We move in circles
Balanced all the while
On a gleaming razor’s edge
A perfect sphere
Colliding with our fate
This story ends where it began
—Dream Theater, Octavarium
Back to this.
So much has passed, yet nothing seems to have changed. I’ve never gone this long without writing an entry. For a while there, I didn’t mind. Didn’t mind not forcing myself to sit and write at every free moment. Didn’t mind my life not being taken over by this.
Now it feels like I’m in the middle of a transition. So much is happening around me, with so much to do, while my emotions remain neutral as if I don’t know what to think. There’s hasn’t been enough stability yet, or perhaps I haven’t been able to sit down to write and think about what’s going on. I’m ready now.
Got a new pair of specs. I wanted either thicker rims, for a bolder look, or handles screwed into the glass without rims, for an even simpler look than what I have now. After trying on both styles, I decided on the thicker rims. Since these aren’t titanium, they’re several times heavier than my old pair, so I keep the old pair around for when I’m relaxing or doing sports. The funny thing is that this is one of the least expensive pairs of glasses I’ve ever purchased, yet they’re D&G made.
But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed in the general consciousness you feel most delightfully and unmistakably warm.
I save the window-opening ritual for Friday nights, after a long, tiring week, when the sweaters are all folded, and the shirts all ironed. Before I go to bed, I turn off the lights, square off my desk, and turn the window crank 220 degrees clockwise. Even though the thermostat is at 23°C, it’s anywhere from –16°C to 5°C outside these nights.
When I wake up at 5:00 a.m., as I usually do, my room is filled with the chilly, snow-smelling air.
Here I am, in a cabin in the middle of the woods, 160 km away for two short days and a night in Tremblent. Today, we drove the winding roads lined with pine trees and settled in. By tomorrow morning, the 10 beds and mattresses are going to be filled with 16 people, all-round exhausted, cramming in as much sleep as they can before the hills open.
In between, Aaron finds a Bubbles action figure that looks just like Karen. Phil is dealt a royal flush, which we’ll probably never see again in our lives, during the second game of poker. For this, we drink, and I’m asked to make a print of the photo for everyone present to sign.
I’m not here to ski, or snowboard, or party, I’m just here to observe. Nick gave me the use of his lenses, including a 200mm prime L, but it was the 15mm fish-eye Sigma that I grew to love. How strange it is to be recording my memories with someone else’s glass.
This weekend it feels like I’m running. I’m looking for something, but I don’t know what it is or where to find it.
Sometimes, after pulling yourself out of bed instead of calling in late because there’s too much to do, when the walk to work is through ankle-deep snow which is coming down in sheets, you give up on avoiding the puddles because your socks are already soaked through after five minutes, you can barely keep your eyes open from the precipitation and the exhaustion, the cold is giving you a splitting headache, and the only thing keeping you stoic is to concentrate on the music in your ears but your iPod runs out of batteries and this is the start of your week, you have no other choice but to laugh.
Aaron and Karen’s annual New Years party was a fun time in a relaxing sense, much lower-key than last year, with fewer people and casual clothes. I don’t believe there was anyone who felt out-of-place, which meant that one could easily move from group to group without any feelings of intrusion. So that I didn’t have to worry about catching a bus home early, they lent me the use of their SUV for me to drive home.
I’m especially pleased with this set of photos. I think I was able to show the mood appropriately, without over-exposing the flash too much. My two favourite are with Sarah in her scarf and with Aaron handing the lowball to Rob. The former because of the pure chance that worked out in capturing the moment along with the wonderful texture of her scarf, and the latter because of how strong the two sets of hands look, like a firm handshake without touching.
I’m finally in my own house again. Going to Toronto means I give up the comfort of my kitty, my computer, and my enveloping duvet for a few days of authentic Chinese food, real Chinese kung fu movies, silkworm sheets, and a few moments of family dysfunction every now and then.
Time at home left me drained. Turns out that I had an extra party to go to, and this year, I pulled myself up to go boxing day shopping. It was killer on five hours of sleep, but definitely worth it, my best score of clothes in years. Mom was running around every spare moment, preparing food for over 40 people for the New Years Party, while dad practiced his karaoke between runs for groceries. There were two nights that I sat by myself and enjoyed the new projector, and it was the most relaxing time I had during my stay.
As nice as it is to get away, I’m glad this only comes around once a year.
Stepping back to the 25th, I awoke to the sounds of ebullient whispers coming from downstairs as I lie in Julia’s bed, which she’d carefully made for me. I checked my watch, noticed that it was 6:40 a.m., and remembered that Shirley put her foot down about not opening any presents until seven. The kids were already up, of course, their internal alarm clocks set to spring in anticipation, even after we stayed up late the night before, playing wrestling games until the threat of Santa not coming put them to bed.
Instead, Santa went all out this year, from Nintendo DS, to mp3 players, to boxes on boxes of clothes, to DDR dance pads, to portable DVD players, to games for every system. He also left me a mini remote-control Mercedes SLK, and I’d normally say that he shouldn’t have so he could spend more on the kids, but he also left Braden and Bill a mini Hummer and mini Mustang GT respectively, so I had to accept the gift in order to race them.
Just being there was enough of a gift. As the kids ran around, unable to decide what to play with first, I started to consider staying so I could spend the day, but the responsibility of prior engagements and time with the parents kept me in check. We had a big greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs, but John was there to pick me up for the four hour drive home before the turkey dinner.
Exactly one year ago today, I was doing this. Even though the annual party at Chris and Clarmen’s actually starts on the 25th, I really see it as a boxing day party, the way a New Year’s party really starts on the 31st of December.
That night we used the excuse of going to Timmies for all the parents as a way out of the house to have a session. Unfortunately, this meant remembering about a dozen drink orders, something that proves difficult under the influence.
In chronological order:
We met up at the house, where Darren’s fingers brave the turtles
A session occurred outside, and on the way to Timmies we introduced Chris to Dreamtheater (hence the music selection)
An order is made for about a dozen drinks with great difficulty
We drove back to play Slap Hand, which is a variation on Slap Jack, except the pile is hit every time the correct number is called (and for increased difficulty we played with +/- rules where the pile is only hit if the number spoken is an addition or subtraction of a different specified number)
Darren randomly deals everyone a hand of hold ‘em and plays it through, and this causes me to make fun of his obvious addiction
Darren precisely deals a full hand of 13 cards for a game of Asshole, while talking, for which I count my cards in disbelief and finally realize just how much he plays cards
Other signs of how stoned we were:
Darren and Chris’s voices drop an octave, while my voice raises two (two!)
I can’t keep my jittery hands under control
The way Chris says, “Just awesome guys. Awesome.”
At one point we have to stop to count to the right number in Slap Hand
I laugh, a lot
This year, today, Lam joined us instead since Darren is off in Las Vegas.
When going through Psychology 1101 to cover a required science elective, I studied the characteristics of introversion and extroversion, but the material never really resonated with me. As I saw it, there are varying degrees of both, I fit somewhere on the introverted side of the scale, and this was the extent of the application of such a subject.
I can force myself to be social, friendly, cheerful (what Shirley and I call being on), but I can only do this for limited amounts of time. Usually I can keep it going just a few hours for a party or gathering, or as long as a few days as required if we’re out camping or snowboarding, but never longer than this.
The rest of the time I spend in my room, away from the world, because the social interactions of everyday life are a huge drain on me. When I’m alone, I recharge in a way I can’t explain. I’ve spent years feeling guilty for this behaviour. The North American attitude is that there’s something wrong with being quiet or unsocial. The most striking memory I have of this was during frosh week, when others would constantly harass me to go drinking, or dancing, or partying with a bunch of people I had never met before.
Now there’s an explanation that makes more sense to me than a simple degree on a scale. In a recent article, neuroscience researcher Marti Olsen Laney talks about the connections between introversion and biology. “It impacts all areas of their lives: how they process information, how they restore their energy, what they enjoy and how they communicate.”
I realize that there’s a greatly significant correlation between the way I behave and my introverted mindset. Introversion is an attitude that affects almost every aspect of my life, deeply rooted to a physiological level. It isn’t something I should be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
And if I can come out of my shell every now and then, I’ll be alright.
This is the view out my window on the night of a snowfall. The bedrooms are in the basement, so I get a subterranean look at my miniature lawn with pine tree, although the garden is now buried under 40cm of snow. There are the Moonlights, deprived of their charges from snow covering their solar panels. There’s the A/C that cost me a month and a half salary.
A little box, outlined by fence and porch, of my things.
I sleep with the blinds open in the winter because at night I see more this time of year than in the summer. Snow makes the sky glow an ashen orange, a phenomenon I can’t myself explain. On some nights, it’s too bright to sleep and I have to mask my eyes, peeking out every few minutes to make sure my winter paradise is still out the window until I fall asleep. When I feel especially sentimental, I leave the window open a crack to let in the smell of ice and dry air.
The price of this pleasure is at least three dead in weather related incidents across the province of Ontario.
There’s no room for confusion or regret. One can only thrust oneself forward, never looking back, never questioning what was once said. To learn from these mistakes is the only saving grace. Busyness is simply self-distraction, and to believe otherwise is self-delusion.
So do you fuck him harder, to bury the love you once had, to drown the guilt with fervent voices? To convince yourself that it’s over, and that this is better anyway?
And do you try to love him more, because you can’t love me?