Saturday, April 22, 2006

Hey Zeus and J-Funk

Between deadlines, socializing, house cleaning, and life's imperceptible ways of diverging my concentration, this place hasn't been updated in a while. So what's been going on?

I'm too lazy to hunt sources, but it seemed everyone was discussing the Gospel of Judas around Easter. There was a big hoopla about Jesus asking to be betrayed, thus catalyzing his trial and crucifixion. Of course, the basis of the entire religion is his resurrection, and no other holiday or ritual should ever overshadow that event in the hearts of purist Christians. It doesn't matter how many virgins give birth if life ends at death, and I can't count how many genuinely good people, religious people, fear death like nothing else. Naturally, there's a difference between identifying oneself with a belief system and actually believing its precepts. To use a much lighter analogy, people who claim an affinity to certain types of music because they perceive it as trendy, but then they don't listen to it once the company has left.

Getting back to Judas, whether he was acting according to Jesus's wish or not, what he did was necessary. Whether he was evil or not, evil is necessary. God invented evil, supposedly to test faith. That's the basis of creationism, that nothing existed before God's hand touched it. And if God didn't create evil, He knowingly created the things that would spawn evil. That Judas had a role to play in the grand scheme of things is no mystery to me, and I think that without the neverending conflict between good and evil, that life might be a little pointless. If the world was nothing but love and magic, would those blessings still feel loving and magical?

Decent updates forthcoming. I promise.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Busy Week

I had intended to post thorough social and political pieces on this blog, but it seems more natural (and refreshing) to post miscellany. Without further ado, various updates for my readership of three:

I wrote a review about the new Fiery Furnaces album, Bitter Tea, which I submitted to There's no honorarium or word rate, but all accepted pieces are entered into a draw for store credit or discounts, so it's not technically a professional writing credit. If you're interested, you can read my humble take on my favourite band's latest effort: Bitter Tea.

I'm not tossing any confetti yet, but I've been given an indication that my freelancing efforts may lead to more stability in the writing field. The details are sketchy, but a magazine has expressed interest in hiring me for part-time leading to fulltime work starting in the fall. I'd still be doing a lot of writing, but I'd also have some extra creative duties not limited to layout design. This could be a big step, and it's one I'd welcome, but you never know what will happen in the interim. For the moment, I'll stick to the summer plan and hope the tourism people ring me up within the next few days.

A lot more has happened, but I can't be arsed to type it. I had a great workout tonight, even though it didn't seem so at the time. I feel my shredded muscles, the heat of life radiating inside my body, the relief of having briefly forgotten some of the heavy stresses of this week, and I'll end there for now.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Modern World

Last Christmas, our family spent a lot of time together, all four of us. My sister was on break from medical school, and mom was on Christmas vacation. Dad's been retired for several years now. I was freelancing, which is a euphemism for being a bum, because I make a few hundred bucks every couple months, so I'm basically a freeloader. Anyway, we were all under the same roof for a week, and God knows if that'll ever happen again.

We went to see Walk the Line, which, aside from being the only new film I saw last year, marked the first time in about three calendars that I went to the cinema. As much as I would recommend Walk the Line to anyone, it wasn't Johnny Cash's story that most affected me. There was a scene where he and his brother were walking down a country road, vegetation as far as the eye could see, a hazy gloss of heat in the atmosphere, and I could even smell fresh cut grass. Maybe once in a while you'd hear a locust buzzing in the distance, but that might be my own childhood memories interfering. I really had to hold back the tears as I questioned where in the holy hell they filmed that scene, i.e. what part of the world had yet to be corrupted by our vain constructions and wanton destruction? I would have killed to be in that place, where concrete and billboards might have seemed like a nightmare. Surely, urban taints like cell phones and pollution couldn't exist there in the country. But that's probably a pipe dream; the hand of man will likely destroy it someday.

Fast forward to tonight. It's been a long time since I shared my writing with someone, but I was compelled to show YĆ©rula a poem I wrote in 2001, which I based on what little I knew of the Aztecs. She feels a strong connection to them, and I truly hope I'm not betraying her trust by mentioning this in a public blog. I'll never forget tonight's discussion, and I wish to share the wisdom it recalled, the same feeling I had when I saw the country acres in Walk the Line.

Even though man erects steel structures, erasing the natural landscape; even though greedy pursuits smudge the foundations of our societies, the imprints of feet that can't walk anymore, the impressions left by those who are departed; even though there are people who are monsters in human bodies, there are also genuine things in this world. There are those who mourn because of all this destruction, the same ones who contribute to preserving what's about to be lost. These are the souls who are more alive than hearts can beat, more real than anything tangible. There are people, not bodies and blood, but people, identities, experiences, feelings. This is the true meaning of life. And you know what? You will never find anything this genuine in assembly lines, in market shares, in profit margins, in the whole world. The only way to be real is to share your soul with others. The only way to matter is to befriend someone. The only way to exist is to not destroy the world we all share. This world is the greatest gift God gave us, aside from life itself. Without this world, we'd just be atoms in a void. Without our souls, we'd be products on a conveyer belt. It took me over 20 years to learn these things. Thanks are owed to everyone who ever loved, hated, helped, and hurt me. You all contributed to teaching me these lessons. And, God help me, I'll share this knowledge with as many as possible.

Next time you see a bee pollinating a flower, count your blessings. You saw the real thing. Someone, at some point, will only be able to read about it. I'll do my best to prevent the demise of these wonders, but I can't stop the inevitable. If the least and most we can do is remember, then I vow to do that. As I already promised tonight, I'll never forget what matters.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hurts To Lift My Arm, But I Can Still Type

If history has taught us anything, I give up too easily. I'd like to dissociate myself from old habits, but they die hard, as the saying goes. My sleeping patterns were excellent last month: up at 7:30 A.M., asleep at 12:30 A.M. This schedule enabled me to write in the mornings (surprisingly productive results, considering I'm a night person), listen to the National Playlist (CBC radio, cancelled last week), eat three meals daily (as opposed to sleeping through the first two), and generally function as a member of society. And that all went to shit.

I suppose if I had tossed the covers before lunchtime, I might have studied Nova Scotia before my interview with the tourism people. I tried a few Google searches this weekend but abandoned those efforts; I thought the trivia questions wouldn't surface during the interview. I thought wrong. I thought it would be best to recalibrate my sleep schedule after the interview, seeing as how it would be in the afternoon and waking up at 12:45 P.M. should translate to prime alertness at 4:30 P.M. Wrong; started defragging the computer before bed, and it motored all night. I thought my Sunday best were ironed, clean, and hanging in my closet. Wrong again; they were moved during the massive sweep before Christmas. Basically, I was so discombobulated before leaving the house, that I had to spend the drive to town mentally calming myself. By the time I reached the intersection at Starrs and Haley, it occurred to me that I wasn't in this mess alone. I thought of all the people who have and continue to support me. I won't list them for fear of omitting someone, but it really helped to clear my mind of negative thoughts. I think the interview went well. That is, it didn't go nearly as bad or nearly as good that it could have, so well feels like a good descriptor. What's done is done, and I really have no desire to say more on the subject. But I did spend the next few hours thinking about stuff I knew to say but simply didn't. No different than any other interview, I guess.

I was with Dad, and once I returned to the car, we picked up a pizza and went to pick up Mom at her school, where she had been waiting the entire time. (Had we found my suit sooner, we would have stopped for her on the way to town.) As we approached the school, dad called her on the cell to announce our arrival, and he then decelerated to a near stop, then we proceeded to the parking lot. I wasn't quite clear on the situation, but I assume the neighbourhood thugs were up to something again. We parked in front of the main entrance and she met him there, then they disappeared into the building. So I sat in the car for about fifteen minutes, listening to American talk radio (Howie Carr, for those who care). I noticed a young kid on a scooter drive by and vanish behind the school, and I wondered if this was one of the infamous delinquents I'd heard so much about. Anyway, a few minutes later as my eyes are meandering from the clouds to the dash to the pavement to the roof, I spot a could of kids on the roof of the damn school, and these thugs are no more than 10; one looked about 8. I plucked the keys from the ignition, locked the car, ran into the school and announced what I had seen, and mom replied before my echoing voice faded. They were taking pictures of these hellions on the roof.

We dealt with that situation, and I think they have good photographic evidence of who was there. When we got home I had a phone message from Tarek, and he invited me to accompany him to the gym where he works out. So I ate my pizza and watched Frasier, then it was back to town. I forget exactly what machines I used and how much I lifted, but it was pitiful. To put it all into perspective, I haven't walked or run for over a year, and I haven't weightlifted since first year at Dalhousie in 1998. All I know is my muscles are sore and stiff, I feel like I just fought a thousand battles, and I didn't think about my interview once the whole time. I almost blacked out on more than one occasion, but it feels good to know that I've taken another step toward my own well-being. I just hope I don't give up too easily on this too.