Sociology’s forays into affirmative action have succeeded well enough that our hallways are peopled mostly with women. Our washroom, however, is exclusively male. The carpet leading toward it – past my door – has been beaten flat by the purposeful men of nearby Anthro. Each negotiates the twice- or thrice-daily greetings this affords in his own fashion. One nods abstractedly. Another pretends we’ve never met. It makes me miss “Edward”, now retired, who used to exchange Latin tags with me on his tos and fros. “Sic transit gloria mundi,” I might say, and he’d return with a random, gleeful “Ecce homo!”
Deep in the garden, I was well-hidden. That’s when I overheard Joyce. Boy, did she hate dogs. It was only through a thin guise of familial rectitude that she tolerated Snickers, her great-aunt’s moribund poodle. With auntie freshly dead and the pooch dispatched she spoke with impunity. “I don’t miss those little turds, that’s for sure!” She didn’t specify whose turds but rather turned the conversation to me. “My neighbour goes and takes all these dogs away from Indians and finds homes for them here . . .”
I bit my trowel.
“Really, I’ll take my hat off to her . . .” she demurred, bare-headed.
August’s sand has snuck under the door and settled itself in the corner. The stove’s sticky from September’s chicken, and pots of unexpired goods keep naively fresh. She’s gone, but only just, so the rooms still vibrate with the newly-empty. Clacking puzzle pieces, an iced and boozy tipple melting in a highball glass and a charm bracelet’s silvery scrape on wood, like a handful of tight-fisted but tumbling coins, all betray the ghostly remains of happier days. It is such an odd time of life; not dead but not really alive. A still life, waiting. And everybody else waits, too.
NHL Commissioner Patrick Bateman today upped the ante in the league’s lockout of hockey fans, calling their demands “unrealistic and naïve.” The NHL is demanding that fans accept a long-term expectations cap, and is pushing hard for acquiescence to the owners’ agenda: an overpriced, overlong regular season of largely meaningless games, the embrace of the neutral zone trap, and playoffs that last until the start of hurricane season. Observers expect fans to roll over and capitulate quickly. A fan spokesman confirmed this, saying he does not envision strike action. “The only fight we want,” he said, “is on the ice.”
My Dell Latitude E6510 laptop, I am convinced, was 99% cat in an earlier life. Calculating, passive aggressive, needy, needling, and fuck-you indifferent. Which makes me, in an earlier life, a would-be animal abuser. (“Would-be” because, even in my ire, I realize that slamming 6.6 pounds of “durability, security, and performance” into the wall won't help.)
The other 1% is pure heart-melting dog, showing up right when I hit “Turn off computer." The screen starts fading hopefully to grey, like a dog with its leash in its mouth, asking if I really mean it. And each time, yes, I do.
Malala Yousafzai is a fourteen year old schoolgirl. For this, she was yesterday shot twice by the Taliban in Pakistan. As I write, she is in critical condition. Whichever God you pray to, pray for her.
How has it come to this – that attending school can mark a child for execution? A spokesman for the Taliban (“the students”) says “Let this be a lesson.” Yes, a lesson, but not the hateful one he draws. “Malala is my daughter,” says Pakistani Prime Minister Ashraf. “She is Pakistan’s daughter.” And she is my daughter, too – and yours, if you believe in humanity.
In Kindergarten we were told we could use the paints anytime we wanted for our craft projects, provided we cleaned everything up afterwards: the brushes, the paint pots, the water jar, and any other mess that we made.
My solution was to not make a mess in the first place.
I stopped using paint and fell back on crayons for everything. Crayons were neater; and we each had our own set, so I would never be saddled with anyone’s mess but my own.
The question is: did school make me this way or did I have these hang-ups going in?
The recliner faces the flickering SONY. At its left a waste-paper basket and
arm caddy holding a TV Guide, Kleenex and a back-scratcher. At the right
a side table with more Kleenex, a glass containing manicuring tools, gum, a pen
for the crossword, clown-button remotes and the phone. A dish supporting a
cemented lump of peppermints promises a taste somewhere between sidewalk chalk
and the Eucharist. This is the command centre for the elderly. We may progress from highchair to school desk, Poäng to Eames, but we end up here, camouflaged in an acrylic afghan and battling our own mortality.