Thursday, July 29, 2004


Bored. Nothing to do. Too much to do.

I have dishes that need doing, a kitchen that needs cleaning, floors that need vacuuming, food that needs eating, water that needs drinking. Instead, I do nothing. And I'm smoking while doing it.

Yeah, smoking. Those cigarettes, those fuckers.

Made through the whole work day without one, but stress atop stress atop stress during that work day left me with an itchy craving at the end of it. So I broke down and a smoke with a coworker at the end of the day.

This is going to be a bad week. I can feel it already.

By already I mean that, in spite of the fact that this is Thursday, this is the start of my work week. It'll last until Tuesday.

So yeah, the stupid week's just starting, and I can already tell it's going to be bad. Made that way, in part, by the long weekend. I hate fucking long weekends. I think I've said as much in the past. They're worse when they're on Monday -- when our papers go to press at varying times on Tuesday, a holiday on the Monday does wonders to fuck with our schedule.

Wish I had a beer.

Too much to do, and not enough desire to do any of it. Worse yet, there's something I really *really* need to do -- I need to pick up the phone and call someone up and offer them a small but vital part in the movie I'm hoping to start filming in just over a week. I don't have anyone for this small but vital role yet, and if I don't get it filled, I don't really know what I'll do.

I had a name suggested to me weeks back, someone I've seen act before, and she'd be just about perfect for it -- she's a strong enough actress to be able to hit some of the bizarre and conflicting moods that I want her character going through in the ten minutes that she's on the screen.

So I need to make that phone call.

But I had cold calling -- I hate picking up the phone and dialling someone out of the blue.

"Hi! It's Todd Sullivan! Remember me? Want to be in a movie?"


I'll sit around, I guess. Finish the other half of this smoke. And maybe, maybe, by 7:30 I'll pick up the phone. Time's running out. I need this role filled -- I already have the other two primary roles taken care of, this is the last of the major ones. Everything else I can fill up with friends and family -- tiny little two line roles that take maybe 30 minutes out of a person's schedule. This one...I'm fucked if I can't get this role filled.

And I need to know *right now* whether or not I need to start looking elsewhere for someone to fill.

7:30. I'll make the call by 7:30.

Hope I can coax her into doing it...

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Stickage #8 (and then a whole lotta rambling)

Introducing "Bi-Polar Gemini Girl" in the,, single panel...of Stick Figure Drama!, Stick Figure Action! Yeah!

The li'l cartoon marks the 8th appearance of Stick Figure Drama, meaning that I've been doing absurd thing for two whole months. And y'know, I'm still having a ball.

There's something about this medium, and something about being published in a community that I don't reside, that allows me to strip off *any* elements of self-censorship and just do anything that crosses my psychotic little mind. I don't have to worry about whether or not someone I bump into in the supermarket liked or didn't like what I put in last week's cartoon, I don't have to worry about pissing off the town as a whole..I can just do, and say, anything I like.

I think this is proving to be an incredibly solid learning experience for me. As I've said in (much) earlier blog posts, my goal, artistically, is to be able to just say and not stress out about what people think or feel about what I've said. Of course, this is a "perfection" kind of goal, and one I struggle and strive towards, having not yet quite reached it.

But this stupid little cartoon, with badly-drawn stick people, has given me the outlet I've always wanted, the platform where I can just say whatever the hell is on my mind.

And I swear to God, two months into it, they'll have to pry Page 6 of the 100 Mile House Advisor out of my cold, dead hands before they replace Stick Figure Drama.

Where I'm sitting right now, I feel like I did nine years ago with my column -- excited at the prospect of publishing, thrilled at the notion of communicating something to people. And it's kind of a weird but ultimately positive time for this cartooning gig to appear, as I plan to bring my column to a close at the end of the year. Now I've got another creative outlet to replace it with, one that I'm actually excited about, one that I'm actually thrilled to be doing, unlike the column with, some weeks, has become a chore.

Not lately, mind you. Truth is, this whole year has, so far, been a thrill. Since admitting in January that I planned to end the column at the close of 2004, and that I'd write any damn thing that crossed my mind, I've done just that. It's still been probably 75% similar to "Caught in the 'Net"s of past, but that other 25% -- when I've really let loose and just written about anything that took my fancy, that has been a blast.

Even that other 75% has been fun for a change, because I knew that if I had wanted to write about something else, I could. And would. The weeks I spent *not* writing about something else, that was a choice, and there's nothing wrong with that -- choice might start with the same two letters, but it's not a "chore".

For that reason, I'll admit I've had some second thoughts about ending the column. It's starting to be fun again, but at the same time, I kind of feel like I can only play this "I'll write anything I want, and you'll like it," for so long before even *that* gets old.

I really, at this point in time, do not know what I'm going to do come year's end.

I'll tell you, though...I got what is probably one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received just today, and it came courtesy of this ol' blog right here, and the little "comments" feature. Take a gander at this: 

Todd, dear heart, I strongly recommend you sell a few things, buy a ticket, and get out of the country for an adventure in another culture, another country. I'd suggest the South Pacific: Samoa or Micronesia are great places of indolence, self-indulgence, lethargy, and vivid people and scenery.I think, more than anything, you are suffering from Canadianitis; a condition of cultural tunnelvision and angst that isn't even remotely healthy.Get out for a while. You'll have fun whether you want to, or not!
-- S. O'Sullivan 
 While I'm not sure I'd necessarily agree at the terminology (I'd be more inclined towards "North Americanitis" as opposed to "Canadianitis") I certain agree that it's not healthy.

And really, I could write -- fiction, journals, film scripts, whatever -- from anywhere in the world, if I wanted to. Heck, thanks to the Internet, I could continue cartooning from wherever I happened to be -- Samoa or Micronesia or even Botswana (don't ask -- private joke).

So, why don't I? Why haven't I?

Well, I'll tell ya...

Something occurred to me tonight. And yes, it was a relevation that followed a few drinks, and might not be a relevation I agree with come tomorrow, but it's not tomorrow yet.

I've long felt that I wasn't properly and truly experiencing life. I was just kind of sitting back, playing more the role of an observer than participant, and kicking myself in the ass for it.

But tonight it struck me for the first time that, maybe, as much as I kicked myself in the ass, maybe I didn't want to be anything more than an observer. Someone who does what he can to record the goings-on of the world around him. Someone who is best suited to slither back into the shadows and let things occur without his direct involvement.

Communication does not necessarily demand involvement. And really, that's all I've ever wanted, I think.

I remember, as a child -- probably no more than nine or ten years old -- putting on little plays for my brother, starring a half-dozen teddy bears that we had accumulated over our childhood. Satirical knock-offs of Star Trek (though I'm sure the word "satire" wouldn't enter my vocabulary for another few years) they starred Captain Kirby of the Starship Enterpoop (the latter ripped unashamedly from the pages of Bloom County) and involved a whole of silly, mindless, but on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of adventure.

I wasn't a terribly popular kid in school. I kept to myself, was quiet, got my work done, mostly maintained pretty good grades (up until high school, but that's another story altogether), but I didn't have a whole lot of friends. I was shy, yet desperate to break through that silence and actually *communicate* with people.

And when I acted out my terrible space operas for my brother, using nothing but teddy bears...that was my outlet. That was my forum for communication. And I'll tell ya -- as much as he'd hate for it to be said now that he's an adult -- he was a fantastic audience. He laughed in all the right places, grew quiet in all the right places...and those moments right there are, probably, what spawned the story-telling instinct I have.

Unfortunately, that story-telling instinct kind of merged with the bitterness that grows out of being the shy and quiet kid that doesn't have a whole lot of friends. Leaving me telling stories now about people who are lonely and at the end of their rope.

I think I've lost my train of thought somewhere...

Ah, yes, communication over participation.

I guess what I learned from an early age is that communication was what mattered -- whatever medium it appeared in. Participation was secondary, and, really, not even necessarily relevant.

I think that's what's wrong with me; why I feel it's so difficult to actually *live* my life, instead of wasting it by just sitting at home and, say, writing in a blog. Because the participation was always secondary.

I got lucky and found an outlet for my desire to communicate at an early age -- I started my column when I was 20. Ten year of communicating. Ten years of not really participating.

Fuck it's terrifying to be coming to these kind of realizations at 30, with almost half your life behind you, thinking about how much you've missed out on, thinking about how much is still left to miss out on if you don't *do* something about it, now that you've finally figured it out.

Thank you, S. O'Sullivan, for making me think about getting out of this rut. I'm not sure, at this point, if I'll follow your suggestions to the letter. But hopefully, between them, and the realizations I was already dancing around, I'll find some way, before I die, to make my life mean something to the only person it should really matter to -- me.

Hi! This is a test!

This is a test post just to see if posting...well, anything at all, will fix my screwed up blog template. Here goes nothin'!

EDIT: Well, a new post didn't do any good, but deleting the post from just before this one did. Thankfully I copied and pasted it into notepad first, so nooooooow I'll repost the post from two days ago.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I think my computer is melting

Fuck, I think my computer is about two steps away from the grave. And it's starting to get on my nerves.

I like it when my computer works. I like it when my computer works well. I like it when my computer sings and dances and does cartwheels.

It hasn't done that in awhile.

First my stupid video card -- a Geforce 4 I bought last year -- starts freaking out on me. After about a month of banging my stupid head against the problem, I realize the card is overheating because, duh, it's not winter anymore. And, apparently, the fan that was installed on the card isn't sufficient to keep it cool in the spring / summer. No problem, I find a Geforce overclocking utility that'll allow me to...uh...underclock it.

Then a couple of weeks ago, my speakers start to give out this weird, consistant, crackling, static-y sound. At first I assume it's the sound card, because, I think, if it was a speaker problem, it would only be one or maybe two speakers, not all freaking five of them.

That's right, five speakers -- I've got a 5.1 surround speaker setup to go with the sound blaster audigy 2 I bought last year.

So I reinstall drivers and I move the card to three different PCI slots and nothing happens. And I'm pulling my hair out, because I'm trying to listen to some goddamn MP3s and all I can hear is this obnoxious fucking crackling.

Finally, tonight, I'm about to lose my mind take a fucking hatchet to the speakers when it occurs to me to test a different set of speakers on the sound card -- because I've still got my labtec speakers + subwoofer that I had used before upgrading the soundcard and, therefore, requiring a 5.1 speaker system.

And what do you fucking know...

Everything sounds just fine coming out of the Labtec speakers.

Which means my fucking Logitech speakers, which I bought just last year, are fucked.

Fucking fuckdy fuck.

Wonder if the sonsabitches are still under warranty.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Ouch. Drunken blogging

Well, between the heat and the red wine, I think I lost my brain sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 last night -- not normally such a bad thing, except that I was right in the middle of a lengthy blog post at the time.
That's a little frightening.
I haven't gone back to look at what I may have written, and I don't actually intend to. I think, for better or worse, I'd probably rather not know.
I remember most of the first two posts -- the forward, and Part II of storytime -- but most of the Afterword is just a haze.
For better or worse, I also intend to keep the post there. I'm not big on self-censorship, even I'd only be censoring what could be considered no more than just drunken ramblings. I wrote it, I posted it, so posted it stays.
Just let it be known that, you know, I was actually quite tipsy at the time. So don't hold anything I may have said against me. Okay?
Cool, thanks.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Storytime (Afterword)

So, there you go. It's done. Finally.
It's funny. I don't know why this story has been on my mind lately. There's nothing terribly fantastic about it, but for some reason I seem to look back on this as the high-point in my life for the last few years.
And yet, it *isn't* -- I actually had more fun travelling to Quesnel with the theatre this year than I did going to Vancouver.
So what is it?
I think -- I'm not completely sure, but I *think* -- it's because I fell like there was some kind of failed romantic opportunity with Chris. That I had her away for a weekend, sharing a hotel room with me, and I missed some chance to make some bold, overt move. I missed the chance to, at the most, win her heart and, at the least, get laid.
But then, that's my life -- missed opportunities and regret.
And I think, now, *that's* why this story is on my mind. Because, more than any other memory I have, this one sums up everything that's wrong with me and everything I've screwed up in my life by doing absolutely notyhing at all.
Even if nothing would have ever happened between Chris and I, my failure to take a step towards that is representational of every other time that I have failed to take action.
And that, I think, is why that weekend has been on my mind. And why it probably always will be, haunting me, reminding me.
And teaching me how I should be living my life.
Even if I never actually figure it out.

Storytime (Part II)

I woke up late, around 10:00 a.m. I had a cigarette on the balcony, listening to MuchMusic play on the television in the background.
Chris was busy getting ready, and I was antsy, wandering around the room, sitting on the bed staring at the TV for a minute, popping out onto the balcony. The awards for my category were to be presented at the luncheon, which was still two hours away.
She suggested I get out for awhile, go for a walk.
Seemed like a fine idea, so I did.
I've written in the last couple of weeks about this strange sense I have of being disconnected from the world -- like there's a layer of Saran Wrap stretched around me, preventing me from making contact with reality. Well, this morning in Vancouver was one of the last times I remember feeling like I was really, honestly connected with the world. I don't know if it was the smell of the salt water, or the way the wind drifted through my hair. I don't know if it was being in a new and different place, in a place as beautiful as Vancouver, or if it was just that -- for what would turn out to be the last time -- I had woken up on the right side of the bed; I was a part of the world. And the world was a part of me.
I walked down to the ocean, recognizing some of the areas I passed. I roamed around the familiar areas, trying to track down the apartment I had lived in for a month with a friend just after graduation, but the building was either gone, or my memory was full of holes.
I worked my way slowly back to the hotel, then rode the elevator to the room to get ready for lunch.
I've really got only one fancy outfit -- a suit / tie combo kind of thing. I don't need much, dress-wise, where I work. Never have. But I do have my one outfit, for events like this -- industry awards, that kind of thing. I'd worn it up to the lounge the night before, now I slipped into it for the luncheon. I'd be wearing it again at the end of the day, as we hit a Vancouver nightclub.
But we haven't come to that yet.
Chris and I headed to the awards luncheon. If memory serves, the food was good -- can't remember anything that was on the menu, but I don't recall it being obscenely bad, so that must be a good sign.
The funny thing about these awards...even before you come, you know you've won something. Only three people are nominated per category, so even before you arrive you know that, at the very worst, you're taking home third place.
Obviously, they announce the winners backwards, to increase the suspense surrounding the first place winner. Which means, even before the first place winner is announced, he knows who he is as soon as second place's name gets called. And he has to sit there, sweating, quivering in his seat, while Mr. Second Place heads up to receive his award, shake the hands of those handing them out, maybe take a moment at the microphone -- he has to sit there while all of that is going on, knowing his name's coming up next, knowing that he's nailed first prize for his category this year. And then, at long last, they call his name. And he stands and tries to casually wipe his hands on his pants so his palm isn't overly slick when he shakes the presenters hand. And in a kind of almost-but-not-quite-blacked-out haze, he walks to the podium and shakes someone's hand, takes his framed award, smiles at someone else, thinks about taking the microphone but decides against, and wanders -- all his nervous energy now expelled from this short walk -- back to his table.
And, yes, that pretty much describes what happened to me. Because I took first place that year.
The rest of the luncheon kind of flew by in a half-haze. There were congratuations and handshakes from co-workers and peers. I remember desperately heading for the door at the end of it, hungry for a cigarette. I bumped into another co-worker outside, another smoker, whose keen, journalistic tendencies pushed her to enquire whether Chris and I were sleeping together. I laughed and said that while, yes, technically, we were, it wasn't in the same bed.
So explained the situation to her, how I wanted to come to this *with* someone, but obviously not *with* my ex, and how that prompted me to ask Chris to come along.
To which she responded -- and I remember this vividly: "Good for you."
Post-awards, post-cigarette, I met up with Chris again and, having little else to do with my time, hung out with her as she shopped up and down the streets of Vancouver. She asked my opinion of cute little outfits, confided that she had gotten her belly-button pierced as she browsed for navel jewellery, and bought me sushi (which was a first-time for me -- and I quite enjoyed it, actually).
Somewhere in all of this, we had made arrangements to meet up with a couple of co-workers later in the evening to hit the streets of Vancouver for some Saturday night partying. When the shopping was done, we headed back to our room, briefly, so Chris could change, and I could readjust my one not-slobby outfit for the evening's festivities.
We met up at the upstairs, at the spinning-so-slowly-that-you'd-almost-never-notice lounge, for a quick drink. We hung out, chatted, laughed, spun. But it was only good for the one drink, and when that was done, we hopped in the elevator and rode to street level.
And we walked.
I don't know if we knew what we were looking for or not -- I didn't that's for sure, I know Vancouver like I know the pancreas of a Croatian midget, but a part of me thinks that maybe at least some of the people I was with knew where we going.
It was to be dinner before any further drinks, and we found this tiny little Italian restaurant, hidden on the backside of something tall and made of concrete. It was exactly what you expected from a small Italian restaurant -- small (obviously), candles, wine by the caraffe, and fantastic food.
There was some problem with the Interac machine on our exit, forcing us to pay our meals with cash -- which was fine with me, as I always have cash on hand, but caused a bit of a headache for some of the others in the party.
Eventually the bills were paid and we were on our way, searching for a nightclub.
I don't think it took us long to find one, with a waiting line that made it from the entrance to the corner and then around. We tried pulling some kind of "We're from the media..." trick to get at the front, but no go -- we had to stand in line just like everyone else.
I remember, at some point while standing in line, suddenly becoming incredibly concerned with how I was dressed. I didn't know how people dressed in Vancouver, I didn't know what was "Trendy" or "Stylish" and I was suddenly terrified that what I was wearing was going to make me stand out as some kind of hick from Nowhereville, BC.
Someone reminded me that black is always trendy, and I'd be fine.
Strangely, I don't remember a whole lot after we got into the nightclub, just fragments of details -- it was crowded, the floor seemed stick with a thousand spilled drinks, there were ashtrays around even though it was illegal to drink in bars. Some of the folks I was with headed off to dance sometimes, stayed at the table other times.
I didn't dance -- as a general rule, don't dance. Terrible, terrible, socially-retarding rule, but what can I do. I stayed at the table and found myself getting bitterly drink.
Eventually we got bored, and headed off to try to find something else before everything closed up for the night.
We found something, somewhere, where a live band was playing. We ducked in, paid the cover charge, bought a drink, just in time to hear the last song and watch as everyone headed for the door because it was closing time.
Outside, we split up into taxis, because we were too many for one cab to take. Chris and I shared one back to the hotel, while the rest of the group to another.
I seem to remember her being angry with me for something after we got back to the hotel -- not angry, really, that's too strong, but...annoyed. Annoyed at me for not having enough fun, I think. Like I was holding myself back. Which, I guess, I probably was, still unsure of what it meant to no longer be married.
I'm still not sure of it, really.
I should have been out having the time of life, newly free, newly single, without a care in the world. Somehow, it was as if there was some other thing weighing on me the whole night, keeping me just out of arm's reach of having a good time.
And as much as I knew that was just kind of the way I was, it still pissed me off.
Chris and I slipped into out separate beds, and we drifted off to sleep. And as I went, I wished that I knew what I could do to stop feeling down, stop being so hard on myself.
The next morning, we got up, packed, found a little place just a half block down to have breakfast, and climbed into the car for the ride home. There was something bittersweet about it -- I was carrying the first place award for the category I had been nominated in, and that was good, but the weekend, and whatever potential it had carried for erasing all the bad things that had come before, was gone. It was back to the real world. Back to work. Back to being a guy who had split up with his wife a few months before, a guy who wasn't sure where he was going or what he was doing.
When we made it back to town, I dropped Chris off at home, helping her with her bags. Small-talk, then goodbyes and see-you-laters.
I drove home, brought my own bags in. And on Monday I went back to work.
I left the Tribune probably a month, no more than two months, later. They were going to lay off the junior graphics person, who'd only been there a few months, and who was doing a pretty good job. And I was so desperately unhappy in my job that, as soon as I got word, I went to management and said, "Let me go instead."
Chris left the paper about a year later, transferring to another newspaper in the Okanagan, so she could be closer to a guy she was dating.
I still think about her sometimes. I wonder where she's at, what she's doing, *how* she's doing. She had an e-mail address for awhile, at Hotmail, but last time I tried to contact to her, it was dead.
She was a good friend and, more importantly, she was a good person. Who -- for reasons I'll never know -- was, as far as I could tell, chronically unhappy. Much like me, I guess.
I hope she's broken out of that. I her life is filled with happiness now, because if I've ever known someone who should be able to find it, it's her. She was beautiful, smart, funny, talented, open, giving, and generous.
And she remains one of the most amazing women that I have ever slept with.
Albeit in separate beds.

Storytime (Forward)

Well, I just finished the necessary rewrites on the film script, and it's only 9:30-ish and I've still got a hankerin' to write. Soooo...
...guess I'll finish up Storytime. No time like the present, after all.
Just a quick foreward before I get into the guts of it. Don't expect much. It doesn't have what you would call a "satisfying ending" -- it leans far more towards the anticlimactic. I don't get the girl. I don't live happily ever after. I just kind of go on about my business, not really profoundly changed in any way.
So if that's what you were looking for...well, I guess I'd recommend you not even bother, given that you now know how the story ends.
If you still want to scroll through this mess...feel free. I'm writing it down anyway.


Just enjoying a post-work, alcoholic-beverage before heading home.
Drew next week's Stick Figure Drama today -- a continuation of the Stick Figure Action theme from last week (a continuation which should last for another two to three weeks, depending on how quickly I become bored of it).
That's stick figure drama #8 -- two months I've been doing this ridiculous thing. Hooray!
It'll be posted sometime next week, after Wednesday.
In other news, I took the digital video camera we'll be using to shoot the movie out for a test run last night, and I'm quite happy with hit's performance. It sits in your hand kind of funny -- it has a very different design from most video cameras -- but it's comfortable. The footage is clean, and is pulled off the camera through the firewire port flawlessly; not a single dropped frame. Wooooooooooonderful.
I tried farting around with the video in After Effects, testing out some of the tricks I had read about online to get stuff shot on video to look more like film, but...I don't know...I think I need to know more about AE, because it always seems to do weird things to my video. I used AE to reverse the video clips that I used for "Illuminati" and while it handled the reverse just fine, when it was rerendered back out to an AVI, the video was either kind of squished, or kind of choppy. Don't have the foggiest idea what setting I had wrong.
Same goes for the fiddling I did last night. Something screwy happened to the footage, but I don't have any idea what it was, or what caused it.
I need to learn a bit more about digital video, quite clearly.
Not that I mind. I like learning, if it's learning something that's actually of interest to me. Like digital video is.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Stick Figure ACTION!

I've slipped into the realm of the craptacular in regards to updates lately, I know. I swear Part Two of Storytime is coming, if I can ever figure out what the point of telling the story is, or how to make it interesting, because God knows, it isn't. I've just been so swamped lately with doing absolutely sweet-fuck-all that I just haven't been able to turn two brief minutes towards the blog.
Saw Fahrenheit 9-11 a few nights back. Two thumbs up. Way up. Great little movie. Love him or hate him, you've got to give Michael Moore credit for dragging the film documentary out of its dusty little corner and sticking it in front of the eyeballs of the average viewing public.
Oh, and here's Stick Figure Drama #7...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Mmmm, rabies

I just bought the special edition DVD of David Cronenberg's "Rabid". I've never seen the film before.

I actually went looking for a movie rental tonight, but I haven't rented a movie in so long, I found all of the options available to me a little overwhelming and couldn't even begin to figure out where to begin.

So I wandered over to the previously viewed movies for sale area, scanned the spines, and caught Cronenberg's name. Gave the DVD case a quick glance. Saw "Special Edition". Saw "Commentary by Cronenberg". Figured that was about all I needed to know -- I'm a huge fan of the guy, but my current DVD collection isn't reflecting that very well; I've only got last year's Criterion release of Naked Lunch on my shelf.

So now there's two.

Plus an upcoming Criterion release of Videodrome, apparently. Which I'll have to get my hands on.

Now if they'll just rerelease their edition of Dead Ringers, I'd be a very happy camper.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Behind the wheel

I got my driver's licence back last Friday. I'd been without it for a year because I did a very, very bad thing in the summer of 2003 and the police happened to catch me doing it. They were really nice about it and all, but they still had to take my licence away for a year.

So I'm now newly mobile again, and am off to visit a friend who lives a good long walk away from me, so I haven't been able to just randomly pop over for a visit in over 13 months.

And that's why I'm not going to be writing part two of Storytime tonight.

See you on the flipside, or whatever other meaningless, not-so-terribly-trendy-anymore phrase you'd like to insert here.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Stick Figure Drama #6

Apparently Part 2 of Storytime is taking a little longer than I expected. To tide you over until then, here's another exciting edition of Stick Figure Drama!

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Spring 2001.

I’m still working at the Tribune at the time, but even then I know that time is coming to an end. The job isn’t much fun anymore, as it’s essentially the same work I’ve been doing for ten goddamn years and it isn’t getting any more interesting.

Add to that the fact that I’m working next to a wife from whom I’ve been separated since February, and you end up with a less than fantastic employment situation.

It’ll take until August before I finally make it out the door, and before that happens, I find myself nominated for an award in the British Columbia / Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s (or the BCYCNA, for those that can remember all those bloody letters) annual “Better Newspaper Awards”.

This is the second year that a nomination has come my way, and in spite of everything going on around me – a marriage that’s falling apart, a job that’s not satisfying in any way, shape or form – I’m actually pretty excited about it. I had gone the year before and had a lot of fun, even if I did only place third within my category.

So I’m looking forward to going again. And, come to think of it, why wouldn’t I be? It’ll get me away from the dreaded job for a day or two, away from the wife / ex-wife / whatever-the-hell-you-call-them-when-you’re-separated-but-not-divorced-quite-yet for a day or two, and it’ll give me the chance to just unwind someplace else. Doing something else.

The problem I ran into, though, was that I didn’t want to go alone. I hate going places, going to things, alone, I always have. It’s always seemed to me that these sorts of moments should be shared, need to be shared. Shared experiences have a life of their own, they exist between the people who shared the experience, which makes the experience itself that much harder to kill. Experiences that are experienced by a person alone, exist only within him, and might as well have never happened in the first place, if there’s going to be no one around to share them with.

Under ordinary circumstances I would, of course, have taken my wife. But, as of February of that year, those circumstances were no longer terribly normal.

So I asked a co-worker – let’s call her Chris, because that was her name – if she’d come down to Vancouver with me for the awards.

She said she would.

I should admit that there were at least a couple of reasons I asked this particular co-worker (who, I should point out, was, in fact, female, in spite of what her name might indicate). First and foremost, she was a friend, someone whose company I enjoyed, someone I wouldn’t mind having along on the journey.

But I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t fess up to a second reason – she was hot. Super-hot. Supermodel-hot. And yes, I absolutely glowed knowing that my ex would be aware that I was taking the journey with this super-deadly-strike-you-blind-she’s-so-goddamn-hot co-worker.

Moving along.

The weekend of the awards came, and we travelled in my car. I drove, she played co-pilot as best she could – which, sadly, didn’t turn out very well to say the least. I’d never driven in Vancouver before. Any trips I had taken in the past had been with my wife, who had once lived in Vancouver, knew the streets intimately, and so was the obvious choice behind the wheel.

So I set Chris up with the map of Vancouver, and the knowledge of the location of the hotel we were to stay at, and she just kind of stared at the map, not figuring anything out, shoving it in my face whenever we hit a stoplight. Which never stayed red long enough for me to come up with a decent plant for how the hell we were going to get from point A to point Hotel.

We managed, somehow, after getting stuck down one-way streets that took us by surprise, and hitting dead-ends that weren’t properly marked on the map. Somehow we just kind of rolled up to the hotel without even realizing we were in the vicinity. It was as if God himself had gotten tired of listening to us bitch and moan about how we didn’t have a clue where we were going, had reached down, and pointed our car in the right direction.

Thanks God.

Found the underground parking, dug out our bags, wandered blindly around the concrete posts, footsteps echoing madly, until we found the elevator to the lobby.

Took the elevator. Checked in. Got our neato 21st century keycards. Took the elevator to the room (which, I think, was somewhere around the 11th floor, which always immediately makes me wonder what I’d do in case of a fire) and dropped our bags on the floor.

I wandered around a little, had a cigarette out the window, then decided I wanted to go up to the spinning bar at the top of the hotel. Chris declined the invite, so I headed up solo, to have a drink by myself and stare out the window as the city slowly spun around me.

It didn’t move quickly which, I guess, was probably by design. Once a room starts spinning at a certain speed, I guess it stops being a lounge and becomes some kind of midway attraction.

It moved so slowly that if you stared constantly out the window, you wouldn’t actually notice it moving at all. It was only if you tore your eyes away from it for a few minutes, to stare at your drink or at the live entertainment, that you would notice the movement when you finally looked back at the window again. Sometimes, if you’d get completely distracted by whatever it was you were looking at, the view outside the window was completely different than it had been the last time you glanced in that direction.

More than just a little bit like life, if you ask me.

I had my two drinks and took the elevator back down to the room. Slipped in with my keycard. Chris was already in bed, but still awake, so she was a perfect victim for my attempts at brooding and cynical insight that seemed to be the only kind I was capable of at that point in time.

She listened for a few moments, then offered a quick, curt reply.

The specifics of this conversation are outside of the realm of my memory, and don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things anyway. I was morose, thanks in part to a couple of drinks, as well as the fact that I was pretty sure my whole life was falling apart around me. I should have been enjoying the fact that I was in a new city for a few days, enjoying the fact that I could do anything I wanted, with anyone I wanted, for any reason I wanted. Instead I was moody. And wanted to just go to bed.

So I turned off the light and did just that. And that’s how I ended up sleeping with one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known. Albeit in separate beds.

Part two tomorrow. Or the next day.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Saran Wrap Life

One day, I'm going to figure this life thing out. That's unless I were to die in a terrible, tragic bus accident tomorrow. Then, of course, I never would. But hopefully the chances of that are slim, leaving me with the possibility of figuring this whole life thing out.

Because God knows I don't have the foggiest idea what it's about right now.

Terrible, tragic buss accidents notwithstanding.

Thirty years into this bizarre thing we call life, and still no greater an idea of what it's about than what I had when I was 16.

No, not entirely true. I think I have a greater idea, actually. But the amount I've managed to uncover since I was 16 is so small, so utterly meaningless, I really don't feel as if anything's changed in the last 14 years.

According to CP style, you print digits for numbers of 10 and over, and spell out anything less. Like the number two.



I'm looking for something -- have been for years -- without having any idea what it is I'm looking for. I noticed the other day that I feel disconnected from the world, like I'm a few seconds out of sync with everything else, like there's a layer of Saran Wrap between me and the rest of existence.

It's weird, troubling, because it hasn't always been like this. I can remember a time, in high school, when I felt more connected to the world. When I could look at the sky and feel like I was really looking at the sky; when I could lay in the grass and really fell the grass pressing against my flesh.

Is this a part of growing old, or is this something unique to me, some kind of personal madness?

I'm not happy. Right at the moment, I'm not terribly sad either, but at the same time that's not good enough -- to define yourself based on what you aren't. I have moments of happiness. Sparks of joy. But they are fleeting.

More about that another day. Tommorow is story time.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Way of the Stick #5

Stick Figure Drama #5 is now available.