Stray Thoughts in the A.M.

Stray Thoughts in the A.M.

I’m tired of not being able to go anywhere. It’s not that I need to. I just want to know I can.

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I miss second-hand bookstores. A lot. Didn’t really realize how much, until I looked up from reading All the Light We Cannot See, realized it’s so good I want a copy of my own, and was reminded that BMV – one of my favourite haunts – is closed. And it sucks.

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I dug into a folder from 2010 to find a photo of my niece and me for her birthday, and my god, this is self-flagellation. Keep your hair shirts and cilices, if I want to self-mortify, I’ll revisit 2007-2010. I miss being skinny.

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Not that I was that skinny, but what made me think I was fat in 2010? This photo folder is pushing my 2020 self to have a good long cry in the shower.

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I really just want to wake up and magically be a hundred pounds. I want to take a potion, fall asleep, wake in a pool of dappled sunlight, open my eyes like Princess Aurora after being kissed, float away on my tiptoes to a full length mirror, and sing the opening bars of Creed’s My Sacrifice to the newly revealed outline of my clavicles. Hello my friend, we meet again

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Can I just have all the cake I want? Can I never have to worry about trifles like calories, or cholesterol, or fatty organs and having to eat fish and leaves forever?

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We finally have a car! I kind of felt something. Just a little something. A little bit of excitement, a little bit of happiness, but mostly relief. I feel like I’m supposed to feel something more, but I got nothing. My brothers are way more excited about it than I am. Am I dead inside? My mother suggested we do some sort of cleansing exorcist voodoo by dedicating the car to God, because “you don’t know who used to own it.” I promised to take it to an abandoned parking lot and sprinkle it with holy water. Maybe do a little dance. Burn some gris gris. Which I haven’t. Where would I even get holy water? I think swinging a censer would make for some dramatic visuals though.

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I hope my mom doesn’t read this. Her glare of death is as potent now as it was then.

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The dealer detailed it before handing it over to us though. So there is no trace of the previous owner, except for very meticulously kept receipts. I found them all, folded neatly in a plastic envelope, in the glove compartment. Each receipt conforms to the dates in its CarFax report. What a stickler. Hopefully a Protestant. Maybe Episcopalian.

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Sorry Mom, that was the last one. I promise.

Random YouTube K-hole: Caged Heat

I’m trying to keep from thinking about the e-mail my neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart just sent. One of their employees just tested positive for the COVID-19 virus last Thursday, the very day I had to go in for some female things. Ugh. My anxiety levels are high, and I’m distracting myself with YouTube videos featuring themes of prison, jail, cages, being trapped, etc., etc. I’m not sure if it’s  really helping,  but it’s this, or escapist videos of beautiful lives and butterflies, and I do love a timely theme, so let’s start off with an angry, incarcerated cry for help in the form of…

They Don’t Care About Us – Michael Jackson

The prison version of They Don’t Care About Us is lesser known than the one set in a Brazilian favela, and came with a disclaimer, because not only was the song (and its lyrics) controversial at the time, so was the imagery of human rights abuses.

Michael Jackson was a true creative genius who used the chaos of his personal life to fuel his creative output. His songs of love, isolation, hate and injustice still ring true, decades after he first came out with them, and his vision was always prescient (also see: Earth Song). It’s a shame his legacy has been left so tarnished.

The Sweet Escape – Gwen Stefani

Now why does this look familiar? Oh, yes. Do you know anyone working from home right now, complaining about how life is so hard, they’re going to need therapy when all this is over? What about the ones going “we needed this” from the safety of their own homes, secure in the knowledge that they don’t necessarily have to go out to earn a livelihood? This video is for you. Here’s Gwen Stefani in the bougiest gilded cage known to man, singing about how she yearns to be free, while us poors putting ourselves at risk look on, wanting to kick her in the tits. I know, I sound bitter (and really, that’s not what song is about, lol). But like I told someone earlier this week, if you’re happy and not in any way, shape or form endangered by homeless crack addicts at the moment, I’m not interested in hearing “we needed this” from you.

Telephone – Lady Gaga (feat. Beyonce)

Speaking of we needed this, Lady Gaga’s Telephone (featuring Beyonce) is arguably the music video that established her as a musician with a definite point of view – she was going to be weird, she was going to be out there, she was going to be seen, godamnit – and she wasn’t going to be cheap about it. I’d argue that Gaga injected some much needed energy into the (then) fading music video landscape with this short film masquerading as a music video. It was a throwback to the glory days when music videos that had stories to tell ruled the airwaves, and you can bet Beyonce never allowed herself to be this upstaged ever again.

Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley

“Number forty-seven said to number three, you’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see, I sure would be delighted with your company, come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me…”  Homo-erotic? Scandalous? For 1957, this is a big fat yes. I never really saw what about those hips made the girls scream and quake and throw their underwear, but I saw parts of Preseley’s leather-clad comeback in HBO’s The Searcher, and finally, finally got it. He ruled for a reason. Elvis Presley in his prime was hot.

I started this post with the King of Pop, and I’m ending it with the original King of Pop – you didn’t think I was going to leave out The King, did you? Elvis Presley is in the building with those wicked, wicked hips of his, singing about having yourself some good old fun in the clinker.  And we should take note of his advice. After all, if we can’t find a way to amuse ourselves right now, we’re going to go nuts.

 

Head vs. Heart

Head vs. Heart

I’ve decided I know what this is.

Looking for the perfect used car on Kijiji is like trolling for true love on Tinder; your mind knows that whatever is out there is likely a dud, while your heart can’t help hoping for a happy ending anyway. The Awkward Yeti’s excellent Heart and Brain illustrates this weird, symbiotically screwed up relationship of the psyche better than I ever could (I recommend you head over there because the rest of this is just going to be me going on about finding the chariot of my dreams).

No matter how jaded I claim to be, I haven’t yet managed to kill that hopeful little girl in me that dreams of happy endings. Except this time I’m not looking for love. I’m looking for the perfect used car. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much the same thing. It’s that old “what if I get lucky” conundrum that has people losing their minds on dating apps and throwing away their monthly social security check at the slots.

My brain is stating the facts simply, sitting in a chair having a cup of tea, looking at me with pity. It knows that real life doesn’t always have happy endings, and it also knows that buying a used car means inheriting someone else’s problems. But my heart hasn’t yet succumbed to reality, and is busy jumping up and down with giddy glee, mouthing what-ifs, sprinkling flower petals over everything, singing Disney songs of hope and forever after. And the blasted thing gets louder each time brain tries to remind me to keep my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds. Everything is going to be okay! You’re gonna find the one! It’s this delusional, positive-thinking side of me that I usually tamp down with a lot more success, but it’s getting harder and harder to shut it up the more we search for our true auto soulmate.

Dream big. Reach for the moon.

It’s never going to happen.

Trash, Glorious Trash

Who loves trash receptacles? Just for today, and just for this moment, I do.

It took me a while to work up the nerve to submit to Detritus, which I have loved since I first stumbled upon it last year. I would’ve been fine just being a part of  one issue, but having that little stamp of trashy approval is the cherry on top.

There are a lot of online indie lit magazines out there, and what I love most about this one is their unpretentiousness, and willingness to let the chosen pieces speak for themselves. And so supportive, too!

ps. look for me on page 10
pps. shameless plug over, back to looking for the perfect used car

Wanted: Fairly Decent Jalopy

Wanted: Fairly Decent Jalopy

We’ve been stressing out about getting a car.

I know, I know, I was supposed to learn how to drive a couple years ago, but that kind of fell by the wayside. Parking in Toronto is expensive, insurance even more so, and a subway stop is an easy block and a half away from us. It’s easy to just depend on public transportation if you live in the downtown core. Before this whole COVID-19 thing descended on us like the pale horseman of the apocalypse, it was pretty easy to get around.

But now, with homeless shelters being pushed to the limit, the mostly ignored underclass of humanity that generally skates on by unnoticed/ignored in normal times has started to take over the subway. And it’s April. In Toronto. Think April means winter has come and gone? We were at -10C windchill last week. So no, I can’t blame people who just want some shelter. We’re all just trying our best to survive and stay warm for a minute.

The downside is, well… they’re homeless. They have more issues to worry about than health, or hygiene. It’s more worrying about where to take a dump, how to get the next big high, where the free soup stands are. They’re now taking advantage of the subway system, nesting in a bajillion trash bags full of god knows what, sore-infested legs bared, smelling like urine, taking up three seats  and sleeping their way from Kennedy to Kipling station.

The places the hubs and I work for were declared essential, which is both blessing and curse. On the one hand, something to take our minds off the current pandemic is always nice. On the other, the act of getting to work means exposure, which means risk, which means what used to feel like a harmless, non-eventful commute now feels like playing Russian Roulette.

So yes. We need a car. And so far, it’s been a trip.

You see, we’re in the market for a beater. The kind of car that can stop running and you can leave at the side of the road and never look back, hello-goodbye. But it can’t be any old beater. It has to at least run for a few months before giving up the ghost. I’m not just a beggar, I’m a chooser to boot and to top it all off, neither he nor I know shit about cars. I’m in hell.

The paranoia is draining. Cars on AutoTrader and Kijiji  look so good, but then the doubts start tumbling in… will this certify? What’s wrong with this car? Why is it so cheap? Is it too cheap? Will we get mugged? Is it a bait and switch? Are there liens? Is the transmission off? Is that too much rust?

It’s so bad, we’ve contemplated just buying a new one and driving it off the car lot, warranty and all, everything in good working order, but along come the questions again. Is it worth the depreciation? How much will insurance be? Do we really want to spend the next seven years of our lives paying through the nose?

When will all this end? Will it even end?  

It’s exhausting. I’m tired.  I want to stop and get off the crazy train, but I can’t seem to help myself. So I just have to square my shoulders, take a deep breath, and summon the memory of what the immortal JZ always says when it comes to things like these: get a grip. Because what else is there to do? 

Eat. Yes, eating sounds good.

I think I’ll go eat my feelings for a minute. If you’ll excuse me.

 

ps. And then you get the guys who have an ad put up but won’t answer. I mean, fine. If it’s sold, it’s sold, but DON’T LEAVE THE BLOODY AD UP.

I’m in Room’s Hair Issue!

I’m in Room’s Hair Issue!

Is it only April? This year feels like it’s dragged on forever, with all of us trudging through the stark dystopia that real life has become. Still, I’ll take the good times where I can get it, and I am thrilled to report that Silver Fox, a poem I wrote in a happier time, was published in Room Magazine‘s latest: the Hair Issue!

I’ve followed Room online for quite some time now and they always have interesting stories to tell. I tend to keep my poems to myself (no one really knows I write them… and now you do), so it is a nice ray of sunshine to have my first shared piece find a home in one of Canada’s finest, and longest running literary magazines. I’m usually not one to self-promote, but this latest issue has quite a number of wonderfully written pieces and I couldn’t be happier to even be in the same conversation as the women in these pages.

The bookstores are currently closed due to the pandemic, but they take orders online. The Hair Issue is definitely worth your while… and not just because I’m in it! (Okay, shameless plug over 😊)

Random YouTube K-Hole: Welcome to the Jungle

Random YouTube K-Hole: Welcome to the Jungle

It must’ve been the depressing strangeness of the past week, because I found myself recalling the over-the-top insanity that was Aqua when they first started. Barbie Girl, that crazy, life-in-plastic single, was everywhere. Their songs were like Covid-19 – horribly catchy. Aqua released earworms that dug their way into your brain and refused to die. The way my brain works is that it reminds me of the stupidest and most random music videos at the weirdest times, so I found myself grinning ear to ear when I remembered (and found!) the music video for…

Dr. Jones – Aqua

For their debut album, Aqua always had the hokiest, Halloweeniest music videos. The themes and cheesy backdrops were set to insidiously happy, earwormy dance pop that could only have come out of mid-90s Scandinavia. “Presented in Aquascope,” they did Mattel, they did pirates, they did astronauts, and here, they do the jungle safari. Naturally, that made me want to cut a path through the jungle, and who did it better than…

Roar – Katy Perry

Katy Perry is the logical successor to Aqua in terms of music videos; she never goes for the subtle if she can help it. But the girl does commit. When she’s in, she’s all the way in, from the props to the lousy acting, all the way to the inevitably happy, triumphant end.

Anaconda – Nicki Minaj

Speaking of triumphant ends, Nicki Minaj is here to help you find yours. While she flaunts hers. Everybody wins! This really should’ve just been called ASS because who can even see the jungle for all the jiggling butt cheeks in your face? It’s practically softcore porn, but let’s just pretend it’s a rap video, enjoy the, er, scenery, and forget we ever saw Drake, shall we?

Waiting for Tonight – Jennifer Lopez

Social distance? What social distance? How do you celebrate the turn of the millennium? By having a rave. In the jungle (or is it a rainforest? I can’t tell). With lasers. As we do. I’ll say this for La Lopez, it’s been twenty years and God knows how many sacrificial virgins, the woman hasn’t aged all that much. She had it then, and she still has it now. She’ll probably always have it, and very soon my patron saint of aging will probably change from Jane Fonda to Jennifer Lopez.