Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Thanksgiving (Canada). I love the smell of the Cathedral as I walk in. It's the warm smell of wood. And during the mass, my favorite places to look at are the painted lines that crisscross the roof, and the celtic rose window high up on the left.

5PM. The southern windows are bright; the northern windows dark. I sit with my mom in the pew. The musician appears, carrying a microphone stand to the piano.

I felt quite lethargic yesterday and a little so today. I'm hoping this Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, away from all manner of computing machinery, will be an efficacious revitalization.

So I close my eyes and notice: the footsteps of oxfords against wooden floors, the ambient refrigeratory hum in the background.

Father Joel is speaking on Jesus' words on divorce. My eyes are unfortunately drooping. But pulling out my pen, my eyes snap awake.

Father Joel is now speaking of the frequent communication that happens in good marriages. "When the hurts come, remember that God loves us first, so do the same."

The people around me are singing the offertory song. Silver clinking shimmers in the pews before and behind me. The priest speaks a prayer during the singing. A plastic wrapper crinkles behind me to the left. The song finishes.

A line forms to receive into our hands a piece of bread which is also mysteriously the body of Jesus. There is a hushed reverence afterwards. Then all stand.

8:15 PM. The tiredness is quite heavy. I am sitting in the lounge at the ferry terminal. Read a couple of chapters from This Alien Shore--it's a good story. Voices fill the room. People conversing, smiling, reading a newspaper, writing intently, sneezing, scratching their heads, shaking a leg, ambling glumly, shrugging seriously, gasping, laughing, singing a snippet of a song, stepping loudly. Writing, I am more awake, alert. Keeping my mind engaged seems to reverse the lethargy.

The lounge is a warm shelter. Warm fluorescent lights peek through the slats of rough wooden planks and iron tensor rods that make for a ceiling. An aboriginal totem god grimaces fiercely at one end of the hall. At the other end is an unwatched plasma screen showing departure times. A seventy-year-old woman clasps her rolled-up newspaper to her lavender jacket as she ambles past. Voices. "The hardest question is interesting--I don't think you asked that." "Do you have to pay for those?" "Another office had the same problem with that woman.." "The bizarre thing is..."

Deck 4 green.

Always this self-pressure to be the best, ever since I was a child. To be the center of attention, the receiver of praises, amazement, and awards. An unnecessary, inefficient, unnecessarily limiting self-pressure.

The next 24 hours loom ahead in my mind. I hope for a comfortable sleep followed by a day of feasting and conversation. What I wish to avoid: a rough sleep, excessive reading, excessive argument, excessive television or other distractions, excessive politeness.

More voices. "Everybody's asleep." "Yeah, well, he knew where to go." "3, 2, 1!" "Did you hear what he said?" "What are you drawing?" "It's part of the experience--figuring out stuff on your own." "C'mon, mom-mee."

9:38PM. Forty minutes into the sailing. Read another chapter from This Alien Shore. We are well into the journey, and have lapsed into reading. I take a moment to take in my environment. I am seated on a foam-filled vinyl-covered cushion with a back of bronze fabric with a cross-hatched pattern. The soundscape has a rumbling base with a faint, high-pitched lining; on top of that is a layer of dialogues, conversations, and exclamations punctuated by a few voices at close proximity. The character of the overall mass of voices has the consistency of jelly--tearable, pliant, thicker than a soundcloud but more porous than a siren or a scream. It is built up of earnest speech, rustlings of paper, prattle, tired murmurs, speech, and spit.

The ceiling has various odd protrusions from its inch-deep gridded surface. The lighting wells have dual fluorescent tubes behind agitated translucent covers. A conical smoke detector blinks its solitary red eye. There is an unused recessed tracklight. And throughout are circular ducts behind offset perforated screens. A man with a black toque and a Choppers sweatshirt leans his head on the doorway, closing his eyes as he listens to

It is time to depart.


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