Friday, March 31, 2006

Splurge, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Consumerism

Bought these babies off eBay. Mmmm, Marc by Marc Jacobs ballet flats. My eyes are welling up, they are loverly. I have a lot of shoes, but only my Enzo Angiolini kitten-heeled faux-loafers resemble these and even then, it's only because of the bow and closed-toe.

Watson, I do believe I double-splurged today. First, a belt from BCBG, and now, grandma's YMCA senior night craft project. Yowza! That's a lot of happiness. Don't hate the player; hate the game.

***

Woohoo! What could be a better reason to shop than receiving an unexpected A (albeit, an A-minus) for the media law final? None, that's what! Well, none this week. So off I went taking my pampered ass to chichi boutiques. HaiPhia accompanied me with the same goal in mind, except ... it took an awkward turn as the day progressed. As someone so dreadfully young, I realize money isn't a taboo subject for nought. But I also don't know how painfully disconnected I am from those who do not have much of it. (Don't worry, this is not an entry about "liberal guilt".)

I don't perceive myself as a frivolous spender. I find conspicuous symbols of wealth vulgar no matter the price tag. From street vendors to high-end retailers, I make no distinction between the two as long as they offer me what I set out in search of. My friends say I'm an informed and entertaining shopper, open to all price points, which takes the stress out of searching when they're with me. What I'm trying to say is that I make a conscious effort to make shopping a social experience and not a competitive sport. I'm not out to rub anything in anyone's face.

So it came as a surprise when I felt like I was being judged by my (constant) companion today. At first, I didn't much notice what she was trying to tell me. "You won't like anything here," she warned before entering a newly opened shoe store. "40 dollars? I can't afford that. I knew you wouldn't like this place: their stuff is mostly clunky." I laughed it off thinking it was motivated by our common aversion. But as the night progressed, her "advice giving" increased. She told me to ask myself: 1) Do I need it? 2) Will I get much use out of it? 3) *insert another cliched shopping maxim* I appreciated her input, but did she have to lecture me every time I remarked that something was "nice"? She'd mouth "But it's ___ dollars!" when salespeople had their backs turned after helping me find my size. I wanted to mouth back, "I know, I checked," but I felt too guilty to carry it out considering how much she emphasized the price and how nonchalantly I was treating it. This occurred at almost every store. When we started turning back towards my apartment, still empty-handed, I made a mad dash to BCBG and decided to purchase a handmade leather belt. I reasoned it was sturdy, classic, but also quite unique and decided it was just functional enough to justify the exorbitant price. As I handed over my credit card to one of the sales reps, HaiPhia tapped the store policy sign obviously enough for me to notice as if to say, "You're making a big mistake because they don't have refunds here ..." She went down the list, one by one, stopping beside each numbered paragraph as if teaching a child how to read. I laughed and told her to stop patronizing me. I've been shopping for myself for most of my life, I know what to expect. She chuckled, copping to her faux-pas. But when we continued down the street, she continued making snide comments to me. "You better take extra special care of that thing. You don't want to lose it. You have a tendency to do that." Or in an unnecessarily loud voice, she boomed, "You know, Lily. Eating is more important than buying clothes!" It came out of left field, as if a strategy. The looks I got from strangers humiliated me. What she said might be an irrefutable truism, but I've also never sacrificed food for vanity (although I have said it in the past as a joke).

Is this why friendships forged between income brackets fail? Does money present such a contrast in lifestyles and "normalized" habits that one cannot effectively come to grips with the other? I sometimes feel cheated when she repays me with a gesture or two, thinking (perhaps over-confidently) that they're enough to erase any compensatory expectations. I've happily bought sitdown dinners for the two of us whenever restaurants refused to accept debit or she had insufficient funds. But when she promises she'll treat me "next time", is it wrong to look foward to more than a five-dollar rice bowl from the food court? Math Judas says, percentage-wise, we're probably making the same dent in our wallets. But I feel it's an insensitive interpretation of the reality of relationships. I know it's unreasonable to expect her to see my dilemma eye to eye. "Some people feel that the richer you are," Sexy Spinster tells me, "the more you're expected to pay for things." But that's not how people stay rich.

I'm not asking for a Mercedes here. I just think if it is agreed that something is done as an aid of friendship, it's still appropriate to assume it's far from free. (It's different with gifts because I give up my rights as the proprietor as soon as they're received.) I mean, I appreciate good intentions, but again, I feel like it's a bit unfair to have to swallow my pride and forget about all the money I've coughed up because the other party believes one unselfish act is enough to restore the balance. I don't think people seem to understand that I am not wealthy nor are my parents. My mother is simply very kind to me, which allows me to maintain the lifestyle I've grown accustomed to (if not better). I am given a lump sum each month which is my only source of income. So whether I am guilt-tripped or sympathetically offer a hand, the numbers on my bank statements always move in one direction - down - simply because I never get anything tangible back. I never invite people along to activities I know they can't afford - I've since learned to keep those luxuries to myself to avoid generating feelings of inadequacy. But is it kosher to say, "She's paying" before I'm even asked?

I'm not a magic lamp you rub to grant wishes.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Movies make the medicine go down

I saw M. Biologique's girlfriend today as I was making my way to the ATM machines. She stopped and said hi and looked like she wanted to chat. Wave back and smile, I told myself, and keep walking. She's a nice girl and I know I can learn to appreciate her militant views on organic farming if I ever considered wearing brown corduroys to go with my yellow tractor, mais pourquoi? I don't think I have to like her as a person if she sucks by proxy since I don't want to have anything to do with her boyfriend. I mean, she ruined a perfectly good day gracing me with her presence. Okay, not her fault. But surely, my reaction is understandable. It's like having a baby you never wanted and giving him to your mother to raise and then seeing him grow up to be just like his father and ultimately hating that child for who he reminds you of in addition to being told he's suspected of raping a woman with a knife. (So I stole that from last night's episode of Law & Order: SVU. It still captures my situation better than I can right now.) I thought I could take the high road and continue being persistently poised under the most strenuous conditions. I thought I had to endure his insufferable appearances like a good host should. But nothing changes a woman's mind better than pure, undiluted hate. He's anathema to my health, a plague upon my house. Next time he shows up, it's going to be all, Senor ... quien? No se. Oh, puta tu madre, me acuerdo de ti ahora: el gringo estupido! Well, I'm not home so go away! I have a dictionary and I'm not afraid to read from it ...

***

I bought four books today: Colour by Victoria Finlay, The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir, Joseph E. Persico's Nuremberg, and finally, Martin Amis's The War Against Cliche.

There were thousands to choose from organized under umbrella headings like fiction and non-fiction. I combed through the tables thrice over, only to keep returning to a novel by James Joyce until my indecision became a sign to make a decision. I looked at the cover forlornly before putting it down for the last time. I feel great about the books I ended up picking out of the litter though because the entire purchase came up to be only 29 dollars after tax. That's 20 bucks less than a bar of soap and a moisturizing cream from LUSH (which I also ventured out to acquire earlier in the day). You win some, you lose some: the price of vanity and brains. Spinsters can't escape them, they're the twin gods of my reign.

And by that I mean, How embarrassing! Train Boy approached me in school today. That's the extent of the story. But since I'm in the mood for sharing, I'll share with you the most creative pick-up line I received this week after being dismissed from film class a few hours ago: "Hi, Lily. Do you know what kind of filling was in that bun she was eating?" Answer: Yes. Red bean paste tucked inside a [mantou]. "Oh! Thanks! I thought it might've been cabbage. My name is ..." Smooth, real smooth. (And under 30 for a change.)

***

Professor G screened Ming Liang Tsai's Goodbye Dragon Inn tonight. I want to say it was strung together using solely montage shots, a la Eisenstein, but that's really not the case (although the static framing made it feel eerily similar). Tsai films the entire movie using ponderously time consuming long takes. The camera rarely moves, except for some very subtle tilts and pans. Dialogue doesn't appear until past the 30 minute mark and doesn't last. Scanning the comments page on IMDb, I shook my head at the formulaic interpretations left there by (understandably) confused viewers. But it is still infinitely more than an "end of the movies" parable. It is deeply nostalgic. It is self-referential of Chinese culture and reflective of the movie-going experience. I remarked to the professor that the last shot, which contains the crippled ticket taker walking in the rain and the only time non-diagetic sound appears, is a wake up call for Asian cinema. The lyrics speak of better days and the music evokes Shanghai during wartime. That's not a coincidence. The years between 1933 and 1949 represented China's Golden Age of film which provided entertainment without resorting to cheap editing tricks and dressed-up aesthetics. Instead, lingering long-shots were used to generate emotion (and perhaps an obsessively contemplative mood). "Goodbye Dragon Inn" utilizes that maximally to achieve chilling minimalism. In contrast, 1966's "Dragon Gate Inn" (the movie being shown inside the theatre in Tsai's piece) is kitschy and flashy with elements of Beijing Opera. Why is it that the Chinese Arts are fantastical, yet the people who enjoy them tend to show self-restraint and deference to avoid any form of confrontation? Tsai seems to be reminding us of our true natures, the real rhythm of our lives. And it's not about whether celluloid is dying or theatres slowly losing their appeal, but if we can ever relegate Asian filmmaking back to a form of serious art independent from intrinsically Western embellishments (like the showy MGM lion egged on by a full orchestra during opening credit sequences). I feel like he's saying, Let us use our own stock characters and thematic choices: we're more than one gigantic exotic commodity.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Venting: Asian-style

I'm going to pull a Virginia Woolf here and just spray it.

My defenses were wavering, it had been a while since I heard anything from M. Biologique, not counting a chain mail or two. So his memory had begun to soften up. Did he do nice things for me? Well, no. But what about those times when he ...? Doesn't count. Biggest asshole ever. Oh, give him another shot and set his reputation free. I guess if you put it that way ...

Then today, I remembered why I left that cock-riding bastard and not a moment too soon! He hasn't changed a bit! I was on the phone with NorIda discussing an ethical dilemma I had over my next newspaper article. It wasn't as simple as gratuities in exchange for PR because using Kidder's checklist, I came up with a range of compromises. "I'm not obligated to do any favours for [the hairdresser]. He's going to have to agree to my terms, or no mention of him at all!" I said dramatically in the cafe.

M. Biologique caught sight of me from the mezzanine and sauntered over. I waved politely and gently nudged him away, and he returned to his hackey sacking. (Sunny skies are to hippies as rain are to worms.) I click-clacked towards him in my Janet-Leigh-in-Psycho outfit (shirtdress, nipped waist, round-toe pumps) after my conversation with NorIda ended.

"What's up?" he gruffed.

I told him about my problem with being a journalist. That, to stay impartial, I better be prepared to fork over money for a good haircut from the master because the master has other plans for me.

M. Biologique didn't respond with anything relevant and instead, removed the lid off my food container and dipped his fingers into it, helping himself to sizeable portions. He then proceeded to run after his sack (story of his life). "Anyone who pays for a haircut is stupid," he remarked upon returning.

I looked at him wearily through my Jackie O shades. "That's because not everyone has a fucking girlfriend to do it for them."

He chuckled. "I cut my own hair."

"No you don't."

"Oh Lily, don't call my girlfriend that. But yeah, I don't," he laughed.

"It's true. Not everyone has a fucking girlfriend to do shit for them like you."

"She's not my fucking girlfriend."

"No, she's not. She's just the girl you happen to fuck. Besides, I'm not talking about her. I'm talking about all girlfriends. That's what they do, no?"

He grinned and tried to poke my sunglasses with his index finger. "Why do you wear those big things? Who are you? Janis Joplin?" he asked, changing the subject.

"Why are you touching me? Who are you?" I said, backing away. "A molester?"

Needless to say, the putrid emotions I had all but suppressed came pouring out like a broken septic tank. And although I consider myself rather patient, it is unacceptable to start up another conversation while you're in the middle of one then come back to me as if nothing happened. That ADD. It kills me. Hilarious. Remind me why I haven't put a nail gun to my head? I couldn't make him work with me. He was worse than a wall. It was like pleading for my vagina to open up. "Hey, Susan. Let bygones be bygones. We can really make it work this time." Hell no! He wasn't going to have any of that. Dysfunction isn't just a word for premature ejaculation, it's a lifestyle. His girlfriend can fry up her dumpster-dove chicken, give him E. coli, then shove her head up his va-jay-jay for all I care. What is an older, grown-ass woman doing with a magpie anyway? I hope he shits pearls.

Who the hell does he think he is, eating my food, thinking he can censor me, being a fucking pain in the backdoor? Oh, I doubted myself, to be sure. You know, gave him credit where credit wasn't due. And what the fuck is with him acting all nonchalant and distant when he's seen with me around school, but does a schizo switcheroo when he pops by on occasion? It better be because my beauty attracts suspicion and unwanted gossip, or he's just a fucking loser (who feels more Jewish when he abstains from ham. I've got news! God hates you). "I've been doing some silk screening lately." Is that what kids today do to stay edgy? What a useless pastime. It's a skill easier to acquire than a bad lay by a grazing farm animal. I fucking hate this guy. It's cold turkey from here on out. Absolutely no freakin' contact with him ever, ever again (not that it's going to be hard. Pun intended)! I wish he stays unhappy, that prick on a stick. If he isn't out to con me, he's out to con women who iron on enough dreads to rein him in! And boy does he have big ears. It's like Will Smith driving a DeLorean. So the Jewfro was there for vanity purposes and your other half hacked it off? Boohoo! That's what happens when you change your style icon from Diana Ross to ninjas.

I am now 120% certain that my decision to drop that smelly sack of New Mexican manure was the best thing I ever did! Motherfucker needs an anvil dropped on his head or something. Or a call from a cult. Maybe they can spare a dashiki to wear, so he'd look like he grew a pair.

Ah, nothing like a good catharsis! Anger, subsiding ... Need for medical attention ... gone.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

About time: Malignant Mitosis


Woke up at 2 a.m. and began painting on my newly-bought canvas. My neighbour left just now after helping me put it above my couch. The picture I took is really bad because my camera is the gadget equivalent of Velveeta. The actual texture is more varied than it appears here. I dripped, poured, splattered, scuffed, and smudged the damn thing to death. He's going to return tomorrow to help put up my bathroom shelf. I lost my good screwdriver and he needs a good screw. Seriously, my screws suck. The head's always too big, and the shaft, too short. Even self-drilling ones enter from awkward angles and don't fasten properly.

Okay, I'm done now.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Leprechaun in Alabama


"This amateur sketch ..."

Why don't we have these types of stories in Canada? We never have neighbourhood watchdog parties with guys wearing grills like they just returned from eating the entire line of Transformers, but know they must still try to stay humble by donning caps in a particular shade of crayon to remind women they're also soft on the inside so won't you let them holla at cha and grab your Black Irish booty? ("Just a little bit," as Enoch once said during art class.)

And why didn't my great-great-grandfather pass down an ancient leprechaun flute to me? I WANT A LEPRECHAUN FLUTE! Although, I suspect that man in the full military regalia must have a tendency to confuse everyone with his dealer. I mean, what sort of a person walks down the street carrying a crack pipe and tries to convince people it's a Lucky Charms dog whistle?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rant #08: Wankers vs. Integrity

My source told me "a couple of other students" from my school have been contacting him about doing the same story recently. I can't help but suspect my news idea is being ripped-off - although I could just be paranoid. (Although, NorIda did admit to telling fellow classmates about it.) Still, there's a nagging feeling in my gut that's telling me to stop writing the details of my burgeoning professional life as a precautionary measure. I'm positive someone from my program is the culprit behind the nasty messages left on my blog because I tracked down the computer she was using - and it must be a "she" due to the soaring levels of unprovoked cattiness - to a machine located in the university's journalism/communications building.

Juvenile politics are honing in on me. It's high school deja vu with less finesse.

***

I hate over-privileged racists so much! Sometimes, I just want to kick their ass to Bangladesh and grind their over-bleached heads on a millstone. Today's lecture in one of my communication classes was on race representation in the media. And this WASP raised his hand and basically said racism doesn't exist because tons of ethnic people successfully pass for white so we can't possibly be discriminated against. "White is being normal," he continued. "Or, ya know, like ... hegemony or whatever."

I immediately interrupted him mid-sentence. "What do you mean by 'whiteness'?" I demanded. "We're naturally going to align ourselves with certain groups because we're not 'all the same': ethnicity, gender, they define us! [What you're saying] is so superficial!"

The peanut gallery of coked-up Ugg-outfitted whoreanus hacks groaned and giggled loudly at my expense, alternately whispering and glaring for the rest of the class before tee-heeing their way out in a fur-trimmed haze like a Zsa Zsa Gabor silent zoo auction.

The way they trivialized race relations the entire time made me want to throw them a bone and watch them fight over it for nutrients. It's like these bulimic bitches are leaking brain matter because the insulating powers of semen haven't graced their ears yet. Their sheltered upbringings have made them so ignorant and apathetic, the status quo is a social club they can't wait to join. And when it comes to bullshit, you can cut through theirs with a paper knife. You'd think their mothers would've terminated their pregnancies once they discovered babies didn't come from missed prayer sessions. I ask all that is good, where did evolution take a wrong turn? Fucking cowards to boot. Jonathan Swift wasn't playing around when he was lampooning them.

These people remind me of those drunken broads of yore. I remember one girl saying not-so-discreetly in biology class how I wanted 9/11 to happen because I was from one of those countries. And during my senior year, another dumb chick threatened to round up her buddies to "get me", so I yanked the bag of baby carrots from her hands and beat her with it in the cafeteria. Don't give me that suburban crap, I thought, I was in fistfights since before your legs could carry you to the nearest liquor counter.

You heard right, son. Street cred from the produce aisle - I'm down like that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Random Tangent #421

*UPDATE*: The email was live and active! He came off real nice! Gave me his cell phone number! Everything for this article is falling into place!

***

I am a LUSH addict. I have been for months now. It's true, I'm a bit ashamed of this habit, but their beauty products are, hands down, the finest in the entire universe the size of Sally Struthers's underpants. They handmake everything from all natural and safe synthetic ingredients (practically everything in the store comes with an expiry date; the Warrior mask alone has a freshness lock of only three weeks) and I have yet to break out from using anything I've tried. My friends are hooked. Not as much as me because I'm known to be gullible. Even so, LUSH delivers. The products are very specialized and are designed to treat an array of skin types which would explain why their effectiveness is dependent on the user. Anyway, I found my regimen, I'm chummy with the manager, and scored Readerdroid a chance to work there this summer.

One word: Freebies.

I've replaced every item - sans Olay moisturizers - in my medicine cabinet with a LUSH equivalent. Except they aren't equivalents, they're diii~vine. So now, I share my newfound wisdom with you (and by share, I mean, write this down so I can look back on it when I'm in my 20s and remember the good ol' days when I could afford such luxuries on mommy's income):

Fresh Farmacy cleansing bar (every evening)
Tea Tree Water toner (twice a day)
Enzymion face cream (morning)
Warrior mask (every 2-3 days)
Ocean Salt scrub (twice a week)
Breeze on Sea Air toner (spritzed throughout the day)

And water. I try to drink a litre minimum a day because pop is too sweet and I don't want to develop a tolerance to my cheap caffeine kicks for when I need it for school and preferably green, white, or lemon-infused tea when it's convenient and dairy only if it's organic (because I'm a sucker for sensationalist bovine hormone propaganda) and not-from-concentrate orange juice with extra pulp because who wants to pay for diluted syrup and absolutely under no circumstances any alcohol (unless I'm being peer-presssured by my relatives no less. See: Last Christmas). So now I glow. I glow like a post-coital ho. I look better than I did in high school (but that may just be the puberty winding down). It could also be because I live within the downtown core and tend to walk everywhere. Wherever I am, I automatically take the stairs instead of the accompanying escalator every time there's a choice. And on the weekends, I take four-hour walks across the island and back. It's not conscious, I don't consider it exercise - it's window shopping - but it has somehow improved my general well-being all the same. I don't like to return home to my parents for that sole reason: I'm driven everywhere. The suburbs discourage using sidewalks. Only freaks and children make use of them. And even they call each other names.

Where was I going with this? Ah yes. Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate, 1992). It's 6 a.m. movie time, baby.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Tango Lesson

My mom agreed to pay for the tango sessions I'm registering for in mid-April. Uber-excited! Pablo Veron, the star of The Tango Lesson, is a resident master instructor at this studio.

I've loved this movie since I saw it in high school back when my dad had no qualms about purchasing illegal devices, like a satellite dish for all our bleary-eyed needs (a domestic accessory that has since become uncomfortably legit, foryourinformation). Of the 500 channels it picked up, my favourite - besides the depressing porn - was the Independent Film Channel. I watched it and its counterparts every chance I could get: it made me fall in love with film. The Tango Lesson was one of those pictures that was also in love. In love with its subject matter. A narcissistic love. A painful one over control. It was a love affair.

Click to watch video

I went through a lot of trouble trying to steal this clip off of Sony's website. I had to first figure out the working code to crack QuickTime Pro 7 so I wouldn't have to pay for the upgrade that enables the option to transfer Internet media files to my desktop. Then I had to upload it into the Video Google database so I could take their flash version and embed it in my blog. Then I had to wait for Google technicians to verify the contents to ensure that it did not contain explicit or obscene material. Then I waited for their response. Then I got it, unfortunately: Nope, can't be done, ya stupid shiksa.

I don't think I actually understood what all that meant. But I guess that's the logical response to any digital conundrum when you're a self-taught stooge like me. ("Wheeee! Sparks! Pretty!") Anyway, the great thing about this movie is that Sally Potter, who takes on the Eastwoodian role of director and actor, shoots the entire thing in black and white. To paraphrase Fred Astaire, he once opined that dance sequences lose their luster in colour. I think that's a fair assessment: form and technique gets lost in its shadow. Baz Luhrmann should be ashamed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Does this mean I'm part-Irish?

I don't know what you'd call this. Chance? Serendipity? Completely undeserved? All I know is it's been hell of a weekend. It began when NorIda came back from getting her hair cut and the maverick stylist gave her a kick-ass look. (Bands apparently go to him when they pass through Montreal.) Anyway, he's interested in meeting me to be a hair model. Experimental avant-garde stuff. He says it's hard to find people willing to part with their hair because, well, women tend not to want to go further than a free trim. So ... where do I sign up?

That evening, I placed an informal ad up on a website to find people from the Montreal parkour community willing to speak to me about the discipline. I received replies within hours and set up a meeting with two young traceurs after corresponding with one of them for a day. On the way to see him today, I was given the third-degree by an in-the-name-of-Saint-Cirrhosis asshole. A middle-aged woman also moved from where she was standing on the metro platform to avoid these obnoxious punks. She leaned against the wall beside me and commented on their behaviour, jokingly. I joked back. We developed an immediate rapport. She asked me whether St. Patty's drunks were interfering with my studying this weekend. I told her I was actually headed for an interview with some parkour kids. I'm a freelancer, you see. A journalism student. "Oh really, because I work for the [Montreal] Gazette."

You must be kidding me.

The woman turned out to be Pat Donnelly, the paper's literary critic. Before getting off the train, she told me my story has never been covered by the Gazette before and she's sure to recommend me to two of her section editors. (One being the Arts & Life guy I emailed last week about my trend story on the children of Bobos; still no reply.) She suggested specific columns I should refer to before writing to him. That way, I can imitate the style they're looking for and improve my chances of getting published: editors like it when you have a clear idea as to where you want your article to appear in. It was an insider tip from a definite insider.

I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest once the doors closed. I couldn't contain my excitement: I was giggling spontaneously at my seat and getting weird looks from strangers like I had a tube of laughing gas shoved up my ass, but I DIDN'T CARE!

When I met with my 15-year-old contacts, I was in such a good mood that they immediately loosened up around me. Nice boys. Polite. From the West Island. Honour students. It was a fun interview. (They even did a little demonstration for me out on the street.) One of them let slip that the dude in charge of free-running in Montreal was getting ready to showcase his skills in Europe beginning of April. I have to get to him before he leaves, I thought. I must reach him before the usual suspects do.

When I returned home, I went googling for the organizer's real name. He was the site adminstrator for PK514.com which featured a generic media inquiries link. I remembered NorIda telling me how she still hadn't received a reply from him after sending a request a few days prior. [*Disclosure: I had given her my idea so she'd have something for her broadcasting class.] Well, counterintuitively, I sent a message there anyway, but I also, with a bit of research, dug up the guy's real name (from an obscure Toronto magazine article that accredited him with one quote) and then his personal email address from a cached profile off the old site.

I exaggerated a little about working for the Gazette to better my chances of being granted an interview, but I don't feel guilty for lying to him because technically, I am (they just don't know it yet - as in, at the time of this entry). Besides, aligning myself with a substantial newspaper gives me more credibility (which is ironic, I know. But who hasn't lied about their job?).

After calling my parents to share the good news, I got chewing gum on my jeans. The world re-balanced itself right then and there which got me thinking: Does this mean I am free of additional karmic backlash? Oh, one can only hope ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

David Belle: TF1 Report


Okay, on the topic of my second feature story, it's basically on that. Some work as stuntmen, some see it as a serious artistic discipline, many believe parkour is a way of life - but anything beats living with the folks (that is, the un-brutally murdered kind).

Lock

The one thing worse than writing feature stories is convincing editors to buy them. How do you shill ideas worth purchasing that haven't been done before?

"I hear big things about cow wrestling!" you enthuse. "Kids love udders."

It's so awkward describing to a stranger why your article should be chosen over the one Slim Jim McPenisFace submitted two days earlier because frankly, it's a no brainer: Your story sucks. Whereas others seem to find inspiration under their toe nails, I get as far as fart samplers. This is the lede for the current one I'm editing:

"I'm thinking of going to Bali with my friend this summer," says Maya as she takes a long drag from her hookah pipe. "Or maybe the Czech Republic since I'll be in London anyway."

We're sitting on her couch in her apartment which she shares with four other roommates. There's an old television set sitting on top of a vintage refrigerator in the corner of the room. An ornate light fixture hangs from the ceiling emitting a tastefully warm glow. Over on the other end, a Peruvian-inspired tarp protects a tank that houses her pet chameleon she, "like, just dropped 400 dollars" for. Maya says this last part as if it were an afterthought. Sure she paid more for the cold-blooded creature than her monthly rent, but it's "gorgeous" and the pet shop gives her crickets for free. She's dressed down in a velvet number and pairs it with boots she got on sale recently. "Hush Puppies," she gushes. "So comfortable. Only 200 bucks." Nearby, a woman crosses the street with a knock-off bag hanging prominently on her arm. Maya and I exchange knowing looks: Hate that. It's obvious she can't afford the real thing. Why bother faking it? Authenticity and "being real" is a big thing for her. Her shoes are scuffed just enough to look like they've had a rough life (trapped in a brownstone ghetto). Maya is an intelligent young woman so her possessions must naturally be an extension of herself. Anyone can have style, but who among us can buy inner-peace?

There are others like her: students in their early-20s striving to inhabit an anti-materialist lifestyle seemingly achievable only through inconspicuous consumption. These are the children of bobos ...

My second feature will be on Montreal's parkour scene. Only La Presse has covered it which is good for me. My professor told me if I really wanted to pursue stories, I should stop giving away ideas to other journalism students. But isn't that what friends do, help each other out? "Well," she snickered, "that's rather generous of you." Apparently that's not how it works in the real world.

Maybe I should write about the weird way white girls bend over and put their hands on their knees like constipated cheerleaders whenever Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up" comes on. They toot their caboose, throw their glossy hair back, and let loose like competing earth worms with coordination problems.

"Yeah, mmm, touch my boobs, girls. You know it looks good. Yeah, we's a sexy choo-choo train."

But you know not everyone's having fun. There's always that one chick whose job is to watch over jackets because her friends could only fit three weaves and a stillborn on a single coat check hanger. You know the one: Lower-half kind of misshapen, claps during rap, and has about 13 empty glasses on the table in front of her. Yet, deep down, she's a pioneer. Who else could have developed the Sit Down Bum Bounce, the Lip Pout Neck Snap, and the "We Are the World" Beer Torch to perfection? Godspeed, woman. Godspeed.

"I like glitter."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fact

Another middle-aged man went to the trouble of following me across two underground malls to talk to me. "You are so feminine," Michel remarked. "And your English, it is very good. You learn back in your country?"

I nodded. "Yeah, Ontario."

He handed me his business card after going on a way-too-long tangent about what he does as a business lawyer ("No criminal. Just commercial"). As I slowly tried to back away, he simultaneously moved forward. "Let me buy you a juice," he offered.

You KNOW you're fully aware of soliciting a (relative) minor when you invite her out for JUICE. Dude! What is wrong with you? He told me to call him so we could discuss my "schooling" (because lawyers just love to talk shop with journalists). I excused myself; meeting a friend, I told him. "Ah, okay," he replied. "So feminine. You have such a feminine walk." Creeeeeeep.

I miss my mommy.

I was wearing a loose-fitting sweater and a purple bandanna. Nothing about me screamed, "Will spend the night for a dime." Yet I am constantly gawked at on the street. My friends, they get checked out; me, men stare. They blatantly scan me up and down like a rotisserie chicken in a Somalian store front. I would be lying if I said I didn't get self-conscious. Women clutch their boyfriends' arms a touch tighter when I pass; I pretend to be searching for lipgloss in my purse. Self-proclaimed thugs cry out, "Let's fuck," when they see me; I bite my tongue and pretend I'm deaf or immigrant. It makes me not want to leave the house sometimes. The grabbing my shoulder, the knocking down my hand, they do it just to "talk to me" like it's their God-given right. This drives me to states of anguish; puberty came at a price. What a curse.

And this is why my girlfriends don't understand why I am always telling them to be cautious when they're at the cusp of a new relationship. Last night, Shotgun Toter was telling me about "Jake" and I suggested she stop playing into his games because he gets to determine how, when, what happens between them and that's just not kosher. She said she wanted to play into his games because she liked him. I told her it was disrespectful for the girlfriend, that if he was a man he would take the risk, dump his woman, then pursue Toter without restraint. (Or if he was a real man, he'd end his current relationship before something new even entered the picture.) But she refused to listen and said she predicted I would be negative. There's nothing good about being single, she continued. If relationships are so bad, why isn't everyone breaking up? That hurt me a lot more than I cared to admit. Who am I tell her to be careful when I couldn't even prevent my own deeper-than-flesh wound? My best friend rejected my advice in favour of the Optimists' Club, where every dumb thing a man does is justified by his situation: He's confused, He's trapped, She's ugly, They're on the verge of ..., He needs time to feel the new girl out. These women just sit around yapping about how to catch them a mans.

Dumping me for a boy. What else is new? Even my best friend has got on the bandwagon. ("The One" isn't one for waiting.) I know I should just be patient - the big picture and all. But realizing my place on the pyre is dependent on whomever is at the top isn't a very comforting thought either. (*UPDATE: This Salon letter illustrates the situation perfectly.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

No! Yes! No!

Manolo Cardona as the muy sexy Gonzalo.

Today's Saturday cinematic offering was La mujer de mi hermano (My Brother's Wife, 2005). A Peruvian-penned Mexican flick, something to do with a love triangle. It was a dumb soap, basically: the wife becomes a beard. That's right, I spoiled it. She fucks her brother-in-law and since he's a chronic skirt-chaser, she settles for her closeted husband because he promises to love her forever. Whoopadeedoo!

The plot didn't matter though because I was on the verge of coming every time the stock dickwad came on screen. The brother-in-law is such a tool, but fucks like a professional. Don't let the hair fool you. Damn hippie. *drool* The afro, the worn-out Converses, the vintage tees, I hated him because he had the same moves as ... Well, let's not get into details. Okay, let's. The seductive teasing in those scenes were at once enjoyable and excruciatingly difficult to get through just because it reminded me so much of the way he used to ... Hell no, I refuse to get myself riled up and depressed over this. I clean the dishes without prompting! I dance the tango in my underoos! I am an independent woman, damnit! ... Jesus, I'm lame.

Why is it that I can tolerate most anything, and yet I can't be in the same building, let alone make use of the same appendage, with someone who reeks of monkey shit IQ? I wish - really - I could be more like Readerdroid who went on a date with a complete himbo last week, told me he was unbearable ("He's never heard of Guantanamo Bay! Can you believe it?"), and ended up taking him for a fuck buddy: they've been doing daily booty calls since. I told her that just isn't a possibility for me because from the door to the bed, common courtesy requires that I offer the guy coffee, tea, or me and answering in kind will substantially decrease his chances of sex just because reaching coitus depends on him keeping his mouth shut. And since political correctness requires mutes to have overcome some sort of adversity in their lifetime, I doubt I'd find one willing to put up with my disappointment at the discovery that his disability has been a real eye-opener for him. "About that," I'd imagine saying, "you're too thoughtful to screw." And he'd hang his head and sign me the finger. Yeah, that's exactly what'll happen.

So in the movie theatre, I was about to take a seat when someone behind me shouts, "Is that Lily?" I turned around: "Who is that?" It was an old high school classmate of mine. She was sitting with a male companion. We ran to the aisle, happily chatting and exchanged numbers before the show. Man, we did not like each other for the longest time because both our reputations preceeded us. I was a bitch, she was annoying. Then, in grade 12, we shared an English literature course and suddenly became intellectual peas and carrots. We were absolutely inseparable during class: brainstormed and supported each other's ideas and depended on the other one to be the advocatus diaboli during presentations. She remembered how I did my independent writing assignment on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as an allegory for venereal disease and thought it was crazy of me to try and pull it off, but fell for it she did (along with the teacher who handed me that coveted A+). We hadn't seen each other since graduation, but picked up right where we left off over coffee. She confirmed the girls back home got fat (bespecled eyes do not deceive) and made sure to fit in a handful of politically-charged topics before leaving to go see her boyfriend. We got into a discussion over her militant feminist roommate. "Forget about arguing with these people," I huffed. "They're not equalists; they're historical revisionists."

She laughed: "You haven't changed a bit."

I didn't have the guts to tell her it had taken everything I had to bring myself back to this point after being belittled for the past year. Anyway, it was good to see her again, we've already made plans for next week. And how weird is it that I find out after she invited me to her St. Patty's Day party that her place is only two blocks down from mine? We go to the same Lebanese eatery, for chrissakes!

***

Slobodan Milosevic is dead. Good riddance to that asshole.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tweezer

Math Judas came back from a birthday party held in the honour of a classmate from high school. She was with her other girly friends. Oh, they giggled and laughed, eating TGIF Italian. But something wasn't right this time, he observed. There was something off about the whole thing. Then it hit him:

Them bitches got fat. Funhouse fat.

Should I feel bad that I've kept fit like a member of the East German swim team and karma came to bite them in the ass like a vicious donut dog equipped with inhalable Reese's vapor?

Can't say I am. This eats the cake.

***

Techbiana's roommate asked her when she was going to bring over her "cute Asian friend" again. His name? Don't quite remember. He's an artist, a painter. I can't even picture what he looks like, but she clarified it wasn't the one who looked Filipino-but-is-really-from-Afghanistan. This happens to me more frequently than getting asked out, point-blank. (40yr+ alert!) I seem to send out the message that interested individuals should play it so cool around me that their greenlight vibes freeze into serrated icicles that go unnoticed. Yes, it's likely I will reject them, but that's only because I don't hook-up with practical strangers (anymore). It's no fun for me, it never was. And though many people adhere to being a challenge, I find that manipulative. The second formulation of Kant's categorical imperative states that we should treat people as an end in themselves and not merely a means. This does not rule out all cases of using someone to satisfy our own needs. But it does rule out any action which treats people in such a way that they do not have the opportunity to consent to what we have set out to do. We can't realistically believe we can coerce people into staying with us forever because we drive them insane with our aloofness. It might work for awhile, but it's immoral. Results do not excuse bad behaviour.

I wouldn't be able to keep my conscience clear.

So I don't do it at all and am given the sympathetic shoulder pat in return: "You'll find him. He's out there." People don't seem to understand that's not the point. I want to be valued, I want to know my qualities are genuinely respected, I want to know everyone's at the party voluntarily. What I don't want is for "the sake of it" to enter my vocabulary. It shouldn't be in anyone's, but it is. Yet I'm the one being pitied: "Poor Lily, self-righteousness never got anyone anywhere."

Don't I know it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wall Art

Is it possible to find something so utterly perfect to hang above your couch, yet have absolutely no means of acquiring it?

See Exhibit A:



I don't care for their music all that much. A little bit of My Bloody Valentine with a hit of pretentious folk, the usual grating sounds of modern emotion. But the cover. My Lord! the cover. You see, my name is Lily, yes? and I come from a family of commies! It captures me so well, this art. You know, both sides of me, two whole sides. Like, it totally shows how complex I am as a person because there is something bigger than all of us and we just have to, like, go with it. Can you say supernatural intervention? or was that two trends ago?

Of course, I can always DI(M) and collect some wartime propaganda during the Cultural Revolution years and make a collage, but that takes time. Time that I don't have. Because my grandma doesn't like to be reminded how she had to take care of 6 kids and the government she wasted her youth serving kicked her out of her house. But she does like to remind me how she jumped the wall and threw her kids over so they could continue living there in secret. Or something like that. I zoned out after "and your granddad's fingernails were pulled out with pliers." Delicious, just delicious. Now I can go tell all my friends my grandpappy had it worse than Guantanamo detainees because his outfits were limited to Mao suits whereas suspected terrorists get to choose between flashy orange and buck nekkid.

I'm not even going to read over this entry because I haven't slept since the Tuesday before Saturn's rising and have no memory of yesterday. No, no. Wait. I remember. Watched David Snow's experimental film "Wavelength". You know, I can appreciate films that deal with form rather than content, but if you were forced to sit through a 45-minute long zoom-in with an increasingly piercing sine wave gobbling up the soundtrack, you'd ... I don't know what you'd do, but I know you wouldn't be here reading this now. You'd be out in Camp David, playing with yourself, and content with your own cultural ignorance because if that's what highbrow consists of, you'd rather start a war.

I did comment on how the same technique or, in a broader sense, idea could be translated into a commercial vehicle (which could be argued is the case for most early experimental cinema, really). Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow-Up" is the perfect example of this parallelism. As the camera focuses on a tinier and tinier aspect of the grainy image, the context of the story simultaneously changes. So although the off-camera space is very much real, upon ever closer inspection, the previous frame becomes moot and the new frame becomes the new reality. In "Blow-Up" the story (and thus, the analysis of the picture) progresses from: Park scene -> illicit affair -> woman -> corpse. Whereas in "Wavelength", Snow is able to ignore all distractions by continuing down his telephoto path and refusing to submit to the narrative: Moving into loft -> sound of man stumbling into the room -> discovery of corpse by inhabitant.

Film criticism is very cerebral, but only in retrospect. The films themselves are frustratingly slow and overload the senses with epileptic flickering and colour distortions. So whenever I am forced to give an opinion on them, I always say, "No, not very fond." But if you were to ask me to explain why, I would end up giving you a scholarly rundown that concludes: "... so it was successful in achieving whatever it went out to achieve." That's because being bright means never allowing yourself to have a dumb day. Or you'd risk making strangers happy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Show me your fatty"


I'm sure I'm not the only one who isn't surprised this was filmed in the Isles. Look at it! The film aesthetics are straight out of Mr. Bean. And by "film aesthetics", I mean, "country". And by "quality", I mean, "ever-present clouds that come in two indistinguishable variations: grey and dirty drawers". Even the actors look English just because American TV always has the fat oaf married to a Kelly Ripa impersonator, who jiggles her loose collar bone for laughs: "Hehehe! I don't eat."

When I was there, I took advantage of the sun's rare vanity appearances to take photos. One of which was of a grizzled Shaggy-type on a bridge wearing an industrial washing machine door that urged big business to go environmental. So to be fair, a forecast of light rain and invading hobos is perhaps a more accurate portrait of my stay that year, and thus, the whole of England.

***

I've been listening to the Hustle & Flow soundtrack for the last two days. Absolutely addicted, it's just been "cleaning her pussy" this and "talkin' that shit" all day and everywhere.

I went to Home Outfitters to pick up a few accessories for my apartment and approached a pleasant-looking woman at the customer service desk:

"Hi, could you tell me where the laundry hampers are located?"

The lady cheerfully pointed the way, too polite to tell me the headphones hanging around my neck were definitely pumping music that propagated pimping and prostitution.

Although I'm pretty sure I thanked her as I walked away, she might've got the wrong message when the lyrics aggressively taunted her to "show her ass off" and be a "bad, bad, bitch" doing it.

Silly, iPod. What am I going to do with you?

***

Okay. Here's the thing, I told HaiPhia. I haven't made a real effort to kick M. Biologique out of my life because, frankly, I pity him. He's alienated everyone in his life with his power games. Girlfriends, family, social circles, everybody. It's sad, leaping from one willing host to another until he depletes them of their usefulness. Let me clarify: I'm not trying to justify his behaviour. But I have too much pride to let him bait me ("That's your idea of pride? Pride means walking away.") I don't want him to be able to say: "See, there goes another one. I knew this would happen. Everyone is the same, everyone leaves me. Shit, I left that bitch first." His every appearance tests my tolerance and convinces me that whoever coined the word "Hobbesian" probably had someone in mind, but it is not all bad. Knowingly interacting with him has given me the opportunity to hone other qualities that were never given the proper (if twisted) environment to be realized, such as hedge fund-sized patience and an unusually high threshold for pain.

Okay. So he's using me for what he needs and leaves with ne'er a committment to future arrangements (unless you count wanting to borrow a DVD an invitation for a reunion). When he pops by and lets himself in unannounced, I am fully aware that his overriding need to be comfortable supercedes shame (not to mention my predictable welcoming hug is most likely encouraging my treatment - it's enough to make Pavlov renounce his theories). And he probably has himself convinced that he has me wrapped around his little finger.

So I say let him. Let him think that. If he is unwilling to change, if it pleases him to weave elaborate fictional narrative to make sense of the world, I see no reason to stop him. M. Biologique depends on my being there for him; I rely on him for nothing. He comes at will; I'm willing to accept it.

"You're his shrink; not his friend."

Then he doesn't get membership benefits - he seems to be getting a lot of mileage out of the free trial alone. Like I've said before, he's a nuisance. As long as I don't need to exert more energy than is required to passively receive him, I think this current strategy is a good route to take. I can't even say it's a waste of time since no time will be put on reserve for him. And he's a pleasure to be with when he's not busy wreaking havoc and working up guilt. Really, we have fun together. He's like a big brother with vague intentions and jealous/possessive tendencies who happens to have also felt me up on occasion.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Jon Stewart Show

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" just won for Best Original Song. The Oscars just became the VIBE awards. Next thing you know, Dolly Parton's getting knifed in the parking lot and Michael Moore starts a public feud with Elia Kazan until somebody from the audience informs him the guy's been dead for years, in which case, he backtracks and takes out a sign that says, "Free Tookie", prompting Jamie Foxx to show him the door with his arms waving in the air because he simply does not care.

Now Zhang Ziyi's up as a presenter. For the love of Ang Lee, why? They know the only attractive quality about her is the way she reads English like a glassy-eyed Wah Wah Doll with a penchant for princessy gowns as imagined by a 6-year-old with dreams of escaping an alcoholic mother. "Aw, how cute is that?" everyone seems to coo out of sympathy. "She read another dude's name wrong."

Congratulations to Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Actor. (He has got to do something with that hair.) The win is all the more noteworthy because for the first time in years, all the nominees are of equal calibre (though the movies they played in are suspect).

And the winner for Best Actress goes to ... Reese Witherspoon. Like I've said before, Type A people rule the world. Her marriage will not get any easier now that her salary has jumped another 8 unhealthy figures.

Holy mother of all that embodies Hollywood's dumbed down brand of liberalism, Crash beat out everyone to win Best Picture. The message is: "Hey, hey, aren't we open-minded?" The truth is, cha ... no. To weave a story that merges every stereotypical prejudice into a product that tries to sell itself as a representative work about tolerance is as manipulative as anything hardcore right-wingers are capable of churning out. Instead of using the opportunity to discover the subtle ways -isms make their way into our naturalized behaviours, it makes a point of giving each character just enough screen time to show diametrically opposing traits so they can be labelled "complex" and "three-dimensional". What a bunch of hooey! Progressivists might be the new elite, but they're not much better than those they've usurped from society's new meritocratic throne. (Or frankly, I am just a snob who likes to condescend bourgeois values and their excessively accessible brand of intellectualism. And was rooting for Capote.)

Anyone acquainted with me - or reads my blog - knows I love the movies like dogs love sniffing ass, but the Oscars have failed to be inspiring for years. They're so fabricated, so falsely glam, they make the French Cesars look like a Steve Allen comedy sketch. And last night's performance did not disappoint; it was just as boring as the rest. Jon Stewart was a terrific host, but even he had to keep mining the Three 6 Mafia musical number for jokes. Maybe if the celebrities in attendance acted more like the self-promoting opportunists they really are, there would be more shouting, exposed mammaries, and overturned chairs to qualify for a new nominated category. And if daytime talk shows have taught me anything, it's that overturned chairs always mean business.

***

Why'd they gotta go and get up all in Grey's Anatomy's timeslot? One more reason to hate the Oscars.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Watering Hole

Train boy is playing coy. Or uninterested. You decide. All signs point to go, and yet, he's still a no-go. He's friendly, so friendly. Nice smile, great smile. Always initiates a conversation with me. Always polite. Always asks me how I am and what I've been up to. So what's the problem besides me cutting short our little gab sessions to catch the movie I paid for? But what does he expect? He knows I adore movies and he works at a movie theatre! Damnit, is that why he hasn't asked me out yet? No, I say it probably has to do with my chronic case of verbal diarrhea whenever I'm forced to make small talk. I get nervous. I divulge useless information. I make comparisons between Kimora Lee and Kathy Lee. I mean, "I'm so happy I went shopping today because I bought something that I thought was 30% off 100 dollars, but actually came to only 30 dollars at the cash!" Jeez louise, what the hell was I thinking?

Although Astronautas slightly made up for my stupidity. The Spaniards are doing good things in cinema (and I don't mean just Almodovar). This movie is kinetic, observant, funny, poignant, everything film should be. In one scene, the going on 16-year-old teenage runaway takes the ex-junkie's hand to her, uh, yoni. Child's play, she reassures him, Playing over our clothes. They kiss. He looks down and abruptly jumps back, realizing he can't be messing around with no kid:

"Real women do not have sailboat panties!"

***

SETTING: Surprise birthday party at the superluxe apartment of NorIda's boyfriend. Around 20 attendees all in their mid-20s (I am the exception, per usual). Boy girl ratio 3:1.

SCENE: There are a minimum of three guys hovering over my highlands at all times. (I won't mention the pricks.) They spend most of the evening trying to penetrate the conversational wall I unconsciously build around myself and my new favourite wingwoman, Breasts of Steel*.

"Are we scaring them away?"

"If asking them to accept our generous gift of leftover mint leaves from your virgin Mojito means scary ..."

"... then yes, we might be."

I sit on the barstool, working pockets of dialogue here and there and entice more to join. Soon after is when I start noticing a kind of male code of ethics in action. (That's after some dude asks his roommate to knock me out for saying 'bros before bras': "I swear to God I will if you don't. Hahaha!" then proceeds to act hot/cold towards me the entire night until he hooks up with some hooch in torn fishnets.) For example, that guy in the tinted aviator shades quickly wraps up our chat after he mentions to the Russian how oddly "life changing" I am (for informing him the best way to drive is blind and handless because only the cool cruise) and the Russian says, "I know, we were talking." He delivers the line in such a matter-of-fact way, it makes me think, "Is he hinting that I'm on reserve?" because no, he did not just do that. I observe men coming and going like this the whole time: somebody will make a pass or hint that he wants to get to know me better and another guy will discourage him with either an intimidating word or boastful body language. It's hard not to simply laugh when everything around me begins to resemble a Jane Goodall special on ridiculous alpha male behaviour. ("Roar! Me, man! You, woman! We sex now!")

Anyway, the hot Moldovian with the shallow yuppie ambitions asks and gets my number in the end. He's studying finance and management at snooty McGill and wears a pink button-up under a deconstructed pinstripe blazer with a white graffiti print on the back. *Drool* I know, it's a quantum leap from my usual hippie inclinations, but hipsters are even less aware of themselves. (How they still manage to infest all forms of socialization is beyond me.) And there isn't anything less attractive than seriously unguided irony. Unless you like that sort of thing. In which case, I hope, for your sake, Desperate Housewives is never cancelled.

*whom I gave the temporary nickname Milk Duds for the way she kept unconsciously pulling down her shirt. She protested. I countered that it was a compliment because Milk Duds are delicious. She asked the Russian what he thought of her boobs being called that. "Milk Duds is not very nice name," he admitted, poker-faced and accent heavy. "But yes, they are delicious."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Berlitz: Sinking Ship


Math Judas originally sent this to me. I know he's going to boink at least one German pool boy during his academic career. It's a teutonic tear waiting to happen.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Iron Bars

I entered the room feeling awkward. J.Lass's mother handed me one of those rubber bracelets, a la Lance Armstrong, upon entering. She thanked me for coming. I hid in the washroom until more people came.

Soon after, the reverend (the woman whom J.Lass's mother originally contacted to get in touch with me) began the service. She played a video of J.Lass skydiving in Texas. She looked so beautiful with her hair up in a ponytail. And when she gave the cameraman the thumbs-up during the freefall, my right eye started to well up. Then the other. I told myself I no longer felt a connection to her, so why was I wasting everyone's time? I told myself it wouldn't happen. I wasn't that kind of girl. I'm not one for making public scenes. But cry I did and didn't bother to stop. I pulled tissue after tissue from the box for nearly an hour. The spasms in my throat were choking me with dryness. Was I acting? Could I have been faking it? I was afraid I was responding to the magnitude of the event by pressuring myself to behave "appropriately". The emotions were overwhelming, but I still felt like a fraud. Then where was it coming from? What was causing it? It wasn't rational, logic made it so. Wave after wave followed me up to the front as I delivered the speech. Reading those words - however false they felt at the time of inception - made the situation even more tangible. More honest. More real. My voice rose to compensate for my quivering. It slowed down to draw out the memories. It was hard to stay composed. I was doing the reading, but couldn't claim ownership because it didn't sound familiar coming from my voice anymore. This disconnect with my own senses made my eyes focus on the text and my ears on this "foreign speaker", and in effect, mirroring the position of the audience. It was a tortured symbiosis that can only be illustrated as a hall of mirrors effect: I was magnifying my own grief by detaching myself and interpreting the words on the page on another level. It was a double whammy of primary participation with secondary observation. As a result, I irritated my corneas with expensive eye makeup. But I digress: I don't know how else to explain it, I wish I was more articulate. But it was definitely surreal when I realized what was going on.

When I looked up to thank everyone for listening, they all had tears in their eyes. (I prepared myself for that only because I had phoned HaiPhia an hour earlier to get her opinion on it and she was audibly rueful afterwards. "Heck, you made me cry and I didn't even know the girl.") I returned to my seat exhausted, though not quite drained (that would come later). J.Lass's mother embraced me and told me how beautiful it was afterwards. She asked me if I would let her put it on the website dedicated to her daughter. "Take it," I said. "Go ahead. Take it."

So this is what death feels like. I feel so freakin' old.

***

M. Biologique. I was over him. I was so over him that I truly did not recognize his voice on the other end of the line until he said, "It's your papi. I'm downstairs." He's two and a half months ahead of schedule. It's only been three weeks since we last spoke. I didn't expect him to beg for my attention so soon already.

We sat on the couch and shared chocolates and samosas. (And by "shared", I mean he took a bite out of whatever I had in my hands and in retaliation, I forced him to eat crap that had originally been in my mouth, but deemed too gross to finish. Similar to the traditional saying, "Ewww, this stinks. Here, smell it.") I popped in Hombres Armados (Men with Guns, 1997) into the DVD player and we just hung out. Simply enjoyed each other's company and talked. No pressure, no antagonism, no resentment. Even so, his insecurity and possessiveness still managed to poke through at times. (Not to mention his pesky "You're turning me on" remarks.) I mentioned Train Boy, how weird it was that this guy, whom I never noticed during my weekly trips to the cinema, was on the same train, on the same day, in the same carriage, in the seat located right next to me when I went home for Christmas.

"Is he hot?" M. Biologique quickly interrupted. I told him he was very much my type, but that he'd just have to decide for himself.

"But I've never met him," he countered.

I turned my head to face him: "Guess you'd just have to fantasize."

Math Judas says I'm a homewrecker. A what? I'm responsible for his voluntary excursions to my quarters because he's an emotionally stunted coward? I can't deny that we have spectacular chemistry when we're together, but I'm also not accountable for his actions. I don't encourage (nor, admittedly, discourage) his unpredictable actions. Two girlfriends I've had the pleasure of meeting. I've been his vacation getaway through two girlfriends. He's bad, I know he is. I'm just a temporary filler for a very permanent void he's running away from. His woman probably isn't putting up with his shit. Nor should she. 6 ft. Amazon should be angry that he's visiting me before classes. And ever since I gave them both the cold shoulder that day, she should be flat-out insulted at the mere mention of my name. So I assume he never talks about me to her because he sure as hell never brings her up to me. People appear in the room that way. They poison the inspiration for conversation like an apparition wrongly accused of a crime.

But what can I possibly do when he shows up banging on my door? Throw him out? No. It's unrealistic to expect that from me. My time with him was forged on discretion, the experience left me bruised. But I'm not scarred for life. In fact, it was great timing: It forced me to take a hard look at my past before time sealed it off forever. Therefore, he wasn't a mistake, he was a "learning experience." (Oh my God, I've turned into an idiot New Ager. What next? Enya?)

I watched a PBS documentary on neutrinos. "Ah ha!" I said. "They're just like relationships!" (How pathetic is that?) Neutrinos weren't originally accepted in the physics community until relatively recently (last half of the century or so). The only way scientists were able to prove their existence was through mathematical calculations and the way they provoked electrons when they entered the atmosphere from a corresponding direction. In laymen's terms: Although they were invisible, their effects were seen, and thus, their existence could be proven by deduction. So I said to myself, instead of entering a situation then trying to figure out a recognizable pattern through trial and error, why not pinpoint the emotions that are evoked when I am first presented with the opportunity to enter one? Instead of making mistakes because I don't know any better, why not rewire the way my brain reacts to comfortably familiar scenarios? I don't need to have a history of bad boyfriends to know I have a problem with certain people in general. And methinks fighting this flaw early on will help prevent future repercussions. M. Biologique once said, in a fit of anger, how lucky he was that we never got together and I said Thank God for that. (He looked visibly hurt. I was a better actor.) My response resonates to this day. I don't think I would've had the strength to walk away from this pussyfooter had I been officially attached to his ass. He appeared at a time in my life when my self-esteem wasn't too great and he happened to take advantage of that. I'm not proud of myself, but I'm not going to throw in the towel altogether either. Yes, I was deeply enamoured with him (I hesitate to say "in love" since the entire fling was one big con). Though it could've been with any troubled 6'2" American hippie with an organic food fetish. At that point, I was rearing to expose my vulnerabilities to just about anyone in exchange for the possibility of security. And I'm willing to do it again if it means finding that elusive mutual connection humans constantly long for. The risk of pain is a necessary component of being alive. (I read it on Salon.)

The point is, I will not settle for a happy life. I await a good one. (No, I don't know why this guy's still a fixture on my blog if that's what I really wanted. Stop trying to make sense of me. Go away you!)