Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Will Succeed

I quit.
I just want to give up.
I tried my best and have failed, again.
Nothing ever works out.
I thought I was supposed to get wiser as I age.
I can’t do this anymore.
I’m so very tired.
I never learn my lesson.
There are no fairy tale endings.
I never have any luck or get any breaks.
I just want to go home and be by myself.
I’ve fallen short once again.
I feel like a shadow of my former self.
Always letting others down who are counting on me.
I tried my best and have failed, again.
I just want to give up.
I quit.
Everything will work out in the end.
I’m not perfect.
I am only human.
I can’t change the past and can only move forward.
I will make mistakes.
Even when I try my best, sometimes I will fall short.
It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
I need to go easy on myself.
It’s not healthy to dwell on what I cannot change.
It’s alright to cry.
With a positive attitude, everything seems better.
I want to make a difference.
It’s hard to always put my best foot forward.
Sometimes I don’t say what I mean.
I am only human.
I’m not perfect.
Everything will work out in the end.
I will succeed.
I’m not done yet.
I’ve still got it.
I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to.
I am persistent and hungry.
I love challenges.
I know I can do this.
I am resilient and full of character.
Though I may occasionally appear weak, I am strong.
There is no quit in me.
The best is always yet to come.
When I fall down, I always get back up.
Failing does make me stronger.
I will rise to the occasion.
I’ve still got it.
I’m not done yet.
I will succeed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Claire was a girl. A pretty girl. A girl who had pony tails and freckles and a somewhat concerning fascination with medieval interpretations of justice. At the end of each school day, she would walk home, as many girls did, in her fashionable outfits and shiny hair accessories attracting attention from all who ventured into her wake. She was the sort of girl that boys so badly wanted to stand next to and attempt to drum up the courage to ask out, with or without an actual drum, but once in her presence they were invariably reduced to monosyllabic words and utterances, of which she happened to be a big fan. And yet nothing ever transpired.
What those boys didn't know was that she was shy and lonely. Shy, lonely and creative despite her appearance which made her look a tad prehistoric. Her appearance was hard to read, as it greatly lacked any letters or words, though one pair of pants just screamed Shakespeare. How she would have loved to have been asked out, or in -"we wouldn't need to actually be outside!" she wanted to tell them all, but they were never all in the same place at the same time making the logistics of telling them all next to impossible.
Instead she would return home each day and, after completing her homework and vegetable peeling for hours even when her parents pleaded with her to stop with the peeling already until their throats grew hoarse, she would retreat to her room and spend hours and hours in a dreamworld of her own making though she had gone online for some ideas.
It was a world she had carefully constructed from the tall, pink skyscrapers down to the most minute details like the precise shape of the minute hand on the town clock, only stopping when her imaginary microscope reached the limits of its magnification. Her world would have been infinitely more exciting than reality aside from that being theoretically impossible. She generally struggled, at a young age, accurately quantifying and comparing the level of excitements at the best of times.
She loved every aspect of her world - her friends, the abundance of elephants, the relaxed rules about keeping library books past their due date. The only negative she could think of were the results of the most recent election, where she had somewhat surprisingly finished third even though she was the only candidate and had just completed what seemed like a vastly success mayoral campaign. She'd even handed out freshly-baked cookies.
Yet, despite her frequent drifting from reality, Claire was the stereotypical girl next door. She took great pride in her close relationship, and proximity, to doors. She was the girl everyone loved and admired for her next-to-impeccable posture, dripped wax creations and crocheting skills. The girl all of the other girls loved for her innocence, sense of comedic timing and endless supply of lined paper. The girl who bought into stereotypes as much as any girl could, going to extremes to act and appear as stereotypical as possible, only stopping due to time constraints. The girls loved her, and yet kept their distance, with each girl having their own, randomly assigned and self-regulated distance, because Claire seemed to want it that way.
Throughout the years she had always been the girl next door, except for a short period of time when her parents leased a houseboat and their only neighbours had been adventure and seasickness, as well as a particularly "frisky" family of sharks. There was also that other time when they had no neighbours as the house next to her parent's place was considered haunted, but it turned out the owners were just really into mood lighting and old sound effect records.
Families had come and go and she had watched them pack and unpack, only to repack eventually, after a period of time, though sometimes using newer and shinier suitcases. She had often wondered what had happened to the old pieces of luggage, but not enough to actually ask.
And there had always been boys living in the house next door to her. An almost never-ending turnstile full of boys just as her mother had randomly predicted before they had moved into the neighbourhood. Cute boys, muscular boys, nerdy boys and boys who turned out to just be hairy dogs which went a long way towards explaining why they crawled around on all fours so often and chose to bark aggressively and attempt to lick her leg whenever they saw her.
The boys next door were only a short distance and two front doors away and yet they seemed miles off. All they would have to do, the determined after months of research, is open their door, walk approximately 15 metres taking care to avoid trees, knock on her door and they could be together forever just like the Disney Princess movies she had watched as a kid and continued watching to this day, only with what could only be described as "rabid" attention to non-realistic character traits and deficiencies in the plot.
When not escaping to her room, she would sit on her front porch just waiting for one of these boys to make their move and sweep her off her feet, before placing her down as she wouldn't want them to hurt their backs. And yet they never did, aside from that one time she got in the way of one young man when he was aggressively sweeping his sidewalk due to an abundance of pine needles she had "accidentally" place on his yard as part of her convoluted dating plan.
At first she thought it had been fate, and that they were meant to be together forever, but she quickly realized that he had only been interested in the needles; really interested. A little too interested which, while raising a series of questions that, when answered, could form the backbone for an average-at-best Masters' thesis, was really a turn off.
Back in those days she spent lots of time walking in the tall grass in the field near her house collecting wild flowers and wondering what was holding her back from entering the world of dating as well as showing an equal appreciation for the "tame" flowers her parents grew in their backyard. Her parents' backyard was impressive and acted as sort of a sanctuary away from the sanctuary of her room, but she just couldn't get over its placement behind the house. Seemed weak.
As the years passed girlfriends started dating, becoming serious over time and then getting married and finally moving on to having ridiculous and sordid affairs all the while growing taller and needing new shoes. Claire felt envy, mostly due to their increased shoe sizes and backroom canoodling and a part of her wished to be part of that game, so she wouldn't feel left out, but another, more significant part of her didn't want to grow up.
She wished to remain a young girl for as long as she could and to avoid the myriad of complex emotional states that the women she knew were experiencing. Yes, she was jealous when she sat there observing weddings, and yes, the graphic and gasp-inducing details of these affairs left her titillated and nearly out of breath due to the excessive amount of gasping. She knew that overtime she'd build up more of an ability to gasp for longer periods of time, but that wasn't the point, even though that would be a welcome relief from her current inability to gasp more than a few times an hour. The point was that the affairs were exciting to hear about, even the ones that were politically risky or involved box after box of ruined chocolate cakes.
When the time seemed right, she had moved out of her parents' house. She couldn't believe the deal she had received from the moving company. That imbecile of a mover didn't even charge her extra for the imaginary world. She felt more adult-like now that she was renting a house near the university, and yet, she was still the girl next door.
This once desirable title had become a cross to bear, an anchor, a weighty metaphysical construct of which she was usually a big fan, except in this case as it forced her into therapy. She loved therapy, just not feeling forced to go, which she wasn't really and only said that to friends as her therapist had oddly suggested it as a necessary first step in their work together. It was the time in therapy where she would talk of her intricate dream world. The world she had first developed as a young girl and still escaped to on a regular basis when not studying, working or practicing revolutionary songs full of controversial political propaganda on her digital piano.
She told her therapist how she was jealous of her girlfriends and how badly she wanted to run out of this room, or whatever room she found herself in later today or next week sometime, as it was hard to predict exactly what room you would be in so far in advance, although she had a fairly good idea as there were limited rooms she usually entered on a week-to-week basis, but she wanted to keep an open mind at this point about the potential to enter new rooms and needed to move on with this thought before her 50 minute hour was up.
Yes, she wanted to leave a room and find the first eligible bachelor and marry him. She wanted to have a marriage full of love and passion and down comforters. She wanted to have a marriage full of stir fries, hanging baskets and shower gels. She wanted to have a marriage that she could sing about, engrave into oak trees and write home about even though she knew that her parents lived just around the block and sending a letter or postcard via the mail was infinitely slower than just dropping it into their mailbox herself on her way to work.
And she wanted to have an affair. It was hard for her to speak these words to anyone or anything. She even trembled when she started to formulate the first word of the thought about the desire to have an affair in her mind. People on the bus were clearly wondering what was up with the trembling woman with the smile on her face who was having troubles gasping.
The idea of an affair was so risque and out-of-character and embarrassingly-blush-producing-especially-due-to-the-fact-that-she-was-really-pale-and-easily-embarrassed-and-already-wearing-a-bordering-on-intimidating-amount-of-blush-thus-rendering-any-actual-blushing-hard-to-detect-but-she-knew. After years of "playing by the book" and "obeying all the rules" and "composting organics" she wanted to live on the edge and break free from this predictable, dependable and vanilla-eating-investing-her-money-in-low-risk-tax-free-savings-accounts woman she had grown up to be.
She had done her research and wanted to have affairs of all kinds: emotional affairs, opportunistic affairs, revenge affairs and ones that went out of their way to be impossibly hard to define or explain and may, in fact, not be affairs and just be a staff meeting or a mug of hot cocoa. But, she just couldn't and she felt trapped in her life and her imagination.
The world she had so innocently started all of those years ago as an escape, now felt more like a prison. Sure it was a country-club-style of prison where the inhabitants felt less like prisoners and more like they were at a spa with free, unlimited time with registered massage therapists as that was the only kind of prison her imagination could dream up due to her father's country club and registered massage therapy magazine subscriptions he had when she was a child.
Claire awoke each morning and had such a hard time telling dreams from reality. It used to be easy, but over time, it had become more and more challenging. Though she wanted to fix things and had weekly appointments with her therapist, her dream world was so comforting and no one, especially her, ever got hurt aside from that time she was viciously attacked by an imaginary wild bear who seemed to be immune to her playing dead.
Claire wanted to have an affair, but she just couldn't. Not now, not yet. One day, soon she hoped, she would figuratively tear down the walls of this world she had created and venture forth, head figuratively full of steam, into reality. She craved to be slapped in the face with all that reality had to offer as long as reality didn't have calloused hands. She was close to breaking out and she was so excited. Watch out eligible bachelors, here comes Claire!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Not to Say to Your Pregnant Wife

So you got your wife pregnant? I hope congratulations are in order. I'm sure you are feeling super excited and over the moon these days, and though I don't know you at all, I'm happy for you.

As a father of two young children, I have been where you are. My wife was pregnant too and I learned that while it is a blissful and wonderful period of time, you may be so overcome with emotion or exhaustion or enthusiasm and lose touch with reality and say things that may upset your wife.

Remember, whatever you do, never say any of the following to your amazing and lovely pregnant wife.

1) Do you remember those days when you used to be able to see your toes? No, neither do I.

2) Hey this flyer says the wedding store at the mall is having a sale on size zero dresses - want to go check it out?

3) I had this dream last night that I was sharing a bed with a whale.

4) You up for an Alien movie marathon this weekend?

5) For dinner I'm going to eat salad because I'm really trying to keep my slim schoolboy figure.

6) These bikini models in this fashion magazine have the most amazing bodies and are really, really good looking...if you are into that sort of thing, which I'm not. At all.

7) Go ahead, have a second piece of cake. I figure if you're going to get big, you may as well get really, really big. Am I right or am I right?

8) You want to go muumuu shopping today?

9) Some people are always going on and on about how beautiful pregnant women are, to which I always reply, "Sure, aside from the morning sickness and overwhelming amount of flatulence they are."

10) When you were sleeping, I placed a whole bunch of my old action figures on your belly and pretended that they travelled to the moon.

11) I know you aren't feeling great this morning and that you are badly in need of a shower and are essentially living in those old pajamas, but I decided to surprise you by inviting over all of your girlfriends. They'll be here in 5 minutes.

12) No one ever talks about how hard and challenging and exhausting this has been for me. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Quit!

Dear Mr. Mason

I am writing you this letter today to let you know that I am quitting, immediately.

Before I explain, I want to start by thanking you for the opportunity to work for you all these years. You gave me a chance, a shot, when so many others wouldn't. You claimed that you saw something in me when you first met me -  you couldn't say what and you claimed that "the words escaped you" and not even the provided dictionary and thesaurus helped. Oh, I was young and naive and far sighted in those days. I had finished school and moved out. Most of my friends had moved west or east, but I always liked the middle of things and moved central. It just never sounded good when I said that out loud, which I often did, and usually in your office on Fridays after a long week in the factory.

I wasn't initially sure that factory work was for me, but you wouldn't take no for an answer, even when it was the correct answer and all others answers were horribly wrong and confusing. I kept asking you to just take the 'no' and be done with it, but you adamantly refused - it was something that I both admired and hated about you, and I still do. And yet, I grew to love this work; this slaving away over machines creating an infinite amount of seemingly random parts that were instantly shipped away never to have their usage or value explained to us no matter how many times we wrote letters and signed petitions.

The work was almost literally back-breaking at times and other times the loud roar of the machinery coupled with the near blinding incandescent lighting that you installed based on your interpretation of your horoscope caused me to feel like I was trapped in some sort of soundproof pod that would have had the most ridiculous electricity bills. Not to mention the dry cleaning bills! "How are you dirtying so many socks" my wife wondered during our evening chats by the fireplace. "Always with the dirty socks!" she'd mutter under her breath with a level of anger that was really really hard to quantify. She almost came across as happy. She was always so concerned with the condition of my socks and my lungs, and usually in that order. But I loved her. I also loved the work in a very different way, for a time, although that time has now come to an end, as all periods of time do, mostly by definition.

Yes, I am quitting. In case that isn't clear - you will stay and I will go, as that is how it works and I won't negotiate! My time has come to leave. You can't make me stay or convince me to change my mind, but you can try all you want, with the only catch being that I will already be gone and you'll be talking to yourself in the mirror as per usual. I am not making this decision lightly, as I believe you deserve the darkness and not only because of your high sensitivity to light.

You may be wondering if I am leaving solely because of you and your propensity for strictness and tough love and your unique management style you often refer to as "starving-wolf-around-slow-lazy-deliciously-fatty-pigs" which I always found borderline offensive as well as being borderline a great idea for a series of hilarious children's books full of moralistic messages. Well, rest easy my old friend - I am not leaving because of you.

But why then? It is just so hard to put it into words why I must go. It's sort of like you are a monkey and I am a banana supplier who is either out of bananas for the foreseeable future or has raised the prices from nothing to $20 a bunch fully knowing that a monkey has no access to money. Does that make any sense to you? Oh why is this so hard! Is it because you were like a father to me when my own father was quite supportive and it just felt repetitive and strange and you both got so upset and jealous of the other? Is it because I can't look you in the eyes without crying as you have always kept an ample supply of all of my allergens nearby for reasons beyond my capacity to understand? Is it because you need me and would be lost without me especially because the factory is way too "maze-like"?

Well, I am sorry - I have to look out for myself and do what is best for me and after doing that, I then have the option to do what is best for someone else of my choosing and then I have to leave. I know, in time, you and your business will be equally fine, but my money's on the business to win. You have my backing to hire someone to replace me, though if they have too many similar characteristics or physical traits to me or if you force them to dress and walk like me, it will raise eyebrows and that will only be funny if they are big and black and bushy like large caterpillars.

I am excited to see what is next for me out there. I anticipate that there will be many doors and windows and potentially stairways linking the doors together and, if they decided to splurge, the occasional floor or ceiling or electrical outlet. Look, please don't take this overly personally, or, if you must, at least take it only slightly personally, but you have micromanaged me so much so that I think the micro part lost all connection to the truth. I should resent you for it, but, I also have to thank you as you have helped me develop a resiliency that I thought only cartoon rabbits or the occasional actual rabbit, could achieve.

I now see that I am just a screwdriver and you are not only all out of screws, but it's like you have evolved beyond the need for screws or screwdrivers at all and you have forgotten how great those good ol' days with all of the screws really was. I feel redundant and superfluous and a little tight in my hamstrings and should probably go see my physiotherapist, but I will probably put it off and put it off, as many of us do, until it turns into a debilitating injury.

Part of me doesn't want you to cry, while another, much larger and infinitely more significant part, wants you to cry for days just so can see how it felt for some of us who worked for you and had our hopes and dreams and extremities crushed repeatedly and ritualistically while you stood there and watched with your eyes. But, I don't want to leave like this, angry and vindictive and efforting to make you, of all people, cry, so instead, I have written you this paradoxical letter to say thank you for all you have done in my attempt to "take a higher road" and "be a better man" and "use up my stationary". I have also decided, against my best judgement, to give you this vase. Why would I give you an empty vase? Why would I not give you a vase with flowers? Why would I, an adult male, give you, my adult male superior, a gift that has anything to do with vases and flowers at all especially considering neither of us is at all comfortable with anything that isn't extremely masculine and macho like ground beef and car tires and charcoal? Am I attempting to be cryptic or euphemistic or mystic? Why would I write you a letter doused with perfume, covered with rose petals, and including overexposed photos of myself dressed like a pink fairy? Why indeed?

I will leave you with these questions.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Painting without Ventilation

"Cry me a river" an ex-girlfriend once said. "On demand?" I wondered through my tears.

I always wanted to be a part of the clean plate club. Think about the exciting meetings!

A famous singer on the radio seems to think you can't fix bullet holes with bandages. To which I reply, where is your can-do spirit?

"Look both ways before crossing the street" I was told as a child. To which I always thought "there are only two ways to look?!?"

I'm never fully dressed without a smile? No wonder I feel so light and free!

"Don't bite off more than you can chew", others tell me. I'm sorry, but have you ever heard of sharing?

Toothpaste brands are always so proud that four out of five dentists approve of their product. Well, I can tie up five dentists in my basement too!

I don't care how sensitive the situation is, I refuse to spend the better part of the afternoon tiptoeing. Unnecessary strain on my arches.

You finished with flying colours? Nothing like an afternoon painting without ventilation.

A close friend once advised me not to wear my heart on my sleeve. The best dry-cleaning bill in years!

"If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours?" I guess I didn't waste my money on that backscratcher after all.

I never walk more than a few steps in another man's shoes. A woman's on the other hand, especially if my orthotics fit, can yield much much more.

"Four-eyes" they called me, underestimating me once again.

Growing up, I was never the talk of the town. Towns are much quieter and more into small talk than you'd think.

"Don't count my chickens?" I wasn't going to, but to be honest now you've piqued my interest.

I've been told that I won't know what I've got till it's gone, but I'm not at all confident that I'll even know then. 

"If life gives you lemons, make lemonade" said the kind old woman next door when I was young. Sure, but $3 per glass? No thanks!

No pain, no gain? I can't have both?

"My bark is worse than my bite" said my blind date. Use your words!

An entire village was used to raise me. No one got off easy.