Archive for the ‘story’ Category

Have you ever dared go back and read what you wrote, oh so many years ago? Ever dust of that journal, try and stick the old faithful 2.5 inch disk into the nonexistent drive, or crack open that old school exercise booklet? You are cringing aren’t you? I can feel the gut punch and the always descriptive groan. But…there is a but…If there wasn’t this would be a fairly short, pointless and downright mean post. If you have the courage to grab that bankers box down off the top shelf in the closet, the one hidden by old sweaters, Anne Rice paperbacks and that hat you bought that was in style long enough for you to drive home from the store. Bring that that box down, and breathe in. You know what that is you are breathing? Dust mites…and humility. One of those can be a very good thing.

Humility is that precious little gift that keeps us all from being ignorant little pricks and pretentious little snobs. It is a vital component in what makes up a decent human being. It is what lets us know that at one point we all… sucked. It is important for our overall growth and definition of our character that we as people sucked at one point in our life, and recognize that we will most likely suck again. Oh, and if you are that person reading this now saying “Nope, not me”. Well…then you are in that point right now. Of course I am talking about writing, since that is what I know and what I have been doing in one form or another for twenty five years. However, you can apply this to anything. A good friend of mine is a very successful competitive runner, guess what? He used to fall down…a lot. It is important, and it gives us perspective to know that everyone was terrible at some point. Accepting that is what makes us better, and lets us grow.

Do you want to know what was in my metaphorical “box on the shelf”? There were some real gems. The first few are illegible. Not because I had such terrible penmanship, but because they are literally just squiggly lines…As I recall, we kept a daily journal in grade one. Our teacher had instructed us that if we didn’t know a word, just put a squiggly line. When we were done we would go over it with her and she would help us with the words we didn’t know. Of course when I walked up with all squiggly lines, and the teacher asks me, “Well, what do they mean?”…My obvious answer is… “I dunno, they just look like a bunch of squiggly lines…” Lesson learned: Don’t depend on the memory / attention span of a five year old.

Let’s skip a few years down the road, to my fondness writing memory…Not my best, but my fondness. In grade five or six (can’t remember…damn glue addiction) I had a teacher who would give me exercise booklets, the ones with the dotted lines between the two solid lines, for students to practices cursive (do they still do that? I can’t remember the last time I saw a kid write cursive? I guess they can just choose whatever font they want on their macbook…). He would give me these books, because he knew I liked to write stories. I remember this time with a smile on my face. When I wrote in those silly little books, I didn’t write for attention, praise, money, or to argue a point…I did it simply to entertain myself. I wasn’t concerned about being original. I just wanted more stories from my favorite characters. When I ran out of things to read, and still wanted more Garfield or Carmen Sandiego, I would just write my own stories about them. It made perfect sense. I didn’t occur to me that for most people the story ended when they put down the book. I saw no reason for endings….I wrote long nonsensical stories starring my favorite characters and filled countless exercise books. I think it may be part of the reason I did well in school at that age. I knew if I did a good job, and got my work done early I would be awarded with more books to write in. Again, reading these stories today, they make no sense. But they are pure and came from the heart and head of a kid who just liked to tell stories.

It is from those heartfelt tells that I stumble across a journal from my university days when I flip to a page containing a drunken manifesto on the beauty and purity of masturbation. Here is the stage where the cringing really starts. Not that it was that bad, but that I thought it was that good. I still remember finishing it and gleefully running out of my dorm room and down the hall. I burst into the room two girls who had known me for a total of two weeks, proclaiming: “You gotta read this!” Their looks should have told me all I would ever need to know. This was me at my pretentious, narcissistic best. University was a great time for writing in theory. I was surrounded by other artistic people trying desperately to find their place. Looking back now, we were all trying too hard. It was here that I entered my “pained artist” stage. Everything was so self-loathing and filled with anguish. It was the self-indulgent bullshit every twenty year old writes, because they have a profound understanding of the world, that the rest of us couldn’t begin to fathom. This is the stage I like the least. I tried too hard to be something I wasn’t, because I didn’t know how to be who I really wanted. I didn’t realize then that I just had to wait.

Then came the drunken writing phase. Like the grade one phase, all works from this period are completely illegible.

Once I realized I could write without booze, I spend about seven years trying to figure out if it was possible to be happy and still write. For the most part it was hard. With considerable effort some good things came out. Eventually I produced something of substance; something I was pleased with (well, almost pleased with). I did this (mostly) sober, but definitely happy. But….there is that but again….It felt like work. I guess it was…I was doing it more because of something I wanted, and less because I actually wanted to do it. At this point, it seemed that I wanted to be a writer more than I actually wanted to write. This “forced” work began to bleed through on the page and I needed a change if I was going to move forward. I looked to the past, because… well, you can’t see the future. For me, lifting the lid of the “box” and dredging through utter embarrassment was insightful. I saw the kid who wrote with a pencil just for the sake of moving it on the page, who just a few years later, was making up stories simply to entertain himself. I want to write like that kid again.

Sometimes I lay awake at night, reliving those painful memories of bad decisions or the awkward moments that always accompany youth. What I take away from those moments now is not the pain, but the intentions; the intentions were always pure and natural.

Dig through your past, you’ll find some cringe worthy things, that I do not doubt. If you look a little deeper at the things you have hidden in the shadows, you might just see something else; something you have been missing. We all sucked…And are better for it.

Think of a picture of yourself you hate from your childhood. A picture you would hide away in a closet or bury in a box. You were ashamed of for how awkward you were. It was always that picture that your parents showed off as your face turned red with rage and you wondered why that we do something as horrible as display that picture. I’ll tell you why, because of what they saw in it. All of the best parts of you now, the things that define and inspire you, were already there in that picture. Take another look.

Thanks for indulging me yet again.

Jason.

Follow – @FredThePeacock

I have always written things down. Everything just seemed to make more sense that way. Thoughts can be easily jumbled when sliding off the tongue – there are too many opportunities for mis-communication, hurt feelings, fist-a-cuffs and lost family members. Writing is much more deliberate. You can work out an idea, flush it out on the page, sculpt it the exact way you want it, before you release it onto your victim(s). Although, achieving perfection through writing, in the eyes of the writer is a near impossibility. If deadlines didn’t exist, things would stay in a perpetual state of editing. I digress — that is getting off topic. The point is, writing is how I chose to communicate with the world, except it was never was with the world…..It was solitary and seemingly without purpose.

About a year ago, I thought to myself, why not try and put something online. Everyone else seemed to be doing it. At this point I didn’t have twitter or facebook, and had no virtual presence to speak of. So I jumped into the cyber pool, and posted a couple blogs. I Joined facebook to stay in touch with long lost friends and family and more importantly joined twitter to stay in touch with all my celebrity friends (in a completely one-sided, stalker-esque relationship). You know what happened? I went from having no virtual presence to having a very, very tiny, little speck of a molecule of presence on the internet. It was kind of cool. People (very few mind you) actually read what I wrote — of their own freewill. I wasn’t saying anything of importance, I just rambled as I am now, but people still read (again, very few). Even a few, even anyone, was pretty cool. And I thank them.

Then after about 12 blog posts ranging in topics from pro-wrestling to gay marriage, I just stopped. I stopped for no other reason, than that is what I do. I don’t finish things. I enjoyed being a part of an online community, and just stopped because of……I don’t even know why…I enjoyed doing it, I guess I just hate consistency. 

So here goes attempt number two. The difference this time is that I have goals, I want to build something. Even if no one reads it, I will write it, just because I enjoy it. There is too much stupid shit in my head that needs somewhere to go.

And I will keep writing it because I need the practice….I have written stories since I was a child. I used to staple together construction paper and make little novels. Then 10 years ago I started a story. What I didn’t know then was that story would be my Everest. Ten years later and a third of my life gone, and it is still not done. Telling people I am working on my novel is a pathetic cliche….That happens to be true. Draft one is done, and now I am in that perpetual editing phase…The main problem with this story is that it is blocking every other story in my brain…I need to get it out, even if nothing happens with it, I need to move on.

In the meantime I will write here. Topics will be diverse and open to suggestion. I will try to share a bit of my skewed view of the world, hopefully with a little hilarity and some insanity.

Lastly, I apologize for this post. As it is neither funny or interesting. However, I needed to get my intentions down so I have something to hold myself to.

Thanks for getting this far.

Cheers,

Jay

– @FredThePeacock 

Two more sleeps till St. Patrick’s Day!

There was a time in my life when that would have been exciting…Unfortunately there comes a time in everyone’s life that pre-drinking before the bar opens at 11 O’clock in the morning becomes a thing of the past. Well maybe not everyone’s life…But those of us with a “shit to do list” have to postpone those cocktails to at least the respectable hour of noon.

As far as I can tell I have no Irish in me. I have searched extensively, and by extensively I mean I did a five minute google search and I called my Mom….

Google : Nada.

Mom: “I think someone might have slept with an Irish person once…” Thanks Mom.

So to conclude: no Irish in me. Other than the fact that at this point in human history ancestry lines are so blurred we are all pretty much the product of one big swinger, swapping orgy. Sadly, I have nothing to celebrate come Sunday…Luckily the Irish are an accepting bunch, and as long as you are willing to drink and sing and raise fists in defense of all things green, then they pretty much let you partake in their day of debauchery.

In order to prepare for the day of artificially coloured beers, bad decisions and broken noses, I would like to review some St. Patrick’s Day highlights and the lessons I have learned from this historic day. Gather around the keg kiddies….It is story time…

One memory comes from my freshman year in University. In my first year of school I had 11 hours of class a week. Conversely, bars were open 105 hours per week. To make it clear, I did a lot of drinking that year. St. Patrick’s Day was no different. There were a total of 12 bars on campus. My “homebase” was conveniently located in the basement of my residence building. I lived on the second floor. I don’t ever recall walking down the two flights of stairs to the bar, since it was too much fun to get in the elevator and hit “B” – for Bar. Even though it was always a short trip home, some nights I ended up sleeping on the couch in the bar. On some occasions I was fortunate enough to have the opening bartender the next day bring me a coffee and quietly turn on the big screen, keeping the volume low as to not wake me up.

The reason this year sticks out as a St. Patty’s Day memory is the small pub was packed with about hundred or so students and as far as I could tell the only Irish one was the bouncer. He also proceeded to get more drunk than every patron in the establishment. As the night progressed he got more and more agitated and believed in his heart and booze fueled soul that everyone in the bar was anti-Irish. It is a very dangerous situation when the bar bouncer is picking fights with unprovoking drunk students, although it is amusing. He proceed to go around the bar asking each parton what the heritage was. Each answer was not Irish, hence it was meant with a distained glare and quick “fuck you.” When he got to me I mentioned in a drunken slur that I had some French in me. Now this is taking place during the “Freedom Fries” craze in the States. And even though this is taking place in Canada, he proceeded to berate my French heritage with such intensity you would have thought I was an IRA bomber who just blew up a school bus carrying his children. Of course my reaction was to laugh. Now, laughing at a sober barroom bouncer is not a smart idea. Laughing at a drunk, Irish barroom bouncer on St. Patrick’s Day is suicidal. But hey, I have always been a vertical cutting kind of guy. Luckily for my sake the owner (who if memory serves me correctly had some kind of connection to the Japanese Yakusa, as an interesting side note) stepped in and defused the situation. The bouncer bought me a green pint and we cheersed and all was well. Ahhh, that magic of St. Patrick’s Day. The next night there was a heavy line to get into the pub, and I was unusually late to the party. The same bouncer (who looked like he had been hit with a Mack truck that was hauling a load of Mack trucks) pulled me out of line and profusely apologized for the situation the previous night. I quickly shook his hand and there were no hard feelings as he let me skip right into the bar without waiting. I found out later that he was tasked with tracking down everyone he insulted the night before as penance and to save his job. Last I heard he is still tracking down a few wayward drunks before the contract hit from the Yakuza is lifted.

LESSON LEARNED : Irish people hate French People. Japanese people hate Irish people. Vis-a-vis French people love Japanese People.

That same year the bar ran out of green food colouring and someone decided that you just can’t have plain golden beer…So purple food dye was substituted. Because hey, who will know?

Another memory finds us looking in on me one year later. This time I decided to stay home and throw my own party. While I have thrown a few parties over the years they never consisted of more than a keg or two of beer and a solitary bowl of stale chips. I never saw the need for more. However, St. Patrick’s Day is a little different. You are asking 20-30 people in this case to avoid the inevitable good time of making the rounds of the local bars and swaying arm and arm with strangers singing a poor man’s version of O’ Danny Boy. You are asking your friends to take a risk on you. That can be stressful. You want relives stress? Alcohol. So that is what I did. The party was set to start at 8pm. At 10 am I was ready and pacing around the house. The anxiety was killing me. I decided a beer at 10 O’Clock in the morning was a good way to chill out. Well I couldn’t then and still can’t now, have just one. I continued throughout the afternoon until (in all seriousness) there was a cluster of 38 empty beers bottles surrounding the couch I now slept on. The party was awesome. Occasionally I will hear a friend bring it up as one of the great parties of the last decade. I never saw one guest. I was left on the couch as the party happened on and around me. Good times….

LESSON LEARNED: Stop at 37

Our next and final drunken green memory takes place several years later and across the country in Banff, Alberta. The highlight of this story comes at the end of the night after the festivities are over and your weary storyteller makes the long walk home only to discover that he too is not immune to the St. Patrick’s Day drunken fistacuffing stereotype. As I stumbled along the long and winding trail (under normal circumstances it is actually a short, straight paved road) I finally came upon my place of residence. I stopped in the parking lot to have smoke before going inside. It is then I notice my soon to be opponent. A full grown male Elk was standing in the parking lot (not uncommon at all for Banff). If you are unfamiliar with elk, google them. They are bigger than a deer, smaller than a moose and are as dangerous as Jason Voorhees when angered. At first I stared in wonder. Wonder gave way to concern as the Elk neared my car. I cautioned the Elk to not take another step in that direction. Again if you are unfamiliar with Canadian Elk you probably don’t know that they can perfectly communicate with drunk assholes (you can google that too). The Elk ignored my warning and walked directly to my car and stood beside it. Now I was pissed (for no logical reason). I yelled expletives at the animal. He responded by (no word of a lie) looking straight at me and then peeing on my car. Yes, an Elk pissed on my car which I can only assume was out of spite. Those of you who do not think our furry friends are capable of spite, well you’d be wrong. Every wonder why your car is the only one in the parking lot covered in bird shit? Or why those raccoons will spend all night vigilantly placing your garbage all over your deck and yard? Sometimes animals turn around with middle fingers in the air in defiance of years of aerosol cans, clear-cutting and dumping. Back to the Elk; he peed on my car. I took a few steps closer, pointed and berated the creature for unacceptable urination. Can you see where I went wrong here? The Elk charged me. In what I lacked in drunken agility I made up for in luck as I dove over the hood of another car and quickly made my way to the rear. I laid on the ground panting and slowing got up to my knees and peered over the trunk to see the Elk glaring at me through the car. He stomped his hoof and I made a girlie scream and made the 30 foot dash to the front door of my building. I looked back at the Elk through the glass doors. He stared back for a moment than turned and walked off into the moonlight, head held high. Conclusions I later drew from this were, either I hurt the Elk’s feelings or that it was one of those rare Irish elks and he must have smelt the French in me. I capitalized the ‘E’ in elk in this last paragraph because that night, that Elk earned my respect.

LESSON LEARNED: Carry shotgun

Those were just a few of many St. Patrick’s Day memories. Were they the best ones. I don’t know…They were the only ones I could remember….And they serve as proof that valuable life lessons can only be learned through drunken irresponsible behaviour.

To all my Irish friends, happy St. Patrick’s Day! To everyone else, happy fake Irish day!

Cheers,
Jason
Follow – @gskewedview