I haven’t had much to say, which is always a strange state to be in. Probably due to the fact that I’m making a conscious effort to listen more and speak less. You begin to wonder about the importance of your thoughts, and what really needs to be said.
It feels like I’m between…things. I’ve recently finished off a few projects, so I’m taking a break before I start another productivity binge. Me-time has mostly involved winning drafts and cashing in wagers. Lisa’s off to Hawaii for her honeymoon so it’ll be a month before I see her again, but that gives me a much-needed chance to spend time with the friends who aren’t part of my regular schedule.
The cats are into their spring cycles, shedding like mad, and sleeping by the door during the day. I’m tempted to cut my hair short again in anticipation of the heat, but I’m having too much fun growing it out right now. I’ve decided to embrace the length cause I know I’ll get sick of it eventually and cut of it off, like any other cycle of growth and loss, love and hate.
Spring officially begins when I can leave the windows in my house open all day. This only lasts about a week though, and is also around the time I have to remember to turn the stereo down at red lights and residential areas, a small price to pay for the simple pleasure of waking up with a breeze on my face.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve been on a schedule. Even the number of meals I have in a day has started to vary. Goals and deadlines are what help me keep pace. I know this can’t last forever, so I’m taking advantage of the time to be free and explore and establish the bonds I’ll need for the next stage of my life.
The struggle now is about balance, mostly between nourishing myself and my relationships, as there’s rarely enough time for both lately. Thankfully, spring is teaching me patience too. I’ve stopped trying to control everything, and I’m letting go of the tendency to want things be to be different from how they are right now.
The old me would have been scared to so unreservedly place myself in the hands fate. Now I know I’ll be okay if I can find happiness in however things are at any moment.
I’m riding on so much momentum it feels like I’ll never come to a stop. This is a drastic change from only a short while ago, and I can attribute it mostly to the chances I’ve had to apply the lessons I’ve learned. Being able to prove to myself that I still have things to discover, that I’m still refining myself as a person, has left me feeling confident and humble lately.
April 20th is the one day I wish I owned a BeaverTails stand. Protesting doesn’t get any more peaceful than this.
Making peace with myself used to be a struggle. Now that I’m actually happy with who I am, I realize how low a bar that used to be. I’ve been through stretches like this before though and they’ve never lasted, so I’m still approaching it all with cautious optimism. At least now I’m wise enough to know that happiness is something that needs to be worked at consistently, in the little ways, and I’m strong enough to keep it going.
Jon-Kabat Zinn has been helping me on this path too. I’ve been listening to a series of his mindful meditation exercises, and I carry a sense of calm through the day whenever I hear his voice. Every now and then he offers gentle advice on doing this kind of work, like how important it is to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and I’ve been discovering that so much of it has relevance in other parts of my life.
It’s all a bit of a blur now, especially since we agree it feels like it’s been a year since my responsibilities as a son and a cousin and a friend in Toronto. I do remember trying to balance the caffeine — so I could be clear-headed and enjoying myself — with the insomnia that comes from having so much energy every night. Also, these acts of guerrilla happiness where messages of hope were expressed through posters and spray paint. It would appear that vandalism crosses over into art only in cities with a skyline worth mentioning.
We ended up at the Ontario Science Centre twice, once as nerds and again as wedding guests, which worked out cause the only exhibit we didn’t get a chance to see one day ended up being the only exhibit open to us during the reception. The highlight is always the planetarium though, in all it’s bean-bag, time-traveling glory, the experience itself worth the price of admission. With the exception of a poor facsimile of dragon’s beard candy, everything worked out.
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It’s good to have something to write about again. To have friends who are comforting and kind in my most sensitive moments, and just as importantly, things to confide in them. Good hair days. Reasons to wear something nice. Dreams without desire. Feelings without fear.
I never realized how much I needed a get away until I came home and got more done in a week than in the month before I left. Without a guitar or a workload or an internet connection or a routine or any of my decks, detaching from life as I knew it was a simple matter. Maybe that’s why it felt like I was gone for so long, even though time passed so quickly. The only real consideration I ever had was how I’d like to spend each particular moment, and presented with that kind of freedom, I learned to truly let go of everything else.
We’ve started making wagers in our multiplayer Magic games, small baubles or other people’s property or an half-hour of labour to add another dimension to the gameplay. For a particular three-way match, I anted my attendance at Catan Catan Strip-Catan cause I couldn’t make up my mind on going. Another busy week meant I was tired of being social — with the possibility of being naked in such a situation, no less — but it still sounded like a night that shouldn’t be passed up.
Socks are usually the first to go, but the pair counts as one point. And Brandon isn’t playing, he’s just half-naked for reasons.
Tiana and Shawn teamed up on me, since they wanted me to go more than they wanted to win what I had offered. However, they’ve also been making me feel comfortable with myself lately (the cuddles always help), so I was okay with being tackle-out at some point during the party. I ended up winning all my Catan matches anyway, and never needed to take off more than an accoutrement.
Holy shit how did this song find me in the middle of blanketing white snowfall, instead of summer? I’ll take it either way. I’ve needed a new addiction after too many maudlin jazz albums, too often fuelled by hard-living and a woman. This means I’m ready for a taste of warm weather. I miss the wind through my clothes and the smell of girls’ skin when it’s been touched by sweat and sunlight.
I’m in the process of simplifying, which has meant figuring out my priorities, and truly letting go of the things I don’t need, whether it’s a bad habit or relationship or thought. Maybe this is why I haven’t been feeling my age; it feels like I’m constantly starting over in various parts of my life.
This hasn’t made writing any easier. I’m always waiting for a feeling to last, but it tends to pass before I have a chance to get it down on paper. Maybe the instability is what I should be writing about. Not about who I am, but how much things are changing.
Audra recently wrote about how frustrating it is when she can’t get into a state of permanence. She said it particularly well here: “I know it is not realistic for all progress to be linear, or for things to be able to become constant once they become good. But I sure do daydream about it.” It makes me feel so validated when someone is able to put into words the things I’ve been going through without having talked about it with them.
My dad asks if I want to get a picture before we start, Lisa says he must know me very well.
In between: Chris finally kisses Angie. It’s a goodnight kiss while her creepy colleague is asleep in the same room, yet somehow manages to be the sweetest first-kiss ever. I start to grow my hair out and wear it down, out of boredom. People say it fits me. Byron brings me his toys so I’ll toss them again, and I begin to wonder who’s training who. Lisa meets my dad. We finally watch True Romance and Gary Oldman becomes my new favourite actor. I rack up over 150 hours played in Awesomenauts this year, and I’ve made online friends (it’s weird). Assad loses another general to the rebels, there’s still no end in sight after three years of fighting, and otherwise I remain blissfully ignorant to the world.
My wit and my eloquence are not at their best at this particular moment, which is why I have no quick riposte to your ribbing. All my humour is dry and self-deprecating anyway. It’s making me wonder if you think I can’t take an Asian joke or two. The truth is, I don’t know how to make fun of anyone but myself.
Too bad you’ve got piss tests coming up. We’ve got this balcony, the right occasion, and I don’t drink anymore. Doesn’t mean I can’t listen to your war stories, or dangle in the air when you give out bear hugs. Perhaps I’d be less awkward when it comes to such bonding if I was in high-school JV football. Seth made the team one year, and scored a touchdown for guys like us.
I remember you. Iain and I went to buy a $5 hit off your bong 10 years ago, back when we cut our teeth on prairie fires and five-cent wings and I’ll-never-do-that-again. You were dancing to jazz by yourself in a beater and perpetual Kangol when we walked in, but you wore no shame on your face. The world is small when our lives are not.
Last time I saw Iain was at the housewarming, but I still think of him every time I use those crystal glasses he gave me that day. He would have wanted them filled with something tight-bodied and twelve-years old. Nowadays all I can take is a little Bailey’s on my Mayan chocolate Häagen-Dazs. Luckily they’re also perfect for ice cream.
I’ve long missed these nights. Breathing fresh air when stepping out of a stuffy bar. That sudden calm when coming out of the din. Big groups with the chance to change conversations. Nights that have been replaced by dinners with nuclear families and one-on-ones. Oddly enough, the only thing in common are stories of how one’s son is learning to play with his dick. The world would have me believe that a man isn’t made by the drinks he orders but by the attention he gives his kids.
If only I didn’t have to go so soon. I’ve never been to the peelers in Ottawa, and I can only imagine where my bills will end up.
I can tell I’ve had enough of winter when I start to enjoy the days above 0 more than the ones below. Those are the days when the air is clear without being frigid, and you’re only cold when sun isn’t on your skin. I know I’ll be okay when such heralds of warm weather appear. Spring is coming just in time this year.
Constant plans and new projects are making the weeks pass as quickly as ever, only now I mark the time by my days with Lisa. We’ve set aside every other Thursday for each other, and it’s the only commitment I have in my life now, something I haven’t had the pleasure of sharing with someone in a while.
Step one in making cat food: get over the fact that the souls of a million chickens will eventually haunt you at night for grinding up their hearts.
She recently started helping me make my own cat food, which involves her schlepping a meat grinder, vitamin supplements, and giant tub to my place every time, but she loves taking care of my cats as much as I do. We can both agree it’s well worth the effort when seeing how much they appreciate fresh meat and how healthy it makes them.
The rest of our time is spent with Miley Highrus and Zelda Hitzgerald, sharing the things we’ve grown to love by ourselves as much as the things we’ve yet to experience together, watching Skins and learning that I like Chris cause Chris likes Angie and I really like Angie. Some weeks, this is the only time we have off from the rest of our respective lives, and the things we can share only in person make it all the more special.
I can’t help but question what I know about love and happiness and truth and the world and myself. I’ve been trying to let go of the things I understand and the way I feel, giving myself time to let everything settle, but embracing the groundlessness hasn’t been easy. It often leaves me feeling very much out of my element no matter what I’m doing, and longing for some semblance of stability. The most I can do is keep in mind that there’s no pressure to be a certain way, and that answers will come in their own time.
Before playing at Slaysh we decided to call ourselves The Jeff Band, featuring Jesse as frontman and Father as Dad. Our half-hour set consisted of five songs, Jesse charming the audience with his banter (as always), and not a single unrecoverable mistake made.
When there’s only one take, it’s easy for me to get caught up in focusing too intently and losing my place. That’s why no matter how much I practice, I’m always nervous about playing solos and carrying vamps. Nevertheless, it’s good to know I’m still capable of such feelings, and that in some ways, we’re forever children.
Howard the Fox Project on her Godin 5th Avenue, an archtop with curves in all the right places.
Slowing down hasn’t been easy. Being efficient is an old habit of mine. Only now do I understand how much passes by when you’re constantly going at full pace. I’ve been savouring every experience, holding each one in my awareness and letting it be as intense as possible.
If only it didn’t feel like I’m falling every step of the way, constantly expecting to land on solid ground. I’ve never been so unsure of everything. The book says it’s natural to experience some unnerving groundlessness when the foundation of old beliefs falls away, but knowing this is all part of the process doesn’t make it any easier. I never would have expected to be going through so much upheaval at this point in my life.
French toast loaf is the most ingenius thing since syrup.
Good company has been helping me ride out the storm. People have been nurturing my sense of secure attachment by saying the things I need to hear, helping me get shit done, and taking the initiative to make plans. If only it didn’t leave me feeling even more overstimulated and distracted at a time when I’m constantly trying to remain focused and present.
Few people have been able to fill the void lately. The ones who do sing to me the unashamedly erotic songs of John Dowland and help me test new decks.
Through it all, I’ve been trying to take five breaths every now and then, inhaling and exhaling a little more fully than usual. Trying not to live like it’s a friday every day. Trying to figure out if I should apologize for using your song to score the moments I shared with someone else. Trying to reconcile my old Taoist beliefs with my new Buddhist views. Trying to be happy with the person I am, instead of letting discontent drive self-improvement.
Frigid winter days are teaching me patience and vulnerability. Some are easier than others. I’ve been working with the fickle swings instead of against them. Otherwise, it’s a constant struggle when trying to impose static order on inherently unstable processes. The hard part is making plans when you don’t know how you’ll feel from one day to the next.
Back in the day when we were doing covers of Frank Ocean songs. One of the most recognizable things about Jesse’s room are instruments strewn about.
The greatest test of my progress so far will be an acoustic show Jesse asked me to play with him on Sunday. Anxiety has been getting the better of me lately, and the prospect of having only two nights of rehearsal does nothing to assuage this.
I’ve been keeping in mind that we were able to pull off a decent performance last time when I didn’t know the show was going to happen until a few hours prior; one of those exercises to foster positive experiences and combat negativity bias. Fortunately, Jesse is a great frontman to be behind, cause he commands the attention of anyone watching, also taking the attention away from nervous fingers and live jitters.
The journey of self-discovery has been difficult. When there’s a history of trauma, it’s inevitable that an uncomfortable feelings get stirred up every now and then. I take care of myself by making sure I see the important people on a consistent basis and living in those moments. The little ways to heal are found in both the experiences themselves and the time one takes to internalize those experiences.
This is how I learn that self-compassion isn’t self-pity, and that most people bring less kindness to themselves than to others. To get on my own side, I’ve been visualizing myself as a child, just as worthy of care as any other. I would wish the best for that little person, and it helps me understand that I should wish the best for myself as well.
The holiday season is officially over when it doesn’t feel right to watch Christmas specials of Only Fools and Horses. The Trotter boys are out of their element, trying to strike it rich in exotic locales, and the Peckham flat is too far away for things to feel normal. Still, watching them makes me miss the UK more than ever. I’ve taken to episodes of Sherlock to get my dose of London nights until I can find a way to make it over there again.
Pointer of quarry, tamer of cats.
Over here, it’s been a faithful Canadian winter. Bouts of varied snowfall, record-breaking lows, and a spot of freezing rain here and there. My guitar must be achingly dry as the modest humidifier helplessly fails to maintain balance against the constant churn of the furnace.
I’ve been picking her up again, rebuilding my blisters and re-learning old songs. Sometimes I wonder how I was ever able to play certain passages, but knowing I have before makes it easier the second time around. This time it feels a little different though. I have a better reach and a more confident picky, along with some new pains that have found their way into my hands.
The cold that permeates the house means Dolly prefers sleeping in her bed over any one spot, and I can carry her around with me from room to room to keep me company. Byron is rarely far away. Even though he’s not as affectionate as Dolly, he’s still my cat in the way he comes to walk on me when I wake, and the ritual playtime we have after teeth are brushed.
With the cats forming a little nest wherever I go, and the view of ice and snow just outside the window, I have little reason to leave the house nowadays.
When Karen’s at yoga, Aaron and I take turns cooking dinner and playing with Ryan and Ruby (read: keeping them occupied and out of trouble). Then we gingerly convince them to eat what they can (good days involve utensils), make sure they’re bathed, and put into bed with a story if they’ve been good. Everything is manageable as one but easier with two, especially when the simple act of getting rice into a child’s mouth can turn into an ordeal.
This is when I get to experience the joys of having children in manageable doses. That means not having to deal with diaper changes, and reading the same 30-word book only four times instead of 400.
The new laptops were presents from Nana and Papa at Christmas. Now they can send/receive e-mails, and blog about the awesome poop they just took.
Ryan used to be particularly excited to see his Uncle Jeff, leaving Aaron and Karen to wonder what got into him when I was around. Now that he’s a bit older, his face doesn’t carry the same glow when I arrive anymore, and he’s happier to see the marbles I brought. But Ruby is beginning that phase of enamour, and constantly clambering into my lap to involve herself in what I’m doing. Recently she started asking me to carry her (which I’m told means membership in an exclusive club consisting of her parents and me), even though she’s just learned to manage stairs by herself.
They seem to grow by inches every week, and they’ll soon be old enough to take care of themselves. I’ve learned to appreciate the little chances I have to be truly part of a family like this, especially after deciding last year against ever having kids of my own. And I don’t feel the need for children anymore cause this will always be enough.
I’ve been trying to stay vocal about my needs, lest I fall back into old life traps and defence mechanisms. It means I’m still applying lessons learned from last year, still trying to be open even if it means being vulnerable.
As far as I can tell, this has been working in my favour. Otherwise, Seth wouldn’t be coming over on Saturday to teach me how to play the acoustic version of Sean Rowe’s Jonathan, one of those songs I’ve always wanted to learn before I die.
As a side-effect, it’s been a struggle to balance my relationship needs with overstimulation. The other night we smoked an apéritif in the car before spending three hours gorging ourselves on all-you-can-eat sushi, learning that the small but significant privileges of our class come in plates of bite-sized fatty protein made to order. Then we watched the entire first season of Tim and Eric, Awesome Show! Great Job, and played Magic until 4:30 in the morning.
It left me burnt out and I must have lost two days, yet it still feels like I don’t have enough nights like that, sharing real moments with people who don’t perpetually have somewhere else to be or someone else to see. I need more of those times in my everyday life, not just in the days marked on my calendar.
Julia asked me how long I’d been spending Christmas at their house. We figured out this was the seventh year, cause I have pictures of Ginger from 2005, before she died. I can’t say I remember each Christmas distinctly, aside from a few extra faces and occasional makeouts that cause some to stand out more than others. It’s strange to think that I’ve known Braiden for more than half his life. I perpetually think of him as being seven.
The kids are getting older, no longer up at 5am and anxiously waiting by the presents until they’re allowed to wake up the parents. The idea of Santa has long been dispelled. Braiden’s given up being a centre for goalie, lost his post-season scruff cut, and at 13 is only an inch shorter than me. Nicole’s done most of her growing and will be legal in four months, but at the age where she’s still someone’s daughter instead of her own woman. Julia’s sporting a new voice and piercing, but has kept all the sass that comes with being the middle child.
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