Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Cities

I’m down in Halifax (technically Dartmouth, but I digress) visiting friends and looking for work, the goal being that I move to the region sometime in the near future.  I’ve always loved visiting the city from the time I was a young kid living in Pictou, NS, and spending a week here last summer only confirmed that I want to live here.

I like cities in general.  Maybe I was spoiled by living in Winnipeg for four years when I was a teenager, but the cities in New Brunswick always felt too small for me.  The city where I’ve been living for the past year, Miramichi, technically isn’t so much a city as a string of towns and villages along a river that were amalgamated against their will.  Their economy has been hit hard by mill closures and other main employers going bust (not without some scandal: Google Atcon), and it seems most of the jobs along the river are call centres, retail and restaurants.  Most of the young people are leaving for school and better opportunities.  A lot of people go to Alberta, places like Fort McMurray.  It doesn’t sound like the place for me.

When I was in Halifax last July, I remembered how vibrant it was.  I came in the middle of a week long jazz festival, but it always seemed like something was going on.  Many activities to get involved with.  Many restaurants to try.  Pockets of different cultures.  Visibly identifiable queer people.  When you’re in a place like Miramichi, with limited activity and opportunity, and where deviations from the norm are cause for gossip or suspicion, these things stand out.

What I’m a little concerned about is the whole process of starting from scratch, but I at least know people in the city, and there’s something a little exciting about not being on a set path.  The process of meeting people is a little daunting, but when comfort doesn’t necessarily mean happiness, I’d rather force myself to be uncomfortable to live the kind of life I want.

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A catalogue of dreams

I had a dream recently where I boarded a train that ran through Newfoundland and France.  Logistical implausibility aside, it was kind of exciting to be able to jump on a train and end up somewhere I haven’t been before.

It got me thinking about some of the other dreams I’ve had that stuck in my brain.  Most dreams tend to fade away forever once I wake up, but I still remember a handful here and there.  I give you the highlights:

  • My most frequent recurring dream seems to be that I’m about to go on a vacation or some other trip to some place I’ve never been or haven’t been in a while.  I’m usually just about to leave, but then I notice that all my cats aren’t accounted for, and the rest of the dream ends up being a frustrating wrangle to make sure all the cats are inside before I go, and I usually wake up before I go anywhere.
  • On the topic of travel, when I was working at one of my earlier call centre jobs, I would dream that I actually managed to go somewhere far away, only for me to realize that I needed to be at work the next morning, and I spend the remainder of the dream hurrying back to town by that (realistically impossible) deadline all the while feeling guilty for having a little bit of fun.
  • While at that same job, I once had a dream where I was taking calls for work through my cell-phone when I was visiting a friend.  I kept wanting to get out of the call, but for some reason it would never end, and in this dream it never occurred to me to just hang up on the caller.
  • I also had a dream where there was a bomb at work (of the “alarm clock wired to sticks of dynamite” variety), and my boss wouldn’t let anyone evacuate the building lest our productivity go down.
  • I also had a dream where I won the lottery, but I wasn’t allowed to get out of work to claim the prize in time.

I also have a tendency to incorporate any music that may be playing on my iPod or on the radio into my dream.  Usually it manifests itself in me dreaming that for some reason I can’t turn off or turn down my iPod (what I call “the damn thing’s busted” dream) but I remember these dreams as well:

  • When I was younger, I would always be hearing The Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On” whenever I entered a K-Mart in my dreams.  (Side note: K-Mart hasn’t existed in Canada in years).
  •  I had a dream the night before my last day of Grade 3 that incorporated a cover of “Amie” by a Winnipeg country band.  A classmate would be doing this sort of dance involving holding her thumbs out in front of her as she bit her lip and nodded her head to the guitar lick before the verses.
  • In my first year of university, I dreamed of involuntarily singing “Je Joue De La Guitare”  by Jean Leloup, burning my hoodie and singing the “Et j’ai des grands instants de lucididididididididi…” line instead of yelling.
  • About a year ago, I fell asleep with my computer playing the works of Steely Dan.   I dreamed I was in a gay bar and that I had a heroin habit (for the record, I have never touched the stuff).
  • The music-incorporating dream I remember the most was from about three years ago.  XTC’s “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” was the soundtrack to me pushing an office chair around Halifax, trying to avoid one of my supervisors from work and a woman’s rugby team jogging two-by-two.  I pushed the chair through stores and streets before finally ending up in a lobby of an upscale motel.  The music switched to Annie Lennox’s “Smithereens” as I felt overcome with sadness and mourned my avoidance of friends as of late.
Do dreams necessarily mean anything?  I really don’t know.  Read what you will into these dreams (and I invite you to post comments about possible meanings), but at times when my life is the most routine and uninspiring, these dreams stand out more and more.

That Restless Feeling

Moving around all the time when I was kid has made me get really bored when I stick in one spot for too long.  When I think about where I’ve been in the last couple of years, I realize that I haven’t been completely and permanently planted in New Brunswick, but I still feel frustrated that there’s so much of the world that’s I haven’t seen.

I’m ready to move.  I’ve been planning a move to Halifax, NS for the last few months, although even before that I knew I was not going to stay in Miramichi, NB for very long.  The fact that I’ve been here for over a year now is kind of a personal letdown on my part: as restless as I can get here, I also have the knack of falling into complacency and not pushing myself out of a less-than-desirable situation if I’ve become comfortable.  I had also been considering moving to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, but when I came to Halifax last July, I knew that city had enough going on that it was not going to feel like a compromise on my part.

When I look at the patterns I’ve been falling back on over the past few years, I’m not happy.  I don’t eat as well or exercise as much as I know I should.  I’m too much of a hermit and shy away from social contact except for token efforts.

Starting over is probably the best thing for me.

Bald

I’ve been shaving my head almost continuously over the last eight years.  The main times I’ve let it grow out since then were mainly due to laziness and usually coupled with not trimming my beard either, but this is my look.  This is what I look best with.

The first time I shaved my head was when my curiosity got the better of me in grade 7 with an electric razor.  I had always wanted to see how I would look bald, but I didn’t get all my hair off by the time I was discovered, and ended up having to go to a hairdressers to get it done.  I was originally ashamed and embarrassed what I had done but ended up getting a better reaction than expected at school.  I shaved my head a few more times in grade 10 and 11.  I always got a bit of amusement from the shock that people would have upon seeing it for the first time.

When I got to university, originally I had let my hair grow the longest and scraggliest I had let it grow.  Not particularly long, mind you, but still kind of messy and there.  I had toyed with growing it out, but decided I wanted to get rid of it again.  I had it buzzed off at a barber shop, but one night, I took my Mach 3 and just started taking off the fuzz.  My drastic change in appearance got some entertaining responses, and at the residence house banquet at the end of the year I won the tongue-in-cheek “Gillette Jockey Award”.

My hair had also been starting to thin by this time.  I had a receding hairline back in high school but I could see the hair on top was also not coming in as thick as it was coming in on the sides.  Nonetheless, I grew it out, and bleached it for a little while before trimming it off again.  A few friends who had seen some old pictures of me with the completely shaved head on my ancient Geocities website suggested I shave it again when my school had an anti-cancer fundraiser.  I did it, and met some interesting people.  I shaved it twice more (including another fundraiser) before deciding this was going to be a look I kept up.

The summer before I decided to go full-time bald, I was working a night shift job at Canadian Tire.  The nights were hot, and I could feel the sweat in my hair.  When it gets to a certain length, I have this tendency to grasp the back and try to make a ponytail even if I don’t have the length for it.  I could see it getting thinner at top too and it just felt so futile.  So, bald it was.

The times I’ve grown my hair out since then, I could see that I’ve lost even more hair, and now at 29, it’s pretty much all gone at the very top.  It doesn’t really look particularly flattering on me, and I’ve always disliked it when my hair would grow poofier on the sides (sort of a Charles Emerson Winchester III in season 8 of M*A*S*H thing).   I’ve noticed that when I have the clean shaved head, it makes my facial features look better, but when my hair grows out to a certain point, my face seems…different…somehow.

I’ve experimented with facial hair since university, including a pencil mustache one time I went out to the bar last year, but usually I keep a goatee or a full beard that stops at the bottom of the ear.  The beard also helps disguise my double-chin so there’s also a utilitarian purpose behind that as well.

Not everyone can pull off the look, but I feel more confident about my appearance when I keep my head bald.  People are used to me looking like this.  I also like that I don’t have to visit a barbershop and can just maintain my look with a pass of the razor every few days.  Plus, it feel awesome to touch, either if it’s smooth or it has a little fuzz on it.

I’m also glad I’m just not going to do the comb-over either.

Taking Requests

I want to make sure I keep in the habit of posting regularly and frequently.  However, I don’t want to eventually have my posts start copying each other or have to resort to what I call “marking time” posts.  I want to make sure I actually have content on here, and a reason for people to keep reading, commenting and sharing.

I want you to suggest something for me to write about.  Any topic.

I want to be able to research your suggested topic first before I build a post around it, and I also want to post whatever I want whenever it hits me instead of queuing my posts up behind an assignment, but if you suggest something, I will eventually write it.  If you have a date tied to your subject, I will do everything to post on that date.

Topic submissions can either be posted as a comment on this post, or sent by e-mail to bjdwsm [at] gmail [dot] com.

Addendum: Topics relating to culture, television, music, arts, literature will be considered, but posted on my supplemental blog Existentialist Weightlifting.

Bad E-mailer

I’ve noticed that I haven’t been so good at initiating or replying to e-mails lately.  I think that there must be some variation on Newton’s Law about a body at rest going on there.  Usually when I send out an e-mail these days it’s strictly for a transaction.  I have made about two e-mails to other people in the last month that could really feel like personal e-mails.  One was a quick happy birthday to a friend out in Calgary, and the other was a long-gestating life update I sent to a friend from my high school days.

I think my decreased e-mail output is a symptom of how much social media has taken over our lives.  It’s easier to come up with a 140-character tweet that anyone can see or a Facebook status that is more tailor-made to people who are at the very least somewhat familiar with you.  I love what Facebook and Twitter has opened up, but I when I think about how much I used to e-mail people before and how little I do now, it’s disheartening.  There’s something to be said about sharing between two parties, intimate and undiluted.  Yes, Facebook and Twitter have private message options.  But I feel more like elaborating and filling in when I’m sending an e-mail.

I think part of the issue is that I’m sometimes intimidated.  Intimidated by the blank text field and intimidated by who I’m sending it to.  If there’s a common thread of business or interest, I feel alright.  If it’s someone I feel fully comfortable with, I’m more likely to type.  But e-mails to other people I’d like to know better often feel rushed and done to get it over with, and I don’t feel like I was sending as myself.

When the year started, the two goals I had for myself were openness and connectivity.  My intention for this blog is to help myself meet these two goals by writing here often and as truthfully as I can.

Protests and Authoritarianism

I’m trying to get myself on a more sane schedule than normal, but I actually couldn’t sleep too well last night.  Part of it is because I’ve been staying up late for a long time, and part of it is because I’m so used to shift-work I need to reorient myself into waking and retiring early, but my curiosity got the better of me last night as I was checking about the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston protests, especially the arrests of the protestors.  I can’t help but worry about the future.  The economy looks like it’s going back into the toilet, and whatever means are being tried to stop this trend are being held back by people who don’t want the wealthy to pay the tiniest bit more tax, even if it would save countless more from devastation.

Even though I’m in Canada, I follow American politics like a hawk these days.  The way the right has decided to let their loudest, shrillest members dictate the direction of the Republican Party would especially fascinating if it weren’t so scary.  When the debate audiences were cheering executions, applauding the death of a hypothetical uninsured accident victim and booing an openly gay soldier, you have to wonder what they would be capable of if a candidate with a more hateful agenda were to somehow catch their attention.  Not that I don’t hear a lot of people on that side talking about exterminating all Muslims and that gay people are going to destroy other peoples’ families by getting married…

I’m getting tired of it all.  There’s a meanness I see in the right wing that outdoes anything the left throws at them (for the most part).  Herman Cain telling the out of work people protesting on Wall Street that it’s their own fault they’re out of work.  Scorn and mockery instead of compassion for the sick and the poor (just listen to any of Rush Limbaugh’s broadcasts).  When anti-bullying legislation is introduced, they cry “radical gay agenda!”.  I also take issue with their bizarre marriage of fundamentalist Christianity and Ayn Rand’s Mammon-worshiping “Fuck you, I’ve got mine!” philosophy.  I’ve seen many attempts to reconcile the two but I still believe you can’t actually do it without compromising key portions of either.  The Frankenstein monster that usually results tends to resemble callous dickishness with a smug moral superiority.

I recommend everyone, regardless of political agenda, check out Robert Altemeyer’s book The Authoritarians.  Altemeyer really nails explaining what Right-Wing Authoritarianism is all about, including the hypocrisy, the hostility, the dogmatism and the manipulation.  (For the record, Altemeyer includes Soviet Communism as an example of Right-Wing Authoritarianism even though politically it is far left.  He explains why).

A New Beginning

I love blogging.  I’ve been doing it for 10 years and have been amazed at the community I’ve been able to interact with just by writing about myself and my life.  I remember seeing other people’s blogs and getting this feeling that this was something I could do as well.  I’ve always felt more comfortable expressing myself in writing than any other way, so these blogs let me show off a side of myself that may not really come through immediately in person.

For the longest time, I was at Livejournal, largely for the option to keep my posts friends-only as well as maintain a network of friends who I was connected to on the site.  Since the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as the increased prominence of blogging, I felt I wanted to go into a space that would eventually become more “me”.  I also felt that hiding behind a friends-only filter became a crutch.   The challenge to myself is to write as honestly as I can with the knowledge that anyone can find what I’m writing about, but also resist the urge to devolve into at-length complaining.  I’m also going to eventually work this blog into a professional website.

I set up a few sites here at WordPress already, but I’ve realized for the past year or so I’ve had too many weblogs on the go; this is going to be my main site from hereon.  I’m going to eventually be folding my photoblog and other writing blog into this site and will fully integrate both in the future.

I’ve decided to set up a few ground rules for myself on this site:

  • Anything that’s primarily about pop culture, TV, movies, music or books will be on Existentialist Weightlifting.
  • I am not going to write at length about my work, career, or any job searches.  I may make an occasional remark if there’s news about any big changes, but bad days at work don’t need to be dwelled on in whole paragraphs.  On occasion I may write about personal projects I may be starting up myself.
  • I will make sure I keep constant with my updates.  Focusing on the one site is the best way to make sure of that.

This page is not going to be as it is now, at least visually.  I’m still going to be playing around with the design and the widgets.  I’m going to be adding links to other blogs.  I may even change the name.  But it’s time for me to get serious about blogging again.

Here goes…

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