Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I used to love computer technology.  Ended up with a dream job working with computers for a living.

One year at Thanksgiving, my boss called her staff into her office (it was a small gang), and we had a Thanksgiving meeting.  She asked each of us to talk about what we were thankful for.  Two of the girls rolled their eyes.

I said “I’m thankful for my job”.  One of the girls barely stifled a snicker as they grinned at each other.

“I’m serious.  You don’t know the kind of hellish job I came from.  For the first time in my working life it’s a treat to get up in the morning.  I actually look forward to coming to work.”

The point was lost.  These girls had it great, and didn’t appear to know it.

It wasn’t the computers so much, I now realize.  It was the fact that I’d found something interesting that made me curious.  This job was all of that.  I got to be the lone computer guy for the office (among other things).  I managed a consultant and soaked in all of the knowledge that I could.

I think maybe it was the shiny buttons and lights that attracted me.  Press a button and something happens.  Press another combination and something else happens.  I loved exploring that world.

shiny

Eventually I moved out of that job and into another one, again involving computers – only more so.  Once again I had an excellent boss, who believed in letting his people stretch the limits of their understanding.  He encouraged us to work with servers.  At first, we spent time learning about them.  Then they became our responsibility.  We spent many long nights in the server room trying to figure out why one or the other server wasn’t working.  Long nights talking long distance with the server manufacturers, jointly troubleshooting problems.  While we had lots of frustration, it was coupled with bouts of joking and laughter.

There was the time that four of us were stuck in a tiny room, working on a server.  There was a guy about my age, and a vendor rep around the same age, a younger woman, and then of course me.

The vendor guy said “I don’t know.  This isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.  Do you know anyone who specializes in this server type?

My older colleague said “Oh I know.  I’ll give Dave a call.  He works with these all the time.  He’ll know just what to do.”  He got his cell out.

“Can I speak with Dave?”

While waiting, the vendor blurted “Dave’s not here”.

Three of us burst out laughing.  The poor younger girl looked confused.  Never had I seen such a clear barrier between one generation and the next.  Someone should make it a rule that as part of their education everyone gets exposed to the material of “The Beatles”, “Cheech and Chong” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.  Make it mandatory.  I guarantee you very few would complain – those are all classics.

For the past number of years, the number of new and innovative applied computer technologies has diminished, as have the opportunities for late night struggles with workmates.  This all mirrors my level of engagement and interest.  If there’s nothing new, there’s little to be curious about.  No new shiny lights and buttons.

Getting up in the morning has become more of a chore than a joy.  In fact, over the past couple of years, there’s been a new interest to take its place during my off-work hours, a new shiny bauble.

Writing – something I used to do as a hobby – has become something a little more.  I now write freelance critiques of a couple of TV shows.  The challenge is to make them interesting and readable. To have an opinion and to articulate it in such a way as to invite comment and conversation.  Luckily, the shows themselves are so well-written that they provoke emotions in our readers.  This helps.

Seems a little ironic that the one subject that bores me is being used to indulge another passion.  The computer, far from being a fascinating innovation, is now serving as a tool to enable the expressing of my ideas in writing.

There are a ton of questions I’ve yet to answer, and a bunch I’ve yet to ask or figure out.  Like, what’s next?  Where can I take this writing thing?  I mean, beyond the obvious (e.g. a novel).  If I’m to escape the “golden shackles” of computer-related employment, how do I leverage this love of writing?

(That’s an open question, by the way.  Any of your ideas would be gratefully received.)

The bottom line is that Dave is most certainly here.  Keep knocking.  He’ll get there eventually.

A friend of mine just posted this cartoon on her Facebook wall:

Funwithwords

So I responded that we should not forget the other replacements for “said”.  Like “go”, for example.  I illustrated my point with the following:

————————

Jim goes “so I buried the dead hooker, like you asked”.

And Pete’s like “hold up. Not near the petunias!  Dude, I *just* planted those things.”

And Jim’s all “nah, bro. She’s, like, interred and stuff, in your neighbour’s yard.”

And Pete goes “righteous!”

————————

A walk in the mall or a ride on the subway allows you to hear many conversations like the above (minus the dead hooker of course).  Proving, I think, that today’s vernacular has taken a kind of colourful turn.  Would you agree? I’m not at all convinced it’s a bad thing.  My belief is that a word or the usage of a word becomes evident and valid when one person says it, and his listener understands it.   Webster would likely grunt and do his best to turn over in his grave at that notion; however, he would hardly be in a position to object openly.  Therefore my point remains unchallenged.

Contrast the above conversation to this:

————————

James encountered Peter on his morning tour of the neighbourhood. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, James raised an unpleasant topic. “Peter” he said “I have taken care of that matter we discussed yesterday.”

Peter furrowed his brows in confusion. “I’m at a loss as to the meaning of what you just referenced. What matter?”

James replied “oh you know – I have dealt with the recently deceased ‘working girl’ who suffered the misfortune of having a heart attack while in your employ.”

Peter sighed. “In what manner did you – ahem – take care of her?”

James smiled. “Well, I simply dug a shallow hole and planted her in it.”

Peter gasped in surprise. “Oh dear Lord. You didn’t bury her near the petunias did you?”

Scratching his head, James replied “are you truly concerned about your flowers, and not the recently deceased? I am frankly surprised at your glaring coldness, my friend. Are you perhaps an untested psychopath? Do you feel the need to study others’ emotions, so as to mimic them as best you can?”

Peter laughed. “By no means. It’s just that those petunias were chosen by my wife. If they died before their time, I envision my poor wife attempting to dig them up, only to encounter some part of a dead woman’s hand or leg at their roots.”

James sighed with relief. “Worry no more, my good man. I have interred her remains in the garden of your neighbour.”

Peter smiled. “Indeed you are a prince among friends.”

————————

Given the subject  – a deceased prostitute – I would find the above conversation as colourful and as entertaining as the first, albeit for a different reason.

I think this is one of the reasons I love the English language so much.  There are so many different ways to arrive at the same meaning, each method providing a nuance and shade of meaning that differs from the other.

Peer review time:  what are your thoughts on the above?  Are you disgusted by the slaughtering of the English verbal language or are you amused by it, as I am?  Be honest: has some of it crept into your lexicon?

Clearing your PVR is an exercise that is at once both satisfying and sad.   Every now and then you spot an upcoming movie or TV show that you just *have* to watch – only, you know you don’t want to dedicate the full 30 minutes or hour doing so, as a good chunk of that time is devoted to commercials.  AMIRITE??

So instead you plan ahead of time and schedule the PVR (Personal Video Recorder) to capture those shows for you, knowing that when it comes time to watch them, you can ultra-fast-forward through the commercials and watch “Breaking Bad” in its allotted 40 minutes of Real Time.  In fact, I can’t recall the last time I watched a TV show in real-time, and had to suffer through the commercials.  (I’m lying of course:  I did watch Breaking Bad last night during real-time only because there was an internet event going on at the same time, where the show’s producers polled its audience on an event within the show that just took place.  Not sure I’ll do it again – though it was fun.)

99% of the time though, it’s true:  I won’t watch a show in real-time.   The PVR has spoiled me.  I have to say, out of all of the peripheral unneeded stuff I’ve purchased, the PVR has more than made up for itself in value.  It’s still not  a need but man oh man is it ever a “nice to have”.

A lot of friends will say “you know, I don’t have a TV set at all.  Haven’t had one since I was married/divorced/the kids moved/I became enlightened.”   There’s usually a disapproving snit in their voices and body expressions which hint at the thought that “anyone who watches TV is an unthinking Neanderthal, content to be a voyeur of life, instead of living it themselves.  Not only that, what they’re watching isn’t real.  They’re voyeurs of *fantasy* life – unless they’re watching ‘reality TV’ which again isn’t representative of true life anyway.”  (You can hear the haughty sniff, right?)

They could be right.   But whenever I catch wind of that snootiness, I like to play it up a bit.   “Yeah, if I didn’t have to work every day, I’d sit there on my lounge chair, wearing nothing but my boxer shorts, with one hand comfortably ensconced in my waistband, and the other hand drowning in a bowl of Cheetos.  Used to do it all the time actually.  Not sure if it was that, or the excessive burping that went on because of all of the beer but the upshot of it all is that my wife and I are divorced.”

Watching the painful polite nod is worth the effort of the lie.

The truth is: I enjoy creativity in the arts.   Hence, I won’t watch reality TV, nor will I watch most mainstream predictable fare either.  On the odd occasion, I’ll watch something I’ve already seen, because it’s that good.  It’s entertaining, and it tickles a part of my own creativity that thirsts for the flight of imagination and thought.

Yesterday, I finally cleared my PVR of all the programs that were on there.   The last one, which I’d recorded and kept for a few weeks, was the classic Meg Ryan movie “You’ve Got Mail.”  I know that if I had posted this on Facebook, there would have been one friend who would’ve sent me a mock-horror cyber punch in the arm:  Tommy Blaze has been known to leave such one-word comments on my Facebook updates.  Usually that word is “homo”.   Once when I revealed my knowledge of bed sheet thread-counts, he flung that word at me.    He and I have always kidded each other about one thing or the other so his fake-disgust is sort of expected.   Also, it’s good for the shock factor – with which professional comedians like him have a long-standing love affair.   That word is – you know – *SO* unpolitically-correct, as everyone knows.  At least he knows enough not to use the “F” word.  (Which *everyone* also knows is “Fabulous”).

Anyway, I don’t know the meaning of the expression “male shame” when it comes to romantic comedies.  I’ll watch them without apology or regret, providing that they’re good.  A great many of them are lame, such that I find my testosterone levels depleting if I watch one for too long.

Anyway, “You’ve Got Mail” is a great film that I’ve seen a number of times.  Partly because I can’t get enough of Meg Ryan, and partly because the message is actually pretty cool.  Nora Ephron – who wrote this one as well as a bunch of others in the same vein – was excellent at communicating some interesting truths, some of which weren’t (in my opinion) true at all.   Her wisdom shows up in the dialogue scenes between the leading actors.

There is one “truth” that came out in one of her films that caught society by surprise.  It showed up in an exchange between  Billy Crystal (who played “Harry”) and Meg Ryan (who played “Sally”) in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”.    It was summed up in his statement to her:  “…..no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive.  He always wants to have sex with her.”

Her followup volley and his response to that was nothing short of hilarious:

Sally:  “So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?”

Harry: “No.  You pretty much want to nail ‘em too.”

Don’t know what it’s like for those reading this, but in my neck of the woods, the debate continues.   Women were astounded by it, and many asked their mates if indeed that was true.  Guys everywhere shrugged their shoulders in disbelief, just then realizing that the more powerful sex – women – didn’t already know this.   Some of the more frightened weasels among us said “of *course* it’s not true, sugar dumpling.  How could you think that?”

As for me, I think the truth of that statement is a sliding scale.  When I was much younger (14) I was head over heels attracted to a married woman whose husband had moved to the opposite coast to get their new home set up.   She was a 20-something friend who introduced me to alcohol.   She had an infectious and sexy laugh and sparklingly bright teasing dark eyes.   I had zero experience, so figured my attraction was a one way street, only to learn later that it was not.  The fact that I didn’t follow up with her on it is both a blessing and a curse.   Probably more of a blessing than anything.

Today, I’m friends with a few married women to whom I’m attracted.  Now, however, I know that part of what makes them attractive is the fact that they’re happily married.  The minute that changes (say, by cheating) is the minute they change and become different people.   The logic is there:  endangering that marriage is equivalent to chopping down a beautiful tree, just so that you can bring it to your yard and prop it up against the wall to admire.  You’ve changed the tree, and it will start to die, right away.

Also, there’s an important distinction:  I may want to be with them in a carnal sense, but my sense of personal integrity will never allow me to indulge that attraction.  So in that sense, Nora Ephron’s “truth” is not true at all.   One can be friends with someone who isn’t available, only if one’s behaviour is informed by one’s ethics.

The scale of attraction has changed over the years too.   There are a great many physically attractive women out there who I find are anything but beautiful.   The women who truly sparkle have a sense of humility, charm and serenity to them.   The haughty rude and entitled women (and men too, I imagine) are the opposite of attractive, in the most emphatic sense.

Yet, that’s my story – which means it isn’t everyone else’s story.  There are countless examples of attempted friendships between people who are attracted to each other where they’ve ended up in each others’ arms.   Anecdotal evidence – in this case – fails completely.

I’d like to know:  have you had this discussion with anyone?   What do you think about it?   Did you reach a conclusion?  Can guys be friends with women to whom they are attracted?

A month ago, a friend had challenged me to sit for an hour, just to concentrate – and maybe pray – about where I want to be, what I wanted to.   It was a goal that was fairly open-ended.   

I did.  I sat on the floor, on my yoga mat (shaddap) with a pillow behind my back.   I did this for an hour, at first in mediation, and then thinking/praying.   Just going over stuff.  

I came to a few realizations.

I’m an angry person.  Have been, ever since I was a teenager.   People generally didn’t know this, because it’s not obvious.   I am.  I’m angry.   So….this introspection….this navel-gazing, if you will…. sought to figure that out.  Why was I angry?

Years ago, my therapist suggested that anger is not a bad thing or a good thing.  It just is.  (What do you think?  Do you agree?  I’m really interested in your thoughts on that) .   Anyway – that’s the approach I took today.   I guess that anger, like pain, might be there for a reason.  It’s a messenger, a warning, that all is not right.   There’s an imbalance.  Something that needs correction.

So…..why was I angry?

I couldn’t approach it head-on as there were no answers there.  I just know that sometimes something will trigger me, and I’ll go off on a passionate rant.   Last night I ranted on a friend’s blog.   When I woke up this morning, I found myself ashamed and regretful.   I had told him the truth, but maybe it was overkill.  Maybe I didn’t need to show quite so much passion.   Truth-telling is enhanced by alcohol, in that booze relaxes your inhibitions.  The bad news is that it also inhibits your judgement – and I’m not sure my judgement was where it needed to be last night.   Anyway… spilt milk….water under the bridge.   Regrets are only good as lessons for the future.  They have zero effect on their origins.  You can’t take anything back or undo what you did.

So… Anger.   Anger happens when you find yourself limited from your potential.  Anger happens when you find yourself subject to fear – and once again, inhibited from doing what you know you should do.  

And I have been so very angry.  Sometimes it comes out as a reaction to whatever excuse will serve at the time.  I recognize its deceptiveness by virtue of its overkill – all out of proportion to its catalyst.  

I have dreams that I’ve let slide.   The time of reflection and meditation made that clear.  There’s a need to create.  To indulge some creativity.   To act.  To play music.  To write.   To – and this is kind of the crux of it all – help people.   

It’s tough, being so acutely aware of people who failingly struggle with expectations.   I see people who are bound – hogtied – to rules and restrictions that they thought were imposed on them, by their friends, their church, their friends or their workplace.  The brutal truth is that they’ve chosen to bind themselves.   Whatever the case, the end result is that they’re bound.  And they think they’re alone.  And I *need* to shine some light.

At the same time, I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that I have so many blind spots too.  So I can’t brag about any of this.  I can’t pretend I’m not deceived on occasion too.   Self-deception is the worst, isn’t’ it?  Mostly because you have no idea you’ve done it.   No clue that you’ve lied to yourself.   It doesn’t even cross your mind. 

I find that someone will say something and I’ll realize (hopefully immediately, if I’m lucky) that what they said just bumped me.   Like the universe pinched me hard on the bum.   And I realize, once again, that I’ve been fooling myself.   Damn it – I wish I could be more specific here, so that you had some idea of what I’m talking about.

That hour-long meditation is key:  especially in a world where stuff is happening all of the time, and you have no room to think.   It’s a time that you schedule, just like anything else, where you sit by yourself, quietly.   And listen.  And talk out loud too.

I don’t know how it would work for you but here’s how it worked for me:  I sat on the yoga mat and closed my eyes.   The first thing I did was concentrate on my breathing.  I slowed it down and took deep breaths, which I held for a few seconds before letting out.   As I did this, I noted the rest of my body:  where my limbs were, what they were touching, whether there was any pain or twitches or anything at all.   I didn’t judge any of it or try to make anything better.  I just accepted it.  I also noted the noises from outside of my apartment:  not in an irritated way, but just acknowledging that they were there, and accepting them.   

After a few minutes of that, once there was a rhythm going, I started deliberately thinking about all of the above.  Digging down deep into my motivations.  Figuring out what it was that caused me anger.  I don’t know why anger was the focus, but once again – I didn’t judge.  I accepted it.  It might be different for you though:  you’ll know if you try this.

Then, I decided that since anger was a signal, I needed to pay attention and figure out what it was telling me.   I found a few things:  I wasn’t creating.  I wasn’t playing piano.  I wasn’t writing as much as I needed to do.   I was resentful of my job, which takes up so much of my time.  I need money to live – and my job was the surest way to do that.  I wasn’t physically fit.

There’s an awareness of a need to reach out to people too.  That’s the main thing.  I thought of how many times I’ve been lifted up by music.  Pretty much catapulted out of a threatened depression and dropped into joy – because of music.  I’ve done the same thing when I’ve created and played music too.   The clearest example was at the death of my father:  a man that I truthfully hated for much of my life.  Yet, my emotions were ambivalent.  He wasn’t a total asshole.  He did some things right.  He likely did (as we all do) the best he could with what he had.   He was limited (as we all are) by so many things, some of which were obvious, and others of which were hidden.  At his funeral, some of these truths made themselves apparent.  It wasn’t completely conscious though.   On the eve of his funeral – for some strange reason – I decided to compose a musical eulogy to him.   There were no words – just music.   I remember setting up the electric piano at the Catholic altar of the church, and playing the piece.   It was a bittersweet number:  grounded in pain but interspersed with streaks of joy.   I couldn’t articulate it in words at all.   

The best thing:  it fit, and not just with me.

It was the first time I was conscious of the powerful effects of music.  

I need to do that again.  There’s a need to meet the mark of the joy, the potential, of music.  And of writing.  And of being in the best health possible. And of so much more.

Do you dream?  Are there things you wish you’d done?  Do you find yourself irritated for no apparent reason?  Or apathetic?   

Are you where you want to be?  Are you satisfied?   If so – how did you get there?   Did it come easy, or did you need to do a lot of introspection?  Did you have to make some deliberate choices?  How so?  How did you do it?

If not – have you accepted your “station in life” as inevitable?   If so, why?  Is there fear?  Of what?   

Or are you truly happy with your choices?

Spameteria

Posted: December 27, 2011 in humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

The extent to which people will go to separate you from your money is ridiculously amazing sometimes.

I was thinking about this when it got to be time to go through and see the fish caught in the helpful spam net provided by WordPress – comments that never made it to my blogs because of their suspicious nature. There have been rare occasions where a legitimate comment got caught – this was WordPress being cautious, and frankly, I’m glad about it. It does mean though that I can’t just go to the spam filter and press the “flush” button. Each comment needs to be scanned.

Enter the noticeably crazy games people have tried to play, just to get their website link posted to my blog.

Take this one for instance, posted on my “About Wolfshades” page:

I find myself extremely very happy to have encountered your website page and search to an abundance of more cool times reading here. Appreciate it once again for a number of things.

Non-specific praise, designed to appeal to the ego, I guess. Poorly written non-specific praise. Here, let me just ahead and unblock the comment, out of sheer gratefulness.

Or we could just move on to the next one, on the same page:

Phenomenal is the perfect option to describe this particular article. Its been months since Ive found such magnificent content. I couldnt agree on this topic.

“Magnificent”! Wow. I wonder what he found objectionable though. Obviously it was something or he would agree with me. And what problem did he find with the post, given that the subject matter was ..a little subjective, as it was about me? Let’s move on.

Check out on my site Unrealesed movies for freeee !!!

This one’s easy: “NO”

You need give assistance with my site, please can anybody look in?

A cry for help! An appeal to my manly desire to show off my extensive knowledge. OK then – first off: grab a book on grammar. Read a few pages. Familiarize yourself with basic English. For the record: the only “need” I have is to get some more sleep. Or have more wine, depending upon the time of day.

I’ve been wondering about the same factor myself lately. Delighted to see a man or woman on a single wavelength! Nice article.

Note to spammers: best do a bit of research and make a hard decision before making your pitch. Is your victim a man or a woman? Don’t be so vague – it’s insulting. Or I should say: more insulting than just your clear desire to advertise your Ugg boots on my page.

An intriguing discussion will probably be worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you can write much more on this topic,

Since you tried to post this on my “about me” page, I’d have to say you nailed it. I *could* write much more about me. I’m my favourite topic. I could talk about me all day. Would you like to know more about my amazing intellect or my drop dead gorgeous good looks? Take your time. This is Important Stuff.

Im no expert, on the other hand believe mobile computer designed a top notch point point. You undoubtedly realise what youre talking over, and so i will surely fall behind that.

OMG. Don’t don’t hurt hurt yourself.

I love scrambled eggsпїЅпїЅ physical exercises donпїЅпїЅt seem pretty much as good another way! I really do decide to make them while in the microwave, though!

Dude. Now you’re not even trying. I can’t respect a lazy spammer. Go have some more eggs, and try hard not to choke on them.

I was just talking with my coworker about this the other day at Outback steak house. Dont know how in the world we landed on the subject actually , they brought it up. I do recall having a excellent chicken salad with ranch on it. I digress

You sure do. And I decline. Try again? (N/N)

And now, because the rest are variations on the above, one final one, which someone attempted to post on my “About me” page:

We might live like this under mans laws but not by GODS LAWS. These people are wrong by our lords law and marraige is mam@ woman, so go ahead with this cause we dont have a right to judge you but GOD DOES.

Your poor attempt to provoke a comment fight has failed. If you weren’t trying to sell me something I might have bitten. I’m sending Bruce and Terry over to set you straight by the way. They’re pretty sure you’re just as fabulous as they are.

How much electronic pain must be suffered at the delighted hands of masochistic fairy muses, who flit about teasing the writer with half-formed ideas?   All day long this one has been continually dive-bombed by brilliant sparkling thoughts, only to see them fade away as soon as the mental hand reaches out to grasp.

At the heart of the exercise is the certainty that such grasping is not in vain.  The hope stretches beyond wishing, to the point of clarity:  gems are meant to be mined, not left in the walls of rock, forever ignored, forgotten.

The analogy searches beyond the immediate:  while the gem is the goal, it goes beyond just writing, or just ideas.  The gem reflects the natural light of value, inherent in those lights who have perceived it.  The woman whose flashing eyes reveal far more spirit turmoil and joy than most in her company.  Hidden to most, she is accessible to the seeker who somehow just can’t stop perceiving.   Like the ephemeral muse, her quick quirks of dangerous laughter upsets the apple cart of decency and “the norm”.  The writer understands and yet knows that he doesn’t get it all.   His self-awareness understands the depths of his own ignorance, and the intrigue tickles his mental taste buds.  A flavour, filling the mouth with ambiguous fire.

It’s not often this happens – this departure from every day mundane musings, and when it does, it’s certainly welcome.  I was reading “Jitterbug Perfume” (once again, probably for the tenth time, but who knows – and more importantly who’s counting?), when a new pre-ordered book slipped into the e-bookshelf of my iPad Kindle application.   The dangerous world of espionage had always intrigued me, and so I flipped over from “Jitterbug” to read the first chapter.   In normal mundane times, I would start such a book but wouldn’t stop until it was finished.  My appetite for reading has always been like that:  voracious and hungry, and unable to stop until full.  I’ve missed meetings and have been late for doctors’ appointments because of it.  There’s no shame there, really.  I revel in the fact that brilliant ideas, written painstakingly by good authors are so greatly appreciated on this side of the internet.

Yet, this time, I only made it to the first couple of paragraphs before the compulsion to jump back to “Jitterbug” irritated me mercilessly.  I knew why, too.   Robbins’ writing – at least in this work – does not lend itself to distraction.   Literary vortexes are like that.   This one is anyway.  It tends to consume concentration, with the promise of reward.  His dark maelström of lightening beneath bitter clouds floods the consciousness with meaning and soulish rapture.  It instigates and enables so many epiphanic ideas and thoughts.   I suppose it’s why I read the book so many times.   There’s an old commercial about the snack food “Bits and Bites” – where the cartoon narrator reaches into a box and pulls out some content while saying “something different in every handful”.   “Jitterbug Perfume” is just like that, with every reading.

It’s an unceasing drill sergeant too, demanding, obstinate and blunt.   The bright thoughts demand action and reaction, and doesn’t seem to know what “tolerate” means.  I suppose the contrast becomes too apparent:   the world “Machine” wants everyone to take a seat and settle down.  We are cajoled and advised to be content, to watch our favourite TV programs, to eat our fatty foods and be quiet.  To be precise:  the Machine would rather we shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and don’t stir up any shit.

Following that advise is what gets you old.  It’s an intricate preparation for disease and death.  Many of us are cool with that, and plan accordingly.   When we question that direction, and ask why it is, the only response is “well it’s complicated”.   Truth-speak for “not only wouldn’t you understand – we don’t want you to get it.”

The Machine keeps stepping on my chi, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough of it.  The best defence is a good offence, and the best offence is to be offensive.  Challenging my own direction is scary and a little invigorating.  It pleases me to be displeasing to conventional wisdom.

One has to suppose that the grown adult’s self-imposed rut comes from a lifetime of digging and creating a nest.  Even the most creative of us gets used to the idea of comfort wherever we can find it, or create it.  Stability is the goal, and at least for me, stagnation is the result.  So there’s a trade-off isn’t there?   If you want security, be prepared to be bored.   If you want excitement, know that your life won’t be all that stable, and it certainly won’t be predictable.

Deep in historical awareness – the same awareness that exists within our DNA – is the exhilarating knowledge that steps into uncertainty and risk have their own reward.  Joy, excitement, and even a measure of a type of security.  It knows that the plush fruit of its acts will shine attractively to those who don’t yet have it.

Ever wonder about the state of the economy and where it will all end?  I have.   Some things seem certain:  those who invest themselves in artistic directions always have willing buyers.  People who – like me for so long in my life – have become art voyeurs, the Hansel and Gretel of life’s forest, excited by the new trail, but lulled to a certain undignified grave.

The choice becomes simple.  On one hand, we can concentrate on consuming (and become consumed), and on the other we can concentrate on creating, bringing new life and enlarging our perceived horizon, constantly growing and finding room for more growth.

Voyeur or voyager.

Release

Posted: June 24, 2011 in humor, Life, living, writing
Tags: , , , ,

The capricious breeze sauntered carelessly through his stubborn hair, pushing this way and that until the dogged gel that was holding everything together finally sighed, shrugged its shoulders and gave up.  Whereupon, the follicle company, mimicking the primordial warrior dance of the galaxies, began its mad performance.

The hair’s owner, oblivious to the upper level drama, scanned the street carefully, as he watched for a car with a lighted roof extension;  a kind of hands up “here I am!” indicator of a vehicle that would serve to transport anyone almost anywhere, for the right price.

Eventually, a taxi appeared and the tight-lipped guy with the day-old facial stubble raised his hand urgently, eyes flashing a message to stop; and so, duly warned, stop it did.

“Take me to 25 Blaker Drive please”.

The driver, who was sporting a ridiculous porno moustache nodded, as he reached forward and started the meter.

The moustache twitched a little bit; a hairy snake trying to rouse from slumber.   “So.  All done for the day?”

The passenger looked down at his black leather knapsack.  This was no ordinary taxi passenger.  This was a man who deduced things, and did so quickly.  He realized that the cabbie had leapt to a quick conclusion.  There was the knapsack.  Ergo, his passenger was coming home.  It was a little presumptuous, he thought.  He could have easily been wrong.   Maybe he was heading out somewhere.  Maybe he was on his way to a coffee shop, there to write the greatest Canadian novel ever.

But wait.  No, this cabbie obviously was aware of the city.  He knew 25 Blaker Drive was nowhere near a coffee shop.  Further, he likely realized it was an apartment building.  Apartments generally serve the purpose of providing homes for people.  Except for those who use them to grow drugs.  Maybe the knapsack was used to transport drugs, he thought to himself.   But no, the cabbie had likely seen many drugstore afficionados in his day, and so he knew his passenger looked nothing like any of them.

Ergo, the cabbie had guessed correctly and knew his passenger was heading home.

All of this passed through the passenger’s mind in less than 2/10 of a second.  Finally, in grudging acknowledgement of the cabbie’s deductive reasoning, he rewarded him.

He sighed, looked out the window and mumbled “yup”.

Below the hairy snake there suddenly appeared a satisfied smile.  “Well now you have the weekend at least.  Got some big plans for the next few days?”

The passenger shrugged.  “It’s kind of a long weekend for me.  A ten-day weekend actually.”

The moustache twitched, and the yawning maw beneath it opened long enough to suck in a breath before expelling its next particle of thought.   But the passenger preempted it with “and no, I have no real plans.”

With the that, the maw snapped shut.   Other forces were now at work, diligently determining yet another course of discourse.   Wheels within wheels turned and jerked, mixing just the right combination of reasoning and query.

Small talk was no easy endeavour.

Eventually, the only thing it could arrive at came forward.   “Really?  No plans?”   It was a pathetic attempt.  The cabbie, along with his moustache and maw knew this.  All three of them shivered in unified embarrassment, while waiting patiently for the contemptuous reply.

The reply came, but left contempt at the curb.  Contempt would have to find another cab to sit in.  This one was going to have two riders, and no baggage.

“Well I’m glad you asked, actually.”

The moustache began to move upward, just a bit, while the maw clamped down fiercely, determined not to display its sudden joy.

The passenger continued.  “I’m just really happy we’re going to have warm weather, because I want to walk as much as possible.  I’ll play each day by ear, and see what happens.  I might go away, but right now I’m not going to plan for anything in particular.”

The maw opened, which surprised the moustache and the cabbie both, who were not expecting it.  “So is this your only holiday for the year?”

The passenger shook his head.  “No, I have a few more weeks coming to me.  Not sure when I’m going to use them.”

The maw opened again.  It was obviously on a roll.  The moustache and cabbie both decided to sit back and just watch.  “Maybe you’ll use them at the end of the year.  Maybe at Christmas”.  This wasn’t a question, so much as a statement of fact.   One that was rewarded with a nod.

“Yes, I think I want to head out west during the winter.”

The maw was silent, so the moustache churned and rolled over, thinking.  The cabbie cleared his throat, the maw took notice and the moustache went along for the ride.

“Out west?  Oh that’s good.  How far out west?”

“Vancouver Island.  I have some family out there.”

The maw had gotten its second wind.  Before the moustache knew what was happening, it creaked open yet again.  “Are you married?”

The passenger looked at his watch, and then glanced out the window.  They were still a long way from his apartment.  There was time.

“No, divorced.”

The maw barged forward, determined to see this thing to its end.  “I hear you my friend.  I’m still married, but things are not going well.  I’m hoping we’ll end it soon.”   The moustache had no idea whether this was a good thing to admit or not.  The cabbie was sure it wasn’t.

The passenger, oblivious to the conflicted emotions of the cabbie, found himself in ignorant agreement with the moustache.  He felt his face starting to glow.  “Yeah, well.  I wish you good luck with that.”

The maw knew no embarrassment or sense of appropriateness. Moustache and cabbie both were horrified and helpless before the wave of thought.   “Well, for the past seven years I’ve wanted out.  They say seven is the number for release.’

“Um”  said the passenger.

“Oh yes.  I’m really hopeful that we will have The Talk soon.  I’ve had quite enough.  We both have, actually.  Every time either of us opens our mouths, the other rolls their eyes, and I say to myself ‘here we go’.   Was it like that for you, before the end?”

The passenger’s eyes looked up and to the right, pulling down some dusty irritated memories.  Memories who just wanted to be left alone.

“Yes, it was.  I ended up working later than I had to….”

The maw jumped open quickly.  “Yes, yes!  I know exactly what you mean.  So that you don’t have to face another argument when going home.  So you put off the conflict as long as you can.”

The passenger sighed.   “Yes, that’s it exactly.”

“Oh, I hear you my friend.”

The cab turned into the driveway, having arrived at last.

The passenger opened his wallet and took out a twenty, deciding then and there to overtip the cabbie.   Perhaps it was because of an unconscious sympathy.  Or maybe it was because he had enjoyed the scintillating conversation.  Quite possibly it was because he recognized a kindred spirit; he saw himself in the cabbie, only a few years earlier, while still in a tremendous state of despair.

The passenger twisted his mental arm behind his back and finally gave up the truth to himself:  he just wanted to get out of the cab as quickly as possible.

As he stepped out of the door, the moustache turned itself up in a grin, dragging the maw with it.   “Remember:   seven is the number of release!”

The passenger was certain that today, the number was twenty.

Sneaky Bastards

Posted: May 15, 2011 in ADHD, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s funny:  when you take pride in being unique, there are little things that poke you in the back to prove you are not.  That you’re just another variation on a common theme.

Like words, for example.  I like words a lot, even though I find myself sometimes frustrated at the dearth of just the *right* words required to make a point, or to paint a picture.  In writing my book, I’ve taken inspiration from my favourite author, Tom Robbins, who can paint vast majestic vistas with a paucity of Just The Right Words (if you’ve read Jitterbug Perfume you’ll know what I mean).

I like words so much that I pretty much inhale books.  Give me a good book one day and I’ll hand it back to you the next.  Boring words, like those found in manuals, or in a long treatise will only serve to pinch out the flame of whatever desire I had for the object being discussed.  I can rarely finish those.

I get bored way too easily for my own good.  (Yes, that is part of the ADD curse/blessing, in case you were wondering)

It wasn’t all that surprising to discover the appeal of Twitter.  Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, which is ideal because there’s no chance to get bored.  You have time to read (or post) one thought only.  This is good exercise for writers because you have to find creative ways to make your point with as few words as possible.  The bane of every writer, believe it or not, is too many words.  “In order to” is an example of a poor choice.  I took out the garbage in order to make the place smell better would make an editor get out his red pen.  So you turn it around, creatively, to make a more compelling point without losing the essence of what you said:

The kitchen’s ambience caused my eyes to water, and my nose to run.  Not in joy or sickness but in abject horror.  The wallpaper frowned and threatened to peel.  The laughing nemesis was that rotten carton of milk that my darling mate (She Who Must Be Forgiven Everything Just Because)  had deposited into the bin.  My stomach took a hairball hint from the cat, and began its dark dance, up against my oesophagus.   Chest heaving, I grabbed the bag.  There was no time to search for a twist-tie – I just took it and ran down the hall to my symbiotic saviour – the garbage chute, with its sticky handle, crusted with god-knows-what.  Opening it quickly, I vomited the hellish bag of death down its dark gullet.

So, OK – more words were used but at least we eliminated the dreaded “in order to”, didn’t we?

Lately, through my tweets, I’ve discovered a worrisome thing:  it appears that some common expressions have found their way into my lexicon.  Some are obvious, and therefore easy to spot, while others are elusive and subtle.  “Apparently” – is a word used as a comic device in many tweets, usually expressed after making an outrageous comment.  After commenting on that guy’s shoes, I suddenly realized I left my testicles in my other coat pocket.  Apparently.

It’s ok when used one or two times, but when everyone on Twitter starts using it, it gets old fast.

(It gets old fast, is another example of a too-often used phrase.  Time to retire it.)

Another sneaky word is “totally”.  A recent tweet from yours truly, based upon an event at work:

Hot Jamaican babe microwaves some oatmeal.

Me: “are you putting some brown sugar on that?”

*awkward silence*

Then we totally made out.


Once again, “totally” is being used as an expression of emphasis, like a question mark.  In using it, I unconsciously followed the pack instead of going for a unique stance.

Time to declare war on these little bastards.  We must remain vigilant.

That is all.

(Damn.  Another one)

Ever since getting into show business (going to commercial auditions, getting up on stage to do comedy improv work), I’ve been told to brace myself because the only popular roles for men are characters who are idiots and clowns.

The stereotypical dad, personified by people like Elliot Gould, who played Monica and Ross’  socially clueless father on “Friends”, was all I could expect to shoot for.  Grown men were people to be laughed at, not taken seriously.  If you tried to inject any kind of realism into an adult male character, you’d turn viewers off.

I bought it.  I mean the evidence was right there, wasn’t it?  Even some of the fathers on the hit show “Skins” were over-the-top dofuses.  (Doofi?)  Dads who clearly didn’t know how to communicate with their kids.  Men who couldn’t possibly understand women.  Men like Al Bundy on the show “Married with Children” – who preferred to watch TV with one hand down their pants.  They were fodder for righteous and vivacious women, who took to rolling their eyes anytime the household clown had something to say.

It goes on still.  Take a look at any commercial out there where a father or husband is involved.  Generally, his IQ is in the double digits only.  Everyone else is smarter, more socially aware.   Everyone except male adults know that you should ask for directions if you’re lost.  What’s more, this little stereotype has become so popular, real life people still think it’s true.

So it was with joy that I stumbled upon a little show called “Californication”.

I don’t believe David Duchovny purposely set out to destroy the adult male stereotype, because that would have been disingenuous.  The opposite of altruistic.  No, he merely wanted to tell the story of a man who realized a little late that he was in love with his long time girlfriend, Karen.  The character – Hank Moody – has plenty of faults.  He is portrayed as a “lost child” – someone who didn’t quite grow up.   But the man knows himself.  If anything, he appreciates other people – mostly women – far more than he should, to the point where he finds it next to impossible to say “no” to them.  He has a good heart, and it shows.  While other “lost children” go around using women for their own gratification, he paints a solid line, separating himself from them.  “This far, and no farther”.  He refuses to hit on women who’ve said “no”.  If he has a disagreement with them, he won’t allow them to walk home alone.  He’ll make sure the girl gets home safely.   He helps them not because he wants to bed them too.  He helps them because he can’t help himself.

In one scene, he was talking to a woman who had been turfed by her boyfriend after the guy met another woman.  She clearly wasn’t over him, and Hank realized that her self-esteem had taken a blow.  So he tried to counter that as best he could.   To her horror, the ex showed up at the restaurant where she and Hank were having dinner, new girlfriend in tow.  Hank saw an opportunity.  He put his napkin down and walked over to the ex-boyfriend’s table, and went into gay flame mode.  He told him that he was telling all of his sexual partners to checked out for an STD, and that he should do so quickly as well.  The new girlfriend looked at her boyfriend in disbelief.  The boyfriend was speechless, not knowing where to begin.  The whole scene was a thing of beauty.  Here, let me show you:

It’s his love for women that creates conflict with Karen, with whom he’s had a child – a daughter who he loves dearly.  Karen still loves him but recognizes his many faults.  As does his daughter.

As you can probably guess – it’s a show I highly recommend.  And even though it’s probably easy to follow mid-stream, I’d recommend starting off with season #1 and going through the episodes in order.  Word of warning:  I’m not certain there are any boundaries here.  The show is highly sexual.  The lack of boundaries is in part what makes it so hilarious.   Picture Charlie – Hank’s agent – testifying in court on Hank’s behalf as a character witness.  He’s being questioned by Hank’s lawyer, and he blurts out a confession about the time he asked Hank to provide the third wheel in a threesome.  Hank buries his head in his hands, and the lawyer’s jaw drops as she tries to figure out a way to get him to shut the hell up.   Charlie is oblivious…….

You know what?  The written word just isn’t good enough here.  Check the scene out for yourself.   It’s so worth the minute and a half.  Trust me on this.

The popularity of this show – and shows like “Modern Family” – have proven the point.  Grown adult men can be portrayed as characters who are other than stereotypical buffoons.

Even in comedies.

 

Last night the inner child came out to play.  I was thinking about that seemingly ridiculous saying “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”.   Of course it doesn’t sound so ridiculous when you’re suffering from an illness and you think “if I had a million dollars right now I’d still be miserable and wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.”   So, in a sense, the saying is somewhat valid.  Let’s just say it’s one of the prerequisites for everything else.

Still, the kid wanted to play.  And so I tried to post something to my Facebook page which was too long, so I had to truncate it.  The following is what I wanted to post.  Abe replied with an addition, and then I added some more.  Feel free to add your own.

You have everything, if you have your health.

And $15 million dollars.

And a beautiful spouse.  With a big house.

And a wine cellar.

And a speed boat.

No, a schooner.

Wait. No. A luxury yacht.

That’s it.  If you have these things, then you have everything.

Wait.  No.  A rocking bod.  If you have these things, and a six-pack, then you have–

And an infinity pool.  Behind the big house.

Big houses.  An infinity pool behind all six…sixteen of your big houses, which are all around the world.

That’s it.  If you have all these things, and your health, then you have…..

And an island.  If you have all these things, and an island where you can paraglide.

Then you have everything.

(And maybe some grapes, fed to you by your beautiful spouse)

…..wait…I’m not finished….

And a mountain named after you…
…with a castle on it
…that you live in
…when you feel like it

‎…and the castle has a winding staircase….
….and a fireman pole that you can slide down when you don’t feel like walking…..
….and there’s a pride of lion cubs, for playing with, and for taking care of the rats…..
…and a freshwater moat all around that doubles as yet another swimming area….and trees with lights that shine down, with built in speakers that plays the best music……
….and this is all located in a place down south where there’s never any winter……
..then you have everything

Slight

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Life, writing
Tags: , , , ,

He sat at a table in the bar, a glass of white wine in his right hand, nothing particular on his mind.

The door opened, and a draft of icy air wafted through the place, pushing the warmth on tip-toes into the far reaches of the corners.  Two men followed, grating laughter blatting forth, the result of a pre-emptive drinking exercise.  He could hardly blame them.  The prices at this establishment were just a few dollars shy of obscene.

Both of the women sat at the bar, elbow-deep in excited story-telling.  The blonde glanced over at the newcomers, then quickly back at her friend.   It was too late:  one of the men, the bald one with the overhanging paunch, caught her looking.  A self-assured smile broke out, and he nudged his friend.  Nodded at them.

“Nah.  Leave them alone.  Let’s just get a spot”.  The taller one with the long dark hair started heading toward a table.

“Dude, I’m telling you – she wants me.”  He grinned again and began to make his way to the bar.  The taller one sighed and followed his friend.

The observer sat completely still.  Waiting.

“Hey ladies.  What’s happening?”   The bald guy smiled at them.

The women ignored him, continuing their now-brittle discussion.

The bald guy frowned.  Looked back at his friend.

“Hey.   You don’t have to be so rude” he said.

The dark-haired woman turned slightly in her seat.  Half looked at him.  “Sorry.  We’re not interested.”  Turned back to her friend.

The observer’s eyes glittered.  Anticipating.

“I didn’t ask if you were interested, did I?” said the bald guy, a little louder.  “I’m just making conversation.”

Nothing.

“You know what?  You’re both a couple of bitches”.  The man’s face was now pink.

The tall guy grabbed his arm.  “C’mon Jerry.  Let’s go sit down.”

Jerry shook his hand off.  “No man.  I don’t think there’s any need for this.  I don’t take shit from bitches.  Ever.  It isn’t right.”

The observer sat back, watching.  He could feel the saliva gathering in the back of his mouth.  His arm and leg muscles tensed.   His vision narrowed.

The man’s voice got even louder.  “But I guess bitches gotta be bitches.”  His face turned ugly with rage.  “Right, bitches?”

The bartender walked up.  “Sir, I think you’re going to have to leave.”

Jerry glared at him, fuming.  “Oh I’ll leave.  Just as soon as I get an apology from these bitches.”  Turned back to the women.   “How about it, bitches?  Hey?”

The women had stopped talking.  They weren’t looking at him.  They just sat there, rigid.

The friend spoke.  “Jerry, come on.  Let’s go.  There’s another bar down the street.”

Jerry whipped around.  Glared at his friend.  “Pete, fuck off.”  Turned back to the women.  “I asked you bitches for a fucking apology.  What’s it going to be?”

The observer stood up, scraping his chair loudly on the floor.  All of them looked at him.

He slowly sauntered to the bar, empty wine glass in his hand.  Stood between Jerry and the woman.  “I’d like another glass of wine, please.”

“Hey asshole.  You’re in my way.  We were talking.”

The observer put his hands down to his sides.  Turned and stared at the bald man.  Said nothing.

Jerry looked at him.  Huffy and upset.

The observer felt the growl, deep in his chest.  Clamped down on it.  Continued to stare at the bald man.   Every muscle was pulsing.  Ready.

A few seconds elapsed, as they stared at each other.  The bartender backed away.  Reached into his pocket.  Probably to get his cell phone.  Jerry’s eyes began to dart back and forth.  Confused.  He dropped his glance.

The observer looked at his friend.  Nodded.  The friend gave a slight nod back.

“C’mon Jerry.  Let’s go.”

Face entirely red, Jerry shrugged.  Both of them turned away.

The observer watched them leave the bar.  Felt his muscles and face relax.  He could feel his heart slowing down.

The bartender gave the observer his glass of wine.   “This one’s on the house.”

The observer nodded.   Grabbed the wine.  Turned back to go to his table.   The dark haired woman touched his arm.

“Thank you.”

The observer turned.  Smiled.  “I didn’t do anything.”

 

There is something a little satisfying about meeting a group of people who have something in common with you.  I realized the joy of that when I attended an ADD support group recently.

Having been formerly diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder a few weeks ago, I’ve made up my mind to do something about it.  Contrary to popular belief, the answer is *not* drugs.  Or rather not *just* drugs.  No, the psychiatrist who gave me the diagnosis said “wolf, you need to get to the point where you have more control over your impulses and focus.”

He grabbed a pen and pretended he was writing something.  “Basically, when you do anything at all, you’ll want to be in the moment.  When you pick up the pen like this, you’ll want to be aware of how it feels in your hand.  What part of your fingers are touching it?  Is it rough or smooth?  And when you put it to the paper, you’ll want to be aware of the pressure your hand has to exert to write anything at all.”

I nodded, even as I acknowledged that, with the exception of the rent cheque each month, I NEVER write anything.  And that got me thinking about what day it was and whether the rent was due soon.

The doc brought me back on track.  “So…you won’t be able to do that right out of the gate.  So you’ll need meds initially to get you to that point.  But, the goal is to come to the place where you won’t need the meds anymore.”

I nodded.  This sounded just about, oh I don’t know, pretty much perfect to me.

“You told me you long suspected you had ADD.  What have you done about it so far?”

I looked at him.  “Well, I’ve attended a couple of workshops and….”  I thought for a moment.  “Oh yes!  I joined a support group.”

“You did?  What is it?”

“It’s a group that meets at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health every couple of weeks.”

“Oh yes.  I’m aware of that group.  Good.  Keep going.  And see your family doctor for the meds.”

With that, I thanked him and left.

The other night I met with the support group, and a few of us “newbies” split off into a separate group, where we were encouraged to tell our stories.   When it got around to me, I had so many different things to say, and I wanted to say them all at once, that I got stuck.

“Sorry – there’s about a million thoughts going on right now.”

They all nodded knowingly.  Every last one of them.  They knew.   They knew exactly what it was all about.

Awesome.

Earlier, we had discussed Executive Function – that process in everyone’s brain that allows you to consider several things, categorize them, and put them on various shelves in your mind, so that you can pick them up at will and work with each one individually, until completion.   The classic ADDer doesn’t have a fully functioning system.  We take all of those things and we want to process them all at the same time.   Executive function allows you to start and stop actions, anticipate stuff and adapt to changing situations.   The lack of it can really mess you up.

Here’s the thing:  when you grow up in this state, you have no idea anything’s wrong.  You watch other people complete projects fairly easily, and you think that maybe you’re just not smart enough (because you know you’re *lousy* at doing projects).  I used to truly truly HATE it when the teacher assigned projects to us.

Then, later on you realize that you really do “get” a lot of concepts, and often you’re leaps and bounds beyond others.  So you know you’re not stupid.  So you conclude maybe you’re just too lazy.  Input from others (teachers, parents, friends) seems to confirm this self-analysis.

You discover you have a penchant for seeing “the big picture” in any situation.  You realize that you’re well suited to managing conflicts, mostly because you can simultaneously see various viewpoints at once.  You understand how they got there – and you understand almost instantaneously.  Seems like a wonderful trait to have.  And by God you’ll accept that one, since you’re such a miserable failure at other things.

You often do hilarious things too.  Like turning on the tap to fill up the sink so you can do the dishes, then sitting down at the computer to work on something, only to realize twenty minutes later (if you’re lucky) that you left the tap running.  This unfortunate circumstance is confirmed as you walked out into the hallway, straight into a mini-lake.

Or you come home from buying groceries, some of which are frozen foods.   You put them down to get the key out of the door.  You realize there’s a program on TV that you wanted to see, so you put the keys down and go turn the TV on.  Then you remember an email that you wanted to send, so you go into your office and bang it out.   Then something else, then something else and then it’s time for bed so you brush your teeth and hit the sack.

The next morning you come out the kitchen and you see the now-smelly “frozen food” that you left out the day before.

This is my life, folks.

There are a lot of positives about the ADD life:  there’s an incredible creativity that comes with the “gift”.  A lot of actors and comedians get into the entertainment business because of this knack they have.  I’ve done improv comedy and I have to tell you:  that was one of the highlights of my adult existence.  It takes you back to the time when you were a kid, and anything was possible.  “What if I was an old man, with a young trophy wife who wanted me dead?  Or what if I was a pimp, with a stripper girlfriend and a four year old child?”

You get to play all these parts (the stripper/pimp thing was played out in real life on a crowded bus one day, to an unsuspecting audience.), and you have so much FUN.

The downside:  you take on projects and never complete them.  Not without some prompting.  Also – you can barely stand linear conversations.  You get so *bored*.  So easily bored.  It’s one reason I hate telephones.

There’s one personal project I’ve had on the back burner for quite some time.  There’s a book I want to write.  I have several concepts that I really want to share in it.  When I say “quite some time” – we’re talking a few years here.  And I’ve started it several times.  Each time I got distracted and lost momentum.

A good friend of mine mentioned a once a year event, called NaNoWriMo.  That’s a kind of awkward acronym for “National Novel Writing Month”.  It’s a trans-continental event that takes place mostly on the net.  The shared goal of writers everywhere is this:  we have to write 50,000 words in thirty days.  Entirely do-able – and this is evident by the fact that so many writers manage to do it every year.  It’s been in existence for I think twelve years, and each year there’s an exponentially larger list of participants.

The other night I attended the local Toronto NaNoWriMo kick-off party.  We had a ball!   There’s going to be an all-night event where some of the participants get together at a large house, specifically to write as much as possible during the night.  I frankly can’t wait for that one.

There’s another event, where we get on the subway at one end of the system, and we ride it for as long as possible, just writing away.

This is the aspiring writer’s ADD dream:  to have input and a goad to get this particular goal accomplished.

I am *so* grateful to my friend Katy for having introduced this to me.   She’s done NaNoWriMo herself, with great success.

I will too.  Part of the method for getting this done involves making myself accountable to others.  Telling as many people as possible about it.  Potential embarrassment is a killer motivator.

So….this begins tomorrow.  November 1.

You likely won’t see much of me during the month.   I get emails when you leave comments on my blog though.

So here’s the deal:  if you’re so inclined, please drop me a comment here at the bottom of this blog, now and then.  Ask me how I’m doing.

I promise to answer.  And I will tell you the truth.

Oh man.  This is going to be good.

Stuck

Posted: October 22, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

He browsed a lot.  Which is why they called him the Browser.

The Browser liked to look at properties online.  Big, expensive places – mansions with swimming pools.  He even browsed Tiger Williams’ mansion, and lamented the fact that Tiger would probably lose it in the divorce.

He loved browsing for cars too, and found one that he really liked.  He knew that, living in the big city, with the great public transit system, he didn’t need a car.  Not really.  But still, there was that convertible two-seater Mazda that just blew his mind.  It was only around $25K and it had low mileage.  Granted, it was a four year old car, and the warranty was probably done but still, it was a very attractive piece of machinery.

The Browser thought about a lot of things.  His mind was in constant turmoil, turning over this idea and that one.  He had a lot of dreams but, because he thought about so much, all the time, he rarely actually took the time to start and finish one.   He blamed all of this on being in debt.

The Browser had a long history.  He grew up in relative poverty, always hungry.  And he later got a good paying job, and got married.  And then the marriage turned to an absolute disaster.  A hell on earth, from which (at the time) he felt there was no reprise.  His religion didn’t allow him to divorce, and so it took a number of years of emotional torture until he finally realized that divorce happens in the heart long before it happens in a court room.  It was at that point he felt morally justified in dotting the final legal “i”.

It was this that finally forced him to look at the entire structural dogma to which he had dedicated his life.   And it was this that allowed him the freedom to exit from it, no longer to be shackled to the expectations of religion or religious people.   He kept his love for God, and jettisoned the baggage that religion wanted to add to it.

And then, he lived again in relative poverty, since so much of his paycheque now went to his non-working ex-wife.  By financial necessity, he lived in a small apartment on the second floor of an old downtown building, and lived in quiet desperation as he noticed the apartments around him eventually becoming occupied by druggies and drug dealers. 

His ex-wife eventually remarried, and agreed to let him off the hook for alimony.  This was an exhibition of wonderful generosity on her part since legal precedence in Canada dictated that remarriage did not generally absolve the ex-husband of alimony.  This action on her part was what allowed him to move out of the now drug-infested building he lived in. 

So he moved to the Big City, into a wonderfully large and sun-bright apartment.  He revelled in it, utterly amazed by the change in his circumstances.

The Browser had a lot to be thankful for:  his paycheque was his own (except for what he owed); he had a good paying job with decent retirement benefits; he had access to everything he needed, and in fact, he needed for nothing.  Materially anyway.  

Yet, he was unsettled.   Unhappy at times.   

The Browser’s dreams were big:  he wanted to travel, and to write books, and to get back into various arts.  And to visit loved ones on the far coast of the country.   He truly believed that spending eight hours a day doing anything other than what he dreamt, was eight wasted hours.  He grew to resent the loss of that time.   His dissatisfaction was gut-wrenchingly deep at times.  So much so that he could hardly stand it.  If only he had enough money, he could completely change his circumstances.  He could pay off his debts, move to where his loved ones were, start travelling full time and do everything else that he really wanted to do.

He tried not to think about his increasing disappointment.  He knew it would drive him mad.  Still, every so often, a dark thought about his situation would force its way into his awareness, and, because he agreed so much with it, he would spiral into a miasma of unsettled angst.

Early one evening, he went to the store to pick up some salad and milk.  He decided to pop by the lottery booth and check his numbers from the previous day’s lottery.

The proprietor took his ticket and nodded to him.   The Browser stood there waiting, and totally lost in thought, as usual.

“Sir?”

The Browser’s thought broke off and he looked up into the startled face of the Asian gentleman.

“Yes?”

“Sir, you’ll have to take this ticket down the lottery headquarters”

The Browser still didn’t get it.  “Uh, why?”

“Sir, you’ve won it.  The big prize.”

“I did?”

“Yes sir!  Congratulations!”

“Thanks!”    The Browser was suddenly grinning.

His mind was all over the place.

Later that same week, after speaking with a lawyer and an accountant, he took the ticket to lottery headquarters.  There, they took his smiling picture, and he took his prize and left.

And, after sharing some of his wealth with his family, and with a few charities, he did the following:

He quit his job.

He moved.

He changed his name.

He bought the Mazda.

He bought a house.

He bought a ticket to Ireland.

He jumped on a plane and, after clearing customs, he made his way to a hotel in Dublin.

After dumping his suitcase and putting everything away, he sat in a chair in a dark corner of his room.

Eyes glittering, he sat there, looking at the bed, the dresser, the TV set.

Something was still not right.   The room seemed dark.

Or maybe it wasn’t the room.

He was stuck.

I-seminar

Posted: April 14, 2010 in Life, writing
Tags: , ,

Today kids we’re trying something quite different.

We’re blogging by iPhone.

When you have fat fingers (well, like most men I imagine. Except for the unfortunate girly men with their teeny-tiny delicate hand extensions that they mistakenly call fingers).

Wait. Where was I?

Right. Having fat fingers means you’re going to be making a LOT of mistakes when using the iPhone. And that means a lot of editing-as-you-go.

The iPhone technology tries to be helpful of course and it will prompt you with words that it thinks you really wanted to use and not the szxxqe word that you actually typed. You type “fuck” and it’ll come back with “duck”.

Ducking iPhone.

So I’m typing this from the back row at a Microsoft seminar. (Check the tweets at the right of this blog). I’ve noticed a few things here:

1) Many are as bored out of their minds. Which means I’m in great company.
2) It’s amazing how many fellow techies have their iPhones out right now. Like me. At a Microsoft seminar.

Has the iPhone become so ingrained into our culture that no one gives it a second thought? Do we forget that it’s an Apple product? Will it become like Kleenix – a structural pillar in our collective lexicon? Do we care?

I’m hearing the presenter at the front talk about Informational Manager, XML, alerts and resolutions and all I’m hearing is “blah blah blah”. Really wish they had a girl in a bikini making the presentation up there. At least I’d pay more attention.

So why did I come here?

1) Free stuff. Sometimes Microsoft gives out free software like Windows 7 or Office 2007 as a way of getting techies familiar with their products.
2) A day away from my boring job.

Results:
1) So far I’m not sure it’s worth it
2) Yeah. Out of the frying pan…

Right now the guy is talking about clones. Cool.

Wait. Damn it. Not those kinds of clones. Technical clones. Not the zombie types.

“Mmmm. BraAains”

Speaking of eating – they fed us some cold lunch today.

Tasted *just* like brains.

I learned from one of the other guys at our table that he hasn’t personally used Microsoft products in years. This puts an exclamation point on my observation that the majority of my fellow work techies either have an Apple computer or are planning to buy one.

Man if they don’t hand out free stuff at the end of this torture I’m going to be pissed.

Right now though – my iPhone battery is too low and I have to close this off. So after this is posted I’m going to get out my sunglasses and try to find a chair near the corner of the room. Find some place to place my head. And I’ll pretend to play rapt attention to the dynamic speaker at the front.

Please God – don’t let me snore.

9:00-10:00

The man smiled at the brunette, raising one eyebrow above his black sunglasses.  He pulled his arm from her shoulder and reached into his jacket pocket, to pull out the world’s largest stogie.  He clipped it, wet it and plunged it into his mouth.

He managed to mouth out “darlin’, light me, would you?”

The blonde on the other side of him was quicker.  She flicked her lighter at the end of the cigar.  Soon, a pungent smell enveloped the room.

The clean-cut man at the other side of the room covered his nose.   “Do you really have to smoke that?”

He looked at him, smiling around his cigar.  “Why?”  He wiped some non-existent dust from his jacket.  “Does it offend your sensibilities?”

Jack grimaced.  “I’m just worried about your health.  Wouldn’t want to see you choke to death.”

The man with the receding hairline took out  his cigar, laughing and ultimately choking.  Wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve he said  “don’t worry about me.  If I were you, I’d be more concerned about your, ah, state of health Jack.”  Grinning, he placed the stogie back in place.

Jack looked at him.  “What do you mean?”

The man snickered.  “Well, my boys are kind of anxious to try out their new toys.”

Jack looked at the ugly thugs scattered around the bar, who in turn were all looking at him, bored stares on their faces.  Two of them were playing with their Glock 18 machine gun pistols.

“Besides” added the man.  “You’ve been up for what, twenty-three hours now, running around the city, right?”

“So?”

“So are you Superman or something?  You’re bleeding from the gut and – here’s what really gets me – you haven’t been to the washroom even once.”

Jack’s face turned red.  He was right.  He hadn’t even thought about it, and now that he had, it was *all* he could think about.

“What’s the matter Jack?  Do you have to be somewhere?”   The man grinned and looked around at his men expectantly.  The men all gave half-hearted snickers in response.

“Uh…”

“Oh go ahead Jack.  It’s right back there at the other end of the room.  It’s the one with the picture of the little sheep with the tophat.  Honest to God, I don’t know who thinks up this shit for the can.”  He looked at the thug next to him. “Really Rocky – why not MEN?”   Rocky shook his head.   The man pulled out a gun and shot him.   He spat on him, then looked around.  “The next time I ask you assholes a question, I kind of expect an answer.  You know?”  He looked at the next thug, who stood straight.

“Got it, boss”

“Good. ”  He looked over at Jack.  “You still here?  Go ahead.  I won’t shoot you.”  He looked at yet another thug, who was racking some balls at the pool table.  “Pete – you go with him.”

Pete put the rack down and answered “Ok boss.”

As soon as they were in the washroom, Jack turned around and pretended to nod at someone behind Pete.  Pete whipped around, and Jack stepped up and grabbed him in a sleeper hold.  Pete struggled briefly, while Jack lowered him gently to the floor.

After grabbing the thug’s gun he walked over to the small window, opened it and took his penlight out and flicked it twice, signalling the Task Force to breach the premises.

Ten seconds later the three doors to the bar burst open, and shots flew back and forth across the bar. 

“Clear!”

“Clear!”

“Clear!”

Jack walked out of the washroom, scanning the room with his gun.

He walked over to the man, who was bleeding from the mouth, struggling to breathe.   He crouched down,  grabbed his head with both hands and shouted at him.  “WHERE IS IT?  WHERE??”

The man gurgled “my….back..pock..”  And with that he slumped down.

Jack felt for his pulse.  Nothing.  So he flipped him over and grabbed the iPhone from his back pocket.  “Fucker.”

The chief of police walked up to him.  “Geeze, you’re a hard ass, Jack.”  The chief stared at all of the dead bodies, then looked back at Jack.  “What was on it anyway?  Some national secret or something?”

Jack pocketed the iPhone.  “It had my Celine Dion collection.”

“Oh.”

Bar

Posted: March 15, 2010 in Life, writing
Tags: , , ,

It was too early to go home.   The bar seemed to beckon me, with its warm lights and light jazz music. 

I mean, I’m not normally a jazz guy.  You’ll never catch me playing lounge music on the piano, with that sickening salesman grin.

Still though, there was something compelling about the whole thing.    Maybe it was that the one wall looked out over the busy street outside.  Maybe it was the mix of clientele: some were couples, and there was a mix of single people, from various walks of life, who were clearly just enjoying a drink on their own.  As I would shortly do.

I made my way in and sat down at a small table, next to a wooden pillar.  A short-haired blonde waitress came to the table and smiled.   “What can I get you honey?”

They always seem to call you honey.  Or maybe just the good ones do.  I don’t know.

“What do you have in a Chardonnay?” I asked.

“Well, we have Lindemann’s.”  She looked at the wine list that I hadn’t realized was there.  “Oh, and we have one from Argentina.  It’s new.”

I took the wine list from her and took a look.  The wine she had suggested was a little more expensive.  And has any true wine connoisseur will tell you: the only way to know whether a particular wine is good is to see if it costs more than the rest.    “I’ll have that.”

She smiled, and took the wine list.   “Ok honey.  Coming right up.”

There it was again.  Honey.  I could get used to that.

Maybe.  

I once went to a Keg Steakhouse restaurant and the guy serving drinks there called me honey too.  It just wasn’t the same, you know?

I took out my ebook reader and turned it on.  For the uninitiated, that’s an electronic device that holds a number of books on it, which you can read at your leisure.  It’s not the same as a real book, but for those who like to devour as much reading at one sitting as they can, it’s a godsend.

The waitress breathlessly came back with the glass of wine and plunked it down.   She started to scramble off but then stopped and turned.  “What’s that – if you don’t mind my asking?”

I looked up and smiled.  “Not at all.  It’s an ebook reader.”  I explained to her how it works.

“I don’t know.  I read a lot of books.  I don’t know if I could stand to have one of those.”  She looked away, clearly needing to go to her next table.  She looked back.  “Can I take a look?”

I handed it to her.   Her eyes lit up as she pressed various parts of the screen, looking through my collection of books.  I realized I hadn’t bookmarked my place and would need to take some time to find the page again.  It didn’t matter. 

She handed it back.   “There you go honey.  Thanks.  I’ll come back later and we’ll chat some more OK?”

“Sure” I said.

She never came back.  She was too busy. 

In the warmth of those lights, with the music playing, it didn’t matter.   The wine went down so smoothly, and I could feel the edges of reality start to blur, just a little bit.   I stayed for a few hours more, just reading and sipping wine, while the light jazz played unobtrusively in the background.  The outer edges of the restaurant were dark, and there were fewer cars rumbling outside on the street when I was finally ready to pay my tab and leave.

I exited out into the breezy Toronto night, aware that I’d experienced a genuine pleasure.  One of life’s little such pleasures, it seemed.

Crashing the Gates of Consciousness

Posted: February 23, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , ,

OK I started writing this blog without attempting to title it first.  That will come after, and then you’ll get to see how utterly awe-inspiring my writing can be. 

First off – my hat is off to fellow bloggers Simply Nadia Chyme – who wrote a blog about her writing process and Roger’s Place in Cyber Space, whose email provoked her wonderful blog.  (By the way, those who know me will appreciate the fact that I never flatter anyone.  I try always just to speak the truth.  When I say her blog is wonderful, I mean it.  Go check it out for yourself.)

Nadia’s blog inspired this one, is what I’m trying to say.

So the question everyone wants to know (well, everyone who has followed me here from Myspace.com anyway) is:  dear Wolfie – how do you come up with some of the terrific stuff that you write? 

As mentioned in a earlier blog:  there are about a zillion thoughts that go through my head within a half hour.  I have taken the liberty of saving myself some hard-earned cash – thus avoiding the psychiatrist’s office – by self-diagnosing myself as having ADD.  I think that’s the catalyst for this explosion of thought that comes my way, every day, without fail.  So really, when it comes to topics, there is no dry desert in this noggin of mine.  No, the tough part comes in deciding which shiny thing in my skull is deserving of attention at the moment.

A friend of mine once said: “I’ll bet you could write about anything – even toilet paper.”   Her thought intrigued me, so I decided to try to do just that.  It seemed to work, too.  If you’re willing to make a little bit of a fool of yourself, you can sometimes accomplish Great Things.

Hmm.  That last paragraph provokes another thought.  No surprise, I suppose.  We’ll get back to that thought near the end.

Seriously, though – once you become self-aware, you begin to learn a heck of a lot more about yourself and about people in general, then you ever did when you were just going through the motions of life.  (If pushed, I can explain that thought further, but really it’s another blog).   In real life verbal conversation, I like to blather long and intensely about some of the things I’ve learned.  This does not translate well to a written format, as it can get a bit long-winded or dull.  I like to avoid dullness when possible and in fact when speaking with someone who’s making dull conversation over the phone, I’ll usually find a way to end the call as quickly as possible.  “Sorry, but my toupeé just caught on fire.  I have to go.”  (I don’t have a toupeé, by the way – I have a full head of spikey hair. )

There are times when one of these life lessons seems to jump out for attention so I’ll spend some time thinking of real situations and examples, usually while typing, and so that’s how the process gets started.  Since humour is important to me (bad childhood, multiple siblings, a need for a way to release the bad energy, you can take it from there), there is a tendency to wrap significant and serious situations in a humorous bubble-wrap.   Those who aren’t me can find this annoying; they don’t seem to appreciate the loud noises that attend the process of popping those bubbles.  People sometimes think I can’t take anything seriously.  I like it when they make that mistake: it puts me under the radar, so to speak, and I get to learn more.   (And poke them more, too)

This all shows itself in my writing.  At least, I try to make sure it’s there.  If it isn’t, I’ll scrap the entire blog.  Before you ask – yes, I’ve done that many times.

There are times when I have no idea what to say; times when I just have to write, period.  That’s when it gets really interesting:   I’ll sit down at the computer, click on “New Post” and just start writing.  I have no idea what I’m going to say, either.  It just comes out and I’m either entertained or on the rare occasion, disappointed.  If the latter, then it goes to the trash.  If I can read my blog two times and find it entertaining, I’ll keep it.  In the end, I write for me.

Sometimes the only frustration  is finding the right ending.  It’s possible to write what one believes to be a provocative and thoughtful blog, only to discover there’s no easy way to end it.  Let’s face it: the last thing you read in a good blog is the last line, and if it doesn’t punch you somehow, it seems to lose some of its luster, right?  So it’s got to end well. 

Which of course brings me to the end of this blog, and how to end it.

Remember earlier in this blog – about the seventh paragraph from the top – when discussing my “toilet paper” blog, we talked about a thought I had after that?  Well here it is:

Maybe we should challenge each other, whether we’re here on WordPress or over on Myspace.  Maybe this will help our artistic writing abilities somehow.  Or maybe we’ll just have some fun with it.

Here’s the challenge, then:

You are to write a blog about pencils.   That’s it.  Pencils.   There are no rules for this blog:  it can be poetry or prose, funny or serious.  It can be as long as you like, or you can make a Haiku out of it.  Do it.

And if you choose to take this challenge, in return, you get to challenge me with writing about something.

Go ahead – I dare you.  I double-dog dare you.