You’re my inspiration

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In my first post, I wrote something about taking motivation from those around me, (At least I think I did; who can remember? And I’m too lazy to look back) and from those inspirational messages all over Facebook and social media. But the more I think about those, and how can I not, given the overwhelming deluge at which they show up, the more I hate them.

sand smile

Fuck them for their backhanded belief that I can become a better person or that I need to change. Guess what? I’m 44 years old, with no job, no discernable future income and only a vague suggestion of where I want to be or where I want to end up. Yes, it’s kind of messed up. I admit it. But I am not going to read one of these motivational posts and suddenly think, “Goddammit that puts it all in perspective! All is now right with the world! All my problems are over!” If it was that simple all the psychiatrists and psychologists would be out of a job.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad you’ve found your place in this world. That you’re content and that you’re headed in the right direction. I really am. But some of us still have work to do to find “that place” wherever it may be. Some of us are still incomplete, broken and frustrated. There are likely more of us. But we still have hope that things will fall into place for us. There is still hope, and it’s not going to be found in an inspirational or motivational quote.

Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way though. Maybe the message is not the inspirational quote. Maybe the message is the societal move towards happiness, via the interwebs. We’ve already had the book, so now the happiness movement has opened up a social media account. We all want to be happy, and those that aren’t are still reluctant to admit that they aren’t. “Those motivational quote are going to judge me!” The last place we want to be reminded of this fact is through some random quote on Facebook, which we all know is the best form of escapism there is …

At this age I am not going to change regardless of what these inspirational messages have to tell me about it not being too late to become the person I can be or to make a difference in this world. All I or anyone can hope for is to get through as best we can, to look for happiness wherever we can find it and to get through by finding our own version of success. For now, this writing is my output and my inspirational quote. Like all good things, there is a process.

Be strong, peeps. Be well.

This post is serious and moody. The next one will be lighter. Maybe.

 

 

Sugar and Jesus

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When I was 13 in 1984, my parents sent me off to summer camp for a week. The camp was about a 30 minute drive from my house, but it may as well have been a plane ride away, as this was the first time I’d been away from home for that long.

It was a church camp called Kenesserie, a name derived partially for its location on Lake Erie, and run by the United Church. It had a religious connection, which may or may not have set me down the path of believing nothing that comes from organized religion. It didn’t bother me at the time as I was too young and stupid to have an issue with the church affiliation.

My diet for the week

My diet for the week

With my super fussy eating habits, my mom was concerned that I would have enough to eat during the week. Along with a few t-shirts and shorts, I had an entire bag full of snacks and junk food.  Surviving on chips and M&Ms and having parental approval to eat sugar all week is the dream of every teenage kid. I recall the bag containing the junk food as being larger than the bag of clothes. Who needs clothes at a church camp, right?

After my parents left following check-in, I recall walking over to the 10-metre cliff behind my cabin, my shelter for the week. The drop-off to the lake might only have been three metres, but everything seems larger when you’re a kid. Anyway, strung down the steep bank was a large rope to help us clumsy campers from taking a nasty fall. I’m sure my parents thought I might just throw myself off the cliff, because that’s a sure way to start the week off right. And to get out of assigned cleaning duty.

I survived that early brush with death to be able to score the prime bunk in the cabin: the upper bunk right behind the door. It provided the most privacy as long as your hands weren’t hanging over the edge of the bed when someone entered the cabin by slamming the door into the side of the bunk. That was every time.  Even with that risk (because a good risk of death or at least broken bones by falling off the cliff wasn’t enough), it was the coveted spot. And it was all mine.

My cabin might have looked like this

My cabin might have looked like this

The week consisted of the usual church camp stuff: archery, capture the flag, raiding the hot girl’s cabin. Every day started with a prayer and Rice Krispies cereal. Every damn morning. Either Kellogg’s sponsored the breakfast or the camp got a bulk deal. After a week of eating the same thing every morning, I was about ready to Snap, Crackle and Pop. That was the start of each day. The day ended with the campers gathered around a flag pole for a prayer and a campfire at the outdoor chapel overlooking Lake Erie.

marshmallow

One day the counsellors took us on a field trip down the beach, after descending the cliff rope of doom. The counsellors made us use the rope, rather than just chucking our teen bodies down to the rocky shoreline. That’s just poor leadership. Walking east from the camp, we checked out an old shipwreck. I’m not sure what was more intriguing, the rotting old boat or the bloated dog carcass lapping unceremoniously against the rocks. We weren’t allowed to bring the dog back to camp for some religious miracle to bring the dog back to life.

This happened in 1984, the year Van Halen’s album 1984 was released. In 1984. The two counsellors assigned to my cabin apparently had just one tape with them, as us campers were subjected to ‘Panama’ and ‘Jump’ on endless repeat. It didn’t turn me into a Van Halen fan. I know, I’m amazed, too. Because a “metal” band using keyboards backing a singer that the very next year would sing ‘Just a Gigolo’ should make a lasting impression.

I guess this week at camp left some sort of impression on me as I remember a lot of details for something that happened 30 years ago. And, again, I usually can’t remember a damn thing.

Let’s try this again

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This is my second attempt at writing this blog post. Note to self: Don’t write in WordPress, where one misplaced tap of the screen causes everything to be lost. Maybe this one will be an improvement over version one.

Welcome to Day 3 of unemployment, or as I like to call it, “Dispatches from the couch.” I took The Kid to school today, something I get to enjoy doing again. It’s like a traffic jam of little bodies in bundled up jackets looking for the right door to enter. Kind of like life. Hordes of gleeful children with no expectations or crushed dreams. Give it time, kiddies, give it time.

After dropping The Kid off, I realized my zipper was down the entire time. Hey, teacher, I thought it was show and tell day! When I returned home, I left the zipper down. No reason to expel more energy than necessary. I’ve has 10 weeks of straight work and now I am exhausted.

So with Anthony Bourdain as my background writing companion (this episode he’s in Lyon, France with Daniel Boulud), I’m wondering when the societal expectations kick in that I need to be a productive and money-earning member of the employed masses. How long do I get before it’s no longer acceptable? I need to know.

“You get one day of leisure, now you need to get off your ass and do something!”

The internet is filled with inspiring quotes pushing you to feel compassion, to follow your own path, to not worry about what others think, to keep negativity out, and remember to put on pants. I’m one for taking some encouragement from these posts as much as the next insecure person looking for direction, but really, thanks for pointing out all the mistakes I’ve made and make me feel worse about myself! You know I have no job. Yeah, that blew up in your face didn’t it? “

Where are the memes that say, “I know you can do nothing today!” or “That bum print on the couch is coming along nicely.” Or, “Yes, it is ok to be in your PJs at 1:45p.m.” That’s the kind of societal motivation I need.

I have a list of things to do today, some of which might actually get accomplished. Like getting bread. I bought bread. And grapes. Yeah, I did that. That’s right. But try and find yard waste bags in mid-November in Canada. Can’t find those among the shovels and Christmas lights.

postit-scrabble-to-do

Lists are curious things. Lists are for people who need a printed reminder that their memory is shit. I can’t remember a damn thing, something The Kid likes to remind me of constantly. You know why I write lists? So I can prove that I’ve actually accomplished something, no matter how trivial. Lists are not foolproof, however. I’ve added things to lists after I’ve actually done them to make it appear as though I had they day all planned out ahead of time. Truth. Oh, but the satisfaction of crossing an item off the list…

Small steps…

I’m a bum

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So, I lost my job today. That’s a weird thought. As Lester Burnham says in American Beauty, “Lose it? I didn’t lose it. It’s not like, “Whoops! Where’d my job go?” I QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.”

That’s what happened to me today. Except for the quitting part. But, in my defense, I was going to quit anyway. I was simply saved the trouble. And what a relief. Stress: gone. Boom. Just like that.

Now that I am home with no icky distraction of work, I have more time to write this blog, drink coffee, paint and watch Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. For a chef, he’s a damn clever and insightful writer and interviewer. He makes damn fine television. Anthony, if you’re reading this, bring me along on one of your adventures. I can hold a mic stand or something. “Call me,” I say coquettishly.

As I write this I am watching ‘Up in the Air‘ with George Clooney. It’s about a guy that works too hard at firing people for a living. Appropriate choice, I say. I do have a flair for the ironical.

Barely memorable

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For at least the last five years (and maybe longer) countless people have suggested I write a blog. Have I written a damn thing? Of course not. I’m lazy. My attitude…how much does that pay? Nothing, that much. If my words are valuable, and worth something, why write? I can’t pay myself.

“You’re funny,” they say. “Love your Facebook posts,” they say. Friends, family, my shrink, they all say, “Don’t wait for paying gigs; write a blog and the attention will come.” Sure they will, because there aren’t a million shitty fucking blogs that no one reads on the Interwebs already.

I joined Facebook in 2007, as did most of the people I know. Yeah, like lemmings we all joined in the same year. Early adoptors, we’re not. And I’m OK with that. Never been at the head of the line, so why start in 2007? I’m not Mark fucking Zuckerberg. If I was, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

But anyway. “Your Facebooks updates are funny,” they say. We’ll find out how damn funny I am.

Since 2007 these are some of my Facebook status updates. If they aren’t funny, don’t blame me.

“I would second that emotion If I could feel any.” Or, “My Wikipedia page is full of incorrect information.” Or how about this one? “I’m severely allergic to other people’s children.” Or maybe this? “My entire life is an inside joke.” OK, I like that last one. It’s kinda funny. But do you think they’re funny? What I want to say is, “I don’t give a fuck.” This is for me, right? Nope, it’s not. This might be cathartic and soothing to be able to swear and make fun of people, but no one writes a blog for them. It’s for others. It’s always for others. If it wasn’t bloggers wouldn’t blog. Even the most reader-deficient blogger hopes for a readership. Even one person. One is good. Will it happen? Time will tell, but do I care? Nope. Honest. Would I like to make a living off this? Sure, who wouldn’t? But I’m no Jenny Lawson or Kelly Oxford or Mark Manson. Hell, the only thing I have in common with Kelly Oxford is the citizenship.

There are a lot of funny people out there. What is funny, anyway? Funny is what makes you happy. And what makes sense (or is funny) to one person is unfunny or nonsensical to someone else. Humour is subjective and often gets lost in translation. Humour is hard.

But, do I care about any of that? Nope. It takes guts to put anything out there that someone else might read. And judge. And critique. If you are brave enough to do it then you get a golf clap from me because you’re better than I. It’s taken me years to even embrace the thought of writing for the sake of writing, and not for a paycheque.

And this might not even see the light of day. But if you’re reading this then I guess I’ve put aside my insecurities.  Do I care what you think? Sure. Who doesn’t want acceptance? But do I really? My answer is no. if I did care, I suspect I would not be writing this. At least not with the intent of making this publically viewable. My insecurities and hang-ups at the thought that someone else might read this make it scary, but if I want to write, and have an outlet, whatever that is, I can’t care.

This is a big deal. We’ll see how long this lasts. I hope you find something worthwhile.