Monthly Archives: September 2019

It’s a Lonely Night

Friends,

It’s been a good day, a long day, but a good one. I signed a lease today and will be moving into my own place tomorrow. This will be good for me as I have been living the hobo fabulous lifestylre too long, living on the largesse of others. Aside from that I completed some work project, paid my school deposit, got a lead on a new side hustle, made friends with just about everyone I spoke with and ate pretty healty.

But there was one dark cloud today: Since I can’t move I to my flat until tomorrow, I called my grandma to see if I could crash at hers on the south side of town.. There was no answer. No worry, I was in no rush. After all, I had a series of buses to take and a 90 minute trip with which to reach her. Just then, my new landlord, good samaritan that he is, offered me a ride to the southside as he had to go the depot for my new bedroom door anyhow.

We shot the shit for the drive and I like him and his integrity quite a bit. A few years older than me, he had taken his time finding a wife and starting a family -partying and such. We parted amicably, and I liad my backpack against the door and rang.

My grandfather answered the door and just looked at me and said, “Now you’re moving in?” Before I could explain he lost his shit and started yelling mostly incoherently about how he didn’t want to take care of anyone else and how his house wasn’t for rent.

Perhaps I should have known better -lat3ely he has been suffering from dementia (but I actually think there was a clarity to his words that I had never heard before…more on that in a sec), and between my invalid uncle and my cousin with his live-in fiance, my grandpa has a lot on his shoulders. I should have known better.

The fact that he is mostly deaf made explanations no easier and my grandma struggled to explain that I had just signed a lease and needex one night, even though I could tell she had he apprehensions about taking on a new dependant.

Here’s the thing -my] grandfather has never said an ill word to me, let alone raised his voice at me so I compltely taken aback, when later in the kitchen he unloaded on me with a lucidity I had never heard from this man who I always assumed was fairly unassuming:

“You’re a bum! You’re no good. I know what kind of guy you are! Why don’t you go to your father’s place? I’m not your father! I don’t want bums in my house. You don’t work!”

The whole time my grandma was getting upset but I implored her gently to let him keep going. I was upset by this, but also fascinated because from a certain perspective I agreed with him -there was truth in his words and it is a truth which I have been mostly isulated from my whole life and had to learn myself: I have not been making the most of my potential. But people have only just started telling me this and its a feeling like doors are closing as I get older.

It’s not a wholly bad thing -it’s motivated be to get my shit together, but again, it was pretty surprising coming so lucidly from from this man who is usually in his own world, mostly deaf, suffering from dementia and who usually calls me the wrong name.

My grandma tried to soften the blow, telling me didn’t mean it, but when I pressed her on the specificity of his word she said, “He used to love you so much. He wanted so much for you. ”

Even writing this I have to laugh. It’s so sad and its like being the last to find out what everyone thinks about you, even tho0ugh you know it about yourself and suspect they think it too.

But again, insulation; I feel like I have been lied to.

I lef tthe house to come here to this cafe and work on my computer and for a moment I got mad at my grandfather -I do work after all. When it copmes down to it he doesn’t know fuck all about me or my struggle. But that’s not the point -his truth, no matter how tangential and uninformed of the broader picture, IS STILL TRUE. I know its true because that’s how he sees it. There is something correct in his estimation that cares little for rationalizations, plans, non-traditional jobs, etc. His opinion is no the be-all, end-all but it is valid because it is ancestral, and on some levelhe must be worried that I have broken faith with him and everyone who came before.

Fair enough. I intend to make good on his faith and redeem the struggles him and those before him went through to bring me here. I don’t know that he’ll live to see it, but he does’t have to. The message has been communicated; maybe the last gift from this ancestor.

I won’t squander it.

In closing I will say this: Over the last year I haev really connected with the song No Eyes by Claptone. The chorus, “…no eyes…..no eyes on meeeeeee…” connects with me because as the first-born grandson I was the golden boy my whole life and everyone’s eyes were on me. Now, at 35 people have stopped giving a shit and are divesting. No eyes on me.

It fills me with foreboding and existential dread that I am alone. But its alrite because its also freedom.

And that’s what happens when you get past the breakers of ancestral pressure -the waves upon waves of “get married” and “start a family” which rash into your dinghy, wearing you down and pushing you back to the familiar shores of how it has always been done.

The brreakers will knock you back and leave you stranded in the same cycles of behaviour of everyione who came before if you give up. But if you persist, and keep fighting and paddling past the good-advice and well-intentioed interventions, you make it out to the open water.

But all that happens then is that you are in the middle of the ocean, left to your own devices with no eyes on you.

Act accordingly.

Best,
-Dre

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Toy Story 4 and my Resultant  Feels

Friends,

I am currently in the air over the Atlantic, heading back to Canada from Brussels, and I just watched Toy Story 4 for the first time. Overall, it was good and I found myself tearing up a few times toward the end.

When Did I Cry?

Tier/Tear 1

The first time I teared up a little was around when Gabby surgically removed Woody’s voice-box and instead of complaining or being indignant, he sat with her indulgently as she expressed her gratitude for what he had not freely given. He was patient with her, and while they (Pixar) could have approached the aftermath with him feeling emasculated, or at least eviscerated, Woody seems to take his removed voice-box in stride throughout the rest of the film. And, looking back, I think this is because as a character he is getting ready, before he even realizes it, to abandon the life of being a child’s toy.

Maybe that’s why I cried; putting away childish things like the shiny, brand-new ideal and settling for life as it is. One can relate, but more on that later.

Also, it should be said that there was an initial reading of this scene which came to mind immediately as I watched it; it occurred to me that as Gabby talking cordially to the freshly sewn-up Woody, flossing her new voice,  was in as poor taste as a rapist telling his victim how much he enjoyed the sex. That reading gets dark/weird real quick though and I’m only looking to get weird/weird here.

Tear/Tier 2

Another place I teared up a little were the scenes where Gabby, with Woody’s voice-box, gets rejected by Harmony and then later gets accepted by the lost girl at the carnival: In the former case, it is difficult to see someone work so hard for something, stepping on others and breaking rules all along the way only to fail. It’s like, “Fuck! All that suffering you caused; what was it all for?”
The latter case at the carnival was just kinda sweet though, and It made me think that the relationship between the toys and the kids is analogous to the relationship between men and women, and the lost toys might be like the MGTOW camp, whereas the toys owned by kids are the analogous to men who have been chosen by a woman. I like this reading because I think there is a pureness with which the toys love children that finds correspondence in the way men love women; it has been said that men love idealistically and women love pragmatically. Well, substitute toys for men and kids for women and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

Tier/Tear 3

The third scene that made me cry a little was at the end where Woody chooses life with Bo Peep over idealistically pursuing a life of servitude to Bonnie’s happiness. As mentioned earlier, this is foreshadowed by his relatively chilled attitude toward getting his voice-box removed.

So what’s going on here? If we already established that toy is to child as man is to woman, what does it mean when Woody chooses Bo Peep over Bonnie? Well, if we see that many toys find happiness without belonging to a child, perhaps we have license to say that, according to our little analogy, the child doesn’t represent the female precisely, but rather the feminine ideal. If Bonnie represents the feminine ideal in contrast to Bo Peep (who is at face value much more feminine than the toddler that is Bonnie), what then does Bo Peep represent?

I think devotion to something/someone tangible than the abstract ideal – a real relationship to a flesh and blood (or plastic and scotch tape) woman perhaps? Giving up the porn and the chasing of a wild sex life, which is ultimately unfulfilling? I don’t know, but that is what comes to mind.

This hits me hard; I am an idealist, and particularly in the realm of romance, there have been a couple of Bo Peeps who I turned away from because they weren’t Bonnies. But alas, the Bonnie’s are fickle and elusive, and while they (Bonnies/feminine ideals/any ideals) serve a valuable purpose as a north star and guide, they are precisely so useful because they are untouchable.

Annie was a Bo Peep. She gave me several chances to commit, but she wasn’t as ‘Bonnie’ to me as say Marijo was at the time -and Marijo was much less Bo Peep in my eyes. In fact, all I saw in the latter was the Divine Feminine personified and I didn’t treat her as something/someone real. It got ugly. This is getting into a quite personal and involved metaphor so I am going to digress on this point.

How Does the Fourth Film Fit into the ‘Trilogy’?

I’ve seen the original Toy Story a million times. I saw the second one almost once completely, but I forget how it ended. The third one I saw once and really enjoyed, thinking it was a great final instalment which really captured the essence of ‘putting away childish things’, such as when Andy goes away to college and passes on all his toys to Bonnie. As far as what the toys themselves learned in the third one, I think it was teamwork, but I don’t really remember. This is a problem then if its called Toy Story, because I remember what Andy learned and how Andy grew more than the toys. So while at first I was a little bit skeptical of this fourth instalment, thinking that things had ended well enough with the third instalment, I think the fourth gives a greater picture of the cycle of life as experienced by toys as represented by Woody.

We, the viewer are much more intimately acquainted with Woody than Andy or Bonnie, and in the fourth we see him clinging to his ideal purpose like an athlete past his prime. How long does he have to go down that road before he sees where it leads? Well, four films evidently, because right up until the moment he decides to remain with Bo Peep at the end (and even afterward when he bestows his Sheriff’s star to Jessie) he is helping his fellow toys become the best they can be in pursuing the goal of Bonnie’s happiness which he is preparing to let go of. It is a passing of the torch, essentially, and when Buzz tells him at the end, “she’ll be ok’ (referring to Bonnie when Woody is considering staying with Bo), we can see that it is about Woody learning to trust others. Even to trust the next generation. To trust ‘Forkie’?

Parallels in Society on the Macro Scale

How does Woody’s arc map onto Western Society’s arc? Can we say he represents the post-WW2 generation being put out to pasture and displaced by the younger, less traditional toys? I think it’s worth exploring. Woody’s first rivalry was with Buzz in the first film, and you can’t get much more of a contrast than cowboy and spaceman. Generationally and technologically, Buzz represented newness relative to Woody. Woody’s subsequent feelings of uncertainty upon Buzz’ arrival could even be viewed as representative of the American national feeling post-1960s, post-moonwalk, post-Kennedy assassinations, during the energy crisis, and in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam. Was the space race the direct cause of this loss of innocence and … miasma (?)? No, but it certainly seems as if a confusing and turbulent decade was heralded by a great success; by the arrival of ‘Buzz’ you might say (and Neil). 

From what I remember about the arc of the second film, Woody finds his tribe (Jessie and Silver) after stolen at a yard sale. This speaks to another aspect of American life which I think is important -the ability to get lost in the blurry fringes and find your people. Sure, Woody doesn’t make the choice to leave Andy in the film, but he nonetheless finds himself in the margins of society, and while there he finds himself. Very poetic.

Another telling scene which always stuck with me from the one time I watched the second film was when Buzz sees all the other Buzz Lightyear toys and has to deal with their youthful impetuousness and lack of understanding about who they really are.

Who they really are. In a broad general sense, this is the job of an elder, to remind the youner generation of who they really are. One of Woody’s most famous lines in the first film was screamed at Buzz Lightyear:

“YOU! ARE! A! TOY!!” -even in the fourth film he has to repeatedly tell Forkie (convinced he is trash) the same thing. But in the second film we see a more recently awakened Buzz taking his first furtive steps into the role of shamanic rememberer to a younger generation. I like this reading because it redeems the mass-produced Buzz Lightyear toys in the second film in a manner echoed in the fourth: “You are not (mass-produced) trash; you are a toy.” If we are continuing our allegory from the first film about the older generation being disrupted by the newer one and the confusion that causes, I think it is safe to say broadly that the resolution is a two-fold regaining of lost childhood on the part of the elder (like we see when Woody reconnects with his Round-Up pals), and a simultaneous taking up of the mantle of responsibility by the younger generation.

Empathy and understanding are a natural result.

I don’t feel competent to remark on the third film’s social commentary at the moment, but I briefly want to address how the fourth film might fit: At the outset we see Woody being left in the closet and not being played with. Bonnie routinely takes his star off and pins it on Jessie, and while  he occupies a position of some status within the hierarchy of Bonnie’s toys, he is no longer the head-honcho like he was in Andy’s room. Interestingly, Potato Head and Hamm, easily representative of an older generation than Woody himself, are still played with by Bonnie. This might allude to some tendency to ignore our grandparents but mythologize and lionize earlier ancestors, but that seems pretty thin so I don’t know. Nonetheless, as much as Potato Head and Hamm are played with, they barely speak throughout the film, and this is telling.

So Woody has been put out to pasture, Bonnie Is largely indifferent to Buzz, and the rising stars within the hierarchy are Jessie (which might be ham-fisted nod to feminism’s ascendance), and Forkie, essentially a bastardization of what a toy is. As a mish-mash of unmatched parts, Forkie could be an allegorical for the most physically extreme elements of the LGBT movement; them Ts as Dave Chappelle put it. As well, we could view Forkie’s initial insistence on his being trash as an echo of the nihilism attendant upon the current younger generations. And it matters not that he seems content and happy to be trash; this current generation seems to think that nihilism is pretty nifty, and they comepete in their memes to be seem the most idsaffected.

So if this assignment of roles within Toy Story 4 is accurate, what can we glean from the conclusion of the film, where Woody ends up with Bo Peep after passing the torch to the younger generation? Here’s what I think:

We gotta trust the younger generation.

We gotta mentor the younger generation.

We gotta know when to be idealistic and when to be pragmatic.

If you find the right woman, let her go if your calling means more to you.

If the right woman comes back and your work is done, go out and be happy with her.

That’s what I got at least.

Best,
-Dre

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Decisions…Decisions…

Friends,

I don’t know for sure who I’m going to vote for in the upcoming Canadian election, but I can say with some certainty it won’t be Liberal, NDP or Green.

I have values which are important to me and I’m not satisfied/convinced that they will be maintained/upheld by furthering/increasing the erosion of Canadian standards for the sake of inclusivity. What do I mean by erosion of standards? Well, it’s an erosion by standards by inference. Let me explain:

In the miost metaphysical (most true) sense, I maintain that standards and inclusivity have an inverse correlation; I don’t think can be disputed. My positions on everything in day-to-day (such as they are) may seem unfeeling, but I try to make them consistent on every lower level with the truth as I perceive it on the highest, most abstract level. If you can accept that idea, would you say standards or inclusivity have been prioritized over the last few years in Canada? 

Definitely inclusivity. And this is not a bad thing, as life is a balancing act, a dynamic tension if you will, and when things get too elitist we need to be more inclusive. However, when things get too inclusive, like for example when men are invading female spaces and the general population is being forced under law to speak woords which they don’t believe, then I think we need to amp up our standards.

We need a rebalancing This is why we are in practice (if not in theory) a two party system: the Canadian “personality” has two sides most aptly represented by Lib and Cons, which is why power tends to go back and forth between them.

I don’t put a lot of stock in politics or politicians as a rule, so before any further discussion let’s just say that by way of a baseline assumption on my part.

That said, if there is any relevance and I decide to go through the whole democratic charade, I am going to vote for my personal best interests.

Why?

Because groups don’t suffer, individuals suffer. So the public good, even assuming that Orange/Red/Green are better for it (which, I’m not convinced), is not of as much consequence to me as the individual good.

The group must unite, but under the banner of the individual. To that point, I think that it iserves my own personal best interests to vote for the party which would benefit me the most. If this is racist, then it is more of an indictment of the system of democracy than of the system of me. (P.S. I don’t think I’m racist).

I am a brother to anyone who will have me, but the people who want me as a brother only when they need my vote but want me to internalize guilt and self-hatred the rest of the time? No. Take me all the time and never hold my perceived privilege against me. 

As fqr as privilege goes, there are three main types of privilege which trump everything and nobody seems to want to talk about them: Two undivorced parents, financial security, and physical attractiveness. To this we might add IQ, but as that is a function of childhood nutrition in many regards it seems a function of the former two forms of privilege mentioned.

With regard to my side ‘winning’ the election versus feeling the need to sacrifice my interests for demographic groups that see me as an oppressor, I will quote Jordan Peterson for the third time: I’m not gonna feel guilty and lose; I’m gonna get cruel and win.

And if I get beaten, no big deal: I’ve licked my finger and stuck it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing; I will find a way to make it work. If I can’t then trust that I have (like everyone should) formulated a contingency plan to put myself in a place more in line with my values; a place where I amvalued and accepted as a brother all year and every day.

Like Tupac said, “Me Against the World.”

And like Malcolm X said, “I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.”

Treat me like an equal and dispense with marginalizing me for sex, orientation, skin color, etc. and then we can talk.

Til that day…

Love to all, including myself. And if that loses me friends, well then we all lose.

Friends,
-Andre

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(Prime) M(in)ister Dressup

Friends,

Canada has an inferiority complex. If the nation could be anthropomorphized as a person, it would be a person who is incredibly jealous of its best friend and neighbour to the south, the United States of America.

And rightly so, as America is the best goddamn country in the world. And yes, I can support this claim.

But I digress.

While the character of a nation isn’t wholly the reflection of its head of state (if anything the reverse is true), the head of state does perhaps have more influence on said character than the average individual citizen. If we can accept this premise, all we need to know about Canada can be gleaned from studying its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

I’m gonna be honest, I don’t like this guy. That said, I’m gonna try and give him (and the country) a fair shake herein.

As the son of a former Prime Minister, the argument could be made that a big part of Trudeau’s success was the strength of his name. While I think there is truth in that appraisal, it actually doesn’t bother me. I recognize the importsance of dynasties for political stability, even if they are interrupted by the span of a couple decades (it’s called an interregnum). And if I objected on any level Trudeau leveraging his name, it would strike me as inconsistent with my other view that Donald Trump was in the right when he promoted his children to positions of power in his administration. Properly bounded and advised, I think that an underqualified individual in a stable situation can keep an even keel much more easily than a qualified person can weather a storm. So, no: I don’t have a problem with dynastic continuity. Even nepotism -I get it! I have gotten jobs and positions based on who I know, and if it’s okay at my low level and the patterns of power repeat upward and and downward at all levels to infinity, then I can’t criticize it on principle.

The above photo. It lambasts our weiner-kid PM for his penchant for dress-up. Again, this doesn’t bother me. It does make me cringe insofar as wearing traditional cultural garb seems like blatant pandering, but it just makes me wish that he would use greater discretion, not refrain from trying.

On this penchant for dress-up, the following image came out today:

Yep, that’s him in blackface (well, brownface) at a theme party in 2001. Naturally, the memes have already been fire:

But here’s thing: While the internet is losing its shit, and while conservative friends whom I have a lot of political overlap with are lambasting him, I find myself not caring.

Two reason really:

1) Blackface has never bothered me. It’s overblown and stupid to consider “completing” a costume racist.
2) We need to stop diggind up a person’s past and sacrifing them in the present because of it.

I don’t like Trudeau. He is a sanctimonious, incompetent and a hypocrite. That should be the crux of objections against him. Instead his detractors look at this blast from the past and get excited, acting like they don’t cry ‘foul’ when their political opponents resort to this same shit. It’s equivocal and silly.

Trudeau did nothing wrong back in 2001. He did a lot wrong in subsequent years when he set himself up for a bigger fall by portraying a standard of virtue which was impossible to live up to. But sweet, young Justin in 2001 was well within the grounds of acceptability.

***********************

What does this have to do with Canada?

Like its PM, Canada has to decide who it wants to be because its obviously not working. We’ve successfully alienated our closest ally in the US and now instead of the US’s best friend, we are 5th or 6th somewhere after Brazil, Japan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and the UK.

Canada has to decide what it wants to be known for. It’s a country of mediocrity; its never excelled at anything for a long enough time to be known for that thing. I know what I’m talking about here because I have fallen into the same rut in my own life. In my tim, I have been an okay soldier, an okay, student, and okay labourer, an okay home stager, an okay writer, an okay yoga teacher, an okay jeweler, an okay actor, etc. Okay isn’t good enough. Be bold. Pick something and focus on it. Stop keeping all of your costumes in your closet. Pick one and stick to it and throw all the rest out.

I am mad at my country but maybe I am more mad at me. We do tend to hate the things about others that we hate most about ourselves. Call it Canada Syndrome or whatever, but I need to mature and focus, and so does my stupid country.

And Justin Trudeau? I don’t hate this guy. I love this guy because I AM this guy.

Am I gonna vote for him in the next election? No…but then I wouldn’t vote for my own non-committal ass either.

And if I had to pick one country to be reborn in? Well, I wouldn’t pick Canada either.

I guess I picked a good time to return home and go back to school: I need it and evidently my country does too.

Best,
-Dre

 

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Weak Men

Friends,

Everything is relative, and in my experience, nowhere is this more true than in the realm of male-male friendships. There is something of a classic model of male relationships which classes men as either the Alpha or the Beta. Whatever you may think of this model and its applicability, I am going to be building upon it here.

You’ve been warned.

In theory, the Alpha-Beta (AB) model manifests in every male friend group; even a group of two, and it is the group of two I want to focus on. I/we can be part of many two person friendships, and our status as Alpha or Beta is subject to change depending on the friend we are hanging out with, and to a lesser extent, the specific circumstance we find ourselves in.

I have spent the last two months living with my friend, Archie, and I am the Alpha in the relationship…by a large margin (as you’ll see, it’s not as impressive as it sounds). I want to focus less on why this is and the specific details of our friendship, and more on how it (frustratingly) manifests.

Before continuing, it must be said that my expertise derives from the fact that I have been both Alpha and Beta at various times, and I have been Beta by the same wide, crippling, pathetic margin (relative to more Alpha friends) that Archie currently is relative to me. I see now how I must have been a chore for my indulgent friends to deal with.

Scarcity Mentality

I have had and lost many women….definitely more of the latter. I don’t care. That’s the point. Stop caring! Archie cares too goddamn much. He tells me so. He wants to claim women, regardless of who they are more interested in. Lately he won’t go to a local coffee shop with me anymore because I flirt with the barista and she flirts back. He admits this but justifies it by saying that he is worried about it getting awkward and not being able to go there again. I asked him if he had designs on her. He said he didn’t know, but that since I started flirting with her I didn’t give him a chance to decide.
Here’s the thing: I would love for him to make a bold move with her and catch her interest. Play on, Playa! That’s my mentality; pure abundance But he doesn’t want to do that because then he would have to reciprocate my magnanimity. And he doesn’t want to do that because of Jenny.

Jenny
Jenny is….was Archie’s friend and I met her once in passing over a year ago in Berlin outside a bar I was at with Archie. They were talking. Jenny and I shared a look and a rapport, and when you know, you just know. But alas, I had a fiance (and so did Archie) and so nothing never happened [sic].  Fast forward a year to now and I have moved back to Berlin into a spare room in Archie’s flat for a temporary stay. Being newly-single, I asked Archie early on about Jenny. He clammed up and expressed doubt that I had this connection (yeah, okay…), then came out with the truth that he was into her. Recently divorced, he had designs on her and was being territorial.

Well, I had no access to her aside from him connecting us, and I didn’t even remember her name. These two facts coupled with the literal millions of fish in the sea gave me a play on, playa outlook on the whole situation, even though I was dubious about his ability to make it work.

So a few nights ago he gives me an update on Jenny (whose name I had forgotten again and which he took as further evidence of the absence of connection). He tells me he “fired her as a friend” (his exact words) due to numerous scheduling snafus (her blowing him off). He had reached a critical threshold I guess and told her he didn’t want to be her friend and then blocked her. He Scorched the Earth! He fucked it up and if he couldn’t have her, noone could (at least noone who would need him to make the introduction). I felt anger well up inside me (not sure yet if the anger is justifiable or not) but all I said was, “And nothing of value was lost.” He enthusiastically, unironically agreed.

Liat

Same aforementioned coffee shop. Last week we go out to the back patio for our (at that point, at least) daily coffee and smoke. I walked out there first and saw a cute girl, Liat, sitting with a friend. We made eye contact and when you know, you just know. Archie joined me shorly after at our table and I initiated conversation with Liat and her friend as they were seated next to us. She was really bubbly and regaled us with a story about her broken arm and the cast she was currently wearing. Liat’s friend left, then Archie left, and Liat and I walked out of the coffee shop together (which visibly intrigued and upset aforementioned barista). We walked back to mine and started playing some music in my room. Archie joined and we had a jam and sing-along. I eventually went back to Liat’s place nearby and we spent the afternoon together and made love.

Later I found out that Archie was a bit resentful about this because I had moved so quick that he hadn’t had a chance to decide of he was interested. This was doubly frustrating because the very next day he had some chick over whom I assume he didn’t introduce me to because he was worried I would, I don’t know –steal her or something.

Which brings me to Lana…

Lana

A couple nights later, me, George, Archie, and Archie’s black friend, Lana, all headed out to a local bar that had a weekly open jam. Lana seemed cold to me at first, which Archie later suggested was a possible result of my surplus multi-cam jacket with velcro flashers on the sleeves from my time in Afghanistan. In retrospect, I suspect that perhaps he had also told her unflattering things about me being a prejudiced person (more on that in the next section). In any event, I care a lot less these days about what a rando feels about me and so I just went back in the bar content to watch the jam without playing. In the dearth of a vocalist, Archie got on the mic and asked if I wanted to come up and freestyle. I enthusiastically obliged and proceeded to lyrically assassinate, dropping my trademark, “Rest in Peace, Tupac Shakur” at the end.

Lana gave me props when I rejoined them on the couch and seemed to have warmed up to me. Classic black chick!

On the walk home, I ushered George away toward our direction to give Archie a chance to close with Lana. He did not and instead rejoined me and George. Soon after George split off in his direction and me and Archie headed back the flat we were sharing. I asked him, “So what’s the deal with you and Lana?” -Big mistake.

“What do you mean by that?” he asked, suspiciously.

“Um, are into her? How’s it going?”

“Damn, man, do I gotta worry that you’re trying to go after her?”

Jesus Christ! This is the kind of insecurity I was living with. I explained that I wasn’t interested, but the damage was already done.

Ugh, it makes me mad just remembering it.

Racism/Sexism/Homophobia

I don’t know if I’m racist. I don’t know if Archie is. All I know is that if I say a slur, I’ll say it with deliberate intention or not at all. If I say a slur, there will be an elaborate, oblique set-up, well-wrought build, and an emphatic delivery for the purpose of shock and humour. Otherwise there is no point and I feel like a dishonest coward. My whole thing goes back to the Patrice O’Neal school of “Say it with belief!”
Archie does not subscribe to this school of thought and says slurs frivolously because he feels he can vent his latent racism to me while maintaining the outward appearance of being progressive. He has admittedly gotten better about this (saying things with belief or not at all), but at the outset…Jesus Christ. He would say some slur and then immediately laugh and and look at me to gauge my response. I felt put upon to laugh or respond in a very awkward, cringey way.
At one point early on in our two months of living together I called him out for this, encouraging him to make offensive jokes, but to mean it; not just to do it seeking my validation (because that’s fucked and bespeaks pretty shittily of me). He got so offended and said some shit like “I thought I could make jokes with you without you getting offended” (which is more fucked up the more you think about it), and I simply explained that I wasn’t offended, but I felt embarrassed for him.
Looking back, this conversation was a line in the sand that I drew early on, and I feel like I have been paying for it ever since. Thankfully, all things come to an end.

****************

Thanks for indulging my venting. Since writing this post a few weeks ago I have moved on to Portugal and found a happy place. My closest male friend here is a young kid from the UK named Charlie. With him, its how it should be: We big each other up and don’t let trifling shit like women get between us. Ditto for my other close male friend here Ricardo, but he’s a big, gay Portuguese body-builder so competition for women really isn’t so much of a thing. I was very frustrated when I wrote this post, and looking back brough up some of the old feelings, but the further it is in my rear-view, ther easier it gets.

Best,
-Dre

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Practice Makes Perfect

Friends,

Let me tell you a story:

Practice Makes Perfect

Early September 2009, I was a few months back from deploying to Afghanistan and was living in Hamilton. I had dropped out of McMaster University three years prior and in that three-year span I had partied, traveled and done aforementioned deployment. I had been scared to depoly, thinking I was going to die. I hadn’t died though. And now, on this overscast Sepetember morning, I walked back to school and tears came to me. I had made it. I had gone through hell (more emotional than physical) and was now returning to the promised land with the adventures I had sought now under my belt. Those last two years of my undergrad were not golden and idyllic like living in residence first year had been, nor fucking mental like getting a house with the bros in second year had been, but they were still better: I got more involved in the school, applied myself more to the work, met the love of my life (or at least the next fove years), and learned from professors who would make a great impact on my life.

Now, ten years later, I am poised to undertake another academic adventure and I am optimistic; I am capable at this juncture of not only integrating and incorportating everything I learned/did in the second half of my undergrad, but also incorportating/integraring everything I learned since in my years traveling working as an actor, etc.

This school doesn’t know what’s gonna hit it.

I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: Doing the the same thing over and over until I get it right.

Practicing Without Expectation

It doesn’t always work out well though, and when it doesn’t, it’s my fault:

February/March 2016 was one of the best months of my life. I fell in love with the love of my life (I fall fast and I fall hard), Marijo at Carpe Diem Eco Project (CDEP) in Nicaragua. Those nights on the beach, lying under the stars, making love as the moon rose over the palms, were sublime and left an indelible impression on my psyche. The following year (January 2017), meeting back there, I tried to force things to be how they were the previous year. It was hell. We were on different pages and “the past I was trying to relive” was not the “experience I should have been doing over, but better.”  Let me explain:

It would have been fine for me to approach my time at CDEP in 2017 with a similar openness, enthusiasm and vigor to the previous year -but those qualities were tainted by an expectation of recreating the past perfectly -this kind of expectation had been absent from my 2009 return to school, where I had been truly open-minded.

During my 2017 return to CDEP I assumed I knew better than reality and reality humbled me.

This past year (2019) I returned to CDEP. Marijo wasn’t there, and I was a lot wiser and more open (for the most part). I ended up having an amazing, transformative time by allowing reality to dictate the terms. It wasn’t sublime the way my first time there had been, but that’s not important –sublimity will come when its ready to if I stay open to it and accept the reality as it is. This is the act of faith that all men, religious or not, must make. I never expected to find Marijo, so why should I expect anything else sublime?

I remember sitting on the beach one evening with my peoples this past year and wandering off to listen to mine and Marijo’s song, WIcked Game by Chris Isaak, and laughing at how I’d been pining in futility for a fluke month instead of fully utilizing the opportunities in front of me. Silly silly silly…

Openness to Submission: Do-Overs Done Right

I went back to Berlin this year. I re-experienced some things. Experienced them better this time now that I was there of my own accord and with the freedom of a young-ish bachelor, instead stuck in a relationship where someone else was subtly dictating my terms for existence. I did it better. I was more open.

My 2016/2017 travel documantary through Arizona, Nicaragua and Honduras, #worldwasonfire, was better than the previous year’s pilgrimage through Latin America for ayahuasca, #justmightbeok too; Even though the former was more painful for the reasons mentioned above regarding mine and Marijo’s fallout, I wasn’t married to the idea of filming a documentary in the traditional sense. Instead I used the tools I was more comfortable with the social media platforms I was more inclined toward using (instagram, youtube) and everything just flowed better. It was more fun and more honest.

Subsequent adventures such as #pimpingbutterflies, #livinginmydreams and the short-lived and misbegotten #migrantcrisis were more focused as a result, although it should be said that they had a less grand ambition.

This #prettycorpseblues thing though….it sounded pretentious to me when I first said it. Even now, it sounds weird to me. But it also sounds more right. It speaks to the resignation I feel regarding submission to the universe. I NEED to submit to something and my own longevity (not mortality) seems a good a thing as any. Needless to say, I am not posting as frequently on instagram as I did during the #worldwasonfire days (hitch-hiking and youthful recklessness just make for more things to post about), but this is also a longer-term project (namely, the rest of my life), and will be full of my largest under-takings yet, so there is no rush to punctuate it with small bursts.

Do it. Fail Spectacularly. Do it Better. Fail More Spectacularly. Repeat.

Openness to Submission: One Final, Lifelong Do-Over

There are people in my life who I have strained relationships with. There are people whom I haven’t met yet who are destined to have a great impact on my life. These are repeating constants; universal ones even. To the family and friends whom I have hurt, I will make good on the hurt I caused even if it is the next person and not you who receives the direct benefit of wisdom gleaned from my trespasses against you. Also, for those who have wronged me, I will refuse to hate you; I will take as much responsibility for not being better to you in your time of weakness.
To those I have yet to meet, destined to become friends and girlfriends: I will deal with you squarely and keep the focus on me, never basing my sense of worth and fulfilment on you. I have fucked up before in these regards. I have done okay before in these regards. I have excelled before in these regards. Either way, the future will be the best yet.

I am getting better, and I can prove it.

I love you all. Never be a afraid of a re-do. Never feel like you are stuck at a place you were in the past. “Do-over” is another name for “practice” and that’s how we get good. Sometimes I look at my life and see train-wreck; a culmination of unpulled triggers and impetuous, ill-advised actions. This is a truthful analysis, but there is a level of life mastery I aspire to, a highest ideal, and when I ballpark out how one might reach that ideal, I can’t see a way to it that looks appreciably different from my life thus far.

Looking back on yesterday and correcting for today and tomorrow is not mutually exclusive from being on track. Take it on faith

I have.

Best,
-Dre

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Recepticons…TERRORIZE!!

Friends,

I’m working at a hostel on the coast just west of Lisbon. I like hostel work and while I have to keep my head down the next two years and hit the books to become a massage therapist, I don’t intend to take my eyes off of the prize -I like this life and I want to do more in this domain.

That said, tonight has been….hilarious. I don’t know of a more diplomatic way to refer to a frustrating night full of guests who make me wonder how they are able to tie their own shoes, let alone book rooms online. Timothee for example and his compatriot called up unable to find their hostel building. Since I’m managing from offsite and a foreigner to boot, I was at a bit of a loss to navigate him to the location in Lisbon. More frustratingly, he wouldn’t listen. The whole exchange would have taken half the time if I could have had him shut-up and listen to my questions, but he was so flustered -THEY were so flustered- it was like being on the phone with two little French girls whose croissants had been taken away.

Frustration

I kept them on the line and got on my personal phone with my supervisor, Ricardo, a muscly, beautiful gay Portuguese man who unironically uses the term of endearment, bros when referring to me and Charlie. So I had two phones up to my ear: The voluminously frustrated French man in my right ear and the loud, gay, Francophobe, Ricardo on my left, and I was trying to relay the information back and forth but whenever I said something to one phone, the other phone piped up. Ricardo for all his good qualities can be a bit of a prattler himself and he was already frustrated with these dudes because they hadn’t been reading the emails all week leading up to their booking which told them that the hostel was self-check in and that we couldn’t give them their room codes until they provided us with credit card info.

Resignation

At length, I had Ricardo call them and they later got back to me with their CC and I gave them room codes. They had me stay on the line until they were past the vestibule and then abruptly hung up on me….wankers.

I was happy with myself that I managed to take it all in stride. A younger, dumber me might have been a little averse to this flaccid abuse, but honestly, it starts to wear less on you the more you remember that you are dealing with small children. Small, adult-sized children.

Fuck it, having a smoke!

Who am I kidding, Timothee and his friend are French, so they’re probably Napoleon-sized.

Best,
@dreguan

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