For 2014 I didn’t want to engage in anything even resembling romance until after Valentine’s Day.
There’s no logical reason as to why, it was just one of the random, inflexible decisions I make. It’s like how I’m always hatin’ on “Whovians”, how I never trust people with blonde hair or my instant disdain towards anyone who uses “club” as a verb.
Despite my resolution I ended up meeting with a lovely young lady almost two weeks ago and we spent the evening watching a movie and getting to know one another.
With the idea of avoiding romance still in my head, I said my goodnights and left for home pretty early but not before sharing a chaste, yet strangely intense kiss.
I was in a bit of a post-date daze on my way home but this sort of pessimistic pall fell over me. I started thinking the whole evening was a mistake. After last year, I really don’t need the added complications that dating would bring to my life.
I thought to myself, “This girl is sweet and all but there’s nothing there, bruce.”
I guess I should mention I’ve been spearheading a campaign to replace “dude” with “bruce” in everyday conversation and I even use it when talking to myself.
I started to feel a bit blue so I put on my headphones and maxed out the volume on one of the many Kevin Smith podcasts on my iPhone. That’s when I felt someone poke me in the ribs.
I was standing on a pretty crowded subway platform and my initial urge to pivot like a prizefighter and throw a jab to the nose, fizzled away when I turned to face her.
Her lips moved and she smiled but I had no idea what she said, the master of SMod was jabbering too loudly in my ears. I lowered the volume and gave her my most charming “huh?”
She told me she liked my bag.
I’ve never understood when people use the word “plain” as if it’s a bad thing. I have a very nondescript personal style. I never wear anything with a corporate logo on it and if I wanna buy a piece of licensed merchandise I’ll only do it if it doesn’t have the name of the IP on it. It’s the reason I didn’t buy this awesome limited edition House Martell T-Shirt I saw on the HBO store. I loved the sigil but hated that it said “Game of Thrones”. I feel like those who appreciate it would be the ones who don’t need to be told what it is.
This is why the bag in question is one of my favourite possessions.
It’s just a plain black messenger bag except that it has the N7 logo on it and, the Bioware online store assures me, it’s made of ballistic nylon.
I watch a lot of Mythbusters and I’ve chosen to believe that means it’s bulletproof.
When she told me she liked my bag what I heard was “I know what N7 means. I’m cool! Let’s be friends.”
The next 20 minutes were the most pleasant I’ve shared with a complete stranger.
Eventually she had to get off the train but not before turning to me on her way out and saying “It was nice meeting you… find me on Craigslist!”
And with that she was gone.
The second I got above ground I went online and posted a Missed Connection on Craigslist. It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that.
I don’t know exactly what my intention was. More than anything I feel excited about the prospect of making a new friend. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also super cute!
She responded to my missed connection and it got me more excited than I’m comfortable admitting.
I don’t say that flippantly, it took me hours of contemplation to make that decision. Don Draper is in the top 3 on the list of my favorite “Double D’s” in the world and I usually take his words as the gospel truth, but in the season 1 finale of Mad Men, Draper gives an awesome speech about nostalgia that I’m starting to interpret in a new way.
He’s pitching an ad campaign for Kodak’s new slide projector. Being that it’s the middle of the 60’s during the U.S./Soviet space race, the muckety mucks at Kodak want to market the sleek curves of their new “wheel projector” as a spaceship. They’re trying to cash in on the NASA zeitgeist. Don Draper puts together an alternative campaign that causes one of the stuffedshirts in the boardroom to burst into tears and run out of the room crying.
He decides they shouldn’t look towards the future to market this product, but rather the past. To use the slide projector as a time machine. To let us catch a glimpse of days gone by.
Up until recently I would’ve agreed. If you asked me I’d have said that looking back into the past is painful and as Draper says, “takes us to a place where we ache to go again… a place where we know we are loved.”
But over the last few days I’ve been swimming in nostalgia and it’s making me happier than I’ve felt in the longest time. And not just happy about old memories but rather happy with myself as I am today.
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.
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 exactlyone 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.
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 looooooveFull 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.
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.
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 reallyam 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 expectingto happen.
It 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 aresome 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. Theylive 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 towas as unnatural and disorienting to me as if gravity randomly went away.
Now I have a different understanding. Things areplaying 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’sthe monster.
The princess is gone. She doesn’t need to be recused, and she certainly doesn’t need him.
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.
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!
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.