Archive for February, 2010


Planned Fun

One of the worst things about going to school in Kingston is that whenever I’m back in Woodbridge, I have to live on a schedule.

I come home on Friday at 6:00 pm, and I leave for Kingston at 6:00 pm on Sunday. In between, I have only 48 hours to use as I please.

But 48 hours isn’t nearly enough time to do everything I want to do. As a result, I find myself planning out my weekend days in advance. On Friday night I’ll see these people, on Saturday night I’ll see these people, on Sunday afternoon I’ll go for a walk with these people.

And I can’t stand doing that. Don’t get me wrong; I love schedules. Life is much easier when people are telling me exactly where I need to be at what time. What I hate is a self-imposed schedule. When I’m forced to plan out my free time, I get grumpy. I don’t like having a game plan when it comes to my free time. I like to make plans five minutes before they happen.

"Hello?"
"Hey. You free?"
"Yeah."
"Wanna go for a walk?"
"Sure."
"Cool. See you in five minutes."

Done.

That’s so much better. But more and more my planning process is looking like this: "Okay, I’ll see so-and-so at 12:00 and leave at 2:00, then I have to head over there and meet with what’s-his-face at 2:30 and leave by 4:00, then I have to go to Yorkdale at 4:30 to meet that woman and leave at 5:30."

It’s a self-imposed schedule on time that shouldn’t have any constraints put on it. Even when I have a full week off, like I do now, there’s still not enough time to see everyone without making elaborate plans.

It’s a self-imposed plan, so theoretically I don’t have to plan out my time. I could just let things happen, like I usually do. But then I’d miss out on seeing people.

All I’m saying is that planned fun isn’t that much fun.

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Creation

As I mentioned last time, I’ve both gained and lost a lot of abilities since the accident.

Probably the most interesting of the powers that I’ve gained is the ability to create. I mean, I’ve always had the ability to create, but on earth I could only create something from something else. For example, I could take clay and make a sculpture. I could take wood and make a table. I could take wheat and make bread.

But now I’ve gained the ability to create something from nothing.

I discovered this one day while I was watching some kids play in the snow. As I watched, I felt a little bit sad. Being omniscient is great and all, but I really miss being able to do things, instead of just watching things happen. And then suddenly a thought occurred to me. I figured that if I could be anywhere I wanted just by willing it, maybe I could have anything I wanted by willing it as well. So I closed my eyes and concentrated on making it snow. To my amazement, it worked. A few tiny flurries appeared out of nowhere and fluttered towards the ground. Just to make sure that it was me doing this and not some meteorological phenomenon, I tried again, with the same result. Flurries.

What was really strange was that I could actually interact with the snow that I had created. Someone could have dumped all the snow on the entire hill on me, and I wouldn’t feel it. It would just pass right through me, since my body is no longer physical. But with the snow I created, I could reach out and touch it, and feel it melt on my skin. I was amazed by this. How could I feel the sensations of "cold" and "wet" on my skin if I don’t have skin anymore? Then again, how can I see without eyes, or hear without ears? I lot of what I can do doesn’t make sense.

After this initial discovery, I spent a lot of time practicing creation. I hypothesized that creation, like any of the skills I learned before the accident, was a skill that could be improved over time. And I was right. As time went on, I learned to create more and more complex objects. After my success with snow, I moved on to rocks and minerals. At first I started with simple structures, like coal, which I picked up on fairly quickly. Soon afterwards I was creating quartz with ease. Limestone was one that took me a little longer to figure out, but once I did, it was a major breakthrough. See, limestone is composed largely of organic matter. Organic matter that has been dead for millions of years, but organic matter nonetheless. This made me wonder whether or not I could create living organic matter as well, given enough practice.

So that became my next goal: To create life.

After all, life is just the combination of trillions of molecules in a certain way. Exactly what I had been doing before, just far more complex.

Logic dictates that I should have attempted to create simpler forms of life first: fungi and bacteria. Instead, I decided that the first creature I would create would be a dog. I’d always wanted a dog – a nice Cockapoo, maybe – but Susan (our maid) was allergic, and so I never had the opportunity.

The process of creating my dog was arduous, to say the least. There were many failures along the way. But with every attempt I grew closer and closer, until one day, I finally did it.

It could run, it could bark, it could sit, it could roll over, it could play dead. And yet, it was not perfect. For one thing, the dog was unable to display any sort of emotion. It was never happy to see me, it was never sad when I left, it didn’t react to being petted, nothing. Emotion is a very difficult thing to create. I know that emotion is controlled by the mid-brain, but knowing that and knowing how to create it are two very different things.

The final result is that despite having a companion, I was still very lonely. Since he could show no emotion, interacting with him brought me very limited joy. I needed a companion that I could interact with. I needed a companion especially for me.

And that is why I endeavoured to create a human being. Not a true human being – that would be far beyond my reach – But a human being with a consciousness, with understanding, with basic emotion, and, most importantly, with the ability to listen to me and provide feedback. That’s what I needed most: someone to talk to.

That is why you’re here. Please talk to me. It’s been so long since I’ve had somebody to speak to.

Yours Truly,
Noah

Sammy’s Apology

Sammy took a deep breath, and let it out.

In, and out.

She was nervous. This could go wrong in so many ways. What if it wasn’t his house? What if she choked and found herself with nothing to say? What if he didn’t accept her apology?

But she shook those doubts out of her head. It would be his house, she wouldn’t choke, and he would forgive her. He had to.

She didn’t know why it was so important to her. She saw him once a month, if even that. She had dozens of friends that were closer to her than him. And yet, for some reason, it was absolutely vital that he forgive her.

She walked up to the front door and took in one more deep breath. She pressed the doorbell, and then quickly ran to the side of the house. If his parents answered the door, she would abandon the plan. She couldn’t very well ask to speak to him when she didn’t even know his name.

She heard the door click and then open. It was him.

"Hey," she said quietly, walking towards the doorway.

"Hey," he said back.

He hadn’t slammed the door in her face. ‘So far so good‘, Sammy thought.

"Can I talk to you?" she said.

"Sure," he replied. "What do you want to talk about?"

And so Sammy began: "I know you probably think it’s weird that I just showed up out of nowhere, but just hear me out. I’m sorry about what I said the last time we met. Even though I didn’t mean to, I disrespected the memory of your friend, and that’s entirely unacceptable on my part. I should have let you finish your story before I started talking, but instead I cut in and made a comment before I knew the true nature of your relationship with Noah. I’m sorry for that too. If you forgive me, I promise I’ll never interrupt you again, and I’ll always think before I speak. I know that we don’t see each other that often, but I still don’t want to lose you as a friend. Can you forgive me?"

The boy stared blankly at her for a moment. Then he burst out laughing. This wasn’t the reaction that Sammy had expected.

"Okay," said the boy after he had gotten his laughter under control. "First of all, how the heck did you find my house?"

Sammy blushed. "I sort of followed you home the day that we had that fight. I know it sounds creepy, but there was no other way for me to find out where you lived."

"Impressive," said the boy. "Second of all, you didn’t have to come here and apologize. I was a bit mad at you the last time we met, but that only lasted an hour. You couldn’t possibly have known about what happened to Noah. It’s not your fault. I probably would have interjected in the same way."

"Still," said Sammy. "I really should think before I speak."

"And that’s the other thing," said the boy. "I’m touched that you want to change a fundamental part of your behaviour for me, but please don’t. You’re fine as you are. If you change any part of yourself because of one person, you’ll always lose more than you gain. Besides, our conversations wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining if you turned into the embodiment of politeness and good manners. Just stay how you are, okay?"

Sammy nodded. She was amazed at how easy this had been. She had come in fully expecting to have to beg for forgiveness on her hands and knees. Instead, his only demand was that she do nothing at all. 

"Good," said the boy. "I’d love to talk for a while longer, but my family is going out for dinner soon, so I have to go get ready. We’ll talk again soon though."

"Oh, okay." said Sammy. "Goodbye then."

Sammy turned to leave. This had been their shortest conversation yet, and yet it made her feel better than any of the previous ones because it had brought an end to the guilt and nervousness she had been feeling for the past two weeks.

"Joshua," the boy said.

"Huh?" said Sammy.

"My name is Joshua."

It took Sammy a moment to realize what the boy had said.

"Alright then, Joshua," she said, allowing herself a smile. "I’ll see you soon."

Joshua nodded, waved, and then went back inside.

***

Well there you go, the boy has a name after all.

Why Joshua? Well, I didn’t just pull that name out of my ass in the last five minutes. I knew from the very beginning what his name was. Normally there’s a long story behind why I gave a character a particular name. At the very least, I always have some basic reason for it, even as basic a reason as "I just liked the name." Sammy and Joshua are the two exceptions to this rule. There’s no real reason why they’re named as they are. I don’t like the name "Joshua" much, and I definitely don’t like "Sammy". The best reason that I can give is that I knew even before I started writing about these two that I would be writing about a girl named Sammy and a boy named Joshua.


Good News, Bad News

I’m not too sure how I feel about life at the moment.

On the plus side, I just received confirmation from UofT that my application was received, and that everything is going swimmingly so far. My biggest fear was that something would go horribly wrong, and my application would get lost in the Internet somewhere, or that I would be rejected because of some silly technicality like making a typo or something.

Also on the plus side is that I went to a hockey game in Ottawa yesterday to watch the Flames take on the Senators. I was so sad when I was forced to miss the annual Flames/Leafs game in Toronto due to school, and assumed that I wouldn’t be able to watch my boys play at all this year. Then I remembered that Kingston is close to not one but two NHL cities, and as luck would have it, Queen’s itself was selling tickets to the game for cheap. So, I picked up a ticket.

I assumed that because of Ottawa’s proximity to Kingston, the whole bus would be packed with Senators fans. Not so. As it turned out, there were several dozen Flames fans on the bus compared to only three Senators fans. And a lot of those Flames fans were girls, too. And these girls knew hockey. It was mind-blowing, honestly. See, of the female friends I have in this world, a grand total of zero are into hockey. Most of them completely ignore the sport, and a few of them have a passing knowledge, but none of them really follow the sport like I do. And to hear these girls on the bus using phrases like "Defensive depth", and "Versatile player" just made me fall madly in love with all of them.

The game itself sucked because the Flames lost. They always lose when I go. It’s funny. They hadn’t won in Toronto since 2002, and then the one year that I decided not to go to the game, they broke the losing streak. But still, it was a good time with good people. I enjoyed myself.

Despite the recent good times, I’m not feeling all that great. There are two reasons for this, I think.

The first reason pertains to my UofT application. It’s great that the application process is going well, and it will be great if/when I receive the news that I’ve been accepted, but so what? The thing is, none of that guarantees that I’ll be better off next year. My happiness next year is riding largely on whether or not I can regain most of the friends that I’ve lost through this Queen’s adventure. If so, I’m golden. If not, then I’m not going to be much better off than I am now. It’s not a good state of mind to be in, but it’s how I’m thinking right now.

The second reason pertains to the recent Ottawa trip. I met a few decent people on that trip. Nathan, Mike, Emily… all good people. Looking at my countdown clock though, I’ve got 79 days left here. That means that I can’t be getting attached to people right now, since I’m going to have to leave them behind soon anyhow.

The other thing is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to care about anything. I don’t have much motivation to study, or write essays, or any of that because really it doesn’t matter. Credits transfer, but grades don’t. Simply put, as long as I get into U of T, nothing else matters. There’s no difference in my official transcript between getting a 75 and getting a 95. So, why should I work for the 95 when my life will be absolutely the same with a 75?

Basically, most of what I do right now has no long term rewards or consequences. Academically and socially, I’m living for the next 79 days only. That’s making it very hard to care. I’m just taking it day by day right now. It’s not a great strategy for life, but it’ll get me by for now.

Ask Me A Question

Well, go on. What do you want to know?

Holding Doors

Something that I think is really undervalued in society today is the art of holding open doors for others.

I’m serious, guys. That’s what this blog is going to be about.

It’s such a simple thing, but doesn’t it make you feel just a bit happier when the person ahead of you pauses to hold open the door for you?

Let me be clear: Pushing the door open as you walk through does not constitute holding the door. In order to qualify as holding the door, your walking motion must cease. In addition, the other person must be allowed to pass you. You need to intentionally delay your own journey by a few seconds in order to speed the other person along.

A lot of us like to be noble, and say things like "I put the happiness of others above my own happiness." Isn’t holding a door open for someone the simplest form of this? And yet it seems to me that a lot of the people who claim to be noble don’t hold doors for others. I don’t have anyone in particular in mind, nor do I have any scientific evidence to back this claim up. I’ve just noticed that a lot of people claim to be noble, and a lot of people don’t hold doors for other people. Mathematically, it’s highly likely, if not certain, that some of the people from group A are also in group B.

It seems to me (again, this is just observation. I don’t have any data to back this up), that people have a certain amount of time that they’re willing to hold a door for. Some people won’t hold it at all, some people will only hold a door if someone is right up their ass, and some people are willing to wait five or six seconds for someone. Obviously it depends on whether or not the person is in a rush and what kind of a mood they’re in, but people do have general tendencies that they follow.

But you know what’s interesting? If you hold a door for someone for five or six seconds, that person is much more likely to hold the next door for whoever is behind them for five or six seconds, regardless of what their tendencies are. 

Door holding. It’s common courtesy. Try it out the next time you’re at your local Building With Doors.