december 2001

click here for permalink December 29, 2001

Everyone is on alert for the pre-New Year's Eve full moon, even in this mild, mellow corner of Western Canada. On a routine grocery store trip, I noticed no fewer than three police cars idling on quiet residential corners.

Now, you must understand, this is the West End of Vancouver, where the sight of one police car idling quietly is an oddity — probably because the gay and senior demographics tend to require less uniformed supervision than others. Anyway, it was a little odd but certainly not unsettling...

[an artful segue looms on the horizon...]

Speaking of unsettling... this time of year, even without the triple threat of a full moon, an eclipse and Saturn squared Pluto squared Mars, always makes me anxious. With Christmas over the general atmosphere becomes quiet and introspective as people grudgingly go back to work or school, and winter starts in earnest. Money is tighter, the days are brief and cold and the strands of colored lights decorating trees, windows (and, in Vancouver, construction cranes) begin to disappear.

But it's not the grim spectre of January that makes me want to hibernate. It's the calls that start some time around Christmas morning and don't stop until the wee hours of the new year, asking the dreaded question, "What are you doing New Year's Eve?" It's one of only two nights a year, the other being Halloween, when it's not okay to say, "Nothing." I never have plans. (okay, I slightly planned NYE2K — but only because I figured it was the last time KISS would be worth seeing live).

It's always the same. I dread the inevitable last minute rush to join the masses in a weak drink to mark the passing of another year. I shudder at the thought of standing in line to pay triple the normal cover charge to cram into a smoky, sweaty club teeming with refugees from the suburbs on a day pass to the Big City (and the Big City steroid freaks who prey on them). I cringe at the sound of the early evening revelers as they spill from their Rav4's, en masse and overdressed, sending shrill "Woooooo"s into the night air to mark their arrival.

I can almost hear them now... stifling giggles as they pass the squad car on the corner, high-fiving each other on the killer parking space they scored, but will never remember come 2am.

click here for permalink December 28, 2001

During a routine ego-surfing session — who coined that phrase anyway? It has a Douglas Couplandian ring to it... Anyway, I found a link to my site on what seems to be a complete stranger's web log...

Naturally, I reciprocated (here and at left). It's the eeriest thing but as I whipped through month after month of her infectiously readable entries, searching for some reference to a)Me or b)someone I know, I was stricken by how many bizarre little things we have in common...

...And the fact that I could really benefit (ya know, psychologically) from venting my petty grievances with the world here with a little more regularity. So, I guess that is as good a place to start as any... New Years' Resolution Number One... rant more.

click here for permalink December 27, 2001

Hey, everyone! Happy post-holidays to all. I hope everyone had some lovely days off to relax, visit, get presents, give presents and all that stuff. I, for one, spent the entirety of the 26th eating all the cookies I could find...

You see, Mr. Pink had offered to configure his sister's new computer with Windows XP while she and her family visited her husband's relatives. While Mr. Pink worked away, blissfully distant in Geekland, I was relegated to couch potato status... I hadn't come prepared to amuse myself for 24 hours... without my computer... to top it off, we were miles from the nearest bookstore and everything else in town was closed; I did finally walk about a mile to the gas station where I was able to purchase January's Cosmo (with the "2002 Bedside Astrologer").

The magazine selection in this rural gas station was surreal — more variations on House Beautiful, Home & Garden and Martha Stewart Living than you could count on both hands... and plenty of "craft" periodicals catering to the crochet, knitting and patchwork quilt-making communities. Many, many car-related glossies as well as the latest Maxim, Stuff, Gear et al but, in the fashion category, only Cosmo... and one issue of Vogue... from September. No matter, it was mindless entertainment that I was after, wasn't it?

Well, it took me all of two hours to absorb every one of the useful tips and tricks Cosmo had to offer ("Be the one he'll never forget! The secret to getting what you want!") so, for the remainder of the day, I ended up pigging out and watching things like When Harry Met Sally and Gone With the Wind. At some point, I went out and washed the truck.

[shudder] A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Still. I had a fabulous Christmas and I'm looking forward to playing my first-ever video game (I've played before — they were just never my games). What is it? Tomb Raider, of course... (in lieu of the actual Angelina Jolie who, I assume, had a previous engagement). Heh.

click here for permalink December 13, 2001

The other day, whilst enjoying a movie marathon of epic proportions thanks to the programming wizards over at Movie Central, incorporated, my friend and I waited patiently for the return of Mr. Pink and our dinner...

After a day that had spanned two decades of classic American cinema, from The Outsiders to Scrooged, we succumbed to the final hour of Forrest Gump, only to be interrupted by Mr. Pink — returning triumphantly with our take-out — sobbing pathetically because we had forgotten to change the channel before the tragic death of Jenny and Forrest's subsequent, under-tree monologue (which I defy any human to get through tear-free).

The best part is that, while waiting for the take-out to be ready, Mr. Pink had dropped in to the video store where they were having a sale on DVDs... including Cast Away, of which we are now the proud owners. Pulling myself together after the final moments of Forest Gump, I estimated a good month before I'd be ready to see Cast Away again (aside from the plane crash scene, perhaps ironically, because it is just SO amazing on our surround sound).

Cast Away, and my recent laziness/lack of creativity, got me thinking about the question of inspiration versus motivation... and, specifically, the question of whether I would still write if stranded alone on an un-named island.

Surely, anyone's who's seen Cast Away can imagine that the struggle to survive by making fire and siphoning rain water off of palm leaves would take up the majority of my energy for awhile. I imagine I would go through various stages of coming to terms with my alone-ness... from Ferris Bueller inner-turned-outer monologue stage to desperately bored to the point of suicide stage... Would I pass through a must-capture-my-thoughts-for-posterity stage in between? Or, more optimistically, after?

Would I burn the ends of sticks in the fire after dinner and write in charcoal on the pale inner skin of tree bark strips or smooth cave walls, the words my only reminder of a humanity on the verge of being lost? Would I be full of angry poetry and existential questioning or would the nostalgia for a life lost prompt me to record the dramatic details of my shipwreck and imagine a life after my rescue, adding new chapters nightly, detailing my joyous reunion with civilization, to keep myself sane?

How soon — or for how long — would my psychological need for self-expression win out over the baser need for survival? Perhaps the daunting physicality of my new life would make creating anything more than fire and shelter impossible. Would my strips of bark and charcoal-tipped sticks quickly be relegated to kindling or would they only become fuel for the fire if they failed to meet the standards of a word processor-spoiled writer? Would I ever be able to adjust to writing on cave walls and tree bark after a lifetime of ergonomic keyboards and spell check? No "cut and paste?" I suppose there's always "sharp rock, tree sap."

Mankind has always had a passion to create — but, in order to flourish artistically, a degree of civilization was essential. Would the crushing boredom cause me to imagine a lifetime of experiences or would it gradually chip away my humanity until nothing remained but emptiness and lifeless existence, the physical demands of self-preservation extinguishing my creative urges as swiftly as an inflatable life raft against the rocky shore? Would I start out with the fire of human tragedy spurring me to record my every thought only to have animal instinct slowly drive out all human urges beyond necessity as I became malnourished, louse-infested and, eventually, mad?

Well, hopefully, I will never have to find out. There's just one thing I know for sure... Tom Hanks is a damn fine actor.

click here for permalink December 3, 2001

Now I know that the Christmas season has begun in earnest... on the way home, a sign in the window of a porn shop caught my eye: "Remote Control Panties Now in Stock." The only question is, can I find a pair to match my bulletproof bra?

Yes, at least here in Canada, it looks like we're in store for the same old consumeristic, shopping-frenzied, credit-destroying holiday season we know and love after all. The media's irony fast is long over (have you seen the "Dancing bin Ladens?") and a new winter crop of action movies is set to hit theaters just in time for Christmas Break.

Over the weekend I stood on the 38th floor of one of the newest downtown high rises with a friend who recently visited New York and stood at about the same elevation surveying the destruction of the World Trade Center from the window of a nearby restaurant.

As we gazed out at the pristine, rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, he pointed to a row of lights across the street, "The crater starts there," he said.

He moved his fingers over the glass to indicate the traffic light down the street about three blocks and the cement dividers that marked the end of a parking lot next to an intersection far to the right. "It ends there... but the buildings around it are all empty. There's a huge dent in one building, right about there... it looks like it was hit with a wrecking ball that left a two-story indentation."

He described the scene to me, filling it with cranes that dip and lean at odd angles throughout the wreckage and ominous cracks in the rubble that still churn black smoke after an incomprehensible three months of battle with the Fire Department.

Looking down into our imaginary scene of destruction, I felt like I was seeing it through his eyes, but maybe I was superimposing the many, tiny images from television and "ground zero" webcams that are now a permanent part of my subconscious.

Three months, almost. I wonder why I still don't feel any better.