Posts Tagged ‘memories of childhood’

the state of my mental health.

21 January 2011

i grew up in a room with red curtains, the window overlooking a shed where we planned to jump in the event of a fire. my wallpaper featured futuristic space stations. i pretended the sliding doors of my closet led into an elevator where every visitor was asked to enter for a few minutes. my bed was covered in a thick olive blanket. as i grew i started sleeping diagonally or curled in a ball so that my feet didn’t hang over the edge or my toes didn’t become uncovered.

from that bed, beginning at an early age, i wondered what happened when we died, crying when i thought about going from looking at something to everything becoming black, no longer sensing anything. i didn’t know how that made sense, how you could go from being awake and alive, to being nothing at all. for a minute, i imagined the grave (this was before i learned about cremation), the dirt, the darkness; no conversations, no friends, no self. slowly i came to terms with death, i suppose, because i stopped tearing up every night, thinking about where i was going to go. i accepted the idea that i would one day disappear, though hopefully not while i was sleeping so i could challenge death to a game of chess. it was as simple as that: i would be gone and everything i was doing and everything i could do would cease.

i stopped taking my medication in early december because my frustrations about its lack of efficacy were exacerbating my depression. also, i didn’t want to listen to my psychiatrist talk about sleep patterns anymore, but she can’t be blamed for thinking every single person is the same, so, for the record, my only true battle is with pristiq. i realized that all the things wrong with me are not merely symptoms of depression. i can handle being sad. it’s not as if i’m thinking about suicide all the time. i mean, some days i don’t even mind being alive.

i avoid using anti-bacterial soap so convincing me to take a daily pill that is altering my brain is not going to be appealing for long. i guess i kind of see medicine and god in the same way: i understand their value for some people, but i’m okay on my own. obviously, though, i’m not going to turn down a life-saving medical procedure, whereas, conversely, it’ll take a pretty large miracle for me to start believing in the existence of a higher being.

so, anyway, i wanted to let you know that i’m fine and moderately happy. and all the things wrong with me are less of a concern than they were right before i started taking the medication and during, though there are extenuating factors involved in my current and previous happinesses that i don’t wish to discuss at this time.

illustrated man.

8 October 2010

many of my friends have tattoos, which has made me often wonder if i too should get one. thus far i’ve held off because there is no image with which i would be content to permanently have on my skin. it’s not that there isn’t anything i love, it’s just that i don’t expect my interests to look very good in ink. it’s like in ninth grade, when we had to do an interview discussing our future career, i switched from writer to rodeo clown in order to be more entertaining. rather than talking about how i sat at my typewriter for seven hours a day hammering out sentences that i would eventually throw away, i turned it into a show, detailing close calls and saved lives, wearing ridiculous makeup while a giant animal attempted to maul everyone in its sight.

the lure of the tattoo remains. maybe it’s kind of like beards. i mean, no one really likes beards — they make you look homeless or at least age you unnecessarily; no one takes you seriously because if you’re too lazy to simply shave, how can you be expected to run my company in my absence; women compare it to kissing a wild animal, and not in the pleasurable, that-was-so-fucking-amazingly-hot way, more like the my-face-is-abraised-and-i-have-to-apply-moisturizer way. still we grow beards because one time a girl told us (or someone nearby) that facial hair was an improvement and we’re too dumb to understand that meant either, a. i can’t see your double chin anymore, b. it really hides your acne/scars, or c. i do not know what i like but i do know that caring about your appearance is so mainstream and uncreative.

anyway, i’ve thought a lot about tattoos. if i were to get one it would have to be something i designed so that no one would have anything similar. unfortunately, i cannot draw very well. below is one of my ideas, a dragon sitting on a stool eating an apple.

i was told it looks like a tootsie roll holding a bomb, and if i’m going to go the route of humor i may as well go all out and get the following:

okay, there’s no way i would ever do that, plus the joke only works if pinocchio’s nose grows (nice self-deprecation there, eh?).

recently i solved all of my problems, however technology is not advanced enough to fulfill my vision. that is, i want to get a tattoo of a kaleidoscope where the colors and patterns change depending on the angle from which you are looking at it. even when i am ninety-five years old i will marvel at the loose beads, pebbles, and glass in my body.

the most beautiful green we’ve ever seen.

16 March 2010

while conducting research for a movie based on the mcdonaldland characters (you know, johnny depp as ronald, dwayne johnson as mayor mccheese, danny devito as the hamburglar, and tilda swinton as birdie the early bird), i came across a piece of fast food ephemera, uncle o’grimacey.

o’grimacey is grimace’s irish uncle. he is green, wears a frock coat adorned with four-leaf clovers and a leprechaun’s hat, and carries a shillelagh like everyone from ireland. i mean, why not include a storyline where he gets really drunk and beats up one of the fry guys (in the film version, played by a pom-pom with legs — or conan o’brien if he’s available). he visits his nephew every march, bringing along the shamrock shake. apparently he packed enough that every mcdonald’s restaurant in the united states and canada offered them to their customers. maybe that explains the limited quantity of the drink in recent years; remember airlines didn’t charge such exorbitant fees for baggage back then.

with that introduction out of the way, i bring you a commercial from the late 1970s or early 1980s, a time period when sound quality wasn’t a priority like it is in these crazy high-definition days.

le fabuleux destin d’amelie patisserie.

15 June 2009

after a night spent sleeping in one’s car, waking with each passing vehicle or barking dog or imagined footstep, unable to return to sleep at dawn — the windshield glass intensifying the sun’s heat — one seeks a place to relax, indoors. the place needs to serve great food, provide free wireless internet, and, above all, never close. it’s not just a method of killing time while waiting for something else to open or just an escape from claustrophobia’s grasp: it’s a necessary step, separating one day from the next and signalling to your body that you have awakened, ready to produce.

my recommendation, if one requires such a site in charlotte, falls solely on amelie’s french bakery. they offer a selection of seasonal soups, like tomato fennel and farmhouse butternut squash and spinach asparagus leek, which are made fresh daily from local ingredients. they also serve sandwiches and tartines (basically, open-faced sandwiches topped with, for example, ham and melted gruyere cheese) on fresh baguettes.

many come here for the dessert cases, housing an array of pastries, tarts, and cakes. peering into them, you enter a dream state where apricots and peaches perform ballet, pirouetting on the counter in front of you before coquettishly dancing away; caramels following one another up a slide, then gleefully descending, arms raised, into a heated, salt-water pool where they splash around with delight; passion fruit petit fours and coconut macaroons taking turns on the trampoline or riding a ski lift to the top of a mountain, where they strap cinnamon raisin and pecan sticky buns, respectively, to their feet and expertly maneuver their way back down to the chalet.

bright colors shoot forth from every corner and you feel a spinning sensation. when your equilibrium returns, you notice a table to your right you hadn’t seen previously, a lingering symptom of your reverie. atop is a teapot, colored a pastel green, and a ramekin of creme brulee. a thin-lipped girl sits quietly, the faint trace of dimples on her cheeks, her skin pale as milk, made whiter still by the jet black of her hair, which ends just below her ears, and her dark eyes. positioned in her hand, a spoon, and you watch her close her eyes, breathe out deeply, and gently crack the crust of her creme brulee. her face becomes serene, as if an act of catharsis has taken place.

you leave, contemplating the small wonders of life and thinking of elaborate ways to impact the lives of others, becoming a sort of guardian angel, bringing them joy and satisfaction. just then you hear a ringing noise and, for the first time, notice a phone booth beside your car. you hold the receiver to your ear, but, before speaking, an old metal box catches your eye. you whip your head around, sensing that someone is watching you, but no one is there. your eyes brim with tears as you open the box and remember the tile in your childhood bathroom that you once hid it behind. you leaf through the memorabilia within, remembering happy events long forgotten, awash in emotion.

basically that’s how this place makes me feel every visit.

my year as a bronze god.

15 March 2009

the difference between the way the united states and canada each view nationalism has always puzzled me. growing up in canada i was accustomed to seeing the iconic maple leaf everywhere — incorporated into the logos of fast food chains like mcdonalds and pizza hut, tattooed on people’s arms, in the trees.

in the united states that connection to home is not as innate. patriotism often comes as a knee-jerk reaction to a world or local event, to be seen only on american independence day or following a terrorist attack. then signs will start appearing on lawns, proclaiming the great nation, susceptible to nothing. it’s so transitory (certainly there’s a difference between wearing a t-shirt that reads, these colors don’t run, a couple of times a year and inserting colored pigments into punctured skin to create permanent patterns) and somewhat fabricated.

perhaps it’s the northern country’s underdog spirit that gives its citizens an authentic sense of community. there’s something in our blood, especially after we move away maybe, that forms affinities to actors and bands simply because we possess a shared homeland. i cannot explain fully why i instantly fell in love (i mean, more or less; work with me) with avril lavigne’s music upon first viewing her video for complicated, weeks before i knew she was born in ontario. or why the presence of sarah polley increased my appreciation for the sweet hereafter (a legitimately great film) and go (likely underrated but in no way a legitimately great film). why is it that i feel the need to comment when one’s nationality matches my own, like continuously mentioning how ryan gosling and i are brethren?

the only thing i can come up with — and i understand that this is far-fetched, not to mention a bit scary that i actually believe this — is that there exists a current that keeps us in tune with each other’s movements and empathetic to each other’s struggles to succeed in a country smaller than our own, but more populous and — we may as well admit it — more important.

i’ve lived in the southeastern united states for over two decades. obviously the area has influenced me quite a bit, but it remains at arm’s length. at the same time, my birth country is distant to me, as if covered in gauze.

a little over a year ago i began a campaign to connect further with my adopted terrain by visiting a tanning bed two times a week on average. i’ve since ended that misguided attempt, my skin returning to its previous northern light. for a little while though my stomach was a few shades darker. i’m not entirely certain why this part of my body darkened more easily, but i’m sure there is evidence of fat tanning quicker but i’m unwilling to discover that truth.

rather than bringing me closer to this place though, it robbed me of thirty dollars a month, and i still, from time to time, was met with the you’re-not-from-around-here vibe, which wasn’t leavened by my compulsion to repeatedly listen to one great city! (about winnipeg, manitoba) by the weakerthans or sing alanis morissette songs at karaoke night.

it’s my destiny, then, to remain a stranger in a strange land, wherever i happen to be, detached from everything and thus able to comment unbiasedly. it’s also my destiny — or perhaps my birthright — to blind everyone that looks directly at me, sort of like the sun or a greek god.

the music of my youth.

12 March 2009

i’m sure you realize that i didn’t wake up some morning recently, newly quirky and idiosyncratic; i’ve been like this for quite a long time, likely since conception. the first compact disc i purchased was m c hammer’s please hammer, don’t hurt ’em, but before that — that is, before cassettes disappeared — there were two songs that i wanted to hear repeatedly. i was reminded of them both today as they were played in succession on the satellite radio station we listened to at work, each offering evidence of the child i was and influencing the adult i would become. both incarnations of myself are, admittedly, a bit strange and show that, over the years, to my credit perhaps, i haven’t really changed much.

one area where i have changed, however, is my dismissal of certain advancements in technology. for instance, i’ve been posting writing on the internet for a long time but i’ve been reluctant, for no good reason, to embrace everything the medium allows. for today, at least, i’m going to change that, ignoring my inner pleas for continuing to do things the same way and attempting to shake off my fears.

with that makeshift disclaimer, i present you the videos for the songs to which i alluded in the first paragraph. feel free to judge me accordingly (but realize i’ve heard all your gay jokes previously).

a psychologist’s warning: whatever you do, don’t blame yourself

a historian’s perspective: mississippi, circa 1870

a short history of bull.

9 March 2009

in high school, everyone had to choose a future job, research the position, and be interviewed. owing to the fact that question-and-answer sessions with writers who haven’t written anything is extremely boring, i decided to become a rodeo clown, if only for the duration of the project. on tape i talked about avoiding injuries: we were trained professionals, i proposed, respecting the animals and always remembering their penchant for the unpredictable. i must have been a decent liar, because, even weeks later, others were asking me if that was what i really wanted to be when i grew up.

standing outside of work, i thought about my former faux-occupation while watching the mechanical bull at a neighboring bar. it bucks and pivots with a girl astride its robotic back. there seem to be a few requirements for those who want to ride: a short dress must be worn and also thong underwear. the guy controlling the beast’s movements eventually stops it with its head down, leaving the girl’s ass visible to the raucous crowd. he then further cements his place in their hearts by causing the animal to shake, the girl jiggling along with it. i’ve seen this occur countless times with almost identical results. the rider soon lands onto the padding with her dress up over her head. due to his behind-the-curtain machinations and his adeptness at choreographing the eight-second show, like an expert puppeteer, i refer to him as the wizard of bull.

now my attentions have turned — and it shouldn’t be surprising considering my past and present affinities for bulls — to planning a trip to spain, particularly for the festival of san fermin in pamplona to participate in the running of the bulls. when i’ve floated this idea to friends though they’ve acted like i am crazy.

i was looking through pictures of gorings (to prepare) when i came upon this. seriously who wears jeans to an encierro? did he not realize that he would be trying to avoid three-thousand-pound animals with sharpened horns on their heads? bulls are very fashion-conscious creatures, and as such, impaling someone is their pointed way of saying, your style does not please me today. i will be fine as long as i can find a nice red scarf.

another thing working in my advantage is that i once was able to run a mile in about six-and-a-half minutes. the bull run is only half that length. plus i will be wearing shoes, while the bull must trod along the cobblestone roads on hooves. also, i can quote passages from the sun also rises to lull everyone else to sleep.

if time permits me to travel by foot, i’d like to make pamplona a stop along the el camino de santiago (way of st. james), a pilgrimage to the cathedral of santiago de compostela in the northwest of spain where it is said that the remains of the apostle st. james are buried.

midnight’s child.

3 March 2009

salman rushdie’s female characters are often, if not always, strong, able to influence with their charm and/or beauty. their gifts are not only reserved for men — or humans for that matter –, for everything is susceptible, including animals and illnesses (in his latest novel, the enchantress of florence, rushdie surmises about one young woman that maybe diseases loved her too, which was why she was dead before she was twenty-four years old).

in his work, every woman has some degree of magic contained within her, whether she can tell your fortune by looking at vegetables, land safely after falling off a precipice, remain as alive when a ghost as she was when she was corporeal, or lead others pied-piper style to follow her. maybe it’s this way of thinking that causes someone to marry four times, like he has. maybe i have him to blame then for my own exploits and mercurial tendencies. can i legitimately be faulted because i made the mistake of first picking up one of his books, the moor’s last sigh, when i was an impressionable sixteen-year-old boy, and, from it, learned that each girl is both charismatic and demented in her own special way? is it any wonder that ever since i flipped through those pages i’ve wanted to search the geography of each body to find the spot marked with an x that conceals a treasure chest? it’s as if within my heart resides a rainbow with its terminus located elsewhere, in another heart, and i am charged with discovering the pot of gold.

i didn’t have the chance to tell him any of the above as i was quickly ushered through the line during a book signing. he had just spoken at length about the world, politics, terrorism, and humanity, and now he was seated at a table waiting for books, open to the title page, to be placed in front of him. i’d like to think that when i shook his hand, some degree of appreciation was passed to him. this was my meeting-a-rock-star moment, fainting as elvis presley’s hips swivel but without the fainting (thankfully, i’m a bit more stoic and, probably, suffer less from feelings of inferiority).

he is the reason i began writing, the reason i have adopted this silly way of communicating with excessive commas and parenthetical references, the reason i continue extending metaphors far after i’ve baffled the majority of my audience. i share his uneasy relationship with pop culture (in his speech he referred to paris hilton as a second-rate person named after a second-rate hotel, but despite this notion continues to be aware of her career). his efforts made me even more captivated by puns: in the moor’s last sigh he calls someone who is part jewish and part catholic a cathjew nut; the enchantress of florence includes a song called my sweet polenta with lyrics like if she was a letter i would have sent her, if she was a coin i would have spent her.

he is the (partial) reason i possess the capacity to love every single one of you equally, if only for a short time. there are countless secrets below the surface, and i am willing to swallow the world’s collective and individual pain, to endure the struggle and the success, in order to reveal them, because i understand that each one of you has a story that you yearn to tell and each one of you has something up your sleeve, some feat of legerdemain, that only i can experience.


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