Oh Me Oh My

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where Realism Ends and Pessimism Begins

A few days before a vacation ends I prep myself for the return to reality. I generally assume people will be late for things even when specifically asked to be on time. If someone were to spend a lot of money on something like jewellery or flowers I would accept graciously while always thinking of ways the money could have been better spent.

I genuinely don’t see myself as a pessimist. Through the years it’s the reputation that’s sort of stuck, but when it matters I’m usually Mr. Brightside: A bad mark isn’t the end of the world, a failed interview was probably for the best anyway since you’re destined for bigger things, the date didn’t go so well because you deserve someone better. When I say these things I genuinely mean them. Being a realist, contrary to popular belief, is usually pretty optimistic.

I have a one-frame comic up in my locker that shows a cartoon woman standing on a curb; the byline reads, “Sometimes I imagine my lover is leaving me, so I’ll be prepared for the eventual breakup”. I shat my pants laughing when I saw it because it is sort of my mantra. If you expect the worst, if it happens, you are better prepared to handle it. If someone takes out a will at a young age they are seen as proactive, if you have money put aside for an emergency you are seen as responsible. Baby-proofing you home is common-sense, and it’s illegal to drive without car insurance.

In all of these cases being prepared for the worst case scenario is smart—why not side with caution when it’s something important? If this is true why does preparing for the possible end of a relationship seem so horrible? No matter how I write these next sentences, I know many people have already dismissed them as “negative thinking”, but the realist in me knows divorce rates, knows the stats on successful long-term relationships, knows what it’s like to be blindsided and remembers long conversations with friends who “didn’t see it coming”.

At the risk of going all Carrie Bradshaw, in a world where we hide our PIN numbers so people don’t break into our bank accounts, and install alarms so people don’t break into our homes, is it really so crazy to be on alert for someone who might break our hearts. HA HA HA! I should totally be smoking and looking out my Manhattan apartment window right now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Laugh and Shiver and Cry

“Yes Darek I fuckin’ watch Clone High, that’s like the 14th time you’ve asked me”. Well technically I sort of lied those 14 times. I watched Clone High, meaning I caught the first 4 episodes and then abandoned the show many years ago. Recently I discovered that the entire series has been uploaded to YouTube. The occasional episode may cut off (Damn that “Litter Kills” episode) but for the most part they are all there in their entirety.

I just finished watching what turned out to be the series finale today and not since Models Inc. has an unresolved cliffhanger left me this disappointed that the show would not be returning. Clone High is hilarious. The concept alone is genius: DNA taken from the corpses of important historical figures is used to breed clones who all attend high school together under the watchful eye of a shadowy government organization and a principal with his own agenda. Abe Lincoln pining for Cleopatra, JFK as a womanizing man-whore macking on all 3 Bronte sisters, Marie Curie’s clone being hideously deformed because of all the radiation her original was exposed to. Fantastic!

I’m not sure if it is only a rumor but apparently MTV gave the show the axe because it got a lot of flak from people angry at the portrayal of Ghandi (an ADD afflicted, dancing teen horndog). Seriously!? It’s a frickin’ cartoon about clones, if we’re being technical they’re not even joking about the real Ghandi.

This show was quick, witty and poked fun at those “very special” episodes of teen dramas. With a likable love triangle, an unresolved mystery, a fantastic vocal cast and an infinite pool of famous figures to introduce, it was destined to fail. Cartoon Ghandi was too offensive, so stay tuned for MTV’s newest show, Pimp My Mom, immediately following Vagina Auction.

You’re breaking my heart MTV, and to quote Abe Lincoln’s clone, I wear my heart on my sleeve so when I wiped my face, I got heart all over it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Discipline (of the non-sexual variety)

“Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.” I think this Frank Herbert quote sort of offers a perspective as to why our generation of twenty-somethings is wandering sort of aimlessly. Previous generations had military obligations, or had families at a younger age or entered a company from the bottom and worked their way to the top. All of these things demanded a huge amount of discipline which offers purpose in a way. We are of the “play it by ear” generation. If you’ve noticed people in their twenties often suck when it comes to making decisions. When asked what they feel like doing, the common response is “Whatever, I’m up for anything”. Is “being up for anything” what makes us feel so lost sometimes?

Marriage takes a lot of discipline, and the divorce rate reflects this. Saving money takes a lot of discipline, and the number of people declaring bankruptcy reflects this. We are a non-committal generation. We work contract jobs, we have “friends with benefits”, we agonize about our purpose in life because we are the fortunate few who have all the options open to them—and that freedom is actually kind of scary. How can you settle on ONE major, ONE partner, ONE ultimate destination, when there is an entire world of choices out there?

There is this strange societal stigma towards discipline. No one wants their boss to be “too bossy” so they try and be your friend. Personally as long as you’re respectful I really don’t care if we’re chummy. At the library I work at we keep relaxing the rules so we’re not such disciplinarians. Now instead of telling people they can’t eat, or to turn off their phones, we turn a blind eye. Again I think we’re doing a disservice to the people who have to mop up the spilled coke or have to try and study while Chamillionaire is “ridin’ dirty” as someone’s obnoxious ringtone.

I have sat in meetings where managers let employees ramble on about inane things instead of taking control of the situation. We have all seen parents throw up their hands and let Cody and Madison run amuck in public. Courts tiptoe around issues afraid of hurting peoples’ religious sensibilities. Part of me just wants that manager to take back control, make an executive decision and move the hell on. I want to see that parent physically yank their kid down from the thing they shouldn’t be climbing or actually follow through on a threat to turn the car around. I want courts to be like, “Sharia law, no thanks, we have a legal system already” or “Stop gays from marrying, give me one logic-based reason why we should!”

This reminds me of the speech Sideshow Bob gives when he is caught rigging the election: “You need me Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king”. Obviously a corrupt leader is bad, and a Republican leader even worse, or is it the same thing? (badoom ching) but I think deep down inside everyone has some longing for structure. Without the obligations associated with previous generations it seems it’s up to us to find our own version of discipline.

Maybe we can save for a house, or set a fitness target, or learn a skill of some kind. Even tiny victories give us a sense of purpose, and make the idea of not having a set path, a little less terrifying. We as a generation have so much potential and we just need the focus and lack of fear to achieve it. Jim Rohn once said “Discipline is the road from goals to accomplishment”. Maybe the way to stop feeling so lost is to find the road again.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Let's Get Some Shoes

I love this video. Sean introduced me to it and I have watched it well over 30 times by now. If you're into weird, this has got your name all over it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two Tickets for "Love is Nice" Please

Lately it seems a lot of conversations I am having revolve around coupledom and singledom. More and more of my friends are pairing off (which I'm happy about I unsarcastically swear). Though I notice my single colleagues in their late 20s and early 30s are becoming acquaintances with their lifelong friends and becoming kindred spirits with the staff at their neighbourhood Blockbuster. And a friend of mine whose ex works with Animal Control recently informed her that the number of people who die and are eaten (at least in part) by their starving pets is on a steady incline; Man's best friend indeed.

But even when I am not thinking about the thin pink line that divides the singles from the coupled-off I am hit with something that resonates. At my new, overly pricey dentist's office you can watch a movie while they drill holes in your face. While I was getting all my old fillings replaced (fun, right) I watched the entire 2004 blahsterpiece "Shall We Dance". And while I couldn't always follow the plot, what with the whirring and buzzing of equipment I would catch snippets of dialogue here and there.

The one and only time they left me alone to "rest my jaw" I got to hear Susan Sarandon's awesome speech. Usually the dreck the characters spew in these kinds of movies is too maudlin and sappy to be taken seriously but in one 30 second clip she summarized exactly why people even get married anymore:

We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

Isn't that the most touching thing you have ever fuckin' heard!? I roll my eyes at the predictable "your eyes are like" similes and feel nauseous when people claim to fall in love at first sight, but that is what beneath the dozen roses and heart-holding teddy bears is what I think we all truly want.

In total contrast to that my I-Pod is in dire need of something new so I entered a chatroom and asked "What is your favourite song or artist, I need some new music?" Most replies were along the Madonna, Mariah route (that's what I get for asking in a gay chatroom) but some random guy suggested I check out Regina Spektor. I ended up downloading everything I could and fell in love with one song called "Ode to Divorce". The lyrics combined with how she sings them really illustrates the feeling of love at an end:

The food that I’m eating
Is suddenly tasteless
I know I’m alone now
I know what it tastes like
So break me to small parts
Let go in small doses
But spare some for spare parts
There might be some good ones

You’re talking to her now
And you’ve eaten something minty
And you’re making that face that I like
And you’re going in, in
For the kill, kill
For the killer kiss, kiss
For the kiss, kiss


I need your money, it’ll help me
I need your car and I need your love.

People always tell me they won't be the type to change once they are in a long-term relationship. It's not that anyone makes a conscious effort to be different, but naturally your priorities change, your availability changes, the things you can do, the places you go and before you know it, your friends only appear upon invitation. This is the case. It's not a bad thing (I'm totally saying this without sarcasm) it's just the progression of things.

Is it bad then that that every time I say "There's plenty of fish in the sea" I breathe a little sigh of relief that it didn't work out? When a friend has a bad date or decides to call it quits before it gets serious I smile a little inside (on in the case of Adrienne, a little outside--I'm still such a jerk for that :P) I was thinking of this when channel surfing and I caught the last 2 minutes of an episode of Will & Grace. Grace has just met Leo and is having second thoughts about artificial insemenation with Will. Will is furious since she craps out on him on a regular basis :

WILL: I always let it go, Grace, because it's not like we're making a baby or something. Except this time, we're making a baby!

GRACE: Yes, at the moment you say, the place you say, wearing the clothes you say. You are a control freak! All I asked for was one month, one month to see where this is going.

WILL: Oh, let me tell you where this is going. You'll end up hating him in three weeks, because--I don't know, he has a weird chest hair pattern, or he doesn't like watching E! Or he'll end up hating you, because you're too needy. Then you'll fall apart, I'll pick you up, and then, magically, you'll be ready to have a baby!

GRACE: Wow. So that's what you think of me. Look, I'm sorry that I met someone, 'cause I know how much you hate it when I'm happy.

WILL: Oh, that is such a load--

GRACE: Admit it. You're happiest when I'm miserable. I mean, come on. Isn't that our thing? Because then you don't have to look at how miserable you are.

WILL: Shut up, Grace!

GRACE: But I am not gonna be miserable for you. I am gonna try to be happy, and if you can't deal with that, then you are even more pathetic than I thought!

WILL: Get out of here.

GRACE: Go to hell!

WILL: I want you out of here in two weeks! You don't live here anymore.

It's strange that I stumbled across this episode right? Stranger still that I only caught this scene, no? Stranger still that the first time I saw it I thought Will was being unreasonable and this time around I just felt bad for him. I just look at those old letters from grade school and high school: BFFs whose faces you barely recall, smiling photos with people you don't keep in touch with and a whole lot of "4 Eva" promises that never really panned out. (Who's Eva?)

Again, this blog doesn't really have an ending--just a collection of musings. I'd like to pull a Grey's Anatomy or Desperate Housewives and have some kind of central theme but it's really a sort of mishmash. Just read it in the voice of Mary Alice or Meredith Grey and pretend.