Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cilantro is love.

IMG_5557_1We took my dad out for dinner today because it was his birthday and he's still teary about his mom. We went to the Cannery, which is kind of cool, because it's down in the middle of the Port of Vancouver. You need to go through the security check-in to get down there, so that they can keep tabs on how many vehicles go through and make sure that you're not a terrorist.

I doubt terrorists would be driving around in a bright yellow Plymouth Caravelle two years away from having vintage plates. But we would.

And we would drive past all the cranes loading and unloading the container ships, past the fish canneries and grain elevators. Past the exact same rendering plant where Pickton used to send the dead bodies of prostitutes to be turned into cosmetics and glue. Well, pieces of prostitutes. The pieces the pigs wouldn't eat. And, well, allegedly. Innocent until proven guilty.

And all of this is near where mom used to work just out of high school, doing all sorts of trading of goods and supplying equipment to longshoremen. Women from the canneries used to come in and ask in very poor English if they could purchase rubber gloves, but only left gloves and not the pair. They'd argue with them over whether or not they should be able to purchase single gloves or not, but the object of the game was to get them out of the door as quickly as possible, because they reeked of fish guts.

The Cannery Restaurant doesn't smell like fish guts though. It's got a nice view of the docks and the port, and the service and food are always really decent, at least when we've been there. Seems to me that last time I was there I had a piece of blue-rare ahi tuna marinated in rum and a peanut sauce. This time I had trout and pineapple salsa, which came with some scalloped potatoes that had almonds and leeks cooked into them.

I have become convinced that you can mix cilantro with absolutely anything and call it salsa. The first time I had mango strawberry salsa it literally blew my mind. Now I make salsa out of practically everything and leave it in the fridge. Sometimes I mix it with cheerios and eat it that way, just to use it up.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grandma's first electroshock

IMG_5571_1I've been reading a lot of books lately, but I'll spare you my pitiful attempts at reviewing them. Try as I might, I'm just bad at it, unless I mull it over for a few months first.

But still, books tend to remind me of other things, or at least make me think a lot, so I guess I can tell you about that. So I finished The Cure for Death by Lightning today. It was set in a place I'm not familiar with, but judging by the description, it was about 150 km north of where I live.

In it they mentioned a place called Essondale. I thought that perhaps it would have been helpful had they put some sort of note in the book as to what exactly it was. I knew, but I don't suppose many would.

Essondale, now Riverview Hospital, is where my grandma Eileen studied nursing. Today much of it sits empty, and its grounds are home to an impressive collection of rare trees, but from what I understand it wasn't a particularly nice place when grandma worked there.

Inside there is a display of all the old instruments and equipment that used to be used for the treatment of mental illness. They used to stick people in special therapeutic bathtubs with fitted covers to keep them confined, shaped such that the patients could recline, but far too short for them to slip in and drown. Left alone in the room, patients used to drum their feet rythmically against the ends of the tubs. The rest was silent.

The space in the middle of the stairwells at Riverview are all caged in. They weren't always that way. While grandma worked there, one of the patients threw one of grandma's coworkers down that space between the flights and she died. This same patient used to stay in a special room naked, all by herself because she was so violent.

Once a day all the nurses would block all the exits between her room and the shower room. They would throw open her door, and she would walk down to be washed, occasionally throwing a few punches at the staff on her way. Then, while she was out, they would hose down her room.

Years later, grandma came across this woman eating ice cream in front of a corner store. By that time, medicine had made enormous leaps past what it had been while she had been a psych nurse, but she still hid from her.

The nurses used to wear shoes with very thick rubber soles. At her first electroshock, grandma's job was to hold down a patient while he convulsed. Later, they would go through one after another after another on electroshock days, but her first time the man was struggling, because he was scared. They applied the electrodes, placed something in his mouth for him to bite and flipped the switch.

Grandma woke up in the room where they wheeled everyone after being electroshocked. Already, people were regaining consciousness, silently getting up from their gurneys and wandering around the room, bumping into walls.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How did that get in there?

I left work feeling jittery and agitated and the train ride home didn't help much. I got to my apartment, had a glass of water, sat down on the floor and emptied my mind of thoughts. Well, not completely empty, because I think that's a pretty uncomfortable feeling in and of itself.

But some days the problem is that I have too many thoughts in my head and then I panic because it's too much at one time. It's like I overheat and then my cpu crashes or something, so I have to take everything and file it away somewhere, so that I can pull things out later and think them through, one at a time.

I have a lot to think about at the moment, and contrary to what you might expect, little of it has to do with grandma.

So here I was, being all mindful of my thoughts and stuff when all of a sudden needle hits vinyl on an old phonograph and The Liberty Bell begins to play. Then a sort of surreal cut-out animation sequence began, very reminiscent of what would be seen on Monty Python's Flying Circus, except that it was kind of pornographic in a Monty Python sort of way.

I opened my eyes, wondering where the hell that had come from, in the same way I wonder every time I find a screwdriver in my fridge.

Monday, May 28, 2007

At least I can have hot showers.

IMG_5572_1This morning I woke up on the train, finished Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan, to start The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Watched the waters of Burrard Inlet slip past, golden from the rising sun, the cranes of the Port of Vancouver glowing red.

Attention, the doors will be closing in approximately two minutes, two minutes until the doors close, and I always wait a good minute and fourty-five before I even bother contemplating leaving the train. Any earlier and the platform is a nearly unnavigable torrent of humanity, flooding toward the three escalators.

Escalators are for pussies. I take the stairs.

Arrived at work a tad out of sorts, and I guess it showed. I put in a few hours and then left early to wander the streets for a while. Caution signs sit at the feet of the steel and glass of the financial district because it's window-washing season again. I stood for a while on the westbound platform at Burrard Station, letting the wind whip down the tunnel, transforming my hair into an unruly frizz. The glaring fashionistas of Robsonstrasse were out full-force in spite of the clouds. I braved their disdain for a good fifteen minutes.

It was then that I hit upon a brilliant idea, that I would go to school and pick up a paper from the office. I had gotten a good mark in that class, but I wanted to see what sorts of comments had been left for me. The first and second pages were somewhat marked up, mostly with check marks, and then after that I guess he gave up and gave me 95%. I can't really complain about that.

After that, I wandered home to my apartment. My father wandered in around 2:30ish to have a shower. On top of all the job related stress dead parents, rugby trips, band trips, holidays and charity carwashes, my parents' hot water tank stopped working on Saturday, which means they're visiting me more often.

Or rather, they're visiting my bathroom. I have little to do with it, really. I guess that means I should feel used.

Dad wants to know why when he said that grandma was dead, he and my sister burst into tears and I didn't. "You're always so emotionally detached," he said. But I can't think of a time when I haven't been that way. I'm just like that. I don't like having to justify myself.

I need some sleep.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Erin is not so much in a partying mood.

IMG_5570_1After not a lot of consideration, I passed on the generous offer to go out to that rural part of Maple Ridge right near the correctional centre to have a party that involves drinking topless in a hot tub until you pass out.

Brown gets a B+ for effort though, by stating that the two people in our extended social circle who are most likely to grope you would not be there (which doesn't really bar the third, fourth and fifth in line from doing it).

I also got the very generous offer of not only being able to sleep in the trailer, but being entitled to the bed and bathroom in it too. Of course, I'd have to share the bed with Brown's brother and his boyfriend, but there are far worse things in life than sharing a bed with two gay guys.

In all honesty, mostly I'm just not in the mood. That and I don't like hot tubs at all. And, well, some of their friends are nice enough people, and others, I don't know.

Like, just last night, waiting in line for Pirates of the Caribbean, he introduced us to a friend that I hadn't met: "[name I've already forgotten], this is Don't Touch and Don't Touch," to which the friend replied "Come on, Brown, even I have standards!" proving that he was a bigger moron than he looked, for thinking he even had a chance.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rest in peace, grandma

Mom and dad arrived at my place for a snack on Friday night. Kathy called to say that she'd gotten me a ticket to see Pirates. Dad had some things to finish at work, so he took mom with him up to the school.

When they got there, there was an incident in one of the afterschool programs. A large autistic kid had walked into a class that he wasn't supposed to be in and began to disrupt it, throwing things around and being a nuissance. They located the mother and began to talk to her. She became very defensive, accusing the school administration and staff of discriminating against Asians (the kid was Korean) and the mentally challenged.

In the middle of this argument, my mom got a phone call, and then handed the phone to my father. He then announced that he wanted to continue the conversation with this woman some other time, because he had just learned that his mother had died.

Incensed that he had been so rude as to answer his phone in the middle of their conversation, she lit into him. He spent the next half hour writing an incident report about her child.

After that there was a second incident in the gym, which he also had to write up. It's unusual that there would be two on one day.

Dad isn't in very good shape, but he's also not in any shape to take time off work at the moment. With his new job he inherited a one big disorganized mess that really needs to be cleaned up. Soon.

Coffee break

IMG_4495_1There's a sudden loud, low rumbling outside which you could blame on a bike gang entering the parking lot, but really it's the sound of the ground beneath us breaking from its bonds and floating up into the sky. They'll stick a huge glass dome overtop of us and then we can all breathe and rebreathe the same stale air, just like in Waydowntown.

Some days I really do turn into Sadly-it's-Bradley. All I need is a bottle of marbles. I look around for inspirational epigrams on cardstock so that I can staple them to my chest, but in my office all they've got are warning posters.

Over the coffee machine: Do you know where your guests are?
By the water cooler: Curiosity killed the cat.
By the photocopier: Don't leave anything unattended.

Loose lips sink ships. We all have folding tent cards for our desks telling people that we're away and not to leave confidential information while we're gone. Keys and locking drawers, filing cabinets, shredders, safes. Everything's safe. I don't need to be told not to share people's personal information, because I have absoluetly no right or reason to, but evidently some people need to be reminded.

There's one thing, though, something that I can not begin to understand, and that is a peculiar office ritual, enshrined in legislation: the coffee break. Some people observe it religiously, to the point of being absolutely ridiculous.

One time last year a guy was showing me how to use one of the database programs on the computer, when all of a sudden, the little clock in the bottom corner of the monitor changed to 10:30 and he immediately jumped up mid-sentence, said "coffee break" and ran out. Nothing's wrong with that, really. He was entitled to that break, but it seemed so weird that he would get up and leave right in the middle of something he was explaining to me.

So it's come to the attention of the people that I work with that I do not take coffee breaks and they're horrified, thinking that perhaps I am young and not familiar with labour laws or something. I get reminded by up to four people per day that I am entitled to take breaks during work. But to tell the truth, I don't like interrupting my work to do 15 minutes of something completely unconstructive. I never have and probably never will. What exactly can be accomplished in 15 minutes away from your desk?

If I could, I'd probably skip taking a lunch break too. I don't mind eating at my desk while I'm working. But alas, the world is not perfect, and if I sit at my desk all day, my inner thighs start rubbing against each other and my pants get tight, so I have to be content with wolfing down my lunch at my desk and then putting in a good 6-8 km of walking at lunchtime.

But I shouldn't complain. I work with a lot of really nice people who do their best to watch out for me. It could be far worse.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Works for me.


How about I not post anything

and say I did?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


IMG_4639_1Mom and dad are home from their rockhounding trip this past weekend but I didn't get the chance to ask if the proprietor of their bed and breakfast was insane or not. It's just our luck that the host of every bed and breakfast we have ever stayed in has fit the following description:

- blonde
- middle-aged
- delusions of grandeur

The first had apparently been everywhere and done everything and had done it better before. She'd apparently organized the catering and hospitality for the Commonwealth Games and had also held a variety of really important sounding jobs in several countries doing really important sounding things and getting all sorts of acclaim, which would naturally explain why she was now the owner of a bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere, complaining about how difficult it was to break even.

Very few things escaped her commentary, because she was infinitely knowledgeable, and far more qualified to run everything than anyone else. But the thing she was most proud of, the thing she repeated several times over the course of the weekend was

wait for it...

She knew Stockwell Day! The Stockwell Day. Well, maybe not know. Actually she had only just met him, really.

Was I supposed to prostrate myself in front of her or something? I suppose I should have asked her if she had signed the petition to have a referendum on whether or not to change his name to Doris. I certainly did.

The other that stands out more or less fit the same description, except that she claimed often to have a master's degree, though in what I'm not sure. Watching Sex in the City? She kept claiming that she could be doing better than babysitting a bed and breakfast for the owners, but when asked, she said that she would probably be teaching yoga.

But once again, everything we did, she had done already and better. Eventually she figured out that we didn't care and left us so that she could surf lavalife instead.

Update: the proprietor of the place they stayed in this weekend wanted to put another couple in the room with them so they could all "keep each other company."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


IMG_5420_1I just finished When Eve Was Naked by Josef Svorecky today and the passage that got me most was one where he was rowing out on a lake and found what seemed to be a disgusting monster: a two-tailed fish, floating up at the surface of the water.

It seemed to be dead until he poked it and it began to swim. It was then that he realized that it wasn't one but two fishes of the same species. A larger one had attempted to swallow a smaller one, but had choked to death in the process and now the smaller fish was trapped partially inside and would undoubtedly die because of it.

Makes me think of how incredibly stupid people can be.

To commemorate the fact that I finished the book and also the fact that I was hungry, I made some pesto couscous, steamed asparagus and a nice piece of tuna that I seared on the outside and left nice and cold and rare on the inside, which as far as I'm concerned, is the only way to eat tuna.

I have to refrain from saying these things around my colleagues because it gets me a lot of weird looks. Just because we're starving students doesn't mean we have to eat crap. The way I see it is that I don't really spend money on anything other than rent so I may as well eat well. But maybe I'm just weird. Mom blames Chernobyl for that.

Monday, May 21, 2007

No air guitar.

no air guitar"Shuuuut uuuup! ... Oh hi mom!"

"Hi, are you at Erin's now?"


"Anything new since I last called you?"

"Yeah! We ate BUNNY PASTA!"

"Oh, but you didn't eat moose pasta?"

"No, but we made BUNNY PASTA!"


"So Erin and I are listening to a song about totem poles in some city in Norway."

"Oh, that's nice."

"Yeah, we're planning a trip to Norway so we can go see the Leprosy Museum and totem poles in some city."

"... Oh."


"Come on Du, we have to make this post longer."

"Or, you know, we could just make the picture smaller."

"But I don't like making the picture smaller."

"Or we could just make the picture smaller."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My mom's psychic

IMG_5543_1Alright, this is going to sound weird, but I've been doing this thing lately called turning off the computer and doing something else.

Strange, I know.

So, just what have I been doing? Drawing, reading books, long walks out in the forest, taking uninspired photos of stuff. That's about it.

I woke up this morning because I heard my phone ringing, but by the time I got to my desk to answer it, it had stopped. On it was a message from my mother: "So, I'm sure you're not answering because you're lying in bed and your phone's on your desk, but we're going to be leaving the service area pretty soon..."

Damn that woman's psychic. It's like she's known me from birth or something.

I really should take up keeping my phone in my room overnight. Today I gave a show to anyone who may or may not have been looking through my windows. Last time I jumped out of bed to run for the phone, I ended up with a sprained thumb and some nasty rugburn in some odd places because I happened to be buck naked at the time.

How is it that people can wear pyjamas anyways? They serve no purpose other than to get all twisted up and then choke you in the middle of the night.

Now, I have one particular reader who will undoubtedly email me and ask very politely if I can clarify the meaning of the idiom "buck naked" by sending a photo, because he is quite interested in improving his English. You know who you are, and you don't really need my help with this. Just google it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Dear madam,

We regret to inform you that your message could not be delivered. The intended recipient, J. Christ, is currently on long-term leave and will be out of the office for an unspecified period of time.

Your inquiry has been placed in queue and will be forwarded to Him upon His return. However, due to the large volume of mail we receive daily, it is unlikely you will receive a response until approximately 137 years after the Second Coming. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.

In the future, please refrain from using modern languages such as English in messages, as it puts added pressure on our translation department and slows down the process for all. Further inquiries should be made in Greek or Hebrew. We thank-you in advance for your compliance.

Should you require immediate assistance, feel free to contact any of the individuals listed on the attached sheet.

Kind regards,

J. Seraph
Out-of-Office Reply Agent
The desk of J. Christ

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ladybug ladybug

frickThe man beside me smells strongly of tobacco, that particular kind of tobacco that has an acrid odour that eats its way up into your nostrils. I don't know what he looks like.

In front of me, a girl and and her grandmother have dispensed with the amicable pretenses that had coloured their conversation while the friendly old lady had been sitting near them on the bus and have now begun nattering back and forth between them about which one was an idiot for losing grandma's sunglasses.

Grandma can't be much older than my mother, but her face is crisscrossed with wrinkles. Life in Maple Ridge seems to age women prematurely.

On my lap rests a beaten copy of The Bell Jar, out from the library. In the margins, someone has scrawled "why do you want to keep me alive?!?" and on the next page, "I want to DIE" and the bathos of it irritates me. I make a mental note to erase it before I take it back. Sylvia Plath is not postsecret, people.

My eyes float down past my knees, to where the harness aparatus for securing wheelchairs is lying crumpled under the seat of the girl and her grandmother.

"No, grandma! It's a ladybug!" But the granddaughter is too late. I look up to see the helpless creature crunch against the window under grandma's manicured finger before she flicks it to the floor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


IMG_5528_1These days it's all about humouring grandma. She wanted a diamond engagement ring, so Gaynell bought one for her. She wanted a salad with tomatoes on it, so Gaynell and Andrea brought one in to the hospital for her.

The only problem was that she didn't have her teeth in at the time, so they found them and placed them in her hand. She looked at them for a bit and then attempted to put them in upside down. She fumbled around with them for a while while Gaynell and Andrea tried to get her to turn them over.

Finally grandma had had enough frustration. She put her dentures on top of the salad and shouted "eat!" at them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The almighty rhubarb

IMG_5483_1Have I shown you the rhubarb yet?

I take that as a no. This is our rhubarb, then. We have three large patches of it, and one smaller patch. To give a bit of perspective, the flowery things at the top are taller than I am, but keep in mind, that's not really all that hard. It is a million times bigger and better than the crappy rhubarb you buy in the store.

In fact, this rhubarb won 3rd place at the Maple Ridge Fair. It would have won a better prize except that there was a typo in their promotional materials, so our entry ended up being cut and submitted early and was kind of wilted by the time the judges got to it. Next year we're totally taking first place.

The only problem is that I really don't like rhubarb much. It's really sour and you have to throw so much sugar in with it to make it edible. I hate adding sugar to things, and yet I have yet to find a recipe that involves not adding sugar to rhubarb, or pork, which also seems to be popular.

Not only that, I find that after eating rhubarb, I get this feeling inside my mouth as if all my teeth have been covered in a kind of fuzz. I get the same feeling from eating raw spinach, and the only way to get rid of it is to brush my teeth really well.

We met a man once that said that we could turn all our rhubarb into wine, but I'm both intrigued and disturbed by what that might possibly taste like, but who knows. Maybe alcoholic rhubarb is really good.

That being said, does anyone know of any good rhubarb recipes? Or, alternately, does anyone in the GVRD want some rhubarb?

Otherwise it's more rhubarb pancakes every Sunday.

Monday, May 14, 2007


IMG_5499_1For a period of time I'd reach out and then twin spectres of my hands would reach out past my fingers to destroy Midas-like everything I touched. I'd put out my hands to pet my cat, and there, in front of me, two additional hands would reach out, carefully cradle the back of her head in their fingers and then these hands would drive their thumbs deep into her eyes. She would scream in pain, but that sound would come later, like thunder, an afterthought.

And then, petting her head and listening to her purr, I'd become disturbed at the enormous potential in everything.

I remember seeing a show down at the Kits Showboat, before I was scheduled to perform. It was some kind of decorative martial arts. The dancer floated around the stage, her fans whirling, opening and closing like butterflies. The cheerful man announced that everything, if used right, could become a weapon. Anything. Even a fan. And with that her dance came to an end in a single violent motion. It was beautiful.

How does that make sense? There's no beauty in violence, only hurt.

I can hear someone outside right now. He has a rich, low, familiar sounding voice, the sort that you want to climb up and curl into. In a few clicks down the linoleum he'll be gone. That's always how it goes. I don't even know what he looks like.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No need to look like a skeleton

IMG_5507_1So mom and I went into Canadian Tire to go find some fuses for the car because the radio and the horn weren't working. Mom secretly knows exactly how that happened, but none of us are allowed to tell, so really, we don't know what happened, honest. It was an act of God.

We got stuck in line behind a young couple buying some sort of fancy, unnecessary car washing supplies and a cashier who had hair that looked a lot like hay from being dyed and bleached and straightened way too many times. The cashier picked up one of the items - a grey squeeze bottle - and while she was ringing it through, it began to leak all over her hand.

She then put it down and ran away, squealing that it was corrosive, but instead of running to the washroom to flush it off with water, she ran over to one of the other cashiers and found a piece of paper at the till to sort of wipe it off her hand.

We heard a lot of eew, god, it's corrosive I'm going to be, like, a skeleton or something from the cashiers, huddling over away from us. Finally a couple other cashiers came over to watch the bottle leak when it was picked up again for demonstration, and no one was quite able to figure out where exactly it was leaking from.

Finally, the other cashiers dispersed and then straw-for-hair finished ringing through the remaining items. I didn't quite see what happened next, but somehow a whole bunch of the offending liquid got spilled down the shirt of the girlfriend of the couple, as well as her hands. The response was "oh, uh, do you want something to clean that up with? the bathroom's over there..." and "do you want a different bottle? I think this one's broken..."

We moved to a different line.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


We went out to buy manure but the farm had no manure so we bought wine instead from a local farm. Actually, quite a bit of wine. But you know, got to support your local businesses.

Other than that, today was just a day for yardwork and avoiding people, something which I think I accomplished quite well.

Dad was cleaning up the garden shed and found two rat's nests. Fun.

I really don't have much else to say except that I have a particularly bad headache right now that includes a sharp pain in my neck as well as my left eye that is robbing me of my desire to put together a decent post.

I could post a million and a half pictures of the garden, I guess, but I'd rather take an entire week or so to bore you with that. Excited? Oh, I am.

For sures.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tintin rox my sox.

IMG_5454_1I am suddenly reminded of one more Belgian thing that I would add to Kunstemæcker's list. Exchange students.

Now, to the best of my knowledge our high school didn't do exchanges, because I certainly never heard anything about it, and if it had, I don't think it would have bothered with anyone from Europe anyways. Most of the foreign students at our school were from Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, and they come here to learn English, even though if you really wanted to be immersed in English you'd be better off in a place like Winnipeg.

Our school was large, but the International Baccalaureate students were kind of an insular group, because for the most part, a lot of them were too stuck up to associate with anyone else. That meant that rumours flew fast.

One day the girls were all atwitter because apparently we were getting some exchange students from Belgium soon and, by default, all men from Europe are handsome, refined, dress well and have sexy accents. Unlike the cretins we have here, European men are natural born lovers, listen well, enjoy watching plays, the ballet and fine wine, and are far more at home at art exhibits than at sporting events.

I wasn't all that excited, to tell the truth, but needless to say, I got swept up in a wave of "The Belgians! The Belgians! The Belgians!" as it flowed down the stairs to meet them.

What can I say about them? Well, they were Belgian. They spoke French. They kept to themselves. Their appearances were so unremarkable that I can't honestly remember what they looked like. I never saw or heard of them again.

And in all honesty, what if they were goregeous? Were they honestly going to swarm them and impress them with their incredible knowledge of Tintin?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You wouldn't get it.

IMG_5477_1Mom and I were standing out in the lobby of the theatre near my sister's dance teacher when a woman, obviously someone elses' mom walked by wearing a somewhat garish green tank top thing.

"Home sewing project," I said, once she was out of earshot.

"What is?" mom asked.

"That lady's tank top," I replied, "It's like McCalls EasySew or something. You bought a whole bunch of those patterns in the 90s when you decided that you were going to make your own clothes for work, I'm sure of it."

"Oh, that make in an evening stuff."

"Right," I shuffled a little closer and stared right into her eyes. "And that means she picked out the fabric herself."

Mom started to giggle, which made me laugh. The dance teacher, in a conversation with someone else, had missed the exchange and asked what the joke was, to which we replied that it didn't matter, nevermind, you wouldn't understand.

And then once she had gone back to her conversation, I fixed mom another stare. "I'm tempted to slap my knee and call myself hilarious," I said, and mom burst out laughing, which made me laugh. Which in turn made the dance teacher turn and ask us to repeat the joke.

But seriously, she wouldn't get it.

The puppet show

IMG_5476_1We each have our own talents:

Sunshine: the ability to throw a strike when you start to think that she really isn't all that good.

Sir Mixalot: the ability to hit all but the two pins in the right corner.

The Erin: bowling a perfect 50 point game every time or in colloquial language: suck.

But Chris? Chris can make the pins dance.

At this particular bowling alley, all the pins are attached to strings, so whenever you knock some down, the machine pulls them all up and replaces the ones you still need to hit. While they're being pulled up, they kind of swing through the air a little, and the movement reminded us of marionettes. Little did we know that we were in for a bit of a puppet show.

Chris knocked down a couple of pins and the machine lifted all of them up. They swung through the air a little, and then the machine put them down. But instead of coming down straight, all of the pins fell down immediately, and were pulled up again by the machine.

It happens sometimes. Nothing exciting. But then it did it again. And again. And again. We started to laugh hysterically.

Chris just stood there with his ball, waiting for it to stop. It happened again, and again and again. He came and sat down and laughed with us.

It must have done that for about 10 minutes of solid laughter when the monitor above us started flashing:


But when we looked, the pins wouldn't stop dancing, and then all of a sudden two legs appeared in the middle of the show.


We wondered if extra points would be awarded for taking out the legs. Then all of a sudden, they were gone, and the lane worked properly.

Burnt bridges

IMG_5486_1I've been invited to a wedding and after careful consideration, I don't think I'm going to bother going.

The fact is that looking at my own personal relationship with this person, it's kind of hard to call us friends. Since we graduated, I have seen her twice, and before that we didn't spend much time together anyways. In fact, even as early as middle school I got the impression that if she had a choice, she would have rather not spend any time with me at all and only really associated with me because we had the same friends.

I've never been completely "normal" in any sense of the word. I've always dressed differently, listened to different music, had different and occasionally unorthodox tastes and aspirations. She was the sort of person to always ridicule people for that. It was done in a friendly sort of way, but it was nevertheless ridicule. It made her uncomfortable when people were different and unusual, so she put them down instead. I've always had the sense that she felt embarassed to be around me because I was so different.

So enter boyfriend, around grade 8ish. Overnight boyfriend became her entire social life. Every afternoon and weekend was spent with him and every conversation was about him. I can understand that happening at the start of a relationship, but in the subsequent years, it didn't stop. If anything, it got worse. She converted to his religion and then every waking hour not spent with him was spent at his church.

Personally I don't like boyfriend, for reasons which I can't put my finger on. I mean, he's a pretty honest person with strong values and he seems pretty nice to her and to others, but with that relationship came the out and out rejection of practically every other person in her life, including her own family. When people like me started to suggest that maybe it wasn't really all that good an idea to be spending so much time with him and neglecting all her other friends we'd get brushed off or ignored or ridiculed because our opinions were not valid in any way. So we kept inviting her to things knowing full well she'd find an excuse to not come.

Meanwhile I'd ended up in a film class with her in high school and we were in the same project groups together. When we sat around trying to decide what we wanted to do for projects, she was usually the one vetoing my ideas. In fact, any time anyone came up with anything that was kind of creative or unique, she did her best to shoot it down, while at the same time, not coming up with any better ideas. It's not fun to work under those conditions.

It wasn't much different when we were on a field trip to Italy. I would suggest doing or seeing something and she'd veto. I am of the opinion that if you're in a foreign country and you won't be back soon, if ever, then you should try to go and do and experience as many things as possible. She was of the opinion that one should sit inside the hotel room for as long as possible, and since we weren't supposed to go out alone, that's where I ended up spending my evenings in Italy.

So since high school I haven't seen her much. It's not through lack of trying. It's just that she won't come to anything we invite her to, and for the most part, she won't invite many of us to anything she's doing either. Not that she ever does much. Watches tv, uses the computer, sits around doing nothing.

Enter baby, who was born about a year ago. Baby at the same time represented one more reason why she couldn't do anything with any of us, but presented an opportunity as well. We offered to help out with babysitting and things if she needed it, all she had to do was call. She never did, of course. She preferred to sit around at home all day and blog about how she was so depressed and felt shut in and like she wasn't getting any help with anything and et cetera ad nauseum.

So, for her birthday in November, being the suckers we are, we all pitched in and bought her a gift certificate to a nice restaurant and offered to provide some free babysitting so that she and the boyfriend could have a nice night out, the first nice night out for them in at least a year. Once again the offer was refused, because "she didn't feel comfortable leaving him with any of us."

The question is when do you give up and stop trying? The moment she told us she didn't trust us with her child is the moment we did. In hindsight, we should have done it earlier, because that way we probably wouldn't have been as angry and upset about it.

So now all of a sudden we're all invited to the wedding this summer. It's the first thing she's invited me to since her 14th birthday party, and I get the impression that boyfriend has a lot of friends and family, and her side of the church is looking pretty pathetic in comparison. Otherwise why invite me? My presence alone will probably embarass her.

The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to go. I stewed about this all afternoon and when it was mentioned over post-bowling deserts it exploded into some pretty angry monologues because it seems that pretty much everyone feels the same way about it, so I feel better now, knowing that I'm not alone.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


True story: the first time I saw this video I was in a dentist's chair.

Routine checkup. Well, it was sort of our first checkup. We went to our dentist's office one day to find that it wasn't there anymore and no one had told us it was moving or shutting down.

So we went to another dentist, and they did all the obligatory first-visit stuff: the interview, the questionaire checklist, the myriad of x-rays, the obligatory "you're missing such-and-such teeth on your bottom set..." "yes, I know, they were taken out when I was 11..." "why the hell would they take those teeth out? no one ever removes those teeth..."

I clearly remember them taking out those teeth and wishing that they had injected some anaesthetic into my neck too, because they had damn good roots on them and they were not coming out thankyouverymuch and it was taking all of the neck strength I had to keep my head down. The dentist finally had to call in an assistant to hold my head down so that she could yank it out.

I think the whole ordeal had everyone in the room thinking that it was probably a mistake to take out those particular teeth, but you can't just half pull out a tooth. Once you've started you pretty much have to finish it, and once you've pulled out one, you may as well pull out another for good measure.

Besides, dentists never ever make mistakes, unless they are the kind of mistakes that result in you needing a crown or an extra root canal or some other form of maxing out your dental plan for that year...

I digress.

My mom was at the same office, in another chair, sometime after the obligatory first visit stuff and was having her teeth cleaned by a hygenist. This usually doesn't take all that long because mom doesn't actually have many real teeth so there's not a lot to clean.

The hygenist was a middle-aged woman who seemed to take twice as long to do things as any normal person would/could do them. She explained to mom that she had been out of the workforce for a while and was just coming back part-time, like 6 or 8 hours per week. Knowing how anti-social my mother is, none of this information was actually asked for, and in reality, it must have been quite irritating, because a dentist's chair is the absolute last place in the world you would want to be having a long, drawn out conversation of pleasantries with someone you're already sure you don't like.

From then on, the conversation went something like:

"Congratulations, you have no cavities. Do you want the flossing demonstration?"


"I could do the flossing demonstration for you."

"I'd rather not, thank you. I've had it before."

"If you don't floss properly you'll get cavities."

"I floss every day and I don't have cavities."

"I can see on your x-ray that you must floss very well."


"Can I give you the flossing demonstration?"

"Give me the fucking flossing demonstration."

Mom was in the chair for over an hour and a half for a routine cleaning. One dentist down, so many more to go...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Garden paparazzi

the little white spider

I was taking pictures of the apple blossoms in the back yard when I found this little white spider.


I tried to take its picture but it kept running away. It told me that it doesn't like the paparazzi and would rather live a normal, private life.


Eventually I gave up chasing it around the tree because focusing on a little spider like that is well beyond the capability of my lens and how many pictures can you take of a white spider anyways? I mean, it's not like his name is Boris or anything.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This post brought to you by the letter C

IMG_5462_1Carla is her name.

Cinco de Mayo is her birthday.

Chinese food was what was for dinner. Chinese food at Hon's. We had to go because they're having a big 35th anniversary celebration and Du would have murdered us if we hadn't have gone, because the more times you go, the more chances you have to win a big prize. We don't know what the prize is, but apparently it's worth $18,000 or something, and can not be exchanged for money. It doesn't matter what it is. We're going to win it.

Cool, eh? Well, what's even cooler is that for this month only, if you spend more than $35 for dinner, you'll get a free gift, which is a pretty awesome Hon's keychain, which now belongs to my mom because it's her birthday. Only the best for my mom.

Okay, keychain isn't a C word like the rest of everything, but if it was in classical Latin, it would be, because C's sound like K's. But not in the Pope's Latin, where C's sound like CH. I'm not going to begin contemplating how to spell "keychain" in Latin.

I made her some cupcakes which are awesome times infinity because they were made with love by yours truly, and I'd post a picture of them except that my camera battery is dead and the charger is at my apartment and I'm not there.

We also got her some new accessories for her car, including a bobble hip hula girl, because honestly, that car was begging for it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Scene 343: Erin has another conversation with herself.


INT - an oddly-shaped open concept apartment. It is cluttered, but not overly messy with walls that are that awful shade of offwhite that all rental properties seem to have.

ERIN is sitting at her desk, typing on a laptop.

d00d, u r teh suk.

What's with the leetspeak all of a sudden?

Dunno, somehow self flagellation is cooler when you spell it wrong.

Self flagellation for what?

Well these days your blog sucks ass. It's beyond boring. Reading it is like driving nails into my eyes, honestly.

That bad, eh?

Yep. You've been doing all this depressing introspection lately, talking about your feelings and your family and personal stuff and gender issues and social anxiety and semiotics and honestly, no one cares! No one wants to know that shit! You could empty your heart out and no one would read it because it's boring.

Not to mention, the quality of your writing has gone downhill lately and so has your photography.

What do you suggest I do then?

I don't know, flash your tits or doff yourself or something.

I've got a better idea. If I'm boring, I may as well be the best boring blogger I can be. I'll own it. No one on the internet will be able to come close to how boring I can be.

How are you going to do that?

I'm going to post multiple backlit and poorly-focused pictures of my houseplants.

Sounds like a plan.



Thursday, May 03, 2007

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

IMG_5437_1I zipped down to the library, which is to say that I walked twenty minutes in each direction in the rain, in the blistering sun, uphill both ways in my underwear because I figure I can use the exercise and I'm too cheap to pay for bus fare since my Upass ran out three days ago.

Besides, I'd have to walk twenty-five minutes to get to the nearest ATM machine that won't charge me any money for using it in order to get a twenty that I would have to walk somewhere else to break. It's better just to walk to the library.

It's funny, at the library there were two people I knew from high school in the stacks, and I did my absolute best to avoid them even though that's kind of a stupid thing to do. I mean, we went to school together, and were on good terms with each other and they're even my facebook friends. Oh well. That's the thing with libraries. They make me kind of paranoid and I'd rather just be left alone with the books.

I ended up with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer, which seems to me, was recommended by Jonathon (but not the same Jonathon) a while ago. At the rate I'm reading, I will have it done by Saturday or Sunday. I'm not sure because I get less reading done over the weekend.

That being said Foer has the wonderful ability of being able to deal with really solemn and heavy subjects with a lot of humour, while at the same time, not affording them any disrespect either. It's a tough thing to do. In this case, Oskar Schell, 9, has a key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Centre, and he is trying to find the lock it fits into. All the while, he is refusing to wear anything other than white, writing letters to Stephen Hawking, inventing things like birdseed jackets and detatchable pockets and inviting himself into the homes of strangers.

I'm doing a poor job of describing this. Just go read the book. It's good so far. Oh, and it has pictures.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


IMG_5439_1Today I'm thinking about what Stuart Hall said about the dominant reading and the negotiated reading and all that stuff because there's never just one way of interpreting things, no matter how much someone makes an effort to make it that way.

We tested this out at school. We all watched the same news report and then everyone had to say what they got out of it, what the message was, and though most people said more or less the same thing, we came up with eight distinct messages, some at odds with each other.

But they're not all the same. There's usually one 'correct' one, one particular way of reading or seeing things that the creators had in mind when they were creating the thing. In order to understand that particular reading, you often have to position yourself as a member of the audience that the thing was intended for, which usually isn't all that hard, especially if you're white and middle class.

If you have different values or you don't see yourself included with the audience in some way it can be harder. If for some reason the message "you are the kind of person this message was intended for, so naturally you agree with what I'm saying," doesn't resonate with you, you can either reject it outright or negotiate with it, accepting it in part and coming to your own conclusions.

I don't really need to explain it, because we've all been there. Sometimes you read things and they resonate with you and you agree wholeheartedly with what's being said and sometimes you read something and you disagree with every fibre of your being. Much of the time you may feel something in the middle.

What the hell am I doing talking about this anyways? I guess because I'm reading a book right now called The Time Traveller's Wife that my mom lent to me and it's about (surprise surprise) a guy who travels through time and is in love with and eventually marries a girl. Not the sort of thing I would normally read, but my mom lent it to me and she's known to have good taste in literature, and from the first page it's a pretty engaging book.

Well, engaging up until the time when they get married and there's a long boring section about preparing for the wedding, which is followed by a hundred pages in which they have a lot of trouble trying to conceive. If I was a normal girl, it would be touching and heartbreaking and I would feel their pain and longing but I'm not so it's boring.

And I know that it's me and not the book, because the writing hasn't changed and the characters haven't changed and it's the same book and the same story. It's just that I'm supposed to read it in a particular way and I can't bring myself to do that. Maybe my brain's just wired wrong.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

He's in a good mood for once.

IMG_5441_1My dad started a new job yesterday and he's pretty excited about it because he had been working in the same position for 17 years and hadn't gotten a raise in 12. If you think of the amount of inflation there has been in the past ten or fifteen years, that's absolutely insane, but that's the way that pay scales work. You get to the top and then there's nowhere to go.

It doesn't matter so much though, because in that time my mom's wages have doubled, and it's really her that supports everyone anyways. That's how it's always been. That's why she gets the most presents at Christmas.

Still, it's nice to see my dad in a good mood for a change. It's a rare thing these days because it seems that the only respite I get from his criticism is when he turns around to criticize Du instead. It has to be one or the other. He can't just leave it all alone.

But I think he was feeling kind of stagnant in his job. He's the special counsellor at school that deals with pregnancies, drugs, alcohol, suicides, violence and other behaviour issues. The fact is that as much as you try, you can't save everyone and for every one success, there are so many failures. I think he was getting kind of disillusioned by that. He's getting older and the kids are just staying the same.

I feel boring today. I am also incapable of focusing my camera today and it's incapable of autofocusing. This is not a good combination.