Monday, November 27, 2017

My Neck

I’m writing this from the couch, flat on my back, phone in the air. At some point, inevitably, I will fumble and drop it on my face. (This is a universally shared experience, I think. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s most likely because I took your turn for you. I text from bed a lot.)

I’m on my back because it hurts to be any other way. I don’t know what happened while I was asleep last night, but my best guess is that a robber snuck into my house and, upon finding nothing of value to steal, karate-chopped my neck in frustration. I should’ve set my diamonds and gold out in a little bowl on my headboard with a Free Take One sign. You live, you learn.

Anyway, the point is: THE PAAAAAAAAINNNNN! Agonyagonyagony, etc. It's radiating from my neck down into my arm and across my back. It hurts so much I feel nauseous. I’ve taken plenty of extra-strength ibuprofen, rubbed peppermint oil on it, and am now applying yet another hot water bottle, but nothing really helps except complete and total immobility. It even hurts to raise my voice.

Sully is unsympathetic. He’s usually quite independent, but today he needs everything he can’t reach. As soon as I lay down, he needs me to stand up. I shut my eyes and he climbs on my head. Blinding pain. I try not to say to him, “WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME?!” Sometimes it feels like kids do this stuff on purpose.

"Sulls,” I say, "can we just quietly read a book here on the couch?"

"Can we play cars actually?"

"No, Sully, I just need to lay here. It hurts to move."

He leans in and studies my face.

“Is it a heart murmur, Mom?” He is very concerned about everyone's hearts lately.

“No, it's my neck—”

“Well then can you please get up?”

Oh right, because moms don’t get to lie down, even when they are dying, unless it is a heart murmur. I’d forgotten that rule.

Now he’s stacking everything he owns in a pile in the middle of the living room, in silent protest of my stillness. Books. Lego. Blankets. Stuffed animals. And I’m letting him, because it’s silent. I hope it lasts for hours and hours; I hope our entire house ends up in a mountainous heap right here beside me. I hope the robber who messed up my neck comes back and gets him a snack and gets the toys down for him from his closet's top shelf and plays a round of Go Fish with him.

But the chances of that are very slim because, I have noticed, robbers are dreadfully inconsiderate.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The One With the Leeks

"Well here's a question: do you like eating? Then shut up!"

I was standing in front of the apples; the voice came from somewhere among the vegetables, loud and clear and shrill, like the question was for everyone in all of produce. I snuck a peek, and accidentally met eyes with its owner. I hate when that happens.

She was tall and thin and she had permed brown hair and a quivering, hunched-over husband. He was staring sorrowfully at the leeks. I was not the only one looking at the lady, but I was the only one the lady was looking back at.

To my surprise, she smiled sweetly at me as though nothing were amiss. She looked like the kind of person who never yelled at anyone. The husband reached out and touched one of the leeks. Everyone went back to minding their own business.

I headed for the checkout.

On my way to the car, I passed a man in the parking lot who, I thought, looked quite down on his luck. He was a big guy, middle-aged, with greasy hair and a torn, dirty jacket that didn't look warm enough for the weather. He carried a white styrofoam cup. His face looked sad in kind of the same way as the husband in the store (the one with the leeks). He was walking slowly, a bit aimlessly, in his own world and he didn't notice me.

I carefully loaded my groceries into the passenger seat of my car and headed home.

As I sat stopped at a red light a block away, the man from the parking lot caught up to me. He pushed the pedestrian button and crossed in front of my car, still aimless and slow, still looking sad and lost. But halfway across the street, he did something surprising too: he reached into his styrofoam cup, pulled out a tiny wand, and blew, leaving a trail of soap bubbles streaming behind him.

The light turned green before he was all the way across, but he didn't seem to notice that he was holding up traffic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Music Flu

I had the musical equivalent of a flu last week. 

You know when you're sick, and your skin becomes so sensitive to the touch that things you usually like—blankets, hugs, whatever—feel painful? And you roll around in your bed, trying to find a position where your stomach doesn't hurt, and where your feet aren't too hot but your arms aren't too cold, and you know you should eat or drink something but nothing is appealing and you can't get it to stay down anyway? 

My ears get like that sometimes, and I don't know why. I'll open Spotify or stand in front of my CD collection and just think, I can't stand the silence, but none of this is working right now. The jazz is too trumpety and the emo is too dramatic and the rock is too loud and everyone's voices are grating on me for no good reason...

So, anyway, I was sitting in front of my computer racking my brain when I recalled a song I loved a long time ago called "Doctor Blind" from Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton's Knives Don't Have Your Back.

I have this bizarrely crystal clear memory of the first time I saw a physical copy of that album; I was in Saskatoon, killing a Thursday afternoon by myself. At that time, I lived on 9th and Lansdowne in a small, two-bedroom apartment with four other girls and we were all debt collectors who carpooled to work together—which is to say, I saw a lot of them. So, sometimes, we'd get home from work and I'd say See ya and walk up 9th to Broadway Ave. 

Sometimes I'd explore the little stores there, or go sit in a coffee shop with a book, or walk across Broadway Bridge to downtown, and it was on one of those outings that I found a second floor record store hidden at the top of a steep set of stairs. At first I remember not being sure if the record store was a record store or if it was someone's apartment, it was so poorly signed. And then I got in there and no one was around, not behind the counter or anywhere, and I thought maybe it was closed but the owner had forgotten to lock it. Nevertheless, I walked down one of the rows and began to flip through the records. 

And that was when I saw it. I pulled it out and looked at it; it was tan with black writing, no picture or any kind of artwork, but it stood out to me for some reason—enough, apparently, to remain in the front half of my mental picture catalogue.

I didn't buy it, though. I put it back and purchased Cake's Comfort Eagle instead (at some point in my good hour or so of music perusal, an employee materialized behind the counter). Good story, Suzy.

Why do brains hold on to this kind of thing? I don't have any recollection of the first time I actually heard the album, but I know I loved it and, subsequently, loved Emily Haine's Metric stuff too. It can't possibly be important for me to remember that day, or especially that moment, but I do. Vividly. 

Anyway. The point is not that. The point is, I remembered that song, the "Doctor Blind" one, and looked up Emily Haines on Spotify, only to find she put out new Soft Skeleton stuff in October, and it's the first Skeleton project she's done since Knives, since 2006, the year I lived in Saskatoon. What are the chances, even? I might have some kind of telepathic connection with Emily Haines, and maybe she wanted me to know about this new album. 


I'm glad, because it's pretty good. And my music flu is cured.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Fall 2017

The front door of my house was frozen shut this morning. My car door too. And my eyes, as well.

(I'm so tired, is what I'm saying.)

When I came into the kitchen, a full hour after Barclay and Sully woke up, Barclay said, "It's Charlie Brown snowing out there." This, of course, was in reference to the size and speed of the snowflakes falling from the sky. Big, slow, slightly cartoony. Sully, however, thought Barclay meant that it was snowing Charlie Browns. Which is a different thing entirely.

(And an amazing mental picture.)

So I guess it's winter in Saskatchewan now. Fall was nice; it was fast and full. Warm. Orange. I took it for granted, as always, and will spend the next few months feeling sad that I didn't take more walks while I still could.

One of these years, I'm going to do autumn right. I'm going to go for at least one walk every day, lay on the sidewalk in front of my house and stare at the red leaves for hours on end, take a bath in a vat of pumpkin spice whatever. This year, however, it's officially too late. It's Charlie Brown snowing out there.

RIP, Fall 2017. Here's a playlist of the songs I will remember you by:

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Product Placement

Are you familiar with What's in my Bag? It started, I'm pretty sure, back in the early days of blogging. Women would empty their purses and photograph the contents, put the whole thing up on their blog for everyone to see. No one paid them to do it, it was just a funny little blog game. Yet another example of humanity's weird obsession with the mundane details of everyone else's lives.

I always liked it, even if I didn't participate (my bag was not blog-worthy). It reminded me of this assignment our Grade 9 social studies teacher gave us once when we were learning about archaeology. He picked one of the students' lockers at random and we went through the contents, layer by layer, and someone stood at the chalkboard and wrote down the things we learned about that person based on the stuff they kept in their locker and based on the order in which we found it (Grade 9 student, likes pb & j, male, listens to rap, math binder buried at the bottom of the locker underneath moldy, unidentifiable food, so math probably isn't his favourite subject, etc).

(In hindsight, that whole assignment was a gross invasion of that poor student's property and privacy. Buuuuut we're talking about a teacher who fake-kidnapped a student at knife-point (she didn't know she was being fake-kidnapped but she was aware of the knife) at the beginning of a Law 30 class so we could do a mock trial. This is the kind of stuff teachers can get away with in small town schools and still be everyone's favourite. I am majorly digressing here.)

Anyway, I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and I came across a post by a popular blogger, one of the ones who makes a living being an "Influencer." It was a picture of her and her kid, the contents of her purse strewn on the couch beside her. It looked sweet and candid, but when you read the caption you realized it was actually an ad for a wallet. It was like What's in my Bag, except sponsored, and the average smart person would know that that wallet was likely only there because some brand put it there, not because the blogger was a die-hard That Wallet Fan.

Brands hey? They've caught on to our collective fascination with what strangers are carrying in their bags and what they're doing at all times and what they're eating and reading and listening to and where they're shopping and what they bought. And it's not even all that original.

I'm just gonna leave this here:

The Truman Show is happening now and EVERYONE IS TRUMAN.