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Archive for January, 2010

The chimney suite

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

the best one!

The tenants at my parents’ house moved out about a week ago, which has provided the sudden opportunity for all the renovations that have been talked about for years. When we first moved into the house we discovered how draughty and cold it was. We completely redid the basement with new, better insulation, vapour barriers and double-paned windows and the difference was very noticeable, both in the way the rooms feel and the gas bill. But because there were people living upstairs we never got to retrofit it like we wanted to.

Not to mention, the upstairs bathroom has an avocado green bathtub and a pink toilet. It’s terrible.

The parents are now in the process of gutting the top floor. The first thing to go this week has been the ugly fireplace in the livingroom. As dad was ripping it apart, he found some gaps in the mortar between the bricks through which the above photo must have fallen in. As he pulled more bricks away, he found a small collection of ephemera from some of the previous owners of the house, including a fold-out wooden ruler, family photos, hockey cards and an expired Visa card. I posted pictures here.

The daily

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

grass

I’ve never been a big fan of writing posts in advance. I think there’s a rhythm that you get into when you force yourself to write a post every day when ideas just start to come to you. Writing posts in batches gives you the freedom to go do something else for a while but I find that after taking some time off the ideas just don’t come as easily.

I have a bunch of posts kicking around that for whatever reason never got posted when I wrote them. On days when I was feeling really uninspired I would revisit them and then find that each was totally inappropriate for that day for some reason. They just didn’t fit my mood at the time and I’ve always been really consicous and particular about having my blog echo what I’m thinking, even if it’s only me that notices. If this wasn’t a personal blog I would do it differently.

I guess this is my long-winded excuse for not posting the past couple days. I fully intended to write posts the last few days but I don’t keep many in queue and something came up.

Someone said something to me a couple of days ago now that left me feeling pretty sore. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me often. There’s not a lot that you could say to me that would hurt me at all. I don’t get very emotional about much, but when the floodgates open for good or ill it’s usually scary and debilitating.

I don’t like to post when I’m like that. Inevitably I always regret the departure from my usual calm, thoughtful, introspective self. The past few days I’ve been a little… off and it’s not something I like to show to the world. I’m not entirely sure yet what I’m going to do about the person in question. We’ll see. I’m over it now.

In the meantime, I’m trying to force myself back into posting every day, as well as everything else that I’m supposed to be doing every day: writing, journaling, drawing, yoga, practicing French, meeting some self-imposed deadlines for design work, looking for a job…

You always hear about how the secret to getting good at ______ is just doing it every day, but I suspect that also involves focusing on that thing exclusively. Focus has never been my strong point.

French

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Living with francophones has really brought into focus how much of my French is gone. I guess I’d hoped that it was just sitting up in there, lying dormant, that it would somehow reawaken in my brain and I’d be awesome at it. Nope.

In elementary school the French teacher was also the gifted kids teacher so she used to tailor a lot of the assignments for me so I wouldn’t get bored. By the end of elementary school I had worked two full grade levels ahead in the curriculum.

I know because in middle school they forced me to repeat those two grades, assigning literally the same assignments, the same worksheets and the same dumb songs that are supposed to make learning French ‘fun.’

I complained to my teachers about this. One of them said one of the worst things you could possibly say to me – “well you’ll just do it better than everyone else then!” Well, no, actually I wouldn’t. I didn’t hand anything in in any of my classes with her until the end of the year when I handed it all in in a big stack of unmarked work. A dark shade of red rose up from her neck and washed over her face. She was livid. It was beautiful.

In high school I switched to Latin. Latin was awesome because we got to have toga parties in class, among other good reasons to learn Latin.

But all this has left me with next to nothing for French. I signed up for a continuing ed class. Five minutes into it I realized the other reason why I didn’t take French any further: conversations.

This class is all about the conversations. There are puppets. And dancing. And charades. Oh dear lord I am out of my element. This is probably good for me.

Finally a real gig!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

IMG_9935

My roommate’s band played at the Backstage Lounge the other night. I probably should have taken my camera but I didn’t. Maybe that was a good thing. There was a professional photographer there that was entirely more hardcore than I am, laying on the floor and in general looking super cool.

Their set was delayed because they had to wait until the play in the theatre next door was finished. Some people from the cast of Smallville were watching a play at the theatre next door. Marcus wandered over during the intermission to tell Allison Mack that he was in a band.

“Have you ever had tater tot nachos? They’re pretty awesome,” Justin said. Behind him his girlfriend pursed her lips and shook her head at me. “They’re like regular nachos but you make them with tater tots and it’s all greasy… I’ve only had them twice. One day I had them and then the next day I had them again and then I asked myself why I fill my body with shit like that.”

Wesley leaned in to me. “We changed our sound,” he said, “we’re a noise band now.”

“Good,” I said, “I like noise.”

“No, really… It’s like random noise.”

He wasn’t joking. Their set started out with some random metallic-sounding screeching that seemed to catch a bunch of people off guard. I laughed my head off. His parents winced a little.

But then after that, it went back to being more or less their usual set with some shoegazey stuff that eventually turned into more uptempo rocky stuff that got people dancing.

There was a particularly fun drunk guy behind me that kept saying stuff like “I love these guys!” and “I love songs that speed up at the end. I love these guys!”

A few of us stayed for the second set but by the end it was getting dangerously close to the time when transit stops so we ran for the Skytrain. The train’s a pretty interesting place at that time of night.

Silver

Monday, January 18th, 2010

gravers and awls and such

I’ll let you in on a thing I’ve been obsessing about for a few years now. In the basement of the parkhouse we had a little jewelry workshop. I used to be pretty good at cutting stones and just about the time I was starting to learn silversmithing we had to move without a lot of notice.

We moved into a substantially smaller place and everything’s been a chaotic mess ever since. Over time priorities have changed and a lot of things have been neglected. I inquired a while ago about the tools and supplies and was told that I could do whatever I wanted with them. I just never had the time, it was all a mess and I needed some handholding that I never got.

The beauty of being on sabbatical is that suddenly I have the time. I signed up for some classes at VCC to get me started and I’m really happy about it.

I spent some time out in the shop on Saturday collecting some tools to take to class with me. While I was out there, my parents had the good sense to forget I was there, lock me out of the house and leave for several hours. Luckily I managed to find a spare key in the carport, but the whole event had me very confused, because the parental unit had not been at home at the time that I had decided to go out to the shop. The cat wasn’t all that happy about being locked out either.

Spring is here! In my parents’ yard the bulbs are sprouting out of the ground. Maybe they’ll be flowering by the time the Olympics start. I took a picture that I’m going to send to my uncle. He moved to Ontario in the ’60s and keeps insisting that it’s better there than it is here. This has been a source of friendly rivalry between him and my dad for many years.

Sure, Ontario’s nice, but on Saturday I ate my lunch in the sun in the garden. It’s the middle of January and I didn’t even need to wear socks.

Sabbatical

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I’ve been slowly nursing the plant in my room back to health. Like the rest of my plants it was quite happy in my old apartment, but the move out to my parents’ house took it’s toll. Two thirds of my plants died and the rest were just sickly. I brought two out here with me and they’ve both perked up a little.

It was doing alright but it had a bit of a setback over Christmas while I was away. But now with a bit of regular watering it’s got three new leaves ready to unfurl.

I’m measuring time in these little victories these days.

I’m on sabbatical. I say that because it sounds better than saying I’m doing nothing. You go on a sabbatical because you need to refresh yourself, recharge, try something new. There’s something very deliberate and professional-sounding about the word. I name it as if I can give my time off meaning just by assigning it a meaningful word.

That’s all reality is, anyways, senses, experiences given meaning through language.

The truth is that I haven’t got the foggiest idea what I am doing. I was feeling burnt out. Things were eating at me. I put my tail between my legs and I ran.

And now I have no job, no plan. I’m hemorrhaging money. But suddenly I can sleep at night, and I sleep all the way through. Suddenly I’m waking up in the morning feeling awake. I have things bouncing around in my head. I’m in control.

I’m just floating in the air, waiting for some wind.

Bus riding explained.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

bus riding explained.

bus riding explained ii

Installing a router, and other fun

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The francophones are back and I’m glad. It’s too quiet and empty in here while they’re gone. Everyone’s settling back into their new routines for the new year and the WII that magically appeared in our livingroom is getting regular use.

The cat has gone back to normal. We no longer quietly orbit around eachother in the dark. I don’t see her quite as much as I did, but when I do it’s usually because she’s leapt from out of nowhere to grab my ass. We’re both lucky that she doesn’t have any claws.

On the home front, my mom became paranoid that other people were using our wireless network. It has a password but apparently someone showed up on the network that was not supposed to be there.

No big deal. I went in and changed the password, like I did last time. Predictably, this dumped everyone off the network, just like the last time I did this. I then changed the password in the keychain on my computer… and it didn’t work at all.

Originally when I set up the network, there was a desktop computer wired directly into the router, and I used it to administer the network. But since that computer has gone to the Great Semiconductor in the Sky, everything’s been completely wireless since then. I figured that if I could only find an ethernet cable to plug my computer in, I could fix the password issue and everything would be good.

In some momentary lapse of reason at some point, someone decided that it would be a good idea to get rid of every single ethernet cable we owned. This realization led us on a late-night computer accessory shopping trip that yielded, in spite of my objections, a brand new router.

It’s shiny and pretty and all the correct lights flash, but I’ll be damned if I could get it to allow any of our computers to get onto the internet without being plugged in. Technology can be fickle sometimes.

Seems like they’ve figured it out today though.

Markers

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

In kindergarten I became acquainted with the practice of sucking the ink out of magic markers. My classmates were thoroughly convinced that this was a good idea. They would have had me believe that the ink tasted the same way that it smelled. I wouldn’t know. I never tried it. I wasn’t about to take advice from anyone who had coloured dots all over their nose.

Years later these are the people who message me on facebook, asking if I remember them. For the most part I don’t. A lot of things are hazy that far back. One was from Aldergrove. We had no mutual friends. Her photo was small and vague. I didn’t recognize the name. “I remember you,” she said, “you were the smart one.” I let it sit in my inbox for a while. I remember you, I thought. Your tongue was green. I didn’t reply.

It all goes to fuel my persistent belief that none of this is actually real. There’s no way I’m the only sane one here.

The Littlest Hobo

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I declare today share an embarrassing secret day. I’ll start.

I used to cry at the end of every episode of The Littlest Hobo. Every single episode he would leave his new friends but why? Why did he have to leave them? You don’t just leave your friends. And they’re playing that music as he walks off. And that kid looks so sad! It’s not fair! They’re never going to see him again. It’s so sad!

This was truly powerful cinema.