04/10/2010 § Leave a comment
There comes a point in one’s life when you capture yourself.
Like when you discovered East of Eden which catapulted you into reading, like when roadtrips with the family to Florida showed you a glimpse of a world worth seeing, like one day when your parents move to Toronto and you decide to move with them.
It is a decision with the belief of indefinitely, yet comforted by knowing that there is the option of returning. The funny thing is, you never go back.
Or at least not the same way you once were. Working in a Roncesvalles coffee shop, as far away from a life once lived, just to prove to myself that it can happen at home, I was reading about our different teas, where they are from and how they came to be.
“What you reading there?”
“Hey, Sandor, just reading about tea. Did you know that ‘tea time’ was invented by Anne, the wife of teh Duke of Bedford because she wanted a meal between a hearty breakfast and late supper?””
He smiled. “In the 60’s, I met the man who invented tea bags, lived along the Kingsway. He must have been 85 years old. I used to clean for him.”
Sandor is now the owner of the coffee shop building.
We can live a world and surround our selves with only the things and people that are a part of that world — choose a clique of friends and lean on them to bolster us up. But at some point, whenever that is, you look up and notice that life is not just about one thing, but learning many. It is without a need to stagnate to one notion, while still remaining true to one’s self.
Like a leaf that drifts in an autumn wind, like a snowflake that falls from dark clouds, like a notion with no motion, learning to let people be, exactly the way they are and find each one unique and beautiful and not as a means to an end, but an end in and of themselves, and to let them fall, so that they learn to pick themselves up. That, right there, is the point to being human.
Walking west along Dundas I looked over my shoulder and there was the CN Tower standing solitary amidst grey clouds. I couldn’t see its base, the ground it is rooted in, but I noticed it was pointing up.
27/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Come over, come see us, we are nice, you will like us, said the Hal-bot.
Hey, how are you? Are you familiar with us, said the b-bot.
The ants were marching ’round and “round.
Buy this book, take this flyer, three back-issues for five dollars. Subscribe.
The noise made me numb, my brain was buzzing. The lights were flickering, but I felt like I had no life left. I was not hungry, but I ate. I was not thirsty, but I drank. I was awake, but was sleeping. Every so often I would hide from the sunshine and smiles in the tent, refueling on raisin bran muffins and Tim Tom Donuts.
“Hal, I’m dying out there. I need a break, I need to walk.”
“But, you are bringing so much traffic in?”
I stayed behind the table and sold some magazines and buttons, marking down each item sold.
“Did you write that down?”
“Yes, I did.”
I sold a tee-shirt, programmed to say fifteen dollars and Hal’s book, The Program, on special for five dollars.
“Did you write that down?”
I stopped. I switched on, turned to him — my boss, the senior editor — and told him, “yes. Obviously I wrote it down, you told me once, you don’t have to tell me again. You have to trust me.”
He stepped back and he could have fired me. Instead, he said, “ok, ok, just asking.” Come over, come see us, we are nice you will like us, he beckoned to some passers-by.
I noticed him smiling at each person with a stroller, waving to the kids and saying “Hello.” One of the passers-by knew him and came over to the table to shake his hand and talk. As I was busy helping some other perusers, I overheard the stranger ask about Hal’s kid.
As the day wore on, so did my energy. I was getting cold and grumpy and anti-social. Man, oh man, I kept droning.
“Did you bring a jacket?” Hal asked.
“No, I didn’t think of it. I wasn’t thinking at all.”
He slid off his shell coat and put it around my shoulders saying, “really, I’m not that cold.”
20/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Make it happen. Squeeze it in and sit on it. Quickly, zipper it shut.
Turn around and walk away and listen for the pop.
Never look back.
13/09/2010 § Leave a comment
In a glass jar on top of the fridge an inch of bacon fat awaits its purpose. It does not know what it will be used for, but slowly gathering form it knows it can serve someone use for something. It takes times, sometimes days, sometimes weeks, to reach its proportions. For days, sometimes months, it idles white and thick in its transparent container.
When someone glances at it, he is revolted but simultaneously craves the meat that it once was a part of. He thinks of sizzling and salt and the film of grease that coats his lips and stomach. He feels guilty for such desires. To him, the public display of part sludge-part animal is confusing. It has no aesthetic, but it does have purpose. Why it is not hidden in the cupboard, behind thick wooden doors and silver handles, is beyond understanding.
When enough fat has congealed and accumulated, someone will add it to a bottle of bourbon. Together the fat and the bourbon will dance in a broken down barn with the sound of harmonicas and fiddles, mounds of hay dusting the air through yellow and orange glows that come from the lamps that mechanics use to look at the underbellies of cars, the ones that have hooks and a cage to protect you from the heat. For days, sometimes weeks, they will roll together and share each others strengths in the moments spent in each others’ embraces, he bringing the smoke, she bringing the salt.
One day, their time together will have happened just so and someone will tip their world upside down, placing them in a deep freeze. The fat will rise to the top and congeal, once again, while the heat of the bourbon will keep free flowing. The bourbon will be emptied back into its bottle and the fat will be melted and put into its glass jar. The bourbon now tastes salty. It creates a velvet envelope around your tongue and will be added to cocktails to be sipped over good conversations and cigarettes. The bacon fat now smells smoky. It will wait on top of the fridge to be used for drop-cookies that will be eaten with teas and coffee. Both serve different purposes, yet both are enriched from their time spent together.
If they spent any more time together, they would have become too rich or too sour.
This should never be hidden.
06/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Crisp mornings call for cups of coffee, velvet smooth like caramel.
Taking the time to drink it in, watching the sun rise later than the day before, curling up for a minute before darting out the door.
24/08/2010 § Leave a comment
My last class is on Wednesday. Frantic with preparing my parting words for the past few days has been mind bending. Do I want to express something one-sided and, well, two-dimensionally square?
The way I envision my final day is filled with gesticulations, punches into the air, “zing this” and “goodbye to all of thats.” For six weeks, I had been re-visiting was what it felt like to re-create works in her image, with her tools of opinions, to shape the putty she put forth.
My parting words, a paragraph where — and I quote — “neutrality cannot exist”:
“The old is new. Again. The omnipotent entertainment industry is inspiring us to get re-real with ourselves with a retro-fitted, attire-ly appropriate Tilda Swinton in the film “I Am Love” (2009.) A Sorelle Fontana-ed Swinton plays Emma (formerly known as Kitcschi) who reclaims her Russian roots while living in Italy – because no one goes to Italy to re-discover anything – in this post-“Eat, Pray, Love” movie. We are supposed to be inspired by the skiddish snipping of her unhappy and superficially contrived life: Like her, if we endure long enough, we can cut our hair – because Heaven forbid we let it down – find fresh love in the hardened but lean arms of a younger man – spewing sweaty vitality from body and loins, – cut out our lifelong commitments at our own son’s funeral – by telling our husbands of 20-some-odd years that we are in love with Antonio (true character,) – gain the reassuring nod from our freshly-outed daughter – hair also freshly cut – we can live happily ever after – because that is the only way to reclaim the simplicity of childhood that we feel guilty for destroying. We can revolutionize our lives, cut off the heads of our tyrannical realities and start with fresh foundations!
Let us start all over again. Let us begin in Italy. First, with IKEA furniture we can snap-together the romanticized cottage-cozy homes that we see on sets. Then, with hourly-travel deals we can fly to the old world rather than exist here and now. Then, we can tell others how to eat, pray and love, just like we did. Then, we are happy. Then, we realize, after everything, there is no sequel and we did not get anywhere at all.”
When all I really wanted to say was:
“A pretentious display of doing something that is on everyone’s mind. But, sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
What I learned from class, what I bring to my desk, were things I should have known, but am sure would have realized at some point:
“When you read something, whether you like it or not, try to figure out why. Then, reshape it and make it your own.”
“Make every line count. Make each sentence work really hard to create your message.”
What will probably happen on Wednesday is nothing. I will go in, hand in my paper, take a seat, then leave. Have a celebratory drink, contemplate, jot this & that, tug at my tresses, then go home and sleep. Wake up, go to work, come home, read and try to figure out why. Then, reshape it and make every moment count.