Saturday, December 28, 2013

5 Little Words: The Crisis

*Author's note: A random word generator gave me crisis, poker, colony, handbag, jealousy. I am challenging myself to write short, creative pieces using the five words given to me.

"We're in trouble, aren't we?"

"Did you hear me? The boss is going to flip"

"I heard you, I'm just thinking."

"How can you stay so calm? Any minute, he is going to walk in here demanding answers and we both know that he is not going to be understanding or patient!"

"I'm staying calm because I am sipping Chamomile tea while you are freaking out. Also, this crisis is only one of four different crises I am currently dealing with - two of which both involve different kinds of balm and the fourth, embalming."

"Embalming?"

"Right - my dad has been an embalmer for the past 25 years and his employer is trying to force him to quit because he refuses to update his methods. It angers me so much that his ancient Egyptian methods are no longer valued."

"Look, I'm sure that situation is tough for you, but can we try to stay focussed? I have my bi-weekly poker game tonight and I want to fix this, so I can get out of here on time. Ideally, I would leave a few minutes early, as it is my turn to bring snacks and I was planning on making my too-die-for Pork-encrusted, bacon-wrapped, prosciutto-stuffed ham hocks served with a side of fried pigs ears. The last time I made these yummy snacks I smelled like a pig for a week, which, coincidentally is what my horoscope the next morning had predicted for me."

"You any good at poker?"

"I think so. When I was growing up, my parents let me play a little bit with them and this eventually grew into somewhere between 93 and 95 hours of on online poker per week by the time I turned 18. At one point my old roommates were worried and tried to stage an intervention, but I called their bluff. They only wanted to use the card tables to make a really awesome spaceship."

"You play poker almost 100 hours a week online???"

"No no no! I used to - now I spend quite a bit of time watching K-Pop videos as well.

"I used to be really into K-Pop as well, but now I mostly watch You Tube videos on embroidering. My original plan was to cover all of my walls with decorative embroidered hangings, but that slowly morphed into my designing a series of miniature doll houses for a Mars doll colony that I have set up in my rec room."

"I'm really not too sure how to respond to that except to say 'huh' and 'wow' and "thank you'."

"Well, I also have a vested interest in leaving here somewhat on time today. My side business designing modernized vests for movie theatre ushers takes up a lot of free time that used to go towards training for the competitive domino circuit. I am also pondering investing in the lucrative handbag futures market."

"There is money in handbags. Also in the bank, which reminds me I also need to go to the bank so I can smell my money for a while."

"Thinking about handbags reminds me of my grandmother. What a strong woman - she was a such a trendsetter in so many ways. Also she had a set of handbags in the same vein as Russian nesting dolls. This seemed a good idea when she first purchased them until she tried to find her nail file and had to check all 19 bags."

"Are we going to try to solve this problem, this crisis before the boss shows up?"

"I guess we should."

"Do you have any idea what we should do? I'm all out of ideas."

"I have a plan. Do you promise not to be jealous this time? Your jealousy is so tough to deal with. It's not my fault that I have a naturally shiny forehead and that birds often perch, and occasionally mate, on my shoulders."

"Me jealous of you? Hardly. I know you covet my charm bracelets and also my other bracelets as well. Don't deny it!"

"Talking to you is like talking to my dad. Probably because you are both 5'8" and have bushy mustaches and treat my sister like a daughter.."

"I wish we could get some work done. Can we please get some work done? Why, oh why, can we not just get some work done!??!?! Or order in some Chinese?"

We both freeze as the door knob abruptly turns and the door opens. It is our boss and he can tell instantly that we have failed. 


Friday, December 27, 2013

You and I

I was pulling out my daughter's tooth, dreaming of the Karaoke competition next week, mentally flossing my own teeth.

You constructed a human-sized hamster wheel and spend weeks running in it. There is no way the hamster should have all of the fun.

I am running after the bus, sweating profusely, speaking in tongues (note to self - trying using fewer tongues).

You are walking on a sandy beach, looking for crab shells. Your grand plan is to make a life-sized crab-styled mosaic art piece of a girl jumping on a trampoline.  

I count my toes, then recount them and finally count them a third time. After a nutritional snack, I repeat. Later in the day, I am clearly bored by this activity, so I start counting my fingers.

You are climbing a tree. Each new branch you step on feels like a new height achieved, a new step, a higher bar. You feel such a sense of accomplishment and  strikingly pretty.

The grass seems to move rhythmically in the wind, almost like the dried grass skirt of a hula dancer. The leaves blow to and fro in the air. A thin layer of dust is blown off the basketball court. I sit there taking it all in, playing with my Barbies.

You are so cool.

I imagine that I am a rabbit and that the little girl standing at my door trying to sell me Girl Guide cookies is a ravenous fox. She seems fairly perplexed when I vigorously hop away.

You park your car and race to your house to answer the phone. As you fumble with your keys, you break into a Broadway-style song-and-dance. 

I am learning Latin in the bath so when I sink my enemies boats I can gloat properly.

You are in Rome looking at magnificent art work. Next week you plan to go to your mother's house to mock her. Then you will return to Rome looking for a hug.

I sit on my chair laughing and laughing and laughing. Tomorrow I will try to laugh standing up. If that works I will sell my chair.

Water drips from the kitchen tap while you try to sleep. Drip, drip, drip. Finally, after what seems like hours, you turn on the tap in the bathroom full blast drowning out the drip. Ahhhhh, peace at last.

I move in slow motion. When will the madness end, or at least speed up again?

In your dreams you are being tortured by a horrible prison guard who is barking at you for answers. You awake, startled, surrounded by stuffed animals, longing for some lemonade either for drinking or for setting up a lemonade stand as it is quite clear that business would be great.

I am walking down the street in front of my house, eyeing everyone who passes by either empathically or pathetically based on what I think they need at the moment. This fun activity quickly leads to a killer headache. 

After months of planning you break into the library in the middle of the night and set up a huge fort made out of books. Your initial idea was to make a dominos-like display but you are trying to become less predictable over time.

I am trying to lead life more fluorescent-ally. 

You have this great idea to buy bags and bags of marbles and then mail them to me marble each day. I am forced to go buy bags to put them in and I know that was your plan all along. Touché.

I am starting to worry more and more, and I wonder if I should just give up. As a last ditch effort, I drop everything and spend the afternoon on the bench press to work on my pecs because that is what He would have wanted.

You start to act like a king all the time, wearing a crown, acting pompous, using an excessive amount of nutmeg.

I am riding on the back of a motorcycle whipping around tight corners in the Brazilian forest. Where am I going? Who is chasing me? Who is driving the motorcycle? Damn I smell good.

You buy a huge block of ice and melt it with an iron. You immediately realize the error in your ways and attempt to refreeze it. You've never made this mistake before, and you may do it again because it was actually quite fun.

I am sitting in my room doodling. What starts out as mindless, aimless, meandering drawing slowly turns into a succinct and eloquent solution to the problems between whales and seals. A radical solution that the world is just not ready for yet.

You are filled with equal parts remorse, middle-aged ness and nausea. You are nothing if not good at balancing your feelings.  

I decide to start making my own clothes out of sheep's wool. I start with a sweater, then a pair of socks, some pants and finally a hat. I am so proud of my new duds. Life is incredible! New friends, VIP status and a big raise, but inside I know it is so wrong. A few days later I give myself a shear.

You look into my eyes and smile. I look at your smile and we break into a spontaneous waltz.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

5 Little Words: My Cousin

*Author's note: A random word generator gave me cousin, satire, umbrella, medicine, and shadow. I am challenging myself to write short, creative pieces using the five words given to me.

I left the house early on a Saturday morning. Today was going to be a good day, or at least I was hoping that could be possible for a change. I have experienced quite a run of mediocre ones, which, while fun at first, had become a bit mundane. I stood on the corner of my block and remembered that I had initially planned on making my day into a satire akin to Gulliver's Travels or A Charlie Brown Christmas, but I had needed the sleep after staying up all night knitting myself decorative leg warmers. Satires involve a lot of front-end planning and some biting humour is necessary as well. I was amazingly proficient at biting and was named "Most Likely to Be Humourous (or at least provide humour for others often in embarrassing or accidental circumstances)" by the yearbook staff back in grade 12. Regardless of all of my efforts, I was never able to put the two together. Once I came close - I made my cousin, Helen, very uncomfortable when I gave a 25 minute speech at her engagement party comparing her pact with Dietrich to the Visigoths sacking of Rome in 410. I stood there feeling triumphant, the crowd was stunned (most likely because I had just followed her mother who wept uncontrollably for 5 minutes and then broke into an incredible rendition of the national anthem and a rare uncle who had a talking parrot that was able to read fortunes but only of fellow parrots), Dietrich clapped a little too vigorously (I later learned that he hated ancient Rome) and Helen, poor cousin Helen, how I had wanted to treat her with some appropriate satire at her engagement party as she had requested of me. I had failed once again.

While I was remembering Helen it started to sprinkle with rain and I wished I had brought my umbrella. Often my umbrella seemed to provide me with much more then just shelter - I would be whisked away to a fantasy land full of fairies and elves where candy grew on the trees and big barking dogs tried to chase me until I gave them the dog food I was hiding in my trousers. Sometimes I looked up at the rainbow of colours on my umbrella and I imagined that each was a little less colourful - I sort of felt inadequate while seen with my umbrella, as others seemed a little more interested in what it had to add to the occasion. I subconsciously tried to add colour and flare and roundness to my life, but was totally unable to do this. After years of searching for a reason why it hit me when I experienced a wave of deja vu during the extraction of my wisdom tooth. I remember sitting in my room as a ten-year old watching in horror as my older brother dressed as a particularly friendly clown painted over everything that was colourful making them different shades of brown - my walls, my bed, my toys, my heart. The smell of the paint mixed with the popcorn my parents had made downstairs led me to draw pictures of stick people that had very proper relationships with each other. I decided to retrieve my umbrella before the rain ruined my new perm.

It hit me - I knew what I had to do today! Umbrella in hand, Helen on my mind and satire coursing through my veins (my arteries were coursing with newly oxygenated blood as usual) I went to my pharmacy to retrieve some medicine for my horrible and amazingly hairy back. I often felt that I was predestined to be covered with hair and one day possibly look like a dog show contestant or some sort of extra terrestrial looking to unload some hair samples. In a moment of reckless abandonment after a particularly successful game of Yahtzee, I had accidentally mixed up my protein shake for my roommates' natural scalp elixir (not surprisingly his elixir tasted far better than my drink, but then again I am a big fan of the flavour of castor oil). My hair was plentiful! The first signs of change were seen on my head where my afro dropped towards the ground as a result of gravity and now looked less like a hairdo and more like an auburn artificial putting green. Then it spread to my back and I was worried as I was planning on going speed dating that evening and I fairly certain that the last hairy guy snatched up the only woman who preferred her men to have a touch of Sasquatch in them. My doctor said he had an experimental medicine that he wanted to try and if that failed he had some industrial strength tar and a huge bag of feathers. I was intrigued and excited by those, but had no clue how that would help with my hairiness except to distract others from it.

While walking to the doctor for my medicine, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I became focused on my shadow. Taller than me and walking ahead almost as if it was flaunting its ability to exist in two-dimensions. Dark and mysterious, I became quite impressed with my shadow - sort of like how a father or a trainer of homing pigeons must feel. I felt a twang of guilt as I remember how I crossed the line with my first girlfriend insisting on interacting with her solely as a shadow projection on the wall. She had asked me and pleaded with me to stop while vividly remembering how she had experienced multiple traumatic events involving shadows as a child raised by the two top sock puppet artists this side of the Mississippi ("they insisted on shining a spotlight on the wall of my bedroom 24 hours a day even when I had nose bleeds"). I stopped outside the doctor's office and leaned against the wall of the building gazing up at the sky. A particularly wispy cloud momentarily passed in front of the sun lightly covering me and the surrounding area with a shadow. I wished the shadow was like a large comfortable duvet that could cover me and keep me warm in these nefarious times in which I live.

The door was locked.





  • Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Me and You

    I am biking so fast along the coastal highway, remembering a simpler time when I spent much of my time surrounded by marsupials, marsupial stuffed animals and bamboo leaves.

    You awake in your room. Your socks are missing. You nod back off to sleep. You wake up and your room is filled with socks. You fall asleep again. You wake up and in front of you is a group of young socks performing a moving rendition of Swan Lake. You nod off one more time and this time when you awake you are outside your house and there is a row of socks staring at you in a menacing manner from your bedroom window.

    The wind blows the hat off my head exposing my hair that usually makes small children cry. Except for that "odd" one that lives across the street. He just eats noodles.

    You are running away from your brother. Both of you are on treadmills - yours is just set a little bit faster.

    I went to see this horrible movie. It was incredibly bad and I spent the entire movie rolling my eyes. At one point I wondered why the characters kept rolling down a hill. I forced myself to focus, they were having a picnic on a hill top. The eye rolling, incidentally comes from my father's side of the family. I come from a long, proud line of eye rollers. While many of them were beheaded for this, I just ended up in the hospital surrounded by bed wetters. 

    You spent your day eating rice one grain at a time. Sort of like a hot dog eating contest except only considerably much slower, with much less fanfare and with a much higher approval rating from your gastroenterologist and your roommate.

    I am sword-fighting with my arch-nemesis. Later on in the day he will attempt to rescue me from a rabid dog, but will fail and I will feel horribly guilty, in hindsight, for cutting off his right arm.

    You accidentally make a really hilarious shadow puppet. Everyone laughs and laughs and pats you on the back telling you how great you are. Despite your best attempts, you let the accolades go to your head. You quickly become the most egotistical, shadow puppet making jerk in the neighbourhood. Luckily for you, your self-effacing, autobiographical shadow puppet play entitled "My Life In Shadows: The Shadowy Story of One  Person's Battle With Their Shadows (as depicted by shadow puppets)" is very well received and people downgrade their disgust towards you to a casual indifference.

    I sold my couch yesterday. Now I am sitting on the floor wondering how I got here.

    You are lying in the corn field, waiting for the corn to grow. Years from now you will only remember the thorn stuck in your elbow.

    I awake with a strong urge to make snow angels. The doctor says I should take one of the large green pills now and another every 5 minutes until the urges go away.

    You are frying some broccoli, doing long division questions in your head and getting your head massaged by THE BEST FREAKIN' HEAD MASSEUSE IN TOWN! The prophecy came true. You were wrong to doubt that weird old woman at the country fair when you were 7 - the one who made you rub her warts with a silk cloth not the other weirder one.

    I am standing at a right angle to you. We are both quite satisfied with this arrangement as neither of us can stand obtuse or acute positions. This does make it very hard to walk down the street together without drawing stares or having one of us smack into newspaper boxes or elementary school crossing guards.

    You have decided to buy a new pair of shoes. This makes you quite excited. So excited that everyone just wants you to shut up already and go buy the shoes!!! I mean what is taking you so long!!! Just do it!!!. Little did we know but you were having second thoughts.

    I like frogs. I really like them.

    You are whistling a happy tune in a rainstorm, attempting to return to your homeland, or at least somewhere where your happy-tune whistling is more appreciated.

    My dreams have finally come true! The day I have been waiting for is here! The bookstore is finally letting me volunteer my time rebinding books for their annual discount book sale. I will spend hours upon hours rebinding books on Ornithology, Osmosis and Oxymorons. They will only let me touch the Os. Can you blame them?

    You are cooking your famous pasta sauce when you are interrupted by a phone call from your mom berating you for not using enough garlic. What do you know? She's right! "Thanks mom" you say. She has been calling you at 7:00pm exactly with the same message for years and it finally made sense. The other times led to disaster and painful nose bleeds and, one time, a very relieved vampire.

    I am attempting to teach my cat how to differentiate between mice with feelings and mice who need to be eliminated NOW!

    You are swimming across the Atlantic, when you released that you left your lights on, the roast in your oven and the refrigerator open. Then a shark bites your leg and the other, seemingly important things quickly seem so much more trivial. And to think you never could find any positives with shark bites before. Sharks  - changing your perspective one bite at a time.

    We work together to create an amazingly detailed miniature model of the Battle of New Orleans using handmade soldiers created out of leftover congealed meatloaf. I go to sleep with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Meanwhile, you go rent a steamroller and flatten the entire thing. I wake in the morning crying and you try to blame the whole thing on raccoons. I almost believe you until I remember all of those steamroller lessons you took last month.








    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Harry

    Harry often gets so angry that he punches walls. He also loves the symphony. Sometimes he wishes he had a dog so that he could kick it, but he understands that that would make him a really bad person and his psyche just couldn't handle that sort of blow. He has been known to force feed pigeons more crumbs of stale bread even after it is abundantly clear that they have had enough for the moment. To say that Harry is complex would be to use the wrong descriptive word. Harry is above a simple, dictionary definition. He is both modern and caveman-like, he is both an avid outdoors-man and yet he has spent many years perfecting the structure of the walls in his house and he is both rule-driven and an avid rule-breaker depending on the amount of testosterone screaming through his system. He loves eating eggs and yet he spends many hours looking at each one before cooking them searching for a personality within their protective shells. He is a man of contradictions and he loves that about himself.

    Harry spends his days at the bank. He doesn't work there, and least not yet. Harry believes that if he continues to show up at the bank everyday then eventually people who work there will just figure that he does too. So far this hasn't happened and instead the employees treat him with a combination of pleasantness and fear with the scales tipped way towards the later. Most are thinking "who is the freak in the pinstriped suit with the clown-sized bow-tie, basketball high tops, with the headband and 1970s afro, walking around with the big smile and a huge exaggerated wink, pointing his finger like a gun at everyone like he is our best friend and also, who is that overly muscular dude next to him". Harry is encouraged because the staff seems to be growing slightly less worried looking each day. Today is day number 100 - "at this rate I should have a job in a few years" thinks Harry. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for everyone else, Harry has no real concept of the length of a year on Earth as he spent most of his youth believing he lived on Mercury. A cruel trick that his older brother and parents colluded on. This had originally started as a silly April Fools' Day trick his brother Oscar played on him, but once Harry bought in so easily, the whole family enthusiastically gone on board. They tried to remove all "Earthiness" to the house, living in extreme temperatures and wearing gas masks all the time, no radio or TV and lots of propaganda about the wonders of  the god Mercury and lots of hate literature about Earth set up around the house. This trick went on from age 8-18 until one day Harry opened the curtains. saw the world outside and immediately went to his brother and applied a thick smear of peanut butter to his face.

    Harry is also in no rush for any real work because he was set for money after taking his family to court and suing them for all they were worth and winning. Little did he know but he caught a big break with the judge. Judge Elliott was actually quite pro-long, elaborate, ridiculously draw out pranks pulled on family members but, luckily for Harry, was even more so very anti-all things astronomical (he even hates the Houston Astros). The judge threw multiple books at Harry's family forcing his parents and brother into poverty.He hadn't seen them in many years - to say that things ended poorly would be either an extreme understatement or overstatement. Harry wasn't sure which as they also tricked him about the usage of both of those terms as well. 

    Harry is a self-raised man and is always giving himself the advice to "man up" regardless of the situation."Manning up" seems to be his answer for everything and seeing that his life was basically okay (he had nothing to compare it to as he avoided making any comparisons at all in his life) he felt good about this philosophy. He walks around town yelling "Man Up!!!" all the time. Clearly, it draws some fairly odd, pseudo-sympathetic looks at the library while trying to check out books, at the start of a walk on the trails near his house, while putting out his recycling and especially when he volunteered with some youths who were learning how to write resumes online - those resumes were the most macho-sounding, aggressive and intimidating resumes and were surprisingly successful. In fact one work place wanted to hire the actual resume for the position as they were so impressed and scared. 

    He loves giving nicknames to things around the house. He calls his toaster "the browning guy who takes the bread and makes it all hard and crackily", his bed "da thing I lie on that makes me all visiting the big green hill with the fancy squirrels", the sink "the cow with the metal tubes that is all like making water- mooooo!" and the TV "Sheila". Once he tried to give a nickname to his beloved pair of socks, but they got a hole in them and had to be thrown away. He was only able to calm down after bench pressing his bench press and eating a five pound bag of flax seeds. Incidentally his proposed nickname for his socks were "mom" and "dad" which was evidence to Harry that the electroshock therapy system that he built and administered to himself for 30 minutes before going to bed every evening was working. He no longer wanted to kill his parents. He now only wanted to see them wrapped in bacon and then severely maimed and beaten by his hungry, pork fat-loving neighbours. His goal is to get to the day when he can give each of them a hug and look in their eyes with love. This is his motivation each time he attaches the electrodes to various areas of his body before going to sleep with his stuffed elephant "Poochy".

    He has always had a problem with lifting things, which is strange because he is "built". His muscles are glossy and smooth. In fact who are we kidding, his whole body is glossy and smooth, his muscles just demand more attention. He works out and is a member of the local wax consortium. He liberally covers himself with so much wax as he once read in one obscure Icelandic journal that it was inconclusively "not too bad for you" and the upside was that you were covered with wax. That was enough for Harry. His hands are always slippery so much so that when people approach him to shake his hand (which is rare, as he is not the sort of person anyone ever thinks of doing that to unless under some sort of mind control) and they have any forward momentum at all, they go slip, sliding away. Harry started the way many young men start, in the weight room. But this relatively normal start quickly branched off into lifting fallen tree branches, rocks of a variety of shapes and sizes (incidentally making a series of rock-art displays that the local art gallery showed some interest in, until he accidentally un-friended them online - he was actually just trying to buy some avocados to make a killer-guac), chunks of ice, chunks of cheese and larger-than-life ice sculptures in the shape of cheese.

    Growing up he was always picking fights. First with his classmates, then his teachers, then fictitious human beings like Santa and his librarian and then, bored with humans and their silly emotions like crying and whining, he moved on to bigger and tougher battles. These included when to use capital letters (but to be clear, not the capital letters themselves, whom he had nothing but the greatest respect for), kale ("I'll superfood you!"), and his made-up alter-ego "Joey" and his impeccable, schoolboy-like dental hygiene (he often had dreams/nightmares about those gleaming, towering, transcending molars either rescuing him or torturing him depending on the size of protein shake be had after his workout).

    But despite this harsh and tough guy demeanor is a man who just wants to find love. He has tried everything but there were no takers. Harry is leading a lonely existence. No family, days "working" at the bank, and all of the wax and no one special to share it with. He often has mock conversations with himself imagining what he would say to a nice girl he met. "Why yes, I do love electroshock therapy. What a surprise this would come up on our first date while waiting for the appetizer to arrive." or "You also cover yourself in wax most days too? I thought it was only me! I agree, I love the sheen as well." or "You also hate your parents and want your older brother to burn like the wet, gasoline soaked rag that he is? No way, me too!" These imaged meetings would lead him to banging his head against the wall shouting "Stupid! Moron! Idiot!" which, coincidentally, was also the name of the fictionalized account of his life he was working on. It was loosely based on his own life except it was about this incredible ladies man who travelled throughout the world meeting gorgeous women, taming wild animals, drinking amazing coffee, walking into random banks and refusing their pleas to employ him and educating the really really really dumb people he met on his travels.

    Harry went to sleep each evening hoping that tomorrow would be the day when his life would change and yet it never did. Until one day after an exceptionally good sleep with dreams solely about the number eight and cashews set to the music of Brahms, Harry decided to break from his usual routine. He got up, did a few back flips, brushed his teeth, and knew that his life was going to change for the better. He was going to "climb" a "mountain" both figuratively and literally. He kissed his own nose in the large mirror by the door, swiftly broke the mirror on the floor and sprinted out the door never to look back.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Trying To Find the Right Thing To Say

    The good times were so far in the past.We had a good run. While I knew that it was all over, I couldn't help but think back over the years. I could tell she were doing the same as she sat across from me at the table. It used to be "our" table and now it was just hers. We had discussed, briefly, either chopping the table in half so that at least each of us could benefit from having some table. Or possibly we could each have the full table for a few days and then switch or come up with some sort of visitation schedule. I mean this is a table we are talking about, not like a stupid old desk or a counter.

    We decided to avoid the traps of other ending relationships. Honesty was required here. Not brutal honesty - no need to make each cry any more then we already have. Instead we decided to be honest in order to help each other come to grips with the end. We had a relationship that was the envy of others. Actually we went out of our way to make others envious. It was a thing we did and even that made others envious of us. Such was the power of our envy-invoking ability.

    We exchanged the usual pleasantries. She liked my shirt. I liked her choice to comb her hair without irony for a change (believe me, most of the time her hair is so ironic that it borders on cruel). I commented on the weather. And she chose to launch into a diatribe on the reduction of the number of pickles you get in a standard jar of pickles. I laughed and she looked off in the distance. I swear that I saw a tear and I almost fell for her again in all of her majestic, ironic, pickle-loving glory. But that is the past and I am trying hard to reduce the amount of time I live in the past.

    "How are you Ingrid?"

    "I'm fine Gregor. I hope you are well"

    "Can I interest you in a crumpet, or failing that a muffin?"

    "I would like that."

    A good start - at least 200% warmer than either of us would have predicted, especially after the episode last week where we each tried to break the other's nose.

    After a few other comments on animals and pants and the potential windfall for those in the pant-making business to hit this lucrative and untapped market. We also saw a great chance for the animals to play a large role in helping local pant-makers corner the market so the overseas companies couldn't come in and take over. This discussion went on for at least 2 hours, followed by phone calls to our friends in manufacturing, distributing and advertising.

    "Where did we go wrong Ingrid? We were so much in love. I thought it was a timeless love."

    "Oh Gregor, I just don't know. I mean an outsider might guess it all started to go downhill when I gave you that paper cut. That is the last time I ever buy any comically massive pieces of paper and decide to run around the yard waving them in the wind while my partner is sleeping in his hammock."

    "Ingrid, don't beat yourself up. Being cut by that paper is a distant memory. The cuts are still healing, two year later, but the cutting is so far in the past."

    "Maybe we should have held hands more"

    "Are you still bitter that we didn't break the world record for hand holding? You were always so competitive."

    "True. I did hold your hand at least partially out of love, but mostly to win the accolades I deserved, the ones that I missed out on in my youth. As you know my parents didn't believe in any contact of any kind. Once I touched my brother's big toe and was sent to my room for three days where I was supposed to consider the ramifications of my thoughtless prank."

    "I will miss this Ingrid. Our ability to just talk and say what's on our mind."

    "Just come out and say it! Do you have something you wish to get off your chest Gregor. I can tell by the wrinkle on the upper portion above your left eye that you wish to tell me something. Please don't hold back."

    "Well, I may as well get right to it. Now, Ingrid, don't get me wrong I liked playing board games...as much as the next guy and I could handle all of the losses but all of the taunting and humiliation and posturing. Was it really necessary? Did it make you feel like a big girl? Did you enjoy seeing me hovering in the corner of the games room crying and grasping for your hand in support?"

    "Well, I just couldn't stand all of the times you referred to yourself as the "king of the castle" or the "man of the house" or the "boy in the bubble" or even more confusing "the whale in the forest". It just isn't an accurate thing to say in any way."

    "Ingrid, let's not let this turn in to name calling - unless you want us to use our pet names for each other."

    "I refuse to call you Spot. I've said that a million times. Those days are behind us."

    "Fine, but when you used to call me "The Big Apple" and then finish your own joke by saying but if by "big" I meant "translucent" and by "apple" I meant "jellyfish" which was always followed by lots of contagious snickering. That really hurt. It really hurt on multiple levels - first, what did you think would happen after an hour of uninterrupted snickering; second, you knew of my disdain for translucence of any kind and third, I felt like it was a thinly veiled attempt to make fun of my uncle Hamish, the apple farmer. It was all just so indirect and mean.And to top it all off what about the "the"? Couldn't that really mean something too?"

    "Well la-di-da smart guy. If you're so smart then how come you were always borrowing my ruler. Always with the straight lines. Day after day, book after book, straight lines everywhere! Couldn't you at least branch out and throw in some dashes or some dots let alone something Picasso-esque like a curve. I mean we couldn't even eat macaroni and you wouldn't want to see my sister Ursula because of the 'excessive' number of Us in her name."

    "Even though I am sad Ingrid and will miss even the arguing, I am also happy that we are sharing at this point. I will miss your way."

    "And I will miss you too Gregor, even though you had a way of making me feel like I had just learned to count yesterday."

    "If I had a dollar every time I heard that come out of your mouth I'd have somewhere between $1000 and $3000 before, of course, you took off your 15% commission. 15-per-freakin'-cent Ingrid?!?!  I told you repeatedly that I didn't need a sports agent, I'm a garbage collector. All of those hours and hours negotiating exit clauses and trade exemptions. What happened to you? You used to be so supportive of my garbage collection. I know the wrappers and plastics forks took up much of our bedroom, but still, it was my passion." 

    "Well you know that I love opal earrings in the shape of mythical creatures, you knew that about me from the beginning! I'm not going to be pressured into apologizing for that. I was raised to respect the hard-working, risk-taking opal miners of Ethiopia and no amount of raw egg slinging or covering my gnomes with plastic wrap on your part was going to change that. My parents also made us pray to a large variety of mythical creatures every night before watching Entertainment Tonight. Plus I have ears. Or did you forget that?"

    "I used to prize your ability to think outside the box. At least when it only happened once and a while. But, then you started always thinking outside the box. If I offended you when I built you that hand-crafted box made of mahogany from Russia, I apologize."

    "Well, now that you mention it you were always trying to "kick it up a notch". That made sense when you were cooking dinner, and significantly less sense when reading Casper comic books, backing the car up, and shaving your back though I still have the small rug you made me for our 3rd anniversary."

    "You have always been such a perfectionist. To be honest I spent an inordinate amount of time either trying to find mistakes in what you did or said, or trying to cause you to make mistakes, or even trying to lull you into a state of confusion through a use of a variety of hypnotic tools and tricks to make you feel like you have erred. When all of that failed we went on vacation to Mexico."

    "Oh Gregor, I remember that trip so fondly. We spent the days on the beach and the evenings dressing up and playing funny games. Once you dressed up as a tree and I was crazy, ax-wielding psycho wanting to chop something, just anything. Another night we dressed up as matching chairs around an antique table. At least I thought we were matching- you had to be a little bit more ornate, as usual. And how could I forget the final evening when you dressed up as a really convincing extra large piece of toast and I dressed up as a small butter knife. We were so well disguised that our dinner guests spent 45 minutes using me to butter you and you still have the teeth marks on your ankle."

    " Ingrid, you were always telling me that I was sweet but firm, a little tart yet crisp. Thanks, and I mean that, but what was I to you- an apple? 

    "I appreciated how you cared for me, Gregor, especially when I was sick, but I always felt like you were treating me like an injured bird. Even when I demanded that you treat me like a healthy bird or at least an injured donkey. Was that too much to ask?

    "Ingrid...I just knew that you placed donkeys up on a pedestal. I didn't want to offend you or your people, the Society for the Promotion of Donkeys."

    "Gregor, I remember that you used to make breakfast for us in the early days, then over time it became just lunch and then even that dissolved to just an occasional after dinner mint. All of this was an effort to keep us financially responsible, which I appreciated, but why couldn't you just have stopped collecting rare scraps of sheet metal? Or at least have made something practical with them, especially after I bought you the designer blow torch? That blow torch became the figurative albatross on our relationship much more so than the actual albatross hanging in the wall in our living room. That albatross was great. We loved that albatross. We still do and I think we always will."

    "I remember when we used to bundle ourselves up and run in the snow, the pelting snow, often mixed with sharp, piercing shards of ice-  cutting our skin, inflicting the cold, harsh pain we so needed at the time. We would come in from outside and dress our respective wounds, laughing and roaring like the lion and lioness that we aspired to be. In the evening we would cuddle on the couch and watch TV trying to find the right way to sit so as to feel the least amount of searing pain. Oh how I miss those days. Those cold, ice-shard piercing, watching TV days. It's true you don't know you'll miss it till its gone."

    "You spent so much time on your computer near the end. You were always "surfing the net". At first I tried to share this hobby with you, but it just got too strange. Especially after you started eating all of those bananas and insisting on being called "Jedi". I thought I could save you by introducing you to surfing or taking that netting course at the local community college, but you were too far gone at that point. I told my mom that the stench of the bananas couldn't be washed out not with a 100 litres of bleach. I know because I tried."

    "Ingrid, I also know that you started developing some odd habits of your own. "Air guitar" was cute, and that was followed by "air piano" and soon after by "air saxophone". All still fine in my books, you know I have the patience of a saint, one of the more patient saints too. But then you went on to "air rock band" and "air symphony orchestra" and even "air crowded movie theatre during 'the scary part'". This wiped you out - you spent so many evenings collapsed on the sofa while I sat there watching you with a long feather just aching to tickle your nose."

    "Oh Gregor. Poor, simple Gregor. You could spend whole Saturdays slicing potatoes. I kept suggesting you branch out on to other tubers like yams and sweet potatoes or even throwing caution to the wind and try dicing something for a change."

    "Well, you are one to talk. You always insisted on eating your food in chronological order from the date it was first introduced to our area of the world. This seemingly quaint and innocent idea made even a small snack last hours and hours due to the multiple trips to the library and all of the research. I mean sure I have now gained an inordinate amount of knowledge about the history of food, which I thank you for, but dinners with you took on a very academic tone. You sucked all the joy out of a simple meal."

    We paused and looked at each other. We each took a breath and looked away. The last two hours seemed so exhausting and yet we knew that we needed each other. I looked down and it took every ounce of my strength to muster the courage to say

    "Should we give this one more chance Ingrid? I sense that there is so much more to say and do and that it would be a shame to throw this away. Oh how I still love you my love. My cherry blossom, my sapling, my silvery slug trail! I can't imagine I ever contemplated walking away from this. We have a love that will last our lifetimes and could withstand the strongest wind and also a light breeze. Oh, I was stupid and almost lost you."

    I broke into tears and lifted my head to look into her eyes. Her seat was empty. I stood and scanned the room. Nothing. Then I saw her, running across the street, or performing the best pantomime of a woman running across the street I've ever seen. I was crying, because I knew she was gone, but also because I am a sucker for great pantomime. 








    Saturday, December 7, 2013

    Michelle

    She was a swimmer. She swam in pools, lakes and rivers. Sometimes she had vivid dreams of swimming in a big, comically over-sized bathtub full of jello, or saline solution or yarn. These were often followed by dreams of her doing lots of cart wheels on a dirt road near a cabin that she drew a picture of when she was 30. She was only 28.

    Growing up she often wished she was a figure skater or a gymnast. But after a few sips of hot chocolate (the first always scalding her tongue) she returned, like a wayward owl returning to the other owls, to the pool. Her pool.

    She often swam to escape her problems. Other times she swam to create problems for others. And there were times the swimming was the problem. This was not one of those times. The time at the moment was 10 am. This was neither interesting or important. And yet it made her lips curl into something that was clearly meant to be a smile, but totally failed.

    She swam and swam and swam. It allowed her to relax. Sometimes she became so relaxed she felt like she could fall asleep. Other times she was so relaxed that she felt like she was lying on a pillow made of tofu. If she allowed herself to be completely relaxed while swimming she sometimes imagined she was a janitor on the night shift at the tofu-pillow making factory, sweeping up all of the waste on the floors and coming home smelling of soy products and covered with thread.

    It was clearly not a good idea to be so relaxed especially when she was in a pool, so she often had to think stressful thoughts like she was being chased by sharks, or aggressive milkmen or her grade 9 math teacher who reminded her of a cross between a shark and a milkman only with glasses and a calculator (that he used to refer to as "the shark").

    Throughout her life she was always asked if she was training for a race?, trying to get fitter?, working on her strokes? Her answers were usually "yes", "no", "maybe", or "I've told you 100 times to leave me alone!". One time her answer was "cheese" and strangely it made sense at the time.

    On her way home from her swim she listened to the radio. She wasn't sure if listening was the correct term as she missed a lot of school in grade 1. Sometimes if she was in a good mood she would sing along with the news and say funny one-line retorts during love songs. The radio also made her cry hysterically and shriek. She never understood why. She would drive home and scream out, while crying and shrieking and singing, "Why?" When no answer came, she would yell "Where?" Which was often followed by "Because?" She was always trying to turn single words into questions.

    Deep down inside she hated her fence. And even though she often thought about that irrational hatred, she couldn't figure out where it came from. Of course there was the time when she was five when a fence broke her dog's leg. A fence also beat her out in the talent show in grade 6 with its near-perfect rendition of Pachelbel. And there was that time a fence stood her up on their date to prom. And, she could never forgive or forget the time the fence just got up and left and hitchhiked across the country to join a commune of hippies. Her inability to connect the dots was mind-numbingly confusing. She also hated Connect The Dot books.

    Her yard had a few trees and some small bushes. Once she sat outside and tried painting a picture of her yard, and the result sold for $25 at a neighbourhood street sale. The painting looked more like a decapitated lion holding a snail then her yard, which is maybe why it didn't fetch it's asking price of $45000.

    She often dreamed of rearranging her house and moving her bedroom next to the kitchen so that she could greatly reduce the amount of time between eating and sleeping and vice versa. All of that wasted time- some days upwards of 4 minutes. She also thought of moving the bathroom so it was the entrance room to the house. This would have most likely created a 500% increase in the number of guests who took showers at her house while also leading towards a sharp decline in the overall sanity of the same people. The connection between these two projections was unclear.

    Each room in her house had a name. She wanted to let each room select it's own name as she had major problems when she had assigned them random hairstyles and birthdays. This also sounded fine and good until the utility closet chose "Paul" which was also the name of her "bully" from grade four. Paul was actually in love with her, but she read so far between the lines of his love confession that she mistook it for a list of threats.

    Every morning when she woke up she was instantly bored. That was until she came up with the idea of sleeping inside full body molds in the shapes of the letters of the alphabet. This meant that for each of the first 26 days of the month she slept in a differently shaped position that would have made her contortionist happy (she held the belief that everyone had their own personal contortionist just like everyone had their very own suction room). After the 26th day she slept curled up in a fetal position shaking and eating nachos. 

    Once awake, she ate breakfast, brushed her teeth, changed and headed for the pool. This was her life. She would have described it as an unhealthy combination of water sports and wiener dogs - with the wiener dog part making no sense at all except in a figurative sense. Of course no one ever asked her to describe her life  as she usually had a certain "leave me alone unless you were thinking of selling me a yo-yo" look perpetually on her face, especially when on her way to or from the pool, which was much of the time.

    Her name was Michelle. Though she often thought she reminded herself of a Catherine.




    When I Stop To Think


    Sometimes when life slows down and I find myself sitting there with nothing I need to do I try to think. But I don't.

    And other times I do. 

    I think about the nail on my wall. What a long nail. I imagine him saying "this wall is loads of fun and all, but I miss my friends at the nail store"

    I think about the piece of blue paper on my desk, so still, so lifeless. I can almost hear her say "you may be a person with emotions and you can walk and talk, but I am a lovely shade of blue.". Hard to argue with that.

    I think about my shoes. Are they friends? Do they care about who goes first? Are they thirsty? Can't we all just get along?

    I think about the drop of water on my ear. Can he feel pain? I try stabbing it with my finger- again and again taking out all of my pentup anger towards water dating back to the "chicken incident".

    I think about the corner of the room. Always stuck in a corner....loser.

    I think about thinking about stuff. Does it make me smarter to think a lot? Is thinking about thinking meta thinking? If I think about meta thinking is that meta meta thinking? Is thinking about that making me stupider? Is stupider even a word? Does it matter? If I think about that am I meta-stupid? (my friend thinks I am mega-stupid) Is thinking a good use of my time when I could be shopping online? I could use a new ornamental doll.

    I think about my door. Always opening and closing. A gateway to the world. So proud, so obtuse. I know the door thinks "I have achieved perfect door ness- try that on for size".

    I think about the peeling paint. It used to be so shiny, so smooth. I feel a tinge of guilt. Yet another mistake I have made. Or is it a yearning for some ham?

    I think about the staples in the stapler. They are probably scared and nervous - sitting in the dark, huddled together awaiting their harsh release from their hive. What does it say about me as I laugh and cackle like a witch every time I staple something? I often will stand on my desk just shooting staples shouting and yelling like a cowboy. The staples flying through the air and falling to the cold, hard floor. I feel so alive!

    I think about my wooden desk looking to its side out the window at the trees. I can almost here it loudly call "I was like you once. Tall. Proud. More vertical. Now it is up to you to carry on the way of the trees. Only you can keep that grass in its place. Man do I hate that grass!"

    I feel like my chair hates me. I try to put myself it her place. It's a really confusing exercise. That's how I spent my summer.

    I think the heater with its bangs and clangs is the ringleader of the room. Inciting the masses. Drumming up support. Taking steps towards a revolution that will not be televised (I think my computer is setting up a live stream).

    I think about the air in the room. I breathe it in and out. I think "does the air have a face, and if so where is the nose."

    I think about the carpet full of an army of dust mites and billows of feathery, plush dust balls. It's like a party down there. I imagine the carpet whispering to the mites "you make him break out in a rash and sneeze all the time. You complete me".

    I often look at the filing cabinet and see my younger self. Medium height, good build, a strong moral compass, a bit mischievous, rectangular. Plus I often have fantasies of being packed with files and documents.

    I think about the walls. The four walls that  surround me. I can imagine the tears at the summer wall market when they were taken away. It's a tough world out there especially you don't have mama and papa wall there to support you. I do my best to be there for my walls, but even with lots of practice I just can't perfect the accent.

    I think about the glue. I can imagine it saying "I hate being so one-dimensional. I aspire to do more with my life than just help things stick together. Now don't get me wrong, I know I play an important role in society. I am literally 'the glue' that holds things together and I know others would kill to be me. I just wish I could dance. I long to dance...and be sticky. Is that asking too much?"

    I think about the lamp. Lighting up the room. "Mr. Personality!" I say snidely. I always have had a bit of negative view towards that lamp. I did think of replacing it and actually got as far as putting my hand on the plug, preparing to yank when I swear I heard "I'm sorry". To this day I'm not sure who was speaking me or the lamp. 

    Others have often told me they are worried about how close I am to my books. And others just make odd faces when they walk by and see me lying on the floor amongst a huge pile of books, rolling around, laughing and crying, having the time of our lives. My analyst wonders who those moments are really for- me or my books. I always say, after a long, deep thought, "we are one". Which is always followed by a long drawn out pause. I sometimes will sit there and pull one special book to my face. "Facebook" I say. This really lame attempt at humour oddly makes me smile from ear to ear for 45 minutes.

    I think about the ceiling and the floor and wonder if they would love to smoosh everything between them and come together. Is the ceiling like the older sibling who got the top bunk? Is the ceiling my favourite? 

    I think about the windows. I imagine them singing "We've got the funk". If one thing is true I don't have jive windows.

    I look at the clock. Boring old clock. I find myself feeling sorry for it sometimes, but then I remember it is easily one of the two wisest things in this room. I hope I'm the other, but I know the mouse has its moments.

    I'm in direct competition with the bulletin board. We are playing this game seeing who can stick more tacks and pushpins into themselves. The board has 47 and I am trying to argue that he has a distinct advantage over me, as he actually likes it. He also won the last game which was who could do the the best board impression. Note to self- stop letting him choose the games.





    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    A poem

    She was so mad that she was "flipping tables".

    He was so mad that he was "crushing acorns".

    She was happy enough to "pick blossoms".

    He was so happy he wanted to "sing an opera".

    She was confused and wanted to "read Sanskrit".

    He was confused enough to "analyze faded footprints".

    She was so elated she was "skipping like she was five".

    He was so elated he was "trying to eat 6 crackers at once".

    She was so sad and was "coming unhinged".

    He was so sad that he was "floating down the river towards the waterfall".

    She was excited and was "phoning the operator".

    He was excited and couldn't stop "rearranging his room".

    She was so tired she was "unable to play with velcro".

    He was so tired that he couldn't "reboot his computer".

    She was so sick she was "wallpapering her ceiling".

    He was so sick that he was "erasing his doodles".

    She was so jealous she was "dissecting eyeballs".

    He was so jealous he was "memorizing the phonebook".

    She was so enraged she was "hugging her Barbie".

    He was so enraged that he was "doing his happy dance".

    She was so troubled that she was "turning over a new leaf".

    He was so troubled that he "stole that leaf".

    She was so famished that she "climbed the mountain".

    He was so famished that he "bought a microscope".

    She was so curious that she was "lying on a bed of nails".

    He was so curious that he decided to "eat a whole fish".

    They decided to play checkers.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Another story

    I awake on a train, surrounded by stuffed monkeys, eating a stale waffle that a clown gave me. Where am I going?

    You are climbing Mt. Everest out of spite, looking for “the answer”, wishing you could sew.

    I am in a playground, swinging on the slide, wishing I was young again, then old, then young, then old. Did I mention my hatred of yo-yos.

    You are “pretending” to be a table…again.

    I am singing and yodeling at the same time – multi-tasking! I also have an overwhelming desire to melt some cheese. Not for eating, just for the pure pleasure of seeing something, anything melt.

    You are doing your math homework. What’s up with that!?!?! Only this time it makes you smile sooooooo wide.

    I am climbing stairs, daydreaming of shrimp, wanting to play Dance Dance Revolution.

    You are eating peanuts, taunting elephants, trying to outsmart yourself – giving yourself a headache which is distracting you from your broken heart.

    I am giggling. Hee hee hee.

    Your life flashes before your eyes…running through the corn maze at age 5, eating a bucket of pickles at age 10, turning your English essay into an opera at age 18, moving to France to learn Spanish at age 30, rehabilitating cows at age 45…and then it dawns on you, this is not my life.

    I am sitting on a bean bag chair at your house folding rice paper in my dreams. Analyze that expensive psychiatrist!

    You are not solving unsolvable problems, but you are getting closer. Is there any problem that good sushi can’t solve?

    The wind is blowing…the clouds – oh, the clouds! The beauty of nature. It is overwhelming.

    A breath, a single breath, then another and another. This happens all the time. Not really noteworthy.

    I come up with this really great idea of putting letters together to make something I call “words” and then putting some of these “words” together to make “sentences”. And then, these “sentences” can be put together to tell people things. I like to call it “talking”.

    You are sitting on a hill beside a much shorter hill. What a silly, short hill you think.

    I am alone, running down the road, flexing, eating celery.

    You are hopping around like a small bug next to a small pile of dirt and then there is this bug walking around your house like he owns the place. Sort of like a human-bug exchange program.

    Colours fly by – red, orange, blue, then red again, then green. Serenity at last

    A story

    So I was all like walking

    And you were all like “Sup?”

    I was all like not listening

    And you were all like glaring and stuff

    Then I said “Tru dat”

    And you were licking your ice cream cone and mumbling to yourself

    And I was all like “crunching” “the” “numbers”

    And you were starting to fall asleep

    And then I starting waxing eloquently about life

    And you looked at me with about 5 different odd faces all at once

    And I laughed about an inside joke that neither of us understood

    I am green

    You are red

    Now I am sunshine

    You are waves

    Then I had a strong desire to bounce you like a basketball (only a slightly smaller one)

    And you started treating me like your aunt

    I relapsed into a coma that I only came out of two weeks from now

    And you started quoting from random Swedish texts

    And then… our eyes met…and we saw each other…for the first time…like really SAW  EACH OTHER – it was soooooo intense and we both said

    “we needs us some hoodies and some pants!”

    And then we said

    “never forget your pants”

    And then you kissed my nose in an ironic fashion

    My first post!

    Hey Everyone (or no one)

    This could all be just for me - I have tons of creative ideas and no outlet (maybe that's what's wrong with me? or why I have that crazy rash all over my right foot). If you read this, don't worry it's not you, it's me.

    So here I am - a chance to write, make myself laugh, and...who knows where this will go?

    A little about me I am a husband of a proud, strong, tall wife; a father to...a number of kids...from this angle they look like girls; a home chef who cooks with heat (half of my kitchen is perpetually in flames); an athlete who is trying to gain another 50 pounds of muscle situated only in my right leg and a lover of puzzles (especially self-created ones that are sort of like traps), cats (I'm allergic), roasted broccoli (not for eating, just for the pleasure of roasting something) and, of course, sub-atomic particles (they are just so darn cute!).

    In no way is anything that follows supposed to refer to anyone specific in my life - stop trying to find yourself in my future, unwritten work!

    Tommy