|NO WHITE CHRISTMAS. Fine by me, I guess. Our landlord
hasn't bothered raking up the leaves that have settled into damp, rotting
piles all over our front lawn, so I wasn't looking forward to trying to
shovel snow with thick layers of mulch underneath. The neighbours on our
street already think this house is a bit of a let-down for the side, so
our reputation wouldn't be damaged any further by untouched snow, packed
into icy troughs on the sidewalks and paths. Still, a white Christmas would
have made the decrepit state of the place an issue, and I'm glad I didn't
have to deal with it.
Here's to the indictable, assertive responsiblities of
home ownership. As a renter, I don't care about mulchy old leaves as long
as the roof stays on and the tap runs clear.
MANAGED TO GET THROUGH the holidays in a relatively even
frame of mind. On the Friday before the day itself, rushing through a last-minute shopping frenzy, I was overcome by a brief but undeniable anxiety attack as I sat in a Starbucks nursing a grande latte and planning my next shopping move. Too many people, my fevered mind muttered to itself. Seething, grasping mass, half-crazed from insatiable want, the voice mumbled, sounding a bit like Derek & Clive crossed with Gore Vidal. Never mind that I was part of that seething mass, as desperate and want-mad as anybody else.
I don't get out much these days. Lack of money and a kind
of grim contentment with our little world out here in the west end militates
against any sustained journeys around the town. Friends I'd once see weekly
for coffee I barely see once a month, and I've memorized the magazine release
schedules well enough that foraging for print can be done in quick raids.
The rest of the time is spent on the couch, downstairs in front of the
t.v., or up here at my desk, with the cats milling around my feet and the
world filtered as it enters my window by the branches of the ash tree on
the front lawn, now leafless.
I've cultivated a ghostly presence as a pedestrian or
transit-rider, avoiding rush hour, armed with a book or magazine in which
to bury my eyes, or gazing blankly at the hoardings around the latest bits
of development, glassy-eyed as I note the latest retail failures or the
new stores that pop up in their place. I grab meals at off-hours between
lunch and dinner rushes, make my way through the popular shops at quiet
times early in the week, and have nearly perfected a seething, intense,
vaguely hostile glare that repels all but the most robotically cheerful
I actually rather like the month or so of retail torpor
after Xmas, for reasons that should be obvious; dead shops staffed with
saleshelp ill-motivated despite their grudging gratitude at surviving post-Xmas layoffs; prices slashed low-low-low in hopes of meeting at least the rent
before spring and paid-off credit cards bring the real shoppers back. This
is where I thrive, picking up a few bargains and sifting through the slowly
I stand to have a bit of spending money this winter, thanks
to an unexpected job, and I might be able to enjoy the denuded retail landscape. Maybe I'll get a cheap DVD player, a new pair of pants, another hooded sweatshirt, some travel books.
The Grinch gazed gloatingly down on Whoville, his thin
lips turning up into a dreadful smile as he contemplates the snowy streets
and the stores with their pleading signs, "Flurbs 1/2 Price!" and
Wha-Tinklers Marked Way Down!"...