Bonus Anecdote! And Friday Confessions.

Rawr! I may have been just a little angrier than I might have been yesterday. E’s parents were more than two hours late from when they said they were coming over. After waking E up at 10 AM, natch, when he got to bed at 4:30 AM. Because the sleep deprivation? Yes, it makes everything so much easier, thanks! Gen put everything in perspective, though, and talked me down from the sniper tower. Thanks, Gen!

We had dinner with his parents in a close-by restaurant, which was fine until a foursome came in and sat next to us. They were loud, and it was Boyfriend Meeting Girlfriend’s parents For The First Time. To be fair to Boyfriend, he was personable and articulate. But Girlfriend’s Dad was a conservative American, so Personable, Articulate Boyfriend was making pretty heavy weather. The conversation was quite interesting, and the one at our table, less so. I kept accidentally listening in to the loud, easy-to-listen-to conversation at the next table, instead of the quiet one at ours. Here’s what it sounded like:

You know, I can see where you’re coming from. If a conservative speaks, you’re going to feel more comfortable with his dialectic. All I’m saying… of course, we… tried the switch. And…the switch didn’t work…

...know that your politics aren’t going to reflect any mature decisions. University is the kind of place…

...was a…difficult situation. You…don’t call an electrician….ceiling fan…

The feeling is different here. We don’t have the kinds of separation between people that you can find down there.

...cathedral ceilings, you know. You can imagine the difficulty, really…

...need to find out how other people live, find out what they need and give it to them, because that’s going to create an environment where different kinds of people trust each other.

..goes two speeds… we really…need that…

It was like something Beckett might have written.

So today’s confession: I prefer ideology to ceiling fans. At least in conversation.

What have your preferences been this week?



Originally uploaded by Liz du Canada

“Someone left some books here.”
She looks at me with spacey blue eyes.

“What are they?” I look over, a little alarmed. I’m not used to holding conversations with strangers at bus stops. That’s why I have a book: So I don’t have to.

We figure that if someone wants them, they’ll come back for them. Gradually I relax as I realize that Rio, that’s her name, is either squeetering high or just an island kid. Maybe both. There’s a particular kind of open trust I associate with both types.

“I bet Jeff Buckley and Janis Joplin are in Heaven, fucking like crazy,” she offers.

I agree, and offer that they may be recording together. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

She hoots with laughter. “But they already recorded down here!”

“Yeah, but who’s to say they can’t put out new stuff in Heaven? It’s what Heaven’s for!”

She nods and smiles, “I bet. We’ll have to wait til we’re there to hear them. Hey, you remind me of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Lady.”

“I get that a lot. It’s the hair.” I remember my mom telling me my hair looked like the angel in the ad. I remember thinking that my mom was blind.

“Not just the hair,” Rio counters. It’s YOU. You know, like, what’s all in Heaven. Jeff Buckley and Janis Joplin and cream cheese!”

A little later she says she’s from Gibsons.

“Cool. Closer to Grantham’s or Hopkins?”

“Granthams. You know the Sunshine Coast?”

I nodded. “I spent time every summer at Halfmoon Bay.”

“Halfmoon Bay is…”

“Heaven,” we say together. My throat closes up as I think about my mother’s ashes, floating around there in the bay. It’s late. I’m tired. I breathe through it.

She says her mother is helping her move in a few days. She hopes it won’t be difficult. “It’s like she has all these duties, everything is duty and I want her to be in love, to know that I love her, for her to love me,” she says.

I think for a moment. “Do you think you could tell her those things?”

She looks at me, luminous blue eyes unblinking. “Do you have a pen?”

I produce a pencil and as she’s writing down what she said, I ask if I can snap a picture. For Photo-a-day. And because it was a conversation I needed to have.

The Fair

So on Saturday, I had the fun of going to the PNE with Arwen and her family, and we had a lot of fun and greasy food. Oh, God, did we have the greasy food.

But Arwen also planted a seed in my head as we were sitting under a bluer-than-gray sky, waiting for John The Indefatigable (that’s your Medieval name, John) to come back with sustenance.

We are the Marks. The carnies funnel us into corridors where we spend money on hamburgers and throw-the-ball-in-the basket, spinning around on giant machines that make us feel ill. And it’s that thin, oily veneer of fun that keeps us sweet while we empty our wallets.

But beneath that thin sheen are the internals, the guts. And the guts of the carnival intrigue me: The motors inside the rides. The people who work the fairs. I think there must be a romance to a carnie’s life, however grubby.

There’s the traveling and the impermanence. Whatever happens in one town is gone when you get to the next. You can be anything you want to the people you meet. Different name, different personality. Wild lies and prevarications. Anonymous sex whenever you want it. Friends over beers that you feel close to now, and that’s enough for you, right now. And then, when you move on to the next town? You can be someone else again.

Sounds like a lot of fun, at least for a season.

Thursday Night Confessions.

It’s an early confession thread for me. Tomorrow morning I am doing Co-Op stuff before I go to work and will certainly not have time or inclination to write a post. I am probably going to be a little hung over, which brings me to my first confession.

Morgan came over and we killed a bottle of wine talking about language and his kid and traveling and everything. He stayed later than either of us thought. So, a pre-emptive confession: My head is sure to be a little cloudy tomorrow when the alarm goes off and I head into the morning, armed with insurance stickers and papers for the fleet. On balance, I won’t much care. Seeing Morgan is so fun.

However, I do need to see his daughter. She’s getting so big and I am amazed at the pictures I see of her. Like her mother and father, she seems to drink life to the lees, and everything is a new adventure. She will be a terror once she learns to walk.

Also, I am thinking of asking for more work while E’s parents are in town. “Oh, can’t meet, sorry. Gotta work.” But that leaves him with no ally in their well-intentioned blundering. That’s not fair, is it?

Also not fair? The weather. Here I have this massive, sprawling tomato crop and one (1) almost-ripe tomato. Would it be worth it to construct an impromptu greenhouse, just to see if I can get more ripe ones? I am kind of tempted. Because I have no experience making Fried Green Tomatoes, Whistle-stop recipe or otherwise. I think in one of the Little House books, Ma made a tomato pie, but I can’t be sure. Green tomato recipes, anyone?

This confessional ramble has been brought to you by a bottle of red, some kind of ‘your skin will be dewy and fresh’ face mask I have on right now, and my desire to go to bed.

What have you all got?

Dear Peek Freans Lifestyle Cookies

Please stop equating low fat food with virtuous behaviour. It is wrong and offensive. If I eat a low-fat cookie (and what’s the point, really?), that does not mean I will feel the urge to flash the UPS man. Or are there mind-control drugs in the cookies? Maybe if I eat enough of them, my IQ will drop sufficiently for me to feel that your ad is logical and clever.

This ad (which has been running way too long, get some better ideas, stat) is the reason I will never buy these cookies. Especially in light of the mind-control drugs.



Recant / Re-Cant

I posted this morning about E’s parents coming to visit. It was self-pitying and lacked insight, and I deleted it. Here’s what the day’s thoughts have yielded.

They are perfectly amiable people. I can discuss art, gardens, and books with them. Although they are inclined to waffle over decisions like choosing a restaurant, what route to take to go anywhere, or how to best make a sauce, that’s annoying but tolerable.

What makes them hard to bear is how they treat their eldest son. What makes it harder to bear is how their eldest son reacts to them.

They are intelligent people, but cannot figure out how to accept E. Because his brother is an academic, every bit of news from him is greeted with acceptance, if not jubilation. But E making a name for himself as a tech crew guy around town? Nothing. Last pass through, his mom asked if he’d though ‘outside the box’ in terms of career choice. WTF was he going to do that was more outside the box? Performing Vaudeville acts, perhaps? How can they be so intelligent but be unable to wrap their heads around the fact that E is successful, yet not at a desk job?

Their inability to accept his job leads to some pretty stilted conversations. I don’t know if they know how awkward they sound as they change the conversation to something they can understand. It’s like they take certain words he’s said, and run with them:

E: The Shania Twain load in was pretty cool. They had all these screens, but we had to overlap them a bit because of the space constraints. You would have liked the overall effect. It was kind of like a mosaic.
Mom: ...Ed had a hard time getting everyone on stage at the Wagner Festival! Gosh, wasn’t it a hoot, Bill?

They tune to static while E is broadcasting.

Another reason for a jangle up my spine is that if E has a beer at dinner, or a second helping of whatever we’re eating, his father seems to make it a point to take him aside and give him a mini-lecture on the dangers of over-consumption. Which, as you can imagine, makes E feel miserable. Because he doesn’t have the slender build of his parents and brother. He’s a Viking throwback. E carries more weight than his parents do, but they have different body types. When E was 12 he looked like the rest of them. Then he filled out. And every time his dad takes it upon himself to sail into one of these helpful little lectures, E’s soul shrivels a little.

He can’t help it, he feels marginalized. So would I, under the circumstances. And as often as I say, “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” he still feels hurt. Because sometimes a child can’t tune out his parents.

So while they have their delightful sojourn in Vancouver, I’ll be with the guy who feels the hurt in their evaluations of his weight and career.

And no matter what I say, he still feels the sting of their comments. There’s nothing I can do to take the pain away.

That’s what’s going to make my vacation a bitch.


Shan is fourteen years old. She is not shy at heart, and has come to sing out, “Hi!” when she strides into the room for a lesson, ponytail swinging behind. However, since the beginning of summer, she has been reticent to talk about a book, or anything, out loud. I ask, and she smiles a wide, sweet smile and shakes her head. She’s afraid of being wrong, of explaining concepts without practicing first, and getting it perfect.

Yesterday, she said yes to telling about a book. She had read Crow Boy, an enchanting story about a little boy who starts out shy and scared, and finds his own voice within the voices of the crows he hears around him, and uses those calls to go more confidently in the world. And slowly, with backtracking and pauses and heart-twisting re-starts, Shan told me the story of the little guy who learns to interact with people.

Well, I am a giant sap, and cry whenever I’m emotionally invested. At one point, she looked up, saw my teary eyes. Panicked. “No, what? Why?”

I shook my head, unable to articulate, and knowing she’d be confused, if I said that I was seeing an actual, real Crow Boy moment taking place, that I was seeing a girl stepping out of her comfort zone and into the treacherous gumbo of spoken English.

“I’m happy,” I said. “I’m proud of you. Please go on.”

So she continued through to the end of the book, and I congratulated her when she was done, for surmounting her fear.

At the end of the class, she looked at me. “Thank you for liking me,” she smiled a thousand watts.

“Thank you for being so brave,” I answered.

Friday Confessions.

Hey there. I was just over here minding my business. I got caught up with all the marking. Funny, how I used to do ten times as much a day, and even a dozen book reports behind freaks me out these days.

I am becoming obsessed with Heroes again. I saw an ad for the new season and so I have been watching as much as I can so that I remember everything and am all ready to go for the new season. I should have more hobbies or something.

I am also excited because the new Original Student Calendars are in the stores! Now I can plan my life into September! I have tried but I can’t run my life without one. And now, like every mid-August, I am so excited to have the new one in my hands! Of course, I have a history of decorating them. They used to be butt-ugly and now they’re just bland. So every year, I have a new way to decorate my new calendar. I’m pretty excited about that, which is scary, and may progress to scrapbooking. But not just yet. I need to get my calendar organized!

Anyone else got anything to say?

Quinoa Query

So I bought some because a) it’s cheap protein and b) it can be eaten at room temperature. These are important because I don’t have heating methods or refrigeration at work, and I prefer not to exist on a diet of granola bars and fruit, because it’s boring after a while.

But here’s a thing: I don’t think I know how to cook quinoa properly, I think. Because I made some and I was totally underwhelmed by Nature’s! Miracle! Food! Was it the slightly crunchy little ‘tails’? Or is it the fact that it has ‘tails’ that make me think of sperm? Am I just a lousy cook?

Help me eat more healthily, please. Help me like this food.


I usually have pretty good weekends. No real complaints. Now that I don’t tutor on Sundays, life is relaxed. I spent this weekend baking. Sunday evening I went out for a drink with Sandii to find out what her week in the Yukon was like. I also ran into my friend Will. Will had the best weekend and I am totally jealous.

He went to Biology Camp! It’s called the Whistler BioBlitz, I think. Seriously, a bunch of biologists went to Whistler this weekend, and they combed the place, taking samples of all the bugs and animals and cool plants they could find. Then they put them all in terrariums so they could look at what everyone collected. They had informal lectures in the evenings about birds and bats and fungi and stuff. We have 16 species of bats in BC! How great is that?!

Will’s pictures were really great as well. We saw the specimens they collected, tadpoles and tree frogs and lichens and freshwater sponges, slugs and salamanders, but he also took pictures of a Stellar Jay (not a specimen, because who can collect a Stellar Jay?) and a bear footprint bigger than my hand. It was awesome!

I totally want to go and collect samples of stuff.

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