Standard Line Area and Tabman

My Regular Mind, August 4, 2010 at 11h56

People are interesting creatures. At a store today, I got into the line behind a man just finishing the process of commerce. A woman standing nearby, clearly upset by my lack of telepathy, cleared her throat.

“Excuse me,” she said derisively, “but I’m in line.”

I turned around, confused because I hadn’t seen anybody there. (I’m not one of those heinous line-cutters, after all.) But there she was, as far removed from the Standard Line Area as she could be, scowling. I looked at where she was, looked back at where the line was, and looked back at her.

“Way over there?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered, destroying villages with her scowl. “This is where the line is.”

I wasn’t especially interested in either arguing or moving, so I stepped aside to let her in since the previous fellow had left. The cashier was printing, stapling, filing, and otherwise just waiting for her, and it’s not like I was in a hurry or anything, but this woman just wasn’t moving, so I told her that she could probably approach the counter now.

“What, are you directing line traffic or something?” (Another village destroyed.)

“No,” I said, “but standing so far back just seems a little absurd.”

She then proceeded to pay for something, put it in her purse, and insist that the cashier didn’t give it to her at all. For context, she was maybe in her late thirties and gave every indication of having lived in the posh part of Vancouver her whole life. We didn’t speak again even though I was very curious about her understanding of how local procedures of commerce worked.

And on an unintentionally-somewhat-related note, weeks ago I was groggy and doodling and whipped up this aggressive little dude. It started out as a can tab, but then grew a weird tablecloth body and wooden fists. I call him Tabman. He looks odd, I know, but he obviously doesn’t like you staring at him, so please stop. Thank you.

I’ve been awfully busy these days taking advantage of the warmth of the sun. I’ve been on the beach, in the water, in the woods, and doing everything summerly that I can. Because of this increase in fun personal activities, my updates have been more and more infrequent. I know you understand, because you’re swell like that. You’re a great big steaming pile of awesome, and you know it!


My Regular Mind, July 21, 2010 at 10h38

After Ultimate last night, someone pointed out that one of our opponents was missing a hand. My first reaction was to feel guilty for playing as hard as I normally would, but later reflection left me wondering. Surely by playing a sport that so frequent involves the hands she must want to be treated equally, so if I had adjusted my level of play, wouldn’t that have been insulting? Would I have played differently had I known before or during the game?

At a tournament many years ago, an opponent was missing most of his left arm. This was a much more noticeable amputation, and I found myself changing my intensity while covering him. Not smart. This guy knew the game and he was fast. Even when I was firing on all pistons, I barely kept up with him. I couldn’t treat him like anyone else; he was too good.

This makes me wonder about other physical limitations. Like how I’ll always take advantage of a mismatch with a slow defender. This is of course just good strategy. But what if instead of a slow defender, it was someone who was blind in one eye and I purposefully stayed to that side? Would that be fair play or would I be capitalizing on disadvantages?

The thought I had while making my way home last night was how my actions change, consciously or not, when my awareness changes. The conclusion I came to — at least as far as sport goes — is that if you’re coming to my house, be ready to play. But if we’re going to a tea party, well, I’ll take it down a notch.

Gone Campin’

My Regular Mind, June 30, 2010 at 10h04

Boy I tell you, it’s been a while since my wrist was this sore. The other day I finished doodling a 28-page comic as a gift for my girlfriend. I think it’s pretty rad but I wish I’d given myself more than just a week to do it in! But now it’s all done with a single one-of-a-kind copy being reproduced into printer spreads and stitched. Don’t be too impressed, it was done in a rushed panic on a colour photocopier. It’s unlikely to be worth millions of dollars by any avid comic collectors.

As this post gets published, I’ll be loaded up with camping gear and on my way to Salt Spring Island. Just like last year — except with a tad more restraint — I’ve gone overboard with gear preparations. New tarp, new multi-day pack, new this, new that. What can I say, I’m a gear guy. I don’t mind packing in a bit of extra weight if I’m going to use it and enjoy it. Like the hammock. And the bocce balls. And this, and that… actually, we’ll see what makes the final cut into the backpack.

And with that!

CDs and Line Buzz

My Regular Mind, May 28, 2010 at 11h55

Man. I finally received some CDs that I’ve been waiting a couple weeks for. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the service of an independent label, but thirteen business days is pushing it. I ordered Swing Kids in the morning and Amazon had it to me the following afternoon. I want to support small businesses — especially in music — but they have to stay competitive within bounds of reason. If I hadn’t pre-ordered the album, I could have bought it at the store for the same price (with shipping) about 18 days ago. This happened years ago when I pre-ordered a different album from the same label. I’m sure most of it has to do with Canada Customs, but the whole situation gets a big hrmph from me.

All that said, the albums have arrived. The new Sage Francis album called Li(f)e, and two albums by B. Dolan, The Failure and Fallen House, Sunken City. Have yet to give them a good solid listen. I’ll be seeing them both perform on Monday at the Biltmore, my first time for either. I haven’t been to many hip hop shows so I’m really looking forward to it. Sage Francis is among my favourite lyricists, but you should know that.

B. Dolan’s FHSC came with a CD of every song’s instrumental track, as they were produced by Alias. I love instrumental tracks to existing songs. The last Sage Francis album I pre-ordered came with one, and there are a few tracks I want to one day record lyrics over. Last time I tried my new microphone through my audio interface I had a buzz in it. (That gets another hrmph.) I haven’t yet tried to remedy the problem. There are sheets and sheets of lyrics dying to find a home. Just gotta make that time. ‘Til then.

Bandette Relocated

My Regular Mind, May 18, 2010 at 07h12

Yesterday was a big day for our raccoon friends living above our kitchen! Bandette and her family have officially been relocated to a newer, happier, and not-in-our-home home. Where they’ve gone exactly we don’t know — she didn’t leave a forwarding address — but I imagine it’s a wonderful place. Also, I imagine that it’s got running water and digital cable. She always wanted digital cable. No more recording over old VHS tapes.

The rescue was interesting. Our landlord cut a hole into the wall above our kitchen sink. After removing the piece of drywall, we could see two babies sitting right there on the insulation. Not the best place to raise children. The mother had been startled by the noise and left the nest, and the man from Critter Rescue took the two babies out and put them in a small bucket which he left in the back yard. Bandette emerged from her little entryway in the roof and went down to fetch her kids right away. She took one and ran off to find a safe new place.

As they were boarding up the entryway, we heard some chattering from inside the hole. A third baby! Bandette had apparently been trying to move her litter when she was startled but didn’t get very far. Another hole was cut into the ceiling and the last baby was pulled out. When the mother returned to the bucket, she found that she couldn’t carry them both at the same time, but she sure tried. For nearly ten minutes she ran between the two just trying to keep them quiet and close. In the end she made two quick trips, and that was that.

It was sad to see their comfort disturbed. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be living in such a cramped area when naturally raccoons live… well, not in the insulated wall of a house. I’m sure that yesterday was a stressful day for them, but it’s for the best. And in a few months when they come back for tea and biscuits, I’m sure we’ll all just laugh about the whole thing.

Chubby Batman and More Bandette

My Regular Mind, May 11, 2010 at 07h35

Last week I was looking at clouds with a walking fellow and saw what was absolutely, definitely chubby Batman wearing an inflatable rubber ducky toy while laying on some rocks. There is no debate, there he is.

Unrelated to this incredible sighting is more activity with our raccoon friend Bandette — (formerly Bandit) — as she continues to prepare her kids for a life ANYWHERE BUT OUR KITCHEN. I’m sure they’re cute and all, but nocturnal and playful aren’t my favourite qualities in a houseguest. She sits on our solarium roof, cleaning and scheming, while those kids of hers chatter on in the small bit of ceiling above our kitchen cupboards. Get a job, already.

Went on a date last week to a beautiful restaurant called Radha. We experienced a delicious meal followed by a long period of wondering how the ‘ricotta’ filling could possibly be made of almonds. Afterwards, there was some Ultimate going on in a park that we passed on our way for a lousy chai, and we watched that for awhile. We weren’t the only ones. An elderly man was sitting behind the fence heckling the goalie of a small soccer practice. Or maybe he was just a generally angry man heckling the world. The downtown east side is not always the most comfortable place to be.

And did you notice I’m trying something new?


My Regular Mind, April 21, 2010 at 07h17

Last night I climbed onto the roof with a flashlight and a drill. It was dark and wet and I had to do something.

A few days ago, we were enjoying the warm morning sun in our solarium when we were startled by the sudden appearance of a raccoon on the roof. There is a small crawl space between the solarium roof and the balcony above us, and this is where we decided she must be living. We named her Bandit.

That night there was a commotion coming from our kitchen ceiling, and that’s when we discovered that Bandit was not alone. There was a whole family of raccoons living in that area of our house. Somehow they’d gotten onto the solarium roof — already a feat in itself — and then into the crawl space, into the house, and through the walls to above our sink, which is where their den is. The distance that they covered inside the walls is over 5 meters.

Yesterday my landlords came by and blocked off the crawl space that the raccoons were using to get inside. I mentioned that there was a whole family living there and that the babies were probably still inside. My landlords assured me that there were no babies; it was just two adult raccoons, and they were gone now.

And then that night, we heard the chittering of the babies in the walls, exactly where I’d indicated to my landlords. Bandit was back on the solarium, scratching at the blocked entrance, struggling to get to her family. And that’s why, right after she left, I was out on to the roof.

I called my landlords again this morning and told them why I took down the boards. There were definitely babies in there. They agreed with me that we’ll have to wait until they’re big enough to come out on their own, and at that point we will block it off from them. But for now, it looks like we have a family of raccoons staying with us. Cute factor ten.

Organic Lives

My Regular Mind, April 14, 2010 at 10h34

Months ago I noticed a building on the way home from work, and while the name Organic Lives was interesting, I never looked into it. A few weeks ago a friend recommended it to me, and recently I decided to give it a shot.

The menu was disappointing when I first looked at it. Some of the tastiest-sounding dishes had cheeses or cream sauces, so it seemed there was little to choose from. When the server came around I told her I was vegan and had some questions. I was so completely stunned when she said the entire menu was vegan-friendly that I was sure I misheard. I had to double-check. And triple-check.

“Everything is raw food, nothing is cooked. We don’t use meat or eggs or dairy. It’s all vegan.”

I looked at the menu again. Now everything sounded delicious and I couldn’t make up my mind. Vegetable flatbread topped with a Pinoli cheese, fresh vegetables, pineapple, Peruvian sun-dried olives and fresh pesto. Lavender bread, cream cheese, chive foie gras, with a tomato and mesclun mix tossed in pecan oil. I was in heaven.

Frustrations Over Not Fitting In The Box

My Regular Mind, April 6, 2010 at 10h31

This site isn’t yet what I want it to be. There’s a caption at the top that currently reads, “this site is in training to serve you better.” Training is taking longer than I’d like, but things in life always do seem to take longer than one would like. I’d love nothing more than to commit myself entirely to these things that make me happy but that is not a luxury I can enjoy at the moment. The belief that it will some day seems further each day.

I’m sure we all fantasize about coming into a great sum of money. Oh the time it could buy me.

Most of the writing here isn’t my ideal work. In fact, most of it leaves me feeling hypocritical. I go on about how information is important, but then I write whimsical prose about fragments of memory; things of little importance to anyone. At best I can sometimes develop a moral from them, but it’s still ego writing. I’d prefer compelling articles about politics and news, but the necessary research would occupy time I do not have.

Sometimes life feels so huge and uncontrollable that I hardly have any choices to make. Must work, must eat, must sleep. And I’m so small. I worry about this endlessly. And then the feeling of inadequacy overwhelms me. And I get smaller and smaller, until I can just about fit inside the box that we’re supposed to, the one where work and life are automatically satisfying and we want nothing more.

The Man in the Teahouse

My Regular Mind, March 22, 2010 at 03h33

Yesterday afternoon, we went to a teahouse in our neighbourhood. After carefully picking out our tea, we sat down at a table to enjoy it. An older man behind us, perhaps in his late sixties, asked my dear what tea she was drinking. This was how our conversation started.

We could tell that he wanted to talk, so we did. Through his light accent, he told us that he was visiting from Ottawa, though he has no ties there anymore and may move to Vancouver soon. One of his sons has a family here and he would like to be closer to them, whereas his other son lives in Dubai working as a private pilot for a Saudi family. He would not like to move there.

When he is in Vancouver, he said, he comes to this same place where him and his wife used to come so often when she was alive. She passed away last year.

After he was done his tea, he thanked the girls working there, then came to say goodbye to us on his way out. He smiled and told us to spend time together. It’s important.

The impression that some strangers leave on us is enormous. People we may only see once in our lifetime can still give us hope, can still provide us wisdom if we let them. Every person has a story, and in every story is something beautiful.

We aren’t here forever. Go love someone.