A1 Great! Part lies, part heart, part truth, part garbage.

here i am, here we are

Five years and a day ago, the mighty A1 Great dot com was launched, with dignity and aplomb, the same traits you have come to know and love around these parts. Happy birthday!

Having just left my best-paying job, to that point, managing a dealership for TELUS Mobility in a most excellent fashion (more lucrative than you might expect due to commissions and raises every six months, and if TELUS wasn’t fucking their dealers – and clients – left and right these days, ownership of such a franchise might still be a career path to consider), I was embarking on my first real attempt at ‘working from home’, though the stay-at-home-dad role was pretty intense at that time. We were still about a year away from any real sleep, though we had recently found out that the kid was suffering from reflux, so hey, we’ll just prescribe some prevacid and that’ll be that! We were so ready to believe…

There’s a book waiting to be written around this topic, no doubt. How To Make Your Special Needs Child Just Fucking Sleep For More Than An Hour So You Can Feel Like Not Driving Off A Bridge Into A River Every Day. I have come to know a couple of people who would be looking for signed copies, bless them. Perhaps only a pamphlet, though, because here’s the full text: drugs, surgery. Better drugs than prevacid, that is. Better surgery than eardrum removal, even if you can’t wash for a month.

What were we talking about? Five years ago, right – then I met Stuart while testing out electric bikes in Vanier, and I offered to do some stuff for his little NGO startup, and made a button – two, actually. See?

One Change - simple actions matter One Change - simple actions matter

Not much more happened after that.

Here’s a few of my favorite posts:

  • Hello green water. I have seen no evidence of four and a half year old mutant me-s around this area, though they just knocked a bunch of trees down around there, so there may yet be time to make some freakish discoveries.
  • Listen to your BOB FM. I found Jon on Facebook! Still no Randy.
  • Adventures in Ottawa South. Stuart claims not to remember this meeting. I don’t remember the names of the people who owned the house. I do remember the overdone hamburger off the grill, but it was my fault, I was late. Oh well.
  • No cancer, no glory. I am still pissed off that I came second in that contest.
  • Always ready to help. I remain unable to understand why some of my most longstanding and trusted friends, who I hold in high esteem and whose intelligence and good taste cannot be called into question, continue to choose to live in the United States.
  • Just like that. Marking my father-in-law’s sudden passing, and holding forth on my own family experience at the time. We’re better, I think, though some are still very insecure about the family dynamic. What can you do? Only so much time to go around, both on the calendar and cosmically speaking.
  • The luxury. Resolutions for 2007! Learn to drive: well, maybe one day, but it’s not looking good. Tattoo: birthday gift, 2009, so that was only two and a half years late. Ice skates: 2010, three years later. Sounds about right.
  • Press one for inglesh. This was really just a dig at someone annoying who I used to work with. Feels good!
  • Hold up. More vitriol. I really hate the whole “Earth Hour” idea.

Of course, one must consider one’s audience. Turns out that my favorites are not your favorites: since 2008, the most popular posts here are about setting your own player images in Pokerstars, being thankful at Christmastime, that sublime combination of a good buzz and good music, something I posted only two weeks ago, and the time I met the Barenaked Ladies and got them to hold lightbulbs. Whatever, people!

Thanks for reading, eh?


2009-11-27: this week’s twat(s) for you

  • Going to eat lunch at the Zellers restaurant. #hanginwithelderlyrelatives #
  • Top 3 weekly #lastfm artists: R.E.M. – 80. Radiohead – 24. Alice in Chains – 24. http://bit.ly/12zJDt #
  • My ability to recollect old URLs and bits of online-y information surprises me sometimes. These were cool in, what, 2005? http://bit.ly/URuu #
  • If you can’t do what’s right, might as well do what’s left… #
  • is taking steps to ensure his obsolescence, but seems to be becoming more vital instead. Doh! #
  • Three days left at the office job. Login server downtime was not really what I needed to wrap things up around here #
  • Two days of work left. Next: a week or so at CHEO, then it’s glorious, choose-your-own contracting. Life’s FFWD feature would be welcome now #
  • Wishing Ian Blurton was taking his “Happy Endings” tour through Ottawa… can’t get my hands on the disc OR get to a show. Dommage! #
  • Standing in Walmart, observing a Muslim family considering Christmas decorations. I feel like I might be on Candid Camera #

2009-10-09: this week’s twat(s) for you

  • Top 3 weekly #lastfm artists: Alice in Chains – 59. Pearl Jam – 31. U2 – 11. http://bit.ly/12zJDt #
  • Santa Fe Spicy Chicken at Mr. Sub = not particularly delicious #
  • So, the thing about sitting around at the hospital is that it’s actually really boring. #
  • Just saw a Jack Daniels ad. Want #
  • Witnessing an H1N1 isolation emergency response at CHEO at the moment. Staff is almost casual in full protective wear #
  • Portable x-ray machine painted as giraffe rolls in. Clever disguise in a kid’s hospital #
  • Overhearing talk of calls to the Centre for Disease Control. Crazy #
  • Family of four in there, three adults, one boy. Staff is adjusting oxygen levels in the whole room. Is 60% a high number. #
  • Hallways are abuzz, but everyone is rather composed. I guess swine flu response is somewhat old hat inside institutions at this point #

what the mirror cannot see

I’ve spent the better part of the last six months working to develop my “professional” identity – improving my business website, adding a blog and writing about business stuff, polishing up the look-and-feel and getting my avatars in order. (Social media is important these days, you know.) But a professional presence doesn’t allow for writing about emotion, reflecting personal experience, discussing opinions that are difficult to express, unless you just vomit it all right out.

So, hello, A1 Great! I knew I kept you around for more than opportunities for sticker vandalism. Vomit sentiment, coming right up.

Oftentimes, I will hear, or read, that people are angry about whatever, and I often think that that’s a pretty strong word for what must surely be a lesser emotion – miffed? Peeved? Bothered? Pissed off? I recall only a few times where I was ever truly angry about something, most notably sometime in the summer immediately following grade six… just turned twelve, which indicates the maturity level of all involved in this anecdote.

I was being goaded by a few of the neighbourhood bullies to get into a fight with a sort-of friend who I was hanging out with a friend behind our school one evening. All the usual inflammatory language came out, as was always the case with these jackasses, who were a known entity at that point – faggot, pussy, homo, and so on. I don’t remember exactly why I reached the boiling point, or how long it took to get there that night, because my usual MO was to get the hell away from people who were intimidating to me – avoid, avoid, avoid. So maybe my fuse blew after only a minute or so? In any case, I shoved the lead villain in this story, knocking him over, screamed like a motherfucker, grabbed his bike, sent it tumbling down the hill on top of which we were standing. I remember that tumble seeming to take forever, as the bike flipped end over end, crashing to the bottom of what seemed, as a kid, to be a huge hill (but what actually is barely a rise in the horizon – I checked. See it there, behind the walking path and trees? Spatial memory is tricky stuff.)

Anyway, that forever tumble gave me time to contemplate the ass-kicking I was sure to receive after having pulled that stunt, but what actually happened was that those three kids looked at each other and walked away, leaving the bike at the bottom of the hill for another time. My sort-of friend and I stood there for a minute, amazed at whatever energy it was that I had tapped into in that moment, and kind of felt jubilant at having won one encounter, one time, with the sorts of people who meant to make our lives miserable as often as possible.

Then I went home.

That my most memorable experience with anger is so distant in the past – some of you should be able to do the math on this – is indicative of a life that is being pretty well lived, I think. For the most part, I have surrounded myself with people that are easy to love, easy to spend time with, easy to find the good in. Professional contacts are usually of my choosing, making it simple to discard those whose money is not worth my time. Persons on my periphery are treated as such, acknowledged as they draw near, and left to their own devices when they fade from view. It’s all pretty OK with me.

Disappointment, however. Yeah. Disappointment is difficult for me to handle.

Everyone who knows me knows that I like to have a plan. I like to know what’s happening, where people will be, what needs to be done in order to have the optimal experience at any given time. I’ve sort of always been like this, though being too close to tragic situations over the past few years have sharpened this wish – need – to be spending my time with the right people, taking advantage of opportunities, and doing my best to reject any attitude of “we’ll do it another time”. Another time is not promised to you or I, and it’s not a promise any of us can make to anyone else, either.

So, when a plan falls through, disappointment tends to hang over me. And when disappointment hits because people are aloof with their respect for my role in their lives, that turns, for me, into feeling like I am being taken for granted. And fuck, if that one isn’t a stone that’s I just can’t pass, dear reader. Being taken for granted. I’m burning up just thinking about it.

Because being taken for granted causes you – me – to take stock of what I thought was in place. A quick list is taken, favors and kind gestures become points of resentment, and you – I – start to wonder why I have given so much time, energy, money, love. Days, months, years. Is the gratitude I have received in the past genuine, or am I just kind of convenient to have around sometimes? Do I not ask the right questions, talk about the right subjects, show that I’m listening? Am I not there when I am needed, make commitments and mean it?

Are we family, or what?

 

Yesterday was my birthday, and yesterday I was made to feel as though I am being taken for granted. The exact details are unimportant, and the reason why doesn’t matter much to me, either – I can’t believe anyone would be thinking of ways to make me unhappy, but in my mind, “whoops, we just didn’t think of you” is worse than a specific person having a specific problem. I can shove a specific problem, throw it down a hill, cause it to fall over and fade away.

I thought I was already doing all the right stuff. This disappointment, this feeling of being taken for granted, has me taking stock. Maybe not.


crushed

I was working on a couple of promotional ideas that were going to dictate the flow of my day when the news came out: Jack Layton, dead. So sudden. So awful.

But we had a feeling that this day was coming fast, didn’t we? The Jack Layton we had come to know so well in Canadian politics for what felt like forever was not the same Jack Layton who announced that he had to step down from leadership of the NDP a few weeks ago. Cancer patients usually look either puffy and swollen or skinny and gaunt, and the latter was definitely how Mr. Layton appeared before us that day, like cancer had already destroyed ten or twenty percent of him. Or more.

On reflection this morning, it occurred to me that Jack Layton’s words and actions might have been at the centre of political dogma all this time. Yeah, it’s traditional Liberal territory, but the NDP rise to the rank of Official Opposition this year showed that what he was saying was finally starting to resonate, was finally starting to sound not like the extreme leftist stuff that the NDP brochure was always painted as (and never really was), and more like the kind of thinking that could put us where we would want to be, the state of mind that we’d like being Canadian to mean. What we’d like being human to mean.

After all, what is more human than to want to keep ourselves fed when others are hungry? What is more human than wanting to have a few more material possessions, even if it requires taking away from those with less? What is more human than fearing others with different beliefs or practices, even when we know that we all have the exact same blood and guts working away inside us?

This is the stuff of humanity. Gut, sentiment, feeling, belief based on instinct and precedent instead of knowledge and understanding.

It’s taken tens of thousands of years of evolution, generation after generation of inching away from our neanderthal origins, to put some distance between our modern selves and the animal inside that wants to give into instinct at every turn. And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve traveled a great distance from that past, even in the year 2011. You, and I, our neighbors and friends and family and people we run into on the street – we’re all within inches of one another.

Maybe I’m too young to know better, but I felt like Jack Layton was about to help Canadians to take a big leap away from our primal, instinctual selves. We had already done some of it this year – not enough of it, mind you, and not enough of us, either. But more than ever before.

And I guess it’s typical and human to feel sad, and angry, and disappointed, that someone I admired and respected and wanted to follow is gone.

Gut. Sentiment. Feeling.

But I doubt Jack Layton would have wanted us to feel like this. I suspect he would have wanted us to continue on the path he’d been showing us all along, and continue to work for a better future for everyone who is Canadian, regardless of their place on the political spectrum, and not exclusively for those who were born in the right place and at the right time.

Maybe we still can.