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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

Examine the Recent Events

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.

pofbaleeted

So long and thanks for all the fish!

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.

42__by_neomoose

Don’t Panic, MY ASS!!!

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.

photo(10)

She couldn’t sleep so as a bedtime story I explained, in painstaking detail, the plot of Back to the Future I, II and III

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.

Explore the New Artform

In 1939 Ernest Wright wrote a novel called Gadsby. Not to be confused with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (from whom I drew inspiration for the way I stylize my own name), Wright’s book was more of an experiment than anything else. He set out to write an entire 50,000 word novel without using the letter E.

I am a good work... guy

I am a good work… guy

I vividly remember stumbling across this book in the 9th grade and enthusiastically showing it to my English teacher. His reaction was the complete opposite from what I expected. Instead of “Wow, that’s interesting” he just rolled his eyes and scoffed in a cynically derisive way and said “No real writer would ever subject himself to self censorship. There’s no way to express yourself within any strict confines, you have to break rules to create true art. Now everybody take out your notebooks, today we’ll be learning how to write a haiku!”

In retrospect this guy probably had half a dozen unfinished manuscripts in his desk and hated the fact that he needed to waste his days babysitting a bunch of teenagers. I just found it so ironic that before any of us were allowed to read our haiku in front of the class, he forced us to listen to about a dozen of his own. And he really seemed to dig his own work. He really thought he was saving the world one haiku at a time and he projected his smug satisfaction in the most despicable way. He had this look on his face like a dog finally getting to pee after an 8 hour road trip, or a sleazy dude discovering that his sleepover buddy forgot her underpants on her pre-dawn walk of shame.

017

My words burn with passion for I have the soul of a poet!

For anyone not following my meandering train of thought, a haiku is a type of Japanese poem with very strict rules. It’s composed of 17 syllables arranged in 3 lines. 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. Here’s an example:

Josh is very cool
He’s the coolest guy around
Disagree? You die!

A haiku is an example of writing within the confines of self imposed restrictions. You can choose to break the pattern if you want, but then what you’re writing is no longer considered a haiku.

Now, Josh, what’s your point? What was it that you were trying to say this whole time but just couldn’t, before making us sit through 400 words of build up?

Well aside from the fact that my teacher was a dick, my point is this.

I think tweets are the newest form of poetry.

Much in the same way that your haiku must fit into a very strict syllabic format, tweets are restricted to a maximum of 140 characters.

Most people may not even notice or care since the majority of tweets don’t even come close to using up all 140 characters. The shocking statistics show that 90% of twitter users have fewer than 100 followers, twitter has devolved into a celebrity promtion service. When we non-famous, or normies as they call us, tweet most of what we get is stuff like:

tweet

Few people are actually conversing, sharing thoughts or ideas.

It’s no secret I have a problem being concise. For me it’s almost impossible to say what I want to say in 140 characters or less. Almost all of my tweets come in right at 140 character mark, and that’s after 2 or 3 edits to trim the fat or substitute some words with shorter synonyms. I realised, with a bit of that same smug pride my 9th grade teacher had,  that it’s quite an accomplishment. I make funny, thought provoking observations and for the most part I do it in EXACTLY 140 characters.

It’s like a 21st century haiku!

Here are some examples of tweets of mine that are exactly 140 characters on the nose:

I literally JUST found out that the MS in MS Paint stands for Microsoft. I thought it was just the “pink bow wearing” sequel like MS. PACMAN

Americans spend 2BILLION more on potato chips than the government does on researching alternative energy sources You really CANT eat just 1

It’s like I’m a living Oscar Wilde play: I’m on 2 meds, one perks up my energy but kills my libido. The other knocks me out but turns me on

Google you are freaking me the fuck out!! Why does every male celebrity name auto-complete with “net worth” and every female’s with “feet”?

Life tip number 37: When suffering from dry elbows so severe you’d do ANYTHING for relief dont resort to using Chapstick. Splurge on lotion

I have embarrassing drool stains on my couch they look all jizzy and won’t come out. It’s ironic ’cause the jizz stains DO come out easily!

                                                                                                                                                

Well if that ain’t poetry, then I don’t know what is…

It’s actually entirely possible that I don’t but I’ll stick with my original assessment.

People should have more to say. Twitter is the new venue for experimental writing and we should all take advantage of this everyday opportunity to make some poetry.

…until I get bored and move on to the next thing

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.

Nurture the Latent Skill

It’s almost 2:30 am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy

Escape the Parental Trap

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

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

My dad asked to move in with me.

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

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

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

He knows this.

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

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

She is happy.

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

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

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

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

Until the week before Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then he started calling me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His rent is $1000.

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

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

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

I have a hard time saying no to people.

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

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

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

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

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

I think I might actually hate him.

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

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

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

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

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