Explain the Crazy Obsession

People think it’s an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It’s never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.

Batman, Brad Metzler “Identity Crisis”

I didn’t want to do this. At least not this soon. I started this whole thing because I never talk about myself. Most people know me as a goofy, fun loving joker and very few get to see the gears working behind the scenes in this crazy messed up head of mine.

I never talk to anyone about how I’m feeling. Even with my closest friends I only ever have hollow conversations about pop culture, so books and movies rather than thoughts and emotions are standard topics of discussion. But since today marks the release of the latest in the series of DC Animated Universe films, and since I’m running out of ways to distract myself from having to deal with my whole “dad situation”, I want to take a little time to talk about Batman.

Today I went out and bought a copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns part 2 on BluRay.

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I imagine it would’ve had to have been an amusing sight, watching me watch this movie. Every now and then I’d catch myself involuntarily whispering, “Damn, I fuckin’ love Batman!”

I thought about maybe writing a review but instead I decided to be a little more self reflective and try to put into words why Batman matters to me so much.

So? Why am I obsessed with Batman?

Because I feel more emotionally connected to him than to most real people in my life.

It takes a person of a special disposition to consider a fictional character, originally created for ten cent pulp rags, as an emotional touchstone. I am aware that most people will say I’m crazy when, in a world full of poverty and violence and real suffering, I say that Batman is important, but he is to me. The effect that this character has had in shaping me into who I am today is so significant I’d go as far as saying that it makes me understand religious fundamentalism in a frightening way.

I’m not saying I agree with the fundees AT ALL, I’m just saying that I understand how these crazy nutjobs can get so incensed over their most strongly held beliefs. If I can almost come to blows with a stranger at the comic shop over something as trivial as a freaking superhero book, then it makes a weird sort of sense that people would go to war over religion.

And that’s really what I’m trying to say. Since 1992 Batman has been my religion.

June 19th 1992.

I remember the exact date because it was my older brother’s 12th birthday as well as the original theatrical release date of Batman Returns.

I’ve been obsessed ever since.

At first it was about the adventure of it all. I was only six years old at the time. Little kids are impressed by the car and the gadgets and the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. As I grew older and read the works of Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini and especially Frank Miller, I started to see the true complexity that makes him so interesting.

Batman is as crazy as I am.

I am crazy.

I say it so often and so candidly that people sort of just shrug it off without really letting it sink in, but the truth is that there’s so much wrong with me that just the thought of trying to list it all is exhausting. I’m psychologically damaged in a way that I fear may never be fully repaired and while I’m certainly not dangerous I’m self aware enough to know how unpleasant it can be having me around. This means I either spend a lot of time alone or having to apologize for myself.

If you read Batman through a certain lens, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that he’s not at all a hero in the traditional sense. He’s more insane than the weirdos he’s always locking up.

He’s a an obsessive compulsive, paranoid sociopath with dissociative personality disorder and an infallibility complex. He went through emotional suffering at a young age and has never been able to get over it and, more to the point, it appears he’s not even trying since he’s intentionally putting himself into situations that will make it worse.

I feel like I’m talking about myself when I write that.

One day I’m going to write about the experiences both past and very recent that have contributed to my overall mental instability. For now I’ll just say that I recently sat down and had a real conversation with someone recovering from a substance abuse problem. Although it was a brief talk, and I’ve never dealt with this kind of problem myself, I was amazed at how connected I felt to this person. Being able to talk about feelings with someone who could draw upon their own personal experiences to really understand the type of pain I had been feeling was so different. Even now I’m still trying to work out how I felt about it.

What I’m hamhandedly trying to say is that never before did I have anyone who I felt I could relate to emotionally and so I used Batman as a surrogate.

I would read about this poor little boy so full of anger who grows up to be a man with no hope for a happy future and while it didn’t necessarily give me hope for the future it did give me that feeling of “at least I’m not alone.”

I started this entry with a quote that gives us a glimpse at the denial that Batman lives with everyday. He’ll never admit to himself just how crazy his actions are and how little control he has over his obsessions.

That’s at least one thing I’ve got going for me. I’m happy that I’m able to recognize that I’m all messed up in the head.

It makes me feel like maybe one day I won’t be.

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Escape the Parental Trap

I hadn’t planned on updating so soon. Three entries in one week sets a dangerous precedent that I don’t anticipate maintaining but I’m facing something of a dilemma and it’s keeping me awake and restless even with my friend Pam gently stroking me to sleep.

Stifle your wolf whistles, by “Pam” I mean Diazepam, (better known as Valium) not some sweet young lady, but she sure does treat me nicely and I’ve toyed with the idea of committing to her long term especially after the conversation I had earlier today (or yesterday technically since its well past midnight… I’m feeling pretty sleep deprived so expect more incoherence).

My dad asked to move in with me.

This may not seem like such a big deal and you’re probably thinking that because you have normal parents but my dad is far from normal.

As spectacular a failure in life as you’re likely to meet, my father has a special talent for ignoring responsibilities, making poor choices and then finding convoluted rationalizations as to why the problems in his life are everybody’s fault but his.

My father runs a concrete paving business. He doesn’t own it, the owner is a wealthy old Italian man who I’ve been told my whole life has Mafia ties, but my dad basically is in charge of operating the company. He makes quite a bit of money but he only ever works in the summertime and has zero income for half the year.

He knows this.

It’s been the same every year for the last 30 years. In the summer he spends like a WWII era navy man on furlough literally throwing money away (he likes to carry at least a couple of hundred in cash at all times and has had his wad fall out of his pockets many times over the years) he’s never had a savings account and it still comes as a shock to him that he has no money in the winter.

When I was 12, that is FIFTEEN DAMN YEARS AGO, my parents got divorced. They reacted to it in complete opposite ways. My mother viewed it as a chance to make a fresh start. She moved to the suburbs, got remarried, bought a house and now owns a business.

She is happy.

My father looked at it as the end of the life he had built. He figured he was too old and tired to start all over again and so instead just moved into a shitty apartment and rekindled his lifelong love affair with cheap Mexican beer.

Since then I’ve made an effort to avoid him. I guess it’s because I’m actually a lot like him in some crazy ways. I’m pretty impulsive and rarely think about consequences and I have had tons of hilariously tragic “adventures” that were a result of my poor decision making that I know I inherited from him.

Everyday I live with the fear that I will become like him so I’ve spent almost a decade avoiding and ignoring him.

I originally moved out when I was 18 because I had an older brother and sister (6 and 8 years older respectively) who still lived at home. I didn’t want to end up like that so I took off and over the last 9 years I’ve only spoken to him 3 or 4 times.

Until the week before Christmas.

I was alone at home, I couldn’t find anyone to do anything with, I was feeling depressed and after throwing back a few drinks I went for a walk and ended up at the movies by myself watching “Silver Linings Playbook”.

Maybe I’ve got a warped perception of myself but I felt like I was looking in a mirror while watching that movie and I don’t just mean because I’m as handsome as Bradley Cooper.

The guy had gone through an emotional breakdown, he was genuinely, albeit reluctantly, trying to overcome his mental instability with therapy and medication and I really identified with him.

If you haven’t seen it then, without spoilers, I’ll say that there comes a time in the movie where Bradley Cooper and his dad, Robert DeNiro, repair their damaged relationship. It’s a very cathartic moment and I sat there in the dark theatre SOBBING like a baby.

As soon as I left the theatre I was overcome with this intense urge to call up my dad, talk for a bit… maybe have a catch in a cornfield or something.

It felt amazing. We talked for almost 2 hours. I told him all about my life and everything I’ve been up to over the last 9 years. We agreed to meet and I had him come over for dinner. We watched Inception on bluray and made plans to do Dark Knight Rises the following week. It felt like the start of a whole new relationship with my dad.

Then he started calling me.

Over the next 7 days he called me 11 times. Each time to ask for some kind of help. He asked me to fix his computer, he asked to borrow some money and strangest of all he asked if I knew any lawyers who would work for free.

After years of zero communication, in a moment of weakness I called him and opened up the floodgates of bullshit.

I couldn’t see it then but it was just a case of misplaced affection. I realize now, and I’m ashamed to admit, that I love Robert DeNiro, not my dad.

It was DeNiro who I wanted to hug me and play catch with.

I started ignoring his calls and they became more and more frequent.

3 weeks ago he left me a voicemail. He needed me to give him $3000 or he was going to be evicted. I asked him who I should make the cheque out to and he said I should just give him cash. I told him that I would write the cheque to his landlord and he started to freak out about how I didn’t trust him and that by not giving him cash I was accusing him of being a liar. I got frustrated and hung up the phone.

My sisters have been in El Salvador the last 2 weeks. They went on vacation to visit family they haven’t seen in years and so I called my older sister up to say goodbye before she left. During the course of the conversation the topic of our father was brought up.

She was annoyed because he had promised to give her $1000 to put towards the trip but then told her he couldn’t because he didn’t even have enough to pay his rent.

His rent is $1000.

That’s when I figured out his scumbag plan. He was gonna fleece me for 3 grand, was going to give a wad of cash to my sisters so that he could come across as some kind of big shot, pay his overdue rent and then pocket an extra thousand for himself.

Since I didn’t give him any money his land lord is forcing him out next Friday and he has nowhere to go.

He told me that his friend is going to let him stay in his house in Barrie but he can’t go until the second week of February. He needs me to let him move in temporarily.

I have a hard time saying no to people.

It’s really strange. I have no problem being a dick to people and I’m an expert grudge holder. I hold grudges like they’ve got those huge Canadian Tire heavy duty rubberized handles attached to them. I’m usually not a nice person EXECPT when people are asking for my help.

It’s from all those damn times I watched Star Wars as a kid. “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!” It’s ingrained in my consciousness and it’s become a real problem.

I either go out of my way to help people when i shouldn’t or I say no and am wracked with overwhelming guilt for weeks afterward.

In the end I tend to get walked all over and people have taken advantage.

I don’t want to let my dad stay with me.

I think I might actually hate him.

It’s a real concern of mine that if I let him stay for that week he’ll never leave.

If he refuses to leave I’ll probably murder him.

It’s quarter to 3AM and I’m about to pass out. I’m not going to bother proofreading this entry so if you gave up halfway because it was too disjointed a stream of consciousness to make any sense to anyone but me, then I don’t blame you.

The truth is that I don’t even need anyone to read this, I just needed to write this all down and get it out of my head so that I could finally get some sleep.

I really want to tell him to go to hell but I’ll wait until morning to make my final decision.

Drink the Good Scotch

It’s no secret that in today’s world of sensationalist media the stories that get all the attention aren’t the most well researched or socially relevant but rather the most exciting. This means sex and violence. Since the overall goal of this project is to get people to understand me more and like me better I don’t think we’re quite yet ready for one my sex stories.

So that leaves violence. Here we go.

I got hit by a car last week.

I’m gonna be jumping back and forth chronologically and making wild tangential asides so try to focus. Also there’s no need to point out my my unnecessary use of paragraph breaks. I write the way I speak, which is long winded, simultaneously narcissistic and self deprecating, and full of pauses for dramatic effect.

I went to a bar last weekend with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was a friend’s birthday party but it was meant to be a low key “non-event”. I was initially hesitant because it usually falls onto me to be the entertaining one in social situations. It’s a lot of pressure when you’re not feeling too enthusiastic about where you are or who you’re with and as natural as it may seem from the outside, most of this charm is affected. But, I heard that a person that I had wanted to see would be there so I went.

I got there exactly on time so I circled the block for a few minutes and almost froze my ears off. It was cold as dicks and I didn’t wear a winter hat because I had my hair so carefully disheveled. I wanted the illusion of messiness not the real things and so my ears paid the price. When enough time had passed where I wouldn’t appear to be too eager I walked in to find a dozen people already 3 rounds in, and having a great time despite my absence. It was pretty relaxing having that burden taken off my shoulders seeing how they were all able to have fun without me there to be the life of the party. The person I was most interested in seeing wasn’t there though and those in attendance weren’t exactly what you would call my biggest fans.

So I started drinking. Everyone was splitting pitchers but they had been there hours before the scheduled meeting time so in an effort to catch up I started ordering Scotch and Sodas. Within 20 minutes I had thrown back 3 doubles and was starting to feel uninhibited. I was wrestling with my scumbag brain to not make the situation awkward by bringing up that fact that I, not too long ago, had a bit of a romantic dalliance with a certain lady in attendance who had brought her new boyfriend to the party.

He didn’t know anyone at a table full of friends and so rather than being left out of conversations he started clutching onto topics like a drowning man in the flotsam. Inevitably I got stuck talking to him but I couldn’t pay any attention to anything he was saying. I felt bad for the guy but I didn’t care too much because I was still waiting for someone to show up so that the real fun could start.

That’s when I got a text, “I’m not coming. Tell everyone I said hi and wish her a Happy Birthday from me.” I was bummed to be sure, but I wasn’t going to let this bring me down so I just kept the party rolling and continued having a good time.

So I kept drinking and everyone kept talking, I kept making everybody laugh and the night wore one. Eventually everyone left except for the birthday girl, her boyfriend and this one other really cool guy. We stayed until last call and the birthday girl ordered me 2 more Glenfiddichs bringing my total score for the night to 8 (10 including the ones I had with dinner before going out). When it was time to go she said what she probably meant as a compliment but what made me never want to go anywhere with anyone ever again. “Thanks for coming,” she said. “It would’ve been no fun without you here!”

I left the bar feeling like a clown who gets hired to perform at kids parties. The subway had stopped running and so I needed to catch the Yonge bus to get home. I saw one starting to pull up to the stop but I was on the wrong side of the street.

I needed to make a break for it.

There were a few cars crossing, but this one must’ve been closer than I had thought because as I made my wobbly-legged sprint to the bus stop the guy in the car leans on the horn and slams on the breaks. He comes to a skidding stop just a few feet away but the snow, ice and slush on the street had him slide forward and close the gap between us. His bumper hit me in the right knee and I toppled over, my shoulder bouncing off his hood, and collapsed onto the floor. I shot up onto my feet immediately as if nothing happened because at the time my main concern was still catching the bus, but it had already passed.

I looked back as if realizing for the first time that there was a car behind me and the driver started shouting at me before speeding off. I was left standing in the middle of The World’s Longest Street at 2:30 AM completely alone. I felt like the last survivor of the apocalypse as I limped back to the bus stop.

I eventually made it home but not before getting kicked off the bus at Eglinton. I walked the rest of the way with a veggie dog in one hand while I sent multiple sexually harassing text messages with the other.

I woke up the next morning fully clothed with a pocketfull of toonies and a sore knee and shoulder but NO HANGOVER.

The moral is “Don’t waste your time. Always drink the good stuff.”

Read the Damn Blog

I can’t have a conversation with anyone without obsessively wondering what they may be thinking. Growing up as a kid who read too much sort of spoiled me and has made regular human interaction almost impossible. Both first person and omniscient narratives give you tremendous insight into a character’s thoughts and emotions and so it’s no surprise that I feel more connected to most fictional characters than I do to any real person. With regular conversation I can’t be inside a person’s head and since most people prefer to talk to me about things rather than talking about themselves all of my relationships end up being very superficial.

I don’t want to keep living this way but, like the proverbial old dog, I’m done learning. I figure the next best thing is to give the rest of the world a better understanding of what’s going on in my head. So that’s gonna be my goal.

Verb the Adjective Noun will be the pipeline from my brain to yours. Maybe this way more people will see how the machine works. They’ll see the entire Rube Goldberg-ian thought process that ends with me saying or doing something unintentionally hurtful or insensitive. Maybe this way people will see why my jokes are funny without me having to explain them. Maybe this way people will see the world through “Josh Goggles” and they’ll see that I’m not so bad. You may even find that you like me more than you thought you did.

This is the start, we’ll see how everything turns out