Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Job

When I got the call, I didn't scream with relief like I thought I would. Instead, I politely accepted the offer and wondered around my neighbourhood in a daze. Trying to make sense of it. Barely noticing the day's heat boiling my skin. The young mothers and their strollers. The hot bikini babes. The tall oak trees bending their branches down waiving to me as I go. The camera store employee with the long hair I always see smoking outside of Blenz. All of it seems irrelevant.

After all the stressing and drowning in self-doubt and almost folding under the pressure of it all – and waiting, waiting, waiting for Life to finally start happening – finally, all of it coming together with a single phone call. With a man on the other end, sounding very much what I imagine God to sound like (bold and assertive, yet jovial and welcoming!), and telling me: "We'd like to offer you the position."


"Is that a yes?"

"Damn right it is."

"Do you have any questions for me?"

"Um. Is there anything I should ask?"

He laughs and said: "I'm surprised that I interviewed 42 people and not a single one asked me how much the pay is."

So of course I asked, but not necessarily because I was curious but because I was on auto-pilot, doing what I was instructed to do. And then hearing what they pay...

All of that feeding into this swirl of emotion. Utter confusion in the blistering heat, but a good confusion, like when making sense of the swirls on a head of cotton candy.

And then I start bawling like a newly orphaned child. Right there, in the middle of the street. In the city, with the heat pressing UV weights on my shoulders. My town, the one I love. The one with the sexy bikini babes and young mothers with their strollers. And the tall oak trees.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


So, because I’m a man, she asks me, “Will you come by and get rid of the mouse?

“Uh, sure. Of course.”

“Are you sure?” she says. I’ve already forgotten her name. I actually never knew it.

“I hope you don’t mind. My roommate is, like, freaking out over it.”

“Sure. No big deal.”

“And my boyfriend would do it but I’m not seeing him tonight.”

“Absolutely. Not a problem.”

“Are you sure?”


So we her friend Gabby alone at the with our wine and my personal items: journal, map, wallet. Not a good idea since I’d known these two all of 20 minutes. I consider myself a decent judge of character except when alcohol’s involved. I’ve been burned before.

Like the time in Brussels an Arab fellow wrapped his leg around mine and did a funny little dance with me. This didn’t seem weird to me. I just thought he was being friendly. After the third time, I was really into it. Until he ran off suddenly and I noticed that my wallet was missing…

But I’m not thinking about any of this. We’re walking down Queens Street and the Girl With No Name keeps thanking me, over and over. “This is so nice of you, oh my God” and so on. I’ve never visited Toronto so I have no idea if all women here are relentlessly gracious. I know she’s just being nice but there’s only so much gratitude I can accept in three minutes. Especially when I haven’t done anything yet.

She unlocks the door to her apartment – maybe three doors from the bar. It’s a discreet number sandwiched between two boutiques. Inside, her flat is spacious, the type of suite that costs people their children’s eyeballs in Manhatten.

“Nice place,” I say.

“I know! Isn’t it fun? The dead mouse is in her room.”

And indeed it is, in the corner, lying still on one of those glue traps, the flimsy platter types that toddlers sometime mistake as playtime toys, and wail like genocide victims when pulled from their chests.

This particular trap had attracted lint and what looked like human hair. I crouch down to pick up the dead mouse’s final resting disc but the mouse starts squirming and squeaking.

“Ah! It’s still alive! Look! See!”

“Oh my God, oh my god. You are such a trooper.”

The mouse keeps squeaking, trying to right itself off its side to no avail. It’s skin pulls with every thrust the mouse makes to escape and squeals in, what I assume to be, astonishing pain. It looks up at me. Squeaks. Eyes pleading.

“What are we going to do with this thing? Should we let it go?” I ask her.

“Let’s just leave it in the street.”

“And then what? Leave it for dead?” I say this in the stairwell and she opens the door, dusk light flooding in. The mouse and I squeal in unison.

I bend over to the leave the disc at the door of one of the boutiques – a fancy shoe shop, very classy.

“No, over here. In the alley.”

So walk four or five paces with the disc held out like it’s a platter and I’m a waiter serving Mouse a la Carte. A man notices and almost jumps out of his skin. Almost, but not quite.

“Ah!” he says.

“It’s okay,” I say. “It’s stuck.”

The alley is clean – too clean for an alley. No Dumpsters or hobos. No trash of any kind. It’s baffling. I set the mouse down as it gives one final pleading glance over its itty-bitty shoulder. I consider pulling it off with my fingers but the anti-rodent lobby has done a number on me. I’m scared it might carry malaria, despite the records showing no mouse has ever carried malaria.

But I still feel bad for the little bastard. “We should let it go. Do you have a stick?”

The Girl With No Name doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t acknowledge this query in any way, so we move on.

“Oh my god, you are such a trooper. Such. A. Trooper.”


So we sit down and I take a liberal swig of wine and tell Gabby the story.

“And those are supposedly the ‘humane’ animal traps,” she says.

I nod in agreement, but it gets me wondering how that’s any more humane than the traps that break their necks? Or killing it the old fashion way, with a boot or a bottle of shampoo? Letting it starve to death on a flimsy plastic disc is a cruel punishment for simply being a mouse in someone’s house. I wouldn’t like it a whole lot if the mouse did that to me; why should I treat it any different?

Later on, when I’m stumbling towards the hotel with my glass of wine in hand, a police cruiser stops me. They reprimand me, write me up. And I felt like that little mouse on the platter. Stuck and squirming to present my case to the powers that held my fate. The only difference is that mouse died that night and I slept in absolute luxury, with pillows the size English mastiffs.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Stressful Day

Breath tastes like stale beer

Kiss her as I leave

Bike has a flat tire

Broke my sunglasses yesterday

Squinting in the morning sun

UV rays lead to headaches

$2.50 for the bus

Moment of serenity while eating a bagel

New task on the job is both dull and complicated

Health comes into question now that Michael Jackson is dead

Rising health concerns due to increased belly fat

Belly fat bulging over the belt line of my shorts

Mind never stops wandering to issues of great concern

Must attend a wedding in a week

Must buy a new suit for the occasion

Must buy a new tire

Should get some exercise tonight but I have some shopping to do

A protest to photograph

A movie to attend

My left knee is acting up again

I’ve been avoiding opening my credit card bill

It calls for my attention like an ugly ex-girlfriend

The tension in my chest snakes down to my arm

My left arm is weaker than my right

Scanning the web for degenerative diseases

Working with the knowledge that this job is a waste of my talents

I miss writing as an outlet for frustration and confusion

Blowing off responsibility to do so right now

Wondering if I’ll ever get where I’m going

Tapping senselessly on a keyboard

Thoughts wander as aimless as the Messiah

Chatting with workmates through an online forum

Looking at my workmates in the flesh

Pining away for my pillow

Break for lunch without a word

Pinch the fat of my belly as I walk

Tensions are high at the sandwich shop

The mall is a frenzy

$600 for half-decent suits

Dust in the office clogs up the sinuses

Deadlines are looming

Payment of Medical Service Plan approaching

Failing to ignore a toothache

Reading that dental health and life span are inextricably linked

Scanning the web for information on the matter

Resist the urge to buy myself a Slurpee

Fail to resist the urge to buy myself a Slurpee

Have the first afternoon cigarette four or five months

Smoking is a way to snuff myself out