Taking the Advice

Stanstead, QCI got up this morning and thought to myself, “It’s too goddamn gorgeous outside NOT to take Torn‘s advice,” and I also told myself, “Fuck the environment and the cost of gas: You’re going on a nowhere.” So, I fired up Google Maps and tried to decide where I might want to go.

I had heard about Stanstead before moving to Montréal, but the last time it came back to mind was in the Fall of 2008. That was the autumn we had a(nother) federal election in Canada, a few weeks before the U.S. election that saw Obama win the presidency. CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge went to the library in Stanstead to talk to Americans about the Canadian elections and to Canadians about the American election. They sat in a room that has a black line going through it to mark the Canada-US border, so the Americans stayed on their side while the Canadian did the same.

It’s totally freaky! I didn’t go in the building but I did stand at the intersection where one could walk into the other country. There’s no customs office there; just a camera. I’m sure it’s being monitored and all, but it’s just an intersection and a big sign on the American side warning of prosecution and a $500 fine if one crosses here. (How so Canadian that there’s no such “threat” on the Canadian side — just a warning that one is not supposed to cross at this point.)

Prior to that, I also visited downtown Magog, next to Lake Memphrémagog, and had a small cone of soft ice cream. I also saw some of the most cheesy art ever on exhibition in a park off the main street. Coming back, I almost got into an accident when a police car that had pulled off a speeder just jumped into the lane without looking if anyone was coming — in the case, ME! I had to slam on the brakes, and I simply couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Anyway, I’m heading for my second shower of the day — it’s damn HOT today! — and then onto the métro. I may go mingle around Place des Festivals, where the Jazz Festival is in full swing, or go directly to the Village to stand next to the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the fireworks competition. At the rate I’m going, it’ll be after 9:00 by the time I reach downtown, so I may just go straight to the Village. (There’s something wrong with combining the word “straight” and “Village” in the same sentence.) Tonight’s fireworks are being put on by a company from the Czech Republic.

Some Days

Van Gogh Starry NightA simple truism is that some days are better than others, while some days are worse than others. But it seems to me that I can’t recall when’s the last time I had one of the former. In other words, it hasn’t gotten better since then; it may have gotten worse, in fact.

A tendency toward inertia has always been my worst enemy, but now it has reached proportions I never thought possible …at least not for myself. Most of my life, I didn’t mind spending a lot of time of my own; in fact, I’ve always been the kind who enjoys his own company. Lately, however, I feel as though I can’t stand being with myself. Yet, paradoxically, I haven’t the energy to be with others. I get enough of that at my job since it’s one that requires constant interaction with people. And even there, it’s getting increasingly difficult to get through the days, especially when the demands and expectations become nuttier and zanier, and I have to fight the urge of turning off the computer and going to bed in the middle of the day in order to bury my head under a pillow. Fortunately, the flow of incoming work has been too great to let me do that, for fear of getting caught literally snoozing at the job.

Now, I have to say I haven’t been completely inert, for I have been able to speak on a few occasions with some special friends as well as my mother, which, when it happens, helps relieve some pressure. I’ve also been getting support from my supervisor at work, except that things have been so busy there lately that she and I haven’t moved forward on the first step we promised to take two weeks ago. I don’t hold it against her, however; I’m the one who hasn’t forced the issue back up.

When I speak of inertia, I mean that I can’t bring myself to do anything except shower first thing in the morning, work when I’m expected to be at work, eat once a day (after work), and watch TV even if there’s nothing on. I get impatient or boil over with outrage about the most trivial things; I’ve even taken to getting around by métro more often because I believe myself too susceptible to road rage. The thought of having a conversation, inconsequential as it might be, drives me nuts because I don’t feel that I’m present. I can’t imagine mustering up the empathy I believe is required to listen, for listening is half of a conversation. My job already requires me to be calm, organized, and empathic to a good extent, so after 8 hours of that, I can’t do it anymore. I’ve even noticed that the few times I do engage in face-to-face conversation, I avoid eye contact. She didn’t mention it, but I think my mom noticed it when I spent a few hours with her as she came through Montréal on her way to Ottawa.

When I start thinking about starting something — anything — that I have been putting off for months if not years, I feel like I’m going to throw up. When I try to convince myself to go for a drive to nowhere to create some kind of therapeutic vacuum in my head, I find all sorts of excuses to talk myself out of it, like “gas is too expensive” or “it’s too hellish to try to drive out of this city.” Often I would want to sleep when it’s not time to sleep, but can’t sleep when it’s time. I worry I may be relying too much on sleeping pills or cheap red wine to find sleep.

This morning there was a movie on Mpix called Sea People, which is far from being a great film but it was shot just outside Halifax. It made me homesick, yet, at the same time, I wouldn’t want to live again in Nova Scotia; I’m still glad that I’m in Montréal (warts and all). And to my surprise, in the last scene in which the old couple is saying farewell for the last time, I cried. Of all people, I cried watching a movie!

Afterwards, I wondered if it was the thought of growing old on my own that pulled those tears (as opposed to the idealized view of growing old with someone), or simply that my emotional carcass if paper thin these days. As I just mentioned, the most trivial things, right down to a bad fantasy movie, can send me into an emotional tailspin, yet reality around me seems like an utterly uninteresting or frustrating blur.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me. Therefore, as I’m about to push the “Publish” button, I’m thinking to myself that I needed to write this post; however, I’m also questioning the wisdom of publishing it. But should anybody still be reading this blog, I just want to offer an assurance: I am still NOT the kind who, in a moment like this, would consider for even one minute the possibility of not sticking around to see how all of this will unfold.