The problem with writing a blog is that –perhaps contrary to what you may think– this is a whole lot of the trivial fluff of my life. It’s the fun stuff. It’s what I write about to remember and feel warm-fuzzies all about. So, when something big or crazy happens outside the scope of that narrow little focus of topics falling neatly into the category of light-and-interesting… well, sometimes you just don’t feel like writing much. Like recently. I’ve not been in a very light-and-interesting mood. It happens. So, I’ve not written much. Life will go on. Words will flow. But sometimes you just don’t have it in you.
It’s odd. I was sitting here this evening contemplating writing a short (two line) review of a novel I just finished listening to, a novel I’d alluded to in a handful of previous “running” posts because I’d been listening to it while I’ve been out and about running the last couple of weeks. I contemplating writing this post and — as is my inclination in such projects — I started Googling aspects of the novel as a bit of a refresher. Googling led me to Wikipedia, and as Wikipedia tends to do, this quickly led me to the author’s page.
I’m not exactly one to believe in the epic, random interconnectedness of all things. I mean, coincidences happen: get over it. It’s only that Courtenay’s novels, at least the one’s I’ve read, are usually stories of (to borrow a phrase) the circle of life. They’re grand narratives of regular people who do big things, and how those things shape their lives and ultimately their deaths. And important people, characters who have had significant and plot-driving roles in Courtenary’s novels (spoiler alert) tend to die as the books move towards their climax. It is in so many ways a terrible loss to literature that he passed, but it is so soon after reading his novel that for me my brain is still (somehow) processing it as just another an odd twist of that plot.
Not that it has anything whatsoever to do with me. I just doesn’t.
For whatever reason I’ve often made an exception in reading Courtenay novels. Anyone who knows me might also know that I don’t read a lot of general fiction; I’m a science fiction reader at heart and tend to lean towards the grand, philosophic journeys offered by speculative narratives set in the future or in alternate histories. But, for whatever reason, I got into Courtenay novels a dozen or so years ago and have been consuming them at a slow but steady pace ever since. They have been a kind of grounding for me. So different from my normal buffet of zombies-plague, post-apocalyptic, space-battle, hacker-dystopian fare that almost feel I need to occasionally read one just to centre my own world in something more real.
And yet there it is. Another of what I could fairly consider one my favourite authors has vanished, another gem of literature has written his last masterpiece. He could hold a mirror towards humanity so that we could all get a good look, a proper look at what we should see and understand about ourselves, and it seems to me to be such a rare gift. Fortunately he left much of himself behind: and you should read some of that. In fact, fellow Canadians, his last story turned that mirror on us, in a novel set in Toronto: Jack of Diamonds.
Above image is of a eucalyptus fire, a major plot element in the novel Four Fires. Borrowed from the Australian Government Geoscience Gallery
The truth of it is that I’m probably overcompensating right now…
I mean, I haven’t really blogged in over a year. And I do mean blogged. Really blogged. That act of just opening up a blank bit of screen and letting the text run freely, not so much concerned about opinions as much as marking a point in time, and then hitting publish and letting the words float into the past for some impossible future, a self-referencing journal of narcissistic whimsy. And I kinda have this urge to get it all caught up — trivial as it is — like I missed telling so much and now I need to fill in the blanks. Like I need to back fill for the last year, tell all the stories I missed between then and now, about being unemployed for six months, about the contract work I did, about my new job, about being a dad to a ferociously smart little girl, about grandma’s funeral, about traveling to the Dominican Republic and Hawaii a few months later, about new friends, lost friends, past ideas, thoughts, ideologies, about what I’ve been reading, writing, building, and playing, about running, running injuries, pains, and doubts, about dealing, diverting, distracting, and dismissing the angsts of months gone past, about new thoughts and perspectives, and about all the trivial life events in between. About everything that has filled the year.
There’s just so much.
Such as, for example, I just this morning transferred over my “2010 New Years List.” Yes, it’s May 2011, but back in December, feeling both rested (just back from the first of those aforementioned vacations) and nostalgic for the turn of the year annual recap, I wrote out a revised attempt at my annual New Years Recap gush timed perfectly for post, and albeit in a shortened, tighter, revised take on the list, posted it on another blog. Less fluff. It was delivered being more stuffed with introspective, and carefully crafted thoughtful replies — I would argue — but delivered nonetheless. I backdated it, but noted atop the list a brief explanation of the history.
And there’s still so much. And so much I’ve already forgotten. Dust, as some might say, in the wind.
This will probably be the last of the ‘retrospective regret’ posts. I’ve given myself this twenty-four hour window to do this thing I just called overcompensating. Twenty-four hours to catch up on a year of missed musings. Twenty-four hours for an unapologetic gush of this-is-why-I-changed-my-mind blurts of text before it’s time to move on with the much less meta postings. Twenty-four hours before I return to the regular musings of life, the universe, and everything.
It will pepper throughout, of course, this missed history. But that’s another matter.
But, as a final — official — word on the topic I wanted to share one last reason. I might even call it the metaphorical straw that broke the metaphorical back of the metaphorical camel: in other words, what tipped the balance on my flip-flopped decision to resurrect this blog? See, I’d been thinking about it for a while now. Pondering. I was supposing that it having been a year or more after the events that tipped the balance the other direction — thoughts cooled, circumstances changes, perspective bought and paid for — minds might be changed. And by chance, my Facebook feed prompted me up the motivation: a friend linked to a posthumously published posting of a west coast Canadian blogger, the short essay called the last post. If the link still exists when you read this, I encourage you to click over and read it for yourselves. A blogger — a dad, husband, artist, musician, etc — just a few years older than myself, who’s blog I’d unfortunately never read until after he died of cancer a few days prior to this very post, the one you are reading now, wrote a beautiful goodbye to his readers and everyone he loved, and asked that it be published after he died. It was. And like all amazing and purposeful messages, it touched a lot more people than he probably ever intended, and went viral on the net. Which is where I came in: as yet another tourist to his concluded life. And, perhaps like had happened to others too, the message, literal and sub textual, got to me. His perspective in the end was not so much different from my perspective, all of creatively, expressively, and ideologically: and in the end his words hearkened to my own nuanced feelings on the topic of both the risk and responsibility of keeping a blog or any public writing, and the reasons for assuming such risks and responsibilities. It hinted at a purpose in a life that might not be measurable in much more than the wake one creates traveling through it. And I noted that I’d been doing little more than trolling in that respect, though that was never my intention, never something I wanted to have happen, and never a responsibility I wanted to forsake because of fear or feigned offense. It made me think it might be time to pick up those oars — to extend my boating metaphor just one inch further — and test them back in the waters of this digital life I’ve cherished so much, and missed even more.
A few minutes later I flipped the switch back on for this space, and wrote that first reloaded post. And the rest? Read on, I guess…
Aside from a whole lotta work accomplished on the weekend relating to, specifically, the fence, I’ve not much to report. Yes, between mom, dad, Karin, and I we managed to paint and/or hang a good half of the remaining fence board so that we are both (a) out of paint until I get to the hardware store, and (b) nearly enclosed as a yard. As a result, Sparkle has been given nearly free run of her kingdom. Having gone from a nearly wide open field to a box with a single eight-foot opening, she requires little supervision (not quite NO supervision, yet) when she is alone in the yard.
Oddly, she has discovered a new love. And considering the mess I get to admire of what was formerly my sod, I’ve little motivation to stop her. Sparkle has decided she is a mouser. Sparkle has decided that the unsettling odor (she must sense it) in her backyard is coming from some pesky intruders and that she is inclined to remedy the situation.
So far she has two notches on her fence post.
I nearly feel sorry for the mice. At least when I trap them it is just a single SNAP and it is all over. Virtually painless, I might assume. Instant death. But Sparkle hunts. She lingers, probes, and pounces ultimately catching the creature in her teeth and flinging it through the air where it is stunned and helpless, chirping a little as she dashes over to finish the job. The first episode concluded with a death rattle before I tossed the corpse into the construction site behind. The second, I was not so quick, and Sparkle had the rodent in halves before I could get my shoes on to stop her from dining on the entrails.
I’m still winning, however. I’ve done in six since the melt.
Eschewing fascination with a view askance of the plighte of moderne morality, transcending a somewhat troglodyte decline of soul, et plus contradictory of the favoure of mere memetic sensibilities relating towards electronic vanities and such related, as they might be named here at a later date. Elegance of forme and function, spirit and soul, life and death is in oppositione to the manners of mere compress’ed redundancy. Retreate and manifest.
DID IT EVER occur to anyone else that the V in Windows Vista might stand for Vanity? Consider the sheer computational power that goes into form over functionality. Not that this is unique to that particular operation system, operating systems in general, or most any modern computational device. But Vista seems to exemplify what our culture has culminated upon; We use computational power to make things pretty. There is, for example, likely to be more computational power in a high definition television set than was owned by all of NASA in the nineteen-sixties and was used to send large mechanical shuttles to the moon. Why do we need this much power? To make pretty pictures move about the screen. Why do we like pretty pictures? Vanity. Windows Vista is a computational hog. I have not installed said software, but to my understanding it requires a significant level of advanced technology to make it operate; it requires that per second billions — yes, billions — of calculations be performed so that it might make electrons dance about one’s display. If this is not the definition of form over function, I will not live long enough to devote the time to finding something more accurate.
Nearly three years ago I found myself wandering through the streets of a little dutch city called Leeuwarden after driving in the bitter wind across a North Sea dijk. Despite nearly freezing our toes off in the mid-February winter snow, our ultimate fate was thoroughly more tame than that of a sinister sparrow who found himself chock full of lead after disrupting a fierce, adrenaline-pumped dominos competition. We all know just how aggressive domino setters can get, so we would know better than to step between a competitor and his brick. But, alas, the poor bird was not so smart. From one of many circulating articles: “The little bird’s crime was to knock over 23,000 of the 4.3 million dominoes laid out for an attempt to break the domino toppling record in the Dutch province of Friesland on Friday. The decision was taken to shoot the bird after attempts to capture it alive were unsuccessful.” For anyone who ever though we of (even partial) dutch descent were a peace-loving folk, think again. Not only did the locals sentence the poor bird to death for his crimes against humanity, the executioner has been recently threatened to the same fate for his crimes against bird-manity.
Oh! Stop the insanity.
I spent the whole day at home yesterday suffering from some sort of little stomach bug that was more irritating than painful. I am back at work today, mostly better, though worse-for-wear after my always-entertaining bus trip. The value of spending a whole day just a toe past the line dividing health and not-health, is that you need to stay home — you need to — but you are healthy enough to use your brain and such while sitting in a comfortable place (like the couch). As such, the following fun facts and consequences arose:
1 :: After lamenting the quick approach of November (and consequently, the approach of my next novel-writing adventure) I spent a large amount of sporadically scattered time drafting plot-arches and character-details. I now am a few meandering steps closer to a robust story line that I feel nearly comfortable writing.
2 :: Swaying gently along that same creative vein, I also had the opportunity to work on my cartooning — my homework — for my class. There must be something therapeutic about being slumped in a comfortable sofa drawing little low-expectation sketches in pencil. I know I feel better.
3 :: I had a little bit of time to struggle with the Internet, glimpsing through sites I do not normally have the time to browse. For example, I had the opportunity to drool over the latest iPods at the apple.ca store (a music tool much required as my CD player is on the verge of sad and painful death) which now officially features a peripheral add-on that lets you download digital photos from your camera.
fun in the sun, and too much swallowed lake water
Credits to Paul for the following list of weekend achievements:
1) Aashish conducting the playing of Hockey Night in Canada with beer bottles
2) Sanja’s near death experience on the swing
3) Jen and the MacRitchie clan doing the YMCA dance
4) The look on Karin’s face as she spent Sunday morning getting over her hangover
5) Scott’s moves on the wake-board
6) All the food we could eat
7) Volleyball on the beach with a thousand of frogs
8) The picture of Scott’s Dad in the cabin
9) Lisa realizing that a sausage fest is not a festival where they cook a lot of sausages
10) Karin’s campfire song “Pizza Hut”
Thankfully, nearly a day after a whole lot of sunshine, my skin has decided to gently tan rather than tun bright red and become something worth beyond the joy obtained by earning it. No, I didn’t burn at the lake this weekend — but after numerous attempts at watersports, with varying success, my shoulders feel like they have been stretched painfully from their sockets and left to hang in spasming muscle pain for the next few days. Sleep was only partially helpful — especially since I spent half the night trying to hitch up a non-existent boat.
Pictures are soon to follow. Of the weekend, not of the non-existant boat hitching.
I hate fishing for pity — spouting off nonsensical whims of self-absorbedness to seek the sympathetic sighs of other souls that too many people seem to fall back on to buffer their own experiences into something more tolerable, as if they all care about our problems — but yesterday was really screwy.
1 :: Which is the story of “Harry Potter and the Amazon(.ca) Adventure” will be told in greater detail when all matters have resolved: for now I’ll just say that it looks as though it might be a happy ending, and — despite the flumbles of everyone involved — I am now officially at a 32.65% “potter” stati. Nothing to scoff at — unless you’re Karin (or one of her eager pals) who has already finished the gargantuan tome. I read a bit at lunch today, but I’m still not quite one third done.
2 :: Which is the epic adventure of Brad’s bonus PS2 deal, wherein he scored two (previously played) games for less than the cost of renting them. Karin is in for some serious bombad racing this evening — considering she almost completely ignored my late return home last night in favour of the aforementioned reading material.
3 :: Which is the momentous change in management — yet to be officially announced, so that’s all I’ll say for now.
4 :: Which is the threat of media attention in a sub-tied press release that had us worried about what to say and how to say it when the news fell from the sky. T plus 6 and a half hours, but still no calls. Everytime the phone rings I’m looking for a seriously quoted conversation, yet I’ve been safe thus far.
5 :: Which was the turbling year-end barbeque at Kit’s Beach with the cubs. Lots of food and the anticipation of the upcoming weekend death-camp. Tim had me take a digipic of some KFC (PFK) and his girlfriend — an event I’m still not sure I understand completely — and I transmitted it to him with elated joy from his end. Politics and deep sea fishing were the conversations of the eve, and I didn’t end up getting home until after ten. That’s barely enough time to breath.
It is spring, the sun is out, and Wild Kingdom is once again showing from my cubicle window. Each year when the weather turns nice the drama begins anew as the city fauna dance their dance — play their game of life and death in the big city — atop our expansive balcony, right outside my window. During that first exciting year that I experienced the joys of work, I was honoured with the dismemberment show, as our friend the hawk made meals out of many of the roosting pigeons in our shrubbery.
Last year, thanks to some poorly constructed seals on our door, it was the march of the ants. I don’t think I need to go into detail.
Today, it seems, the goose show is on, as two Canadian geese, stalk out their territory outside my window. Just a few moments ago they were looking through the glass at me, squawking.
Karin went out for drinks with her work.pals this evening, so while I putter around with the place to myself I have a few evening highlights:
1 \ Mojo is playing the WHL game live, and it just happens to be Red Deer versus Vancouver. Admittedly, I’m torn. But ya’know, I have been in Vancouver for almost 2 years now. When do you switch sides in an equation like this: I mean, Tobi at the office is from Calgary (three years ago) and she is still a loyal Flames fan. And in the NHL, you can’t argue with the season that the Canucks have been having. I think, though, when it falls to the question of Rebels vs Giants I will still have to stick with Red Deer. And not just because most of my readers will be in that city as they read this…
2 \ Having visited the big spring clearance sale at Sportmart, I picked up new pair of blades. My old (C1996) Oxygens are just on the verge of death and, as Oxygen seems to no longer exist, finding such trivial replacement parts as buckles and a new brake (you do want me to have a brake don’t you?) might be more difficult and expensive than investing in a new pair. Ultimately, it’s my goal to at least try skating the 5 or so kilometers to the office once this summer (hopefully more often, but we’ll aim low now), but as of tonight I was just happy to do a few laps around the neighborhood in the dying daylight.
3 \ In anticipation of tomorrow’s events, I took some time to clean up my office space here at the ol’apartment. I can actually see my desk now.
I thought it reasonably timely — with another pointlessly imminent show of Imperialistic America’s military strutting in the Middle East — that Karin and I should have made time to watch the infamous Bowling for Columbine last night at — where else but — Tinseltown. The movie, or should I say documentary, throws some — albeit slightly biased — light on the unusually high gun versus death by shooting ratios seen in the populous of our neighbors to the south. I won’t do a review. It was good — funny — one could almost say enlightening — and it was noted (to Karin by me) that among the most coherent interviewees in the film were South Park creator Matt Stone, and goth rock icon Marilyn Manson. And (that same) one could leave the theatre in a sense of dumbfounded frustration and go on some deep political tirade. But I’ll try not to. I’m tired of it. I bored of it. My thoughts are those of compassion. Hopeless compassion. And for a moment I can almost feel the frustrations of — say — depression era Germans who knew that something wasn’t quite right in their political arena — knew that a moral line had been drawn and crossed by their (yes) elected political officials — yet were completely powerless to be heard in the din of fear and xenophobia. I mean, didn’t the Nazis have a Department of Homeland Security? But then we all paid REAL close attention in history class, didn’t we?
other.tidbits from.the.weekend.lives of karin.and.brad
:: we took our christmas tree down. sigh. that corner looks so bare now.
:: i spent many a’hours playing in photoshop doctoring some of my digital pics. fun.
:: tried to go to ikea for a browse. couldn’t — literally couldn’t — get a parking spot.
:: sought some information on the rec facilities of Burnaby. most enlightening and hopeful.
:: sushied it up at a newly discovered sushi place. yummy.
:: ice cream sundaes in the abandoned mall. karin was a little freaked out.
:: pinched some tv and movie time in amongst the crowds of everything else.