Shed the Heavy Burden

Less than 8 hours ago I felt worse than I have in almost a year. Right now, at this moment I’m feeling the complete opposite.

I’m pleased with this shift and I’m crossing my fingers hoping that I’ve allowed myself to be cheered up and that I’m not just crazy bipolar, fluctuating between two extremes.

I ended up forcing myself to go to the party I was nervous about attending. It was the lesbian equivalent to a Stag and Doe. A Doe-sy Doe!

I met some really cool new people, and I wasn’t a jerk. I think I was even a bit charming.

It didn’t hurt that I had, just hours earlier, unloaded all my stress by pouring it out of my brain and into the internet and it also didn’t hurt that I had had a few bevs and hogged the mic at the party’s karaoke station.

Its just a bit after 2 AM and for the first time in months I feel like I’m going to fall asleep easily instead of tossing and turning until sunrise.

I just felt like I needed to update VTAN with some positive news after how dark and disturbing my last entry was.

The only thing about the night I regret is not taking pictures. It was a Lesbian wedding party. Good food, fun and games, amazing prizes, pretty girls AND ROCKBAND and the only picture I took was of a cookie shaped like the Millennium Falcon!

It's the cookie that made the Kessel Run in less that @twelveparsecs

It’s the cookie that made the Kessel Run in less than @twelveparsecs

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Open the Pandora’s Box

I know Pandora is a proper noun and not an adjective but at this point I’m fighting the overwhelming compulsion to change it to match the regular format for my blog titles.

I’m going through some serious emotional distress right now and it supersedes my OCD. I just need to get it out of me so that it’s not a weight pressing down on my chest and that I can go back to breathing normally again.

It’s been exactly one month since I started writing. In that time I’ve collected 69 subscribers from 8 different countries in the world. Right now I’m kinda hoping that none of them will read this. It’s sort of embarrassing to reveal such personal details to strangers on the goddamned fucking internet but I promised in my very first entry that I was going to be open and honest and show every side, warts and all, to get the greatest therapeutic results from all of this.

If I’m going to lay everything out on front street then I’ll start by just bluntly saying that I’m currently undergoing psychotherapy and taking medication to combat depression. It’s hard to know exactly how long I’ve actually been suffering from it, but I was medically diagnosed and began treatment almost 9 months ago. Since then I’ve been through peaks and valleys of emotional instability. I can go weeks at a time feeling just fantastic, like everything in the world is perfect and then I’ll see or hear something… sometimes it’s even a certain smell, that can trigger a complete emotional breakdown.

It’s made me alternate between wanting to be around certain people 24/7 and then just isolating myself completely and ignoring the world, missing work for days at a time, while I sit in an apartment that reaches Trainspotting levels of squalor.

Right now my kitchen is a nightmare, there hasn’t been a clean dish in my house for almost a week and I’ve got almost enough empty Pizza Pizza boxes scattered around to build a second bedroom.

I was feeling this way exactly one month ago and that’s what led to the birth of VTAN. I’m happy to say that I haven’t felt that bad since, but today on the anniversary I feel like I’ve taken ten steps backwards.

A friend of mine is getting married. She’s having a huge pre-wedding bash tonight and I was looking forward to going but right now the thought of getting dressed and going out to a crowd of people, happy and smiling people, has got me paralyzed with fear.

For one thing, this friend of mine is someone I’ve always been VERY fond of. Her opinion of me MATTERS. I can’t really explain it, but I am just so ashamed of so many aspects of my personality and she’s only seen the good so the idea of risking that, of shedding light on the dark and disgusting side of me and having her opinion of me change is a genuine concern.

I’m worried that because there’s going to be so many strangers, friends and family of her’s that I’ve never met before, I’ll get into a fight with someone or just be an out of control dick to everyone and ruin what is supposed to be a fun and joyful occasion. At the same time I feel, and maybe I’m flattering myself by thinking this, that she will be sad if I don’t show up.

It’s a shameful feeling, not being able to trust yourself like that. I wish I could say that I wasn’t always this way but the truth is I’ve been antisocial my whole life. I’ve never had close friends for very long because I always drive them away. Some people have a love/hate relationship with their families, mine has always been tolerate/hate.

I’ve skirted the issue since the beginning but now it’s time to get right down to the marrow of it. I’m going to tell my story, or at least a version of it. So much of what has happened is clouded by emotional bias that it’s become more and more difficult to remember exactly how things went down. There’s an alarmingly poignant moment in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke where when asked how he became the way he is the Joker says

Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!

 

photo(5)

I originally bought this as a gift for someone and never gave it to them.
What does that say about me?

So instead of telling my side of things like I’ve done over and over again to anybody willing to sit still long enough to listen, all I’m going to do is make a list of facts.

In July I experienced the dissolution of a romantic relationship that lasted for 7 years. Towards the end we had problems getting along, but for the majority of the time we spent together we were truly and staggeringly in love. I intended to marry this girl. I had her name tattooed on my arm.

Throughout her whole life she had always suffered from low self esteem. She was frequently unhappy with herself, especially with her perception of her body. I was so happy being with her and was unable to reconcile the notion that she could be so unhappy with herself and yet still be happy being with me. I didn’t fully understand her emotional state and so I never respected it. I thought it was my job to “fix” her. I was not equipped to deal with that responsibility. My failure to make her feel better about herself caused me to resent her. That resentment grew and grew over time.

I began to have a warped perception of our life together. I would look at her depression as an attempt on her part to sabotage my own happiness. She assured me that this wasn’t the case. I never believed her. For many years I took her for granted. I had made several attempts to end our relationship but she would always beg and beg and during some of the more hysterical times she would say that if I left her she would kill herself. We would always reconcile after that.

I began to experience the degradation of my own sanity. I became more and more hostile.

I became violent.

I truly believed at that point that I was being held hostage. I thought that because of her threats of suicide that I was trapped with no way out. During that period of time I briefly considered killing myself.

We got through it.

We recognized that we were both crazy. We decided that no sane person would conceivably want to be with either of us. We looked at that as evidence that we belonged together. Just two crazies trying to make it work.

Our love continued to grow but it was a hard and dangerous, unhealthy love.

She got pregnant.

I never thought I’d ever want a child. I hate my own father so fucking much. I’ve committed myself to honesty and this has all been facts. Writing that last line felt so good, and knowing inside my heart that its the truth made it feel even better. I hate my worthless father. I hated him so much that the thought of creating a person who felt that same way about me was terrifying. But when the idea became an actual possibility I had a complete change of heart. I wanted us to have this baby. I thought we would be a happy, insane little family.

She wanted an abortion.

She got it.

I didn’t allow myself to feel anything about that. I wasn’t happy or sad. I just made myself feel nothing. I began a period of greater emotional disconnection. For a time I thought I could sustain it but the truth of it all is that deep down inside I am a viciously selfish and unrepentant person. I need things to be exactly the way I want them to be otherwise I’m never satisfied.

I got fired from my dream job. It was a shitty job with shitty pay and terrible hours that made her spend countless nights alone but I loved it. If I could go back I’d be earning half as much as I do now but I’d do it in a heartbeat. I missed holidays and special occasions because of that job. I made it a priority over her and I made it clear to her, through actions if not words, that I cared more about that job than I did about her. She was so desperate not to lose me that she endured the loneliness and borderline poverty that this shitty job had caused for her. When I finally lost that job something inside of me snapped. I became unbearable to live with.

Our relationship became a stalemate. I didn’t want to be there anymore and I would say it to her face… cruelly. Every time I left she would cling to me harder. It got to the point where I would threaten to leave, expecting her to say that she would do anything to make me stay. For about a year this is how I got what I wanted, whenever I wanted it.

I always was, and admittedly still am, very physically and sexually attracted to her. Because of her problems with self esteem and body image she never believed me. She would go to extreme measures to lose weight. She got a prescription for Adderall, ostensibly because she was a university student and needed help focusing on her studies. She took them because she knew the side effects included rapid weight loss. While she was taking this medication her personality was noticeably different. It got to the point where I began to feel like she was a whole different person. I began to make rationalizations in my head. I had promised to love and be committed to one person. The drugs had transformed the person I loved into a stranger. I saw no reason to stay committed to that stranger.

I started a new job and was immediately attracted to one of my new co-workers.

I had a sexual affair with her and kept it secret.

I chose not to feel guilty about it because of all of my twisted logic. Once again I tried to end our failing relationship but she refused to let me go. At this point I admitted the affair. I did it thinking that it would be the one unforgivable act that would finally make her not want to be with me. I underestimated her capacity for forgiveness. I accused her of being so hopelessly afraid of being alone and unloved that she would rather cling to me than risk not having anyone to love her. She assured me that it wasn’t her low self esteem that caused her to take me back, she just loved me so much and couldn’t allow herself to let go of it all.

Only now do I realize how much she must have loved me. We went to couple’s counseling and tried to overcome what had happened. That’s when I began to feel real guilt. I was overcome with shame and I wanted to make it up to her. I started being the man I should have been years ago. Treating her right, actually caring about her. Putting her needs before mine for once. I really tried hard to do better but sustaining that effort became a real challenge.

At this point she began turning to a friend for advice. In my effort to keep this entirely factual I won’t say any more than I resented this relationship. I suspected he was attracted to her (after all who wouldn’t be) and while he’s ugly as a fucking mule’s anus, I knew that because she always hated the way she looked she would be drawn to anybody who thought she was pretty.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to omit opinion and speculation so I’ll skip forward ahead and just say that eventually this guy became her best friend. actually even that’s too speculative to truly be considered a FACT so I’ll strike it. I started to feel like she cared about this guy more than me. I was shocked by my jealousy considering how eager I was to be free of her only months earlier.

She decided that we needed to go on vacation to clear our heads. If we could relax and just ignore all the stresses and pressures of our lives then we could get everything back on track.

This part is almost impossible to discuss without bias so rather than ruin my honesty streak I’ll just say that before we left she had made a plan with this friend of hers and told me nothing about it. I found out about it in a traumatic way that ruined what was supposed to be a dream vacation and rang the final death knell of our relationship.

We got back from Cuba and he moved in with her almost immediately. I had a brief sexual relationship with another co-worker and really thought that I was on track to starting a new and happier life by myself.

Then something happened.

I started crying. It started suddenly and it didn’t stop for almost 4 whole days. I was struck with an uncontrollable despair. I started to panic. I couldn’t believe that the last year had actually happened. It was as if I was playing through a game on Xbox and was taking stupid risks and making crazy decisions without any regard for the outcome because I knew that I had an extra life and could just restart at any time.

The notion that things were irrevocably changed hit me like a kick to the ribs and literally knocked the wind out of me. I was having trouble breathing and had to go to CAMH for emergency care. It’s only in retrospect that I’m able to say that during the months following my confession of infidelity the two of us worked harder on our relationship then we had in 7 years. It was the happiest I could ever remember being. It showed me what I had been missing for the previous 2 or 3 years and more importantly WHAT I COULD’VE HAD FOR THE NEXT SIXTY.

Canada Day was always a special day for the two of us. She had never been close with her parents and it’s accurate to say that she was mostly raised by her grandparents. Canada Day was important to them emotionally so it had become important to her and by extension to me as well.

Last July I was spending the holiday alone. The thought of her spending our special day with another man made me physically sick. I tried to distract myself but we had shared so many experiences together, I spent more than 25% of my entire life with this girl and there literally isn’t a single thing in this world I can look at, listen to, touch, smell or taste that doesn’t remind me of her.

On Canada Day of 2012 I almost died. It’s not an exaggeration to say that some piece of me actually did.

Since then it’s been a struggle. I’ve been dating sporadically and trying to make new friends but it hasn’t been easy for me.

I know that we aren’t going to get back together.

I don’t want to.

I’ve been working hard with my therapist over the last 9 months to become a better person. Not just changing parts of my personality, but exploring the events in my past, traumas from when I was very young that have made me into what I am today.

I wish that I had these insights into my personality back then. I’ve become so much better at self reflection and identifying and talking about my emotions.

I don’t wish we could get back together.

I just know now that I am capable of being a better partner now then I ever was before. I could be a good boyfriend. I could be a good husband and conceivably even be a good father too.

I just didn’t have those skills when I needed them.

Now it’s too late.

                                                                                                                             

Writing all of this has not been easy for me. Even now I’m considering going back to CAMH because I don’t think my regular meds are going to be enough to get me through tonight. I take an anti-depressant regularly but I have anti-anxiety medication for when I’m feeling the way I’m feeling now. So far they work pretty well except for a noticeable decrease to my libido.

Tonight I’m invited to see two people in love cement their relationship. It should be inspirational but the only other friend I have who was married just went through a divorce.

It’s all got me feeling a little hopeless.

I want to go but I don’t know how I’m going to react.

I just don’t trust myself.

Uncover the Buried Treasure

If I was a famous actor and James Lipton interviewed me for ITAS when he asked me what my favourite curse word is I think I’d say “Motherfucker”

These are the thoughts that meander through my *I’m-too-tired-to-think-of-an-appropriate-adjective* brain when it’s almost 4AM and I’m not even close to falling asleep. It’s not that I’m not tired, I’m exhausted, I just can’t stop being awake.

It’s not uncommon for me to anthropomorphize inanimate objects or even vague abstract concepts. I give them names and personalities of their own. Right now my insomnia has evolved from the feeling of restlessness and the inability to sleep into a pudgy little cartoon demon who speaks with a Kiwi accent and keeps flicking my earlobe or tugs at my eyelids when they try to close. His name is Brett Clement and he’s an incompetent shepherd from New Zealand. He’s lost all his sheep so there’s nothing for me to count.

This was supposed to be a picture of some sheep, but I'm CLEARLY delirious

This was supposed to be a picture of some sheep, but I’m CLEARLY delirious

I don’t know why I’ve been having trouble sleeping. For the last month or so I’ve either passed out as soon as I get home from work and sleep the whole night through or I’m up til 3AM and end up only sleeping 2 or 3 hours.

I’ve been told it’s stress, anxiety, bad eating habits, depression and loneliness but today wasn’t stressful at all. And I wasn’t alone or anxious and miraculously didn’t have any caffeine. It’s as if the off switch for my brain is malfunctioning.

Usually when this happens the results are not good. I end up agonizing over recent history, replaying events over and over in my head thinking what might have been if I said this or done that and I inevitably spiral into fantasies of building a time machine and going back to change things, but then my brain shifts into the crazy gear and I tell myself that if I had a time machine it would be irresponsible to waste that power to just go back and hit someone with a clever-er zinger instead of going back and killing Hitler, BUT THEN I start philosophizing on the morality of killing someone BEFORE they’ve done anything wrong, like are they technically innocent if I travel back to a time when they haven’t yet committed any crime? THEN I start thinking about how Minority Report was so shitty but I just can’t help loving Tom Cruise no matter how much of a crazy bastard he is, I mean, have you SEEN Mission Impossible 3? That movie was crazy good, especially Simon Pegg, Maybe I should pop in my copy of Shaun of the De-WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU SLEEPING YOU EASILY DISTRACTED OCD IDIOT?!?!?!?!?!

That’s literally what’s happening in my brain every 10 minutes or so on an endless loop.

I'm usually not a fan of the three piece suit but Joe Gordon-Levitt makes it work

I’m usually not a fan of the three piece suit but Joe Gordon-Levitt makes it work

So when it gets to the point where I just can’t take it any more, I usually turn on the lights and start reading. I’m in the middle of Scott Snyder’s Night of Owl’s but I’m having too much fun reading it that I don’t want it to be over so instead I started reading this blog but when that started feeling too self referential and “Meta-Inception-y” I decided to clear out my email inbox and get rid of any junk and old stuff

Untitled

It’s been a bit of a laugh reading through some of the old emails. Messages to people who used to be my friends that I haven’t thought about in years. Job applications with old resumes and cover letters. Cute little love notes from my ex-girlfriend that make me feel a weird sort of happiness instead of the pain or regret that I would have expected.

But the strangest blast from the past, the email that I had completely forgotten about and drove me to write this entry was a creative collaboration from FIVE YEARS AGO!

It was a guy I knew, not really a friend, more of an acquaintance who wanted to create a superhero comic book/animated series. He was (maybe he still is, who knows?) something of an artist but wasn’t much of an idea or story guy. He asked me to help him develop the project. He didn’t give me any guidelines other than “It’s gotta be groundbreaking, something that has never been done before.”

I didn’t really have faith in his ambition, I thought his enthusiasm for the project would eventually fizzle out so I didn’t put a whole lot of effort into the ideas I sent him. I pretty much halfassed it and shot him some stuff off the top of my head just to shut him up and get him off my back.

I had totally forgotten about all of this and when I read what I had written 5 years ago I started laughing uncontrollably and now I’m completely wide awake.

22 year old Josh was living in Windsor with his girlfriend and a cat who’s dead now. He was the manager of a Bell Canada retail store and his middle aged employees hated him. He rented movies from Rogers Video at the corner of McDougall and Tecumseh and the cute video store clerk had the BIGGEST crush on him. He tried, unsuccessfully, to grow a full beard, realized he’d never be able to and finally settled for a scraggly patch of hair on his chin.

What was his idea for a groundbreaking Superhero Story?

I’m gonna copy and paste the conversation, the guy’s name has been changed to protect his identity and spare him the indignity of having so many people read his bad spelling and grammar:

Rick James

the beginning of the rest of your life

hey josh… i decided yesterday that i am an entrepenuer, i work at a swimming school. and i have my own home music school.. and now for the third venture of entrepenurial career… to make a cartoon for adult swim on teletoon

2 weeks ago i told my boss how there are no good superhero cartoons on anymore.
and he said…. so make one… and it got me thinking.. i could totally do that. but i would need help “sidekicks” if you will.. i found my buddy greg… and now you. and i think the three of us can bring a pilot episode to teleltoon that will make them piss their finely trimmed guchi underpants.

i have already found a way to animate by speaking to an animation prof at OCAD. we just need to spend some serious time writing up a few episodes.. and comeing up with an idea for the show..

one of the ones I came up with but realzied we cant use because we might get sueed, was a sitcom about ricky martins younger brother and his family… and the yourger martine cant live up to his older brother whos alwasy getting laid.. and getting spanish televison music awards. so ricky moves back home and tries to show his younger geeky brother the ropes

lol so im gona stop rambling… get back to me qand let me know if you want in on this adventure of a lifetime!!!

J Alex Alferez

RE:the beginning of the rest of your life 

How about a gay superhero? Not like a guy who is a hero but gay but like a regular straight guy who gets super powers but whenever he activates the powers he becomes a homosexual! Remember Captain Marvel? Shazam? He was just this little kid but when he says “SHAZAM!” he turns into this big buff super dude who flys and shoots lightning. It would be like that but when he says the magic word (Shiraz or something, i’m open to ideas) he turns into a gay superhero. Super fast. Super strong. Super gay!

Shiraz is the superpowered alter ego. The Clark Kent version of the guy is just an everyday average dude but he transforms into Shiraz whenever there’s danger. He’s got all the standard superhero powers, strength, speed, flight, invulnerability. The only catch is that when he’s in this form he’s SUPER GAY!
There’s also a Lois Lane type character and when he’s in his regular form he’s in love with her but she barely pays any attention to him and when he’s Shiraz, she’s all hot for his body and totally wants to bang him but he’s not even a little interested cuz he’s gay.

Batman has a ton of awesome villians. They’re commonly referred to as The Rogues Gallery by comic fans cuz there’s so many, they’re all cool and they often work together to fight Batman.

I think shiraz should have a ton of funny/creative villians and like batmans enemies they should all have a “theme”

Straight Shooter: he turns gays straight so when gay marriage is legalized he uses his power to break up the first gay couple that gets married so that the media storm causes the law to change back to making it illegal. Shiraz has to save the day

The Feminazi: she’s an ultra extreme feminist who is also a Nazi. She believes that all men must die and plans to send all the men to concentration camps and exterminate them. Instead of the Holocaust its the Holococks. Shiraz has to defeat her and her lesbian henchwomen to save the world.

Lust-er:  a gay international jewel thief. He loves anything that shines. His name is a play on words. Luster is what you call the shine that comes off of diamonds but he’s just a manwhore full of lust. He roofies and rapes the security guards who protect valuable jewels. They wake up with a sore bottom and that’s his calling card. That’s how they know they were robbed by Lust-er.

Father Figure: a catholic priest with a rockin’ hot bod who molests little boys. He tries to get shiraz drunk off Jesus Juice.

In one story Shiraz will have to plays Dick-tective and try to solve the mystery of a string of strange suicides happening all across town. His investigation leads him to The Dragon, the leader of a gang of Drag Queens who terrorize the city. They trick guys into thinking that they’re real female hookers and when the unsuspecting Johns find out they got BJ’d by a dude they kill themselves from the shame and horror

Green Piece: An environmentalist who chained himself to a tree to protest the dumping of toxic waste in the forest. The evil industrialist dumped it anyway and the chemicals mutated him with the tree. Now his cock is made of moss and he can control plants. His goal it to make everyone In the world vegan.

Holy shit! If I didn’t know that I had written all that I would TOTALLY be a fan of that comic book. Now I’m kinda bummed out that this kid was a lazy stoner and never did anything with this project.

I could’ve been Scott Snyder BEFORE Scott Snyder was Scott Snyder.

It’s 4:11 and I have to go to work in a few hours. There’s less than 2 weeks left until the RSP deadline and its crunch time. I have to be responsible for people’s personal finances, I can’t afford to be delirious from sleep deprivation when setting up RSP GICs or refinancing mortgages.

I guess I’ll go read some more of Night of Owls until I fall asleep and dream about what might’ve been.

Defend the Opposing View

I’ve taken a lot of heat from readers because of my rant against Jim from The Office a few posts ago. They say that I’m crazy for saying that a guy shouldn’t approach a woman in a friendly manner and then attempt the transition to a romantic relationship.

To all these people I say “WRITE IT IN THE DAMN COMMENTS”

I’ll defend my position here but I’m done with acknowledging feedback for this blog that comes in the form of text messages, phone calls and face to face conversation.

If you want to tell me I’m wrong or call me crazy do it in a way where everyone else can chime in too.

So, why do I consider Jim a spineless jerk?

jim

Look at that mug and you’ll have your answer!

I’ve mentioned in previous entries how I usually have to end up apologizing for myself because I muck up many social interactions. Sometimes I’ll say things that I don’t think would be taken offensively, but end up hurting people’s feelings or leaving them scratching their heads asking themselves “What’s wrong with this asshole?”

Other times I’m openly hostile to people when meeting them for the first time.

Usually it’s in forced social situations.

Parties or gatherings where I don’t know most of attendees are the worst. I decide pretty quickly if I don’t like you and it takes very little to get on my bad side.

I’m like that dog who needs to be locked in the bathroom whenever the owners have guests over because he always bites strangers.

It happens because, in life when I don’t like someone or something I just avoid it completely. If I’m stuck at a party and there’s someone I don’t like or a stranger I feel is being particularly “douchey” my first instinct is to leave but if I have to stay out of obligation I don’t have it in me to keep a civil tongue.

This is why I’m not well liked by many people and why when asked, I usually say that I’m not a nice person.

On the reverse side if I do like you then I will go out of my way to make it known. Most of my good friends will, if they have a good enough memory, remember a time very early on in our relationship where I’ve flat out said “We should be friends!”

When it comes to dating I’ve explicitly said at one point or another, to every girl I was interested in, “I don’t want to be your friend” and, as you’d probably expect by now, I’ve had to apologize for saying it.

I’m my head it’s one of the finest compliments. It means that I’m attracted to you and that even now my intention stretches beyond just friendship.

I live in an uncompromising world of blacks and whites and, this may further demonstrate just how crazy I am, I’ve always seen that as a good thing.

Everyone gets hung up on the “he refuses to be accommodating” part and they forget that uncompromising literally means that my values CAN NOT BE COMPROMISED!

I’m like a goddamned superhero!

He seems like a well adjusted fellow, right?

He seems like a well adjusted fellow, right?

In a world of mutual exclusivity I’d rather not be your friend and keep you as a romantic possibility.

This has led to a few instances where I end up not interacting with a woman I like and they end up thinking I’m ignoring them. The truth is that if I’m not yet ready to “make a play” I don’t want to start her down the path of platonicity because I’d never entertain the idea of romantically pursuing a friend.

So in short what I’m saying is that I believe that a man who builds a friendly relationship with a woman he’s interested in is completely disingenuous and whatever romantic relationship ensues is built on a foundation of lies.

So to all the “Jim Halperts” of the world who disagree, I don’t care what you believe, this is just how I feel on the matter so go suck a lemon!

Nurture the Latent Skill

It’s almost 2:30 am.

At 8:55 I picked up my guitar that was gathering dust in the corner nearest to my bathroom and decided that I would fiddle around with it to keep my hands busy while watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead.

I’ve always been pretty musically inclined. When I was 14 I took a year of piano lessons and then used that knowledge to teach myself to play the accordion and harmonica.

I mess around pretty regularly. I know 10 different chords and can play 3 or 4 full songs. I don’t own an amp but one of my guitar cables has a USB adapter that I use to make loud noises, that could technically be called music, come out of my computer speakers. It never occurred to me until about 5 hours ago that I could use that cable to record on to my laptop.

On guitar I’d describe my level of skill somewhere between Beginner and Novice but when it comes to recording and editing audio my skill level is non-existent.

So after 5 frustrating hours of trying to teach myself to use Audacity, I present my first ever original composition. You can hear a few obvious edits but I couldn’t figure out how to smooth them out and it’s too far past my bedtime to keep trying.

It has no title but if I were going to call it anything it would be My Fingers Hurt

Enjoy

Cast the First Pod

Today we make history. I recently had the distinct honour of being invited to co-host a new podcast. Here’s the inaugural episode.

Long Distance Bromance Episode I

We haven’t yet figured out a permanent solution for getting our words into your ears so for now I’ll apologize if you find that the audio quality isn’t perfect. We recorded separately while talking on the phone and overlaid both audio tracks. My mic was on my desk next to my computer but getting a phone call from Jaron gets me excited like a 13 year old Bieber fan and I spent the entire time nervously pacing around my whole apartment. When I’m actually sitting at my desk you can hear me fine.

Also we’ll find a better way to host it in the days to come but I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer and just threw it up online as quick and easy as I could.

(Edit* The podcast is now being hosted directly off of VTAN and as more episodes come out we’ll see about throwin’ her on iTunes.)

Listen if you dare but before you do, allow me in my tediously roundabout way, to give you some background information.

This podcast was created by Jaron Francis and me. I know that’s bad grammar but I can’t put my name before his.

I talk a lot about both my love of Batman and my tendency to take command of any situation making myself the focus of everyone’s attention. All that posturing dissolves immediately when I’m in the presence of Jaron Francis. One of my favorite people in the world, Jaron is pretty much the only person I’d gladly play Robin to. I follow his lead, defer to his wisdom and when he’s not looking I dress up in his clothes and pretend to be him  he suggested that we start a podcast together I jumped way the hell on board.

Jaron Francis is an actor, playwright, film maker, a dreamer and a chaser. He’s a lover and a fighter, a lapsed Norwegian, a man afraid to dance and, I can only speculate, a generous lover. He’s a stoic agnostic, he’s Kirk in spirit but Spock in actuality and more than anything Jaron is a man happy to be merely content.

True Bromance

True Bromance

In Ancient Greece, Plato posited the idea of the ideal forms. He said that for every imperfect circle in the world, there must exist, on some ethereal plane, a perfect circle from which every other circle in existence derives. The same is true for every physical being or object. Trees, rocks, lions and spiders are all unique in their physical makeup but all of them follow the intrinsic “blue print” of their respective ideal forms.

When it comes to man, Jaron Francis is Plato’s ideal form.

He is the perfect man and we should all aspire to be like him.

It's a matter of public record that I get sexually aroused by breakfast foods.

It’s a matter of public record that I get sexually aroused by breakfast foods.

So when he asked me to partner up with him on this project I immediately relegated myself to sidekick.

However, together, we recorded the first of what we hope to be many episodes.

It’s a show about 2 friends separated by nearly 3000 kilometers who just like to hang out and talk about movies and stuff but can’t because of the distance. So we record our long distance phone calls and you all get to have the pleasure of listening.

Enjoy!

Look the Other Way

Lately I’ve been using myself as a test subject in a little social experiment. I’ve been consuming as much pop culture media as I can while trying to experience it from a different context than the creators had originally intended. The idea came from an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney says he watches The Karate Kid and roots for “Sweep-the-Leg” Johnny.

I should just do EVERYTHING this guy says, right?

I should just do EVERYTHING this guy says, right?

I watched Empire Strikes Back through the context that at some point between Episodes IV and V Han and Leia had a crazy drunken one night stand and he brushed her off the next morning when she tried to get him to talk about “what this all means”. There’s also a totally underrated Woody Allen movie I love called Anything Else. I like to watch it and pretend that Woody Allen’s character is Jason Biggs from the future and he’s traveled back in time to give his younger self some life advice.

Try it yourself IT CHANGES THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE.

Right now I’m watching The Office again from start to finish. Like many normal people you probably see this show as a typical workplace comedy with elements of romance thrown in.

I’ve been watching it with Dwight, Roy and Toby as the heroes and it turns out that Jim and Pam are just terrible people!

Pam has never once been satisfied with what she has. She sits around unhappy with her position in life and yet fails to acknowledge her responsibility in getting to that point. And then when she does have an ambition she revels in the fleeting glow that comes with achieving her goal until it wears off and she reverts to her natural state of dissatisfaction.

Just look at her emotional variance before and after she:

  • breaks off her engagement to Roy,
  • starts dating Jim,
  • decides that she needs to go to art school,
  • quits art school,
  • gets married
  • and finally when she has children.

She hates her life so damn much that she seeks radical change but the cycle just repeats. And yet we’re meant to root for her!

I can’t do it!

And don’t let me get started on Jim. He’s a real piece of work this guy. He’s one of these situationally confident jerks, my least favourite type of person. The kind who, when surrounded by people he considers mentally or physically inferior, struts around like cock of the walk. But the second there’s anyone who will actually stand up to him he rolls belly up like a subservient dog.

He’s got no backbone. I hate these types of guys. The ones too scared to tell women they’re interested in, how they feel. I have no respect for these guys who try to sneak in by being “the best friend”. I feel like shaking these guys by the shoulders shouting “This isn’t 7th grade!”

Every girl I have ever dated I’ve got to know through a romantic relationship. I’ve never looked at existing friends of mine and decided, “Hmmm… Which of my buddies do I wanna bang?”

But Jim!?!?!? Not only does he ingratiate his way into this girl’s life he does it in the guise of a “nice guy who just wants to be friends”

WITH A GIRL WHO IS ALREADY ENGAGED!!!

What a scumbag!

I thought that if I could train my brain to see a new perspective then I could get better at relating to people in real life. By seeing their point of view for a change maybe I could become less judgmental and give people more of a chance before immediately deciding that I don’t like you.

I watched The Office from Dwight’s side, and Roy’s, and all the people who have suffered because of Jim and Pam and all it did was make me hate two characters I used to like.

Dance the Whole Night

Ordinarily I’m not the type of person for whom “club” is a verb. In my vocabulary a club is either a tool for murdering those oh so cute baby seals or that group of asthmatic milquetoasts I used to play chess with in highschool. A club is never the place I think of when planning where I want to go to have a good time.

There’s an old maxim usually attributed to Albert Einstein that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I’ve alluded to it in all of my previous posts, but I’ve never explicitly come out and said that my ultimate goal with VTAN is to become less insane. To that end I’ve found myself doing different things more and more often in the hopes that I’ll have better results.

So it was with more than a little reluctance that after many months of coaxing I broke out the dancing shoes and hit the downtown club scene.

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I had started the morning with a literal “wake up call” that led to a conversation that pretty much ruined my day. Later that afternoon I got an email from one of my favorite people in the world and the excitement that came from opening it was immediately wiped away when I read that his girlfriend had just broken up with him. It bothered me so much to hear about all the bullshit he has to deal with now because this is the type of guy who truly deserves to be happy. He’s so infectiously charming that the whole world is better off when he’s got a smile on his face and so to see him in bad spirits really brings me down.

By the time I left work I was in a pretty shitty mood and was considering just staying home, putting on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition Bluray and just spending the whole weekend fastidiously cataloging all the reasons why the people who say LotR is a better trilogy than Star Wars are goddamned lunatics.

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My greater than symbol is made of straws.  Just like MacGuyver used to make.

Instead I  managed to muster up the enthusiasm to follow through with the night’s plan.

I’m not going to give the Howard Cosell blow-by-blow of the night partially because, “who the hell cares?” and partially because I don’t remember it all. What makes the night worth writing about is how it didn’t at all feel outside of the zone of comfort.

I had alternate plans I could have fallen back on that night. My friend invited me to see his brother’s funk band playing at El Mocambo. This would have been more my type of scene. A live band instead of a DJ,drinks at bar rather than on a dance floor,  and if you ask me, sweet funky bass grooves win over dance beats any day of the week. I would’ve ended up going but I had made a conscious decision to act against my natural impulses.

It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where George realizes all his failures in life can be fixed by simply acting in the exact opposite way than he normally would. I took a different track and I gotta say I’m pleased with the results.

Lots of dancing:

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And drinking:

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And just a really fun way to end the night considering my day started off so shitty.

I have to admit though, some patterns are harder to break. Even though it was a night of doing things out of the ordinary there’s only so far you can go in one night.

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We still ended up at Fran’s for more drinks and All Day Breakfast!

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