Archive for March, 2011


Fact

Life’s greatest moments are the ones you don’t see coming.

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Clingy People

Have you ever noticed how no one likes clingy people?

It’s almost universal. Ask someone what they look for in a member of the opposite sex, and they’ll list off the usual adjectives. Funny. Smart. Attractive. Easy to talk to. Not too clingy.

Personally though, I’m trying to get over my distaste of clingy people. When you think about it, our attitudes towards clingy people make no sense.

I mean, it’s not like clinging is done with any malice. If someone is clinging to you it doesn’t mean that they’re trying to weird you out. It means that they think that you’re a really great person. It means that you’re someone they enjoy having around. It means that they really like you, perhaps as something more than friends.

People express infatuation in different ways. Some people make fun of the object of their attraction. Some people take the direct route and tell the person straight up and say “YO I LIKE YOU.” (Note that it’s usually guys who do this since girls for the most part are pussies. But I digress.) And some people cling. They find themselves unable to prevent themselves from spending every waking moment with the person.

It’s very sad that we perceive this as annoying, I think. Yes, it can get irritating that every single time you log on to Facebook or MSN they start talking to you within ten seconds. I’ve been there. I get that. But I feel really guilty whenever I become annoyed with someone for talking to me because they’re not trying to piss me off. They’re just trying to be friendly and make conversation.

Instead of hating clingy people, you should reserve your hatred for those who actually intend to anger you. If someone spits on you, it’s probably done with malice. Hate that person. If someone punches you in the face, it’s probably (though not certainly) done with malice. Hate that person. Don’t hate clingy people. They’ve done nothing wrong.

Straight Outta Pallet Town

You guys remember Pokemon, right? The anime, I mean. Sure you do.

Looking back, that was a fundamentally depressing show.

I mean, here you’ve got this ten year old kid setting off to see the world with only a backpack on his shoulder and a Pikachu at his side. As far as we know, Ash doesn’t have a single friend in the world when he leaves home. The only other kid his age in Pallet Town is Gary, who is a complete prick. Other than that, he is only known to interact with two other people: His mother, Delia, and Professor Oak. He has no siblings, and his dad has been alluded to but has never actually shown his face in the series, leading the viewer to believe that he’s something of a deadbeat.

Even still, Ash sets out on his journey to be the very best, like no one ever was. Very early on he meets a ginger named Misty and a guy without eyes named Brock. Misty’s wardrobe as a ten year old really raises some questions about the type of parenting she’s received up to this point. No mention is made of her parents, so it’s possible that she has been raised by her three older sisters, which would explain a lot. As for Brock, one has to wonder about his social life too. It says something when you’re fifteen years old and your best friends are ten year olds.

Regardless, Misty and Brock accompany Ash on his journey in order to live vicariously through him. Things are looking up for Ash. Five episodes in and he’s already gone from having no friends to having two.

But then his luck turns. Misty and Brock had no qualms about dropping everything and following Ash unconditionally. But after that, friends that stick with Ash are few and far between. He meets someone new in almost every episode, but after Brock no one sticks with him. They all leave him after only a day or two. “We’ll see you soon!”, they often say upon departing, but they never do. And it’s not like the Pokemon world is set in medieval times or anything. The technology they have available to them clearly surpasses anything we have here in 2011. They’ve got E-mail, Facebook, MSN, Skype, and who knows what else to keep in touch with each other, but they never choose to. That’s a sad existence, I think. Every day Ash makes a new friend, and every evening he loses that friend.

In spite of the mental toll that his lifestyle must inflict on him, Ash manages to acquire all eight badges and advance to the Pokemon League Championships.

Now, I remember watching this back in ’99. You know how kid’s shows are. The hero always prevails in the end, right?

Ash took down his first few opponents with ease. He ended up facing Gary in the fourth round, much to my surprise. Logic dictates that Ash should have fought his rival in the final. But regardless, Ash took out Gary in the most intense battle of the series to that point, seemingly giving him a clear path to the Championship.

His fifth round match was against this nobody named Ritchie. Ritchie took an early lead, leaving Ash with only one Pokemon. But no big deal, right? Ash had been in tougher jams before. He sent out his Charizard, who had a knack for disobeying Ash’s orders. Nevertheless, Charizard defeated Ritchie’s Charmander, setting up a one-on-one showdown between Ash’s Charizard and Ritchie’s Pikachu.

‘What beautiful character development’ I thought. ‘Charizard, who has been letting Ash down for ages now, will finally come through in Ash’s most desperate hour. Brilliant.’

And then the unthinkable happened:

With the match on the line, Charizard laid down on the ground and took a nap.

In one of the most emotional outpourings of the series, Ash begged and pleaded for Charizard to move. I begged and pleaded for Charizard to move. There was no way it could end like this. But it did.

“Charizard refuses to battle,” declared the referee. “Pikachu is the winner.”

Just like that, everything that Ash had been fighting for in the past 78 episodes was rendered meaningless. All of his hopes and dreams were dashed at the hands of one of his own Pokemon that he had previously rescued from the brink of death. Betrayal of the highest degree.

And so Ash returned home without completing his quest to be the very best. Eventually Brock and Misty, the two friends who it appeared would always be by Ash’s side, left him. Clearly they didn’t want to live vicariously through someone who wasn’t a winner.

This has since become a cycle of sorts.

Ash is defeated. His friends all abandon him. He meets new friends, a new rival, meets a ton of people who he’ll never see again, earns badges, enters the regional tournament, and then is defeated.

We’re nearly 700 episodes in now, and Ash still doesn’t have any true friends besides his Pikachu, he still doesn’t have a dad, he still hasn’t hit puberty yet, and worst of all, he still doesn’t have a shot in hell at ever being the very best.

Why? Because if Ash ever becomes the very best, the character arc is completed, and the show comes to an end. Thus, he can never win. He can never accomplish the one thing that he set out to do in episode one.

It’s a very sad show, I think.

Losing Touch

When you’re speaking to someone to whom you speak just about every day, and you say “Hey! How have you been since last we spoke?”, you usually get a pretty detailed answer. They might tell you about what they ate for breakfast, or what they watched on TV, or about what a satisfying shit they had earlier in the day. Stuff like that.

When you haven’t spoken to someone for a year and you ask them the same question, you tend to get something vague like “Not too bad.”

It’s not necessarily a problem that this happens. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just how life works. I mean, you can’t answer that question the same way when the time period in question is a year rather than a day. You can’t possibly get into that kind of detail about every shit you’ve taken over the past twelve months. It’s highly impractical.

People do move between the two types of relationships. What’s unfortunate is that the process is somewhat one-sided. It’s much easier to lose touch with someone than it is to rebuild a strong relationship with someone who you’ve lost touch with.

I think the key is to avoid losing touch in the first place. It’s inevitable that you’re going to lose touch with some people. There are too many great people in the world to keep track of them all. Inevitably Fate steps in and tries to tear you away from certain people in your life. But sometimes I think that you’ve just got to make an effort to hold on to people. To avoid losing touch, you’ve got to put some effort in. You’ve got to fight Fate.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’ll do less damage to a relationship by asking someone about how their most recent shit was than by not asking them.

Checkers

I remember being seven years old. My elementary school had just started a Chess/Checkers club, and I was excited. At that tender age, the finer points of chess were beyond me, and so I stuck with playing checkers.

For my first match I was paired up with another boy in my class. It was a very even match, as I recall. A single mistake by either side could have tipped the balance one way or the other. You could have cut the tension in the room with a knife.

And then he monkey-jumped me.

“Monkey-jumping” is just the term we used for double or triple jumping your opponent where the direction of your piece changes halfway through. For example, if your first jump is diagonal-right and your second is diagonal-left, you’ve just made a monkey jump.

Monkey-jumping is, of course, a legal move in checkers. But I wasn’t aware of that. I had never played with monkey-jumping before. I had only ever played with straight jumping.

This was, of course, an outrage. And so I did the only thing I could do to ameliorate the situation. I started crying.

Oh it was terrible. The librarian who was running the club didn’t know what do to, so the principal was called in. He solved the matter by ordering the other boy to undo his previous move and to continue the rest of the game without monkey-jumping.

Even now, I play by a very specific set of rules. It’s not necessarily the set of rules that everyone else is playing by, and it’s not necessarily the correct set of rules. But once I learn the rules of a game, it’s very difficult for me to start following a new set of rules. I’m able to adapt to changing circumstances within a game, but when the rules of the game itself change, I can’t do anything about it.

And my friends tell me. They’re good people, these friends of mine. They tell me when I’ve got it wrong. They say “Mike, you’re wrong. You’re overthinking everything. You’d have a lot more fun if you played like this instead.”

And they’re right. They’re smart people, these friends of mine. They know what’s best for me better than I do. But I just can’t do it. I can’t just start playing by a different set of rules. I’m too scared. What I need is for people to start playing by my rules. Then the world will make sense.

Kickass

Originally this was going to be part of the previous blog, but I feel as though it’s significant enough to stand on its own. In theory this blog should have appeared five days ago, but due to schoolwork and other distractions I wasn’t able to write it down until now. If I ramble a bit in this entry, it’s because the aforementioned schoolwork has temporarily bled me of any ability to write coherently about anything other than Bolsheviks and the European Union.

This birthday was expected to suck. I mean, I just turned twenteen, which is a birthday I’ve been dreading since forever. And for the first while, suckage did occur. It fell on a Wednesday, meaning that I spent almost my whole day in class, up until 9:00 PM. Plus, I did poorly on a Spanish test which, although expected by this point since the Spanish program at U of T is awful, still sucked. Plus, the Flames lost, which put a further damper on my mood.

But my floormates – those fine, fine examples of human beings – managed to salvage the day and transform it from a day of no particular importance to one of the best birthdays ever and one of the best days I’ve had in a long time, period.

I returned to my dorm at around 9:30, weary from a hard day of work. I was expecting to go straight into my room, procrastinate a bit, and then get to work on my Politics essay. Wednesdays are usually quiet around the dorm, you see. People tend to be busy with swing dancing and essays and midterms, so Wednesdays are usually a day for getting work done in solitude.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find the hallway full of people. And upon my appearance in the hallway, I was greeted by a chorus of “Happy Birthday To You”. And as the song progressed, a person or two popped out of their rooms and joined in partway through. Such a simple thing, but that alone made me grin from ear to ear.

And so I sat down in the hallway with my friends and we talked, as we’ve done together a hundred times before. A couple of people had actually bought gifts for me. This made me feel a bit bad, because I wasn’t expecting anything and had their birthdays occurred before mine, I probably wouldn’t have bought them anything. Nonetheless I accepted these gifts with gratitude. One of them in particular stood out, and deserves special mention here.

At some point during a Floor 12 conversation, I had mentioned the fact that my favourite book was The Little Prince. Jessie, in her infinite wisdom, thought it would be a good idea to buy me a copy of that magnificent piece of literature. Being such a fan of the book, I of course already had a copy. But this copy is different, because this copy was immediately passed around the hallway so that everyone could sign it.  Honestly, I can’t remember the last time that I received such an amazing gift. That Team Canada hockey jersey from last year was unreal, but this gift was much more heartfelt. The jersey was special because it was expensive, but this book is special because years from now I will look back at the signatures on the front and remember all of the great people that I have had the honour of spending this year with. You can’t put a price on that.

At 11:00 the dons came by, reminding us that quiet hours had begun and that we would have to continue out conversation in someone’s room. On this particular night I think that everyone headed over to my room. And there we stayed, discussing life, love, and porn until beyond 3:00 AM, as we’ve done many times before. There’s something wonderful about that, I think. Try as I might I’ll never be able to explain it, but there’s just something amazing about being able to hang out with the same group of people day after day, night after night, for anywhere between five and ten hours everyday and never getting bored of them or running out of things to talk about. Something truly amazing.

I don’t want to say too much more right now since I think that Floor 12 will be getting a lot of this blog’s attention in the near future. Suffice to say for now that I’m very blessed to have met these people.

Twenteen

I remember how this decade started for me. I was crying.

Yes, I remember it quite clearly. It was my tenth birthday and I had a very troubling thought: “I’m getting old.”

And that thought made me cry. It seemed to me that I was growing up way too fast. The first ten years of my life had gone by way too fast, and I was terrified at the prospect of growing up. That’s one of the things that has been consistent about me. Even at ten, I didn’t want to get any older. Yet I was powerless to do anything about it, and so I cried.

 

I know how I ended the decade as well though: I was laughing.

I don’t know exactly what I was laughing about. Probably porn or masturbation or something. But the point is that I was sitting with a group of friends and laughing.

The times in between have been a mixed bag. I’ve had some awesome times and some times where life hasn’t really gone my way. It’s difficult for me to say whether or not it was a good decade or not overall because I’ve got nothing to compare it to. This is the first decade that I can remember fairly clearly.

All I know for sure is this: If you start something with tears and end it with laughter, you’ve done something right along the way.