Monthly Archives: September 2019

(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. 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 show his teeth nervously 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. 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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