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.

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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.

 

I found a new tool that exemplifies old world values, and I’m jacked up about it.

For the first time in my life, I’m putting up some outdoor xmas lights. I came up with an idea for what I wanted to do, and got a bunch of old net-style xmas lights from Jenn’s parents. I got them home and set them up, plugged them in, and found that some big sections of the lights were burnt out. It looked like shit and ruined my setup.

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This is the kind of unsightly problem I am talking about.

I looked online to see if there was a good way to fix this kind of problem and couldn’t find much info — of course not, people love to throw shit out and buy new stuff instead of fixing anything. I saw a few references to a ‘light repair tool’ that basically looked like a red water pistol, and was dubious. But the more I looked, the more I saw it mentioned. I went to the Canadian Tire website and they had it for $30. I thought that seemed like a lot to fix a few old net lights but decided to give it a try.

Well holy doodle, am I ever glad I did. This is the kind of thing that people used to make many years ago, the kind of thing that is extinct now: a well-designed tool that easily fixes things that most people probably don’t even realize are fixable. I mean, in this day and age of rampant consumerism, everything is designed to break or become obsolete so that you have to go buy a new one each year. Who makes stuff so that you can fix that junk when it breaks?

The makers of the Light Keeper Pro do, and I love them for it.

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Oh heck yeah.

This thing can fix broken light strands in several different ways. There is a quick and easy way that fixes the majority of dead strands, but if that doesn’t work, the tool has several other methods to diagnose and fix problems. It’s actually a bunch of tools in one, as you can see below. It’s everything you need to repair light strands, in one tool.

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On top of the that, the instructions are really clear and well-written. They even include lots of information on how burnt out bulbs cause the other bulbs in the strand to burn out much faster — the makers of this thing don’t just want you to buy their thing and fuck off, they want you to use it to get the absolute most life out of your old xmas lights — they want you to keep your old shit working.

That’s awesome. That’s an old-fashioned approach to things that I can fully endorse.

The website is just as good as the instructions that come with the thing, too. It has lots of excellent videos that show how to use the Light Keeper Pro on a bunch of different styles of light strands.

So now I’m pumped up to finish replacing all the other burnt out bulbs tomorrow and keep those damn net lights going forever and ever.

Man alive, I love fixing junk, and I love good tools that allow me to do just that.

I don’t ‘get’ Home Hardware but I appreciate it anyway

Every now and then, I go looking for some kind of home improvement thing — a specific style of pier block, a weird size of metric screw, or in yesterday’s case, decorative incandescent light bulbs that have a flickering flame effect.

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You wouldn’t believe how hard these things are to find here.

I looked at the usual retailers — Rona, Canadian Tire, Home Depot — but none of them had exactly what I wanted.

Then I remembered: Home Hardware. Whenever I’ve been looking for something just slightly weird that the other places don’t have, HH has been my saviour. And surprise surprise, this was the case yet again.

That’s great, I’m very happy about it, but I can’t help but wonder just how the hell HH stays in business besides me buying something there once every year or two. It seems like they can’t compete with the bigger stores, but it also seems like they don’t quite try to. Every time I’ve gone into HH, it’s not full of carpenters or general contractors like Home Depot and Rona are. It’s full of men in their 50s to 70s who look like my dad — beards, messy hair, work clothes stained with paint — who are obviously just puttering on some little project at home.

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Like this guy.

Now that I think about it, I see a lot of guys that look like this in Canadian Tire too. So I guess that is HH’s competition, and Canadian Tire is obviously much bigger and more successful. So how does HH survive? How do they manage to continue on despite being the small store that no one I know ever thinks about? Who is shopping there regularly, and why?

I wonder if it’s for reasons similar to why some people prefer to shop at smaller grocery stores that cost more but look nicer and have more friendly, helpful staff. Maybe HH has the edge over Canadian Tire, Rona, and Home Depot in that department. Now that I think about it, of the few times I have gone to HH, the staff has consistently been great, while the opposite is usually true of those other stores. Hmmmm. Can the human touch be it? Is that the secret to this dinosaur’s improbable longevity? I should ask my dad why he likes HH.

Regardless, I’m grateful once again that HH still miraculously exists and has enabled me to obtain yet another obscure item. I may as well join the fan club and start growing my beard now.

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It’s actually kind of a cool old logo, too. Jeez, I’m really getting a boner over this place.

i’ve grown accustomed to your face

When I was on Facebook years ago, I used to receive tons of texts from people on my birthday. And about 10 years ago, there was a trend where people sent out group “merry xmas” and “happy new years” texts on those respective holidays.

I hated receiving all of those texts.

I felt like all of them were cheap, basically worthless. If FB is just telling people it’s your birthday, like some sort of alarm on an electronic calendar, and if people are just ticking the box next to your name before hitting ‘send’ on a mass mail-out, it’s not very heartfelt, is it? I was quite happy when I quit FB, and when the xmas and New Years text trend died, and all those stupid texts ceased.

But yesterday, I was thinking about how I generally spend those particular days with just Jenn, and I realized that if I wasn’t with her, I would spend those special days quite alone. I would probably get up and go about my business, like any other day. I find that incredibly sad, incredibly miserable. In my early 20’s, I spent one xmas alone as an experiment and I remember being shocked at how depressing and crushingly lonely it was, even for me.

Now, I’m exaggerating slightly here — a few people still text me on the days in question, but the number has dwindled so much so that if the trend continues, this desolate future I’m prophesying will actually come to pass in just a few years.

So the conclusion I came to is that sometimes, things are only annoying until they’re gone, and then once they’re gone, you wish someone cared enough to annoy you.

Another interesting aspect to this is that years ago, Mark told me he read some study about how people in unhappy relationships were happier than people who were alone. I thought that was stupid because I think my dad has been in an unhappy relationship for 30 years, and always thought he’d be way happier alone. But after this ‘annoying text’ revelation, I think Mark and that study and my dad may be on to something. Maybe having someone to bitch at you and bicker with constantly is better than waking up alone every morning, spending the day in silence, going to bed, and knowing that if you died, no one would notice for weeks.

the wrap

well, festivus has come and gone. so has xmas. and now we are in the tense period between xmas and new years eve, a weird time that feels kind of like an extended holiday even though everyone is back to work and stores are open for their regular hours. and i feel appropriately tense and weird.

festivus was wonderful. i was so overwhelmed with joy that the next day, i wanted to reach out to everyone i saw the night before and tell them all how much i love and appreciate them. this song came on out of nowhere at the very end of festivus and became a perfect soundtrack to my giddy over-stimulation.

jenn and i slept in late the following day and then spent the afternoon and xmas eve with her parents at their place. it snowed while we walked on the beach, which is no small feat in maple bay. my holiday high continued.

xmas morning was lovely too. i made breakfast for jenn and i, we unwrapped our presents to each other, and we dog walked with matt and chant. it was all one can hope for from xmas. i worked that night, which turned out to be the boiling point for my hatred for my employer but that’s a boring story not worth sharing here, and luckily, hasn’t really affected how i’m feeling now.

what will new years eve hold? will it measure up to the rest of this holiday season? no one knows but i’m still feeling a bit giddy, and looking forward to whatever the night ends up bringing.

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although i’m hoping for complete and utter chaos, naturally.

it’s the mooost horrible soooong of the yyyeeeaaarrr

yesterday the radio was playing non-stop christmas music while i was getting my hair cut. i was forced to sit through the trash and it drove me nuts. almost every christmas song is an utter piece of shit.

the one i hated the most was it’s the most wonderful time of the year. virtually every line of that song is insipid, stupid, or just plain unrealistic. let’s dissect it.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – false. besides xmas and new years, most people i know hate winter.
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer” – i really fucking hate people using sentence inversions for the sake of rhyme schemes, and no one on earth has ever said to anyone else, “be of good cheer.” maybe i should say that to jenn the next time she’s in a bad mood. she’ll be confused AND aggravated.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all – hap-happiest? that’s stupid.
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call – i’m ok with this bit. it’s true.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting – as if roasting marshmallows was ever a big fucking deal. maybe it was back in london during the industrial revolution when everyone was dirt poor and died at age 30 but since then, roasting marshmallows has been nothing special, and certainly nothing to make mention of in a dumb song.
And caroling out in the snow

There’ll be scary ghost stories – i actually like this line. i wish there were more ghost stories at xmas.
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago – i think this is a vague reference to the birth of christ so i totally hate that since christianity is, like every other organized religion, complete bullshit.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistletoeing – that’s ok. it’s kind of cute. i like thinking of couples goofing around and kissing.
And hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near – that’s an exceptionally weak line. glowing hearts? “when loved ones are near?” it sounds like something an 8-yr old would come up with. the writers were clearly struggling to find something that rhymes with ‘mistletoeing’ and ‘year.’
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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what a turd. of course, most other christmas songs aren’t much better. i was almost as annoyed by all the other crap i was forced to sit through while my hair was being cut. but then john and yoko’s happy xmas (was is over) came on, and i like that song just fine. i think it’s because it’s more realistic, not so head in the sand/”everything in the world is perfect”/psychotically in denial. i can actually relate to this song on some level. so there, i’m not just an anti-christmas grinch. i just hate most christmas songs as much as i hate most everything else.

reading up on happy xmas (was is over) now, i see that while originally released in 1971, it reappeared on the billboard charts in 1983, 1984, and 1985. i remember hearing it when i was very young and my parents were still together so that must have been ’85. i liked it back then too. i remember thinking it had a sad quality to it that stood out to me. so i guess i also have some nostalgia for it too.

always something interesting to learn about myself, it seems.

happy non-religious holidays. the world is shit but you have to make the best of it.