29 September, 2011

isn't it romantic?

september first marked our tenth wedding anniversary. being us, we talked for ever about doing something Big, something Special, something Romantic and then promptly failed to plan anything at all. when the long weekend crept up we decided to drive to the kootenays because we'd never been and it seemed like a reasonable drive with the good rewards of mountains, beaches, hot springs in a cave and orchards dripping with fruit, not to mention a winery or two.

we packed up the volvo beast, intending to camp within its spacious swedish interior and headed off at the crack of dawn... ok, i was ready to go at the crack of dawn but mister monkey is made of softer stuff and so we left the city limits a smallish while before noon. the drive was filled with gorgeousness of all kinds - there were rolling foothills, rolling clouds, rolling grasses and other things that were rolling. overall, it as nice.

having had a late start, we did not reach our intended destination but had to find a campground on the way. it was a small, family-run operation and the woman who took our money had a strong italian accent. bingo, we thought. surely here, in the middle of nowhere, the gods were going to reward us with an anniversary dinner as supreme as it is unexpected. right? wrong, motherfuckers. you want minestrone of dry beans and flaccid overcooked pasta, thickened by time into a glutinous solidity? i know just the place! how about a caesar salad drowning in store-bought dressing sprinkled liberally with desiccated corporate croutons? ditto! luckily the wine was both cheap and good, so that's that. let's never mention this again.

and so, having washed our dirty bits and gotten into the belly of the volvo beast, we got ready to slumber. and that's when the adventure truly began:

mr. monkey, fearing the dextrous and eternally greedy paws of the kootenay bears, decided to lock the car. suddenly, and for no apparent reason, i decided to get a little more air and opened the door. this set off the alarm - you know, lights flashing, clamourous siren shattering the crystalline mountain silence, whoop whoop whoop whoop! mr. monkey jumps out of the vehicle in his underoos, runs to the front seat and attempts to put the key in the ignition. alas, he cannot. the ignition is blocked and the volvo beast continues its howling. with shaking hands, mr. monkey throws me the manual and, with equally shaking hands, i attempt to find something, anything, about the alarm system. i fail.

suddenly, it stops. 

the silence is a thing of glory, beauty and much relief. 

wilted with exhaustion and nerves, mr. monkey gets out of the car.

the alarm starts again with a vengeance. whoop whoop whoop whoop! lights flashing! siren blaring! our neighbours' hate is palpable. my mortification deep, dark and sticky. my hatred for the volvo beast complete. 

mr. monkey (still in nothing but his underoos, augmented now by a headlamp) desperately pops open the hood and starts to violently pull cables out of the machinery of noise and eventually succeeds. 

at nearly the same moment, with my husband kneeling nearly naked in mud and pine needles, i finally find the manual's solution to our woes: put the key into the driver's door. the end. 

mister monkey crawls into the nearby stream to wash his soil-encrusted limbs and eventually comes to bed. we decide to brave the bears and sleep with the doors unlocked. the rest of the night is uneventful but when we leave the campground in the morning, we carefully avoid the eyes of our camp-mates.

so yeah, the whole romance thing? we're not so good at it. however, the next night, at our intended campground, we have a lovely dinner of things roasted on the fire, a candle blazing away in a holder fashioned out of a beer can, a bottle of a carefully hoarded and utterly incredible '98 shiraz salving our psychological wounds under a sky thick with stars and it is perfect.

25 September, 2011

escalating violence

i used to get endlessly frustrated with edmonton's crowds for not being able to grasp the very simple concept that places like chicago and vancouver have down pat - on an escalator, you stand on the right and walk on the left. the end. not that hard a concept to grasp, but i suppose we're only now becoming a big big city (for years we were a small big city) and don't have all that crowd management thing internalised yet.

then a week or so ago i was in toronto and came to the shocking realisation that toronto, despite being a very big big city, has no clue about escalator etiquette.

yes, in the context of the economic melt-down of the EU, the looming collapse of the US, not to mention all that africa and the middle east have on offer as far as disasters, human rights violations and tyranny, this may not be much, but it's my blog and i can write about those little things if i want to.

so, where do you stand on the escalator?

24 September, 2011

lesbian dip

although the majority of the food i had made for book club remained untouched ("oh what a dainty bunch we are!"), one menu item was eaten into utter oblivion: lesbian dip. oh yes, let me tell you, lesbian dip is DEEElicious! it is actually a greek dip that comprises beets, walnuts, garlic, olive oil and breadcrumbs, but because the recipe was given to me by one of a bunch of neat-o academic feminist studies lesbians, it shall forever be known as lesbian dip. yum!

and then a unicorn flew out of my ass and shat sparkles upon the land

last night i hosted book club. although the night was mainly good, the end result was several levels of anger. anger because the food i spent two days preparing was barely picked at, including a brown butter sour cherry tart that was quite lovely, if i do say so myself. anger, because two people thought that one of the awesomest books ever written was... too long. and finally, anger because i discovered that the cult of positivity is alive and well and trying to convert me. and i bloody hate that.

what is the cult of positivity, you ask? well, it is but one of the symptoms of western civilisation's malaise: that utterly ridiculous belief that Things Have A Meaning. like fuck they do. the acolytes of the cult of positivity also believe that Everything Happens For A Reason and that Each One Of Us Has A Path. what i say to this, is give me a goddamn break. things often have no meaning. life is random. shit happens and, if we are really good at this sort of thing, we can try to make a reason out of it. we wander mapless and if there is a path, it is one made by us, not some random sky-fairy. and please, for the love of the god in whom i most emphatically fail to believe, do not tell me that an 8 year old's aggressive leukaemia diagnosis is some sort of a learning path for either her or her parents. if i have to believe in god, then a god who would let this happen just to Make Us Stronger And Better People is a complete asshole and can go to hell.

my book club ladies are nice and intelligent and interesting to talk to, but increasingly i see that they are not really my people. they tell me that i need to read books that are uplifting. books, by the way, in which i shall have to (i quote) "ignore dangling participles" and shush my inner grammarian. well, if something is worth saying, i believe it is worth saying well. if i have to drown in swooning ellipses and misguided pseudo-poeticisms, then the message becomes irrelevant. besides which, i find that most of these so called uplifting books are produced for (and by) people severely lacking in imagination - people who make up the bulk of western civilisation and are willing to vote for sarah palin and her ilk.

we are a civilisation that eschews instilling a work ethic in its youth, focusing instead on an ethereal and largely baseless self esteem (i know you've hear me rant on this here topic before). we change hans christian andersen's lovely but tragic tales and turn the little mermaid into a feisty red-head in a mollusk bikini who bloody well lives happily ever after just so that our children will never have to face one moment of ugliness and truth. we make cancer patients feel guilty if they aren't able to muster up a cheerful demeanour in the face of a truly horrific diagnosis ("oh! she's going to do great! she's so positive!" as if that has anything to do with it!*). we mass produce ridiculous literature (and i mean it with a small tiny little "l" much like the literature that jehovah's witnesses drop off at your house) like "the secret" and "celestine prophecy" and other such poorly written drivel that teaches Truths to sheep unable to muster up one single solitary drop of originality. we have achieved logic-defying feats of linguistic prestidigitation just so that we never have to call a spade a spade, because that would hurt its feelings.  and on and on and on...

now i know that when i write like this, i make myself fairly open to accusations of cynicism, bitterness and excessive anger, but you see, i think my way is freeing: things are the way they are, i need to be the best that i can be in the face of this (and boy, do i fail spectacularly), i need to sift the good from the bad and shape it into meaning myself, and if i fail, i need to take the responsibility squarely onto my own shoulders and not blame society, my low self esteem or worse, some ridiculous deity for trying to teach me something that if i have an ounce of imagination, i can figure out for myself.

now all anger aside, i happen to believe that a healthy dose of cynicism is not a bad thing. there's nothing wrong with looking at the world and seeing it as it is, instead of visualising unicorns in the hope that they come flying out of your ass - all the power of positive thinking will not change the fabric of the universe. oh sure, let's hope and dream and all that other fluffy stuff, because it is important, but it is ok to say that there are no unicorns, no matter how mean it may sound.

and that's that.

*if you say it does - well, positivity is, i'm sure, easier to live within than the alternative, but studies by reputable organisations have repeatedly debunked the feel-good-means-better-survival-odds myth, but tend not to get published because they aren't very nice.

23 September, 2011


when you find yourself having a peppy conversation with the furniture, that might be the moment to reconsider the place caffeine has in your life. just sayin'.