Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Confounded by love, Vila resorts to astrology

Venus Square Saturn: Perhaps your most significant lessons will be learned in relationships with others.

Venus Square Saturn: You have difficulty expressing your feelings to the people you love, so they may pass through your life without ever knowing how you feel about them.

Moon Trine Venus: Your emotional satisfaction is derived from relationships that are honest and sincere.

Cancer Rising: When you encounter new people, you are friendly enough, but you won't talk about your inner feelings until you get to know them quite well. When you feel hurt, you withdraw into yourself and avoid others.

Moon Square Uranus: Your love relationships will be much freer than usual, because you do not want to be emotionally tied to anyone more than you have to be.

Uranus Square Ascendant: You are not likely to seek a lasting partnership unless it is by agreement rather than by contract.

Mars Trine Uranus: In your romantic affairs, you are impulsive and restless. It goes without saying that you have strong sexual needs.

Mars in the Eighth House: Sexual life is of the utmost importance in your existence.

Neptune in the Fifth House: Your love nature is somewhat restless, impressionable, anxious, and most of the time subjected to dualistic influences. You are not inclined to undergo ordinary love attachments.

Sun Trine Moon: Your sincerity and honesty make you attractive to both sexes.

Moon Square Pluto: You want to enjoy the pleasures of love without having any limitations imposed on you.

Moon Square Pluto: You tend to be a loner, but when you do relate to others you often want to do so intensely.

Jupiter Opposition Saturn: This opposition indicates that you fluctuate between knowing what you are worth to having grave doubts of your value.

Moon Trine Mercury: You are always trying to express your emotions and inner, personal feelings to others, because it is very important to you that people really understand you.

Uranus in Libra: You deal with relationships differently from others.

Mercury in the Third House: You will find it easy to attract a suitable mate to share your life, insisting only that s/he be as eager as you are to grow and develop.

Moon Square Uranus: You have a strong need to have experiences that are very unusual, so you are attracted to anything new and different.

Mars Trine Uranus: You are likely to be very independent, and you need to be given great freedom to determine your own destiny. Other people will like you for your daring, although they may sometimes question your good sense.

Jupiter in the Fifth House: This is one of the best positions of Jupiter as it promises a well-rounded, expansive and gratifying love life.

Moon Opposition Ascendant: You are always looking for emotional support from someone else and, if you are really feeling depressed, protection from the difficulties of the world.

Moon in Capricorn: You are somewhat uncomfortable with your feelings. They almost seem out of place inside you, a source of difficulty instead of pleasure.

Moon Opposition Ascendant: You don't enjoy knowing someone only casually; you want to know everything about the people you are close to.

Moon Trine Venus: Your emotions are rich and beautiful, and you express them to others so that people like you for what you really are.

Moon Trine Mercury: You may have some emotional anxieties, but you are completely aware of them.

Sun Conjunct Mercury: You have a good mind, and you enjoy talking with people. A good conversation means more to you than many other things.

Astrological information provided by Astrodienst

Monday, November 28, 2005

Reminded

Ada ran into my ex yesterday. When she called to tell me about the encounter, I noted that we haven’t spoken in two and a half years, then tried not to think about it.

Later that evening, Ada and I went to a reading at Esperanza. I watched as two exes, now living in different cities, crossed the room to greet each other. Their kiss was polite, but when he touched her arm, gently, I could see that he cared for her, even though it is impossible.

After the reading, Ada and I ran into James at the Café. Ada and James are exes, and I listened as they talked, catching up on birthdays and mutual friends and the fate of the apartment they used to share. They even flirted a little, which is a kind of remembering.

After James went home, I thought about Phil, and how after he left, it was like we had never known each other at all. This is, I realize, the cut that won’t heal: that I loved someone for a long time but left no mark.

Lying in bed, tired but not sleeping, I knew in my bones that I have been afraid of love ever since. Not because it might end--really, it is a small miracle when it doesn’t--but because it might, in retrospect, mean nothing.

Then, I dreamt that I had phenomenally hot sex with someone I hardly know, and felt better.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

On the Metroblog

Yes, it is most definitely time...

Other people's stuff

Tonight's theme is Damn Fucking Funny, which all of the following bloggers are.

First up, we have Septima, who's just telling it like it is, honey.

Next, we have Feral Mom, who I think I have to get drunk with someday.

Finally, we have Bob, who just happens to be a Canadian Blog Awards nominee. Vote early, vote often, vote Bob!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A better day

Today, I spent eleven uninterrupted hours sleeping.

(Yawns.)

That's fair, isn't it?

Also, happy birthday to Ada, whose party I am now late for.

Record

Today, I spent eleven uninterrupted hours in meetings.

(Blinks.)

That's all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Moving day

Today, I hired myself some movers for a special assignment. When the two men arrived at my apartment, pumped for heavy lifting, I informed them of their task.

“See that paradigm over there?” I said, pointing toward the living room. “It’s been there forever and, frankly, I’m sick to death of looking at it. Would you please move it someplace else?”

“Uh...” the marginally more handsome of the movers ventured. “So where do you want it, lady?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care,” I replied, more brusquely than I had intended. “Just put it somewhere else!”

Directed thus, the movers picked up the paradigm, groaning with effort, and carried it into the kitchen.

“Uh, is this good?” the less handsome one inquired, wincing slightly.

“Yes,” I said. “That will do just fine.” Instantly, the paradigm dropped to the floor with a loud thud, permanently scuffing the linoleum. Their work done, the men scratched themselves and ambled away.

Inspecting the shifted paradigm, I felt a palpable sense of relief. Nothing else in the apartment had changed, and yet, its contents looked suddenly different. The kitchen table seemed less cluttered, the sofa less worn, the sink less full. In fact, the whole apartment appeared brighter, as though someone had washed all of its windows without my noticing.

“Maybe,” I thought to myself, “it’s okay to hope for things again?”

Smiling, I went to get myself a beer, whereupon I discovered that the paradigm was blocking the refrigerator door. Undeterred, I poured myself a glass of water and started a things-to-do list.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bonne fête!

Happy birthday to Marie-Marcelle, who is, I trust, drinking her first pint of Guinness and unwrapping one of these.

Have a good one, sweetie...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

416

My brother called tonight. When I asked him what was new, he said that he had been in hospital again.

He told me it felt like he was having seizures in his brain, so he admitted himself to St. Joseph’s. Now, he is being treated as an outpatient, and takes medication twice a day.

It is helping. He is calmer, clearer. He doesn’t shout when he speaks, and he responds when spoken to. At moments, he sounds like my brother.

This is how it was after the first break, when Phil and I went home for Christmas. He seemed well, even joking a little, and I thought everything would be okay.

It wasn’t, of course. He stopped taking his medication and was insane for three years. While he was gone, my father left, and then Phil did too. Our family disintegrated as he stalked his city, insensible and alone.

I am afraid to hope for this, or for anything at all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Build it and they shall come

The hell with academia--I'm going into the stud farm business!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Eight things about insomnia

1. It’s extraordinarily quiet.
2. Cats like it.
3. The phone doesn’t ring.
4. It’s better with cable.
5. You find remarkable things on the internet.
6. You always get enough alone time.
7. It is a space to write in.
8. Tomorrow feels a million miles away.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dear Peter Murphy,

Thank you for the wonderful show tonight. Your band was in exceedingly fine form, and, happily, the sound was excellent as well. I was particularly impressed with the condition of your voice, which has become richer with age, and with the skill of your instrumentalists. Surely, you know that Daniel Ash is a breathtakingly innovative guitarist, and that Kevin Haskins and David J comprise the best rhythm section in the post-punk business. Such a grand noise for a modest three-piece! Bravo!

I must also commend you on how well you’re keeping. Certainly, you are all older, and in your case, balder, but these are the ravages of time to which we all must eventually submit. Nevertheless, I applaud Ash for his stubborn trashiness—how lovely to see that he is still a tart after all these years!—and J for his enviable posture and quite impeccable sense of style.

Still, while I enjoyed your set immensely, I am troubled by the lack of showmanship that you in particular demonstrated tonight. Where was the kinetic force of your younger years, which once animated every inch of your frame? Where were the flailing limbs, the defiant stare, the barely-repressed violence? For God’s sake, where was the sex in your performance tonight? You barely lifted a finger, much less anything else!

Perhaps you have become arthritic in your old age, or prone to debilitating back spasms? Or, is it that your testosterone levels are falling, and that you have no sex left in you to display? Alternatively, have you forsaken the sins of the flesh for loftier spiritual concerns, which occasionally intruded into the lyrics of your songs? (It’s “cerebral fix,” dear, not “spiritual fix,” or is your memory failing as well?)

Whatever the reasons for your lacklustre performance, I must express my disappointment. I suppose that, like most singers, you think yourself an artist, but in fact your greatest charm as a frontman was that you always put out, and tonight you may as well have feigned a headache. At $41 a ticket, I expect rather more from you, as does your audience.

With love,
Vila

PS. "Stigmata Martyr" totally rocked!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Show

Tomorrow night, I will see Bauhaus. I bought the ticket as a birthday present to myself, and it has had pride of place on my fridge ever since. Soon, the waiting will be over, and I will, with luck, be close enough to the stage to smell the band’s sweat.

I almost didn’t buy the ticket, being out of the habit of going to see live shows, and thinking this one in particular obscenely expensive. But then, I remembered how much I loved Bauhaus back in the day, and I realized that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t go.

So, I’m going. Whee!

Listening to In the Flat Field tonight, it occurred to me that Bauhaus was never an especially cool band to like. They lacked the “cred” of peers like Joy Division or Pere Ubu, and they weren’t nearly as intellectually aloof as Wire. Still, I couldn’t have cared less, because the band was so brilliantly sexy and campy and fun.

This, I think, is what the music critics missed: that goth was, at least for a little while, camp. More to the point, it was a form of camp that women were allowed to participate in. How better to send up femininity—which is always, infuriatingly, expected—than by dolling up in torn fishnets, corset, and black lipstick, while your date for the evening sports his best waterproof eyeliner and feather boa? As every teenaged vampire knows, goth is equal opportunity drag, which is a rare treat for a girl. Especially one who likes a mean guitar riff.

Speaking of drag, I wonder what I’ll wear tomorrow? Hmm...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Strange

Walking home
the air is as warm
as a fever.

I unbutton my coat
noting
that nothing feels right this season.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Let’s Dance

I had every intention of going home last night, really I did. When I finished work, I planned to walk over to the library, return a couple of books, and continue on to the bus that would take me back to my sofa.

This is not what happened. Instead, I found myself, inexplicably, at the grad pub, where Setare plied me with an absurd number of free drinks before whisking me by taxi to the Jupiter Room.

Thanks, Setare. I owe you a debilitating hangover. On your period.

While at the club, I realized that I never want to hear another eighties song again as long as I live. Not “Tainted Love,” not “I’ll Melt With You,” and certainly not “99 Luftballons.” So sick am I of the eighties that I don’t even want to hear New Order, nor any song recorded by Prince during that decade.

Further, I don’t ever want to see gaggles of fresh-faced twenty-somethings dancing ironically to eighties songs again—or, more accurately, trying to dance to eighties songs, which have all the rhythmic urgency of a leaking faucet. Plop, plop. Shake that thing! Plop.

Therefore, I am declaring an emergency moratorium on eighties music, which will be strictly enforced until we reach the eighth decade of the current century. If, by that time, anyone still feels an insatiable need to dance ironically to INXS, then they will be free to do so. But not a minute before.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Particle theory

I’ve been forgetting lately to make things-to-do lists, which probably accounts for why I've been forgetting nearly everything else. Without lists, I am a soda can lost in the current, a plastic shopping bag blowing in the wind. Without lists, my life is transformed from a manageably interesting adventure to an unstoppable flood of entropy, against which I am as powerless as Kleenex.

The astrologers say: Your life is a constant striving to bring order out of chaos. They neglect to mention that I usually fail. Miserably.

In any case, I made a things-to-do list today. I also started taking my iron pills again, which seem already to be having an effect. It’s strange to think that our relationship to the world can be so strongly influenced by particles in our bloodstream; if the balance is even slightly off, we are suddenly full of fog, or nerves, or fear. The strangest part is that we can’t see the presence or absence of particles: imbalance is invisible, and, in most cases, we will never know that it is there.

At moments, I wonder if this is all we are—an aggregation of levels of things in various states of disequilibrium. I picture one of those thoroughly excessive mixing boards that coke-addled producers used in the 1970s, with their endless rows of knobs and faders. Track 16: serotonin. Track 43: hemoglobin. Track 71: estrogen. Track 27: electrolytes. Track 9: nicotine. How stoned do you have to be (that would be Track 32) to get the mix right?

This would seem to be the implication of much recent brain science, which assumes a causal relationship between particles (e.g. serotonin) and behaviour (e.g. depression). But brain researchers almost never describe the relationship in terms of a mix: they isolate one of the particles and attend to it exclusively, without regard for the others. In a sense, theirs is a binary view: serotonin levels are up or down, on or off, 1 or 0. You get Paxil, or you don’t. Done.

In my case, I have chronic iron anemia. To remedy the problem, I am prescribed iron pills, which ostensibly turn “on” my iron levels. However, iron cannot be properly absorbed without vitamin C, and vitamin C is known to be depleted by nicotine. (Unlike iron, there is no blood test for vitamin C, so it is impossible to know if one is deficient. That is, unless you have scurvy, in which case it’s fairly obvious.)

Nevertheless, all the doctors I have had have been well aware that I smoke, but none have ever suggested that I combine iron with vitamin C supplements to restore my iron levels, as I recently did. In other words, they’re thinking binary, and I’m thinking mix, which are entirely different approaches to the problem of balance.

The ultimate test of the mix hypothesis will be, once my iron levels have been restored, what happens when I stop taking iron supplements but continue to take vitamin C. Will my iron stores remain at normal levels, or will they once again drop precipitously? I’ll report my findings in about three months.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Out

Alas, the Martian Death Flu is fast retreating into the province of memory. A persistent cough is all that remains of the once formidable disease, but even so, I declined to go to work today. Instead, I folded up my fuzzy orange blanket, washed a small mountain of dishes, and went out to meet Atomic and the girls.

Atomic has returned, somewhat unexpectedly, from a long stint in Afghanistan. She will set off for a well-deserved European vacation in a few days time, but tonight, we listened with rapt attention as she told tale of her most recent adventures.

She began by declaring that the country that has been her home for the last six months is, in a word, fucked. “There is no hope for that place,” she said. “None.” This from a woman who has spent time in Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan, and who, even when drunk, is not prone to hyberbole.

She then proceeded to regale us with stories about the kidnapping of World Bank officials, tank battles fought between rival warlords over homosexual courtesans, and the various ways that foreign nationals conspire to circumvent their curfews. She also described smoking the best hashish on earth, which may have been the only thing that kept her sane.

We are, in any case, delighted that she has come back to us, and, no, she doesn’t know where Bin Laden is. I asked.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Civic duties

Today, I reluctantly shed my blue flannel pyjamas to vote in Montreal’s municipal election. I met James en route, and, in true grad student fashion, we arrived at the polling station with not more than five minutes to spare. (Aside to James: Have we become pathologically incapable of doing anything in a punctual manner?)

Afterwards, we had dinner at Le Jardin du Cari, and discussed our likely futile votes over what is indisputably the best lentil soup in the city. James remarked that he had never in his life voted for a successful political candidate; I noted that I had, exactly once. Then I told the story.

On September 6, 1990, just days after my nineteenth birthday, I helped to elect the New Democratic Party to political office in Ontario. It was a complete shock, as the NDP had never before won an election in the province, and no one in their right mind expected them to win that one, much less with a solid majority.

Watching the results come in with the radicals at Kathedral B, I felt like I was in a dream. I would soon be governed by card-carrying socialists, in a province that had been ruled by Conservatives for 42 of the preceding 47 years. It was like winning the lottery, only the money would be equitably distributed to all Ontarians, irrespective of their race, class, or sexual orientation.

We all know what happened next. Ontario suffered its worst economic decline since the Great Depression, and, instead of cutting social programs, Premier Bob Rae implemented the Social Contract, which required most government employees to take ten days off without pay each year. Public sector unions went completely apeshit and withdrew their political support for the NDP, both federally and provincially. Sadly, the party has never been the same since.

I happened to be working for Ontario’s public broadcaster at the time, and I remember well the fury that the “Rae Days” unleashed among my coworkers. Many, I am sure, voted for Mike Harris in the next election, who promptly slashed social programs and laid off thousands of government employees. Several hundred of my colleagues lost their jobs, and I wish I could ask them if they are still kicking themselves. If not, I would gladly do it for them.

In any case, I voted for Projet Montréal today, who are expected to receive approximately 4% of the total electoral vote. Then again, you just never know...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Uncle

Um, I’m better now, thanks. Not physically, mind you, as the Martian Death Flu has regrouped and unleashed a new assault, but I have not cried in public since Thursday, nor have I called anyone an asshole. Well, okay, maybe once, but only in passing.

When, sheepishly, I told Arit about my little scene the other night, she didn’t miss a beat. “So,” she said, “when are you getting your period?” Right. She also reminded me that other people sometimes lose it too, which I found immensely reassuring.

Having said this, I know that it wasn’t just PMS, which merely provided a window of opportunity. PMS is to denial what kryptonite is to Superman: everything you’ve been suppressing, rationalizing, or simply ignoring in the hopes it will go away suddenly pins you to the ground and kicks your sorry ass. And I got my ass kicked, but good.

I will probably return to this theme in future posts, but for the moment I am letting myself be sick, which is the closest I’ve come to playing hooky in a long time. In this sense, my blue flannel pyjamas feel like a rebel uniform, akin to Castro’s military fatigues, except comfier. I only wish that I had a pair of bunny slippers to complete the outfit.

Sincere thanks, by the way, to James, who went grocery shopping for me yesterday and came back with all the fixings for hot toddies. I owe you one.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Head

Today, after approximately seven hours of uninterrupted bullshit, with a cold, broke, and having eaten exactly one slice of lukewarm pizza, I lost it.

Of course I did. I should have been at home and in bed, nursing a pot of chamomile tea and leisurely working on a crossword puzzle. Instead, I spent the day dealing with unrepentant assholes who persist in thinking that I was put on this earth to tend to their overinflated egos.

So, while walking home after a late meeting with Ada, I lost it, right there in the middle of the street. The last thing I remember saying, or possibly shouting, was “I am so fucking sick of dealing with people...” Then I burst into tears.

After I regained my composure, I decided that it was time to call a strike vote. “All in favour?” I asked myself. “Aye,” I replied. Hence, as of midnight tonight, I am legally on strike, and will remain so until the following demands have been met:

  1. A living wage.
  2. Sick pay.
  3. A home-cooked meal.
  4. A massage.
  5. Good TV.
  6. Cabana boys.
  7. Cabana girls.
  8. Vacation time.
  9. A zero-tolerance policy on assholes.
  10. Never, ever having to think about gender difference again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sick

It started coming on late last night: a scratchy throat, a creeping ache, a sniffle or two. Allergies, I thought it was, or just a hint of a cold. Humouring myself, I took a capsule of echinacea and went straight to bed.

This morning—and with a ten-hour day looming ahead of me, it was, unfortunately, morning—I awoke to discover that I had contracted the Martian Death Flu. My symptoms: fever, chills, swollen glands, and a pervasive sense of malaise that is qualitatively different from my usual sense of malaise. Oogier.

As luck would have it, the first thing on my agenda was a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment, which I booked nearly a month ago. Humouring me, the doctor dutifully swabbed my throat and instructed me to rest for a few days. I thanked her for her trouble and pencilled in “rest” for Friday.

Predictably, my illness worsened while I was at work, and I soon realized that the likelihood that I would survive a late student council meeting was slim to non-existent. So, I did something that I almost never do. I bailed.

When I got home, I dove into my favourite pyjamas, retrieved my fuzzy orange blanket, and fired up the TV. For the next three hours, I stared catatonically into its gaping maw, pausing only long enough to order hot lemongrass soup from Chu Chai. (Mmm, Chu Chai...)

In any case, I was starting to feel pretty good for someone who had the Martian Death Flu. Then, I happened upon an MSNBC story, originally reported in The Washington Post, about this: covert CIA prison camps housed in former Soviet detention facilities in Eastern Europe.

These camps are known as “black sites,” which I can only assume is a loose translation of the Russian term, gulag. Although the Post declined to name the specific countries involved, Human Rights Watch alleges that they include Poland and Romania, which are, nominally, democracies.

Suddenly, I'm feeling oogy again. If I were well, I'd rant at great length about the state of the world, and, probably, about the mind-numbing hypocrisy of the Bush administration. But since I am not well, I am going to go lie down.