The bleak-hearted bastards hide in their blackened glass towers
And completely cut off from the world down below
So what can they know?
What can they know?
So, we’re in the middle of Wedding Season right now and I’ve got some issues with the entire production and the way people pull them off. If any of you have done these things in your weddings then hopefully you won’t repeat the mistakes if you ever get remarried, or when your kids get married, or for any other type of big festive event you may plan.
Be considerate of your guests I went to a wedding yesterday, on a Friday beginning at 4PM. Kind of an odd time for a wedding, no? Entirely inconvenient for any guests have those silly little things called jobs to worry about, especially because the ceremony was being held at an old mill about an hour outside of the city. Oh wait, did I say an hour? Make that two and a half hours because of Friday traffic out of the city during cottage season – we were gridlocked the entire way and never once got the speedometer up past 25mph (50kmh for us Canadians). Luckily we had left two hours early because I’m a paranoid nut and I figured there would probably be traffic, but we were still half an hour late, and Georgina had to miss a half-day of work for it. I only work half-days Fridays so fortunately my new job was not inconvenienced, but it still wasn’t very good planning. I will say, however, that it was a lovely wedding, we had a great table, and everything else went off beautifully and the couple looked amazing!
Trying to be too pretty can be pretty ugly I was at my cousin Amy’s wedding last Sunday. It was one of those grandoise over-blown affairs – over 300 family, friends, and well-wishers to cheer them on. Again, Amy and Steve themselves looked wonderful, and the all-black tuxes and acoutrements with just a dash of colour in the ties and lapels for the groom and groomsmen was a cool touch, but the decoration was just too far over the top. The centrepieces were these huge floral and branchy arrangements that seemed to explode out of the tops of their five-foot vases, so not only could we not see the people across from us, but those of us who were even moderately tall had freaking twigs poking our heads all night! My cousin Jennifer almost lost an eye, for heaven’s sake! It was not a pretty centrepiece – it was a nightmare like something out of a Neil Gaiman comic and a complete hazard! And as you spend a great deal of your night at your table eating and drinking and catching-up with family you haven’t seen in years, these gargantuan centrepieces were a horrible obstacle and they entirely tainted an otherwise lavish and fun wedding, and by the end of the night we were all cursing them as we tried to get sap from the branches out of our hair.
Know when to shut up Speeches are an accepted part at weddings, and a lot of people do find them enjoyable and it allows the wedding party to really shine. All great and good, but you have to know when enough is enough and what’s appropriate for family and what isn’t, and at every wedding I’ve ever been to there has always been that one speechmaker – usually the best man, but not always – who just takes it a little too far. At yesterday’s wedding it was actually one of the bridesmaids who put on a big show of her tears and emotion, but it was totally fake sentiment and even the bride’s senile old grandmother could tell. It was just so over-done and over-dramatic – you’d think her dog had just been run over by a car. Twice. And oddly through all these tears her makeup did not run. Not a smidge. She is known for being a drama-queen, and we all suspect that she just wanted her own moment on her friend’s big night. Some people use the speeches for that. Then there are the inside jokes. We get it, you’re friends and you’ve done some crazy things together, but you’re making a speech. As in, you’re addressing a room full of people, the majority of which are not in on your inside jokes. That’s what makes them inside jokes, right? Speeches full of inside jokes are the worst because you’re immediately alienating your entire audience if they have no idea what you’re talking about. Of course, what’s worse is when they explain the inside joke because quite often most family members don’t want to know about that time the bride gave her first blow-job back in high school and didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to bite down on it, or the time the groom got so drunk he ended up having unprotected sex in a bathroom with some fat whore from the bar. I’m sure Aunt Bella from the old country really needed that piece of information to take back to the old folks home with her. One time I was at a wedding and the groom actually told us about how the first time he and his bride had ever fooled around she had gotten her period while they were making out but was too embarrassed to tell him for some reason and he decided to finger her and came up with a fistful of blood and asked her why she had ketchup in her pants. I’m serious.
It’s not just about The Envelope When my sister got married a few years ago it was an extremely over-blown occasion with family from all over the world coming in and too much lavishness in the size and scope of the whole thing. I don’t know if it was the biggest wedding I’ve ever been to, but it was for sure one of them and my parents will be paying it off until the day they die at which point I’ll probably inherit their debts. But that’s neither here nor there. At one point during the rehearsal I was just getting so frustrated with all the pretentious bullshit pomp and circumstance that I said something about the whole point of the ceremony, the celebration of Love, seemed eclipsed to me. It seemed more about the show than the emotion, you know? And that irked me. It really riled me up. My sister and her husband had been together for ten years before they got married, and they got married the day before the tenth anniversary of their first kiss, and do you know what? The only person who remembered that fact was me. Not even Erin and Darren themselves had realized that until I pointed it out to them, so caught up in planning and preparations for their huge display were they. So at the rehearsal I was a little put off by the whole production of it all, and the wedding planner approached me and told me I needed to try to sparkle a little bit more, and I voiced my concerns that the celebration of love we were supposed to be putting on seemed more like it was just showing off and trying too hard to be the biggest and the best, and this wedding planner said something to me that put me off getting married forever. I mean that. She said, “Silly boy, havng a wedding has nothing to do with love. It’s all about the envelope.” I must be pretty stupid or ignorant or something because I looked at her blankly and asked, “The envelope?” “Yes darling,” she informed me condescendingly, “the envelope with the check in it. It’s all about the envelope. You spend this money so that you can make money from your guests.” I was sickened by that, and even more disheartened when I saw how much money my sister and her husband made off their wedding because in a way it proved her right. I mean, yeah, my sister and her husband love each other and are still together and have two amazng kids who are the real celebration of their love, but to me a wedding isn’t supposed to be about making money or putting on a show, it’s supposed to be two people surrounded by the people from their lives whom they love and are important enough to them to share in an intimate and deeply emotional public declaration of love and commitment.
The best wedding I’ve ever been to was my cousin George’s to his beautiful Nancy. It was on a Sunday morning in my aunt’s back yard, twenty guests, a small buffet table, and two people who truly loved each other surrounded by the people that they loved. It was romantic, it was underplayed, it was beautiful. We weren’t there to drink or dance or listen to endless speeches – we were there to take part in their love and it was perfect.
So, okay, yay! I got the job! Hurray! Hurrah! Huzzah! Hooplah! Very excited, very nervous, extremely anxious, a little nauseous, and all-around anticipatory for the impending, much-welcomed change. Or again, in other words, Yay!!!
As for the hallway, it now smells like the sanitary cakes they put in mens room urinals as they have huge bricks of the stuff set up all over the place. All of the neighbours are now friends, like we’ve all bonded over some tragic experience, like we’re the survivors or something. We give each other knowing nods as we pass on the street now, doors are held more often and eye contact is held a little longer. It’s kind of silly, actually. The other night we were out across the street for sushi and Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, who lives on the third floor of my building, and his date came and joined us to talk about The Death. It was weird. Kim’s always been a nice guy, but it was a little surreal to be discussing the sad suicide of Zombie-Girl with the guy who wrote Patio Lanterns and Might As Well Go For Soda…
As usual I find myself surrounded by drama not of my own making. This is a bit of a story so I hope you’ve got a couple of minutes to read, and I’ll pay it off for you by giving you some hopeful news after the Story of the Smell. Yes, this is a story about a smell, a horrible and most foul odor that started stinking up our hallway last Saturday. As I tell you this story, please keep in mind how hot, humid, and disgustingly muggy its been all week, okay? Because the conditions are important.
At first we thought the smell was someboy’s garbage going rotton from the heat, but by Sunday afternoon the stench had grown excessively strong so I began to worry that a pipe burst and they were going to have rip up our whole floor to get at it. Bob, the divorcee in 206, called the landlady to complain because the reek was most powerful as you approached his apartment.
On Monday the smell was truly unbearable, so I called as well, and I guess a few other neighbours did as well because she came over that afternoon and started knocking on our doors to discuss the smell. She’s a very sweet Ukrainian lady in her late 40’s – I call her The Mom Of The Building – but she is a little lazy when it comes to answering calls for help. Absent from the meeting in the hall were apartments 202 and 207, both in the immediate vicinity of what seemed to be the source of the smell. 207 was the bachelor I lived in last year, and without air-conditioning it gets insanely and oppressively hot – I lost ten pounds last summer just from sweating, and I’m sure that’s what led me to getting so sick last September. Obviously one of those two apartments were the cuprit, but Faye said there was nothing she could do – she couldn’t enter the apartment without permission unless the circumstances dictated an emergency, and she didn’t think that old trash could be considered an emergency and didn’t want to risk her job over it.
By Tuesday the aroma was so powerful that I literally would take a deep breath before I exited my apartment and sprint the hallway and fly down the stairs and not breathe again until I was out on Spadina – the smell was so premeating that it had reached the first floor, and it was truly a smell unlike anything you could possibly imagine. Try to picture horrible diarrhea after bad Indian food mixed with rotton eggs and cabbage left out in the sun for a week and you still won’t come close to understanding how awful it truly was. Abbey and Shane were supposed to come over to play that night and I told them not to because I didn’t want them breathing it – that’s how bad it was.
On Wednesday I had a job interview (more on that in a minute) and when I left the apartment even holding my breath didn’t help. The stench had taken over every molecule of oxygen on the entire second floor – I could feel it making its way into the fibres of my suit, but luckily I had thought ahead and brought my bottle of Cool Water out with me. I sprayed some directly under my nose and ran like the wind down to the basement. As I drove off, I called Faye the landlady and told her I was going to call the health department because this was just ridiculous. She told me that she’d already called them and that they would get to the bottom of it by the time I got home.
Two and a half hours later, after one of the best interviews of my life, I came home and plugged my nose as I made my way up the stairs. I was greeted by the sight of three EMT’s who promptly slammed the door of 207, my stuffy old apartment, as I approached. I just looked at them and I figured it all out instantly. One of them nodded at me and I just said, “Oh.” I sort of fumbled my way down to the end of the hallway to my new apartment 204 (its been seven or eight months, but I still consider it the new place), sort of poured myself inside through smallest crack I could allow in the door, and found Georgina sleeping on the couch. “Put some clothes on,” I told her bluntly, “I’ve got to get out of here. Zombie-Girl killed herself.”
That was the nickname we used for the girl who moved into 207 after us as she always wore black and carried a constantly sullen expression on her face, answering every hello politely, but with a deep sigh that indicated that she carried the weight of the world on her mind. She was nice enough, kept to herself mostly, and just always seemed very sad, like she was walking through life without seeing it or living it, like she was half-dead, like she was a zombie. We went outside and smoked cigarettes for a few hours while the cops and the coroners did their thing. Being one of the few people who knew her, I made a statement for the police, telling them everything I knew about her, including her now sadly ironic nickname (never spoken to her face, mind you, just how were referred to her amongst ourselves – we have names for everyone in the building). I thought her name was Lorraine, actually, and I’m sure I called her that on more than one occasion. In fact, her name was Janet, and that makes me feel like an asshole.
The cop told me she’d been in there for about six days, just baking in the sun with her windows shut. He didn’t tell me how she did it – I did ask even though I didn’t really want to know, damn that morbid curiosity! – but he said she was really messy and told me that he actually puked a little when they found her, dead and bloated and messy and alone. Always alone. She was about 30, a grad student at York in what I think was Chemical Engineering, but for all I know it could have been Medieval History. I can’t imagine, six days without somebody missing me. No family calling or worrying, no friends dropping by to see if you were okay after not hearing from you for a few days, no boyfriend or lover reaching out with tenderness. Just alone. She had no family, she had no emergency contact listed, and the only visitor we’d ever seen stopped coming by about three months ago. She had no one. I’m so sad over it; she was truly all alone. And now she’s gone, and the smell, now on Friday night, seven days since we first breathed the last whiff of Sad Janet, even the smell is gone, her name is no longer on the building directory, and short of the small strip of white police tape on her door, there is no physical memory left of the woman named Janet. I think I’m going to dedicate my book to her since it’s all about Hope and New Beginnings from Tragic Endings.
Anyhow, the interview!!! It was with an extremely well-respected publishing company to be the Product Manager of their line of legal books, and I was nervous as shit going into it. I really need this job because I need to be able to afford some changes that are necessary in my life for my own future happiness (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about), and this job will more than allow for my comfort and thensome. It’s exactly the same job I did in Florida, except for instead of transmitting eighty projects a year it would only be three, and I’d be the manager, overseeing a team of six people. It’s the perfect job for me and for all the skills I acquired before Brunico ran me down. I gained a lot of confidence during the interview and I was just my friendly old self, not trying to be too arrogant or impressive. I found myself really comfortable because the environment was just so familiar to me – it felt great! After meeting with the HR woman I was taken to the office of the managing editor, and we hit it off like old friends! We were chatting about Superman and Harry Potter and a little about my management style, of course, and she told me to hang on a second, left the room for a minute, and then came back to fetch me to meet the VP. I was not expecting that and started getting scared that I was getting too comfortable and might say something stupid, but I guess it went off pretty well.
The VP and the managing editor, told me to go wait out in the hall for a minute, so I did, and as I was out there I caught this cute brunette girl staring at me, so I smiled and she smiled back, and I quickly and shyly looked away, not wanting to seem like a gawker or a creep or something. The managing editor came out and thanked me for coming in and told me they’d be in touch and that they wanted to hire within the next week. I got a call on Thursday from the HR woman who told me it was down to myself and one other candidate and asked if I would mind coming in today (Friday) or Monday. I picked Friday and let her know I was really excited. I went in for 9:30 this morning and met with three people of the team I’ll be managing if I get the position, and one of them was the brunette girl, with a cute British accent to boot!!! That obviously made me very happy – I’m a nut, I know. They were having the team interview the two final candidates so that they could have a say on who they thought would be the best fit to lead them, and I think I did a pretty good job with them this morning, lots of laughter and lots of smiles and god vibes throughout the room, so cross your fingers, light a candle, and say a lot of prayers for me, okay? I desperately need this job. This is the right job for me and will totally have me back on my career-path if I get it. I’ve been petitioning God non-stop since Wednesday, something I never ever do, redoubling me efforts today. I’m totally anxious and I NEED THIS FUCKING JOB!!!
I must preface this by saying that I love my sister dearly, but man can she be a total fucking bitch when she wants to be, which sadly is more often than not. A little back-ground – she is just less than two years older than me and we’re very close, and a couple of years ago she started having kids. I loved her kids so much that I packed up from Florida and moved back to Toronto to be with them so that I could watch them grow and be the best uncle that the world has ever seen. They are my favourite people on Earth, they are my heart and my soul and my very reason for being, and I never knew love until I knew them.
I do everything for them and with them. I’m over there babysitting at least three times a week, I take them on outings, we play in the park, I tell them stories, I change diapers, I do it all. I am the all-purpose, multi-faceted, Super Uncle, noted by some as being a third parent to these two wonderful little munchkins, something I am proud of being. I do not feign away from disciplining them when the need arises, but I will always tell them why and explain why some choices are not good, hoping that they will learn the lesson needed from them before they go and make the same bad choice again and get hurt or worse.
Now, as Allison or anyone who knows my sister will tell you, my sister is a spoiled little brat. Somehow I avoided the same fate (probably because I was never very argumentative kid and learned how to take “no” for an answer very early on, though “no” is rarely something I say to anyone in need). My sister takes advantage of my good nature and my love fo her kids, but I don’t usually mind because I love spending time with them and making them laugh and feel safe and protected. Sometimes, though, she goes too far. Since I’ve been unemployed my sister has been calling upon my services more and more, and if I ever deign to say “no” or that I’m busy I receive a tongue-lashing and belittling fit for the ages. Fine, my sister’s a mean bitch and always has been, so I can handle that.
Last night was my brother-in-law’s sister’s wedding. It was a fun time and she looked beautiful, and the wedding was very nice as far as grand overblown parties go. However, I was invited as a guest, not a babysitter. In fact, the grandparents hired a babysitter to come take care of the kids so that the adults could celebrate without distraction. Well, just before dinner started, my sister told me I needed to take Shane, my nephew, home as he was purely exhausted. I asked if I could wait at least until after I ate as I hadn’t eaten since morning and it was now past eight in the evening, and she argued at first, but then told me to eat quickly. If any of you know me, you know that “eat quickly” are not words that go together in my world. In fact, I have often been called The Slowest Eater On Earth by more than one person. But my nephew was in need, so I mowed down the chicken and the salad without barely a taste of it actually hitting my palate, and off I went to take Shane home where my aunt was waiting for him, hoping against hope that I’d make it back in time for dessert.
I got him upstairs, changed his diaper, made him some milk, read him a story, and kissed him goodnight. I got back to the wedding within about half an hour, but I missed the dessert and the coffee – the much-needed coffee. Bummer, but whatever. For my nephew it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
I got a call from my sister this morning. I didn’t answer because I was in the shower, and the message she left me was literally from Hell!!! Apparently, Shane took his diaper off in the night and pooped all over the place. How this is my fault I do not know, but she raged in blame for about five minutes on my voice-mail! All I did was try to help. I mean, I didn’t have to leave the party to take the kid home. He’s not even my freakin’ kid, right? I did it out of love and the fact that I enjoy helping people, especially my family. I spend so much time with the kids that people often think I’m their parent, and that’s fine with me because I couldn’t imagine loving my own kids more than I love these two – they are my kin, albeit slightly removed as I’m not their father, but with how lazy their parents are when it comes to their involvement with them, I may as well be. I’m the one who puts them to bed three nights a week, I’m the one who spends days and weekends with them while their parents play golf or go get manicures or whatever else it is that they do, and I never complain about any of it. I also never ask for anything in return. Not food, not money, not anything. My payment is getting to spend time with the kids.
So, why am I getting yelled at because he took his diaper off? Why do I get screamed at and cursed on those rare occasions when I actually have something else to do? How can people be so ungrateful as not to see the bigger picture and realize that they’ve basically got a Nanny in me, and then yell at me for the help that I give if one little thing goes awry?
So, my point is this, and my advice to any readers is as follows: Remember to be grateful for the help you’re offered, because a bad attitude will make those offers rare. If it weren’t for my niece and nephew my sister would never get away with treating me the way she has been lately, and if she keeps it up the ones who will end up getting the short end of the stick will be them, for if Uncle Jamie contiues to get abused he will have no choice but to pull himself out of the situation until Mommy’s moods are remedied.
So, a bomb was dropped yesterday at 4:30 – our department had been declared redundant and sorry Jamie and Lennan, but we’ll see ya and we wouldn’t want to be ya. Three weeks severance and about $400 owed in commissions and an offer of reference. Not too bad, I guess – it could certainly have been worse, I suppose…
I awoke this morning with a feeling of extreme emancipation. I didnt realize how badly the drab gray hallways and dull dead decor had been effecting me. I kinda missed my streetcar ride, sure, but sleeping in an extra hour more than made up for it. Went to the couch, smoked a joint, came and did a little MySpace for a second and then went outside and read my book in the park – it’s the first day, I’m allowed to decompress before I start my search in earnest, right? I’ll start preparing to apply tomorrow, and by Friday resumees will be flying across the city at breakneck speed!
I came home after a while, smoked another fatty, and explained to my sister upon her sixth phone-call of the day that my new circumstance didn’t suddenly mean I had the time to help her stave off the boredom of her everyday – I needed time to think, to reflect, to be alone. Of course, no sooner had she hung up on me when the phone rang again. Georgina – bored at work, coming home. So much for Jamie alone… I spent my last moments alone responding to correspondence and good wishes from many of my friends from that place, that awful place from whence I had been freed… I’m really going to miss a lot of those great people, though… People totally make the job worthwhile, or, I suppose you could say that good company makes for a good company…
Took a long nap, ate, snacked a lot, smoked too many cigarettes and too much pot, and that was the first day… Lost rocked my world once again, but I won’t say why in case Shannon reads this and hasn’t seen it yet…
First of all, for somebody who claims not to be religious, I sure post a lot about religion, don’t I?
Second of all, I’ve been awake for an exceptionally long time today already and am very tired, so if this doesn’t make a lot of sense please just nod and smile and make me feel like I’m still human, okay? Thanks.
So, last week my cousin and his wife brought new twins into our family, Elle and Cole. Cole being a boy, and us being Jewish, meant that there would probably be a bris coming. Probably because my cousin’s wife is not Jewish and therefore neither is the baby since Judaism is a matrilineal faith, but I guess they decided to just cover all of their bases, so yesterday I got the call – the bris would be Monday (this morning) and could I please be there by seven in the morning. Well, I love my cousin like a brother, so of course I was there.
Now, for those of you who may not know what a bris is, it’s the ritual circumcision that every Jewish male must have done in order to be a Jew. I’m not going to get into the history or reasons for the ceremony because there are lots of them and they’re kind of beside the point of my story (if I even have a point), and frankly, I don’t have enough energy to get into telling you right now. You’ve got the internet – if you’re curious, look it up.
Anyhow, we get there good and early and my sister and the kids got there a few minutes after I did, and of course Shane, my two year old nephew, ran right to me and collapsed in my arms, taking a quick nap on my shoulder – simply the best feeling in the world for this doting uncle and it totally made being awake so early totally worth my while. But I’m already losing the point….
So, about half an hour later the bris got under way. I think it’s important for you to know that I’ve been to a total of three brises in my life – once for my buddy’s twin sons and I stood in the back and paid as little attention as I could, and of course my own, but I don’t remember that one because I was only eight days old and drunk. That’s right, drunk at eight days old. I said it and I stand by it. I have never been to another bris except for the three I just mentioned – not even my loving nephews! I just think they’re kinda gross and fucked up and it’s not something I really felt the need to see. In fact, I actively avoided seeing a circumcision and planned on carrying that behaviour on for the rest of my life.
I failed in that plan.
So, the bris gets underway and little baby Cole is propped up on his little pillow with the Moyle (see: Butcher) hovering over him and saying some prayers, incantations, whatever you religious people call them. Shane decides he really wants to see it happen, so I end up standing right up at the front with the little dude leaning out of my arms to get the best possible view. Great – exactly what I want to see on a Monday morning when I should still be sleeping. But for Shane I’ll do anything, so there we were, bird’s eye view. The Moyle did his thing and his rituals and then got to the pulling and ultimate separation of the foreskin. I was disgusted. Shane was fascinated. Then began the questions:
“What are they doing to the baby, Uncle Jamie?” He’s having his bris, Shane.
“Did they do that to me, Uncle Jamie?” Yes Shane, they did. They do it to all Jewish babies.
“Did they do that to you, Uncle Jamie?” Yes they did, Shane. A very long time ago.
“Did it hurt, Uncle Jamie?” I’m sure it did, Shane. I’m sure it did.
“I don’t want them to hurt the baby, Uncle Jamie!” It’s okay, Shane. He’ll be okay. I promise.
How do you explain these things to a two year old? Who decided that was an appropriate thing for a two year old to see? How do you explain the religious tradition to a baby? How do you explain the historical hygenic reasons to a child who has never seen the desert? And most importantly, where did my sister and her husband take off to while Shane had all these questions to ask? Oy vey…
Anyhow, just for the record, I will never stand near the front for another bris as long as I live. Even if I have my own son – I’m not even going to be in the freakin’ rooom, man. All that blood out of a wee little wee-wee! Poor baby… Luckily for Cole he was drunk the whole time, so like every Jew before him, he will have no recollection of The Cut.
And my own personal quote from my experiences today: I’m exhausted and disgusted all at the same time.