Saturday, 23 August 2003

Great Neck Pennsylvania Revisited

Renting a dolly or trailer to tow a car isn't expensive. Thing is, you need a sturdy vehicle to tow with. You can't rent these from anyone besides U-Haul. I was unable to borrow a truck locally , so I arranged a one-way rental through U-Haul. I drove 40 min to my folks to switch cars to Mom's car, the one Dad was willing to let me drive into the States. Then I drove 1.5 hours to Dave's house in Kingston. We got confirmation over the phone that equipment would be ready for us when we arrived in Binghamton New York. We had just enough time to drive the 4 hours down to Binghamton and get the equipment before the U-Haul office closed. I'd arranged a truck with a 14' box on the back, and they only had one with 17', so I ended up driving quite a big truck. Dave followed me in Mom's car as I drove the truck 20min south to Great Bend, where my car was waiting. U-Haul trucks are A/C with radios, so it was okay, though all those hills at 65mph are a bit scary to non-commercial drivers put into huge, heavy trucks on a windy day. The rental guy had assured me that he'd left the radio "Cranked up to a station with some kickass guitar tunes" so that's what I listened to. How many stations in the Ottawa-area play "Whitesnake" on a daily basis? (Don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question and we don't want to argue that Justin Timberlake rocks so much harder than Whitesnake that there's no comparison, do we?) We said hi to the folks who'd helped me out when I first got stranded there, had pizza slices, Dr. Pepper and miscellaneous junk food hard to find in Canada (Milk Duds, Charleston Chew and so on) and then got things started. We loaded the Beretta onto the dolly (it still starts and drives and makes an awful clatter from inside its falling-apart engine) and then we drove it back through a thunderstorm with high winds and a lot of extremely violent lightning. (kickass guitar tunes the whole way, too. I found out which local fairs had bands like Def Leppard and Honeymoon Suite playing at them) At the border, they didn't really ask anything about it. I'm tempted to drive the truck back down, put my plates on someone else's car and bring it up here too, if it's that easy. Dad thinks I'm crazy to tow this car back up here instead of selling it for scrap, but I like it and we have two spare engines besides the one that's in it. One is low mileage. Once I get a teaching gig, then I can look to getting my cousin to ready the better of the three engines to put it back in. On that day, perhaps my Beretta will live again!

Tuesday, 19 August 2003

Thoughts on God

When you're a kid, people tell you to reach out to God, to tell Him everything. They tell you if want stuff, to simply ask Him for it. I didn't have Santa Claus when I was growing up. I had God. I didn't often get anything I asked Him for. I didn't even get a lot of answers to my best questions. Sometimes I think my relationship with Him is permanently arrested in that childish phase of wanting Him to give me stuff and help me out of binds I get into and being confused and upset when it turns out that life often just doesn't work that way. For non-theists, this is analogous to trying to be optimistic or positive, but feeling like Life (or God) takes your best efforts throws it all back at your feet, mangled and shat upon. What is a more adult relationship to have with one's parents and one's God? An inability trust is a weakness, right? I believe there is a God. I believe there is a God who lets children starve and dogs die and people die of cancer and flesh-eating disease (Is "dis-ease" really a harsh enough word to come after "flesh-eating"?) God lets babies be born. (Except in the case of my sister, who just lost hers.) I know in my heart that the template for every sunset and every breath-taking woman's genes are brought to you by the grace and endless innovative creativity of God (even if her jeans are brought to you by Old Navy.) I try to believe in a God who is interested in the kind of human good that I can see and understand, but I don't always do a good job of it. I believe in God the way I believe in my dentist, and I don't resent Him any more than that little Scotsman with the big red beard and (in my opinion) far too much upper body strength for a dentist and all sorts of needles, grinders and drills for sticking in my mouth. In a way I am grateful each of them is there for me, and in a way I'm not. I was raised to believe that God had a wonderful plan for my life that would make me happy if only I followed it. Now, I wonder how out of control He lets things get. They always look out of control, not in a "roulette table random" way, but in a "747 with the pilot in the crapper taking a dump" kinda way. Or else, I guess, in a "747 headed straight for the World Trade Center buildings" way. If He will let thousands die, why should I believe He cares if I get a job or if I can get my car towed back where I can fix it or sell the remains for a fair price?

Monday, 18 August 2003

A Song Neil Young Wrote When HIS Car Died In The Middle of a Trip

Long May You Run
We've been through some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Chorus: Long may you run.
 Long may you run.
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run.

Well, it was back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift on the long decline
Long may you run.
Maybe the beach boys have got you now
With those waves singing Caroline (Sweet Caroline, oh)
Rollin down that empty ocean road
Gettin to the surf on time.

Saturday, 16 August 2003

My Trip Doesn't End Well

So, I took a risk, drove down to visit Michael and Bethany in Pennsylvania, had a worthwhile time and some deep talks, and then on the way back home today my car's engine finally blew properly (connecting rod loosened right up and started whapping around) and I was stranded on the Pennsylvania/New York border in a tiny village called Great Bend. I got the car to Bill Buzzard's Pump 'N Go Gas Station. I phoned people, was a bit panicked, got the number of a mechanic who officially pronounced the car dead, and found out that no buses came to Great Bend. I resolved to phone a a taxi to come get me and take me to Binghamton (half an hour away) where they have buses and so on. I phoned the taxi number a clerk had given me, but it was no longer in service, so I asked the lady at the Pump 'N Go for another taxi number, and she insisted on calling her husband Darren to drive me to Binghamton. Not only did he drive me, he insisted on waiting while I talked to the Greyhound bus people, who apparently will not drive you 4 hours due North from Binghamton to Ottawa without taking a 5 hour detour through Toronto first. My pointing out that Binghamton is actually closer to Ottawa than Toronto is made no impact whatsoever. Darren suggested I rent a car, and I arranged this over the phone for only $40 more than a bus ticket, with arrival in 4 hours instead of 24. This meant I didn't have to sleep in the bus station. Darren drove me out to the airport (which is in the middle of nowhere, by a landfill, the road it is on being the only road around, and actually ending at the airport terminal) and we got the burgundy Kia Spectra that was their cheapest option. Darren knew both the older man and the young teenaged girl who were manning the Hertz desk, so he had fun talking to them while I got things finalized. Then he had me follow him back to Great Bend, where he helped me load all of my stuff from my dead car into the Spectra. Naturally, he refused any money whatsoever. The last thing I saw, he was teasing his wife as she came offshift at the Pump 'N Go, and giving directions to a guy who was lost. I drove back, with a half-hour delay at the border due to a mile of cars and trucks and only two customs agents working. My cat had been very worried about me and scolded me quite a bit when I got home. Now I have to go back to Great Bend somehow in the next 3 or 4 days to sell the car to a mechanic or else rent a trailer and bring it back up here.

Monday, 11 August 2003

Road Trippin'

Now, a great leap of faith: I plan Monday to hop in my beatup old car and drive down to Pennsylvania to visit my friends down there. The leap of faith involves whether the car will get me there or not. I think it will. [note: It did. It just didn’t get me back] That's why I'm going. I include in this blog entry a picture of Natalie Portman and a young man with a stern look, trying to come to terms with his power and the future fate of the republic.

Friday, 8 August 2003

Turning my face from happiness

Today I realized that, often when I'm really brooding over something, I have to go through a process of shutting out all the things I'd naturally want to react positivelyto, just so I can be miserable. I forget compliments and not only remembernasty things people say and do, but cross-reference them with similar stufffrom the past. If I am about to start something that I really care about, I kind of give myself little peptalks, preparing myself for the worst. Right now I am applying forjobs. I am planning a road trip to the States. I'm going to recordand edit the audio for a flash cartoon I'm making with my friends. So whyam I focussed on "These jobs are probably already wrapped up by people'snephews and drinking buddies" and "My car is about due to break down again onthis trip" [note: It did. Permanently] and "I don't know if the cartoon will be as funny when acted by my friends as it is in my head" ? Screw all that. Get ready to be happy, I say. To help with that, here's apicture of a happy same-sex Micronaut couple. I am not happy, gay, or aMicronaut, but I think it's a smile-provoking image, don't you?

Tuesday, 5 August 2003

It's Not Logical, but...

So, last week I realized something, came to an epiphany of sorts: Besides the fact thatnothing much was going on in my life, my life wasn't moving forward ordeveloping in any way. Back when I worked at Nortel, I used to work 14 hour shifts and it would take me a couple of months, and then I'd realize "I'm not living my life, I'm sleepwalking through aschedule other people put together for me." Now, waiting for teaching jobsto open up for September, I'm doing very little, but I realized that I waswatching movies I knew all the words to, listening to music (same deal) andreading books (same thing again). Nothing new. Staying in the sameplace doing the same old things and a whole lot of nothing. Once I realized just how sick I was of more same-old, same-old nothing, I decided then and there that this week had to be different. Odd, but when you decide something likethat, suddenly the constipated gears of momentum start rolling again and thingsstart happening. Today, for the first time in many months, I didn't havetime to do anything I'd planned because unplanned things kept occurring.People showed up with stuff they needed or wanted to do, people dropped in tohang out and people phoned and woke me up in the morning and during a nap. I'm also planning a short road trip (that won't cost overmuch money). It did not seem like a logical move for someone whose money is pretty much nil, but I got a good deal from eBay on the very Spock doll that I loved so much when I was ten, and the guy forsome reason refused to ship it to anyone not Amurrican, so I got it shipped tofriends in the States and now I can drive down and say hello.

Saturday, 2 August 2003

more music recorded

I finally got down to it and did some more recording on a song of mine called "Digging For Pride." It has a ridiculous number of different vocal and instrumentparts, and is fun. The idea was that the music would be extremely happy, but that the words would be the most alienated, angry, frustrated ones ever. The big question, therefore, was "How does one sing these angry words with such a happy song?" I could sing them in a happy voice, or I could try to convey anger. I was trying to convey anger by singing loudly and angrily, and more and more lately I find my voice is annoying when I do that. I have to sing more intensely and quietly to get the right effect. So the instrument parts are pretty much done (except for a dodgypiano part I can't quite play perfectly) and a fairly good vocal is down, but I could probably do with re-singing it and redoing the piano. The part inthe middle of the song sounds a lot like there are Muppets doing the backup singing. Is that bad?