"How do I start this," I began, more nervous than I thought myself capable, "without the customary clichés that are commonplace when meeting a celebrity?"
Mr. Coupland averted his eyes, smiling briefly, and continued signing the copy of Girlfriend In a Coma that I had pushed towards him.
"Everything I think to say comes out in my mind’s eye as horribly contrived and/or completely inconsequential." Mr. Coupland finished his signature and closed the front flap of the book.
"For one," he said, smiling with what seemed to be very little comfort, "I wouldn’t really consider myself a celebrity." He stood and looked over my shoulder at the dwindling lineup of autograph-hounds. "For two, as far as clichés go, I’ve heard that one before as well." Mr. Coupland sat back down and smiled again, but with a humour that was lacking in his previous smiles. He shook my hand, thanking me for something or other, and basically "next"-ed me out of the way. I tried not to let disappointment get the better of me as I wandered to the back of the line. I had come late to the book-signing with the hope that Mr. Coupland would have some time to actually converse with me, and here I was picking up and putting down books, trying to look busy, waiting for the opportunity and a second shot at communication.
Half an hour went by, and Mr. Coupland had caught me idling at the back of the bookstore...so, feeling a little bit like a serial-killer, I got back in line. As the line progressed, nobody else came in for autographs, leaving me the final fan. Mr. Coupland was catching little glimpses of me making my way toward him, with nobody behind me, and after each signature his eyes seemed to widen. I was going over in my head the ways in which I could be seen as the NOT-so-overzealous type, and how I could persuade him into a little chat.
I was creating and discarding clever reasons for why I was back in line by the time I got close enough to Mr. Coupland to feel his fear; he had flagged down an employee, and the back-and-forth whispering really stuck in the craw of the two people waiting to get books signed in front of me, their moment interrupted by the unusual nods towards exits and nods in agreement. I had my mantra down pat and was just about to unleash it upon Mr. Coupland when, after finishing the last signature, he sprang backwards from his chair and bolted through the back door, leaving open books and empty coffee-cups in his wake. Temporarily paralyzed before realization hit, I quickly put everything together and focused on where he would be heading. I made a jab-step-fake towards the door Mr. Coupland had escaped from, forcing the employees back on their heels, and was confident that momentum would carry me the opposite way, out the front door, with a good head-start if the employees were to chase me at all. Sure enough, once I was outside I was unfettered, free to resume my Coupland-catching.
I figured Mr. Coupland would be in need of a stiff drink to calm his jangled nerves, so I sprinted down a back-alley, shoving my newly-treasured book into my jacket-pocket, desperate for my short-cut and sleuthing to bear fruit while NOT damaging my book. As I crept along the gravel between two disheveled houses across from a local watering-hole, I caught sight of Mr. Coupland entering said watering-hole, and decided that I needed to creep no more. Surely the promise of lamp-post-lit security would allow Mr. Coupland to see me as the fan I was, and not some maniac to avoid...but like he had some sort of sixth-sense for perpetuating misunderstandings, he saw me step from the shadows of the alley and froze, holding open the door to the pub and the possibility of conflict resolution. I smiled broadly, attempting to comfort him with my toothiness, but it became apparent that he was weighing his options; I took a cautious step in his direction, and he remained frozen...but before I could take my second step he had taken off down the street, arms pumping wildly, almost skidding out into oncoming traffic as he turned toward the lake. Sighing, I chased after him, resolving not to smile again in a similar situation.
I was well behind him but I could follow the flat, wet sound of his shoes slapping the sidewalk up ahead, and by the time Mr. Coupland reached the lake, I had narrowed the gap between us to ten feet. I figured that, since he was slowing down visibly at this point, I would make another attempt at communication:
"Mr. Coupland! There’s nothing to be afraid of!" I shouted.
"I still love you!"
Somehow revitalized, Mr. Coupland all but dove into one of the grassy-areas that separated the lake from the street; unseen from the street, this grassy-patch was surrounded by green, flat, treeless land, and it must have looked to a novelist unaccustomed to running like an escape...but I knew differently. I waited street-side for a bit, in case Mr. Coupland had designs on doubling-back on me, eventually stalking into the grassy-area while ambush-proofing myself as much as possible. I calmed myself further with the unlikely scenario of Mr. Coupland attacking me; he was a hippie born too late, a lover instead of a fighter, a wordsmith but no warrior. I would probably find him cowering somewhere, curled up and fetal, and would need to be as gentle as possible so as to not frighten him any further. I only wanted to chat, and once that great immobilizer of conversation was absent, once the fear was gone, we could have that chat.
A big, warm smile lit up the front of my head at exactly the same time as something clubbed me in the back of it. I hit the soft dirt with a thud and violently kicked my legs out behind me to either stun my attacker or to push him away, resulting in a second thud into the woodchip-pile behind me. I leapt to my feet and found Mr. Coupland brandishing woodchip-covered pants, a face-full of rage, and a thick tree-branch held aloft in what looked to be the back-swing of a mighty wallop.
Before I could explain anything, my left knee exploded and I fell crippled to the ground. Mr. Coupland tried to get up and out of the woodchip-pile but kept slipping.
"Stop following me, you freak!" he yelled, holding his weapon as aggressively as he was able while still attempting to gain a foothold. "I couldn’t follow you if I wanted to, Mr. Coupland," I said, trying to speak clearly while lying on my chest. "You’ve obliterated my kneecap."
"And if you even try to get up," Mr. Coupland screamed, "your head’ll be next!"
He was really angry.
"I was just a little disappointed with our meeting earlier," I said, abruptly getting the nauseating feeling that my leg was bent funny at the knee as I turned onto my back. "I had envisioned us getting along great because I love your work and it means so much to me."
Mr. Coupland was looking at my mangled leg as I talked; he gently put the branch down as he tried to keep from turning green. "Life’s full of disappointments," he said, his horrified expression as obvious as his voice was calm. For the first time, Mr. Coupland didn’t see me as a threat; he asked me my name as he crouched down beside me. I answered, "Ryan," and he nodded while opening up his cellphone.
"What did you want to talk to me about so desperately, anyway?" he said, and I waited for him to finish his phone-call with 911 before I finally had my conversation with Douglas Coupland.
1994 High-School Basketball Team Most Valuable Player
1995 High-School Basketball Team Captain
1999 Beer-League Softball Team Most Valuable Player
2003 Monthly Golden Tee Golf Tournament Winner for October
2005 Beer-League Softball Team Most Sportsmanlike Player
2005 "Bartender of the Year" (self-appointed)
2007 Blog of the Day Award Winner
2007 "Driving Instructor of the Year" (self-appointed)5-time winner of the Beer-League Softball Player of the Week Award Certified to transport dangerous goods
Certified to carry-out life-saving measures
Certified to dispense alcohol in Ontario
Certified to teach in-car & in-class driving instruction
Certified to ROCK
Created own signature drink, the "Mad Russian" (a White Russian with a dash of butterscotch-liqueur)
Randomly met Scott Thompson and frightened/surprised him with nonsense during what was voted "Best Birthday Ever" in 2003 by friends and foes alike
Met Douglas Coupland and got him to "pass me the torch":
In lieu of an autograph, I gave him a signed copy of my story, "A Fictional Conversation with Douglas Coupland", in which a fan named Ryan stalks a writer named Douglas Coupland at a book signing...
Amazing that he hasn’t sent me an email yet as to what he thought of the story.
I’ll leave you with this as I run off to find a paper-copy of the magazine: Non-stop writing - 3-Day Novel ContestBy Jessica Rose
Many of us romanticize the image of the starving writer, hunched over a typewriter, plunking word after word into place, agonizing over every syllable and every comma. Writing a book isn’t an easy feat. It can take years to perfect.
Ryan Lawson, a 31-year-old Hamiltonian is like most aspiring writers. He hopes to publish a novel, but he hardly has the time to commit to the lifestyle of a full-time writer. A year ago, he stumbled across the rules of the 3-Day Novel Contest. He signed up to be one of hundreds of sleep-deprived writers to take the challenge and produce an entire novel in just 72 hours.
The 3-Day Novel Contest is an annual literary marathon that takes place over Labour Day weekend and is open to writers from across the globe. The winning novelist receives a publishing contract with an independent press. Managing Editor Melissa Edwards expects that Lawson was one of around 600 entrants or more, once the official numbers roll in.
"I knew I’d be a caffeinated, crazy, half-lunatic by the time it was done," said Lawson, after the contest had ended.
"As long as you have the promise of sleep later, you can get through anything," he said, recalling the all-nighters he spent as a student at McMaster University and in film school. Lawson calls the contest a great experiment, because it gives aspiring writers the freedom to focus on their writing.
"This was like a vacation, not slaving over punctuation and spelling," he said. "You need to let go of that inner critic." But Lawson’s keen eye for detail was hardly lost during his three days of near-isolation and he kept track of nearly every move he made.
He got 12 hours of sleep; drank 23 cups of coffee; guzzled four Red Bulls; and smoked 117 cigarettes - all while writing, to ensure that he didn’t lose valuable time.
Even so, by Monday afternoon Lawson was suffering from a case of cabin fever.
By Monday night, Lawson said his computer screen was "like a demon, laughing at me," and he was thinking of sleep. "The less sleep you’re getting, the more your mind is changing," he adds. "It’s exasperating."
In the end, Lawson wrote about 100 pages of text in 12-point font. If simple math proves accurate, that means he wrote about 10, 000 words in three days. While he says that he can’t expect his novel, about a 75-year-old man with "ridiculous amounts of money" to win the publishing contract, he is optimistic and very happy with it. It is step forward that he hopes will take him in the right direction toward becoming a published author.
"You can get intimidated by all the people who think they can write," he said. "It’s like trying to be a movie star." These odds persuade many aspiring writers away from the business.
"You can’t just sit at your computer and wait for a paycheque to fly through the window."
For Lawson, the competition is a call for writers to "put your money where your mouth is and see what you’ve got."
The winner of the 3-Day Novel Contest is expected to be announced in early January.
Next to unconscious in a powerful slumber, I can hear disconnected dialogue from the Home Movies DVD I left in the player, and I can hear a sweet, little voice asking if I would, possibly, make some dinner tonight before the front door closes and locks from the outside... Next to awake, I’m halfway to the office before I realize that I can hear Ani DiFranco telling me that everyone is a fucking Napoleon, before I can hear the brakes grind like a tin lunchbox against a cheese-grater, before I can hear my inner-voice, the one that’s supposed to be my conscience, telling me to drive my car off a bridge, to jump out at the last second, to roll until the momentum’s worn off, to sit and watch said car buckle and explode against the rock-face of those cliffs they have in Road-Runner cartoons... Next to the computer, I can hear the brewed coffee sizzle on its battle-tested heating plate, the contented sighs of my puppies in their cave of blankets on the couch, the long-distance ring of the telephone signaling either questions from the boss or a 1-800-number jockey telling me how I can minimize my monthly phone-bill by switching to a competing service-provider... Cigarette lit, coffee in hand, staring at the computer-screen, as I sit down to write this I can hear next to nothing...
overwhelmed, over & done
over my head & under the gun underappreciated, underfoot
under the illusion that I’m overlooked over-ripened, over-lush
over the hill in the underbrush under the wire ( it was never in doubt)
under-fire, I’m over & out
A grizzled, haggard, wind-breaker-wearing woman pushes past me at the coffee-shop; she yells, "gblxkym" at the girl behind the counter even more incoherently than it looks on paper. The coffee-girl shares my confused expression, to which wind-breaker replies, "I’m going to miss my bus," as if to get her mystery-beverage sooner. I say, "if you’re going to miss your bus, why are you stopping for coffee?" This is greeted by the indignant silence of the interrupted, all grimacing stares and eye-blinks. I continue: "Or, if you miss your bus, at least you have coffee to sip while you wait for the next one." The topper: "It’s win-win!" Wind-breaker yells, "fuck you!" and storms off, the heads of the surrounding patrons turning with her and then over towards me. "Well," I say, "that sure was a funny way of saying ‘thank you.’" There is a smattering of tension-breaking giggles, and I am once again a coffee-shop hero.
You can look at the dark, encroaching clouds as a sign of impending doom, or you can see the brilliant blue sky behind them as congratulations, as proof that you‘ve done the right thing. You can also drink coffee & smoke fervently as you mull over what it means to have quit your day job...
I am inherently untrustworthy because of my (non)religious-beliefs...or so says a 2006 poll from the University of Minnesota. On the surface, that means that you’d be less inclined to ask me to hold your puppy while you ran in to get coffee, instead trusting your pet to the guy in the pressed shirt who’s clutching a bible and his self-satisfaction so tightly that his knuckles are white and his face is twisted with what you would hope was effort. If you got lost, you’d prefer directions coming from the hacking, toothless-mouth of that walleyed, foul-mouthed gremlin panhandling on the street-corner over me because of the gleaming cross swaying from his swarthy neck. If you were dangling off a building-ledge thirty floors up, you’d be more comfortable taking the atrophied hand of an arthritic, 85-year-old Sunday-school teacher then you would mine. Good luck with that. None of this is to say I’m not spiritual; I do believe in karma, but mostly because I have to. Otherwise, I’d spend my days inflicting eye-gouges and shin-kicks as vengeance towards the legions of knuckleheads corroding our planet. It’s called Preventitive Spirituality, and I recommend it highly.
an inadequate or defective quality, as in a person’s character; slight default or defect. cocksure:
perfectly sure or certain; completely confident in one’s own mind. contumacious:
stubbornly perverse or rebellious; willfully and obstinately disobedient. periphrastic:
roundabout and unnecessarily wordy. pugnacious:
inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative. ... strength:
a source of power or force; vigor. amaranthine:
unfading; everlasting. ipseity:
selfhood; individual identity, individuality. rapturous:
full of feeling, or manifesting ecstatic joy or delight. wondrous:
extraordinarily good or great; wonderful; remarkable.
The smoke is lit; the sweater-vest is pink. The dump truck flexes upwards at a 45-degree angle; the sweater-vest chips away at the driveway with an over-sized pickaxe. The bobcat scoops from the dumptruck; the cigarette falls from the sweater-vest - "Noooooo!"
The back-door of the dumptruck swings open violently, the entirety of its gravel-load crashing down on the bobcat; the sweater-vest nearly collapses in anguish. The emergency shovels are summoned; the cigarette is extinguished but not the bobcat, as years and years of digging-technique-advancements prevail. The bobcat and the dumptruck laugh together in the ether of the aftermath; the sweater-vest needs to sit on the curb for a while. The smoke is lit; the sweater-vest is sweaty.
Can’t smell, can’t think, can’t hear, can’t focus. Sniffle sniffle & a thousand mile stare. They are watching me as my voice shorts-out like a walkie-talkie dropped in the pool; they are watching me as I stand up and wobble, clogged ears temporarily cutting off my equilibrium at the knees; they are watching me as I snort mucous between sentences, involuntarily covering their mouths in disgust... Some would say that I’m a hero for sticking this out despite my obvious sickness; others, like my students, would disagree.
Wholeheartedly, I believe.
I almost got flattened by a bolt of lightning a couple of years back. I, at the time, assumed it to be random chance that an electrical death-bolt from god would crackle into the nearby batting cages instead of my chest, but have since realized that I am but a conduit. Energy in, energy out. How else to explain my infuriating lack of internet access for the third time this year? Maybe I was a rebellious electron in a previous life, raping & pillaging a village of ions to produce a bad enough electric-karma that it followed me throughout my various reincarnations; maybe I discharge a physical-and-psychological-energy so profound that it wears-out equipment at rate heretofore unknown in the scientific community. Or maybe I’m reading a wee bit too much into a faulty DSL line. Whatever the reason, for anything, I’m as tapped as my electronics - I’m writing this with one hand whilst curled up in my computer chair, layered with blankets and as fetal as one could be while still sitting upright - and I’m hoping that the return of my interweb-acess is a harbinger of my own energy returning as well. As it stands, I’m a digital-alarm clock submerged in mud: everything’s working fine, I guess, but I’d be able to see a lot better if I wasn’t in a fucking puddle.
It’s not like me to be stressed; yesterday, however, I was stressed. A powerfully humourless, heartbeat = kick-thump to the chest kind of stressed...and justifiably, too. It usually matters very little to me when my job’s management-structure falls apart like a flagpole made of playing-cards, but for some reason yesterday I was taking life seriously and seriously considered checking myself into Hammertown’s friendly-neighbourhood lunatic-asylum - honest and true. I weighed the pros & cons, eventually coming to the understanding that while possibly free to check myself in, I was then at the mercy of the mental-health workers to get out again...leaving open the very scary, and to my embattled brain very real, possibility that I might get labeled "nuts" and have to claw my way free whilst ball-gagged and padlocked in a straight-jacket. Fortunately, I am uninsane...and though I hold no concrete evidence to support this, I do know that any room can be a padded-room if you have strong enough shoulders, and that clarity is enough to keep me from exploring the lunch-menu at my local loony-bin. Where, though, did this clarity come from? It certainly wasn’t apparent as I paced a divot into my tiled kitchen-floor, or when I smoked until my voice sounded like a death-rattle escaping a rusty box of rail-spikes, or when I ran out of fingernails to bite and started biting at people in the hallway...no, I was free of claritythen. Write this down: clarity comes from shaving your head. In the forever that I’ve been doing so, I’ve always been energized afterwards, and everything else just seems to work itself out. Perhaps head-hair blocks the extra-terrestrial logic that descends upon us as brain-beams of floating knowledge, some mental-energy waves of unknown origin ushered in through the otherwise-intolerable static and noise of the universe, a cosmic jurisprudence sliding to earth like the mind-rays of an intergalactic super-genius and into the very thoughts of those receptive enough to receive them - those without the hindrance of head-hair. Who’s crazy now, motherfuckers?