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This week, my shiny, sparkly classmates and I received our official Print Futures diplomas. Some chose to wait for theirs in the mail while the rest of us showed up one last time in order to don black gowns (but no mortarboard hats?), march in a procession, listen to sappy speeches, and walk across the stage as our names were read. The stylish and articulate Melanie sums it up best, actually.
Aside: It’s hard looking for work as a writer/editor – one typo in your cover letter and you’re banished from consideration. So much pressure.
I wasn’t going to go to the ceremony, or invite anyone to it, since I figure a high school and university graduation is enough with the pomp and circumstance. But Donovan convinced me I should go, and so I did. Then I discovered they were giving me some special thing called “a gold cord” for having a high GPA. I had never heard of this gold cord business before but suddenly, clueless classmates are saying things like “Now you can help me with my homework when I go back to school again.” Uh, no, I think, as my academic life flashes before my eyes.
It’s kind of a neat honour, but I can’t help thinking about the plaques and certificates collected at past graduations. These little academic distinctions mean jack squat in life, really. They make a nice moment, the recognition and parents taking pictures, but that’s all. I squirm to mention them on a resume.
My Grandpa wrote a poem about me when I graduated from high school. He wrote: “Christine may be well-educated/but she will soon smarten up.”
My sister thinks that using the phrase “former Woodlands grounds” is too formal. She suggests, “Old Loony Bin Lawns.” It’s good to have family who can understand what it is you’re really trying to say.
Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza found success by going against all of his instincts? (In case you don’t here’s the script.) Well, I’ve tried to apply that principle to my own life, and it sucks ass everytime. Specifically, there have been times that you just want to retreat from all human contact and screw the world. When those moods have hit in the past year, I say to myself: “Nope, I’m going to the opposite, and try to reach out a little more!” So I call up friends, try to go out to things, volunteer etc. Perky, upbeat, almost Oprah-like.
Let me tell you: it doesn’t work.
And once again, maybe due to the black-ish cold rainy nights, or too much grammar homework, or educational interpersonal dramas, the urge to retreat into a cave and throw rocks at approachers is mighty tempting. It’s not a hate against any individual or their dastardly deeds that make me want to close ranks and focus on the walls. Just sometimes, I’ve realized, a girl needs time to think, smoke, watch movies, read and of course, write. I’m exhausted from worrying about why so-and-so’s not returning my calls.
I’ll not be going against my instincts this time. Until the walls become the world all around again.
I needed a pick me up, and Weblog Wannabe’s weblog award-o-matic fits the bill.
If you can guess which movie I’m ripping off a quote from to make a clever title, you can have an award too. Ha Ha.
If you didn’t catch it on TV the other night, here is the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movie quotes. They seem a little bereft without context, but there are a few favourites in there. Nothing that John Travolta (“Would you just watch the hair?”) or Audrey Hepburn (“Poor slob! Poor slob without a name!”) said, but top heavy with gorgeous Casablanca lines, a couple of Godfather moments and even a couple of gems from Jerry Maguire.
We all know someone who just can’t seem to shut up about themselves. My parents had to get call display to avoid being trapped in three-hour conversations/monologues with the neighbour going through a drawn-out divorce. At a gallery night, I got trapped by a stranger who took the opening of “How are you doing?” to launch into a twenty-minute description of his family history with alcohol. I told him, “I need a drink,” and took my leave.
Selfish and inconsiderate persons who insist on going on and on and on about their damn selves deserve no gentle politeness from you. When you get cornered by such a boob, remind them that a conversation involves two with this barbed question, courtesy of Ms. Lara: “Can we turn this diatribe* into a dialogue?”
*Diatribe N. A forceful verbal attack. From the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary c1998.
“There must be a more dignified mode of transport.” – Molly Ringwald
Normally I like the bus; I’ll even rhapsodize about it. Moving at a stately pace in a chauffer-driven conveyance, you can read a book, stare out the window, into space or at your fellow passengers, and catalogue the details of scenery and characters in your mind – all activities that would be impossible or dangerous while driving a car. Not to mention that any collisions or brushes do not require the intervention of paramedics and insurance personnel, you just go about your day unencumbered by a metal cage.
These advantages are less obvious when travelling by bus on a rainy evening, standing at the exchange for half an hour because your bus was late and you missed the connection, watching the cars zoom by while forced to stand under a leaky shelter with homies spit spit spitting, exchange students and the miscellaneously impoverished.
Occupational snobbery gets the better of me waiting beside those young bucks in quilted jackets, “Here are the warehouse workers of tomorrow!” I’m looking at them, wondering if there’s a glimmer of a Tony Manero among them. Nope. Shufflers all.
So – daytime, frequent service, pleasant pace good, evening, missed connection, bad weather, gum-snapping young eejits bad. Its not surprising why, standing at the barren bus exchange, I stare longingly at the zooming cars I scorn. Merrily polluting the skies as they go, but they sure do look comfy and convenient. A warm bath sure would be nice right now, and I could have been home in 15 minutes by car instead of an hour with waiting time.
But annoyances aside, the only thing to really hate about transit is the people who run it: those fat fools who have never felt the hard kiss of a vinyl seat or inhaled the aroma of hard men carrying a booty of pop cans. I think the executives of Translink actually get car allowances! I’ll bet those nice comfy cars have leather seats too.
I know where I rank on the food chain. My ass isn’t too precious for vinyl. It’s just too precious for waiting out in the cold with the rabble and it wants to get the fuck home.
“Now you’re just ordinary people. Ten seconds ago you were gods in the flesh!” yelled the man walking in front of Waterfront Station.
Everyone turned around to look, as they do at the shouters and shufflers in this city. It struck me as profound a statement as it was random. Then I thought, it seems like a familiar statement. Had I crossed paths with the shouting man before? (One does run into the same homeless people again and again.) Was he quoting something? (Google turned up nothing.)
What if I do possess some hidden or forgotten creative power that I’m currently burying under a pile of life’s likely excuses? to paraphrase Lester Burnham, the anti-hero of American Beauty, I know I don’t always have to feel so sleepy and what I had, and lost, I’m going to get back.
That goes double for my bus pass, by the way. I lost it last month, right around this time. Damn if it didn’t turn up 3 weeks later in the most bleedin’ obvious place.
“I’m sick of watching them carry the Pope around!” – Corinne, on the CNN-ization of world events coverage.
“There are Strange Things done in the Midnight Sun
By the men who moil for gold,
The arctic trails have their secret tales
that would make your blood run cold…
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
was that night on the marge of Lake LeBarge,
I cremated Sam McGee.”
– The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service
As I was reading this to my 5-month old nephew the other week, it occurred to me that this poem makes a very strange bedtime story. Sam McGee dies in the first few verses and makes his buddy Cap promise to cremate his remains, so as not to be buried in the frozen ground of the Arctic. Cap hauls the corpse over the trail trying to figure out a way to dispose of the body. He chances upon an abandoned marge stuck in the ice at Lake Lebarge, lights a fire in the ship’s old boiler, tosses in the body of Sam McGee, and leaves so that he doesn’t “hear him sizzle so.” There is a surprise ending straight out of magic realism.
Still, the poem has this intoxicating rhythm that makes it vivid and funny. I used to be able to recite the whole thing by heart and performed it a couple times as a dramatic monologue (in my former life as a teenage theatre geek.) It isn’t hip or modern – some people don’t like sing-song rhyme – and it deals with death and fighting the elements and trying to keep a promise because “the trail had its own stern code.” Those grizzled prospectors wanted Gold! but they also had their honour.
The edition I have is published as a children’s picture book with gorgeous illustrations by Yukon artist Ted Harrison. When the wee babies get older, I’ll keep telling them Sam McGee, and throw in “Jabberwocky” and some of those violent old Norse folktales to boot. Gibberish doesn’t get much better than “The vorpal blade went snicker-snack.”
A lot of children’s literature, folk tales, fairy tales and fables are actually quite violent, no news there. Is it a recent tendency among adults to try and sanitize all that so that the kiddies don’t hear so much about the Troll under the Bridge eating the Billy Goats Gruff – couldn’t they just go and have nice picnic instead? I don’t know much about children – probably because I don’t have any – but I wonder if “protecting” kids from bad things in children’s books desensitizes them to all the sick shit they will face later on?
Gorgeous, gorgeous words that stick in my head all day: “Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar/I am driving down the highway following the river into the cradle of the civil war” and “Losing love is like a window in your heart/Everyone can see you’re blown apart…” Both are lyrics from “Graceland”, a song and an album I am just discovering after all these years. I picked up after spending about three days with Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits in my CD player, hitting the back button to replay “America”. For some reason, the line “It took four days to hitchhike from Saginaw” makes the back of my head tingle.
I told my husband how obsessed I was with that song, and he just starts quoting lines from Almost Famous, the scene where the sister drives off with her boyfriend, leaves behind her records for William to discover. When I was done rolling my eyes at him for ruining MY moment with the song, he said, “Why don’t you go get Graceland on your lunch hour today?”
So thats what I did. I got Blue Horse by the Be Good Tanyas and Loretta Lynn’s new album as well. Listening to all this sad folkie stuff that makes me feel happier. People singing about what’s beautiful in life.
On Friday night, O. invited me out to my favourite club in Vancouver, The Railway Club, to hear some rockabilly bands. I don’t remember much about them now, maybe I drank too many big glasses of Grasshopper, but I do remember meeting a friend of her friend who makes purses out of old album covers. I want her to make me one with John Denver on it.
The sadness is still with me, though, as if I still have a lot of retail therapy left to do.