Monday, November 30, 2009
Eco-Rehab, a Second Excerpt
"Nurse Anna," was all I could think to say. I swallowed my 'you're pretty' follow-up.
"Hi Steve," she said. "I was told to watch out for you and your sweet-talk. So what, I’m not sweet-talk worthy?"
I shook my head so hard something cracked. I winced back tears. Vehemence and whiplash don’t mix. Nurse Anna steadied my head and dabbed my eyes. "It's okay," she said. "Maybe you're not up to flirting today."
"But I have an erection," I blurted.
She hit me with a pained smiled. I couldn’t tell if she was stifling laughter or vomit.
"Sorry," I said. "That came out wrong."
She smiled again. "I hope so," she laughed. She looked down at her clipboard and her smile flattened. "I think I see what your problem is," she said.
"Whiplash?" I ventured.
"Cars," she said.
"Oh, like the root of my problem," I said.
"No, that would be your whole lifestyle," she said.
My erection was getting worse.
I finally screwed up the courage to ask her out when I was discharged a few days later. "I don’t think I can," she said.
"But I'm not your patient anymore."
"You will be," she said.
I don’t know why I loved this kind of treatment. Masochism I guess. "You gonna sick Nurse Miller on me?" I asked.
"You’re awful," she said. "I can’t date someone who says things like that about Nurse Miller - she’s an inspiring woman. And I definitely can’t date someone who lives like you."
"How do I live?"
Here’s how she said I lived: on a diet of drugs and fat, in a hyper-sedentary high-stress environment, on too little sleep, surrounded by resource-devouring consumer products designed to make bearable my otherwise mechanized, suicidal existence. I couldn’t deny it.
"Who doesn’t live that way?" I asked.
"I don’t," she said.
Here’s how she said she lived: on a chemical-free, mostly local vegan homemade diet, balancing a challenging job she loved with active modes of transportation and regular yoga, ample sleep, in a communal housing arrangement, with minimal possessions.
"I can live like that," I said.
Friday, November 13, 2009
"Before we can make poverty history, we need to get the history of poverty right. It’s not about how much wealthy nations can give, so much as how much less they can take." -Vandana Shiva
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Stuff You Wouldn't Think He'd Have Said
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Eco-Rehab - an opening excerpt
Eco-Rehab - an opening excerpt
The median over-compensated for my lack of judgement, and the BMW curbed the median’s enthusiasm. My crumpled Tercel found itself staring down oncoming superior models, smoke rising from its 300,000 kilometre engine, me half-conscious at its wheel, my power bill glued by my blood to its windshield.
Of all the ways I’ve ever abused my body, trying to read my power bill while driving was the stupidest. I was in an ongoing struggle with Nova Scotia Power at the time. After I moved to Creighton Street they kept sending my bills to my old student address on University. Somehow, when the bills went unpaid, they managed to send their threat to disconnect to my new address. It arrived about a half-hour after my power went out.
I controlled my January shivers long enough to open their nasty letter and pick up the phone. When a pubescent customer service drone picked up I had to force the words through my chattering teeth. "You in-comp-et-ant f-f-fucks!" I shouted, my rage compounded by the ten minutes of elevatorized Coldplay jammed into my ears while I was on hold.
The customer service drone hung up and I looked down at the letter of threat again. A thousand-and-twenty bucks they wanted. "F-fuck!" I shouted to the dark, crumpling the notice, trying not to wonder how I didn’t notice that I’d gone half a year with no power bills, trying not to remember all the drugs I’d been doing since I got my own apartment.
I worked out a payment plan. Two weeks later my power was cut again, without even a note this time. My first online payment somehow went to someone else’s account, and I had to talk them into restoring my power again. I couldn’t wait to get the next bill, just to see that little dent I’d made in what I owed. It was the same with my student loans and my credit cards. Nobody liked getting bills as much as I did.
I grabbed them all from the mail-woman on my way back to the office after a quick supper and a toke to get me through what promised to be another long night. My real-world job as an investment banker was harder than I’d expected, as hard as my old man had predicted. "You have no fucking idea what you’re in for, sonny," he used to tell me, back in high school when I was voted most likely to be a welfare bum and love it.
I wanted to prove my classmates wrong - didn’t know I’d prove Dad right in the process. He was a grade-school teacher so I don’t know how he got so clairvoyant about banking. It was on his advice I bought my 15-year-old Tercel, the one I was rushing back to the office in, those bills staring up at me from the passenger seat. I was chugging at an extra-large Timmy’s triple-triple, trying to balance out the joint I’d smoked with my two-whopper dinner.
I geared down to accelerate onto the 102, whipped by a boomer driving a BMW and cut him off with a wave of my hand. Everything in that moment was too fast - I’d gone home specifically to take in some online porn and masturbate, and didn’t even have time for that. It came down to food and marijuana, or sex and marijuana. No time for both, and my tummy growled harder than my balls ached. I wouldn’t even have time for my purest pleasure: peaking at those ever-so-slightly decreased numbers.
Finally I buckled, made my greatest mistake, grabbed the phone bill and ripped it open, two-handed, and took a peak. Then a stare. Fuckers! My payment was barely more than the interest they were charging me for their mistake. That’s when I hit the median.