2018 recap

I wrote a recap last year and I really liked it so I’m doing it again this year. I was thinking about it the other day and it reminds me of the letters my family would receive at xmas from friends and family we didn’t see very often, letters those people had written to keep us abreast of what they got up to over the year. I found those letters universally boring and old-fashioned but when it comes to my own life and writing about it in point form, well, it’s just a really doggone efficient way to sum up a year’s worth of living.

Without further ado, here is what the masses have been clamouring for all year long! Sound the trumpets, open the gates! It’s my recap of 2018, yahoooooo…

  • Jenn took part in a video that went modestly viral, accumulating almost one million views in a week or two. She thinks the video will be the single ‘biggest’ thing she ever does in her life, in terms of reaching a vast audience. I agree with her, and think that’s pretty neat.
  • After selling her horse last year, Jenn found a new project in a one-eyed walking panic attack she named Marvel. To liken him to a human so he’s understandable to people who aren’t familiar with horses: he’s like the son of Usain Bolt and Serena Williams (in other words, a gifted athlete by nature) who was always a nervous child to start with, who then went blind in one eye at an early age and subsequently passed from foster home to foster home, accumulating mountains of mental trauma along the way which resulted in turning him from an anxious fellow into a full-on delusional, paranoid spaz. But Jenn saw the natural talent in Marvel and decided to try putting a lot of love and effort into him and what do you know, he’s come around in a big way. Personally, I love him because he’s a big, gentle beast who wants nothing more than someone to show him affection — he’s like a big dog, and that’s the only kind of horse I really like.
  • In January, I bought a Nissan X-trail after lusting for one for years. It turned out to be a very frustrating lemon. I managed to sell it without too much difficulty but it was an unpleasant experience.
  • In early February, Jenn and I drove the Pacific Marine Circle Route from here to Sooke to Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan to home. We left at 7 am and got home at 7 pm, and had a fantastic time. We saw lots of cool waterfalls, giant trees, and abandoned towns. I love doing ‘tourist in your own town’ shit.
  • Jenn and I explored and hiked some other areas around here we hadn’t seen, like Mount Manuel Quimper in Sooke and some tucked-away areas in Goldstream.
  • In March, we went up to our property in Sointula to build a lean-to so we had a place to store some shit and keep it dry before we started building a small cabin. We didn’t do a very good job on the lean-to but it (almost) does the job. On the bright side, we did some fun stuff while we were there. The tide was out so we walked across the bay to the marina to use their showers, and we hiked to Melvin’s Bog which sounds shitty but was actually very pretty, and on the drive home from Sointula we hiked up to the Woss Lookout which was downright breathtaking. We were above the clouds and it felt like being in a fantasy movie.
  • Spring 2018 was a banner year for chickens having babies at our place, as five of my eight hens went broody. For those not familiar with chickens, that’s a lot for breeds like Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. Altogether, we raised a dozen chicks here over the summer, and I learned a lot about what I want to do different with raising chicks next year. I kept two, slaughtered one rooster, and gave the rest away to my dear friends Tom and Marion. I still visit the kids when their new parents allow me.
  • I built a 200-gallon rainwater collection system off of our barn for use in our vegetable garden. It went pretty well, and was a good learning experience in case we decide to do something similar for our cabin up island.
  • Jenn and I started building a one-room cabin on our second property. Falling trees was fucking hard work, and took much longer than expected. Learning to lay out the construction blocks square and level was frustrating, and had a steep learning curve. Putting the walls and roof up was extremely challenging — even writing this now, I’m having flashbacks to how awful I felt at the time. But since getting the roof on, things have gone smoother: we got the doors and windows in and put the Tyvek stuff up, then Liam came up with me and basically built the frame for a roof over the deck by himself. Slowly, the dread from the worst parts of the build is receding in my mind, and that’s good. That was a dark week.
  • On the way back from another trip to Sointula, Jenn, Stella and I went swimming at Stotan Falls in Courtenay. Beautiful place, easy access. What a gem of a swimming hole.
  • Some friends from Vancouver came and stayed with us for a long weekend in the summer, and we tried to give them a nice ‘small town weekend.’ I think it went perfectly. We went thrift shopping with them, took them to some local breweries, went bowling at Duncan Lanes, took them to The Black Swan for karaoke, went swimming in the quarry, and watched a horror movie on the side of the house. I get wistful just thinking about that weekend, it was such a good time.
  • Ben, Tom, Dana, Paul and I went tubing down the Cowichan River in July, and it couldn’t have been any better. Dana’s Star Trek floating chair was a huge hit with everyone who saw it, Paul was gooned basically from the start till the end and was mercilessly tossed from his tube countless times (almost face-first into a rock wall, at one point), and we all had a groovy 3 hr float in the sun. We went for dinner at the York St. Diner and Ben was too drunk to stop the content of his sandwich from exploding onto his plate. The waitress was very understanding of our situation. Our better halves all worried sick about us being gone so much longer than we’d originally estimated, but these are the trials and tribulations of river floating. I am eagerly looking forward to doing it again next year.
  • Jenn bought a second project horse named Gossip, who was an adorable and easy baby of a pony. She was perfectly sweet, friendly, curious, eager to learn, and eager to please. She took longer to sell than Jenn hoped for but she finally went to a great home, which was the most important thing. However, the lesson learned was: two horses is too much — one horse is enough.
  • My chicken’s eggs won first place in the Cobble Hill Fair in the ‘large, brown’ division. I was such a proud daddy!
  • Jenn and I went to the Cowichan Exhibition for the first time in years. It was…gross. I don’t think I’ll go again for another five years or so.
  • My revamped Misfits cover band finally played a Halloween show. The promoter was an odd duck, a strange schmoozy rude brat of a person, but our performance was fine. More than anything, I just loved playing music I love with guys I love hanging out with, and am excited to start playing with the gents again soon.
  • I volunteered at the Glenora Haunted Hall for the second year in a row, and it was just as great as last year. My friend Julia teamed up with me for a gory human butcher scene, and we were a big hit. Dana even came and volunteered at the hall with us on the second night. I felt like a kid again.
  • I watched my grandfather die. He was 95 or so and his health suddenly declined so he signed up for a medically assisted death. Jenn and I joined my mom and the rest of that side of the family to see him off. I’ve witnessed enough death that I wasn’t fazed. But he wasn’t the warmest individual either so I’m sure that made the whole process a bit easier.
  • I went down the rabbit hole this year with acquiring all manners of vintage household items — appliances, artwork, kitchen utensils, stereo equipment, clothing, xmas decorations, etc. I now like our home much more than before, and I have to once again thank my wonderful friends who indulged my insanity and helped me get my hands on a lot of this stuff.
  • Xmas 2018 was a little weird overall. I worked xmas day, I was the only member of my family at my family dinner, there was a huge storm just before xmas that knocked out power and internet to everyone for a few days, and it wasn’t snowy or even very cold. That being said, this was the best family dinner I can remember, free of endless, pointless Grandpa Simpson-esque stories and an undercurrent of awkwardness and strained relationships. And Jenn and I did our typical xmas morning stuff on xmas eve and that was perfectly lovely. And because of the power outage caused by the storm, Jenn and I made soup on our wood stove and played Scrabble by candlelight, which was a beautiful, ‘slow living’ evening that reminded me of how different life can be if we just turn shit off for a while.
  • Speaking of slow living, after some thought and a blog post, I decided to start reading at home more, and so far I’m really enjoying it and feel good about my efforts.

Boy, I had been worried that I wouldn’t have much to write here, that not much really happened in 2018. Was I ever wrong. That’s one of the beauties of this exercise, it really illustrates just how much note-worthy stuff goes on in a year, even if we take it for granted or just don’t remember it all at once.

I lead a charmed life, and I’m grateful for it. Many thanks to Jenn and all my friends who, against great odds, make life in this proto-wasteland fun and worth living.

Happy new year.

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new tradition

It’s already Christmas day 2018, and I haven’t watched The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut, or Fiddler on the Roof (those are my favourite movies that I associate with xmas) this year. It’s been bothering me because I like those films, and I like getting into the spirit of the season with them, but there just hasn’t been a good opportunity to watch any of them.

But I’ve been thinking a lot this year about how, often, whatever you are doing at a certain time of year will end up inadvertently becoming your new tradition or a new thing that reminds you of that particular season or memory. For instance, before my drive to work this morning, I had envisioned myself listening to Angelcorpse’s Exterminate album on the short commute. I started the car and began searching through my music for the aforementioned album when I came across The Smiths album, The Queen Is Dead. I hadn’t listened to this latter record in many years and something about it just seemed right for this morning, so I went with that instead. I’ve always liked The Queen is Dead but something about it this morning felt different, more special — I don’t doubt that the ‘special’ ingredient is the fact that today is Christmas and that has me feeling more warm and emotional than usual, but that’s beside the point. The point is that after this experience this morning, there is a good chance that this Smiths record will remind me of xmas from here on out, and that I will tend to listen to it more at this time of year.

Similarly, because I’m working today, Jenn and I did our xmas stuff together last night. When we first set xmas eve aside for exchanging gifts, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea because it simply didn’t feel right — but no time except xmas morning seemed right and that wasn’t available so there was no way around it. But as I got used to the idea, I came to see more value in it and feel better about it. And what do you know, last night ended up being just as nice as any xmas morning.

It just goes to show that even when things don’t go like we’re used to or in ways that we might have initially wished they did, the results can be just as good. You can even end up with new traditions and new things that remind you of a happy time or feeling. So sometimes, it’s for the best to do something new, something different. I’m going to try to remember this and stay open to the unexpected, plan B, etc.

Merry xmas, droogs.

I’m never leaving home again

I just got back from a trip to Victoria. It sucked. It was a rainy day that wasn’t good for doing much outside at home so I thought I’d make the best of it and head to Victoria to take care of five errands I had gradually accumulated.

Alas, memory is short, and I had forgotten just how godawful and downright tedious driving in Victoria is. It’s fucking gridlock from Mackenzie all the way to Dallas Road. Plus, I neglected to consider that we are only a week away from Christmas, and every other jerk like me was out there, madly dashing about trying to find gifts before zero hour arrives (only one of my errands was picking up a gift but that still makes me one of the hoard).

I could have been ok with the traffic if my errands had gone smoothly, but they didn’t. One by one, they each went progressively worse than the last. On the first one, I accidentally drove past my destination and wound up driving several extra kilometers on a bunch of stupid one-way streets, doing numerous U-turns before I finally got it right. Not terrible, but annoying, for sure.

On the second errand, I had to park three blocks away from the Dutch Bakery and hoof it there through torrential rains and hurricane winds. I forgot both my reusable shopping bag and to put money in the parking meter so I turned back, prolonging my time in this soggy hell. As I walked hurriedly, the top of my umbrella bashed the low-hanging awning of a shop and it in turn bashed my glasses into my face. I played it cool because I was in public but I was secretly murderous. Then the debit machine at the bakery had a tipping option and I gave a 15% tip solely because the girl who served me was attractive, and I hated myself for doing it. I wish all servers were hideous old people so that I never felt this yearning to appease attractive people. It’s fucking absurd but it’s a tough bastard to shake. I think that’s a blog post in itself.

Then I went to The Turntable in Fantan Alley. I was looking for a particular disco compilation record called Don’t Walk, Boogie.

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This is an unreal disco compilation, and the genesis for my love of disco music.

They didn’t have it. This errand really wasn’t so bad because the owner of the shop was quite determined to eventually find it for me in his never-ending record hunting, and I happily hung out and chatted music with him and a few other guys there for a bit. I love that shop, and Fantan Alley in general. Such great vibes there. But keeping in the theme of this post, I did not find what I was looking for so this mission was a complete failure.

Next, I went to Chinatown to find kitchen chair cushions made of straw-like material, like this:

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Or this:

Corn-bran-Straw-Seat-Cushion-Handmade-Round-Futon-Cushions-Japanese-Style-Tatami-home-decor-FREE-SHIPPING

I went to numerous shops but none had anything close to what I was looking for. A kind woman overheard me and suggested I try Capital Iron. I did, and they didn’t have shit either. I was really hoping to avoid buying these things online, waiting months for them to actually show up, and then only to find they don’t fit on our chairs or are only 1/4″ thick and hard as rocks, but I guess that’s the route I must now go.

Then I went to buy a vintage home stereo amp from a guy. His ad said “works well, clean condition,” but when I showed up he casually mentioned that the lights on it didn’t work, and would be a real nightmare to replace (he did some work on the stereo but didn’t bother with the lights because they were too much of a pain to access even when he had it all apart). Well, shit. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to him that I wanted the fucking lights to work but when I told him I was going to pass on it, he gave me that bitchy, passive aggressive, “no, no, sure, yeah, no problem, yup, nope” response, ie thanks for wasting my precious time here, now I’ve missed 10 minutes of Duck Dynasty for nothing. He’s not the one who drove all the way to fucking Victoria to fight traffic and get fucked around and disappointed by every jackoff he dealt with so I don’t know why he was so upset.

Then I fought traffic through the pouring rain all the way home. That was my trip to Victoria today.

Make your bed, Pat.

There’s a story in the news right now about a guy who plays guitar in the death metal band, Cannibal Corpse, and how he recently broke into a neighbour’s house while talking some gibberish about the rapture and how people were out to get him. The guy’s name is Pat O’Brien. When the police arrived at the neighbour’s house, dear Pat was hiding in the backyard and charged the officers with a knife before they arrested him.

Meanwhile, his own house not a mile away was going up in flames, and mountains of firearm ammunition was exploding inside, which complicated the efforts of firefighters. Additionally, Pat had some flame throwers — that’s right, flame throwers — in his house and those also posed more problems for firefighters.

Ol’ Pat looks fucking nuts in his mug shot, and there is a video of him appearing in court the next day in which he is all twitchy like a meth user.

pat-obrien-arrested

It’s a crazy story. But here’s where it gets annoying: his friends have started a crowdfunding effort to help Pat get on his feet again once all this is sorted out, because he apparently didn’t have any home insurance.

That really bugs me. I think that if someone owns a home but opts to not insure it, why should it be anyone else’s responsibility to help that person out when their house and all their belongings go up in flames? Especially when it seems like the home owner is likely responsible for causing the fire in the first place. I don’t care if Pat is a nice guy or “true to his family, friends, and his band,” he should have had home insurance, period. And whether he was doing meth and hoarding weapons or not treating his mental health issues and hoarding weapons, he is ultimately responsible for the fallout from his actions. I wish the guy the best but he made his bed, time to lie in it.

You know, I don’t think I’ve seen any crowdfunding campaigns I support so far. Why is it usually fuck-ups and whiners who utilize them? I guess because those are the people who have no shame.

Now that I’ve written that, I’ll probably get testicular cancer tomorrow and have to rely on crowdfunding to cover my funeral costs. Just kidding, I’m not having a funeral.

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Dig me a hole and kick me in. I don’t care.

Movies are wasteful, and for lazy people.

Before anyone blows a gasket, I’ll clarify that I’m one of the lazy bastards that I’m going to bitch about.

It just occurred to me that every film or tv show costs millions of dollars to make, and there is a massive footprint left behind by them: scouting locations and actors; entire film crews flying all over the world to film a scene that lasts only a few minutes; cars and buildings blown up; elaborate costumes and makeup and special effects that will never be used on another film; countless meetings between executives and producers at high end restaurants so they can discuss what font to use on the poster; etc. Then there is the countless hours of physical labour that go into it — writers, producers, set designers, casting, lighting crews, film crews, sound crews, stunt doubles, etc.

My point is that even the shittiest film or tv show requires an immense amount of effort and resources to create — and then we, the audience, end up sitting on a couch in our sweat pants, slack-jawed, eyes glazed over, brains mostly turned off while we stare at the talking heads on the screen in front of us. It’s really quite absurd how much work goes into creating our passive entertainment.

Meanwhile, in the not-so-distant past, reading books used to be the go-to entertainment form, and books have a far smaller footprint and require us to actually use our brains.

This makes me feel guilty for not reading more. Of course there are still some great flicks out there that no one should feel guilty about watching but that’s probably less than 1% of all film and tv — the rest of it, we should definitely feel a great deal of shame over.

I think I need to start reading more.

Its20Your20Library

The Leper Goes to ‘The Nutcracker’

I just saw my co-worker’s kid’s elementary school play of The Nutcracker. It was a real mindfuck. It reminded me of when I took part in school plays, and of my childhood in general — nice stuff, horrible stuff, and everything in between. I wish I could have spoken into a voice recorder to capture everything and then transcribed it after because there were so many fascinating things that I know I’ll forget to mention here. But here goes anyway.

I feel like there were a lot of kids who were pretty easy to read. There were the few exceptionally talented and confident ones who are probably very popular at school, and will continue to generally do well throughout life.

There were pathetic louts: bored, disinterested, untalented, vacant stares. They probably struggle now and will probably struggle all their lives. The sad part is that it will only get much harder, and much worse for them. I could see trailer parks, substance abuse, social assistance, and the like in their futures. How sad.

There were shy awkward kids, and some that were wide-eyed with terror, completely at odds with the nature of this public spectacle.

Some were class clowns, doing dumb shit in desperate attempts to get a laugh — these were the ones that bothered me the most because they reminded me of myself at that age. I knew I wasn’t funny so I tried to make up for it by being loud and goofy, even though I knew in my heart that it was no substitute for cleverness and quick wit. I still hate my childhood self for that, for causing so much shame and embarrassment that I still feel even now. When you suck at something, it’s best to realize it, quit it, and find something else you excel at. It took me a long time to learn that lesson.

There were a boy and girl who looked about 11 or 12 and I thought I saw them flirt the first time they stood next to each other. I had crushes and flirted awkwardly at that age too, so I could relate. They stood next to each other again later in the play and I saw them flirt again, this time without question. I found it both beautiful and horrifying — coming of age is like that. I remember how strong and pure my unadulterated emotions were then, and I’m sure those kids feel the same way and that’s lovely, but it’s also gross because they are so clumsy and inept at expressing their feelings. Their interpersonal skills are as gawky as the kids are physically. It’s also incredibly sad because despite the raw emotions involved, all romances at that age are doomed. I hate to think of those poor kids crying their eyes out over the impossibility of their grade 6 crush, just like I did.

One poor girl who was far too old to be doing so was absentmindedly picking at her derriere while on stage. It was quite disgusting but on the bright side, she didn’t seem to recognize she just did something that should haunt her for the rest of her life so maybe she won’t be scarred by it like I would have been, were I her.

The kindergarten children were impossibly cute. Good grief, they’re like puppies and kittens at that age — all huge eyes and chubby faces, arms and hands, happy and curious. Some were giddy with excitement about the event, and that was precious.

One boy spoke way too loud and way too close to the microphone. He didn’t seem to care much, if at all, about what he was doing. His appearance was slovenly. I am confident he will never amount to much.

All these things, and the other stuff I’ve already forgotten, made me feel a storm of conflicting emotions; joy for the kids who will do well, sadness for the kids who obviously suck and will get chewed up and spat out by life, disdain for the ones who will turn into mindless drones and nefarious shitbags, and embarrassment for the vast majority of them because growing up is impossible to navigate gracefully. It was really just a huge bad nostalgia trip because I remember the many intense feelings of those times, and now as an adult I can appreciate how the other kids also probably felt, so it was sort of an awkwardness/embarrassment overload. I really had a hard time taking it all in.

I actually found the whole thing so sad and oddly painful that I felt like some kind of intruder. I mean, here I was dissecting the event, seeing misery and awfulness in so much of it while everyone else there was just tickled pink to see their little sweethearts dressed up as mice and soldiers. I wondered if anyone could sense my internal struggle, if they knew I did not share their untainted happiness, that I was polluting their cute little event with my manic reflections. I suppose I felt like a bit of a leper, in that sense.

All that being said, while I was not envious of the parents, I did find myself envious of the teachers. It must be nice to know the kids for just a few years during the best times of their lives and then (hopefully) never see them again, never witness their descents into adulthood and the bullshit and ugliness that inherently goes with it. I think that’s the way to do it.

Just a pleasant evening out at my buddy’s kid’s xmas play, gee golly. Like I said, it was a real mindfuck.

 

Strike while the sloth is hot

I think it’s important to strike when the iron’s hot, so to speak. I think it’s too easy to get pumped up about something and think “oh golly yes, I really want to do that,” but then put it off till next week. By the time next week rolls around, I’m less enthused about the thing, so I don’t hesitate to put it off for another week due to some trivial bullshit reason, and the cycle continues until the thing I was so pumped about is just something I meant to get around to but never did. Or perhaps worse, I end up doing the exciting thing but only after much time has passed, and primarily only due to a sense of guilt.

I don’t like that. When I feel strongly about something, I want to indulge myself, jump on it, and get the experience while it’s still something that excites me. I think that failing to do so is giving in to sloth, and failing to take advantage of an opportunity, failing to seize the day.

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Paradoxically, I would have no problem giving in to a sloth. They’re adorable.

What got me thinking about this? Seafood pizza. I had it once when I was a kid and liked it so I had been meaning to try it again as an adult but kept forgetting or putting it off…until a few days ago. Then I decided that since I have no idea when I’m going to die, I need to get my priorities straight and try seafood pizza again, ASAP. So I did.

Unfortunately, I wound up having a painful episode of gallstones after eating the damned pizza that had been on my bucket list for all these years. Plus it didn’t even taste as good as I remembered. I really struck out with this one. If I hadn’t been sweaty and nauseous with agony, I would have laughed at my horrendous luck.

So maybe my pizza woes won’t exactly inspire you to grab life by the balls, only to walk away from the experience with disappointment a painful medical condition, but that’s what made me want to write this.