Tag Archives: Uncategorized

This Sinking Feeling

I been up and down in prison; I’ve lived inside this cell.
Surrounded by these demons and the fiery gates of hell.
I blame my Mother and my Father for the man that I’ve become.
-I was born into this family; I was born the Devil’s son.
No I ain’t gonna see my freedom … ’til the day …
… they lay me in the ground.
-Ryan Horne, Terrible Tommy

Friends,

There’s this nuanced aspect of a more generalized existential despair which I would like to explore. It has to do with my inheritance from my parents, and since parts of this line of inquiry really hurt me to think about, I know that is where I must look.

In Sterquiliniis Invenitur – In filth it will be found

To be clear, I am learning to love existential despair, but every new encroachment of it on my life does take some time to get used to. And the more it encroaches the more clearly I see what has kept it at bay for so long. In fact, I realize as  I write these words that there are two bulwarks which have held back the despair,-for better and worse-for most of my life: The Strength of my Father and The Dreams of my Mother.

The Dreams of My Mother

Having been estranged from my mother for almost 20 years now, you might say this bulwark has been in disrepair for some time, but it would be more accurate to say I  have been chipping away at it even as I have been protected (suffocated?) by it.

Still, my mother was a big dreamer, and the magnitude of her aspirations made a deep impression on me.. There was always something, not exactly upward striving about her, but rather upward-desiring. More precisely, she wanted deeply and she had a way of externalizing responsibility for the fulfilment of her desires upon other people, including her kids (I was always meant to be a doctor after all). Still, in fairness to her, the Joneses weren’t going to keep up with themselves…

Two incidents from my childhood really stand out as perfect examples of the gulf between her life and her desires.

1) There was an affluent development we used to drive by on the way to visit my grandparents. The houses were mansions -like proper fucking mansions. My step-dad was a small business owner and he did okay for for us -we lived comfortably and had a beautiful house in the country, never wanting for anything. This one mansion though; it must have driven my mother nuts seeing it often as we did. I guess she felt entitled to that life -that of affluent Italian immigrants instead of the blue collar family she came from (hold that thought). In any event, one time we were driving as a family and she drew all of our attention to that unnecessarily, ostentatiously large house, too big even for us as a family of 7, and said something to the effect of, “We’re going to live there one day,” and while I don’t remember her actual wording beyond that, there was a way in which it was clearly indicated as a challenge to my step-father to give her the life she deserved. He, for his part, simply kept driving.

2) In March ’95 we took our first and only plane trip together as a family -two weeks in that storied paradise we’d all grown up wanting to go to, Florida! We spent the first week hitting the theme parks -a day at Magic Kingdom, a day at Universal, and (my favourite) a day at Epcot. We stayed in motels and had a very lovely time of it. But my mother, like Malory Archer, had a Trudy Beekman of her own -a rival who had to be on-upped at all costs; Cheryl D____. And so it was, when we got back to Canada we were instructed to tell everyone that we stayed at the Disney All-Star Resort.

Maybe if we had stayed here everything would have been ok.

Nothing about her life was ever good enough, and I realize that that same attitude has been a detriment in my life as well.

Now let’s come back to that thought I told you to hold -the one about my mother’s shameful, Southern-Italian, blue collar origins. See, I never saw it that way. As a kid, I always thought being Italian was the coolest thing, because that was what I was always exposed to. I guess it was overcompensation and correction for the racism my mother and grandparents had been subjected to as an immigrant family in the 60s, but there was never any question about the superiority of my Italian blood, and this delusion dovetailed nicely into the Oedipal-Messiah monoculture I was at the centre of as the first-born of the new generation. This over-correction, the aforementioned dreams of my mother, really fucked me up for many years. Her dreams and expectations, which I internalized to a degree I didn’t even realize until my early 30s, were worn around me like a protective cocoon with walls so thick I struggled to break free, suffering many years of stunted growth in the process. In my early childhood, this barrier had the effect of giving me an infallible sense of self-worth; in adolescence I lagged behind the other kids in social development; and at 17 I realized for the first time that in social situations where noone was talking to me, I might be the problem. Case in point: I remember the house party I was at in Summer 2002, sitting alone on a seat talking to no one (which was common enough), but for the first time it occurred to me that it was up to me to make something happen here (at the party and in life); I stopped assuming that other people’s priorities weren’t messed up because they weren’t talking to me. At that point I had already been estranged from my mother for two years, but in that moment I feel I truly breached and poked my arm through the cocoon -though the suffocating dreams of my mother– for the first time.

The Strength of My Father

Jordan Peterson is fond of saying that a good thing to aim for is to be the strongest person at your father’s funeral; the person everyone goes to; the person everyone can lean on. There’s nobody I love more than my dad, and his passing will wreck me, but I have nonetheless thought a lot about it and what it means for my fractured family. I know I have it in me to be the strongest person, to deal with things level-headedly, and (most importantly) not get sucked into arguments with my step-mother, Anita. But therein lies the problem: Once my father passes I can have no expectation of civility from her. When he passes and his unwavering devotion to me and my sister (his kids from his first marriage) passes with him, the centre of gravity of his family with Anita and their kids together will slip away from me entirely and I anticipate her roundly rejecting any help I try and proffer with the funeral or anything else. I will be out in the cold. Still, I can comfort my relatives and siblings, and if that is all I can do then that is enough.  There has been a long cold war fought between me and her and I know how scared she must be to lose him even though to lose him would be to have me out of her life once and for all. It’s quite the Catch-22 for her and maybe for me as well.
I have really tried to put myself in my step-mother’s shoes in earnest over the last year. Though I didn’t formally articulate it at the time, I guess I started with the assumption that she hated me and had legitimate grounds for feeling that way. So, what were those grounds?
Well, best I could figure, I am a 35 year-old wastrel whose guilt-racked father was never judgmental enough. His resultant indulgent treatment of me contributed to an overall shortage of self-reliance, and I still enable this treatment from my father by asking him for help (doing my taxes & collecting my mail while I travel, etc.) because that relationship –having my dad be my dad– is the best memory I have from my childhood.
Still, I get it, it’s not charming to be a 35 year-old child and I’m working on it.
But even today, I had my dad on the phone while he was in his basement going through my boxes looking for stuff to bring up to Barrie for me. I don’t like having stuff in his basement as I feel it is a psychological provocation to Anita, but he insists its not a problem and since I’m just re-establishing myself in Canada, it stays there for the time being.

Just the same, I know he has had mobility problems over the past couple of years and that going down in the basement and looking through my boxes is not easy.
I know he’s coming up to Barrie to visit his parents whose health is failing and who are struggling much worse than I am.
I know he still works as many hours as ever, now shouldering the extra burden of paying for my little sister’s university.
And knowing all this I have the audacity to ask him for help?
It makes me feel like shit, honestly, but I do it nonetheless.

Why?

Well, the sad reality is that if he didn’t come up here and help me I simply wouldn’t see him. After all, if I went to visit him at his home it would get his wife in a mood and then he’d be left living with her which I think is overall worse, so maybe its better this way.

And that is the ultimate irony of mine and Anita’s cold war over my father: HE is the casualty and he suffers from our inability to reconcile. How much does he suffer? I don’t know but I have this image in my head of Anita and I standing across from each other at his funeral as they lower him into the ground, unable to look at each other, both full of guilt and shame for the role our mutual disdain played in depriving him of peace on this Earth.

The queen and the prince unwittingly conspiring to kill the king. It’s poetic and almost reassuring that we could work together toward a common purpose.

Epilogue

Looking at the ground around me, I see the sloughed-off bits of that maternal cocoon that I have been trying to shed for the latter half of my life with ever-growing consciousness and awareness. The torn, now useless bits of it, once my constrictive shell, represent the unfulfilled, unrealized dreams of my mother, and those vain aspirations seem shabby to me now where they once seemed sublimely influential -as does she.
I like the shabbiness though -she always wore humility well and in those moments where she took joy in her lot in life and appreciated what she had,  she could be the best mom in the world. So there’s value in these broken bits of cocoon I’ve shed if I accept them for what they are.

As I look up ahead of me I see the wall of my father, still standing, a veritable dam holding back the despair of the world as best it can. I can see the leaks though. Every year, more of the world’s ugliness makes it past him and pools toward me like a flowing tide. Eventually he too will crumble.
Can I brace the wall before it gives way? Maybe … to an extent. But maybe I’m not meant to.
Maybe the continuity of his strength –of his kind of strength– rests with my little brother; in some ways more like my dad than I will ever be. My little brother, Zach, had the one thing I always wanted more than anything in the world -to come home every day and see my dad. I don’t begrudge him this. It’s shaped him into a man of primary importance. A man like my father who takes care of the business of survival and keeps society running.
By comparison, I suppose I am a man of secondary importance: it is my lot to make things beautiful after men like my father and my brother (my brother especially as he’s an electrician) have made it habitable. I embrace that responsibility -secondary importance is still importance- and I have fierce respect for the people who make my work possible.

If I’m honest, I don’t think my dad ever wanted me to be like him. I often attribute his lack of fatherly judgment to his feelings of guilt for splitting up mine and my sister’s childhood home, but maybe it was more than that. Perhaps he had a vague idea of something I could strive toward but which he didn’t know how to guide me toward. Instead, he did what he could while I figured it out on my own.


Looking at the crumbling wall in front of me and the broken shell below me I think maybe I’m meant to pick up some of the pieces of each and fashion them into something new. Maybe not another wall to shield me or another armour-like cocoon to protect me, but perhaps a boat to buoy me.
This idea comforts me –and that makes me immediately suspicious of it– but it also makes sense and I can’t easily disprove it, so I will entertain it.

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

So what are the gifts from my parents that I want to bring forward into the construction of my ark?
Well, wherever she happens to be, my mother acts as if she has a right to be there; she owns her presence in any situation (if not her actions).
My father does the things right there in from of him which need to be done. He takes responsibility.

I’ve been doing like my mother for most of my life: Confident and defiant at best; presumptuous and entitled at worst. I’m pretty good at this.
It’s only more recently that I’ve started to integrate the behaviours which have made my father the mountain of a man he is in my imagination: Staying humble, doing the thing right in front of me that needs doing, etc.

I guess if I had to put it in an easy to follow rule: “Walk around like you pay the bills in that motherfucker –but pay the bills, motherfucker!

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Love
-Andre

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Lying on the Couch

Written on 20 OCT 2019

Friends,

I’m lying on her couch.

She’s in the next room, her bedroom, lying in her bed.

Her bedroom is a private space -that’s what she told me the first day.

Our flirtations -nuzzling, hand-holding in the streets, cuddling on this couch- have grown bolder at deliberate, steady pace, but never in her room.

I like the slow, deliberate pace of things. The slow, deliberate way in which we are re-learning each other after years apart; the way we aren’t putting the cart of intimacy before the horse of connection. Violent delights of course have violent ends, and I don’t want to relive past mistakes which sprang from impetuousness and recklessness. I don’t think she does either.

No. This time I’m thinking more seriously. I sat with her today -all afternoon in fact because it was raining- while she watched her shows and fretted about how to arrange her living room for a party next week. I sat there, not quite sombre, but pensive, thinking to myself, “could I sit here with her every Sunday for the rest of my life?

Maybe. Maybe even probably.

But I’m cautious, at least I’m trying to be. I’m really looking at how I feel in the moment and seeing if the feelings that come to me are shaded by guilt for how I treated her in the past. I want to make sure that whatever I do is righteous in the moment, and not short-sightedly satisfying nostalgia for the warm, agape love she once showed me.

I kissed her today. I was really happy afterward. I was happy because she was happy of course, but I was also happy that I recognized the right time to do it: I was lying beside her on the living room floor and she was talking about something excitedly. Her eyes, always bright and wide as their default setting, were somehow brighter and wider, and the faded black accents on her off-white t-shirt seemed as bold and vibrant as the ebony keys on a piano against the ivory ones. It was a sign. I recognized it. I acted on it. It was perfection.

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

In the intervening years since I broke her heart she has learned to set boundaries; no men -no me– in her bed is but one. I respect it, I understand it. Still, it hurts my heart a little when, in the evenings, she has left our cuddling on the couch to go to her room. I have asked her to stay, but she has said no, and that’s honestly what I probably need from her.

Tonight though played out a little differently: anticipating the hurt of her leaving me here on the couch I didn’t get invested emotionally when she started making overtures toward going to bed. I pulled out my laptop and switched on Mad Men as she brushed her teeth and didn’t get up to say goodnight.

I laid there for a few minutes after she retired and then realized that this behaviour on my part was just the kind of passive-aggressive, ego-based game bordering on dishonesty that has gotten me into such bullshitty situations in the past.

I got up and knocked on her door. She said “come in” but I asked her to come out on account of her bedroom being a sacred space. I explained why I didn’t say goodnight to her (protecting my feelings) and how that wasn’t right, and for a moment I guess she thought I was asking to come in and invited me in. I declined reflexively because I was already in that headspace of letting her have her space, and re-explained that I wanted to say a proper goodnight. I hugged her and we shared another lovely kiss.

I couldn’t sleep after that and instead watched another episode of Mad Men.

Speaking of which: There’s a great episode of the show where Roger Sterling seduces his young ex-wife, Jane and they make love in the apartment he bought for her after their divorce. The next morning she is upset with him and crying because she had a place that was just hers and now it was contaminated by him- even though she wanted him in the moment.

I bore that scene in mind the last few days while here, and it was certainly in my mind when I closed my laptop and laid on the couch thinking how nice it would be to be curled up in bed with her. She had invited me in after all and there is a point in the evenings, in the darkness, where noone can see us breaking the rules we have set for ourselves.

But I haven’t been able to bring myself to knock on the door. That would be a critical dose of impetuousness at a time when substance needs greater exploration, as flash has been well-demonstrated.

So I’m lying here on the couch, being the strong one tonight because she can’t be. I want to go knock on the door in a short-term fulfilment kind of way, but I’m playing a longer game now, and I’m not yet convinced that me knocking on that door is the best long-term move. Put more superstitiously: I didn’t get signs and a flash of vibrant colours like I did just before I kissed her.

There might be something there that is righteous and well-intentioned, but right now -tonight- I couldn’t hear it over nostalgia for times past and the desire to no be alone.

There is a time to act and a time to observe. Now is the latter.

Best,
-Dre

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gentrifying the Living Room

Friends,

I am settling into my new place. The other tenants are alrite, but they didn’t know each other coming in and so there was no organization or rules in place when I entered the mix. I don’t dislike any of them, but they all present a unique set of challenges:

There is Tanya, an Indian girl who is the first one who really opened up to me when she saw me taking the intiative and cleaning the bathroom. Her boyfriend, Mayank is over all the time and he’s cool and outgoing and friendly.

Although he did just try to sell me Amway!

Keith is a hilarious motherfucker. I heard him before I met him -sitting in his room playing League of Legends screaming FUCK!!. The walls are thin and so I took umbrage the first night and felt personally disrespected. After a certain point I went to knock on his door and he came out to greet me. I didn’t say anything about the cursing because I think it is important to say as little as possible.
Instead I introduced myself and asked him what he was up to. He told me LoL, and while I suspected that he suspected I was there to complain about the noise, neither of us addressed it and he eagerly invited me in to see the computer set-up he was quite proud of. He is skinny and young with long-hair and nothing at all like the abrasive, dominance-minded tyrant I had pictured in my head. I’ve subsequently run into him at the gym where he goes to climb. I think we’ll get along well.

Then there’s Deryk; big jock-type dude who is a sweetheart but whom I don’t think is acutely aware of how sound travels in this house. It’s ok we’re working through it, as will be seen.

Then there’s John; not a tenant but our resident guy on the couch.

He is Deryk’s buddy and I get it -I have been that guy for like, years. I wanna be clear, I have no problem with John. I like John. I love John, because I am John. He kind of took up the love-seat in our unfurnished living room for the last while before I moved in I guess, but the problem is/was that I got plans for this living room and in short order I cleaned the garbage and shoe rack out of it and mopped it. Then today I acquired a coffee table from the downstairs tenant, Tyler and as such reorganized the sofa. Now it’s a Living Room; I am literally sitting here with my feet up on my coffee table looking out my picture window.

Admittedly it needs some work.

I like spending time here now, and that brings me back to John. He walked in this evening with Deryk after coming back from the gym and had this look of disappointment in his eyes when he saw Mayank, Tanya and I sitting here enjoying the living room he had been sleeping in, I felt bad but I kind of anticipated this because I spent the evening on the couch last night and it occurred to me that he might have had to find other accommodations.

I don’t want to displace him, but the benefit of having this common space kind of outweighs the bad. For example, my room is right next to the bathroom and when people shower, the pipes in the wall next to my head as I lie on my bed are deafening. However, now that I have a couch to sit on and work from in the evening, I can be comfortable and in (relative) quiet while the roomies are going through their evening routine.

The best part of all this is I never told John to leave. And truthfully he is still welcome. If he wanted to go through the rigor of asking I would be happy to get my air mattress for him and set him up in the kitchen, but I think he wanted low-hanging fruit for a crash, and I get that behaviour because I have demonstrated that behaviour in the past.

Funnily enough, Deryk, whom I have felt some resentment toward for callous noise-making, and whom I expected to fight me on the gentrification of the living room his friend was squatting in, has been cool. When John got himself a ride to another friend’s place after seeing his favourite squat had been turned into a Starbucks, Deryk actually opened up and intiated a conversation with me -something he had never done before. I had spent the whole time thinking that by exploring the space I was asserting myself against Deryk’s unchecked expansion –and maybe I was– but perhaps I was also liberating him by obliquely saying “no” through more intentional, deliberate and purposeful occupation of the space.

Intentional, deliberate, purposeful occupation the space! That’s a big idea right there, and it occurred to me on many a dancefloor while vying for space. BIG EGO Andre used to take it personally when my space on the dancefloor was being encorached upon or someone bumped into me -like how dare someone dance in front of me or in my bubble?; little ego andre sees that the best way to occupy space is to OCCUPY SPACE, and if you can’t occupy it effectively that means you got too much. Period.

“Loiterers should be arrested!”
-Jay-Z

I’ve had some reservations about living here this past week as a result of adjustment pains, but *just knocked on wood* I feel as good as I’ve ever felt tonight. I feel like people are starting to see what I see as far as what is possible in this place and I am starting to see them and what they have to offer.

Best,
-Dre

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

This is What Fire Feels Like

I feel like I’m losing my mind. Unraveling. I’m scared(?) Yes. Scared of what?
Dying?
Fucking up. Having what family I have left disown me.

But I know there is no other path. I have to do this. I have to go back to Europe and play music. Get energized by the city. Berlin. I need to get to. I need to focus. Pick one thing and go for it. But first there something I have to attend to, when my body screams to focus on one thing and go for it, to stop wasting my time.

I am staying in Canada to make up a high school course I need for successful application to college. Its going to be hard but good to have it done and be registered.

As soon as its done I want to be gone. Perfecting my street show. Touching people with my music. I’m so good. And I’m getting better every day. The practicing is getting so high-level and sophisticated. My fingers are getting more adept, dextrous and deft. I really enjoy the sound I’m making.

I met with an old friend this evening. He, like many people who care about me asked me if I had ever thought about seeing a therapist. I told him I had, but I also told him there were two reasons I had not.

First, and it bears mention, I am not in the Canadian health care system. This is an obstacle that I have not surmounted, but it is surmountable.

Why haven’t I surmounted it?

I’m not convinced that I am wrong. I’m not convinced that I should pack up and go home on my aspirations, my higher ones. True, massage has a place in my life and I want to develop that over the longer term. So I will do this course. I need to do it, to pave a more streamlined future track for myself down the road.

In the interim, I can still live in Hamilton I think. It’s not Berlin, or Paris, or Amsterdam, but it has something. And there is family here; my military regiment.

I love to spend hours at the cenotaph, playing by the new monument for the war in Afghanistan. As I play, improvising over the same few chords over again, and really going for it musically, the guitar migrates to my right side, I pull my right shoulder back to accommodate the new position and I feel waves of release pulsing through my arm, shoulder and back. A healing is taking place at a deeper level and I work through things mentally and emotionally. Clarity comes.

My guitar is going to be all I have for a while. I think I am ready. It’s not the biggest piece of debris scattered around the shipwreck but it will float my weight.

It may not be the biggest cross on the hill but I think I can die on it.

-Dre

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pyramid of Truth

Friends,

When it comes to human perception and comprehension, I think absolute truth is mostly unknowable. We tend to float around the truth with approximations of it shaded by our own biases, perspective and rigor in pursuing knowledge on that tack. If there is a fixed, universal truth, we may as well consider it an unreachable, imperceptible ideal which we strive toward in what is essentially an act of faith. We simply don’t have the faculties to perceive/comprehend it, though we can get closer and infinitely closer approximations of it.

Honestly though, we could almost consider this inability to reach/perceive/comprehend truth a mercy, for imagine how much difficulty we would have if, grasping the complete truth we tried to communicate it to our fellows. Rare is the individual who can communicate the truth of something without bias and rarer still the one who can listen and hear without objection.

Instead, I think that human perceptions of truth in any realm are like looking up at the top of a pyramid -where you stand around the base might give you a view of the north, south, east and west-facing aspects of the top (and that might be considered your politics/religion/school of thought/prejudices on that issue). But the higher you advance upward from that position at the base, in that linear mindset? Your view of the truth/tip stays the same (though maybe the fine details get clearer)

Think about it; the only way to gain a more complete view of the tip is to walk around the base. To carry the analogy further, this is akin to holding, and perhaps even arguing, different positions to experientially understand their truth. A simple example, might be a lifelong Marxist vs. an someone who became Marxist after spending most of their life as a Rational Choice Individualist: in this scenario, who might be said to have a more complete view of the truth? I would say the latter. It matters little how you move from position and stance throughout your life, what matters instead is how much work and effort you put into understanding each position as you adhere to it.

If you think about each position, you walk around the base.

If you talk about each position, you walk around the mid-portion of the pyramid.

If you do/live/act each position, you traipse about the upper portion with a closer view of each side of the tip.

And whether circling the pyramid at the bottom, middle or top, what happens when you see the pinnacle, the ideal, the tip from all directions? Well, if you can remember accurately how it looked from each perspective you can put together in your mind’s eye a composite image of the entire tip -something that can only be seen in real-time from above as if you were aloft above the pyramid looking down at it. And knowing what the entire tip/truth looks like is at least as good as, if not better than, seeing it.

Isn’t this a transcendence of that particular issue/question/pyramid/hierarchy?

I would say yes.

What I said earlier about the absolute truth being unknowable notwithstanding, there are many microcosmic domains whose pyramids of truth we have ascended and transcended in our individual lives. These are the domains where we might be said to have achieved mastery, or at least something functionally close to it. And even if the idea of inequality implied by ascending the pyramid troubles you due to a commitment to social justice, you can’t deny that as we build up our skills and aptitudes and knowledge, it certainly feels like we are ascending above others.

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

The pyramid never ceases to amaze me and enlighten me as a a conceptual tool for understanding the world and complex ideas. If only ancient people had erected pyramids everywhere on the planet to signify how key they were to understanding universal truth.

Best,
-Dre

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Look of Love

Friends,

Staying with my uncle these past couple weeks out on Lake Huron and spending my days helping out at his restaurant. Yesterday evening I came down from the staff room, having shed my sweater and rocking a sleeveless tank, ready to don an apron and begin helping out with dishes.

There were two attractive girls at the bar in the mid 30s age range and the blond one, let’s call her ‘Holly’, was like, “Wow, you have big muscles!” I looked at Holly, and from my peripherals I could tell the guy sitting behind her was narrowing his eyes at me.

“Thank-you,” I responded.

“You wanna arm wrestle?” the guy blurted out?

“No thanks, they’re just for show.” I responded with a smile.

“I bet!” he shot back.

I looked at him, widening my smile, “ and responded quickly, “None taken!” -a clever little retort for forms of aggression passive and veiled that I picked up from the Brits. Even he had to break eye contact and chuckle.

In a mild state of disbelief and amusement about how low this guy went right from the hop, I turned my attention back to Holly.

“Who are you?” she asked.

Smiling good-naturedly, I gave her my best George Costanza: “I’m the opposite of every man you ever met.”

I guess I must have reached my left hand up to my face as I sad this, because as he quickly interjected, “I doubt it!”, she exclaimed, “I would love to love you!” -the script tattooed on my left forearm.

She quickly turned to her husband to explain she was just reading my tattoo.

Sure 🙄

Him again: “You wanna come by our hot tub tonight?”

I said, “sure” not really expecting anything to materialize from it. I was right in assuming it was a desperate effort to regain face.

There was quiet for a second and I said, “Actually I’m gonna go hot tub my hands in the dish-pit. Nice meeting you guys.”

I turned to put on an apron and the girls came behind the bar and began invading the kitchen to have a look; they’re friends of my uncle and cousins who own the place so I just let it happen. After the girls passed me I was still tying up my apron still and the guy came behind the bar.

“What’s your name, brother?” I asked.

“D’Arcy” he responded.

He broke eye contact first and mumbled something about nothing, continuing on into the kitchen and through to the adjacent store where the girls were talking to the staff and having a look around.

I followed to collect dishes and overhead him saying some more comments about my unwillingness to arm wrestle.

“Fuck it!” I thought, “Why not?”

I noticed he had the name of a construction firm on his hat so I assumed that was his profession.

“Hey D’Arcy!”

He looked at me and they walked over.

“You work in construction, right?”

“Yeah…”

“I work on my computer; I have no business arm-wrestling you.” I’m not sure if his wife got the sub-text, but he did: “I’m as fit as you and probably smarter than you.”

They left soon after. I’ve gotten a lot better at holding gaze and speaking slow and truthfully. In the past I would have gotten tripped up by such overt flirtation and aggression, but I really took this instance in stride, kept my composure and even gave a little back.

Best,

-Dre

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized