october 2001

click here for permalink October 28, 2001

I recently discovered that our cable provider now offers 40 more channels than they did a month ago. Naturally, my first reaction was delight and a sense of giddy urgency to devour every morsel of infotainment they had to offer. I was almost manic to discover what I'd been missing all this time - as it turns out, gems like the Golf Channel and something cryptically called "Men," which seems to consist of alternating episodes of "Cops" and documentaries on strippers.

Then there is the Fashion Channel and the MTV "preview," a teaser to Canadian cable consumers who have lived far too long with the Great North's answer to MTV, MuchMusic. Having seen and memorized the "preview" already, I should be eager to finally have MTV after five tortuous years without (before Vancouver, I resided in the caffiene-and-grunge capital of America), however, knowing that MTV, Court TV, Talk Show TV and BET are now only a click away makes me happy only in the abstract way that having a 24-hour convenience store within walking distance does for people with normal sleeping patterns... I just can't muster any excitement for that mindless entertainment I once craved as a kind of ADD sufferer's soothing white noise.

I'm sure that one day I'll be praising the gods that I have the Game Show Network at my fingertips (I've got just that kind of track record with my gods) but at the moment, it's all I can do to sit through a half-hour sitcom without being reminded, sometimes painfully, that my friends' lives are infinitely more fascinating, frustrating, frightening and just plain fucked-up than anything my 120 channels have to offer. Lest you think I'm bragging, I shall elaborate...

My friends and acquaintances have, of late, been every bit as dysfunctional, disturbed and demanding on my powers of perception as anything you'd see if you combined Ally McBeal, The Sopranos and your average "Behind the Music" - but without schedule or OFF button. It's exhausting... but rewarding, I guess. Unfortunately, my tolerance for unrewarded toil - and my patience for bearing witness to peoples mistakes as they try to evolve towards their individual visions of enlightenment - is being sorely tested.

click here for permalink October 11, 2001

The strangest thing... and that doesn't mean what it used to... happened to me the other day. It was actually a few weeks ago, around the 15th of September, but I keep forgetting to tell anyone it happened...

I was taking a bus for an hour and a half each way into the middle of Suburban Industrial hell so I could finally return this bloody $50 shower curtain that IKEA made us buy... and we didn't even need it. So, I was annoyed and it was already getting dark and you know how I feel about going outside the downtown area... if you don't, you can read about my last salvage mission to the junkyard. Really!

So, I'm on my way back from the Returns Counter at IKEA, still reeling from the multifaceted attack on the senses that IKEA employs to keep you away from the Return Counter at all costs. There are so many distractions! Hot dogs and cinnamon rolls are their last line of defense before you finally remember that you wanted to get money BACK from them, not dispense it like confetti at a TV wedding... I was so relieved to be getting out ahead, I forgot to be annoyed about the return line. Heh.

Afterwards, there I am, eating my $.69 hot dog(s), sitting at this desolate bus stop that serves, like, the IKEA and an on-ramp and I'm waiting for probably 45 minutes. I'm getting all irritable and bitchy with myself. Finally, the bus arrives and, naturally, it's just me and the bus driver. He smiles. I smile, solemnly imagining the depths of HIS boredom for a second, then recoiling into the comfort of my Jane magazine.

Just before the on-ramp, a man gets on the bus and I glance-up-glance-down, just like that, then back to reading, and I just barely hear him say something to the bus driver like, "good day, good health, happiness and god bless." And I catch the faintest impression of a beard, a turban and a tweed jacket with patches in the elbows, like a professor.

He takes a few steps and stops right in front of me and I look up, obviously, into his outstretched hand and most amazingly sweet, wise, friendly face in the world. I immediately lift my hand to grasp his and he nods happily, repeating the aforementioned. I'm smiling from ear to ear, if such a thing is possible, and nodding foolishly because white people do that when we feel like bowing and don't know how to.

I said "back atcha," or something much more appropriate but I was inwardly spazzing out and I couldn't stop! Weeks later, the thought of this joyful little man on the bus still makes me smile. And the best thing is, he knows exactly what he's doing and it's brilliant... he does that every day, I'll bet... think of it!

It's the other side of all this anger and fear and paranoia that we can't help ourselves from feeling because it's being fed to us like coals into a fire and it's not even the fault of those holding the shovels. It's just the way it is right now. But it's also like the guy on the bus... and it's just the coolest thing...

Except for maybe my friend Monica who came over yesterday when I was sick and pathetic and stuffed up and incoherent and really, really bad company. She brought me chicken soup, apple and orange-pineapple juice, NeoCitran and Tylenol Cold Sinus Ultra-something, homemade cookies, cough drops AND caramel candy. And then insisted on doing my dishes. I was beyond speechless... I practically swallowed my tongue.

That might've been because I can't feel it anymore, along with my head and throat and all the sore parts from yesterday! Monica sternly cautioned me (in vain) against thinking I'm better now, just because I FEEL better. I can't help it... you're supposed to feed a cold, after all... feed it Extra-Strength painkillers with ddecongestants anti-inflammatory agents, antibiotics, steroids and whatever it is that makes you hallucinate when you take too many Contac-C! Woohoo!

...I'm the king of the world! Or... at least now I can type without resting my head on the wall a foot to my left.

click here for permalink October 06, 2001

The good news is I woke up and got through an hour of TV before I started thinking about New York and the state of the world... the bad news is I have that awful, scratchy, sore throat feeling that always precedes a cold...

Well, I went for over a year without getting sick and was getting a little smug about it since I was sure it was related to the lack of stress in my life since my former ".com" employer laid everyone off. Of course, it probably had more to do with staying away from public transportation and office buildings without proper ventilation... and I'm sure the imminence of World War III is stress enough to get my immune system all fucked up.

So, I'm walking down Davie Street today, home to many a homeless panhandler, and I overhear one guy explaining to another guy the best way to ask for change ("If they say, 'Sorry,' tell them, 'That's okay,' or 'Don't be sorry.' They'll think, 'hey, that was really polite,' and next time, maybe they'll remember that and give you some change").

Yep, that's Canada for ya! We're so fucking polite, even our homeless will blow you away with their positive attitudes.

Speaking of positive attitudes... I have to go on a rant about my friend Brady, who I've known since we were eleven years old. He was, like me, horrified and shaken by recent events but, unlike me, he immediately started thinking of ways in which he could help make the world safer.

His company, Mercury Couriers, is based in Seattle and will soon become the first messenger service to train their couriers to be on call for emergency service, with the help of the fire department and the police department, among others.

In its fledgling state, Brady's idea is already striking a chord with members of the Seattle community. He called me today, out of breath with excitement, fresh from an Emergency Preparedness meeting where he was inundated with questions and contact information from people who were moved by his idea and are ready and eager to help him see it to fruition.

Still, I'll always think of him as the guy with whom I took an elevator to the top floor of the (then) tallest office building in Seattle so we could run down the stairs as fast as our eleven-year old legs would carry us, laughing until we couldn't breathe, crashing into each other on the landings as we leaped five steps at a time. But I'm happy to add to that... I've never been more proud of one of my peers and I can't wait to see his vision become a reality. Way to go, sweetheart!

Hey, I think that my Actifed has finally kicked in! Woohoo! This is good shit... now I'm off to buy some Haagen Dazs ice cream so that Mr. Pink and I can drown our sorrows (and, more importantly, our sore throats) before getting ready for the last cocktail party of the summer...

click here for permalink October 05, 2001

It's my own fault for watching CNN all morning, but I'm starting — yes, just now starting — to get a bad feeling about all this. Every time something crashes, spills or falls out of the sky...

We're gripped with anxiety, watching each carefully-delivered statement for clues to a terrorist link, or lack thereof. In the last 24 hours alone we've seen a passenger plane from Israel shot down, the Alaskan Pipeline being shot, then closed down... a man in Florida with an "isolated" case of Anthrax (the first case in Florida in 25 years)... stern warnings from Israel as they break cease-fire and dire warnings from the Washington Post that more attacks on American soil are inevitable.

Anyone watch Friends last night? Ross is the father of Rachel's baby... for those of you who didn't guess months ago... and still give a rat's ass.

click here for permalink October 03, 2001

Last Saturday night we went to the best party... It was, without a doubt, the most fun I've had outside this apartment in over a year. It went a long way towards renewing my faith in the human race...

That was a tall order, all things considered but I'm just happy to see that the club scene in Vancouver isn't in its death-throes, after all, as I had previously feared. You know you've got a good group vibe happening when you find yourself making eye contact with strangers.

So that was nice... on the other hand, there was a lot of tension in the air between people in my little sphere of friends. It's good, though... at least things are getting out in the open. I'm not typically a fan of confrontation — bickering and muttering under my breath are more my style — but I have a few triggers that ensure a violent response.

For one, I can be a fiercely loyal defender of my closest friends when they're under fire — luckily, in cases like this, backup is never too far behind. Once, when I was out with one of my best friends at a gay club in Seattle, I almost started a fight with an overdressed European gentleman (let's call him "Giorgio") who wouldn't take "I'm with this guy" for an answer.

Giorgio pointed at my friend (who was looking none-too-menacing in his overalls and tight white tank top) saying, "No, I don' theenk so... I theenk that he ees a faggot and I theenk you should come and dance wit' me." My friend didn't have the chance to become offended before I stepped between them and delivered a sharp poke to his shoulder with my finger.

In a voice loud enough to command the attention of everyone in the immediate vicinity, I said, "No, I don't think so! You don't come into a gay club chasing girls and using the f-word... now back off or..."

I didn't have to make up a threat because Giorgio was already backing away from me with defeat in his eyes. In my peripheral vision I could see a semicircle of about ten wiry, angry-looking f-words and three drag queens who had overheard his misstep getting ready to take him down if my little rant failed to scare him off.

Although my last actual fight was seventeen years ago (she tried to drown me!), I have been fine-tuning my powers of psychic retaliation to a whole new level. While it's not yet as reliable as a stun gun, it's nice to know that sometimes just wishing for swift and appropriate justice — or revenge — is enough to bring it about.