September 2009

Big Wheels Keep On Turning...

I’m finding it easy to feel my age a little more these days.

Not because I feel old, but because I can see so many changes in the world around me.

My old stomping grounds have become completely gentrified. There are only shadows left of what that neighbourhood used to be, a few relics kept around for the kitsch and nostalgia, but most of it has been updated and modernized and made much more easy to digest.

Which is the complete opposite of why I originally liked it.

Back when I moved into Kensington, rent was cheap, buildings were old and people were sincere. Now, from what I can tell, rents are through the roof, most of those old buildings have been torn down and new buildings built on their graves or at the very least they have been massively renovated.

Which is to say nothing of the sincerity of the people there.

I’ll say this about that…

When I moved into Kensington, you rarely saw people from what I now call, the “Cactus Club Supercool Set”. They stayed out of there most of the time because the neighbourhood was beneath them. Now, they are by far the majority of the population.

Shiny and new.

Erasing what was once there in the name of I can’t even begin to guess at what.

We’re far to good at that in this neck of the woods. So many of the neighborhoods and buildings that I grew to love have been destroyed in one fashion or another. We build them better, stronger and faster now.

It worries me for a lot of reasons, and while the first is that it leaves me feeling markedly out of place, the second is that the new generations that pass through the same places I passed through will be missing out on something that was to me, profoundly defining.

When you walk into a space with history, if you’re open to it, you can feel it. There is a palpable feeling in the air that there have been countless stories that have unfolded in that space, and a sense of belonging and privilege in knowing that your own story is now added to those. You become a part of that space. A part of something that stretches back into the past. A part of something bigger than yourself.

But in our current revisionist culture, it seems that experience is the very thing that most of us are desperately trying to avoid. As soon as something begins to take on that air, we either knock it down or paint it over and move in some more glass and chrome.

Which is why I feel old. Not because I feel tired, or because I have aches, or anything like that, not at all.

I feel old because I find myself yearning for “the good old days”. That and hoping that there might just be a few of these places left for my kids one day.

But given the current climate, I’m doubtful.

Born With A Broken Heart

Ruby was born with a broken heart. No one broke it for her. It came broken in the original packaging and that was all that there was. A little tiny slippery baby girl come screaming into the world with one very serious manufacturing defect.

Not much that they could do about in the moments immediately after she was born. She didn’t look or sound like she had a heart that wasn’t running at full capacity as designed to anyone who was present in the delivery room. It was only later that they found out that Ruby’s heart was broken.

In fact, by all accounts, with the at the time undiscovered issue with her heart, she was just about as perfect as a baby can be. This is above and beyond the obvious opinion of her parents, being that most parents are almost always of the mind that their offspring are nothing less than perfection at the moment of birth.

All of the people in the room, all of the patients were quite certain (even to the surprise of some of the more jaded hospital employees) that Ruby was the most perfect of all of the babies that had ever been born in the hospital.

Which was even further compounded by the fact that she didn’t cry.

Initially that worried both the delivery doctor and Rubies parents, but once it was confirmed that she was in fact breathing and doing everything else one would expect from a newborn, minds were set at ease, if only temporarily.

While Ruby was recovering from the traumatic event that is being born, parents of other children who had also just been through the same trauma came by the room to comment on what an absolutely perfect little baby she was.

Some of them, finding themselves comparing their own offspring and Ruby were able to write off their admiration for the seeming perfection of her by mentally explaining the seeming shortcoming of their own children.

They did this in all sorts of ways. Some reminded themselves of the fact that their gene pool had some pretty shallow waters (other than their own individual pools, but their spouses Uncle or Aunt so-and-so was always a bit on the disproportionate side of course).

Some of the mothers blamed themselves for cheating on their diet or sneaking that second glass of wine when they really did know better.

Some of the fathers blamed their virility, or the fact that they never really looked into whether or not that microwave was leaky.

All of them, however, weren’t bothered in the slightest by Ruby’s perfection. They had what they had come for, and no one could ever have expected that such a perfect baby could even be born in the first place, so they were quite happy with their own children.

It was only after the first day when Ruby still had not made one single sound to show anything other than a neutral mood that the hospital staff began running more in depth tests to determine if Ruby was in any way anything other than peak physical condition.

Which, in all fairness, with the exception of an extremely rare heart defect, she was.

Unfortunately, the hospital staff did discover an extremely rare heart defect, and they did have to give the parents the unfortunate news. The bottom line at the end of all of the medical speak was this:

Ruby could drop dead at any moment if she ever became more excited than her defective little heart could handle. There was no when, there was no treatment, there was only a rather large elephant that had been dropped in the middle of the room that Ruby and her parents would now have to live with for the rest of their individual lives.

It is also worth mentioning that Ruby was born on a Saturday.

The silver lining of course was that Ruby seemed to be the most unexcitable baby since perhaps the birth of Christ.

There is a whole other separate story about a small group of people that actually took that fact for something far more than a random coincidence, as lonely people sometimes do, but that comes at another time, if it all.

Ruby was sent home with her parents a week later with a lifetime prescription to a mild sedative Ruby was to be given every day to ensure that if she did ever find cause to abandon her demeanor of absolute calm that there would always be a chemical safety net to catch her.

It was for the best.

To be continued…

The Shit List

(another pseudo monthly segment I will in all likelihood forget about after a few installments).

#5 – Miley Cyrus. Who references other songs of “theirs” in their own song? Who does that?

I’ll tell you.

A teenage marketing whore who knows it will sell more.

That’s who.

#4 – Canadian politicians. At least the vast majority of them. Not only because they don’t realize how transparent they actually are, but neither does the bulk of the population.

#3 – White sunglasses and the douchebags who wear them. You know the ones. The sunglasses that look like a cross of the sunglasses from “Back to the future 2” and a stormtroopers helment. Usually they have some combination of oversize gold or silver lettering on the side so the pinhead wearing them can make it perfectly clear just how much of a willing victim of branding they are.

#2 – Jon Gosselin. Not only has this guy gotten way to much face time on what used to pass for the news, but he’s just a douchebag. Period. I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of him wearing those same white sunglasses.

#1 – Avril Lavigne. She has her own clothing line now. Her marriage has collapsed under the weight of her own hubris, so I keep my hopes for her inevitable downfall. One day, I pray… one day.

You know where to find me

Nate@natepike.com