Time for a getaway. My tréat.

Welp, I decided to bite the bullet and take a vacation of sorts. Call it a holdover from living in a country that was a day’s travel from almost anywhere else, but if I have time off work I feel guilty spending it at home. There’s so much world to explore out there and it’s considerably closer than a day away. In fact, one of the most appealing things about coming to live in Toronto was its proximity to other big, exciting cities. Boston, Chicago and New York are a mere hour’s flight from home. It’s silly that I don’t take more advantage of it.

Big American cities aren’t the only things that’re close by either. It’s easy to forget when you’re nestled in the extensive boundaries of the GTA, but there are a bunch of places not too far from Toronto. Cottage Country is only a couple of hours away. I’ve been meaning to check out Ottawa for some time. Also who can forget that we’re a hop, skip, jump and a small car ride away from one of the natural wonders of the world: Niagara Falls. So why do I keep going back to Montréal?

Montréal has an allure I find hard to resist. It’s effortlessly cool, incredibly pretty and unflinchingly debaucherous. The fact that most denizens speak French makes it feel like you’re in a different country (I’m sure that was the point). That’s an adventure in itself, considering how abysmal my French is. Then there’s the food. A fascinating combination of haute cuisine and lowbrow fare. I can’t think of a better way to describe my tastes. I can get decent coffee, fancy brunches and buy 11% Four Loko from a depanneur. Paradise.

Why this weekend? There’s a Python programming conference (coding, but not of the genetic kind) going on and I’ve got a bunch of friends attending. Hell, I think one of them might be helping to organise the whole thing. When I suggested that I could come to Montréal for the weekend they immediately offered lodgings. I’m crashing with a friend in his hotel room tonight and tomorrow a bunch of friends have space in their Air BnB. I’m pretty lucky and can’t wait to see them. They’ll all be busy during the day, so I’ll use the time to explore the city. Maybe I’ll check in with my family who live there. Then once they’re finished we can all hang out and get messy. Oddly enough, one of the things I’m most excited about is introduce my hotel friend to the others. I think they’ll click immediately.

Now all that’s standing between me and a weekend of urban exploration is getting there. Canada has this rideshare system called Kangaride. You basically book a seat in a stranger’s car. It’s costing me $80 total for a return trip, which seems pretty reasonable. I’ll also acknowledge that it’s a total roulette spin. I could be trapped in a car full of blood obsessed cultists or Big Bang Theory fanatics. It could also be a really enjoyable, fulfilling experience spending time with friendly strangers. The last time my girlfriend and I used the service we had a fantastic time having all manner of discussions with lovely talkative and intelligent passengers. So let’s spin that wheel. What’s the worst that could happen?

If you never hear from me again, tell my girlfriend I loved Her. The Spike Jonze film, that is.

Advertisements

What’s left to leave?

Sooo, impromptu borderline mandatory holiday. I’ve got seven days of leave remaining (notice how I skirted over saying “leave left”? I didn’t really. I just deleted it once I typed it. Then I thought I’d be all ironic pointing out how dumb that’d be. Then I lost all manner of credibility by explaining exactly what happened and how ironically unironic this whole uninspired mess was. This is why most of the time I just hit the backspace key a bunch of times and move on. Speaking of which, how about we move on?) and only five days I’m allowed to transfer to next year. Thus I have the next two Mondays off. I would’ve chosen more opportune days and planned things out, but with two people leaving the team, I’m gonna have to shoulder a ton of extra work. Considering we need to do the majority of our work in advance, if I didn’t take a holiday RIGHT NOW, it’d be more work to take the holiday than it’d be worth.

I certainly didn’t need to have any more excuses to hate my job right now, so let’s table that for some other time. Relentless negativity feels cliché in a world that seems to be fuelled by it.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this holiday coming together. It’s short notice and I don’t have a car. People are too busy for last minute excursions and I wouldn’t expect anyone to just drop their shit and go. A friend actually offered her car for Monday if I want it which is lovely, but the point isn’t just to get away. I’m looking to share experiences with people. If she wanted to go on an adventure I’d be all for it. I’m tired of travelling alone. I want to do dumb shit with friends. I want to check out small towns. Go to diners, local bars, thrift shops. Adopt my bullshit elitist big city persona and laugh with someone about how quaint and adorable everything is. Imagine an alternate existence where I grew up in a small town and getting drunk at the dilapidated skate park was the highlight of my week. Think about how it felt to have dreams of getting out of that podunk town and just drive until I saw the lights.

Then I could marvel to myself that everything worked out in reality. That this timeline is the one where I got out. That I live dwarfed by cityscapes and feel comfort in my own insignificance. Where opportunity is around every corner and all I need to do is ask around. Where it’s possible to be cynically optimistic, because even if things seem shit now they could all turn on a dime.

That had I stayed home things would’ve stayed fine but unexciting. That eventually I’ll learn to push myself and make it happen. That I will find a breaking point because I have to. Because otherwise I’ll spend the rest of my life telling myself stories of what it’d be like to escape and find myself. Because otherwise I’ll never really feel at home.

For these next two weekends, however, I’m on vacation. So fuck “home”.

So we part-y-ed ways?

A night of fitful sleep meant I had a cluster of bizarre dreams. It’s not uncommon for me(as you probably know by now), but it’s weird for me to have dreams so obviously steeped in purpose. It is uncommon for me to believe in messages from dreams (cut to the anthropomorphic evocation of my subconscious shaking its fist at the sky and muttering under its breath). I’m still not sure where last night’s visions sit on the scale. Maybe that’ll click once they’re down on the page.

The main dream I remember involved being at work. Do I get overtime for this? There was some kind of company-wide festival going on. Tons of departments were hosting their own little soirees. I was walking around the building with my boss, working our way around the different parties. Totally innocent, we just wanted to scavenge food and drinks. Totally just scabbing. Between his rank and my bullshitting over-friendliness, we were playing a good game. After scoffing and scarfing (oh wow, I didn’t realise that had a different meaning) all we could, it was time to go back to work. Neither of us really felt like it, so said I could skive off work all I liked as long as I stayed in the building.

I stopped off at my friend’s desk to see if he had anything fun to do (dream logic, it was a friend I grew up with. In reality this person doesn’t even live in Canada). He said that he was throwing a party for a mutual friend of mine (also doesn’t live in Canada) and he was getting overloaded with actual work as well. He asked if I could help by inflating a bunch of balloons. I said sure and followed him into a small party room. All the decorations and the cake were in place, there was a helium tank, some ribbon and a bunch of uninflated balloons. I attached the helium canister’s nozzle and got to work.

While I was in university I worked at a party store part time. Dream me obviously remembered this. I checked the balloons to see what kind of quality they were. They weren’t great. I tried stretching them out a bit and it only helped so much. I pulled my ribbon close and cut off a bunch of strands. With my little battlestation set up, I started filling. They were a cluster of different patterns, but it was bugging me that I wasn’t getting the pleasant lightbulb shape into these shitty balloons. Still, I persisted. I blew them up, knotted them and tied the ribbon on the end. It took a while, but I was finally getting down to the last few balloons when my friend whose party it was walked in.

The party guy barely said hi and started calling the shots. He looked at the balloons and said they were bullshit and looked lame. He ridiculed them, which I felt sort of bummed about because of some vague (misguided. I was never that great at the job IRL) professional pride. Also the fact that I’d been helping out of my own generousity. He said the balloons had to go and they’d get some better ones instead. He told me they’d go off to pick them up and I could fill them when he got back.

I’d had it. I told my friend to fuck off and shove the helium canister up his ass. I told him that he was always like this, ever since we were kids. That he constantly mooched off others and took advantage of any generousity he could. I told him that’s why we’d stopped spending much time around each other as we grew older and grew apart. I told him that we were through. I meant it. I walked out and met my other friend. We left work and went fishing with a six pack of beer.

It’s weird, because I basically have cut ties with this friend outside my dreams. The scenario in my dream was simultaneously more farcical and dramatic than what happened. As I grew up he stopped being a relevant person in my life. I wanted to hang around him less and less. He only got in touch when he wanted something and never reciprocated. It’s odd that my brain has held onto this for so long, considering I haven’t thought of him in ages.

Why now?

P.S. Never surrender.

Long weekend begins now, so this is gonna be a loose and scattered entry. In case you forgot it was Remembrance Day tomorrow, they’ve Monday-ised the holiday for some professions. Mainly banks. Our company decided to follow suit, so if I decide to take advantage of it to seek out trendy brunch spots, chances are all my juicy eavesdropping will be consumed by the “insightful” commentary of Banker Bros. I guess that’s called penance.

I feel like celebrate is the wrong word, but I plan on spending the weekend eating, drinking and letting off steam like someone who works for the weekend. I work a tedious office job, this is all I have. Going out dancing tonight, having barbecue with family tomorrow, attending a wedding on Sunday and playing Magic with friends on Monday. Also making sure not to forget about Dre the whole time. Never forget.

So Louis C.K. has put his apology out and it’s a bummer. The worst part is that he’s saying mostly the right stuff, but it’s a matter of too little, too late. For a proper apology you need to acknowledge how your actions have hurt the other party. You need to show remorse and empathy. Then you need to commit yourself to restitution, outlining how you plan to change or proceed in a manner counter to your previous behaviour. His apology mostly ticks all these boxes and likely would’ve had some impact on public opinion and reception. Would have. Timing is everything. He’s had so many opportunities to come clean. He could’ve issued this apology when the rumours surfaced or when he was called out by Tig. He didn’t. He denied it right to the last second. You’ve gotta question the contrition of someone who only apologises once their bottom line is in danger. If you’re only sorry for your actions because of how the outcome affects you, you’re not really sorry for what you’ve done, are you? Is he?

I dunno. I’m pretty burnt out on thinking about it. No, hiding away and pretending nothing is wrong sure isn’t the correct response, but I don’t have the emotional energy for this now. Really what I want to know over all else, what does Sofia Coppola think of Daddy’s Home 2? Why? Because one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard in recent memory is that one of esteemed director Sofia Coppola’s favourite films is the Will Farrell/Mark Wahlberg (he’s another piece of shit, never forget) vehicle Daddy’s Home. I’ve never seen this movie. I have no intention of ever watching it. That doesn’t stop me from being totally charmed by her admission that a dumb low brow comedy is one of her top films because she can watch it with her kids. What a nice way to give the middle finger to a holier than thou industry so concerned with personal branding. I think that’s fucking awesome. She’s fucking awesome.

Also when the fuck did we decide to forgive Mel Gibson? Never forget. Never forgive.

Is this that movie moment where you look back and realise “Oh, so I was the problem all along”?

I’m not good at social norms. I’m not tossing this out there like I’m some roguish rebel with no cause to speak of. This also isn’t some edgy Hot Topic mall goth style “I’m so weird and random lol” thing either. It’s more that a lot of established niceties don’t make a lot of sense and seem like a waste of energy.

Take “how’s it going?” for instance. My usual response is honest. I’ll say how I feel. If things are going great, I’ll say so and give an explanation. If they aren’t, #same. If they didn’t want to hear it, then they shouldn’t have made an emotional bid. Why waste the words if they didn’t care? If all they wanted was to acknowledge my presence, a nod would’ve sufficed, right?

Now I’m fine with this as a concept, but the execution doesn’t always stick the landing. Lately, as things have been generally sub-par, I’ve found myself unloading on unprepared people and giving them more than they signed up for. Nobody has had a massively adverse reaction or anything. People have listened and responded as best they could for the most part. The issue I have is that it’s created an unbalanced dynamic. I often end up talking about myself (which is everyone’s favourite thing to do, don’t lie) and they don’t reciprocate. I’d be happy to do the emotional labour for others. I’m open to be there and listen. The thing is, people aren’t conditioned to know that it’s an option. If I ask “how’re you doing?” I get back an auto-response. “Fine. Good. Alright.” It’s shorthand for “I’m not looking for a conversation.”

This isn’t to mention my odd conversational disappearing act thing. That one I fully understand is absurd, but it’s been an intentional bit. A while back I decided that I liked how in movies nobody ever says goodbye when they hang up the phone. I decided it’d be amusing (to me only, clearly) if I just vanished once the conversation had run its course. No so long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen or goodnight. Why? Because I wanted to cultivate an air of mystique. Because I realised a while back that to some people I was basically a magical creature who apparated, said something interesting or different then disappeared into the aether. Why not lean into that? I thought.

So for the past few years at work, I’ve engaged with people, had conversations beyond the mere “so how’s it going” mentality and just kind of left. It’s often dawned on me that it’s probably considered quite dick-ish, but my commitment to the bit is strong enough that I don’t want to relent. In retrospect, this is likely all the more dick-ish and serves nobody but me. If nobody else is in on the bit, what would it do for them. Furthermore, does anyone consider me to be enigmatic and magical? Who knows? I probably disappear before they could mention it.

The un-examined life is not worth living, right? So I figure it’s pertinent to question why these structures exist. What are people really getting out of these minor social flourishes? Does it serve us to continue using them? Or is it up to us to find some that serve a purpose?

Wet feet, cold feet, I’d take it.

A combination of dairy before bed last night meant weird dreams to follow. How weird? You tell me.

The first dream is a little hazy in my mind. I remember my girlfriend and I going to an Amanda Palmer concert. We were right up the front, right in “mosh central”. I shouted out a song request that got cheers from people around me. Amanda couldn’t quite hear it, so she thrust the mic my way. I got nervous and screwed up the word order. It made very little sense. The rest of the crowd booed. I shouted out “wait, I got nervous and messed that up. I’ll do better this time.” Strangely, Palmer complied and put the mic in front of me once more. I said it again, the way I’d intended. She nodded and the crowd roared in approval. She launched into whatever song it was I’d requested. I felt vindicated and the rest of the concert was great. My girlfriend and I came home and crashed in bed.

Then I woke up in the real world and went to the bathroom. I was floppy from the melatonin, so I stumbled around a little as I remembered how my limbs worked. I did my bathroom thing, then fell back into bed, finding sleep once more.

I found myself on the way to a job interview at some boutique advertising agency. I was dressed in a fancy suit, though in retrospect maybe too fancy for a job interview. It was shiny and gold, like something I’d imagine Elton John wearing in his prime. Oddly though, I’d decided to pair it with open toed sandals. I think I was on my way from the airport. I didn’t know it for sure, but I was in a shuttle van and had luggage with me. I arrived and looked at the agency from the outside. To be honest, it looked kind of like they’d converted an old bungalow into a funeral parlour. Large vases with ornate flower displays stood inside bay windows. A red carpet extended from the porch into the front door. The carpet was a shade of baby blue and the walls were a darker sapphire. I shrugged, grabbed my bags and walked inside.

I was greeted by a woman in her 30s. Hair pulled up into a bun. Bulky square glasses. Flowing floral dress. She was barefoot. The soles of her feet were covered in baby blue paint, her hands with sapphire. Odd, I thought. I shook her hand. Mine came away sapphire. She brought me over to a bar style desk in the centre of the room, where another associate was standing. “Are you ready to begin?” She asked. I nodded. She clicked the play button on a boom box and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” began playing. She and her associate started to dance. Her eyebrow rose. It felt like she was implying I should dance along. I started moving, then noticed that my suit was ripped from my elbow all the way down the side. It must’ve been from the Amanda Palmer concert last night. I thought. I took off my suit jacket and continued dancing. My interviewer nodded and the music ceased. I looked down at her bare feet. Her associate also had bare feet. I kicked off my sandals and stood on the carpet. My feet felt wet. I realised that the carpet and walls were covered in wet paint. Everyone around the office had feet stained baby blue and hands stained sapphire.

My interviewer and her associate told me that they’d been watching me for some time and liked my work. They appreciated my attitude, but that there was a final test I needed to pass. They invited me into a boardroom with a vast table in the centre. An intricate and complicated board game covered the table, pieces lining the side. It looked like the entire company was there. Everyone was high-fiving everyone else. It seemed bizarre and cultish. I felt immediately uncomfortable. We took turns choosing tokens, but I couldn’t escape the notion that everyone was judging me. It was too much, I had to leave. I excused myself and walked out the door.

I realised that I’d left my luggage inside and returned. The interviewer was standing in the doorway. “You had your chance.” She spat venomously. Her face split apart into a sharp toothed grin, a snake’s tongue flicking in and out of her mouth. Lightning surged around her fists. I looked down and fire erupted from my palms, enveloping my hands in a burning aura. I charged at her headfirst…

…and heard the quiet tones of my alarm. I know, I’m as disappointed as you. I wanna know how that ended.

I mean, did I get the job or not?

So I guess you could say I feel more Holloween than anything.

It’s Friday night and I feel subpar. I was super smart last night and had a late evening of drinking on a school night. I could’ve called it quits hours before I did, but that would’ve required exceedingly more forethought than I was ready to put in. Why was I even out drinking with work the next morning?

It was the work Halloween party. Not a huge deal. I mean hey, it’s pretty neat that our company puts on a Halloween party at all. It’s not like every company out there does. It’s strange though, that they put it on during work hours. 2pm-4pm means that we need to scoot back to our desks for an hour once it’s done. Couldn’t they shift it by an hour? We’d be able to continue partying straight away instead of playing into the ridiculous notion that people would actually work afterwards. They gave us two drink tickets each (though it wasn’t difficult to find more), played music and scattered a bunch of chippy packets/fun sized bars around the atrium.

Some people put a shit ton of work into their costumes. A few towed the corporate line and came as something work/company related. Brown nosers. Those who went all in however, really went all in. There was a neat Inspector Gadget costume. The guy had made his own hat and created a propeller/handles that weaved into it. Someone else came as a trash lobster (?). No idea if that’s meant to be from something, but it looked tremendously good. It even got surreal as someone dressed as the claw machine from Toy Story. There were group costumes (my team did Mario Kart) and a bunch who put in either minimal effort or didn’t even bother with a costume. I had a Devil of Hell’s Kitchen costume from a couple of years back. Reusing a past Halloween getup was the least amount of work I could put in to still come dressed decently. Plus most of the items were normal clothes I could wear to work anyway. Bonus. And, working at a television company, nobody mistook me for Dread Pirate Roberts this time. BIGGER BONUS. The costume came with cons. My vision was piss weak, it was hard to make out little details on other people. The gloves I wore were just winter gloves, which meant I had no strong tactile fingertip grip. I couldn’t open a chip packet or fun sized bar. So I didn’t eat. I juuuust drank.

I also got to do more voicing at work. I used to do a little back when I worked in radio, but frankly there were better voices around. Here in Canada, my accent is a neat little commodity so I get more opportunity to read. Yesterday I got to do my first movie trailer. It was fucking fantastic. The engineer is new to the company, but he’s been doing voice/talent coaching for years. He was endlessly patient, so we kept going at it from different angles (plus the clients were known to be notoriously picky, so we wanted a bunch of options). We tried the faux LaFontaine thing (both in a NZ and North American accent), we tried a more natural read (both accents). We then tried to punch up specific lines, pronunciations, moods, etc. It was fucking great to work with someone who wasn’t afraid to take their time and who gave thoughtful advice/feedback. I think we spent around 40 minutes working on the 30 second script, but hopefully they bite. After I got warmed up, even I was surprised at how good it was sounding. It’d be awesome to do a ton more voicing. I’m finding work to be pretty damn tedious at the moment. Any chance to leave the desk and do something I actually like is worth taking.

At the moment however, it feels like the only thing worth taking is a nap. Night night!