Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I really miss it today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

2 Reasons why I love my work and 1 why I hate it.

Let's get the negative nelly (and I'm not) reason out of the way first. Guess who I haven't seen in three weeks. Yeah, that's right. This guy. WTF, mate? I'm sitting at reception for the next three weeks, 'cept one of the Thursdays is Xmas and the other is New Years Day and after that I am unemployed, so way to suck, Tightpants, and yeah, I realize that he'll just come on another day of the week and I'll see him then but I didn't think of that when I started this rant so just shut up.

*Goes to time out chair*


*Comes back*

Oh, hai. I'm better.

So the two good things!

I. Internet Security
As with most (if not all) places of employment, there is a filter placed on websites that the corporate lackey may peruse. My work blocks the basic biggies like Facebook and Youtube, but also any personal e-mail accounts and streaming media. In layman's terms, these laymen are hardcore. The reason for the blocking always flashes across the screen, like "Sex" or "Offensive Material". The other day I was surfing around and came across some Top 10 list of Things That Would Distract David At Work hosted by the website cracked.com . It was blocked, which was not a huge deal, but you wanna know the banner that flashed on the screen as the reason for the filter? "Tasteless". I just thought that this was hilarious, as if a utilities company was a proper Victorian lady who had had her high tea ruined by her guest's farting Welsh terrier.

II. Goodie Day
Yesterday was Goodie Day at work. I was not a stranger to the concept of the corporate potluck, as it happened several time during my tenure with the government, but nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. By the end of Wednesday, a grand total of 11 out of the 40 employees had signed up to bring various items of varying degrees of interest from veggies & dip (psssh) to Amish friendship bread (hate the baker, love the bread). I brought my steadily-increasing-in-street-cred chocolate chip cookies (I predict that they will become so adored that I shall overtake Famous Amos. Spackle a 'V' on that shiat, yo).

Was there any way of knowing into what strange wonderland I would be walking the next day? No, there was not. It turns out that signing up what you were to bring was just for n00bs so the entire lunch room was packed with edibles.

Now, the government, not the classiest place. David at the government? Even less classy. On one particular Food Day, I forgot about it completely so I ran across and bought two large Greek salads at the shiatty food court just so I could participate. They were barely touched as everyone was too busy with the sludgey 7-layer dip, coca-cola chicken wings, two-bite brownies (one-bite for the fatty in the mail room) and sticks of butter the other employees had brought. Homemade! My current job though...o...m...g...


(Don't you hate it when they put #1 first? No? Just me then.)

5. That Veggie Platter I Just Bashed - uh, yeah, that shit was awesome. I thought it was totally going to be one of those moldy Safeway platters, but it had really good quality stuff. Fresh cukes, bell peppers, grape tomatoes. It was brought'en.

4. Homemade Spinach Dip with Crazy-Ass Herb Crackers - Put the 'crack' in crackers.

3.Skor Bar Bars - I was so impressed with these only to discover that it was just Saltines coated in caramel and topped with chocolate and Skor bits. Whatever. I had 4.

2. Piazza De Nardi Chocolate Zuccotto - The fact that someone brought pretty much the best dessert you can buy in this city should tell you why I am so glad to be working at this place. The fact that I was pretty much the only one with the good sense to have any should tell you why I am so glad that it's temporary.

1. Baked Brie - Not, like, a little round about 4 inches in diameter. We're talking a round roughly the size of a dinner plate. $25, easy. And like the zuccotto before it, barely anyone touched it, which allowed me to not only suckle at its creamy teat all day, but also the following two mornings on bagels. You know, just so that they knew that they were Chanukah chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If this made me sad, it would be a problem. If I still derived anger and hurt and all those Twilight emotions, then yes, there would be words. The fact that avoidance is the chosen recourse instead is very telling though. It speaks volumes about the things we won't utter out loud for lack of energy. The sleeping dogs have been euthanized. It isn't a slight to the past, as no one would doubt that it was formidable, laced with ideals and their inevitable fall-outs, but the path just kind of died. There was no cliff, no epic Disney battle on a parapet or an African mountain. Just a slow dissolution of gravel into dirt. To continue at this point would be akin to a heroin addict constantly chasing the dragon, the time that it was good. Not a good plan. And as with addiction, there was never any stability here. Not really. A grouping of months here and there, yes. But by and large, we were two separate bodies in anamorphosis whose cells aligned at times in complimentary states of personal evolution. Declarations of who belonged in whose world were largely ignored by me, though I suppose they were ultimately a pretty great forecasting of the storm clouds clearing to a void. Is it too petty to say well done? I certainly never would have called it. I never saw us in perpetuity but I always thought that we had the makings of a massive blowout. I don't come by anger honestly but you bring it out like no other. I assumed there would be a shouting match with words that went so far past healing that neither would dare utter an apology. I've visualized it time and time again, but not lately. Now there's not even sadness. No problem.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

At the risk of sounding like a gosh darn Readers' Digest article, I really should not have gotten out of bed yesterday. Oddly enough, my new "Action is lord of all!" mantra hasn't quite got me to Nirvana yet and I am still highly (highly) susceptible to all the crap the universe has to offer. For newer readers (hey, you two), I suffer from mild seasonal insomnia. I've tried to analyze why this developed and epiphanized that it was because I have gotten too good at striving for the ideal. Well aware of my character flaws, I can confidently state that my biggest one is attempting to a render a situation as close to perfection as possible, usually with hilarious results. I'm the guy constantly fidgeting in movies to get more comfortable; the guy who says delightfully cinematic lines on the first date to which the response is usually, "Huh?"; the guy whose order at Starbucks requires several legal pads, 3 sharpies and a shift change to process. Yes, I am that guy. High maintenance? Perhaps, but really it's only when it comes to my own environment and hopefully I do not inflict this burden on others.

Getting back to the matter at hand, I have so perfected the art of conditioned sleep that when something is awry, it just doesn't happen. I have to be tired, but not over-tired as that leads to restlessness and Facebook; it has to be cold, with my feet outside of the covers; has to have a little background noise (a fan, wave machine, some guy I hired to sit beside my bed to read me stories). I'm not sure if it was too hot or too dry or that Rick (the reader) was a little throaty, but it wasn't happening. I would get close to falling asleep, think, "Heck yes! I'm almost asleep!" and wake up. So much fail. The failure was so great, in fact, that I slept through my alarm and had to leave a voicemail for my supervisor 5 minutes before I was supposed to be there. All this would have been bad enough if it was not for the fact that she was out of the office that morning so no one knew where I was. Her supervisor called the staffing agency who called me: "Hi, David. This is Jen...Great, how's it going?...Good. So I'm just wondering if you're going into work today."

Nothing makes me feel I'm 10 years old again like someone putting forth a rhetorical question about my ineptitude. It just makes me feel like such a failure at life. "Why, yes, Jen. Just after I've finished huffing some hairspray, having unprotected sex with this here hooker and shooting an orphan, I absolutely plan on making an appearance." Really, I don't feel that it's Jen's fault. She probably deals with a lot of miscreants and ne'er-do-wells over at The Agency and these phone calls are a pretty routine necessity. I just felt so shamed, like a puppy who crapped on the carpet. There's so much more dignity in intentionally being badass and crapping on the carpet. Like, FUCK YES! I CRAPPED ON THIS CARPET! BEHOLD: CRAP! LO: CARPET! As it was, I didn't really do either. If anything, I kinda gave a heads-up that I was gonna crap on the carpet: "Just to warn you, I had some bad paella last night and crap on the carpet is hiiiiighly likely. We cool? Great. Kthxbai."

"I should never have gotten out of bed this morning..."

There are so many instances and varieties thereupon for this phrase.

"I should never have gotten out of bed this morning...because I have no arms or legs. Rolling onto the ground was not smart." Waramps Champ.

"I should never have gotten out of bed this morning...cause my pimp still had one more guy lined up." Epic fail: prostitution. That's, like, your crack money for a couple days. Way to go.

"I should have gotten out of bed this morning. Instead, I died peacefully in my sleep." Wow. Um. That's sad.

"I should have gotten out of bed, just someone else's." The great thing about sleeping with someone (in the literal sense) is that even if you can't quite manage the sleep, that is hours of bankable cuddle time. Plus, if they are asleep, you can totally manipulate the positions. These are the things I think about. And look, I'm not advocating promiscuity but honestly, it can really inspire fatigue, especially for guys. When I'm done, it's like, "Ok, now let's do y-Zzzzzz..." Occasionally, I'll have a sandwich first, but really that's it. And when it doesn't happen for a long time *cough*three months*cough*, there are consequences. Personally, I over-love my pillows. It's serious. I have done things to those pillows in my sleep that will require years of therapy. For them. Cause let me tell you, Tide can erase many a blotch, but the stain of my loving is just too tough a job.

I think I intended that last sentence to be far less disturbing than it actually turned out to be. Oh what the hell, I already referenced Waramps falling out bed. My gondola to Hell is under construction.

Hehe, cause they don't have limbs...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Um, this.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When I was 17, I was set up on a date at the Red River Ex. Freshly out of my first relationship (for anyone out there wondering this very same thing, dating a boy who becomes born again after 6 weeks of dating and tells you that you're going to hell is a really fantastic first outing into romance), I decided to let a friend set me up. (Note: this is the only time a friend has offered to set me up. Thanks a lot, Mennos.) The girl doing the matchmaking was not a particularly close friend, but she was nice enough, very bubbly and looked not unlike this. 'Cept with brown hair. That's irrelevant. Anyway, she offered to set me up with her friend Joshua and what better way to make a good first impression than with your lips peeled back over your face whilst on the Gravitron. If nothing else, it's demonstrative of a certain dexterity that could come in handy later.

I had never really been to the Ex before (though I've occasionally been to the Y) but was fully confident that I would be a superstar on the rides. This...was not to be. My stomach can handle pretty much anything that I throw in it, from Indian food to quintuple espressos, but on the first ride it took one look up at me, put it's little tummy hands in the air and said, "I'm out." I did not actually vomit, but unless you're trying to date Miss Piggy, green is not the best look for a first date.

After dismounting this first ride and realigning my eyeballs, the girl gigglingly suggested that Josh and I ride together on this little Ferris wheel with closed-in carts. Sounds innocent enough, yes? No. No, it was not. These sadistic little cubby holes twirled with the motion of the wheel. Imagine those Spinning Apple rides in 3D. I could have punched her in the neck. The boy was not exactly an X/Y model, but he was cute enough, with this kind of dopey (perhaps stoned) bear look to him, and ralphing all over his black rayon Bootlegger pants wasn't reeeeeeally the way I wanted to exchange our bodily fluids for the first time. Fortunately, the ride didn't move quick enough to inspire any lurching, but the carts had a way of landing on their sides so that, while still held down by the bar across our laps, we were pretty much on top of one another. This might have been fine had I a) not been more nauseous than Estelle Getty in an Imax, b) not been 17 and very sweaty-palmed at this whole date situation (because I'm so much better at 24) and c) not had a metal pole sticking into my thigh every time Josh landed on me. Oh, Cupid, you shouldn't have.

I really don't remember anything about the rest of our night at the Ex, although I seem to remember him coming over to my house afterwards and us awkwardly making out in that divine 17 year old way. Remember when all you did was make out? Wasn't that better?! No, not for me either, BUT there was something lovely in the intimacy. For the next three weeks, we would make out some more, go to the zoo, get poison ivy from making out in Assiniboine Park (him) and be dumped (me). You know it's not going to work out when the guy asks you not to use such big words, meaning multi-syllables. Still, I remember trying to convince myself that it could still work.

I still do that, in some ways, try to compromise to get what I ultimately want; I've just learned how to gauge more quickly when the battle is lost. I think, to a certain degree, I still want to have a pole jabbed into me whilst at an amusement park *ahem* but I'm a bit pickier about the one sprawled out on top of me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hey, guess what? Today was the day.
I think that perhaps you can't see it when you're in it; the view is too cloudy, like trying to analyze a storm from within its eye. It's just that sometimes the world is viewed so much easier from a cubicle than from a stage. Glamorous, no, but that's hardly the point. You think more because there's nothing else to do. An iPod can only distract so much when doing tasks that could be easily prescribed to any other simian. The victories are more plentiful, if less grandiose, and the tragedies aren't quite so Greek. Perhaps it's a more cowardly or simply one that derives from fatigue and the subsiding of passion, but sometimes it is a relief to spend half your time on trivial things than every waking hour on the one meaningful thing to which you aspire. Lower those standards and you'll be amazed at how successful you can be!

Speaking of successful, I had a potential epiphany on the bus yesterday. Now, I know that the search for happiness has really come into itself in recent years with the boom of The Secret and self-help sections everywhere, and while they're all part myth and part useful information in a variety of ratios, here's what I got: it's all about actions.

Given the world economic situation, the price of talk is at an all-time low, but actions, not the things we do in a moment but rather the things we do before that moment, are really what decides things for us.

I'm still trying to work through this one, so just bear with me. I don't want to get all into the Laws of the Universe (capital L, capital U) because fuck if I know 'em. In fact, this might all be a bunch of hooey, but let's shelve the self-doubt for a minute (God knows I had enough of that on the weekend) and see what we can see. All of the happiness philosophies of recent memory have had to do with thought and the way that those thoughts draw things to you. I'm-a call bullshit. Certainly these thoughts inspire us, but it's the actions we take as a result that brings change. You don't win the lottery because you think you will. You win the lottery cause you bought the damn ticket. Some examples, like that lottery one, are just common sense: if you go to the gym, you will become fit; if read a book, you will acquire knowledge about something. Or Paris Hilton. Whatever. It's the more abstract things, those ideas and desires that we don't normally think of as in our control via previous actions that have piqued my interest.

I cleaned my house this weekend. I have no clue why. While I like neatness, my general laziness usually takes over and things pile up. Yet, something in my head said that I needed to clean my house. That night, a group of us wanted to go out but couldn't decide on a restaurant in a specifically suggested neighborhood that happened to be mine, so we went to my place and had a great night. It was a very "If you build it they will come"situation. My dishes were washed so they were used, my bed was made and, while it wasn't put to good use like the dishes, it got someone who I'd love to have use it a mere few feet away...for a total of 45 minutesBUTTHEPOINTIS...it happened. I'm starting to see if you put yourself in the right situations, things will happen. Look at all those women who can't have a baby so they adopt and then - boom - they get pregnant. They started acting like moms so they became them. Look at me, somewhat wanting to find a better place but not really caring enough to investigate. I started browsing Craigslist every day and within a couple weeks I found this amazing place. Look at girls that flit from one relationship to the next without any time pining over anyone. Well, they're just slutty, but still...they're ACTING like sluts. Huh? Right?

So I dunno. I'm going to experiment with this for a while. Make my bed so it will be slept in; wash the wineglasses so they'll be shared. Acting like how I want it to be rather than how it is. Chores do not a social life make but perhaps they'll result in something amazing. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ripping myself off from an earlier post. Let's see how my priorities have changed, shall we?:

One day I will get up and sing in front develop a perfection healthy crush on of my peers a boy and not suck.

One day I will open my mouth and out will come exactly what I expected all along, exactly what happened in the practice room in my mental preenactment of the scene mere moments before. My throat will not feel like it has little throat-gnomes creeping out of its walls lost the ability to make functional sounds, constricting my air flow awesomeness, adding little scratchy noises baseless paranoia, which, I swear, were not there before was pretty much always there. One day, my knees confidence in my awesomeness will not shake nor my balance wildly pessimistic thought process test me. F#s Semen Charm will flow out of me like semen. Wait, that's gross the point. Like blood in a Disney movie. Actually, not a ton better rarely does semen flow in a Disney movie. Is there any single substance romantic situation that emanates from our bodies my mind that is not disgusting fucked in some matter? I'm gonna go with no holy hell, I hope not. Where was I? Oh yes, the awful, baby-crying F#s sweaty-palmed rejection fantasies. Yeah, those will be awesome stop. One day I will not have to float above myself in real time thinking "Oh Christ on a bike, not again!" and I'll actually be able to do a character nonchalantly call someone up and ask him to coffee rather than some shallowly emoting caricatured writing annoying blog entries about it. One day I will not finish a performance conversation with a friend and want to go up to every single person in the room on the bus and say "I'm sorry! I over-sung in the practice room over-think every single moment of my life and I can do it better, really I can am so sorry you had to hear about it! I swear, I have made progress in the last four eight years!

One day all this will happen.

Today, however, is not that day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Know what I learned today? There are 27 potted plants in my building.

This guy is gonna need his own tag pretty soon.
It's Thursday and you know what that means...

It's Hottie Who Waters the Plants at Work Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the day when all the little girls and 8-10% of the little boys in the world gather around 2:15pm to wait for the great Hottie to bestow upon them gifts of tight fitting jeans and miniature potted mums. Naughty children will receive nothing but seeds, which they must plant themselves instead in order to to teach them the real value of beauty in the world. (You see, the HWWPW is all about proactive teaching rather than just being mean like that asshole Santa. Lump of coal? That is harsh, yo!) It is customary to leave a Snickers bar or small bag of Hickory Sticks along with your phone number; a good supervisor knows to leave a note behind thanking the child (or 24 year old temp) on behalf of the Hottie, explaining that they're very special and good looking, and that while his company blackberry does not allow Him to dial externally, he will cherish your number forever. Also included is a sexual harassment waiver (though I can't imagine why).

Also, for those who haven't noticed, I spent half a work day last week assigning labels to all my past posts so you can now customize your Fleekin Floygn browsing to suit your mood. Really though, I was just bored.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Time I start work - 7:50am

Time my bus comes - 7:28am

Time it takes me to get to the busstop - 5:00min

Time my alarm clock goes off - 6:42am

Time I stopped pressing snooze and looked at my alarm clock - 7:18am

I made it to the busstop in time. At this point, I'm thinking I'm pretty much Moses.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New York.../Chicago?

Sunday morning at 5:00 I flew to New York for an open house & preliminary interview at HUC. The flights were fairly uneventful as I slept the entire time and didn't get stranded overnight. Upon arrival at Laguardia, wily Jew that I am, I took a shared shuttle van into Manhattan at a fraction of the cost for a cab. What I didn't anticipate was waiting an hour for it to show up, being crammed in with 9 other passengers and having a driver who verged on abusive. He was like one of those psychotically-protective/abusive husbands you see on Maury that can just snap at a moment's notice. Everyone in the van was soft-spoken, extreeeeeeemely white and most were over 70. These factors made getting yelled at collectively by the driver almost comical. We developed this group mentality of survival, comforting each other in extremely hushed whispers when someone would get the verbal smack down and when one of us would reach their destination, we'd all smile, as if to say, "You survived! Huzzah!" and they would return the smile, meaning, "This, too, shall pass."

Finally, at the 2 hour mark, I got out of the van and cabbed the rest of the way. The $11.50 was well spent to get off of the Hell-mobile and it got me to the door of HUC just as the meet & greet (with snacks!) was beginning. We were given a tour of the school, dinner and an exercise in interpreting Jewish law, which left me more than a little bewildered ("I just want to SING," he said). There was an evening prayer service that got me all choked up, perhaps due to all these people being moved by the same (or at least a similar) spirit and looking really happy about it. I felt like a kid who was allowed into his older brother's tree house for the first time and didn't really know how to react. Though certainly not intentional, it was ironically isolating. I went home that night feeling incredibly confused about the whole day, with more questions than I'd had before.

The school had matched me up with a current student for a home stay, a third year student living in Brooklyn. Also staying with her was a 19 year old from Phillie who was, well, 19, and we all know how well I do with 19 year-olds. What is it about teenagers that fuels them to try to impress their elders with knowledge? First of all, we know more than you and secondly, a lot of times the info you're trying to impress us with is wrong. Epic fail: adolescence. He had me up past midnight watch Daily Show clips on my laptop. Ach, well, look...

The following day was significantly better. After a day of sitting in on classes, talking with current students, personal meetings with admissions staff and a kick ass salad lunch, I was much more at ease. The thing that really impressed me is how much the faculty really wants success for their students. The hoops that are presented for jumping are not put in place to intimidate but rather as a means to develop necessary skills. Novel concept, no? I'm still a little wary of the Kumbaya-esque element of the services, but I'll either get on board or learn to adapt. In the end, I got the green light to go ahead and apply, which is why I went in the first place, so yay. I also talked to the most adorable lad who gave reeeeeeeeally good eye contact (holding a gaze is up there with oysters on the aphrodisiac scale) and also gave me this secret handshake in which the index finger is extended during the grip. I remember learning this one but I can't remember for the life of me if it was a Jewish thing or a gay thing. Given the venue, I should probably opt for the former, but damn, pretty eyes.

That night, my host and I grabbed some Thai for dinner and had a great time talking about the school, Judaism, personal history. It's so delightful to connect with someone when in this kind of completely isolated environment. This conversation really added to the good vibes I'd caught at the school that day and that this was very much a Come-as-you-are kind of place, where individualism is embraced. How many faith-based institutions can claim that?

That night, I volunteered at their soup kitchen (I'm an asshole, but helping clothe the homeless and working with volunteers at the Fringe felt a lot alike) and then went for Thai food with my hostess, who is an absolute delight and that dinner was probably a big part of why I'm feeling so positive about applying. These really are very down-to-Earth, rational people who have chosen the clergy as a profession; they have shades of gray. They have their own personal morals but the level of autonomy is really quite astounding.

The next day, I flew to Chicago to transfer to Winnipeg, so of course the flight was cancelled. Satan, thy name is United Airlines. I therefore had a 27-hour layover in Chicago, staying at the lovely and decrepit Wyndham O'Hare (the skid row of airport hotels) and was given one meal voucher valued at $15 during my stay, to be used all at once at one of the astronomically expensive airport eateries. Hellooooo, $9.35 pannini! That night, after much hemming und hawing, I took the train into the city to visit Boystown, the first nationally recognized Ghay Ghetto in the US. It was rainy and deserted. The highlight of my night was a spontaneous Spice Girls sing-a-long by the table next to me at one of the homo restos. It was cute, innocent and didn't involve anonymous sex or narcotics, so big ups. In all, the trip took 5 hours, less than 2 of which were spent actually doing anything. Still, better than sitting in a shiztastic hotel room all night.

The next day, I went to the airport, used $14.78 of my voucher at Quizno's and went home. I feel like I have not slept in 3 years.

Also, last night I ran into, or more accurately avoided running into, a former of mine at Starbucks. This is one of those painfully awkward situations wherein you both know that the other is there and yet you pretend not to notice. At one point, he passed me while on the way to throwing out his cup and did this weird, sound effect-aided jump and half-salute/half-shielding of his face (designed to be playful?). I couldn't help but think, Really? Is this what we're going now? It was 7 years ago. 7 years. For 3 weeks. Like, c'mon. This is Winnipeg, a city wherein you have heard of most everyone before you even start dating them. The pool is that small. The thing that kills me is that if we had met now, 7 years after the fact, we'd probably get along really well. I've had that line from Jesus Christ Superstar in my head all day: Can we start again, please? What an insipidly futile question. It's been done already, like overcooked meat that can never be remoistened. Wow. That was the single worst metaphor I've ever thought up. Still, it kinda makes sense. Ish. The point is, there's no real going back after you've written an angsty adolescent song about them, complete with ever-so-clever homonymical allusions to their name. There's no relationship mulligan, no green 'Back' button. Ooh, but imagine if there was! You could click the adjacent arrow and pick the exact spot you'd want to return to!...


Ok, maybe I am just as neurotic as I was at 17.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Evidently there is a dearth of songs that can be created in this mortal coil. Yesterday's lyrics practically wrote the music themselves, flowing in synchopation with the words. During the course of the day I revisited them and realized that I had completely forgotten the tune. So I would read them over a few times until it sprang back to me. Only - like Buffy at the beginning of Season 6 (werd) - I think it came back to me...wrong. How wrong, you ask? By the time I got home at 10pm and could finally sit down at my keyboard, it had become Piano Man. I wrote Piano Man.

I don't even really effing know Piano Man! How could I write it?! Well, evidently this sponge-like brain of mine was so infatuated with awful Crazy Concert performances that it took some great lyrics (by my own capability's standards) and matched them with the biggest Billy Joel song of all time. Mmmmmfuck you, brain!

To be fair, it was really only the chorus, and even then it was just the bass line. And part of the melody. But still... Now I have to go and reimagine the whole thing, which, frankly, is a lot of work for someone who hasn't even been writing music in the past couple years that isn't performed by the internationally-ignored Chai Folk Ensemblah.

Other updates of recent Fleekin Floygn charactères!

For the first time in...ever I sat at the front of the bus today so (of course) who should sit down right across the aisle from me? Why, it's freaky rave girl from a couple of weeks ago! Aw...big ups. Remember when I said that while she repulsed me for some reason there was nothing inherently wrong with her? Yeah, I'm-a have to retract that. Perhaps there was a memo circulated that I happened to miss, but when did Casual Friday imply no makeup, i.e. scary time, for the ladies? I pretended to be asleep until she got off. What? It would have been awkward.

I missed HWWPW yesterday cause of a &%$#ing staff meeting and only got out in time to watch him go. Oh, but how I love watching him go...

Speaking of work, a couple more stories from the Firecracker:

Me: Um, I typed this code into the computer but nothing happened.
FC: (coming over and sitting down at my desk) Well, waddjya type in?
Me: [What I typed in]
FC: (types in the exact same thing) Huh, well that's weird. Why didn't it work?
Me: ...

I am rifling through the supply closet.
FC: Waddarya lookin' for?
Me: White whiteout.
FC: Can't find any?
Me: Uh, no.
FC: Lemme look.
At this point she takes out an entire tray of whiteouts, most still under the plastic wrap, and starts unscrewing each one individually, despite the fact that each one has a green label, green cap and says "GREEN" on the side.
Me: I think they're all green.
FC: Well, you never know.
Me: ...

Hey, remember that time I invoked my inner-fifteen year old and went off on this guy? Yeah...he may have kiiiiiiiiinda had a sleepover last week... BUT he's been totally MIA ever since so I stand by the original post. 'Cept that he wasn't actually seeing anyone at the time and only told me that because he was "frightened that [he] wanted a relationship with [me]." Good God, somebody take this one out to pasture and shoot him. Enough. But really, enough. On the plus side, it kinda gave me my groove back because now it's over cause we're both ignoring each other. Equal footing, see? Look, it's not much, but it's all I have right now, mmk?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Waltz

I realize that lyrics mean next to nothing when read rather than heard, but his came to me as I was scanning my 3,000th legal land claim and writing it made me laugh.


Joseph's come and gone
His success laying limp on the floor
The apology of lustful epiphany
And misbegotten form
Softly unappealing
Laughably kneeling
Almost turned his own trick
A boozy, hazy
That blew his divining stick

Hey Joe, wadda ya know?
A lot about lust tonight
The omniescent angel is nothing quite new
This act never turns out quite right
I'll stand up for you whenever you need
As I've layed down most times before
As you come and you go, come and go
And breathlessly fall to the floor

Oh me, Joe
Oh, my Joe
Mi hijo

Oh me, Joe
Oh, my Joe
Mi hijo
How I grow

In the mirror, baby
Let me play at American Psycho
Deep in your lovin', honey
Don't you see just how this goes?

Joseph's come and gone
Far gone and out of town
Roaming the street for lost scraps of meat
No thought as he slowly slips down
What fun, this seduction
We all long for suction
From the ones we do adore
And when it's all over,
Then just play red rover
And paint crimson the living room floor

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Homemade bloodied wings:

H&M t-shirt:

Hair colouring:

Coloured contacts fitting:

Party favours:

Realizing that this doesn't work, never has worked and never will work, that this fantasy life is by no means conducive to my real one, that it doesn't even succeed at replacing what I'm missing, not for a second, that after three years it's time to accept that this really needs to be finished:
$256. No, not priceless. Can't you add? What a stupid thing to say.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I've been thinking about the term of endearment 'Honey'. To me, it speaks of an intimacy reserved for very specific relationships, specifically one for people in a long term relationship. Perhaps this is because it was my parents' choice when speaking to one another; 'Sweetie' was always used for us kids. Often they would use it in passing, almost as if it coincidentally happened to be both of their given names.

"Do you, Honey S., take Honey V. as your lawfully wedded...?" the rabbi would have said.

It was most often said with affection, but my favourite was always when they used it during an argument. My parents have never fought, not once. They argue, debate, disagree but never fight, and frequently, when in the midst of one of these 'discussions', they would toss out an emphatic Honey. Now this was not, as one might see on WASPy television shows, a way of ensuring us kids that this was not heading for family court. Rather, it was, in the nicest way possible, a way of saying, "Actually, you block head, I'm right."

Other times, it was said accompanied with a sigh. The adult sigh is, I feel, a gift with purchase when a couple has children. I have a childless aunt and uncle who I don't believe have sighed since the 70's. It's not as though my parents' sighing Honeys were always directly about us, but rather the state of their lives in general. Even if it was commiseration about work, the undertone was still, "Sucks about your job, honey. Would sure suck less if on top of that we didn't have these three schmucks running around our house."

I have many terms of endearment for friends.

'Sweetie' is the most general. It can be used for any female friend and, in theory, any mincing homo that would appreciate the female allusion. Sweetie is also the whitest term of endearment. You see it all over predominantly Caucasian shows. Think Friends, Desperate Housewives and Mad About You, the last of which pretty much jumped the shark on Sweetie.

'Baby' or 'Babe' is what I use for my nearest and dearest. While most of these have crept so far back on the back burner that I don't think we're on the same stove anymore, the original usage was meant to imply that we were closer than others. Sometimes this was true. Babe is frequently used when giving advice, counselling or even disputing, which makes it akin to 'Hon'. It is very important to note that Hon, while a diminutive of Honey, is by no means related to the topic of this discussion. It's like Jackson 5 Michael and post-nose Michael. Different entities entirely.

I suppose a paragraph on male terms of endearment is required. These are limited to your basic 'Dude' (usually a greeting or as a replacement for their name, always emphatic), 'Bud'/'Buddy' (only for nice guys) and a slew of Ebonics-inspired pronouns like 'Homeslice', 'Homeskillet' and 'Bizatch'.

'Lover' is always meant in jest and can be said to members of either sex. This can never be uttered to an actual lover otherwise there ain't gonna be no more lovin'. Trust me.

'Honey' is for the actual lover. Or so I imagine. My new thing when sizing someone up and judging whether or not we have a future with an adopted Himalayan whistle kid together, is to ask myself, "Do you see yourself calling him Honey?" Not like Honey-our-love-shall-light-an-eternal-flame-in-the-Kingdom-of-Heaven! More, How-was-your-day-Honey? or Honey-can-you-pick-up-some-goat-for dinner? or Honey-that-goddamned-whistle-kid-got-out-of-his-cage-again. If I cannot imagine asking him these questions, then there is no future. End of story. We may continue the lover-ing, perhaps even form a close friendship, sometimes even after the lovin' up is done with. But without a Honey dream, it ain't happening. And what if there is? In this case, I usually turn into a mute with no ability to actually be my delightful self, but rather make lame jokes about SNL or fidget with my sweater, which has all of a sudden become too small and oh god, why do I look like such a mess?!

Presuming we can actually get through my initial psychotic episode together, my beehive is rarin' to go. You may insert your own 'honeycomb' and 'dripping' innuendos now.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I have no clue why this used to matter to me so much.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Hottie Who Waters the Plants at Work,

Wherefore have you condemned me to this hell, my HWWPW? Why must you be so infinitely smokinglier than everyone else in a 2 km. radius and yet only make a single brief appearance every week? You taunt, you tease, you are a walking checklist of every single physical quality I hold so dear to my heart. What explicit detail is it that I love so much? Let’s walk through it together, shall we? Is it your frame, noble and broad at 6’1”ish, trim yet sturdy in magnificent balance that makes me want to go throw up right now? Is it your auburn hair, dignified in its slightly-spiked darkness, not flaming and listless like most of its pock-marked Gingey counterparts? Does this fine shade spring from thine chestal region as well, creeping just below the single open-button on your well-sized button down? This is a question I have, beatific HWWPW. Is it your glasses, or even the mere fact that you wear them? Contacts be damned! Is it your high buttock, upon which rests your magnetic swipe card, dangling in a dance of lustful abandon? Is it your cuff watch? Your well-fitted jean? Or simply the way you stretch up to those hanging potted plants? O, to gaze upon your theoretically-shapely calves as they lift you to such heights! I adore thee so, HWWPW. Winding my way through a blue maze of cubicle dividers for the exquisite torture that is watching you tilt a watering can, you the seeming by-product of a union between lumberjack and Shopper’s Optical model. Take me away from all this industrial park madness! Let us away in your 1997 Chevy Malibu to seek great adventures, probably in some maintenance closet at your dispatch centre!

HWWPW, I love you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I totally lol'ed in rl at this today. I gotta stop with all the emo postings. Fag.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

While riding the bus on my way to work one day, I happened to look up in time to see a young woman - one could even say ‘girl’ in the colloquial sense - offering the bus driver a cookie upon boarding. I was rather delighted at seeing this as I enjoy random acts of kindness towards strangers. They’re reeeeeeally good…, she said temptingly to the driver, who required little temptation to indulge in an early morning sugar rush.

From the back, I could see that she was tallish in heels, a nice overcoat, and kicky scarf and had slightly tussled loose curls spilling to just below her shoulders. What a lovely girl, I thought, the perfect combination of classy (scarf) and bohemian (baked goods). I should note here that while the baking was in a Tupperware container rather than a vintage tin, I imagined that she was new to the latter temperament and still gave her some Boho points. It wasn’t until she turned around that I saw just how new she was.

The thing was, I knew this girl, or rather, we had met on a few different occasions at parties - raves, to you not in the know. The first time I saw her, she was wearing a long black cape over a fuzzy pink bras. Yes, Heaven had lost an angel. We were at a small outdoor party in some rural town and spent most of the night together, exchanging stories of our lives and telling the other how amazing we thought they were. The real truth was that I found her a bit repulsive. I mean this not in the callous sense, as there was nothing inherently wrong with her, but there was something about the package that made me uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the slightly nasal and lispy voice that would have been very appropriate in a porno film or her lips, which were almost too full for her face, like Julia Roberts without the nice eyes. Still, she was very nice and complimentary and in my then-current state, flattery is the surest way to garner my affections or at least my time.

This night would go on to repeat itself a month later at an all-night affair in a campground an hour and a half outside of Winnipeg. The meeting was again by fluke and my heightened senses caused me to remember her only with fondness, which was how we ended up making out in a field with my top off. Somewhere around that time, I stopped enjoying myself. Perhaps it was when a rogue car, driven by other partiers shone its headlights on us and jeered. I imagine that for the average, heterosexual male, this would be tinged with a certain amount of self-satisfaction, if accompanied at all by embarrassment. However, for me, all I could think was that if I was going to get caught on top of a girl, this would not be the one I would choose. The events of the rest of the night unfolded in much the same way: watching the northern lights dancing like a ballet, listening to music in my car, invoking poetic analogies (“Violins are like one night stands; cellos are forever”). All the right things with the wrong person, which is how one could characterize most of my rave experiences. I always had this fantasy of making an amazing new friend at one of these things. Perhaps everyone else there does as well and that’s why we’re all so nice to one another in 30 second soundbites. Anything more is too much of a commitment and I certainly didn’t want to commit to her. It sounds monstrous to be so dismissive of another person, but where were we but a zoo of unhappy animals acting on both base and altered instincts. Whatever the reasoning, this was not the person I should have been with.

I ran into her last year just as I was getting on a bus. Normally rave folk have no appeal to me outside their natural environment, but something in her dogtooth jacket combined with the fact that all my friends seemed to be leaving the city inspired me to exchange numbers. We made plans for lunch the next week at the food court near where I worked, but I had to cancel due to a forgotten rehearsal and never called her back to reschedule. The guilt was slightly gnawing for a while before I realized that I didn’t feel bad about bailing but rather what she must have thought of me for not calling her back. Clearly this wasn’t about her and never was.

I pretended to be grossly engaged in my half-read-and-due-in-two-days library book and didn’t look up until I heard the pop of a Tupperware container and then the sweet, nasal lisp of her offering the driver another cookie as she was getting off the bus.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's a rather odd sensation to feel as though you're damaged goods before you've even began. It's akin to being a dented can of tuna at Safeway. People notice that can, to be certain, probably pausing momentarily to ponder what circumstanced led to its indentation. Most likely a clumsy, blemished stock boy. Yet, after this diversion, they inevitably decide on an undented can of tuna, the safe choice.

That poor fucking can of tuna. It's perfectly good inside and yet know one really wants to give it a go when it is surrounded by all it's perfectly cylindrical cousins, who may very well be discovered to have gone bad themselves upon opening.

That's really what it is, isn't it: you want to be opened, want the chance to show that you're not spoiled and that you would taste lovely with a tomato on rye. It's understandable. The metaphorical dent can be very tiring after carrying it with you your whole life. It's not that people are mean about it, the odd car full of drunken asshole at 2am aside. They don't intend to be rude when they ask you about it on the street, and really isn't intent the most important thing in these situations? You kind of like it at first, think you're being checked out even, until the brow furrows and the eyes move down from your face to your feet and then back up again with curiosity, sympathy even. Hardly the lustful gaze you had anticipated. Sometimes they ask you about it, again, without malice, but real wonder. Never a pleasant experience, you stop - or maybe you don't - and tell them that it's medical, wait for their reaction, sometimes a "That's cool. We were just wondering" (they're never alone, always in a small group) and you continue on your way. Sometimes if you're feeling particularly pissy, you tell them that it's a 46-letter medical condition and would they like the entire name of it or simply an abbreviation. You always regret this the moment you say it as the embarrassment creeps across their face. Sometimes if you're tired or maybe a little sad and don't feel like this inquisition, you lie. You tell them that you were in Afghanistan and had both of your legs blown up below the knee. To sell it, you'll knock on your shin, as though it made a hollow noise that they can't hear. Surprisingly, this last response offers less guilt than one would think. You're not proud of it, but somehow you feel you've earned the chance to be seen as more noble than who you really are, earned through the constant efforts it takes to just stay on your feet. They don't know, nor should they. If they knew, then they would realize that the best thing in this circumstance is no comments at all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A couple nights ago, I was in top form. Truly, by shiz, it smelled not. Along with some new-ish friends, I went to this gender cabaret, if you will, with all different G.L.B.T.T.T.T.T.T.Q.O.4.&. folks doing whatever they do best. There was some refreshingly impassioned performances from men, women and everything in between, including a kick ASS belly dancer that performed to my girl Natacha Atlas's "I Put a Spell On You". I felt awesome and clearly, this could not be permitted to last.

When he walked by me the first time with a slight glint in his eye, I was tempted to be thrown. The 'he' in question was what turned out to be a misfired fling last June, with me thinking it was leading to a relationship and him telling me four weeks in that we were just friends. You know, cause I wake up most of my friends with morning head. In any case, the ending was uncomfortable but not altogether acrimonious, and we kept in very light touch, an msn IM or facebook message here and there.

In retrospect, I should have learned from the past that the occasion winking emoticon does not romantic intent make. Perhaps it was the fact that no one has stepped up to succeed him as my most recent, but in times of want, I still think of this pischer. In any case, I knew that there would be a moderate likelihood of seeing him and the lopsided grin was not altogether unexpected. However, on the next pass, the grin was accompanied by a playful little pinch on my side; the next was a hand-grab/tickle and the final one, when my coat was on and it was clear that I was leaving, was a full-on 5-second embrace.

God, it was nice.

It's a tad pathetic, to cling so dearly to something so insignificant, but with all apologies to rationality, it was.

Upon my return home, I wrote a simple if open-ended Facebook message:

"You looked really great tonight.


Ok, so not that open-ended. It definitely seemed to imply, "I gotta thing, you gotta thing, maybe we could have a thing..."

When the response "So did you ;-)" appeared, I won't say that I wasn't a bit excited, winking emoticon, be damned!

"So if you look really great and I look really great, why don't we ever hang out anymore?" I replied.

"i dunno," came the response.

"So, would you like to sometime?"

"It wouldn't be like before david. I'm seeing someone..."


I'm not sure what element got to me the most. Was it the use of my name, so disgustingly sympathetic in it's use, as if to say, "Oh, you poor thing...no." Was it the lack of punctuation and capitalization, reminding me of how wrongly matched we were and would ever be? Or was it the ellipses, echoing the use of my name, pathetically outlining how easy it was for someone like HIM to find someone and how someone like ME would forever remain a lapdog, begging for scraps of affection.

In the end, I responded with something polite, like, "Oh that's great. How nice for you!" but I don't think either of us believed I meant it. Despite the mountainous history that could have foreshadowed this event, I still maintain my right to be bitter. You can't treat people like they're your prize and then say shit like "I'm seeing someone dot dot dot."

I was getting so good at not doing the emo posts. Fuck you for being the cause. And for your ellipses.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The First Day

I started a new job this week. It is a three month term at a major provincial utilities company. After a 7 week hiatus from the working world and my mother's approval, I received a call from a temp agency to whom I had sent an application. At the interview (me in a suit, her in Lulu Lemon) I was offered the job on the spot. I feel that it was my use of a day planner avec a faux-leather plastic cover that really clinched it for me. "Hire this one," it seemed to say," He is a pre-tty important guy." While I was thrilled at the prospect of no longer compulsively watching The View, I didn't really walk away with a deep sense of security. Certain details seemed to have been omitted in the staffing agent's description of my new livelihood. The job? "Oh, scanning land claims or something. You can use a scanner, right?" The location? "You know the intersection of ____ and _______? You just go there and you'll see the building that says _______!" Mmmmk. An e-mail was sent a couple days later with dress code and mandatory time off information. Still no real job description or address, but what did I care? I knew how to use a scanner! I knew where ________ and _______ is! I can read an insignia! I was...ready.

Thursday morning, dressed in a professional yet kicky outfit that just begged for an anointment as office stud, I made my way to work. Initially, the address I had pulled off Google had been in the middle of one of the _____s and another cross street; ______ prime, if you will. Fortunately, I had had the good sense to remember that, no, the verbal instruction I was given was for an intersection, NOT a location involving a _____ prime. Upon reGoogling (is that word? Is now.), I found the building I had been looking for. Phew. Dodged a bullet there. I leaped aboard my bus and arrived five minute early for my ten minutes early start time. That's right. 7:4fucking5. Generally at this hour, I would have been asleep, possibly between dreams of romantic reconciliation and rabid rabbits. My dreams are not all thrilling, but I'll be damned if their subjects aren't at least clever.

Upon arrival, I checked in at the security booth.

"Hello!" I declared "I am your new temp, here to save the day and just be generally awesome!"

After muttering something about having a girlfriend, the guard pointed me to the correct door. "Ah," I said, "The one with company's name it on it. Why, thank you!"

I marched into the building, trying to find anything that looked administrative or at least a welcome banner. Having no such luck, I popped my head into the first office and and with slightly less bravado, delivered the same rousing salutation. The two and a half women working there (mustache?) were very kind but had no idea where I was to go. They put out an ABP for a missing temp, standard stuff, really, and were finally able to ascertain that I had, in fact, been sent to the wrong building. Lovely. My agency had apparently not banked on the fact that there were two buildings and had not sent me to the correct one. You know, the one with the _______ prime.

"Well, how far down is it?" I asked the demi-man.

"It's number 1641. Oh, about a block," he-she answered.

This, in fact, was not so. After walking for about 15 minutes, I looked up and saw the address 1474. I called my staffing agency and immediately began to rip the fellow a new one for not giving me any address and demanded that he look up this 1641 building because clearly, there was some sort of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place conspiracy between my new employer and the staffing agency as there was no 1641!

And I was right. There was no 1641. There was, however, a 1461. Evidently, the inability to give out the correct address is a growing pandemic. Tell your friends.

At 8:22, I marched through the doors of my new home for the next three months. They were lovely, in fact, with no one being cross about my (unavoidable) tardiness. My supervisor is a nice enough woman who I feel was very pretty in her younger years and while she still maintains a certain Almay beauty, it's clearly been slightly tarnished by time. And by time, I mean a pack-a-day habit. She took me on what would be my first of three rounds about the office. Everyone seemed rather pleasant and plump, occasionally in that order. The people that work in this office aren't all that different from the ones at my government jobs but somehow they're slightly...better. It's like the difference between a grade 7 French immersion class and an English equivalent. Somehow the Frenchies are just nicer. A little bit better behaved, a little bit more focused, a little bit more sanitary. There's no cursing at my new job. No 'I seen' nor 'I sez' nor "I don't know nuttin' '. The women wear nice sweaters and the men wear polo shirts, not Mickey Mouse sweatshirts and track pants. It's actually office casual. These are not fancy people, but after all, isn't it a gift to be simple and to use correct grammar?

I was then taken to my, and I use the word loosely, office. It isn't even really a cubicle. Essentially, at the front entrance there are two sets of doors, between which there's about a meter and a half; the vestibule, if you will. On either side of this glass box is empty space where one would normally put, say, a potted plant. Perhaps a ficus. This is my office. Two walls, one glass panel from the vestibule and a divider. My little slice of heaven. Of my flooring, half of it is carpet and half the tile from the entrance way, bound together by a rather mountainous ridge riiiiiiiiight about where my chair needs to go as I sit down at my desk. The twenty two year old who previously occupied my space was kind enough to leave behind a granola bar and her elastic band collection, numbering in the tens of thousands. The potted plants that did actually reside in this area have been shipped to the side of my little pied à terre, giving it a vaguely Amazonian vibe.

I then met my, dare I say it, mentor for the next week: the office receptionist. People who work in oft trivialized jobs will react to their livelihood in one of three ways. The first accepts that it's simply a stupid job that does not define them. The second feels tragically embarrassed by it and makes disparaging remarks both aloud and to themselves, likely as they huddle alone at night. The third is similar to the second except that they compensate for their menial job by attempting to make it appear as though it was biochemistry. My receptionist falls into this category. I would guess that she has, in the past, referred to herself as a firecracker. She has flamey, choppy middle-aged woman hair, purple middle-aged woman eyeliner and her desktop is of a middle-aged woman on an ATV, covered in mud. 'Cept it isn't her. She's one of those almost-sweet people that thinks of herself as the office rebel. Wears monster truck t-shirts on casual Fridays, pretends to assault coworkers with poster tubes, playfully threatens to push people off ladders. You know, the usual. She is also the self-described office techie; evidently, her toner-changing skills are legendary.

She took me on my second tour de l'office before showing me the two most important jobs I would be doing while she was on vacation in December: answering phones and opening mail.

On answering the phone: "It's really rather basic. To pick up a call, you simply lift up the receiver."

On alphabetizing mail with an alphabetized filing stick: "I like to put Janet's under 'V' because the person that used to have Janet's job, well, her name started with a 'V'. That's just my system; you can think of your own.

I find her adorable in the most patronizing way a person can.

On flying: "You MUST get the headsets that they sell on airplanes! They're something like $5 and you can use them to watch movies and TV. And if you're really smart, you keep them for the flight home, too!"

On computers: "After you're done, you have two options: you can either take your mouse a click the OK button or you can press ENTER. It's your decision, really. Whatever works for you."

She would go on to repeat all of this training, along with a tour of the office, 4 days later as though we'd never done it. I just didn't have the heart to tell her and frankly, interrupting with the answers to the questions she hadn't even posed yet was really fun though I think it miffed her somewhat, as though it was undermining the difficulty of her job.

Later that day, I assembled my first box. This was not the kind of cardboard box that one normally sees, four sides attached with flaps on the top and bottom. No, this was a crazy-ass 2D pattern that looked like those geometrical shapes you had to assemble as part of grade 7 math or the Fine Arts faculty mathematics requirement. This had flaps and perforations and, I believe, a little bit of the Devil built into it. That said, I was a superstar. Let it be known 'cross this land that I am an assembly god. There weren't even directions; I'm that good. So you can now call me so that this doesn't happen:

I anticipate that there will be many more stories from my work, one of which will inevitably get me fired when someone from the field department discovers my blog.

Oh, in other news one of my fish disappeared. I got up one day and he was simply not there. On the plus side, it wasn't the little tetra with whom I've come to associate so strongly. The assumption was that he was eaten but there was no body, no guts, nothing. These fish are either high efficient or simply magic. Shiva will commence tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

So evidently unemployment does not equal greater blogging desire. However, it is fall, time of creativity, and I just found a dead-end jump at Hydro (what what!) so this should spawn multiple revelations.

Um, I got fish. Really, really bitchin' fish. Three dwarf gourami, four flame tetra and two sunrise blushing angelfish. They're awesome. The angels are named Sissy and Sonny after the childhood nicknames my father and his sister gave each other. This is mostly because, like my father and his sisters, the angels have no eyebrows. The other fish have no names because I don't like them as much. They are known simply based on their physical appearance and behavioral issues, much like I think we should characterize humans. The tetras, however, are giving me greys and here's why: They're supposed to be nice, friendly schooling fish that play well with others, but there's one that's a liiiiittle bit smaller than the other three and they keep picking on him! Anytime he swims remotely near their club, they rush him like an Alpha Beta Pi and send him careening off into some plastic plant like a little bitch. I look at this and think, "That fish...is me." Yeah. Tangible metaphor for life.

Happy Birthday, Mikey.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

For all you foodies out there...

I got 82; how about you?

God, I need a job...

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

My comments after the — dash

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings - … uh, pass
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini — yes, but not together
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, September 05, 2008

"No problem"

Ahhhh. I thought it was sweet. I've had gentile friends in the past tell me that they feel Jewish and I totally get this because I feel French.

Anyway, Auntie just bought me a couch for my new place and it's fabulous and red and as soon as it finishes drying, I'll take a photo and post it. "Drying?" you ask. Indeed. I decided to opt for the stain guard and boy, am I glad that I did.

The couch does not come with stain guard; someone comes to your house to spray it with this aerosol canister once it's been installed. My guy came today and, shnikies, was he a good time. 50 years old, blond 80's do, 5'7" if a day and wearing a polar fleece. Pretty standard, right? SAPIWKVKKXMXAPIWHRwrong. I made the choice to tell him I was a musician and then, just as the Israelis ending their Red Sea Walk, the waters came crashing down. Would you believe that he himself was a musician? Cause he totally was. Srsly, you guys! What kind of music did he play? Oh everything from rock to jazz to blues to grunge to folk, you know, like we all do. He quoted some of his homespun song lyrics that had the same emotional depth as an Ann Murray composition as if they were a lost Gospel. So he launches into his musical life story and I think, Jebus, here I am in my own home listening to some nut job talk about his philosophy on art and life.But then I thought, Well, shit. I have no job, I have no plans other than to run to the hardware store. What else have I got to do? So I let him natter on and then, whilst discussing the reasons to be a musician, I decided to tell him about how moving I found it to perform spiritual music for other people and by doing so, released his spiritual beast, bringing this encounter to a whole new uncomfortable level of weird. Disappointingly, he wasn't a religious nut, just your average, run-of-the-mill, God-is-everywhere kinda guy. He spoke of how he had crippling disease and been away from his kids and been into drugs & alcohol and how letting everything fall into God's hands led him to this great place he was at (spraying my couch). He went on to talk about how Jews, Christians, Catholics (evidently, they deserve their own mention) and Muslims all find God in their own ways and I thought this was pretty cool.

He must have just talked for about 45 minutes straight with me grinning like a five year old at story time. It's not that I thought he was especially deep - though I know he'd disagree with me there - but it was just a random human moment that I let happen and that was sweet. As he left, he said, You know, there's no such thing as 'luck'. Take a look at the letters in the word 'luck': L-U-C-K (Hooked on Phonics had evidently worked for someone). You know what those letters stand for? Labour Under Certain Knowledge. He was essentially saying that if you work hard with pure intentions, good things will happen and, c'mon, that's really nice.

Only another hour and a half until the couch is dry! WHEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I have often defended the concept of meeting potential romantic partners on the internet, both on this blog and to my loved ones. However, the time has come to take off the rose-tinted glasses and face the long, hard and unsatisfying fact that it simply does not work for me.

I was having a lovely few days chatting with a potentially intriguing fellow when we decided to meet. It was...not good. Surprisingly not good. He was funny, attractive, a tad over confident and I had nothing to say to him. We struggled for about 90 minutes until finally, in a moment of post-midnight honesty, I said, "You know, I kinda thought that this would be better. That we...would be better." He agreed and left about 15 minutes later. I told this story to my most recent failed relationship who listened with dull, possibly mentally delayed nineteen year old ears with sympathy that I imagine would amount to that of an eggplant. One day later, Mr. Excitement tells me about a weird quasi-date that he went on (Boys, a tip: when trying to woo, do not talk about other dates that you're going on). Two days later Mr. Ex tells me that he went out on a quasi-date. Can we guess the outcome of this story? Yes, well-done: they went on a quasi-date together. And it was at that exact moment that I raised the white flag.

I'm out.

I first started chatting when I was 16 and since then I estimate that I have met well (WELL) over a hundred people from the internetz to varying degrees of success, from painfully awkward half-hour coffee dates to falling madly in love. Out of this 100+ people, I have one in my life. One. Out of one hundred. One (1) percent (%). Un pour cent. The infomercial that are dating sites are selling nothing but cheap goods that break nearly as soon as you get them. None of the romantic entanglements have ever lasted more than six weeks. None of the platonic friendships lasted because they weren't romantic entanglements and who the fuck needs another friend? Oh wait, all of my friends left the city. Crap. I should probably get on that. But I digress...

I realize that there are some people for whom the internet is an amazing social tool. This, however, is just not true for me. I suppose I held on so long because, let's face it, where the fuck else are there potentials? I'm not a bar guy, I'm not a dancer and I went to university with a bunch on Mennos. The only homos there are married with 5 kids. I have no particular links to the interior design world, nor do I frequent truck stops. I don't live in ancient Greece nor am I the shaman of a lost African tribe. In short, I'm kinda screwed. But now I think I'll be screwed in a much healthier way sans le chatting. I will continue to use e-mail, Facebook and sporadically update this withering shrub of a blog, but as for the rest...I'm returning it for a full refund. Minus shipping and handling.

Monday, August 25, 2008

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2008 4:39 PM
Subject: list of fears secret

A friend of mine made a list of his fears and insecurities and had a friend of his make one of hers too in order to make me feel better when I was struggling with some personal problems. In return, I had to make one of mine. I was surprised at how long it was. Even more so, I was surprised at how therapeutic it was to share all of our darkest secrets with each other. I cried at first, but then we laughed about it and turned it into a joke.

I don't think I could've found healing so complete in anything other than those lists and the deeper connection it formed, even if it was temporary. I still read those lists sometimes. I get the same sort of feeling I get as when I read PostSecret, only it's a little more overwhelming. There's just a strong sense of belonging and connecting, of not being so alone anymore.


Well, I'm game. I'm afraid...

1. That I'll never find love. Oh, we all knew that one was coming so let's just get it out of the way. What is this, your first time on this blog? Get over it.

2. Of birds. Seriously. What the shit? Ground animals can only go side to side and forward and back; birds are fucking 3D! And with the little beaks and claws...gah.

3. That I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

4. That I know exactly what I want to be when I grow up.

5. Of angering people. I don't do well with that, even if I know that I am unequivocally in the right. I just don't like being yelled at.

6. Of being broke. I'm so fucking Jewish. I get really anxious if I don't have some sort of payment on me. The knowledge that with my credit and debit cards, I have enough money to get me from Siberia to my doorstep is a very comforting thought and when they're not on me, I'm deeply unsettled.

7. Of having to watch my parents express emotions. It's weird. My mother cried last week at my father's 60th birthday toast and I almost ralphed.

8. Of homophobia. What is that? Homophobiaphobia? In any case, I'm so not the social vigilante I dream of being in those situations. I tend to just sit there and stew and wish that everyone was queer for one day just to see what it was like.

9. Of heights. Though not really of heights, per se, so much as falling from heights. Heights by themselves are fine.

10. Of Virginia Wolff. Did you see The Hours? Bitch is scary.

11. Of the pedophile in the movie Little Children. That character was the cause of my only adult nightmares.

12. That two of my former dates/acquaintances/whatevers will start dating. It's bad enough when one starts dating a stranger, but somehow, if I know them both, I assume that talking about how much I sucked is like foreplay to them.

13. Of not having messages returned. That's why I don't leave them.

14. Of Male troubles. See previous post.

15. That I'll never make a truly great cream sauce. I'm a good cook; why the shit can't I do this?

16. Of starting anything that has the potential for failure, like a work out regimen. Cause better that I just not do it at all than to be in shape for 3 months?

17. Of Tori Amos, Madonna, Emily Haines and all those really strong female musicians that seem like they don't really like anyone.

18. That I'm too clever for my own good sometimes. This sounds like an ego booster; it's not.

19. Of becoming one of the lifers in opera chorus. Ugh.

20. To eat at Baked Expectations. EVERYONE has a horror story from that place, including mine of food poisoning by tia maria torte on my birthday. Dessert Sinsations 4 Life, yo.

21. To shave my head. My aunt suggested it last week and I've been seriously contemplating it, but that...that is a commitment. Plus, what I do about facial hair, sideburns, etc. These are the questions I have.

22. Of my dog. He's an asshole.

23. Of my dad's "Let's talk about sex" talks. I'm 24. You can stop now. And please never use the word "release" in my presence again.

24. Of not having any comments in response to this post.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dear Friend...

What a whirlwind time we've had. This is, what, our eleventh year of being intimately acquainted? Better make it twelve. Of course, you've been there since birth, but we didn't really spend much time together until then. I've watched you grow with me throughout the years, through some good times and bad. You were always there to give me an honest opinion of the gents I was going out with and when I disregarded your initial reaction, I always regretted it. You're like my Rock of Gibraltar and, oftentimes, just as hard. Yes, you can be quite the most stubborn of companions, shooting off when I least expect it, barely making an appearance at social gatherings or simply going hot or cold without a moments notice. Sometimes having you in front of me makes me feel like a star and occasionally like a limp rag, but I always appreciate the attention paid when I take matters into my own hands. Even when things get a bit hairy, you manage to rise to the occasion and we thrust through together. If I have one complaint, it would be your inability to accept my protection when I just want to keep us both safe. Yes, I know, you're getting better and I appreciate that. But in these times, I have to be firm with you and I hope you'll return the favour.

I hate you. I adore you. And I know others have felt the same.

Just as you salute me, I salute you, my penis, my friend.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Oh Em Gee, Sarah! You know this shit is coming back now.

Brief update: My hellish tenure with the Fringe is over. I have no job. I have no plans. I'm-a be blogging a lot. Prepare for a hail storm of crap.

Monday, July 07, 2008

There's something almost humourous about two heterosexual actors playing gay for pay on the screen in that moment just before they kiss. They're never believable and I'll tell you why. In that half second before their lips are to meet, they inevitably part and this most false action completely betrays their pussy-loving ways. Go back and look at the great straight embraces of the celluloid; a straight man would never dream of opening his mouth before his lips touched his lover because that would completely foul that sublime moment when the lips touch for the first time. Do they part afterwards? Well, of course they do. This is not a Disney film, my dear; some friction is necessary. However, that first moment is to be preserved. It's as though these two sweetly delusional thespians believe that the only intimacy that can occur between two men calls for the lips to be parted, which is unfortunately homophobic as they probably think of themselves as allies. Now that our esteemed government has given us the right to marry, this does not mean that weddings will end with the phrase, "You may now fellate the bridegroom!"

It's so disappointing, isn't it? We expected so much more. I can recall sitting through a screening of Making Love in 1982 at the Metro 8. One would have thought that the release of the film was messianic, such were the palpitations in my chest. In the scene where Harry Hamlin and the cute but ultimately forgotten other guy are bare chested, hands tracing backs, lips inching closer, the pulsations moved somewhat more southernly. And then at that moment, that moment for which I braved slurs from the pock-marked box office employee and the disappointment of realizing I was one of seven people in the theatre, each sitting by themselves, their lips finally touched, but not before that asshole Hamlin opens his goddamn lips. Suddenly, it was false. It wasn't the apocalypse but rather some pre-Melrose demi-hunk serving my life up on spray painted silver platter. I walked out in disgust, just like all those that had walked out for the exact opposite reason.

There is nothing more thrilling than that moment, you see. An amazing kiss is about contact, to be sure, but when they disappoint you so 90% of the time, one can't help but live for that second before it all goes wrong. My greatest pleasure on this earth is lingering on his bottom lip the moment we touch. I am convinced that the Song of Songs was written about his bottom lip. I would call it manna had I not been heckled as an old dramatic by some of my ever aging girls. The comments of our 25 year age difference are near constant from them and I take every loving barb with reverie, so happy am I with that bottom lip. That bottom lip is the one vice on this earth that I have maintained in this, the golden years of life for a gay man not yet 50. The previous ones always needed a balance to keep them from oscillating out of control. The promiscuity of my thirties was tempered by the fact that I only slept with unattractive men as to not indulge too frequently or risk contracting some dreadful ailment by one to ugly too bear a repeat performance. In my twenties, my lust for food, thinness and my poverty resulted in a cycle of spending far too much on fancy meals after which I would promptly induce vomiting as a chastisement on behalf of my wallet as well as my waistline. Now in my forties, I only have his bottom lip and fuck, if I don't make up for Harry Hamlin's mistakes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

PS - We all knew that Miami 3 wasn't happening, so quit your whining. It involved a sunrise massage overlooking the ocean and the near strangulation of my father. I am currently making butt-love to my Hermes belt, though.

It's Britney, bitch

Dude, it's so not Britney. Did you really think it was? Consider yourself pwn'ed mothahfuckahhhhhhhh. Seriously, the only thing that Britney and I have in common is a cheap weave and an obligation for child support.

Updating in the summer is hard, yo! I'd love to say that this is because I'm off frolicking my ass off in some goddamn meadow with a sensitive satyr who has become my lover, but alas and alack, this is not so.

I have, however, been getting up to some good shit.

For starters I am obsessed - OBSESSED - with Kathy Griffin. Yes, I realize that my frequent declarations of obsession for strong, funny women that could easily be drag queens falls into the category of gay stereotype, but you know what? I can't fight it. I'm not made of stone, people. Men aren't funny. End of story. This bitch talking smack about Lindsay Lohan is. (Side note: FireFox just tagged the word 'Lohan' as not in the dictionary. Like Don McLean, I inquire as to when these people will learn. Lohan will live forever. Right click. Add to dictionary)

Little known fact: I've actually met Kathy Griffin. For shiz. During my summer in Montreal, my ampley-bossom buddy and I went to see her at a club for Just For Laughs. Afterwards, we loitered around hoping to catch a glimpse, busing tables, smoking butts, etc. and when the security said we had to leave, we made a mad dash around him to the stage door, whereupon the lady with the face so tight met us with passive enthusiasm. There's still a photo floating around my apartment somewhere., but I still remember the feeling of my hand on her waste, inadvertently stroking her poly-blend black top.

That's kind of the biggest news. Otherwise, I went on a ten-day tour with Chai, which could have been a Bravo special had it been at all interesting. I nearly took out half the singers at one point, such was my rage. God bless the portable DVD player, as it was the only thing that stood between me and Chomocide. (Michael Park, that one was for you.)

I've also started seeing someone, though since day one I've just been waiting for it to end, fatalist that I am. We've fallen into this nice pattern where we see each, two days go by, I get anxious and screw someone else, his roommate calls me and tells me lies about infidelity, gang wars are started and then we cuddle. It's all very sweet. Seriously, it's probably gonna end in about 23 minutes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Miami 3 is on her way. Patience.

As I've stated before, I don't cry. Not really. As a child, yes, all the time. Near daily at some points. I always loathed it, as far back as I can remember. I'm not entirely sure why, perhaps some gender vision that was muddled to think that it was shameful, but I've always hidden it. When I have cried, it's typically been done once year by an event that is unforgivable. Things will continue to evolve after it, but the person or event that caused it will never really be healed. We can be surrounded by such beauty but it will never be Eden. When I have cried, it's been like shoving a waterfall through a sieve. If you're standing underneath the sieve all you see are little droplets falling down; you're completely unaware of the force beating from the other side. There are as many ways to cry as there are to laugh, though I think generally involve either sobbing or silent agony. I've never sobbed. Never had the falls break the sieve and vocalized despair. Not once. I have no clue what it feels like, though I can imagine from watching enough Baz Lurmann films.

But there's one coming.

It's everything about this past year. The move, the aimless wandering around the end of my degree, the emotion surrounding the Recital, the tectonic shifts in friendships, the barren womb of the countless relationships I didn't have this year or perhaps just the one...It's coming. I'm experiencing it almost every day now, watching an episode of sappy television or listening to a song that ends me. Sometimes I catch it and taper back. Other times, I think that I'm just going to let it out but then quickly retract the reigns, the rebellion and its failure occurring within a split second.

I've been told before that for me to cry is one of the worst things possible. Granted, this was said by a dear friend; I'm not really sure why, but I almost understand it. It's not an ego thing or thinking that I'm better than an other, but it seems as though something would break if it would happen or I just wouldn't be able to stop. I know what this sounds like, but at times I feel as though I'm just passing through, like I don't really belong here. This isn't meant to sound grandiose, but I almost feel as though any human behaviour has simply been assigned so I can pass through unnoticed, undetected, while performing some sort of heavenly case study. A celestial creature riding transit.

I've been feeling oddly drawn to the angel Gabriel lately. Those that know me would never think that divine inspiration would be a presence in my life, and I'm not saying it has in the traditional sense, but it's almost like meeting someone for the first time and knowing them completely, knowing exactly what will make them laugh, draw them in, push them away. This was similar. I never thought anything of seraphim and always loathed the name 'Gabriel' but some time, several months ago, it just clicked into place, batteries meeting, that this was something worth drawing from. What it actually may be is not important, whether it is a calling or merely brain synapses misfiring, completely irrelevant so long as a journey is begun.

I've been almost crying a lot lately.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My-ami: Part 2 - Sarasota

Monday: Belt in loops, I set out for cultural bastion that is Sarasota, Florida. This pretty little town is the host of the second most Caucasian zip code after Anaheim, CA. I'm pretty sure the hotel house keeping staff were in black face, or brown face, seeing as this was Florida. The purpose of this trip was to see this big shot physio/massage therapist/potential quack who'd developed this program of stretching and muscle building that could possibly really help my lurvely physical state. The trip by car between Miami and Sarasota is anywhere between four and a half and five hours. With my father at the wheel, it took just over three and felt like seventeen. Allow me to digress with a parable about my parents' courtship. At the six month mark, my mother was convinced that Father hated his family. Every time he would speak on the phone with them, it was constant yelling. In Hungarian, a language that makes Wookie sound romantic. He took her down to meet his folks and upon arrival, amid the hugging and kissing, was more hostile yelling. Except everyone was smiling. Hungarians, while capable of providing the audio for a foreign Jerry Springer show, are actually very loving people. Still, this didn't help my stress level and by the time we pulled into the immaculate little town (think Victoria/Transcona hybrid), my hairline had receded another quarter inch.

Searching out sustenance, we settled on the most elegant establishment in the surrounding neighborhood: Chilli's. The Palm, this was not. The wait staff appeared to consist of a hostess with an "I hate yanks!" sticker on the back of her pleather writing pad, a very tall, very skinny, very in recovery from meth fellow fellow and Chuck, our waiter, who I'm pretty sure had replaced all of his hemoglobin with steroids. When you have money, it becomes very easy to enjoy the high-falutin' five-star restaurant lifestyle. However, when you didn't start that way, there's this odd comfort in slummin' it. Cut to my aunt demolishing two empanadas. (Side note: do not order ice tea, even sweetened, anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line.)

So then we went to see this non-doctor and I'll spare you all the details but he essentially stretched me and worked me out for about three hours, leaving me feeling rather lab rat-esque. More on him later. That evening we went to the touristy shopping and dining district, which was a series of curved boulevards surrounding one central square. Think art emporiums, beach wear, real estate shops, over-priced bistros and Starbucks. Thank fucking God. We took a stroll to the beach, Aunty, Father and I, and sat down to watch the sunset. Naturally, this was when the only two cute, young gay guys in the county stroll onto the beach, pooka-shell necklaces in place (I know.) and with a demeanor that said "No, we're not together, but we'd totally show a nice, semi-attractive stranger, say from Canada, 'round these parts." Naturally, this was at the precise moment my aunt decided that she wanted to rest her eyes and that my lap would make a natural pillow. American Gigolo, I am thee. What used to be the lovely pastime of gazing at adorable boys has become an exercise in increasing frustration over the years. I should really just shave off what remains of my hair and settle into monk-hood.After this shrinking of my pride and penis, we went and drank lots of champagne sangria (Yes, you read right and yes, it's amazing) and chowed down on unexpectedly delicious Spanish food. This was topped off with Starbucks (Daddy's maiden voyage) and stroll around the boulevards.

Full and (tragic foreshadowing alert) oddly optimistic, we went back to our hotel at which time I checked my e-mail and my life fell apart. Multiple - MULTIPLE - messages awaited me detailing how the things I'd been planning in the next weeks and months were crashing and burning two thousand miles away from me. I kinda lost it, I gotta say. Sitting in a hotel room with my two Hungarian elders (they're loving, but far from sympathetic), having been pummeled by this guy all day, feeling utterly isolated...man alive, I think it was one of the lowest, non-drug-related moments I've experienced. Aunty gave me a Xanax and I slept long and dreamless.

Tuesday: Awaking to a relatively-kick ass breakfast buffet (read: free), we headed off to see the good non-doctor. The previous session would come to be considered a candy-filled, unicorn-riding wonderland by comparison. Kids, he pretty much broke my toes. I've never experienced so much pain in my life. His whole theory was to wake up the long-dead nerves by stretching and manipulating them so he contorted them in all sorts of directions, laughing that in the past he'd gotten carried away and actually torn the skin. After a good chortle, I went into the bathroom and sure enough, zee skin, she was spleet. I certainly don't mean to make light of a very serious situation, so I say this with sincerity, but I kinda felt like a rape victim. I don't really have an explanation other than I just felt violated. I mean, it was good and all and I think that if I actually stick to it, his methods could make a big difference, but still.

Upon completion of another three and a half hour session, we set out for home. During this time, my aunt received about a half a dozen calls on her in-car Bluetooth with the speaker set at "God's Voice" volume from various other Miami socialite housewives, implementing all sorts of endearments ("honey"; "sweetheart"; "darling"; "hot piece of ass") with the exact same nasal, monotonic whine all of which made for very poor napping.

I spent the evening playing rummy with my grandmother and her nurse, finally free of the bickering twosome and then headed to bed, band-aids encircling my toes.