Tighter. I can no longer breathe.

You’re bored of this conversation, this embrace, and as you walk away I’m vowing never to do this again. This hugging, this embracing, this clasping, grasping, squeezing. This clinching.

Freer than you or I,
Snow flies beyond the glass-
She’s not letting go.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sunday morning thoughts, pre-coffee.


I talk trash; be my compactor.

I think about you, you know. I'm like Kylie Minogue, in that I just can't get you out of my head. Like Dead or Alive, you spin me right 'round, baby. But, like Duran Duran, I don't want your love.

You are the books I've loved and lost.

My first edition of Anne Rice's, Interview with the Vampire - lent to a girlfriend in high school and never returned.

Chuck Palahniuk's, Lullaby - I still have the spot open on my shelf where you'll go when you find your way home.

And perhaps the hardest loss of all, Berkeley's, Three Dialogues - I hardly knew ye.

A beam of sunlight
Falls on the spot where you were-
All that time ago.

Thursday, December 9, 2004


More bottomless than deep. More fathomless than bottomless. More abyssal than fathomless. Yes, abyssal – the lake was abyssal beneath our raft.

It was night then, and our guide paddled quietly, his handcrafted oar gliding, almost whispering, through the water. The lake’s placid waters flawlessly reflected the moonlight, easily doubling our vision in those dark early hours of the morning - 2:36am according to my watch. But I knew my watch to be suspect, as I had forgotten to which time zone it was set. It mattered little anyhow.

There were three of us crowded onto the raft: the guide – a local I had borrowed from a local village, myself, and a visiting professor called Frum, Frumb, or Frumm. My notes for that day provide little in the way of certainty, as I have him noted as all three on those pages. It was a trying time.

As I peered ahead to the canopy of trees near which we were to land, Professor Frum (I refer to him as such simply because it is one less letter) leaned closer to me and whispered, “The stars,” and he gestured skyward, “the stars are amazing.”

I caught a look from the guide, who had warned us at the beginning of the trip to be completely silent, and I followed the Professor’s finger skyward. The stars were indeed gorgeous, as they always are were at this latitude; huge and bright - twinkling. I turned and smiled at Frum, noting the excitement on his face. I knew, then, that it was his first here.

And I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for him, then.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004


We had this thing about prophecies. More dreams than prophecies. More visions than dreams. Yes, visions - we had this thing about visions.

An old raft rocking on the ocean, nothing but the sound of waves lapping in our ears. The smell of salt in our noses – its taste burned on our tongues. The feelings of hunger, thirst, and the too hot sun turning our hides a brilliant pink, then brown. We don’t make it.

Now, a tunnel and the smell of earth and rot. Darkness, and the weighty feeling of inescapability. We scramble around frantically, hoping to find a way out, all the while accusing one another of getting us lost. Fingertips raw and bloody. We don’t make it.

We’re falling, but we don’t know from where. Having reached terminal velocity, we’re plummeting side by side, still arguing. Someone must take the blame. We’re both waiting to hit the ground. Talking, falling, talking, falling. We don’t m

Friday, December 3, 2004



A snowstorm in the mountains-
Thin winding roads
In a truck with no heat.


Batteries need alternators.
No mechanic
Needs to tell me that.


A long flat drive,
But no complaints from me
Since it was uneventful.


The trip is almost done.
Six days on the road-
Only three hours left.