Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Now You Has Food: Post #1 - An Intro

Hi there!

Welcome to my new food blog.

I love food (probably obvious) and I love writing - so this should be fun.

I thought I'd start by telling you a little bit about myself and food, focussing on the key moments that have led me to where I am today.

I was raised by parents who loved cooking. We had home-cooked, healthy food featuring fresh ingredients on a nightly basis. While we never purely vegetarian, by the time I was 16, I had settled into the diet I maintain to this day - I'm a vegetarian who enjoys fish and dairy (octo-lacto-pesce-tarian...I think). Growing up at home, I experienced sauces made from scratch, freshly baked goods and a seemingly endless number of dishes made with excellent fruits and veggies.

As my interest in food was germinating, I got a job at a local restaurant. I worked as a busboy, dishwasher and cashier for many years of my adolescence and I always showed a lot of interest in cooking. I was fortunate that the head chef at the time took me under his wing and trained me on the job. Eventually, despite having no formal training, I was able to land a position as a line and prep cook and I held this position for a number of years while in university. I learned quite a lot about organization and time management in the kitchen that I took with me to my career as an educator. Those years in the kitchen also kept the cooking fire burning. I am quite a creative person and the combination of that plus my ever-expanding kitchen skills led to an explosion of ideas in the kitchen at home.

When I eventually left the restaurant at the age of 24, I had tired of generating 30-40 omelettes in a morning and flipping 100s of burgers and making dozens of pasta dishes. The love for food was sapped out of me and I longed to make one really great breakfast, or plan an exciting lunch or have a bunch of friends over and cook an incredible dinner. I learned a lot of techniques at the restaurant, but I was now ready to move on not only career-wise but also to cook solely for myself, my friends and my family.

Throughout my adult life I have bought cookbooks, watched every food show on television (sometimes only once), read books about food and more recently researched recipes and ingredients online.

My very first cookbook, and one that I still use frequently to this day, is the vegetarian "Bible" The Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen. I have cooked every recipe in that book multiple times and have personalized many of them over time. I have subsequently gone on to purchase a number of her other books (The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and The Heart of the Plate, to name two) as well as a number of books by the Moosewood Collective, including Sundays At The Moosewood Restaurant and Moosewood Restaurant Favourites. I don't want to mislead you in thinking that I only draw from vegetarian sources - I consult The Joy of Cooking from time to time, I flip through a Betty Crocker book that I have, I use my wife's Best of The Best here and there and I love both the Good Housekeeping cookbook and baking book that I own.

I love food TV! I remember watching Walk With Yan as a child and I used to watch food shows whenever I could find them. The birth of Food Television was exciting for me and I remember the chefs that dominated their station when it was first unveiled in Canada: Bobby Flay, Emeril, Sara Moulton, and Ming Tsai. I watched every single original Iron Chef multiple times and actually just threw out a stack of old VHS tapes full of recordings on those shows (my wife made me). I currently religiously (and somewhat shamefully) watch all of the varieties of Top Chef, Chopped, MasterChef, Guy's Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay, Sabotage Kitchen, Iron Chef America and The Next Food Network Star (can't get enough of Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson- give them their own show! I am kidding! I am kidding!). We don't get Cooking Channel in Canada, so I miss the purely instructional shows, but I do pick up hints and recipes from the reality shows (i.e. when given something sweet for a savory dish, make a gastrique).

I frequent EpicuriousAll RecipesFood.comYummly and other food websites and I have a large three-holed binder full of all of the recipes I've tried from those sites. I love the recipes online as the reviews and alterations that others have made are very helpful. My favourite newer site that I have found and have loved is 101 Cookbooks - I fully recommend it - great recipes and a fun read.

I have also read a number of great books about food - Jeffery Steingarten's are all awesome, I love Anthony Bourdain, I have read all of Mark Ruhlmann's books, Ruth Reichel's books make me hungry and envious of her way with words and I highly recommend Heat by Bill Buford among many others. These books all make me laugh and get excited about food. Jeffery Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate are two of my favourite reads of all time and I would say are among the major factors in my experimenting in the kitchen. If you haven't read those books, and you love food, you must.

So, here we are. I am a 43 year-old husband and father of two young girls. I plan, shop and cook all of the food for the family. I love finding new and different recipes that are healthy, light, ethnically-diverse and full of colour. I try to research and plan menus for the week that mix things up while also creating leftovers and sometimes lunches too. I am also trying to find meals that the whole family will enjoy (including a picky 6-year old is tough) that don't use every pot and pan in the kitchen. We are an active and busy family trying to squeeze in activities for the kids, sports, tutoring, playing games, my creative writing blog and relaxing into a busy schedule. I used to shop, cook and clean up for hours and hours and hours. In the past few years, I have shifted towards quicker meals that free up more time for everything else in life without sacrificing flavour, health and variety, because as good as a meal is that takes hours to prepare and hours to clean up, it isn't much better than one that takes a quarter of the time. We eat as few prepared items as possible and cook most meals from scratch (gotta have pizza or sushi once a week if the budget allows) all the while balancing the budget (can't have wild salmon every night).

I am going to try to put up recipes that I love, recipes that are horrible and should never be talked about again (let alone cooked) but should make for an enjoyable read, trials and experiments and my thoughts on food and diet. I am a creative writing blogger and love to laugh, so things may get occasionally funny around here, but I will try to keep the focus on food.

I hope you come back often.

Monday, December 15, 2014


After years of courtship and a whirlwind of planning, Rachel and I have finally tied the knot. The wedding, her dream wedding, was the culmination of an exhausted and exciting week filled with friends and family and fun. And we jumped on the first plane out of there and headed straight for Bermuda. I can't believe we are here right now on this incredibly beautiful beach and we are married! I look around at the spectacular view and then back at my stunning bride and I just can't believe we are actually here.

We are lying on our huge beach towels, covered in sun screen, drinking tropical drinks and enjoying some real relaxation. Lost in my thoughts and drifting in and out of sleep, I am remembering how we first met and fell in love and I know that I am such a lucky man. I roll over and look at her and nudge her. She rolls over as well and our eyes meet. We kiss and then we laugh. It is true love.

"Oh Rachel, I can't believe he are actually here and we are married!"

"I know my sweet. This is really amazing. What a journey we have been on together."

"We made such a great choice coming to this little, remote island. This is so relaxing, so romantic."

"Craig, I am so happy. It was an incredible wedding and this honeymoon is the perfect ending to a year of planning."

"I agree sweetie and as I lie here next to you, I am thinking back not only on the last year leading up to our wedding, but on all of the experiences we've shared."

"We have had so many great times together, but there have been some bumps in the road - I think they have made us stronger."

"I've never been more in love with you then I am right now, at this moment, although I have to be honest, how I felt two days ago was close. Honestly, it is fairly hard to compare quantities of love."

"You are so funny! Well, just so you know regardless of any potential health concerns, I plan to do what I can to attempt to increase the love we feel for each other incrementally or exponentially each day for the remainder of our years together."

"I admire your dedication to our union and, while I'm not sure I have the imaginative capacity to envision our lives if I was to love you 200% more than I already do, I am your willing guinea pig."

"And I am your guinea pig-utilizing scientist. I can't believe this week has gone so quickly and we only have a few days left. I just wish we could freeze this moment in time. I mean not actually freeze it. I don't have the capability and even if I did, I don't think we would really want that, it would just be so cold."

"I remember the first day we met. I was sitting in the library contemplating reading books that I was actually interested in or reading books that may give others the illusion of my intelligence. I had made pile after pile of books some organized by size, some by colour and others completely randomly in the hopes that some magical combination would help me select some to take home. I remember being quite visibly and audibly frustrated by these books and their words and their perfect grammar. I so badly wanted to "join the club" and "not look out of place" and make a book pyramid if time allowed. And just when I was about to storm out of that cesspool, I saw you out of the corner of my eye."

"That's right! I was there checking out magazines on quilting. My mother, as you know now, is a quilting fanatic and required me to not only quilt with her every Tuesday evening, but to read quilting manuals, magazines, and online forums. And this was before online forums for quilting had even been created. She just had a feeling that one day a group of quilters from around the world would be able to tap into the world wide web and use it as a way to communicate, share ideas for quilts and find some like minded souls who understood them. I'm not sure how she knew, but she knew. She also knew how to guilt me into quilting with her rain or shine as it didn't matter at all since we always quilted inside anyways. The rain just didn't matter at all she always told me. So, I was there finding some new magazines, hoping to slide in a woman's magazine or at least a magazine on crocheting just for variety's sake knowing the shunning and sheer amount of evil-eyeing that would occur if I got caught."

"There were so many quilts and my first impression of your parent's house was that it was like a quilt emporium until they actually decided to open their own ma and pa quilt emporium making their house pale in comparison. My second impression of your parent's house was similar to the first just minus the quilts as they were in transit due to the emporium opening that weekend. We sat there in your mother's old sewing room amidst the discarded ill-thought-through-due-to-being unintentionally-Satanic patterns; the potentially inappropriate, oddly-shaped, scraps of material; the fallen, bent, collection of needles and all of the memories. I fell in love with you in that empty room despite being pricked with a minimum of five needles and having a laughing fit at a particularly funny piece of cloth during a brief lapse into juvenile humour. I wanted to take you away from there, to make you my own, to buy you something, maybe a new shirt or a blouse - I could never figure out if blouses fell under the category of shirts in the first place - I have always been slightly confused about this. Anyways, I knew then, that I wanted to make you mine and no number of bent, old, yet, surprisingly sharp needles could draw blood and change my mind. I mean, at some point, if there were enough needles and resulting blood, I'd probably need some sort of medical attention delaying or possibly rescheduling the courting, but I it wouldn't have changed the way I felt."

"That is beautiful and confusing, but mostly beautiful my sweet and I was your ready and willing participant in the courting. I had never been courted before - asked out? Yes. (other examples of being asked out) While courting did seem quite old-fashioned, it did give us a chance to return to the library and research the steps together. I was pretty open to being courted mostly due to the fact that I knew my way around courts in general. I mean I was average at best at sports that took place on courts, just saying I knew where the courts were and how walk around them. Not like I'm bragging or anything, I get that this is fairly basic skill and that many women are most likely equally adept at it. You just had such a way about you, it was hard to describe. I once tried to describe your way to my girlfriends and after hours of trying and trying and trying to capture you to them, I just gave up - after we ordered in pizza, drank a few bottles of wine, did our nails, sobered up and then re-did our nails - I just invited you over for them to meet in person and then they got it. It was just a much more efficient use of time for you to talk about yourself, then for me to do it, and they grilled you. The three of them launched into you like grizzled, courtroom lawyers asking every question imaginable - including some that weren't - they were that good - demanding the whole truth, threatening that anything less than the whole truth would result in pleading and pleading that you reconsider and just tell the truth unless the truth was too unbelieveable that less-than-the-whole-truth seemed more truthful than the actual truth and then some leeway would be allowed. In the end, they loved you and we shared a big group hug and then instantaneously agreed never to do that again due to greasy, pizza fingers, not-yet-dried nail polish and all of the sweat as it was like an interrogation and someone, mistakenly turned the heat up hoping to "sweat you out" not totally understanding that that was mostly an expression that didn't totally work in this scenario anyways. I would like, as an aside, to get better at describing things as you just never know when that skill may come in handy. Like maybe we will be in a burning building someday and I'll have to use my words to save the day. I don't think it will come up, but I always carry matches and a lighter with me just in case."

"That's right, you do! I became aware of this after a few weeks of dating. Initially, I thought "oh no, he's so cool, but he always has the lighter and matches so he is either a smoker, which is totally yuck, or a piro, which is not yucky in and of itself, but quite dangerous and against the law, and going to jail is yucky. I remember you were flicking your lighter on that beautiful night we walked down by the river when we encountered that old woman with the halting voice on the corner who told us about intimate details from our past that I'm sure we've told no one about including the reoccurring embarrassing doctor's appointments, first kisses and the embarrassing doctor's appointments that were a result of our inexperience with kissing, as well as your habit of standing alone in the dark and my love of watching you do so even though I honestly couldn't see a whole lot. She knew so much and it was totally impressive and completely unsettling as she laughed the entire time which she excused as saying she was recalling a funny joke from earlier that day at breakfast, which I took as a strong suggestion to serve funnier breakfasts."

"Which you have! I remember I used to sit there at breakfast, just wanting to laugh but always feeling so serious around the toast and the oatmeal, but you changed that. I still remember that day when we imagined that you were the granola and I was the milk and we spent hours having the time of our lives, first sprinkling you into a bowl and then pouring me on top and then experimenting with putting me in first and then adding you in afterwards, and even putting us both on the table and allowing the diner to choose how to combine us. We had quite the long argument about the size of the bowl to use and about how I was "playing" the milk as you wanted it to be very believable to the point where our cat might start actually licking me. That was the start of our breakfast revolution. I owe it all to you."

"Thanks. That means so much to hear that you appreciate the levity I have tried to add to our first meal of the day. I so want to see you spread your butter with glee, drink your juice with the joy of 100 hundred especially, and somewhat concerning, joyous ninjas, and devour your scrambled eggs as if the eggs were providing you with a small amount of electricity  -not enough to singe your eyebrows, or have your hair stand on end - no, just enough to give you a small shock - almost as if it was an alarm clock. In case you are worried about this, I no longer have any desire to attach electrodes to all different areas of your body and run series of tests."

"That is a relief. The sheer cost of the electrodes and the fact that we had to repeatedly shave my back which led to so many questions in the locker room especially because you insisted on shaving patterns and shapes into my back and not just any patterns and shapes - you had to choose ones that were both controversial and insulting which led to a lot of interesting looks and conversations. The locker room guys used to crowd around my back and have the most interesting discussions that were usually accompanied by ham and cheese sandwiches because one guy always had extras seeing as his wife won the lottery and purchased only ingredients for ham and cheese sandwiches which was proof that she should have slept on it first before acting so impulsively. Thankfully, the previous time she had won money she had impulsively bought a number of refrigerators and freezers, so at least they had the means to store the food. I'd be standing there half-dressed with a whole lot of guys trying to interpret my back which always made me feel a little self-conscious mostly because.....

"That makes so much sense now - I always wondered why you came home from the gym shaking and needing to hide in the corner for a few hours. I never thought much of it as I too longed to hide in the corner shaking and I figured it was one more sign that we were meant to be together."

"And we are, my sweet, we are. I can't stop thinking about that old woman. Do you recall, that she went on to tell us all about our amazing futures together raising a family, designing life-sized robots to complete a variety of tasks spanning the array from routine household tasks to totally bizarre random jobs that would be illegal in some South American countries, and spending a number of years trying hard to combine the two and either developing child-robots or robotic children or a series of poignant graphic novels that would be a hit with children and adults alike that we would base loosely on our own lives only from the perspective of everyone else as if they were trying to escape from us. I'll never forget that what she said about the love she could see in our eyes although it could have been love in one set of eyes reflected into the other. She also shared, at no extra cost, an initially uncomfortable amount of insider information about European stocks and bonds that, as time went on, seemed quite valuable."

"And I also remember when we met your friends and they couldn't stop smiling and nodding their heads to an imaginary beat. I was a little worried about them - they just wouldn't stop smiling and nodding their heads and while I wanted to ask them about it, I also didn't want to be rude and making a good first impression with your close friends was important to me. Finally, I started smiling and nodding my head as well - it was just so hard not to - I mean after a while, I just found myself joining in. I wasn't trying to mock them - not that time - any many other times through out the years I have mocked them, mostly as part of a game they enjoy playing that involves mocking each other. No, I just found, and it is obviously an area I need to work on, that it was easier to look them straight in the eyes if I was nodding at the same rate as they were and I was thinking of smiling almost like a secret handshake or a valuable currency or the handshake one would make after or right before exchange goods for valuable currency. They felt like a team and I wanted to either play on their team or be the team masseuse. And it was all for you, because I knew how important they were to you." 

"They were and are and I've never been able to figure out why. And believe me, I've spent hours researching, receiving professional and semi-professional help trying to uncover the reasons. I was going to consider non-professional help but that guy was away serving time for attempting to impersonate someone who was both taller and more attractive, which the judge felt was both misleading to potential clients and also fairly seductive."

"Friends are friends, my uncle always said. I mean he literally was always saying that. He would never shut up! Until the day they took him away to be fixed. It was only when I was much older that I was told by my mom that the person I thought was my uncle was actually just a pile of old clothes that needed ironing on top of an old cassette player."

'I recall when I met your parents for the first time and your dad just loved me and he kept on saying he wished I was his daughter and you were his son-in-law and that he didn't care if that sort of thing was illegal in our country, that is how strongly he felt."

"It's strange -  he'd been telling me this since I was a kid, that one day I'd meet a man whom he would wish was his daughter. And I wish I could say that was one of the strange things he said to me growing up, but I can't as I have been ordered by the courts not to comment any further. All I can say is that I tried my best to be his daughter and I thought that I nailed it. Not that I was deserving of the "Best Daughter" Award that my family gave out every Christmas, but I could have at least received it once, especially considering that I have no sisters and the award was never handed out due to having no eligible candidates."

"You have always been such a great daughter, as far as I can tell. I remember you not only cooked an incredible Christmas dinner but did the whole thing from scratch including building a chicken coop and raising chickens for a few years and growing very close to them, a little unhealthily close, so much so that it was so hard for you to kill one for dinner. You grew the veggies and milked the cows for cream and to make cheese. You also decided to build an entire kitchen table and hand-craft the utensils and knit the napkins and while you were at it, you tore down our pre-existing dining room and rebuilt it from the ground up using all of our trees in our backyard (including one you "borrowed" from our neighbour). It was a performance worthy of a standing ovation, except that you had mismeasured and did not make the ceiling high enough for anyone to stand. It made for a severely uncomfortable eating experience - we all needed neck appointments at the local chiropractor, but also it was such a touching and lovely holiday meal that was evidence that you love your family and that no one should joke with you about doing anything from scratch unless they were fully prepared for you to take them up on that."

"And I have learned not to joke with you about certain things too that I am tempted to, but won't bring up as we are on vacation and I did spend that entire day with you at our lawyers reading and rereading, and eventually signing under duress, that contract regarding both my physical and oral behaviour while on vacation with you. I do love to joke, but I also believe strongly in the sanctimony of contracts so much so, that one Halloween I dressed up as a contract and got visibly and viscerally angry if anyone even tried to tear or break a piece of my costume off. I did make the tactical mistake of making the contract costume completely out of chocolate. That contract costume was slightly too highbrow for my intended audience and the fact that I was 25, I realized later on, also made people fairly uncomfortable -at the time I just thought the all of the adults were put off by my cologne."

"You used to make your own cologne and for a while it almost was a deal-breaker for me, as were many many other things. In fact, there were very few non-deal-breakers back in the beginning and I had to go out of my way to search for those things keeping us together and in the end it was that search that sealed things. It also helped that I found that abandoned baby seal which we took home and literally nursed back to health. I took care of her by day, while you went back to school to study how to care for marine life and at night we, figuratively hand-in-hand, saved that seal's life. I'll still remember the day when we could see she would be okay and you had that far off look in your eye that I need to stop looking at as it was driving me crazy - but I knew we'd always be together and that if there were bumps in the road, we'd only need to miraculously find another baby seal who was also abandoned and unwell, but not too far gone, that we could also save."

"We will always be together, my love."

"I know, my sweet. Just the other day I was comparing us to a pencil - with you being the lead part of it and me being the eraser. You always need both and their lives and roles are so intertwined that life, nae, society would crumble if they were apart. You are like a pencil - tall, thin, parts of you could snap off if you were pressed to hard to a writing surface, little kids would stick you in various holes of their bodies if their parents left them unattended for long periods of time and you are perfect vertical when standing and adorably horizontal when laying down."

"And you are just like an eraser, my dear, in that you follow me around eliminating my errors unless I happened to use pen or permanent marker or I have just posted some of my more controversial views all over the internet creating such a war of words that even the best eraser is rendered powerless. Do you remember that night when we dropped everything we were doing - you were in the midst of crossing out all of the 'm's in all of the books you owned to see if it made them more readable and I was busy sculpting assorted-sized noses out of modelling clay - and went hunting for a really large, pink eraser that could either be covered with thick woolen blankets and used as a bed for a dog that we may or may not buy in near future or carefully cut the large eraser into many many smaller erasers much in the same way a large brick of cheese can be cut into smaller cubes of cheese except that cheese is edible and once we had a ridiculously large collection of erasers we would run the risk of alienating our friends who may be quite eraser poor with the only upside being that we could have drawn little faces on each of them and acted out a predominantly eraser-featured version of HMS Pinafore."

"I love shopping for office supplies with you and I can't imagine that will ever change. In fact, as you know, I would shop for office supplies and then convert every room in our house into an office if it made you happy, which I know it would as I just happened to read some entries in your blog that stated as such. You were so bold in your vision that each room would thrive as an office and that the inhabitants who could be able to see past centuries of "needing" kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms would not only be so happy but would be lauded worldwide as revolutionaries in household design. Logistically it lacks some finesse, but I am just so taken with your spirit and your drive (as well as your choice of striped shirts) that I would decorate as you see fit. I'm sure we would struggle initially what with no running water or refrigerator or toilet, but we are such a resourceful team that I know we would not only survive, but we would thrive once we got over our dependance on conveniences such as those."

"I used to need things to be convenient in my life until the time I was travelled through Europe by train in my twenties and accidentally got off at the wrong stop and instead of visiting the amazing sites of Paris, I ended up living with a band of nomads who subsisted on a diet of fine wine, aged cheese and the most amazing homemade breads and tarts. It was with these amazing souls that I quite abruptly had to learn how to live quite differently than I was used to and when I also came to the realization that I had led such a pampered life. I felt quite silly, at the time, that it hadn't occurred to me earlier that I had been pampered while growing up, especially considering the sheer number of hours that my mom and dad spent doing it. They even had a detailed schedule for the pampering and went as far as making a set of hilarious t-shirts that they wore proudly around town that said "We Love Pampering Our Son And We Are Quite Confused That He Doesn't Even Seem To Be Aware That We Are Doing It Despite The Multiple Copies Of Printed Pampering Schedules And What With These Garish T-Shirts And All But It Isn't A Huge Surprise As He Seems To Have A Blind Spot For Sensing When Things Like Pampering And Coddling And Over-Indulging Are Going On Right In Front Of His Eyes And Maybe We Should Be Educating Him And Helping Him Become More Aware Rather Than Continuing The Pampering That Seems To Be Doing At Least As Much Harm As Good". It was quite a lot of words to put on a shirt, so the printing had to be really small and they appeared more like dresses and less like shirts, but since my dad wore the occasional dress no one who knew them even blinked an eye outside of all of the regular eye blinking that they didn't have any control over whatsoever."

"I remember that week we decided to be silent and we could only communicate through a series of eye blinking. If I remember correctly, I think it all started as me giving you the silent treatment as I was fairly displeased with how messy you left our room before you went out to hang out with your buddies down by the wharf - I never understood why they were always by the wharf and it just seemed shady to me. I mean they didn't fish, they didn't sail and they were always complaining that the smell of the ocean really bothered them. It just didn't make any sense, and yet, because of that, I admired their resolve to continue to go down there all the time and for you to hang out with them even when it meant you leaving our room a mess which often led towards silent treatments that neither of us liked. I understood that you had to leave abruptly as they were painstakingly punctual and expected everyone to arrive at the precise minute that was announced and if they didn't then they too gave the offender the silent treatment until they cleaned up the meeting room as they just hated messy rooms. So, I was giving you the silent treatment and you decided to join in as you thought it was some sort of game I was playing - in retrospect I couldn't blame you for this misreading of the situation as that was how we started all games at home - one person just started playing silently and the other person was supposed to sense that a game was beginning and join in. This only worked occasionally and was usually only successful when the two of us just happened to both be in our rec room at the same time which was very infrequent due to our strong dislike of bean bag chairs and our strange desire to buy large amounts of them and house them in our previously well-utilised rec room. So, we were both being silent and then it just went on and on and on almost like we were both daring the other to fold and to talk and the pressure was mounting for the words that finally broke the silence to be extremely profound and meaningful which was challenging at the time as we were also in the midst of a larger game we just coincidentally happened to start playing the day before that involved acting like toddlers. We silently invented a whole language consisting of only blinks of eyes and just when we were communicating better than we ever had before the phone rang and it was your banker and we just had to talk as he was a man of little patience for games especially when played with him over the phone."

"I tolerated my banker for years, but I never liked him. He was a humourless fellow who placed my money on an actual pedestal that required a step ladder to reach and he knew my fear of step ladders. I begged and pleaded for him to put the money in the actual bank and he laughed at my naivete and said "you know nothing of banks and you are only embarrassing yourself as well as potentially angering both the maker of the pedestal and the step ladder as well as their families and their infant children. Are you so much of an egotistical animal that you are placing your piece-of-mind over the shaming of the innocent children of the builders of pieces of furniture that I am using?!?!" I just didn't know how to respond to this - it still remains a perplexing dilemma - and he took my silence as a request to invest all of my money in Swiss cheese as he figured that someday in the near future the holes would be very valuable. I wanted to respectfully disagree, but we kept waving a piece of Swiss cheese in my face everytime I attempted to speak. But sweetie, I don't want to dwell on that right now as being with you here on this beach is just so amazing!

"I agree, my love. I mean, the beach itself is pretty unblemished and spectacular. I could imagine coming here on my own, as I have been known to do with beaches in the past, and having a wonderful time. But, there is just something about being on a beach with the one that I love that is just so special."

"For me it is like feeling complete for the first time in a long time almost as if I were a 3000-piece colourful jigsaw puzzle that had been missing one single piece, The puzzle had been done many times and always there was that slightly empty feeling as the one sole piece was just no where to be found. The couch cushions were dug under, the heating registers were checked on hand and knee and the vacuum bags were inspected, and still, no piece. Finally, the family contacted the puzzle manufactures and for a small fee received a replacement piece in the mail and the puzzle was finally completed and the family of pieces were together as one again. That is how I feel with you - you were the missing piece and, I feel quite fortunate, that I didn't have to receive you in the mail."

"I would have allowed myself to be mailed to you if that is what it would have taken to be with you. I would have also been open to flying, driving or being sent via pogo stick or a really large, sturdy kite. You may not know but my older brother was quite the kite builder and enthusiast growing up and actually fell in with a gang and dropped out of school. It is not what you think - they weren't a traditional criminal gang as many would assume and I know my ominous tone that I use when I tell this story doesn't help in that matter - no they were a renegade kite-flying group that experimented with avant-garde designs, shapes and patterns that the older generations found quite scary. My brother soon rose through the ranks to become the de facto leader of the most black-cloth-wearing, motorcycle-riding, brass-knuckle-packing gang of tough kite manufacturers any one had ever seen. When I see a kite being flown I am taken back to his youth and I miss him so much - back when he was a little, innocent boy who believed in a world of peace and chocolate cake and kites. As time went on, he only cared about kites, it's like I don't even know him any longer."

"I'm sorry my dear, I didn't know - I wouldn't have brought up the subject of kites if I'd known. But you know me so well and I can be insensitive from time to time especially when discussing things that fly or are attached to strings. It's just who I am and my therapist told me, as he dangled a variety of objects by strings while I opened up to her as some sort of desensitisation activity, that it was okay for me to be insensitive as long as I attempted to make good eye contact and smile every 5-7 minutes towards the person I was being insensitive towards."

"I was wondering why you often did smile at me, in an almost robotic fashion every 5-7 minutes. It all makes sense now. I should have just asked instead of keeping binder after binder of detailed notes and observations. I studied you as if you were a mouse in a maze, but also quite unlike that as no matter how much cajoling I did I just couldn't make you enter the maze I spent hours upon hours constructing. I thought I had made the most exciting labyrinth and I just wanted you to enter and play for a while - possibly getting lost and eating some of the cheese I left lying around, but you were too busy counting the seconds until your next smile. I did admire your sense of timing though and, though frustrated that I couldn't complete my quantitative research study, it made me love you even more."

"I remember excitedly telling my work colleagues about you and saying that I had just met the most fabulous person who made me so happy and I went on and on and on as I was so in love until I realized that I was speaking to them with my eyes closed so I could picture your face and when I open my eyes they had all switched seats and shirts as if to confuse me. I admitted to them that I was confused, but that I thought now was not the time or the place for such a state of confusion as our boss had expressly said that we limit all states of confusion to every second Friday as it would both increase our productivity and also give us something to look forward to and plan around. I just loved those Fridays. I had no idea what was going on and what anything meant, but I loved them just the same."

"I wasn't sure I was ever going to meet someone and then you came along."

"And I wasn't sure I wasn't going to just spend my life alone until I found you."

"I am so happy you found me. I was trying to position myself in such a way that someone could find me, but I also didn't want to make it too easy or obvious because I didn't want to be found by just anyone or to have everyone access me all at once. It required a lot of planning, but it was obviously all worth it. I always dreamed of meeting someone like you although I did think you'd either be shorter or wearing shiny red boots or have hairier ears. I'm not totally aware of why I always thought that, but it could have had to do with my covering my room with paintings that I made that featured
short, boot-wearing, hairy eared men as that was a phase I went through in my art work. I spent hours painting these realistic portraits and then many hours more sitting and staring at them and having amusing conversations and philosophical debates with the army of men in my work. I almost got as far as putting on an improvised show with these men, until my family staged an intervention and got me to see that they were only two-dimensional and how hard that would be to act on stage with. I was very thankful for my family stepping in and having me see that there was more to life then painting, talking and trying to make other laugh with these men, but the sheer amount of time I spent looking at them tricked my brain into thinking that Mr. Right would look just like that and when you didn't I pushed you away at first."

"I know - dates 1-4 were spent with you solely pushing me away. On date #1 I entered your house, you'd push me away. I'd wait a moment and enter again and you'd have gathered your strength and push me away again. This continued on for a few hours before I went home. On dates 2 and 3 it was very similar but you both seemed to be tiring of all of the pushing and also building up some new muscles in your arms. Finally, by date #4 you seemed to be warming up to me and my looks and my sense of humour that draws from ancient Greek sensibilities and customs. Finally on date #5 the pushing away stopped and we spent the entire 5 hour experience kissing which both excited me to no end while also yielding an expensive hospital bill. I love you, but kissing for such a long period of time is just not a good idea especially when I have medication that I need to take on the hour every hour."

"I was just so taken with you and so happy."

"I understand and so am I."

"Promise me that we will always be happy."

"Sweetie, I can't promise that. Not because I don't think we won't be happy for always, but because I promised you that I wouldn't state things in the form of a promise as you had had a bad experience with promises in the past."

"That's right, I forgot. You are so good for me."

"And you for me."

"We will always remember this beach."

"The sand, the sun, your polka dot socks that you just won't take off for some reason that I want to ask you about but I also don't want to ruin the mood, and the aroma of amazing island cuisine."

"I am wearing the socks, if you must know, to cover up a huge surprise that I have for you later. Ready for a swim?"

"For you, I am ready for anything."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Keep Burning My Toast

I fully understand that communication is important but I will only communicate with you if you cease calling me "Big Turk".

I didn't vote because it is my civic duty or because it's my responsibility or because I particularly like or dislike any of the candidates - I voted because...oh, I just don't know any more and I feel so alone and scared.

I want to wear clothes that cover all of my skin from head-to-toe all of the time except on Thursdays when I plan to expose my toes to the world one toe per week until I am either out of toes or get bored of this exercise.

Either mermaids are real or I'm even more confused by the women I pass on my drive to work every morning.

Chalk dust makes me sneeze, but I just can't stop breathing in all of that rich, chalky goodness.

I don't know why, but once I am in the fetal position I am whisked back to those wonderful and carefree days in the womb that would have been perfect if the WiFi reception wasn't so sketchy.

And to think you thought the bubbles were going to stop soon?!?!? You obviously don't know me, "The Bubble Guy", as well as you thought.

My body is a factory and I just happen to be looking for a new factory manager as I had to fire the last guy for attempting a mutiny and convincing the others to help him convert the factory to a parkade.

During the daytime I am but a lowly pawn moving slowly forward on the chessboard that is life, but after the sun goes down and nighttime begins, I transition into the coolest, best-dressed pawn that owns the dance floor and is admired by all.

I use and misuse dairy products to the extent that although I am not allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant I am told that all of the cows wish that I was.

Now that I've seen what I've seen and I can't unsee it no matter how hard I try, I want to see more.

I see red all of the time, just not solely in isolation. I see lots of other colours too in and around the red, but they just prefer to remain anonymous. Seeing all of the colours in juxtaposition is a much more accurate way of viewing my surroundings aside form when I retreat to my basement which is only red.

Max sounds infinitely more exciting then min, as far as settings go, but I keep burning my toast.

I long for the day when it is more socially acceptable to run my fingers through my hair in public or, failing that, to run my hair through random members of the public.

The highlight of my day is when I hear the sound of my own voice on one of the series of audio recordings I created when I installed mics throughout my house with interacting with other humans being a close second.

My doctor is a weirdo who always asks me about "if I want to get a pizza" and "have I made a decision about the pizza yet?" In related news, I'm fairly certain that he is not actually my doctor and that goes a long way towards explaining why the results of my latest blood work were both nonsensical and baring a close resemblance to a receipt from the pizza place down the block.

I was told not to duplicate my work keys. I've been told lots of things. Only some of them were about keys. The others I forgot. I have lots of keys. They make nice noises in my pockets and occasionally in my hands. I go to work where I am not meant to utilize any duplicate keys. I'm fairly certain they told me about that. I like keys. I like when they tell me things.

I am not an animal and, as way of proof, I am giving my sworn enemies scrumptious homemade chocolate chip cookies and the joke will be on them as I only used 2/3 of a teaspoon of baking soda making the cookies slightly less airy and saving me lots of money that I can put towards plotting my eventual revenge.

The pot on the stove is boiling over and I just sit at the table watching the bubbling, gooey, steamy mess as it gurgles out of the pot and all over the stove thus both ruining my breakfast and giving me a huge spill to clean up, and yet my eyes, which have not wavered from the pot as it boils away, slowly reveal my glee.

I have this dream where I am very confused and perplexed and I wander around lost, looking for someone to help me or to at least tell me what is going on. The dream goes on and on and on this way and my frustration rises and rises and rises until I come to a huge realization - I am frustrated and it's not like usual where I feel frustrated. I mean that I am actually frustrated - the human embodiment of the word. I relax a bit when I realize that no matter what I do, where I go or who I try to talk to, I am just frustrated and the more I realize that I am powerless, the more I relax and start to enjoy myself until I no longer feel frustrated and then I proceed to turn into a set of playground swings that are enjoyed by a group of little children. Suffice it to say, when I wake up, I feel slightly frustrated.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


In many ways Valerie was just like every other first-year university student. She stayed up too late, she eagerly attended class, she studied at the library, she joined some clubs and she occasionally thought about practicing witchcraft or learning to string her own guitar.

When she wasn't in class or studying, she could be found at the student lounge talking philosophy and religion with her friends or at the campus pub enjoying a drink and some dancing to ease the stress and sometimes she chased imaginary pigeons with her very real umbrella. Often she was between places as that just happens in life when you don't want to remain in one building all the time and you just have to be in transit. She never quite understood why she had to apologize for that.

She had thought about getting a job, but didn't want to take time away from her studies, so she decided to intern instead. Her lack of understanding of interning endeared her to all that knew her, although most weren't aware that that was the reason they found her endearing and there was quite the list. The list was presently at Dave's house. Her friends were, on the whole, quite unaware relative to the average group of academic-minded friends and they prided themselves upon that. Most university students have hyper-aware friends who analyze and over think every little thing so much so that they would drive her crazy. She remained sane aside from her occasional desire to either emulate or imitate an occupational therapist, whichever was easier.

She spent her time interning at the local accounting firm that she always dreamed of interning at; her parents had been worried about the total absence of creativity and fantasy in her dreams as a child. She was worried too, but only about the impact of consuming too much soy, especially during a cleanse or cleaning her bathroom using soy sauce. As a child growing up, she would walk past the accounting firm and try to see through the frosted windows just imagining the the glee and enthusiasm on the faces of the accountants and their interns. How she longed to be on the other side of that frosted glass and be the envy of the younger generation of accounting-firm-intern-dreamers. She wanted to be the object of someone's envy very badly even if it was misplaced.

When she wasn't interning, she enjoying throwing caution to the wind and when she tired of that, she returned to the glory of her childhood by dressing up as various Disney princesses and characters, especially Mickey Mouse. For years others made fun of her love of dressing up as a male, cartoon mouse, but as time passed, people moved on as they either found other, newer, things to make fun of or they just grew tired of it as it did get exhausting after a while as they were often relentless. It involved the hiring of several personal trainers if it was to be done well. She never quite understood her fascination with Mickey or her desire to "wear" him, and she decided that some fascinations were best left "unsolved" especially considering her credit situation and the fact that she had a term paper due on Friday.

At school, she would sit in class and take notes and then she would go to the library and take more notes, before returning home to take more notes. It was getting to the point where taking notes had become her life and as she the amount of notes grew and grew she realized that they had lost all meaning to her, what little they had started with, which was actually quite a bit. If she didn't have a pressing assignment or test on the horizon, she would return to her apartment, close the drapes and put the Mickey Mouse costume on while she went about her cleaning. She often wished she would be more dynamic and interesting while costumed, but the laundry needed folding and the dust wasn't going to sweep itself up and then there was the question of dinner. And always there was Mickey.

It had been months since she had last seen her dad without a thick pane of glass separating them. She missed her dad - he had robbed a bank and gone to jail. Or more accurately, he had been hanging out with some friends and thought they were going out for lunch only to realize, when it was too late, that they were robbing a bank instead. This sort of thing happened to him far too often, probably because he loved going out for lunch and allowed others to always choose the place. The fact that he just happened to be dressed appropriately for the heist and was carrying what appeared to be a gun with him - it was actually a lighter that just looked like a gun that he had with him as he was playing a recreational pyromaniac in a new community theatre play - didn't help his cause when the police grabbed them.

She loved him and wanted to be supportive of his hobbies, which she was, right up until he decided to progress from ceramics and stamp collecting to armed robbery, because of her absolute hatred of all forms of robbery and because he essentially turned his back on his amazing works of clay right before they were to be baked and glazed. Did he think kilns grew on trees? She really hoped he didn't. She was so angry at him for resorting to a life of crime as so many other lives were available to him at such an affordable rate.

She felt slightly better when she heard his story. He was quite confused when they passed by their usual lunch spot, even more confused when they donned black ski masks and his confusion hit it's highest level when they all stormed in through the front doors of the bank with guns demanding the combination to the safe only to realize that the bank was actually next door and that this store was just full of wigs and wig stands and the most pleasant sales lady they had ever met. His confusion subsided briefly after the bank was properly located as they waited for the combination and then rapidly rose again when they made their getaway. As an actor, he did his best to play the part as you never know who is in the audience, although he was quite disappointed when the lines demanding the combination to the safe were repeated at the actual bank as the first run through was far more realistic and gripping.

Often when she thought of her dad, she thought back to how supportive he was when she decided to pursue interning. Others, specifically her mother and grandmother, scoffed at her attempts to be a full time student as well as a part time intern mostly because they never quite got how to add fractions. Her dad always believed in her ability to balance and juggle and often to do both at the same time as long as she was not anywhere near the docks at low tide. "Docks at Low Tide" was coincidentally the name she had chosen for her autobiography as she believed the title would work on many levels once she dedicated some time to it.

Her dad helped her progress from just pretending to be an intern to actually doing it, all-the-while secretly drawing floor plans and making accurate lists of security details for local financial institutions. Some would say she turned a blind eye to his strange hobbies, while others said that we shouldn't make her feel any more self-conscious than she already does about her eye, which isn't blind, it is just a bit cloudy. Yes, he always helped her, and she hadn't returned the favour.

The lawyers and police confiscated his collection of antique pens and intricate drawings of banks claimed they were evidence, while he said that he had always had a love of floor plans and architecture and how the building that houses the most money were often the least aesthetically pleasing even when you consider how attractive some of the guards looked in their shiny boots and tailored coats. They said that he would rot behind bars and he said that he believed that was highly unlikely regardless of whether bars were involved or not as he bathed on a regular basis and was going to rot anytime soon.

He told them that he'd been used by his friends for his knowledge, while his friends thought they had made it expressly clear what they were doing; even going as far as writing out a detailed, yet simple list of what their plan was and what each person's job was. They claimed he was the mastermind and that he coerced them into it and that they really only wanted to sing beautiful harmonies and the occasional melody. Her father looked like either the biggest fool in town or at least in the top ten, which he found frustrating as he believed the methods for vote collection were totally faulty.

She often got so mad she wanted to scream, but she was usually sitting in class at the university and her professor had a class rule prohibiting screaming unless for the purposes of qualitative research. She also wanted to cry, but the accounting firm required signed written consent for all shedding of tears to be filled in triplicate a minimum of three days prior. She gritted her teeth, behind the huge comical head of the beloved cartoon mouse so that no one could see, but she sensed that Mickey did not approve of being used for such purposes.

She missed her dad so much and wished she could have been there to spend one more day with him. She often sits in the library, trying to study or write an essay, and she sees him outside the bank with his mask on and his lighter/gun in hand. She sees herself run to him to either talk him out of it or to drive the car as she is really quite fast and after making a clean getaway and taking her cut of the money, she would feel better that she saved him; just as he had saved her countless times.

If she could have been there she would have told him that she loved him and they would have gone out for ice cream just like they did when she was a child and he was more child-like. They both grew up so quickly; her because of growth spurts and he because of some discounted lifts he ordered away for. He adorably ordered random, discounted items all the time and she remembered her mother, before she left, off-loading a lot of stuff on him at low low prices that could not be beat.

She loved school, loved her work as an intern, loved her time each afternoon as Mickey Mouse and loved her father. If only she could have one more day with him, or failing that, part of a day, as that was usually all she could handle. She knew he would be free one day and they would be together again. She knew lots of things and others had to often tell her that now was not a good time for sharing. She dreamed of the day when he was released from prison and he would hold her in his arms the best he could as the Mickey Mouse costume was quite large making a normal hug between two averagely-sized humans quite difficult to say the least.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Love in Colours: Grey

The gray silk tablecloths were being placed with care on the large rounds in the banquet hall as the guests began to arrive. They stood outside the room, peering through the windows, mesmerized by the gray cloths being unfurled seemingly in slow motion. The cloths were being waved in the air as if to signal surrender if only they had been red. The past few weeks euphemisms and expressions about the end were repeatedly spoken as if to convince him everything was over, but both of them believed that the real excitement was yet to come.

She was sitting at a large table, surrounded by his colleagues, watching him up there on the stage. She couldn't believe that he was actually retiring, but she knew that she would have to believe it at some point as it was actually happening and it was meaningless to hold onto such obvious disbeliefs when the truth is so readily apparent. Could it be that time already she thought? Wasn't it just yesterday when he had just started this job in the first year after they fell in love? The answer, quite clearly, she reminded herself, was no and why did she insist on continuing to ask herself this question? She remembered the endearing self-assuredness he had as he left for work each morning when he was first starting and how that had barely changed over the years. He had been one of the fortunate ones - he loved his job and was excited to go to work. She loved his positive nature and outlook on life and felt that it was infectious as he had helped her see things more positively as well and that was quite almost definitely the best possible kind of infection or infectious disease there could be as almost all others ended with someone getting very sick. As she sat there listening to story after story about his incredible contributions to the company, she remembered a more youthful version of him in her head and it made smile. Her head was often full of different images and pictures of him and she wished she could construct a mental way of organizing them - sort of like an album with plastic pockets to store the mental photos, but she laughed at her naivete about constructing albums in her mind, especially when it came to making the plastic pockets. She couldn't believe how much time had passed, but attributed that to her inability to keep track of time very well and to how much fun they have had over the years. She watched him on stage with a pride that was unlike that of a parent or a teacher or a plastic surgeon and more like one that a wife would feel for her husband and that just made sense, she thought, as that was the nature of their relationship. Finally, it was his turn to speak and he stood and walked slowly to the lectern and made eye contact with her. He grinned, took out his notes and addressed the audience of friends and colleagues in a way that only he could - as a freestyle rap.

He sat there listening but barely hearing the speeches. It was a technique that he had honed at work over the years and could easily give a series of workshops that people would listen but not hear making the means of delivery quite challenging. His mind was drifting and he gave into the sensation as he was quite enjoying being caught up in a cloud of déjà vu because he had remembered to have a snack first. His mouth broke out into a small grin as he remembered how eager and excited and full of beans he had been as a young man when he first landed the position. He used to eat bowl after bowl of cooked beans that he had lovingly soaked overnight himself right before a shift primarily for the protein and the digestive fibre and secondarily for whatever may have coincidentally aided his performance at work. Yes, he had been annoyingly eager, and he saw that same ridiculously annoying eagerness on the young aiming-to-please-even-if-that-meant-wearing-face-paint employees he hired himself ever since he became management. Somedays he wanted to mentor these new employees and other days he lamented our modern negative view of tar-and-feathering, mostly due to his investing heavily in tar a few years ago. His eyes caught his elegant wife's in the audience. He was struck by how well she had aged and his mind quickly started listing all the ways they could benefit from that financially without completely compromising her elegance. He came up with two. He was so lucky to have her as she could have had any guy but chose him based on his humour, his unflinching love and, at least partially, due to his glass-blowing skills as she was a sucker for objects of glass, especially those that had been blown by men with senses of humour that also loved her. Even as this date on the calendar rapidly approached, it hadn't totally hit him until now - he was old and he was retiring and it had helped that he had recently started hitting himself with the calendar causing a fair amount of ripping as the calender was quite cheaply made. Finally, it was his turn to speak and he was ready to leave his mark - he wasn't sure how or where, but it would be a permanent mark, it would involve mixed media, and it would be intense, partially edible and subject to interpretation.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lay Off The Pork Already!

When I was younger I really wanted to go out with someone - it could have been almost anyone - mostly because I spent an unhealthy amount of time as an involuntary recluse and needed the exposure to fresh air as well as having the company to share my vague and hysterical theories with.

I once decided to flex all of my muscles at the same time and froze in that position for a few days until thankfully a really strong wind carried me away.

There are many ways to skin a cat and all of them are excruciatingly horrible especially for the cat and for those of us who are forced to watch as some sort of consequence that in no way is appropriate when all I did was take one cookie from the jar.

Sometimes when people yell at me so loudly, I feel like my brain is actually being penetrated but doctors tell me not to be too concerned and I'm actually starting to enjoy it a bit more now.

For all those around me I am a focal point and am growing tired of all of the attention which is making me both self-conscious and wishing I had just read the fine print more carefully.

My mind is unlike a sieve in almost every way aside from one.

I just bought a new raincoat and I have taken to wearing it for solely preventative measures which seems to work until it rains and then I am not so sure it is working as I intended.

I took a shower the other day to get clean, but only the physical dirt washed off and no matter how much I scrubbed and scrubbed I just couldn't feel psychologically clean which I'm pretty sure the soap ad claimed it would do.

I am gradually overtime increasing the number of activities I participate in ironically and, at the same time, I am noticing a gradual decrease in the number of people who will participate with me.

I have come to grips with the fact that I am just more comfortable in the comforts of my own home which is oddly not that comfortable at all as far as homes go.

Contrary to what I have grown to believe long grass does not give me a heightened feeling of security even after I have made myself a new hat.

Meters have been installed, as have valves, tubes and levers - it all works exactly according to plan aside from the fact that I have nowhere to sleep and I am worried that the constant beeping will have long-term negative side effects.

I often feel sad when I should feel happy and that makes me quite happy although I am starting to wonder if it should make me feel sad instead.

Soothing ointments sooth my painful open sores and yet, even I can only handle so much soothing in my day-to-day life before I grow a bit numb to it.

I often feel great pressure to cook my pasta perfectly al dente even though I happen to be one of the 2% of people who happen to love totally over-cooked pasta that I can eat with a straw.

My wife loves and appreciates the clean rugs and carpets at our home, but even she is starting to grow quite concerned about how often I am vacuuming and the fact that I can't stop beaming while doing so.

Instead of calling or texting or emailing you I've decided to write you page after page of emotional and gripping text in large red letters giving the illusion that I used blood even though it is just an old marker and I have decided to plaster these pages all over your bedroom to see if you want to have lunch tomorrow.

I will continue to use the semi-colon how ever I please and am more than willing to return the favour to ensure things remain fair.

Pigs are so cute and if they could talk I'm pretty sure they would say something snorty and adorable with a strong yet subtle message to "lay off the pork already".

Umbrellas just do not keep me dry enough and it makes me so frustrated and the only thing that helps me feel better is a peaceful walk in a heavy rainfall.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Great Jicama Slaw

I have grown up in fear of the ramifications of being the last one in.

The last of the rice has been eaten. I sit there at the table, looking mournfully at my now empty plate before slowly turning to focus on the jar that once held rice in my dry pantry that is also painfully empty and then I focus on the recycling bin where the once proud plastic bag that carried the youthful, freshly-harvest rice home now resides. I am pleasantly full of rice and yet I yearn for more and more and more. I stand with a determination that I usually reserve for pasta and I walk confidently with a confidence that I usually reserve for bread and I drive to the store with a focus that I usually reserve for driving as driving unfocused can be very dangerous and I buy some more rice because that is what I want to buy. Any questions?

Living without perspective is quite dizzying and with a fair number of scary moments where I just about lose my balance or bump into objects I thought were considerably closer to the horizon but, aside from that, it is totally awesome! Take that perspective!

The purchasing of socks brings me a joy that is mainly indescribable and that is probably good after I spent a lot of time in my formative years writing short pieces of creative non-fiction about buying belts.

After attempting to live rurally and not concern myself with worldly possessions I've given in to my natural tendencies and decided to go to town.

At points in my life I've wanted to burn fat like crazy but I'm already doing too many other activities like crazy and people are starting to talk...those are actual people talking, right?

There is nothing I like eating better than peanut butter and raspberry jam on perfectly toasted bread. The only thing I insist on is  randomly sliced bread with a wide variety of thickness and shapes as I just don't like uniformity in bread slices, and I hope I never give in to the pressure put on us by the bread companies to conform.

Moving forward, I would like to experience as many things in my life as indirectly as possible.

If given the choice between living satirically, rhetorically or allegorically, I would hesitate to choose without first consulting learned citizens throughout my community: doctors, religious figures, professors of philosophy, and sanitation workers, as well as finally going out and spending the $10 to get a much-needed massage as I'd like to be relaxed as possible when I finally make my choice.

Much of the time I like being organized and planning ahead, but then there are those days when I wake up with a twinkle in my eye and, after a quick visit to the drop-in clinic to have my eye checked out, I like doing things on a whim and overemphasizing the "wh" in whim to each passerby I encounter.

I am getting quite bored of being so opaque and after months of practice I am aiming for transparence but would gladly settle on the occasional bout of translucence. Too much transparency and I'll be missing the halcyon days of opaqueness gone by.

I, for one, am very glad that my prized and uncounted collection of jelly beans aren't any closer to becoming sentient, counting themselves, and demanding reparations.

People have been praising me recently for being so charmingly inept, but I know at some point the jig will be up and I'll either have to find another way to be charming or to just settle on plain old ineptitude just like my cousin.

If there is a way to be energetically lazy then I plan to eventually roll off the couch and drag my bag of bones out of the house to very slowly find it. For those that don't know me well, there is no actual bag of bones, as I have switched over to using solely boxes earlier this year.

I have just spent the afternoon pouring salt into my wound and I must be doing it wrong as it is pretty okay compared to most other salt-pouring-related activities.

I am eating a great jicama slaw right now. In other news, I have now finished my slaw and am ready for the fish tacos. If you stick around, I'll continue to keep you apprised of all of my other eating experiences as well as they happen.

Little children are just so cute and adorable and amazing...kind of makes me sick after a while. Maybe I should stop spinning around at some point as I am told that I am supposed to not only be a role model, but I should also be teaching these kids.

My eyes drip tears when I cry and my nose drips liquid when I am sick, but nothing makes my mouth water like the smell of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven and nothing, and I mean nothing, makes my ears water ever.

Black and white stripes of paper are carefully cut by sharp scissors and then arranged, delicately, in a mesmerizing, overlapping pattern. Next perfect circles in all of the colours of the rainbow are created, followed by a bountiful of hearts in assorted sizes and shades of red. Outside the window, the world is happening  - people fall in and out of love and back in again only with his brother this time; dogs chase cats who chase mice who only wish to live; many of the most important ideas remain comprehendible to but a small group of elite monks living far away in the mountains of  a mostly unpronounceable country; atoms crash into each other at dizzyingly high speeds and then do it again and again because that is what atoms do after they sign the contract even if they don't read the fine print; and I just wake up every morning, cut my sideburns that continue to invade the domain of my beard and I find my seat by the window, turn out the lights and then cut pieces of construction paper with my prized pair of scissors.

Just once I'd love to wake up completely surrounded by pigs.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Next Day in My Life

It is a beautiful morning with an incredible sunrise. I am at the beach and I am observing a sunrise which seems odd as I am never at the beach early enough to view the rising of the sun. It isn't totally unusual for me to be at the beach in the morning in and of itself, aside from the fact that I wake here which is a change of pace for me as I usually go out of my way to sleep and wake up in in my own bed or at least in my bedroom as sometimes I playfully roll around and off the bed and enjoy the coziness of the rug. I yawn a few times and look around from my vantage point on the exposed sand and sit up. It takes me a few minutes to get used to my surroundings and my mind is full of millions of thoughts and questions including "Why am I waking up on the beach?", "How did I get here?" and "How concerned should I be about not having any immediate idea at the answers to those fairly basic questions?" After some fairly rushed deliberations I settle on "Not sure", "Unknown" and "Quite" as my three answers and I briefly contemplate looking around for applause from the studio audience and for a monetary prize for getting the questions correct. After a moment of being proud of my creativity at such an early hour of the day, I start to panic slightly, which is evidence that the appointments with the therapist are paying off as I used to jump immediately and quite scarily into full panic mode at the drop of a hat and in numerous other situations that extended well past the accidental falling of headware.

Full panic mode is not all it's cracked up to be except that it often allowed me to don some of my shirts that clashed with every pair of pants I owned and have it somehow fit the occasion. No extreme anxiety at the moment, just slight nervousness and a bit of cold sweating - how and why am I on the beach and why am I not at home wearing my comfy slippers that I purchased for the express purpose of making my feet warm. I had tried to think of a number of other reasons to justify the purchase of the slippers as I believe that I should have a minimum of 5 reasons for buying anything. I determined this years ago when I felt a large amount of buyer's remorse when I spent at least $300 too much on blubber and could only think of art as the sole initial reason for the expenditure with food for my as-yet-unacquired-baby-sea-otter as the second. I remember the day I purchased that I'll-thought-through blubber as I had just spent hours forcing myself to paint only pictures of forests of tree trunks knowing how painful those images were for me to paint. It is true, I hate the idea of old-growth forests being chopped down but I also have a nervous twitch when I paint those sort of pictures which usually ends up with accidentally scratching myself around my face and neck.

I decide to calm down by standing and stretching and giving the appearance of fitting in. I've seen so many movies where someone has lost their memory and they almost always get it all back in a series of awesomely filmed, dramatic flashbacks and I am excited all of a sudden as I can't wait for my flashbacks to begin. I look at the seagull in front of me and can almost imagine him speaking to me and helping guide me through the events, but he just gives me the strong impression that he either doesn't speak English or just can't be bothered to get involved with a strange human at this point in his life as he has way too many of his own issues to deal with including finding a meal for his high-maintenance wife that does not involve worms or insects as she has had enough of those to last a lifetime and trying to think up the best way to advertise his new accounting firm that he started with his two best friends considering that most of his potential clients were not socially media-savvy. "I don't need the bird's help!" I said to myself aloud and quite loudly as well, startling my feathered companion so much that he squawked and flew off which was exactly how I thought our friendship would end when I first laid eyes on him five minutes ago except that I wasn't quite sure which of us would be doing the squawking and fleeing as I am well aware of my avian and scaredy-cat tendencies. As I felt a twinge of guilt at lashing out at my only friend on this foreign beach, it hit me that using the term friend is probably a bit too early in the developing relationship and that we were only mere acquaintances and that is how it often is with birds for at least the first few social activities.

All of a sudden it hit me - I  remember that I awoke shortly after midnight and got dressed and that, at some point, I was in the forest.

I love the forest. The trees that rise so high almost showing off, the bushes that are either more satisfied with a "rounder" appearance than the trees or are doing a fairly good job of not appearing to care, the stumps which act both as a reminder to all trees of what could happen to them if they get a little too full of themselves and as a more appropriately-sized companion for the bushes, and the wildlife which is either cute, wanting to detach my nose from my face, or falling somewhere between those two extremes. I often don't know why I am in the forest, but I have tried to stop focussing on the question "why" so often as the answers are long and convoluted and eating up much valuable eating time. No, I choose to allow my body, mind and feet to select the activities and the site for those activities and if they want me to be in the forest, then in the forest I will be even if there is a game on that evening or it looks like rain.

That reminds me of that amazing 5-hour excursion to the forest I took last summer with my friends Dave and Steve as well as my imaginary friend Beth who seems to accompany me to lots of places especially when her other imaginary friends are busy. It is actually quite confusing that my imaginary friend has other imaginary friends and then me, who is quite real. Can you imagine how I feel as the only real person at the sushi restaurant, that is also imaginary? I've tried broaching the topic with Beth, but she pretends that she can't hear me, which is a typical ploy by imaginary beings - the whole "I can't hear you, because I don't actually have functional ears" thing - it is boringly predictable after a while - it does make sense on some level, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. How I love Beth and when the laws are more permissive, I may ask for her hand in marriage as long as she doesn't claim that her hands are too imaginary thus making the offer moot.

So we were in the forest, walking the trails, trying to be one with nature and getting quite close. The best estimation Steve came up with was somewhere between 1.25 and 1.5. And then the rains came and we were forced to either retreat quickly to our modern homes with central heating and slightly-redundant wall-to-wall carpeting or to tough it out proving to ours moms that we could survive in the woods. For some odd reason all three of our moms really want to toughen us up and they even got together and spent three successive Thursday evenings eating praline, drinking peppermint tea out of mugs that were intended for coffee and devising a set of tasks for their sons to make us real men as they were admittedly fairly stuck on having real men as sons for reasons that they were debating going to see someone about. Beth does not have a mom, because I haven't gotten around to mentally creating that for her yet and believe you me, she is getting quite impatient as she really wants to call her mom, once she has one, to ask for her apple pie crust recipe so she can stop using store-bought crusts that are lackluster at best. I keep telling her that my schedule is quite full and it takes more effort and mental-wherewithal to create a fictitious mom than it seems, but in reality I just can't be bothered.

Spending a day in the forest with no supplies aside from allowing Dave to wear glasses was step one in our mother's plans. It was all fine and good until the torrential downpour began, soaking us from head to toe in minutes. Initially it was sort of like a cool shower and was slightly refreshing. I compared it to drinking a glass of cool water after a hard workout, except that I hadn't just worked out and instead of drinking the cool water and having it refresh me, the water was being continuously dumped on me with force instead. After the initial period of joy had worn off, we started to panic - Dave was trying to get directions from a bunch of not-so-helpful squirrels; Steve, for some reason, began to tear off his shirt and replace it with a haphazardly bunched together pile of leaves and me, I made noises with my lips that usually made babies giggle, only there were no babies present so they went largely unappreciated. We spent the rest of the day huddled together, under a small canopy of large, low-hanging branches, sharing stories of love and computer software nightmares and the more powerful love that often came out of those computer software nightmares until the nightmares got worse and no amount of love could cheer us up. We shared those stories all the time, being in the forest in the rain was quite secondary. Finally, the rains cleared and we strode out of the forest, the four of us, three back to our moms and one of us, Beth, decided to go catch a movie.

I closed my eyes and tried imagining the previous evening to determine how I got to the beach. I knew I'd remember as long as I really focused and since I figured there had to be a reason I was on the beach and that that reason may, in fact, be time-sensitive, I got right to it. I remembered that I woke up in bed with a start, preemptively ending an amazing dream where I was some sort of representative speaker for the humans and I was attempting to meet with a selection of specifically-chosen marine life who were very hard to schedule meetings with as they have very busy schedules what with the holidays just around the corner. I urgently wanted to meet with them to investigate the options for a shared currency and a human-marine life exchange program where a bunch of underprivileged youths and at-risk marine life can trade places for a three-month period in order to gain more employability and transferable skills and just when I was about to storm into the head shark's office to demand some face time, I woke up.

I don't recall hurriedly getting dressed, but based on my outfit, I not only didn't avoid any clashes with colours and patterns but I seemed to go out of my way to clash as much as possible with the only limitations being my limited wardrobe and the current abilities of my eyes. I noticed my quite regular-looking socks and surmised that my socks with pompoms, that I can only guess were left at my place as some sort of subliminal message by the cleaning lady who cleans the last Wednesday of each month, were at the dry-cleaners. I can only guess that I dressed in a hurry, with the lights off, and with my eyes closed, which was becoming more and more commonplace with men of my age and socio-economic status, and then I left the house in a rush after locking the door, quickly dusting the window sills and arranging the dried decorative flowers just so and then making a beeline for the forest. I had wished in this attempt of mine to piece together the events that I didn't choose to take an unnecessarily meandering beeline for the forest as I just wanted to get there already and this bee of mine was taking his sweet time and stopping off at every single flower along the way almost as if he was either searching for his long lost friend whom he had heard rumours was hanging out at local pollen salons or he doing some really smart comparison shopping looking for the best price for antique wall hangings.

As I'm standing there on the beach remembering the details of the early morning, I open my eyes as an image hits me not unlike a ton of bricks, but not at all like that as well. I distinctly remember brushing my teeth before I left the house and remarking "my teeth are so white, so white my teeth are, how I love you my white teeth" right before commenting "but you'd think that being so perfect and white that you would either have earned me a higher social standing, some sort of government grant for an enamel-inspired set of monolithic sculptures or at a minimum a date with that cute dental hygienist who just moved in next door and is always wearing her hair up showing off that slender and deeply tanned neckline of hers that shows off both her beauty and her lack of respect for the power of the sun even in the early spring, but no, you are just so selfishly interested in maintaining your own gleaming whiteness leaving the rest of us in your wake and making us so jealous that I can't even make eye contact with you anymore not like before ,and no, I don't need you to remind me that you don't have eyes-  I know that now!" before falling in love with their whiteness all over again. If I didn't know better I would think that I had never been in the forest and that instead it was my excuse that I was giving myself to avoid revealing the depths of a transgression or something, but there was no mistaking the scent of pine and I had given up using pine fresheners as a cheap replacement for deodorant the previous week.

So, I was in the forest and aside from the fact that it was pitch dark and I couldn't see where I was going or what sort of object I was conversing with - it was a fence - I had a great time. I have had so many great times in the dark, especially that one time when my friends invited me to a blindfolded dinner party they were having in their basement last winter. I came over, was blindfolded and then I thought I heard snickering, the sound of a number of shoes on the steps leading upstairs and the door closing followed by sounds that were eerily similar to celebratory high-fives only to have them cut off by a van starting and driving off. I sat there in the basement, awaiting the dinner, for hours, with the anticipation building to a point where I just couldn't take it any longer and I decided to take a nap only to realize that they had tied me to the chair, as a prank, or maybe so I wouldn't get any ideas and either remove the blindfold or sneak a peak at the surprise dinner that I still couldn't wait to try. What an elaborately planned evening of fun, I remember thinking before I accidentally nodded off only to be woken the next day by one of my friends who was shocked that I hadn't "gone home already" and "got the hint" and "my share of the dinner came to $24.75 but that they would be okay with $24".

I loved the smell of the forest and once my eyes got used to the light, I quite enjoyed being with the trees because, as my mom always said, "trees never judge except for cedars. Stay away from cedars with your secrets, they are like sieves." My mom always had an issue involving cedars almost definitely dating back to when her father left her mother with a cedar and continuing when a cedar was responsible for her failing math back in grade 9. I stood at the start of a trail. As a child I had always been consumed with the names of trails and what they could mean and I sometimes felt that the names were part of a large government conspiracy of which I wanted to be the intrepid young whippersnapper who unearthed the plot by the government. I had narrowed the potential details of the plot down to three possibilities: the systematic elimination of all lower case letters, the banning of all dental floss or the staging of a sham election where the people would fall in love with this amazing candidate only to have it revealed at the inauguration that we were all on the moon the entire time and while we were all engrossed in the amazing lead-up to the election with the well-placed and timed ads and well-constructed campaigns, we were all air-lifted to the moon as part of a government plan to rezone the land our houses are on just for laughs and giggles. It was a fairly bizarre plot for a 12-year old boy to come up with and that made me quite proud, as I was that 12-year old boy - if it had been someone else's idea, I would have been fairly jealous and concerned especially because it was in my head and how would the other 12 year old boy with ideas eerily similar to my own, get his ideas in my head. 

I stood there, in the moonlight and looked at the trail map and thought about the names of the trails and what they could possibly indicate or mean.

There was one called Inspiration Trail and I imagined the first people walking on it and being so inspired by the surroundings and leaving the trail to not only return to their loved ones oozing with inspiration and going on to lead infinitely more productive and happy lives, but also using the experience of being on the trail as their main motivation for everything else in their lives. I just hope that they were that inspired, because if they weren't then I have a huge problem with the naming of the trail unless they were meaning it to be somewhat sarcastic and the person who fielded the new name of the trail on the phone didn't quite hear or understand the quotation marks around the word inspiration that would have made the sarcasm more obvious to the reader. Maybe it is extremely un-inspirational and those that go on it literally feel inspiration being sucked out of them, so much so, that many people don't even finish the trail and set up camp and just stay and over time a nice little community of similar-minded, not-so-easily-inspired-by-fairly-commonplace-trails people would work together growing crops, raising farm animals and living off the pretty regular land. I briefly consider how my life would potentially change if I went down that "road" and I decide against it as either way I have plans for the weekend that would almost definitely have to be changed if I came back overly inspired or not at all. My guidance counsellor once warned me that I was easily susceptible to groups of very warm people who lived off the land after only setting off to walk on a trail and be inspired. It seemed like a very random thing for me and my parents to be worried about and I generally forgot about it until this moment. I'd have to remember to mail her a card with a cute kitten on it as she always had a thing for cute kittens - on her sweaters, on photographs on her walls and even in the hairstyle she used for much of the time I was in school.

Next to that trail was a hike to Dog Lake. Most likely a popular destination for dog-owners when accompanied by their dogs or by people without dogs who own leashes as a first step in a 12-step process towards owning a dog and they just want to try out the experience of owning a dog by frequenting places that dog-owners and dogs may go. The next step is buying a bag of dog food and pouring it into a dog dish and seeing how that makes you feel on a spiritual level - it is said that if you can't make yourself buy and dish out the food then you most likely will not be able to care for an actual dog unless you can somehow train it to shop and serve itself its own food or train it to at least feed you so things will seem equal in the area of food distribution. It is also possible that the lake is at least partially dog-shaped based on the appearance of dogs in this specific area at the time the first explorers came upon this lake. The explorers may have been paying homage to the great dogs of the day in the hope that the dog gods would look kindly upon them and not have them spayed or neutered or to at least use some anesthetic if it was absolutely necessary. I can only imagine a group of proud dogs convening on this lake for council sessions that usually were accompanied by a wonderful spread, exotic dog dancers and a fortune teller as dogs in that day and age went bonkers for having their fortunes told. Some say that the ancestors of current dogs still haunt the lake not that they are interested in creeping people out, but mostly because they were told to sit and no one ever told them to stop which would drive anyone crazy.

Or I could walk down the Endless Loop. In many ways, I would describe my teenage years as walking down an endless loop and that was partially due to my feeling stuck in a rut and also the endless loop of staircases my parents installed in our house after accidentally ingesting a strong batch of horse tranquilizer after seeing a particularly riveting documentary on M.S, Escher. It took me hours to figure out how to get from my room to the kitchen and I swear to this day that there was no back door any longer as the steps that used to lead to the back door now went a totally new and quite exciting direction, as long I wasn't in a rush to go anywhere that day. I also ran around and around and around a 400 metre track for a girlfriend trying to get back in her good books after I unknowingly insulted her - how was I supposed to know that her uncle left his wife, her favourite aunt, when he fell in love with a librarian who was also due to inherit a massive fortune because her father was the richest glue manufacturer in the local area. I mean who could predict that exact set of events?

My girlfriend had me run and run because she found it mesmerizing and also because she staunchly didn't believe in dog houses. Seriously - she did not believe in a dog house as a physical or mental construct. When I asked her where did she think dogs lived, she said that she preferred to think of dogs as beautiful and mystical vagabonds who could call any place that they chose to lay as their home. It was just one example of what I both loved and found perplexing about her with the perplexing side eventually winning out when she decided to spend the month of July chasing butterflies with cheap chopsticks. I just couldn't convince myself to walk down the Endless Loop because it seemed like a fairly large time commitment and I had promised myself not to make any large time commitments no matter how tempting because I wanted to walk down a slightly-less-than-endlessly-long path that would take slightly-less than an endless amount of time, but also had the same amount of endless pleasure attached to it. I was quite high maintenance when it came to choosing where to walk in general and that led to my taking a few steps in one direction followed by a turn of a seemingly-random degree and then a few steps in a different direction and so on and so on. Some professors from the local university once graphed my walking on a time/distance graph and the results helped them figure out the secret of the mating patterns of koalas. Somehow I didn't benefit financially at all from that study, although I did get a free pass to the koala exhibit at the zoo. However, I was barred from entrance during mating season as they hypothesized that my walking might lead to several miscarriages.

The final trail that caught my eye was one called Wildberry Trail which got me quite excited as I am a sucker for wildberries which is interesting only in that I am also a sucker for almost everything else that is wild: feral pigs, wild hair, out-of-control neighbours who yell and scream and need police attention every other Friday evening, wantonly scooped Vanilla-flavoured Greek yogurt, and of course, wild applications of lipstick that cause others to feign concern. But wildberries were my favourite! I especially loved that they taste good and also that they don't criticize me and jump on my every mistake and make me sit in the corner while they pop all of my balloons that were also doubling as my friends. I had always been under the belief that we didn't pop our friends or balloons that were doubling as our friends because I had once mistook my friends shrieking and recoiling from the long, pointy needle I was lurking suspiciously around with as a desire to be popped with a needle that I carried around for those specific situations that almost never came up and I was quite excited.

I would have walked down this trail but it was pitch black and at least a few hours until sunrise and I would have no idea whether I was staying on the path or veering towards something poisonous or something sharp or even something resembling my roommate-lawyer. I have randomly bumped into him in the dark on many occasions and have had the chance, the fortune to touch him, to caress the nape of his neck, to briefly lick some part of his leg in a dark, dark room and wonder why I hadn't studied to be a lawyer. I often walk around in the dark simulating licking an ice cream for reasons that I will carry to my grave. I have also requested that my grave be within 250 steps of an upscale ice cream parlour and that the burial occur on a hot day so that everyone walks to the ice cream parlour licking as they go and that the proceeds of the sales go towards improving the lives of chickens as I have always wanted to select an animal at random and to donate money that is not mine towards improving their lives. It is both the most and the least that I can do as I will be buried at the time.

I remember distinctly leaving the woods quite unceremoniously, and infinitely disappointed, as I was expecting at least a small ceremony, and walking straight towards the beach. The sun was now slowly starting to light up the sky and for some reason I needed to be on the beach when the sun came up. And here I was, sitting on a log on the beach. "Always sitting," I think to myself mostly to make conversation and to enjoy a brief respite from the silence that almost engulfs me. Not the most comfortable spot ever, but with all the expected tranquility and postcard-like scenery I expected. "Tranquility is very under-rated" I murmur knowingly, although I'm not sure if it has been rated much at all - thankfully no one is around to refute me...this time. Later on I plan to make a list and post it online, rating it low so that this all makes sense in retrospect. If I could somehow make a living doing it, I would alternate days between murmuring knowingly for show and rating things online also for show. I smile at this thought - always talking about doing things for show, but never having the guts to follow through.

I would love to sit in the most comfortable spot ever, at least for a moment - seems like I owe myself that. But I wonder if that spot would be so comfortable and famous for being so comfortable that it would eventually be either worn out making it less comfortable or inspire others to create new spots in its likeness that would also be comfortable, maybe not quite as comfortable but so close that it would be really really hard to judge and would lead to much debate and discussion at local coffee shops over mugs of scalding coffee. I once bought a series of mugs, drew a wide variety of comical faces on them, filled them with scalding liquid and provided all of the voice work for a really moving version of the hit Broadway show Hair only this time performed by inanimate coffee cups sitting motionless on my kitchen table. I believed that the show was "out-of-this-world funny" and "a show that should not be missed as long as you didn't mind the occasional splash of scalding liquid and if you did, just show up near the end of the first act as the liquid would have cooled down considerably by then" and "quite possibly the best coffee-cup-filled-with-liquid rendition of the hit Broadway show Hair that has been produced in someone's kitchen in this area of town in the past year". I had briefly considered taking the show on the road until somehow the mugs all got smashed to bits when they suggested holding out for more money unless either their dressing rooms were always stocked with chilled European spring water, they received a higher percentage of the gate and their names be printed on all posters and promotional materials in a minimum of 32 point font and I countered by smashing them with a hammer that I always kept on hand for inevitable moments just like this. I did regret what I did the next morning when I had nowhere to pour all of my scalding hot liquid and I felt a lot of remorse and even briefly thought about travelling down to the store in the mall where I had purchased those mugs and asking the sales lady to smash me, but I remembered that the last time I did that she threatened to call my mom. What did she think, that I was 13? I was 14.

It is early on a summer morning well before the heat of the day, and I am mostly alone aside from a few dog-walkers and joggers. These particular dog-walkers seem really boisterous and enthusiastic almost like this is their calling in life - to walk dogs. I am pleased for them and for their dogs as it seems to be win-win, but I remind myself that things are rarely as they seem and behind closed doors the walkers may be sadistic taskmasters only serving average dog food when they are fully aware that the dogs prefer deluxe and insisting that they clean their rooms before getting a treat when everyone is quite aware that their ability to keep their rooms clean is severely hampered by not having hands. Or the dogs may be just putting on a show while in public and at home they may be loud-barking, couch-tearing, and overly-selfish-to-the-point-where-at-least-some-of-the-humans-are-both-jealous-and-rendered-to-tears. Regardless, I don't wish to own a dog - I'm scared of them what with their loud barking, their sharp teeth and the unshakable feeling that I would be a mere stepping stone owner-wise for them and that they would always be on the lookout for an upgrade to someone taller.

Compared to the dog-walkers, the joggers never seem that happy. Aside from the exercise, which is obviously good for you, they just seem to be in a lot of discomfort. Each step they take is met with a grimace or look of boredom almost as if others should take pity on them. I would be first in line to take pity on them, but I feel like my figurative pity jar is all empty as I just spent a lot of time talking to people waiting in line at the passport office. What a sad, sorry bunch of people all suspiciously wanting passports almost as if receiving a passport would pick them up and make them instantly less pitiable. All of a sudden it hits me - while I am not in the mood to show pity for the joggers, I could plan to jog tomorrow with a look of extreme pleasure and happiness on my face and a vibrancy in my body almost as if I had been recently plugged in and charged. Yes, people may wonder what is wrong with that sort of insane looking jogger who was either really pleased before he started running and is having the pleasure slowly drawn out of him by the running or the jogging is actually giving him pleasure, which would be even more confusing to all.

Maybe the jogging is some sort of cord that is plugging me in and sending me electricity not completely like that time when I actually tried to receive electricity through a cord which was both totally dangerous and ultimately quite fruitless as the power company refused to send me any electricity in the mail when it didn't work at home after I wrapped a cord around my torso, plugged it in and waited to either feel brighter, hot or just charged up. They claimed, when I asked for them to mail it to me, that I "had obvious gaps in my understanding of how electricity really works" and "could I please refraining from calling, emailing or standing outside their windows and yelling while flipping through a series of placards adorned with well-illustrated and quite graphic messages" and "they could offer me a yearly calender" which I gladly accepted and came away from the whole experience feeling like I had "won". I wave to one jogger in particular, initially chosen totally randomly, but with the intent to make it look quite the opposite. I wanted him to think that I had chosen him, of all the joggers on the beach that morning, to be the one that I went out of my way to cheer for, to send a message of courage and of empowerment, to make him question what my motives really were before realizing that I was an example of all that was right with humanity and that we had a deeper connection than either of us realized at the moment and that he should also watch where he is going so he doesn't bump into anything which I am fortunately able to relay quite quickly with a series of rapid hand motions thus saving the day.

I move to sit on the sand and enjoy the coolness of it on my bare feet. I had just removed my shoes and socks in an attempt to feel the sand directly on my feet, and it had worked splendidly. I ran my fingers through the sand the same way I used to run my fingers through my girlfriend's hair - smoothly at first, until I got to the ends which were snarled with tangles and knots. It was quite hard to mimic the entanglement my fingers felt in that situation with the sand that was much easier to move through. I'm glad my old girlfriend wasn't here on the beach with me witnessing my joy at the ease of finger movement in comparison as it surely would have led to some discomfort on her part followed by her launching into a long lecture on my not being sensitive enough to her feelings, especially those that were related to her easily-tangled hair, which she usually presented in her unique, slam-poetry-esque sort of fashion that was riveting, hurtful and so effective that she met her future husband, who was not only far more sensitive than I was as he lost both of his parents to tangled hair as a youth, but, ironically, he was also a sand erosion specialist who was raised never to run his fingers through anything sand-like. I learned from the experience to never date anyone again who was so adept at slam poetry that they may meet someone more suitable for them as a result of being so adept at slam poetry. It was a small lesson and quite a random one that almost definitely would never come up again, but it was a lesson and I learned it.

As I played with the sand I remembered that on multiple occasions in my past I have thought about being a grain of sand and what my life would be like. First off, I'd have to get used to being really small. Now, I am not the tallest person in the first place, but going from being slightly-less-than-average to ridiculously tiny would at least need a period of adjustment. I also figured that it would be hard to get used to the feeling that I didn't amount to anything and that no one would miss me if I was gone, not because I wouldn't be one special grain of sand, but because there would be millions and millions of other grains that would be so much like me physically, and that they could probably learn my role and whatever differences there were in personality or abilities could be gotten used to by the other grains. But, I imagined my day as a little piece of sand - waking up on the beach with millions of my friends and family all nestled together, feeling a bit dry and badly in needed of some ointment, but even if one of us magically procured some of it, we have no hands or feet and it would be more of a tease, a point of frustration to have it there, so close and us unable to apply it. I'd look around and notice that some of my friends were gone - probably washed out to sea and, although I'd miss them, with the size of my brain being severely reduced in size and scope, I probably wouldn't miss them for long and even if I did I probably wouldn't totally comprehend where they had gone and what this sea thing really was as I would lack the perspective to see past my little spot on the beach.

I used to imagine that I would be the one grain of sand who understood the world and had been given special powers and knowledge for a reason - I was the grain that would free us all and lead us towards a brave new existence. All other grains would see me as the chosen grain, the grain who would helps us all out of a long period of darkness and feeling stuck on a beach or in a playground or occasionally in an unfinished backyard because the topsoil hadn't been delivered yet and they were closed for the weekend, the grain who could actually talk, which was no small accomplishment in and of itself and shouldn't get downplayed -  I'm just mentioning that as I'm sure some wouldn't feel that it was worth mentioning - but I ask, can any other grains talk? Exactly. Anyways, the dream usually ended with me high on a hill filling the other grains with motivation to overthrown the human savages and turn the beaches into prisons while also turning our focus towards new methods of storing data, preserving food and refereeing tennis matches. We had some random goals, but we didn't mind. We believed we could accomplish anything, so they may as well be random things. The dream usually left me feeling alone and quite confused and with a desire to rent a large blowing tool from the local hardware store and go to the beach and just blow the sand around for a while before dropping to my knees weeping and trying to hold them all.

There is a light breeze in the air that feels more of fall or spring, and I look up, shivering, sort of mentally begging the sun's heat to kick in any time now. Nothing happens. I have had a long-standing, mostly imagined, adversarial relationship with the weather. Now that I think of it I also have a long-standing, mostly imagined, adversarial relationship with my dentist and I wonder if there is any connection between my dentist and the lack of heat right now. Probably not, but I make a mental note to put aside some time for some detailed research on the topic. I chose September.

A set of ducks swim by in a nearly perfect V shape, but not quite. One duck must either be a little sick or in need of reassigning to a different, slower group, almost like a development team until he gets his stuff together. I mean if you are aiming to create a V, then anything less is fairly disappointing - for the other ducks I mean  - it's not like I really care. I come from a long line of people who actually prefer misshaped Vs and we often spent at least part of our winter holiday season in the shape of something sort of resembling a V to the amusement of all present.

Male ducks are so stunningly beautiful. I'm sure female ducks have a hard time thinking about anything else with these ultra-distracting, super-hot male ducks just swimming around them. Not sure what else they have to think about aside from eating and possibly what route to take through the reeds today. I wonder if I should be concerned with how much I am drawn to the male ducks I see. I settled on "probably" and then decide to forget about it just like I have done with some of my other strange attractions including, but not limited to, maple syrup containers mostly for their ability to hold and contain syrup that just wants to drip; sample highlighters, but not actual for sale highlighters, just the ones that everyone can pick up, hold in their warm hands and try out for a brief moment before having to leave; loose change and, of course, sideways glances, partially blocked by the throngs of people at the function, across a dim smoky room that makes me cough and recoil due to the overpowering aroma of the smoke and, as I turn to dash out of the room I look back, sideways of course, and catch her eye and melt to the ground, inside my mind of course. Those female ducks seem like pretty cool customers and I envy them as much as a human male, on the beach first thing in the morning without his shoes and socks on can envy a bird of any sorts, which I realize is quite a lot. I say goodbye to the ducks and wonder if I will ever see these particular ducks again. I feel sad that I probably won't unless I happen to go to the right restaurant on the correct night someday.

I still have this nagging feeling that I wish I knew why I was so compelled to come to the beach today and then....I see her and I remember everything. Today was the day and even if I had wanted to somehow restrain myself, which I didn't, a huge smile broke out on my face. I saw her from a distance as she walked towards me and my first thought was "wow" and my second thought hadn't even formed yet when I started trying to list and catalog and even rank my thoughts in order from best to worst as they were forming which is really really hard to do, so I stopped. "Enjoy the moment" the piece of paper in my pocket said. I had finally settled on that message to myself yesterday morning when I decided that I may feel overwhelmed and need a message to settle myself down and help focus me and I decided that who better to send this message but my sister Lola but she just wouldn't return my calls for much of the afternoon and when she finally did she decided against it as she didn't want to get involved in a conversation that was at least 85% with myself. Finally, I had decided that I would send the message to myself and had originally thought of opening with a joke to lighten the mood or a complex math question to help awaken the brain or a combination of the two and had settled on something so cliched that it made me wish I had chosen a joke or a math question.

And then she was in front of me, holding her sandals over her shoulder and dressed in a very cute summer outfit that looked infinitely better on her and I was glad that I had decided not to buy it for myself and wear it for out meeting as she may have taken it the wrong way. I looked at her and as I was about to speak she said "I thought you wouldn't come."