I bought this horridly ugly pair of plaid pants the other day. On a scale of 1 - 10 (1 being pretty, and 10 being worse than that smelly old man at the bus stop) I’d rate these between six and seven. I don’t think I could accurately describe the colours; some blue, red, white, and black. They’re truly awful. I love them. I have this almost freakish appreciation for the tacky and ugly, something I’m very proud of. It does not extend to the tackiness of fur coats, and the ugliness of a Velvet Elvis, however. A girl’s got to draw her line somewhere.
That might seem overly generous, but The One-Armed Man has one thing most other street beggars don’t have - he’s got politeness. He never fails to ask me how I am, or have something to say. He’s always been nice to me, even complimented me on my purple hat one time.
Apparently, so he says, he used the first bit of money to help buy him a ticket to go to the movies to see, I think it’s called Windtalkers - it’s got Nicholas Cage in it. I know he used some to buy coffee, because I saw him do it. Whatever. It makes no difference to me what he does with the money. I just thought it was cool he volunteered to tell me what he’d done with the money - and, you know, I believe him.
I’m listening to Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” again. I love this album. It’s on the song “San Tropez”, a place I visited many years ago, though all I consciously recall are the immense plate of mussels I ate (which I’ll assume were good, I love mussels), and the innumerable bikini-clad beach bunnies lounging strategically in that “I’m here to be seen” sort of way on the decks of all the very expensive yachts in the marina. But what I really remember about that trip to the Riviera, is the white beach sand of Nice and the shocking blue of the Mediterannean.
Today my wait for the other ended, and I got to go walkabout in the rain.
It wasn’t pouring, but it was enough to soak my hair and make everything fresh and smell of damp. I’d woke from a nap with the stuffy thick head one only gets when one naps on a hot summer afternoon, to find the cure ready, willing, and ably soaking everything in sight.
So out I went.
I’m going to go back out in it later if it’s still going. I like the smell in the rain, even in Hamilton. Even here it smells clean.
My grandmother was never really young to me, though I doubt most parents seem young to their children. From knee-high height they all look old - even when they’re 20 and barely out of childhood themselves. I remember thinking how old I’d be when I turned 20, then 25, then 30.
Now I’m 33, and what struck me while I was helping my grandmother write up her medical history - as self-involved as this might seem on the surface - was how much of my life I can pin down depending on what she was going through at the time, how many small surrounding details I can remember. In so many ways I remember her medical history better than I remember my own.
Yes, I remember you and Dolena going to the mall for the Swine Flu shots… Yes, I remember when you first started taking your thyroid medication, I remember you accidentally spilled some in a bowl of vegetable soup I was about to eat, we were still living on Riverdale Drive at the time, I remember… Yes, I remember, still living on Riverdale, the day your varicose veins popped and the bathtub filled with bloody towels… Yes, I remember when you had your ears pierced when you were 65… and I remember the stunned silence of last week when you had a stroke…
Sometimes it amazes, how much of your life you remember, when you measure it against the events surrounding other people. I can’t accurately phrase what I am thinking, so I am going to stop trying.
I was in the emergency with my grandmother for several hours yesterday, during which time I had to use the washroom a few times, and had to help her do so also. In all, I think I was in three or four different washrooms that day. In each and every one there was a sign that said “Have you been hurt by someone close to you? Please see a nurse or doctor.” It struck me very sadly that such a sign was necessary, and necessary in so many places. To quote the Wicked Witch Of The West, “What a world.”
I am here with Tom Waits for company, and he reminds me of a place I’ve never been, of a dirty little street, and a seedy little bar, and it’s three a.m., and there’s too much smoke, and the light is dark, and we’re all mellow, all one tuned-in body throbbing along to his growl, all in the same place inside and out, all slightly sleepy, all of us with cold vodka and beer, all of our talking hushed but rumbling, all of us together, cocooned, secure in a moment none want to see end.
The other day I was sitting here minding my own business - as that’s about all you can do when you live alone - and what do my wondering ears should appear but noises that sounded like a cross between the crowd at a footy match and a wildlife programme about the Galapagos.
Any second now, the sharp barking of a baby seal to indicate to me that I’m being transported into some other dimension…
I was just in the bathroom and all I could hear was this sound that put me in mind of a human pretending to sound like a wolf - and it was coming from the walls. It ended up sounding more like a “whoooo whoooo”. Maybe the spirits in the wall like The Who?
You should hear what it sounds like when the Oriental lady down the hall gets going with her thing - it’s like some sort of… primal grunt therapy.
I don’t get it, and I’m not certain I want to.
Every time I see this question I answer the same thing - I want to be a universal translator. I want to be able to understand any and all languages, to become instantly attuned to their nuances. I want to be able to communicate with everyone and anyone. Language and communication fascinate me. Imagine there being no barriers at all? Imagine being able to instantly understand whatever anyone says to you? Imagine being able to retain it all rather than a machine doing the work for you?
Since she didn’t have a license, we spent most of our time in Marseille just tooling around the city. I think one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen was the Friday morning flower market in the downtown area - one side of the long main street was nothing but flowers from one end to the other. Gorgeous seems too plain a word for it, but sublime is a bit much, so let’s just say it was both and somewhere in the middle.
We did a lot of visiting of friends of hers - including one family who had a son about age 20 who loved Simple Minds and was absolutely the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen in my life (up until that time, at least). My poor little teenage heart had a crush on him for months afterwards. Another one of her friends was the person who got me liking pine tree seeds. She served them with what was possibly the best roast of beef I’ve ever had in my life. Mmm.
The apartment building where my mother and her husband own the apartment in Marseille, is not an apartment building at all really - it’s a 200 year-old house that at one time belonged to the Hugarian ambassador to France. It’s a bloody gorgeous place that faces the Mediterranean. I could, if I wanted, be out the door and in the ocean in less than five minutes. Watching the sunset over the Mediterranean is one of the most beautiful experiences you could imagine.
Anyhow, the apartment building is a co-op - which is great in one sense, but not when it comes to having the facade of the building redone due to sea-salt and Mistral damage, because one of the current tenants is a real bitch. Doesn’t want to have to pay for anything, but is the first to complain about anything that’s wrong. I digress…
The tenants had a big dinner in the back patio one day - more or less a combination of tenant meeting and “welcome the Canadian kid”. The table was lovely, right down to the name cards on the plates. That’s the one and only time I’ve ever been to a dinner that had name cards. Mine said “Fille de Canada”, because they couldn’t remember my name apparently, so they referred to me as the “daughter of Canada”. The company, for the most part, was quite nice - even though I couldn’t understand but maybe twenty words out of the mish-mash of French that was floating around my ears. None of them spoke English at all, though a few did try a little.
It’s funny how language barriers don’t disguise certain things, though. You don’t need language to tell you what kind of person someone is - not when their body language and tone of voice are doing all the work. That, coupled with the fact that I’m not an idiot, was enough to tell me that Madame Beirot’s (I can’t remember the precise spelling) boyfriend (who coughs like a frigging lunatic all night - trust me on this one, you could hear it through the walls) was a grobian of most annoying demeanour. I don’t know where the hell it was coming from, but this guy was one of the most patronising louts I’ve ever met. Perhaps it was my age, or the fact he’s a jackass, but I could tell (despite the French) that he was being a shit. I mentioned it to my mother later on in the evening, and she confirmed. She wondered how I could tell. I just could.
The oddest thing about the whole trip was getting used to topless women on the beach. After a while you just don’t notice it anymore, but it does take some getting used to. It’s hard, though, to sit down at a beach cafe table and not feel a little awkward talking to someone that you’d just seen bouncing around half-naked on the sand.
When I first found you.I kept them with me babe,
I put them with my own.
Can’t make it all alone.