Thursday, November 01, 2018

Hi. How are you?

Hi. How are you?

This has long been a strange question to hear. Not that I criticize. I use it myself all the time.

But how to possibly generalize? At every moment there is always so much good and so much bad.

How are you, according to whatever peculiar perspective you are currently inclined toward? ...is perhaps the long form of this question.

Lately, as I frequently hear this question, I have often found myself responding with some loose variation of the following: Well I’m alive, I’m human and living on a paradise called Earth. I’ve won three of the best lotteries in the known universe. Other then that there’s a lot of room for improvement. I heard myself tell one dear associate recently: But I haven’t won the lottery where I remain permanently enlightened at every waking moment.

Dog Whisperer gently consoled me, indicating that perhaps no one is, or few at least. That is well said but of no comfort.

The knowledge that I am logistically at rock bottom in my life - or at least my post-twenties life - is surprisingly of no alarm to me. It remains a curiosity. And curious it is that this disinterest may be a good sign; a form of selective mindfulness, or that conversely it may be some symptom of disaster perhaps! A function akin to depression? I haven’t been feeling depressed. Do depressed people know that they are such? I would think I would know.

There are good signs of late, in the last week; chiefly small improvements in personal relationships which overall have declined in 2018.

One good yard stick as to the state of my mind is the reaction to selfish drivers on the road: to observe that I am disinterested, or that I feel pity for them; for the freedom they are forbidding themselves, or that I am annoyed, or downright yelling in their direction. The clues have not been promising.

In my memory it seems like it was not that difficult to get to that gateway where I lingered a long time. Looking in; looking back. In and back… and back I eventually went.

The path to return to that gateway does not present itself eagerly. Why?

I won’t find it out of desire. It would not be the right path.

And I won’t find it out of egoistic pursuit. Again it would not be the right path.

I found it before out of new curiosities. Because for a time I had literally lost all interest in anything at all except truth.

Perhaps some other way will emerge, or perhaps the right brand of curiosity will re-emerge.

Perhaps rock-bottom’s rebound will provide that curiosity. We’ll see. Something is going to change. That I feel sure of. Still though, I am not inclined toward the driver’s seat.



Sunday, October 28, 2018

I can smell the leaves

I left the house this cool grey wet afternoon and was promptly aroused by the seeming freshness of the air. I breathed deep, buoyed by it, and by the lingering afterglow of another (almost bi-weekly) fine dinner at the home of the Eloquent Potter. We ate well of course, and drank the passable wines I scrounged, and explored his very exciting 12-book series which tackles deep existential questions, and more importantly we bared ourselves; our most pertinent personal issues and were then of great comfort to one another, and through no perfunctory sympathy but through genuine sensitivity and honest logical insight. He was thrilled with the fresh flowers and I’m happy that he was, and happy for the inspiration he reliably imparts on me.

I breathed deep and wondered at this freshness as I trod over mats of wet tattered leaves; wondered at all this decay and the seeming incongruence between decay and freshness. But all impressions are relative I suppose, and I suppose that if decay were indeed a notable component of this invigorating aroma, that perhaps it is because it masks things of a worse nature... Whimsical thoughts these, but as I head out to the the write-in; a pre-NaNoWriMo prep-in to be more precise, I am okay with that.

Hello Blog. I’m sorry to have been such a stranger. I have better intentions but promises would be foolish. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dispatches from the Social Assistance Office

Mom:  Stop fighting. We love each other in this family.

First Kid:  No we don’t.

Mom:  Yes we do. We love each other.

Second Kid:  No we don’t.


------------------------------


Mature Woman:  I’m supposed to meet my grandson here but I don’t see him.

Me:  Can you describe him for me?

Mature Woman:  Yes. He’s young and thinks he knows everything.


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

acrogen [ak-ruh-juhn]

the lobed osmunda, a fern native to the Andes region, is prescribed by the indigenous peoples of Tawinguala as an effective laxative. Explains the chief of one tribe: "With fronds like this, who needs enemas?"

Wow. What a horrible way to unearth FWG versus the Dictionary after a 29-month lull! Oh well. 94  words down, 170,955 to go!


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mindcrack Diaries

I barely made it home to Castle Minerva with my tail between my legs, having depended on the compass and failing to mark a sufficient trail. At least on this return my two unforseen castle companions - I shall call them Thing One and Thing Two though they are undecipherable by sight alone - had not left the front door wide open on this occasion. I have resigned that the day will come they leave my doors open and some monster will wander in and kill them or turn them back into zombies or blow up a room or two. Oh well. All things can be replaced.

I regrouped, restocked and headed back out, with no potions or valuables, intending to track a proper trail between Castle Minerva and Fortress Mountain, but was too impatient. I travelled at night and wandered too far from established landmarks and got terribly lost again. Eventually I used the compass and marched all the way back home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Zack and Noah

It was nearly four in the morning when young electrician’s apprentice ‘Zack’ barked at young security guard escort ‘Noah’, “Are you done yet!” Meaning in essence: Are you done conversing with the old fat guy so you can take me where I need to go! I need you now!

“Hey I won't be spoken to like that!” roared the skinny runt, practically swimming in his billowy blue uniform. He then went off with Zack at once on their errand but reaming him out all the while about respect and how he was going to immediately launch an official complaint.

A short time later Noah was still simmering and Zack was petulant and ‘Vanessa’ the Very Young Head Contractor Coordinator Lady was practically drooling at the opportunity to put her nascent management training to some facsimile of use: “Noah, do you want me to write him up! Do you!”

“Noah, slow down,” I said calmly. Someone needed to stay calm.

“You need to stay out of it,” gurgled the little boss girl at me.

I gave her worldly advice a more-than-warranted half-second of consideration and said, “Noah, don’t react out of emotion. Take some time to cool down before you make this decision.” We’d only just met that night but he was my co-worker officially; not theirs, and we’d just had a long discussion about his managing his new peers in his first year of University and the problems with their political clash. He seemed to have developed swift trust in me and in this moment he deflated.

As the end-of-shift clean-up neared completion Vanessa suddenly said, “Oh no! Are Zack and Noah alone together in the mechanical room? They are, aren’t they!”

Sometimes I have a good idea when my advice will not be heeded and so I refrain. I have  become good at that. I did not say aloud that this was exactly what we wanted.

They are young and full of ego and backing down from their stances is next to impossible in a crowd of witnesses. I think you know where I’m going with this: Once alone together they would of course become embarrassed and thus conciliatory.

No paperwork was done, and the boys were quickly friends again.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Demented

All but $150 of Grampa Munster’s monthly allowances (at least 90%) go directly to the group home to pay for his rent, food and the illusion of care.

I convinced him to print off all his chequing and savings bank statements for the year and I plugged them all into a spreadsheet. Regular Trillium Fund subsidies and tax refunds just cover his phone and cable bills. His clothes are charitably acquired. Of the $150 per month remaining, he has been spending… $270 - almost entirely, per my careful investigations, on Tims coffee, junk food and coke. As in Coca-Cola I mean. Oh, plus an extra $16 per month average on totally unnecessary ATM charges. His savings, once $3000, are now depleted.

We had a long talk. I am keeping a much closer eye on him now with regular phone calls between visits. I also convinced him to show me his Medic Alert bracelet which verifies my suspicions. He has dementia. I have some research to do now, and new strategies to develop, I imagine.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

A new chapter for Long Time Companion, and for me.

His rare condition has now been confidently diagnosed following a biopsy which was expected to verify the presence of cancer and which did not! His actual disease which they have finally isolated is one that affects one in 35 million people. They don’t get a lot rarer than that.

Furthermore there is confidence in the treatment plan and he is expected to fully get his life back after well over a year of deeply-resented solitude, incontinence, extraordinary pain and many thousands of wasted dollars.

And it came perhaps in the nick of time. Expectations of checking out, deliberately or otherwise, seem to have aroused an interest in “proper” utilization of his sizeable pension; as in - having someone to share it with after he’s gone; as in a companion - at least on paper. Neither of us have taken a traditional interest in romantic relations since splitting up some eighteen years ago.

Personally I have no interest in out-living him but having gone far too long without seeing an optometrist or dentist and struggling at times to pay for my meds, I do covet his rather amazing medical benefits which I once shared - and will soon again.

For financial reasons; strictly financial, and with some due respect to an unbreakable bond, whether we wanted it or not… we shall soon be married.

And on that note, after eighteen years, we can each finally take the matter of updating our wills off of our to-do lists. Apparently procrastination sometimes pays off.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lonely Lumberjack is perhaps a little less lonely

I saw him wheeling past me; leaning into his walker, barely an arm’s length away, on the other side of the cafe window where I sipped a fine coffee and nibbled an outrageously large and delicious donut following the collapse of far more humble plans. I downed the last morsels and set out to catch up to him but the old man is deceivingly quick.

It had probably been two years since I last spent any moment alone with him one on one. I’d left his apartment moments after a pair of snarling bigoted tirades aimed at two different minorities. Well, maybe not tirades. Let’s say… tiradettes.

For two years we’ve politely nodded, waved or smiled at group functions, and sometimes even briefly chatted. but given I was probably his second-closest male friend, and officially the executor of his will, there was always the elephant in the gymnasium. He does not make friends easily and maintains perhaps a trio at best. Often, in my more wakeful moments I have told myself I should at least explain the reasons for my aloofness and try to give him one more chance. I don’t need him to change his mind necessarily, but only to keep out of my face the product of his albeit-honest misperceptions which he gleaned in prison; viewing the worst possible behaviour from certain associations while succumbing to tribal illusions. I understand his view, and why it is natural and why certain logic escapes him. In ways he is very wise and in other ways very unwise, but I want no part of his prejudice. It is offensive to people I love more than he, and I don’t wish to feel unfaithful.

So I lingered in the neighbourhood, sitting on a bench, writing on an adorable onion-skin air-mail writing pad surely manufactured a half-century ago which I found in a dusty variety store across the street. Sure enough he eventually came rolling back and I called out to him.

He brought me up to his apartment. I was in financial decrepitude at the time and eagerly accepted a hearty pasta meal with plenty of meat in the sauce. I declined seconds but while washing up in the bathroom he slipped another bowl out undetected and I much enjoyed it again.

“Watch out for that [Theatre Guy],” he suddenly warned me. He’d no doubt seen us sitting together. “Never trust that ___ hole.”

So here it comes again. ‘Well, I’m on his circle.” I said. Well we’re already good friends, is what I wanted to say. Better friends than you and I. And furthermore, Theatre Guy is straight. And you’re a dumbass. Sometimes.

I don’t know why Mr. Lumberjack respects me so much. No man alive meets the rigid standards by which he judges men. Me especially I would think. Women meanwhile are sacred.

We met up again recently without incident and soon I will take him shopping for clothes again.

I don’t know if he understands why I cooled off with him. I’d previously warned him a couple times about bigoted conversation but he assumes I’m simply naive about it, and too generous in my appraisals. I wasn’t bothered by his words at the surprise pasta dinner; only disappointed. Perhaps we’ll be able to maintain an understanding going forward and remain friends.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Escape

I remember when there was no issue at cottages around the presence of cell phones. If there was an issue surrounding the wisdom of group solitude and its protection, the issue was whether to allow newspapers or not. How far we haven’t come.

I remember cottage vacations where sitting around telling stories all day and sitting around telling stories all evening by camp fire was the gold standard and the norm. Yes, cottage vacations were an escape but we couldn’t help but escape to something special. Because not much followed us .

For years now I have not glimpsed this magic. Cottage vacations, for most people it seems,, are almost entirely escape; from employment mostly. And so the wonders of technology allow them to escape from only what they choose and as long as they keep their noses close to their cell phones nothing precious will be missed out on.

For me there is nothing to escape. There is only opportunity: for sustained conversation. The kind that burrows deep and forges stronger connections between us and stirs up insights and revelation; the kind in which anecdotes lead to questions and answers which boil down to one thing: how do we live our lives better?

Still, I enjoy spending time with loved ones even if we don’t do it my way.

I shot a bit of video; too little to do much with it really, but Pen Pal really wanted to see it so I threw this together. I need much practicing at video and audio editing so that I can put some proper music videos out at some point. I need to give my songs some kind of life before I entirely forget how to play them. If I haven’t already. Here’s the latest effort:


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mindcrack Diaries

Recreating the necessary equipmemt here at Fortress Mountain is too daunting. I have not enough obsidian to build a portal to the Nether; the Hell dimension to fetch the necessary blazing substance. Fetching the brewing stand and supplies for transport here would put the potentially-unique brewing stand at too much risk. I'm faced with the third option: return to Castle Minerva and prepare the potions and golden fruit there, and deliver them all here. That too runs huge risks. It is a valuable cargo to cart through the wilderness, but not as hard to replace as the brewing stand, and so this is what I must do. 

And so I depart soon, intending to follow the compass and mark the route with landmarks to such degree I can, and building hideaways and bunkies to revisit for nightly refuge during my return. And I must play it safe and  stay out of the dark and travel only by day. As for my newest treasures: Are these artifacts safer left here in the village or off shore in the Sea Hut?
Or on my person for the trek home? I've fenced the village off and lit it well. Logically they should be left here I think, though I have already packed them to go.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What else is new

Part Two: The good news!

1. Pen Pal and I seem to be crafting a very useful friendship. She is back in Germany and suffering from a rather spectacular form of hay fever and very much still grieving over the Liaison who was like a brother to her, and really not getting out much. For her sake I am looking forward to the end of hay fever season where I will then get aggressive about her making progress in certain areas of personal prosperity (which I think is her plan). Meanwhile she is on board with helping me with my own struggles around time management by trying to hold me accountable to my own intentions. I am so easily overcome by laziness, procrastination and the setting aside of projects when they become challenging, in favour of newer more accessible projects. Perhaps one day I’ll make you a list of all the projects I am supposedly working on! Few readers would make it to the end I think. It’s bloody ridiculous.  

2. One of my current projects is very important and I am doing a passable job of keeping up with it. I have a… client of sorts; an apprentice of sorts, who has an amazing mind but came to me with tales of emotional struggle and who I am now guiding through the program of personal evolution which I once concocted based on my own robust journey of discovery. This is something I attempted with Neo long ago but (quite knowingly) with a compromised method. Both of us were far too eager. The Client and I are not. We are proceeding methodically and I am approaching it entirely Socratically. I am only asking questions. I am selecting the most pertinent question one at a time as he puts together the products of his own valuable observations (for he has done extremely well in this area throughout his young life) in such an order as to make similar discoveries very attainable. This is very satisfying for me and key to the purpose in life which I interpret for myself.

3. I’ve been receiving plenty of very useful help from a dedicated dietitian on a monthly basis and from her team on a weekly basis. The approach is very useful in that it pursues health regardless of size; is not numerically oriented and looks hard at the approaches to good eating and good health and not just the obvious matter of food choices. Unfortunately health issues forced me to miss many of the team sessions recently and that program has almost run its course (perhaps I can get in on a future roster and make up the missed sessions) and also my lovely dietitian is going on maternity leave shortly. “Why are all my medical professionals so fertile!” I cried when she broke the news. I imagine ‘congratulations’ might have been more appropriate but oh well. I am hopeful her replacement will be as open-minded as she. We worked together very respectfully and effectively.

4. My volunteering with Circles has expanded much. I’m on two more circles as well as an official volunteer driver for Soul Man who has become an excellent and inspiring friend and mentor. One of the new circles centres around an excellent fellow I will call Theatre Guy who has so much in common with me it’s freaky. And what a pleasure to work with someone who has an excellent functioning mind and who seems to understand nearly everything I throw at him. Tomorrow I am spending the day at the board game cafe with he, Aqualad and Girlfriend-of-Aqualad (alias pending!). He is hugely looking forward to this escape from the great challenges of his life currently.

5. I got pressured by Doc Lock into accepting a back-up roster position with the Bourbon Creams Trivia Team who play their home matches out of a Brew-Ha-Ha pub in Toronto. This is due to Lock’s brother, the Eloquent Potter leaving for the entire season to flit about Vietnam in search of himself. Apparently he was the superstar who led the team to championship victory in their recent rookie season and his shoes are intimidating to fill, in this case by committee. I’ve been called on a few times and finally found the means to participate the other night. While the beastly Intrepid awaits repairs I took the train into the Big Smoke. Thank Gord the train and subway stations feature elevators these days or I’d still be lying in a heap somewhere underground.

As I tried to suppress the team’s expectations I found myself saying, “Oh I have a head full of information all right, but none of it’s trivial!”

To my surprise I performed well thanks to a lot of good guesses! Calypso, sulphur, yttrium, spam (the meat) and Tolkien were among my correct answers, along with “1800” in response to “Any year during the life of Marquis De Sade?” The opposing team were cordial and fun. I would do it again some time or even full time if there is such a league here in Scooterville. ‘Cause Gord knows I need more commitments.