Love and Night Driving

I miss driving at night and being in love.

Backing up a step, I’ve just recently gotten a car again.  I have been, for the most part, vehicle-less since I returned from Japan.  I probably could have gotten one sooner, but I wanted to wait until I could afford one I love.  And I love my new car.  I’m readjusting to the freedom, to the larger range of my life, and the new options.  I’m also being reminded of things I miss.

I used to have something of a preference for long distance relationships.  See, I like my space, often several hundred kilometres of it.  I like the idea of everyone in the relationship having their own  very separate lives, that coincide when we plan for it.  Specifically, I want her to have an awesome life full of cool things, while I play video games and watch DVDs, and then we spend our weekends together.

I miss driving at night, a dark highway interrupted by clusters of street lights.  It’s an amazing feeling, flying across the deserted world, singing along with a radio turned up way to loud.  Somewhere, down that fading ribbon of road, there’s an amazing, beautiful woman waiting for me.

Because if you lived more than an hour away, and I was willing to repeatedly drive an hour to see you, you were both amazing and beautiful.  I those are kind of my requirements for an exclusive relationship; spectacular, gorgeous, and at least 60 minutes away from the rest of my life.

It is hard to find a time when you feel more in love; it has been days since you last saw her, everything you are doing, you’re doing for her, and she is just as excited about it as you are.  I miss that rush, that roaring, wild drive to fall down with someone who was worth the wait.

As a side note, if any woman who lives within say, 100 to 250 kilometres of Calgary, who is at least an 8 out of 10, who is absolutely fascinating, and happens to be single, I’m available for love-struck drives to your bedroom.

8s will need to provide the ingredients for breakfast, but I’ll still cook it, because I should bring something to the relationship.

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Waitress with an Accent

The other day, Tall and I went out for supper.  The restaurant we went to was small and on a Tuesday night, there was a birthday party and two other tables.  Normally, this means the waitress will dote on Tall and me, because he’s naturally gregarious, and I’m manipulative.

Due to the nature of the restaurant, we barely saw her.  It was mostly a buffet, so the one cute girl who was working showed us to our table, took our drink order, and then vanished into the back.  When she came back, she dropped off our drinks and said in an Aussie accent “There you go.”

When she left I turned to Tall and asked “Did she have that when we sat down?”

“What, the accent?”

He looked at me as though I was really dumb.  “Yeah.  Of course she did.”

We enjoyed the rest of the meal without seeing much of her, because, well, buffet.  It was really a shame, because over years, Tall and I have perfected bantering with waitresses and cashiers.  There’s a long line of Denny’s servers and Safeway clerks who long for the gentle giant and the charming rogue who came through their life, for a few fleeting moments of bliss.  It kills Tall when he has something to say to the waitress, some opening that he can’t use because she hasn’t come back.  He loves to get her talking, and then see where I take it, because I build off his foundations.

That’s important, because he’s married, so he won’t do more than start a conversation, and then he’s stuck not wanting to offend the poor girl, so he’s trying to emphasize his wedding ring before she falls hopelessly in love with him.

Being a wise man, he knew that there is one fatal mistake that will piss off a certain type of girl; never call a Kiwi an Australian.  The same way that Canadians hate to be mistaken for Americans, New Zealanders hate being mistook for their larger neighbors.

So when she came to give us the bill, he said to her “I’m sorry, but I can’t quite place your accent.  Where are you from?”

“Whales,” she smiled.

“I’m glad I asked.  I was afraid I would’ve guessed wrong,” he oozed all his natural charm.

“I was just afraid you’d be Welsh,” I chirped.  JACKPOT!  I have an enormous repertoire of jokes about the Welsh, and absolutely no reason to use them.  At least, not until we found this girl.

The birthday table wanted her to come over, but she was torn.  She thought Tall was geniunely sweet and I was funnier than God, because you would need to be a comedic genius to know that the Welsh are to be mocked in Calgary.  “Yeah,” she said in an accent which sounds about as Welsh as a kangaroo named Bruce throwing another shrimp on the barbie, “No one ever gets it right.”

Wonder why…

“Everyone always thinks I’m Australian.”

Tall nodded knowingly, but before we could add anything else, the birthday table was nearly shouting.  “Sorry, I’ve got to go,” she excused herself.  “Have a great night.”

As we left, Tall said, “We have to come back.  She nearly loves you.”

I nodded.  “Next time, if she doesn’t recognize us,” which is a big if, considering Tall is 6’6, “I’m gonna ask her ‘Can you settle a bet?  Are you Welsh?”

I’m going to own her heart like a Welshman owns a crippling addiction to cheap beer.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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Pieces of Me

I have never had an angry break-up.  When I leave a girl, it’s always a sad affair, and it always seems to end the same way.

The choices I’ve made always seem to tear me away from some cute girl I love.  It’s never about us, it’s something I have to do.  My fragile ambition is always stronger than my fractured love.  I always hate losing her, but I have to go.  It’ll be pre-dawn, in her dark bedroom.  It’s always her room.  I always go to them, afraid of what they’ll see if they come to me.  No one says much, all the desperate, tearful goodbyes spit out in the dead of night.  We’re both emotionally exhausted, physically drained, and ready to be alone with ourselves.  It’s too hard to see each other, so the lights stay off.

I gather up the last debris I have scattered, and grab a packed bag.  I’m always going far away, too far for us to stay us.  There’s a few whispered words of regret, and a last embrace that lasts a moment too long, making me believe that I could just stay, that everything could revert, that I can still chose love over life.

But the bell’s been rung, and you can’t un-ring a bell.  Staying would make things worst.  Now, I need to go.

There’s always a song.  Maybe it’s Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #2 playing on her radio, admitting what we had was always futile.  Maybe it’s Josh Ritter’s Last Temptation of Adam in my car as I drive away, a constant worry that if we had been comfortable, we wouldn’t have been us.  Sometimes the song isn’t something poignant, or related, but it remains forever hers.

I drive into that highway sunrise, lost in the song, lingering in the last kiss.  Some part of me always wants to turn back, instead of heading to that burning beacon of all the long lonely days without her.  Some beautiful lie, some excuse as to why I’ve returned; I left something behind.

There’s a piece of me still with her. 

And the mistake I always make, months or years later, is the belief that I could go back for it.  I dream that the memory of me is still shining in some lost corner.  Somehow, I’m always wrong.  I’ve remembered things too … too far from what they were.  I go back, and try to make reality conform to my vision of the past.

I think I can have back that piece of me.  But it wasn’t mine, not when I went out that door.  It’s hers, and she can do with it what she likes, but it’ll never be part of the me that’s come back for it.

The lesson I never seem to learn is that when you go away, you’re gone.

My Absence

Yeah, I know I’ve been gone for a while.  About two months.  In internet time, that’s like forever.  I mean, I fell in love with, and came to dispise FourSquare in that time.  It’s no fun being Mayor if no one else is playing.

I got busy in December, doing real world stuff, and really didn’t get much writing done.  Then came the post Christmas hermitage.  I got some great DVDs and video games, and I may have lost myself in some escapism over the next few weeks.  I’m not done watching everything yet, but I need to do more with my life.

I’ve been trying to go out more, which should lead to blog worthy stories, and I’ll be working harder on everything I write.  The problem is the sirens call of video games.

I mean, sure, maybe I’ll seduce a bevy of attractive young women who are still in the stage of life where they make terrible decisions involving charming writers they’ve just met.

But none of them are blue tree chicks:

And if you are real, hopefully you're still making terrible decisions involving charming writers

 

Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Miniblog: Ground Zero Mosque

Check out the video here.

I don’t watch TV News, and I hadn’t heard of Keith Olbermann before I started playing around on Reddit.  Then I saw the video linked above.  It’s Keith Olbermann’s commentary on the proposed “Mosque” at the Ground Zero site for 9/11.

The video is everything a good argument should be.  It is informed and impassioned.  He respects the pain and suffering from all sides involved, but calls for understanding and reason.  Muslims shouldn’t suffer because it was a Muslim who flew the plane.  I mean, there are white Anglo-Saxon protestants who have committed murder.  That doesn’t make me a murderer.

Even closer to home, my father has fixed thousands of tractors in his life.  I won’t ever fix a single one.  You shouldn’t condemn or judge a group as a whole by the actions of one.

He goes on to point out that it isn’t a Mosque, it’s a Muslim cultural centre, which is a very different thing.  He points out how it can’t be seen from the Ground Zero site, and it’s going up in a building that isn’t being used, in a neighborhood that has yet to recover.

Honestly, I can’t do the things Olbermann says, or the way he says them justice.  It just makes me angry.  It makes me angry to think that the Puritans, the first Americans, crossed the ocean to escape religious persecution, and there are those among their descendants who think the most American thing to be done is to condemn Muslims for their beliefs. 

It infuriates me that there are so many people in the world who respond with a knee-jerk reaction.  They hate without thinking, condemn without considering, and think themselves in the right.  The video there is what they need to be told.

It’s worth watching to educate yourself.  I learned a lot, and I’m ready to fight anyone who’s against this Muslim cultural centre.

Miniblog: Abuse by Vancouver Police?

(link)

The above video clip shows a Vancouver Police officer pushing a woman with cerebral palsy to the ground.  He and the two officers with him walk on by without offering any assistance.

S2, one of my co-workers sent this to me.  I’m not sure when it happened, but the Youtube account this is located on had the video uploaded on July 25th of this year, and I believe it’s relatively recent.  It’s also what the media should be doing.  If there’s a problem, we need to be aware of it.  If people are interested in what happened here, and keep the pressure on the Vancouver Police Department, this becomes a lot more difficult to swept under the rug.  Something needs to be done.

One question S2 had for me is “What do you think should happen to the police officers?”  First of all, I think that an investigation is required.  The video, while important evidence, is not conclusive.  We see, but do not hear what happens.  While I doubt there is a good explanation for what happened, the officers still deserve the chance to air their side of the story.

I’m disappointed to learn that the officer who pushed the woman is still on active duty.  I believe he should be suspended without pay, pending the inquiry.  Again, we haven’t got all the facts yet, and there may be a good explanation for what happened that I, with all my brilliant detective skills, have not yet determined.

However, if the video turns out to be exactly what happened, I believe the officer in question should be suspended without pay for a considerably length of time, and the two other officers who allowed this to happen should have shorter unpaid suspensions.

But, there’s a chance that it won’t get that far.  If we let everyone forget that this happened, if we don’t pay attention, then there is a good chance this will go away quietly.  If Vancouver Police Officers regularly push disabled women, and partake in other abuses of authority, it will continue.  A lot of people interviewed in the news story seemed to think this was the status quo.

So pay attention to this.  Send it to your friends.  Mention it on your Facebooks and your Twitters.  If people are talking about it, the Vancouver Police will need to provide answers, and take action.  That’s what we want.

That’s Renegade Folk.  We make them explain themselves, and we don’t let it pass quietly.  We get to the bottom of it, and we make changes.

Superman Without a Job

Chris sent me this article a while back, and every time I try to write it, it starts getting academic.  I love applying everything I learned in university to things like comic books, movies and TV shows, so I have trouble not overwriting about Superman.

Most of you probably won’t read the article attached, so just to summarize, it’s about Superman spending a year exploring American as an unemployed Clark Kent.  Comic books usually have a year long arch, which is usually something like “Batman’s back was broken”, “Scarlet Witch wishes the world was ruled by mutants” or “Superman dies and his replacements fight until he returns.”  What kind of pitch meeting went down where it was “Clark Kent doesn’t have a job.”  They scraped the bottom of the barrel and found a lower place. 

It’s not strange that Superman is about economics.  He always has been.  I mean, you see him stopping bank robbers, and other kinds of thieves.  His main villain is Lex Luthor, a businessman.  This strikes me as strange, considering his power.  The man can stop wars single-handedly, or if his work in Kansas in Kingdom Come is any indication, he could end world hunger.  But all he does is maintain the current economic situation, and stay within America.

Will stop bank robbers but not rapists

That’s what he’s always done.  Superman has always been a symbol of the status quo.  In the thirties, when he first showed up, he believed in a system that had failed.  He came from Smallville to the Metropolis, in the mid 1930s, and he got a job.  That’s what was supposed to happen to good, hardworking Americans, and even if it wasn’t happening to you, the protector of the American way got that.  He followed the standard path, and got the standard rewards.  He made sure your money in the bank was protected, in a time when banks were failing.  He made sure everything worked the way it was supposed to.

Even Lex Luthor, who represents shady business, is allowed to continue as long as he follows enough of the rules.  Superman isn’t allowed to stop him as long as he stays within the letter of the law.  Even though he knows something worse is going on, Superman can’t move outside the system.

Superman is an outside servant of the status quo.  He comes from the stars, and he’s forbidden from interfering with the way people do things, just charged with protecting the way things are.  His Kryptonian name, Kal-el, even follows the angel naming pattern of Gabriel, Michael, Raphael.  He’s the angel of the American way, and he doesn’t step out of his bounds.  He’s what is supposed to be done, and it’s generally a lesson in being a good citizen in a capitalist society.

So now, he’s going to display what it means to be a good unemployed American.  He’s going to travel around and learn, but ultimately stay unchanged and not do anything different than he has always done.  The system will protect him, and we should follow his example.

Superman is in many ways the opposite of renegade folk.  He takes what is given to him, and stays within the boundaries set by his father and his adopted country.  He doesn’t push, doesn’t question, and trusts that something higher is looking after him, just like we should trust he’s looking after us. 

I’m actually really interested to see this arc, and see what it says about unemployment.  Of course, I generally don’t buy comics anymore.  When I do, Superman is usually the bad guy because he’s so anti-renegade folk.

Finding Home

Nique is rarely around.  She’s in Chicago most of the time, learning to be a doctor.  When she comes home, she usually doesn’t have a lot of time.  She has too much doctor learning stuff to do, so she can’t be away for long, and it’s too expensive to come home from school often.  When she is home, she needs to see family, friends, and spend some alone time with Ren, who she’s been dating for several years.

Like the jerk I am, I always emotionally manipulate her into allocating more of her visiting time to me than is fair, or appropriate.

Ren and I have been hanging out long enough that he’s seen through my clever tricks, so for Nique’s most recent visit, he acted as her personal assistant, controlling all communication between her and I, ensuring I didn’t steal 72 of her 144 hours in Calgary.

Well played, Ren.

They decided to have dinner with me, Tall, Kodie and Shawn on a Tuesday.  They asked me where I wanted to go, and of course I told them the Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club.  It’s where I always want to go.  This isn’t a review, because that’s an excuse to go back yet again.  I mean, they’ll be getting 5 stars.  I mean, look at this –

Down there, at the bottom...

They never took down the furniture store façade.  That’s awesome!  The whole place is so Renegade Folk that it nearly puts me to shame.

But this is not the review.  That’s for later.

As usual, I had an awesome time while there.  I didn’t have enough time to get from work to the gym, home, and back to the bar in time for supper, so I brought an extra change of clothes and went to Palomino’s from the gym, getting there twenty minutes early.

I sat at the bar, enjoying a Corona.  The bartender and I chatted a bit, and we both knew every word to every song that came on the radio.  We both sang along, not loudly, not karaoke style, but it created this sense of belonging.

Kodie, Shawn, and Tall showed up just as the sun came out.  We took a seat on the patio, and Ren and Nique arrived moments later.  We talked about old times and new plans, and all the hoops Nique still needed to jump through to be a doctor.

The specifics really don’t matter.  We laughed, ate until we were stuffed, and drank to a happy buzz.  One thing I’ve found in my adult life, especially in Calgary, is I rarely have what I would call a home feeling.  There hasn’t been a consistent place where I’ve felt completely at ease, not since I left to live in Japan.

I am comfortable at my place, but there’s no sense of permanence in my apartment.  I doubt I’ll live there this time next year.  I feel like a stranger at Loubagga’s, mostly because I don’t know his girlfriend as well as I should.  Matt, Tall and Lina all have houses, but I always feel like a special guest in those places.  They’re happy to have me, but it’s a given that I’ll be leaving.

But somehow, on the back patio of a downtown bar, I felt like we could stay forever.  I was at complete ease with good friends.  There was nothing we needed that we didn’t have, nothing pressing, nothing missing.

It was so damn near perfect, I couldn’t even tell you what was missing.

Renegade Folk Heroing

I realize we are about a month into this blog, and I haven’t really defined what Renegade Folk is.  A lot of people who followed me from Livejournal, or all the way back from Myspace, before the whores took it over, have heard it before.  But it’s a living philosophy, so it changes, and I’m going to tell it differently here than I have before.  We’re going to follow it from its most distant roots. 

Let’s start with me as a kid, about 12 or 13.  At this point I was a hopeless romantic, and I’m comfortable blaming society for it.  I was starting to really take an interest in girls, and the models I had for that interaction were cultural.  I thought love was like the movies. 

Take, for example, Disney’s Aladdin. 

All smug there on his rug
All smug there on his rug…

It was released in 1992, so I was probably 10 years old when I saw it.  Aladdin meets a girl for all of five minutes, and they have an engaging conversation.  He builds a whole fake life to be perfect for her.  She finds out, feels betrayed, but then he kills a giant snake and she takes him back. 

That’s the set of expectations I was working with.  If you talk to a cute girl, and you feel any minor connection or have any interest in anything she says, that’s enough to fall in love.  You then have the right, no, the responsibility, to do whatever it takes to be near her, so she can realize she loves you back.  If she finds out you’ve been faking perfection, or is in any way not interested in you, all you really need to do is perform some over the top romantic gesture, and you are guaranteed to win her heart. 

It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know you.  It’s fine you lied the entire time she’s known you, and pretended to be something you were not.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t fit her life, that you are completely unsuited for her, or that she’s never considered even the possibility of a romantic entanglement with you.  If you can prove you’ve loved her since that first slightly interesting conversation, as insignificant as it may have been for her, she will love you back.  She has to, because of how hard you loved her, and that you proved it.  Those are the rules. 

Now that I’m older, I know not to form my values on what Disney teaches me.  Then, it seemed reasonable.  I mean, Aladdin is friends with a monkey, and that’s cool.  I used Aladdin as an example, but any T.V. show or movie or book I saw at the time reinforced a similar model of relationships. 

Needless to say, my heart was broken a couple of times.  I would be too deeply in love with some cute girl, because I didn’t really require her involvement before the big gesture.  Then I would do something stupid, like sing her a Bryan Adams song, and be shocked she didn’t have an epiphany and come running to my arms.  Fuck, I just told her “Everything I do, I do for you.”  How could she not? 

I mean, I stole words from this guy!

I mean, I stole words from this guy!

 

After a few too many failures, I became a Cynic.  Everyone knows life is not a John Hughes movie, but I was bitter about it.  I was certain there was something wrong with the girls who rejected me.  They were the ones not following the rules.  You know, those sacred rules Hollywood taught me. 

And I was pissed at the people who told those stories.  I would drink while watching romantic comedies, and when they hit their lowest point, I would turn off the movie and announce “That’s how it works in real life.  The end.”  I would then go to bed.  My friends though it was funny and terrifying. 

I would still have one conversation with a cute girl, and fall in love with an imaginary perfect version of her.  I just wouldn’t do the big gesture.  I would be pissed off she didn’t love me back, but I no longer even tried to tell her.  You know, during my most mature phase. 

Then I was burned by eleven litres of hot deep fryer oil.  Literally.  I had second degree burns on my arms and face, and due to the constant pain, I was certain I was scarred for life.  It didn’t happen, but the constant agony and the odd texture of the healing skin made it seem like a certainty to my laboured brain. 

Assuming I was now the Phantom of the Opera,

Burn face phantom, not sexy mask phantom...

Burn face phantom, not sexy mask phantom...

and no one could love my face (because I’m seriously that shallow), I stopped caring about cute girls.  They were there, but it didn’t matter what I did, I was off the docket.  Suddenly, I relaxed around them.  I treated them like people, instead of objects of wonder.  I didn’t have complex agendas.  I didn’t try to live a perfect life before them, I just did what I felt like doing.  I stopped ensuring I never contradicted them, but called them on their bullshit and mocked them like I did with everyone else.  When I said whatever I felt like saying, suddenly they were interested in me.

Instead of returning to old patterns, I developed a new philosophy, and started calling it Renegade Folk Heroing.  While a lot of it comes out as “Follow your dreams,” and “Enjoy the little things,” being me, it’s still mostly about love.  Or at least lust, which wasn’t okay for Hopeless Romantics or Cynics, but Renegade Folk Heroes are allowed sex with no attachments, as long as everyone knows that’s what’s happening.  There’s also a lot of drinking, but it’s happy, joyful drinking, not bitter, how can this be my life drinking.  

Basically, it looks like this:

But I still lie about being able to play the guitar.

 

and it breaks down like this:

Renegade: This is the do what you feel like doing segment.  Don’t worry about what’s normal, or expected.  It’s better to be weird and happy then normal and miserable.  If everything you do is planning for tomorrow, what if you don’t make it there.  Enjoy what today has to offer too. 

Folk: Everyone is just people.  Cute girls aren’t different, except visually.  If someone hurts you in any way, it’s generally about them and their shit.  She didn’t break your heart because she hates you.  She did it because she was broken, and you should just move on.  Everyone is the same, and use that to understand why they do what they did. 

Heroing: Temper the first two with this aspect.  Don’t hurt people while doing whatever you want whenever you can avoid it.  Be honest.  If you aren’t proud of something you’re going to do, why are you doing it?  You better have a good reason.  Don’t let other people’s shit bring you down, but don’t let them drown in it either. 

Renegade Folk Heroing is for Hopeless Romantics the world broke.  When they’re done being miserable about it, and get over Cynicism, there’s still enough good left to enjoy, and if you’re lucky, protect.