Archive for January, 2014


Epilogues

At the end of movies that are based on true stories, you’ll often see a Black Screen White Font Epilogue.

You know what I mean, yeah? That black screen with one or two sentences in black writing that say “Esteban Montoya spent the rest of his life with his wife and children in Puerto Rico. He died in 1997.” That sort of thing.

I wish I had epilogues for the people who have faded from my life over the years, because for every Kelsey and Alice who have defied the odds and stuck around all this time, there are five others who have fallen by the wayside. I think it’d be cool just to get a two sentence blurb about how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to.

I could do this entry in two ways. I could either speak in general terms, or I could go through all the specific examples from my own life, resulting in a much meatier entry, but one which no one besides myself will get much out of from this point onward. I’m going to go with the latter approach. But in the interest of keeping this blog under 2,000 words, I’m going to stick to Internet friends only.

 

My first real Internet friend was a German girl on Neopets named Nadeschda, or Nadja for short. Together we ruled the Neopets world with our dual iron fists, successfully infiltrating and overthrowing a guild of 16 members at one point. But then we became too old for Neopets, and although we carried on a nominal friendship over MSN, we lost touch relatively quickly. And I wonder what she’s been up to. As I recall, she was 4 or 5 years older than me, so she’d be in her late 20s at this point. Married? Kids? Certainly within the realm of possibility. I tried to look her up on Facebook and Linkedin, but came up empty.  For all I know she’s changed her last name by now.

Then there was Andrew, the first British person I’d ever spoken with. He was a regular commenter on this blog way back when, always encouraging me to see things from a different perspective. I think he was a couple of years older than me – no more than three – so I looked up to him for advice on a regular basis. We had a number of similar interests as far as video games and hobbies were concerned, so that gave us some additional common ground. He got me into Warcraft, and Runescape, and inspired a love of Pachelbel’s Canon in D that persists to this day. One of the weird things that I recall now is that for the longest time his MSN Spaces profile picture was of a cow, with the caption “Just a cow, you say? Wrong. This is a Welsh cow. Very rare indeed.” I still don’t understand that. But I digress – our relationship became strained when things turned sour between him and my good friend Liz. That’s a can of worms that I will most certainly not be opening here, suffice it to say that it became impossible for me to maintain a friendship with both of them at the same time. I was forced to make a decision that was admittedly a very easy one. Still, all these years later I wonder what’s become of him. He often spoke about moving to North America. I wonder if that ever happened.

Running down the list of old blog commenters, there’s Vicky – the first person I met through MSN Spaces. But I’m still in touch with a mutual friend, so theoretically I could just ask that friend if I want to know what’s become of her. Perhaps I should.

And then there’s Kiki. 

Who the hell is Kiki? I feel embarrassed now, but I honestly have no recollection of this person whatsoever. And yet, evidently she must have had a presence in my consciousness at some point because we clearly had back and forth conversations on our respective blogs. From what I can gather she was in high school at the same time I was, which would make her somewhere between 22 and 25 years old now. She also appears to have been something of a goth, given her references to black lipstick and her musical tastes. Perhaps that’s just the sort of audience my emo blog entries drew back then. She also called me “hun”, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. But yeah, I guess I wonder about her too because I had no idea who she was.

Chrys. Don’t remember too much about her except for the exceptionally pink Space she had. And again, boy did I attract some depressing people. Here’s a sample of Chrys’ contribution to this blog.

You sure do wish for alot of things but the world just seems to find ways to fuck you in the ass… odd how it works really…nice people get shit on and the fuckers well they get away with everything…the day things are the way they should be is the day I dont know ill die or something or I might just go nuts and kill myself.

Sheesh.

Hanaa was next. I remember her. She had red hair and wore dark eyeliner, and was a fan of similar bands as me. She was also from Calgary, which piqued my interest. I remember writing a blog about the Calgary Flames season opener specifically so that she would comment on it. We chatted occasionally but things petered out fairly quickly. And yet still, I’m interested in knowing what became of her.

Ahh, and then there was Amy! From Perth, Australia! I remember her! She was the first person I ever heard use the word “ace” to describe something, and I thought that was just the coolest thing. Evidently Alice did too as I recall us having conversations where we’d imagine ourselves fighting over Amy’s Australian affections. Her profile picture was of her and a few friends in bikinis, posing together in a shower. At the time it seemed very sexual in nature for a 14-15 year old girl, but perhaps it wasn’t that big a deal. Her space was cool because it had MUSIC on it. As soon as the page loaded, “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes came on. That led to me associating The Strokes with Australia for the longest time, to the point where I was convinced that they were an Australian band. Yeah, I definitely wonder what she’s up to now.

Who else…

Oh yeah, Avatarian. His real name was Andrew but I always called him by his screen name, partly to avoid confusion with the aforementioned Andrew, and partly because I thought the name sounded cool. The main thing I remember about him is that he was just way too intelligent for me. I was a smart guy and all, but he was just on another level. I never knew how old he was, but he had to have had a few years on me for sure. No way anyone my age could have been so well versed in history and philosophy. I remember how we met too. I had clicked on that “Random Blog” button, and came across his. The entry there looked like something out of a psychiatrist’s journal, talking about a man who had a condition which I had never heard of. I remarked somberly that people with this condition faced such a terrible road ahead, and he politely told me that this was a work of fiction and that the disorder in question was not real. I turned beet red and tried to cover up my blunder, but the damage was done. I expected him to dismiss me as some idiot kid, but he didn’t. Instead took an interest in my writing, and seemed to actually admire it. On a few occasions he even defended me when someone else criticized me.

But his comments became less and less frequent, and eventually they stopped altogether. We never exchanged email addresses or any other contact information, so that was it. I feel that a two sentence epilogue might have been insufficient in this case because there’s so much that I never knew about him to begin with. My most mysterious friend, by far.

And then there was Jenn, another product of the Random Blog button. Her blog caught my interest not because of the content but because of her location: Woodbridge, Ontario. Finding someone else from Woodbridge using that Random Blog button was a needle-in-a-haystack type venture, so I reached out to her because of that more than anything. Our friendship never got far because I quickly found that we didn’t really have much in common. And yet, I recall her as being a very unique individual. For starters, she was adopted. I didn’t (and still don’t) know anyone else like that. Second, she’s the only person I’ve known to achieve some level of fame. Granted, she was only Internet famous, and who knows how long it lasted, but at one point her photography had earned her thousands of fans on Facebook, enough that she had to create a second account for only her close friends. I wonder what she’s up to. Theoretically she should be the easiest one to find on Facebook, but I haven’t got a sniff.

And lastly, there was John. Or Dark Sympothy, as was his username. By this point we were into late 2006, and Myspace had pretty much strangled the life of out MSN Spaces. You’d almost never find anything good from the Random Blog button anymore. But one day I stumbled upon the blog of this guy who clearly appeared troubled. He was a couple of years younger than me, and having all kinds of trouble making friends in school. By the sounds of it he was getting bullied as well. I just tried to be for him what Andrew had been for me – a sort of mentor who he could come to for advice. I dutifully commented on all his blogs and helped him out as best as I could with the social issues he was having. And slowly, steadily, he improved. And eventually he reached the point where he didn’t need me anymore, and that was that. In a way I was happy. It was good to see him fly on his own two wings, and ask a girl out, and make friends. But still, I wonder where he is now, and what he’s up to.

 

A lot of people have left me over the years. This entry is the longest I’ve written in a while, and yet it only covers the Internet friends that I met between 2005 and 2006. Many other people have exited my life stage left without so much as a goodbye, but I haven’t forgotten them (except for this Kiki, evidently).

I wouldn’t want to watch a whole movie about their lives, but I think it would be nice to just catch the epilogue.

Just enough to see “Avatarian is currently pursuing his Ph.D in Kantian Philosophy. ”

“He’s doing well.”

I think that would be really great.

Meeting Kelsey

I met Kelsey yesterday. In person.

I guess that’s kind of a big deal. I mean, as far as blog history goes, she’s pretty significant.

In terms of sheer commenting, I don’t have the stats handy but I suspect that she alone has everyone else combined beat.

In terms of seniority, she’s technically one of my oldest friends now. The first blog comment I can find from her is dated June 21st, 2006. Here’s a little excerpt from that, unedited of course:

i completely agree with everything i understand and i personaly am blone away at what you have to say i believe u r the most profound blog author that i have come across and all i have 2 say is wow 😉

Absolute poetry there. I’m especially partial to the winky face at the end. Just magical.

I vaguely remember how we met way back when. It was back when MSN Spaces were in their infancy, and at the time there was a little side toolbar which linked you to other random blogs. I was in the habit of clicking these from time to time because occasionally I’d come across someone interesting. That’s how I met Vicky, that’s how I met Andrew, and that’s how I met Kelsey. Evidently the title of her blog must have piqued my curiosity, and the content must have been interesting enough for me to comment on something. She commented back, and thus was a friendship formed.

I lost touch with just about everyone else I met in that way over the years. They all stopped commenting years ago. But Kelsey kept on going, and for a while my schedule of blog creation was largely centred around her; when she commented, that meant that the latest blog had achieved its purpose and it was time for a new one. That pattern kept up long enough for Facebook to become popular, and that gave us another mode of communication beyond blog comments. And although she doesn’t comment much anymore, and although we don’t chat as often as I’d like, we managed to stay in touch for seven and a half years without ever meeting face-to-face, and I think that’s pretty remarkable.

And then yesterday, we did. She happened to be in Toronto for an interior design convention, so I hopped on the train and headed back to The Centre of the Universe for the weekend. It was an interesting afternoon – she ended up being with six or so friends, and so we all went to dinner together. It was a little strange at times. Even though I was the local, I felt like the outsider because they were all clearly from a different world than I – a world of funky looking chairs and crazy light fixtures. I have difficulty stacking chairs, much less building and designing them. There wasn’t as much common ground between me and the group as I would have liked. I had to reach for conversation at some points, and probably sounded odd as a result. I felt like I had to make a good impression on everyone else, and that led to me acting disingenuously, and I don’t think that really endeared me to anyone.

Compounding the problem was the fact that the walk to the restaurant took longer than expected (which wasn’t really my fault – walking with a group of seven is decidedly slower than walking alone or in a small group).

And then I made a fool of myself at the Eaton Centre when I attempted to show the group the cool fountain show. We waited for 2-3 minutes with me repeating constantly “This is it. Any second now. Here we go.” AND THEN IT NEVER HAPPENED. I considered jumping from the third floor and ending it all out of shame, but thought better of it when I remembered that a Pickle Barrel dinner was nigh.

And I messed that up too. See, it never came up that Kelsey was a vegetarian before, and in recommending the Pickle Barrel for dinner I assured her that there were some good vegetarian options. I was thinking in particular of a legendary veggie burger that is apparently so delicious that non-vegetarians often consume it and rave.

But stupid Michael, that burger is at Fran’s, not the Pickel Barrel! And you knew that! Stupid, stupid. And then of course I had to look to my left and see her face looking at the menu, and it was the face of a vegetarian who doesn’t like their options but doesn’t want to say anything. Gah.

All of this isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy myself – I did. But it’s one of those things where I’d like a re-do. And we were supposed to meet again today but she ended up being busy. It’s understandable but it’s a shame because I don’t think I was at my best, and unlike other friends who I’d see again in a week or a month, it could well be seven years before we meet again. It would have been nice to meet up in a smaller group, or ideally one-on-one as that would have allowed for a proper catch up, but I understand that circumstances are what they were.

I don’t want to end this on a negative note, so I’ll end it on a different one:

I think what’s really interesting is that in addition to never meeting her face-to-face, I’d never even heard her voice before yesterday. All of our communication has been purely text-and-emoticon based. And just like a character in a book, I’d assigned a certain voice to her that I’d subconsciously read her messages in.

Weirdly enough, her actual voice wasn’t far off. Like, it was eerily close.

Here’s hoping we meet again before I’m 29!

2014

2013 was stressful. And hard. And humbling. I spent the first half of the year watching rejection letter after rejection letter roll in as school after school flatly told me “No, you’re not good enough.”

I graduated. And because of the events of the previous six months, I wasn’t  happy about it. I refrained from writing a blog about it because it would have been enormously negative and depressing. Despite people telling me I should feel happy and proud, I never got around to that. At best I was able to achieve apathy.

And then the second half of the year was spent getting ready for and commencing my second tour of duty at Queen’s.

I had brief breaks from my ordinary life in both May and August, but all in all it was a stressful year.

 

I suspect 2014 will be different.

In thinking about this blog, I was trying to come up with an adjective for the upcoming year. My first instinct was to say that I suspect this year will be a predictable year, but I thought better of that. The moment you say that something is going to be predictable, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be wrong.

Then I thought to call it a boring year. But again, I wouldn’t want to jinx it. Besides, life is rarely boring. There are too many colourful characters floating around for my life to become any shade of grey, much less all fifty at once.

Then the word relaxing came to mind. But no, it won’t be relaxing. I’ll still be plugging away in law school, and if the first four months are any indication I won’t be relaxing again anytime soon.

So no, I won’t call 2014 a predictable year. And I won’t call it a boring year. And I won’t call it relaxing either.

In the end, I don’t think it’s possible to capture the essence of 2014 in a single adjective. For me the most important thing is that it is a year where I don’t expect to have to make any important decisions. I don’t have to decide what school to attend. I don’t have to decide where to work. I don’t have to decide what to do with my life. And it’s good that I won’t have to make any of these decisions in 2014, because 2015 and 2016 are going to be chock full of them. Those two years are going to be vital in determining how I spend my remaining years on this earth. In those two years I will be forced to make decisions of a magnitude that I shudder to think about.

Not this year though.

This may well be the last year where I don’t have to leap. For that I am very grateful.