Bored Games 6: Settlers of Catan

It’s that game that everybody seems to think is so good! Settlers of Goddamned Catan!

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Blackout! pt 2: The Fall of BlockBuster & The Rise of Josh

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

ever again.

The intro song is Gold Rush by Ed Sheeran.
Buy his album.

Commit the Mass Genocide

Ok.

For those of you who doubt the extent of my craziness. For all you out there who overestimate my sanity.

Allow me to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of my sick, diseased mind.

This morning… I had a runaway train of thought. An uninterrupted stream of consciousness that ends with a crash landing into a valley of self loathing.

This morning I thought to myself… “I might be the next Hitler!”

How did I come to this realization?

You’ll have to imagine me as Richard Attenborough in a white safari outfit and straw hat, crouching down to whisper in your ear, “I’ll show you” as a beautiful John Williams score melds itself with the majestic braying of a genetically engineered Brachiosaurus.

This morning I woke up smiling and thinking to myself, “Goddamn, do I LOVE Batman!”

It’s not uncommon for me to think this, or something like it, first thing in the morning but today I did something a little different.

I got up, still smiling, and sidled up to my bookshelf to survey my collection of Batman books.

While purusing Snyder & Capullo’s amazing run on New 52 Batman, I looked at the inside of the cover page and saw the “Batman created by Bob Kane” credit.

I noticed the original publication date of 1938.

I chuckled to myself when I thought idly, “They had Batman during World War II.”

This is where things turn ugly.

In my head, I CANNOT FATHOM the idea that someone doesn’t love Batman.

Anyone I meet who says “Yeah, I’m not a fan,” or even worse “I like Superman better,” is immediately added to my enemies list. I feel like they’re liars. Contrarians who like to disagree with conventional wisdom in an attempt to seem interesting and different.

So OF COURSE, I think to myself “Hitler was probably a Batman fan.”

Now I start to panic.

If you’ve had a 5 minute conversation with me, or worse, if I met you at a party and you didn’t know why you were, seemingly for no reason, the target of my scorn and derision, then you know that I passionately hold fast to the belief that “It’s WHAT YOU LIKE, not what you ARE LIKE that matters.”

I’ve made friends with terrible human beings because they understood that Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica WAS NOT science fiction but rather an exploratory drama about the human condition.

So I started thinking. If Hitler loved Batman… would I be his friend?

To my everlasting shame, I couldn’t help but tell myself, that if he in addition to loving Batman also hated Superman and people who prefer Clark over Bruce then…yes

… probably.

This is where I start to hyperventilate and start with the hardcore whiskey cravings.

I’m just like Hitler.

But you love the Jews,” I tell myself reassuringly.

Then I start thinking… I’ve dated a girl or twelve in my time on this earth and I’ve never discriminated.

Italian, Portuguese, Good Ol’ Fashioned White Canadian, Asian, South East Asian, Middle Eastern and of course a Jew or two.

Does it count as anti-semitism if I treated my Jewish girlfriends poorly?

What else, besides an all consuming love of Batman, do I share with ol’ Addie… Jesus Christ I’m already giving FUCKING HITLER a diminutive pet name!

Fuck that guy!

What a fucking asshole!

And now here I am… I’m as bad as Hitler…

I’m just the goddamned fucking worst!

As if I needed more reasons to hate myself…

Make the Minimal Effort

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.

 

BLACKOUT! (Kill the Lights)

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.

Footnotes:

Kill the Lights (Accoustic Ver.)
Duke of York
Toronto to Barrie
Wentworth Miller comes out
CHUD
Skittle Bräu
Magic: The Gathering
Joe Flaherty
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

You’re Tearing Me Apart, Lisa!

I’ve seen a lot of movies in my day. Most have been good, some have been bad, but never did I dream of watching a movie so transcendentally bad that, like Alexander, I wept because “there were no more worlds to conquer”

Of course the movie I’m describing is Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 masterpiece The Room.

the-room

OH, HAI!

After being told by almost everyone how great this movie is, I finally sat down and watched it with my friends Kyle and Callie. This movie is 11 years old. You could say I’m a little late to the party.

Here’s our special commentary track for you to enjoy.

 

Bored Games

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with me will know that I often throw myself, enthusiastically, into multiple projects that we all know I’ll never follow through with.

Here’s yet another!

Bored Games.

A chronicle of the insane (and/or inane) conversations that spring up when playing board games with my friends. We’ve already recorded 4 of these so it’ll be a true testament to my laziness if this is the only one that ever comes out.

On today’s installment: Lord of The Rings Risk!!! The game of global domination with a Middle Earth twist.

risk

“Six sided dice are for PUSSIES!”- Gary Gygax, 1979

Join my friends Kyle, Callie and me as we discuss every bodily function in sweet, intimate detail as well as pop culture, the acceptability of slur words and all the matters of the heart.

If we make more I’ll put ’em on iTunes. For now click here to download or use the built in player above to stream

 

 

 

 

Écoutez la Meilleure Chanson

The statistics say that the world uploads 100 hours of video to Youtube every single minute. That means that if I tried to watch Youtube in its entirety then I would never be able to catch up. You fall behind four days every 60 seconds.

Must... watch... Youtube

Must… watch… Youtube

It’s for this reason that I don’t feel bad when I stumble upon a viral video that’s been up for 2 or 3 years but has somehow gone completely below my radar. Funny skits, or animations or music videos that seemingly everyone else has seen but I’ve, for one reason or another, never noticed.

This is different from the flash in the pan cultural phenomena I go out of my way to avoid like “Gangam Style” which I went almost a full year without ever hearing, or “Thrift Shop” which I miraculously have still never heard.

I still don’t know what “twerking” is and if I go to my grave without knowing, I’ll be happy.

I’m talking about videos I’d genuinely want to watch but have just remained oblivious to until very recently.

I only just discovered the amazingly talented Youtuber SweetAfton23 and I feel something approximating love beginning to stir in my withered black heart.

Her album is only five bucks on bandcamp so everyone should go buy it.

MyHope, I Pity the Fool, Peep Fight and Our American Cousin are all solid tracks but It All Makes Sense in the End is my new #1 favourite song in the world and possibly the best breakup song ever written.

I feel like this song was written especially for me as the complaints she makes are things I’ve been told before by those poor ladies unfortunate enough to have dated me. The actual subject of the song, though, is pure genius.

I did that fancy thing where you have to highlight the text after the song to read the spoilers. Listen to the track then drag your mouse underneath to find out, if you haven’t already, why it really does all make sense in the end.


It’s a break up song about wikipedia. She’s breaking up with a website. How cool is that?

Elevate the Customer Experience.

“I’d like to purchase these products please!”

Anyone who’s been unlucky enough to go shopping with me knows that is my customary greeting to cashiers as I plop my merchandise on the checkout counter. Usually they’re not expecting such candor from the long serpentine line of customers trying their damnedest to get out of the store as quickly as possible, so depending on their reaction (mild annoyance or curious amusement) I’ll either try to engage them in a little droll conversation or just clam up and pay for my goods.

It wasn’t always this way. I used to hate forced social interactions and stumble through them with the tension you’d expect from someone as awkward as me but about a year ago while stopping at Food Basics for a couple of bottles of Coke Zero and hair conditioner with my surrogate parents, I began to have a change of heart.

I should explain.

My friends Kyle and Callie a are couple with whom I spend the majority of my time. They’re usually the first ones to hear about any crises(plural) I’m going through and have on multiple occasions shown the ability to shake some sense into me and bluntly tell me when I’m acting like a fuck up. I’ve said before that they’re like parents who are the same age as me and I can get wasted and talk about sex with too.

Kyle scolded me for being a dick when being nice to the sweet innocent checkout girl requires a minimum effort and would probably make her day.

I started thinking about the possibility of making people’s days. It took me years to admit to myself that I could never don a cape and cowl and fight crime but now here was a real and simple way that I could inject a bit of positivity into the world.

So I started being nice to every retail and service industry professional I encountered. Making chit chat, telling jokes and always finding something to compliment them about. An ol’ shot in the arm as it were.

I sort of got hooked on it because I started to do it to real people. I made a decision to let everyone, friends and strangers alike, get a taste.

I went over to Kyle and Callie’s for dinner one night and right as I walked in the door I said to her “Callie, I don’t usually take the time to come out and say this, and for that I apologize, but you are looking lovely tonight.”

I learned that it’s fine when you do it to close friends and family but when you to it to strangers or even acquaintances, friends of friends, it can come across (at best) as flirty or (at worst) as super-goddamn-creepy-as-dicks.

I did it to K&C’s winsome redheaded neighbour and I think I really freaked her out.

So I had to pump the brakes a bit and went back to just being awful when it comes to social interactions.

That is except for, the genesis of this whole experiment, customer service reps.

A few months ago I had an issue with Rogers, my Cable and Internet service provider, and so I used their online live chat service to try and ask for help.

I’ve posted this before on Facebook but I think it bears repeating. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take any screenshots so what follows is a transcript of our conversation:

7:01 PM  Connecting…
7:01 PM  Connected. A support representative will be with you shortly.
7:01 PM  Support session established with Eric.
7:01 PM   Eric:  Hi, you’ve reached Eric, how may I help you?
7:01 PM   Joshua Alferez:  Eric, a fine strong name if I’ve ever heard one. I’m having difficulty logging on to the MyRogers website
7:02 PM   Eric:  Have you tried the forgotten password feature? If so, did you receive any type of error message when using the forgotten password link?
7:03 PM   Joshua Alferez:  Your site has erred on the side of caution. In an effort to keep my information secure it requires me to answer a “secret question” before it sends me a temporary password via email
7:03 PM   Joshua Alferez:  i dont remember my answer or my password
7:04 PM   Eric:  I can update the secret question and reset the password for you. In order to access your account, I will require some information from you. Please click on the following secure link to enter your personal information. You will notice I requested a four digit PIN. If you do not have one associated to your account, please leave this field blank. Please let me know when you are finished.
7:04 PM  Eric has sent a link: https://safesend.rogers.com/index.php?ut=c055fbfb2a0df99ca317eecd0143a979f73399c1b372093fdea5b19a0d9fb705&vq=y
7:06 PM   Joshua Alferez:  The task is complete, sir!
7:06 PM   Eric:  This will just take 1-3 minutes to bring up your account. While I am bringing up for account, is there anything else I can assist you with at this time?
7:07 PM   Joshua Alferez:  You’ve already been so helpful it would be selfish of me to ask for anything more dear lad
7:11 PM   Eric:  In order to reset your password, we will also require you to provide us with your preferred temporary password in the secure link I have just sent you.
7:11 PM  Eric has sent a link: https://safesend.rogers.com/index.php?ut=28b73b58e4d1889301dcbd7891fe4cd247a94aa888e80782e748f6bb58090d2b&vq=y
7:12 PM   Joshua Alferez:  done
7:13 PM   Eric:  I have successfully reset your Rogers.com password to the temporary password provided in the form. This temporary password will be valid for up to 24 hours. Once you log in, you will be asked to create a new personal password. Please ensure to store this password in a safe place for future use. Please go to rogers.com/signin and let me know if you can login.
7:16 PM   Joshua Alferez:  SUCCESS! It works, HUZZAH FOR TEAMWORK. We did it Eric, we did it. They all said we couldn’t but we proved them wrong
7:16 PM   Eric:  Thank you for choosing Rogers Live Chat. For your references your session id is: 152148899. Also, please feel free to bookmark our direct link www.rogershelp.com/chat. We are available between the hours of 7AM to midnight Monday to Friday, and 8AM to midnight Saturday and Sunday EST.
7:18 PM   Joshua Alferez:  I’m going to very upset in the sequel when you are revealed to have secretly been a robot this whole time. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
7:19 PM  Eric has ended the session.

You see that!?!?!

You can see how I tried my damnedest to engage the guy but he was giving me NOTHING.

Undaunted however I decided to try again.

A few days ago I used the service once more. This time I took some super lo-rez pictures for your enjoyment:

007008009As you can see Rob was just as unreceptive to my charm as Eric. When he responded so flatly to my introductory salvo of compliments I didn’t bother pressing the matter and just let the rest of the session play out mechanically like a long term relationship’s obligatory birthday sex.

It was just as unsatisfying.

Just a few hours ago I had my third interaction with Rogers Live Chat and it has reaffirmed my faith in humanity and has caused me to vow, anew, to be more social.

See for yourself:

016017018020Wow!

I grant you it’s not much of a two way conversation, it’s obvious I did most of the heavy lifting, but for the first time ever I got someone at Rogers to acknowledge the extemporaneous conversation I, up until this point, had been having with myself.

Persistence pays off.

I’m gonna keep trying to be friendlier and I think it’ll go a long way towards my ultimate goal of just being happier.

Unleash the Digital Monster!

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.

Better days.

 draper5

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.

photo(20)

Yes, ladies, he’s STILL got it… and by “it” I mean cripplingly low confidence and that self deprecating charm that drives the girls wild.

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:

and of course the guy this whole thing has been about,

matt

Yes, ladies, he’s STILL got it… and by “it” I mean cripplingly low confidence and that self deprecating charm that drives the girls wild… and a digimon, I suppose.

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!

Dissect the Romantic Comedy

Anhedonia.

It’s frustrating. It’s made me stop consuming as much movies, TV and video games as I used to. I just don’t see the point of wasting my time with any of that stuff if I’m not even able to enjoy it.

It has, however, left me with some free time to make some revelations about why I’ve been feeling so shitty.

Pop culture has influenced my life and the lives of most people who are close to me. In my case to a dangerous extent.

It’s not hard to predict how a movie is going to end because we’re so familiar with all of the Hollywood tropes. We all know what is supposed to happen and that’s why it’s so unsettling when a screenwriter or director shaves against the grain and does something unexpected.

boom-headshot-o

But… but I’m the Hero!

I think a lot of my unhappiness stems from my inability to differentiate real life from the movies. I guess I’m just expecting real events to follow the same structure of Premise->Conflict->Resolution. Having things not turn out the way Hollywood has told me they’re supposed to has left me feeling empty and unsatisfied.

I find it difficult to open up to people, mostly out of embarrassment. I’m legitimately worried that if my friends knew how crazy I really am they wouldn’t want to be my friends. On the rare occasions when I’ve shared these thoughts with people, those select few, have told me they feel the same way, albeit to a lesser degree. We’d all want to find love via meet cute or to have all our problems just magically solve themselves but very few of us expect it to happen.

Romantic comedies all play out the same way.

The Boy meets The Girl. He falls in love and has to win her heart. He messes up in some way that angers The Girl and she runs away. The Boy then has to look deep within and discover some hidden truth and when he makes this realization he goes after The Girl and wins her back. All is forgiven and they live happily ever after.

That’s the way things are supposed to happen.

That, I am only now prepared to (shamefully) admit, was what I was expecting to happen.

tumblr_lz9qleCbgt1qm7heqo1_500It was 3:30AM and I was staring, red eyed, at my ceiling trying to fall asleep. The aggressively loud sex noises coming in through the wall I share with my neighbour were exacerbating my insomnia. I found myself involuntarily wailing from emotional agony and when the crying left me exhausted and dehydrated I laboriously came to my moment of clarity.

There’s another version of the story.

As much as we complain that there are no original ideas in Hollywood and everything follows a formula, there are some slight variations.

Here’s an example.

The Boy meets The Girl and falls in love but she is already with The Other Guy. The Other Guy is cruel and doesn’t deserve her but her misguided devotion to their relationship is the only obstacle standing in the way of The Boy and The Girl experiencing True Love. The Girl goes through trails until she makes this realization and she leaves The Other Guy and falls, lovingly, into The Boy’s arms. They live happily ever after. The Other Guy ends up alone.

I was feeling like the world didn’t make sense. I was upset about the events and circumstances in my life but in truth, because of the lack of the Hollywood Ending I’d come to expect, I was less upset by what happened and more or less just puzzled by how unnatural it all felt.

It was as if the laws that govern realty had an off switch and someone had flipped it. The feeling of life not playing out like the movies, not playing out the way it`s supposed to was as unnatural and disorienting to me as if gravity randomly went away.

Now I have a different understanding. Things are playing out the way they’re supposed to. I had just cast the wrong people in the wrong roles.

With this revelation the world seems to make a bit more sense, and I feel a little less sad.

Maybe even slightly happy.

In the meantime I’m going to take this bit of wisdom and use it to help me reconcile some lingering issues but I’m also going to go back to absorbing as much media as I used to only now, I suspect, I’ll be enjoying it almost as much as I did before.

I don’t know who’s reading this. If you’re like me you probably like video games. Some people may hear “Video Games” and think Pac Man and Donkey Kong not realizing that today’s games have complex narratives that can deliver quite and emotionally satisfying punch.

One such game is Braid. It came out in 2008 and has been one of the most critically and financially successful indie games ever. It plays much like your basic run-of-the-mill platformer with one exception. You play as Tim, a young man with a mysterious past who lives with deep regrets but has been given the power to rewind time. You can use this ability to fix any mistakes you make along the way, like accidentally falling into a pit of lava or flipping a switch you weren’t supposed to.

In the game Tim has to rescue the princess from a monster and in the last level you have to work together. You are both running away from the monster and she is flipping switches to raise bridges and open doors allowing you to proceed.

It’s only when you get to the very end does the game take control and replays the entire final level from the reverse perspective. When you watch it play out backwards, the princess is actually putting up doors and dropping bridges to try to keep Tim from catching up with her.

It’s only then that Tim realizes he’s the monster.

The princess is gone. She doesn’t need to be recused, and she certainly doesn’t need him.

Check it out, the music and art are beautiful.

Rewrite the Tragic Memories

I have a friend at work who has some medical training. He’s a smart guy and he could be a doctor if he wanted to finish his studies. For now, though, he’s content to pal around with me and talk about girls and video games on slow days when we try to get away with doing as little work as possible.

People are always bugging him with their aches and pains, asking him if their boils are actually tumors and that sort of nonsense. Me, I never exploited him for medical advice but, astute observer that he is, he started to notice within days of my pledge to stop drinking, that I was exhibiting symptoms of withdrawal.

Much in the same way that a toddler who trips and falls doesn’t cry unless the grown ups around her make a fuss about it, I wasn’t really bothered by the headaches and sweats until he pointed them out. I started to feel uncomfortably aware of the symptoms and started feeling really sick.

The good news is, just as he predicted, I got my appetite back. It turns out that since I’ve been consuming a shit ton (medical term) of liquid calories from all the booze it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for food. That’s why I wasn’t eating.

Now I’ve started to feel hungry again for the first time in months. Like seriously hungry. Katniss Everdeen hungry, but the odds never seem to be in my favour.

Bitch don't look that hungry to me! Where's my whiskey...

Bitch don’t look that hungry to me!
Where’s my whiskey…

So now that the discomfort has mostly dissipated I’m just settling in to a new routine of… not drinking and I’m looking for other things, besides binge eating, to occupy myself.

I bought Flashpoint on Blu-ray and watched it 4 times in a row.

If you’ve never heard of it, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is an animated movie that tells the butterfly effect-esque story of what happens when Barry Allen, The Flash, travels back in time to prevent his mother from dying when he was a little boy.

He creates a whole alternate timeline where he’s gay, there is no Superman, Aquaman King of Atlantis and Wonder Woman Queen of the Amazons have started World War III and Gotham City is a debauched, neon drenched casino town patrolled by a bloodthirsty, gun wielding “Batman” who unlike the real Batman, kills crooks and street thugs without giving it a second thought.

It’s an animated movie but it’s definitely not for kids. There’s blood and guts, dismemberment, sex between superheroes and swearing!!! At one point Hal Jordan says ASSHOLE“.

It’s a DC fanboy’s wet dream!

The final scene between Batman and The Flash is just beautiful. It’s like Field of Dreams, it’ll make you want to call up your dad and, unless you’re a heartless son of a bitch, it’ll make you cry like a baby.

Those little drops of water? Ya they're tears, so what!

Those little drops of water?
Yeah they’re tears, so what!

For all its complexity the moral of the story is easy enough to figure out.

We have to learn to accept the tragedies in our past and just move on. As better as you think your life might have been if things had happened differently, we can’t dwell on the desire to change the past.

For all you know things could’ve been a million times worse.

So any time you look back at the moments in your life that you regret and say to yourself “If only I could go back and change things” remember that your life may not have played out for the better.

I’m an atheist. A devout atheist, ironically enough, and so the hardest thing about going out and formally seeking help to quit drinking is how much these programs are tied to religion. It’s a simple thought, but my childish mind needed a bunch of superheroes in tights to fully understand the concept.

Grandma Allen was TOTALLY an alcoholic.

Grandma Allen was TOTALLY an alcoholic.

I’m going to try to live without any regrets.

Try living without obsessing over painful memories.

If you only take away one thing from this movie it should be this: Be happy with the life you have.

On the other hand your time traveling adventure could end up making you gay and that could be pretty interesting.

I had to download special software to make this damn collage so you better appreciate it!

I had to download special software to make these crappy collages so you better damn appreciate it!

Fight the Rising Panic

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.

Josh the Terrible Mixologist

I’m gonna stop it before it even starts. Josh is a verb, it means to engage in banter or to tease good naturedly. Maybe it doesn’t fit my regular scheme, at least not in this particular context, but I wanted to spend more time writing this entry than choosing the title so let’s just chalk this up to my ineptitude with double entendres and move on.

I find it has become more and more difficult to deny the claims of friends and family that I may be drinking too much.

My father has always had issues with alcohol and as a child I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn’t be like that when I grew up.

Somewhere along the way that ambition, like most for me, just fizzled out. I don’t even remember how or when but I became, I wouldn’t say a heavy drinker, but a drinker nonetheless.

Right now I’m drinking straight Jägermeister, and not out of a shot glass. I’ve got an 8 ounce High Ball of teeth staining, anise flavoured, godawfullness and I’m wincing as I pound it back. Earlier this afternoon I was mixing it with Pineapple juice, making “Chuck Yeagers” as they are called, but I found the 7-1 juice to alcohol ratio just wasn’t cutting it for me. At least not for what I had had in mind.

That’s when I realized just exactly what I had in mind.

I was intentionally trying to get drunk.

I never did any underage drinking. I didn’t have a drink until well after my 19th birthday. Prior to that I just had no interest in alcohol. Because it was never a “forbidden fruit” type situation I never overdid it, I never got blackout drunk. What I’m trying to say is that for me drinking was never the “thing to do” it was always just what I would do while I was doing whatever I was doing.

I would have a few beers while watching the hockey game, have wine with dinner. I never sat in a parking lot just getting wasted, and I never drank alone.

Over the last 4 or 5 years I’ve been doing a lot of recreational drinking. I was doing it for the same reason I do most things. I always get obsessed in the minutiae of whatever hobby I stumble upon and when it came to drinking I wanted to become an expert. I wanted to know everything about wine and spirits, I wanted to be able take a blindfolded taste from any random cup and tell you if it was a Cabernet or a Malbec and what country it came from. With a single sip I can, and will even if you repeatedly ask me not to, correctly tell the difference between Bourbon, Scotch, Whisky, Whiskey and Rye.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve been interested in more than just connoisseurship. I’ve been trying to get drunk.

photo(18)

There are even more empties under my sink that wouldn’t fit on the stove. It’s like a liquor bottle grave yard and I killed each and every one of them!

It’s become evidently clear when I started creating my own terrible, terrible cocktails.

I’ve mixed iced tea with cinnamon flavoured vodka, I call it an IV Drip (IV for iced tea and vodka, and drip ’cause I’m trying to be clever) it was gross.

I mixed tequila and Strongbow. I called it a Juan-y Appleseed… it was gross.

I was gonna call Pineapple Juice and Jägermeister a Pacific Rim until I discovered some genius had already called it the Chuck Yeager. It was gross

I routinely mix vanilla vodka with orange crush. It tastes just like a creamscicle but I’ve been calling it Riot Punch because it gets me drunk as dicks and makes me want to run in the streets and take my clothes off while punchin’ stuff.  It tastes like a dream.

I took caramel sauce that is meant to be drizzled over sundaes, stirred it into a glass of milk and then poured in 3 fingers of Glenfiddich.

I called it Butter Scotch.

It was so, so fucking gross.

I don’t know what, if anything, I’m trying to say with this post.

I feel like I’m straddling the line of alcoholism. I’m not yet at the point where I feel like I’m in any danger. I do drink when I’m feeling sad but I don’t ever get strong cravings or feel desperate for a drink. I don’t blow all my money away on booze, I don’t ever drink to give myself more confidence or exhibit any of the other lame ass self diagnostic traits you’ll find on the dozens of online self assessments.

My biggest problem is, as with all things, moderation. I’ve said before that I’m a binary creature. I live in a world of mutually exclusive blacks and whites. So when it comes to alcohol I either have none or get completely wasted.

So I’ve decided that after I’ve finished this bottle I’m working on, I’m going to go through an extended period of abstinence. A month ought to do it. Maybe longer.

It won’t be hard. Like I said I don’t need to drink.

The only tragedy is I’ll have to deny the world of all of my amazing cocktails.

Make the Triumphant Return

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.

I promise

 

 

 

 

Endure the Unending Exhaustion

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Over the last 2 or 3 weeks I’ve been feeling more and more weak, tired, apathetic, depressed and angry with myself.

It’s such a radical change from how I was feeling when I last posted.

I’ve been having a hard time sleeping.

I thought I had got passed this but the insomnia that was crippling me all winter is back.

Also I feel like I’ve been drinking more than I’m comfortable admitting, but I seem to have developed an immunity to whiskey. I drank a half bottle of Johnnie Walker while I watched almost a whole season of The Sopranos this evening. It doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect.

I don’t know what’s caused this shift in my emotional state.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I know exactly what the cause is. It’s an uncontrollable compulsion to look back and remember some pretty low moments in my life. I can’t stop these negative thoughts and my mind will drift towards painful memories seemingly of its own accord. What I don’t understand is why.

Things have been going better for me than they have in a long time, so why do I feel so shitty?

I have a pretty sweet job that makes me feel like I’m actually contributing to society and making a difference by helping people. So why is it so hard for me to get out of bed and go to work in the morning?

I have a lovely new girlfriend who is such a joy to be around and I feel like she genuinely likes me in spite of all the glaringly obvious reasons not to. So why am I spending so much time and mental energy thinking about the girl who broke my heart even though, by my own admission, I didn’t even want her anymore?

I’ve made so much progress in therapy gaining valuable insight and acquiring new tools to unravel the jumbled up mess in my head. So why can’t I look in the mirror without feeling so damn angry with myself?

I need to sleep.

There’s no two ways about it.

If I don’t start getting some real rest I’m going to collapse in the middle of the street. I might punch a little old lady while waiting in line at the super market or bite the head off someone’s tiny yip-yapping accessory “purse dog”.

I just want to stop feeling this way.

I don’t want to be splayed out on my uncomfortable bed staring at my ceiling at 1AM every night. I don’t want to keep replaying past events in my head over and over, conjecturing the innumerable ways in which things could have gone differently.

I don’t want to be unhappy anymore.

It’s been a Sisyphean effort. A perpetual motion machine of negativity. I get bogged down by all these feelings and then I start feeling ashamed of myself for feeling this way so I feel even worse so it causes more shame.

I need to interrupt this cycle because it’s keeping me up all night and driving me closer and closer to a complete emotional breakdown.

Usually I go back and revise these posts. I write in free flowing streams of consciousness and I have a whole editorial process to try and make them make sense.

Not this time.

If you feel like this post has been self indulgent, whinny, repetitive and nonsensical THEN GO FUCK YOURSELF!!! You knew what you were in for when you came here so quit complaining.

I’m sorry…

That was uncalled for. I’m clearly delirious and more than a little bit stressed right now.

It’s 1:12AM on Friday May 31st 2013.

Goodnight.

Fulfill the Apparent Obligation

I’m blogging right now because I feel like I should.

It’s an odd feeling. Usually I’ve got something I want to make a comment on, or something that I need to get off my chest. Right now I feel so tired and unmotivated but I’m forcing myself to be productive rather than just laze about on my couch playing Pokémon and listening to podcasts.

It’s not that I don’t have anything interesting to write about, this past week has been chock full of stimulating events! I guess that I just feel a lot happier than I have in a long time.

I find that more often than not I write as a sort of cathartic exercise, the whole point of this blog was to be therapeutic but I’ve just been in such a good mood that I haven’t felt the need to unload like I usually do.

What a tragedy it would be to be happy. If it turns out that being gloomy is my only inspiration for writing (what not an insignificant number of people have called) a good blog that would be pretty ironic.

In the end my pessimistic nature wins out and I just sit here waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s like so much has been going well that I’m expecting the world to throw me a curve ball and fuck me over.

So what’s this lucky streak I’ve been going on?

If you listen to my podcast you’ve probably heard that my bromantic partner Jaron, is most likely moving back to Toronto. I’m so excited. This guy is just so fun to be around and as much as I’ve enjoyed our Long Distance Bromance, I’ve missed being able to hang out.

Also for those of you too cool to keep up with these types of things, over the last 6 weeks or so Youtube, in conjunction with NeatherRealm Studios, has been hosting a tournament to promote the new video game Injustice: Gods Among Us. They took the top 16 greatest heroes and villains of the DC Universe and pit them against one another in a grand battle royale to determine, once and for all, who is the greatest.

One by one the lesser heroes fell by the wayside until only two remained. The final match up was between Batman and Superman. It’s no secret who I was rooting for.

batgod

And on the seventh day he rested… on his awesome Bat Throne

I’m embarrassed to admit how important the outcome to this fight was. I had a lot riding on it emotionally and I don’t know how I would’ve reacted if Batman had lost and I was forced to soak up all the smug “I told you so’s” of the Super Fan Club. Fortunately The Dark Knight proved himself the superior combatant and now the world will have no choice but to agree with me.

My sister’s recent health scare is still an area of concern, but she’s been adjusting well and so far has been maintaining a positive attitude. She frequently updates me on how good her levels are and it makes me smile.

And finally the biggest and most exciting news of all. Things have been progressing very well with my new girlfriend. She’s just so amazing and I enjoy every moment I’m lucky enough to spend with her. Very rarely do I connect with a person so immediately and on so many levels. She’s way smarter and funnier than me and so goddamned pretty that I sometimes have to look at her through the cracks between my fingers because I’m using my hands to cover my blushing face. She’s just so super cute and literally makes me explode with happiness!

7817

ATTN: Grammar Nazis
I’m not using it incorrectly!

I guess the only thing that bothers me right now is how incomplete this recent happiness feels. Like it’s tainted by some lingering shadow.

I’ve been clinically depressed for a long time now and in my head I know that having a good week where everything, even the weather, is perfect doesn’t mean I’m cured. I can’t help but feel suspicious of this happiness. I’ve trained myself to deal with the worst and so I feel like my defenses are always up on high alert, like if I brace myself for something to go wrong then it won’t hurt so much because I was prepared for it.

I feel that it’s not possible to be truly relaxed if part of me is on high alert.

I’m still looking forward to the day when I can finally be fully, comfortably at peace.

But maybe that’s an unrealistic goal.

Cross The New Frontier

In 2003 Darwyn Cooke wrote and illustrated a 6 issue limited series called DC: The New Frontier. I submit that my opinion is obviously biased but that shouldn’t stop you from believing me when I say this story is AMAZING!

dcnf

There are only 2 types of people in the world. Those who (if they don’t love it, can at least) appreciate The New Frontier and those who haven’t read it yet,

It was a piece of revisionist history, mixing real world events into the lore of classic Silver Age comics. For people who laugh when I say that comic books are legitimate forms of both art and literature I urge you to get your hands on a copy as soon as possible. It tackles issues like McCarthyism and the HUAC hearings, the burgeoning civil rights movement, the atomic scare and conscientious objectors to the Korean War all while throwing Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and The Flash into the mix. It was re-released as a two volume graphic novel both of which I owned.

My copy of the first volume was lost when in June of 2012 my whole life was upended, packed into a collection of boxes and I was forced to begin a whole new chapter in the story of Josh.

It’s one of my favorite pieces but I’ve avoided going out and buying a replacement for reasons I can’t really explain. I’ve wanted to revisit the story and reunite with these characters for a long time now but I’ve felt almost unworthy. Mentally and emotionally I’ve been in such a fractured state to the point where some twisted, irrational logic tells me that my comic book collection isn’t allowed to be complete until I’ve rebuilt myself into a more complete person again.

So for months now I’ve looked at my copy of DC: The New Frontier vol. 2 with a sort of sense of longing. Like I’m saying to myself: One day! One day I’ll feel good enough about myself to go out and pick up a copy of vol 1. Then I can just enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting back with bowl of popcorn, maybe a tall frosty glass of apple cider, some light ambient music and a pair of my favourite books of all time.

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My Preciousssssssss…

Right now I don’t think I’m anywhere near that level of self-confidence but I will admit that I’ve worked hard and made some progress.

Every week I look at what titles have been added to HBO and TMN onDemand. Today I came home from work and was pleased to see that the DCAU version, aptly titled Justice League: The New Frontier was added and for a solid 5 minutes I sat here trying to decide whether or not I should watch the animated film adaptation.

In the end I did. It was great. Not nearly as good as the book but as good as you could hope for when turning a 400+ page story into a 75 minute film. I felt good about myself. Watching this movie felt well deserved and more importantly it’s made me that much more motivated to continue along the path of self improvement.

It’s been slow going but I’m hoping I’ll soon be able to get back on track and be able to take pleasure in the simple joys of life again.

P.S. As a self indulgent and smart-assed side note, I am normally only able to keep my open disdain towards Superman barely in check.

So, to all the fans of the Blue Boyscout out there, one of the reason’s why New Frontier is so damn good is because it is yet another in a long line of masterfully crafted DC stories that shows us how much cooler the Justice League is without Superman. His goofy ass is taken down early and Bruce, Diana, Barry and Hal are left to pick up the pieces and show the world how the real heroes do it.

What we have here is a failure to communicate!

Man of Tomorrow? Who needs ‘im?

Polish the Dirty Mirror

In third grade I changed schools. Upon arrival I was immediately smitten with a girl in my class. It was one of those “pod” classrooms. The ones that housed 2 classrooms worth of kids, had 2 teachers and one of those retractable dividing walls that would allow the 2 classes to either unite or separate as the situation demanded.

I was in one half and she in the other and I remember focusing on her from across the room when I should have been learning cursive. I never did learn all the letters and I’m sure that will come as no surprise to anyone who has had to suffer reading my writing (before the “your blog sucks” zingers start flying I mean my actual chicken scratch handwriting).

QhON9


Go ahead and steal my private diary… good luck reading it!

Since I was “the new kid” and since I hadn’t yet developed my obnoxious habit of forcing everyone to pay attention to me, I avoided any kind of conversation and hopelessly pined for her through the years.

By the time we reached 7th grade I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with or  to her but I no longer just stared while avoiding her completely. Instead I created excuses to be around her as often as possible. It strayed into a weird place when I began walking her home every day after school. I’ve never been a particularly well adjusted person but I think that I actually started going crazy at about this time in my life.

When the school day was done I would walk home West and she would go East. We lived in opposite directions and so it took me twice as long to get back to my house whenever I walked her home. I tried not to call too much attention to it but when she started asking me why I was suddenly taking this new route home, rather than telling her that I just enjoyed spending extra time together I began a Jan Brady-esque web of lies.

george


If they made this show TODAY this kid would be on Ativan, Ritalin and Zoloft.

I told her, and even now 15 years later I can’t explain why I did this but I told her that my parents got divorced and that my mom lived in a new house. That was the reason why some days I walked home one direction and some days the other.

The strange thing is that the next year my parents did get divorced and I ended up changing schools again. It made me feel weird. In addition to all the regular stress that kids go through when their parents split up I also had this weird feeling that I had caused it to happen.

Up until the point when my Mom actually left, there was never any indication that she was going anywhere. Everyone in the family knew that there was a lot of unhappiness in both the marriage and the household overall, but no one ever thought she would pull the trigger and go.

Because it shocked everybody with it’s suddenness the divorce made me think that either I was clairvoyant and could predict the future or that I had magically willed  it to happen.

We all know that mischievous preteen boys are often bestowed with godlike abilities.


We all know that godlike abilities are often bestowed upon mischievous preteen boys.

Since then I’ve had a strange symbiotic relationship with dishonesty. I never wanted to be intentionally deceitful but in the past, usually when I’m asked about topics I wish to avoid altogether (family, future goals, emotions) I just wouldn’t tell the truth. Not even to myself.

This blog was created as a means for me to face what I used to make a habit of ignoring, to clean the cobwebs out of the closet so to speak. It’s been difficult being so honest and open because a lot of the words that I’m committing to perpetuity on the Internet, are things that I don’t even want to admit to myself and yet here I am on a regular basis telling the whole world.

By now most readers are no doubt thinking “get to the fuckin’ point already” and I apologize for my propensity to ramble and my penchant for $10 words. I can’t help it, I grew up watching Dawson’s Creek and Kevin Smith films. What I’ve been trying to say is that this 7th grade “love” story  has been on my mind recently.

This was my first taste of unrequited love. Since then it’s happened again occasionally, but I’ve found that most of the time I avoid this kind of drama altogether. Rather than holding a torch for someone when I know I have no chance I’ve realized, upon reflection, that I’ve been playing things a little safe.

By only pursuing ladies that I know are interested in me, I’ve skewed the odds in my favour making me much more successful with women then I have any right to be. I do this with the people I choose to be friends with as well. I search out specific types because, and I don’t mean to offend the people who are closest to me,  I always want to be the smartest person in the room.

I like it when people are impressed by how clever I am or by what books I’ve read. I love introducing you to great music and movies that you’ve never even heard of.

When I’m lucky enough to make friends with guys who are cooler and smarter or better looking than me, I don’t get intimidated. Instead I fall into this “little-brother-tag-along” role. It’s just another obstacle I face when it comes to connecting with people. I either feel superior and hold myself above my friends, or I develop and almost obsessive hero worship relationship with them.

So what happens if I meet a girl who isn’t impressed by me? What if she’s smarter than me or funnier? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have someone understand why my jokes are funny? Wouldn’t it be great to not have to explain pop culture and literary references? As it turns out it’s more frightening a prospect than I would’ve ever imagined.

I always talk about how I have a love for Batman and an almost hostile disdain for Superman.

bat


Nuclear Apocalypse and Divine Intervention aside, NOBODY BEATS BATMAN!!!

I never understood the appeal of Superman. He’s just a jerk who can do anything. He never has to work or try hard, he’s just naturally gifted and is the best at everything.The writers always try to introduce conflict by making him lose his powers and this is where my preference really makes itself clear.

If you take away all of the things that make Bruce Wayne into Batman, the BILLIONS, the suit, the car and the gadgets, he would still be an expert martial artist and a genius detective. If you take away Superman’s powers he’s NOTHING. He’s a whiny little bitch. He’s never had to learn to fight because he can knock dudes out with a flick of the pinky. More to the point he’s never had to learn to take a punch. He’s spent his life being invulnerable so the second he loses his powers and some third rate street thug socks him on the chin he suffers massive physical AND emotional trauma.

Feeling pain for the first time in your life when you’re 30 years old will fuck up anyone’s day. And the feeling of impotence that comes with knowing that you used to be all powerful and now it’s all gone is worse than the pain itself.

This is how I feel now.

People will point to a certain type of woman, smart and sophisticated, a raconteuse who can keep up with and even beat me when it comes to my long winded  ramblings, and say “She’d be perfect for you!”

When my charms fall flat, and she doesn’t fall for the tricks that usually work for me I end up feeling like Superman without his powers.

Like I said, I’m used to being the smartest, most charming person in the room and while I would love the opportunity to share time with someone more like what I’ve described, when the opportunity does present itself I feel strangely intimidated.

Paralyzed with fear actually.

I usually rationalize that “opposites attract”. If I’m being honest with myself what this actually means is that I look for someone who I feel superior to and isn’t challenging.

Because I’m intimated by women who I’d see as equals, or better than me, I’ve limited the possibility of sharing some great experiences with someone who would ACTUALLY APPRECIATE ME MORE.

I need to take a better look at myself because by my logic only 1 of 2 explanations exist.

  1. I’m too afraid to be challenged intellectually and lose any perceived power I may have had in a relationship OR
  2. I don’t want to, or more likely don’t think I deserve to, feel appreciated.

This is just another thing I need to add to the list of stuff that’s wrong with me.

Admit the Hard Truth

They say that when an ostrich is in danger it buries its head in the sand. It leaves its entire body exposed to harm, but it takes comfort in the fact that it can’t see whatever problems it needs to face.

Intellectually I understand how illogical and impractical this defense mechanism is, but I can’t say that I haven’t done exactly that during difficult times. For almost a full week now I’ve been ignoring my problems rather than actually facing them.

Why are you hiding your face? Was it burned by acid or something?   Oh no. It's just that it's terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be doing it in the future.</p<

Why are you hiding your face? Was it burned by acid or something?

Oh no. It’s just that it’s terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be doing it in the future.

 

One of the things I write about most is how anti-social I’ve always been. I’ve said multiple times that I frequently feel a greater emotional connection with fictional characters than I do with real people. I’ve been depressed for months but I was managing my depression. Over the last week I’ve had a severe relapse and have started to become more and more disconnected from reality as a result.

To protect myself from the stimuli that would trigger an emotional breakdown I’m finding that I take more and more comfort in isolating myself from others. Literally locking myself in my apartment and not leaving for days at a time or,  just flat out, not responding to phone calls and emails.

I haven’t had any proper sleep in months and since I’ve got a whole extra 8 hours every day that I now need to fill, I’ve found that I’m immersing myself in movies, TV shows, video games and comic books…  much more so than usual, I mean.

In the last month and a half I’ve watched the following series in their entirety: Red vs Blue (10 Seasons), Seinfeld (9 Seasons), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (8 Seasons), The Office (8 Seasons), The Twilight Zone (5 Seasons),  Batman: The Animated Series (4 Seasons), Parks and Recreation (4 Seasons), The Life and Times of Tim (3 Seasons), The Inbetweeners (3 Seasons), Game of Thrones (2 Seasons), The Newsroom,  underGRADS and Clerks: The Animated Series (1 Season each)

Conventional wisdom would tell you that there aren’t enough hours in 6 weeks to watch that much television but what’s crazier is that THAT’S not all I’ve been doing. In order to keep myself distracted and to keep crippling anxiety at bay, I have to multitask.

While these DVDs are playing on my laptop I’m either simultaneously playing Xbox on my TV or reading comic books, and I don’t mean 20 page single issues. Some of them are 350 page hardcover anthologies.

In September of 2011, DC cancelled all of their ongoing comic book series and rebooted the whole continuity. That means that there are 52 different titles that are published on a monthly basis and all of them started the stories off fresh with whole new “Issue #1’s”. The project is referred to as DC’s The New 52.

I’ve been going through and catching up on it.

All of it.

That’s almost 2 years worth of FIFTY TWO DIFFERENT COMIC BOOK SERIES.

A guy at work found a copy of Swamp Thing on my desk. He didn’t say anything but he just gave me a look that said “Swap Thing? SWAMP THING?!?!?!? Dude! What is wrong with you”

In my defense, I will read ANYTHING by Scott Snyder


In my defense, I will read ANYTHING written by Scott Snyder

What I’m saying is that there are plenty of real problems in life, obligations and commitments, that I’ve been neglecting because I’m more interested in my fake virtual life in the Mass Effect Trilogy on Xbox. I played through all 3 games in 115 hours and was so pissed off that a decision I had made halfway through the first game resulted in the unavoidable death of one of my favorite characters in the final chapter, so I’m playing through the whole series AGAIN so I can “Marty Mcfly” the situation and change history, so to speak, to ensure that he would survive.

The reason I’m writing all this is because it’s time to stop. I have to pull my head out of the sand. I have to realize that just because I’m distracting myself from my problems it doesn’t mean I’m protected against them. The ostrich’s whole body is exposed to predators.

He’s gonna end up getting eaten and won’t even be able to see it coming.

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.