murray corner // vacation post // 2013
I don't have my own pictures for this post; these two are Instagrams from C's iPod (C *loves* Instagram, and while I don't have a problem with it – Instagram does make just about everybody look better – I do regard it the same way I look at girls with straight bangs who insist that bikers are "fun" and "harmless"). My own pictures are/were (a) on a digital camera that decided, quite out of the blue, to thicken and bloat around the battery pack, and not charge, and die, or at least refuse to turn on, and (b) on a cheapie Fuji disposable that I bought at the drugstore, as a backup, and will, eventually, take in to get processed, old-school-style, on film, with at least a third of the roll being photos of the inside of my pocket. Sorry, mom – you'll have to wait for your Oona pics. BUT THEY WILL RETURN. // I actually had two weeks on my own *before* the vacation, what I thought would be a pre-vacation vacation, nothing but beer and Nobunaga's Ambition, but really just turned into a workfest at the studio, interrupted by having to go into the office every day, while being stalked by house chores and tiresome things on lists. Plus regular Skype times with C and Oona, so I could talk too loudly to a shaky picture, and receive blown kisses, and marvel at how grizzly is my pixelated self. // On the last day of work all I can think is: this place is a fucking wreck. If it was a highschool, they'd be forced to shut it down. Aside from everything being old and/or broken, large tracts of it are visibly *dirty*. The washrooms, especially, are a kind of lose-lose lottery. All of which makes me tired and glad to go. // I do not pack any work -- only a notebook with the Book of John (King James version) on left-hand facing pages. Unlike Jesus, I am determined to be in one place at one time. // My journey goes: bus to Ottawa, plane to Moncton, picked up there by THE LADIES. The bus is at 6 am so I reserve a cab for 5:15. Setting three alarms for 4 am is ... alarming. // I have not taken a Greyhound in years. It is surprisingly pleasant, nearly free of gypsies and machete-wielding schizophrenics, although this could be down to the early departure time. // My Lebanese cab driver (bus station to airport) has a bad back ... or just enjoys watching his fares lift their own luggage. On the way, he explains that Lebanon is too full of bad guys and Canada is too big. When I tell him I'm from Saskatchewan, his eyes roll back in his head. // Alain de Botton wrote a book about a week at an airport (Heathrow). This is about 167.5 hours too long; after about sixty minutes, I am completely muted and defused. Everything is clean and pleasant and airy and utterly devoid of context or meaning. Everything mirrors itself – one corridor could be any corridor, and the shops repeat themselves like some kind of consumerist stutter. // On the smallest plane in the world, the steward puts me by the emergency door over the wing. An older lady tries to fight him on this point, until he questions her ability to throw a forty-pound door clear of the corpse-flaming wreckage I mean plane. // In some (read: preferred) versions of the Three Little Pigs, the wolf eats the first two pigs before being foiled (and eaten) by the third little pig. // I don't know why I wrote that in my notebook, but there it is. // Living in Moncton must be like camping inside a giant microwave. // C and Oona are glad to see me! This will last almost two days, a new record. // Grandpa Graeme and the kids (C's half-brothers and sister) come for a visit. The day is offensively hot. One of C's half-brothers (they're twins, and I can't keep them straight) says that a doctor told him that he has "executive dysfunction". I have never heard these words together like this before, but my brain will only roll over it in a lazy way. We give the other brother a light beer (not my idea), which he says tastes like pee. // The winds sweep in for a few days. Windy days are the best cottage days – cool, no bugs, high sun and the clouds skip along. // A pattern is emerging – chores in the morning, flake out in the afternoon. Swim, sand bars, hitting golf balls into the ocean, shots and beer ... I even score some naps. // Eleanor and DJ (a mini version, he's six) come for an overnight. The kids have a great time together, but it all ends in tears when we have to break them up so *somebody* can get some sleep. "Why won't the boy cuddle with me? Why did he leave me?" Oona sobs. // Really only one grey/rainy day. This only serves to highlight, in a low gleaming kind of way, all the weirdly intact but abandoned houses in the area. We drive around and I point them out for Oona – "Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts, full of ghosts, ghosts ..." // A day trip to PEI. The Confederation Bridge looms immense and somewhat terrifying. Is Charlottetown the roughest city in the world? Perhaps. Gangs of Japanese kids, high on narcotics inspired by Anne of Green Gables, roam the downtown armed with pigtails and complicated eyeliner. // I did enjoy the art gallery though, and Oona even let us get through lunch. // Old magazines at the cottage. The back pages of National Geographic from 1964 are filled with ads for boys' schools/academies. There are *some* girls schools, and a few coed schools, but the boys get a full two pages of tiny ads, most of them of the military/discipline flavour. At the Fork Union Military Academy ... "Our ONE SUBJECT PLAN of study in Upper School (grades 9-12) has increased Honour Roll 50%. DEVELOPS CONCENTRATION. Fully accredited!". // Is this what people did with their kids? I'M INTRIGUED. // Floating on your back in the ocean is one of the few times in your life that you are completely free. Then, on the way back to shore, you step on a fish. // Grandpa Graeme drops in to tell us about some Hitler videos he's found on YouTube. Since he refuses to buy/wear a hearing aid, we end up shouting at each other about the Third Reich. As if on cue, it starts to pour outside. So of course we play Trivial Pursuit (while Oona watches Mary Poppins for the eighteenth time) – a board game where people ask/shout questions to/at each other. Graeme wins. // Closing in on a month away from home, Oona's behaviour is TERRIBLE. Everything is No, I want, I don't think so and a series of fibs. Add to this a kind of verbal stream-of-consciousness dysentery, in which she contradicts everything you say, and it's time for desperate measure. This moment arrives while we're waiting in the car together for C to come out a store (Sackville, I think), where I shut Oona's brain down for a few minutes by telling her that the reason you don't see Peter Pan around anymore (she'd been insisting that he's real) is because he got trapped in a fire at the liquor store. Tra-ge-dy! // Why would a mosquito fly up my nose? Also, why does the man in the moon look like he's screaming? // Swimming against high tide; the panic is splashy but almost soothing. // More old magazines. There is always something vaguely ... *offensive* about Vanity Fair. Is it the sick lustre of wealth attempting to animate the bent, spotted bodies of its (almost always) nearly-dead inheritors? Even the self-made, like Bob Hope, look frog-like and otherworldly in front of his super-modernist spectacle of a home. // Did they *really* need to animate the Cat in the Hat? // Driving home through rural New Brunswick, up and down through heavy rain, is exhausting and boring at the same time. Deer and moose are the same level of danger as smallpox or lightning, but the real problem, as always, is other people, who can be expected to drive like baboons. KEEP AWAY. // The view from our hotel room in Riviere du Loup is a sixty-foot cinder block wall. C accuses me of being in a bad mood but I'd describe it more as grey. // Home. Kingston still blinks in the same dumb way, like a Tilley Hat that you've convinced yourself looks smart, when really it's only practical.