Monthly Archives: January 2019

$50

I constantly ask myself: “Is this at least $10 worth of fun?”

That seems to be the limit. Any more than that and it just doesn’t seem quite worth it.

 

1. Let’s Go To The Motherfu*kin’ Movies

My best friend got $50 from her parents for her birthday, which was a lot of money, especially for a fifth grader. It was the most money I’d ever seen a kid our age have. It was more money than I’d ever had.

“Shouldn’t’ you save some?” I kept asking.

“Why? We’re already here,” she kept saying back. Here was a movie theatre attached to the mall where we’d already spent a good portion of that $50 on junk food and other things I can’t even remember what.

We saw an animated film that was a bit young for us, but which was the only thing playing at the time. It had odd musical numbers that ultimately proved memorable only because they were slightly less worse than the film itself.

Movie tickets back then were under $10.

The next week and we were broke again, and would remain that way for weeks to come. For weeks on end.

It was almost worth it.

Anyway, it was the best we could do. It was everything that we, between us, could have done.

 

2. Wholesale $50

My dad found $50 on the ground next to the wholesaler’s where we went to every two weeks to pick up vegetables for our small grocery.

“Don’t tell mom.” That was the first thing he said. “Let’s go for pho!” was the second.

We ordered pho dac biet, the special. It came with everything. Usually, we’d get fast food or something else, something cheaper, but a wholesale $50 is a wholesale $50.

“Here, you can have what’s left,” said my dad. He gave me the change from the bill. But the difference between what he gave me and the cost of the meal did not add up and I told him so, thinking perhaps we’d been shortchanged by the server.

“I took $5 for lottery tickets,” he said.

Was it a confession? To this day, I’m still not sure.

 

3. Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

Stephen and I once found a crisp $50 bill at the foot of a frozen waterfall during a hike in the snow. It shone red against the white of the forest floor; a beacon on a cold winter’s day. A sign, if there ever was one.

$50? Think of the possibilities. An easy $50, free and clear!

But. We were living a new life in a new city and were still in the process of settling in. Extra money therefore meant extra responsibility, or at least the sinking feeling that we should act extra responsibly with it.

We used the $50 to buy groceries. Also, toilet paper. The good kind.

No lie. It was everything.

Double ply, double happiness.

Fun notwithstanding.

 

 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Family, Food, People, THE PAST, Thrift

Bad, Worse, Worst Advice

A lot of bad advice – some solicited, most decidedly not – over the years.

1. “If you don’t want to have a baby, just have one.”
2. “You should get married so my daughters can be flower girls at your wedding.”
3. “Just feel sorry for them and help.”

Of these three, only the third has been truly damaging (the first two are blatantly self-serving, but also so patently ridiculous as to be laughable – actually laughed in the face of Advice Giver #2).

Of the three, the third has caused me so much trouble, some heartache.

No one wants to be pitied. To help or be with anyone just because you pity them diminishes you both. Makes you linger in a relationship long after it’s gone bad; makes you engage in one that was bad to begin with. Makes you excuse behaviour (yours, theirs) that in any other circumstance (i.e. those outside the parameters of the pity party circle) would simply not stand in the harsh but brilliant light of day.

Took a while to learn all that because it sounds good, doesn’t it? Pity does.

Pity (noun):*

1. a. sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy; b. capacity to feel pity.

It is as evidently self-serving as it is apparently self-sacrificing. It’s what allows you to invest massive amounts of emotional and physical labour – of time, effort and expense – with little or no or (more often than not), negative return.

All because you feel sorry for someone. Because you feel bad for them. Because you’re a good person doing a good thing for someone you truly, truly needs it (and from you in particular).

Ha.

I have stayed in all manner of toxic relationships because of pity. Pity is what kept us together, even if it kept us down.

Whose fault is that? Whose responsibility? Who’s to be held accountable?

Pity (noun):

2. something to be regretted.

More’s the pity, I suppose.

And less is more.

 

 

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* Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pity.

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Language, Relationships

Things I Never Said

1. That you were annoying (not in that capacity).
2. That I didn’t like X (rather, that I’m allergic to it).
3. That that, now that, was a cute kid.
4. That I’d love to (I would not).
5. That it was a good idea (it wasn’t, but we only knew that in retrospect, didn’t we?).
6. That it couldn’t be there (only that it was unlikely that it could have been there).
7. That it was more, or less, than that.
8. That I got this (I do not…or god, do I do not).
9. That didn’t know (I mean, not exactly).
10. That is was the correct thing to do (what is correct that it can’t be amended?).

BONUS ROUND:

That that was that (that being what it’s always been, or always will be, or always has been).

Curious, that.

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Language, Words

The Very Best Humanity Has To Offer

I see people doing all sorts of things riding the subway:

  • People clipping their fingernails/toenails, often with clippers (sometimes without).
  • People fighting (usually men, and mostly with a lot of chest-beating, cussing and not all that many punches or kicks or jabs. Some food throwing, though).
  • People (usually but not exclusively couples) making out with each other, touching, groping, exchanging fluids, etc.
  • People eating outlandish food (by this I mean lidless bowls of soup or large, unwieldy sandwiches, and just today I saw a man eating from a neat pile of pistachios balanced on his crotch).
  • People sleeping, busking, crying, laughing (sometimes uproariously).

Also, this:

Three people huddled together though isolated from the rest of the riders, who backed away to give them much-needed space. A young woman with a grim-faced friend each kneeling on the floor on either side of her, an imperfect symmetry reminding me of a renaissance painting in form, composition and mood.

The woman was very sick, or extremely drunk (at a certain point, I think these states of being are rather indistinguishable, if not interchangeable). One of her friends held open a half-full plastic grocery bag under her face, which swung as the train swayed back on forth on the tracks.

The contents of the bag sloshed within, reeking and terrible.

The other friend had cupped his hands and remained in waiting, in case the woman vomited again and missed the grocery bag. His hands did the work of redirecting the flow to its proper place.

“She’ll be alright,” said the friend holding the bag. “We just need to get her home.”

The other friend said not a word, made no move to wipe up the mess in his hands.

The woman vomited again, into the hands, into the bag.

I admit. She did seem to look better after that particular volley, though I cannot say it was the same for the bag (or the hands).

They got off the subway at the next stop, the friend with the bag passing the bag to the friend with the formally cupped hands so that she could help the young woman up without getting too much vomit on her. It was a wordless exchange, and therefore wonderous.

I have no doubt they got her home.

I have no doubt they made sure she was OK before they left.

I have no doubt they remain friends still – or even if not, that it was not this incident that broke them apart.

Regardless, they will always have that perfect moment together, there in the subway.

They will always, at the very least, have that.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Food, Friends, People, Transportation

Re-Up!

Sometimes I wonder if I have the requisite nostalgia in order to enjoy the latest crop of reboots/revivals/reimaginings.

Films, TV shows, books, etc.

You know.

As a sought-after demographic, I theoretically should (all things considered). I should have the nostalgia, the memory, the desire to pursue or re-live or indulge, having spent my formative years in the era(s) that produced the works these new ones are based on – or off of, depending on your POV of such things.

Yours and mine.

Then again, is nostalgia requisite (or in this case, a pre-requisite?).

Most times it’s enough to simply get the references. Cred, then, not nostalgia.

#BirdBirdChallenge

There’s also something to be said about quality. Isn’t there?

No matter.

What’s old that’s new again?

What’s new?

What’s up?

 

 

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Filed under Books, Change, Movies, Television, THE FUTURE, THE PAST

Jesus Lady

Jesus Lady lived a few houses down from us, on the house near the top of the hill (we lived nearer to the bottom).

She had a mean yellow dog and loud signs taped to the large windows of her front patio, which read:

JESUS SAVES THOSE WHO ARE SAVED.

JESUS LOVES.

JESUS WEEPS FOR YOUR SINS.

Etc., etc.

She was a small woman, but physically strong and persistent, as most people who believe themselves to be righteous often are. She waited in front of the patio (many school kids had to pass her house in their decent down the hill, towards home) and rushed forth to shove pamphlets about Jesus and how he loves and saves and weeps into our hands. She would hold on to coats or sleeves demanding to know if we loved Jesus in turn, and whether we were saved or not.

She did this most of her days, often with her mean old dog in tow. Together, they dominated the sidewalk. I came home from school with many pamphlets, which my parents used to wrap fish guts and egg shells so that they wouldn’t stick to the inside of the garbage can.

Jesus Lady got to know my face. How could she not? We saw each other almost every day. I went to that school for years.

I tried to dissuade her, get her to leave me alone. I really did. Told her I wasn’t interested, that I didn’t believe in god or Jesus, that I was Buddhist (and hence, good insofar as matters of the soul were concerned).

But Jesus Lady was not moved. Would not be made to see anything but her god-driven mission to save. Us. All.

So, one day I did the only thing that seemed natural. I lied right to Jesus Lady’s Jesus face.

“Yes, I am saved now.”

The transformation was instantaneous: she lit up like a fiberglass Jack-O-Lantern. I remember it well, her expansive grin slightly grotesque, her pallor decidedly…orange.

“Oh, praise Jesus! Praise Jesus! Praise Him!”

I expected her to see through the lie (I did not put much effort to selling it, just mechanically said the words, Yes. I. Am. Saved. Now.). That she accepted it so readily taught me that truth and validation are not the same thing, and that a lie, one beautiful lie between two people, can set them each free.

And that nothing is free.

From that day forward, I was able to walk by Jesus Lady (dog or no dog in tow) with only a mild, “There she is! The girl who is saved!” rather than the usual litany of “You’re going to Hell/Devil child!/Buddhism isn’t real!”

Etc., etc.

From that day forward, Jesus Lady watched me walk by, the child she saved for Jesus’ sake, who never had a word otherwise to share with her and whose friends snickered at her back with every, “She is saved! Praise Him,” that flew from her thin lips, empty words that they were.

***

Jesus Lady, I eventually learned, had an adult son. I’m pretty certain his name was Christopher (of course it was), but not in a factual way.

By then I was working most days in our city’s grimy downtown, one cashier among many.

That’s where I saw them, one summer’s day: Jesus Lady and her son (the dog was long, long dead) walking the streets, pamphlets in hand.

Her son. He was dressed as Jesus, complete with a straggly fake beard, flowing robes, a crown of (pipe-cleaner) thorns and a giant wooden cross strapped to his back, which immobilized his arms (his mother, naturally, handled the pamphlets).

It was quite the display; he really seemed to be suffering, under all that grab in that all that heat, bearing that mighty cross day after day in a downtown core that was already half-dead in its dying.

It took me days to see it, but then I did.

The cross. It had a set of roller skate wheels attached to its bottom, allowing this Jesus to master the sidewalks, but also to struggle against the burden of his beliefs quite convincingly, if he so chose. It was really up to him.

I wonder if he ever thanked god for that.

***

Did you know that “dog” spelled backward is “god”?

People say it is also the same thing the other way around, but as a non-believer, I have my doubts.

 

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Mind and Body, Names, People, Race, Religion, THE PAST

Future Tense

I’ve found that I can commit to things (i.e. birthday parties, baby showers, dinners out, shows) when I already (that is beforehand) have an exit strategy in place (i.e. illness, emergency, act of God).

“I’m, uh, rather feverish at the moment.”

“My dog threw up!”

“My roof collapsed?”

I seldom, if ever, use the exit. But the fact that it is there, in place, is as much as a comfort as it is a crutch (is this, really, the Good Life? Can’t I do better?).

Also this: I tell myself that the event is so far, like out there, in the future, that it’s almost like not committing at all! That is a problem for another day, which is not today, maybe not even tomorrow.

And then, eventually, it hits me: the future is now. Or it will be.

Every. Single. Time.

(For the time being, anyway.)

I suppose I could just commit to less, make things more manageable, more orderly, less stressful. But I’m not there yet. I’m still not up to being that person, not yet.

I am becoming that person, yes, certainly. Eventually, I think so, I hope so.

But not now.

For now (for right now): I’d love to go to your thing! Count me in!

Yeah. Can’t hardly wait.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Communications, Events, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Philosophy, Routines, THE FUTURE

Lonesome Shoe

Every day for the past two weeks the same, sad sight: the shoe.

The lone shoe next to the sidewalk. The left shoe, one of a lost pair placed gingerly on a stone, waiting to be claimed. As if to say, “Here I am! I’ve been here this whole time, waiting like a good shoe should. Waiting for you.”

lone shoe

It is a very nice shoe, though at this point it has been rained and snowed on, at least twice. Who knows what else? Splendid still, despite everything, yet it is beginning, now, to take on the appearance of being constantly (perhaps permanently) wet.

As in sodden, soaked and sopping. And alone, to boot.

Poor shoe.

It’s still there, you know. Carried over from last year into this one, into this, the fourth day of the new year.

Poor left shoe.

Perhaps pants would be better.

Pants would be funnier, splayed out against the curb, brandished against the asphalt.

Pants, at least, are never lonesome.

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Interruptions, Philosophy