BY Joel

01/01 Direct Link
This year will be a year of words, my words, a year of notes tied to helium balloons, of messages in bottles, of journals, of poems left on buses and old park benches, and words written in the wet sands of receding oceans. Time to fill the mailboxes and inboxes of friends and foes, time to empty this heavy head, this heavier heart. This year will be a year of words, your words, you poets and playwrights, professors and philosophers, beautiful bloggers and smiling strangers. I'll find you this year in musty bookshops, in crowded classrooms, online, in lines, in me.
01/02 Direct Link
Ladies and gentlemen, from the depths of my tortured brain, I give you:

If Drag Queens Jumped Rope

Six leather pigs are in a parking lot
Five of them are ugly but one of them is hot
The hot one whips it out and gives his balls a shake
How many inches does she take?
One, two, three, four...

Gloria Hole has popped her tuck
Lost one of her tits in a bathroom fuck
Lipstick is smeared, wig is a mess
Where in Hell did she get that dress?
Sears, Sally Ann, Chanel, made it,
Sears, Sally Ann, Chanel, made it...
01/03 Direct Link
When I walked into his hospital room, I was quite surprised to see him awake, let alone sitting up and doing a crossword puzzle. "I guess this means the surgery went well," I said jokingly.
"Oh it's you. So kind of you to pay me a visit," he said robotically, not looking up from the game. I didn't know what to say next.
Finally, "I brought you these fl--"
"What's a four letter word, begins with 'L', for devotion?"
"Nevermind. Look - they let me keep it."
And indeed, there it was, suspended in a jar of preservative. His heart.
01/04 Direct Link
"...and I'm an addict."
"Hi Brad," they say in bored unison.
"Well, I, uh, I'm addicted to love."
"Oh, fuck off," says one guy.
"Shut they hell up says another. "You don't know what you're talking about. You can't be addicted to love because it isn't a drug. Cocaine is a drug. Heroin is a drug."
"Is gambling a drug? Or sex?" I retort. "No, they're not drugs, but there are people present who claim to be addicted to them and I didn't see them get berated up here. Now, as I was saying, I'm a junkie."
They're throwing things now - needles, dildos, poker chips...
"I love you all!" I cry as I run away.
01/05 Direct Link
In one corner of my bedroom there is a little statue of the Buddha, and when something really troubles me, I look to him for advice.
Me: Buddha, why have I been so sad lately?
Buddha: Because your heart is filled with desire. No desire, no suffering. You know that.
Me: Yes, I suppose I do. But surely love is a worthy desire? At least I'm not pining after material things, right?
Buddha: ...
Me: Well?
Buddha: Oh, I thought you were being facetious. Haha. No, child. Romance is certainly not a worthy desire. Nothing is. No desire means no desire. Period.
01/06 Direct Link
Friday night and I'm sitting here in the McDonald's downtown on Granville, the one famous for its bad clientele and really bad music. Just finished my two cheeseburgers. The first made me feel guilty for destroying my body, the second guilty for destroying the planet. I think the guilt makes them taste better. I just got off work and I don't want to go home. I'm bored. I want something exciting to happen. I want that old bum at the next table to stand up and punch me or something. Send me an earthquake, an aneurysm, a simple conversation! Anything.
01/07 Direct Link
Whenever you visit Granville Island, something magical is bound to happen to you. You might get a wink and a smile from the cute guy working at the Italian deli, maybe you'll catch sight of an otter down by the harbour. Perhaps an onld hippy lady will play on her guitar a version of Rhythm of the Rain that will leave you changed, or you'll discover a park high on a hill that has a great view of downtown Vancouver. Children could likely approach you and start telling you about Pokemon. Who knows? Maybe you'll even feel happy for once.
01/08 Direct Link
And there he is again! It's the boy from New Year's Eve - the one who read and reread the back of his Blockbuster rental as he waited in line at the 7-Eleven to buy a burrito and a pint of Ben and Jerry's. The enchantingly skinny one with endearingly greasy locks falling over his eyes. Now here he is again, same slender frame, same blonde mess, and yet another video in his hands. Why do you look so sad? Why are you alone? I like ice cream and movies too. If only I had the courage to talk to you.
01/09 Direct Link
"I DON'T WANT TO GO TO BED! I WANT TO STAY UP WITH YOU GUYS AND HELP WITH THE PUZZLE!" I'm seven, sad, screaming into my pillow. I want to stay up and help with the puzzle but Mom and Dad won't let me. As I cry, I plot my revenge.
A few days later, 999 pieces now assembled, I'm heartbroken with remorse as I watch my parents search under tables, lamps, and between the sofa cushions to find the piece I flushed down the toilet the morning after my tantrum. Revenge, I find, is hardly sweet at all.
01/10 Direct Link
Today there was a cute Japanese couple taking pictures of each other in front of the art gallery. Lost in a daydream, I didn't realize that the little photo shoot was going on until it was too late and I'd walked straight into the shot as the shutter clicked. I made a sincere apology for my absent mind, but later felt kind of glad to have been captured on their roll of film. I imagine that in a few weeks, they'll be back in Japan, flipping through all their Vancouver memories and konnichiwa! There I'll be. Unwanted, but there nonetheless.
01/11 Direct Link
"The girls do it with their tongues." Steven has us all entranced. He has an older brother who tells him all about sex and he passes this knowledge to us, his peers, a bunch of very curious 11 year olds. Today's lesson is on homosexuality.
"Eeew. That's gross," Mark says. Grossly fascinating, Mark.
"I know. And the guys do it in each other's butts."
"Sick," says Cory W. I nod my head in complete agreement. Sick indeed. Sickeningly enthralling.
"Isn't that painful?" asks the ever clever James. He's studying to become an engineer now. Yes, James. Painfully, painfully tempting.
01/12 Direct Link
I wear my emotions on my face. This is what my boss gave me as criticism in my last "performance review." I guess he figures a good "Customer Experience Representative" should be all grins and giggles, helping customers with what appears to be the utmost of pleasure. Pooh to that. I'm selling books for God's sake, nothing but volumes of other people's moods. Moods come with the territory. Maybe if I were selling sherbert-coloured sweaters at the GAP I'd need to be a little more perky, but really, how many smiles does it take to shelve a fucking book?
01/13 Direct Link
"Would you like to add a tip before I charge your card?"
I can't believe you have the audacity to ask me this question. This could very well be the worst haircut I've ever received and you could very well be the worst conversationalist I've ever encountered. I could have done a better job with a compact mirror and a butter knife. So here's a tip, you stupid little valley girl bitch - see those scissors poking out of your apron? Hide them. Because in a second I might just grab them and use them to stab you in the face.
01/14 Direct Link
A friend asked me to make a list of 10 thigns that make me happy. It was a struggle to think of them but here they are, in no particular order. 1) Rainbows. 2) Seeing people, friends and strangers alike, laughing uncontrollably. 3) Watching people in their cars bopping their heads or singing along to music I can't hear. 4) Reading. 5) Getting mail that isn't a bill or a flyer. 6) Seeing people in the traditional dress of their ancestors. 7) Overhearing the questions of inquisitive children, the exasperated answers of their parents. 8) Seagulls, just recently. 9) Granville Island. 10) Love, although it also makes me very sad.
01/15 Direct Link
Some people wake up everyday in a jail cell, being punished for a crime they didn't commit. Others wake up knowing they have fatal, incurable diseases that will lead to their premature deaths. There are people out there who have nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep. There are thousands and thousands of children who have lost their entire families to war. And yet all these people press on and are thankful to be alive. So what right do you have to sit here and feel sorry for yourself, Brad? You right fool, you bastard, you spoiled rotten beast.
01/16 Direct Link
The rain is louder at 1:00am on a Monday morning. Each drop falls through the dark and hits the pavement with a bang, a splash, a cymbal crash. Why is it so loud, you wonder? Is it that there are no people around to drown out the sound with their voices and their cars? Because they're all asleep in their beds wrapped in their lovers' warm limbs? Or maybe it's because anyone out walking the streets at 1:00am on a Monday morning is an empty person, something hollow, a rain cloud's perfect instrument, a drum of sad, wet rhythms that really resonate.
01/17 Direct Link
I can't believe you just gave that guy your phone number, Brad. You know, you don't have to give it to everyone who asks. He was clearly some sort of drug fiend - meth most likely. He was skinnier than you, for Heaven's sake. Why don't you just write your number in felt pen on the bathroom wall of some seedy bar, save yourself the trouble? Damn you're stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Better hope he gets really high and ends up throwing it away by mistake. Better smarten the hell up.

Yeah, that's all. Watched Ladies in Lavender tonight. Was good.
01/18 Direct Link
A hard thud against the glass and I wince, knowing exactly what the sound means. A bird has crashed into the window. I pretend that I didn't hear it and continue to shelve cookbooks, but I can't help but imagine the poor thing outside, dead or at least writhing in the pain of fatal injuries. I manage to forget about it but I end up seeing it later on as I'm leaving - the twisted head and wings of a pigeon on wet cement. Life - one minute you're flying, the next you're down so fast you don't know what hit you.
01/19 Direct Link
I'm at a corner waiting for the light to change. Beside me, an old woman is smoking. She starts hacking and the wind carries a cloud of poison and lung bits to my face. I grimace. A teenaged girl approaches and asks the woman if she has an extra cigarette.
Cough, sputter. "You got ID, little girl?" She's taken aback by this. As am I. "You're too young to be smoking, too young to be killing yourself." Her rasp is barely audible. "You wanna end up like me?"
"Yeah, whatever," the girl replies and walks away.
Old Smokey just laughs.
01/20 Direct Link
Shortly after my parents divorced, my mom placed me in the Big Brothers program in hopes to provide me with positive male role models. (Or so she said. I think she just wanted to spite my dad.) I reluctantly went to this meeting thing where there were eightis of us Little Brothers and eightish Big Brothers. We were all unpaired and the idea was for us to find a match. In retrospect, it was all very NAMBLA. They gave us pizza and made us play floor hockey. I refused to go again. Pizza? Yes. Perverts? Tolerable. But hockey? Absolutely not.
01/21 Direct Link
Brad's Coworker Files No. 1

Employee name: Chester
Length of service: 6 months
Bad qualities: horribly lazy
Good qualities: sick sense of humour, large vocabulary, makes me look ambitious
Physical appearance: lanky, thick glasses, hairdo a horrendous blend of mullet and comb-over, cheese 'stache, curiously curvy hips, fond of dirty navy polo shirts
Interesting facts: recently began having naughty storage closet rendezvouses with new gift department girl, owns a python, loves reading apocalyptic fiction, often smells of alcohol.
If I were to write a story about this person it would likely be called: He Always Was A Bit Odd, Your Honour
01/22 Direct Link
Lost her tarts
A coloured arch
Three for Japanese
Librarian's delight
What's all this junk?
Only Rilke sees
Eats with its bum
Stacked to the sun
Buddha, got a slinky?
Sizzle, sizzle
Yee haw!
Flowers, you make a stinky?
Dearer, nearer
In the mirror

Open B**! first
Could I look worse?
A note to gloat
And to explain the game

Vancouver to Manila
Manila to London

I'm finished now
Wiping the glue from my brow
Scissors away
Until another day
Pick the paper pieces
From my hair
Off the floor
From everywhere

Hope you have fun
My favourite one
01/23 Direct Link
So the Conservatives win. Apparently unabashed homophobia, sexism, and greed are what get people elected these days. Oh well, the rest of the world seems to have gone to Hell so why shouldn't we tag along, get in on all the fun? I guess I've just got to look on the bright side of things. I never really wanted to get married anyway, and now I have my excuse to build that bomb shelter I've always been wanting to build. Or less saracastically, when the country reaches inevitable turmoil, I can shake my head and say, "I told you so."
01/24 Direct Link
It's been raining here quite a lot - thirty-two days in a row or something crazy like that. But today the sun woke up from its long nap and treated us all to an afternoon of bright warmth. I was stuck inside most of the day but I compensated by keeping near the windows. And I ate lunch in the park across the street instead of the dungeon that is our staffroom. I'm sure it will rain again soon but I don't mind. I saw the light today and it told me the worst is over.
01/25 Direct Link
Rain again today, just as my internal weatherman predicted. It got me thinking about the summer rains back home - real rains, not this misty crap, not this produce aisle spritzing. No, summer rains in Saskatchewan are spectacular, sensual. You can see the lightning, the green left behind; hear the thunder, the gutter rivers raging down the block; breathe in and smeel the dust flying between heavy drops; lift your chin to the sky, stick out your tongue and taste it; feel it, warm, yet cool against any sunburn. Umbrellas are a sin in Saskatchewan. Rain means crops there, means life.
01/26 Direct Link
At night my neighbourhood becomes a prostitute's playground. The girls parade up and down a stretch of a nearby block and the boys lean into the shadows against an empty warehouse just across the street. When I first moved to this area a few months ago, I wasn't really sure what these boys were up to, that is until one of them returned a friendly smile with a very friendly "How 'bout some foreplay?" Since then I just avert my eyes as I walk by and they don't propostion me, and in turn don't bother me in the least.
01/27 Direct Link
Been thinking too much lately. Not the kind where I pore over one subject for days but the kind where my mind zips from one subject to the next. At first I was pleased about this because I thought it was helping me to take in more of the outside world but I'm finding that the opposite is true. I catch myself drowning people out, not focusing on anything, getting bored very quickly. Maybe the trick is to just empty the mind altogether, just breathe for a few minutes each day. Time to roll out the old yoga mat I think.
01/28 Direct Link
Ah, Saturday. Bittersweet in that it marks another week of my life wasted at that horrible corporate book fair yet it also lets me do the things I really love to do. Like wandering around this fine city and finding new hangouts. The Homer Cafe, for example, features breakfast specials for $2.99. Or take Dressew, a seamster's wet dream, where a pound of kitschy buttons goes for $0.99! And the virtually peopleless SFU library on Hastings has leather armchairs. And the Galler has an unbelievably beautiful Tanabe exhibit going on. It's all too much. But so not enough. One day per week is just not enough.
01/29 Direct Link
I had lunch at Wendy's today and was shocked to discover a human finger in my chocolate Frosty. But I remained calm, just marched up to the counter, asked for the manager, tactfully described the situation, and politely asked for a refund. He was quite good about it - although he was unable to offer a full refund, he did give me a new Frosty and a coupon for a free baked potato with my next purchase. I was happy, he was happy, and there were no law suits or jail sentences. Just two reasonable adults working together to find a solution.
01/30 Direct Link
There's nothing more irritating than having a roommate who just sits on her ass all day watching TV and making a mess, and then claims to be spiritually evolved. Everyday I come home and have to listen to Mare drone on about some Carlos Castaneda/Sylvia Browne bullshit. Apparently another of her chakras opened up today. What, while you were watching Days of our Lives? How about opening up a tube of toothpaste and brushing your teeth for a change? How about telling your "spirit guides" to take out the fucking garbage because you're sure not going to do it.
01/31 Direct Link
In my early teens I was more interested in reading books written by women, ones with female protagonists, because I liked to find in them that oppression so very present in my own life. But now I seem to be drawn more toward books by men and about men - Brideshead Revisited, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies... Why the shift? I think it's because I'm starting to realize how women's problems stem mainly from men, and that men's problems stem mainly from themselves. No longer a downtrodden womanboy, I see that the only real antagonist in life is me.