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

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.

Envy.

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.