The Past

Slow Show: for Julian

julian 2

My brother.

Julian is, without a doubt, impossible to read. To use a tired quote, he is a riddle wrapped in  an enigma. When you hang out with him in person, he treats you exactly like he treats everyone else around him. His easygoing attitude seems at odds with his seeming indifference, an unlikely juxtaposition between feeling at peace and friendly while also giving everyone the cold shoulder.

There are very few people with whom this is not the case, and who get to know Julian fully and well. I feel I am not one of these people, but I’d like to try to share what I know.


Even though it’s noon, the basement is dark and somber. Shafts of light from the small windows nearby break through the gloom, floating dust statically staying still as if the beams of day had frozen them in place. A futon lies in the middle of the floor. Someone is curled up in a ball, their head buried in the covers. Julian.

Soft music plays from his computer nearby. I don’t know the band, but I like the sound; it takes a minute for me to register it’s indie rock. Honest, earnest music, like a good friend in a bad time.

I ask him if he’s alright.

He grunts.

I leave. Not much else to do; trying to talk to him right now would be like talking to a stone.


It’s fact that Julian feels quite deeply. Despite this, and I have no idea where he learned how, the man has a poker face that’s hard to beat. Talking to someone he likes and to a person he hates, you would barely be able to tell the difference. Most people would be passive aggressive, sarcastic, something. Julian? Nothing.

Even when you’re alone with him, the most he has to say about anyone in private is that they’re some expletive or another, and that’s that. Thing is, Julian is incredibly good at walls. He’s all the tougher and tenacious for it, sure; but sometimes I wonder what else is going on in that head of his.


My nails are chewed down to a stub, two of them are bleeding. It stings a little, but I don’t care. I’m in the middle of an anxiety attack, but I’ll have no idea that’s what it is until 4 years later.

“Yo.” Julian walks in through the doorway, carrying his laptop. He sets up across the table from me, plugs in Jimmers (his computer), and boots up Heroes of Newerth.

“Hey. You playing HoN?”

He grabs a handful of jelly beans from a Costco sized bag of Jelly Bellies.

“Duh.”

He knows something is up, but as per usual, he doesn’t talk. The voices of strangers blare from his speakers; apparently, someone else had called a character and is calling them a little bitch. Charming.

“Hey man, chill,” Julian says through a mouthful of candy, “it’s just a game. Let’s settle down, take it easy.”

The jerk on the other end calls Julian a couple of colourful words not fit for print, and leaves the game.

“How does this not piss you off?” I ask.

Shaking his head, he tells me that it does piss him off.

“But what the hell am I gonna do about it,” he adds, “It’s not like bitching about it will change much.” He grabs another jelly bean, and tells the rest of his team to get their shit together.

An hour later, he ends up winning.


Julian joined the Navy a couple of years ago now. His practical nature and quick wit made him some easy friends and were instrumental in successfully  passing his officer training; either through study, or through convincing the people training him that their test was hot trash.

I know my own brother half as well as I’d like, but I know the important stuff. He’s kind, brave, and practical. He’ll do anything for someone he cares about, and is quick to defend those he deems worthy. Rolling with the punches comes naturally to the man, and he’s just as quick to dish it out when it does something useful.

More importantly than all that, Julian is a good man. I suppose that’s all that I need to know, and knowing more wouldn’t change a thing.


A chill wind blows past me, a bitter English February evening in London, as I walk down the street towards home.

I’d just lost my teaching position at the primary school I’d been working at for six weeks. I wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye to my class; just a quick meeting with the head teacher and bam. Out on my ass, looking for more supply work.

A gust whips at my face, but through the comfortable numbness of oncoming depression and my very scruffy beard, I barely feel a thing. My iPhone plays away, the music turning from the game remix I’d been listening to for the past few minutes into something I’d forgotten about.

It takes me a minute to realize it’s indie rock. I instantly think of Julian, and I recognize the tune from the basement. It had been at least half a decade since then. Since then, Julian had recovered from a terrible memory. Since then, Julian had become an officer in the Navy. Since then, Julian had started seeing a wonderful girl, and was now happier than I’d ever seen him.

I whisper under my breath, “Slow Show.” It’s a song by the National, a group I know Julian liked a lot. I’ve no idea if he still likes them, or anything, but I know he listened to this song once, when he needed a good friend in a bad time.

Thinking about Julian fills me with a sigh, and I start walking with renewed energy. I smile, and think: it’s not like bitching will change much, right?

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Purple Papa

a;lksjdf;lakjsdf“When you were born, we still couldn’t think of a name for you.”

Nameless for a few hours, I did whatever babies do while my Dad and Mom eventually came to a conclusion, together, that I should be called Phillip. They later, unofficially, removed the second L. In hindsight, this explains a lot of my teachers misspelling my name; the official transcript must have had two Ls.


My Dad and I had an interesting relationship from the moment I was born. There was a time, the story goes, where I wouldn’t stop crying. Dad checked and changed the diaper. He fed me, or tried. He tried bouncing, burping, the whole shebang, and nothing worked. Fed up, he put me in a jolly jumper to tucker myself out, sat in the other room, and put on some records.

I was out within 15 or so minutes.


The stairs weren’t entirely uncomfortable, but I was getting tired of sitting on them waiting for my parents to all get out of bed. Christmas was the best; lots of presents, and Christmas milk, and awesome food… plus, Dad and everyone would get oysters!

I loved having Oysters with Dad.

With a creak, the door of the bedroom cracked open to show a bleary eyed pair of parents shuffling to the stairs.

“Why are you sitting on the stairs, Famous Philip?”

“Waiting for you! Presents!” I grinned.

My brothers and I got a wicked sick Batcave, and the action figures were getting a lot of attention that day.


Dust had gathered on the Batcave. It had been awhile since we last took it off the shelf. I passed it by with indifference on my way to the basement. I hadn’t seen Dad yet today.

The stairway down was dark. I hated and feared the dark, so I crept down carefully, flicking light switches from as far away as I could so I could stay in the light. Once I got to the bottom, the sound of Dad’s electric shaver was loud enough to wake the dead.

I opened the door.

“Morning Dad!”

“Good morning Famous Philip.” He kept shaving, his focus clearly on making sure he got all the rough patches without missing a one.

“Can I shave?” He laughed, and propped me up on the sink, and gave me a shave.

The trimmer tickled my face, and I laughed. Dad smiled. It wasn’t often I saw him smile since he and Mom stopped getting along, but he always smiled around my brothers and me.


Trees flashed by, punctuating the grey outside the car as we sped to the cottage.

Dad was explaining what was happening, how often we could see him and stuff. While driving, he started explaining how Mom wanted us to see him every second weekend.

My furrowed face grumped in the front seat, trying to puzzle out why Mom would want that. “That doesn’t seem fair.” 10 year old me was very interested in fairness; having two brothers has that effect on a boy.

He nodded. “Neither do I, Philip. I love my sons; if I could, I’d want to see you all the time. Now, you should love your Mother, always; she’s the only one you’re going to get, and I’m the only Dad you’re going to get. But…”

A flash of blue circled on the note pad as Dad made a pie graph, something I’d learned about not too long ago, so I could read it. Half of the circle was being sketched in blue. One side was Mom, the other dad. 50/50. Week on week off, he explained.

“That’s a lot more fair,” I judged. Dad smiled.


We hauled firewood from below the cottage, hand bombing the bits from one brother to the next. Julian was in the deepest; he was small enough to fit without banging his head all the time. I was in the hole, taking from Julian and passing it on to Sebastien, who would then run it inside the building and stack it. Dad was inside, correcting Seb’s mistakes and lighting the fires, getting the house warmed up. In the mean time, the cold had permeated my gloves, and my fingers hurt a bit. It didn’t matter much though, we were close to getting the wood we needed for the next couple of days.

“Philip, do you have any homework this weekend?” Dad’s voice was clear through the house.

“Nope, did it while I was in school.”

“You telling the truth? I have to know I can trust you.” His voice betrayed his distrust. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

“Trust me Dad, I’m not lying. I don’t have homework.” I lied.


I sat crying in the back of Mom’s car, her friend Brigitte in the front with her. Both were asking for details of some kind. What happened?

Sobbing, I told them how I didn’t do my math homework for my tutor, and after trying to squeeze out of it all day I had gotten caught. Dad was furious. He threw a dictionary across the room, and told me to leave.

One month. It had been a month since the last time I lied about my homework, but it wasn’t enough. Dad had kicked me out to Mom’s house.

His voice rang in my head. “If you can’t tell me the truth, then get out! If I can’t trust you anymore, and I love you, and this…” he left the room, the sound of heavy footfalls going upstairs. Sebastien helped me call mom and get me picked up. I don’t know what Julian did.

I cried until Mom got there, and sobbed some more.


The house was dead silent. None of the lights were on, save for a faint glow near the red room at the front of the house. I took off my snow-slogged shoes, leaving them in the mudroom. My socks padded the floor, the wooden floor creaking as I passed through the dinning and piano/reception hall. The dark stillness of the house was like a heavy blanket, smothering all the colours, turning them into a lifeless still-brown.

The door to the red room swung open on semi-dry hinges. The glow of white outside was stuck at the window opposite the door, the light of day unable to pierce the perma-gloam inside. The sofa nearest the door was occupied; someone lay there, wrapped in several blankets.

Dad.

Drifting past the table, I sat on an empty section of sofa near him. He had visibly lost weight, but not gained any muscle. Stress and misery had robbed him of his demeanor, his joyful and bright twinkling eyes which now sat on dark beds themselves. He stared at the window, but couldn’t see past the darkness.

I gently placed my hand in his, and squeezed. As if breaking a spell, his eyes focused and turned on mine. No one spoke.

He squeezed back, the crack of a smile touching his eyes.

An hour later, I left his sleeping frame on the sofa and embraced the bitter cold outdoors as it bit into my face.


Intro to Western Philosophy. Not a bad class, not at all, but the best part was being able to see the one girl in the back every day. I’d never talk to her (and I never did) but she was always a highpoint in my day without meaning to be. I worried about whether that made me normal, a monster, or both.

My phone rang. Dad.

As we spoke about my school and whether I was doing the work, I kept searching in the Sleven for a snack. I stopped mid sentence as I found a tin of oysters. I couldn’t help but smile.

“Philip, are you still there?” Dad was worried we had cut out, again, since he was driving in hilly areas.

“No, no, I’m still here Dad. It’s just… remember how we used to get oysters?”

“Sure thing, Famous Philip.”


The hall broke up in elated cheers as the ceremony came to an end. By contrast, I stood up, stretched, and sighed in relief. Those chairs sucked, but I was glad I got through the ceremony. Graduation isn’t so much a feeling of suddenly being spectacular, but a slow and satisfying stretch after hours of sitting.

I walked to the end of the pathway and saw Dad. He had the biggest smile.

“Sorry Dad, I forgot to shave. I know I should have.”

“No, no. The beard suits you, just…” he paused to collect his thoughts. “Just make sure you keep it clean, mister teacher.”

“Whatever Dad. Look at you, you scruffy bastard. You look good!”

Chuckling, he brought me into a hug. It had been a lot of effort, for him especially. Full professional degrees don’t come cheap, particularly when they take 7 years of secondary schooling to achieve. I worked over the year, sort of, and worked over the summer in a kaleidoscope of jobs that never really paid as much as I would have liked. School would have been impossible without his help. Not to mention all the times he moved me, or lent me the car; the times when he gave me needed advice, or an instrument with which to do a music degree. I owed him everything.

“Thanks Dad,” was all I could manage.

 

 

15 Minute Short Story: A really depressing guy with too many first world problems

The day was a rainy one. Tap, tap tap, tap tap tap, went the drops on the pane, the dreary pace of the day elongating with every minute.

A man sat in his study, surrounded by books unread and papers unkempt. He sighed heavily as he looked out the window, his hand swirling a glass of red. It was a stiff vintage, dry. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to disturb his reverie.

He thought of days long gone by… on second thought, not so long as that, but the time that had passed seemed an eternity. Happy faces on pretty women and handsome men, as he wined and dined them all. Rides on boats, the wind whipping at his face as he shouted and sang for the world. The expidition in the jungle, his feet nearly giving out after a long hike, or his despair as his headlamp went out during a typhoon.

It felt like someone else’s life, he reflected, someone else altogether different. Here he was, sitting in a chair, drinking wine he didn’t even really like. Why didn’t he get out of his chair and do all those things again?

Well, that wouldn’t work for the man. As he thought of it, he remembered that the country whose jungle he once crossed is currently uncrossable, its borders closed. The boat, sold long ago due to fiscal problems. Those handsome men and pretty women he remembered all were in different corners of the world, and long ago had forgotten him or he forgot them. He didn’t think of which was worse.

He sat in his chair, swirling his unlikable wine. He sighed again. What was the point of all this sitting and sipping?

Getting out of his chair, he made his way to the door of the room and opened it, exposing a long darkened corridor. Normally, it was full of vibrant greens and earthy browns, but today, it rained. When it rained, it greyed out all colour.

Walking down the hallway, he turned into his kitchen and grabbed a chocolate bar from the fridge. He liked the chocolate cold, that way it didn’t melt in his hands. Small things like that made him happier but did nothing to repeal the general malaise in his everyday life. Pondering the significance of melted chocolate, if there was any, the man made his way back to the study.

It’s not like I haven’t tried, he thought, to think of something interesting to do. He remembered all the ideas he had before: creating a broadcasting channel, becoming a movie star, attempting to go and travel again… all had met with their end before they could begin. What of his artistic endeavours? He could draw, write, sing, play instruments… he was a talented man, but his taste outstripped his ability by at least ten-fold. Everything he made disgusted him before he could finish it, and was discarded.

To add to all of these first world problems, he had no companion. That was entirely his fault, however, and he knew that. He wasn’t sure of being ready for that level of responsibility, especially not to the people he had met thusfar. He sighed, and sank in his chair much like a bear sitting down on its cave floor.

What on earth had his life come to? Pondering stupid things, and to no end. The rain fell outside, uncaring of his desires.

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.

161120121172

The Camel of Comedy

HURR HURR HURR

I once heard Jason Biggs, “Jim” from the American Pie movies, say something to the tune of “If you can’t get embarrassed, then you’re missing out on a lot of funny”. Not an exact quote, but it has kinda stuck with me.

Unfortunately, my little 8 year old self didn’t know or understand this. This is probably fortunate from a parenting standpoint, because this means I didn’t watch American Pie when I was 8. Could you imagine? “MOMMY, WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?!” “That is called fucking a pie, honey.” Yeah, nope.

Sexual scarring possibilities aside, I didn’t see that movie or hear that quote from the extras in time to avoid feeling horrible about the most embarrassing moment of my life. It took place in a grade 1 Christmas play, and I was about 8.

My class was a joint grade 1 and 2 operation. Our poor teacher was the head of this sorry state of affairs, but was adamant that we were going to put on a classroom Christmas play. We were going to go full out, with props, and lights, and the gymnasium stage…

To me, this was my time to shine. I was going to be the best, I was going to stun everyone and show them that yes, I was totally cool. If I could act super well, if I could nail my lines, if I could just be the most awesome person ever, people would be nice to me. This hope stemmed from a healthy amount of bullying and schoolyard douchbaggery directed towards me from an early age; seriously, I thought this school play was going to change everything.

It was going to be this easy.

The Christmas play was about the birth of Christ if I remember correctly. We were to all play the part of animals making our way there, and eventually be super happy about all of this baby stuff. 8 year old me didn’t give a shit, I just wanted to show them bullies who was da man, and who wasn’t. I was totally going to be the man, in case you didn’t know. They totally weren’t. That was just the way I knew it had to be. So I waited for the eventual assignment of roles: who was going to be who.

Someone was given the cat. Another person was a horse. Here I sat, waiting for all these animals passing me by; the frog, the lobster, the dog… none of that mattered. All that mattered was when the teacher called my name.

“Philip Budd?”

I frantically stretched my hand and practically shouted “PRESENT”. Giving me an awkward look, she then assigned me my animal.

“You’re going to be the camel.”

You can be ME.

Oh my fuck yes please. I was going to be the coolest camel on the planet. Dogs? Not a chance. The cat wasn’t even remotely swank compared to me. The bird had to go elsewhere for shiny stuff, ’cause my camel ass was going to blind them. As soon as I got my lines, I started rehearsing and learned my lines in 4 hours.

Seeing as this was two weeks before the play, my parents got very tired of hearing my epic camel soliloquies throughout all of that time. Too bad, I thought, I had to be perfect. Which I totally was going to be. Duh.

My mom worked on my Camel costume personally, tirelessly, and the day before the play it was finished (or she bought it, which is entirely possible). The onesie piece was brown with a beige belly, complete with a tail and a hump on its back. One hump, mind you, which my 8 year old self was keen to notice was actually a dromadaire, but meh, who cared. It was awesome, and I wore it for a couple of hours while practicing my lines yet again. Imagine a big, furry monstrosity with a hump that was perfect for knocking over glasses and chairs like so many pieces of fine china, all while reciting Shakespeare.

To be or not to be, moo.

That was how it was.

The night of the play, I was ready. The lines? perfect. The outfit? Immaculate. The Phil was ready. I wolfed down my dinner, and made a beeline for the costume. I waited for my mom to help me into my outfit, and I felt great… but then the trouble started.

I looked into a mirror. It was then that I realized that Camels are actually really stupid looking. Why did they have a hump? Or a tail? They were weird horses, really, and I was instantly aware of how stupid I looked. How could I look cool as a Camel? HOW? There was no way.

Mom and I made our way to the school, and the prevailing feeling of doom was upon me. I knew my lines, I thought, I’ll be fine; but I was a camel! They’re going to make fun of me for being a camel, no way they weren’t. I was screwed.

I was shuttled into the waiting area backstage with the rest of the animals in their costumes. The dogs? Totally wicked. The cats were cooler than cats. Even the zebra looked great; and here’s this camel. I could practically hear the snickering.

And so, the play starts. A few animals do their thing. I prayed it wouldn’t come to me, that they’d skip the camel part. A few more. The time passed so slowly that I could practically see everything in slow motion. Then a couple more, and finally, it was time. The camel walked out onto the stage.

I walked in from the left side to glaring lights and what looked like a million rows of shadowy people I couldn’t see. The nerves forced my heart so skip a beat; I gulped, I put on my best acting face, and I started my lines.

As an aside, it’s important to note that, when I’m nervous, I have a couple of ticks: biting my nails into oblivion, fiddling non-stop, and sweaty palms.

As I got going through my lines, my nerves got the best of me. I grabbed the first thing I could and started fiddling with it while concentrating really hard on my lines. This was when I started hearing giggles from the crowd.

Laughing? Why? Nothing I said was funny. Everything I had done was oscar worthy, not giggle generating. I wanted to create a stirring solo of solemn sereneness, but instead it was becoming chuckle palooza.

I stopped, and the laughing got worse. Everyone in the room, and I could only think one thing; they were laughing at me, because I was stupid, a camel, and a loser. Even with the best performance anyone had seen since Muppet Treasure Island (8 year old me had a skewed sense of good movies), everyone was laughing at me. I couldn’t take the ridicule.

I crumbled, fell to my knees, and started crying. “WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE???” I wailed, and the audience laughed even harder. I cried, and was dragged off stage. I don’t remember the rest of the night very well, but I’d like to think I went on a grape juice binge while snorting lines of powder sugar to forget the feelings I was feeling.

So the question was, why were they laughing at me? Imagine the following.

A small boy walks onto stage in an adorable camel outfit. He starts adorably reciting his lines, just like he was told. It’s at this point he grabs his tail, pulls it through his legs, and starts waving it around like a hose at a sexy carwash.

Yeap. This. But with a tail. In a children’s play.

That is why I love comedy: because if you can’t laugh at yourself, you slump down on stage and turn into a sopping wet heap.

What about you folks?

What the heck do I write about damnit?

Also known as what happens when I don't know what I'm doing.

FRUSTRATION CRUNCH

Anything you say? FANTASTIC. That totally narrows my options down to a fine point. If my options were colour in a pencil crayon, I could totally colour inside the finest pictures so long as they are a mile wide.

I don’t know why I stopped writing though. Sometimes I’ll get e-mails commenting about my posts, telling me “Hey dude, this is awesome” or “this post is beautiful”. So I’ll re-read what was posted: who the hell wrote this? Not me. This writer was actually funny! His thoughts were on things that were so trivial and yet so prevalent that…

Why am I using big words? No. Stop. No big words. Head out of your pretentious bum, Phil, you’re here to write for fun, not a damn philosophy paper.

Speaking of which, guess who is now a philosophy major? As if the huge majority of the people who are ever going to read this didn’t know that already, but it never hurts to say it again. Does it? No? Guess who is now a philosophy major? Me. Cause I have so many big ideas, I just had to get marked for them. You know, instead of committing it to the harshest critics in the universe: ZE INTERNET.

Gotta admit though, it feels good to be typing things on my mind not relating to solipsism or faith, or existence or whether existence can exist. Wat.

So here I am writing while listening to this song here on repeat while waiting for a video to upload. Did I ever really imagine that I was going to write for a living? Heck naw. As one of my buddies puts it, “I cannot be assed” but why? Why can’t I? Because I have no idea what to write about!

One last time: what am I to write about? Here’s a new thought: why don’t I do what I do best and rage? Every single good post I’ve written, or whatever past me wrote because, good golly, he writes differently. In any case, every post that really has made me proud has been one of rage and critique. Poetry? I’m far too blunt and it’s like watching a dog navigate through a hoarder’s china collection chasing the car that just crashed through the house because…. oh god what am I even writing.

But definitely not poetry: if I can’t even get a good analogy out of my brain without it completely falling apart, a poem is going to be far too much mental malaise.

So let’s converse. Let’s talk. Let’s shout and yell and rail against things that don’t make sense, and you can all make fun of me.

Phil, it’s time to meet the world: this time, for reals bro.

How to make Phil’s (soon to be) World Famous Curry!

I’ve been asked again and again for my curry recipe. Apparently people seem to like it, which is awesome sauce! The problem comes when I stop providing the stuff for free.

So, I haven’t cooked curry in awhile, and people want to make it themselves. Cool beans! I like you guys, so here: have a recipe.

Phil’s Keema Matar Curry: The Curry that started it all
Serves 4, Takes 1 hour at most to prepare for an amateur.
Ingredients
0.5 kilos of Ground beef/Chicken/Turkey/ToFu/MacGuffin
1 Litre of Tomato Sauce
1/2 Onion
2-3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Cups of Peas
3-4 Sweet Thai Chilly peppers
Butter
Curry Powder
Ginger Powder
Salt
Basmati Rice

HERE IT &^$#ING GOES
First things first, prepare. Get everything together, neatly arranged somewhere on a clean countertop. There are going to be some hectic moments at the start, so you need everything on hand.

When you have everything in front of you, go dice your half-onion. Remember to be careful with your blades, otherwise you might have problems! With your onions done, chop up your garlic. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just cut the living crap out of it until it’s finely chopped.

After that, you have to make your “paste”. Take two REALLY HEFTY tablespoons of curry powder, and put it in a bowl. Take another HEFTY tablespoon of Ginger, and mix it up with the curry powder. Once the powder mixture is roughly the same colour and consistency throughout, take little bits of water and add it in to the mix. Keep mixing small amounts of water into the bowl until the mixture has the consistency of a thick paste. Put it to the side.

Once you have your veggies chopped up and your paste pasted, it’s time to get started. Take a moderately sized pot, and put your butter in. You’re going to want enough butter to eventually cook your beef in too, so don’t skimp on it. With your butter melted, caramelize your onions.

With the onions caramelized, add your peppers and your garlic. Mix it around until the juices from the peppers have seeped into the buttery onion mixture.

At this point, take your ground beef and toss it into the pot. Immediately afterwards, do the same with your paste mixture. If the paste isn’t covering the beef properly, add more water until it can coat the beef more evenly. Once the beef is coated, turn the stove up: you’re cooking meat people! BE MANLY ABOUT IT.

Once the pink is gone from the ground beef, turn the stovetop down to medium low and add your tomato sauce, stirring the ground beef and the sauce together until it almost looks like a stew. Add salt to taste, and then put your peas in. It’s important to note that if you want to add any more veggies, this would be the perfect time to do so.

The mixture is more or less complete. Let is sit on the stove for about 30 minutes, occasionally checking to see if it starts bubbling too much or not. If it’s bubbling too much, turn it down a notch: try not to burn the stuff!

While the curry sauce is cooking, it’s time to prepare the rice. This is the easiest part. If you have a rice cooker, then you know what to do. If not, just take the amount of rice you want to eat, put it into a pot, and add twice that amount in water, then cook it on medium high until there’s no water left. When it’s cooked, just let it sit on super low until it’s ready to serve.

BACK TO DA SAUCE.

After the sauce has sat for awhile, it’s time to sart taste testing. This is the best part of cooking, and the part that makes me feel like a mad scientist.

It’s at this point that you take a spoon, and take a little taste of your concoction. How does it taste? Too spicy? Too sweet? Not enough spice? Want more bitterness?

You can add pretty much anything. Yogurt (Natural) dims spice, thickens the curry. Whipped cream thickens and sweetens the curry. Honey does the same. Ketchup adds sweetness and a bit of sourness, coffe adds bitterness.

At this point, it’s your playground. Add what you want! When you’re done playing chemist, let it stew for another 5 minutes, and then it’s done! Serve in bowls on top of rice.

You’re welcome.

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.

Where am I? Why am I here?

I had another “lesson” moment, though just a thoughtful one this time.

I was just at my very good friend’s place to celebrate his excellent debut in his show, and there was an unexpected (to me, anyway) visitor: a really cute girl that seemed to have an affinity with my buddy. I would be a terrible friend if I didn’t give him the look.

Down to the muscle twitch.

In any case, we watched REPO! the genetic opera. A movie so full of angst that I could mould it into small, adorable, angst filled mini demons. It was adorable. And full of blood, gore, black, and VERY pale people.

Paleness aside, the experience was funny: it had been awhile where I made myself feel like a third wheel. I felt very…analytic. Outside of everything, observing. It’s an interesting mindset, as it leaves me feeling apart from the world, and yet incredibly attached.

I said my goodbyes to everyone, and made my way into the alleyway between our houses. The chill air blew through my hair as the ground underneath my feet crunched as only a dirt gravel path can. It’s at this point that I put in my earphones, and being to listen to this song, which is an excellent remake of this one.

Seriously, that remix is fantastic.

In any case, it’s at this point that I’m compelled to look up at the sky.

The black, inky sky holds an imaginable depth, impossible for me to fathom; yet still, in the darkness of the sky, there are shinning stars, twinkling. Not many, but a few, and occasionally they would get covered up as passing clouds drifted by on a gust of cool wind.

It’s precisely at this moment that I hear the cool voice of Leonardo DiCaprio say the following:

“Think about it Ariadne. How did you get here? Where are you right now?”

I think I'm too close to the creepiest man on Earth is what.

Obviously, I’m not as hot as Ellen Page, but the idea struck home. As the words, sounds and the world slipped away around me, all I could see or think of was the sky, space, the universe, the places I’ll never see and never go to.

And yet, here I was. Here. Not anywhere else, but here. Where exactly is “here”? And how did I get “here”?

I pondered those questions for well over 10 minutes I stood in a dirt gravel alleyway. I was on Earth, of that I was certain; but where was that in the grand scheme of things? Where was this place I called home? Even if I could answer that question, the first one was even more perplexing despite its simplicity. How did I get here?

So I ask you those questions: where are you? How did you get here?

WTF Saturday Night

A Quiet Start
A Saturday night, a long time ago in a city that is, at the moment, a few hours away, I was alone. Which, really, wasn’t so bad. I was kinda prepared for a slow night of gaming, reading, maybe some food and then bed. As I begin to meander to my room, I get a text. Expertly twirling my phone from my pocket, the text read “Hey can I come over? Is there anything going on?”

It’s from Kitteh! Well, I’m totally cool with her coming over, so I wrote back “Yeah, sure. Nothing’s going on though.” Didn’t matter to her, she came over anyway, and brought some drinks with her. And who am I to refuse drinking with a pretty woman?

So we’re having some drinks when the idea of watching a movie comes up. Considering that the rest of my housemates are gone, it means we can watch anything without bugging anyone. Not that anything would bug anyone, but it does mean we had free reign of my buddy’s X-Box to watch movies.

So far, seems like a quiet, fun night for just me and m’lady. That’s something I’m cool with.

Escalation
While we’re in the middle of watching Kill Bill, the rest of my housemates come back home with a couple of other friends. Not that I was expecting them, but I wasn’t sure when. So the atmosphere of the room went from laughing at the copious amounts of hyper high pressure blood to barely being able to hear the T.V at all. Noise everywhere! When everyone got settled though, we all started laughing at the ridiculousness that is Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2.

Pretty much this.

After 4 hours of watching movies though, people get hungry. And what a better way to be less hungry with a group of people than to go the nearest McDonalds? Just as soon as we have some home made Jalapeno Poppers.

McD’s, or that run in with Brigit
As we hop into the van to get to McD’s, we realize there’s not quite enough seating for everyone. So I volunteer to stand where there isn’t a seat. I felt pretty badass.

The McD’s is only about 3 minutes away by car, so it didn’t take long to get there. Much like Russian clowns exiting a clown car, we piled out of the van and got inside the McD’s.  It’s one of those newly renovated ones, with the McCafe and the many attempts to make the fast food joint look like a fancy upscale restaurant. Which is hilarious considering that I go there to eat the complete opposite kind of food.

As we get inside, we line up. It’s not a super long line, but it takes awhile to get through the people in front of us. As we get closer and closer to getting to order, a brand new group of people gets in line behind us. What kind of people? Well, it’s 2-3am on a Saturday night: drunk, loud, and dressed to… impress other students. In any case, there were at least 3 girls and 2 guys or so.

I was standing next to my housemate Steve. He quickly gets initiated, against his will, into a conversation with one of the girls. We quickly found out her name was Brigit, that she was “Soooooooooo drunk, lol!” and that she wasn’t kidding. At this point, Kitteh was finished ordering and she was waiting on the other side of a throng of people waiting to get food. I looked at her, smiled, and then froze as something began tickling my ear.

I’m a lot like a dog. If someone I’m comfortable with (Read: Kitteh) scratches my chin, or my ears, I really enjoy it. In this particular case, I was not comfortable with this. I couldn’t really turn around, and being not comfortable turned very quickly into being really, really awkward. From what I could hear behind me, and from Steve laughing next to me, it was Brigit who was scratching my ear with a $20 bill.

If I thought this was awkward, I hadn’t seen Kitteh’s face yet. I looked to my left, and I’ve never seen her so angry in my life. I mean, it wasn’t the kind of angry girls usually do when they just ignore the shit out of you either. It was the kind that definitely meant she wanted to kick some ass.

And so joyously!

It’s at this point that Brigit saw her face too. She immediately went from laughing her ass off to realizing “oh shit.” Now I know how scary Kitteh can look when she’s angry, but Brigit just booked to the other side of the line, and didn’t come back to bug people for a good 2-3 minutes. When she did though, she proceeded to poke the guy in front of me with the same $20 bill. When he turned around, Steve immediately looked at me.

“Phiiiiiil. Why would you do that?”

Well shit. It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it! Seriously! See the outrageously drunk woman behind me? She did it! And then he framed me for it!

Yeah, he didn’t believe me.

After ordering some McMini’s, I reunited with Kitteh. We started talking about Brigit and what the living ^%$# happened when all of a sudden Brigit started shouting.

“Like, oh my gaaaaawd! How did you know my naaame?! You’re psychic! You can read my mind! Ohhhhh miiiiiii gaaaaaawd! Why would you doooo thaaaat?!”

Steve is laughing his ass off, as is most of the rest of the line. Brigit is freakin’ out. Kitteh and I are just standing there, food in hand. What the heck just happened?

It’s at this point that Kitteh makes he way to the Ketchup for her fries, and that Steve makes his way over. Turns out that Brigit bet him he couldn’t guess her name.  Which she told us not 5 minutes ago. The rest from there was history.

We grouped back up and made our way back to the van, which took about 5 minutes to get everyone else’s orders. Once we got rolling, we saw Brigit and her friends trying to jay walk the street. What a perfect opportunity.

We screamed past them, honking the horn as much as possible. I’ve never seen women run in heels so fast in my life.

That was the last we saw of Brigit.

Headed Home
At this point, we headed back home (A.K.A, the Castle. That’s a short story for another time) and piled out of the van. At this point, Kitteh remembers she forgot her drink at the McDonalds, curses and swears, and then proceeds to describe exactly how mad she was at Brigit and it was being that angry that caused her to forget her drink. At this point, we were inside the house, and Ryan, my other housemate, decided to start trolling.

“How mad would you get if I started scratching Phil’s ear?”

“I’d hit you.” Simple enough answer. It’s at this point that Ryan started scratching my ear.

So as I was just standing there, Ryan scratched my ear. As he scratched my ear, Kitteh then proceeded to smack him silly, which evolved into a pillow war.

After about 45 minutes of provoking Kitteh’s wrath, I needed to walk her home. We ate our food, put on our coats, and left for her place. We talked about Brigit, the lost drink, the car drifting closer to our sidewalk, the dodgeball that had been launched from the passenger side window.

Wait, what?

As the ball flew uselessly beside us, we saw a campus police car start following the drive-by-dodgeballers. Kitteh and I btoh just looked at each other, shrugged, and contemplated how that car looked a lot like Ryan’s car, and that we’d keep the dodgeball as a trophy of our passive ninja-dodge skills.

Conclusion
Once I had walked Kitteh to her room, I got back home only to find the rest of my housemates laughing their asses off. Why? because Kitteh was right: they were the ones who threw the dodgeball at us.

Exhausted and exasperated, I went to bed. Quiet nights at the Castle just don’t exist.