Drug addict sings Xmas carols in the street while begging for change. Seems nice at first glance but it’s just an angle to feed her habit. Everyone is a soulless businessperson at heart, existence is rooted in exploitation. I can’t stop thinking about this lately. A rat scurries across the street in front of me, first time I’ve seen one on the streets of Victoria. Timely, funny. I buy prayer flags from a beautiful young woman in the kind of store that sells prayer flags. She has wavy dark hair with some grey in it, big glasses, nice eyes and an incredible smile. I’m feeling nostalgic for my goth teen years/early 20’s and imagine dating her. Like the singing drug addict, it only seems nice at a glance. Out on the street now, sirens wail. A falling leaf hits me smack on the kisser and stays there as I walk by a moderately attractive woman. I laugh at the absurdity. Starlings are doing their amazing thing in the darkening sky above the street. It’s cold as hell out here. I love all of this.
I was going to text Bill while at Superstore today but there was too much going on. I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with it all while texting, and wouldn’t have been able to take it all in. Couldn’t stand to be distracted during such a deliciously awful time.
It was busy as all hell. The lineups were the longest I’ve ever seen them, for no apparent reason. There were tons of people, and more people wearing masks than I’ve seen since the mask mandates were first lifted and people were just getting used to being mask-less again. Most people seemed to be in more of a hurry and more annoyed than usual, everyone was chomping at the bit when a cart was in their way or someone was taking too long to carefully compare prices of the different organic mustards (that was me, FYI). I wondered if it was a weird day, if there was something in the air making people irritable, or if it was just my imagination projecting the tension I was sensing.
I finished my shopping and got in a line and continued to feel the vibe. I wanted to ask the cashier what was up, why it was so busy and felt so weird, but didn’t want to come off like a fucking weirdo who was maybe hitting on her. Kept my mouth shut. Then the old couple behind me mentioned something about it and the cashier said that it was the forecast of snow, that it’s always like this when snow is predicted. People prepping for not being able to get out of their houses for a week, as if we live in the fucking arctic. Please. But I was happy to learn this, and that I wasn’t nuts, that I was sensing something legit — stupid people are just terrified of snow and that makes them irritable. How about that.
As I was bagging my groceries, I noticed a younger Superstore employee, a fellow maybe 20 years old, walking over to start his cashier shift. He looked lobotomized, just totally fucking stupid and not present. Hair was messy as all hell, ugly 5 o’clock shadow, pants and shirt wrinkled and several sizes too large. He was carrying a pop bottle and one of the middle aged female cashiers told him he couldn’t have that while on shift. He said it was almost empty, I don’t know how that was supposed to change anything but anyway. She told him to throw it out, and he did. Then he came back and stood at the end of the conveyor belt where an old lady’s groceries were sitting. The old lady was in a scooter and obviously enfeebled to some degree, had some difficulty bagging her own shit from the scooter. He just stood there staring into space blankly while she bagged her groceries. The old lady eventually said he could help her bag her groceries, he nodded and gave a quiet grunt but didn’t move. Just looked at her for a second then looked away. She prodded and said, “since you’re just standing there doing NOTHING…” which I thought was a little rude and pushy. Like, ok this guy is clearly dumb as a rock and/or a lazy good for nothing shit but being a pushy old twat is just sort of making the both of you shitty. Then the middle aged cashier got in on it and made some exaggerated facial expressions at the guy, said something like “HELLO, you could help her bag her stuff next time, right?” He just stared at her. I got the feeling he now sensed their ire and was fuming internally but didn’t know how to deal with the situation. A product of these fucked up times. He’s probably spent half his life staring at screens rather than interacting with people and learning how to navigate uncomfortable situations. The cashier continued, did a big exaggerated wave at him, said “HELLO, IS ANYBODY HOME??” Still no response from the cretin. She got out of the cashier space so the dummy could take over, apologized to the old lady for his lack of help, then while standing right behind him she loudly said to the cashier on the other side, “there is just nothing going on upstairs there, it’s just like, can you please DO SOMETHING, holy cow,” or something to that effect. I thought about the shooting at a Walmart in the US that was in the news recently and how this guy might just be the next workplace shooter we hear about. Yeah he’s a fucking idiot but the old crone and the cashier handled the situation so terribly that I wanted to abandon my $250 of groceries in order to get away from the stew of rude, mean, stupid people.
On the drive home, it was snowing ever so slightly — none of it was sticking to the ground — yet everyone was in the slow lane going 10 km/h under the speed limit, and I was irritated.
Last night I opened our bedroom window a little bit because I’ve been really digging the cold and rain we’ve had lately, and I wanted to hear the night sounds that go along with those things. Last night I noticed that winter nights are way quieter than summer — less people riding ATV’s in the middle of the night or hooting and hollering at outdoor parties, but also less animals out and about it seems. All I heard last night was an owl calling for a while (which I love, obv). But the silence of a winter night isn’t boring, it’s not just a lack of sound. It’s more like the presence of something that can be either peaceful and beautiful or tense and spooky, and I love both of those so it’s always pleasant.
Also, I’ve been in Victoria at night a few times in the last month or so, and have been enjoying the vibe of the city at night for similar reasons. It’s a different experience for sure — whether the city at night has a nice chill vibe or a more sinister one, there is definitely an urban feel to it, but it’s not jarring or manic like the city is in the day. A sleeping city has just the right energy for me, so it’s still cool. I think I mentioned many years ago now that Genevieve used to live above stores in Fantan Alley, and one night we were there I sat in her window overlooking the street and could have cried from how beautiful it was to look down at the dark, cold street with just the occasional person walking along it, neon signs bathing everything in a warm cozy glow like xmas lights on the tree when I was a kid. I’ve had a few more experiences like that lately, like the evening I visited Cody and Dunya at their new apartment and checked out the view of the city at night from their living room window. Once again, all I wanted was to sit in that window with a bass guitar and just mess around on it while listening to the sounds of the city — sirens, people fighting, horns honking. I realize now that each of those sounds is a bad thing on its own but I guess there’s something about being a visitor and being up above it and safe and removed, like a real fly on the wall. A spectator and not a participant. Like watching a film but in real life. I like that, I guess.
One more semi-related thing. I’ve had to go downtown Vic during the day a few times lately, and believe it or not I’ve actually enjoyed that too. It was windy and the leaves were falling like crazy on Tuesday so that was really pretty. But also, I’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of fucked up people walking the street. Homeless, mental health problems, drugs, broke, cold, etc. There is a shit ton of it on the streets of Vic now, and I really notice it because I haven’t spent much time there in the day for years. But I like it. The juxtaposition of all those people standing outside or walking past all these shops with bold, brightly coloured signs advertising nice things like bubble tea or holiday specials at the 24/7 gym is comical. It makes me feel like I’m living in Blade Runner or Robocop or something like that. Some film where the world hasn’t quite gone completely to shit but it’s firmly on its way. I’m sure if I was living on the street or barely able to pay rent and buy food I’d feel different but that’s not the case, so I get a kick out of it.
I wish I had more time for writing lately. Been too busy with various other stuff. No sign of it letting up soon either so this trend may continue a while. Don’t worry though, old Crimson Highway isn’t going anywhere. I bet I’ll do this till I die.
I go to the post office to mail a package to my mom. It’s a bunch of xmas gifts in a fair-sized box that I’ve taped up and put her address on. The fellow working at the post office is new, I’ve only seen him once before and I believe he was being trained then. That was a week or two ago. Buddy looks to be about 50 years old, pretty unremarkable. I put the package on the counter, say I want to send it to my mom. He says “ok but we can’t send it in this box.” I say, “what?” He points out that the box is a wine brand, and says they don’t ship alcohol (never mind that the box is all cut up and taped back up and obviously not full of alcohol). My mom has lived far away most of my life so I’ve been mailing her packages for 30 years, and I’m fairly confident I’ve sent stuff in wine boxes before with no issues. I mention this to him and ask if this is a new policy. He says, “it’s been a new policy since never. We have never mailed alcohol, firearms, etc.” ‘New policy since never’ is such a lame thing to say, and makes it sound like it has been this way since the dawn of time. The geek. I’m quietly enraged by this point. I explain that I don’t want to have to go home and repackage this and then come back, just because of some writing on the box. I ask if there are any ways around this. He says, with zero irony or humour, “sure, we have brown paper and tape you can buy and cover the box with.” Rage increases. I ask the dolt if he has a black sharpie pen I can borrow. He says yes, but then adds doubtfully, “uhhhh this might take you a while — that whole box needs to be covered.” I look him in his fucking buffoon eyes and seethe through clenched teeth that the box will not have any alcohol-related text on it once I am done. I take the package and sharpie to the back table and spend approximately 1 minute scribbling over any text that mentions wine or the brand of wine. I anticipate dickhead will tell me “nope, not good enough, entire box needs to be covered” since that’s what he said earlier but he accepts the box just fine. He rings it in, asks me to answer the question on the customer computer screen. I wait a minute, nothing comes up. He looks at me like I’m an idiot, I tell him nothing has come up. He hits some more keys and goes “ooohhh…” and then takes the fucking measurements of the box that he had neglected to take as of yet. Once he does that and enters the shit into his computer, a question comes up on my screen asking me to rate my experience at the post office today. I give the clod a 2/10 and leave.
Something weird is happening. Years ago, I used to think that the movie American Psycho came out when I was a teen, like probably 1998, but maybe as early as 1996. I was sure of it, though I can’t say why I was so sure. And I remembered a song by The Cure was on the soundtrack for that, and that song was off of their Bloodflowers album — but some years ago I looked at the year Bloodflowers came out, and that was in 2000. I was mystified, baffled. But I eventually shrugged my shoulders and got on with my life.
I basically forgot about all that, and over the last few days I revisited Bloodflowers for the first time in many years (it’s pretty lousy — three songs I like out of nine) and was reminded of a time when some girl I never even met was writing me letters from Quesnel. She was a friend of someone else I knew there, and somehow we became pen pals. I have no recollection of how. But it was all very flirty and I liked the attention, and I remember she was a bit goth and liked The Cure and mentioned that she loved a song on Bloodflowers, I think it was Maybe Someday (one of the three I actually like, phew). So when I listened to that song the other day, I thought about when I would have been in contact with this girl, and realized it must have been the year 2000 or later, and I was once again dumbfounded, because I can’t imagine myself having a pen pal at age 20 or 21. I mean, I know I was a late bloomer in terms of maturity but this is ridiculous. I thought I would have been 16, maybe 17, which would have been fine. Teenage years are made for that kind of silly, embarrassing, hopeless romantic shit. But 20 or 21, those are legal adult years. Good grief. I want to slap myself.
Besides, we were all using email by the year 2000, so wtf was I doing exchanging real letters with someone, in my early 20’s, in the early 2000’s?
Anyway, all embarrassing exposés aside, my point is that it’s weird that Bloodflowers and these things I associate with it feel like they are from several years prior to the release of the album. I wonder what’s going on in my stupid brain to mess with my perception of these timelines.
That’s an exaggeration. I know that some of my neighbours really do have jobs, but I’m constantly shocked by how many may not. I’m gonna list them now.
- Shitty Jim: always in his yard, mowing the lawn or leaf blowing. Looks to be in his early 50’s and claims to have a blue collar business I’ve never seen any evidence of.
- Shitty Jim’s wife: goes for short drives constantly, all day, every day. Most likely selling drugs. That’s technically a job but because it’s covert, I don’t count it.
- Burn Barrel guy: spends his days burning trash in a burn barrel, whistling loudly for his dogs, staring at the logs that have been laying in his yard for years, starting and revving a piece of of Jaguar car that always seems to run like shit not matter how often he starts it or how much he revs it.
- Wife of Burn Barrel guy: she may work but I usually see her with their kids in the yard so I don’t think so. Maybe part time?
- Garage guy: always in his garage with the door open, working on some new car he has bought, running loud air tools. I know his wife works though.
- Yard Tarp guy: always in his yard, either standing drinking a beer, putting yet another tarp on the piles of junk he has amassed, or driving his quad around in a standing position (like a 12-yr old would). I know his wife works. Ok I see a trend emerging here.
There is one retired couple but they don’t count, obv. And there are three couples and one single person that I know do in fact work. So I guess it’s only about 50/50. That still seems really high though — how do people pay their mortgages if they’re not working? I don’t think social assistance pays that well.
My neighbours probably think Jenn and I don’t work either. But that’s none of their damn business!!!
- I don’t understand clubs or gangs that don’t seem to do much. Over the last few days I read a bit about “The Jaks” which were basically a bunch of skateboarders in Vancouver and Vancouver Island in the 80’s. But I see lots of old guys now who are still waving the Jaks flag, as if it’s important or a thing of real value, and I just find it sad. Like, who would believe that skateboarding and drinking beers was valuable as anything other than just youthful fun? Who would turn into a 50-something who still thinks they are a badass hellraising punk that is part of a cool “gang”? I don’t even like using that word, gang. At least real gangs have illicit businesses. I feel like groups like the Jaks are just glorified bar flies. I hope I’m missing something here and they actually do great charity work or something.
- It’s November 8th, and we got an inch of snow last night. Two weeks ago, we were still balls deep in an autumn drought and heat wave. Our weather is so fucked these days. I hate it. I like normal seasons. I like fall in particular, and this year we got two weeks of it. Blast.
- Speaking of, I’m happy with how my Halloween 2022 season turned out. The Danezig/Ramores show in Vic was good (not great, but just going to a show for the first time in years was really enjoyable, which speaks to how socially starved I’ve been for that kind of thing); I made pumpkin pie sex in a pan the next day (Jenn says it needs a better name so I suggested ‘sex in a pumpkin’ and she liked that) for Alex’s annual pumpkin carving night, it turned out great, and Alex’s was yet another lovely evening of seeing friends and basking in pre-Halloween vibes; the night before Halloween I volunteered at the Glenora haunted hall and it was fantastic — tons of people came, and they were more into it then in previous years; and on the big night, I played my first show with my new Misfits cover band at a well-suited very strange venue. It went pretty well but I’m my own worst critic so I had a hard time really enjoying it. Also, I was so nervous about and consumed with details surrounding the show that I didn’t really absorb the Halloween vibe of the night, which meant there was a lot of build-up to Halloween night and fun stuff happened, but it didn’t quite feel like Halloween night to me. A minor detail but interesting to note. In hindsight, I wish I had found a pumpkin to smash on my way home from the show.
- Yesterday while on a run at dusk, I was thinking about this blog and how a lot of it is me trying to figure out where we draw lines on topics, how some things are acceptable while others are not (like why the Dahmer series on Netflix is drawing so much ire while a glut of other exploitative true crime media receives zero ire), and the conclusion is usually “there are no clear lines, everything is a shade of grey, each thing must be judged on its own.” I really seem to wrestle with this stuff — I frequently look for clear lines, to know what’s wrong and what’s right, despite realizing that that is not a feasible way to approach life. I feel like this my desire for both clarity and ambiguity may be my single biggest internal struggle, since it encapsulates so many other things. Will I ever be content?? Gasp. No one knows!!!
Ok that’s a shitty post but I’ve been really busy lately and haven’t had time to blog as much as I want, so this will just have to do.
Two nights ago I dreamed I met Satan. It was scary at first, but I can’t remember why. But he was actually very chill, and explained to me that he wasn’t anyone special, that he was just a guy who used his brain to its fullest potential. Then his brain kind of unfurled out the top of his head like a sail or a solar panel, and he explained how in our heads our brains are all bunched up and crowded, and it’s not able to work well like that. So he just lets it expand outside his head so it can breathe and move and work way better, and anyone could do that if they chose to. It was pretty weird and stupid but it was a huge relief after expecting old Satan to school me in the ways of pain, forever and ever.
Last night I dreamed I was on a rooftop with Dustin from Stranger Things.
I had a tiny knife, more like a seam ripper for sewing, and I was trying to cut his head off with it. No idea why. I managed to make some grotesque flesh wounds but he wasn’t super compliant, and I needed him to stay quiet so we wouldn’t be caught by someone, so it didn’t get any further than that. The dream stayed like this for a long time, until eventually I noticed some janitor lady in the building we were on, and I was able to get her to help me sneak Dustin out with his head still on. Phew. Then I was on vacation in Europe and stressed about travel logistics.
Small town dollar store. I’m buying last minute accessories for my Halloween costume. There are a few teenage boys in the store, doing the same. The cashier is an older woman, probably in her early to mid 60’s. She looks like you would expect a 60-something yr old woman working at a dollar store to look. Zero makeup except for a ton of loud bright pink stuff around her eyes that make it look like she has double eye infections going on. Skin is dry as a desert, looks like she has probably smoked most of her life. No surprise. The boys in the store buy a few things and make pleasant conversation with the lady. They make some comment about being nice kids. The lady says sternly, “well, maybe you are but I don’t know about that girl you hang around with.” The boys are like “uhhhhh.” She continues, “when you were in here earlier she looked through some of the shirts and just left them in a pile. Made a great big mess that I HAD TO CLEAN UP.” She pauses, seems like she’s done, the boys are still like “uhhhh.” Then seething dollar store lady continues, “it’s just plain rude. If you take out a shirt to look at it, you FOLD IT BACK UP WHEN YOU PUT IT AWAY. Everyone knows that.” Another pause, the boys are like “we’ll let her know.” I’m trying to decide which face paints to buy, hoping desperately that this pathetic, embarrassing interaction is over, but the old crone isn’t finished. “Does she do that at home? NO. So why does she think it’s ok to do it here?” The boys have finally paid for their wares and hustle out the door, “ok thanks, see ya.” I find what I want, approach the counter, avoid eye contact and say as little as possible. I just want to buy my shit and get away from this sad woman as quickly as possible.
I just made a grilled cheese sandwich.