Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell 2006! (and good riddance...)

I had hoped to craft a long-ish post at some point today, but the day ended up getting away from me (a wonderful 90-minute nap will do that). I wanted to reflect on 2006, which I've recently dubbed the "year of transition," and speculate on 2007 (which has yet to be dubbed), as well outline some of my goals (distinct from resolutions) for the coming year. Unfortunately my heart just isn't into it right now! Perhaps tomorrow, when 2006 is over and I'll have some distance - I might feel a little more dispassionate about the whole year which will provide some proper perspective.

Adding to the "raw" emotions is that I'm spending New Year's Eve alone this year. It's not entirely my volition: I didn't end up getting one invite to go out! (Not entirely true, actually: I received an invite on Friday, but at the time it wouldn't have been appropriate for me to accept. Long story.) I was pretty bummed out about my lack of invites, particularly since I spent last year alone (a deliberate choice) and felt that I'd be much more in a "party" mood this year. Alas, the invitations were not forthcoming. But all is not lost: I'm going to make a nice dinner, I just poured myself some 12-year old single malt scotch and I have a some expensive Bordeaux decanting. I'll throw on a couple of "comfort" films, maybe blast some tunes (out of my new speakers, which was my xmas gift to myself), write in my journal, and enjoy an evening of contemplation.

To all my regular readers, thank you for sticking with me through these last couple of months. I hope you have a wonderful new year's eve and a peaceful and prosperous 2007. And if I haven't bored the pants off you, please continue to visit me here! I have high hopes for the coming year: I'm entering into it with much optimism and a positive spirit.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'twas the night before christmas

Just a quick note to all my readers (all four of you, or thereabouts) to wish you a wonderful and happy Christmas. Take the time to reflect on the things that mean most to you - whether that's family or friends or peace of mind - and be grateful for the wonders of this world. Peace to all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Big O

Just a quick note to remind all my readers that today is Global Orgasm Day! If you have a partner, share this day with them. Don't let not having a partner stop you from enjoying the day and doing your bit for world peace: you don't need me to spell out what you should be doing.

Happy Winter Solstice to you all.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Smoked meat, part 3

Unlike my previous two smoked meat posts, this one is actually about smoked meat. Or, more precisely, the absence of it: I heard on the radio this morning that Ben's Deli, the venerable restaurant on de Maisonneuve Blvd. in Montreal, has closed its doors for good. I actually had to stop what I was doing (the dishes, although I can usually find any excuse not to do the dishes) and even said to myself (since the cat wasn't in the kitchen at the time), "Wow."

Sure, some will argue that Ben's was not exactly good eats: for one, it was ridiculously unhealthy. Others will argue that the best smoked meat in Montreal is actually served uptown at Schwartz's (and it's not a point of view I would necessarily disagree with). Still, I have a soft spot for Ben's, not just for its Montreal history (Leonard Cohen was a regular, and luminaries such as Trudeau ate there) but for my own personal history: after all, Ben's was the first downtown restaurant I ate at.

When I was growing up in the West Island of Montreal, I used to go to about three or four Montreal Canadiens hockey games a year, owing to the fact that my dad's employer had season tickets. Going downtown with my father to take in a game was always a treat - in fact, some of my fondest memories of my childhood were those evenings I spent with him at the Forum. My dad wasn't much of a hockey fan, but I was a fanatic, particularly of the Habs (Guy Lafleur was my hero). So when my dad managed to procure tickets, we'd make a full night of it, which usually meant beginning the evening at Ben's to enjoy a succulent smoked meat sandwich (with a side of fries, of course). Even as a pre-teen, I was taken with quaintness of the experience: the brightness of the space, the elderly and stoic waiters with their bow ties, the meat itself spilling out of the rye bread. I loved it!

Our family moved away from Montreal back in the 1980s, but almost every time I went back, a visit to Ben's (and usually Mike's Submarine, also a staple dining experience from my youth) was de rigeur. And it's amazing how little the place changed - it was almost exactly as I remembered it (although I'd usually order a Molson 50 instead of a coke). I haven't been to Montreal for a couple of years, but the next trip (and I have been thinking about going next year for the jazz fest; for one, my fave jazz musician, Keith Jarrett, is scheduled to play with his trio) will just not seem the same without steady Ben's.

Another part of my youth, dismantling.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Strange days

Talk about a strange stretch of about two hours today. I had several destinations planned when I set out at around 1:00 this afternoon: the library (to pick up a couple of books awaiting for me), the bank machine (seems like I'm going through a lot of coin so far this holiday season, even though I only have a few people to actually purchase gifts for), the new BMV book store (I thought I might be able to find something for my parents there, but my heart - surprisingly, perhaps - wasn't in to book browsing; at some point I'm going to write about that chain of book stores and its threat to the true independent book shop, but today is not the day), to Trinity-St. Paul's Church (for the Last-Minute Craft Fair where my friend j-love was selling her soap), and then finally to Indigo to buy a gift for my nephew (I normally eschew Indigo, but I was told that this is one of the few stores in the downtown core where I could buy the particular gift that he wants and was requested by his mother to buy).

The library visit was fine, but then the strangeness took hold as I was walking along Bloor St. toward BMV. I didn't have a chance to react because she was past me before I knew it, but a woman I went on a few dates this past summer strolled right past me. I mention this only because this is the first I've seen her since the summer: she basically disappeared from my life, without warning and explanation. (She could have at least sent me a quick e-mail saying "I've left the building.") I figured I'd run into her at some point - this city is not that big, and we have a number of friends and acquaintances in common - but I wasn't expecting to see her on Bloor. I sort-of regret not turning around, catching up with her and saying hi, but perhaps it's for the best. (She was also with a friend and I thought that might add to the awkwardness - not hers but mine!) Still, I harbour no ill feelings toward her. I really just miss having her a part of my life, however small. She was a wonderfully interesting woman.

There was more weirdness to come at the craft fair. There was a woman hawking her handmade magnets who looked ridiculously familiar. I finally figured out who she was: someone who I had a raving crush on in high school. I actually used to see her fairly often when I lived in a different neighbourhood, but haven't seen her for at least 10 years. Even crazier, I actually brought her name up this week at work! It's the first time I've thought of her in years, and next thing you know, there she is! Small world indeed.

But wait, there's even more. As I was buying some greeting cards adorned with these interesting lino-cuts - I figured I could send them out as letters since I'm back in a letter-writing phase - the woman who created the cards said to me, "You're J., aren't you?" The crazy thing is, I had no idea who the hell she was! I think I figured it out (and I could be wrong): she's someone I communicated with months ago when I was originally trying the online dating thing. I don't remember how far it went - we never met, obviously, and probably only exchanged a few e-mails (one of which I must have included a photo). And truthfully I could have the story wrong. Perhaps she was confusing me with another J.

Two more sightings to report: Andrew Coyne from the National Post (looking rather befuddled), and then, perhaps the oddest of all, Michael Ignatieff in line (in a huge line, I should add) at Indigo.

Then I came home and caught the end of the movie You've Got Mail, which (and maybe this is really the oddest of all) I have a surprising soft spot for.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


After last evening, I feel like I'm getting closer to it. I don't want to write about all the reasons why, but my spirits are a little higher this morning as a result. And (gasp!) I feel like I might actually get into the holiday spirit this year! I even wrote up some xmas cards last night.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"To Do" List

A list of things I'd like to accomplish this weekend:

- Conquer my fears, embrace my desires
- buy a new pair of shoes, preferably Dr. Martens to replace my aging pair
- continue to get in touch with my poetic soul
- visit a friend's new house
- explore the whimsical
- buy milk, bread, kitty litter and other necessities
- stay warm
- burn some CDs for a couple of my U.S. friends to send as xmas gifts
- daydream
- buy new acoustic guitar strings
- revel in the dark, rebel in the light
- apologize and submit to love

Friday, December 08, 2006

Emotional train wreck

It's coming through the tunnel. Choo choo.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dealing with the past

It's been an interesting few days for me. Not that one would be able to tell since anything of interest has been internal: all the activity has happened in my head. I've (finally!) been trying to deal with past events, to better understand them, put them in some context. It's about soul searching, peeling away layers of my recent (and not-so-recent) past and trying to come up with some conclusions. Well, not necessarily conclusions since I don't think I'll ever be privy to the answers I require. (And maybe that's the whole point: we're never given definitive answers because there isn't such a thing. Getting to "a truth" is akin to trying to get close to the sun.) My brain won't allow that type of closure. But I've identified mistakes I've made, and sadly come to the realization that I'll never be able to alter certain moments in my life. There's so much I want to take back; more important, I now realize, given the same circumstances, I'd do things differently. I'd like a "do over," although I know that's impossible. There's so much I regret, and it makes me sad.

In other news, I'm (also finally!) getting to the end of the Gwen MacEwan biography, which I've been reading on and off for a month or so. It's been a fascinating read, but also sad. I came upon two passages tonight that I thought I would share. The first is from a poem she wrote called "It Comes Upon You":

"It comes upon you suddenly that you must wear
The many selves you gathered and regrew
With a kind of pride and poise that falsifies their weight
With cool deceptive ease

Or else cry forever as once before you cried
On a high hill overlooking everything; God
Withdraw my fingers from your hair and break my eyes!"

That last passage pretty much had me in tears (after which the cat came to make sure I was feeling ok!). The second is from a letter she wrote just before she got married for the second time. I wish I would have had access to this sentiment about a year ago:

"It's so difficult to understand the self, and to come to terms with conflicting desires in life. I used to think that personal freedom was important until I realized that freedom is the most frightening thing of all, and perhaps we are only truly free within the confines of a pattern or system..."

I'll repeat: work in progress.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Kids are Alright

Boy, I feel tempted to buy a last-minute ticket to see The Who tonight in Toronto. I vowed I wouldn't go this year because it was just too damn expensive (decent seats are around $150), but now I'm starting to reconsider... It would be cool to see them play some new material.

Ah, it's too expensive.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The day after

As you might have noticed, I ended up taking yesterday off from posting. It was nice! Although I have to admit I was somewhat tempted to fire up the computer and jot a few thoughts down. Maybe I'm enjoying this venture more than I thought I would. If nothing else, it gets me into the writing rhythm again, even if some of the posts contain less-than-fully-formed ideas and some crappy writing.

I was going to write something about the Liberal leadership convention, which I spent a considerable (ie., too much) time watching yesterday. (Apologies to my American readers who won't give a rat's ass about a Canadian political convention. Feel free to skim these next two paragraphs - you have my permission.) I was caught up in the drama of it all - amazing to watch a political convention where the leadership choice is actually being made in real time. And although I've voted primarily for the NDP in the last few elections, both federal and provincial, I was hoping to see the Liberals pick a good strong candidate since it's going to be the Liberal Party that will stop this country from its right-wing conservative swing. An election, after all, is probably not too far in the future (I predict late spring), so it was important the party to be decisive in picking its new leader.

While I largely like Stephane Dion (the eventual winner - and I actually predicted two months ago that he was the true dark horse), particularly since he represents a true fresh face (not to mention he's been in the party and in the country for, oh, more than five minutes, unlike a couple of the other candidates...), I do worry that he's going to have a difficult time bringing the party together. While he's certainly a smart man and seems to have the respect of everybody in the party, there seems to be a lot of resentment toward him from the party's long-established leading backroom guys. Those are the people he has to win over since the majority ended up backing the two main losers in Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff. Of course I welcome the renewal of the party through some new energy, and while I have a natural disdain for so many of those guys in the back room, those same guys do provide an important role come election time. They're going to be needed because of their experience, so Dion has a find a way to placate them.

My other main impression from the convention: why is this still a party dominated by white men over the age 50? Where are the women? Where's the diversity? It's a sad reflection.

So now that I've spent all that time writing about politics, I seem to have lost my impetus to what I really wanted to write about: the male-female dynamic when it comes to friendships vs. relationships. It's been on a mind quite a bit of late, largely as a reflection to the age-old question, "Why am I single?" Well, maybe that's not the right question since my single status is largely my own making, having left last year a relationship that many objective observers would consider was rather good. (Yes, my continued thoughts on this seems to be a common theme - I'll repeat: I'm a work in progress.) Perhaps a better question is: "Why can't I seem to attract a woman?"

... (This is where I removed stuff.)

I ended up doing an examination of this - namely coming to the conclusion that I have a high "likability" factor but a low "attractibility" factor, and that I seem to have trouble bridging that gap with women I both like and lust over - and realized I felt sheepish and silly putting it online. So I pulled the plug on it. It wasn't a rant by any stretch, but it seemed somewhat pathetic.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mind at rest

My calendar says December, my blog title says November, yet here I am, posting. Is it because some habits die hard? Or maybe I have real concern for my readers' well-being? (I can picture the conversation in your head: "He's not posting anymore - how am I going to kill that minute that I used to read his blog?")

Actually, I'm posting because I feel like it. I guess that's going to be the tenor my relationship with this blog: if I feel like posting and have something on my mind, I'll fire it up. If not, I'll be quiet. I guess it basically means that anybody that has been visiting on a regular basis must continue to do so. Keep me in your favourites!

I'm writing today because I have some time on my hands: for the first time in quite a while, I'm taking the day off work. And not because I'm getting teeth pulled or braces put on, but simply because I wanted some time away from the workplace. "A mental health day," is what I told my colleague/supervisor. There usually isn't much incentive for me to take time off: being on contract (although they like to use the euphemism "casual employee"), I basically don't get paid for any hours I don't work. But there's also an advantage to that: I can take pretty much any day off I want - the only cost is to myself financially.

I'm taking the day to relax and reflect. It's been a somewhat chaotic few weeks, both at work and outside of it. It's nice to have a day to myself where I don't have to worry about "workplace issues," or doing any chores at home. My priorities today are puttering around the apartment for the rest of the morning, heading to the movies this afternoon, and then ... hmm, not sure yet. Maybe grab a beer or two at a bar and do some reading and writing.

And maybe buying an umbrella to stay dry!