Monday, December 11, 2006

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round

My hand to God, this is my last post about Vancouver transit. I was hanging around at home today, when my roommate Shereen came home.
"Aaaargh!" she said. "I've just had the worst bus ride!"
Apparently, a gentleman on the bus had been harassing her the entire way home, although in his mind he probably thought he was flirting. Eventually, some of the more gallant riders started yelling at him to leave her alone, and he started yelling back at them, which only made things more awkward. Finally, she had to get up and move to the front of the bus just to get away from him, and understandably so.
After she told this story, Rocel, another roommate of mine, said "You know? I almost saw a fight on the bus, today." Apparently, as a guy was getting on the bus he lost his balance and accidentally hit a seated passenger. As he did not apologize, the wounded rider started yelling at the man who'd hit him, in a British accent. "Take your hat off! let me see your face! I'm going to remember you! Wot, wot!" It almost came to blows!
"Huh," I said. "I had a crazy bus ride last night."
When the bus reached Hastings *, a woman had gotten on board who was in the process of screaming her woes at the world. She began by lamenting the fact that there was a woman with her small child on the bus. "Whatever happened to bedtimes?" screamed the crazy woman. "I don't believe it. With my son he was in bed by eight. Sometimes he'd sleep with me, though. That's not good for a boy to sleep with his mother. But so what? Fuck you!" She was saying all this to no one in particular. Eventually some other passengers told her to "shut the fuck up and quit whining! No one cares about your problems!" "Fuck you!" she screamed back. "No one cares about me. I'm alone 24/7. So what if I'm talking. Fuck you!" And so on. "Fucking cunts! Motherfuckers! At least I'm not cruel! I don't have a mean bone in my body! Motherfuckers!" Finally, the bus driver told her to get the hell of the bus, as he'd seen her before, "blowing her nose all over the seats" (which kind of gave me pause). In fact, the driver got so flustered he went down the wrong street, and we all had to get off the bus.
So, Vancouver transit; it's a real life experience. I just can't wait until my other three roommates get home so I can see if they'd had any bus adventures. Also, I can see if they'd spoken to my other four roommates.

*For those of you who are not in the know, hastings is the saddest street in Vancouver; the saddest I've ever seen. It's absolutely filled with junkies, prostitutes and the homeless. Fortunately, it's right by Gastown and Chinatown, two of Vancouver's biggest tourist draws. Hence, it's kind of a rite of passage for visitors to Vancouver to accidentally wander onto Hastings and find themselves swarmed by homeless junkie prostitutes, making all kinds of intriguing propositions.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Say it Loud and Say it Proud! You're Married!

Okay, I'm a little apprehensive about broaching this topic, as the last time I brought it up it resulted in a screaming argument between my aunt and uncle, culminating in my aunt storming to the front door and proceeding to throw shoes at my uncle and me. I am not making this up.
But here goes: wedding rings. As I am in my mid-twenties, it is perfectly feasible that the women I hit on could be married. Therefore, I have developed the habit of looking for the ring when attempting to ascertain the availability of the young woman upon whom I am inflicting my advances. But this practice, which has been used by single people of both sexes for decades, if not centuries, has become woefully inadequate. Many married women have taken to wearing non-standard wedding rings, and many unmarried women who like wearing jewellery have taken to wearing rings (that signify nothing) on their 'ring fingers.' This is annoying.
My objection is prompted by an encounter with a lovely young woman, with whom I was flirting (and who, I may add, was flirting back). I subtly cast my eyes down to her hand and spotted only a thin silver ring. Being the old-fashioned fella I am, I decided this was not a wedding ring, as I was looking for the more traditional thick, gold, wedding band. Needless to say, I was wrong, and barking up the wrong tree *.
So what is a single boy to do? My aunt's suggestion, before she commenced hurling the footwear, was that I should just outright ask a woman if she's married. While admiring the forthrightness of this approach, I fear that it would rather tip my hand. To my mind, it would be somewhat akin to announcing: "I am going to hit on you, now," at the start of a conversation. But what's the alternative? Many women helpfully, if irritatingly, work their husbands or boyfriends into the conversation early on, so as to head one off at the pass, so to speak. But, many unavailable women enjoy flirting with single men (especially handsome, hairy, slightly off-putting ones), and so are hesitant to bring up the old man, and end the flirting prematurely.
I vote that we bring back the standard old, easily recognizable, wedding ring and make it mandatory for all married women. Also, i think burkas are a good idea, you wanton harlots.

*"Barking up the wrong tree." How come when someone meets someone eligible, attractive and interested in them, they do not say "I was barking up the correct tree." Just a thought.

"As I creep through the underbrush, I spot the elusive #8...."

Continuing the transit theme from my last post, I would just like to say that the buses here in Vancouver suck. No, let me amend that, the buses themselves are just fine; the eccentricities of the transit system here suck. Now, back in Winnipeg, and I don't know how it is where you live, buses have routes and schedules, which the drivers attempt to adhere to with some regularity. Here, the routes seem to be at the mercy of the drivers, or some other as-yet-unknown entity. Case in point; last week I was at my favorite bar in Vancouver (the Pub 340 at Cambie and Hastings if you're wondering), and around twenty to one I got up to leave. As there were a few more buses scheduled to come around, I knew I had given myself plenty of time to catch one. So I walked the half block to the bus stop and I waited. And waited. And waited. Another fellow at the bus stop asked me: "The number eight fraser runs past here, right?" "Of course," I replied, in retrospect a tad optimistically. I smoked a cigarette. And waited. I smoked another cigarette. And waited. And waited. "You're sure the number eight comes by here?" asked the other fellow. "I'm... pretty sure," I replied, with rapidly flagging confidence. I confirmed for the thousandth time that I was at the right bus stop. I smoked another cigarette.
And so, an hour passed in this way, and I finally had to bite the bullet and admit that the bus just wasn't coming. Did the #8 fraser spontaneously stop running? Doubtful, more likely the bus was re-routed elsewhere through downtown.
Really, it's my fault; I should have sensed that the bus would be going a completely different way. I mean, what was I thinking? How could I be so naive as to think that the #8 Fraser would actually pass by the #8 Fraser bus stop? I am such a hick! I hope no sophistimicated Vancouverites read this and realise what a rube I am. I should just go back to the farm where the buses run on time.
Ahem. Anyway, I had to catch a cab which was annoying, as I hate taking cabs. Nothing against cabs or cab drivers, I just don't like being driven around by complete strangers, whether I'm paying them or not. It's a quirk of mine. So, I'm not crazy about catching cabs, and I'm really not crazy about catching cabs at quarter to two on a Friday night when I'm competing with, approximately, the entire population of Vancouver.
So now, every time I go downtown, I'm very apprehensive. There is absolutely no way to ensure, ahead of time, that I'll be able to get back home. Unless, of course, I get in the habit of wandering the streets of Vancouver and hoping to God I spot my bus, in which case I'd have to chase it down and incapacitate it in some way so I can board it. Much as the lion stalks a gazelle...

*Postscript! The one social difference I have noticed between Vancouverites and Winnipeggers, is that staggering numbers of people thank the bus driver here when they get off the bus. And I don't mean a discrete nod and a muttered 'hello' as they walk past the driver. They'll get off at the back doors and practiacally scream 'Thanks!" to the driver. We just don't do that in Winnipeg. I mean, really, why would you? It's not as if the driver was making a special trip just for you. I mean, he was going that way, anyway.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Flower Grows in South Vancouver

The story of my strange and lengthy encounter with a young gangsta chick while on my way home the other night.

Part 1: On the Bus
Gangsta Girl: Hey, is this Fraser St. here?
Me: Yes.

Part 2: Getting off the bus.
Gangsta Girl: Can I have a cigarette?
Me: Sure. Here.
Gangsta Girl: Thanks.

Part 3: Walking to the Bus Stop
Gangsta Girl: Hey, I'm supposed to meet someone, but I'm way early, do you have a phone I can use?
Me: No (which was true, I don't have a cell phone.)

Part 4: At the Bus Stop
Gangsta Girl: Yeah, so I'm supposed to meet someone and I said it would be in, like, half an hour and I'm really early.
Me: Yeah, sorry, I don't have a phone.
Gangsta Girl: It's actually a guy I just met on the bus. He told me to meet him here and he said he lives, like, a block away.
Me: A block in which direction?
Gangsta Girl: Exactly!
Me: Huh, that's annoying.
Gangsta Girl: I know. Hey (pointing at a guy sitting at a bus stop across the street), maybe that's him!
(she walks across the street and stares at this guy, who looks uncomfortable, then she walks back)
Me: No luck?
Gangsta Girl: Nah, wasn't him. But there's a pay phone across the street, I'm going to try calling him. If you see a dude named Ben, tell him I'll be right back. Just go 'Ben!' at every dude who goes by.
Me: Uh, okay.
(she walks off to the pay phone, as I stand there and wonder how long I'm expecting to wait here. Also, in the unlikely event that my bus arrives on time, what is the etiquette here? Should I let the bus go and wait for her? Anyway, the bus doesn't come and she walks back)
Me: Well?
Gangsta Girl: Yeah, he says he's coming soon. I think. I don't actually know this guy so I can't say for sure if he's coming. Damn it's cold out! Anyway, I'm glad you're here. I feel safer.
Me: Sure.
Gangsta Girl: if you weren't here, you know, what if, like, some old guy drives up. The I'd have to stab him.
Me: Sure.
Gangsta Girl: And I would, too! I have a knife, I'll fucking stab somebody! But I'd rather it not come to that.
Me: No one wants it to come to that.
Gangsta Girl: God, this is so sketchy. I don't even know this guy, i just met him on the bus. Now I'm going to his house! Hey, could you lend me, like, two bucks in case I need to get out of there? Then I could take a bus at least.
Me: For that, you can have two dollars (I give her two dollars).
Gangsta Girl: Thanks. I'm kind of drunk.
(At this point I realise she's been drinking a can of beer the entire time)
Gangsta Girl: This is so sketchy! I don't know what I'm doing.
Me:(hopefully) You know, you could just take those two dollars and go home right now.
Gangsta Girl: (nodding slowly as she ponders this) You know what? You're right. (pause) But maybe I'll wait around a bit longer.
Me: (not so hopefully) Uh-huh.
Gangsta Girl: Shit! And there's your bus! Well, I guess you're leaving.
Me: I guess so.
Gangsta Girl: Well, thanks for everything, man.
Me: You going to be alright?
Gangsta Girl: Yeah, he'll be here soon.
Me: Good luck.
Gangsta Girl: Thanks.
(she hugs me. I get on the bus)

Part 5: On the Bus
(I feel like kind of a piece of shit for leaving her, but she was a drunk girl wandering the city alone, about to go home with a dude she met on the bus. She needed more protection than than I was capable of providing.)

The Death of Kaiser Wilhelm *

So I was in a bar last night and, during a brief lull in the punk music, I heard this snatch of conversation from the two men behind me:

Guy #1: he was assassinated in 1937.
Guy #2: He invented the dildo.

Then the music crashed back on. I am insanely curious as to who these guys were talking about. Their use of the term 'assassinated' makes it sound like a political figure, but dildo?
I considered researching this further, but I don't think googling 'dildo' and 'political figure' will result in anything too helpful.

*Incidentally, I am not suggesting that Kaiser Wilhelm was assassinated or invented the dildo, in case any of you are history students using this site as a reference.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What? Who?

Hello internet! How is you doing it? I am much glowing! Things are super double plus good! Am enjoying happy much joy!
Okay, that wasn't entirely sincere. But i am doing okay. As the more astute of you may have noticed, i am in fact living in Vancouver right now, the jewel of Canada's West Coast. I am living with a few very fine people.
Oh, so much to report; since last we spoke, I have had several romances, worked as a census taker, worked as a pantyhose salesman, done emergency customer service for Dairy Queen, and have had many misadventures. oh, so much to tell.
But there'll be time enough for telling. Right now, i just want to say that I am here.
I hope y'all ain't forgotten me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I still exist

Yes, hello, I'm here. I'm always here. So it's been, my goodness, about seven months since last I posted. It's been fairly busy, I've quit drinking, started drinking and quit drinking several times; you know the routine. I'm starting to think of it like the seasons; I go through my drunk-happy season, drunk-miserable season, sober-happy season and then we start again. I know I'll have to quit for good at some point, some point fairly soon, but right now I have to say I am... well happy seems boastful; less depressed, maybe? That may sound underwhelming, but I assure you 'less depressed' is probably the best I've felt in a long time, years maybe. Wow, that's depressing. Fuck! I ruined it!
This is getting maudlin. I remember why I stopped posting to this thing. Anyway, this really is a good time for me. I finally quit my job! I am no longer an indentured, albeit well-paid, servant of mastercard. That's a good thing. While casting about for another job I ponced off to Vancouver to visit my father's family. While there, my aunt and uncle offered me a place to live, a room in their condo, and my aunt offered me a job with the tour- company- thing she works for. They made the offer less than a week ago, so I want to give it some thought, but I think I'm going to go. It would mean leaving Winnipeg, the city I've lived in my entire life, as well as my family here, and my friends. Frankly, the prospect of starting in an entirely new, and massive, city scares the hell of of me, but I think that's a good thing. I'm excited about it; I feel engaged by the possibilities of it.
Oh, I'm writing, too. I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but I've written a screenplay. I gave it to my old screenwriting professor to read, and while I was waiting to hear back from him, which took a while, I started a novel. I've since heard back from my prof and he gave me lots of good notes and ego-boasting praise, as well some names in local production companies. The novel is going well, though, so well that I want to finish it before I get back to the screenplay, with some breaks here and there to knock off some short stories. I really love writing, whether or not I'm ever successful at it. Of course if I can recieve some sort of champagne-and-blowjob- based compensation that would be good, too.
I am still single, which is annoying. I've been kind of a mess the last...oh, seven years or so, and probably not much use to a woman. I'm starting to pull my shit together, though, and become someone worth being with. Hmm, that's kind of boastful, too, but hey, let's just go ahead and get a little nuts.
So that's it, I guess; there's my progress report. You know what? In retrospect, upgrade my status from 'less depressed' to 'almost happy.' I know, I know, it's a bold statement for me. But so what, fuck you, it's my blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Have we met?

One night in July, I slept in a tent on Prince Edward Island. The wind blew hard that night, shaking the tent so violently that I woke repeatedly. In fact, the wind was so harsh my friend’s tent broke, and he woke up wrapped in canvas; he spent the rest of the night in the car. Because of the difficult night, all three of us got up around 6:30 in the morning, sunrise, although it was overcast.
Prince Edward Island is the smallest of Canada’s provinces, boasting a mere 100,000 people. It is a small island nestled on the East Coast, surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. As we were all awake so early, we decided to take advantage, and go see the coast. It was nearby, of course (everything is nearby on the island), and we reached the coast within minutes. I don’t know why, but the rocks, and consequently the sand and soil, are the color of rust in P.E.I. We parked, and my friends immediately went down to the water, their cameras in tow. I hung back, intentionally, and doubled back to the car. I opened the trunk, and rooted through my duffel bag, which at that point was half filled with clothes and half filled with dirty laundry. I was looking for a bottle of whiskey.
About three weeks earlier, back in Winnipeg, I had purchased the bottle; I only drank about a quarter of it before I decided to quit drinking entirely, the culmination of a lengthy, messy bender. The morning that I was leaving for the coast, I had the impulse to pack the bottle, I didn’t know why at the time.
I was having a hard time finding the whiskey in my bag; although you’d think finding a glass bottle in a bag of clothes would be short work. I was getting frustrated, and accidentally knocked over a plastic bag with a bottle of BBQ sauce in it. Finally, I found the bottle of whiskey, and I stuffed it in my bag. I picked up the plastic bag with the BBQ sauce from the ground, to set it back in the trunk, and noticed that a) the bottle had broken, b) BBQ sauce was spilling all over my friend’s luggage, and c) I had cut my hand on the broken glass. I mopped up the spilled sauce as best I could with damp paper towels, and cleaned the blood off my hand and BBQ sauce out of my wound as best I could. I had cut my hand on the soft skin between my thumb and forefinger.
I set off along the coastline, in the opposite direction from my friends. Red cliffs lined the coast, and I walked along them, through knee high grass, until I found a sufficiently remote spot where the cliff jutted out over the water. Satisfied that I was alone, I took the bottle out of my bag. It was Wiser’s, my favorite brand of whiskey, and, as I said, the bottle was three-quarters full. I held the bottle with my bloody hand and said, aloud: "Liquor bottle, you carry all my fear, and you carry all my weakness. I send you out, now, into the world, to trouble me no more." And I flung the bottle over the cliff where it shattered against the red rocks, and mingled with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Then I put a band-aid on my hand.
* * *
I haven’t posted in any serious way for along time. The fact is, since I quit drinking I have had no urge to write about myself, or my life. I stare at the blank Blogger posting rectangle and I have no desire to write anything. It’s taken me a week to write this. I don’t know what has brought this change about me, but I think I don’t like Dash Bradley, any more. It’s not my real name, of course, as I’ve mentioned, but a name I invented to describe both a kind of person I don’t much care for, and a two-dimensional character who becomes three dimensional. I think both descriptions are appropriate. It’s time to cast off this alter-ego, shed him like a skin I’ve outgrown.
I feel like… remember when you were a kid? Remember that moment when you realized you know longer wanted to play with toys? Remember how it was kind of sad, to be leaving your childhood behind you, but also kind of exciting? That’s how I feel. I’m sober, and I feel good about it. I’m going to AA. I’m probably going to go into therapy (but I’m not taking the pills). I’m looking for a new job. I’m even starting to write again.
Maybe these are placebos and pipe dreams, and in six months I’ll be back where I started, drunk and hopeless. I don’t know. All I know is that, right now, I don’t feel hopeless at all.
As hope is alien to Dash Bradley, I must send him away, off into the wastes of Siberia with his bitterness and his alcohol. Who knows? I may check in on him from time to time.
As for me, I’ve found this an interesting experience, and may return to blogging in the future. I have met some terrific people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I’ll be keeping my eye on you, don’t worry.
My name is Nicholas Andrew Beley, and I’m not dancing so madly anymore.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"If you're fond of sand dunes, and salty air/ quaint little villages, here and there"

Well, I’m off for pastures greener. Sorry I haven’t spoken for a few days but I’ve been away from work, getting involved in all sorts of monkey business. I am still sober, in case you were wondering, and it seems to be going okay. I actually feel pretty good about it, to tell you the truth. I have been concerned that in giving up drinking my life would be less exciting or fun, which may well be true, but in return I seem to be feeling a twinge in the back of my neck that may be this thing you hu-mans call ‘self-respect.’ Shh, don’t tell anybody.
But yes, I am heading out for the East Coast on a long-overdue vacation. What adventure will I find out in the wild maritime provinces? Who can say; perhaps what I will really find is… myself?