Overwhelmed

Pressure

i think I’ve figured out something that has been bothering me for some time. It’s a helpful thing to know, but it’s an ultimately shallow reassurance. 

I performed a lot during my undergrad: or at least I felt I did. I played euphonium in the wind ensemble whenever I could, culminating in about 6 years of play with that group. I’ve done a lot of performance work on the side, where I’ve done game casting and personal, self published work. Most people would think that someone who has done that kind of work for about 7 years now would be good at handling pressure. 

When performing, there’s always a sense of pressure. You feel stressed: like an egg with just enough force to put you on a breaking point, but it’s the spots where you can handle it. Where you are designed to handle it, even, trained to through years of iterations and luck and work. But you do it and you emerge kn the other side either broken or reborn, never anything in between. 

I usually ended up in the reborn category. I might have played badly or messed up somehow, but I always got to the other side with very few scratches. I would like to say I didn’t feel pride in the work, only in the process; that would be a lie though. I’ve felt plenty prideful of some of the things I have done, marking them like ticking little boxes on the checklist of my life: did you finish this? Yes. Did you get laughs? Check. Did this constitute a life moment? Why not? I spent time on it so it obviously will be a success: check. 

Every moment where pressure had a foothold I’ve looked at it as a personal test; like having the red key for the red door. If I didn’t make it, well it wasn’t of much consequence, since I could double back and get the key later. 

Now that I’m in the UK, things feel different. 

There’s pressure, per usual, but the pressure is far more than having the red key for the red door. Instead, the pressure is one of sink or swim, a primordial struggle where one survives and breathes fresh air on sandy ground or one drowns, their memory only surfaced as a cautionary tale for the young so that that they don’t repeat the same mistakes you did. 

Being in the UK is a pressure unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  The egg analogy from early is the same, except that the pressure is coming from all the wrong places and I already feel like I’m cracking. I know this moment in my lifetime, and the few moments after it, will make my life more bearable or a living hell where I have to struggle and fight for every second of time I can find for myself, let one anyone else I want to keep around in my life. 

I am staring at the  curtain in my room. It’s a deep, opaque black that lets no light through. Even at night I can see the shape of it, breathing in and out as the wind passes by my open window as if it was some shade, a ghost and a harbinger of the worst to come. My stare is consumed by it as I imagine the horrible things that could happen to me this year, but most shamefully that I come back home having not succeeded at what I tried to do. This time, there’s no doubling back for that key. I swim, and start a career which lands me I a life where I have control over what I wish to do, or I sink and come home, only to owe everybody everything and have no means of paying them back. 

The pressure is on, and I can feel it.

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Face First

As I turn off the light,
And crawl into bed,
I fall face first to the sheets.

They’re blue, dark and deep;
Like the calm of an ocean at new-moon.
The darkness of the room
Only adds to the gloom
As my eyes struggle against sleep.

I ponder the world,
What’s the point of it all?
It’s so massively tiny
Hurtling at 108k/h?
In the emptiness of space,
A breakneck pace,

Fuck it, sleep awaits.

The King is Dead

Today, a king has died.

I first met him when I was 10 years old. He was a tiny ball of fur, black with a white stripe down the middle along his belly. He was curious, and friendly, and got along well with his siblings. He was adorable, and my brothers and I instantly fell in love with him.

We named him Oreo. Not very original, but it suited him.

As he grew up on the family farm, it became evident that he was the smartest in the litter. He knew his name, and came when we asked. He was a crafty hunter, only matched by his somewhat psychotic sibling, Boots. He adored being around people. At some point, we decided we needed a house cat. Oreo was that cat.

He didn’t live inside the house though. We let him out as often as he liked, and so he became very social with the neighbourhood cats. I always liked to imagine he was stalking and hunting with his little pride of cats while he was away. When he came back, several of his posse would come back and wait for him while he ate.

He was such a bad ass that dogs were often afraid of him. Between him and a golden retriever puppy, he assumed dominance. He fought off angry german shepherds. That cat was strong and proud, and nothing would take him down without a fight. He was truly the king of the neighbourhood.

He wasn’t always in the city. We used to bring him to the cottage. Because he was unused to cages and didn’t like them, we would let him roam around the car. One minute, he’d be on our laps: the next, my dad would be shooing him away from the dashboard. Most of the time, he was content to get attention and sit on the dash where it was warm, and thankfully out of the way for most of Dad’s driving.

The last time he went to the cottage was when I was 14 or so. He decided to hide on us when we tried to bring him back to the city. It took us almost 2 hours to catch him, between about 10 people looking. On top of that, he was ornery and upset during the trip back: we decided that was going to be his last trip there.

We brought him back to the farm every once in awhile, but those visits soon stopped: the rest of his litter, and even his mother Liquorice, had all started to go missing: killed or become strays. Regardless, we didn’t want the same happening to Oreo, so we stopped bringing him.

When I was about 19, Oreo began to get sick inside the house. Dad wasn’t happy about that happening on his expensive carpets, so the decision was made to send him back to the farm to live his days out. Unfortunately, barns are hardly cat proof, and when our neighbour went to feed him, he escaped.

We thought we would never see him again.

About 6 months later, after a Canadian winter, my brother and I were working, moving lumber. We hefted a particularly large log when we heard a noise. We had no idea what it was, so we listened. We heard it again, and it sounded a bit like a raccoon. A third time, and we were incredulous: raccoons don’t meow, and all our cats were dead. There was no way both of us were hallucinating, so we went looking for the source.

Defying every expectation, the King was still alive: nothing but skin and bones, minus a good number of teeth, and smelling like a ragged corpse but… still alive. After some coaxing, and a little bit of food, Oreo came out of hiding. Just like was in the past, he was extremely friendly and happy to see us. He even Remembered Steely, and rubbed up affectionately with the beast. I wonder to this day if Steely knew Oreo was alive all this time.

The problem presented to us was that Oreo would not be allowed back in Toronto; but there was no way we were going to leave him on the farm. This is when my brother Sebastien came to the rescue: because he was relatively independent and living in Ottawa, he would take care of Oreo with his girlfriend, Megan.

After driving to pick him up, and then making the long trek back to Ottawa, Seb put him through the vets. A few thousand dollars later, Oreo no longer had worms, was no longer sick, and was about as well as could be expected from a 10 year old cat with the feline version of AIDS.

From then on, every visit to see Sebastien and Megan was a visit to see Oreo. He hated the cute bandanas that the vet would put on him. He demanded your attention when you were watching a movie. If you were sleeping on the air mattress, he would join you (though I suspect it was more because of the air mattress than the person, but I digress).

This year, he went blind in one eye. Months passed, and Oreo was still the same cat. Then, two weeks ago, age hit him right in the sweet spot.

FAIDS has kicked in with a vengeance, and diabetes had robbed him of his sight. His inner ear had gotten messed up, causing his sense of balance to become completely screwed up. Instead of spending most days sitting on chairs and pretending to be human, or getting chin scratches, his day by day life became a struggle to find his litterbox and his bed.

He was confined to a single, but large, room for his safety. When Sebastien came back to Toronto to help my dad out, he brought Oreo with him. I watched as he spent his last days trying his hardest to meander around my dining room, his incontinence causing me to feel angry, and then guilty. This wasn’t the cat I remembered.

What I remembered was a proud, powerful cat with sparkling green eyes and a fierce sense of intelligence. A strong lion: and the sleeping sack of ever diminishing skin and bones was nothing like he was. I became angry, thinking how this could have happened. I then felt guilt for judging a creature who had no business being judged: he was living his life the best he could.

So I cleaned the floor, and I pet his now bony spine. He didn’t even have the strength to meow.

Today, I left with a little goodbye, thinking I would see him tonight. I left to go see a friend I hadn’t seen in some time, and have a good day. I made a grave mistake, as Oreo’s condition worsened: a terminal tumour threatened to cause him unbearable pain before he passed.

Sebastien, braver than I would have been, made the tough decision of giving Oreo a painless passing, a sweet sleep. I can imagine me being there, looking into his unseeing eyes as the light of life dimmed. I can imagine what it would have been like to wish him goodbye one last time, and thank you for being such an amazing friend. I imagine I was strong for him, and held him one last time like I used to so long ago.

I did none of these things. I was oblivious, and by the time I got home, it was done. Oreo was no longer with us.

I owed him so much, and couldn’t be there for him when he needed me; once, when he needed a new home, and once when he needed to go. I don’t think I will forgive myself for a long time.

Regardless, Oreo was the best cat I have ever known. Sweet, intelligent, and confident. I love him. I will miss him.

I am sorry I wasn’t there Oreo. I’m so happy Sebastien and Megan were. I am so happy that, with them, you were able to have a long and happy life. I’m sorry you had to go. I understand why you had to, though, and I’m glad it was peaceful.

The King is dead, and a little piece of me died with him.

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Well that was a surprise

OHSHIT

I will not lie when I tell you the following:

I had COMPLETELY forgotten two things. First, that this blog pressed to Twitter; second, that this blog subsequently pressed to Facebook and my Tumblr. As a result, I totally typed a post that was about as emo as a sad clown convention and it was posted to the world.

Smooth moves, Ahab.

Initially this discovery was followed by fear. “OH NO MY VIEWERS CAN SEE MY EMO SIDE” I thought. “THEY SEE MY WEAKNESS.” My thought process came to the conclusion that this was about as awful as it could get, and so I tried to delete any and all traces of my emo-tastic shame, the same way that most people try to mop up a murder. Needless to say, it had about the same results, which means to say, none at all save for a lot of guilty looks coming from my general direction.

But hilariously enough, the post got more views than some of my videos. In the space of about 4 minutes. That is both sad and amazing, since I feel I put a lot of effort into entertaining in my videos, and that post was meant to be a whiny bitch, and despite that got more exposure.

I figure I might as well keep writing then, occasionally, whenever I’m feeling offbeat or sad about something in real life. If you haven’t noticed, I’m about as natural in front of a camera as most people are trying to conduct an interview, which means to say that I feel like there is an actual level of perfection that needs to be achieved. When I write, I tend to flow out onto the page, and so a very different image results from it.

If you are curious to see that image, who am I to stop you? SlowWolf? Bah, not enough e-fame to do any ordering around anyway.

Welcome to my personal blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however brief, even it’s less than a second or so. Seriously. It’s okay for you to just… wander away and surf elsewhere. Might I suggest my YouTube channel?

-Phil

5 Minute Short Story: 2 Men and a Wall

A man walked by his favourite shops as he always did. First the bakery, with the sweet smells of succulent confections drifting by him still as he passed the deli. The sandwiches there were amazing, stuffed with ham and beef.

And normally the third stop was stopping by the wall. There was a wall separating the deli from the next building, a library of sorts that the local university made good use of. There was something different this time though: there was a man standing facing the wall.

The walking man, named Jeff, stared for a second. Why on earth would the other guy do that? Standing in front of a wall. Its silly! Suddenly, the man started smacking his head against the wall.

Jeff ran towards the man. “Stop! Stop! Why are you doing this?” he asked.

The man gave an angry stare at Jeff. His unkempt beard and scruffy hair indicated that he was a student, and they were going through finals. “You don’t know, man. You can’t know. Things look really bad, okay? I’m going to fail, and it’s all my fault.”

“That’s why you’re smashing you head against the wall? The only thing you’re going to get is a headache!”

The student shook his head vigorously. “No man, this? I need this. Just go away.”

And what else could the Jeff do?

5 Minute Short Story: The Man Obsessed With His Housecoat

There it was: a housecoat. He had wanted one for such a long time now!

The elegance of the plaid pattern blew his eyes away. The red crisscrossed pattern clashed with his green smiley faced pajamas, but it mattered not. It was a housecoat, and it was his. He was now king of his house. His  castle now had a ruler with ROBES. How badass was that?

The man reflected for a moment. Very, was his answer. Very badass.

Look at me, he said as he relfected uppon his viasage in the mirror, look at the handsome and devilishly good looking man in the housecoat. It flowed on the non-existent breeze, flapping away in his imagination. His grin grew a mile wide, and he knew what must be done.

He left his boudoir and alerted his subjects to his precence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, nobles and peasants, look at me! Upon my back I wear a MIGHTY ROBE OF AWESOME. It is mine, and mine alone! Now, do my bidding!”

The group of three grown men looked at him, bewildered and exhausted.

“It’s a housecoat. Seriously. you’ve been wearing it for like, a month. It’s time you took it off.”

The man refuised. He cried mutiny! at the top of his lungs, ran forward, and jumped through the window, glass shards badassedly flying all around. He then landed headfirst into the pavement.

Ow, he thought. What am I doing outisde? Why am I coverd in glass?

He look down. Oh right, he remembered, I’m a badass with a badass housecoat. Look at me &$^#, I’m fabulous.

A 15 Minute Warhammer 40K Short Story

As a forward, I wrote this because we played Jabberwocky. It’s a fun board game, and I was tempted to write timed short stories! This idea came to mind after playing too much Dawn of War: Black Crusade.

The field of war played out in front of the two battle brother like it had before. The eerie familiarity both had with the crackle of fires that engulfed massive warmachines, the loud explosive punctuations of bolter fire beginning to dim as the world became habitual around them.

The brothers stood face to face, eying every detail of their partner. Both were worse for wear, having fought for days on end now. cuts, scrapes and scars marked the passage of a long and brutal campaign to bring this planet to the imperial heel in the name of the god-emperor of mankind, killing off the majority of the population in a planet-wide purge of heretics, mutants, and xenos.

One brother wore white power armour, trimmed in silvery gold, now tarnished with ash and blood of fallen enemies and close calls. The emblem on his shoulder showed a circle within a larger circle, a symbol representing the mind of the god-emperor himself. His helmet had been lost in the fray, although he did recall using it as a weapon when he couldn’t find his power sword. Bent over, he panted deeply; although he was accustomed to battle and war, it was rare to fight a powerful opponent like he had today. His combat knife was gripped in one hand, which he brought forward to ward off any thought of attack.

His brother opposite him stood tall and wore the ever known armour of the ultramines, the bright blue now darker and slick with blood, gore, and marked by flecks of grenades. His helmet was clipped to his belt, as the rigors of close combat did not lend itself well to being blinded willfully by technology. He held his knife confidently in front of him, almost as a challenge to the man opposite him. He smiled.

“I, for one, never thought I’d see this day, brother.” The ultramarine began to circle his brother.

“Then you are blind, as is the man that you serve.” The white clad marine shook his head. “If you were vigilant, you would have seen this coming.”

Fluidity in Life

Relationships are fluid.

Tonight, I went and celebrated the proper opening night of Todd’s show. Tonight was the advertised opening night, free for a fee to the public. Since I went last night to the private free show, I made sure to spend tonight relaxing and getting ready for his big cast party.

The cast parties are something we’ve always shared. It’s a party held on opening night of a play, used to show the accolades of the cast and crew of the show, and then drink copious amounts of booze and dance drunkenly with everyone. Back in first year, when Todd was just scratching the surface of these shows, he’d come to show his support for the upper years. Not only that, but it was a good excuse for me to go out once in awhile when I wasn’t shackled to my computer talking to Lorelai on screen. The tradition continued, with Todd and a number of other friends going out to enjoy a few beers, and dance the night away to awful music.

The past couple of times have seemed different, however. See, it’s been 4 years already. 4 years that were far too long, and way too short too. Time slogged past me it seemed, but in reality it was flying. And here was Todd, once a first year dramatic arts student, now a trained actor. He climbed to the top of his class, where so many had failed. Tonight was his night, the opening night of the most virtuosic work he had done to date. He was the lead in a 2 hour long show, where he was present in every scene and decided the fate of the play. He did excellently, and tonight was his &%$#ing night to SHINE.

I got to the cast party right on time; just as I entered, the whole stream of cast and crew rampage forth from the side door, whooping and calling, blowing bubbles and blowing kisses. The speeches were loud, emphatic. Full of energy. Nothing could go wrong tonight, no sir.

There was a big difference in how it all worked out. Todd was the life of the party now: he was the lead. He was a King for a day, a dream for so many people, or a distant truth from a long time ago for most. He was lording in it, loving it, and making sure that tonight was the best damn cast party he ever had, as it was truly his last within that setting. He had every reason to “max it up” as it were.

Here I was, however, sitting in the corner, nursing my pint of Keith’s (which was watery, funny enough. Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking Okanagan beer so much lately) and feeling… resentful?

No, that wasn’t it. Todd obviously is my friend. I’m not going to be resentful of his shining moment. I was sad though, and it took me a while of sitting and drinking to figure it out.

Every good friendship has a core. That core is unshakable, and once founded is really hard to break. That’s why people can be friend over massive distances for huge spans of time. It’s essential to every good friendship; however, there is more. Around that core is a fluffy layer of contemporary thought, A.K.A shit that’s going on right now. Friends who hang out a lot have a lot of that fluffy part, whereas friends who are far apart have only the core holding themselves tethered to one another. It’s not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does happen.

I could feel it happening. The fluff? It was going or already gone in a sense. Things were already different. Todd was celebrating his time alright, but it wasn’t with me anymore, or the rest of the guys. Not the same way. Can I blame him? Of course not, but it still taught me a valuable lesson.

Relationships are fluid, and depend entirely on context.

That might not be how things OUGHT to be; my claim is meant to be descriptive, not normative. Relationships can change quickly based on what context they’re being put into. Right now, Todd’s relationship with me was a core. Nothing more, nothing less. Honestly, it makes me sad, though it shouldn’t, and not in ways most would expect.

Since I know that I can’t be mad at Todd for what he’s doing, I am sad because I know it signifies the end of something we had. We had a tight knit relationship; but after 4 years of university, he’s graduating. Meanwhile I will still be in school, and that status change alone will cause our friendship to be something different, whether I like it or not.

All of this thinking relates to time. A common theme for me these past couple of weeks has been time; the passing, the coming, the going. My time with Todd’s friendship as it stands is coming to an end, and I can feel it. It’s almost palpable. Time seems to keep… flowing, going, dragging with it a lot of things that I will never have again. Nothing (Save for Nothingness, I suppose), with time, is solid and stable; unless you believe in a God of some sort, but since I can’t do that, the only thing that will be guaranteed to be stable is me and whatever/whoever else I can place my trust in not to. Even then, I will change too, and already have I’m sure.

This change is nonstop. You can’t rest, even if for a moment, and you won’t as you’ll see change all around you can there will be nothing you can do to slow it down. I can handle it. I know I can; but sometime, it just feels like it’s too much.

People told me that time was gonna fly, that change was going to happen, and that people would go in and out of my life. This shouldn’t be a surprise to me at all.

I just wish it all a bit slower, that’s all.

What am I doing?!

I have NO idea what I'm doing. Where's this space come from?

I have no idea what I want to write.

This is my second time writing that sentence tonight. It’s only showing up once because the first time I did that, I followed it up with a bunch of gobeldy gook that unfortunately resulted in my closing the internet and wiping my gobeldy gook.

The gook looked like this:

Qlskc aldic q;ekjcv w n erhois nfoiq dnf cmiqpwejf apsdochnqpwoeuzlkzlsp qpwo lkf qpoiusdpnbgpouqh dpo lupo uhapsod fqpowud fpaso qrjodhuf qpwoe rqpo wiuerhp as fpoqwopieruypslk,nvpqouh qp woiur hpoq whrfpq ofpo qwf q f pqowuhr poqhwpo fpq hwf 9qw 9f98 hqwpohf poq8whf qw8f hq f qpwf qwf pqw f8qw hfpo8qhwpfo8h psohdfpokjch  pqouhcolkjhlvmnlxzkjnv olijnsdlkqhpeourqh dkjvn lzkxihu pq l.

And that was supposed to represent my thoughts.

They still do, as a matter of fact. And I’ve typed an re-typed the next section at least 3 times with the aim of trying to create something to help my thought align themselves to something useful.

... precisely.

Totally hasn’t happened though. Which is puzzling, as normally when I tell my thoughts to do something, they do it. Or they get the soap. And by soap, I mean I totally mind crush them.

And I suppose that’s a pretty apt way to explain how life is at the moment, actually: it seems like although I do things, things aren’t apt to fall into place unless I glare at a problem with great disdain and displeasure. It’s a glare so sour that most things pickle on the spot; but nooo, life seems to find a way to go “uhh, how bout no?” and continues to do its thing regardless of what I want.

Upside, things that I do want are increasingly awesome! For instance, my girlfriend Kitteh and I made our anniversary, and neither of us have died due to bodily harm and/or mental onslaught! It’s pretty fantastic.

Speaking of fantastic, I’ve been doing well in school too, for the most part. And my HoNage continues to get better, and remains a way to feed my insatiable ego and remind me that I am still fabulous and fantastic.

I don’t know why I feel at a loss of control of things; it probably has a lot to do with the preoccupation I have with my lack of money and independence, although maybe a crippling feeling of “WHERE/WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOOOOOOING?!” has a hand in this.

-Phil