Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Juggler

He sat in front of his dressing room mirror overwhelmed with a tornado of strong emotions. For the past 15 years he had been a juggler with the circus and was a veteran of over 900 shows. The grandfather of the circus. Tonight was his last show.

His whole life had been spent in and around the big tents. It was the only reality he knew. He briefly relived the shock of the others when he unceremoniously announced that he was choosing to walk away. The face he saw as he looked into the mirror looked weathered and old. He was old.

It was two hours until the show - his big send off - and he took out his dinner. His wife had made him a succulently baked chicken leg with all of his favourite sides. He closed his eyes and inhaled the wonderful aroma that reminded him of his cozy home and his amazing wife who had stood beside him all these years. It had not been easy for her. He would not have blamed her for leaving. This was not what she signed up for.

He removed his knife and fork slowly and deliberately, savouring every one of his last moments and experiences as each represented years upon years of similar times. He ripped into the flesh of the once proud bird and aggressively stuffed his mouth full of the juicy meat. His tongue darted out attempting to catch every drop of the cooking liquid as if he were parched, alone in the desert. 

Again and again he returned for more only to occasionally pause to keep his imagined attackers at bay. Over the years he too had felt the pain of his flesh being metaphorically ripped from his bones by dictator-like owners, vindictive managers and back-stabbing colleagues each trying to get ahead by squashing the vulnerable around them. He had been vulnerable. He had felt pain.

Outside the wind blew and rattled the poles and the thin layer of protective canvas surrounding him. The wind was always there, blowing in and around the circus; popping in and out of crevasses, playfully rousing hair dos and reminding all that it was barely skimming into its huge arsenal of power. He loved the wind and longed for its cold touch and sometimes he wished it would lift him up off his feet and blow him away from this place.

After tossing his scraps for the dogs, he began carefully applying his make-up, the many layers that combined to create his facade, his prison. He smiled ear-to-ear for the imaginary photographers and frowned for the audience members whose gaze lingered after the spotlight had quickly found the trapeze artists or clowns or whatever the crowd yearned for. 

Many times he had prayed for the spotlight to remain and for a chance to wow the people. He had a dream where he had boundless energy and pulled off incredible stunt after stunt and was greeted with a stunning and overwhelming standing ovation. He would sign autographs, give interviews, receive bonuses and smile until his cheeks hurt. He would feel wanted and loved and his tears would be for joy for a change.

"Thirty minutes!" the voice barked out snapping him out of his reverie. The harsh return to reality slapped him in the face. The eyes in the mirror stared back at him with the hallowed look of a beaten man. He rose slowly, cracked his knuckles and took a long, knowing look around his mess of a dressing-room. His sanctuary, his safe place, the house for his tormented soul.

He wanted to paint a black and gray portrait of a man full of sorrow and neglect using his face as the canvas. He wanted to juggle with his tormentors egos high upon a stack of carefully balanced furniture pieces only to slip and drop the egos and see them crash into a million little pieces as if they were but porcelain dolls. His cackle would be heard for miles. For years he had bit his tongue and closed his eyes and turned his cheek. The light at the end of the tunnel was finally in sight.

It was ten minutes until show time and his mind drifted, as it often did, to the night of the tragedy. It was so many years ago and yet it felt like yesterday. He felt trapped inside the prison of his own making, wishing he could forgive himself. Others uncaringly comforted him, he saw shrinks, talked to police, and fell, shaking, into his wife's arms each evening. "It wasn't your fault. He wasn't being careful. You are only a juggler." As the final opening curtain approached he stood outside his dressing room; a lone man awash with moonlight, longing for his release.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Searching For a Victimless Crime

I am spreading peanut butter everywhere as I transition to a world where peanut butter is spread everywhere...wow...what a sticky, sticky, rich and tasty mess this is.

You spend every minute of your free time at the library mostly for the easy access to amazing literature and topical magazines but also out of misplaced guilt. Libraries have always been a destination for you when you have a surplus of misplaced guilt.

I decide to abruptly halt my drafting lessons to fly to the African jungle to observe gorillas in their natural habitat only stopping on the way to make a bead necklace for my aunt and eat exactly four egg yolks.

You are always dreaming of a world where the morbidly skinny and the refreshingly-positively obese can live harmoniously side-by-side.

I'm excited by the idea of being a micromanager - just the concept of being really really tiny sounds very enjoyable, although I am concerned about getting lost in the wind and having a hard time earning and keeping the respect of those I am tasked with managing.

You always wear a lot of brown clothes without even a hint of sarcasm, but you promise everyone that you are working on it.

I often wonder if items in the clearance bin are more excited about the prospects of being bought and finally escaping the horrors of "the store" or if they have just given up hope and just want to be eaten already. It's also possible they just love bins and for that reason, I have made a series of my own bins in a variety of shapes and sizes to house the items for the first few days after their purchase, to ease the transition.

You have achieved your goal! Your lips do in fact say "kiss me" while the rest of your body says "that will be $10 please".

I have decided to spend this winter being as irrationally optimism as is safe. It will be a welcome progression from a totally irrationally-spent summer and a ridiculously-optimistic autumn. Who knows what next spring will bring? 

You are relishing your new role at work and it makes you smile ironically as you have always had a strong distaste for relish and those that smile upon eating it.

I have come to the decision that if I am to start breaking all of your rules, I will only do so according to a new set of rules that I will spend hours and hours devising as I am just not ready to disregard the existence of all rules, yet, just yours.

You love my spirit and my soul and to a lesser degree my clothes, which I say are only the fabric representation of my spirit and soul, which you are such a big fan of. You only shake your head and refuse to hold my hand when we walk in public places.

I am totally enjoying my new role as a deal breaker and, if things continue to go well, I may look into expanding into becoming a final straw as well. I've always figuratively wanted to be a straw and am willing to attempt a literal application as well as long as someone else provides the cup.

You are spending a disconcerting amount of time dribbling a basketball outside in the rain without any socks on. Put on some socks already!

I enter my living room and I see a small pile of books on the table and don't think much of it as, let's face it, they look fairly harmless. Later on, I enter the living room again, and the pile of books appears slightly taller and, it may be just me, more menacing. Before heading to bed, I need to grab a book to read and I enter the living room to find one and I that the pile of books on my table has become huge and that is not only intimidating, but also clearly not into the whole me-choosing-one-to-read-before bedtime thing and I swear I feel not only multiple sets of eyes upon me as I inch out the room but also a series of low growls and grunts. Suffice it to say, I went to bed without a goodnight story yet again.

You always let your imagination get the better of you to amazing results and you have been thinking about offering a class on this at the local community centre.

I have been spending a lot of my free time searching for a victimless crime - just in case. The rest of my time is spent grating and occasionally eating carrots.

You are just so exhausted these days. It is cold and flu season, you are working long hours and just not getting enough sleep or exercise. Your imaginary monkey and panda miss you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Love in Colours: Pink

The dress was an amazingly stunning shade of pink and it sashayed and swirled around the dance floor. The music blared and couples around the club were virtually yelling to be heard, but the two of them danced, passionately in silence, undistracted by all around them, focussed only on each other, so much in love and nearly engulfed in a seemingly-magical and mesmerizing pink fabric that was practically glowing. 

She was sitting at her desk in her office and was watching the pouring rain through her window. The water was falling with such force that some would have referred to it as 'angry', while she prefered 'misunderstood' as she was certain that no one had bothered to listen to the rain's point-of-view. The constant drumming of the rain reminded her of the constant drumming of her sister while growing up and, perplexingly of how she would stand outside of her window at night, often in the rain, waving and smiling. She missed her sister aside from all of the incessant waving and smiling - it was nice at first, but it got old especially when they got older. As she sat there her mind drifted to him. Always to him, and occasionally to the tree in his front yard. How she loved that tree. Her mind settled on a single image from their vacation that summer and she smiled when the picture of his sandy, muscular body running with reckless abandon on the beach came into her head. She appreciated his recklessness so much more when it only appeared in her head while staring outside at the rain and less so when he was driving them to the movies. Tonight was the night they were to meet her parents for the first time and she was oddly calm and was sort of disappointed as she had been looking forward to being nervous. Having dinner with her own parents made her nervous at the best of times, but his presence relaxed her so much that she often became fairly concerned while cooking. She knew her parents would love him, and that made her happy, but she only hoped they didn't love him unconditionally as she believed that everything should have conditions. The rain continued to fall, and she tried to get some real work done as no amount of pretend work would feel satisfactory in the long term. She used to spend hours and hours pretending to work as a child which made her parents a little worried both because she wasn't just playing like an average child, but also because the work she was pretending to do, was being done fairly haphazardly. The work day was over and she saved her files and put her computer to sleep, only this time without the pillow and blanket as it was starting to draw her some unwanted attention from others as well as making her increasingly sheepish and apologetic around her printer and fax machine.

He was in the middle of yet another boring meeting and had a passing thought about why meetings were usually so boring, but then he partially remembered what his aunt always said in one of her less lucid moments "sometimes I just like being quiet". It was a true statement but it didn't make sense at the time and wasn't really that helpful right now either. He started a new list with the first item being starting to remember more appropriate quotes and the second being fully listening to his aunt when she  was "on". When the meeting wrapped up, he went to the washroom to apply some warm, soapy water to his face and the upper part of his neck all the while making a mental note to apply at least the same level of hygiene to the rest of his neck later on, He enjoyed the face-wash at little bit too much and actually let out a small squeal of joy which was thankfully heard by no one, but even if it had been they were used to his cute animal noises made periodically throughout the day. He was meeting her parents tonight and was supremely confident in his ability to impress them without having to resort to deception and trickery, although he was fully prepared to go there too if he met with any initial resistance. He had viewed a lot of photos of her mom and dad and had mentally given them entertaining and quite animated voices that always made him laugh uproariously and he just hoped that they were somewhat close to their actual voices. He couldn't decide what clothes to wear and had narrowed it down to a choice of either his vertically-striped suit or a pair of casual jeans and a unique and hip graphic t-shirt. The suit made him appear older and slightly taller but also was probably a better fit for a visit to the bank which he was fairly certain wouldn't come up that evening unless they all mutually decided on going to the bank after desert. And the casual and hip outfit, although comfortable, was maybe too relaxed-looking which may have his hosts wondering "Why is he already so comfortable here? Maybe we should apply some more pressure?" He hated having to choose clothes to fit occasions and he blamed his mother for that aversion as he couldn't come up with anyone else to blame at all on such short notice. He promised himself that he would look further into it and after plenty of research, type up a comprehensively exhaustive list of everyone else who may have played a part in his inability to match his outfits with his activities. As he left work, he ran to the car excited to see her.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Who Am I?

So, I am starting a creative writing club at school and before you stop what you are doing and give me a standing ovation, allow me to get changed into something more regal or failing that at least practice smiling for a few minutes first. After a short preamble describing the long set of rules, guidelines and initiation rituals for our club I gave the new members their first writing "assignment" (I am placing that word in quotation marks so none of them thinks that it is an actual assignment and also because I love using quotation marks and often misusing them too just so I don't come across as "the guy who perfectly uses quotation marks" because I know that guy and he is...how do I put this..."strange"). For our introductory piece I thought we'd all write about ourselves (I briefly flirted with the idea that we could all write about each other or write on each other or just hold a pen above a piece of unlined paper and sit at a desk in a white room with no windows and resist the urge to scream). Now, I have written about myself a few times already, but I don't want to skip the task outright or to just reuse something old, so here I am again. How to talk about myself without sounding redundant? Or should I just give in and be not only slightly redundant but incredibly, boldly redundant - so redundant that I should consider editing this sentence at a future date and either bolding or italicizing the word redundant or should it be the word "so" or both? Not sure... I mean while I'm highlighting certain words why not invite them all? I just don't want to bold or italicize too many words because then they start expecting and anticipating it and that doesn't mesh well with how I live my life or at least how I am trying to live my life since the day the crows came. For those that don't know me well, like the students in my club, no crows actually came to this point, but they are always welcome. I have a "crows always welcome" policy at my house and I always will until the crows actually come and then it will only be fair to allow another bird or animal or even my uncle to come visit, although that would mean having to reverse my current "no uncles welcome" policy that I've wanted to lift for some time now what with all of the amazing uncles I come across on a daily basis.

The kids in my creative writing club are probably wondering who am I really and since there is a good chance that I'm reading this to them right now, they may be looking at me as I'm sitting in front of them with my large purple water bottle next to me and wondering why is that water bottle so big with the short answer being that I am thirsty, a lot, and the longer more perplexing answer is being turned into a musical theatre production that should hopefully be opening at a kindergarten class near you at a later date. It is both easy and hard to write about yourself. Easy to hide behind lots of half-truths and transparently obvious falsities and hard to tell the gripping, teeth-rattling, knee-shaking, appetizing truth that everyone claims they crave. Everyone is always craving things sort of like single-cell organisms needing whatever they need for survival (is it oxygen? another cell? all-access cable tv for when the football-loving relatives come to visit round holiday time?) I try to toe the line on my floor all the time as sort of a test of the agility of my toes. I also metaphorically toe the line between what people want to hear and what I want them to hear. If lines had more sides I would also be balancing those two with what I hear while they are hearing things (not much outside of the sound of my voice which is lovely I have to say) and practicing my falsetto as you never can quite predict when it may come in handy - a sing off? my daily performance in front of the mirror before I leave the house? scaring away bears and other unwelcomed wildlife? In my writing I usually settle on starting off with the best of intentions, but then I get horribly sidetracked - horribly is completely the wrong descriptor as I love the sidetracks I walk down - they are far more interesting then the regular path that everyone seems to want me to walk down. Why walk that way, when I can go this way and have more fun, despite all of the mosquito bites and plethora of scrapes and scratches? Even though I go off on weird tangents and never quite get to the point I wanted to get to, I am a strong believer that the final destination is a whole lot less important than the trip to get there and I feel that about writing, preparing a meal and actual trips which is why an intended afternoon at the beach with the family is often spent at the museum of natural history accompanied by girl guides. And another thing, why are original points so important in the first place? My theory is that the word point intimidates us, or at least me and that is why I try to avoid points as much as I can which is why I never win at ping pongs. Not enough points. If those students are still facing me and avoiding eye contact as that may be misconstrued as acceptance then I guess I can take a short break here to enjoy the moment before continuing on.

The question on my mind right now is not important at the moment, so I won't ask it. I also find that asking questions in my writing is a completely unsatisfying experience as I never get an answer, unless I play the game of answering myself almost as if I have multiple personalities with one being the youthful, upbeat questioner and the other being the more grounded, voice of reason who supplies the answers and everyone once and a while a third guy pops in out of nowhere and orders a pizza. I don't expect lots of answers from the public when I pose questions that I choose to not answer myself, but people must either think I'm being facetious or rhetorical, which is easily understandable as I attempt to dedicate a minimum of 25 minutes each hour all day to both of these which is hard enough during the day but really challenging while bathing or sleeping (I never bathe and sleep at the same time not even on a dare unless there is the promise of plum pie  -that's how much I love plum pie. I've never even had plum pie. I will move on now). I would love to sleep facetiously or rhetorically but it is exceedingly hard to nail and usually just comes across as regular, plain old, sleep. Anyways, I do have questions on my mind like "what should I tell these students about me?" and "what stuff should I make up completely to give off the illusion of importance and dignity and tallness?" Let's see...I love my family, but that is pretty obvious- most people do and if I didn't, I definitely wouldn't be writing it in a blog that my family occasionally skims through and groans at. Also, not loving my family would make me a pretty contemptible figure that would make being the protagonist in my works of fiction really challenging and I don't think I have the mental wherewithal, vocal training or collection of shirts to be a villian. I guess I should tell the students about my brain and my heart all the while keeping it vague as I don't really know that much about brains and hearts - it is quite shocking that I've made it this far and know so little about two of the most important things in my life outside of my humanitarian work and my stamp collection. Really - I should make a shrine for each of them and pray before them except that I'll have to cut back on all of the praying I do before my stuffed baby tiger (gotta love that little guy) and the picture of my friends Harry and Frieda that no one can tell them about or else I will definitely not be invited over for the next taco night on the account of seeming creepy and I won't be able to blame anyone but myself and my red sharpie that I just had to draw roses with all over their picture. Outside of my love of my family, I also love being active, I love cooking and I love puzzles. To save time I have decided to condense the three loves into one. So, I am trying to find someway to go for a run while cooking and doing a puzzle or perhaps I am going about this way too literally (big shock) and maybe I need to find someway to make the exercise and cooking a puzzle in and of themselves or make a cooking puzzle that the act of solving would help me get some cardio in. I'm not sure what the answer is, but there is an answer out there somewhere and while I totally get the value in finding answers for myself in life I just don't have enough money for a flight to Bermuda right now. Nope, I'm the guy who saw the other guy about the thing that was not only monstrously expensive but also, long story short, caused me to put a halt to my winter plans that included some industrial strength rope, something those in the know call "whale juice" and car freshener.

I would go on and on for a while, but I am trying to keep this somewhat short as my way of paying homage to all of the pumpkin growers out there right now (I am horrible at paying homage and even when I accidentally get it right, my ability to choose the correct recipients is questionable at best). I guess all that I would like to say before I leave you is that I always aim to write how I talk, so that if you were to read something I wrote while sitting in a cafe it would be an eerily similar experience to hanging out with me at a cafe and it would be even more confusing if the piece of writing you were reading to yourself at the cafe was about the two of us sitting together at a cafe talking about me writing a piece about us sitting together at cafe. I have also thought about trying to talk how I write, and although I believe that after hours of practicing (followed by a really nice herbal tea) I've nailed it, it just comes across as a long series of clicks and I just can't get pronounce the sound the space bar makes. I think everyone should try to capture their voice in their writing and I like to think of my voice as a brilliant red cardinal who once flew so gracefully in the skies majestically drifting in awe-inspiring fashion until the fateful day when the rains came and the cardinal finally listened to his mom and just got out of bed and went to school because that is what twelve year old boys do, they go to school and they dream of training seemingly untrainable wild cardinals, or at least I once did when I was twelve. But then I grew up, as all young boys do, and I came to realize (mostly through an amazing set of educational videos my mom just happened to have in storage that she just happened to have done the voice over work for - I did think it was oddly coincidental that I loved the exact bird that my mom had been involved in making educational videos on and I briefly contemplated my mother's role in this before deciding to take a much needed nap) that wild birds must stay wild, especially the transplendant cardinal, for they are the red dots on the lower case "i"s of the world and to capture them would be akin to not serving a homemade aioli with the grilled veggies at a dinner party. Look I know that doesn't make a lot of sense- I don't make the rules here, I only report them. And you read them. How could you!?!?

So there you have it. I think I've introduced myself, kind of. I think those that have read this now have an incrementally small amount of knowledge about me that they didn't have previously. I'm sure some of them wish that it could have either taken less time or that they could have been eating cookies while reading this. I hope you have found this entertaining and I think the long-term impact it will have on you is almost limitless, all you have to do is dream. Have I inspired you to prepare a traditional Japanese holiday meal? Have I  encouraged you to dig a large hole in your backyard for no apparent reason? Have I convinced you that understanding differential calculus won't keep you warm at night? Have I made any progress in convincing you to knit me some woollen mittens to match my sweater or at least not clash with the rainbow pants I am knitting right now as I write this (okay I lied - I clearly can't be writing and knitting at the same time and since I'm clearly writing who is knitting these pants I am proudly wearing? I promised my grandmother one day quite cryptically to never forget where my lunch is and also who made my pants, but then again I promised my adorably daffy grandmother lots and lots of things - it made up much of our daily conversing). But, most importantly have I answered or explained who I am? For those inclined to say "yes" - thank you! The cheque is in the mail (if by "cheque" I mean "this large handful of nearly-expired coupons that I want to give away in the effort to cover my bulletin board solely with colourful pushpins" and by "mail" I mean "here you go, enjoy"). And for those who feel that the answer is "no", I applaud your brevity and your hard-hitting style - it will take you far in life, hopefully far enough away from me so you don't have to hear me crying from the disappointment of a failed writing activity. But, I'll be okay in the end, your "no" will only strengthen me and toughen me up so that one day I will rise with a new, thicker (and hopefully more durable) skin and hopefully I will find a way to utilize this skin to gain some sort of fame or at least membership in an underground club that I am unaware of at this point. And, lastly, for those of you who either want to answer "maybe" or who were blissfully unaware of the question in the first place as yet another thing you are blissfully unaware of in life, thanks for showing up and continue to enjoy this seasonally warm fall day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This Beautiful Union

I remember the day they were born like it was yesterday. Two beautiful babies - one a girl and one a boy. From the beginning they were inseparable and were, to use a cliche, like two peas in a pod. As the older sibling, I was often charged with watching them and, though I was cut of the same cloth, there was always a distance. As they grew into young children there was a verging-on-unhealthy closeness that teachers, neighbours and others spoke of in hushed and concerned voices, often while consuming tea and, on one rare occasion, scalding hot apple cider. Mom and dad were so in love with all of us and, in their eyes, the twins could do no wrong. In adolescence, they remained close but also knew all of the buttons to press to antagonize the other. They were still each other's best friend and that would never change.

The past

My brother loved making chocolate chip cookies with mom on Sunday afternoons.
My sister preferred eating ones of the oatmeal raisin variety.
Many of their wounds, figurative and literal, self-inflicted and lashing out at the other, were healed over a plate of mixed cookies.

My sister used to swing on the ol' tire swing for hours.
My brother preferred to keep track of things in either minutes or portions of days.
And yet, that swing became a symbol, albeit a moldy and decrepit symbol, for the bond they shared.

My brother attempted to build historically accurate forts out of the couch cushions.
My sister eschewed the architectural advances of the past and employed only modern fort designs.
Regardless of the difference in style, their forts only served to strengthen our overall home defense yet they rendered our couch nearly un-sittable.

My sister created amazingly detailed fairy tale stories in which she usually played the queen.
My brother constantly questioned the validity of her rise to the throne.
Though they would attempt to laugh about this, her flamboyantly fictional royalty only served to make him question his own creativity and lineage.

My brother designed fairly amateurish and structurally flawed sand castles.
My sister played the role of the forlorn duchess who lost her family when the castle walls came tumbling down.
Both kids grew up with an unhealthy lack of respect for the integrity of all walls leading to much hilarity and mental-health concerns for all.

I remember the day of their high school graduation as if it were yesterday. It was last week. I had always wondered, as I observed them growing up, what sort of adults they would become and whether one could live or be happy without the other. With their bright futures in front of them, family dinner table discussions turned from teenage issues to much more adult topics - college, work, loans, travel and yet, I still saw, in front of me, those same two babies who were figuratively joined at the hip. Much to mom and dad's delight and relief, they decided to stay at home and attend the local community college. I couldn't imagine a future where they weren't together. While their interests and future plans had diverged somewhat and each had really started to act as an individual, they were still eerily similar and a perfect foil for each other. 

The present 

My sister fills notebook after notebook with concentric circles that look like Venn diagrams when viewed with squinted eyes from a distance.
My brother tried, on multiple occasions, to pay his rent by selling these completed notebooks to both circle fanatics and Venn diagram enthusiasts alike.
Many a Sunday evening was spent at the kitchen table debating and discussing the merits of intersections and unions specifically and the political implications of sets in general.

My brother is trying to reduce his footprint.
My sister carries a small pouch of fine carbon powder scattering it where she thinks he may walk next.
They spend hours upon hours drawing pictures of bowls of fruit with charcoal often disagreeing on proper shading techniques and the importance of perspective.

My sister reads obsessively as if glued to her book.
My brother is always trying to sneak around the house gluing things to her, or failing that, using heavy-duty packing tape.
They were always gluing and taping things to each other and yet neither wanted to be actually stuck to the other, unless entered in a three-legged race and then only the highest quality adhesives could be used.

My brother is studying and preparing to be a nurse with a heart of gold.
My sister can't stop mocking his attempts to study medicine, all the while keeping very close watch on the price of valuable metals.  
Secretly they both hope that one day, his nursing skills may come in handy, and if not, they will always have the mocking and, if very desperate, some gold.

My sister fills pages of her private journal with poems about love and loss.
My brother has to continue to come up with ways to both love and lose in his life to feed her fresh material.
The poems become not only a reflection of his life, but also a refraction due to an incorrectly placed set of mirrors in his room.

I often wonder what the future will hold for them. I can only hope and imagine that whatever lies ahead for each, that they will always be intertwined with the other. They will forever be each other's yin and yang. But what, precisely will they do? Will they become a team of doctors who travel to the deep recesses of impoverished countries? Will they host a morning radio show displaying incessant wit and annoying insight on a daily basis? Will they become feared and revered tag-team professional wrestlers with a propensity for choke-holds? Will they pen and illustrate a series of children's books rife with cute animal characters and moralistic messages? Will they dig graves? All I know is that I hope that they never lose their sense of humour, their spirit and their drive and that I am able to experience, firsthand, their futures.

The future

My brother plans to give away all of his worldly possessions.
My sister has been carefully implanting that idea in him for months through a series of homemade subliminal audio cassettes.
They were raised to both respect and uncover creative uses for implanting and all implant-related activities and enterprises (the utilization of audio cassettes was quite a bold move, as our father had forbade that).

My sister dreams of growing a garden full of the freshest, tastiest vegetables.
My brother already has plans to can those fresh vegetables to survive the impending nuclear winter or for profit.
Food in general and vegetables in specific will always be a source of strength for the two of them mostly after they are digested and occasionally as weapons.

My brother wishes that one day he can own his own house in the countryside.
My sister plans to first appear supportive and then swoop in and outbid him and buy the house first allowing him to rent the barn.
Their competitiveness, especially as it pertains to large, shelter-like purchases could be seen as quaint or sweet, but that would be vastly confusing.

My sister hopes to learn to play the alto saxophone so that she can truly express herself.
My brother is okay with her desire to play the sax, but cannot forget the pain he experienced due to her last round of true expression.
Jazz music will always be the soundtrack of their lives. My dad saw to that himself.

My brother plans to teach his future children how to play tennis with his compelling mix of passion, humour and a deranged desire to crush everyone.
My sister appreciates his passion, loves his humour and respects his deranged desire, but is just not supportive at all of plan to have children, especially tennis-playing ones.
Neither of them will ever forget the often understated role that that banged-up, over-sized Prince tennis racquet playing in their upbringing and how it essentially raised them both.

I know this beautiful union must one day end. I dream that, far in the future, we can all be together again, as we were as children. I imagine that I will always feel a little separate from those two, as if I missed out on a long-standing private joke. They will make eye-contact that will tell thousand-word stories and I, always the observer, will watch, both proud and feeling somewhat isolated. As we all near the end of our existence, a new door will open and we will all go through that door to the unknown, and yet, their connection will never waver. At times I wonder what could have been, but I do know that when I look back on this whole thing, I'm just glad I was along for the ride.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Love in Colours: Orange

The sky was brilliant and the sunset cast an iridescent orange glow upon the ocean. A dog barked somewhere in the distance, some kids were joyfully swimming, and they lay on their beach blanket enamoured with the stunning orange hue in each other's eyes as they squeezed every minute out of another amazing day. 

He awoke after a long sleep, sat up and looked around his room and was fighting the urge to fall back asleep. He had made a name for himself for fighting urges of all shapes and sizes as well as being quite adept at falling back asleep regardless of the time or location. Today was a busy day, he knew that, and he had a mental checklist a mile long with the length being mostly an approximation as well as the description of a list as the items were arranged more randomly. The one thing he was certain of was that he had to see her again and hold her hand and, if things went according to plan, to throw caution to the wind and hold her other hand. In his spare time he threw a variety of other items, often compostable ones, to the wind much to his landlord's dismay but that was okay as his landlord was dismayed most of the time and he always cleaned up after himself - it was just his way of letting off steam that didn't involve punching, kicking or other socially-acceptable means of violence because they are part of an organized sport. He longed to hold both of her hands for a period of time no less than 15 minutes and no greater than 4 hours as he was certain that things would come up where the hand holding would become quite cumbersome. Yes, his day was busy and he needed to get to work, but he also needed to be in her presence and he knew she felt the same way.

She hit the snooze button. Hard. It was just the way she was with buttons. There could be no way that it was time to wake up she thought, but there it was again, her alarm. She lay there and attempted to look at the ceiling but it was just too dark and the light switch was so far away. In a perfect world the light switch would be closer, but she knew how silly it was to dream about things that could never come true in her wildest dreams - she also chided herself for having really really lame wild dreams. His face was on her mind as was his legs. Oddly she had no memory of the rest of his body at the moment, but she was still half asleep so she guessed it made sense to only be able to picture half of his body. As she rose from her bed she had to reassure herself that he did have more than just a face and some legs, but of course he did - there is no way she'd be seen out in public with someone lacking a torso. She knew he was busy and that he couldn't just call in sick, but she hoped he was thinking of her and also her potted plant as he had sworn that he would for reasons she misheard as she was washing the dishes. Maybe he'd call or maybe he'd drop by or maybe she'd have to risk seeming desperate and pick up her own phone - one way or another she had to be with him.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

When I Stop To Think: The Animal Kingdom

Quite often I take a much needed break from my busy day and I think. It seems like the thoughts I have go in cycles and these days I cannot stop thinking about the animal kingdom. After an initial period of questioning myself and being full of self-doubt, I have given in to being consumed with animals big and small. I like to sit back and imagine what is going through the minds of the animals of the Earth and, if time permits, what is going on in other areas of their bodies as well.

I think about whales, the largest animal on our planet, swimming around dominating the oceans and the seas and swimming aimlessly eating fish, coming up with new, fun parlour tricks utilizing their blowholes and spending much of their existence as lonely as can be as all other marine life are quite intimidated and imagine that they are very unapproachable. I'm sure there are some whales that are unapproachable, but I do feel badly for the friendly whales, the kind whales, the whales that enjoy a nice evening out with some friends enjoying a plate of nachos or sitting by the fire sipping hot cocoa. I feel badly for those whales and imagine they are saying "we aren't all just large collections of blubber, some of us have feelings including a sense of humour as well as having blubber to spare."

I think about the elephant in the middle of Africa who secretly wants to either use his ivory tusks to make knick knacks for tourists with no conscience or keys for a new grand piano. Not that he doesn't love his tusks and all tusk-related activities, but he's had his eye on a new watch for a while now. I can imagine him making up a long, convoluted story for the other elephants regarding where his tusks went and how he ended up with a fancy watch.

I think about the lone monkey who is lying in the peaceful shade of a large tree, away from the hustle and bustle of the jungle and being soothed by the lovely sounds of nature. and, unfortunately dealing with the horrible side effects of way too much potassium and, to top it all off, has stinging cuts on his hands from way too much vine swinging. As he lies there clutching his stomach, I can just hear him mumbling "I swear this is the last time I eat one too many bananas. I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it."

I think about the bunny who is fighting his genetic urges and unwanted advances from all of the handsome male bunnies who are always giving her the eye, as all she wants to do is practice abstinence and also to hop, because hopping is pretty great.

I think about the soft-spoken, shy lion who doesn't want to come across too strongly, or step on anyone else's toes and prefers to speak gently and calmly then roaring which not only draws unnecessary attention but also yields many a sore throat. Plus, all of the other lions already roar and this particular lion is striving to be unique.

I think about the gnat and aside from the spelling, I realize how little I know, how much I could research, how busy my schedule is, how I am trying to give the illusion of intelligence, and how little I care about the gnat. This may come back to bite me, if gnats bite. Do they? Anyone?

I think about the hippopotamus who is just so achingly hungry all the time and who will eat almost anything without shame and who wants to fit into the same muddy hole for purposes of bathing that she did when she was younger. She eats and eats and eats as she is constantly starving and looks longingly at the ever-shrinking hole just knowing that she'll never fit in it if she keeps eating but also knowing that she is a hungry hungry hippo and she doesn't have the willpower to rise above the stereotype.

I think about the sad, mournful hyena whom everyone thinks is laughing and just assumes is in an up mood without even taking a moment to check in to see how he is feeling especially considering his father was eaten yesterday. 

I think about the domesticated dog, the house pet, man's best friend who feels trapped and suffocated by his surroundings and his life and the freedom he has sacrificed for safety, all of the petting and grooming he could ever want and some really great dog food. Enough to make a dog bark repeatedly and also to howl, but he doesn't want to sleep outside in the rain again - life inside is good, but it has made him soft. 

I think about the parrot, always asking for a cracker and I imagine her saying "what's wrong with me? Why do I keep on asking for crackers? I don't even like them at all. Well that's not all true, I do enjoy a cracker or two from time to time especially with some goat cheese, but do I think to ever ask for some cheese or a spread to put on top of the crackers? No. I'll never learn and I deserve this mountain of crackers that are taking up most of the spare room in my bird house. Why do I always ask for crackers!"

I think about the goldfish and wonder if they would love to be a lot bigger- like big and strong enough to break out of the glass bowls that imprison them and cramp their style. I imagine a whole school of these large, stylish goldfish patrolling the oceans, flexing their muscles and looking for other fish so they can lay down a swim-off.

I think about the giraffe who just once wants to win a game of hide and seek, or show up at a party unannounced, or at least find a turtleneck sweater that doesn't need altering.

I think about the eel who is totally self-conscious about its length and would give just about anything to have a hand or a foot or to be able to sit in a chair. This eel in specific is quite paranoid and figures everyone is always talking behind his back which is exceedingly hard to do and actually quite impressive considering he is constantly moving and twisting around and that where is back is one second it is gone the next.  

I think about the skunk who smells relatively good all the time and is the laughing stock of the skunk world and would give anything to stink, like really really smell badly. I also think of his cousin who does smell bad - in fact she has an overabundance of odor and would willing share the wealth if she could, but she has no idea how well-endowed she is in this area as her nostrils are small and constantly plugged leading to troubles breathing and also sleep apnea. She is also long overdue for an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist which is a field of medicine that is unfortunately quite rarely pursued amongst skunks. The two cousins often get together to complain and to play badminton as they both are quite fond of badminton. 

I think about the subconscious snail who is always leaving a silvery trail behind it and would give anything to leave no trail as it feels like everyone is staring at him and talking about how his trail is looking a little less silvery compared to how it used to. He wants to look, but also doesn't want to be caught looking as he doesn't want to appear to vain, or at least no more vain than the average snail. He would really love to be more anonymous and to just open a small bed-and-breakfast joint that would serve wonderful brunches or to meet a stunning female snail who would not only accept him despite all of his odd traits and then the two could leave silvery trails together.

I think about the koala who is tired of the constant state of exhaustion and lack of mental clarity that comes from a diet purely made up eucalyptus leaves. This koala wants to snap the others out of their stupor and say "this is exactly what they want us to do! Eat leaves and lie around all day! We can be so much more - oh think of the limitless possibilities if we would just stop lying around, resting on our laurels and being cute and appearing cuddly although we would claw any person who would actually try to cuddle with us. Don't let them win! I know the leaves are tasty! Believe me - I get that - I love the leaves too! I'm actually eating one right now. But, it is a big world out there and no one expects us to do anything - we've got them where we want them! Join me as we embark on a new era for koalas." Unfortunately these words fall on deaf ears as almost everyone else is either asleep or feeling pretty flaked out at the time. 

I think about the porcupine who walks around beaming with all the confidence in the world and yet, all he wants is a comforting hug that he could melt into, but that will never come and he knows it. He remembers his mother telling him that his quills will always be there to protect him but will also create a real barrier between himself and all others that will naturally lead towards feelings of isolation and depression despite feeling safe. And, as tempting as it is to have the quills removed through elective surgery, he remembers how freekish his cousin looked like after having that done and he knows that it just isn't an option.

I think of the wasps who fly around essentially impersonating nature's friend the bee. Those wasps do their very best appearing to many people not as the pests they are but like the bees who pollinate our flowers and bring us unpasteurized flavourful honey that may have hints of alfalfa or wildberry. Those wasps probably wish they had more of a purpose then secretly creating hives in carports and damp outside storages that eventually get destroyed while all they get in return is a sting or two and then death by toxic spray. The wasps would love to be adored or at least tolerated and maybe even invited to join some of the private clubs that are all only open to bees. The wasps have tried to appeal to someone, anyone who will listen, but they never get too far, because no one listens to wasps as a general rule. Wasps probably feel like they received the short straw from Mother Nature - everyone loves their cousin the bee and no one loves them.

I think of the dolphin - hyper-intelligent, graceful and powerful. One of the most perfectly beautiful beings that could ever be conceived anywhere by anyone. Those dolphins have it pretty good, but I imagine that they get pretty frustrated beating their heads against the wall - figuratively of course, they have no walls - they do understand how to construct walls, they are dolphins after all, but gave up trying to build them after they realized that having no arms or hands made it next to impossible to get further than developing detailed blueprints - trying to teach other marine life about currents, hydro luminescence, biodiversity and how to make moisture work for you all the while avoiding any skin ailments. However, life is pretty good as dolphins are so smart they are able to "play" just dumb enough to still get invited to all of the parties and for Sunday morning bocci games and read the situation to know when they are no longer wanted and leave to have their own Mensa nights.

I think of the goose who just loves to honk as it brings her so much satisfaction as she is fulfilling her role in the world and makes her feel not only complete but also happy, because who doesn't love a good honk.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I Declare Immunity (and other random thoughts)

I've heard that it takes one to know one, well I demand two!

After many years, I have decided to put function over form and let the chips fall where they may. I also need to plan ahead and buy some chips.

I only swing for the fences. When all of the fences are gone, I will alter my goal.

In my world, it is always sweater weather. On a side note: I have a whole closet full of unworn vests that I am looking to unload.

Please don't try to sell me items or services door-to-door. I was raised in a home where we NEVER attached doors to each other by hyphens or any other means as it would have made getting around the house or quickly moving from room to room too challenging.

When I am told I have no one to blame but myself I often spend hours trying to either find someone else or pay someone else to blame before embracing it and making it my own and attempting to bask in the blame, which is harder than it sounds.

I show a constant and blatant disregard for all minimum and maximum height requirements.

I totally get that this draws unnecessary attention my way but I have to come clean. I will reuse and recycle, but there is just no way that I will reduce. I also have to come clean that I am too proud to admit that I'm not totally sure what reduce means and that while I'm sure it has it's merits, I've already made such a public display stating my case against it that it is just too much work to change course now and will make me seem more wishy-washy then I already am.

While it's not my favourite, I will take your pity if it is all you are offering as long as I have a chance to upgrade to sympathy at a future date.

All of the water that I had is now under the bridge that I constructed in my backyard and my only concern is that I now have a bridge in my backyard. Where will I plan my herbs?

When I declare immunity, I expect you to listen flu bug!

The only problem with dot-to-dot puzzles is that after hours of connecting fun I find it exceptionally challenging to stop connecting dots once I've started.

If I had to choose, I would prefer to hang dry rather than be tossed around in the dryer. Thankfully, up to this point, I haven't had to choose but you never know what tomorrow may bring. For that reason I decided to take an ax to my dryer...and that is why I am seeking your professional help today doctor.

Sorry if I offended you with my frankness, but there have never been any attractive dictators and there never will be. 

I enjoy a close shave as much as the next guy, and that is why I am offering to shave you right now - you really look as if you'd enjoy it and if you aren't interested could you please move aside and make room for someone else to stand next to me for a while?.

If I have to look before I leap, then I'll never leap and I never do. On the other hand, if I walk around town with my eyes closed, leaping may be just one of the exciting new experiences I encounter.

I am constantly stumped when asked if I am ready for the cheque because I am not at all sure if I am.

My beauty may only be skin deep or it may go some amount further, but I'm too squeamish around blood, particularly my own, to find out. 

Regardless of what you've heard, I am not a book worm although I do display worm-like tendencies on a regular basis.

Every day I stretch  to be less stiff, more flexible and just a fair amount longer-limbed as I think that may be beneficial in the future.