Ooh baby is this some kind of salve? I guess my heaven was created by Valve

What would you want to happen when you die?

Honestly, I’d be happy with a full stop. Nothing. No life after death, Heaven, Hell, ghostly hangouts or endless void. Just zero, with no thought, agency or eternity. A complete end. I don’t know that I’d truly want to look into infinity if I could just cease. I know it’s boring and unromantic, but honestly I’ll probably be tired by the time it’s all over. I mean, I’m tired already. Give me nothingness and give me death, y’know?

But in the instance that there was some kind of afterlife, I’m not 100% sure what I’d want that to resemble. I’m not going to assume I’d get into Heaven, but for fun let’s assume that anyway. I think it would be really strange for there to be some formalised society after we’re all dead. How would that even be sorted? It’s not like we’d have tangible bodies. It’s more likely we’d be disembodied consciousnesses. Or at least I’d hope that were the case. My goal would be to get to interact with all the people I loved during my life, but also meet new entities. The ability to manifest infinite scenarios/simulations would be awesome. Does that have a limit? I’m not sure. Like, if you could be or do anything ad infinitum, that’d be kind of awesome. Live infinite procedurally generated lifetimes? Maybe I’d want to jump straight into the life of a seven year old tiger in the heart of the jungle. Or go back to my 20s, but in 1940s New York. If I could fast forward, rewind, pause and bookmark, that would be amazing. I could try all sorts of life experiences I never had. I could learn what it’s like to be a different gender or of a whole new cultural background. There’d have to be some kind of untamperable safety valve whereby I could always pull out of any scenario and back to a neutral state. Maybe I’d be able to link up with old contacts and engage in these scenarios together.

I think the conclusion that I’m coming to is that I want Steam, but as a dead person.

I just don’t see how else this would work in my brain. The concept of communities feels a little odd, because it’s hard to fathom being in Heaven, but also having to pretend to be polite to people you didn’t like on Earth. Or enacting social niceties. The idea of simply being around all of my loved ones doesn’t work for me, because in turn I’d imagine they’d be around all their loved ones, etc etc. I have so many friends who have friends who really aren’t my friends. If I get to be in Heaven, I want to be as exclusionary as my heart desires. Look, this is probably why I’m not getting into Heaven, but there are no stakes to imagining.

The one thing wouldn’t want, would be to get stuck in my own simulation where everything was totally fabricated. If every entity I encountered was a manifestation of my consciousness. There are limits to my imagination (as we’re clearly finding in this entry). I’d want to keep learning, growing and understanding things outside of my miniscule personal views. Otherwise what would be the point. I’m tired enough of complacency in my living years, let alone my eternal ones.

If that was the case, just give me a nice set of curtains and close out the show.

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DARE to resist pun and meme posting

On my birthday this year, I turned off posting to my Facebook wall.

Please be aware, that this will be one of the pettier posts I’ve made. Y’all have been warned.

I was deep into a solid depression, and birthdays are usually kind of messy, fucked up times for me. I hated the idea of people wishing me a happy birthday, when all I wanted was to not be living anymore. Strange juxtaposition, y’know? So by turning off posting, I wasn’t faced with a ton of well-meaning jovial messages that would only make me hate myself more for not being well or jovial. It worked, and took a lot of strain off. Then I just kept commenting off. I didn’t forget, I kind of liked how peaceful things got.

Here are some things. I make puns. I love puns. I’m known for my puns. People know that I love puns, and whenever friends would hear puns they’d reach out and post them on my wall. This all sounds fine so far, right? Here are some more things. I have very specific tastes in puns. I’m into weird, niche puns that need hyper-specific contexts to work. I’ve heard a lot of puns in my life. I’ve made a lot of puns in my life. There’s a certain threshold where puns just don’t impress me much, or rather, rarely the Twain shall meet. Not everyone has the same needs in a pun that I do. Am I a snob? Probably. I don’t begrudge others enjoying puns. Rather, I encourage it. At the same time, I get all kinds of NIMBY when it comes to people making puns that they just assume I’ll like. I’m on the internet a lot. I’m in a few pun related groups. I see a critical mass of internet content, because I’m a goddamn addict.

So, back to my wall. People love posting puns they’ve heard on it, and I entirely get where that sentiment comes from. They’re excited about a pun and want to share it with me. That’s a sincerely lovely gesture. On some level though, I believe there’s something else to it. Yes, they think it will bring me joy, and since I’m a pun guy they probably think that friends of mine will be pun people who will enjoy it too. At the same time, because I’m known as a pun guy, they can post the pun and get my approval in a public space. I’m not saying that I’m such a wizard of wordsmithery that my approval is tantamount to glory. I am saying that there’s part of the equation where they’re getting public acclaim for it. In my head, if that’s what they were looking for, why not just post it on their wall? Why would I need to be included? If it was a good pun, I’d see it in my newsfeed and I could give it a like. Most people probably aren’t thinking about that. I am because I’m a petty sombitch, but I wouldn’t entirely discount the idea on a latent level. If people just wanted me to see their pun, why not message me directly? It’s very personal, and shows a thoughtful touch. It’s private, with entirely pure motives. By turning off posting to my Facebook wall, I took the choice out of their hands. They could message me directly, or just post on their own wall. It’s been working.

The gross and mercenary side to this, is that there are elements of personal branding tied up in it. Like it or not, we’ve all started curating our own online spaces. We shape how we appear online, and package that for others. I want to try and make my Facebook wall the purest distillation of who I am. I post dumb puns, strange personal observations, weird internet articles I find to be interesting, and specific nostalgic stuff I experienced. It’s kind of like this page, but on Facebook. I’m pretty honest on there, because that’s important to me.

When other people posted, assuming my sense of humour, I’d end up with a bunch of things that didn’t personally resonate. It felt weird. Why were ideas that didn’t jive with me taking up my personal online real estate. To be clear, I have no issue whatsoever with people commenting on my stuff, having discussions, etc. That’s all part of it, because I can curate that and learn new things. There’s no reason why I can’t repost things people have sent me on messenger, giving them full credit. At the same time, I find it to be weirdly presumptuous for others to decide what they think should represent me. On some level, that’s peculiar, right? It was peculiar enough for me that I nipped it in the bud. I’m so glad I did.

Was this a bizarre and pedantic thing to do? Of course it was. Do you think I’m totally off-base? Well I haven’t turned commenting off on this site. Let me know below, if you… dare?

Has anyone ever told you that you’re similar to a kiss from a rose on the grey?

There’s a note next to my desk. It simply reads “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams <3”

I think about it often. Almost every time I read it, that is. I don’t read it every day, but on days I do, I sure think about it.

I was listening to “Kiss from a Rose” today. I’d forgotten how much that song geninely pumps me up. Like yeah, it’s a silly ballad that’s been overplayed and meme-fied ad infinitum, but the song is still all kinds of righteous. There are so many goddamn harmonies, the vocals are flawless and I FUCKING DARE YOU not to song along to the “BAY BAEEEE” part of the chorus, while closing your eyes and thrusting a fist in the air. I’m assuming you’ve all followed suit, and I refuse to acknowledge anything else. I remember it very much as a Batman song, for the indisputably goofy Batman Forever. Today I learned that “Kiss from a Rose” was originally written in 1987, but Seal was embarrassed by it and didn’t release it until 1994. It still wasn’t the hit it deserved to be until it was featured in the aforementioned Batman film, playing second fiddle to U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”. Seal’s monster hit went on to become a three time Grammy award winner, and Bono went on to become a sanctimonious prick.

The song still whips the llama’s ass.

I just realised that some of you might think I’m a 9-11 truther. I can assume you that’s not the case. First and foremost, I think about 9/11 so little that I had to google “9 11” to see if it was hyphenated or had a slash. I’m thankful that the first results weren’t for the emergency services phone number.

WAIT A MINUTE. That may be the first time I’ve ever made that connection. And I’m sure we’ve all read the story of Steve Buschemi as a former volunteer firefighter showing up on 9/11 to help out. MAYBE the whole thing was some PR scheme for congress to push for a budgetary increase to emergency services. I mean, have you ever seen a firefighter and a congressperson in the same place? I KNOW I HAVEN’T. THIS COULD GO ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

Did I just become a 9/11 truther? I sure hope not.

Y’know, back home in NZ, the emergency services number is “111”. I’ve never called “911” in my life, and to this day it still seems like something they do in movies. When I was a kid, growing up on North American media, everything America did seemed cinematic. It was a place of wonder, and these days it’s become a sad mockery of whatever once made it great. I’m not presenting this as a hot take, but wow oh wow has its worldwide clout ever fallen. I don’t know what the country at large could do to restore faith in its operation. I have one suggestion. It’s very bold, out there and unconventional, but I also think it’d do its part to inspire generations of young Americans to lift each other together.

It’s remarkably simple. Change the national anthem to “Kiss from a Rose”.

Jet fuel may not be able to melt steel beams (though I’m sure the combination of heat and being impacted by a fucking plane could do a whammy on them), but that song can melt the hardest of hearts.

I’ve put everything I own in a box to the left

A friend and I started chatting about Ivanka Trump’s absurd G20 appearance, and it all kind of spiralled. Here’s how my side of the conversation went:

If I wasn’t so horrified by everything their government has been doing over the past few years, I’d have second hand embarrassment. It’s as funny as it is fucking upsetting.

It honestly just makes me angry, and it’s hard not to be furious at strawman legions of ignorant small town white dudes in my head who voted him into power. But there was obviously more to it than that, and I’m scared that it really is leading to a dystopian future of sorts. It’s gruelling to watch it happening in slow motion, and it’s a total vortex. We can all see each other split into defined silos and we’re just letting it happen. We’re losing touch with one another. It’s even harder in Ontario, because we’re all breathing the same air and I don’t know why their Ontario is apparently so different from ours.

A lot of these “clean the slate” bollocks and “cost cutting measures” are very much preying on general ignorance. Like, governments have debt. It’s kind of part of the whole deal. They’re investing on the kind of projects that amortise over decades. It’s very very hard to bankrupt a province, y’know? But people assume it’s like personal finance, where if you’re in the red it’s a more pressing issue. It’s not that we want to be in the red as a province, but it’s a known quantity in politics.

There’s so much dirty lobbyist stuff going on. Back pocket payments, new clandestine laws hidden inside other bills, etc. So you’ve got a series of businessmen getting into politics purely to make deals with their friends, and help all of their cronies make more money at the behest of those who think they’re being cared for. When it comes down to it, I don’t understand how their constituents think. Like, how do you hear “no jobs will be lost” then see so many jobs being lost and think “well they said no jobs would be lost, so I guess it’ll be fine.” How do you equate that and see business as normal?

It’s also people ad nauseum regurgitating talking points they inherited. I’m sure this very much includes myself. When it comes to divides along racial, sexual and socioeconomic lines, I don’t know how much they’ve examined their ideas, or if they’ve been passed down from their opinion leaders and taken as granted. Their parents or bosses said these things, and that became normalcy for them. Not that this is isolated to the right either. When it comes to the left, there’s a point at which we become sanctimonious, and having certain level moral obligations doesn’t recuse other shitty behaviour. Social media is an absurd echo chamber at times, which blocks out a ton of very valid dissenting views.

There’s this pervasive notion all across the left that I really hate. This idea that “now that I’ve learned this thing, I get to cast judgement on people who don’t know it yet.” Everyone’s always learning, right? And we can’t expect people to know stuff just because we do. I bet I’ve expressed a ton of shitty views even in the last year, let alone when I was 20. At the same time, I get a lot of internal friction with concepts of tone policing, etc. I very much believe in righteous anger and expression of feelings. I also believe that it often gets in the way of finding mutual connection as a method of sharing ideas. And I’m not gonna ever tell someone they don’t have the right to their valid feelings, but I can often see it running counter to peoples’ goals. Emotional labour is hard. Also sometimes doing it is in your own best interest.

I feel like there’s kind of a missing staircase in the discussion from the left standpoint. We know that there are so many kinds of privilege that people benefit from. A lot of marginalised people don’t have these forms of benefit, and the underlying notion is that those who have a ton of privilege should work to dismantle these systems to make things more equitable. I hear that, I get that, I beleive that.

ALSO, what we’re asking for is directly to the “detriment” of most of these privileged people. They’re giving up things, and for many of them the upside (increasing representation, giving opportunities to those who haven’t historically had access to them) doesn’t benefit them in a tacit way (or at least, obvious). Why would they want to help with something that doesn’t do much for them? How is that a viable tradeoff for a ton of people who don’t understand the nuance of why it’s important? To most of them, they’re just giving things up, and they already see themselves as victims, because we all do. For so many people, spreading happiness is not a motivating driver. They’re worried about themselves and those close to them, and strangers don’t factor into that equation. In their heads they want to tend to their own garden first, but the “first” aspect is a misnomer when problems will always be present. Life is hard.

I don’t like much of the above, but I think it’s real.

I wish S-Club wasn’t stuck in my head

For the first time in a while, I’ve been feeling consistently okay about being.

Not “being” anything in particular, just being. I exist, I wake up every day and have a plethora of interactions. I learn more about the world around me. I’m finding it easier to put intention towards areas of choice. As if empowered somehow to rediscover who I am and who I want to be. It feels like a gift of sorts, standing in stark contrast to most of the past few years. The joy in simplicity isn’t hidden under layers of emotional debris. It’s sitting right there. At worst, I dig a little to find deeper meaning, or the inane complications hiding amongst the mundane. It’s not a struggle to look at the expanse of years ahead of me and crumble under their weight. Yep, pretty okay.

One of the defining harbingers of this mindset has been the ability to redefine my lens. When something goes wrong, if I can’t simply brush it off I’ll balance it out. Sure, I may have an initial negative response, but I cast my net a little wider to examine why that’s happening. Is there something about the situation that’s conflicting with my values? Are my values relevant in the given scenario? Or is it worth shifting my expectations, giving more leeway to the notion that things don’t have to work out in my favour? That people are more often ignorant than malicious, and being generous towards their intentions helps both of us cope? Assuming more of others, that things are less likely to be about me than I think? In short, the hallowed advice of “don’t take it personally”. It’s helping.

Coupled with the above mentality has been a willingness to accept that there’s probably more to everything than I see. That opening myself to opportunities instead of hiding behind a pre-generated negative mindset is helping more than it’s hurting. That things are scary/challenging sometimes, and that’s part of the process. As Chris Gethard reiterated many times in his book “Lose Well” (I’m shilling hard for it, but it gave me a lot. The only good thing to do is pay it forward), nothing will replace hard work. There’s no shortcut or quick fix, and things won’t come to you without it. Sometimes, even with it.

I’m sure this all sounds very lofty, but in so many words I’m on an upswing. I’m doing exponentially better than I was. Taking medication for my depression has lifted a lot of the strain and allowed me to take my life back. I stepped away from it for a while, and I’m uncovering so much that I left behind when I did so. I have a back catalogue of catch-ups that’ll see me through to next year. I have places to go, things to see, people to hold closely. I have stories to live and all the time in the world to tell them. I have another shot, and that didn’t seem like an option a few months back.

So I’ve got a lot to feel okay about.

When rats see a Garfield shaped pizza, they eat it without question. I have so, so many questions

I’m going to prom tonight! So I’m getting this out of the way tout de suite (tout de suit?).

I forced myself to watch another documentary last night. I don’t know if it’s a matter of being responsible, disciplined or self-loathing, but making myself consume more educational content out of fear and guilt is working. If that ain’t success- wait, I’ll stop myself there. I clearly don’t know what success is.

The documentary I watched was on creativity and the human brain. I think the presenter was a neuroscientist or something. Clearly I wasn’t paying that much attention. All I know is that he had an eerily plodding delivery and the script was a little on the nose. Aside from that, it was quite interesting. It was simply worded and didn’t get overly technical, which was a boon for a science dummy like me. What captivated me? Let’s see.

One of the more fascinating examples they had was a scientist who dealt with nanotechnology. She was facing financial restrictions, given the difficulty of working on microscopic hardware. She simply didn’t have the budget to do the work she wanted to, in order to advance her understanding. From what I gathered, it’s really fucking expensive to do precise programming and engineering on such a small scale. She thought back to a childhood toy of hers called Shrinky Dinks. I didn’t know about them, but they’re basically polystyrene sheets that can be coloured, then heated. When they interact with heat they shrink dramatically. She discovered that she could apply the same principle to her nanotechnology, even with trace amounts of metal. What this meant was that she could work on full sized hardware before shrinking it down, retaining all of its qualities. She eliminated her fiscal issues by thinking outside the box. Isn’t that ridiculously smart and creative? I thought it was downright clever.

They also talked about why human beings are able to be creative, and it has to do with input/output receptors. In a rat’s brain, for instance, the input/output receptors are right next to each other. A rat will recieve input signals (say, looking at a piece of food) and the output impulse is to eat the food, which they do. There’s no real processing, just instinct. In a human brain, the I/O receptors are separated by billions of neurons. This gives us the capacity to receive an input signal, process and examine said signal, before reacting with an output directive. In the same example, we could see food, consider whether or not we want food, and decide what to do with it. Maybe we’d take the food and save it for leaner times. Or contemplate different ways of preparing the food that’d be tastier. Perhaps we’d look at the food and it’d spark a memory. The colour palette could stitch together with latent thought to give us design ideas, linguistic notions or create humour. Our ability to discern before acting was a major game changer in human evolutionary success.

The other thing I took from the documentary were a few linked notions. Our brains run off fuel (food) and often seek to run efficiently in order to make that fuel last. It’s why we often seek the path of least resistance in our activities. The more we’ve done simple tasks, the less effort we need to put in to accomplish them subsequent times. We want things to be easy, because it draws on instincts we honed when food was scarce.

At the same time, we seek novel experiences. We want to light up our brains with the thrill of something unexpected. We get used to stimuli we’ve processed again and again. It stops becoming exciting and grows dull. To clarify so far, we want new things, but we don’t want to put in effort to get those new things. Path of least resistance, right?

Being creative means pushing boundaries. It’s a ton of work that may not pan out with obvious or immediate benefits. It’s hard. Furthermore, to achieve mastery over something, it’s often repetitive and tedious. You don’t become a virtuoso without practice, but practice is boring. The thrill of the new or novel is hard to find when you’re retreading the same space. It’s not to say that hard work doesn’t yield new or exciting things, but it takes time and focus to get there. Time and focus are the antithesis of least resistance stuff. Once you get to that point, you’ve got the fear of failure to contend with, and that’s a whole new obstacle. Do you see why it’s so hard for many of us to take the first step? Being creative means considering all of those prospective struggles along the way and opposing your natural instincts to chill out. It feels like you’re acting against your best interests, when it’s entirely the opposite.

No wonder I find it hard to make myself learn in the first place.

What’s my wrangle?

Egads, I’ve been staring at this for long enough that I need to start by any means possible. What’s on my brain?

I’ve got this “bit” percolating at the back of my mind, but I haven’t worked out all the beats yet. The set up is probably something like:

“I’ve never been to the rodeo. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
Apparently your first one is quite the doozy.”

But I don’t really know where to take it from there. Mostly I think it’s funny that a rodeo, something of very little consequence to most people, is used as the benchmark of proficiency. “Not my first rodeo” implies some level of skill, but what’s happening at all these rodeos that’s empowering a myriad of people in their varied lives? Also, it’s usually really banal stuff that seems to have very little with roping a steer or riding a bucking bronco. Furthermore, I highly doubt all the people who use the phrase have actually been to one. Why is a rodeo so important? Does it hold a different status in rural communities? I’ve got the phrases “Cowboy Cathedral” and “Draw Pilgrimage” in my head, but I don’t know what to do with them. Do rural folk have an equivalent expression showcasing an activity they rarely take part in? “This ain’t my first pride parade”? Education rally? Abortion clinic? PC party protest? It’s kinda judgemental. What’s some more benign stuff that city slickers do but country folk probably wouldn’t? Traffic jam? Pop up sale? Brunch line? It’s all a bit mediocre.

I dunno. Just ideas at this stage.

So here’s something. I’ve been struggling lately creatively. Honestly, it’s been since I started on the meds. In no small manner, they’ve been a game changer. They’ve given me resolve to get out and do things, and stop me from going flat every time I hit a bump. I wish I started them years ago, they’ve truly been a positive step. The buoyancy they’ve allowed me is a big deal, and I’m thankful to be taking them. I’ve also found it hard to be creative. My brain isn’t making those quick connections it once was. I’m struggling to have answers on hand like I’m used to. It just feels like there’s gum in the works that keeps them fluid, but lacking some of that deeper grind. I don’t know if this is a side effect that will level out with time. I’m sure hoping it is. They say it takes 4-6 weeks for all the effects to settle, and there are definitely potential side effects I haven’t seen sign of yet. I know that while I was in my depressive depths, I had this almost desperate creativity and I’m having trouble accessing it. This is not a full on complaint. I’d much rather have my life back in the way that these meds have enabled. It’s also kind of ironic that while they’re giving me the push to go out and try stand up again, I’m limping along at attempts to write/edit new stuff.

Perhaps I’m missing renewed perspective that could be helpful. I’m reading Chris Gethard’s Lose Well at the moment. I very rarely read self-help books, but Gethard has a familiar voice and his content is generally not patronising. I do find that I need to take it in small bites, to register ideas and consider how they’d fit into my life. The chapter I just read was about finding new comfort zones in grey areas. He shares advice his therapist gave him, which is to never take the same way home twice. I don’t know how literally actionable this is, but the gist was to find new ways to see the world. Try getting off the subway a stop or two earlier. Take side streets and be open to opportunities. Perhaps there’s a cute neighbourhood cafe or bar that you’ve never seen. Maybe you’ll come across graffiti or scenes that challenge you. There’s no telling what’ll spark synaptic connections. Now that the weather has warmed up, it could be easier to venture outside and explore. I could find time to visit subway stops I’ve never taken. I could look at the city from an unintuitive vantage point. Who knows what I’ll find?

I could even figure out what city slickers do but country folk probably wouldn’t.