More like High Confide-lity.

It’d hardly be an exaggeration to say that “nostalgia” was one of my six senses. It’s likely on a higher rung than smell. My nose is a fickle friend, but my brain is so laden with memories that touching, seeing, hearing or tasting something is enough to make me tumble back in time. My friend recently started a dating podcast. It’s in its infancy, but both episodes released so far are fantastic. Of course they are, she’s a real life matchmaker. In the most recent episode, she has a conversation with her husband. It’s great. He’s a wonderful dude and he so eloquently and systematically lays out perceptive analysis of himself and his dating experiences. At the same time, so much of what he said resonated intimately with my own experiences. It was like being 20 again, but with the filter only meaningful life experiences can provide.

I was a different person back in my 20s. Naturally some core attributes were still the same. I’ve always loved words and puns, been obsessed with pop-culture. I’ve been fiercely passionate about the things I’ve cared for since I knew how to form an opinion. At the same time, ten years ago I was still very much learning who I was. Hatching from the shelter of an educational system and crawling out into the adult world meant some harsh lessons were incoming. I had to grow and change in order to truly be my own person.

Yeah? I’m sure you’re asking doesn’t everyone? Sure they do. My particular struggles focused around one thing: Confidence. In some areas I strutted by comfortably. I knew I was smart, capable and likeable. Dating though? I had all the experience and wisdom of a child. Years of being overweight had crippled my self-confidence. I questioned why anyone would find me interesting or attractive. I’d say that I crashed and burned, but frankly it was so rare for me to put myself out there that I rarely had the chance. I’d get these deep and debilitating crushes where one conversation was enough to make me obsessively swoon. I’d waste an alarming amount of emotional energy fretting about how to navigate my interest, how unlikely it was that there was reciprocal attraction, etc.

Po, my friend in the podcast episode I linked above, addresses this well. He mentions how outward approval can become your sole motivation in dating. This hit hard. I used to care so much about how the other person thought about me that I’d disregard how I felt about myself. Clearly I didn’t matter, only they did. If I wasn’t the kind of person they wanted, I needed to be. I’d have to change myself to be commensurate with their desires. Po also talks about pedestal-ing, or infatuation causing you to build up the subject of attraction to a level of idolatry. This would happen to me constantly. I’d see myself as some kind of lower life form, which ironically is the least attractive thing a person could do. My response to my own feelings were directly pushing away the people I wanted to get closer to.

Worse, this had a negative impact in any relationships that followed. By seeing the object of my affection as more important than myself, I developed the habit of forcing myself to mould around their desires. While it was great to invest in someone else and care about them, the unfortunate side effect was disregarding my own needs. I’m sure you can see how this would effect long term relationships, right? Of course they all imploded. Unhappiness does that. I’d become gradually more wound up and embittered and that would seep into my view of the relationship. By exclusively catering to them, I also divested them of the opportunity to give back. People who love each other enjoy being able to help their partners and I was stripping them of that recourse.

I’m on the precipice of my 30th year, and certain things are becoming abundantly clear. Time is a gift. I’ve learned that piece by piece with each passing solar cycle. Each rotation only drives the point home. Perspective is everything. It not only helps us understand why the past occurred the way it did, but how better to shape our future. Dwelling with dread doesn’t serve us one iota, but reflection can help us better see the best path forward.

Or am I blatantly trying to justify watching High Fidelity for the 80th time?

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Is this what a level up feels like?

This entry is going to be the epitome of vague-booking. I did something today that terrified me, but I pushed through anyway. There will be no specifics because there aren’t specifics yet. I don’t want to jinx a thing. However I’m nervous, excited, shaken and proud, which seems worth talking about.

It’s no secret that I’ve felt listless lately. Stagnant even. I’ve had no career movement in far too long and it’s caused me no end of anguish. My lack of direction has left me brick-walled and I’ve had nobody else to blame. Any progress would be impossible without putting in the work, which seems altogether too obvious when I put it in writing. In short, I needed to do something.

A few months back I was doing some voicing and a stranger point blank asked me what my dream job was. That’s a frank, bold question to lob at someone you’ve just met but for some reason without thinking I had an answer. It was thorough and direct, with more confidence and candour than it deserved, considering how hard my brain was scrambling after my mouth. I finished. She nodded and said “you should do that”. I stood there shocked and took in what I’d said. Where had it come from?

I thought about it for the next few days. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next month. Then I did something I rarely ever do: I asked for help.

I bypassed a few rungs on the corporate ladder and went to the highest ranked person I knew. I told him I had something I wanted to pitch, but felt way over my head and wanted some advice. He’d always been an honest, no nonsense person to deal with in the past. He never sugarcoated anything, but he knew what he was talking about. He said to look at his calendar and book an appointment. I booked something an hour later.

I laid out my idea in a vague sense. Told him where I saw it going, how it could be implemented. He tore holes in it, pointed out all the weak spots in my plan. He told me to come up with answers and schedule another meeting. I came back to him a week later with a more solid outline. He told me who I should pitch to and how to angle it towards them. Once again he poked holes, then told me to fix them and bring the answers in the form of a sales deck. I’d never made one, so he gave me concrete directions on how to structure it. Exactly how long it should be, which sections to focus on, how my content would fit. I came back a week later with my results. He critiqued it some more with mostly aesthetic advice and told me he’d let the party involved know that I had his blessing. He thought it was a great idea and I’d brought it up at an opportune time. I thanked him for all the help and went to set up a pitch meeting. I was told that they were too busy at present, but wanted to hear my ideas in 4-6 weeks.

I felt brushed off and rejected. Any momentum I had ground to a halt. 4-6 weeks passed. Months passed. Things at work got worse. I felt embarrassed that I had failed to deliver on the summation of my effort. That I’d wasted the time of someone important who’d put themselves out for me. Work continued to get worse and none of my job interviews paid off. It felt like I’d hit rock bottom. I felt ashamed. What a waste, letting this idea with so much potential flounder uselessly.

I realised that things couldn’t get worse, so what did I have to lose trying to do something about it? I got back in contact with the person I was originally gonna pitch to. They were busy, but booked a meeting a week later between me and two of their subordinates. I couldn’t tell if this was a meeting of obligation or genuine interest. It didn’t matter. I went back to my sales deck, tightened it up. I thought about how the landscape had changed and new ideas for implementation. As the meeting loomed I was shitting myself. I’d struggle to get to sleep, then wake up at 4am because I couldn’t stop thinking of ideas. I was nervous, excited and shaken, but I was ready.

Today I had the meeting. The AV equipment in the meeting room I’d booked didn’t work. They said it was fine, that we could find another room. We walked the floor looking for an unused meeting room with the right equipment. We found one that worked and I took a deep breath. I explained that I was nervous, that I’d never even used PowerPoint before, but I had conviction in my ideas. They smiled and I started.

I went through my presentation and spoke off the top of my head. Magically, everything flowed. I’d go into immense detail on one topic, then move tangentially into another without thinking. Then I’d realise that I’d pivoted to the next point on my slide without thinking. It kept happening. I expanded upon ideas in depth, threw out examples on the fly that were in themselves solid ideas. They were nodding, asking questions. Without effort, I had a good answer every single time. I was open, honest and realistic about scale. My concepts were relevant to the company and gave valid insight into how it could fit into and augment current strategies.

I got to the end of my prepared presentation and they kept asking questions. They started coming up with ideas on how it could work too. They got excited and started looking at the impending schedule to see how they could implement my ideas. We started talking timelines and practical steps. We kept talking. They said they’d run it up the ladder, get feedback and see where we could go from there. I felt anything but placated. I felt vindicated. I thanked them for their time and they thanked me for mine. We went our separate ways and I had a brisk walk to take a breather.

So what now? I wait, then follow up. I keep momentum without being pushy. I cross my fingers and hope that their enthusiasm was genuine. Then whatever comes, I follow through and deliver. It could be big. It’s definitely exciting (and a little scary).

It’s also leagues better than doing nothing.

Jeff Whinger would’ve been a less likeable lead.

You know how you sometimes get in a dark mood because of one thing? How all your focus goes to that one thing at behest of everything else that’s going on in your life? Those times where enough of your energy is spent trying to think of anything else, that you’ve used up any resources you had to do so? It feels like that’s been my past few months. I know I’ll emerge out of this dark hole eventually and in doing so, marvel at the fact that light exists, absent as it’s been.

Look, I’m not vaguebooking here. The only thing I hate more than my job at the moment is my inability to propel myself towards something else. Despite knowing that my job isn’t a big enough part of my identity for it to be absorbing the majority of my mental energy, I still have an inability to phone it in. Little as I care about the position, I just don’t have it in me to not do a good job. I want to not give a shit, barely tow the line and be astral projecting when I should be in the office, but I can’t. I keep doing a good job and my “reward” is that they keep heaping more work on me. It’s all kinds of shit.

Geez, when did this place become a whinge zone? I used to use it as a contemplative space to muse on happenings and curiosities. I’d let my mind unfurl and ramble. I’m not saying it was good writing, but it was a hell of a lot more compelling than “I’m 30 and I’ve realised I’m just as mediocre as I always feared”. I travelled and got invested in the world around me. There was some sense of personal development, progress as I challenged long held ideas. Instead I became Eeyore, but less adorable. Things have been going downhill for a while and I’m waiting for the upswing.

(Ready for the ill-advised Winger-esque monologue?)

Obviously that’s the problem, right? I’m waiting. Staying static doesn’t create momentum and I don’t know why I thought it would. I didn’t take advanced science in high school, but I’ve read the dictionary and as such I know that inertia is the opposite of progress. I’ve become paralysed by indecision and my lack of direction has me spinning in circles. Sure, spinning creates a certain kind of energy, but all it’s managed to do is burrow me further into place. What I need now is a propeller. Something to hold onto that can lift me out of the hole I’ve created for myself. I know there’s light out there, but it’s become hard to remember what it looks like. I need to figure out where I’m going before I have any hope of getting there.

Or, y’know, give up and have a kid. It works for some.

It’s Black Friday. I wonder if I can find a sale on concrete boots…

It’s been a while since I’ve used this space for some good ol’ fashioned venting. I tried to book an appointment with my therapist, but every session is taken between now and year’s end. Alright then, here goes.

I’m miserable at work and it’s my fault. Of course this prospect doesn’t fill me with joy, but I’ve gotta face facts. The only one who can take the necessary steps in order to get me on the bath to career fulfilment is me. I was on the path years ago, stepped aside and haven’t found my way back since. Today is my three year anniversary with my current employer. Co-incidentally this parallels three years being in the same job. It’s the longest I’ve held a singular position. Wait, that sounds like I got fired. Not so much. In each case I’ve stepped away in favour of better pay or better work. I’ve usually left one company and headed to another. I figure this is pretty symptomatic of my generation. Company loyalty doesn’t exist like it did for our forebears. There’s no incentive. There are restructurings, mass firings and general shifts of instability once a year. If the company is only loyal to us until a better option comes around, why stick our necks out for them?

This time around I’ve been keen to stick with the same company. They’re not a bad company and many of the other options are worse. The company was much more enjoyable to work for pre-merger, but that doesn’t suddenly make everything shit. If I was doing something that wasn’t so dull, I’m sure I’d be on board. Here’s where the lack of blame comes in. It’s nobody’s fault that I’m still where I am. Everyone around here is pretty friendly. My bosses are supportive. Sure it’s a corporate entity looking to tow the line, but without drinking the Kool Aid I can see that the higher ups care at least a little. If I’ve asked for help, I’ve usually been steered somewhere with best intentions.

I’ve applied for many positions. Constantly. I’ve been close a couple of times, but they’ve gone for other people (also it’s not their fault for being qualified. There’s no blame here). It’s hard and demoralising. I’m looking to get back into a production role, but they’re prized (and rarely prised) jobs. I’ve got a decreasingly relevant audio reel and audio jobs are even harder to find. I had a job that I recently applied for, really wanted and got in touch with the relevant departmental persons to convey my interest pre-interview. Then two people on my team got the job and I didn’t even get to the interview stage. It’s frustrating and hard not to take personally. So I’m still stuck in the same job three years later and it makes me want to walk out a window.

At the same time I know it’s uncharitable to complain because some people don’t have jobs. Some people would love to have my job. I’ve got benefits and I’m not struggling outside of my professional existence. I’m sure that’s a pretty desirable position. I recognise all that, while also recognising that I’m the kind of person who finds it hard to have a clock in/clock out style job. For some it’s easy to go to work, come home and shut off. That’s not what I want. I desire having creative input. I desire for my job to be relevant to my identity. I don’t want just a job I want the work that I do to be an extension of myself. Even if it only shines through every once in a blue moon.

So what’s happening right now is I’m clocking in, doing the work and dying a little on the inside with every passing day. I’m trying not to fall into the trap of medicating with escapism, but I’m struggling. Of course if I’m not happy I’ll want to be anywhere else, whether this is through substance, food or pop-cultural consumption. If I don’t want to face my problems, ignoring them seems so much easier, right? It’s also the easiest way to wake up in 2037 and wonder what I have to show for my lost years. If I want to be doing work that fulfils me, I need to be able to convince people that I’m capable of doing it. Or I need to create the job that I want. Both prospects are vertical climbs and I’m terrified of dealing with the heights. I’m already using my time outside of work as a refuge from the world, but realistically I need to take on more extra-curricular activities. I need to learn software, make things. I need to write with intentionality. I need to be the person who I want to be in order for others to see me as such. In order to work, I need to work.

Nobody else can do that for me.

Something’s awesome in the state of Denmark.

I was checking Facebook memories this morning as I always do and saw an interesting link pop up. Past me seemed to find it compelling and present me went along for the ride. It was about a 1938 conference called the Évian Conference. Established by the United States, it called together a bunch of countries to tackle the growing Jewish refugee crisis in Europe. I’m not much of a history buff, but I read on.

The most salient point piquing my interest was that Hitler was there too. Before the thrust of his final solution, it was pretty clear that he saw the Jews as little more than meddlesome stray animals. His pull quote was thus: “I can only hope and expect that the other world, which has such deep sympathy for these criminals [Jews], will at least be generous enough to convert this sympathy into practical aid. We, on our part, are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care, even on luxury ships.” Unfortunately, most countries decided that there wasn’t much they could do about taking in refugees. The US and Britain both took around 30-40K per year for three years. Australia took about 15K and the Dominican Republic took in around 100,000. Canada was conspicuously silent. It’s both mind-blowing and heartbreaking to me to think of the massive loss of life that could’ve been averted. All the suffering that amounted to history’s most infamous genocide.

So there I was at the bus stop getting pretty emotional reading about all this. Holding back tears thinking about how monstrous humanity can be. The ramifications of this huge event still being felt all these years later. Not just the death and suffering, but the callous reduction of human beings to lesser life forms in the eyes of those who rounded them up. It struck a personal note as my own heritage that, while not a massive cultural part of my life, was certainly warped by the Holocaust. Not only harrowed that this could happen in the first place, but that, even with this kind of racial persecution widely considered to be at the foremost of humanity’s atrocities, the resurgence of Nazi mentality exists in these times. How is it possible to hate an entire culture of people enough that you don’t consider their claim to life to be valid? It’s heavy stuff and it burns a hole in my soul to consider that there are obviously people out there who wish it had fully succeeded.

My dark haze was lifted somewhat by learning of the lengths to which Denmark went to in order to get refugees to safety. Apparently 99%, or roughly 7,800 Jews were safely evacuated to the safe haven of neutral ol’ Switzerland. Denmark, at the time, was gripped with a fierce national mentality of a close knit lifestyle. Of treasuring one’s community and neighbours. They took in those who hid, went out of their way to search up anyone who sounded Jewish in the phone book and warn them, offering asylum and passage elsewhere. Officials opposed orders from the Nazi regime and a number of Nazi soldiers stationed locally were encouraged to turn a blind eye. Members of the upper class contributed of their own fortunes to help contribute fare for travel. Locals put themselves at great personal risk to hide and ferry Jews across boarders under the watchful eye of the Nazi regime. Reading all this, the strength of human spirit and courage in the face of adversity was unbelievable. The citizens of Denmark could’ve rolled over like so many, but instead chose to fight for what was right. It gives me hope that, should another inhumane regime rise once more, the world would not stand for it. Not now, or ever again.

But then again disasters and genocides seem to happen every other week and the Western world doesn’t give two shits. Let’s not break a rib trying to blow ourselves here.

I believe it was the great philosopher Billy Corgan who once said “Tonight, tonight.”

I don’t know what to do.

That sounds like a larger existential question, but really I’m talking about tonight. I had ideas for plans. One fell through and I didn’t put enough effort in to make the others happen.

In retrospect, that sounds a little like my life right now. Forgive the melodrama, but I’m at the crossroads of change and it feels like a rut. A few months back my landlord let us know that he was going to completely redo the place and we’d have to move out next summer. I figured we have time, but in hearing that both the upstairs and downstairs renters are leaving has landed with a certain amount of gravity. For no logical reason I feel trapped in some Harrison Ford style calamity. The walls of the trash compactor are closing in, a giant boulder is coming to crush me, terrorists are coming and they won’t Get Off My Plane. I don’t blame my neighbours. It’s smart to move ahead of time and settle in before the winter comes. It does, however, mean that this is really happening. I love our apartment. It’s the only place I’ve lived in Toronto. It’s snug, the location is great and it’s pretty damn affordable. Change is scary, right? Because it threatens comfort and security. What if we don’t find a new place? What if we find a new place but it ends up creating all sorts of extra stress, forcing us to move again? How many places will we look through, get attached to and have our hopes dashed when they give it to someone else? We haven’t even made a move and I’m already fearing future heartbreak.

Work right now is not sustainable. Something needs to change. Time and listlessness have been stacking up gradually. A year ago, I told myself I’d be mortified to still be in the same position in a year’s time. A year has passed and I’m mortified to still be in the same position. The common advice in response to burnout is to take a holiday. The last time I did that, the disparity between how I felt on vacation and sitting at my desk all day was crippling. Oh that’s right, I thought to myself, I’m miserable all the time. It only gets worse with each day I spend at the job. It’s getting to the point where it’s affecting my work. I’m making mistakes I never would’ve made because I can’t bring myself to care. It all seems so pointless, so why put in effort? I used to pride myself of doing a damn good job, but I see others slacking and doing fine, so what’s the point of trying? Every day I’m irritable, miserable or just plain vacant. I wonder to myself when I because this joyless. I like my company, I like my bosses, I like the coworkers. They haven’t changed, but the problem is that I haven’t either and I need to.

I’ve been at this juncture before and I still don’t know what to do. My usual tactics are escapism or straight up escape. Lose myself in experiences, alcohol, food or numbing media’s consumption. Alternatively, running. A new job, new country, new set of problems to deal with, but couched in the excitement of discovery. I’ve been running ever since I could and frankly that’s been too long. Change is gonna come and it’s time I turned around and faced it.

Also I still need plans for tonight. Maybe I should start there.

Is a Blade Runner someone who walks the razor’s edge frequently and at high speed?

Spoilers: There will probably be Blade Runner 2049 spoilers.

Probably. I saw it last night so chances are I’ll want to talk about it. If that’s the case I’ll leave them until at least the third paragraph.

This is the second paragraph. I can’t say for sure that there’ll be spoilers in the next one, but there won’t be any in this one. This one’s reserved for my semi-weekly work bitching. I’m in this weird position at work. I don’t like my job. I don’t like my job because I’ve done my job for almost three years now and I really only wanted to be there for two years max. One year after that, it’s hard not to look at the static nature of my role and feel crippling disappointment. Yes, I’m lucky to have a job. My co-workers/bosses are nice people. I’m not being harassed or compromised on a moral/ethical level. The job isn’t even that bad, it’s more that I’ve been doing something that holds zero interest for me for almost three years now. Boo hoo, right? I guess I was raised in a culture that said to follow your passions. Past generations and many cultures don’t have that luxury. Now I’m stuck at 30 at the intersections of responsibility, creative expression and ambition. I feel like I should have accomplished more. I’ve put energy out there a bunch of times and each disappointment makes it harder to justify continuing to put out energy. So the rut deepens.

The biggest weight at the moment is that we have performance reviews scheduled for next week. I guess I lied about the Blade Runner spoilers in this paragraph. Guess you’ll have to keep reading. Anyway, at my last performance review I talked candidly with my boss (she’s on the level) about where I was at. How I had the ability to do the job no sweat, but had no real interest in progressing along the career path where this specific role would lead. She said it was fine to use the job as a jumping off point to something more suitable within the company. She’s been supportive when I’ve asked, so none of this is on her. I told her I’d be pretty disappointed to be having this same discussion in a year’s time. So I guess I have that to look forward to. I haven’t nothing, but I also haven’t done enough, clearly. So with morale at an all time low I’m basically checking into work to cover the bare minimum, get the job done and go home demoralised every day. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s not my boss’s fault. There are things I need to do and I a) haven’t figured out what they are because I haven’t b) figured out where I truly want to be and c) put the work in towards making that happen. With time it gets harder. I’m not a joyless person, I’m not an idiot, I do have potential but as time progresses it’s becoming harder to believe that any of these are true. Maybe two years back my therapist said that I needed to get out of this job, that it was taking more than it was giving. Time doesn’t change everything.

Am I still gonna be doing the same thing in 32 years? What year would that even be?

OH. ARE YOU ALRIGHT? OR DID YOU LOSE YOUR BALANCE ON THAT SLICK TRANSITION? It’s time for me to share some thoughts on Blade Runner 2049.

In this paragraph. I thought it was fantastic. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, of course I was gonna think that. It looked stunning and managed to capture the daunting atmosphere of the original, but larger in scope. I liked the eye motif. I thought Jared Leto’s scenes were maybe 20% longer than they needed to be, but thought the creepy role was a nice fit for him as a person. Dude creeps me out big time. To be honest, I was fine with the overall length of the film. It was nice how scenes were left to breathe. I was too absorbed to notice, anyway. I thought the pacing was fucking brilliant. The action wasn’t too protracted or sparse. Has Robin Wright ever been bad in anything ever? I thought the aspects of homage were tasteful for the most part (like that fluorescent ramen sign in one of the first glimpses of night time LA). Ford got more screen time than I expected, but I really enjoyed how he was used. For basically the first time in history, I got the twist right away. I’m a dummy when it comes to film twists, so either it was super obviously telegraphed or I’m getting better. It just made sense for the script. The line “buckle up” felt really cheesy and I assumed that was intentional. My girlfriend said that while she hadn’t seen the original, it seemed like it was probably a throwback or reference. I hadn’t seen it in about 12 years, but I thought she sounded on the money. I don’t know how much sense the line made, because I wasn’t totally sure about the physics of the JOI unit. Oh, let’s talk about her. I don’t know if their attempts to craft her into a character really worked, but wasn’t sure if the lack of her three-dimensionality was intentional because she was a computer program. I did kind of like how that dovetailed back into the plot/twist. She seemed well programmed at giving the audience exposition, in any case. The sex scene seemed super unnecessary for plot purposes, but as a self-contained scene looked cool, was a neat idea/implementation and felt like the SFX department cracking their knuckles and saying “MUM! DAD! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO.” To this day I don’t know how well dogs can process alcohol. I kind of like the mystery of not knowing. I also had a ton of other thoughts, but they’ll probably get lost in time like tears in rain.

I want a large green fur-lined leather coat.