dal niente

Month: August, 2005

The problem with being at the bottom of the food chain is that you keep on getting scheduled for the terrible shifts.  So I had a few things planned this week—spend some time with BM, who just got back from a comic book convention in ontario, play some badminton, and attend my grandfather’s annual big dinner thing celebrating our birthday (since both of our birthdays are int he same month, we just sorta do them together).  But a lot of this stuff is gonna be rescheduled because I gotta go to work.  That’s the whole budget cuts thing again… it’s fine to have a thousand part timers, but then, people can just sorta cancel availability whenever they feel they need a vacation, and then the torch just kinda gets passed on.  Sigh.


 


I’m a bit pissed because i got scheduled to work tomorrow night, and I had plans to go to the gym with BM and my cousins tomorrow night.  We were gonna play some badminton.


 


But I can’t really make that now, since I’ve gotta go to work.  Oh, and for the next two weekends, I won’t be able to play at my own club, because i’ve also been scheduled to work.  Sigh.


 


Why don’t I just take the days off?  Well, funny you should ask that—the simple answer is because i need the money.  Debts don’t pay themselves off, and i’m of the mind that the sooner they’re managed the better it is for my health… so maybe toughing it out a bit right now will save me more trouble in the future.


 


University tab is a nice 1300$ kick in the groin.  I am sure looking forward to paying THAT one off.


 


Honestly, it’s come to my mind a few times to question what’s the whole point of education.  I don’t mean an education in my particular field.  I mean, just the whole time consumingness of it.  In all honesty, i do beleive that i could probably survive, and make a living, off my store and the club, and it doesnt require me to pay money to get a formal certification of studies to do that.


 


There is always that ghost of a voice whispering stay in school, but I’m not entirely sure if that is the voice of reason or if it is just the voice of tradition.


 


While i think that education is important for everyone, I think that I, like every other badass, thinks that he’s the exception who can make it in the world on their own, living by rules defined by oneself.


The problem, I think, is that the way the world is so overpopulated by idiots, employers want a quick and easy way to know that the person they’re employing isn’t one of those said idiots.


Problem with the system is that it’s ruled by a democratic sort of treason– the problem, really, is that stupid people outnumber smart ones, and thus, they have more voting power, more say.  And so  you have systems that allow idiots to coast.  To get the credentials.  And yet, they are inherently skilless and stupid people.


 


(Generalizations yes, but I’m a bit cynical right now)

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It is 9 :09am as I write this.  I am now having my lunch.


 


I woke up at 5 am this morning to have time to eat before footing it out to the bus stop by 5 :15, which is what I have to do if I want to make it to my 6 :30am shift on time.


 


Some asshole called in sick today.  As the Unit Coordinator, I had to find him a replacement.  I went through a list of over 30 employees, and even asked the night-guard shifts to stay a bit longer, but no one was available.  Everyone was already clocking in their maximum 5 days a week.  Some of the people already booked for the evening were booked on overtime.  There are just not enough employees, or rather, not enough money to hire more full time staff.  Which is unfortunate, because then, the hospital is forced to save on benefits by hiring more part-timers (who end up working full time hours anyway).  The bad thing about too many part timers is that you have to share them not only with other floors but with other hospitals—it quickly becomes a chore to find someone to replace anyone if anyone calls in sick.  I spent an hour and thirty minutes on the phones and on the floors trying to see if I could either get someone to stay and work overtime ( “Heya John, I know you’ve worked 8 hours already, how’d you like to take a one hour nap and then do 6 more hours overtime?” ).


 


The kind of people I meet all the time at the hospital are what I call the “tired smilers”.  They smile, but they’re tired.  You can see it under their eyes, in the way they walk, the way they lean on the walls when you ride the elevator with them.  The signs are subtle but you get used to them, and you learn how to spot just by watching someone if they’re fresh on a new shift, or if they’re clocking their tenth.  I feel very at home with them, because like them, I’m the kind of person who is constantly exhausted, yet still somehow crunching out time.  It’s nice to work in a place where everyone does their job, and yet, has this glaze of relaxed confidence about them.


 


When the emergency situation arises—someone is rushed in from Emergency or someone has had gone into  pulmonary arrest—you see how these people can really kick it out with the best of them.  You look at these people, you see that they look tired… but when the situation arises, they’re alert they’re on the ball.  They move under the animation of their second or third wind of the night.


 


I remember a quote from Scrubs—sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  But you keep playing, not only because someone has to, but because you want to.  I haven’t quite figured out why I’m here, except for the pay, and the experience.  I’m not exactly in the business of saving lives, since, I am, a clerk. It’s not so dramatic from my chair.  Maybe it has something to do with watching everyone else.


 


Health care in Quebec is in pretty dire straits.  It’s one thing to hear about it in the news, it’s another thing entirely to work at a hospital so that you can see firsthand just how budget cuts directly affect everyone.  I knew this was likely possible, since I worked at an underfunded public library prior to this, but I am surprised—I figured that the hospital would be in better condition because it’s considered more of an essential service.  Apparently, it’s exactly because it’s an essential service that there is never enough of it.


 


Are any of you in medschool?  Trying to become a doctor?  I’ll give you your ultimatum now—don’t become an asshole.  The thing that television medical serieses dramatize way too much is the importance of the doctors.  The vast majority of the main characters are doctors, in fact—this leads to the false impression that that’s where all the action is it.


 


It’s not.  As a unit coordinator, I may not have a medical degree but I am essential to the smooth functioning of this floor.  Same goes for the nurses, the housekeeping department, the respiratory techs, the BA’s… everyone is essential.


 


And yet, from my personal experiences, and the stories I’ve heard from my mom (who’s a nurse at another hospital) I’ve found that the vast majority of doctors are simply assholes.  They have little or no people skills.  It’s one thing to be charismatic—it’s another thing entirely to be egotistical.  A medical unit is a team effort– we don’t need heroes, we don’t need people to act as if they’re in command.  We need people who understand dynamics of human interaction.


 


There’s this silent divide that no one could trace out with a marker, but you can feel it—it’s like this bubble around doctors.  They don’t want you to ask questions, they don’t want to ask you questions.  They’re in their own little world—it’s the doctors on one side, and everyone else on another.


 

Not all doctors are assholes.  But most are.  I figure, like all assholes, the problem lies at the roots of their youth—so if any of you are in medschool, take a good look in the mirror and make sure you’re not turning out to be one of the forementioned.

For those of you in Montreal who play badminton, come by my club, even if you don’t know how to play.  We offer free beginner lessons!  Check out the site of Racketsports Montreal for more info. I don’t expect it to be too crowded, considering that school is starting again so a lot of players can play at their own cegeps and such… but if you’re ever in the area, drop by and say hello!  And, you know, start playing badminton, cause if not, you’re going to end up unhealthy and then you’ll end up at my hospital where I’ll bully you with threats of clerical errors that may make your life miserable. Mwhaha.


Ahem.


On another note, everyday, I find something to like and dislike about my job.  Mostly stuff I like.  But anyway.  Dislike is usally when I find out another kind of odd job I have to be able to do– the kinds of odd jobs that only arise once in every month that you work here.  So naturally, as the noob at the hospital, i’m always asking questions because i simply don’t get enough practice with some of these procedures, because they’re so few and far apart.


But here’s something i like— turns out I get a pager when I’m on night shifts, so that people can find me when they need me.  So… what did I do with my first quiet night with the pager?  Chill out at a nearby Korean restuaurant, that’s what!  I mean, hey, they’ll page me when they need me, right?


On another note– got my first paycheque.  And, imagine this– I’m sinking in debt.  And my first paycheque for two weeks of work slams into that debt by making me 750+ debt dollars lighter.  Ohhhhhhhhh baby.  I can almost see daylight!  God DAMN, at my old job, I’d have to work 4 weeks to make the same amount of money.


In part, it’s because this new job pays better, and the other part is that the shifts are longer (not like the library, which used to call me in for 3.5 hour shifts– yes, totally retarded, just designed to ruin your day off by sticking it’s face where it don’t belong).


I’m tempted to blow some of this money on some much overdue self-spoiling, but then again, it only makes a 25% dent in my debts, so maye I should just keep swimming for now before breaking out the coconut juice, so to speak.


I used to really think debts were a stupid thing that no one should ever get into– but then i realized the reality that if you handle it properly, you’re effectively getting free cash if you learn to use it as a buffer and not as an anchor.  Know what I mean?  Forexample, I’m constantly operating on a buffer of about between 2 and 3 grand, canadian dollars… but i keep paying it off before any interest lands.  So it’s alright.  The recent paycheque is one of those buffer movers… so it’s like this constant thign that shifts forward with time.  It’s when you leave debt behind that you get in trouble… as long as it keeps switching hands, it’s okay.


Ummm… rambling. Anyway.  Back to work, before someone realizes that I’m not supposed to be on the patients’ computers.

You listen to the motion of the ocean… And then,
bang. 

You shout out capitals with an exclamation, like,
“BANG!” and it says something… But you say simply,
“bang.”  Small letters.  And what? 
I say the quiet bang, the one word oath, is that much more
powerful.  It loses the immaturity of
the bazooka fonts of 16 color comics, and instead, takes on that haikuish black
cowl of simple means more.  Behind all
the noise of the ocean is that huge motherfucking mountain, which no one can
move.  A bird flies into it. 

Bang.

It’s got a terminality.  It is suggestive of violence, and yet, it is a distinctly focused
kind of brutality.  It’s not a rushed
word, it’s not a word among repititions, it’s not about *quantity* so much as
it is about *quality*.  It’s a simple
singular thing that just strikes like the sound of the nail, not being hit by
the hammer, but finally stopping in motion, it’s head flush with the wood.
Decisiveness.  Finality.  That one way direction of energy has finally
reached it’s goal. It’s followed by the period, literally and figuratively.

“Bang” is what I say when someone’s been
messing around, underestimating me. 
It’s something I said a few days ago when some folks at the YMCA were
actually taunting my partner and I.  We
were fighting not because we could win, but because we had to.  For trying to take our courts, sure, in the
end… They were desinted to get them eventually, because they outnumbered us,
and by that fact alone the ‘winner stays’ rule of king of the hill made it
unlikely that two guys would have more stamina than about ten others
combined.  They’d just have to take
their turns while we weakened with each onslaught.

But even if they were bound to win eventually, we
weren’t going to let them take our courts unscathed.  And so when they thought that they could get cocky, the
opportunity arose to show them the error of their conceit.

A slow crosscourt drop is a shot that moves, as the
name implies, slowly.  It’s not like a
gunshot, it doesn’t hit the floor hard. 
It won’t bruise someone if it hits someone. I’d say that even if you
took it in the eye, you wouldn’t even lose your eye. It won’t make much of a
noise when it touches down.  In fact, if
you want to picture it, imagine a five year old kid throwing the bird up in the
air and watching it fall down.  That’s
how fast the bird is, it’s acting on the beauty of natural gravity.  It’s something simple and soundless.  It’s a force of nature.

Which is why, when the opponent is trying to be fancy
and does all sorts of loose shots in the name of finesse, when you see that
opportunity and throw in a slow crosscourt drop, you have to say
“bang”, in small letters.  You
don’t have to shout it, you just sorta say it, mutter it loud enough and with
enough disinterest that they think they heard the word from the bird itself
hitting the floor.

And then the period follows, where they just look at
the bird and wonder where the hell they went wrong.

For all their acrobatics, their atheleticism, the
bombasticness of their sheer brute strength— an opponent is still nothing
more than a human, with skills, physical capabilities, tactics and spirit.

And so when you’re tired, when you’re physically
weakened and your skills are losing accuracy, that’s when you get
tactical.  That when you show them that
you’re not going to just roll over and die. 
That’s when you show them what you’re made of.  Which is what I love most about games against other humans.

Lets rewind. 
Play.  The bird floats.  The slow crosscourt drop. 

Bang.  They
look at eachother.  They’re wondering to
eachother, was it luck?  Did they just
mess up?

Play.

Bang.  No way
that was luck.  They’re not goofing
around anymore.  With some nervous
laughs they look at eachother with those eyes that say “that was your
bird, not mine”.  And play resumes.

Bang.  And then
they worry, then they shut up.  Their
sweat goes cold because they’ve burned their fuel on the fancy stuff.  It’s down to the strings of every muscle,
it’s desperation. And then, everyone plays for real. 

It’s alright guys, I forgive you for not taking us
seriously.  But even if you call this
place home, don’t forget– it’s our home too– you are not playing against rank
amateurs.  We are not intimadted by the
casualness of your demeanors.  You
laughter sounds nervous at best, your smiles are just marked on faces dripping
with cold sweat.  Don’t try to pull that
amateur shit on us.  Let’s just cut the
crap, and play for real.

And it all makes for a beautiful game.

It’s just like Bruce Lee said about martial arts… It
applies to everything.  You can break
the rhythm, it’s a devastating thing, like an alpha counter, like a parry, like
the ducked hook countered with a haymaker on the noggin.  It hurts, because it’s outside your
timeline, and it slams hard no matter how slow, because it comes out of
nowhere.  It is outside your perception
of the possibilities, and in that way, everyone is a xenonphobe when it comes
to alien things that jar our realities.

The thing that we’ve learned as a team is that power
is important, but it’s never unstoppable. 
You just have to build them up, let them think that they’re on a roll…
Let them settle themselves to the pulse of blood in their ears, a rhythm of
confidence and of shots… And then when they’re set up in their foxholes,
that’s when you drop it on them.  The
napalm.  The bomb.  Bang. 
You come from an angle that they don’t see because they’re so holed up
in their walls of confidence and repetitious tactics.  You counter their force with subterfuge.

The bird chimes off a racket in a serve, the feathers
catching into the air and bringing it into a counter-clockwise spiral as it
arcs to ennemy territory, all eyes watching with an intensity that might make
you think that it was moving on telekinesis. 
Everyone is all eyes now, because they can’t afford to play with
blinders on anymore, they can’t just look straight anymore– they have to pay
attention to everything that’s really going on.  They have to look for the traps. 
They have to be afriad, because sometimes, being afriad is the only way
you’ll be aware of the possibilities of all the bad things your opponents are
trying to do to you.

Okay boys, playtime is over. My muscles are aching,
I’ve got a cramp.  My partner’s not
looking to good either– everytime we pause between plays, he puts his hands on
his knees and he bares his teeth in ragged gasps. We’ve won two rounds, but you
people, *you people*, you just won’t let up, will you?  Fine, bring the next challenger.  Take youre time, we’re not going
anywhere.  You’ll have to shovel us off
this court, and only after you’ve beatn us.

You done with all that creamy fluffy icing shit? 

So now, lets play for real.

 

 

 

 

I love it when everyone just fights like there’s no
tomorrow.  You tell me that living in
the moment is doing something out of the ordinary– I tell you, living in the
moment is doing something perfectly ordinary, but something ordinary that
everyone is focused on your every interaction, where you feel ever fibre of
your body and your mind being stretched. Everyone is tandem parachuting tied to
the same brick.  Everyone focusses. That
is when there is no future.  You see a
moment in front of you and then it’s the past. That is when you just are
there.  Everyone is focused on that one
thing. A target?  A goal?  A victory? 
Or nothing so grand, perhaps just even that one small point?

We are all united by Drive.  There is so much going on in your mind and in your body that it’s
loud, it’s noisy– it’s so noisy, that you can’t hear it anymore.  But you can feel it.

And it all builds up to the quietest thing is that
occasional, terminal, one-word word– the ‘bang’. 

More on the YMCA.  I went there yesterday with Vittek, Yuchih and Devilicious to see if we could play some games.  You might normally think so, espeially considering that we had actually reserved about 3 hours of court time.  But, wouldn’t you know it—we got our courts stolen 3 times.


 


See, the thing about the YMCA is that there is too much of that homey feel to it.  So there are people there, the “regulars”, who are always there, and that’s normally a good thing, only that when you’re a relative outsider (like my and my friends) they assume that you’re gonna pay homage or something by offering up your courts.  So they ask if they can squeeze in a game or two here or there.  And it’s really ugly, because they didn’t reserve those courts and yet they just sorta roach in on your time.


 


Normally, I wouldn’t care—but the thing is that the people I’m coming with don’t come to the YMCA very often, so it’s somewhat of a ‘special occasion’ and we expect to get in a fair amount of play time.


 


Reserving for the YMCA is nothing short of a chore in itself.  Because demand for nighttime courts is so high, you actually have to call two days in advance at 6:15am to make the reservation.  If you call by 6:20, it’s too late.  You have to wake up and fight for those courts.


 


So it pisses me off when people who never reserve think they have some right to your hard reserved courts, just on the basis that they’re regulars.


 


But what can you do?  Admittedly, I do show up every now and then and play with them, without a reservation.  But when you want to refuse to share because you’ve got outsider guests, it’s impossible—you can’t refuse them, because they’re the home crowd.  You have to play by house rules.  And that means you let the regulars play, that even means maybe that you let the regulars eventually challenge eachother so much that they essentially take over your court altogether.  And if you refuse?  If you refuse, the home crowd blacklists you, and you can never play there again. Ever.


 


It’s a rock and a hard place.


 


The only solution, it seems, is to become one of the regular crowd.  Problem is that a lot of them are obnoxious jackasses, nevermind that they’re good players.


 


Well, can’t do much about the jackass part.  But I do intend to get good enough to beat a lot of these people someday.


 


My cousin Vittek had a ‘dramatic video game moment’ the other day, and I couldn’t have admired him more than at this very moment.  You see, there was an instance a few months ago when a player at our club, lets just call him “The Arm”, asked Vittek to play a game of singles with him.  But the way he phrased it was along the lines of “I challenge you… or are you too afraid?”


 


To that, Vittek got all huffy and puffy and basically agreed, though in his mind the response seemed more along the lines of “bring it on, bitch!”


 


Unfortunately, Vittek lost.


 


He was totally destroyed by this, because he thought he could win.  And ever since then, he’s been training diligently, methodically, experimenting with new techniques and tactics to see if he can work up a battle plan to once again challenge The Arm.


 


So in his mind he had one of those mental dartboards with The Arm’s face on it.  And he trained and trained… until one day, they played a game of doubles, on the same team.  And The Arm turned out NOT to be a total jackass, and that, on the contrary, it turned out that he was a totally nice guy.


 


So Vittek was lost and confused.  He figures, I only wanted to beat this guy because he was a jackass.  And now that he’s not such a jackass, in fact, I kinda like the guy, what now?


 


And he thought and thought about it, until a moment of nirvana hit him, and he knew what he had to do.


 


He couldn’t phrase it just right, so I’ll paraphrase.  There is no animosity between Vittek and The Arm.  But there is a professional respect.  Vittek doesn’t want to beat The Arm for being The Arm, he wants to beat arm for the skills and expertise that The Arm represents.


 


And I call this a videogame drama moment because these are the kinds of things that no one understands when I tell them about it.  You have two professional soldiers on the field—they’re not enemies, not really—they’re both just professionals.  It’s not that they’re out to get eachother—but one represents a stepping stone, a marker of evolution that must be surpassed.  A checkpoint.


 


It’s nothing personal.

I assert once again that the most important thing in life is DRIVE.

Not necessarily involving automobiles. But I mean passion.  A
forward momentum.  A kenetic energy that breaks things or burns
things when it slams into obstacles.

If you got it, you’re lucky.  If you’re running low, don’t worry,
it’ll come back.  And if you don’t got it– you better find
it.  Cause otherwise, you’re already dead.

I’ve been playing badminton a more lately, and it’s good to be able to
to do that.  Been a long time that I kinda got stuck doing
‘administration’ work, sorta, paperpushing shit that really, well, i
guess it all is in the process of making me a more mature and
responsible person, but sometimes I’ve got all this drive unaccounted
for, just spewing out like a 40 gallon tank that got loaded with 41.

And so it’s nice to hit the courts.  It’s nice to be able to *hit*
something.  To know that you’re not just a brain, you’re not just
numbers or statistics or fingers on a keyboard– it’s all part of a
body that moves and feels pain and burns.

I played some people there who I used to think were really good. 
And, well, now they’re still better than me, but they’re not half as
impressive or intimidating as they used to be.  They’re human–
they can be wounded.  They are not invincible.  If I want it
enough, I can get it.

I need to rest.  I’ve been pushing my body too hard.

Turns out that BM had a skateboard handy in her garage.  It’s got
all this jeuvenile crap scrawled on it, like “Major Asshole” and
“Anarchy” along with some triple x stuff and a few anarchy
symbold.  BM found it on a bus one day, it’s not hers,
technically, well, unless you consider finders keepers.

I took the deck out for a few test drives.  I flew off the board a
couple dozen or so times, but always managed to land on my feet except
for this one time where the board went out from under me and I
bodyslammed myself on my back.  Lucky I remembered “keep your eyes
on your belt!” and managed to keep the back of my brain casing from
hammering the asphalt.

But it’s some fun stuff, skateboarding.  I can’t say I like the
fact that the small wheels on the bloody thing are so noisy, but it’s
something I think I can get used to with time.

I need a new method of transportation.  So far I’ve been surviving pretty well with bus, subway, bike and on foot, but I want something with wheels that I can take with me on the metro.


Originally, those folding bikes were on my list of possibilities, but then I decided that I wouldn’t want to lug around like 50 pounds of folded steel everywhere.  Even if it does fold, it’s bulky and awkward.


I don’t like those little scooter things, I just don’t like the idea that a pothole 2 inches deep is going to nosedive me into the pavement.


I don’t like skateboards, cause they’re too damn noisy, and they just don’t look all that comfortable sometimes.


So the choice is down to rollerblades or a longboard.  I think longboard sounds like a good idea, except for the fact that they don’t have any brakes, and that I’ve never used one before.  But I like the idea of big wheels.


If i got blades or a board, it’s be for trips under 5 km mostly.  Short range stuff, you know, to get to those places between bus stops and metros.


 


Advice?

I’m not bad with big knives.  I’m not a butcher, but, given a fridge with some vegetables and
meat in it and a sack of rice,  I’ll not
starve.  You won’t find me lying on the
floor dead with a peice of thawed meat in my broken teeth.  I know my way around a kitchen.

I think learning to use a knife was one of those
things that I originally picked up to be more like my dad, because he’s one of
those people who I really admire.  Hero
is a bit of a strong word that I never use, because it has all these connotations
of public standing– my dad ain’t no hero in that sense, but he’s someone who
worked hard to get where he is.  He
takes situations by the balls and does stuff. 
He’s tougher than I am.  And on a
day when i’m full of myself, I can consider myself pretty tough.

But he’s the ‘real thing’.

The walls of my bedroom are pepered haphazardly with
photographs, from back when I was a shutterbug myself.  I used to use my dad’s Nikon FE and take
pictures of pretty much everything, I used to be a part of the darkroom club
back in college.  I blew most of my
salary on print paper and film.  I also
cracked my skull with the camera a few times because back then, they made
cameras with more steel, to the point where in the right context it could very
possibly be an effective murder weapon.

But i digress.

The thing I’ve come to realize is that our senses are
such a powerful thing.  They make it
sound like the way you catch things like a virus is when you inhale it, when
you drink it, when it gets in your blood or whatever.  But emotions are a lot like that too.  I see photographs.

 
While chopping mushrooms, there’s that rhythm punching
down, the clak clak of tempered steel on a wooden block.  The mushroom makes no noise unless you
listen for him.  It’s an acquired language
that you can learn to hear, it tells you if you’re cutting too fast or too
slow, or if you’re sawing the wrong way or if the mushroom isn’t feeling so
good.  But even this sound I know.  I may not hear it all the time unless I’m
listening to it, but sometimes, the sounds is superimposed from another
timeline, and I hear it from way back then when I was barely tall enough to
have my eyes to counter level, and it was my mom or my dad with the knife,
making dinner.

The mushrooms are a sociable lot.  The onions are generally agressive. An
onion’s layers, if cut slowly, will repell the knife’s edge– the layers will
thus be crushed rather than cut.  And
when they’re crushed, that’s when you get the onion gas in the air, and that’s
when you spring a leak.

 I hate cutting
onions.  My dad assures me that when my
technique matures, when I can cut with more confidence,  I’ll be able to cut faster and cleaner.  Something that will come with
experience.  I ask him to show me, I
don’t understand how he can possibly do it faster without losing a finger.  The knives are sharp, damn sharp, because he
always sharpens them.

The demonstration never fails to amaze me– but like
dreams, they just kinda disapear after you’ve seen them.  You convince yourself that it didn’t really
happen, or you’re too fuzzy on the details to actually do the play-by-play to
any relevance when you’re faced with the same situation.

 

And so the onion sits there.  And I know as soon as I take a few stabs at him, I’m gonna cry.

The radio’s playing Pink Floyd.  I keep it tuned on CHOM 97.7 because it
plays rock from the 60s to 90s, mostly– people who know their craft.  People who play instruments and who can tell
stories through their instruments. I’m an open minded guy, but it’s hard to
convince me that most of the new stuff I’ll hear on Mix 96 is anything
special– there’s always some sorta agenda, like a movie tie in, or a music
video that’s particularly scandalous, or whatever.  What about the music? 
What about the message?  The
music that preceeded my birth and the music from when i was young, it was from
harder times, and people were trying to say something other than that they were
alcoholics or that they were bootylicious or anything in that strain.

CHOM seems about right for the mood– it hits a
sentimental nerve, that part of me that will find a moment of clarity while
choping vegetables for supper.

My senses are alight, and that’s not just the
onions.  It’s like what Proust felt I
guess when he looked a basket of madelenes. 
You just have a moment.  Things
are simple.

In another life, this might have been as far as I
would have gone.  I might’ve worked in a
kitchen or something.  I might have
known no world but the one the size of this room.

Dare I say, sometimes I really with my parents had
more for them, because they worked so much for what they got– but I’m going to
get more than them, without ever having even had to do anything for it, because
they gave me that boost.  They gave me a
head start on all the other chinese kids who were fresh off the boat and had to
start from sweeping to dishwashing to waiting on tables.  Me? 
I cook when I have time.  I don’t
cook because this is a necessity to me.

And so ironically, every now and then, cooking for
everyone at home is the easy way out of the complex life that I lead.  I cannot ever look down on people who lead
simpler lives than my own– their jobs may not require university degrees or
certificates or whatever, but they did take dedication.  And the people that they are, those personalities
and virtues were forged through trials.

In fact, sometimes I envy them.  Sometimes. 
Not always, because I know that to envy is to never have enough, to not
be happy.

And so every now and then, I work around the
kitchen.  I take in the sounds and those
senses are like spells, appealling to spirits of the past in my mind– they
remind me of a simpler life that I might have had, if i hadn’t grown up.  The smells, they remind me of the same.  As do the language of the talk of the sounds
of every little thing i cut into– life is a lot like a vegetable, or a meal,
you find things, you break it up into peices so that you can use it in
moderation, and you take it into you, you let it become a part of you.  You taste it.

The senses are not just there for information to come
in.  They’re also there to trigger
recognition– to give you a place in your world.

At that very moment, nevermind badminton clubs,
nevermind store contracts or sponsorships or work or mortality even–

I’m pretty good with a knife.  Let’s
just try and make dinner, because I am
hungry. Does anything else matter right now?  Can anything affect
me?  No, i am in my sanctuary– all there is here is me and the
chopping board.  And that much about life makes
sense, at least.

And I savor the meal.

We have this antibacterial no-water hand washing stuff all around the hospital.  We’re strongly encouraged to contantly wash our hands whenever we touch anything that is in a high traffic area.  This stuff is alcohol based, I think, and the lesson of the day is that I shouldn’t scratch my nose or rub my eyes, or, in the case of today, rub my face with this shit, no matter how tired and in need of rubbing my face I am.


I swear, this stuff is like liquid knuckles.  You don’t feel like your skin is going to peel off or anything, but you do feel, as the smell of the disinfectant goes up your nostrils and in your eyes, that all your nerves have suddenly been replaced chords of electrified barb wire.  It is underlinably painful.


Last week, when I quite my job at the library, as my last service to that bastion of public service, I purposely had a confrontation with Mrs. Rankin.  For those of you who weren’t with my blog before I made the move to xanga (back on the days of my blogger blog) you’ll remember Mrs. Rankin well.  She’s the stupid old lady who writes freelance for the Montreal Gazette… all these hateful little ‘social commentaries’ about how homosexuals being married is a slippery invitation to destroy heterosexual family values.  Uh-huh.


For the record, I don’t care if you want to marry your own sister.  Whatever makes floats your boat.


But anyway.  Mrs. Rankin has been abusing of the free computers at the library for some time now– she makes reservations, to which she constantly shows up late.  So eventually we started keeping tabs on just how often she was late, so that we could some day confront her about it and tell her to basically screw off, we don’t want to deal with you anymore.


My co-workers have always been a bit reluctant to take up the charge of being the messenger.  But they forget, she ain’t no King, and she has no authority.  So, figuring, it was my last day and that anything I did was inconsequential (what’re they gonna do, fire me?) I decided to volunteer myself for the job of telling Mrs. Rankin, to her face, that we’d had enough of her shit.


Okay, so the actual phrasing was “Mrs. Rankin, I regret to inform you that as per the warning I issued you about 2 weeks ago, you’re in violation of the fair-use policy at the library– you’ve just missed too many appointments.  And, as a result, your reservation privledges have been suspended for a month.”


Man, did she ever spaz.


After trying to convince me that I should be granting her exceptions and whatnot because nobody gets hurt (I should’ve quoted her own article about sliippery slopes and how me letting her get away with anything would basically be the begining of the end for intelligent life on earth) she got so spitting angry (yes, she’s a spitting angry kinda person) that she demanded to see my manager because she didn’t beleive I had the authority to ban her.


So my manager backs me up.  (Way to go Nicole!)  And so Rankin starts to see that this higher up strategy has to be taken a step further.  She starts telling off my manager about how petty this whole thing is.  Screaming out words like “entrapment” and “unreasonableness”.  And there I am, just sorta standing by my manager and Rankin, listening, more or less.  And then she throws in a “And would you just wipe that smirk off your face?  I bet you’re enjoying this, aren’t you?  Show a little respect, you’re just a low level technicican!”


To address that comment, you’re damn right I was enjoying this.  And, as to the respect part, respect is given where it’s due– and as to low level technician, you’d better watch how you treat this low level technician because the fact that you come crawling back to low level technicians everytime you do something shitheaded with your file and need help, well, it says how much lower you can get than a low level technician, doesn’t it?


This all brings me back to that thought I had a few weeks ago, where the problem of having trained in martial arts is that you feel it’s so easy to just lash out and hurt someone.  I don’t even mean kill… there are a lot of worse things than death i think.  There are longer, more painful ways.  Moves that show up in movies, that people see and say “Dayyyyyyyyyyyyum!” to.


In the back of my head, on another plane of conciousness, I imagined in a dream world that Mrs. Rankin tried to physically assult me, and then I had the option of a hundred different violent alternatives for my own ‘self deffence’.


But alas, reality ain’t so interesting.


So about this time, Rankin is threatining my manager, saying that she’ll have her job by Monday morning because she knows people in the city council.  And, I think it’s expressly because she told me to stop grinning that that I had to really, really control myself to keep myself from bursting out and laughing and pointing and the ludicrousness of her position.


My manager doesn’t have as much experience with Mrs. Rankin as I do, so she got fed up real easy.  She hasn’t learned to absorb Rankin’s negative energy and turn it into entertainment.  So my manager gets pissed and says “You know what? You’re welcome to make an appointment with the Director when she comes back next week.  But arguing with you is pointless, and I don’t have the time for pointless things.”


And she stalks off to somewhere other than where we are.


Rankin is not happy.


 


 


 



 


But, in retrospect, while the moment itself was so intensely gratifying, I’ve run into a spiritual wall.  See, I thought that I enjoyed Rankin getting all worked up in a cycle of her own hipocricy and stupidity.  But then, yesterday when I was talking to Bat-Country about immaturity and stuff, I just was infected by this unshakable feeling of sadness.  Rankin is one of those people who, dare I lose hope, I might say has no hope of changing.  Why? Because who is going to take the time to teach her?  And, given her current lifestyle trend, is she going to change herself?


Everytime I run into someone totally self-righteous, ideologically armored and able to see the world through glasses of their own contextual filters, I find some fun in shutting them down.  In making them look as stupid as they are. But afterwards, it’s like a hangover– that sickly feeling that what you did wasn’t right.


Do I regret telling Mrs. Rankin off? No, I don’t– because if I didn’t, she’d be free to harass my co-workers as much as she wanted to, even if she left.  I was able to say the things that my co-workers might have gotten in trouble for, even though all I stated was the truth.


But then, i still have this feeling in my guyt– this terminability.  I’m not even sure if that’s a word.  I am simply dissapointed that the human race has people like her in it.  Have you ever known someone that you loathed so much that it was your very joy to see them messed up?  But then, that kind of hate is superficial, I realize– because in the end, I only have a feeling of sadness– of wasted energy, of lost potential.  I would like to think that everyone can change for the better– i suppose it is possible.  But then again, the direction of peoples’ lives is not my charge.


I see people doing stupid things, saying stupid things, just, being stupid.  And anger is the easy reaction– but I’ve learned to strip that away, break it into components– I’ve found that a lot of things that used to make me angry don’t really touch me very hard anymore, I’ve become more emotionless than I’ve been in all my life.


People say this is bad for me, that i’m losing touch with humanity.


But sometimes, when I encounter these bouts of especially trying times, situations where the results and the futures just frustrate or sadden me, I remember why it’s kinda nice at times to not care, to not be bothered.


 


 


I know that the reaction that a lot of people will have to all this is something along the lines of “don’t let it bother you”, or “just forget about her”.


But the thing is, what kind of human beings does it make us if we leave things like this alone?  Anyone can help a friend, as the saying goes.  That’s the very basis of the definition.  But who can give the time to help an ennemy, with the hopes of oneday eliminating the need for conflict altogether?


If I cannot do this kind of thing, than how am to be any better than anyone else who has an ennemy?