Mellowing out

I am 30, and turning that age seems to have had a strange effect on me.

I seem to be mellowing out in some ways.

I can’t really explain it, but I’m really getting good at not letting things bother me too much.

Oh, sure, at work I am still as high strung as ever, launching half-verbal profanities when the people I need to speak to, or who are supposed to supply me with content to fill my pages, are not getting back to me as deadlines approach. The creative swears I come up with remain, well, weird. And my tone of voice when on the phone with some superiors is certainly questionable. I do let my emotions get the better of me at times, but I’ve never out-and-out erupted, which is a good thing.

On the sports field, well, we’ll have to see how my mellowing out is going. The season starts in six days, and knowing how last year went, this year will be a test.

But when it comes to dealing with friends and relationships, my mellowing has certainly become apparent.

When I first moved out here, I had a friend who had been ‘pressuring’ me to come out to Alberta, and while I didn’t come out here because she told me to, I did end up out here.

Once I got out here, we tried making plans to get together. But we never did. Not even once. And we only got one skype date in. I was fairly livid about the whole situation. I’m thinking, “You can’t find even one day to meet up? You’re that busy you can’t book a day off? You encouraged me to come out here and now you can’t make time for me?”

Yes, perhaps it was me being unreasonable, but really, how busy are you? Even an hour every few weeks for a skype date isn’t asking too much, is it?

Ugh.

I’m actually still ticked about it to a degree. I must be, as it’s been five years since that ‘incident’ and I still think of it on occasion.

But it’s in the past, so whatever.

Looking to the present, I am in regular contact with friends back home and abroad. We chat on occasion, some of us more often than others, for myriad reasons. And in many cases, not as often as I would like.

There was a time I would get impatient about chatting with friends. I would want them to drop everything and talk, text, etc. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but I have wanted to be in touch as much as possible. Considering I’m in Alberta (and for a while, Saskatchewan) and all the friends are back in Toronto, Ottawa or even farther away, I feel regular contact is key to maintaining relationships.

But of late there has been a fair amount of drop off.

I used to be a bit bothered by this. “Do they hate me?” “Oh, god, what did I do or say?” “They must be The Cheating on me!”

Of course, none of this is true. It’s just we’re all adults now. Some of us have jobs. Some of us are still in school. Some of us are married. Some of us have kids. Some of us check off several of those boxes.

In short, we all have lives that occupy our time.

And besides, who am I to assume I am top of mind? I mean, I am full of myself and thing I am the most important thing ever, despite ample evidence to the contrary. A lot of ample evidence, actually.

I jest, of course.

But back to the thrust of this.

I still experience a pang of disappointment when plans to chat fall apart for any and all reasons. I think that’s natural – I budget time to chat, and then we don’t chat. But I always remember we all have lives and things can pop up unexpectedly.

It could be my chat partner falling asleep while on the phone. It could be my to-be chat partner falling asleep at “not my place.” It could be wonky internet. It could be family coming over to see the baby. It could be a newborn baby. It could be a phone battery dying. It could be getting sick.

The end result is the same. And really, what does it matter? Things happen.

I’m not going to lose sleep over it. Unless we plan something when I’m normally sleeping – then I’ll actually be upset, because I would like to sleep otherwise and staying up for nothing does not make Tim a happy man.

Friendship

“Friendship is weird. You pick a human you’ve met and you’re like, ‘Yup. I like this one,’ and you just do stuff with them.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. For a number reasons.

I don’t make friends very easily. I have been a somewhat awkward person since, best as I can tell, Grade 4.

Man, Grade 4 was a rough and weird year. That was a strange year because it seemed all my JK-3 friends simply fell away. Obviously, since that was way back in 1995-1996, I can’t think back and figure out what the heck happened, but I do remember that was the time when I somehow got saddled with the ‘loner’ label. It sucked.

High school was a much better experience, as I managed to acquire friends again. We hung out away from school. We did projects together, actually choosing to work with each other (mostly). We had the band trips to Europe to cement our relationships.

Since high school ended, I have lost touch with many of my high school ‘friends,’ because I have to put ‘friends’ in quotes. I was willing to keep in touch, but it’s pretty clear many of them did not.

And you know what? I don’t really care. I was thinking about how I’ve lost touch with them since we all graduated, and I realized I knew them for four years, and I’ve been out of high school now for nearly 11 years. Not to say good riddance, or anything like that, but when we’ve been apart for nearly three times as long as we were together, clearly it’s time to let that go. We’re just people who were friends who had circumstances separate us. It happens.

But then there are the friends from high school, and university, with whom I am still friends. The high school crew (ugh, why did I use that word) are the ones I did my OAC year with (fifth year, Victory Lap, Grade 13, whatever). We were the remaining group and we were a clique.

But even then, the fissures are starting to show. A few have dropped off (well, dropped off right after graduation), while others held on for a lot of my time out here in Alberta. Even then, I’m realizing a bunch of us are gradually going our separate ways, to the point where I am not entirely sure I want to make the effort to meet up the next time I’m back in the T.Dot. And, truthfully, that makes me sad. I know it can’t be helped, as people change and time marches on, but you never really want to set aside a part of your past.

I seem to have rambled along for a while here. It happens.

I suppose the crux of what I was thinking when I thought about this post is the friends I have, the ones who have a history dating back various numbers of years, from almost 26 years, to nearly 16 years, to approximately 11 years, and one who will be eight years in September, another that is probably (and I still think inexplicably) at seven years, and one that hasn’t even hit its first birthday (such a young’un!).

How have I kept these friendships alive? How am I friends with these people? This is not to say I’m unhappy to have friends of these varied ages and experiences — I’m incredibly grateful. These are people who have put up with my BS, my insecurities, my quasi nagging, and my utter stupidity. How can I ever show true appreciation for them sticking by me?

I don’t think I can.

Each of these people means something different to me, while at the same time they all mean the same to me. They have kept me grounded. They have cheered me up with their sometimes random messages. I have lived vicariously through them, as I truly have a boring life at the moment.

So to my friends who read this, thank you!

To my enemies, I say this: what are you doing here?

Road biking

I own a road bike now. Her name is Isabelle. I ride her several times a week. I used to think that was a funny turn of phrase. I’ve killed it because it’s really not that funny anymore.

Moving on.

Before I bought Isabelle, I had been strictly a mountain bike rider. Every bike I’ve owned since I turned maybe 10 or so has been a mountain bike. Sure, I had ridden road bikes with the curved handlebars a few times, but those were my parents – they were old, not in great shape and a last resort. And with my familiarity being to the shape/feel/ergonomics of a mountain bike, they just felt weird to ride.

For those who have never ridden a road bike, let me tell you a road bike is a fairly big adjustment.

Yes, it’s still a bike, and the basic premise remains the same – you pedal and build up speed to keep the machine vertical.

But road bikes are so narrow. My first few turns around my neighbourhood were, while not exactly hairy, less than comfortable than my old mountain bike.

And let me tell you about the brakes. A few times on my first commute to work, I felt I needed to brake quickly, so I reached for my brakes – on the top of the handlebars where there are no brakes.

Like I said, these road bike things are an adjustment.

Then there are clipless pedals and shoes. You know the ones – you clip your shoes onto them so you are attached to your bike. I have fallen three times because I could not unclip fast enough.

Isabelle is a cruel mistress who insists on dumping me, but I will not be deterred.

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And she is gorgeous!

My 2016 plans…

Also known as resolutions.

I figure I should try to improve myself in different ways, and what better way to ensure *some* accountability than to post some resolutions here for the wild world to see.

So here we go!

  • Be more assertive when it comes to women. What I mean here is, if I’m interested in a woman, I should just go for it. Talk to her. Ask her out. Show I have interest. The worst that can happen, in most cases, is she says ‘no.’ I lose nothing by asking, but stand to gain lots.
  • Save more money. I’m going to be 30 soon. I shouldn’t be living with other people with whom I have no connection. Yes, housemates do keep rent down, but then I have to deal with people I have no interest in knowing anything about, and are always in my way. By saving money, I can eventually put a down payment on a house or condo and be truly self-sufficient.
  • Get in better shape and lose weight. This is a multi-faceted resolution — go to the gym more, eat less, eat better. Once it warms up, this means biking to work. This also dovetails nicely into saving more money.
  • Read more. I will set a target of reading for at least an hour every day. I have a lot of books to get through, and the perfect time to read is during my commute.
  • Take more photos. I have a prosumer-model camera, and now that I have a job that doesn’t require near-daily photography, it sits unused for weeks at a time. And my skills are deteriorating during that downtime. So, I resolve to take photos every day, and post regular updates of all those photos. Much like I did in 2011.

That’s pretty much it. Short, sweet and to the point.

Here’s hoping I can do it.

Comments on «The Force Awakens»

I saw the new Star Wars movie the day after its wide release — on Dec. 19.

I loved it.

Many people, I have noticed, did not. To the point they are calling it the worst Star Wars movie.

That’s their prerogative. I don’t agree, naturally, but I won’t say they’re wrong and denigrate them for their opinions — they’re allowed to have them, and things like movies are subjective because different people are looking for different things in movies.

For me, I was looking forward to seeing how the film matched up with the trailers, all of which basically said, “Tim, you have to see this! You want to see this! You *will* see this!”

So I did.

And now, I want to talk about what I saw and why I liked it.

I will also refute some of the arguments those buzzkills made in arguing The Force Awakens is the worst Star Wars film.

There will be spoilers, so in the spirit of protecting those of you with delicate sensibilities, I will place them under this new-fangled ‘read more’ tag I just discovered…

Continue reading

Monarchy

I like to think of myself as a monarchist.

I support the monarchy in Canada, and Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state, since it is a largely ceremonial title in this day and age.

But from reading A Song of Ice and Fire lately, as well as watching Game of Thrones, I’m starting to wonder about royal families and all that fun stuff.

For example, the idea of traitors and treason.

Listen, I fully understand and can get behind the idea of lines of succession and heredity in such a world as the timeframe in which ASOIAF is set.

But the idea that, when the reigning monarch dies and others who are not in the direct line of succession declare they are the proper monarch, saying there is more than one person declaring to be the king/queen/etc. is treasonous is ridiculous in my mind.

Think about it, using the example of what happened in ASOIAF…

Robert dies and Joffrey ascends to the Iron Throne. But because of the (true) questions about his right to the throne, his two (supposed) uncles declare they are to be king.

I’m leaving out Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy here because Robb never really declared for the Iron Throne, and I don’t completely recall how Balon declared.

So, as I understood things while reading, it was considered problematic if someone within Westeros said there were five kings, or that five men had declared they are kings.

I don’t see it being a problem, because it’s a statement of fact — there are five men saying they are the king.

And what’s in a name, anyway? What does ‘king’ really mean? It’s just a title that has been elevated to the highest echelon of importance.

You know, I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this. It’s just made me think, is all.

I guess if I were to opine on our current constitutional monarchy in Canada, and all those people who can’t seem to wrap their head around how our system works, I would say this:

We’re not dumping the monarchy any time soon. If we ever do, I figure it would happen when Liz dies. And by that I mean we would only begin the debate in earnest at that point. Liz is well loved, and it’s highly unlikely there will ever be the necessary groundswell to introduce someone else to be Canada’s head of state.

Beyond that, it would require a constitutional amendment, and that’s not going to happen in our current political climate. We’ve had two tries, and they failed. And this country is more polarized now than it’s been in a very long time.

Offensive

Look at that, I’m posting again shortly after my last post. Wow. I’m back in the saddle, it appears.

OK. It’s time to talk about what is offensive.

This post is influenced by a series of tweets I made, and then a poor choice of words a few days later.

To wit, those tweets deal with my “All hail zombie Jesus” comment in the Barrhead Leader in the spring of 2012.

Here is the first of them. The remaining seven tweets are linked here.

The thrust of them is that I’ve always felt that it’s not my fault if you’re offended. If you think something is offensive, it’s your responsibility to deal with it.

Life isn’t fair and you aren’t going to be able to go through it in a bubble so as not to have your delicate sensibilities damaged.

At least that’s what I always thought.

I think what else made me so unsympathetic and unrepentant about the impact the ‘Zombie Jesus’ comment had was that I didn’t know the people who were offended personally. I couldn’t tell you any of their names (except for those who wrote letters, whose names I can’t remember), nor did I care.

Harsh, and probably not conducive to a successful reporting career in a small town, but it is who I was.

But recently I made what I thought was a funny comment to describe women: “long hairs.”

It made sense and makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. On average, and stereotypically, women have long(er) hair (than men), a point driven home when you live with them and their hair clogs the drain in the shower.

[Incidentally, the last time I lived with women, I actually had the longest hair in the house.]

Well, this comment didn’t go over very well with the woman I would consider my best friend.

Acknowledging now that you can’t get tone in a text message, from what I was reading of her response to my use of that comment, I assumed she was right royally pissed off and I had jeopardized our friendship.

I was so worried, I fretted about it all the next day, until we talked on the phone last night.

In the lead up to the phone call, I was thinking about my thoughts on the ‘Zombie Jesus’ hullabaloo, and how the situation changed when it came down to someone I actually knew.

Those people offended by my comment in Barrhead were just ‘other people,’ ‘faces in the crowd,’ or ‘humourless Christians.’

But my ‘long hairs’ comment was said to someone I know, love, respect and care for.

It’s kind of funny what difference knowing who you have (allegedly) offended makes — when you don’t know the people personally, who cares; when you do, you realize the impact your words have.

So, I guess the long and short of this is I will be trying to curtail my language and offensiveness. And please call me out on it if you see/hear me using it.

Or not. I don’t really give a crap what you think.