I haven’t blogged in so long that I don’t even know where to begin!  I guess the first thing that’s on my mind and annoying me is that we got a new computer last week.  We sort of had to because Georgina downloaded something that left a freaky virus on the old HP Celerion in the form of a growing squiggly black worm about a third of the way in from the left side of the screen.  It was so freaky that I just tossed the computer, whatever was on it be damned!  I’ve asked a few computer people about it and none of them have ever heard of such a virus, so…  Creepy.  Freaky.  And a great excuse to buy a new computer, so allow me to introduce my writing to an HP 2000 Laptop.  I just finished setting it up yesterday and so far, so good, but there are a few things I’m a bit persnickity about, first and foremost being that the keyboard is placed a little bit further in on the body of the thing than I’m used to, so I’m finding typing to be a little bit difficult and annoying as I keep hitting the wrong keys; also, the backspace and delete keys aren’t where I’m used to them being, so it’s making changing said typos and mistakes pretty frustrating.  My other problem with it is that the CD-ROM drive has a click-eject on the right side of the computer and it’s not very friendly or easy for a left-handed person to use; and it actually rips pretty slowly as well.  Other than those two problems (so far), this thing is fast and awesome and I love it.  The USB is crazy fast compared to the old computer – I transferred about ten albums over to my BlackBerry in less than a minute and a half!  I never knew life could be so good!

What else is going on…?  Georgina is getting baby fever, but we’ve decided to wait until we move in the late summer or early fall before we start seriously trying.  I want kids too, but I want to be able to afford them properly first.  I only started my new job three months ago (today, actually), and we’re just now getting back onto our feet.  My outstanding debts will all be paid off by the end of next month, and from there we’re hopefully going to be able to save like misers and get our lives on the track I’d like them to be on.  We both make pretty decent livings, and I’d like to be able to live a lifestyle that reflects that, as opposed to always playing catch-up.  Both of our families have lived their lives that way and I want to do it differenty.  I want to have something saved, some sort of plan, so that when the time comes in another twenty-five years or so I will be able to retire in style with a smile all the while, chile.  Still, a baby will be awesome…

My new job is pretty amazing.  When I first saw Up in the Air, I said, “I want to do that!” to which Georgina replied, “I don’t want you travelling that much; I’d rather you be Jason Bateman than George Clooney.”  She got her wish, and that’s exactly what I do: I send ‘Clooney’s’ out to support employees who are being let go by their companies.  It’s amazing, and nowhere near as depressing as the movie would make you believe.  In fact, it’s very nice to be supporting positive change for people who really need it, to be offering solutions to people who’ve had problems thrust upon them usually through no fault of their own, to be affecting people with light and hope in what could very well be their darkest hours.  It’s a great thing; a great feeling.  It’s also nice that it provides the opportunity to work from home when need be, such as today when the toilet broke and somebody needed to be here for the plumber (who just left, and also left a huge mess in the bathroom).

It’s a beautiful Spring day today – I’ve got the windows opened wide and my eyes on the true blue skies.

Facebook: Even More Addictive Than MySpace – 11/03/07

So, I got invited to open a Facebook profile thing yesterday.  It’s essentially the same as MySpace, but it sets up the friends and networks differently, and you have to use your real name, so it’s kind of amazing who you can find when you’re not hiding behind the “Jam Master” in your Jamie, if you know what I mean.  So far after only one day it’s been a great tool for procrastination and distraction.  Maybe a little too great, to be honest, but I’m sure it’ll lose its ‘new car smell’ soon.

If any of y’all are on it then let me know in a message and I’ll find you on there.  I’m not putting my Facebook URL on this thing because my last name is in it and I’ve got possibly paranoid privacy issues.

1999: The Year the Earth Quaked – 28/01/07

1999.  The End of the Century.  There was a palpable feeling that it was the end of the world as we knew it, and most people were not feeling fine.  True, technically it was not the end of the Century – that was still a year away – but it was the end of the 1900’s, the last moment of modern civilization’s teenage years.  The Apocalypse obsessed and the fanatics of the world certainly didn’t have to look hard to find things to shout about, and Mother Nature wasn’t doing much to refute their ill-spoken street corner prophecies.  The summer had been stiflingly hot, and the planet seemed to be in some sort of rebellion against itself and against the human infestation that had irrevocably blemished its beautiful surface.
1999 was the year that the human population surpassed six billion, a milestone in the books of evolution, survival, and species dominance if ever there was one.  Six billion people on the face of the Earth, six billion separate souls all sharing the same sun, stars, and moon.  Six billion sets of lungs breathing in the same air, six billion different brains thinking six billion different thoughts with six billion different wants and desires, six billion hearts and souls ready to love and lose.  Six billion is a near incomprehensible number when put in terms of human beings – we could never all go to the same party (not that we’d ever want to) because the only pavilion large enough to fit all of us is the planet itself, though if you look at it in that respect it could be said that we’re already all at the same party, we’re just hanging out in different rooms.  The actual date the population was said to have hit six billion was the Twelfth of October, a date that came with an ominous and odd coincidence as it was on that very same day that a man who could have potentially fathered more than his fair share of children if his claim of bedding over 20,000 women was true, NBA superstar Wilt “The Big Dipper” Chamberlain passed away of a heart attack at his home, another victim of a broken heart at the end of the world.  Some universal ironies are too funny to ignore, and one of history’s greatest lotharios passing away on the exact same day that the culmination of the act of love-making brought our planet to a population milestone seems a little too subtle yet attention grabbing not to mention if one is being mindful to always try to read the signs that lay hidden between the lines.
The achievement of six billion was not exactly celebrated; in fact, it set off more rumination about the ruination of the fragile ecosystem upon which we depend so dearly.  Six billion people, six billion souls.  One could almost picture the Earth brimming to capacity, our human infestation eating away at her beautiful façade at an ever quickening pace.  It gave the nay-sayers and population controlists more fodder for their fear-mongering, giving rise to some vocally praising China’s controversial decision implemented a decade earlier, at which time it was much maligned, to only allow one child per family in hopes of controlling their own booming population.  With the world’s population expanding at a rate of approximately 200,000 people a day it almost gave credence to their concerns, and leading up to the mythic End of the Century, it seemed the world had decided that maybe it was time to fight back, and where can one run when the attack is mounted literally through the ground beneath one’s feet?
The first big quake of the year came in January in Columbia, measuring a staggering 6.0 on the Richter Scale and leaving a thousand people dead in its violent wake.  That was the preliminary strike, then nothing major to be reported for a few months until August when the world shook again, this time in northwestern Turkey, rocking their rolling hills at an unimaginable 7.4, killing more than 17,000 Turks and injuring nearly 50,000 on top of that, sparking off the fear that the planet had had enough of us and was now actively ridding herself of our presence, a fear compounded by the superstitious and those who read their own signs in the universe by the fact that the Umbra of the August 11th solar eclipse was directly above Istanbul itself, as if God were making a statement, saying: “Here is my bull’s-eye, here is my mark, take heed and beware,” and not even a week later smote down His mighty judgment by lifting the Earth up and heaving it right out from under them, crumbling their cities and crushing their bones with what can easily be described as biblical wrath by those who believe.  And Turkey was just the beginning, as the nightly news in the following weeks seemed to have been taken from a page directly out of the Book of Revelation.  On September 7th, mythical Athens, the birthplace of modern thought and democracy, was laid low by a 5.9 magnitude rocker, miraculously taking only 143 lives in its wake, but leaving another 2000 broken and bloodied and many more forever altered and afraid.  Just a few weeks later on the 21st of September Taiwan was torn apart by the planet-rending 7.6 Richter Chi-Chi Quake, swallowing 2,400 people in its ravenous maw, followed two months later by a quake and a tsunami in Vanuatu and a final violent strike back again in Turkey with an Earth moving 7.2 magnitude, claiming another thousand lives and irrevocably injuring five thousand more.  It seemed that the very planet was tearing itself to pieces to free itself of its sickness, much like a bear in a trap will chew his own leg off rather than allow itself to die dishonourably. 
The growing pains that come with the aging of the world were showing in society too, so much so that there was almost a visible mark denoting the end of innocence and the start of something new, something somehow darker and more mature, something that we perhaps weren’t ready for until now, until we moved from 19 into 20, something so real and palpable that the whole world seemed to be teetering on the edge of a razor blade and could simply tip off and fall either which way with only the slightest of breaths to dictate its course, the wind from the beating of the wings of that long-fabled Amazonian butterfly who gave life to the so-called Chaos Theory.  Jim Morrison called it The World On Fire, and indeed there was a burning going on that left us all a little too hot under the collar for our own good.
1999 was the year of Columbine, that infamous massacre that many pinpoint as the moment we ended our innocence and entered this new phase, this dark place.  The power those two teenaged boys had, how they changed the world with their insanity, how they altered the way we look at our neighbours, our children, our selves.  We gave them just what they wanted, and maybe in some perverse way they gave us exactly what we needed, the ability to look past the surface and to try to recognize that deeper connection within each other’s eyes, an attempt to recognize compassion and communion at the end of the world.  We grieved together, we were angry together, we questioned the blatant viciousness and wondered how one could hurt so much as to wish that horror upon others, and we shook our fists to the skies over the utter illogic of it all.  Those two boys ignorantly and selfishly murdered their peers over slights against their egos, and in doing so changed the world and made us ashamed at the state of a humanity that we had allowed to sink so low, and they forced our self-awareness, because though it was those two boys who had taken that horrible action, we were the ones who let our children get to a place where we could let something so unimaginable happen.
American youth rallied against itself again in 1999 at the commercial cash-fest that was blasphemously touted as Woodstock 99, where Riots Rampage and Rape were the rallying cry rather than the Peace Love and Music of the original happening.  What should have been a celebration of rock n’ roll and togetherness turned into an angry ocean of mob violence, spurned on by the outrageous prices of a simple bottle of water, with the entire event ending in a mass burning and looting, leaving scores of injuries and sexual assaults left in its wake, all caught on video-tape to the syncopated rhythms of a backbeat narrow and hard to master. 
It was the end of the world as we knew it, and no, Goddamnit, we were definitely not feeling fine, nor anything close to it.  Our innocence was being ripped us one violent thread at a time and there was no sense to be made of any of it.  We were spectators to the painful pangs of history’s passing, watching the world as it grew, watching our own childhood passing away with it.  On May 10th, poet Shel Silverstein died, and the children within us all let out a cry as we suddenly had an answer to Shel’s old question.  We were living in a world that was aching and quaking, and now here we had arrived at last, and now we knew that we were there, and we could have told him if he had just lived a little while longer.  We could have filled him in and given him the answer.  We could have said, “This is it, Shel.  This is where the sidewalk ends.  The sidewalk ends right here.” 
Our innocence and childhood were officially over, and the world made sure we knew it.  Here we stood at the end of 19 and the beginning of 20, End of the Century, true, but also the Dawn of a New Age.  Something darker for sure, but as unknown and exciting as anything that came before it, and now it was time to step off the sidewalk and start cutting a new path into the untrodden future, because everything that ends is just the beginning of something else.

Filling the Page – 27/12/06

And now here I sit with a blank page before me.  I haven’t written a word for two months.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to – quite the contrary, actually – it’s just that I simply haven’t had the time, and when I have had a spare moment I haven’t had the energy.  It makes me quite sad, really.  My new job turned into something of a nightmare, but I’m not going to talk about that here except to say that I still maintain faith that everything will work itself out for the best.  And as for the monumental break-up, it didn’t take.  We’re still together and everything is going well.  Well enough, anyhow.  There are still some things that need to be sorted out and worked on, but we’re in a good place right now and she’s been an absolute rock for me during this insanely busy and stressful time and for that I couldn’t be more thankful or grateful.  Love is hard, but love is strong, and a love you can depend on is never wrong.
And now here I sit with a three-quarters blank page before me.  I want to write a page as a warm-up because I haven’t written for so long.  Not that I think warm-ups are required, but it’s nice sometimes to write some thoughts outside of that other thing I’m writing.  And maybe this so-called ‘warm-up’ is a procrastination of sorts to keep me from a task so daunting, so nearly finished with so much to wrap up and no time in which to give it the concentration it deserves, but there’s nothing wrong with procrastinating.  Procrastination is the act of putting off doing something that must be done, but that in and of itself says that the act being avoided will eventually get done, and what are a few random and wasted moments between brain-cells anyhow?
And now here I sit with a half blank page before me and Baby New Year rearing his shiny bald head.  What can I say about 2006 except for that, well, it pretty much sucked.  It was a dark year all around, with unfortunately many more lows than highs.  And not just for me, but for pretty much everybody I know.  I can’t think of a person in my life who had a truly great year.  I mean, some positive and amazing things happened, but there was a lot of shit that came with it all.  It was a very bittersweet year, with even the greatest things baring a tinge of heartache along with them.  I just can’t believe it’s over; its been such a long year and yet it feels like it only just began.  And how the hell is it 2007 already?  When did that happen?  Didn’t the Millennium, like, just happen a couple of years ago?  Has it really been seven already?  I look back to the last few years and I guess it has, but wow…  It’s been a fast decade with a lot of movement and learning.  My best decade yet, so far, and that’s saying something because I really loved the 80’s and 90’s.  2007, eh?  Alright then, bring it on.  I’m looking forward to it.
And now here I sit with a quarter of a blank page before me and I feel good and I feel better and I feel like I needed to do this.  I needed to just stretch for a second, like a runner before his daily jog, except instead of my legs I’m exercising my mind.  Sometimes I forget that I like writing and I feel like it’s a chore, like it’s something that I’ve got to do or else it won’t get done, but that’s not what it is at all.  I like writing because it’s fun.  That’s my idea of fun and that’s what makes me happy.  Taking a blank page and filling it with words, smearing it with thoughts, and smothering it with whatever I bloody-well want to just because I can.  It doesn’t matter what I say and I don’t care if people read it, though it’s nice to think that some do.  All that it’s about for me is taking the page and filling it and that’s all I need in life to make me smile.  I’m smiling now.

If You Thought My Other Blogs Were Long… – 22/10/06

Okay, time to tell you about the reunion because I just broke up with Georgina two and a half hours ago and I just finished crying and I’m going to force myself not to think about what a life-altering event I just thrust upon both of our lives.  I feel horrible.  I feel like throwing up.  I miss her so much already.  I hurt her in such an awful and shocking way because there was no other way to do it and I feel like shit and I feel like an asshole and I hope I didn’t just make a huge mistake.  I love her so much, but I just feel that our differences are just too big and we were starting tor resent those little things about each other that we’d been ignoring and letting build up for so long.  I love her so much, but we’re just not right for each other.  She’s my best friend – we’ve lived together for two years!  She never goes out – this is my first time without her besides one week when I went to Florida other than when I was at work!  This is crazy!  What have I done?  I just can’t think about it now, so on to the reunion…
The days leading up to the reunion were tense and busy, and compounded with all the pressure from work and my unease at home I really was set on not going to the reunion, but then I thought about it.  I really thought about it, and I realized that people would talk about it, and that I would have questions that nobody could ever answer to my satisfaction because all they could tell me about was their reunion experience, and I realized that in order to quench the inevitable curiosity that had obviously reared its ugly head that I would have to go and see it all for myself.  I decided that literally the night before, and the next task that lay before me was even more daunting: Convincing Myles to come with me.  That was going to be hard, and it proved to be just as difficult as I thought it would be.  All day Wednesday we called each other back and forth, arguing, and me dealing with his over-dramatic demeanor impatiently and with sharp persistence.  I told him that he was going, and that was final.  I told him that if he didn’t go he would have so many questions that would give him even more sleepless nights than the anxiety leading up to the big reunion had provided, and at about four o’clock he finally agreed.
I came home and Georgina was still at work.  She just got a new job and she’s been working really hard and I’m really proud of her, but I really don’t want to think about this right now as it’s started my leg to shaking so I’m just going to go back to the story.  God, I really feel freaked out by what I did right now… 
Anyhow, Myles came over at 6:30 and Billie came upstairs to meet us, and when Shawn finally arrived in at 7:15 we were off!  Traffic was shit, but we finally got there at about 7:45, and as we walked up my cell rang – it was Jason who had walked up as he lived much closer than the rest of us and was already there.  He wanted to see where we were and then passed the phone to Jyll W*****, but it was impossible for her to hear me over the din so we hung up.  We arrived at The Gypsy Co-op on Queen West and the sidewalk was full of smokers – lots of older people.  The reunion was for anybody who went to Thornlea in the 80’s, so that apparently covers a lot of ground.  We knew no one, or so I thought as I followed Billie through the door just as we lost Myles and Shawn to Bob M**** or whatever his last name was.  Anyhow, I lost Billie right away in the insane mash of people, so I went back outside to find Myles and Shawn since I wasn’t about to start pushing through that crowd alone.  It was literally shoulder to shoulder people – about 100 people in a space made for forty tops.  It was crazy.  I went back outside and they were still talking to Bob, who as it turns out is now a magician and he pulled some slight-of-hand with a twonie that was pretty impressive, I have to admit. 
After that things start to get a little bit confused and overwhelming.  I took Shawn and Myles back in and faced the throng, and it was hot, sweaty, and insanely uncomfortable.  I hate crowds that large – they freak me out, and I was already freaked out over the anxiety of whom I might run into, so this unmovable mass of humanity was a lot for me to handle at this point!  I pushed and angled my way towards what I believed to be Billie’s jewfro which stood out above the crowd since he is 6’3″, and all of a sudden it was faces and people and blasts from the past one right after the other in machine-gun rapid succession.  First it was Marla N****, mother of three still living off Willowbrook and exactly as I imagined her.  Next came Jyll with her great amazing smile exactly the way I remembered it, followed by a five-month pregnant Amy W**** who looked even more beautiful than she did when I met her on the first day of Grade Nine.  And wait!  I turn around and there’s Heidi K***** looking superhot with her hair cut short.  And holy crap, there’s Tammy S***** who just had twins with Andrew F*****!  And Melanie M***** who have me my most insulting compliment of the night.  I told her she looked exactly the same, to which she replied, “You don’t!  You look great!”  I wasn’t sure how to take that, so I just laughed and said thanks.  By now we were all totally over-fucking-whelmed, so it was time to go outside for a cigarette and to gather our senses and just cool off and get away from the humidity of the masses.
Outside the vibe was a lot less intense.  It was a cool night and there were cool people out smoking by the bus-stop, of course.  Yes, there really was a bus-stop.  Who did we see out there?  Well, weirdest and coolest for me was Sean G***** who I went to camp with – he looked good and was doing well, so that’s cool.  Then came Philthy whom I’ve just recently seen, so I knew to expect the shaggy hair and the handle-bar moustache accompanying a face that for all intents and purposes has not changed since we were eleven – I think he was even wearing the same brown leather jacket!  Who else was out there?  Wade, Noah, Jordan *****, Mike *****, Benjy S*****, Justin C*****, Rick and Ross D*****, my sister Erin and Wendy (inseperable, of course), some hot older blond woman who I kept making eye contact with and smiling (she was a friend of Wade’s, I think, or at least from his grade), and of course then came Michelle A***** and Natalie B***** to make my night completely surreal and hilarious.
Time to go back in.  Darryl G***** who smoked me up my very first time, Brad K***** whom I haven’t seen since he graduated and it was amazing to see him because we were pretty buddy-buddy back in the day (he looked great, in case you were wondering – Erin’s fixated on it, and how he kept telling her how good I looked all grown up and not mentioning how good she herself looked), Kim M***** who was my age and is now a proud and very funny lesbian and was there with her non-lesbian friends Marilyn B*****, Heather S*****, and Lori M*****, all of whom went to primary school with Billie, Philthy, and I.  At this point Jason disappeared never to return, going home to the wife and the dogs having seen enough of the surreality for one evening.  And it really was surreal.  I can’t tell you some of the people who were there.  Too many to mention, so many great ones. 
It was really crazy, and I was once again getting overwhelmed when I saw that Erin and Wendy had somehow, in true Erin and Wendy style, managed to find a couch against the wall with a table to put our drinks on.  I went over and sat with them for a little, when a tap came on my shoulder.  I turned around and it was Jen.  I stood up immediately and was slightly taken aback having forgotten how tall she is in heels, but I recovered quickly.  Our faces were close when we spoke so that we could hear each other above the roar of the crowd, not the mention the cacophonous clammering of my heart as it attemped to jump out of my throat.  It was weird.  I don’t even know what we said.  How are you?  We’re both fine.  Any kids?  I have none, she has two – a boy and a girl who are the same ages as Abbey and Shane.  You married Andrew?  Yeah, still married, and you?  Nope, unmarried but living with somebody, but honestly it’s not going so well (Why did I say that?).  So things are good?  Things are good.  When was the last time we spoke?  I miss you.  I miss you too.  I think it was, like ten years ago!  Yeah, it was ten years ago, 1996, right when I was breaking up with Christiana – that was a bad break-up.  Yeah, things got weird.  Yeah, I have to tell you, that was pretty fucked.  I know, sorry.  It’s okay, don’t worry, who cares; honestly I think I needed it to happen to help me find the strength to get through what came next in Colorado.  You were in Colorado?  Boulder, yeah, for a couple of months but things got really fucked up and that’s really a story for another time; I’ve got a lot of stories.  I’m sure you do; I’ve got stories too.  We should get together, you should call me, we should do breakfast or something; here take my card.  And that was that.  I gave her my card, we exchanged a few more words, and she went back to her friends.  I don’t expect her to call me, but it was nice that we spoke.  Honestly, I was just happy I got through the conversation with her without having a coronary.
And those were pretty much the highlights and the low-lights of the night.  I know there are a million people I’m not mentioning, like Sammy B***** or Debra G***** who I did not see but heard she looked great, same for Jodi B*****.  Darren and his friends went to Sean B*****’s house to prime, but the only ones who actually showed up were Darren, Darryl, Todd, and Oren.  Joey and Sean were supposed to be following in a cab right behind them, but they never showed up.  I was also hoping Sean W***** would show up, but he was nowhere to be seen either. 
At the end of the night I was talking to Darren about how crazy it all was when I once again locked eyes with that blond woman who was Wade’s age.  “Fuck it,” I thought to myself and walked up to her and said, “Hi, I’m Jamie.”  She told me that her name was Cori and that she was sure she was much older than me.  I told her I didn’t think she could be that much older, and besides, who cared how old she was because she was totally gorgeous?  She laughed and told me I was really cute, too, and gave me her card and told me to call her sometime.  I never will, of course, but it was a nice capper to a totally surreal and unexpectedly and surprisingly fun and interesting evening.  I literally had to pull Myles away when it was time to go.  Literally.  And that was the Thornlea Reunion ’06 as I experienced it.  Exciting, exhilerating, and exhausting.  I’m glad I went, but I didn’t need to stay any longer than I did.  My final thought on the night is that it was exactly was I expected it to be.  A lot of, “Oh my G-d, how are you?  I haven’t seen you since…,” with a kiss and a hug from people I hardly knew.  Except I did know them.  Everybody looked pretty much exactly the same, only, like I said before, a little bit bigger, a little bit swollen.
I hope you enjoyed that.  I’m going to go try to pass out now and not think about this devestatingly huge thing that I have done.  I feel so sick and awful.  Thanks for distracting me.

Ruinion – 10/08/06

So, it would seem that I’m now at that time in my life when my peer-group have started smelling the first few whifs of mid-life crisis.  And what is it that people do when they start feeling old and reflecting on those infamous Springsteen “Glory Days”?  They decide that it would be a good idea to attempt to relive those self-same Glory Days, hence the e-vite that showed up in my inbox a few weeks ago for an impromptu High School Reunion. 

Fucking hell…

First of all, I’m not going through a mid-life crisis right now.  My life is exactly where I thought it would be at this age (provided I lived past 27, which I obviously did).  I’m advancing in the career I knew from day one that I thought I’d have, I’m busy as hell at work but I’m happy about it, I’ve got amazing friends, and I’m just about right where I want to be in my life.  I still look, feel, and act young; that may be a problem for some, but I’ve got a good life so why spite me for it?  I’m just as mature and responsible as anybody, I’ve just taken a slightly different path – one that I would argue was smarter and healthier.  Sure I don’t have kids yet (as far as I am aware), and no I’m not married.  I’m also not divorced, which more than a third of the people at this reunion will be unable to claim.  Sure, maybe I’m on a slower path, but the view from where I’m sitting is spectacular so I’m not tempted to change my route.  Besides, I wonder who has the better stories?  The guy who got married right out of university and jumped right into his career, or the guy who took the time to try something different, who took some chances and maybe made some mistakes, but still landed exactly where he wanted to be?  No offense Married Guy, but I guarantee my stories are better.  Or at least more enriching.

Second matter of fact is that I am still friends with pretty much everybody I was friends with in high school.  Everybody I want to be, anyhow, except for one person with whom I had a horrible falling-out and who tragically betrayed my friendship and my trust, so I don’t really want to see them anyhow.  I know they’re going – I saw there name on the e-vite, but like my mom always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”  I have nothing nice to say to this person.  I have actually randomly seen them three times since we stopped being friends about ten years ago, and every time I have turned around and walked away.  So why force myself into a situation where a confrontation will be inevitable?  I don’t want to be friends with them anymore, I have no nicer word for this person than “cunt”, and I have no desire to wipe the slate clean.  I carry grudges and I’m proud of it.  Grudges are healthy – they remind you to respect the good people in your life by never allowing the bad back in.  So yeah, I’m already friends with everybody I would really want to see, and there are some people going whom I don’t want to see at all.

Then, of course, there’s the conflicting matter of my curiosity.  That litle devil in the back of my head who whispers in my ear as I’m trying to get to bed, “Don’t you want to see her?  Don’t you want to see how so-and-so turned out?”  I hate to admit it, but yes.  I do want to see if some of the guys grew up to be as dorky as they were in school (I sure did!), or if some of the girls remained so unbelievably hot once their teenaged tight bodies made an alliance with gravity and began betraying them.  Of course I’m curious, but it’s a morbid curiosity, like wanting to know how my neighbour committed suicide a couple of months ago.  I want to know because it’s human nature to be curious, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.  It’s the same kind of morbid curiosity that left me sleepless for much of August because I’d found out more than was good for me.  I relate this to that.

Which leaves me right where I am.  The reunion is in two and a half weeks.  There are many things about it which are turning me off from going on top of what I’ve already mentioned.  It’s on a Wednesday evening, starting at six.  I work way uptown now, and it would be a bitch to get there by six, not to mention I’m at the busiest point of my entire life and my time to relax has become a precious commodity, so do I really want to spend it surrounded by people I mostly couldn’t stand fifteen years ago?  Another problem is that it is on a Wednesday, and anybody who knows me knows that Wednesday nights are sacred to me – LOST is on Wednesdays and frankly I’ve got a much stronger desire to sit home and find out what happens next on that crazy island than I do to see if my buddy’s brother’s male-pattern baldness left him with a horseshoe on his head or if he went for the clean shave.

Of course, I’d be a liar if I said that there were people on the e-vite that I did not want to see and genuinely reconnect with.  There are, but I figure that one of my friends who are up for the torture can go and get contact information from those people for me so I can catch up with them that way.  There’s no guarantee that will work, but there’s no guarantee that I’d get to catch up with them at the reunion either, right?  My sister really wants to go, her husband doesn’t.  Half of my friends want to go, I don’t.  Or do I?  It would be fun to let people see how I turned out.  I’m sure nobody who knew me would have ever expected a clean-cut professional, but that’s just my mask.  Ask anybody – I’m still exactly the same, only I’ve got nicer hair now. 

I met up with an old friend this weekend, Philthy on my MySpace.  We grew up together and have a lot of great memories.  He hasn’t changed at all either.  Sure, we got older and we gained responsibilities, but talking to him on Friday night was exactly the same as when we were fourteen years old sitting in German Mills field with our $5 magnums of Alpenweis (worst wine in the history of the world) and philosophising as we watched the sun go down. 

I may look a little different, but I’m still listening to the same music, I’m still singing the same songs, I’m still reading the same books.  Time is what you make of it, and I’ve made my time well, as have those friends I still have.  I don’t need to revist my past because my future is now and it’s much more exciting to look forward than to look back.  The past never changes, but the future is almost never what you expect.  So which adventure sounds better to you?  My money’s on the future.

Five Years – 9/11/06

Five years.  Of course I have to write something.  I think that anybody who was even slightly touched by the horrific events of that day, and that’s everybody, just has to take time to pause and reflect and remember today.  I can’t see how ignoring it can even be considered an option what with the media-overload of television specials, web-remembrances, radio pundits talking their talking heads right off, and headlines blazing across every magazine and newspaper in the world.  Five years.  Remember, remember, the 11th of September, the airplane treason and plot…  God.  Damn.  It.

Everybody has their “Where were you?” story, and mine is like everyone else’s, I’m sure.  I was at work, cleaning up my office as I had just gotten a promotion and was moving upstairs when Stephanie who occasionally sat at Reception when Selma was out sick came running into my office and screamed, “There’s been a horrible accident!  An airplane has flown into the World Trade Center!”  I remember looking at her quizzically for a moment, the news not quite sinking in as it just sounded so ridiculously surreal, and then saying back, “That doesn’t sound like an accident.”  She rushed back to the reception desk hurriedly promising to come yelling if there was any more news.  She didn’t have to as five minutes after she left my office we got an All Employee e-mail telling everybody to meet in the conference room upstairs, and we all knew it was bad.  I went outside for a cigarette first, just to try to wrap my head around everything that was going on (which was impossible, though that was my first mention of Osama bin Laden – someone who had scared the shit out of me since 1998 when he bombed the US embassies in Africa and the USS Cole – I blamed him and it turned out I was right.  Yay, me.).  After a few frantic drags I tossed my smoke and went upstairs just in time to find a seat and watch the second plane scream across the screen and explode into the second tower.  It just wasn’t real.  It looked like a movie, only the special effects were nowhere near good enough to be at George Lucas level.

There was frantic talk throughout the room.  My colleagues, my friends, my bosses, everybody pallid, shocked, and crying, saying things like, “We’re under attack!”  “Why do they hate us?”  “America is falling…”  And suddenly I felt more alone than I ever have in my life.  A room full of people and I was all alone in it.  They were right: America had been attacked, but the weird thing that I suddenly found myself thinking was that I wasn’t American.  I’m Canadian.  I just lived there and paid taxes there, but technically I was not one of them.  And that was pointed out to me by more than a few people as we all watched in horror, how it was different for me because I wasn’t as connected to it as they all were.  I disagreed, and some thought to argue with me, but we were interrupted by the new horror of watching people fling themselves out of the Towers to their merciful deaths hundreds of feet below the fires and the fray from which there was no escape except sudden suicide.  What was going on here?  It was truly scary.  I’ve been scared before in life, but not like this.  This wasn’t a near miss at a red light, this wasn’t being surrounded by a pack of bullies, this wasn’t getting chased by a dog, this wasn’t sitting outside of the principal’s office, this wasn’t an angry parent, and this wasn’t being stuck in a shifting elevator.  This was scarier than that.  Those fears are immediate and dissipate as the situation dissolves into the past.  This was different.  This was big-time, grown-up scary!  This was the whole world taking notice that the landscape had been changed before our very eyes, streaming through satellites and beamed to us in real-time technicolour.  To call it a nightmare would be an injustice because it was so much worse than that, so much more real.

Then the tower fell and everything changed.  We all watched, transfixed like a cat in a window staring at a nest it will never reach, as the tower just crumbled in on itself in a torrent of glass and dust.  We all watched as hope died, taking thousand of lives with it.  Time got weird after that, in that it stopped making sense.  Our VP sent us all home to be with our loved ones, but I don’t remember getting into my car.  I remember driving along Palmetto Park at one point, being stopped at a light and looking into all the cars around me and every single one of us had the same look of ashen shock and surprise on our faces.  I remember finding myself at my mother’s office and giving her a big hug and her telling me to pack my car and get my ass back to Canada because America was at war and she didn’t want me having anything to do with it.  I then drove to Best Buy because the only thing I’d thought about for the previous week was that the new Bob Dylan album was coming out that day and it was stuck in my mind that I needed it, so I entered to mega-store and it was as quiet as a store could be: Five employees on the floor and me rushing in on the most horrific day of all of our lives to pick up Dylan’s “Love & Theft”.  From there I went home, turned on the tv, and got lost for the next week.  I don’t think I slept at all for the next two days.  I just sat staring at the tv, trying to make sense of the grim loss and devastation that was transmitting into my mind.

So now, here we are.  Its been five years, and here we are.  Terrorism is running rampant throughout the Middle East and Europe, Osama bin Laden is still running free while for some reason Saddam Hussein is in jail, the Americans are concentrating on Iraq and leaving Afghanistan where the Taliban actually are to lesser military powers like Canada for some reason, Iran is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power, Israel is in a more precarious position than it has been in my lifetime, the economy is spiraling out of control and the cost of gas and oil is just getting higher and higher, we’re discovering new bomb plots and holding suspected terrorists indefinitely & without trial, and we’re an even bigger target now than ever before because the terrorists now know that it is possible to wound the great dragon.  September 11th, 2001 very well may have been a killing blow, and it’s just taking us this long to fall down.  I hope not, but I look at the state of the world today and I see that we’ve learned nothing.  We still hate each other, we still don’t trust each other, and we’re still killing each other for all the wrong reasons. 

Instead of teaching us to separate ourselves and fear the unknown we had an opportunity to pause and reflect and move forward.  We asked ourselves: “Why do they hate us?” But when we didn’t like the answers we chose to ignore them and get right back to our high-street shopping, our fast-food gluttony, and our apathy towards those in the greater world around us.  Why do they hate us?  Maybe it’s because we hate ourselves.  We had the opportunity for compassion, for learning, to evolution, and we blew it.  Five years later and this is what we’ve learned:  Absolutely nothing.  Don’t believe me?  Go ask a friend why we were attacked and get back to me on what they said.  Then ask them why we’re in Iraq.  Then ask them who Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is.  What have we leaned since September 11th?  A deeper and better brand of denial.