My Canon 5D Mark II has been a faithful companion for five years. It’s followed me on even the most mundane trips, as I wanted to be sure no experience was lost in the years where I found myself growing beyond the furthest plans I’d made. However, it’s remained tucked away in the closet for the last while, as part of an effort to more mindful of each moment; moments that may be lost when I’m finding the right angle or waiting for the right scene.
As a result, the trusty LowePro Fastpack I used to take everywhere — with space enough for a camera body, three lenses, and an assortment of odds and ends — no longer fit my lifestyle and needs. Fortunately, I was given a chance to try out Knomo’s Troon messenger bag, and discovered it’s the perfect fit for my new journeys.
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Order matters. Timing is important. It’s helpful to arrive at the point where things can only get better, but losing everything takes time. Making mistakes is okay. Being unable to cope is okay. Not being ready to say it back is okay. Life is a balance between holding on and letting go. Some people should never have children. You’re only over someone when you don’t need to make a conscious effort to stop thinking about them. The first step in taking responsibility for your needs is communicating those needs.
Cats are little bundles of non-judgmental, unassuming, food-conditional love.
I need to be with listeners more than talkers. A day spent writing letters that will never be read isn’t a waste. Some people don’t know how to help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s important to make peace with one’s suffering. You never stop growing with the right people in your life. She never loved me more than the words I wrote. The last thing I want is to be ignored when I open up. It’s okay when friends prioritize their kids before me. It’s okay to prioritize myself before anyone else. Always be mindful of long hair when cuddling.
There are people who love me enough to save my life (and pants are optional at their parties).
The ones with a little bit of darkness to them tend to be more interesting. If a guy in a suit is cute like me, that means I’m cute like him. Lisa is my third cat and that’s enough for now. I deserve to be happy. A bad trip doesn’t necessarily mean a bad experience. Strength is often quiet, receptive determination, rather than chest-thumping pushiness. Being kind to difficult people is just as important as being kind to benefactors and friends; being kind to myself is most important of all.
Heather G left a package outside my door after trying to make plans and getting what must have been a distant answer. Organic herbal tea, 80% dark chocolate truffles, and not only sushi from my favourite restaurant, but my favourite kinds too. She knows me extraordinarily well for a person I barely get a chance to see, and she cares so much even though she has no idea what I’m going through. It’s helped me realize that some people are better at being what you need, that you can’t expect every person to fill all the roles in your life. I’m also trying to figure out what those needs are right now, and how to express those needs to others (or how hard it is for me to express them).
It always takes me a while to recover from these kinds of weeks, and this one was particularly difficult. When the cops showed up, I pulled the whole Drexl Spivey thing and ate my Chinese, carried on like I ain’t got a care in the world. I know what they need to hear, especially the second time around, and what’s more, I know that nothing they say will make a difference.
Everything has left me feeling numb and overstimulated. Almost all the hours are spent in Far Cry 3 with a bolt-action suppressed Z93, wasting time and lives in appropriate portions. Losing myself in that world and not getting anything productive done at all was an easy decision. I know I deserve to be okay for a little while, and we all deal with our damage in different ways.
Of you, arms up and chest out, body crashing against the surf. Top pulled back into place with each wave, bottoms adjusted as needed. A splash of rain on a flower soon to burgeon.
In that instance I became aware of what was happening in myself. I could look at it clearly, and saw it as it was because it was already there, part of my experience in that moment, for better or for worse. I allowed myself to be exactly as I was without fear or shame. Detached yet present. Mindful to how I’ve longed to feel this for someone again, and how I’ve never fully surrendered myself to it until now. A reason for the lyrics in the awkward smiles, the molto crescendo in every incidental touch.
This is a picture I didn’t take of you, a memory from which I can’t seem to look away. A moment I carry with me to remind myself that I can love again.
I’ve been having a lot of fun making these little animated gifs, each one a moment from a wedding I shot last season. Not all my footage makes it into the final cut of a film; occasionally, something has to be sacrificed for reasons of pacing or timing or…appropriateness, and it seemed like such a pity that these clips would end up on the cutting room floor.
The tricky part is not making a gif too long, otherwise it becomes a scene, and loses the repetition that makes us believe the moment goes on forever.
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At some point along the way, I discover that I’m terrible at being alone. I need someone to care for / spoil / love / give my existence meaning. Echoes of a trying childhood I’m just now sorting out. Otherwise, I’m constantly feeling empty instead of fulfilled.
Once a week I’m torn down so I can be rebuilt again, and some days I wonder: what of me will be left?
I’ve been looking for new inspiration and listening to as much new music as I can find recently. I haven’t dared go into much of my old music. I suppose that means I’m not yet completely over something or other. Thankfully, people send me new songs all the time (this gem courtesy of Mansour Chow), and often it keeps me going until the next addiction.
I haven’t picked up my guitar lately either. For the first time, the break has been self-imposed, though out of a desire to pursue other interests more than anything else. Also possibly the fact that I lost two months of growth when I chipped my thumbnail, and I’m not interested in learning anything that requires a thumbpick right now. Ever since my dad gave me Larissa as a birthday present two years ago, I haven’t able to put her down until now. I’m hoping it’ll reset a few bad habits, and give me more focus when I start again.
Practicing guitar has been the one tangible way in which I could tell I was improving. Now that I’m taking a break, I’ve been faced with an unsettling sense of stagnancy, cause I’ve always held self-improvement as one of my main reasons for living. But I’ve also realized that it’s not always possible to continually improve, so I’m trying to be happy with who I am at the moment, and accept that it’s natural to go through cycles of growth and stagnancy, pain and healing, frailty and strength.
It’s been an aimless winter. Some days full of meaning, others passing without so much as a moment worth remembering. I’ve learned to cherish every storm cause each one could be your last. Who knows when you’ll get to walk on trails cut through tangled branches with the snow as wet and thick and heavy as this again?
The holidays snuck up on me. I’ve been trying to figure out where all the time has gone and how best to use what’s left. The only decorating I’ve done for the season is a real pine wreath (generously given to me by Steph) hung on the office door. A small act that doesn’t seem like much compared to the glorious ceiling-scraping trees in the houses of my friends and neighbours, but certainly more than I’ve done in the recent years. It’s an easy concession to make against my growing distaste for the commercialized Christmas culture when my room is filled with the scent of sap, scattered pine needles, and other reminders of life.
My existence is defined by what I have left to do, and the list grows ever shorter. I live week-by-week, through cycles of productivity and play, trying to meet each need in turn. It’s always a delicate balance to be managing when so much in life is out of your control.
As for the short term, I’m off to Shirley’s for Christmas and my annual dose of family. It’ll be a complete break from my regular life of single-serving meals and never being around more than one person at a time. I imagine we’ll spend most of the days eating finger foods and watching reality TV among the rambunctious fluster of her kids. I always look forward to seeing how they’re carrying their grown-up voices and how their styles have changed.
This is the time of year I’m most scared of being left without plans, but recently I haven’t had enough time alone. It’s left me feeling numb and tired and that’s exactly what I need right now.
Friends still make the best distractions. It’s easy to hide from anything when you’re sharing a blanket and some early episodes of Trailer Park Boys.
I don’t know how to tell my friends about you. What am I supposed to say? That all we shared was some tea and talk and those four hours are reason I still believe in chemistry after all the practical failings of my past relationships? And how do I bring you up, now that it’s been so long I wonder if you even remember me?
Perhaps you wouldn’t be in my mind so often if Green Eyes wasn’t one of my favourite songs. It always takes me back to those days on the mend, when all I had was your brother — singing with a voice like it was soaked in Scotch and left to dry on a line in winter — to give me something new to love. You were the one to give me something to be excited about when it felt like nothing mattered anymore, and just as much became an inextricable part of that time.
That’s why I haven’t forgotten you. That’s why I never will.
I can still see the cavalier way you’d toss your curly hair over your head every now and then, as if you were perpetually deciding how best to wear it. I’ve come to appreciate that kind of casual comeliness, and the fact that you were so unaware of it made it all the more endearing.
We were supposed to start a band of our own. I’d pick up keyboard or cello if you wanted to stick with guitar, we’d do covers of Andrew Vincent, open for house shows, and get signed to Kelp some day. Instead, all I have is a picture of you dancing at the Raw Sugar, and what if forever on my lips.
I may hardly know you, but the truth is I miss you. I still want you in my life. I want to know where you’ve been and who you’ve loved, what you’re dancing to and how else your creativity has taken form. But all I can do is wonder if our paths will ever cross again.
I’m ready for the winter. To be reborn with the first snowfall that covers the grass, awash in muffled serenity.
Time is measured in weeks, not by the cycle of day and night, and this makes everything pass at a blistering pace. The good weeks involve bacon breakfasts and people bringing me food and new projects and Magic nights. The bad ones involve battles with my old arch nemesis, acne, and his side-kick, scarring-on-my-fucking-nose.
I’ve been dealing with this overwhelming sense that anything can change. So much has left me feeling like there’s no certainty anymore. Maybe that’s why I’ve stopped dreaming. I have no idea what to expect from the future, and I don’t know if that scares me or gives me hope.
To stop myself from thinking about it too much, I distract with all the right things and few of the wrong ones. It’s a fragile form of stability. Some days, the strings, they don’t do enough.
It’s been hard to write, though not from a lack of inspiration. Far from it; it seems like there’s a smile or tear hidden in every little detail of an Autumn day. The problem is I don’t have the time. I don’t reflect on an emotional rush until I have a chance to write by a window in the dark, and those opportunities are getting more and more rare.
That means I’m getting better at putting my feelings on hold, though no better at figuring out whether that kind of distraction is a good idea. I imagine it’ll all catch up to me at some point, and I’ll find out soon enough.
It’s a sure sign that the Cipralex is out of my system. I’ve decided that being able to feel is better than being numb, even if that means not knowing which way things are going to go. Right now, I’m just appreciative of frugal forms of happiness again, my latest discovery being the feeling of a healthy lather rinsing clean from your hair.
Maybe my time away did me some good. I lost a week, but I’m feeling recharged. I’ve been productive. I’ve been social. I’ve even been exercising.
Now I’m ready to begin again.
While studying this Carcassi étude — and analyzing as many version as possible in aid of that — I realized that classical music is like wine. They’re both based on a central theme or taste, and it’s the subtle differences between the interpretation of each performer or wine maker that make them unique and interesting. That’s why you need to listen to a lot classical music (or drink a lot of wine) to develop a palate. I bet two different musicians (or even the same musician at two different points in their career) playing the same piece would sound the same to some people for the same reason that two different merlots would taste the same to others.
This is supposed to be played allegro, but I’ve yet to hear a version above 105 bpm that didn’t feel rushed to me, so I prefer to play it andante. Luckily, I enjoy classical music, and I can tell the time I’ve invested in developing that foundation translates over to non-classical songs, not only in the extra finger precision but in practicing techniques too.
I’m still using electric strings, which I’ve had on longer than any other set, cause I love how crisp and brassy the tone is throughout the range. For a piece like this where the melody switches between bass and treble, that becomes really important.
That little furrow was there because you weren’t. That’s why you never saw it, of course. You must think I hate you cause it was the only thing I couldn’t help her with myself. But I could never hate you. You gave her what she wanted. In the end, that’s all I really wanted too.
I knew it was serious when I saw your umbrella under her bed, back when she hid those kinds of things for my sake. You never realized she only took it as an excuse to see you again (not because she was particularly scared of getting her merino socks wet), the same way you never realized how easy it all was for you. That was a sign that you were the right one. I knew it before she did.
If only there was a bit of mystery left in you. Instead, I had you pegged by the second night, and all I can tell people is that you’re a nice guy, when I want to say you’re an artist, a lover, a fighter, a worthy rival, a slayer of insecurities, a breaker of barriers, a testament to testosterone, a hero among men. She deserves more than the painfully pedestrian life you’ve given her, but I know she’s had enough of heartbreak to think that normal is hard enough to come by. And so I’ve learned that a person’s happiness is all that matters, not the dreams you have for them. I guess it’s hard to give up those dreams when you’re part of them yourself.
I want to say I’m leaving for some noble reason of great importance, but it’s really because there’s nothing left for me in this little town. I used to believe I could escape; eventually I realized you can’t outrun your memories. Now I’m just trying to figure out where I belong. She was all I knew for so long, and now that life is gone.
And so I must tread carefully with new lovers; it’s impossible for me to tell my story without that part of my past. That’s why I wonder what she told you about me, about us. About losing feeling in her face and letters you wouldn’t know how to write. If she intentionally left anything out, or whether our time was even worth mentioning. But the past is still the past, and that’s the only reason I can write a letter now to the man who saved her without ever knowing it.
Singhouse Studios is a voice and performance school for people of all ages, and one night every year the students perform in a big show. This year, the show — titled Sparkle — was celebrity-themed, complete with a melange of hits from the last five decades, a red carpet runway for all the stars, and even Ottawa’s local pop heartthrob, Alex Lacasse.
Music by Five Stripe Studios. Adrian and I worked closely to make sure the music had the right kind of playful energy to focus on the school’s main demographic.
I was asked to create a promotional video for the studio, so I followed the performers to tell the story of their day, from the backstage to the main stage. I felt it was as important to see all the preparation as much as the performances themselves, which is why I included footage of warm-up routines, practice rituals, and dress rehearsals. I love to see the focus so many of the young performers have, and much of that comes out before they even step into the spotlight.