Saturday, July 29, 2006

And like that... *poof*... he's gone

I'm going away on work for the next two and a half weeks, and I'm not really sure how much blogging I'll be able to do while I'm gone. It could be much more, or none at all. I have no idea, but at least you won't be surprised if my lack of posting continues well into August.

Andrea and I spent the past week out at the cottage, visiting with family. We spent a few days with my little niece (and her exhauted but proud parents), and managed to get a few visits in with my cousin, Dustin, and his girlfriend. Dustin had been teaching English in Russia for several years, and I wasn't expecting him until August, so his visit was a particularly nice surprise.

Apart from that, we didn't do a hell of a lot. We hung out on the porch a great deal, and did quite a bit of reading. And we went swimming. And barbequed. But that was about it. Then again, that's all summer should be about, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the vacation was punctuated by the "loss" of my credit card. While it never physically left my possession, someone managed to clone my Visa and went on a miniature rampage. When the dust finally settled, they'd racked up several hundred dollars worth of charges, and I needed to get a new card. What was particularly disappointing was the fact that they spent all the money at Esso, McDonald's, and Subway. If you're going to commit theft, could you at least do something cool with the card? Like, buy a boat or something? Seriously. McDonalds and Esso? That's just sad.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


There have been moments recently when I can feel myself being sucked into the rushing river of Responsible Adulthood. For each time that I find myself resisting the trappings of late-twentysomethingness, I feel irrestibly lured by a siren song that offers promises of the ability to experience non-disposable furniture and covered parking. I am a man divided, with a ragged backpack in one hand and an employee health card in the other.

For every friend that has recently bought a condo, there is another paying for a hostel with freelance newspaper stories about Australian dogs, dressed up like Elvis. For each cramped Korean apartment, there is an Ikea bedroom set. Despite my illusions to the contrary, it's no longer the waiting game. The kids are picking their teams, because recess will be over all too soon. House prices are skyrocketing, and biological clocks tick on. Time is of the essence.

The problem is that there is no right answer. There's nothing to say that choosing to do a stint in the real world needs to end with a house in the suburbs and a loveless marriage punctuated by ungrateful children, nor do we know if we'll have any more success finding ourselves in the snow-drenched peaks of the Andes than we would in the checkout line at Loblaws.

Instead, we must rely on our sense of better judgement. This is the same sense of better judgement decided our career at age 17. I think we all know how well that's turned out for everyone.

This would be bad enough, but society has also instilled in us a fierce sense of irrational competitiveness. Not only are we concerned with finding enlightenment and managing our low monthly payments, but we want be most damned enlightened person out there, with the lowest freakin' monthly payments this side of December. And we want it right now.

It's not really anyone's fault. That's just how information works, these days. It's not something that you have to ask for any more. It's just there, whether you want it or not. It's like working alongside the pitched hum of a dying flourescent bulb, or trying to fall asleep with your skin pressed against the flower-covered steel-wool dust cover in a cheap motel. You might as well learn to like it, because you don't exactly have much choice in the matter.

Once upon a time, you were considered to be a true person of intellect if you understood every major scientific, theological, and metaphysical theory. Nowadays, there's more information zipping through the air around you in a single second than you could likely learn in an entire lifetime. Why bother seeking things out for yourself, when it's this hard just keeping up? Who needs to climb a hill to see what's on the other side, when all you need to do is punch it into Google Maps? Especially if all it turns out to be is another set of Big Box stores?

For a generation that's seen everything, often beamed directly into the comfort of our own homes, nothing's exciting anymore. Our frontiers, once dominated by hard-fightin' cowboys, are now the playground of wealthy oligarchs, willing to pay king's ransoms to experience one of the few things they haven't already tried. Fifty years ago, to have finished high school and own a house was to be the model of success. These days, that's barely enough to mark you as one of the herd.

Hence, the rush. If we're going to get out there, we need to do it sooner rather than later. There's scores of people lining up to be dedicated and/or adventurous, and they're all chomping at the bit to prove that they're more dedicated and/or adventurous than we are. If we don't move fast, we're not going to get there until all the cubicle-berthed orthopedic chairs are filled, and the last pygmy village is worshiping their heathen gods under the dull glow of the lights in a Walmart parking lot.

So, did you make your choice?

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I salute anyone who tries to carve out a different path, and who refuses to take their place as another cog in the Conformity Factory. I honour every one of you, those who celebrates their very limited time on this world without appology. Every time you turn off the television to actually speak to one another, or make someone's brow furrow with surprise or mild consternation, know that I am silently cheering for you.

Please, continue to ruffle feathers, be sarcastic, and draw fire from those who don't understand. And for those who manage to balance dedication and adventure on your own time and for your own reasons, know that you will always have special place in my heart.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Canada Day Weekend

Now that the weekend is over, we've finally had a chance to catch our collective breathes. Things started at around 5:00 pm Friday evening, and didn't really stop until late afternoon on Monday.

Aside from my house warming party, this is the first genuine full-fledged party that I've thrown at my place in years. That was the downside of the cottage (and certainly the downside of my in-city living arrangements) was that the amount of entertaining that I could do was limited to a small group of people.

And believe me, I missed entertaining.

I think I picked it up from my grandmother. She used to have us over for Sunday dinner, back when I was in university. I used to have to warn my friends to not have too much to eat during the first round, as there was always more and more food to be had. Grammy felt that she hadn't succeeded unless, when you walked out her front door, you waddled.

Lacking the requisite living space and maturity for dinner parties, I elected to focus my activities on more alcohol-related activities. The parties started small, but it wasn't long before they started to get crazier and crazier, and run later and later.

One of the traditions that we used to have for these parties was the infamous jug of Party Juice. For Party Juice, we would take an empty water cooler bottle, and fill it up with normal juice. We'd then proceed to add somewhere between 3 and 5 bottles of alcohol. We capped it off by putting a small hand pump on top of the bottle.

The result was an 18L jug of mixed drink.

Whatever wasn't drunk by the end of the night was stored in whatever containers we had on hand, and consumed as soon as possible thereafter. There was no particular motivation for that decision, but it seemed reasonable. We didn't know just how reasonable until the Bourbon bottle incident.

After one particularly raucous party, we ended up with too little room in the fridge to store all of the Party Juice. Inventive as we were, my housemate Chris and I elected to put what little Party Juice remained in a recently-emptied Bourbon bottle, which we put into Chris' closet and promptly forgot about.

Roughly a week later, Chris and I were going about our business when we heard a sudden *POP* *THWACK* and *CRACK*, which we rushed to investigate, only to be greeted by the smell of yeast and sour juice. As it turned out, the Party Juice had continued to ferment while it was in the Bourbon bottle, and the resultant pressure was too much for the cork to bear. Ergo, the cork was shot into the ceiling, and landed hard back on the floor once gravity won out.

We did what any pair of young men would do in similar circumstances. We drank our double-fermented, freshly carbonated mixture. As far as I can tell, neither of us went blind as a result.

In any event, this weekend saw not just one, but two parties, one of which was completely impromptu. The first lasted until roughly four in the morning, while the second lasted until about three. It was a good feeling, and I hope to be able to do something similar again in the near future.

There's more to this story (ie. what happened at the parties, and the rest of the weekend), but I've written enough for one day. The rest should be up in another day or so.