Where is my damned scribe?

Most days, I wish I had a scribe running around behind me. I have so many thoughts I want to write about throughout the day — some big, some small — that I can’t remember a fraction of them to start with. Even when I can, by the time I sit at a computer and have time to type them out, I’m no longer interested in exploring that thought. If I had that damned scribe kicking around while I’m driving through town or getting dressed after a massage, I could simply verbalize a whole post and just come back to edit it before posting it online. Damn, that would be easier.

Another option would be a voice recorder. Actually, I think I have one of those. But then I’d have to listen to my own voice and transcribe the words, and I wouldn’t like that. Listening to yourself speak is only slightly better than seeing video of yourself — anyone who is not a delusional narcissist will wince at both of those things. It’s a terrible thing to see the way your mouth twists to one side when you speak, or hear the tiny lisp or annoying sing-songy cadence in your voice. I find that stuff horrifying.

So I don’t know what I’m to do. I mean, today alone, I had at least three, maybe four things I wanted to write about. What were they now? I don’t know. I think one was about how we should be forced to see both the upstream and downstream costs of everything we do. For example, if you buy a car, you should have to sit through a seminar that details the destruction and waste caused by each step of the cars construction (like the mining of the metals and fabrication of the plastic moulding), as well as the destruction and waste associated with drilling for and refining gas and oil so that the car can run, and also the amount of pollution that car will puke forth in its lifetime, and so on and so forth. I think the same approach should go for everything else, too: the food we eat, computers and phones we use for a few years and then throw away, the cheap clothes made by slave labour that we wear, etc. People in the first world should be forced to confront the vast waste and destruction we are responsible for, and we should feel guilty and miserable for it. We deserve it.

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Buy chocolate, and you are responsible for rampant deforestation in the Amazon — animals are literally going extinct because you have a sweet tooth. Sleep well.

And that’s just one of the gems I thought about today that I DIDN’T have a scribe to write down for me!

Now it’s a few days later (I’m writing this in fits and starts), and today while I was on a run, I thought of something I wanted to write about. But when I got home, I couldn’t remember the damn thing. I retraced my steps and remembered other things I thought about during other portions of the run, but couldn’t remember the thing I wanted to write about. If only I had a damned scribe with me then. Fear not, though, dear readers — while laying on the floor doing yoga after my run, I spontaneously remembered the lost idea so I jumped up, dashed to the computer, and jotted the basic premise down. I will be delving into this latest masterpiece soon.

But my point is I need a scribe, stat. I can’t keep working like this. I’m hamstringing myself, like Michelangelo being forced to paint the Sistine Chapel with crayons. It’s insanity.

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I’m just goofing around. I know I have more in common with this Michelangelo.

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The story of ‘Fish Mania’ and why I hate it when kids do embarrassing stuff

When I was a teenager, I went swimming with some pals in Shawnigan. We were hanging out on the logs like super cool badass teenagers. Nearby, few kids who were probably 8 or 9 years old were snorkeling with swim masks on. One of the kids excitedly popped his stupid head out of the water and exclaimed to his companion, “IT’S FISH MANIA DOWN THERE!”

What a perfectly half-witted thing to say. Say “there are lots of fish down there, Ted,” or “you’ve got to see all the fish down there, Reginald,” but don’t says it’s Fish Mania down there. That’s infantile.

I seethed with loathing then, and I continue to seethe to this day. The event is burned into my mind, and I can only hope that whoever the kid was that said Fish Mania also remembers it clearly, and he hates himself for it as much as I do.

Why do I hate Fish Mania so much? Because I used to be just like that kid. I can remember countless times that I said and did things just as lame as Fish Mania, and I still writhe uncomfortably when I think about them. I can’t forgive myself for being such an overly emotional, overly excited, overly embarrassing kid, and I can’t forgive other kids when they do that stuff either. I know it’s all part of being a kid and it’s absurd to expect or hope for anything else from them but that’s how I feel. I’m probably just projecting my own self-loathing — I probably don’t hate seeing kids do similar dumb kid stuff as much as I hate being reminded of my own childhood behaviours that I’m still embarrassed about.

So what is one to do about something like this? I guess I don’t really need to do anything about it. It’s not like it cripples me and prevents me from leading a full life. But if I wanted to do something about it, what would I do? Would I have to work on forgiving my child self, and learn to accept the embarrassing shit I did? I guess every time I would start to feel shame, guilt, and disappointment in myself for any of that stuff, I’d need to talk myself out of it — “hang on a minute, you were only 6 then. That’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up over that.” Jeez, that would be almost as annoying as all the lame stuff I did as a kid. Which one is worse? I don’t know.

I think I’m fine with hating regrettable kid stuff so I probably won’t bother with any self-help bullshit.

Anyway, that’s what Fish Mania is about. It’s a truly cringe-worthy moment when kids do something terrifically lame that they should be embarrassed about, which may or may not send you down a spiral of your own shame, depending on how you feel about your childhood.

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“Well, yeah, you shouldn’t have said such a stupid thing, Jimmy. But you did, and now we all have to live with the awful memory of it for the rest of our rotten lives. Soooo…cheer up, I guess.”

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.

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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.

 

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.

you know no one understands

I hate how prevalent victim culture is these days. I’m tired of people saying it’s not their fault when they make poor decisions, when they end up in unpleasant situations.

What do I like? I like shame, guilt, humility. I think we could all do with a lot more of those things. I think every time we find ourselves unhappy with something, we should first ask ourselves, “was this reasonably foreseeable, and could I have done something differently to avoid this?” If a person is being honest with themselves and “yes and yes” are their answers to the questions, then shame and/or guilt would be reasonable things to feel.

Sure, it’s not much fun to feel shame and guilt, but I think feeling those things is the first step towards empowerment and self-improvement.

I think it’s a positive thing to feel negatively about yourself sometimes — as long as you actually get off your ass and do something about it to avoid ending up in the same situation again later, of course.

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You deserve it.

Doesn’t matter if I meant to be mean. Or maybe it does.

I was just dwelling on lousy things I did many many moons ago that I regret. While contemplating those things, I thought to myself, “well, I didn’t mean to be an asshole” — at least I wasn’t trying to be a bastard.

But then I realized that most people aren’t trying to be bastards when they do it, and that doesn’t change how I feel about it when people do shitty things. For example, say I’m driving too slow and it enrages a driver who is stuck behind me. They tailgate me dangerously all the way to the gas station where they get out of their vehicle and scream at me like a lunatic before hopping back in their car and doing a burnout as they leave. A little while later, that person might think, “shit, I really flipped out there. I shouldn’t have done that.” They didn’t want to be an asshole, their fury just got the better of them — but they were a huge asshole, so what does it matter if they wanted to be or not?

My point is that it’s obviously unforgivable when someone makes the conscious decision to be a prick, but I actually think one could make the argument that it’s worse when someone is an asshole without meaning to be, because it shows that their most basic, instinctive reaction is a cruel, shameful one. It reveals that, once all the intellectual layers are pulled back, a rotten core is exposed, and I find that about as sickening in its own right as the maniacs who strive to be evil dicks.

Then again, I know I’ve unintentionally done my fair share of shitty things but have also worked diligently to become more self-aware and try to be a better person (relatively speaking) over the years. Because of that, I hate to imagine anyone writing me off for something I did 20 years ago, have regretted since, and have worked to avoid doing again.

I guess it boils down to

  • how grievous people find the shitty act,
  • if the offender made genuine attempts to make amends and change the lousy aspects of themselves,
  • if the people offended feel the attempts to make amends outweigh the shitty act.

Man alive, nothing is ever black and white. How truly annoying.