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I am in Collingwood, Ontario right now with Monika. Yes, we’re together at long last. Huzzah! The countryside here in Ontario is very beautiful, but just as in Alberta, much of it has been ruined by horrendously ugly modern development. That would describe the resort we’re staying in. It wasn’t our choice – it’s the site of my cousin’s wedding. Hopefully it gets pretty at the top of the ski hill where the ceremony is being held! In any event, it is very nice to be here. I’ve seen my parents, and I’m about to see some family members that I haven’t seen in literally over a decade. I like holidays!
The entirety of the last week has been a bit of a holiday, what with Monika’s arrival, a long weekend, delightful weather, wandering about Montreal, enjoying drinks on various patios. And welcoming a new addition to my home – my little adopted SPCA kitten, Mina! I honestly feel a bit of separation anxiety right now, having left her to the care of my friend for the weekend. I hope the little critter will be OK. She needs lots of attention right now.
Received word from a literary agency today that my manuscript, Blind Spot, is being forwarded up to the associate agent. That is, I suppose, good news, although I always expect the worst with these kinds of things. Years of experience have taught me that pessimism is the best attitude to take when approaching the publishing industry! Having cultivated this pessimism has immunized me to the massive disappointments that plagued me when I was younger.
Watching the American election campaign, I see that the Republicans finally rediscovered their evil mojo. I think they were struggling for a while to find the right kind of mud to sling at Obama – they could never find anything that stuck. Then they hired a Karl Rove-style slimer, and they found it: Obama as the narcissistic celebrity who is out of touch with the average American.
Obama eats arugula! Obama won’t eat donuts! Obama would rather work out than visit American troops!
Personally, I think the attack ads are going to do a lot of damage. The Republicans’ genius is finding exactly the opponent’s greatest strength and turning it into their greatest weakness. Obama’s attempt to respond in kind, calling McCain Washington’s biggest celebrity, just doesn’t work.
No. What he has to do is retaliate with exactly the same tactic: identify McCain’s biggest strength and turn it into his biggest weakness. McCain’s strength = experience. His biggest weakness? His years of experience mean he is OLD. He’s out of it. He just doesn’t get it.
What you need is a series of adverts showing everyday Americans voicing their concerns about the economy and the war in Iraq. Then you get some clips of McCain verbally blundering and being inarticulate. McCain has admitted he doesn’t understand economics. Show that. McCain has speculated about America being in Iraq for 100 years. Show that, too.
Then you hit him with: McCain – He just doesn’t get it. Have a visual of him scratching his head and looking confused.
It’s mean, but not dirty, not in my books.
Meanwhile, on the homefront
Settling into the neighbourhood takes some adjustments. For example, you have to figure out when the garbage guys come around. The previous tenant didn’t impart this information to me, so I’ve been left to keep the street under surveillance, trying to figure out from the movements of various plastic bags and bits of unwanted furniture when exactly I might liberate the rear balcony of my own festering refuse. The other day, I got sort of hopeful. I arrived on the pavement early in the morning, just before work, and I saw a discarded armchair. (Montrealers will generally leave anything for the city to pick up – armchairs, TVs, even entire kitchen cabinets.) Hurrah! I thought, it’s garbage day. So I rushed upstairs and excitedly carried my six or seven bags of garbage down to the street.
10 hours later, when I returned from work, those bags were still there. Oh boy. I can’t tell you how sheepish you feel when you are carrying bags of fruit-fly-infested garbage back into your home.
Another thing to feel very sheepish about, shameful even, occurred even more recently, like, today in fact. My elderly downstairs neighbour, whose Quebecois accent takes some paying attention to, make no mistake, informed me that my washing machine had pissed water all over her apartment. The poor thing, old and infirm, she had been forced to mop up until past midnight. I was utterly mortified. Reportedly, this is the first time it’s happened under my watch, but it also happened during the previous tenant’s tenure.
Must get to the bottom of this.
As if that poor old mémé didn’t have enough to deal with. Christ, her son is a crack smoker! The smell was thick in the air two weeks ago, as it wafted up through the floorboards and into my kitchen. The guy must be 40 years old. What is he doing still smoking crack? Does it make his job of lugging around furniture for the furniture store more bearable? The same guy delivered my queen mattress to my apartment on the very day that I caught him smoking crack. I’ve never had a crack smoker in my home before…
In news slightly further afield, the folks at the corner epicerie are, well, not very folksy. On several occasions now, they return my bonjours and mercis and bonne soirées with abject silence. Their prices are highly competitive, which means this surliness is unlikely to deter me, but my Lord, would it hurt them to choke out at least one word? They don’t even have to mean it! Just bullshit smalltalk like everyone else.
Once I am ensconced more comfortably in Villeray, I will certainly do my part to make people feel welcome. In fact, I am welcoming a very special someone in just two days.
Some weird virus has its knives out for me right now. My head is stuffed up and I am a snotty, miserable mess, especially at night. Today is day three, but I think whatever it is that ails me sank its talons in during the Radiohead concert.
Speaking of Radiohead, they were the consummate musical professionals. The perfect mix of melancholy and slow, fast and aggressive.
In spite of feeling like shit, I went to Plattsburgh with Teena yesterday. Wandered around the quiet town centre. It’s old, it’s pretty, but you can pretty much cover it all in 30 minutes. There speaks the city snob. It was very relaxing to watch the fisherman on his boat with a dog alongside him wagging its tail happily. A perfect day for the view — a few picturesque clouds, but mostly sunny, and the Adirondacks curving into the sky in the distance.
If there’s been less of this navel-gazing blog lately, that’s because I’ve suddenly taken up a new hobby: home improvement! Real home improvement enthusiasts would laugh at my paltry efforts. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that I’ve never before poured as much effort into improving my dwellings as I have this past week.
It was like a blank slate: a beautiful and spacious apartment, but nothing in it. Literally nothing. Not so much as a curtain rod, a hook, not even a mirror or cabinet in the bathroom. So, after two visits to Rona, two more to Ikea, and visits to three other furniture stores, I’ve now made the place livable. And boy do I feel smug about myself. I now can’t much see the point of spending time anywhere except home. Why bother? I love my home! All I need now is a TV and DVD player so I can hang out, eat snacks, and watch movies.
In other news, I went to Francofolies over the weekend. I had ostensibly gone for Malajube, one of my favourite Montreal bands. But I ended up indulging in the entire soirée, all the way from 6pm to 11pm. The first act, Somebody Disselets, I didn’t much care for. He flapped his arms around on stage like a bird that cannot fly. A bit awkward. Then Gatineau invaded the stage – yet another brash, garish, impeccably bad-taste francophone hip-hop outfit that – much like Radio Radio from New Brunswick – is so immune to what’s cool that you have to love them. Pink ties, fluffy toques, and all. And after that, something totally different. A band called Karkwa. I recognized Karkwa’s first number from Montreal’s CISM La Marge, and it is a beautiful, intense, brilliant song. Much like almost everything else they played. The lead singer didn’t have to do much except strum his guitar and sing beautifully – he just owned the stage.
And then, Malajube… Hmmm. I had pictured a happy-go-lucky kinda goofy band, but they were actually about the most angstful rock n’roll act I’ve seen since Modest Mouse. The lead singer/guitarist seemed a hair’s breadth away from a total meltdown. At one point, he threw his guitar about twenty feet in the air – when it landed, obviously it was thrashed, and a technician came to take its carcass away. The singer said, “It feels good sometimes to waste things” (in French of course) and the show went on.
Tomorrow, the big show – yes, the real biggie. It’s Radiohead!
So I guess we can conclude from all this that having a nice new home hasn’t entirely made me eschew the outside world. Not yet.