I had Darren over from Toronto for the weekend. We were going to do a movie marathon at the theatre — three in a day — but the movies all sucked. Disturbia? Georgia Rule? Please. Instead, I bought the first season of Six Feet Under, and we finished the roughly 11 hour season over two days. Now I can re-watch it with Bronwen and lend it to Pat. To be honest, I’d seen up to the second season before, but I was too stoned to remember most of it.
Darren also gave me a nice tea container. It’s rather large, since I buy my tea 50mg at a time, but better too big than too small. He also got me some chai tea, considered a wellness blend. When I asked him what for, he couldn’t give me a reason. I love gifts for no reason.
We shared our tattoo ideas, and his was the Chinese character for love on his back. Darren and Bronwen are the some of the few people I can talk openly with about love. We’re such hopeless romantics. We tell each other that we’ll never be married, not to be self-depracating, but to be honest with ourselves. We have our ideals, and we’ll never settle for anything less. It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in our quixotic beliefs.
The most yielding thing in the world
will overcome the most rigid
The most empty thing in the world
will overcome the most full
From this comes a lesson —
Stillness benefits more than action
Silence benefits more than words
—Verse 43, Tao Te Ching
Sometimes, temperance is the greatest weapon.
When someone attacks you with words or tries to make you feel any less than yourself, you merely need acquiesce.
In doing so, you disarm them. You rob them of their only weapon — anger — and their words lose all meaning and significance.
Tai Chi, as the physical manifestation of Taoist philosophies, follows the same idea.
Then you will understand the flow of internal power, and, having repeatedly practiced and refined your technique and explored your own awareness, you can use and control your internal power at will.
The T’ai Chi principle is as simple as this: yield yourself and follow the external forces.
—Waysun Liao, The Essence of T’ai Chi
When your opponent expands, contract. Create a void in your stance, and let them fill that void. By absorbing your opponent’s energy, you reduce it to nothing.
No one proves themselves more inane than one who matches energy with energy, force with force.
I’ve finally come to fully understand such an idea. The theory made sense, but I never put it in practice, and practice is what makes the understanding complete. It was only recently that I had the chance to apply it. The old me was hot-headed with too much to prove. When faced with insulting, patronizing words, I would have reacted, instead of following the principle of wu wei. The situation was a test of myself, and I passed.
While writing this, I realized that my RSS subscribers will lose most of the entry; more than half of it is in the captions of the photos, which are embedded in the link tag. Almost all my pictures have captions actually. I may try writing a WordPress plugin or modify Lightbox JS 2 to display the captions in subscription feeds.
Pat and Jen had ten of us over for the Victoria day weekend. They put the extra leafs in the table and it was twelve in all. Potato casserole, ribs, drumsticks, sausages, salad, corn-on-the-cob, and I don’t even remember what was on the other end. It was funny to see how proud Pat was that there was too much food to fit on the 12 person table. I can understand though; there’s nothing more satisfying than being a good host. I prefer the host role to the guest role actually. It’s when I can be in control of the situation, and I’m much better at making sure people are taking care of than being taken care of myself (I think a sense of imposing is what contributes to this).
I won my first game of Settlers of Catan. The quiet ones are the ones who win, they say, so I tried to keep my mouth shut amidst all the jocular smack-talk. The guys also played Capcom vs. SNK 2. Even though we all come from different backgrounds, every single one of us knew how to play. Very telling of how pervasive the Street Fighter series is to our generation.
The guests help clean up without asking, they thank you for having them, and in return, the hosts thank you for coming. You can tell a lot about people, not just from their friends, but their company as well.
A while ago, Dan and I made plans to play some table tennis yesterday.
It’s been a year since we went to the old recreational club. The venue changes every year, and this season it was too much of a hassle for me to go as it was buried somewhere in the city. For Dan, the new venue was too far to be practical to go on a regular basis.
When we arrived, there were all familiar faces. We greeted them with handshakes and how-you-doings. Yerka, from the Czech Republic, arrived when we were catching up. Along with her Polish husband Andrei, Yerka was one of the new members last year. Andrei was on my league team, and even though I was captain, Andrei was definitely the best player, with Yerka always there to support him from the bleachers.
I extended my hand to her, but in the European fashion she leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. I reacted and adjusted for a kiss as well, but apparently there’s a rule on which side to kiss first.
My friends and I never faire la bise, and in my ignorance, I went for her right cheek, she went for my left, and we ended up kissing full on the lips.
Some think I have a form of OCD. They notice that I have to do things in a certain way. These things aren’t exactly debilitating to the point of being considered disorders, but they’re big enough for people to give me a teasing now and then.
I have to sleep with the end of the blankets at my feet. My duvet and cover are separate, so the opening is at one end. It bugs the craaaaaaaaap out of me if it’s not at the bottom.
I always carry a few things with me. Lip balm (Labello brand), cell phone, iPod, lens cloth (to clean glasses or camera), in addition to the normal wallet and keys. If I have a bag, this list expands to include a notebook with pen, and a camera. I’m very uneasy without them. I look for pants with appropriately sectioned pockets for this reason.
I wash my hands about 10–12 times over the course of a day. As a result, my hands dry out (which I also can’t stand) so I use Glaxal Base a couple times a day, which is a perfume-free, water-based lotion. It’s so hypoallergenic and absorbent that they use it as a base for topical medication.
I hate having an odd number of eggs in my fridge. This may be due to the fact that I never deviate from eating two eggs in one sitting. If I ever cook an odd number of eggs (maybe when a guest wants one or three), then I’m left with an odd number of eggs that I’ll forever be trying to even out again.
I always walk to the beat of the song I’m listening to. Most songs are in common time (4/4), which can be divided or multiplied by two, so adjusting the walking pace (in essence, two beats) is easy. Something based in 3 (such as Lamb’s album Fear of Fours) is less flexible. The only time I walk at my own pace is during songs with irregular or changing time signatures, like any progressive rock album where I can’t even figure out where the down beat is.
I have to wear slippers on tile or ceramic floors. I don’t know why.
I can’t listen to an album out of order. There may be songs I don’t like in the album, and I’ll have no problem skipping them, but I listen to the rest in order.
I have to eat portions of food in a certain way. This is only true for big meals with side and main dishes. There’s an order: side dish (mashed potatoes, or toast), side dish (corn, or egg), main dish (turkey, or bacon), rotating between all three, but always saving the main dish for the last bite. I find there’s a better contrast with the food when you switch between dishes. Flavours get lost when too much of the same thing is eaten. This is as opposed to Aaron, who eats his side dishes first, and then saves almost the entirety of his main dish for last.
At the rehearsal dinner I was lucky enough to meet Dennis, Aaron’s older cousin from Edinburgh, Scotland, and we immediately hit it off. Some people don’t so much talk with you as at you, whereas talking to others can be like dragging a stick through the mud, but for us it was the perfect balance. The art of conversation is dead, we agreed, and finding each other was like two Masonic brothers from different lodges meeting for the first time.
Pat later told me that, on arriving, he didn’t say hi to me for fear of interrupting us. Our faces were so intense, focused on each other, he said. Dennis and I exchanged contact info, and he offered me a place to stay if I ever went to Scotland. Normally, I’d brush off such an invitation as a glib pleasantry, if it weren’t for the fact that he repeated it five or six times over both nights. In return, I offered him a place to stay if he ever wanted to give Nana and Popa (whom he calls June and Vic) a break. It’s funny, I never knew their names until then.
I also had a good talk with Rob while Aaron and Chris were outside smoking cigars that night (which turned into the morning) before the wedding. We bonded over our love of Aaron, and I got to probe Rob, who’s deep enough for an entire entry I’ll be posting soon.
This is the Story of Aaron and Karen
Before I gave my speech, I showed this video as a way for everyone, but most importantly Aaron and Karen, to know how the groom’s side felt. Notice the keg-can of Heineken in Trolley’s shots.
I learned a lot about being an interviewer, about asking the right questions, about trying not to laugh at funny stories. You can hear in the way I ask Jay (yellow shirt), “In what way?”, that my cheeks are tightened in a big smile. I also realized that I shouldn’t finish other peoples thoughts, which is a bad habit of mine. The interviewer shouldn’t present any bias.
Everyone told me afterward that they were touched by how Aaron spoke from the heart. The interesting thing is that people were laughing at parts I didn’t expect them to laugh at. In my speech too. I don’t write to be funny; I can’t be a funny person why I try. It happens rather accidentally.
The speech did go well. I like how people started saying, “Woo hoo!” and “Cheers to that!” for the toast. If you listen closely after I give my thanks, there’s one person who claps well before anyone else, and I’ll forever be wondering who it was and why they were clapping with such vigor.
The ceremony was short and sweet, though it was a little cold. The Prince Charlie jacket doesn’t breathe, so the groomsmen were warm for most of it. I felt bad for the bridesmaids though, who wore backless, sleeveless dresses.
I caught up with Nick and Alison, whom I hope to see for a few photo projects down in that area at some point during the summer (I wish I was able to bring my camera to the wedding though). I got to know Steph a little better, and you could tell from the way she talks that she really cares about Trolley, which was important for me to find out. Hanging out with Jay was a blast too; he’s a really fun, easy-going guy, and I can totally see why he’s such good friends with Aaron. Pat did some robotics for us to the Scottish dance music, and I had the opportunity to introduce him to Dennis, hoping that both conversationalists would hit it off.
We danced, we mingled, we ate, we laughed. Weddings always offer great opportunities for such things. What other chance would I have to wear something as fun as the Scottish regalia (although Dennis explained to me that Ontario and Canada have their own tartans, and that I’d have the right to wear one if I wanted).
I was talking to Pat the other day and the subject of my sizable debt came up. Debt used to trouble me. I did everything I could to stay debt-free, and was successful until this year. For some reason though, I stopped caring about money. “You must be really happy”, he said, “if something that big doesn’t bother you anymore”.
It was true, but I never realized it until then. All the good things in life have easily outweighed the bad. There isn’t a single thing that I can point to and explain why, but it’s happened — gradually, progressively — over the course of the last year or so. I’ve become very comfortable with myself. I’m happy with who I am. The confidence I’ve gained, my luck in meeting Bronwen, the resolution of the situation with my mom have all contributed I’m sure. The small things don’t bother me anymore, and almost everything is a small thing. I still lose sight of the big picture every now and then and get in one of my moods, but they don’t last as long as they used to.
Now a new design.
I’ve had my own site since 1996, and looking back on all the different versions (around two dozen in all) I realize that they’ve all been dark — less than 30% grey. I used to be a dark person, and the designs were a reflection of this.
This new design serves two purposes. Metaphorically, the light grey (93%) represents my feeling of mirth. Technically, through various tweaking, I can take advantage of different design elements, such as strong (these were links in the last iteration) and emphasis. I also wanted to go back to the traditional underlined links, with a slight hover flourish. Pixel icons have been updated for extra playfulness. Also added is a colophon in the About section.
Not a complete layout change — really, it’s mostly colour — but probably the most drastic change I’ve ever made to the site.
Spring is when you wake up, and you’re sick and you’re groggy and your hair refuses to co-operate, and your iPod ran out of batteries, and you’re late for work but you take your time walking anyway because the sun’s in your face and the wind’s at your back and for some reason you know that everything’s going to be alright.
There’s a Blonde Redhead concert tonight. I was going to head to Toronto to see it with Darren and we would have made it a weekend together, but the wedding rehearsal has taken priority. I’ve been going through 23 since it came out last month, and it still feels a little foreign. The songs don’t hit you in the gut or give you the same sense of lysergic bliss like ones from Misery is a Butterfly, but overall it’s a decent album. Ironically, the latter album is what I listen to cheer myself up, but now it only serves as a reminder of what I’m missing. I would have given anything to be there.
The bachelor party went better than I could have ever planned. Aaron wanted a weekend where the groomsmen could bond with each other so initial plans were to head to Montreal, but I suggested to host it at my house, where I felt like I had the most control.
Friday night was drinking with everyone at the Honest Lawyer. We got the biggest table there, and for a couple hours it felt like we owned the bar with our large and rowdy group. There was much tomfoolery to which our lips are sealed, as is the custom for any bachelor party, the footage of which will forever be locked in the vault. There’s nothing wrong with a drink or three though.
I even moonwalked (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) around the perimeter of the bar, weaving between groups of people, put up by Pat for 10 points. He said the funniest thing was seeing everyone’s reaction. I was too busy making sure I didn’t bump into anyone to notice that people stopped what they were doing and turned their heads as I passed them. When I closed the circle the table cheered and I felt all eyes in the place on me. Something I normally avoid at all costs, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good.
It was also a meeting of the four bosses, the last time of which was almost a year ago during the birthday rounds. I was comforted knowing that Aaron was at my front, Trolley to his right, and Pat to mine at the table. The next meeting will be at the wedding itself this weekend. Exciting!
By Saturday we reduced to the core group for the rest of the tournament, which was groomsmen and MC. You know you’re old when conversation over breakfast is mainly about bacon, arts and crafts, and cooking shows. The pound of bacon challenge was worth 5 points, as evidenced by the plate dedicated to pork, which Aaron and Rob easily achieved.
Even though he didn’t show up until Saturday afternoon, I got to meet Jay, who was the only one out of Aaron’s crew that I hadn’t met. The rest of the weekend was spent game playing, Nerf warring, ultimate fighting in the backyard, and hanging out.
In the end, there just wasn’t enough time to do everything planned. I was also spreading myself thin between recording video, taking photos, and acting as organizer/host. Sometimes I wish I could be part of the action, but it’s more worth it to me to make sure the right angles, focus, compositions are taken. Still an absolute blast.
Left screen, I’m going over the bachelor party footage. We’re recovering from a night of drinking over bacon and eggs in a high-corner wide-angle shot. Right screen, I’m talking to Aaron on Messenger.
Aaron: bro, you know I love you
Aaron: like for real
Aaron: no shit
Jeff: thanks man, i love you too
Aaron: no ‘you’re my bro’ shit
Aaron: the real deal
“No ‘You’re my bro’ shit”, he says. Bro. The word we sometimes use to remind each other that we’re family. Nothing emasculates some like the “l” word, but we’re passed that.
“you know I love you”. He was first to say it this time, and it catalyzes the tears down my face.
The video’s still playing. In it we’re ebullient, fraternizing, and I can’t help but laugh along too.
I remember another time, about three years ago, when I broke down after dealing with my mom and her incorrigible ways. I rolled a joint and smoked it as soon as I got off the phone. As the weed went to my brain, my mood evened out. I was numb to the pain but the tears didn’t stop, like a physical reflex.
What a strange feeling it was to be crying and laughing or stoned at the same time.
Life is the same way. It’s never black and white, and there’s no absolute right or wrong. There are grey areas, points of passion between pleasure and pain.
Even crying from joy is an enigmatic microcosm of such an idea. I remember doing so only one other time, at the end of grade 7, during the final auditions for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Out of 10 schools, we were competing to spend the summer singing on stage with Donny Osmond. When they announced the name of our school we jumped out of our seats in cheer, but I could feel my face grimace from the emotion, tears filling up my eyes. It’s as if you’re overtaken by sadness that you’ll never feel as happy again.
Like yin and yang, one doesn’t exist without the other, and often they exist at once.
It appears that the heavenly bodies have aligned against me in a cosmic joke.
Let me explain. The trends at Tristan & America this season are actually sensible, and this is coinciding with the first time in my life that I’m in debt.
I used to shop at T&A years ago. With ribbed sweaters and sharp silk ties, they always had a classic sense of fashion. Around 2002 the style turned into what I can only describe as urban cowboy. Dress shirts were adorned with tasseled fringes and pre-worn edges. Mannequins even had the Texan string tie. For the next four years they experimented, what I’d consider a strong euphemism, with different styles, until this season.
The spring/summer collection has gone back to it’s classic roots, with a lovely blend of earthy tones. I like to stay with neutral colours — though nothing pastel — because I don’t like my clothes to make bold statements. I prefer to hide my personality, what I’m thinking, and let my actions speak for themselves.
New clothes are definitely more of a want than a need, so it’s hard for me to justify going further into debt to add more to an already full closet.
Maybe I’ll wait until it goes on sale at the end of summer. The problem, especially at T&A, is that the small sizes disappear within days.
The cosmic gods, they’re laughing at me.
The zipper on my khakis jammed and promptly died at a rather inopportune time (well, I guess there’s never really an opportune time for such a thing). When I brought them in to get fixed, I realized that I didn’t have a backup pair.
I only buy khakis at Randy River, the store with the wiiiide-legs that nearly cover my foot with shoes off. Even the Dickies relaxed-fit work-wear series aren’t wide enough, and they’re too stiff for my taste. They also lack a double-reinforced back leg cuff, which I like cause all my pants touch the ground.
The only problem with R2 is that the smallest size they have for pants is 30. As I found out when getting measured for the wedding, I’m actually a 26 waist, but I prefer 28–29 max so I can wear them low on the hips. When they’re 30, I have to cinch up my belt because otherwise they’re really low.
This season, the R2 khakis are all very dark with slight orange tones, and cargo pockets or frayed edges. Really not my style. At least I got my current pair back within a week. Hopefully they’ll survive me until next season.
Fall of the Ben cut
They discontinued the Ben wide-leg cut from Bluenotes. Instead, they’ve come out with a new Walker boot-cut. Off the shelf, the Walker cut really reminds me of the flare they put on girls jeans back when I was in high-school, but I only say this cause I like to give Aaron a hard time about it. They look good on him, but he can pull off anything.
Bluenotes is the only place I buy jeans, and jeans are the only thing I buy at Bluenotes. It’s because of the Ben cut that I go there (and certainly not their pop-culture silk-screened shirts). When I found out they aren’t being made anymore, I had to buy the last three pairs on the rack — two 29s and a pair of 28s.
Oh Ben. You define me.
What will I do for jeans now when they all wear out? For the last couple years I’ve done preppy tops with skater bottoms, but maybe my style will change by then.
I met a girl across the sea
Her hair the gold that gold can be
Are you the teacher of the heart?
Yes, but not for thee
So I asked out Jenn.
I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise; Jenn’s been — perhaps unwittingly — a source of quixotic inspiration as of late.
It was something I approached delicately, out of a sense of propriety (if indeed, such a thing still exists), and the fact that Aaron and Karen are our close mutual friends. An avowal of such a nature, handled incorrectly, always has the potential to be a cause of awkwardness at parties.
Not that I wasn’t already awkward enough around her.
Jenn’s presence alone would make me flustered. When I could speak, it would often be a flourish of nonsensical words. Something that’s humourous in hindsight, but rather frustrating in the moment.
To be so affected always took me by surprise.
I would tell myself, “This will pass. This is a phase, an infatuation; time or luck will have me grow out of this.”
And it worked, for a while. I moved on, having convinced myself of such an idea, never telling anyone how I felt. Then one day, I realized that I was only fooling myself. It became obvious when I’d think of her in the lyrics of every song. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t need to defend some part of myself from her. Until then, I never believed in love at first sight. I didn’t want to believe it. After all, how do you explain such an illogical, ineffable, irrepressible feeling? I grew, but not out of this, and in vain had I struggled.
She said no.
It’s funny to think that with the wisdom I’ve gained, the experiences I’ve had, I can still be reduced to such an adolescent emotion. I don’t think anyone, myself included, would have imagined this would happen to me again, not at this age, not with what I’ve been through.
I just wonder now, when we’re both at Aaron and Karen’s wedding, after giving me her polite declination, whether I’ll still feel the same. Sometimes you think you’ve moved on. You think you’re over someone, until you do something as simple as see them again and your heart stops. Love, attraction, infatuation, they’re never so conventional as to be understood.