Monthly Archives: April 2006

My Average Life

You ever read any Nietzsche?

Nietzsche says there are two kinds of peo­ple in the world. People who are des­tined for great­ness, like Walt Disney, and Hitler. And then there’s the rest of us. He called us “The bun­gled and the botched”.

We get teased. We some­times get close to great­ness, but we never get there.

We’re the expend­able masses.

—Jack Lucas, The Fisher King

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When I lis­ten to this song, a post-hardcore blend of catchy, melodic gui­tar lines and tech­ni­cal scream­ing, a feel­ing washes over me. I rec­og­nize it immediately.


It’s the other, other, Jeff’s band, and he fits the eccen­tric rock­star per­sona to a tee. His clothes are all tight-fitting, thrift-store finds and Sally Ann recy­clables. Even his frames are a mod­ern­ized ver­sion of the old-school bad-boy sun­glasses. An unas­sum­ing type until you talk to him about his music, and then he’s a gal­va­nized, ani­mated per­son. He spends his money on stu­dio hours, and his free-time lay­ing down tracks, mix­ing songs, jam ses­sions. I don’t even know the name of his band.

I do know that this song is a huge improve­ment over the mate­r­ial he gave me a month ago. The struc­ture is less exper­i­men­tal, the sound is more pol­ished. The result of a new drum­mer, and redone vocals. Jeff’s goal is to get his name out there, win a record­ing con­tract, and spend the rest of his life mak­ing music. I can already tell that he’ll catch the atten­tion of the right per­son at the right time.

The envy burns a hole in my chest.

Knowing that this young man, in his mid-20s, is going some­where, is what fuels it. He has the ambi­tion, the abil­ity, the mind­set to achieve great­ness, while I remain one of the many.

If I had the time, the money, the ambi­tion, I’d do the same. I’d be a direc­tor. A pho­tog­ra­pher. Things I think I’d be great at. Instead, I sim­ply use video and pho­tog­ra­phy to doc­u­ment my life, as an extra form of expres­sion over the writ­ten word. As a result, my desire to improve is solely dri­ven by my per­fec­tion­ist atti­tude, not a desire to be great or to make money. I under­stand that to become one of the few is an invest­ment of one’s entire life, and the risks of doing so are severe. Too severe.

It’s my choice to live like this: risk-free and secure. It’s a part of my per­son­al­ity. I invest in gov­ern­ment bonds over stock. I’m a 9-to-5 guy, who doesn’t like going out on week­days, whose pri­mary goal is to pay off the mort­gage before I retire. My great­ness is a steady pay­cheque, a cat who jumps on my lap, and eight full hours of sleep. I enjoy the sim­ple things, and sat­is­fac­tion with what I have.

And I real­ize that not know­ing the name of Jeff’s band is a sub­con­scious choice I make. That way, there’s less chance I’ll learn of his suc­cess when I’m read­ing the paper.

Less chance I’ll be reminded of how aver­age my life is.

No More Tea

Thumbnail: Hong Kong milk tea with menu

Walking in, the first thing to notice is the aro­matic smell of freshly brewed tea that per­me­ates the air.

They wait on us using Cantonese with var­i­ous accents, an assort­ment of dialects from minor provinces. They rudely throw the dishes on the table, and tell me that I can’t take pic­tures of the menu. My par­ents com­plain to me about the ser­vice, about their main­land man­ners, and say that they’ll never come here again.

I slowly sip my tea, and leave before it’s half fin­ished. Even on a full stom­ach, I can feel myself get­ting uneasy.

The caf­feine is mak­ing me anx­ious, a sub­tle reminder of the panic attack I suf­fered last year.

It’s been six months since I’ve had a glass of authen­tic Hong Kong style milk tea. No more, I’ve decided.

Saturday morn­ings won’t be the same.

Birthday Rounds '06

Thumbnail: Lacey and Rick 
Thumbnail: Aaron 
Thumbnail: Two strangers 
Thumbnail: Trivial Pursuit pieces 
Thumbnail: Buddies 
Thumbnail: 6th floor apartment view 
Thumbnail: Pat playing poker 
Thumbnail: Phil and Nick 
Thumbnail: Me volunteering for something 
Thumbnail: Karen 
Thumbnail: Girls play Trivial Pursuit 
Thumbnail: Rick 

To cover three birth­days (Pat’s, Aaron’s, and Karen’s respec­tively), we all met up at McEwen along the river. The mer­ri­ment con­sisted of some light drink­ing, friendly poker play­ing, and rather seri­ous photo taking.

They say that the ruder you are, the bet­ter a pho­tog­ra­pher it makes you. Since being rude goes against the very basis of my per­son­al­ity, get­ting can­dids of peo­ple with a large cam­era and flash becomes quite a men­tal chal­lenge. Some peo­ple really don’t like to have their pic­ture taken, and they sig­nal this by blink­ing rapidly with bewil­der­ment, com­bined with the fur­row­ing of their brows in annoy­ance. This reminds me that I pri­mar­ily bought a cam­era to have mem­o­ries of my friends, who are all com­fort­able with my paparazzo ten­den­cies. It cer­tainly makes me appre­ci­ate the strangers or acquain­tances who don’t mind.

It was also a hap­pen­stance meet­ing of the four bosses, although def­i­nitely not the pri­vate affair that it usu­ally is.

Greyhound Home

Thumbnail: Bus seats
Thumbnail: Sleepy Passenger
Thumbnail: Half way scenery

I’m on my way home. It’s early morn­ing, and the air is clean and clear. Everyone on the bus is asleep, and even­tu­ally I suc­cumb to the drowsiness.

Half-way through is the Log Cabin, a Greyhound autho­rized stop that’s a com­bi­na­tion con­ve­nience store and restau­rant. Out of the dozens of times I’ve trav­eled this route, I never get off the bus. It’s some pho­bia I have of los­ing my seat, or los­ing my place, or for­get­ting to get back on, but this day I grab my cam­era and step off, giv­ing up to my wanderlust.

This shaggy, old build­ing, located on the side of a two-lane asphalt road stretch­ing end­lessly, is sur­rounded by wilt­ing trees and grass. There’s noth­ing else around but an aban­doned red struc­ture 50 metres away. I walk behind. To my sur­prise is a frozen river run­ning par­al­lel to the high­way, a stark win­ter scene I rarely get to see. The ele­va­tion and veg­e­ta­tion keeps this hid­den from my view on the bus.

And once again, I’ve taken a chance, and this is my reward.