This Is My Country

If you simply saw me sitting listening to the radio in Shelagh's car in the IGA parking lot this afternoon, sitting there with a full propane tank on the front seat and an empty one in the back, shoppers coming and going, there would be no way into the story of that moment. I suppose that's why the modality of the visual doesn't get much at all.

The previous hour had been small-stuff frustrating. It started as I waved the white flag in my battle against the University of Alberta's research approval website. I don't have the keenest online instincts and I tend to panic when counterintuitive obstacles arise, but that site is byzantine in its corridors and complexity. For a change of pace, I went to get some propane for a barbecue. Online man, pass the torch to caveman.

I stopped to get money on the way and got to the Hughes on 178 St. just in time to realize I had left the propane tank at home. Perfect. Back home, back to Hughes only to be told "your tank can't be filled, sir, because it expired in 2003."

Why at those precise moments do you feel wickedly hungry?

You ask, did I have enough money to buy a new tank? As if you somehow thought that was a real question?  Of course, I was $20 short. Back to the bank. (My credit card is lost again, and I am experimenting with not replacing it. Just to make my life easier.)

At this point, I am about an hour into the comedy of errors. And increasingly hungry. So I headed for Andy's IGA, but for whatever reason drove directly to Safeway, where I parked and realized through some syllogistic reasoning that I was at Safeway.

So, then I drove to IGA. I got ready to take out more money, noting that my decision not to reactivate my debit card to allow point-of-sale purchases (Shelagh had put the PIN in wrong three times and frozen it a couple of weeks ago) was a solid move. But before I headed to the bank I for some reason turned on Baba's Grooves on CKUA. Randy Newman's My Country was playing.

If we had something to say we'd bounce it off the screen/
We were watching and we couldn't look away./
We all know what we look like, you know what I mean?

And then:

Now, your children are your children/
Even when they're grown./
When they speak to you/
You go to listen to what they have to say.

His piano, his voice. I just sat there and listened and my rhizomatic thoughts went to Alex, who is in Rome, and Michael, who is in The Gorge at the Sasquatch Festival. And to Alec Baldwin who told Billy Joel he would throw away the screen for the gift of being a singer.

And I sat and waited until the last note. And then the spell broke and I walked into the IGA singing: This is my country. 


  1. Read your piece in New Trail, Ualberta. "The Accidental Protester." Good stuff, and good to get to know you a bit more. Fascinating blog.
    Missing our comradery. Hi to Shelagh too.
    23 years to read Ulysses eh? I just started reading Ulysses (deep stuff) in relation to the epic poem I finished writing over 8 years.
    Keep blogging my friend.
    "From the 17th century"


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