Sunday, November 30, 2003

Karen and I spent the afternoon at Greyhaven. While Karen bustled about her chores, I read up on the sanctuary and the birds residing there.

Greyhaven does not allow the birds to reproduce. As many of the birds were in pairs, I asked how the volunteers prevent this. First, they don't provide any nesting material. Nevertheless some birds persist in laying eggs; when this happens a volunteer will poke a hole in either end of the egg and give it a good shake, then return it to the nest. If the volunteer simply removed the egg, the bird would lay another.

The most distinctive bird at Greyhaven is Spook. His head and wings has green feathers while the majority of his body is as naked as a supermarket chicken. In fact, every time I looked at him he reminded me of the twenty chickens I plucked a few months ago. He looked, not exactly yummy, but disturbingly edible. There is just something about a chicken that has just died and has been de-feathered only moments ago...that's the look that Spook had.

Spook is a permanent resident of the sanctuary because this was a choice on the previous parrot submission form. Currently, Greyhaven insists that all birds be placed in permanent homes outside the sanctuary.

We had two visitors today, a young couple. They looked at each bird, making their way to the back of the room where I was reading. I didn't pay attention to what they talked about. When they left Karen turned to me and I began asking her questions.

From the door we heard a panicked "excuse me." It was the girl and Spook was on her head. She wanted to leave but the parrot was stuck firmly to her scalp.

I suggested that Spook really liked that girl. No, said Karen. Spook really likes men. Since the man went out first, Spook probably thought he could hitch a ride on the girl to get to his man.

Later, when Jonesy came with our lunch, Spook resettled on Jonesy's leather jacket. When Jonesy began to demonstrate his new bagpipes Spook was completely enamoured. There was no removing him from the shoulders of this enticing specimen of manhood who made the bizarre new sounds. We tried putting a towel over Jonesy's shoulders to protect the leather jacket, but Spook attacked the towel. After a struggle, Jonesy was freed and went to practice his bagpipes in the car. Spook threw his toys around, then attacked his bell. He retired to his box to sulk.

Sean suddenly was on my shoulder (last picture on the bottom, Sean is on the left). I felt piratey. He watched each forkful going to my mouth. He walked down my arm to the hand holding the fork.

"Alright, Sean, you want to eat some salad?" Sean took a delicate bite out of everything and spat it out. He rummaged through the bowl sampling everything. Then he tried one of the cucumbers in Karen's salad. He liked the dressing and licked it off the cucumber. Shameless bird!

If I were to have any of the birds, a dozen or so budgies would be the birds for me. I walked into the budgie enclosure and all the birds instantly hushed.

When one walks into any of the enclosures the most important thing is to step gingerly and always look under your feet. Two birds hid under the paper at the bottom and were crushed to death. Another lovebird slipped under the foot of a crouching volunteer and when she got up she inadvertently crushed the little bird. It did not die instantly.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

After this morning's hissy fit ("World events aren't going the way I want them to!"), I wished my Muslim doctor a Merry Christmas. I also noted an increase in irate car-honking. But all that is over and done with. I am back in my insulated world of books.

I am flipping back and forth between my grade five teacher's book, The Daring Game, and a new book by Mark Abley, Spoken Here: Travels among Threatened Languages (the first review in this Amazon link is from a guy who lives in Wulai, Taiwan!).

Abley's book has some interesting trivia:

1. The Mati Ke language of northern Australia put nouns into different classes: weapons belong with lightning while places and times go together, leading the author to quip, "Mati Ke, you might say, anticipated Einstein by several thousand years." There are three speakers of this language left when this book was published. And two of them can't speak to each other because of a taboo; the third speaks in dialect.

2. In the Nootka language one speaks differently to children, ravens, circumcised men, and people who are fat, short, left-handed, crippled, hunchbacked, greedy or have eye defects. Still spoken.

3. Kakardian (or Circassian) of the Caucasus Mountains has 48 consonants and 2 disputed vowels. It still survives.

4. Ubykh, also of the Caucasus Mountains, has 81 consonants. In 1992, the last fluent speaker of this language died.

5. Abkhaz nobility, from the Caucasus, had a special language (now extinct) just for hunting.

6. The Guugu Yimidhirr language, which gave the word kangaroo to Captain Cook in 1770, has about two dozen speakers.

7. The Iora language that gave us koala, kookaburra, dingo and boomerang is now extinct.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Britney says: "We should just trust the president in every decision that he makes." Snort!

Now I remember why I am glad I didn't immigrate to the US. Hmm, I don't know about Vancouver being more like Europe, but I'll stick in my "aye" for Montreal.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I turned on the TV for the first time in a month last night. It made a crackling noise. This is a normal sound for a TV, isn't it?

The last time I used the tv was to watch a video. I tried one other time to watch a Bollywood video show but I got distracted by things happening in the rest of the house. Aside from this aborted television-viewing session, I haven't watched my television since April.

Before April I loved my television as much as everyone does. I even had shows that I watched on a regular basis. Then I moved back to Canada. I thought I could finally stop watching the sexist, mindless dribble Japanese television excells at airing.

But, wait! What happened to Canadian/American television? Every single channel has shows about sex. Then the commercials are about phone lines. I rather imagine that if people are watching shows about sex they are not actually having sex. Yet, worse was to come.

I came home right at the height of Gulf War the Sequel. What the hell were CNN and other news channels reporting? I had left the sexist, mindless dribble of Japan for the sexist, mindless, racist dribble of North America.

There is an African proverb: the drums of war are the drums of hunger. I was apparently the only viewer who understood that that applies to us as well as the Iraqis at the centre of it all.

I stopped watching television. Cold turkey. Sure the TV sets at friends' homes and in bars hypnotized me, but at home my tv was silent for months at a time.

After months of no television, I flipped twice through all the channels to see what was on. This is what I noticed:

1. Our televisions are not as clear as Japanese ones. In Japan the picture is so clear you can see the pores on people's skin. (I'm not kidding.) Perhaps our TV "stars" would rather not have us discovering their multiple pores, as I was told that white people have worse skin than East Asians.

2. Adam Beach was on one of the channels. Again it must have been the poor quality of our North American pore-obliterating televisions, because he didn't look so good.

3. The news on TV has more items than the internet or newspapers. For example, last night I discovered that a security guard ran his car over a pier and helicopters and the Coast Guard were searching the water for the poor bloke. Then the police in Seattle were on a televised search for more clues in a woman's death.

4. There is a new type of three-wheeled scooter.

5. Those reality show hosts revel in the troubles of their hapless subjects.

6. Jackie Onassis really irritates me. What a stupid woman. She was not and will never be elegant. Plus she has a crass nasal voice.

7. Michael Jackson is a real idiot. The more I look at the before-and-after pictures, the more I think so. Plastic surgery for vain purpose is really stupid too.

8. A hostess on a show says, "Next you'll see pictures of twelve-year-old Michael on a dating show." Then we see twelve-year-old Michael and a male narrator starts, "What you're seeing is twelve-year-old Michael on a dating show." Huh? I already knew that. Why are they telling me twice? I listened some more.

Each sentence on TV seems to be followed by one repeating the exact same information. During the twenty minutes I was listening (not watching) this show, there was nothing new I learned. Everything was given in the synopsis at the beginning and they were just repeating it over and over again.

Like the Jackie Onassis stuff. These people were so convinced she is a classy dame that they aired her answering machine conversation and gushed about how wonderful she was. But where on the answering machine was evidence of her elegance?

No more forays into the world of television for me.

I've been spoiled by books.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I should have known.

Hong Kong Style Tea + After 5 PM = No Sleep

So I finished reading Into Thin Air.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Friday, November 28, 2003

Allison is having second thoughts about forming a book club. She approached the local book club but was turned off by the 90-year-old matron on the other end. She wanted a book club for younger types. I made a few suggestions about the sort of books we assign each month, to weed out the old fogeys, and perhaps even advertise it�s a young book club.

Then Kevin remarked that only geeky types go to book clubs. Again I flew in to save the day for book clubs. I mentioned the three very beautiful women who were at the Bookcrossing meeting I attended months ago. If my word is not enough, a fellow at the bar eased his way into our meeting, bewitched by their charms.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Thursday, November 27, 2003

We went to a dusty deli and sandwich shop at Kingsway and Boundary. The owner was a real comedian.

I said I wanted the poppyseed bun.

"You want it long and hard?"

I almost absentmindedly said yes.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

For one week there was a loud salesman who used killer as a synonym for great.

"How about next Monday at 2 PM? You can? Killer!"

I counted this use of killer five times in two hours.

This salesman went on the road. In his place is a quieter, gentler salesman. He has no idea how to smoothtalk his clients and he runs to get help from the account manager all the time. He can't remember all the details about the job either. I like him better.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

In high school, I also almost got an illustration job once on account of my picture of moles mining teapots. The story called for a penguin asking some moles if any of them were its mother.

A friend who also submitted an illustration had walnut helmets for her moles.

I would never have even thought of walnut helmets. Yet, it makes perfect sense for forest-dwelling animals to wear walnut helmets when a-mining. But my interest was, what are they mining? Lumps of gold didn�t seem like fun to draw. Heaps of teapots, on the other hand, were fun to draw.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Allison decked her halls. This is the only major holiday we have, she explained. Halloween is dwindling, Easter is too religious. We have to go all out because we have nothing else to celebrate.

Unlike Romanians.

I am only a half-baked Romanian and I have 10 chances to receive presents during the year: my name day on January 7, Valentine's Day, March 1st (Martisoara), International Women's Day on March 8th, the Romanian traditional Valentine's Day at the end of March, Easter, my birthday, my other name day on August 15, St. Nicholas Day on December 6th and Christmas. I have never lucked out to receive anything on all these days in a single year - but only because I am not entirely Romanian.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

My car doors froze. Bottle-fuls of lukewarm water turned to ice seconds after I poured them. But the car trunk could open. I crawled in, started the car, and set the heater to high. I scraped the ice off the windows. After twenty minutes I opened the door.

That night, farther up the mountain, I watched the snow pile up. Most of the way to my house was downhill. Except for the crucial hill just outside. I didn't fancy a walk, in a t-shirt, through the woods in the snow. My tires made a disconcerting growl but took me up that hill.

The next morning Port Moody looked ready for a White Christmas greeting card. It all melted when I got home that night.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"Can I pour you a drink?" asked Antonio.


A few minutes later: "Can I pour you a drink?"

"No. I am not finished this drink."

A third time, "Can I pour you a drink?"

Antonio from Argentina explained that he just wanted to be friendly.

Go be friendly somewhere else! I thought. Since Antonio didn't seem ready to leave, I decided I would have to be the one to leave. Just then Brian appeared and said I was going to the smoking room to be with our friends.

"Was that creepy guy bothering you?" Brian asked.

"You saved me just in time." I said.

Everyone, except non-smoking me, was in the smoking room.

"Was he a good-looking creepy?" asked the girls.

Brian and I looked at each other. "No, he was just creepy."

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Karen and I stamped 1600 souvenir scrolls. She has another volunteer job for me this weekend. I will help clean parrot Grey Haven. Karen warned me that the birds will be flying outside of the cages. There might be poop dropping on me. But they have smocks for the volunteers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Karen and I were just talking about job hunting, the Downtown Eastside and certain characters. I remembered a story Stan, a job counsellor, told me.

When he worked in a New West job centre most of his clients were former drug dealers. Most had served a stint in prison. They were very skeptical that Stan could help them find any job. But Stan pointed out that they had many skills to offer prospective employers. They had experience in quality control, packaging, security, horticulture, accounting, maangement and logistics. On their resumes, they listed their former occupations as "self employed." Most went on to become very successful salesmen in legitimate businesses.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Port Moody Library book sale counter tonight yielded the following:

1. Charlie Morgan's Be Your Own Boss - Retire at Home with Profitable Earth Worm Farming (who in their right minds would not want this book gracing their bookshelves??)

2. Teachings of the Tides: Uses of Marine Invertebrates by the Manhousat People (First Nations mythology about seawater animals as well as how to eat them)

3. Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman

4. A Passage to India

5. Hemingway's The Garden of Eden

6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

7. Kit Pearson's The Daring Game (Kit Pearson was my librarian in Grade Five: I would have forgotten her had she not told us on her last day that she quit her job - this book had just been published. For seventeen years I meant to read this book.)

8. Tales for the Midnight Hour (I opened this book to see if perchance The Furry Collar was there - it was! I looked down the list of contents and there was The Gooney Birds. This was one of my childhood books! All these years I never forgot about the furry collar - for twenty years I have often thought about what I would have done as the narrator of that story - I can't tell you more, for it will give away the ending. Instead I'll have to read it to you next Halloween.)

I also got three magazines, the gem of the three being Bark: Dog is My Co-Pilot. With articles such as "Inside the Canine Mind," "Dog Rescue Here and Abroad," and "Rex in the City" how can I resist?

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Mystery peed on the duvet cover.

Then she looked towards the door, as if someone was right out there. Allison was freaked out. Understandably. After all animals sense malignant spirits.

"Copy down my address - got a pen?"

I got out of bed, turned on the lights and scrounged around for a pen.

Then Allison told me not to go to sleep; she would call me back in a few minutes after calling Kevin.

Kevin was coming home soon and I had to keep talking until he got there.

Allison deduced it was probably the wind that freaked out Mystery.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"Hey, what's with the canteloupe on Meaghan's desk?"

"What antelope? That's a rock melon!" said Ben.

Friday, November 21, 2003

The lady sitting two seats over from me announced yesterday that she wants to be a Sinologist because she wants to work with dead people.

Today I asked her how one spells "Sinologist." It's pronounced "thinologist," but the lady did not know the spelling. She told me she was a barmaid all her life, except for the last five years when she was in healthcare. She wants a new career because of SARS and other soon-to-arrive epidemics.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Sunday night I redeemed the ticket I earned through my labour for the Rogue Folk Club. I chose the Barachois concert. All I knew was that there would be fiddle music and comedy. Most importantly I knew where the theatre was.

Louise Arsenault's feet galloped like a pony heading off into Indian country (scroll down, she is the third face). I also noticed that Chuck Arsenault was handsome (scroll down to the last profile).

Before intermission ended, I returned to my seat. The musicians were talking to their fans. I didn't know anyone there so I slipped behind their backs. But the handsome one turned around to say "hi." Very friendly, I thought.

I sat down between the large lady overflowing her seat and the typical bearded folk music fan. The handsome one kept looking up at us. But I like to think it was me that caught his eye, not Large Lady or Beard Boy. Nevertheless I smiled at him again and he smiled back.

The musicians returned to backstage, except for a pair of eyes peering from the edge of the room, looking in the direction of Beard Boy and Large Lady.

At the end of the concert, the other three musicians went backstage leaving only the pair of eyes looking into the audience.

The musicians offered to autograph CDs. I waited in line for each of the band members. When I got to Chuck, he paused after signing his first name and looked perplexed. "Are you from here?"

"Yes." I replied in the mechanical voice I reserve for good-looking men I like.

He returned my CD to me. I began to walk towards the other musicians but he took my arm and gave it a squeeze.

Out of his hearing distance I regained my composure and regaled the other band members with an introduction to the Penguin Duck umbrella.

I hereby pronounce my groupie career as finished.

Friday, November 21, 2003

I rather like to think that the mean cat in Down to the Cellar got punished in Little Otik.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Despite my elaborate plans to see the entire Fantastic France French Animation series, I only saw the Whodunits and Chases (Courses poursuites et polars). � Donf� was best. Human animation.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A long time ago...I saw:

Little Otik (Otes�nek)
I almost listed this as one of my all-time favourite movies. But I don't know if it could withstand repeat viewings, or if I would drag friends to see it, as I did with Delicatessan, My Life as a Dog (a fundamentalist Christian friend in high school bemoaned that this was a sick movie) and the Japanese Ring (Niki watched it with Chinese subtitles in Taipei while I whispered my simultaneous interpretation of the entire movie). Most of the movie I felt like slapping Bozena into reality, though I did like Karel's last line ("Son..."). Also, the first of the Czech hair incidents appeared in this movie. I never realized that eating or merely chewing on one's hair can have such dire consequences (see The Sandman). Obviously Little Otik had no idea.

Down to the Cellar (Do pivnice/Do sklepa)
My eternal nightmare - I write this while peering behind me for rogue potatoes and morgue blondes). I joked about the potatoes with a coworker who didn't get it.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Valerie a tyden divu)
The man sitting behind me snorted at key points during the movie. I laughed too, as did everyone else in the audience, when Valerie announces that it's the first time she's had a girlfriend and when the lewd priest dances around. I rather lost track of what happened; I just remember her thick head of hair. This girl had no visible scalp.

The Fall of the House of Usher (Z�nik domu Usheru)
In English, with no living beings except trees visible. A blockish castle in the mist. A coffin moving about of its own will. A hammer handle disintegrating on screen. This is on my small list of favourite movies.

The Raven (Havran)
Uh huh.

I volunteered that night. The manager asked if I want to watch the movie and I rushed in. I missed the initial 7 minutes of Little Cousins, but I was in time for all of Morgiana. Everyone in this movie had very thick heads of hair. Again, where is their scalp skin? I am making a point of observing the density of head hair and I have not seen one person yet who resembles Czech actresses in hairiness. As well, there was a wig scene at the end.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Long-lost Arizona Cheryl resurfaced. She asked if I am still going to Flagstaff (yes, though those Mormons freak me out). Ever thinking about food, she tried to entice me with "several Navajo recipes for mutton stew and frybread." How many recipes are there for frybread?

Then she mentions four wheeling, which I suppose I shall understand what this term means when I got here.

Hmm, this calls for some Arizona research of sorts.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I love names. I have been stuck with a name that is most common in one part of the world but hopelessly ridiculous in the part I ended up living my life. I've got enough pseudonyms to rival any major pre-modern Chinese poet.

One of my correspondents sent me this link about babies named after brands like Timberland and Courvoisier cognac. Parents may want to mark their children out as different, but, someone who is damned to being nominally different, I found that being different is a hindrance.

Another study shows that even children with common names spelled differently will be discriminated against and will be viewed as weak, stupid or effeminate. Think about that when you meet the next Cathryne or Bradlee.

Why can't we change names to match ourselves at different points in our lives? Baby names only reflect the parents' wishes, whether it is to honour a relative (I am honouring my rapist grandfather) or fit a physical trait (like red hair) that might change with age. At least those of us who would be responsible not use our name-changing to ease fraudulent endeavours should be excused from the general rules. Why do we have to write a novel to be allowed a pseudonym or to go through a lengthy process of legally changing?

And I think Tamika sounds pretty cute.

This discussion about names began with the name Gus. There weren't many Guses around. But now that I am connected to a Gus through someone else, Gus seems to be everywhere. In the ad for a new movie. Some guy in the article about Heidi Fleiss - I believe he pissed her off. On a magazine editorial staff. Where were the Guses hiding before?

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Karen and I were talking this morning about how television and movies provide a more preferable reality than reality. I mentioned this article and Karen asked if, in my experience, I found this to be true.

What I have noticed is the euphemisms certain men use to identify a woman who will sleep with them immediately. They are:

1. Fun: fun and loose are interchangeable.

2. Assertive: she will ask for what she wants and that is usually to provide what the fellow wants.

3. Down to earth: she has no hang-ups about sex. Kind of like job classifieds in Russia, where employers specify they want a secretary with no "mental incapacities."

This leads me to the subject of filter questions women can use to identify a man who will provide them with attention and affection - in whatever form they seek it. So far I have only two, culled from evidence of an emerging pattern (and I do apologize to at least one of my readers who would answer "aye" to at least one of these questions, though I know he is still alright):

1. Did you ever take philosophy in university? Anybody answering in the affirmative to this question is undoubtably a hedonist and cares only about themselves.

2. Do you like cats? A cat lover is usually lazy. I can hear the knives sharpening already.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

I completely agree with the last guy on the first page.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

We have two Vlad the Impaler wall plaques, Vlad the Impaler vodka, and the Vlad keychain. Now we need this!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Feeling sickly - the flu or my batch of super-hot Sichuan hotpot? I am amusing myself in the middle of the night with a cup of Sleepytime tea, a slice of sponge cake and morbid jokes:

What did one necrophile say to the other?
Let's go down to the morgue and have a cold one...

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I finished reading Where Were You, Robert? by Hans Magnus Enzensberger last night. I must say I agree that Robert is rather flat - I thought all the characters failed to come alive - but that's because Enzensberger is a poet. Poets just can't write fiction. They like abstract ideas better than people.

Yet I think it's a problem with all characters in all contemporary novels by writers who are poets or not. Is it just because we don't pay anymore attention to nuances? What is it - people are evaluated within thirty seconds?

Aside from that it was a fun novel. Funner than some other things I've been struggling through. I even read it on my lunch break at work.

It really got going when he reached the seventeenth century: the small pox woman (when did she run off?); the poor maidens who were raped by Robert's band of thieves, the mill unscathed in war, the beheading of the Bohemian...

I wish there were more adventures of this sort, or maybe more books about lazy, good-for-nothing twenty-first century teenagers being flung into pre-modern wars. Maybe from a female point of view. Now there would be struggles! Ha! Try finding employment in the German court then, girlie!

But sending a girl back in time would be too difficult to write about. It doesn't seem to matter where or when a woman is born, it's all the same. And who wants to read about yet another dreary girl born only to be raped? OK, I am a little bitter because I just started reading Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. But we are only a short step away from what transpires in that book.

Beth reminded me that I knew a Mormon. And she was a bitch.


Check out the Amazon review for Where Were You, Robert? I love the Korean review so much:

Maybe I read this book more than 10 times. I can not say I was boring about this book. A boy named, Robert went to many Worlds. But there are not originalitical World. There are past world. He went to cold laundry in the Rushia, Austrailia, etc. And he met many troubles, sad, exiting things!

Probably all the student, who likes to imagination will love this book. If you are their parents, try to gift them this book. Maybe you are not go to repent to buy this book. Also this book is very good for their parents, and you can think about, what your son and daughter's thought is.

Exactly, this is for adult. There is any bad words, or bad things. So, I thought 10-15years old can read, and if you read this book(If you are their parents or family), then you will 99% exhortation to others.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Russsian Roulette. You'll be glad you did, she said. Maybe I am a big wuss, but even this creeped me out.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Allison, Alana, Cheryl, Nicoleta, Karen and Beth all like my fringe. I can't have real bangs because my head is too small. Nicoleta says I should get more curls. Hmm, twice last week when I drove to work I saw a high school student with a very big afro for sleepy North Burnaby. I don't know if I could carry off such a round head. My big hair fear is to have big hair. Will people tug on my hair like in Mambo Italiano or will I be heckled in women's washrooms like in My Best Friend's Wedding?

Cheryl writes, of bangs: "They can be sassy, sexy, flirty, and also provide camouflage."

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I never wrote of the passing of Azorel.

He was my grandmother's dog. My uncle Tanu found him as a puppy and took him to replace Furnica (ant in Romanian).

My mother always warned me never to approach Azorel. Romanian country dogs take their guard dog role very seriously. Yet, when I went into the chicken yard, Azorel growled at me from inside his hut.

A week before my grandmother died, we went to slaughter the entire chicken coop population. Uncle Tanu axed off their heads and I plucked all the feathers. I found half-formed eggs in their bellies. I cut my hands on their bones.

Azorel hated watching the chickens being killed. He hid in his hut and said nothing. (We did spare the little widowed rooster.)

After the funeral, the neighbours suggested we just dump Azorel in any field. How could we? Azorel protected my grandmother for so many years. Besides we adopt every street dog that comes our way; why should we neglect a family dog?

I tied a chain around Azorel's neck and dragged him to the car. Our van only made it up to the great boulder in front of the cemetery. Azorel looked back - he would never see his home and his mistress was buried hours earlier.

Azorel never allowed me to approach him, on the threat of a swiftly-administered bite. Now he was my dog. He hid under my seat for the whole journey and I pet him for the first time.

The first night Azorel spent bewildered in our dogs' house. Our dogs, Ringila, Laurica and Flocea, preferred sleeping behind the vending machine.

In the morning I jumped out of bed, opened my bedroom window and called out to Azorel.

A new rule was in place. All the dogs had to stay in the dog yard so they wouldn't get hit by any more cars. But Azorel laid claims to the yard. He gave poor gentle Flocea such a beating! Mom in turn hit Azorel.

Eventually Azorel dug his way out of the yard, but the three original dogs shunned him. They ostracized the bully. After I left, Nicoleta told me, Azorel grew lonelier and lonelier. He hid in the bathroom and refused to come out. He lost his fur (to stress and depression, I imagine). Then three weeks ago Irina found him dead. She buried him.

I had hoped Azorel would have a good retirement.


My parents added a new puppy to their flock. She is white with a black patch around one eye.

When they were suggesting names, Anisoara (the girl, not the hamster) put her foot down and declared that the new puppy is also an Anisoara. So I have three Anisoaras in my life: a human, hamster and puppy version.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

My postcard correspondent wrote:

You win the prize for "quirkiest airport-related (however tangentally) postcard
received ever".

Sadly, all that remains of the bunnies is, um, the ears of the left one, the
head of the right one, and the right one's tail. Peculiar.

I write:

My poor rabbits!

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I did something evil on Friday. So evil I cannot tell anyone. But not even a second passed after I committed this mean act that I regretted it. But I did something extremely nice afterwards and hopefully the karmic equations are re-stabilized.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Sean's dad passed away today of a heart attack. He went to Gambier Island to winterize the cabin. When he didn't return, Sean's mom phoned a neighbour to go over.

Though I never met Sean's parents, they kindly lent us the cabin for our Millennium New Year's party.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I was the youngest person in the bull kelp basket-weaving class. Though I liked the instructor, I couldn't help but think that she was a vulgar woman.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Some loser dropped his glass. Non-Arizona Cheryl picked up the largest shard and cut her hand. I had my bandaids with me this time.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Pain and the 120 Days of Sodom

One December I was house-sitting a heritage house. I had a rabbit, no heating, a teenage roommate and two other mysterious roommates who came and went at will. On the dining room bookshelf I found an English translation of de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. The forbidden fruit!

The most notorious of de Sade's works, hundreds of pages long, and I had three weeks to read it. Copies of this book exist in very large libraries, however, when one actually searches for the book, it is missing. Someone has stolen it.

I took my copy up to the Princess Bedroom. Nestled in my blankets, I began.

There were four men, the pillars of eighteenth-century French society, and each had a daughter. Each man raped his daughter. When these four men befriended each other they discovered they all shared this hobby. So they lent their daughters to each other.

After some time incest lost its attraction. Luckily one of the men had a castle in Switzerland's mountains, its remoteness perfect for a few months of fun. The men had their servants kidnap aristocratic boys and girls from all over France (bourgeoisie children were discarded). They disrobed the children and picked out the eight best of each sex, describing anuses as rosebuds. The rest of the children were sold into Turkish slavery.

Then they enlisted four eloquent prostitutes into their services, two still alluring and two diseased - one had an abcess that had eaten away an entire butt cheek. Next were the Fuckers, all chosen on the basis of their length and circumference. Added to the party were cooks and other servants.

During the first thirty days, the four men delighted themselves with activities just short of intercourse and listening to the prostitutes' lurid tales. The men kept a calendar for the allowed bowel movements of each guest. The next month was the month of carnal passions, followed by the month of torturous passions, and lastly the month of murderous passions. One of the daughters informed her father that she was pregnant only to be sliced open by dad and his pals.

By the fourth month, I imagine even de Sade grew bored with his story. Instead of full sentences, he began numbering the tortures. Pages and pages of just lists. It reminded me and a commentator of the Holocaust. Human beings were no longer individuals but numbers.

The survivors at the end of the 120 days, aside from the four men, were a daughter (who became quite the tramp) and the best storyteller of the bunch.

Horrified, I did not sleep the entire three weeks I lived in that house. There was no way to avoid the cold and I began coughing up alarming chunks of bloody material. I returned the book to its shelf downstairs. But in the dark I would still think of these fictional children. That there were real people living their own 120 days of Sodom was unbearable.

One of the mysterious roommates and I talked about the book.

"What? You don't like pain? Don't you like to get slapped around?" she asked.

Papercuts hurt me. Friday afternoon, just as I was about to leave for home, one mere sheet of paper gashed me five millimetres into the flesh. Instantly blood was everywhere. I stuck my finger into my mouth and tried to work one-handed. Too much blood seeped out of my hand. I forgot all my bandaids. I put a tissue tourniquet on my finger. The blood threatened to stain the pristine white invoice folders.

Yesterday my papercut still bled. Today the wound seems to have closed up. Pain sucks.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Microsoft Word does not recognize turds as a correctly-spelled word. It suggests turns, turfs, surds, cords, and torts instead.

Must remember to look up surds.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Allison convinced me to buy a magazine so we can trade with each other. I promised myself no impulse buys, to save money for Chicago, but I was powerless to stop myself from reaching over and grabbing that issue of Cosmpolitan. $5! Perhaps $3.50 USD! The things I could have done with that $3.50! I could probably get half an admission ticket to something in Chicago.

And instead of spending my time wisely tonight, I read about threesomes and new hair products.


That'll be my last impulse buy for a while. From now on, anything I want to buy I will write down and give myself a one-week consideration period. If I still need it at the end of the week, then I can safely allow myself to buy it.

This weekend more troubling money-spending activities loom on the horizon. But they have therapeutic value and I can't deny myself that. There I've justified the cocktails awaiting me.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I lost another 5 pounds in the last month, for a grand total of 20 pounds. I am not quite concentration camp survivor, more like someone fresh in the ghetto, just getting used to potato water soup. The clothes I bought last year in Romania droop on me. My nice woollen pants have no belt straps; I couldn't wear a belt and I was tugging them up all day.

I have no more blubber defenses against the cold, nor enough fur to battle the near zero temperatures.

Beth promised to fatten me up.

My dinner tonight was a watered-down cream of chicken. I am still hungry but have no idea what is left in the house that is edible. Every morning I do eat giant slices out of Karen's rhubarb-and-strawberry pie. Last night the other volunteers asked me why I joined up. "Pizza dinner," said I. Three slices last night: Cajun chicken pizza, potato pizza and a zucchini-eggplant-mushroom pizza. And chocolate chip cookies dipped in ginger ale. (I also volunteered to get a free ticket to a concert.)

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I thought perhaps I could make the Bologna deadline. But I missed it again this year.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Lisa, my new coworker, peered over the top of the cubicle. "What are you eating?"

"A brie-and-pate sandwich."

"That's so decadent!"

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Nobody much liked Plasticine night in our illustration class. Those Plasticine artists (like Barbara Reid) manage to keep their modelling clay pristine. Ours was marbled with other colours by the end of the night. My rooster turned into a generic bird.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Only 44 days until my glorious entrance into Chicago.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Beth's parents were aghast at my message on their answering machine.

"Next time," Beth said, "Don't say you will be visiting. Just say 'It's me, call' and hang up."

We decided I should call and leave messages in different voices (redneck voice, husky sexy voice, etc.) and perhaps about different things ("I'm hot and wet" in the redneck voice).

Monday, November 03, 2003

Last night was devoted to Czech Horror and Fantasy Films. Jir� Barta's The Pied Piper (Krysa�) and The Last Theft (Posledn� lup); Karel Kachyna's The Ear (Ucho); and Jan Svankmajer's The Pit, the Pendulum and Hope (Kyvadlo, j�ma a nadeje).

Poor Czech rats.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Free movies yesterday. Princess Castle, Arbor Vitae, Mall Man, and Tilt at the Ridge.

I spent most of my time between the movies watching the couple in front of me. A man in his late-thirties or early forties, long blonde hair, a rusty face, and his girlfriend of about thirty, a dark brunette who never smiled. She did request a back scratch of her obliging boyfriend. To my left, right and west were old ladies who dropped bottles, shouted at their friends ("Margaret! Margaret! Over here!") and commented on the movies ("He spent a long time making this one.").

Monday, November 03, 2003

Can it be? Did I finally get a job? A company that interviewed me last month just called me to start working tomorrow. I don't know if I am dreaming...

Monday, November 03, 2003

Jonesy thought hamsters are like rats. But I saw him petting her.

Karen discovered just how sneaky Anisoara is: in trying to prevent her from traversing the stove on which the boiling kettle lay, she blocked Ani's path with her hands. But Anisoara pretended to walk away. Karen removed her hand and Ani made a mad dash for the stove.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Anisoara chewed off half of the spokes on her hamster wheel.

Sunday morning I went to her cage, as is my custom, immediately after getting up. The wheel lay on the ground and the spokes were still on the side of the cage like a toothpick star.

I need to buy a new hamster wheel.

Monday, November 03, 2003

When I was thirteen someone lent me a Gameboy with only one game, Tetris. I had it for two weeks.

Everyone in my family, parents included, developed a troubling addiction. Whenever one of us managed to filch the Gameboy, that person would disappear for hours. I believe bathrooms, with their invariably locking doors, were the ideal hangout.

Today I am battling my addiction to Mahjong. I have this sample from Microsoft and it is just so fun matching tiles and it even has a professional development angle: I can practice reading Chinese characters. It does trouble me that the only characters I am practicing are the ones I learned as a child and are about as hard to forget as A, B and C.

The great thing about a game as simple as this is that I can multitask. For example, I can listen and rate songs on Launch while I play. I discovered a new Yemeni singer I like and I can listen to mindless trance all day. My main goal is now to beat my all-time high score in Mahjong: 137,670 points.

Luckily I have only two more sessions to play on this Microsoft version and then I will be free of my addiction.

Monday, November 03, 2003

This morning the temp agency phoned me with a filing job for a government organization across a bridge. A one-month position.

I knew not too rejoice too fast. Each time the agency refers me to a good position, they call me after an hour to tell me they decided to use someone else.

An hour later the agency called me back with the details. Still I knew nothing was set and I should wait until tomorrow morning to rejoice my new income. Once I was already working, the agency refuses to remove me from that position as it would disrupt continuity.

Another hour passed and I got a third phonecall.

"How did you like working for the X company?"

"It was nice."

"OK, we don't know how strong you are for their position but I'll call them and see if you qualify for an administrative assistant posting."

And I haven't heard from the temp agency since.

Monday, November 03, 2003

No more Morbid Read du Jour, I keep telling myself. Here is a computer programmer/serial killer quiz.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

On Sunday I realized that Vancouver is too small for me. I have traversed the city so many times and I have run out of places to see.

All week, since this flash of realization, I lost my gentle demeanour, and Sailor Mouth is resurrected. I thought I had no more vitriolic denunciation in me. I thought I was forever changed into the cheerful optimist.

Last night some good-looking guy smiled sheepishly at me for being such a knuckleheaded driver but I responded with curses. Tonight, when that idiot at Hastings and Sperling tried to jump in front of my car, I renamed him and his kin all in four-letter words.

Two weeks ago, when that woman simultaneously reading a book and driving didn't notice she almost killed me, a pedestrian on the sidewalk with a big yellow umbrella, I just laughed it off. No Donald Duck repsonse.

What happened to the gentle me? At what point in the last week did I revert to my former self? Is this permanent? Karen says I am feisty and back to normal. But I like the relaxed version of me.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Driving home, I listened to Okinawan music. I think I can trace my depression tonight to that.

I loved Okinawa and remote Miyako Island. But Miyako was so remote: I imagine I would first need to fly to Naha, then to Haneda, then somehow make my my way to Narita if I were to escape Japan. It seemed so distant and isolated. Miyako's grocery shelves had no fruit jams other than the usual Japanese favourites of strawberry and blueberry. No bookstores where I could read all the foreign magazines with inflated prices in yen. No chance to escape to Tokyo for an Ethiopian restaurant. Just Miyako Island.

I could not live in Miyako and I knew I was crushing someone else's dream.

"You should go by yourself there and take diving lessons with Toro's girls."

The reasoning behind this suggestion was that I would go and rediscover Miyako, make stronger ties and cement my Miyako friendships, perhaps fall so in love with Miyako I would request we move there.

Gyoda was already so quiet for me. Two hours to the big city! No movies, bookstores, clothing stores, libraries, museums. Beth as well two hours away.

Miyako seemed even more hopelessly secluded.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

At the Legal Services Society where I worked this week, almost near my beloved Pender Building, the staff photocopies crossword puzzles. For two lunch breaks, one lady and I worked together trying to guess whether the five-letter word for "winter weather" at 56 down meant sleet. I love it when crossword puzzles become a group effort. The lady finished one entire crossword on her own. I finished two, but I felt bad for upstaging her.

*Sigh* I miss Beth's crossword company.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

For Halloween I was an evil cat with blood dripping out of my mouth. Everyone had better costumes than me: Cruella de Ville, Tigger, the Cowardly Lion, Hag Witch, the Sleeping Beauty Witch, Syringe Doctor.

Of all the cards in the deck I, of course, picked out Dracula.

Throughout the night, I became known as the morbid one. Everyone thought my biggest fear (half decomposed corpses) was funny. Give me a spider over a human corpse any day. Maybe I would even welcome a full-grown Taiwanese cockroach if I could escape encounter with human dead.

Sona said being alone is her biggest fear.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I did manage to throw a strand of hair into a bonfire tonight but I found no cabbages. I will peel my apple tomorrow.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I applied for the machine shop/drainage business museum job after all. Joanne left an impassioned message on my cell phone as well as an email, urging me to send in my resume. Midnight was the deadline. I grabbed my copy of Cover Letters that Knock 'Em Dead, using the sentences that sounded least artificial. The museum fax didn't work - minutes wasted on the fax cover letter! I struggled to adjust my cover letter and resume into the confines of an email (no attachments allowed) and sent it off.

On another museum note, I phoned Jim at the PMS Museum and he would be happy if I returned to do volunteer work. Someone needs to transcribe the oral history interviews, document the photo database and write descriptions of the items in the collections basement.

In yesterday's newspaper they quoted him as saying definitively that there are no ghosts in the PMS Museum, yet there is one in a steel building nearby, a 1940s ghost.

The museum is also selling its corn stalks (spelled stocks on their sign) from the heritage garden that appeared after I left.



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