See Dick Teach

Some people like children no matter what. Even if the children are blowing mucus bubbles, shitting up their backs and practicing for their next Screamo concert. Some people only like children if they crawl, tentacles and all, from their own uterus and fly around the room – my friend Jane had a very interesting childbirth. Some people experience mild anxiety around children and can’t see the cornfields for the tiny faces. Personally, if I appreciate and respect the parents, I usually don’t mind being in the same room as their children.

One of my favourite things to do is speak. Dialogue with other humans is important to me and thus I find children to be a challenge. Most children these days either communicate too much or not enough. I was in the grocery store the other day, minding my own business, when I exited an aisle and stumbled upon a tantrum.

“Mommy, you’re a bitch!” Yelled a very upset toddler.

“Honey, that’s not very nice,” replied his mother.

“Bitch!” The toddler confirmed and slapped her.

Kudos to this three year old child for expanding his vocabulary, but he is aggressive AF. Perhaps he was mimicking home life interactions in public; some people really shouldn’t procreate. Perhaps he watches Empire when he really should be watching Arthur. Imagine this child in a teaching environment. A teacher these days can’t even give a child a stern word without risk of losing their job – who will discipline this hooligan? If the parents won’t and the teachers can’t, who will teach children how to be proper humans? I guess it’s up to Arthur.

The only thing worse than too much bad communication is no communication at all. I find it incredibly annoying when children can’t even open their mouths and talk – not because they are shy, but because they are preconditioned to only communicate with their own generation. This discourse often happens by text and not by tongue. The less these children use their tongues, the less evolution will choose to keep those tongues for the future and then imagine all of the things that we couldn’t do without our tongues. Please, somebody, for the love of all things we do with our tongues, teach these children to speak!

I actually tried to teach some Korean Kindergarten children to speak once. I knew they were all very smart for their ages because stereotypes tell me so. I modified lesson after lesson, educational game after educational game to try and get these kids to open their damn mouths and say something, say anything, but all they wanted to do was scream and throw things. Finally I discovered that they loved playing hangman. So I would make them spell out phrases like We are horrible little brats and We are the bane of our teacher’s existence. I’m sure my teacher friends are shaking their heads in disappointment, but ain’t nobody got time for that!

The other day at work I had a moment of confirmation that I should never teach young children anything. A little boy was picking out his first pair of glasses and was so excited. His sister was upset that she didn’t need glasses.

“Why can’t I have glasses?” She asked me.

“Because your eyes are perfect,” I replied.

“But I don’t want my eyes to be perfect,” she said.

I then suggested that her brother poke her incessantly in the eyes because then she might need glasses. “Ohhhh, that’s how you get glasses!” She said and then begged her brother to poke her in the eyes, which he was oh so willing to do. So maybe not my most educational moment. Their mother will probably spend quite some time undoing the damage that I created in a few seconds.

When she was young, Jane’s daughter Belle asked me one time at the grocery store why I needed so much soap. I could have said It’s on sale or I like to stock up, but I didn’t. I told Belle that soap makes me wholesome again after my body gets really really dirty and, because I’m so extremely dirty, I need all of the soap.

“Ewwwwwwww!” Belle exclaimed.

I think it’s Jane’s fault that Belle understood my innuendo at such a young age. Belle, just so you know, your mother has used way more soap than me in her day.

My frephew (friend-nephew), Sebastian, is just learning how to speak and I am so excited to be around to influence him. His parents are not so excited. He can’t quite pronounce my name yet so instead of calling me Dick, he calls me Don’t. Now I never know if he is greeting me or telling me to stop harassing him.

The Recurring Man

His glittering eyes give him the advantage – even over the intellectuals.
His beard is theoretical.

He’s so smart, she says, all dreamy-eyed.
Hypothetically, I tell her.
She ignores me.
I want a man with strong arms who reads Foucault.
I knew him when his arms were stronger and he read Leviticus.
She ignores me.

His hands are everywhere when he speaks – even on the back of my neck.
His fingers are subliminal.

Spoiled Fruit

Once upon a time, not that long ago actually – just long enough that forgetfulness starts to set in – there was juicy peach.

The peach was luscious with a soft blend of blood and gold.

Everyone thought the peach was the cream of the crop for it was smart, beautiful, confident and followed the correct steps for healthy growth.

At an early age, the peach met a fig.

Immediately the peach and the fig became fast friends because they were both sarcastic and shared similar methods for their madness.

Soon, the peach and the fig added other fruit to their basket.

The fig introduced the peach to its friend the strawberry.

The strawberry introduced the peach and the fig to its friend the apple.

The fig introduced the peach, the strawberry and the apple to its special friend the blueberry.

The strawberry introduced the peach, the fig, the apple and the blueberry to its special friend the pear.

Then the peach became special friends with the apple.

These six fruit were a happy basket. Or so it seemed…

Even though everyone thought the peach was top crop, the peach didn’t feel like top crop.

One day, to make itself feel better, the peach made jam with the strawberry and they spread themselves on a slice of bread.

They promised it would only be that one time; but who doesn’t love strawberry-peach jam so they made many secret sandwiches together.

The strawberry asked the peach if they could be special friends and say goodbye to the apple and the pear, but the peach said no.

The strawberry decided to stop making jam with the peach and only make jam with the pear.

The peach was furious and it tried to turn the fig and the blueberry against the strawberry and the pear.

One day the peach cracked and it told the fig about the jam it had been making with the strawberry.

The fig was disappointed in the peach and the strawberry equally, but said that it would still be friends with the peach and the strawberry.

Soon the peach began to regret telling the fig about the jam. The peach felt guilty about the jam and being around the fig made it remember the truth.

So the peach stopped hanging out with the fig.

The fig tells the blueberry everything because they are special friends so the peach also stopped hanging out with the blueberry.

The strawberry told the pear the truth and they decided to go their separate ways from everyone and focus on their family preserves.

The peach found an orange and started making jam again.

Nobody told the apple anything, but the peach finally said goodbye to the apple too.

The peach’s family had become quite close with the fig and the blueberry.

Even though the peach’s family knew about the strawberry-peach jam, they still parted ways with the fig and the blueberry.

There is no happy ending for the fig and the blueberry except for the fact that they learned that most fruit cannot be trusted. They will turn. They will spoil. And then they are compost.

The fig and the blueberry are now very selective about the new fruit they bring into their lives.

You can’t tell the quality of a fruit by its outside. A beautiful fruit could be rotten inside and a fruit with a tiny brown spot could be delicious.

Choose your fruit wisely.

And remember, making jam with too many fruits will fuck everything up.

See Dick’s Bird

Sometimes, when we are hunting lovers, we catch a glimpse of that fluffy white tail and chase it down with tunnel vision and a slavering maw. We are so focused that we miss all the other quizzical prey standing around waiting to fill our mouths.

Sometimes we think we have felled the most beautiful and evasive buck, but then he manages to leap away unscathed while we are amazed to discover that we have accidentally shot ourself in the foot.

Sometimes, hunters tear through the forest on a warpath, picking off anything that stands in their way; but others lay waiting for years, only their eyes flickering back and forth trying to spot the perfect beast.

When I was hunting men, there were a lot of shots fired in the dark. I actually hit myself in the eye once and that was embarrassing because I was alone. I did, however, bring down a few candidates; most of them were not necessarily wrong, they were just not the most accurate. Like multiple choice. No matter how much I studied for a test, multiple choice questions left me second guessing myself until I ran out of time.

The Question that confused me the most during my years spent hunting was actually a simple true or false. And, in hindsight, I have come to realize that the universe was using fowl play to warn me that my pursuit was most assuredly false.

Marc was not the man for me. The birds told me so.

Bird 1

After walking around McGill campus in Montreal, pretending that I was a student, I found a quaint little outdoor café and settled in to write for a couple hours. At this point in my life I was heavily infatuated and Marc was the recipient of my poetic musings. How perfectly 19th Century and romantic.

I penned a few lines into my notebook…

It will take a lifetime

to fall from where he placed you in the sky,

hitting every pretty bird

on the way down.

And then, as I was furiously scribbling away, I felt something warm and moist slip in behind the collar of my shirt. Shocked, I realized that a bird with impeccable aim had managed to slip me a dirty one. I could feel the creamy poop running down my back as I made my way to the washroom. This was my first warning.

Bird 2

Marc and I were deeply immersed in conversation as we walked to a spoken word contest at The Drake. Suddenly a flying ball of feathers fell straight out of the sky and crash-landed onto my shoe. Looking closer, I discovered that this plumed comet was actually a dead baby bird. I looked above me and there was no ledge, no tree branch from which this creature fell – only open sky. Marc was killing himself laughing. I was thinking about irony and bad omens. If something dead came careening out of mid-air and landed on you, would you chalk it up to coincidence? This was my second warning.

Bird 3

Marc had invited me over for the weekend and I was doing what I did best: floating and over-analyzing. I was listening to The Killers as I drove to his house, taking their songs and turning them into ridiculous personal anecdotes.

Don’t give the ghost up just clench your fist

You should have known by now you were wrong (on my list)

When your heart is not able

And your prayers they’re not fables

Let me show you (let me show you)

Let me show you (let me show you)

Let me show you how much I care oh

Yes, embarrassingly, I was clenching my fist and belting out the lyrics, creating scenarios where we would discover our mutual desire for each other. Okay, who hasn’t, on occasion, created their own personal fictitious Harlequin daydreams? Don’t lie to me. I can’t be the only one. Right?

SMACK! A bird so large – that the interior of my car darkened momentarily – struck the perfect center of my windshield. After its broken carcass flopped over the roof, I noticed that the bird had left behind an exact open-winged outline of its body. I didn’t sing any more songs for the duration of the trip. This was my third warning.

Bird 4

Years later, I finally came to the realization that Marc was not the man for me. I would like to thank the birds for their better judgment. The other day I was driving again, not singing desperate love songs, but thinking about writing this story, when a gigantic hawk swooped down out of the sky and slaughtered a small rodent on the side of the road. Okay birds, I get it! My infatuation has been picked apart and masticated, digested and released. I do, however, still find birds to be creepy and eerily discerning, the perfect addition to any dramatic performance.

Like Hitchcock says,

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.

One Woman

Telepathic wires flicker; the sciatic nerves of a fantastic two-headed monster.
He shrinks before us, they all do.
Shake for us.
He’s all teeth and no lips.

Fingers encircle us like a ring, quivering back and forth like electric disciplinarians.
He attempts to name us, they all do.
Shame on us.
He’s now fingerless.

Our premonition descends upon us and we drink, pouring shadows down our throats.
He wants to fuck her tonight, they all do.
See her in the light.
Still dark and entirely true.

The caverns in your ears ring, drinking in the ferocious percussion of our bones.
He covers his ears, they all do.
For years they burn.
We have so much to say.

Our rockstars and love letters catch on fire, pieces blowing across the parking lot.
He knows how to lose her, they all do.
Nothing is news to her.
You’re just not used to her.

Tonight a new lover enters the ring, firing his body into hers in the backseat.
He knows we are infinite, they all do.
We diminish nonetheless.
She will go west.

One woman, the only woman to have and not to hold.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Since 2015, Copenhagen has claimed the top spot on the list of bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Their cycling infrastructure cost them €134 million over the past 10 years. That’s a butt-load of money, you might say, but when 62% of your city’s population uses cycling as a method of transportation (and only 9% drive cars), it makes sense. I cannot find a percentage of commuting cyclists for The Region of Waterloo; the number must be very low considering I see very few fellow cyclists on my commute.

Please keep in mind, this is an opinion piece and I am not a professional city planner or a specialist on bicycle infrastructure. Before I talk about what frustrates me about cycling in Waterloo Region, because you know it’s coming, let me first talk about what I like.

Okay, moving on… In all seriousness though, I am happy to ride my bicycle in Waterloo Region despite some of the challenges that I face. Cycling to work minimizes stress as well as starts and ends my work day on a positive note. Also, cycling is excellent for one’s gluteus maximus… “See dis ass… ain’t a rental” (Lizzo, Fitness).

The reconstruction of Uptown Waterloo is an $11 million streetscape project. They put in bike lanes. In my opinion, they put in bike lanes without thinking about anyone’s safety.

Uptown Waterloo Bike Lane Flaws

  • The bike lanes run between either the sidewalk and the road or the sidewalk and parking spots for cars. Pedestrians are always walking or standing in the bike lanes and those stepping out of a city bus have no choice but to step right into the bike lane. Car doors are constantly opening up into the bike lanes.
Source: Australian Cycling Forums
  • If you are wanting to cross or turn left on King Street (to get to the other cycling lane), it is risky business because it is busy and cars always block the intersection. The only option is to weave through the cars which equals danger.
  • Large planter boxes block visibility from vehicles and other cyclists trying to turn out onto or cross King Street. In order to see if it is safe to pull out, the vehicles and cyclists have to pull into the bicycle lanes to check for oncoming traffic.
  • The bike lanes are so short, if you have not crashed along the way, it will be over before you know it. And, when the bike lanes end, the cyclist has to immediately decide whether to veer onto the sidewalk or veer onto the road.

Uptown Waterloo reconstruction aside, we do have some handy multi-use trails. The Spur Line and Iron Horse Trails are great for cycling from the Kitchener Core to the Waterloo Core, but they do have some troublesome points of crossing along the way. Not everyone is going from Core to Core; a lot of cyclists still need to use a combination of road, trail and dedicated bike lanes and most often these are disjointed.

Do we have poor cycling infrastructure because we have very few cyclists on the road or do we have very few cyclists on the road because we have poor cycling infrastructure? What I think we need, not just in Uptown Waterloo, but in our Region as a whole, is better education. Ignorance is usually the culprit when things go awry. We need more educated city developers making decisions about commuter cycling infrastructure. We need city planning based on desire lines. We need instruction for all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians so each group knows how to safely flow together.

My Personal Cycling Challenges in Waterloo Region

  • When I approach a stop sign on a trail, I stop when cars are coming and then proceed when the way is clear. Some cars stop and tell me to go (even when cars are still driving through from the other direction) and they get upset if I do not go. Other cars keep going. Sometimes the road is so busy (Union Street on the Spur Line Trail) that it is nearly impossible to cross.
  • Many cyclists constantly switch from road to sidewalk, cutting off corners wherever they can. This is very confusing and dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.
  • Many pedestrians wander aimlessly down the multi-use trails and do not want to make room for a cyclist.
  • Dogs on long leashes are not properly controlled by their owners using multi-use trails and can jump out in front of cyclists.
  • There are many potholes and danger zones to watch out for when cycling on our roads.
  • Only an assertive personality will dare venture out onto our roads. You need a thick skin in order to put up with disgruntled drivers.
  • The City of Waterloo spent $659,843 on Uptown lights when that money could have been allocated toward supporting local businesses through the reconstruction or better city planning.

Tips from Copenhagen

Source: Berlingske
  • Danish children learn the cycling rules of the road before they begin school at age 6.
  • The Green Wave: Traffic lights are coordinated to allow continuous flow on most major arteries. The flow allows cyclists to move into the city without having to put a foot down. The flow is reversed after work so everyone can move home efficiently.
  • Prioritize separated infrastructure throughout the city. Disruptions within bike lanes and/or automobile-focused infrastructure will encourage cyclists to find alternate (sometimes illegal) routes.
  • Health and Financial common sense: The cost of 1km of cycle track is paid off in five years by the health benefits of users getting more exercise. Car traffic drops by 10% on these stretches and cycling increases by 20%.
  • Good design improves cyclist behaviour.
  • Cyclists must follow a set of strictly enforced rules of the road.
  • Citizens must feel safe in order to embrace cycling.
  • Experiment: Skeptical citizens are enlisted as test participants and instead of letting ideas get squashed by public protest and ignorance, citizens can see a good idea actually working (or not working and then another idea is presented).
  • Do not block desirable lines of cyclist traffic – use them.

Potential Reasons for Not Cycling in Waterloo Region

  • It’s too dangerous
    • Valid point – talk to your city councillor about your concerns. Try and Google map a route avoiding busy roads.
  • A helmet will mess up my hair
    • Try styling your hair at work.
  • I will sweat
    • It’s not the Tour de France, commuter cycling should not cause an excess of sweat. Perhaps your body needs time to adjust to the new physical activity which will only bring positive health benefits.
Source: Sonota
  • My commute is too far
    • Why the hell are you living way over there!? Consider investing in an e-bike. My partner cycles 44km (round trip) and he purchased his e-bike from Rad Power Bikes Canada. He started with one bicycle trip a week and is now up to two.
  • I’m too lazy
    • Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Cycling to work is a great way to slip some physical activity into your busy life. Don’t feel like it’s all or nothing; start by introducing a cycling commute once a week.
  • I have children/pets
  • The weather is bad
    • Try shopping at Adventure Guide or MEC for weather-appropriate cycling attire. Cyclists in Copenhagen commute all-year-round; it helps that the city makes sure clear bike lanes are a top priority.
Source: flickr
  • I don’t know how to ride a bicycle
    • Ask a family member, friend or take a lesson with Born to Ride.
  • I don’t own a bicycle
  • I cannot afford a bicycle
  • I live in the country
    • The Mennonites do it – so can you!
  • I can’t ride a bicycle
    • If you are physically unable to ride a bicycle, you could always try public transportation (but that is another contentious issue for Waterloo Region!)

My Reasons for Cycling

  • Exercise
  • Reducing my carbon footprint
  • Improved mental health
  • I only want one car in our household

TED Talk: Bicycle Culture by Design

Give Him a Stone, or Something

That man gave me bread,
dinner rolls like stones from a patriarch,
alumina crust
shredding my teeth as I fed upon preservatives.
He asked that I crush myself in return
for his fuel,
welling like pools of sand in my lungs,
gritty and heavy,
it is the texture of my soul
after he kneaded it with his blunted fingers,
needed it for flavour,
sneaking pieces into the mortar,
so potent they could be used for hallucinations.
I swallowed at first
because I wanted to be gracious;
I was on my knees after all,
determined to be a well-fed activist
even though bilious,
with deep-down rumbling thoughts of insurrection,
visions that led me to believe
the whole time I was grossly mistaken,
unaware that those pieces were fake and
my real soul is light,
unlike those modifications
so dense they could be used as ammunition.
I spat everything in his face,
fearing assimilation
because everyone around him
was a beautiful
misconception of something productive,
trading away pieces of themselves
hoping to become
something definitive,
becoming instead something hard and intangible
something primitive.
I take myself out of the action
to watch these illustrations,
inserting captions.
A woman with swollen knuckles
a man standing before me, buckles
in between them,
something like a child wailing,
mouth so wide I can see into his belly,
so I offer him my little finger
as something to suckle,
only wishing that I could give him something
more filling.
They say spilling your tears is useless,
but it is all I can do
so I make tributaries and put us both in a basket,
hoping it will take us away from
the ferocity, the cemeteries,
the crumbling, self-proclaimed dignitaries
lacking porosity,
with so many delightful answers,
but never a question,
never anything but deception.
Drifting away, we watch everyone become
specks in the distance,
brushing them out of our eyes,
but it isn’t their inability to homogenize,
it isn’t their lies,
but what lies before us, we tell ourselves,
the anticipation of something glorious keeping us
rebellious and alluvial
while everyone else remains delusional.

See Dick Piss(ed) Part II

Kissing Tales for the first time was a sober experience (not to be confused with a sobering experience); it was unpredictable and left me wanting more. Most of my first kisses were reckless inebriated exchanges of saliva; they were exhilarating at the time, but lifeless the next day. My very first kiss with a boy, however, was sober – and it was bad. At the time, I thought I needed alcohol to make the experience thrilling, but what I actually needed was the right set of lips.

The following story is not about the right set of lips or proper conduct or wise decisions. The following story is about being stupid. And, of course, it happened a very long time ago, like all stupid stories.

I was invited to a drag performance one night so I called up Nikita to see if she would like to join me. Nikita had never been to a gay bar, let alone a drag show, so she was super excited to check it out.

“What do I wear to a gay bar?” Nikita asked over the phone.

“Literally, anything you want.” I replied. Nikita arrived wearing tight white jeans, blue stilettos and a teeny tiny vest. I suggested she wear her glasses to add a little bookish intellect to her libertine fashion anthology.

We arrived at the bar and it was already filling up quickly – apparently it was a very popular drag queen’s birthday celebration. Nikita and I grabbed some drinks and joined our friends. We made our way over to the stage just in time to see Courtney Cocks jump up in the air and land in the splits.

“Ow!” I said pointing, and “Why!?” My balls cringed, holding on to each other and pleading with me that I would never subject them to such reckless behaviour.

“Hey Dick,” Nikita broadcasted. “That musclely shirtless man over there is staring at you.” I turned to where she was looking. She was right. He was very musclely. His whole body was perfectly chiseled, complete with deep pelvic lines.

“He looks very familiar,” another friend said. “I think maybe he’s Shirley’s girlfriend’s younger sister’s friend’s older brother.” I shrugged and turned around, trying to ignore the eyes that I still felt were watching me. A shirtless man in a bar is suspicious, too eager, as if removing a layer of clothing in advance will get him one step closer to sex or that his beautiful naked torso will deter you from looking at his not-quite-so-beautiful face.

We were dancing away, Nikita getting many compliments from everyone, as per usual, when a random dude tapped me on the shoulder, garbling something I couldn’t understand.

“What?” I yelled.

“My friend thinks you’re hot,” he yelled back. Really, I thought. I hate when people speak for other people because other people can’t speak for themselves.

“Then why are you talking to me?” I asked. He left, and seconds later the musclely shirtless man was standing before me, except he had put his shirt back on.

“Hi,” he said sheepishly.

“Hi,” I responded.

For some reason, blame it on the alcohol, I ended up giving this man my number and allowing him to kiss me. He did have a nice body yet, even with his shirt on, I was still suspicious.

“I remember how I know him now,” my friend said as we were walking to our cab. “I saw one of his videos once.”

“What do you mean video?” I asked, confused.

“Dick, he’s a porn star!”

“No…” I said slowly because no…

“Oh my god Dick,” Nikita exclaimed. “You just kissed a porn star!”

“No… “ I said again.

“Oh, no! You could have herpes or something.”

“Nikita that’s ridiculous,” I said. And then I wiped my lips in a Jane-inspired germaphobic frenzy.

The whole ride home I had to listen to “Remember that time Dick kissed a porn star?” Needless to say, the porn star messaged me about 15 times before I had to make it clear that I wasn’t interested. And then I felt guilty for judging him so quickly. But then I got over it.

Nikita and I began to reflect on other crazy things that have happened when alcohol was involved.

“Remember the time when you peed in a flowerbed?” I asked Nikita.

“And you sat down beside me to make everything look casual because people were walking by.” Nikita remembered. “What about that time that you peed in the lake during a thunderstorm? ”

“Yeeeah. That was pretty stupid.” I admitted. “If the lightning had actually struck the water I’m pretty sure I would be dickless.”

“Well I’m glad you didn’t leave me Dickless,” Nikita said. “I just don’t think life would be quite as much fun without Dick!”

Kissing a porn star was never on my list of things to do. But I added it after I kissed him and checked it off anyway. And, for the record, kissing a porn star is very predictable – like every physical exchange is written into a poorly constructed plot. I’m pretty sure sex would be: now we do this, now we do this like this, now we do this upside down. When it comes down to it, I prefer everything to be unscripted.

104. Every Beautiful Thing is Dismantled

Can a sardine and an elephant
sit on a couch,
spread a little gill,
stroke a little tusk,
drink brews and make moves?

Am I really intolerant or are you
a fabulous liar?

Every beautiful thing is dismantled,
left to the scrutiny of
an incredulous mind.

We are dangerous skeptics of
anything good in this world.

In an imperfect world,
can a sardine really ignore
the elephant in the room?