Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Casting Buoys - Not Pattern Recognition

Hello. I've come here today to acknowledge my self over a period of time - and how obscured it's been by itself. This might be my first truly honest post. Could you spend a moment to bear witness to this please? I'm going to go back to when I left Montreal in an attempt to gain perspective, 3 years ago next month. I was floundering around for a job that I could sustain myself with in the big M. Part time work at The World Beat Cafe here, busboy on Crescent there (fired for being insubordinate), worked at VICE Magazine (left because I was depressed - same reason I left McGill), volunteered as an editor at the Jane Goodall Society... everything seemed so slippery, and I could not fully immerse myself. There was no mentorship to be found anywhere, and I discovered just how shy I was to ask for guidance or assistance. I felt very transparent, and so any advice anyone gave HURT as opposed to HEALED. I wanted to write, and so did so for the odd publication (dos and don'ts and CD reviews for VICE (once), briefs for the Hour (once) and the Mirror (once), Heads Magazine (once) - who asked me to become their music editor, the stoners). But again, nothing doing. No full-time work to be had. My longterm tempestuous relationship with someone I still think is wonderful, shook itself to a ruin in its own foundations. I had to go... My mum offered me sanctuary on Vancouver Island, so I took it. I was 24 when I left.

I lived on my sister's floor in Victoria while I looked for a job and apartment. I found the apartment before the job (though I had bumped into my future employer and friend the 2nd night in Vic down at a local pub). It was in the form of a small boat down at Fisherman's Wharf. It was in mangy condition, so I cleaned it out and then took the prow cabin for a bed. At night, I read by hurricane lantern, listened to a few CDs I'd found at the Salvation Army, and made necklaces out of beads. The seals would come and thump the side of the boat if I was too loud. Because the Victorian summer is near meditteranean in fullness, I'd often just sit outside on the deck, smoke a joint and watch the city lights across the harbour. Beside the wharf was a giant, award-winning set of condominiums called Shoal Point. It looked like a cruise ship run aground. And this made me think of vessels and houses and of how much hidden information was stored into a structure. I basically lived in a watery trailer park for the summer. During the day, I'd get up and cycle to meet Dave and Shaun and lay hardwood floor. I did this until the late fall. I joined a comedy troupe, and we put on a small 5 person skit-based play at Lucky Bar. I moved into an apartment for 2 months, where I got scammed out of my damage deposit (it had been a rolling lease for nearly 15 years) upon leaving. I moved again, this time up to my mother's.

I needed something substantial, so enrolled in a boat-building course up at Schwartz Bay. I was naive about it, and realized tha it was more of an industry prepper for large-scale operations. There was no real opportunity to join any type of firm other than mass-production or maintenance, and I'd been looking for some type of artisanry. Discouraged, I applied at a few mum & pop builders, and then took up with my mum's friend Devon, a kiwi man's-man who went on horseback treks on the weekend. His line of work was also hardwood installation. I lived in a large suite above my mum's small country house, with a sweeping lookout on Cowichan Bay. I was lost for friends, but took up with whoever I could. One old sod was a man called James Brown. He'd been a millionaire 3 times in his life, the last liquidation he'd put into a 1906 fish packing boat called the Shimoget (sp?). It was to be the death of him, as he keeled over his dory one night coming back from the pub. I don't know if anyone ever found the poor soul's body, but by the tide's reckoning, we would've likely been the first beach he'd've washed up on.

After a few barn raves here and music fests there, I tired of life and I staled on the idea of manual labour where I was not given a chance to manage or learn as quickly as I generally need to. After flirting with the idea of starting a treehouse building company, I made up my mind to return to Montreal. I'd found myself lonely and choked by Island life. But the stars.. oh, the stars. On the odd time, they were so vivid, you could see the planet and the solar system as if it were on the rim of the galaxy (funny this, but 'galaxy' literally translates to Milky Way). The spirals would retreat from sight, giving the impression of the Earth being on the edge of a banded torus.

I arrived back in Montreal, enrolled back in McGill, and met up with my old friends. Steve and Amy graciously received me at their house for a few weeks, and I encountered such nervous situations with my ex. She and I still haven't truly met each other since, but I generally feel a level of warmth and companionship laden familiarity whenever we are together that seems to've persisted through the years we hadn't spoken. I met a girl called Isabel, and we courted. Next thing I knew, we were together and spent much time together. Around then, I had a wicked idea for a book (still do...) and started ostensibly to write it. I started, and then stalled it and then wrote a few short stories, and kept updating my blog (which changed from attempts at humourous overlapping narratives I consider to be 'factasy', to this type of entry...) Eventually, I somehow stretched away from my original intentions to move back here. I paled and bailed, and eventually gave up my school. I couldn't maintain a focus in Philosophy, there was no application. No context. I needed innovation. I yearned for something creative.

One day, last spring, I told Isabel I wasn't in love with her. She wanted more from me, and I couldn't find a way to give it without compromising too much. She was convinced that she was going crazy, getting possessive, so I had to tell her it wasn't just her. I mourned us. And tried to stay her friend. This eventually became impossible. She'd said that she wished I was the man she could've been with for her life. This later mutated to her stating that I'd not been the man she thought I was. Maybe both were true, maybe neither, either way, I wasn't quite sure what man she was talking about. I didn't feel I'd yet become one. By trying not to have us forsake the 9 months we'd been together, I hadn't let her vent her dismay. I dearly wish I'd handled that better. I later found out, she'd considered marriage and children all along. I was ashamed that we hadn't spoken about it while together.

On the other footing, I found liberty in my step. I opened up to new people and felt more confident by myself. Everything had freshened, and I got a job renovating a friend's apartments. I later met a girl who worked at Biftek, and we clicked like magnets. She went away to Portugal for August and broke up with me. Like the reactionary I was, I drooped and worried. I forgot about my own adventure. She returned, for me to discover that something horrendous had happened. We got back together, but my social life got gutted. My aspirations fluxed to having no view of the future (I can imagine biomechanically interfaced exoskeletons, but not the foresight to purchase toothpaste). Continue this avenue for the last 5 months, where I've lost the confidence to meet new people, present myself, write with flourish, engage systems without being neurotically shy etc. and you have me now.

The last few weeks I have: Watched the entire 1st season of Rome. This is easily the best mini-series I've ever encountered (the production details actually put you right in the thick of the 1st century, nothing has been overlooked). The politics, the social view of sex and ritual, the fighting, the infrastructure, the corruption, the slavery... it's absolutely incredible. Both brutish and refined.

Read much about landscape architecture. From what I can detail, this is a predominantly WHITE occupation. And by that I mean rich and self-congratulatory. The views seem stuck in ideas of The Picturesque and modernist function, and only a few firms break the dogmatism and present viable and beautiful risks. The discipline overlaps many categories, and feeds from architecture, urban planning, horticulture, sustainable/green innovation, even sculpture and hydrostatics. I like it alot, if only because I have the skills of a dreamer (and a jack-of-all-trades approach). I believe that we as humans influence the way our environment influences us. And by this, we each have a responsibilty to nurture nature. It should not be a pastime of the wealthy, nor that of the wealthy's counterpart, politics. We need to put the mentalism back into our environs. And by 'our', I mean as inclusively as possible.

Er, that's it for now. The statement that I want to resound is that I am up on my feet and ready to make failure and success in equal measure, and thus learn and strive. I need a community, rolemodels and I need to be challenged. I also badly need a job.


Anonymous said...

Call Dad,

Signed, Dad

Indiana James said...

That was very raw and brave. It's a good step man. Please drop me a line when you can. The scales need to be tilted more in favour of success and the sooner the better man, you deserve only that much.

Sparky said...

Heavy. We've had a few strange synchronicities...And I feel some of the same deal these days...Call it empathy. If you see fit to act, act. I could say a whole bunch of stuff about the will and Schopenhauer or whatever, but you know the deal. Guess that's the reason why even though I've never met you, I'd like to. Hang in there...You'll thrive. And grow.

zura said...

I started reading this entry in mid-mastication of my dinner (mastication I said, oh you people of the gutter) and continued chewing only after reaching the end. Raw indeed. You are searching for some small but essential part of yourself and are puzzled by its elusiveness. It will be found, do not worry, and I find it interesting that I not only share your sentiment of the day, but these two do, also:

him again

I finally feel the stirrings of a new non-meme-tagged post within me...

Eve said...

Wow. I'm glad to know about all that now. Do you feel unburdened?

Also, it's about the journey, right? So try to enjoy it.

And of course you know you're welcome to visit if you need to get away.

S'Mat said...

thanks friends. i wrote this mainly to take stock. i left out much information about the kindnesses of the irreplacables who've nurtured me through these periods, the peals of laughter and peeled wonders, the smaller decisions and periods of grace. i worried about this entry all last night for having included far too much information about the major players in my life (especially with a slant that favours the ever partisan self), but now realize that i only exposed myself and its hidden dependencies.
braveness and the will and the search and the journey... thank you for supplying those lenses for it all to shine through.

S'Mat said...

thanks also to those who chose to write ex machina.