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Laundry Symbiosis

I have this thing going with the guy in the basement suite. It's entirely chaste, but I think -- I hope -- it's a mutually satisfying exchange.

I live in the magnificent shack in the back yard, but I do my laundry in the entryway to the basement suite in the main house. The suite is a strange knocked-together labyrinth with two bathrooms,s created by fusing a pair of existing suites. Tenancy changes over every six to twelve months. Right now there's a young guy -- an astronomer, I think? Physicist? He told me, but I forget. He has science books lined up on his windowsills (at ankle height from outside). I've run into him once or twice and he seems affable, funny.

Once or twice his laundry's been in the dryer when I needed to use it, as will happen. Instead of cramming all of his laundry higgledy-piggledy onto the small stand next to the dryer, which act seems a little hostile, I use a trick I learned from a tenant in my last building: I fold his clothes.

I don't fold his underwear. My feeling is that you don't want to think about your middle-aged neighbor folding your underwear (unless you do, but I feel confident he doesn't). Instead, I pile it unobtrusively on the towels and put everything else on top of it like, "Oh, was there underwear here? I didn't even notice it." I think these things through. Still, it must be disconcerting to arrive home (or wake up) and find your laundry ghost-folded.

The day after I first folded his laundry, I found taped to the dryer a Ziploc bag with "THANKS" written on it in Sharpie and a five-dollar bill inside.

It seems to me that five dollars is exactly the right amount to create symmetrical confusion between us. Well calculated, Science Guy.

I left the money in place for several days, but he didn't take it back. Finally I took it, because, well, five dollars. I went to the store, bought some stain remover, and put it in the laundry room with a sticky note that said "FOR COMMUNAL USE".

Yesterday I again had occasion to remove his laundry and fold it. I am learning some good tricks, like the way you can let the shirt drop against your knee, quickly fold the sleeves in, and then double it over, all in one movement. Very satisfying.

Later that same day: another baggie, another five dollars. This time I bought some Febreeze.

I hope he's enjoying this as much as I am.


Tooth news

Had my tooth removed today at the oral surgeon's office next to the sketchiest post office in town. The post office is full of books about sasquatch and advertisements to shred your documents "to protect your identity".

The oral surgeon's office was full of technologies. They do not eff around there. I had three sensors glued to me (sensors which remain glued to me, despite a hot bath), a blood pressure monitor, a heart monitor, a oxygen tube and an IV of sedation. Oh, and a sort of tiara thing on my head. I actually don't know what it was; quite possibly the assistant put it there to amuse herself and to be entirely sure I was too sedated to care.

Cut for surgical detailsCollapse )

I don't feel groggy now, but I do feel tired and intermittently sore. I didn't fill the prescription for Tylenol 3s because I dislike the experience of codeine, but it might have been a good idea.

Circumstances are such that I have to teach tomorrow morning, which I actually think will be fine, given what feels like complete, if painful, lucidity. I even feel less nervous about teaching than I usually do. Perspective, drugs, whichever. I'll take it.


The Giant and His Wife (A Nightmare)

(Warning: someone telling you about that dream they had)

I'm in a fancy hotel and they're saying the giant is coming. This has happened before -- in the dream I know this is a recurring experience, an episode that replays. I know how it works, and I know it will be a good thing, yet I'm afraid to see the giant.

I'm hiding upstairs in the dark lounge, which has a balcony overlooking the atrium. I'm hiding from seeing the giant (not from being seen by him) in an almost self-indulgent way, delaying the gratification of the moment when I do see him and it's actually a good thing. As a distraction, I'm trying to watch an educational multimedia piece about Pluto, on an apparatus built into the table (kidney-shaped, dark glass), but it's loud and I can't mute the sound and I'm embarrassed. I minimize how big the giant will be. He probably won't be that big. Just big enough to be a giant.

Footsteps vibrate the earth (see T-Rex in Jurassic Etc). The giant is coming. (Outside in the real world, the storm shakes my little house.)

The giant does come, and he's huge. Just his head is visible going by. His head must be six feet across. He looks like a National Geographic mock-up of early homo sapiens. He doesn't speak. He looks straight ahead and walks smoothly and carefully through the hotel. Then he's gone. Now I chase after to finally meet him.

I go down a back stairway and there's a crowd outside. Among them is a young woman who's sad -- she knows the giant, or is his friend or counterpart somehow, his wife. So I bring her inside.

I take her upstairs to an apartment with my family and friends. Now she's a baby or toddler crawling all over the beds, but there's something creepy about her -- she's got these weird goggles on.

She becomes a grown woman and for a while we're being pleasant but finally I blurt out that I can tell she hates me and wants to destroy me. This delights her. It is true, but she is doing it through psychological warfare -- isolating and alienating me and keeping me away from the giant.

I'm going to call her the monster now because she's the monster of this dream. She's like one of those undefeatable arch-villains who always know what you will do next because, well, she's a part of your own psyche, isn't she.

She is, I think, competing with me to be the partner of the silent giant.

I think about who can help me, and the name of a friend flashes up, so I go to find her in the kitchen, but she's with her mother and they're busy with something oppressive to do with diets and charts, something obsessing, so I wait and the monster is sort of flitting around happily because she knows I'm helpless to oppose her.

So I go down the hall and find a group of my friends sitting in the dark watching TV and I try to explain what's happening, but they're not really paying attention -- they're hypnotized by the TV. I ask them for "wards", for words that will ward me from her power. Someone sort of passively gives me the word "ward" (thanks, kids) so I say it over and over and make a sort of shield around myself of the word written in blue light, but it isn't very effective and I know she can still get through. It was given me by someone with characteristics a little like the monster (or anyway someone sort of annoying) and I'm not sure it will work at all.

About there I wake up. I walk around my little house. No monster, no giant. I'm not afraid, but I wish my psyche had come to a cleaner resolution.

Allow monster and giant to merge into one being? Accept monster and giant as complementary parts of myself? It is not quite five in the morning and the proper symbolism eludes me, but I wanted to make a record. And now I have. Thanks for your time.

A Story

Friday night I spontaneously decided to go out and Do Things for no good reason. I did them on my own, because everyone was busy and also I have no friends.

First I saw Star Wars. It was fine -- not really more than fine. Enjoyable enough. I know Abrams is a fan, but I didn't find it more inspired than the Star Treks. Aesthetically closer, maybe.

Of course I liked that the female characters had more to do and say, but I have very few feelings about the whole thing. {ETA} Although it did do that thing where your perception is altered when you go out into the street, and everything looks like a movie.

I went in hungry, and my small popcorn didn't solve that, so next: food.

A pub recently opened up here that specialized in hot dogs, haircuts, and pinball. It is called Saint Frank's (or possibly Franks or Franks'). I went there next. To my sorrow, they'd had to shut down the pinball. The liquor inspector disallowed it. I love pinball.

I had a beer and a not very exciting hot dog (I didn't need a haircut.) (If fancy hot dogs are important to you, I recommend Cenote.)

Then, this being my adventurous night out, I went to the one still-extant gay bar in town. It was still only 8pm, so there were exactly three people there -- me, the bartender, and one sad, sad man with a moustache. A sad moustache.

Well, I say bartender -- guy behind the counter looked more like he was an investor who got roped into bar duty because the employees all quit or something.

ME: I heard the echo of an empty bar.
BARTENDER: You can come back later if you want.
ME: Um, no, I'd like a drink.
BARTENDER: What do you want?
ME: What do you have on tap?

So I had a bottled beer out of the cooler for seven dollars.

I fear the joint may have gone downhill, and I would not have said there was much more hill to be going down. I don't mean to criticize the efforts of the owners in keeping open a community space, but it's a hole. It's freezing. It's basically an unheated basement. The place looks like the inside of the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks, without so much red.

It wasn't very kind of me to say that about the empty bar. I meant to be funny. Also, it was true. There is a particular echo.

Anyway, I had a nice enough time. Mostly I just messaged people from the corner about what a hole it was, but that was pretty much what I'd have done if I stayed home, so I felt I came out ahead, even with the $7 beer.

There was a poster saying that there would be an amateur stripping competition at 9, but at 8:55 the total patronage had gone up to about ten, so I caught my bus instead.

New Year's Day and Subsequent January

I want to record that we threw chunks of ice onto the frozen pond and it made the most amazing sound, a cascade of cheeping and chiming echoes. The ice would shatter and make the whole pond ring. The fragments shot and skidded, striking other chunks of ice and sending reverberations in every compass direction, singing to the north and south and east and west and all the fiddly slivers in between.

This was the Harrison Yacht Pond, specifically designated for radio-controlled boats.* All the little docks were frozen into a thick sheet of ice. There were pockets of other people around the edge also throwing ice on ice.

I want to record that it was cold and bright on the walkway atop the breakwater, but that when some of us climbed down below (I was one of the last) the air was still and warm. We were shielded from the wind, though we could see it shoving the sailboats sideways across the water. We sat there a long time.

Also, L. played "Jesus Take the Wheel" out loud on her device and discussion ensued of the practicality of such an action as compared to pumping the brakes (or, in the case of anti-lock brakes, applying steady pressure).

I've an artist friend who told me she celebrates Christmas until February 1, and while the idea of a five-week Christmas per se makes me feel queasy, the notion of prolonging the idea that we are doing Something Special into January -- bot jsut living through the ghastliest and longest month of the year -- seems like a very good one.

Therefore, I think from now on I will celebrate a secular Epiphany on January 6th and read lots of short stories that end with moments of sudden insight.


*It seems to me that I know this poind was donated by someone unlikely like the Prince of Monaco, but I can find no record of this online -- only a Mayor Harrison -- and the pond itself is too far away for a quick check (I do not think the plaque would show up on Google Street View).

Holiday Traversal

Our holiday visits are very Canadian, in that the involve repeatedly traversing enormous tracts of land and sea as though that were a reasonable thing to do with your down time.

I travel from Vancouver Island to the Sunshine Coast, a process that involves taking three busses, two ferries, and the Skytrain, not in that order, and takes between 4.5 and 7 hours. (If I am feeling flush, I can take a helicopter for the first leg of the trip, saving two to three hours, but spending the same as a plane flight.) Generally I am picked up at the final ferry terminal, although this year because of a scheduling conflict it has been suggested that I take the bus to the IGA and wait at the Tim Horton's, which lacks only a maple syrup candy cane latte and a surprise visit from Hockey Santa to make my life into a regional holiday commercial.

Then there is the "family get-together" of cousins and aunts and uncles, which is back in Vancouver just after Christmas. We all pile into the car, drive down to the ferry, take the ferry, drive into Surrey, and then come back the same night. Travel time -- two and a half hours each way, maybe?

It's perfectly possible for me to spend the holiday in transit between three distinct regions of the province. Generally no one even thinks about this, because this is how you get to see people, and, of course, lots of people travel further than that -- I think it's the frequency that seems impressive to me.


Some statements

I went in to work today, but my mind was moving very slowly and each task was like slowly hewing a block of granite, or maybe being a block of granite slowly typing a course requisition.

I have lately drawn a great many little mazes or ant farms in red and green and ochre ink, but I do not know where they lead.

I took a hot bath, and I feel better.

I am not quite half-finished with David Copperfield, and I will certainly not make my reading challenge unless I read a great many nutritional pamphlets between now and New Year's.

I'm not ready to leave tomorrow to visit my family, and I an fantasizing about putting it back a day.

I have three times bought chocolates for my mother for Christmas and three times eaten them myself.

2016 somehow seems so unlikely.

You wouldn't think that veggie bacon could go bad, and yet. What's in it that is even made of food?

I'm having another moment when I think that the discipline of writing a journal here would be good for me, whether or not it goes anywhere, and despite the challenge of trying to write about teaching without treading on anyone's privacy, including my own.

When I try to journal without discussing teaching, the difficulty arises that I spend about 60% of my waking life thinking about teaching. The rest: stupid things like my hairline, alcohol consumption, weight, and risk of heart disease. Just occasionally, literature. Justice. What it might mean to be a conscious material being. Say 1%.

I do have a poem here, which makes three publications in a year, which must be a personal best. Total 2015 income from writing: $90.

This work, teaching, can be astoundingly good, and it has great potential to be meaningful. I am grateful to be doing it. It has already made a great deal more of me, I think, than I was a year ago.

Also there are other dreams, and I am not young.

A carton of eggs just turned a neat somersault out of the refrigerator and landed on its head. Not one egg broke. A miraclette.

I'm attending the second of three holiday dinners tonight, except that it's really the first of two, since although I got dressed up to go to my department party last night and even purchased a Secret Santa gift (calligraphy pen and two cartridges -- stipulation was under $10) -- I did not attend it, because a friend was having a very hard night, and in the end I went to spend time with her instead.

I want to be doing and making so much more of every kind of thing.

Here is how I run an errand.Collapse )

Here I am.
Here we are.


in other news

I sort of convulsively flung a submission at a poetry & art journal tonight. My system is to do this once every twelve to eighteen months and hope very hard for enduring notoriety.

It has not, so far, been a successful system, but that is never any bar to a gambler.


Writing and wrighting and righting

A bit of my writing will be published in an academic journal. My brief contribution is not a full-on peer-reviewed paper -- only a note. Still, this is a small pleasing thing.

I ought to be working right now, but I'm suffering from the worst brain fag. These last two weeks were a real test of... something. I'm not convinced that I passed.

If it was hard, it means I grew as a person, right? I feel more like I shrank.

Putting a class together -- not just listing readings and sorting slides and assigning assignments, but wrighting it, building something like a continous experience, trying to fit the you know Lego bricks of knowledge one into the other until they make -- whatever they make -- the steampunk Millenium Falcon of Knowledge -- there are so many things I think will fit and then they don't -- unexpected gaps where I needed a fiddly piece I didn't think of until afterwards.

Okay, so, what really happened was that today a student gave me some advice on how to organize the class he's in. This was the same advice another instructor had given me before the class started. I had chosen not to take this advice but to do something else instead. And they were both right -- I should have done it their way.

What is the name for that feeling? Dumb Decision Feeling. I like it not.


*Lego Steampunk Millenium Falcon is, of course, actually a thing. Everything is a thing.



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