Less Procrastination, More Error Messages.

I’ve got ten ‘comfort books’ left to pack. They’re the ones I thought I’d need as the rest of my household gets dismantled. The book equivalents of Mom’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese, or baked potatoes swimming in butter. Not edifying, but satisfying. However, I have also been relying on watching shows on t’Internet. I reward myself with them.

But then, out of the blue about three days ago, I go to watch an old episode of ‘Friends’ and there’s a message that says,” Shockwave Flash. The Program performed an illegal operation. You are advised to restart Navigator”.

It won’t let me watch my shows. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled all kinds of things. I don’t even use Navigator. At this point, through desperation and ignorance, God only knows what I’ve done to the machine.

I’ve used logic: Uninstall anything that says “Flash” that I can. Reinstall.

I’ve used intuition: Uninstall any programs that I don’t recognize.

I’ve used psychology: Walking away and telling myself I don’t need those dumb shows.

I’ve used stupidity: Clicking really fast in hopes that the computer won’t notice I am watching TV.

I feel as though I am being held hostage by my stupid computer.

Sifting.

In an effort to not move a bunch of crap into my new place, which, I then have to store, I have been sifting through the minutiae of my life. I’ve been opening boxes I moved, unopened, from my last place, and even the place before that. I think I’m almost done.

One of the things I expected to be bittersweet was going through the big box of stuff I took out of my car, when she was towed away that last time and consigned to the Scott Road wreckers. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but now I am sorting through the tapes I had in the car. I haven’t heard some of these songs in years. There’s my bittersweet.

There are the mixed tapes my friend Jay made in Port Hardy. They were the ambient music in the bar he managed, where I worked sometimes. There were bands most Thursdays-to-Saturdays, but the tapes were for before the bands went on, and in between sets. As I listen, I keep getting flashes of my friends, of sore feet, of telling someone rye and coke was the same as rum and coke (I was a very bad waitress, really), of my strange, strange life at that time.

There’s all the John Cougar Mellencamp, one of my favourites for blasting on sunny days while driving. I can see the dash of my car so clearly, can feel the wheel under my hands.

U2’s Achtung Baby-I am driving a borrowed pickup truck along a forested road at one AM. I’m eating a piece of apple pie with my hands and I’m not sure who I’ll see when I get out at the end of the drive.

My ‘Obscure Cult Mix’ takes me all the way back to high school. I’ve got my walkman plugged in and I’m doing some after-school stuff in the art room. Beside me is my friend Kat, so simple and kind, and so conflicted. I can smell her L’Oreal lipstick, see the way her polka-dot tights stretch over thighs she never thought were thin enough.

I guess it’s true what they say, music can take us anywhere.

Best Face Forward.

So last night, sitting around with friends, drinking wine, I played around on a Facebook account. I don’t have my own account because I don’t really want the hassle, but that’s another issue.

I looked up old classmates and saw some people I’d known as teenagers, with grown-up pictures. It was kind of fun.

And then I saw a picture of my ex. He appears to be gay. Not just a little gay. A lot gay. Gayer than a field full of daisies wearing strap-ons. Gayer than springtime in Paris doing whip-its. Gayer than singing songs from the musical Oklahoma! while perusing window treatments. Yeah, gay.

At first I could only stare at the screen in consternation. Then I showed the picture to my friends, for confirmation.

“Does this guy look gay?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s the white shorts.”

“And the incredibly buff body, the kind that other guys check out.”

“Oh, and the fact that he’s got his arm around another man.”

Now, I am not saying that these things make him gay. But it did get me thinking.

We dated twice. The first time, I was a teenager. I broke up with him eventually after too many times of his prioritizing money for CDs and then having none to do anything with me. He was also becoming less communicative and spending more time with some sketchy downtown characters.

Eventually, he got into heavy drug use. We remained friendly, but I distanced myself. You know, because heroin addiction isn’t pretty, up close.

When he finally got clean, I supported his decision and encouraged him as much as I could. I was a right little cheerleader. As time went on, we grew closer. We talked about everything: Bodily functions, childhood traumas, the works. I dissected his relationships, he dissected mine. He was my best friend in the whole world. It makes me sad to think that he couldn’t say to me, “Liz, I like boys. That way.” I would have been startled, but then I could have said, “Okay. Well, then I think you should break up with your girlfriend. It’s only fair. Hey, what do you like in a man, anyhow?”

Needless to say, it didn’t happen like that. When he had been clean for three years, we started dating again. Three years, I figured I was safe. I figured I was home. After all, we spent most of our time together. We had more fun together than with anyone else. We were a wonderful team.

It was great for a while, really great. And then the problems started. He wanted to hang out with younger kids, kids who adored him, who saw him as cool. I found them boring and wondered if my breasts were too small. He stopped phoning when he said he was going to. I lost a lot of weight, because I was obviously too fat. Throughout this I was trying to talk to him trying to get back to the place where we could tell each other anything. He wouldn’t talk. He’d take me to an early movie and them meet his party kids to go to raves. I tried, but I thought they were boring and stupid, and I had to work in the morning.

I broke up with him. I was the only thing in his life that validated his existence as anything other than a complete wastrel, and I wasn’t going to settle for that. He had become the complete antithesis of everything he used to respect and strive for. And then I obsessed for a few months.

I wondered what I had done wrong. I must have driven him away, somehow. I must have done something that made me completely unlovable, right? Right? I blew it. I was the wrong woman for him, and no one was ever going to love me again.

Now, maybe I just had the wrong plumbing. If that’s the case, I feel sad that he couldn’t tell me that. I feel sad that it possibly caused his dependence on drugs. Mostly, I feel sad that we still live in a world where someone can be afraid to reveal their real sexual orientation, for fear of what others (and themselves) may think.

Realtor Cold Call.

This has never happened to me before. Here’s the recent scene at my house:

Phone: Ring!

Me: Hello?

Realtor: Good morning, Madam. I’m David and I am calling on behalf of Mutton Realty (NB: It’s not really Mutton Realty, it just rhymes with the actual name). Would you, by any chance, like to know the market value of your house today?

Me: Actually, I do know the market value. It was sold for (a bajillion dollars) a week ago.

Realtor: Oh ReeEEeealy? ‘Bye! (hangs up)

I’ve been puzzling about this all day.

1) Why did he hang up so fast? Because Ms. Flight Attendant paid a bajillion dollars for my house and he could now re-adjust his figures for the street? I was wasting valuable Realtor Time when he could have been wheedling some poor old lady out into the street? He really had to pee? I don’t know.

2) Why was he calling me at all? Surely Real Estate agents aren’t so desperate yet that they need to cold-call. Particularly in an area where there are more renters than owners. I mean, I rent. How many renters would be like, “Yes, let’s set up an appointment, it’s time to get rid of this old white elephant of a place.”?

Real Estate: Bringing the weird right into your home.

Change of Heart.

I never really liked the woman. I’m not even sure why. We never seemed to see eye to eye on anything. But at her memorial service, today I saw a different woman in her, a woman that I could have liked. Indeed, in retrospect, I do like.

Her husband, burdened with Parkinson’s, the great veins sticking out on his face, scabrous and ashen and bowed. He put on a good front for a woman he loved and respected. Her granddaughter, singing Panis Angelicus to the accompaniment of her boyfriend’s guitar, as it was her gransdmother’s favourite. Her sister-in-law, discomposed at the granddaughter’s singing, trying to get on, and succeeding as she has for her whole life. Her brother, the Master of Ceremonies, as he loves to be, pontificating. Her nieces’ emails from Boston and from Chicago, remembering sewing doll clothes and adventures to Duck Rock.

All those people who loved her. They spoke of her patience and her tranquility. They spoke of her kindness. They spoke of her sense of humour. All things I would like to be remembered for.

I’d like to think we might have seen eye to eye on some things after all.

Rehomed.

We got a place! We got a place!

It’s not so much more expensive than our current place, but it’s way better.

I will be moving into a place with laminate floors, hardwood ceiling beams, a bigger bedroom, a tiled kitchen, double sinks, a little more counter space, a place specifically for the catbox, and a window facing an overgrown garden where I can set up my computer and write. Oh, and free cable and internet.

The relief, she is palpable.

Books Define Me.

So, in all the brouhaha of having to move, I have been slowly divesting myself of stuff I don’t need.

Again, the books are a bit of a challenge. I know I have a hard time getting rid of them, and I started to think about why.

My books define me. They are a mirror that tells me about myself.

I look at my bookshelves and can confidently say to myself, “Hey, I am the kind of person who knows about the history of Gothic architecture. Yes, I do know a lot about the Canadian fishing industry. I am fiercely literate and enjoy poetry and mythology as well as science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance novels. I have a distinct fondness for British humour, both historical and modern, and I understand the development and history of fairy tales. I garden, I cook, and I can identify wild birds and seashore creatures. I know a lot about European social history.”

If I gave some of those books away, would I be losing a part of my self as well?

Seeking Shelter.

It’s a nightmare out there. I’m not saying this as a location snob, I’m saying it as a person who is genuinely flabbergasted at the places for rent, and what is being charged.

Yes, I have walked the streets looking for the hot deals. People are not putting up very many signs on their lawns, and if they are, they are unreasonably expensive, too small, and they read like polemics from the Coalition For No Fun, Ever:

Clean, bright garden level suite. 1br, $1500/mo. 500s/f. N/s.N/p. No stereos. No parties. No drinkers. No shift workers. Small children upstairs, so must be completely silent from 7pm on.

Craigslist, of course, is a menu of mind-boggling rip-offs, and I’m not just talking about places on the West Side. $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom basement suite in Cloverdale? Come on.

So far, we’ve seen all of four places that looked (in the paper/online) as though they might be suitable. They were not.

$1200 2br top floor of house: It had a big bay window, and E could have fit his stuff in one bedroom. However, the other was too small for our bed, the kitchen was pokey, and we would have had to get rid of the couch and my books to actually live in the living room.

$1295 1000s/f 1br with 500s/f deck: It was fabulous and perfect. There was space for everything. The price was a typo. We couldn’t have afforded it if we tried.

$1325 2br on West 4th: It was subterranean in most places. The kitchen had one high window that opened onto the dirt and debris of some kind of three-by-three funnel in the middle of the building. The back door opened out onto a busy alley, full of cars and dust.

$750 1br on West 10th: Nice balcony, nice bedroom, but, again, no place for, say, living in the living room.

I am growing despondent. At this rate, we’ll have to consider places where it’s harder for us to get to work, and that will take longer to get home to at the end of a long day. Places where the transportation’s not so good. Places that are far from amenities such as grocery shopping or libraries.
Oh, the joy.

“Intelligent Parenting Solutions”

This is the motto of one of the baby stores I was in today, trailing Gen (Due early July) and Emma (girlchild in snuggly) in their quest to find the best for their children. On sober reflection, I think a more honest slogan would be, “Give us all your money and credit cards so you can feel 100% confident that, having spent all your cash, you’ve made the best decision.”

I don’t know if the sign amused me or offended me more. Parents to be and new parents are sleep-deprived and in the grips of hormones as strong as anything a doctor or dealer will hand out. Their lives are changing in fundamental ways. They love their new children, whether inside or outside of the belly, with a fierceness I have never experienced.

Of course they want to make the best decisions for their children. They want to give their children every advantage in life, starting in vitro.

And so they walk into this bright, welcoming space full of things they suddenly feel compelled to purchase, because they want to make intelligent decisions about their choices in baby stuff. You can buy a baby bathtub for thirteen dollars somewhere else, but the intelligent choice is obviously going to be this $90 model, because it has a thermometer to get the temperature exactly right. You can use an oversized messenger bag for a diaper bag, but the solution to finding a large bag with lots of pockets is this $200 bag over here.

It is unfair for baby boutiques like this to deliberately play on their customers’ weaknesses.

On the other hand, if someone can’t figure out the temperature of bathwater by sticking their hand in it, they deserve to pay the ninety bucks.

Heroes

I love this show deeply. Of course, I am a little behind, since I don’t have cable. It’s beautiful and funny and sad and exciting, all at the same time.

I just met Charlie, the waitress who absorbs knowledge from books the way LSD absorbs into other peoples’ skin.

That’s MY kind of superhero!

(later)

Wait, does she die? Doesn’t she? Damnit! I need to know!

So much for being unhooked from cable…

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