best of 2004

I'm going to be on a working trip over the next ten days, so my posts will likely be sporadic. I give you a review of the goings-on in Palinode's Palace from 2004 to keep you occupied.

My God, I thought, a 2004 best-of from The Palinode. A rundown of the brightest artifacts from the museum wing of Palinode's Palace. Then: My God, I thought, who gives a rat's ass? No one. But then, who's got an hour to kill at work? Me.

January - April 2004: Nothing, okay? Just nothing. I wasn't here. I lived in a small stone house by a burbling stream in Diaryland.

From May of 2004: a very brief exploration of a Halifax family in a subsidized housing project and their surfeit of mud.

From June: a pop quiz, an elegy to braising, a thing I wrote: Lost Cooking Methods of 1958. A brave exposé of environmenalists and fundamentalists and ugly dogs in Australia's Top End. Photos of old men in T-shirts and old men with sunburns and then some elderly people exhausted by the grandeur of Mount Rushmore.

In July I watched a really crappy movie, modified the word "lacunae" with the superlative "dopiest" in a rant against neoconservatives, dealt with the effects of psychic dislocation while travelling through Texas. I also talked at length about people who talk at length. People who talk at length, by the way, are my bread and butter, but I've never met anyone who could talk at length about bread and butter. And speaking of bread and butter, in a particularly obsessive moment I pulled off an anti-Perecian feat of memory and managed to recall every item of food I didn't eat from the 5th and the 21st of the month. Having accomplished that, I then performed the scientific method on my pet rabbit, with mixed results.

August got off to a promising start. I posted a smashing photo of my wife mauling a cat, which drew howls of protest from PETA. Their vicious attacks drove me to wandering the dumpster-studded alleyways of my neighbourhood, where I found a few pages of a manuscript called "Arrival" strewn around a parking lot. I wrote an insightful analysis of the first page. Then things went a bit wrong when I strapped myself to a high-dive tower sixty feet up in the air and then tried talking to children. My situation improved when I went out on a limb one day and invented a word. I bitched about staying in a five-star hotel in Manila and detailed my adventures in a helicopter over a volcano. Finally, exhausted, I came home.

September started off in the most mundane of places, a business centre. In a dilapidated theatre in a forsaken city on a lonely night I watched the worst movie of all time. Things reached their apotheosis when, in an effort to impress my wife on the eve of my trip to Europe, I went back in time and accidentally turned the present into a consumer-driven dystopia. But all was redeemed when I spent an afternoon with the Klompenboer, the last maker of wooden shoes in Amsterdam.

October was warm. Because I spent it all over Europe. But it didn't stop me from complaining about France, darkly muttering about Germany, ranting about Austria and utterly reviling Wallonian Belgium. Despite my endless bitching, though, I had a wonderful (albeit lonely) time and even found time to bitch about early '90s pop and benefit concerts on the last night of my six-week trip. Europe was the place where I discovered that I was a cheerful adventurous fellow who ended up sounding like a complete misanthrope in writing.

November was the Bathrobe Month. After six week of straight roadwork in six different countries I had the entire month off, which I mostly spent in a haze of scratchy chin, cracker crumbs and marital relations (no link there, sorry). I also sorted through the rolls and rolls of film (what? No digital? What?) that I'd shot on the road. My photos started halfway through the trip, after I bought a secondhand Pentax MZ-7 in Karlsruhe. Compared to The Lotus I am a poor photographer but it didn't stop me documenting modes of transportation, a wonderful Belgian family, and a nervous Georg. Right, and a beleagured lady. And a photo of a child that required patience. Then of course there was that mysterious baby carriage, that nun with pet pigeon and that fetching street corner in Feldkirch, Austria.

Between the posting of photographs I made some hubristic attempts at ludicrous fiction, some strange overreaching fiction, followed up by some strange reflexive fantasy. Some projects were wisely abandoned, others carried on in privacy. Which was the decent thing to do.

December was the cruelest month, mixing memory with desire, paraphraing Eliot, what have you. I found myself back on the road again - Montreal this time, nothing quite so exotic as Europe or the Philippines - and was even given my own office with a view of the fax machine and some fine looking Fedex air delivery waybills. I took my office time as an opportunity to post more pictures: a couple of shots of a graveyard in western Austria, and of course, Jesus and Jesus and Jesus. And Jesus. Whooh! All those Jesuses sure tired me out. Here's sunlight on a mountain to wake you up.

Also in cruel December: I refused to talk about the time Ilocked myself in the bathroom of a Chinese restaurant in France, which was wise, but I went on at length about performing experiments with fruit. What all else I did, I no longer remember. It's in the ground with the roots and tubers now. Happy 2005!