Monday morning madness

One ring to marry them all.

A dear writer friend who passed away a few years ago used to send out regular emails every Monday morning with this title.  They’d consist of a few witty observations on life, stuff that happened on the weekend, what her cats were up to and would often close with a cheesy joke.  Her initials were M.E.S. so she’d sign off with “Jst a Mes.”  In my first writing critique group, she was the first of us to be published – sadly, only posthumously, but she remains an inspiration.  She was one of the guests at my wedding almost five years ago, and it occurred to me that since that day, three of the 64 guests in attendance at our celebration have since departed our company, my dear grandfather among them.  Although, there have been at least three, if not more, babies born to that same group of people as well since that day, so, as the Stranger opines at the end of The Big Lebowski, “I guess that’s how the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuating itself.”

Speaking of my wedding, my better half noticed online the other day that the first house we lived in together was up for sale, and had an open viewing this past weekend.  We had only lived there for one year – we were renting, and while we weren’t asked to go we did get the sense that our landlady was keen to sell, and we were fine to find something a little more affordable.  And, although relatively unspoken at the time, there were some troubled memories associated with the house that we were anxious to leave behind.  We had moved in as boyfriend and girlfriend, run the proverbial emotional gauntlet but emerged triumphant as husband and wife.  Anyway, we had to drop by and see how the old gal was getting on.  What struck us most was how small it felt – not that where we live now is a McMansion, but we were boxed in by a peculiar sense of confinement and constriction as we wandered through the rooms.  Perhaps it was an appropriate metaphor for what we were going through at the time, a concentration of emotion and event into limited space from which a stronger bond is eventually forged.  It had been renovated substantially since we lived there, the ubiquitous pink carpet that neither of us cared for replaced with hardwood.  But I still felt a bit of a chill as I stood in the exact spot that five years ago Valentine’s Day, I knelt, opened my hand to reveal a cheap Lord of the Rings replica One Ring – all I could afford at the time – and asked her to marry me.  She has a much nicer one now, and we have a home that feels very open and free, where we can relax and just be – or at the least, plenty of rooms to run and hide in when we (i.e. me) forget to take the chicken out to defrost for dinner.

I’ve talked about this before, in the context of Twitter, but one of the wonderful things about modern communication is the reduction in distance and increase in intimacy between the artist and the audience, and not, at least when it is used responsibly, in a scary stalker kind of way.  Emilie-Claire Barlow was kind enough to retweet my review of her show to her followers.  Very cool – and just reinforces my point about how awesome she is.  Thanks, Ms. Barlow!  Hmm… Emilie-Claire Barlow, Rob Lowe I’m sensing a rhyming pattern here.  I should write something about Gwyneth Paltrow and see what happens.

On a completely different note, I think it’s time to do away with Daylight Savings Time.  A few years ago, it was decided to advance it a month in the calendar, the end result being that as soon as you feel like you’re turning the corner of having to wake up and go to work in the darkness every morning, you get slapped back into it for another month and a half of exhaustion and caffeine injections.  As I understand it, DST was invented to assist farmers in making the most of their daylight hours – given that we are no longer as agrarian a society, perhaps this tradition too can go the way of the telegraph and the wax cylinder recording.  I always feel more tired during the eight-odd months of DST hours than I do on Standard Time – my body really misses that extra hour and never quite adjusts to it.  I guess I probably wouldn’t do very well living in Maine or New Brunswick.

On a final, hopefully amusing note before we embark on this week’s adventures, a few more of the wacky search engine terms people are finding me with.  Again, not that I mind the site traffic – far from it.  The more the merrier; I just imagine, as U2 would put it, that you still haven’t found what you’re looking for.

  • apollo crackers – Not quite sure what these are, perhaps crunchy space food eaten by Armstrong and Aldrin, or a very ironic euphemism for white people who enjoy Harlem jazz.
  • long psychedelic jams – Groovy, baby!  “They call ’em fingers, but I’ve never seen ’em fing… oh, there they go.”
  • render anime boy – I don’t even know what to say about this one.  It strikes me as vaguely creepy.

Have a great day, fellow crusaders.

Valentine’s Day, massacred

It’s probably not a good thing to read “Happy VD” in a friend’s status update and think, based on their general tone, that they’re referring to venereal disease (which can be many things, the least of which I suspect is happy).  Valentine’s Day is one of those concepts that provokes divides akin to red state/blue state – yer either fer it or agin it.  People in love use it to shower their special somebody with gifts and affection.  Single people decry it as a Hallmark holiday and bemoan the cringe-inducing cheese of cutesy heart-clutching teddy bears and diabetic chocolate overdoses.  No matter your take on February 14th, we can probably all agree that in a world whose history has been defined largely by how much we hate each other’s guts – and finding new and inventive ways to take out that frustration via ever more powerful killing tools – it’s nice that we can still devote one day out of the 365 (or in this year’s case, 366) to celebrating the idea of love.  On February 15th we can go back to pissing all over the douchebags – just give it a rest for twenty-four hours, please.  And yet it still seems that the majority of what you’ll read about Valentine’s Day is penned by misanthropes who feel especially entitled on this day of all days to vent their contempt about ex-partners, abysmal dates or the fact that they have no partner at all.  They’ll portray it as a vast conspiracy of impatient family members, bachelors/bachelorettes, the greeting card industry, chocolate makers, Kenyan Islamofascisocialists, Republicans and the military/industrial complex (because those guys are always behind everything) directed specifically at making their lives miserable.  In the ultimate of ironies, snark flows more freely today than love.  Not exactly what the secret cabal of Illuminati, Bilderbergers and Commie-Nazis who came up with Valentine’s Day in the first place had in mind when they forced this nonsense upon us.

Look, I’ve been there.  I was Forever Alone Guy.  And yes, it sucks being the only single person at the table.  You can argue that it’s is an artificial holiday, the date picked to ameliorate a slow retail season between Christmas and Easter; well, it’s not like nature notices the difference and remembers to create an especially beautiful day, she was planning on doing that (or not) anyway.  You can carp about the in-your-face syrupy public demonstrations of affection, the dreadful Sarah Jessica Parker “comedies” Hollywood rolls out during this season and the abundance of red and pink heart-shaped paper cutouts stuck all over your supermarket cashier’s kiosk that are not, truly, shaped like actual human hearts.  What puzzles me is how the purveyors of such cynicism think they’re unique, that they’re the very first to vent such incisive wit for the world’s bemusement.  How soon we forget that we heard all of this last year, and the year before.  I very well might have been the one making those points in the late 1990’s.  But I can admit that I was wrong, and that I shouldn’t have let my gloom about a lack of successful romantic escapades rain over the proverbial parade of those souls lucky enough to manage to connect amidst the random permutations of the universe.

For many of us, Valentine’s Day is actually special.  Not because society told us it should be.  Because like Captain Picard, we made it so.  VD wasn’t anything remarkable for me either, until I decided to make it the day I proposed to the wonderful lady who became my wife.  Had she said no, I might have had a new reason to hate it – as it turns out, I was one of the lucky ones.  And that is sort of the point – what else is a holiday, at its core, other than a celebration of one’s fortune?  Even the single are fortunate – they are alive, healthy and free, and many are clearly very gifted with words.

My suggestion is this:  let’s have an anti-Valentine’s Day too.  We could stick it in the middle of August, say on the 23rd, when it’s hot and sticky, the Back to School sales are in full vigor, the political conventions are happening and love is the furthest from anyone’s mind.  Hallmark can stock “To My Scumbag Ex” and “Never Liked Your Rihanna-Loving Ass Anyway” cards, frowny-faced teddy bears and Cupids with their heart arrows shoved where the sun don’t shine.  It can be a day when we let our dogs befoul our loud neighbour’s lawns and cut each other off on the highway with no road rage reprisals – an occasion to let the finest examples of man’s contempt for his fellow man shine forth like so much radioactive waste.  And all the eternally single bloggers and columnists can use it to spew forth their laments for their failed attempts at romance to their heart’s discontent.  But please, for the love of love, leave Valentine’s Day alone.