It’s that game that everybody seems to think is so good! Settlers of Goddamned Catan!
I just watched Gotham on Fox.
After an hour on Twitter, discussing everything I liked (and hated) about the premiere with a buncha strangers I decided to come here, stand on my soapbox and rant a bit.
What the fuck, Fox?
The original logline for the show, the basic premise that intrigued me, AND THE WHOLE INTERNET, was: Gotham City before Batman. A police procedural set in the seediest, most corrupt, crime infested city.
The idea was intriguing. “But who would watch a Batman show without Batman?” I heard a ton of people who weren’t hardcore fans of the universe ask.
Smart people. That’s who.
I wanted to see a few good cops trying to go up against a corrupt system, just trying their best when even the highest ranking officials in the city are on the mob’s payroll. I wanted to see characters only tangentially related to Batman because Gotham City itself should’ve been the main character.
I’ll argue that Gotham City is Batman’s true nemesis, more so than any of the Rogue’s Gallery. Gotham killed his parents and Gotham never changes despite all his efforts to clean it up.
Having a dark, gritty series that showcases just how fucked up a place Gotham is would have given us a better appreciation for everything Batman does in his Sisyphean quest for justice.
“But Josh, you foolish asshole,” I hear you screaming. “How do you make that interesting to the average viewer?”.
The same way that DC Comics has been doing it for almost 80 years! Good writing and interesting characters.
They have so much lore to borrow from. They could’ve stolen from the best and it would’ve been completely within their rights. Take a bit from Grant Morrison, a huge chunk of Geoff Johns’ Earth One, add a dash of Scott Snyder for flavour and the makings of an awesome show are apparent right from the start.
Make Thomas and Martha Wayne THE MAIN CHARACTERS.
At least for Season 1. You make Tom an idealistic physician with political aspirations. Everyday when he drives past the Solomon Wayne Court House on his way to work at the Alan Wayne Memorial Hospital he can’t help but feel like the city that his ancestors built is going to hell and he’s doing nothing to stop it. So he runs for mayor hoping to right some wrongs.
Meanwhile Martha Wayne (who in this version was born Martha Arkham) struggles with mental illness. It’s a Gotham urban legend that her father went insane and murdered her mother when she was a girl so the people of Gotham all gossip in hushed tones about how all members of the Arkham family are crazy. Going all the way back to when Jeremiah Arkham built the famed Arkham Asylum for his insane daughter, mental illness is suspected to be heredity in the Arkham bloodline.
Martha’s dependance on Lithium and her dangerous bouts of manic depression are a huge scoop for the gossip magazines and threaten to derail Tom’s mayoral campaign. So she puts on a happy facade and plays the doting wife all the while she’s terrified that her genes have poisoned the mind of her young son who is already displaying sociopathic tendencies that she hides from her husband. She doesn’t want him to see any doctors because if is is diagnosed then she can’t keep living in denial that he’s a normal little boy.
The whole season is about the campaign leading up to election. The mob wants the incumbent Mayor to win and the throughline of the show is a plot to murder Thomas if he wins, but to leave him and his family alone if they can force him to drop out of the race through intimidation, or just steal the election all together.
Jim Gordon, who is still a uniformed cop, is assigned to protection detail. He’s one of many body guards for Thomas and Martha Wayne but most importantly he’s not a boy scout. He’s a bent cop, “on the take”. That’s the way it works in Gotham. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just pragmatic and accepts that he can still do a modicum of good as a member of the police force, but to survive he has to occasionally turn a blind eye on some shady dealings. He spends a lot of time with the family and bonds with Bruce.
Jim and Tom become good friends. They spend a year getting to know each other, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, the audience gets to know him. And Martha.
That way when they’re killed after he wins the election AT THE END OF THE FIRST SEASON we give a shit about it. We’re not just sad because the TV is telling us to be sad and sad music is playing on a close up of a kid with a sad face.
We’ve lost characters we care about.
THEN in the second season Gordon is a detective, he’s personally invested in the case. He DOESN’T WANT to turn a blind eye anymore. He’s gonna solve the murder BY THE BOOK.
This is called character development. Growth.
He’s not just a cookie cutter good guy. He knows that by seeking justice he might even implicate himself, but his guilt just won’t allow him to just let it go.
Now little Bruce’s problems seem to come from the trauma of losing his parents and not inherent mental instability so he continues to go undiagnosed and without the medication and therapy that he needs. His obsession with revenge starts and we see his quest for justice as more of a poor kids delusion and we sympathize with him.
There’s so much potential story and character study here. It’s like ripe fruit begging to be picked and instead we get the exact same origin we’ve seen in film and TV a million times. We get Catwoman witnessing the Wayne’s murder, The Riddler working for GCPD, The Penguin ratting out the mob to Jim Gordon and Poison Ivy namechecked FOR NO FUCKING REASON.
We all love Batman and I guess the guys who created this show thought we’d like the show more if they crammed a whole bunch of nods and references to Batman in THE FIRST GODDAMNED EPISODE.
Remember how much we all LOOOOOOVED it when Anakin Skywalker built Threepio?
What makes Batman so interesting, at least to me, is how ineffectual he is.
He could probably fix the city with his mind and his money, instead he puts on a mask and beats people up. The truth is he creates the villains he fights. If not directly (like Two Face) then by just appealing to the crazies sense of the dramatic. When a psycho criminal sees a guy dressed as a bat, he decides to wear clown make up.
This was my main issue with all the recognizable villains that popped up in the premiere. They shouldn’t exist without Batman.
Last winter Kevin Smith and Paul Dini recorded an episode of one of my favorite podcasts ever: Fatman on Batman. They discussed a dream project of theirs, a TV show (like Smallville), that took place during Bruce Wayne’s youth.
The zeal and pure enthusiasm with which these two dreamers talked about this TV show that would never be, got me really excited. I can’t help but feel that the creative team either heard the show, or the massive fan response on Twitter, and at the last minute scrambled to include as many of those ideas into Gotham as they could.
I was hoping for a more subtle approach.
The show is called Gotham.
Instead they gave us the prequel to Batman Begins: Batman Before.
I’m gonna keep watching because I really want to love this show.
It’s just that so far, there’s seems to be too much Batman in a show that was supposed to be about Gotham City without Batman.
We get real in this episode. It was never meant to come out so we spoke more candidly than normal. You’ll hear LOTS of bleeps to hide names of people or other possibly incriminating details and lots of interruptions midsentence because huge sections have been cut out.
So if you’re a devoted listener you probably heard Kyle, Callie and I sitting at The Duke of York for our weekly trivia night when the lights went out. The blackout last April affected a pretty substantial part of the west end of Toronto.
The subway wasn’t even working so I couldn’t get home.
I take prescription medication for anxiety and my intense, irrational, fear that the power will never come back made me take more than I should have. You’ll notice I talk super fast and you can tell by how I talk that I’m riding an intense high.
Kyle and Callie, (heretofore to be known as Kylie) being proud “Eastenders” where pretty sure their building would have power.
In Part 1 of The Blackout we walked to Kylie’s and the episode ended right before we got into one of our famous 6 hour conversations since I figured nobody would want to hear it.
I managed to chop it into just under an hour of interesting conversation.
In this episode I try to convince Kyle to watch One Direction: This is Us on Blu-Ray and since he vehemently refuses we end up talking about the poor business decisions that caused BlockBuster Video to go out of business, my rampant alcoholism, the possibility of having a child and being a good parent and all the reasons why, after taking a crazy ride on the pussy train and having a revolving door of meaningless sexual relationships, I don’t want to date…
The intro song is Gold Rush by Ed Sheeran.
Buy his album.
Sane people, I’m told, regularly have cravings for certain foods.
Most of the time when I experience that feeling most aptly described as “craving” it’s for experiences. Sometimes I’ll restlessly get out of bed because I crave a late night walk through deserted streets. Other times I can’t sleep because of an addition-like “jonesing” to watch Gremlins or Jurassic Park.
Today I have this itch… this craving to make a blog post.
I don’t even have anything interesting to write about.
OK, let’s see, let’s see. What can I write about today?
I got nothin’ .
That was wildly unsatisfying.
A few weeks ago there was a pretty big blackout that affected some parts of downtown Toronto. I was at The Duke of York for Tuesday Night Pub Stumpers Trivia so I took out my iTelephone and began recording the shenanigans.
On this special edition Kyle, Callie and I are joined by two of our trivia team members, Eric and Rowena, as we navigate a dark pub and the apocalyptic streets of T.O.
Find out what happens when we Kill The Lights
Kyle will be gone for the next 6 weeks and so in order to pass time I’ve been listening to recordings of his voice to fill the empty void in my soul. It only worries me when I start trying to have a conversation with these recordings.
To stop myself from becoming the kind of crazy person who talks to himself, I’m gonna try to actually get some use out of the recordings we never intended to release to the public.
Also, we’re finally on the iTunes click here to subscribe and while you’re there downloading our podcast FOR FREE, buy some of David Usher’s songs. He’s my number one favourite recording artist of all time and it’s always good to support Canadian Arts.
Kill the Lights (Accoustic Ver.)
Duke of York
Toronto to Barrie
Wentworth Miller comes out
Magic: The Gathering
Jim Flaherty Dies
Rock Death Hoax
Ultimate Warrior Dies
John Pinette Dies
Mickey Rooney Dies
Canada Gun Ownership
Our friend Brian’s Uncle Fred
Kill the Lights
Don Draper had it wrong.
I don’t say that flippantly, it took me hours of contemplation to make that decision. Don Draper is in the top 3 on the list of my favorite “Double D’s” in the world and I usually take his words as the gospel truth, but in the season 1 finale of Mad Men, Draper gives an awesome speech about nostalgia that I’m starting to interpret in a new way.
He’s pitching an ad campaign for Kodak’s new slide projector. Being that it’s the middle of the 60’s during the U.S./Soviet space race, the muckety mucks at Kodak want to market the sleek curves of their new “wheel projector” as a spaceship. They’re trying to cash in on the NASA zeitgeist. Don Draper puts together an alternative campaign that causes one of the stuffedshirts in the boardroom to burst into tears and run out of the room crying.
He decides they shouldn’t look towards the future to market this product, but rather the past. To use the slide projector as a time machine. To let us catch a glimpse of days gone by.
Up until recently I would’ve agreed. If you asked me I’d have said that looking back into the past is painful and as Draper says, “takes us to a place where we ache to go again… a place where we know we are loved.”
But over the last few days I’ve been swimming in nostalgia and it’s making me happier than I’ve felt in the longest time. And not just happy about old memories but rather happy with myself as I am today.
Netflix has added to their Library, the first two seasons of Digimon: Digital Monsters.
Now for anyone who doesn’t know me very well, I consider myself to be musically inclined. I sing in the shower a lot and I’m a 10 speed dynamo when it comes to karaoke but I also play a handful of instruments with varying levels of competence.
Here’s me shredding on guitar.
I play a little bit of accordion, drums and piano as well but the first instrument I ever learned, the one that started me on this musical journey nearly 15 years ago was the harmonica.
There is exactly one reason why I, as a child, decided to learn to play the harmonica.
It’s because of Matt, a character from Digimon. More specifically, Matt, my favorite character on the first two seasons of Digimon.
Now he wasn’t the star of the show, he wasn’t the hero. He was always sort of the “second banana”. He had a cool exterior that belied a tumult of emotion contained just under the surface. His mom and dad were divorced and he and his little brother had been split apart as each of them went to live with one of their parents. During their adventures with the Digimon he always worried about his brother’s safety, attempting to be a responsible caretaker, but often having to face the sad reality that he wasn’t well suited for the task. When his younger brother starts to develop a strong bond with the show’s goggle-headed protagonist he gets jealous and further questions his self worth.
He was far too complex a character for what was meant to be a kid’s show but he played the hell outta the harmonica and I always thought he was super cool.
People have told me that it says a great deal about my personality that I don’t ever identify with the main protagonist of any story. If there’s any leading man in any movie, book, TV show, video game or comic, I always see more of myself reflected in the main character’s best friend or sidekick.
It turns out there’s even a name for that ultra important character in literature. It’s the Deuteragonist. He’s the secondary character who shoulders a lot of the burden when it comes to the plot, but he’s not always a hero in the traditional sense. Sometimes he’s a rouge or scoundrel, sometimes he’s just a weaker character who needs the support of the hero to fully develop. Whatever the case I’ve always thought I shared a similar temperament to the Dueteragonists of my favorite stories.
Let’s go through the list shall we:
- Han Solo
- Ron Weasley
- Seth Cohen (especially similar)
- Pacey Witter (disturbingly similar)
- Commander Riker
- George Costanza
- Niles Crane
- Inigo Montoya
- Kaidan Alenko
- Cameron Frye
and of course the guy this whole thing has been about,
Now while these characters, for the most part, may not share many personality traits with each other I always identified with them more than I would with the heroes of their respective stories.
I guess I just lack the confidence to consider myself the leading man in the story of my life.
I’m definitely sidekick material though.
Watching Digimon for the first time in almost 15 years has transported me back into the past in a way that has let me see all the ways that I’ve changed in the intervening years.
And all the ways in which I haven’t.
But it’s been nothing but a joy.
I’m not a fan of anime. People are shocked to hear that just like they’re shocked when I say I don’t really like Sci-Fi. They think that just ’cause I’m a geek I like Doctor Who and Star Gate. It’s the closest to racial pigeonholing I’ve ever experienced.
People just expect me to have an interest in things that are considered “geek”. The truth is I couldn’t give a single fuck about Dragon Ball, or Bleach or Gundam and Evangelion. I think Akira sucked balls and Miyazaki is boring. No I don’t loooooove Full Metal Alchemist and I think people who read comic books backwards are a bunch of pretentious jackasses.
I am a self proclaimed geekI I love Star Wars and DC Comics. My thumbprints are concave from decades of videogames. I have toys in my house. But when it comes to anime I just never delved into that word. Ironically it always seemed “too nerdy” for me to get into.
I was an Inbetweener in the schoolboy ecosystem. I occasionally got picked on by some of the more popular kids, but I still would make fun of the guys playing with their Yu-Gi-Oh! cards at lunch.
So as a total anime neophyte, and with nothing to compare it to, I just randomly got sucked into the world of Digimon in 1999 and it was my favourite show for 2 years. Then by that time I mysteriously became more interested in boobs and rock music than cartoons and I stopped watching.
Now that I’m revisiting the series after so long it’s made me feel totally nostalgic but more than anything it has, surprisingly, helped me with my goal of moving forward with my life.
I’ve never been able to think about the future. When I was young I didn’t think I would live a very long life because I couldn’t fathom what I would be like as an old guy. I’ve never really made any plans for the future and have always been sort of ambitionless. My mind functions only in the immediate present and so it’s especially difficult for me to ever hope for the best. If I’m going through a painful emotional experience I literally can’t imagine a time when I’ll no longer feel that way.
But by watching this show that makes me feel the way I did as a child, and then thinking about how different I am today, it makes me wonder for the first time ever what I might be like 15 years from now.
And aside from all the philosophical revelations it’s still just such a damn good show. It holds up so well even after all these years.
At least to me.
So, Don Draper talks about nostalgia as being painful, of making you want to go back and relive better times.
As stupid as it may sound Digimon and the nostalgia I feel for it has made me excited about the future for the first time in recent memory.
For those of you who remember the show fondly, or for those who may have never seen it, here’s a clip from season 1 of Matt playing the blues.
There are 104 episodes in the first 2 seasons of Digimon.
I’m going to watch them all!
I broke up with my girlfriend.
I was a difficult decision.
She cried. I felt terrible.
“Why would you do it?” you might ask. “If you feel so terrible about it, what was the point? Why not just keep the relationship going?”
It’s because even before the break up I was feeling terrible.
It was becoming increasingly difficult spending time with someone who was always so happy to see me, so happy to just be around me, when I was physiologically incapable of matching her level of enthusiasm.
I feel like a broken record constantly talking about how unhappy I’ve been recently. I worry that people will eventually lose their patience with me. After a while most people’s response is “Get the hell over yourself! You think you’re the only one out there with problems?”
I know that’s how I feel. I lost patience with myself a long time ago. I can’t tolerate what a miserable piece of crap I’ve become and so I can’t imagine how infuriating I must be to the people around me.
A really good friend of mine recently told me that he thought I drink too much. It was sort of funny because I was doing my typical rant about how shitty I was feeling and he flat out asked “Well, how much have you been drinking?” and before I could respond he interrupted me and qualified the question with “And answer honestly!”
I had to stop and take inventory of how much alcohol I consume in any given week and when I told him he sort of slapped me in the head and said “Well there’s your problem, genius! Alcohol is a depressant!”
He went on to tell me a story about how years ago he went through an extended period of serious drinking and realized, gradually, that it was taking a heavy toll on his emotional sate.
I drink a ton of whiskey. Whenever I buy a 6 pack of beer or cider it’s done before the night is. I also, over the last year have been smoking a ton of pot.
I usually sleep 2-4 hours each night unless I take a couple of over-the-counter sleeping pills which I know I shouldn’t be taking because they can react dangerously with my antidepressants and anti anxiety medication.
Add to that an addiction to Pizza Pizza, potato chips, pop tarts and McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches and you have a brain that is being bombarded by a whole slew of biochemical triggers that have been making me feel and act like a crazy person.
I think that in the past few months I’ve overloaded myself in some way because recently I’ve been unable to feel anything.
I have not been able to enjoy any of the things that usually make me happy.
Not only does food not make me feel that rush of satisfaction that it used to, but I haven’t felt genuinely hungry in almost 3 months. I eat because intellectually I know that my body needs its gasoline. I eat when social situations require me to and I eat when I smoke pot, but even those effects have started to peter out.
Before 2012 I would never do any drugs but since last summer I’ve smoked so damn much, and not just pot either. I recently pulled a Miley Cyrus and started smoking Salvia. I went online and found a website that sells what they, very cloak and daggerly, call “herbal incense” which are basically lab grown, mutant plants that they can sell legally in the US and Canada because they are artificially created and their genus classification (which is made up by the creators) doesn’t fall within any of the DEA’s lists of banned or controlled substances.
Now after a year of overindulgence when I do smoke it doesn’t make me feel good at all. It doesn’t make me feel anything. And just like I’ve said in many of my past entires I feel like I’ve become immune to whiskey.
I feel nothing.
And it’s not just substances. All the things that used to bring me joy have become insipid and boring.
Video games and comic books, YouTube videos and podcasts. All the myriad forms of distraction that I used to use to trick myself into not dealing with my problems no longer hold my attention. I feel like if I’m not doing 3 or more things at once then I can’t get any enjoyment out of anything.
I have to be watching a movie while simultaneously listening to a podcast and playing a video game in order to get any kind of joy out of it.
Even sex was unsatisfying. I found myself playing the role of an accommodating participant rather than enthusiastic instigator when it came to doin’ it.
There are exactly 3 things in the world right now that have been able to break through the numbness and actually make me feel some joy:
1) Watching new episodes of The Newsroom on Sunday nights.
2) Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim
3) Recording Long Distance Bromance with Jaron Francis
Other than that, the only emotions I feel are negative.
So taking the advice that I’ve been ignoring for so long I decided to cut out all the bullshit. I’ve decided to make the following changes:
1) No more drugs and alcohol
2) No more eating shitty fast food
3) Actually sleeping at least 6 hours each night WITHOUT any sleep aids.
4) Jogging every day. I usually walk home from work but my pace is too leisurely. I’m gonna bring a change of clothes and start doing time trials.
5) Focusing my attention on one thing at a time. No more of this sick entertainment multitasking.
6) Forcing myself up and out of bed on all those days where it would be so much easier to just curl into a ball and pray for death.
7) Be happy.
I’m on day four of this new regime. I feel sick and have been suffering from the worst throbbing headaches I’ve ever experienced but with the exception of not being happy and still playing video games and watching TV at the same time I’ve managed to stick with all the other goals.
Part of me wants to fail. Part of me wants to give up on this plan halfway through. Because if I actually stick to it and I make all these changes and I still feel this way then there will be nothing left to blame my problems on. It will confirm my worst fear that there is something fundamentally wrong with me as a person.
I don’t know what to do if that’s the case.
He’s back ladies and gentleman. After almost 2 whole months of depressed, motivationless wallowing, the prodigal son has returned.
I feel I owe it to you all to preface this post by admitting that I’m drunk as dicks right now.
Try to picture that. A bunch of disembodied penises all crowding the bartender, getting all up in his grill shouting things like “I’ll tell YOU when I’ve had enough”.
That’s how I feel right this very now.
Maybe it’s the 375 ml of vodka flowing through my veins or the fact that a piece I wrote about online dating has just been published on the far more interesting Steph not Stephanie but whatever it is, I’m back.
Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen.
I’m a self delusional sociopath.
I started this blog as a way to be honest with myself, just to organize my thoughts and get my jumbled up feelings out in the open. Then a couple dozen people started reading it, then over a hundred subscribed and then I sort of lost track of what I had originally intended.
As much as I want to be entertaining when I write, this blog is really, at it’s core, about an emotionally stunted, chronically immature man-child and his struggle with mental illness.
It should come as no surprise then, that the extended sabbatical I took from blogging was due to a relapse I had in my ongoing lightsaber battle with depression.
For almost a year I have been taking 2 different mood stabilizing medications to stop me from collapsing in the middle of the street in a fit of sobbing and to prevent me from driving my fist through the faces of the ever growing population of mouth breathers that surrounds me.
It was going well until about 10 weeks ago when I just stopped taking me meds.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was more like a growing apathy that started with me taking my doses much more sporadically and then eventually just reaching a point where I couldn’t be bothered to follow the routine that I had set.
The routine that was specifically set up to give my life structure and stop me from going crazy.
After 2 weeks off of my antidepressants and anti anxiety medication I started to feel sick. It was withdrawal but rather than talking to my doctor I just missed a couple of weeks of work, ignored all calls from my friends and family and started a series of 40 hour days.
The calendar meant nothing to me. I’d stay awake for 30 hours straight and then sleep for 10 only waking up to repeat the process.
It was during this time that I started having really bad nightmares.
They scared me so much that I went back to my doctor, stopped cancelling my psychotherapy appointments and started taking my meds again.
During this transitional period I suffered an extreme case of anhedonia.
Now for those of you who don’t know how to google definitions of words you don’t recognize, anhedonia is the inability to feel happiness or pleasure.
During this time I was watching all the TV and movies I wanted, playing TONS of video games, reading (and spending the majority of my disposable income on) comic books and having regular sex.
I mean regular as in “on a regular basis” not regular like “same ol’ same ol’ boring” sex.
I guess it would be more accurate to say, frequent sex.
I need another goddamn drink. It’s time to crack open the Ballantine’s, fuck this vodka! Everyone knows that clear alcohol is for rich ladies on diets.
But to get back on track, of all the “fun” activities I had engaged in, none of it made me feel anything.
All of it felt wholly unsatisfying and coming to terms with the idea that the word is giving me everything I could want and I was still unhappy, filled me with shame and made me hate myself.
What the fuck is wrong with me? I’d go to bed every night thinking that and I’d wake up in a cold sweat from a terrifying dream that I couldn’t even remember.
After a while it wasn’t dreams anymore. Just an overwhelming sensation of dread whenever I’d go to sleep. Even dozing off for a few seconds on the subway would end up with me waking up screaming.
As it stands I’m back at work, I’ve reestablished the lines of communication with my social circle and I’ve been trying to regain some semblance of normalcy in the freakshow that my life has become.
The dreams haven’t stopped though.
Even though I’m back on my meds I still can’t get a decent night’s sleep without waking up covered in sweat and tears with my heart threatening to erupt from my chest.
It’s for all these reasons and more that I’ve been ignoring this blog. Maybe I’m flattering myself in thinking that people actually missed my regular posts, but the truth is the interest of readers hasn’t brought me back.
When I first started writing I found it to be a very therapeutic experience.
It made me feel less crazy.
It made me happy.
I’m trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time. I’m hoping that by coming back here after so long an absence, I can recapture the peace of mind this blog had originally afforded me.
I promise my future posts will be less maudlin and self indulgent. I just needed to get this out of my head and onto the screen to stop me from going nuts.
The next post will be funny.
The human body is so damn weird. It was 11:07 this morning and I was splayed out on my couch, wrapped in blankets, sniffling and sneezy just feeling sick and sorry for myself. I wanted juice and even though my fridge was only 1 and a half Chewbaccas away, I didn’t have the strength to do anything but lay there.
Then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, it was 4:45 in the afternoon and although my face and my landmine shaped pillow were coated in dried up drool, I felt 100% better.
It didn’t feel like I had fallen asleep and woke up hours later. It felt like I had jumped forward in time and drank The Potion of Cure Disease. So since most of the day was wasted crumpled up in a drooly, unconscious mess, I wanted to take some time for blogging since so damn much has happened in such a short time.
I don’t even know where to begin. I’m a bit hopped up on cold medicine and am pretty delirious so you’ll have to forgive how inelegantly I tell this story. I’ll probably jump around back and forth chronologically like a Tarantino movie so if none of this makes sense just read it again with the director’s commentary turned on.
I have a new girlfriend! It’s official now. We’ve been dating for the last 4 weeks but apparently in this 21st Century world it’s not until your Facebook relationship status changes that you’re a couple.
As exciting a development as this is, I’ll have to come back to it later as it’s only the tip of the Iceberg of Drama that’s torn a huge hole in my hull.
We just found out that my little sister has diabetes. It came as such a shock to me. I rushed to the hospital at around midnight on Thursday. My mom and stepdad stayed until about 1:45 but had to leave because they’re in the process of selling their home and had to prepare for the open house the next morning. So it was just me and her for almost 20 hours.
It was all so overwhelming. When I first got the call that she was in the emergency room, I put my phone down and started getting dressed and packed an overnight bag. I wanted to get down as quickly as possible so I decided to call a cab to take me to Brampton but in my frazzled, scatterbrained state I had no idea where i had left my phone! I searched all over, tearing the place apart. I looked through the trash, in every pocket of every pair of pants I own, it’s not like there’s a lot of room my apartment is only 9 square Chewbaccas (540 square feet) and I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE. What’s worse is that since I was born after 1980, I don’t have a landline so I couldn’t just call my phone to find it.
I was freaking out, on the verge of a panic attack. The towel I had packed was not helping! I needed to get out of there right away and every second that I wasn’t on my way to the hospital was agonizing. I opened my laptop and went onto Facebook hoping to find someone who was online who could call my phone.
In some misguided attempt at counterculture, I long ago made the conscious decision to always have fewer than 50 “friends” on Facebook. I delete people the way a topiarist trims hedges and so with so few people on my list the chances of finding someone online at midnight on a Thursday were slim.
There was one
She saved the day that night.
A redheaded angel, not even really a close friend of mine, a friend of a friend really, just someone who I’ve hung out with at parties and probably thinks I’m a crazy weirdo, without her intervention I probably would’ve had a nervous breakdown.
I hastily explained the situation over Facebook Chat and had her call my phone so I could locate it. I felt like such an idiot when I found it inside my coat pocket still hanging in my closet.
When I got to the hospital they explained the situation. There’s a scale for measuring blood sugar levels that I don’t quite yet understand. They tell me that normal levels are between 4-8.
My sister’s was 42.
The answer to life the universe and everything was also the number that had put her life at risk.
My favorite person in the world.
Her life in danger because of fucking sugar!
Every two hours the nurses would test her blood and give her more insulin but it’s as if her pancreas went on strike and after 20 hours the lowest it would go was 14.
When morning came we had to attend a diabetes education seminar. They explained what was happening and what effects the different treatments would have. Even after being awake for over 30 hours I had to force myself to focus and commit every tiny detail to memory. I was essentially playing the parent role in all this. The doctors taught me how to test her blood and give her insulin. We met with a dietician who explained that there was going to have to be a complete lifestyle change.
So after finally getting out of the hospital, with a nasty cold brought about by all the germs floating around and my inconsistent use of the complimentary hand sanitizer, I took her to pick up her prescriptions and we went grocery shopping.
I taught her about meal planning and how versatile you can be with vegetables. Since she’s allowed to eat as many vegetables as she wants and since she’s lucky enough to be related to an expert in vegetarian cuisine, she’s in for a real treat when I start teaching her some of my signature recipes.
It was an exhausting couple of days and I’m only now just recovering. I went out on a lovely date on Saturday afternoon that really helped calm me down and just injected me with a bit of much needed happiness. I’ll have to write a whole separate blog about it because it was truly one of the best days I’ve had in a long time and if I start writing about it now I could go on for hours.
Today I caught up on a lot of missed sleep and sought comfort in the tried and true. Most people turn to Church in a crisis. Instead I treated myself to a Star Wars marathon. I’ve seen it so many times that my mind doesn’t get occupied following the plot, it’s just soothing familiar background noise and it lets me reflect on the events of the past few days.
I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time now and I know that I’ve been improving gradually.
I have to say, even if nobody else will, that I’m proud of how I handled this whole situation. I don’t know that I could have done it a year or even 6 or 3 months ago.
Now we just have to see what happens next.
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!
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.