where the hell is my wallet

I haven’t blogged in a while, or at least a while by my standards, Tom. Zing! I’ve been busy. Read on if you want to hear the terminally boring details.

I went up island last week to do some work on our cabin, and since then I’ve mostly been spending quality time with friends and fam. We went to a bbq at Tyrone and Marieke’s, another one at Spencer and Julia’s, and another one at Alex’s. We went to the Cobblestone with Carla and co. before she went back to the Cayman Islands. I watched another lousy Stephen King flick with Dana (that was #41, wowee — Gerald’s Game isn’t very good but we’ve definitely seen much worse from King adaptations). Dana and I also went and saw the living legend himself, Jordan, for the first time in about five years, and he was the exact same. He’s living in his van on Kerry’s property and was sleeping when Dana and I arrived. Kerry opened the front door of the van, and right on the step of the door was a glass tumbler with the top all broken and jagged, just waiting for someone’s — most likely Jordan’s — foot to step on it and cut it to ribbons. Priceless. Jenn and I went to lunch with her folks in Mill Bay (I had chicken and waffles despite feeling like there’s something inherently ironic and annoying about that combination but I daresay it was really good). And this weekend, Paul and Kate are staying at a cabin on the lake and have invited the gang over to it so that should be fun too.

I wouldn’t say it fully feels like summer though. There have been moments where it feels very summer-y but overall, it just feels like hot weather without the “the whole day is before us, what fun will we get up to” vibe, and I’m kind of missing that. It’s only the end of July though so there is still time for it to kick in, and on the flip side, I’m really, really, really pumped that October is inching closer because I am beyond psyched for my third year volunteering at the Glenora Haunted Hall. I don’t even know exactly what I’m going to do at it but I do know the vibe in the place is going to be classic Halloween and that’s a highlight of my year, right up there with Festivus and Xmas. So when I think about that, I don’t even care about summer and just want it to hurry up and pass so I can get on with Halloween.

Oh I just remembered something I had wanted to blog about while I was driving up island the other week. Usually I can tell whether I’m driving uphill or downhill — it’s pretty obvious, right? But sometimes, I am totally wrong. Sometimes I’ll think it’s one or the other, then something in my brain shifts and I can’t tell which it is, or I’m actually driving on a basically level stretch. I think that’s weird, and I wonder why it happens. I remember on one road trip through BC’s southern interior, Jenn and I were driving on the #3 highway next to the Similkameen River, and we could both have sworn that river was flowing uphill. It’s interesting that both of us thought that so I wonder if there’s something in the geography in places like that that fucks with our brains. I imagine it’s either that or our brains just kind of mess up, like when a computer freezes or crashes doing something routine like opening a web browser.

I’m back in the saddle. Stay tuned for my next thrilling installment.

sleeping-cowboy-eleszabeth-mcneel

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Up to zero and feeling great about it

I’d been been feeling low this last week because of a handful of things I had on my mind. There was one particularly stressful situation that I was allowing myself to dwell on, and it wasn’t until yesterday I realized I could simply talk to the person who played a key role this stressful situation. It’s funny how often I forget basic things like that — talk to the person you are having a problem with, keep a cool head at all times, that sort of stuff. I know these things very well in theory but sometimes I completely forget to actually apply them.

Anyway, as soon as I talked it over with Dr. X, I suddenly felt way better. Not just about that particular situation but also the other things that I had been dreading. Suddenly, my solo trip up island to work on the cabin was no longer the prison sentence/death march it had been feeling like. Now I’m looking forward to it. And working on the car I bought that stinks like fucking rodent piss didn’t seem so bad anymore either.

The weird part is that it’s not like I won the lottery or anything that raised my overall happiness up above where it normally is. It’s just that I don’t feel shitty about a few things anymore. But after feeling shitty for a few days, just getting back to normal is a huge relief. It almost makes one grateful for the shitty times…almost.

From the crypt 2

Here’s another one I wrote a while back but didn’t finish or throw out. I just added a few details and am posting it now. That’s it, no more drafts collecting dust. Jeez I must be really bored today.

***

For as long as I can remember, my dad has talked with great affection about a dog his family had when he was a kid. It was a German Shepherd and, amazingly, I don’t remember its name despite hearing the same stories about the thing, over and over for nearly 40 years. He’s gone on countless times about how smart it was, how big it was, how it would gleefully tease any other dogs that walked by the house, etc. When my dad tells these stories, he laughs his ass off and still marvels at what an amazing creature that dog was.

For me though, I couldn’t care less about the dog. I never met it so all the stories are without warmth. It’s as boring as a stranger telling me about their pet, and heavens knows if some random stranger was droning on for hours to you about the pet they had 50 years ago, you’d probably think they’re nuts. I don’t think it’s any different with my dad.

Why is he still so enamoured with this childhood pet? I think they had other dogs too (though I honestly can’t say for sure since I zone out and stop paying attention once the dog stories begin) but he doesn’t talk about them. And when I was a kid, we had a wonderful Dachshund, a lovely Samoid/Husky cross, and a deaf and incredibly affectionate white cat. He never talks about those pets. Why not? Weren’t they special in some way? I would think that he would have a greater bond with those animals since they were his pets, as opposed to his dad’s dog or the family dog — as a kid, he wasn’t responsible for that German Shepherd, and I feel like that responsibility for another life is a huge part of the pet/owner bond.

He and my step mom also had several cats over the years, which they let live for far too long. They were all in abysmal health and should have been euthanized long before they died, in my opinion. And when I was a kid, my brother had a turtle named Slick (named after the turtle from the obscure 80’s cartoon, The Littles, for those that remember that show). Turtles live forever, long after a young boy’s interest in it subsides, and when my brother moved out, my dad took over “looking after” Slick. I use quotation marks there because he really didn’t do shit for that poor damned turtle. For years and years after my brother had left, Slick lived in a small, filthy aquarium that didn’t get cleaned anywhere near often enough, and was devoid of anything interesting. There was nothing but sand, water, and a tray for him to lie on. That poor fucking turtle lived like that for probably 30 years. I tried numerous times to convince my dad to let me take the turtle to a lake or pond so it could live out the rest of its days like a normal creature but he was firmly opposed to the idea. He said after living its life in captivity, it wouldn’t know how to look after itself in the wild. I thought and still think that’s total bullshit because any time Slick was fed something live, he immediately entered ‘hunter’ mode, so I think his instincts were quite intact. And even if he didn’t make it out there in the world, I still felt that would be better than being imprisoned in his own waste in what equates to an empty room.

Just writing about this now, I can tell I’m still quite pissed with my dad about Slick. I can feel myself getting hot under the collar. That’s interesting but I want to focus on my dad right now, not me. What I’m getting at is my dad loved his family’s childhood pet, had lots of other pets afterward but never seemed to get attached to them like he did that first dog, but still had great difficulty letting go of all of his pets even though he didn’t seem to care about them. This leads me to believe that he was so traumatized by the loss of the first dog (I don’t know how it died, if I feel like being especially cruel to my dad I should asked him what happened to it) that he has been emotionally unavailable to all subsequent pets for fear of revisiting that sense of loss, and that same fear also prevents him from letting them go.

My guess is that when the German Shepherd died, it was very traumatic for my dad and he’s afraid to love anything else like he did that dog because if he does, he might have to go through the same grief again when the thing he loves dies.

I think that makes sense but I don’t have much sympathy for him. Death and loss are parts of life so you need to get used to them ASAP, in my opinion. And whatever emotional trauma he endured that has twisted him up like this, it’s no excuse for hording animals and forcing them to live shitty lives. It mitigates the offense to some degree but it does not justify or excuse the offense. We are all ultimately responsible for our own actions. So yeah, I’m pissed at my dad for how he treated our pets.

From the crypt

I found this post I wrote when I last hurt my back, several months ago. It’s not that interesting but there are some details in it that I’d forgotten so I’m going to post it now in its unfinished state so that I can reference it in the future.

Worthy of note is that I was very wrong, there was big disc involvement this last time. Silly me.

***

I hurt my back again today, and it’s weird. It happened when I tripped while carrying a chainsaw. I’ve been pretty sore from getting a cord of wood a few days ago so I guess when I was still in a marginal state. If I had tripped like that next week, I probably would have been fine, you know? It’s a bummer but oh well. I’ve done this enough times that I know there is no disc involvement this time, and that’s the big thing.

Here’s the weird part though: as soon as it happened, I packed up and started driving home. While I was driving, I started feeling really tired. So tired that my foot slipped off the gas pedal while in traffic in Duncan. I feel like that doesn’t sound like much now but it was actually supremely strange — I’ve never had that happen

I’ve been getting firewood from a strange woman in Duncan that I don’t like at all. She’s worth a few details: she had an ad on usedcowichan saying she had some trees down that she needed someone to take care of. I talked with her on the phone and there were hints of paranoia — her number was blocked so it doesn’t show up on call display, she acknowledged this and said she’d give me her number after we talked if everything seemed ok, and she wanted to know EXACTLY what time I’d be coming by to take a look at the wood (a half hour window was too vague for her). When I met her to look at the wood, she was chipper and friendly but a lonely mid-60’s divorcee who told me about the carpet people taking pictures of the interior of her home without her permission and how she made them delete all the pictures because that’s how homes get burgled, don’t you know. She told me numerous other useless things like how the tree pruning company took down this and that but didn’t do everything she wanted and one guy said he’d come back to finish it but never did, how the city wants her to do something about some dead trees on her property but if they want that done they should help pay for it, yada yada. She seemed to feel that no one was trustworthy or ever did a good enough job. I figured I’d eventually end up in this category of people too but considering she probably doesn’t know anyone except the service people she hires and fires, I wasn’t too worried about it. But this is all to say I didn’t like her very much. She ate up a lot of my time with a lot of annoying chit chat.

With this in mind, I wasn’t looking forward to taking care of the fallen trees for her. The big day came, I went and busted my ass, and came home with a cord of wood and a generally sore body. I took a few days off of doing pretty much anything but went back today even though I was still a little sore. Things were going ok until I tripped over a branch while carrying the chainsaw. I stumbled in a weird way and immediately, I knew I’d done something. It didn’t hurt too bad yet but there’s a feeling you get when you injure yourself in such a way that it’s going to hurt a lot later, and I’ve become so familiar with that initial feeling that we’re like old pals now. “How are you doing, Sam?” “Not bad, Jim. Been a while.”

Since I didn’t hurt a lot at first, I considered continuing to work through it. Thankfully, the tiny voice of reason in my mind prevailed and I decided I should assume the worst and just quit now. I loaded that last pieces of wood in the truck and left.

This is the part where it differs from my usual back injuries. On the drive home, I found myself feeling incredibly tired. So much so that my foot slipped off the gas pedal while in traffic. I found myself looking around at things other than the road and traffic, feeling dopey, and having to force myself to wake up and pay attention. At the time, I thought I was just being quietly dramatic, putting on a little performance solely for myself.

But when I got home, I took some ibuprofen and robaxacet, grabbed the book that Golda loaned me, and laid down. Within a few minutes, I passed out for an hour and a half. I never sleep that long in the middle of the day, and I slept great last night. I got up, had something to eat, wrote a blog post, felt exhausted, and went back to bed…and slept for another hour and a half.

I always take back injuries hard. I worry about missing work, I worry about being a pain in the ass to Jenn, I worry that this time might be different and the pain might be a permanent thing, so

simulations

It’s been a while. I suppose I was due for another annoying Craigslist encounter. This one really wasn’t so bad but the guy was really passive aggressive and nothing vexes me like passive aggression because PA behaviour is stuff you can sense through a person’s tone and demeanor but if you try to communicate it to someone else, it doesn’t come across unless you fully act the PA son of a bitch’s part out.

Without further ado: we recently changed our dog’s diet so I posted an ad for a bag of expensive, unopened dog food for $35 — half the store price. Buddy gets in touch with me and says he’ll take it, asks for my address. GPS and google maps always steer people wrong with our address so I give him the same detailed directions I give to everyone else. Buddy says thanks, all is well.

Five minutes past our appointed meeting time, buddy calls me up (here is where the passive aggression starts) and is annoyed and telling me he has no idea where my place is. I ask him where he is, he’s not too sure and still annoyed and giving me vague sass. I tell him to ignore GPS and google, and give him even more detailed directions. He gives me a fake laugh and an “ok, well, I’ll give it a try, I really hope I see ya soon,” as if I’ve got him on a wild goose chase and he might just quit and head home instead at this point.

Buddy shows up a few minutes later. He looks like 50-something white trash — ruddy complexion like he drinks too much and might be a regular at the local pub, and drives a small truck that is just a step above a beater. He makes some small talk about the dog food then nonchalantly asks, “is $30 good?” Super smooth, buttering me up first and then casually low-balling me. I’m instantly secretly pissed. I reply that I’m asking $35. I feel like, at that point, a decent fella should say something like “ok sure, sounds good.” But instead, he hands me my full price, stares at me, and says, “yeah, that’s why I was asking if $30 was good.” I’m not sure what the point of his tiny macho display is — it seems like he just wanted to have the last word, if nothing else — but I take my preferred ‘dumb and cheerful’ approach to dealing with this kind of thing and act like I don’t notice his attitude. I give him a smile and a “no worries” as I wave and head back inside. Buddy pauses, seems to have a change of heart, and gives me a genuine-sounding “thanks man, take care” as he hops in his truck to leave.

I know, that was pretty anticlimactic. Like I said, passive aggressive stuff is hard to communicate. But I guarantee if you were me and dealt with this joker firsthand, you’d be equally irritated. Well, maybe not. Maybe you’re better at not letting things get under your skin. Maybe you’re wiser and avoid dealing with craigslist scum in the first place. Alright, I guess the takeaway here is I’m a small, miserable person. Further down the spiral I go.

now we’re all mainlining 80’s nostalgia

I feel a need to follow up on this post I made about Stranger Things 3 a week or two ago. I basically said that after such a lousy second season, I imagined the third would be even worse but I was still looking forward to it simply because it’s nice to have something that both Jenn and I want to watch together.

I stand by what I wrote about the first three episodes of ST3 being garbage, they totally were. But starting with episode four, things improved dramatically. The preteen romance finally took a back seat to the “scary” stuff (I use quotation marks because it’s not in the least scary, but it’s got that, you know, scary-ish vibe or whatever), and there were no more “remember this guy” re-introductions of characters. I still had a lot of problems with this season (Steve’s acting sucks and his comic relief role is garbage; Lucas’ comic relief role is also garbage; the romantic sub-plot between Hopper and Joyce continues the terrible ‘kids show’ feel of the first three episodes; and how many times can bloodthirsty monsters pause before killing someone to scream in their face, allowing a hero time to save the day?) but it was far better than the second season — nowhere near as good as the first, but nowhere near as bad as the second. It was alright in the end. And now that we’ve watched it, I find myself sad that it’s over — it was a nice to spend evenings on the couch, watching ST3 with Jenn.

stranger-things-season-3-cast-guide

I’m happy to admit that I was wrong about this season. Btw Dustin’s “roast beef” t-shirt should get a credit for being its own character. No idea what it’s about but I love it.

But I’ve talked with a few people about all the nostalgia trip stuff on the show, all the details in the sets and clothing and whatnot that everyone loves the look of, and I now feel like all the 80’s stuff is just a cheap way to lure us in and give us a huge nostalgia high. It’s cheap. One of my pals pointed out that if the show had been set in modern times, no one would give a shit about it because there wouldn’t be so many “I remember those shirts/cars/telephones/etc” moments, and I agree with them. I think Stranger Things is about its aesthetic just as much as it is about its story, and I don’t like that.

It’s also making me feel guilty for other things because I’m already such a nostalgia addict as it is. Lately when I’ve been listening to retrowave, I’ve been feeling like I’m cheating, like I’m just giving in to some simplistic urge to relive my past — like the creators of that music are doing the same thing as the creators of Stranger Things, like they’re just capitalizing on my clinging to childhood memories and feelings by providing an aesthetic that is based entirely around sounding like 80’s shit.

The same thing applies to my favourite Black Mirror episode, San Junipero. A large part of that episode takes place in a club in the 80’s, and there are lots of great 80’s details in it that make me feel warm and wistful. But now that I’ve been OD-ing on 80’s nostalgia, I’m second-guessing my feelings on even that episode. Do I just like it because of the 80’s shit?

And all the ugly vintage stuff I’ve been collecting for our house, same thing. So I have to ask myself, why am I doing this? Am I trying to hide from something, like the present, or the future? Is it wrong to love nostalgia so much? Is there anything wrong with embracing an aesthetic I enjoy? Am I overthinking something that doesn’t matter at all?

I don’t know. I need to talk to smart friends about this and get their thoughts on it.

i love creaking

Do you know what sound I love? Creaking. One time when Jenn and I were road tripping through the Rockies, we stopped at a lookout. It was cloudy, grey, windy, and chilly out. The view was beautiful. While we were taking the view in, I noticed a quiet creaking sound coming from somewhere close by. I investigated and found the source was a speed limit sign on the road that was hanging on hinges, swaying back and forth in the wind — I guess high winds in the area tend to knock regular signposts down or something. Anyway, ever since then, I’ve wanted to make a creaking wind chime similar to that speed limit sign — basically just a big, thin, light piece of whatever attached to some rusty hinges, hanging from a post. I fucking hate most wind chimes but there is something so eerie and vaguely unsettling about creaking that I definitely want more of it in my life. It’s like how I enjoy reading dark and Satanic books while on summer vacation. It provides a nice counterbalance to all the good vibes, you know? Just give me a hint of Satan in each day, give me a reason to be afraid, even when things are otherwise great. I want that sense of unease to pervade every day of my life.

I’ve been putting off making my creaking wind chime for five years or something like that, but just now, I was out by the wood pile and heard a similar creaking that I really dug. I checked it out and found a swaying tree in our yard is causing part of the firewood pile to rub against itself. It was such a welcomed, haunting sound that I thought, “I need to blog about this and then get my ass in gear and make a fucking creaker.”

So that’s what I’m going to do as soon as I get back from Duncan.

tinkerer

“Satan, it’s me, Margaret. Do you read me? Over.”