Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Scattered political thoughts and complaints

Watching the Republican primaries in the States is an exhausting exercise.  I’m both fascinated and repulsed by them: I’m interested in who the GOP thinks both best supports their ideology, which has become increasingly fractured over the last generation, and who they think can win against Barack Obama.  At the same time, I don’t like any of the candidates.  This isn’t just me speaking as a liberal: this round of candidates just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Each of them has one major personable liability that suggests they would not be worth putting in office, regardless of what party they ran for, and very debate seems to descend even lower in terms of lies, distortion and just plain nastiness.   We’ve had debates where the audience cheered executions, and uninsured patients being left to die.  A soldier was booed by the audience just for being openly gay, as if laying his life on the line for his country is somehow voided by who he loves.  Any type of compromise with Obama, no matter how necessary it is for the party and country’s long-term survival, is seen by the ideologues as a compromise with Satan incarnate (same goes with the parties reversed, but the ideologues on the right have greater power).  The fact that some of the party base will not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon tells a whole lot.

I long for another candidate from the other side who didn’t resort to appealing to the populations’ racial resentments and mocking the poor.  I’m sick of Republicans treating gay rights as an affront to “Christian morality”.   I’m sick of them treating any rules or taxes on the very wealthy as if a mob of undesirables were to get carte blanche to mug them and then spend it all on the same luxuries they’re “entitled” to.  If I were American, I’d vote for Barack Obama: not because he has been a perfect president, but his opponents version of America does not include people like me.  They seem to be campaigning mainly on promises that the people the voters resent will suffer, and the image of Obama as an alternately diabolical and idiotic Muslim Robin Hood, who wants to destroy capitalism, Christianity and America.  It just seems to be another by-product of how dirty politics is getting on both sides.   Ideas and vision aren’t enough; you have to literally scare the voter into choosing your brand.

To be honest, I’m getting tired of the whole election already.  Wake me up when November arrives and I have a reason to celebrate or complain.  I know it’s not even my own country but Canada’s destiny is so closely linked to the United States, it’s not something I can really ignore.

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I’ve posted in my other blog about the Brunswick News paywall.  I’ve found a few other posts on the matter from Lamespotting and Must Be Dumb.  There’s even a blog post on Maclean’s about the subject.  It’s not so much the paywall itself that bothers me so much as the inflated price they charge for such low-quality product: today’s paper had a “special report” on the front page about how a lack of snow in Moncton didn’t turn out to mean a lack of fun, and a few weeks ago, the paper saw fit to devote prime front page space to Tim Hortons changing the names of their cup sizes.  Is it a case that the people of Moncton want their newspaper to be full of mindless drivel?  Brunswick News is Irving: they don’t have to provide hard news or thoughtful analysis because in terms of local coverage, they can just destroy anyone that dares compete with them.   It seems like Irving either assumes the people of Moncton (and eastern New Brunswick) are a bunch of rubes and hayseeds, or they want to use their monopoly on the provincial print media to keep people from asking questions about how much power they really have in this province.   I wonder if I’m being paranoid when I imagine Irving buying out an underperforming section of the province (say, Miramichi), having it secede from Canada and become a private state that runs on the truck system.

My dream photo project

I’ve had this idea in the back of my head where I would go to the different towns and cities where I’ve lived growing up and take pictures of them at equal intervals over a period of time.  I’ve lived as far east as Pictou, Nova Scotia, and as far west as Regina, Saskatchewan.  I’ve also been fascinated by old pictures I’ve seen of familiar places: I like seeing photography of cities that aren’t restricted to the postcard shots, but have a certain frame of reference that is still recognizable to anyone who’s lived there, no matter which part of the city you actually lived in.  I also like seeing footage of the more mundane aspects of the past: city streets, storefronts, etc.

I did try a tentative start to the whole project back in the summer of 2010, but I was unhappy with the pictures I took.  Part of the issue is that I didn’t make a very specific plan of when and what I would shoot.  I also hadn’t bought my second lens yet, and wasn’t as used to what I could do with the camera.  I felt like I was being rushed at the time, so that may account for some of my negative feelings about the first attempt.

The way I see this playing out, I would focus on maybe doing the places in Atlantic Canada one year, the places in Ontario another, and Manitoba and Saskatchewan a third year.  This would also document my growth as a photographer.

30 Before 30 list: Update one

I was wrestling with whether to give status updates on my goal list from two weeks ago, but I figured that it would help to be able to assess where I am with the list from time to time.  Every two weeks, I will do a post like this discussing my progress on some goals, and which goals need more work.  Here goes:

Progress list:

  • I’ve begun making an index page for my SNL reviews and essays on Existentialist Weightlifting.  I plan on unveiling it once I have the typos corrected in the reviews.  I’m wondering if I should retroactively add any additional information I’ve uncovered about sketches since then (like writing credits, etc) or if I should just fix what I have already typed for clarity.
  • I’ve completed and posted one of the SNL reviews for the 1980-81 season (the David Carradine episode) and have my notes done for the next episode (Ray Sharkey).
  • I’ve also made a list of my unwatched DVDs: I’ve watched a few things this week, but the list does not reflect what, as it will be updated every Monday.
  • No books, DVDs or CDs have been purchased.
  • I have gone to the library once (Goal: 10 times by April).
  • I’ve gone on two walks downtown but I don’t know if I should count.  I think I will only count if I walk for thirty minutes before actually going into a building or sitting down.
  • I’ve come up with a few ideas for a writing project, including one for a more significant project that will take me longer than two months to actually complete.
  • I started a new book this week: “Oliver’s Twist” by Craig Oliver
  • I was originally going to buy a train ticket this week while VIA Rail had a promotion for 50% off the full price of the fare, but some circumstances arose and I decided it was probably not in my best interest to do so.  This promotion would only have been $28 less expensive than the regular supersaver fare on a round trip to Halifax, and was non-exchangable and non-refundable.   Oh well.  I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing for my birthday…I’m hoping I won’t actually need to stay in Miramichi that weekend.
  • I have two people I know I will be sending snail mail to by the time April comes around.

Goals to focus on for the next two weeks:

  • I have a copy of the driver’s manual, so I’m going to focus on getting ready to actually take the test.
  • I still haven’t fully gotten to resetting my internal clock yet, and once I get that taken care of, and set up a daily it will be easier for me to actually get more done on the job hunt, not to mention the other less pressing goals.
  • I think this is going to be the timeframe I start my month without fast food.  I haven’t decided on a date yet or if I want to have a “last meal”.
  • I’ll do at least a one hour free write.  I don’t think I’ll post these online, but they may show up in a more polished form sometime.
  • I’m going to work on getting started again with the Simple Portraits project.

If anyone has any advice or encouragement, feel free to leave a comment.

Gnawing

Is there anything as annoying as having an uncontrolled thought gnawing at your brain?  To be more specific: do any of you get this vague feeling that comes all over you that you have absolutely no way of articulating or even identifying?  It’s perpetually at the tip of your tongue; gaslighting you by making you think you had a flash of brilliance only to have you agonize over what it was.  When you finally arrive at a description for what just passed, it never even does it the smallest bit of justice.  You might as well have opened a book and picked the first sentence on page 5 to describe something that was so real to you only minutes before.  I go through these runs where I’m like that.

What I’ve been doing is typing a whole paragraph, then deleting it.  I’ve been trying to sort too many things out in my head these days, but not sure what it is that’s even worth sorting out in a public space like this.  These things I’ve already touched upon in previous posts, but I’ve yet to fully dive into examining these parts of my life.  Maybe I just need to work it all out in a piece of thinly-veiled fiction.

On fire (another stream of consciousness)

I just listen to the slow-motion whine, and my head pounds at the slightest provocation.  I move my head and I get this sharp pain; my eyes tear up a little bit and I think I was hit by something, but it never actually happened.  I’m warm, listening to my heart beat and think about where I am this time.  True, it’s the same place I’ve been for the last hour, but it seems different anyway.  Maybe because it’s all still except for a faint hum and my right ear having pressure issues.   I relax, and then the city just stops.

I want to be on that train whenever I get around to forcing myself to booking it.  It’s all up in the air, and nothing is clear.  My imagination is limited by perceived obligations: these are emotional investments in a future that I could imagine at one time and then second-guessed.  If it means anything, I would just think about the road I’ve been on a few times already.  It’s like when I go out to eat, I decide I’m craving a certain flavor, see things I want to try one day, and then return to what it is that originally brought me to the restaurant.  This is a little silly, isn’t it.

I want to cross the continent sometime before we get ourselves into a new war, gas prices are astronomical, and the province of New Brunswick decides to charge a $1000 fee to any resident who dares escape its borders.  I guess I’m a pessimist.  Seriously, though: I want to make it up to Newfoundland and see the Pacific Ocean one of these days.  I think of people that I’ve been keeping too much of a distance from.  I don’t engage as much as I used to five years ago: even then, it was less than I did a few years before that.  I toyed with having a reunion with friends in Halifax one time, before plans and work schedules and circumstance screwed around.  I don’t put too much stock into meticulously planned get-togethers, though.  I love lucking into an unexpected memorable evening the most.

I could write a book about the people I’ve had some great evenings with.  The details are getting fuzzier, though.  When this happens, it’s a sign I need to go out and create fresher memories.  I just need to surrender to openness again, and shake off whatever weight that convenience and safety added to my spirit.

More navel-gazing

I get the feeling from time to time that the universe is sending me signals.  I don’t really know whether it’s an omnipotent and interventionist deity or just trillions of small little chain reactions and coincidences that manage to come together in a certain way, but it always seems that I get the same kind of message from different sources at the same time.  It’s not a case of me consciously seeking the message out either: it just so happens that I randomly come across it.

About two years ago, I took a trip to Ontario to visit family and see “Rent” in Toronto.  On the Go Transit, there was a guy and a girl having this conversation about goals and working hard toward them.  The details of the conversation get fuzzier with each passing month, but for some reason it struck a chord with me at the time.  I found one of my old blog entries about that (already written so long afterwards that the details were lost in my head) where I likened it to Conan O’Brien’s “never be cynical” speech from his last Tonight Show (which I remember watching there).  The reason those words spoke to me was that at the time, I was in a pretty bad spot with work: it wasn’t that I wasn’t good at it, but I was at a point where I would be filled with so much dread every time I walked into the place.  At the time, I took those messages to be signs that waiting for something to get better will not necessarily accomplish anything.  I do have a little trouble actually jumping out of the ruts I dig myself into, though.

Just recently, I kept coming across a lot of similar thinking about casting aside fear and actually no longer holding your own life hostage to what other people think.  Or coming across all this encouragement to keep writing.  This has to be a sign.  Maybe I’m just reading validation of my own desires and impulses into things.  There’s something about being able to write about a memory so vividly that just impresses me.  Being able to build an entire reality out of words put together is just an amazing skill to master.

Anyone who knows me well knows I watch SNL a lot.  Funny thing is, as much as I love the show and finding out these details about its history, or who wrote what sketch, I never actually see myself as one of the performers, and I honestly don’t know if I would want to even write in such a pressure-cooker environment.  I have high admiration for the cast and writers being able to pull together a show in less than a week, even if there are weeks when the inspiration isn’t there, or they get stuck trying to carry a weak host.   I think, though, I would prefer to work on the kind of show not so bogged down with its legacy: with SNL, it’s become this institution and I find a lot of the writing seems to be “that’s what’s expected of us”.  Sometimes they pull off a classic political cold opening, but I wonder how many Obama “in-ones” are done out of an obligation to be this topical show that its reputation makes it out to be?

Writing here helps a lot, even if it is only to sort out the cacophony all these thoughts make in my mind.

End of the week

Via Rail is having one of their 50% off sales until January 26.  I’m highly considering taking another trip to Halifax, although I’m not sure when exactly I will go down.  The last time I went was in the fall, when the weather was still somewhat decent.  I’ve been in Halifax during the winter before, but I still need to figure out when would be the best time for me to show up in the city.  I want to get more done on a few fronts before I go off gallivanting again, but I wonder if it would be wise to get down there again as soon as possible.

From time to time I go down to the local SPCA.  My sister’s been volunteering there for the last little while, and I come along to get out of the house, and to be an extra person to help give affection to these dogs and cats .  Whenever I move, I’m going to look for a place that takes cats.  I didn’t have any pets when I was living in Riverview, but I would occasionally cat-sit if my sister needed a place to keep her cat when she had a conference.  I’ve always had a cat when growing up, and cats seem to take to me for some reason.

I went downtown on Wednesday.  I checked out Books Inn (didn’t buy anything), had lunch at Relish and looked around in the library, trying to sort out thoughts and come up with some ideas to write about.  I like being able to have a little time to myself outside of the house every now and then, but the challenge for me is to be able to keep these excursions from getting repetitive.

The Gay Rights Movement

I thought this particular video was especially well done: it’s a summary of how far the gay rights movement has come since the 1960s, and how much further still is left to go.

Stream of consciousness

I want to do something similar to the five minute free write I used to do on here, but without blinding scraping at the keyboard and leaving horribly misspelled words in my wake that cast doubt in potential employers’ minds.  The fan is going off in the bathroom, and it irritates the hell out of me, so I’m going to shut it off first.

I get these doubts in my mind about whether I really have any abilities that can be nurtured and developed, or if maybe I had something that went away years ago and was dulled by lack of discipline, growing resignation to a day job, and whatever.  Waiting to stand still, and waiting to be happy.  What is happiness, really?  Is it this temporary feeling you get when some sort of craving has been satisfied, or is it something you get when you’re sure you follow all the rules?  I’ve been reading a blog by a lesbian ex-Mormon who was writing about the attitudes she still encountered, that growth and happiness and self-fulfillment is discounted as not being true happiness compared to following the righteous path and waiting for something that you don’t get unless you 1) are dead and 2) have done all the “correct” things.  I’ve been used to that kind of thinking myself.  I’m not Mormon but growing up in a Christian household, that sentiment is somewhat familiar.

These feelings I have come and go.  For the most part, what I really want is time away from the familiar.  I’m going to see what I can do about that, but first, I have to define what it means to do that.  Do you just do variations on the same theme your entire life?  By thinking about these small changes I want to make by the time I’m 30, I’m thinking more about the bigger changes I want to make by 35…but how high to aim?  Should I include goals that are somewhat out of my control, and fulfillment depends on the other person?  Or should I just stick to things I know I have complete control over the outcome?  What counts as an actual try?

Living vicariously through others’ blog posts and achievements.  Change is coming in a small way.  My headache and poor sleep schedule make me feel like I’m still in a cycle.  The space caused by jazz piano, bass and drums under scat singing sounds.  The verbs and nouns and my big toe.  This is the grace of the clacking keys and the relaxed traffic going by the window.  They’re heading somewhere, but it’s not important.  The tube of ointment sitting on a shelf will be squeezed empty one day: try not to anthropomorphize the whole thing or it sounds really depressing.  Is life good?  I’m not being torn limb from limb by a hungry jaguar.

Life change

The 30 before 30 is a good start, but I think I really need to reassess my whole life and goals, and try to figure out what it is that makes me happy.  Every so often, I get these signals that I really need to make a bigger jump outside of my self-made safety zone.  I tend to think in baby steps and small, incremental goals that are somehow supposed to bring me closer to the life I want to be living, but more and more I feel like all the baby steps I’ve taken haven’t even come close to one regular adult stride.  I realize that isn’t exactly true, but it’s the way I feel from time to time.

In the days and weeks to come, I’m going to have to make some difficult decisions and ask some hard questions about myself.

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