Visitors arrived on a daily basis. They wanted to look at me, poke at me a little. “How you doing, champ?” they’d ask, sometimes grabbing my foot like it was a phone they were about to answer. “You feeling better? You doing OK now? We were worried sick about you. You look great! Really, you do. You gave us quite a scare there, pal. Don’t do that again, got it?” Then they’d present an offering of some kind which, nine out of 10 times, consisted of reading material.
Paperbacks, hardcovers, magazines, newspapers—if you could read it, the visitors brought it to me. An ex-girlfriend brought me that month’s Vanity Fair, with the cast of Game of Thrones on the cover. (I’d been obsessed with Game of Thrones before the stroke; post-stroke, I’m much more ambivalent about it.) A colleague brought me a copy of Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter. What these people didn’t understand—and what I didn’t understand, at least not initially—was that I couldn’t read anymore.
Each night I kept vigil for the constipated old woman the way Catholics watch the chimney above the Vatican for signs of a new pope. On Thursday, during the hour after dinner when the hospital begins to wind down for the night, the old woman suddenly felt that she might be able to go.
The next morning one of the beefcake male nurses at St. Paul’s toted an impossibly large, old fashioned scale into the communal hospital room. Once he had the scale situated, he cleared his throat and said, “Good morning, boys and girls. It’s time for your morning weigh-in.” More…
[Going back in time on this one, folks. Been talking things over with my writing partner, finding things that I never wrote about and probably should have. So I’m filling in blanks here.
[Just to get you situated, timeline-wise: I’ve had the stroke, had the open-heart surgery, and now I’m in St. Paul’s for a month, recovering before I can be transferred to rehab. What you’re about to read happened in April of 2014 or so.
[Got it? Good. Here we go. -Scott]
The ever-present eternal question from both doctors and nurses during my month-long hospital stay was this: Are you constipated?
I was asked this approximately two or three times during any 24 hour stretch, day in and day out. Are you having bowel movements, Mr. Jones? Are you backed up, Mr. Jones? Are you pooping regularly, Mr. Jones? These conversations would usually go like this:
Doctor: “When was the last time you had a bowel movement?”
Scott: “This morning, doctor.”
Doctor: “And how would you describe the stool?”
Scott: “Hmm. Pretty long?”
Doctor: [Paused here and presumably wrote the words “stool = pretty long” in his notebook.]
Doctor: “And was it…healthy, would you say?”
Scott: [Quizzical look] “You mean was the stool itself healthy?”
Doctor: “Yes. The stool itself. Was it healthy?”
Scott: “I’d say it was pretty healthy. If it was any healthier-looking, I’d have packed a lunch for it, put a beanie on its head, and sent it off to kindergarten this morning.”
Doctor: [More frantic writing.]
Hello, site visitor! My, you are one tenacious individual. Thank you for your interest, your commitment, and your passion. I finally have an update for you. But the news, unfortunately, isn’t necessarily good….
The future of this site is currently uncertain. I don’t know how necessary it is for me to leave it here, without regular updates, which I am obviously not writing right now. I can’t remember why I thought this site was a good idea in the first place. I guess I was hoping to catalogue my thoughts in the hopes of one day selling a book.
All of this is my way of saying that 1. there are currently no updates and 2. I’m thinking about taking the site down or changing it into something else entirely.
I’m pseudo-hibernating these days. I get up in the morning, make an OK effort for a few hours, swill a cup of coffee or two, etc. Then I go to the gym, eat lunch, listen to CBC, take a nap, and suddenly, it’s somehow evening already. Two or three days turn into a week; the weeks turn into months, and so forth. I’m peeling off calendar pages at an alarming rate of speed.
I go to bed early. I sleep a little longer than I need to sleep these days. Maybe I’m depressed. Or maybe I’m afraid of something. Maybe both.
I have ingredients for two or three more podcasts that I’ve recorded, but I have yet to process them. Anyway, I’m mulling everything over right now.
I thought you should know that.
Thanks again for your beautiful support. It means a lot to me, truly.
I recently had to collect a stray package from the UPS store. I headed for the West End, where the yellow note that UPS had left on my front door directed me to go.
It was a balmy weekday afternoon. Strong sunshine, but not too strong. Canadians like to stroll on summer afternoons. They seem to have no destination or purpose. They don’t walk, per se; more accurately, they drift. They pause at random moments. They gaze up at trees as if they’ve never seen trees before.
I know West Coast Canadians now. They’re lovely, but most have static in their heads, like TV’s without signals. Or they’re stoned.
I spotted a white chihuahua without a leash cantering on the sidewalk about half a block in front of me. He was on his own, or seemed to be. This was puzzling and vaguely upsetting to me. He had that buoyant dog energy, where all four of his feet never seem to be on the ground at exactly the same time. I wondered if the dog was lost and in need of my assistance. I’m always game for a pet rescue; I’d reunited a lost cat with its owners earlier in the year. I got a terrific amount of satisfaction from doing that.
A figure also loomed in the distance up ahead, about a block in front of the chihuahua. Is the figure this little guy’s owner? I thought. I hoped so.
As I watched, the chihuahua abruptly stopped cantering. He moved into the grass next to the sidewalk and proceeded to sniff the area with purpose. The little guy had a contemplative look in his bulbous eyes. Then he hunkered down and released a turd—a surprisingly good-sized turd too, considering the dog’s size.
Unburdened now, his system cleared, the chihuahua left his effort behind. He sprinted along the sidewalk. He really opened it up, racing all the way to the distant figure.
The leash-less chihuahua, it seemed, belonged to that man.
I caught up with the man about thirty seconds later. I pointed at the dog and said, “Is that your dog?”
The chihuahua was turning figure-eights through the man’s ankles. The man stopped and looked at me. “Well, that’s a difficult question to answer,” he said. He rubbed his stubble-covered chin theatrically, as if he were auditioning for the part of “Seafarer No. 2.” “Somedays I don’t know if he belongs to me,”—another chin rub, another melodramatic pause—”or if I belong to him.”
He chuckled in a self-satisfied way.
“I’ve got some news for you. He took a big shit back there,” I said. I pointed behind me, back along the sidewalk.
“Did he?” the Seafarer asked. He was concerned, or seemed to be concerned. “Where?”
“Two blocks back. Just after that stop sign. Next to the sidewalk.”
The man made a frustrated exhale. He turned around a little too quickly and began to retrace his steps.
I continued on my way to Denman to pick up my UPS package, pleased with myself. He’d probably been doing this kind of thing for years. Now he’d been caught and brought to justice.
The package at the UPS store turned out to be some random trash—boring documents that a colleague had been promising to send for months. I thought about putting the documents directly into the garbage, but reluctantly carried them home out of a bizarre sense of duty. I stopped and bought myself an ice cream cone on Denman Street, figuring I deserved one. I considered taking a different route home, but then curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see if the Seafarer had made good on his promise.
As I drew closer to the spot, the ice cream began to lose its flavour. By the time I actually saw the stop sign up ahead in the distance, all the satisfaction that I’d previously felt was gone. A pit opened in my stomach. I was sure that I’d made a mistake coming back this way. Yet I had to know. I had to have an answer.
The important thing is that you said something, I told myself. That’s what matters.
I don’t think I have to tell you what I found there.
You know what I found.
[Note: Two editors were initially interested in this story. One editor vanished, because of a few unexpected changes in his life and career. But the other editor bought it, and ran it on his site, in a heavily edited form. Anyway, here’s the entire unedited version of the story. Enjoy. -Scott]
Meet Ela Darling. She’s a porn star. She’s a pioneering phenom in the burgeoning virtual reality [VR] sphere of the porn sector.
I first contacted Ela over the Internet. Then I discovered that she was speaking at a VR conference in NYC that I, coincidentally, was also attending. I met her there, in person, and sat with her for a little over an hour in a dimly lighted coffee shop on the Lower East Side. This was March 2016.
Hello, good people! Went out to New Westminster again, this time to visit a used game store called Press Start. Found two guys behind the counter: Russ and John.
They were smart, thoughtful guys who 1. own a used game store and 2. are both in successful romantic relationships.
Welcome to New Westminster, which is sort of like Vancouver’s version of late-90’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In “New West” (that’s what the locals call it, FYI) you’ll find one of the great used game stores in North America: Gamedeals.
I visited Gamedeals during the week before E3, and I got to meet Jade and Celeste. I’ll be honest with you: It’s beyond rare to find two women manning (woman-ing?) the counter of a used game store. We talked about games, collectibles, Platinums, blowing on cartridges, repairing scratched discs, boyfriends, virtual reality, game-making, modding, relationships, etc. etc. In short: It’s a good conversation, as you will discover.
Also, I continued my search for a copy of 2007’s Crackdown. Would I find it at Gamedeals? Click the pizza-shaped button below for the answer. Webside: http://gamedeals.ca
Also, for the record, I live underneath the word “Vancouver” on that map over there. Gamedeals is located directly underneath the words “New Westminster,” on the Fraser River, which, I believe, is named after Dr. Fraser Crane who was a boozy, snobby regular on the TV show Cheers.
It takes about 20-25 minutes to get to New West via the Skytrain from downtown.
In late May I traveled south to Seattle early on a rainy Thursday morning. Took the 9 a.m. Amtrak bus from Central Station here in Vancouver. Yes, North America’s oldest, most decorated passenger railroad also operates a legitimate bus-line.
Why? Who knows. More…