welcome back

Tinnitus is pretty bad, but I can hear again today, after spending an entire day wallowing around in the sound of silence, where everything got to feel like it’s underwater.

I can enjoy Fiona Apple again! Yay!

And I slept, sort of. With heavy drugs and a double dose of NyQuil.

Hopefully, this is me on the mend.

The dog loves my nieces. You should have seen her. Prancy dancing around the living room and foyer like she’d never seen anything more exciting in her life.

And yes, we have a foyer, but that’s because we bought a Chatham icon’s old house; the author of Romantic Kent built the place with servants and no plumbing. A hundred years later, it has plumbing, a secret set of what we call murder stairs beneath the shower and an endless stream of problems.

A money pit, really.

Bukowski would hate me, but we’d have some good times. We could talk about cats.

Target: 1400 words
Written: 415 words, novel: Father Lightning


One step closer to the weekend; one more night of garbage sleep.

Ugh. This whatever this is (not COVID again, thankfully), it’s really making it difficult to sleep. Every night, within about an hour of going to bed, my nose plugs completely, ensuring that every time I drift off, I’ll choke on my own inability to draw breath anywhere except through my mouth.

That results in wild snoring, which keeps both me and my wife up (that’s right, I’m waking myself up).

The NyQuil doesn’t help. It’s congested up so high in my noise that no Kleenex can unblock it, and no amount of blowing does anything but pop my ears.

But it’s fine all day.

Go figure.

Here’s hoping this mini-nightmare breaks soon.

I have shit to do and sleep to have.

For those that say, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, fuck you. I’d rather sleep now. Batteries need charging. Heads need to stop pounding. Bodies need to ache less. Recharging is nothing if not a wonder, and ignoring that is pure folly.

Target: 1400 words
Written: 1615 words, novel: Father Lightning

less productive

It’s weird how being in the office has had no effect on my productivity; save for the things I do for myself in a day. What a world we would have if we cut out all the unnecessary bullshit and let people do the things they love, and celebrate them for it.

No working for a dollar. No rock ‘n’ roll pros, playing for the lawyers, as Local H would say.

Just people playing on whatever they want, without judgment, only help and support.

No more assholes. No more soul crushing work. No more cruelty.

Just a life of kindness and support.

What a fucked-up world that would be, isn’t it? The fact that you’re (and by extension, me) are already thinking it’s impossible shows just how far we have to go, and how much better we could be.

It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Protopia is better than utopia, any day. Incremental improvement is still improvement; the only sin is being so far jaded that the effort becomes impossible, instead of inevitable.

Target: 1400 words
Written: 328 words, novel: Father Lightning

on strike

Well, not me, but my union is on strike. I’m considered code one, which I guess means business as usual for me. Honestly, I’m fine with that. Working normally and leaving for France, or getting partial pay, and having to spend my days tromping on a picket line?

I’d rather keep working.

My life has been through such upheaval over the past year, the kind thing to do for myself is allow myself time to relax and not stress about things. Stressing about whether or not I’m going to get enough money to cover food this week doesn’t sound like it’s conducive to that.

I support the union and its aims, as inflation has made the cost of living so much worse, but I still feel like I dodged a bullet. I’m not sure I have the bandwidth for all that at this point. I need a long break, without the constant at-at-at, just to find some way to find some semblance of a head on straight.

And then, we can get back to the business of justice and equality and all that good stuff.

For now, I hope it works out for the union; I hope it works out for taxpayers. I hope it works out for everyone.

That’s really what I hope for everyone in every situation involving injustice or inequality or general unfairness.

Sadly, I am oft disappointed. If I weren’t, Donald Trump would be in jail, Pierre Poilevre wouldn’t be anywhere near politics and Vladimir Putin would be suffering tremendously as his people ran free.

Such is not the way of the world, so it is imperative on me to make my little piece of it as bearable and kind-hearted as possible. I would not contribute to the insanity; only to the hugs in the midst of the madness.

Target: 1300 words
Written: 152 words, novel: Father Lightning

being better to myself

It’s become pretty clear to me that kindness isn’t just for the people around you, and random strangers that you let go ahead of you at the grocery store.

I’m pretty tough on myself; the result of a reversal of many years of denial and bullshit and stupidity, turned the other direction. Once I came to the realization that freedom and responsibility were inseparable, that we are both entirely free all of the time, no matter our scenario and entirely responsible for everything we do, say and think… well, it was only a matter of time before the previously repressed and desperately ignored guilt over behaving like such an asshole came to bear.

It’s been almost a decade since that realization and I’m still an ineffectual nobody; I just now more intimately aware of how my own actions, the thoughts I have and the things I say impact the world around me. People love to put realizations like this out as epiphanies, but that’s bullshit. A lifetime of behaviour, whatever it is, doesn’t change in an instant – not for the vast majority of it and us. Change is often gradual, tiny realizations we come to that shift our values, our needs, our wants.

For example, I wanted to be rich once. Now, I just want to make enough of a living not to worry about money too much, and to be able to do the things I want to do. I’m more interested in a simple life filled with joy than a lucrative one filled with bullshit. Mo’ money, mo’ problems, as they say.

(Of course, whoever complains about being rich should be forced to be dirt poor or homeless for a while. Extremes of poverty and riches each have their own particularly nasty repercussions.)

The point here is that kindness begins at home. I have to start being kinder to myself; forgiving myself for the way I behaved as a teenager, as a young man in my twenties, as an idiot finally beginning to realize what an idiot he is/was, and now, as a man in my forties whose fears and depression dictate the level of risk he’s willing to endure.

Ironically, my DNA tests suggest I am a risk taker. Perhaps I would be, under different circumstances.

For now, the biggest risk is to forgive myself, to let go the sins of the past and finally, to remember them, but to learn what they’re trying to teach me, so as not to repeat them.

(And maybe stop referring to them as sins, but rather mistakes. Whoopsies. Duhs.)

Target: 1300 words
Written: 218 words, novel: Father Lightning

not my sunday

I started this morning with a meditation on stress triggers, which had me visualize stressful situations from my past and think of ways to better confront. Unfortunately, I already know what needed to happen in those situations and how to avoid them, so all I ended up doing was rehashing how shitty the situation was.

It’s put a bit of a damper on the morning, but I’ve decided: fuck it.

Those assholes don’t have any power over me that I don’t give them. We’ve nothing to do with each other anymore, and their lies and bullying have long since come back to bite them in the ass, costing them their jobs, their reputation (what they had of one) and from the sounds of it, legal fees from suing, using the same lies, all unprovable except in their own heads.

Hilarity. One can only hope karma and justice are real things. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I’m increasingly open to the idea of a reckoning when it’s all said and done.

I’m not sure that much fits with my kindness vow; my focus is on what is, in reality, not bearded white men on thrones in the sky.

So, I wish for them to discover how their behaviour negatively affects their lives and the lives of people around them, and pray they find a way to take responsibility for their actions, and work on growing as people, so maybe by the time their lives are over, they can be the kind of people people can respect, instead of the assholes they became by believing with their delusions of grandeur and inherent self-deceit about the nature of their being.

In other words, I’m choosing to forgive and let go; not for them, because forgiveness is always about letting ourselves move on, and never about absolving others of the responsibility of their sins.

My sins won’t let me go; why should anyone else’s?

Target: 1300 words
Written: 2506 words, novel: Father Lightning

kindness focus

I’m trying to focus on being more kind. I’ll admit struggling with being too affected by the many sob stories I hear in my work. Sometimes, they make me angry. Sometimes, my unrelenting empathy makes me feel too sorry for them. Sometimes, they mirror my own depression and that feels worse.

I’d like to start, I think, when I get back from France, daily meditations on kindness, finding various quotes and theories on the virtue that might help guide me to a better headspace. I’d like to be remembered as a kind person, among other things. I’m not sure how much presence or focus or joviality I can muster these days, but kind, I think I can do.

It’s a good first step, anyway. Better than the fatalist views of the past, in any case. We only go around once, so why make life miserable for yourself and others? What’s the point of that?

Target: 1300 words
Written: 143 words, novel: Father Lightning

interesting lack of feelings

I should be more excited about going to France. I should be. I know. Ten days in Bordeaux and Paris, touring wine country and not seeing the Mona Lisa (again!) while at the Louvre?

I feel like I should be hyped, but I think I’m so wallowed in my present exhaustion to get excited. It’s like that for all travel now. No interest. No anticipatory glee. Only a grudging willingness to pack and a curse that this is going to mean no down time for the new future.

I’ve rarely remembered being so tired as I have in the last year. From the psychotic stress of the last job, to the intense learning period of the new one, to unhealthy and/or dying parents and pets, COVID, Donald Trump and the negative news cycle, to competing with depression for the ability to do or remember anything properly, it’s been one long trial after another, and while travelling to another country sounds like a great way to get away and will I’m sure be fun, it also means I won’t get much done while I’m gone. It will be a lot of walking and moving and eating, and probably acid reflux, and I will come back as burnt out or more than when I left. What I need is a few days of routine; of relative ease.

A long weekend where we don’t do anything but read, write, play video games and maybe enjoy a beer or two and some good, relaxing, playful sex.

Perfect, right?

Far better than returning to the Louvre after 30 years to find out that it’s not fucking open on the only day you can go, which is almost worse than when you went as a teenager on exchange and the Mona Lisa was “closed for cleaning”, because at least there’s a lot of other cool stuff to see. Good thing it’s overrated, or I’d feel worse about that. Picnics in the park, anyone?

Maybe I’ll go find Jim Morrison’s grave again. Or will that be closed as well?

Target: 1300 words
Written: 41 words, novel: Father Lightning

forest edge

I wrote another hip little story a while back called Forest Edge. Inspired by the Tragically Hip song of the same name, it takes an incel and sticks him into a high fantasy world, where things are considerably more laidback (similar to Rat Queens).

I empathize with incels to an extent, because I was one of them at one point. I mean, not the violent threats or anything, but I understand being a guy who thinks he’s good enough for girls being utterly see-through to them in reality. I know that frustration. That said, I never ever took it to the point where I felt it was my right to “get” any particular woman, or that I had the right to force myself upon any of them.

I took the heartbreak of rejection like a champ, and instead, internalized it into a nice, unhealthy depression. I was more likely to beat myself up than anyone else. I never actually thought it was the girl’s fault, other than the usual, but he’s a jerk kind of thing. The rest was “why am I not good enough?”, which can be both a seriously destructive place to land, and a building block for future improvements to the self.

I’ve since come to realize how toxic the “nice guy” trope is. Nice guys finish last all the time. And most of the time, someone in this position isn’t doing themselves any favours. They aren’t dressing nicer, finding confidence or focusing on being a good, interesting person first. No, we wear old, shitty clothes, assume entitlement without effort, and never actually understand that a claim to any particular person isn’t automatic.

We have to be interesting enough ourselves, to hold the qualities that attract that other persons before there’s even a remote chance. And yeah, sorry guys. Sometimes, you just have to be better looking.

You have to have something to offer, and more importantly, any given potential love interest has to be interested in what you’re offering. You could be an awesome dude, well-dressed, intelligent, kind and good to children, but if she’s looking for someone who makes her laugh?


And that’s totally her right. Just because you think you’re entitled to Natalie Portman and Rihanna doesn’t mean she’s not thinking the same thing about Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling. And you ain’t them, so good luck.

The thing is – no one’s entitled to anyone else. No one’s body. No one’s respect. There is a certain basic level of respect and courtesy we should treat people with, unless they prove themselves such reprobates as to exhaust basic decency. Anything above that has to be earned.

You aren’t owed shit, no matter how lonely you feel or how horny you are. And if you think you are, fuck you.

Target: 1300 words
Written: 742 words, novel: Father Lightning