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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nostalgia

i was just listening to neil diamond’s the jazz singer album, loving it and feeling nostalgic about when i was a little kid. my mom used to love that record and i remember her playing it on christmas morning.

then i started thinking about a bunch of the other stuff i feel the strongest nostalgia for — anything by the police (the band, obv), michael jackson’s thriller, fiddler on the roof, an 80s dolly parton and kenny rogers christmas special from tv — and i realized that my mom is the thread that connects all of these things. i wouldn’t say any of them remind me of her specifically, but she is present in each of the memories i associate with them.

i think the most likely explanation for this is a bland, boring one: that when i was young, i was more attached to my mother than my father. this is typical since mothers are the food source and spend more time with the children. fathers aren’t as important until later in the child’s life. also, my dad had a temper when i was a kid, and i didn’t like that very much. so i guess mom was my preferred parent then, and because of that, my memories involving her at that time have an intrinsic warmth to them.

jeez, that is boring. i was hoping for some profound revelation, like “maybe my mom and i are far closer than i imagined,” or maybe something mystical or spiritual. but nope. just plain old “mom was there and mom was nice so things associated with her also feel nice.” SNORE.

oh well. i guess not every post can be a nail biter.

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“buddy’s blog has really taken a shit lately.”

i want to travel to russia but i’m scared

i’ve been fascinated with russia for a long time. i don’t know when it started but i’ve had a morbid fascination with chernobyl since some time around junior high. it’s always looked so desolate in all the pictures and documentaries i’ve seen. and the people who lived nearby but were too poor to relocate, and have since died or are dying from various radiation sicknesses, get me too. it’s just such an incredibly sad, horrible thing, and i’ve always felt drawn to it.

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“this is your body…and this is your body on intense radiation exposure after government negligence caused a nuclear disaster”

but the first time i really became consciously aware of russia and wanted to learn more about it was roughly 10 years ago when i was flipping through a national geographic and read an article on lake baikal.

lake-baikal-map

based on volume, it’s the largest lake in the world. it’s deep as all hell and is a reservoir for 20% of the world’s surface fresh water. it’s teeming with plants and creatures, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. when i read this stuff, i was like whoah, this is serious stuff. why didn’t we learn about lake baikal back in school? why’d we learn about the stupid ‘great lakes’ when there was a way greater lake?

since then, just about every russian tidbit that has crossed my path has given my a boner — watching fiddler on the roof (and i normally hate musicals). seeing russian war memorials in berlin. learning about russia’s role in the second world war and all the weird post-war stuff they did. reading russian news articles online. watching youtube videos of stoic russians calmly walking away from absolutely devastating car accidents as if nothing happened. reading about the developing country conditions of villages in siberia. whatever. if it has to do with russia, i’m curious.

so of course, i’d love to visit there sometime. i’d particularly like to see lake baikal and travel the baikal-amur mainline to see the tiny towns along it. rural russia is what i want. moscow and st. petersburg would surely be alright but it’s the countryside and its inhabitants that i want to get a feel for.

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this is the russia i want to see. (this is verkhezeysk)

but i’m terrified to actually go there. i’ve read warnings in travel guides about violent neo-nazi groups which are still very active there. i don’t think many russians would speak english, or at least be willing to do so for the sake of an annoying north american tourist. a good friend who spent several weeks in russia said he enjoyed it but found corruption among city and state officials (like police) was commonplace. he also said in his time there, only one person smiled at him. that may have been an exaggeration but jenn and i spent several days in the czech republic (which was under russia’s iron curtain from 1948-1989) and definitely noticed most people ranged from ‘less than friendly’ to ‘downright rude’ so i wouldn’t be surprised to find a similar temperament in the motherland.

so i don’t know if i’ll ever actually get to russia. some days, i feel invigorated and full of the belief that i could do it and enjoy it, like i want to grab life by the balls and squeeze those bastards so hard i turn them into diamonds. but most days, i just think about what it would be like arguing with shitty taxi drivers and train officials who would take me for a fool and try to gouge me, getting depressed that no one smiled or was friendly, and maybe getting mugged by a gang of thugs and having little recourse about it. and then i think, maybe i’ll just stick to road trips around here.

i don’t know. but here’s a great song called siberia.