Every winter, because I’m lazy and because I’m told it looks good, I grow a beard. I’m nothing if not vain. There are the inevitable growing a beard? type questions which I suffer because after all, it’s small talk that makes the world go ‘round.
This year’s version of the beard has been in place since late November. I’ve had people who I work in the general vicinity of say recently ‘hey, what’s that on your face?’ and ‘growing that beard again?’ which proves to me that people just do not look at you or notice things as much as say, you do.
I’m one of those people who notices almost everything. I can tell when someone’s switched toothpastes for God’s sake. I always notice haircuts, new clothes, the fact that your life is dreadfully boring compared to mine and so on. So why can’t you find the pattern in my beard growing? It’s the same thing every year. When I shave it off, I’ll no doubt hear ‘hey, are those new glasses?’ ‘I don’t wear glasses’. ‘Well something’s changed’. ‘Yeah, I’m whitening my eyeballs with Crest Whitestrips. Now frig off’.
Then someone else comes in early and perches on the side of my desk and starts asking me about my weekend. I speak in grunts and make it clear (again) that I’m not a morning person, I don’t like to talk in the morning, I came in early to do some extra work that I’m on a deadline for and no matter, they just start talking anyway. About their boring fucking lives and how their rotten brat did this or that and what their stupid alcoholic husband is up to and how they’re not really fulfilled in their marriage and anyway, have a good day. And then the next loser sidles up and the cycle continues.
I don’t understand when I openly and actively spend a good deal of time telling people that I don’t enjoy participating in life in the morning why they continue to come up to me and unload. Is it because I’m a good listener? Well, if you call not even turning to face the person talking to me, continuing to type at whatever I’m doing and barely even bothering to say yeah or wow or gee, really? Then yes, I’m a good listener.
You might chalk this up to me being unhappy with my present calling as a bureaucrat and my paralysis at not changing this situation but no, this is something more elegant and rotting. It is reality – even if I loved my job, I’ll never be a morning person. Throughout the rest of the day, I hate most people, in the morning, I hate all people. I am generally a nice, if incredibly sarcastic, person who likes people to like him but not in the goddamned morning!
Take your cheap husbands, your simpering wives, your snot faced kids who kept you up all night, that brilliant new sitcom aimed at retards that you love and shove them all up your big fucking….oh good morning, not bad, didn’t do much, how about you?
I was in an underground parking garage with Lorena who for some reason now has a car and still no license? Riiiight. It turns out to be quite a beater of a car and in order to get it out of the parking space, we don't bother to start it, we just start pushing and manoeuvring it out of it's spot trying not to hit the other nearby parked cars.
We hear some sort of commotion heading our way and there are three thugs giving a couple of guys some grief. It seems like they maybe have it coming, like a deal gone bad or something. The three are holding guns on the two. In order to avoid getting caught up in this, we move to a corner of the parking garage. Lorena is in the corner, there's another person with us and I see an overturned blue Rubbermaid storage container. Figuring that I'll be safest if I just flop my sorry self over this tub in plain sight, I do.
They shoot their people and then the bad guys come over to us. There's a moment when I start to wonder how I'm going to escape this and before the solution comes to me, bang, I get shot in the back. I was so shocked by this and definitely felt a jolt if not pain. So I stayed put and pretended to be dead while they shoot my other 2 friends. They leave. The bad guys, not my friends.
After a suitable time has passed, I get up, pay absolutely no mind to my friends and start looking for a towel or something to act as tourniquet so I don't bleed to death which is what TV tells me will happen.
The wound in my back which I can somehow see is not really bleeding much, just a freaky round indent in my skin maybe the size of a penny. There is also a mark on my front chest where the bullet tried to escape but didn't. I do find a towel and wrap it over, under and around with little difficulty. There are always plenty of clean towels in the parking garages of my dreams.
Bye friends! I then make it home to some strange apartment and lay down to rest on the floor. I check the wound and it has bled enough to know I need to get some medical attention. So rather than call an ambulance or 9-1-1, I call John at work.
I sense that this is now California and he's working in some security officer type situation. I can't get through to him but I'm able to get a pager number for him. I get this all confused and can't reach anyone and then I have to call this dispatcher guy back. I never do speak to John.
But then of course, he's there in the apartment. He's picking up and straightening things and not paying much attention to me, the walking wounded. I'm walking around behind him with no shirt on and a crummy too small towel trying to stem the flow of blood and he doesn't seem to notice I've been shot. Hellooo?!
I don't know how to go about telling him so I just sort of say, I've been shot. And he's like what? but with no real alarm raised. And I'm like -- the alarm goes off around this point.
So, I made fun of Pavarotti in a recent post. And since then, I haven’t slept. Nessun Dorma indeed.
Let's see -- intense work pressure, mounting bills, big as a house (a small single person dwelling) and I'm pulled every which way but loose. Yup, Pavarotti's fault.
Damn those infernal brows!
Clocking in at 5.5 hours long, I was kind of expecting t-shirts to be available at the intermission saying I SURVIVED ACT ONE! and so on. As preparation for the big show, I took the day off work. I mean really, how can one be expected to sleepwalk through 7.25 hours of general work avoidance and then a full blown opera?
I would have to say first that I can't wait until next season when the new opera house is complete. My untrained ears can never tell if it's a weak singing performance or if it's the acoustics at the Hummingbird Centre but fairly regularly there's someone standing front and centre singing full tilt and you can't hear them over the orchestra.
The orchestra itself is absolutely excellent by the way and most of the singers seem to be more pedigreed than my dog and so I'll blame the venue as it wasn't meant for opera to begin with. There, complaint number one out of the way.
Complaint number two I may have mentioned in an earlier post (Silence of the Lammermoors). Stop fucking ultra-updating everything! This opera was never meant to be set in a modern office. Park your horse sir? What's that? Your sword is doubling as your horse? Confused? Exactly. Bright red computer monitors, huge desks, suits and ties, not a helmet with horns anywhere! Ass bastards.
I also didn't see thematic links in the set or staging from the rest of the Ring Cycle already presented. That may have well been because I was too busy designing t-shirts in my mind.
I'm sure the whole Canadian Opera Company will be heartbroken by my naysaying but perhaps rather than have so many 'giving opportunity' schmoozing hoo-haw events, they should speak to some of their regular and lowly patrons like the ones paying to fill the seats once in a while?
To their credit, they did think of one thing I'd never have dreamed up: they offered a boxed meal for sale during intermission. A boxed meal. Can you think of anything funnier than tuxedoed gents and diamond dripping dolls chawing on turkey wraps out of plastic take out containers? Well, so can I but it was a sight just the same.
With the other Ring flings I've had I've enjoyed them well beyond my expectations. This one I was really looking forward to and I have to say, it let me down.
Insert final pithy remark and curtain.
Doug Wright, the author is talented, no question. He chose a fascinating subject for his play, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, and then ran with it. They don't hand out those Pulitzers for nothing or do they?
While still forming my thoughts on Doug, his subject, and my perceived shortcomings of the play, I felt a tad peckish.
I went to get some cereal, Lucky Charms - mmm, shut up. When I have cereal I like to read. I long ago graduated from reading the box itself (too pedestrian – except for me wondering how my ancestors got along without riboflavin) and now I go for whatever happens to be near at hand.
Today it was not a sale flier but the loftier than thou Globe and Mail which I hadn’t yet touched. Well, except to get it from driveway to kitchen table.
I flipped to the Review section and there was an article on the very play I'd been pondering! The reviewer summed up my feelings on just about every aspect of the thing. All I need to say now then is that it was good but not great – I think I’m going to have that imprinted on the gravestone I don’t plan on having.
Back to the author – he was a character in the play - fine. All the characters are played by one actor by the way. He wanted to know more about the main character – fine again, so did I. In Act 2 however, he became a little more prominent and earnest about needing to believe in the main character. I felt that it was the wrong way to go.
He cast so much doubt about the events presented as fact in Act 1 that I felt a bit cheated. My cynicism brought me to wonder whether the play wasn't done as a tie in to Charlotte's autobiography to get us to buy the damned book and find out more. Well I did (buy the book) and I hope they're splitting the profits. Once I get through the mile high pile of books I've got to read, I'll perhaps rethink the whole mess.
I'm really tired of these 'world class productions' and award winning events being not much more than really good high school productions. Start dazzling me already would ya?
After reading this before I posted it, I realized that the artist/writer/actor is always putting themselves front and centre, it's all about them and how they view the world, what defines them. My indignance at Doug Wright putting himself in his play is matched by this post featuring me. So I'm the same as everyone else? Anything I write really is me and my reaction to it, how it affected me, changed me, bored me. There's an imprint we all need to make to explain who we are I guess. Okay, now I'm actually thinking which is way above and beyond the call. Ugh.
Nessun Dorma means no one sleeps. And how could they? If you caught sight of those crazy press on Groucho Marx eyebrows you must have found yourself asking 'Where's his handler'?
I'm there on the train. You know me - I'm the one wearing the headphones, clearly making an effort to avoid contact. There are many others just like me. Connection through isolation - it warms me.
I'm also the one that everyone in need of a dosage check feels they should talk to. Now because I'm ridiculous, I engage with these people when I should be moving to a new seat, ignoring them or simply giving them a taste of my own mental illness.
I'm holding a take out beverage cup and sipping from it as I listen to a song called Shasta by Vienna Teng and trying to figure out just what she's singing about. Sip, listen, sip, repeat.
An elderly Indian man sits down close to me. He is dressed in a security officer's uniform, a decent enough looking chap and good for him, working hopefully just to keep busy and not because he needs to.
He glances at me and my cup. He twitches almost imperceptibly. I know this twitch though. He needs to say something. To me.
He does. I see his lips move and feign surprise while lifting the headphones out of my ear.
Pardon me? Did you say something?
Yes, I'm just wondering - how many coffees do you think one can consume per day safely?
Well, I don't know. I go for a quizzical expression here.
Well I see you drinking coffee there and wondered what you thought. Well, I think, everything in moderation. There's a pause while he considers this, smiles and then he nods his agreement.
And this is tea by the way.
Oh tea? Well, now there are a lot of health benefits to tea. Very good. Someone I know at work drinks 11 cups of coffee each day.
That doesn't sound so good to me. He looks away, I replace my headphones.
At the next stop, an elderly gentleman gets on and sits next to my Indian pal. He twitches very perceptibly and says something in my general direction. The headphones come out again, a mildly strained but still polite pardon me? comes out of me.
Hello, how are you?
He gives me a convulsive smile.
My coffee Indian gets out at the next stop without so much as a look backward. I feel slighted that he hasn't said good bye to me. My shaking new best friend says something in my direction again.
Hello, how are you?
(Still) Fine thanks. A girl takes the Indian's place and I decide to look away as I hear Shakes repeat several times to her
Hello, how are you? while she ignores him.
Meanwhile, back in my head, Sinead O'Connor gets her reggae 'Curly Locks' groove going on. Another tune I'm not really sure I understand but then do I really need to know what every lyric that blows in my ear is all about? Nah, I can just listen without hearing for now.
My concentration drifts to hoping for a safer somewhere to rest my eyes. Where to look? Not at the very large lady wearing a spandex skirt stretched beyond apology. Not at the man with the desperate eyes who tells himself he wants to find a job but begs himself for a drink. Not at the rest of the characters who look like extras in a movie I'm not being paid enough to star in.
I'm ready to leave this behind. I'm on my way somewhere swell. Not all of these folks are. Oh gosh, I feel almost human for a second. I pause and turn to my friend Shakes and mouth good bye. He smiles and says you have a good day and just for a moment, he stops trembling. Hope? For a moment, yes.
In other news, we have been given the option of taking a Voluntary Exit Package prior to some reorganization that's about to occur. We also have to take a 1/2 day and do a personal development course. And another 1/2 day course on privacy and handling sensitive information.
I'm not sure what to worry about first - being felled as a result of other people not washing their hands, a random germ, an infected bird, expulsion from the building or just good old compromising someone else's sensitive information or my own.
Heath Ledger – How hard can it be to mumble and not show any emotion for a couple of hours? I do it every day!
Felicity Huffman – Is it really that tough to take an ugly girl and make her pretend she’s a pre-op transsexual? Picture Dennis Quaid in that mousy wig and you've got yourself an acting coup.
Catherine Keener & Philip Seymour Hoffman in The 40 Year Old Pithy Homosexual or Stand By Your Man – loved you both even if I’m not sure which one was the top.
Amy Adams – why you’re just as cute as a little Junebug!! Plus you sort of remind me of my favourite Tanya.
Terrence Howard – Hustle and Flow this. You’ve got that weird eye thing going on so I’m scared to watch your movie so far.
Jake Gyllenhaal -- Only supporting actor? Give the boy his break back. It’s his mountain that gets broke in’nt?
Occasionally, I take an earlier train to work and there are fewer people. Fewer people equals fewer mindless exchanges. Or so you would think.
A fellow who puts me in mind of Gimli from Lord of the Rings sits down across from me. I've seen Gimli on my usual train but he's here today. Sitting down across from me.
Gimli: you're on the early train today
Me: yes I am
Gimli: me too
I had a hunch these tiny giants were more astute than they were letting on.
Luckily for me and quite unbelievably, he pulls out a book and appears to begin to read, sparing us any further adventure.
One brain to rule them all.