Mostly the Story of Avi

My Regular Mind, January 30, 2011 at 11h53

Almost a year ago, I had finished eating an avocado and decided to put the seed in a planter. A few months later there was a stem sprouting from the seed, with some little green leaves flourishing at the top! I was fascinated by the insistence of life, which is what inspired me to plant a balcony garden. I’ve taken pictures of Little Avi’s progress over time, such as the day he got his own place. He loves his new digs.

On the way home last night I shared a taxi with an Austrian couple. They’d been in Vancouver for six months, and I asked what they thought about it so far. In Austria, he said, he only paid fifteen dollars a month for the equivalent cell phone package he has now. Here, though, he pays sixty. To be honest, mine is even more than that, which is all very absurd. Those companies must return substantial profits.

There’s a lot of growth in that industry these days.

Leave it to a night at the bar to remind me why I spend very few nights at bars. When I was younger, I didn’t mind that the music was too loud, and I didn’t mind that it was too cramped. I guess this is one of the hundred other indicators that I’m getting older.

Avi too. Just under a year old, and just over a meter tall. He’s a perfect reminder that if the conditions are right, you have to use the opportunity to thrive. Do something you love doing long enough and it’s bound to pay off. Otherwise, who knows, maybe you didn’t really love it as much as you thought.

Excitement Abound

My Regular Mind, January 27, 2011 at 06h08

Without exaggeration, I can say that I haven’t been this excited about music in a long time. I’ve been exploring my guitar again, and now there’s a beautiful puzzle unlocking at my fingertips. I’m seeing sounds as shapes now, hearing subtleties I’ve never noticed. A complex system of notes and patterns that make sense in a way I’ve never known. For the first time in fifteen years, I’m starting to understand this instrument. It’s all very, very exciting.

On a related note, the Great Big Project is becoming more defined. All these stray ideas are coming together in harmony; characters are developing, plot is advancing, conflict is building. I used to know how it was all going to end, but now I’m not so sure. Even I can’t predict it any more.

I’ve been looking at various web sites that may help me develop my own future. I’m seeing opportunities at every inconvenience. Possibilities. There’s a theory that exists wherein every possible decision creates its own alternate universe. In one of them I might be a pilot, in another a rock star, and in another I’m sitting here in this same chair with a different shirt on. Nobody really knows where any decision will lead, but I think that when we do what we love, we compile good decisions that lead to good outcomes.

I’ve got a pretty solid compilation going on. Let’s see how this all plays out.

Catching Up

My Regular Mind, January 12, 2011 at 03h24

These are the conditions where Vancouver shuts down. Overnight snow, morning rain, a city covered in dreary frozen slush. I saw a bus this morning give up at Vine Street, and you can tell everyone feels the same way. In this weather, the city just stands still, a remarkable feat for such a busy place.

Last week I was the key witness of an assault. The mindlessness of it all sits in my memory, reminding me of how sudden everything can be. We’re in such a rush that we lose our minds over things that don’t matter.

Maybe this weather is the universe telling us to slow down. Racing from one moment to the next, we barely see the blur in-between.

This new year has aged me. We do grown-up things without even noticing them, and then one day it all catches up. We realize exactly where we are.

Be mindful that time does pass by, that good things do come, and then go. Each moment will be the only one like it. Focus. Make it the one you want.


My Regular Mind, December 31, 2010 at 04h21

The day started with bedsheets pulled up over my head. Some sour thought nagged at the back of my mind, warning me not to get out of bed. But I did anyway, forcing myself into the day. Maybe a hot shower would wash the hollow feeling somewhere far, far from me. But the water was hot and that was all. My mood did not change, did not drip from my body as I stood in the tub cold and wet.

I tried curling up on the bed again, but I couldn’t stay there. I left home like a child. Angry, upset, scared. I did not lock the door behind me. Continued…

Seasonal Madness and Supermarketry

My Regular Mind, December 19, 2010 at 08h01

Using public transportation is a great way to get around the city. Under ideal conditions, it is efficient and reliable, and you’re never standing on a crowded and overheated bus as it inches toward a traffic jam caused by a parking dispute. This of course leads to the ongoing debate of pulling in versus backing in. I don’t know if there is an actual law, so I won’t pressure you with my opinion except to say that I’m with George on this one.

Typical gray winter days loom over Vancouver, ruining nearly everyone’s Corn Flakes. If it’s not currently raining, it’s either just stopped or it’s about to start. Usually both. This relentlessly wet weather brings out the Irresponsible Umbrella Owners, a secret society that I’m convinced is dedicated to poking out my eyes. As a person of above-average height, you can imagine my perfectly rational fear of these people. They’ve yet to connect with more than a scratch, but I have once again initiated my seasonal defense mode. Oh yes, it’s on.

A few weeks ago there was a suspicious incident with a local specialty supermarket. Early one morning, I saw that fire investigators had it all roped off and were inside beeping and reasoning. A sign on the door now says that it was declared arson, and as I’ve learned from movies, arson is always suspicious. Hypothetically, if there were a supermarket of similar specialty in the same area, this would be an opportune motive to shut them down and ruin their inventory. But hey, draw your own conclusions, I’m just spreading gossip.

There’s an underlying frustration during the holidays that can’t quite be obscured by massive sales and Salvation Army carolers. People with no time, no patience, no money, whatever. It affects drivers, pedestrians, and grocers alike, and you can either let it affect you or let it pass right through. Lately I’m a ‘pass through’ kind of fellow, and when the seasonal madness approaches, I grab a rum-and-nog and relax by the imitation fireplace with my best gal.

My Favourite Briefs

My Regular Mind, November 16, 2010 at 04h39

Believe it or not — and I certainly hope you do — occasionally I’ll hear that someone enjoyed one of my stories. This always leads to a little parade in my heart, with balloons and streamers and stilt-walkers. Herein is a shortlist of a few such parade-inducing briefs so you can avoid the fluff of my entire catalogue.

Flowers For Pepito was inspired by one of Kristian Adam’s beautiful paintings. As soon as I saw it, an entire story poured out of me, and I knew I couldn’t capture it all. Within the story are hints at this bigger story, and I would be delighted if one day I had the time to tell it.

Dolls was for a monthly contest done by Other Voices where they offer a prompt such as, in this case, no man is completely masculine and no woman solely feminine. I imagine the main character in this story as a living embodiment of a Russian doll, but hopefully with more interesting redundancy.

Under The Bed was based on this feeling I had one morning that there was something under my bed. When I lifted up my air mattress, there was nothing there but dust, but it gave me some flashbacks to some of my childhood worries. The same day that I posted this, three of my friends let me know that they enjoyed it. They might have once had similar worries.

Petals In The Fall is a story I read at an open mic, and afterwards a couple people told me it was their favourite of the three stories I’d read. It was written based on my own speculation of a conversation I was eavesdropping on.

Regrowth was read by a friend of mine who subsequently told me she had a nightmare about it. I suppose that’s just about the highest compliment for a story that is intended to conjure these similar fears. Like most of my briefs, it was written impulsively based on an idea I had, this one being about modifying plant genetics.

These last three are speculative fiction about the end of the world. Nobody told me these stories were particularly good so I won’t bother going into detail; all you need to know is that I like them and that’s why they’re here. The first is called Darkness, the second is called While We Were Sleeping, and the third is called Time Running. Who knows, maybe the three scenarios are in fact linked to the same event. Only time will tell…

Generating Content

My Regular Mind, November 8, 2010 at 01h47

When I first started this site years ago, I found it enormously easy to update frequently. There was even a month when I had updated almost daily, something I probably couldn’t achieve today. Back then I wrote very emotionally, very abstractly, and now, even though that style comes naturally to me, I don’t enjoy it. I want my work to have a deeper significance no matter how artistically constraining it is. This post will not be constraining or significant: I will let it be what it is.

I’ve been generating content on various sites since the mid-to-late 90’s, back when not everyone and their dog had a web page. The same day that my family got Internet access, I bought a book on HTML programming. This was when we had a top-of-the-line 56K modem that barely achieved 14K. My first web page — (called My Asylum, clearly during my black-jeans-only phase) — was a collection of various links and a logo drawn in MS Paint. I thought it was cutting edge. It had animated GIFs.

My next site came years later and was much more refined. I called it iMike, which more accurately reflected my less gloomy, more geeky lifestyle. It’s still up — surprising, since Tripod used to have a tendency to remove inactive accounts. All the manual coding became so tedious that I eventually signed up for one of the earlier ‘blogging’ sites called Diaryland. Later I moved my content to Blogspot, and finally to this present site, my handcrafted, WordPress-powered The

Today I find myself updating less and less frequently. Multiple unfinished drafts glare at me, pending, but never quite seem perfect. Years ago I wouldn’t have had a problem posting them. I must have grown, evolved, improved; became cynical, pessimistic, unenthusiastic. Maybe I’m waiting for some cosmic signal to risk everything for this hobby of mine, something I used to consider a passion. But what does passion mean anyway?

A Curious Example of Corporate Restrictions

My Regular Mind, September 26, 2010 at 05h47

Years ago, the corporation I work for centralized our Internet access so that it ran through its head office in the States. They didn’t notify us of this change, not that they necessarily had to, but I only realized this after noticing my external IP address was located in Illinois. At first this didn’t affect me at all, but after a while they started restricting some web access. Again, I can’t emphasize enough that this is entirely within their rights to do, but lately it seems a little absurd.

The first sites to go were the obvious social media sites (like Facebook and MySpace) and adult content sites (like 99% of the rest of the Internet). Then they started expanding the restrictions to include streaming media (goodbye Youtube, goodbye radio), then gaming sites (including educational games, which were great fun on lunch breaks), then any sites that include certain keywords, until now it seems like its more of a question of which sites aren’t blocked.

It wasn’t until I tried researching how to donate my hair to cancer patients that I realized the extent of this absurdity. It’s funny that ‘Donating Hair For Cancer Victims’ is blocked because of its malicious reputation.

Sure makes me wonder.

My New Leopard-Print Zippo Lighter

My Regular Mind, August 24, 2010 at 12h24

Whenever I encounter a particularly unpleasant person I generally assume they’re just having a bad day. It’s getting harder to be naive these days. I saw a girl yesterday drop a lighter, and she didn’t notice so I picked it up and approached her.

“Excuse me,” I said, lighter in hand, ready to complete my Good Deed For The Day.

“I have a boyfriend,” said Miss Derisive, her head spinning around like a demon that could never be properly exorcised.

In the spirit of the stairs, I should have marveled at how delighted that boyfriend must be with such a charming lady as she, but instead I put the leopard-print Zippo lighter in my pocket and walked away. Regretfully, of course, because now she must think she was justified, now her presumptuous bitchiness will continue unimpeded until she loses every last thing in her purse.

So it goes?

I made up for yesterday’s missed Good Deed by starting the day off with a zinger. A construction worker waiting for the bus almost forgot his hard hat on the bench. And properly, he just said thank you.

By Leaps and Bounds (and Plunges)

My Regular Mind, August 16, 2010 at 03h41

I walked to the edge, looked down, knew I wouldn’t, and jumped anyway.

The last time I dove into water was when I was 8, and even then it wasn’t really diving since I always jumped feet-first. This kind of head-first diving was something from the swimming lessons that I didn’t take because of chronic ear infections. Because of these infections, I never learned how to tread water, and only this past year have I gone swimming when I was at the beach. And with growing confidence, now I can dive into a lake from about a meter up! And not just once, but three times, and dozens of times from lower heights! If I keep this up, soon I won’t even need my water wings!

On a completely different note, one of the points I was trying to really get at with my Comicle called “Patriotism is Relative” was my belief that any two people will always be able to find common ground between them. Sure, you may have to use extreme examples — ie, the comic’s punchline — but it’s possible. I’m not a fan of division, and there are so many ways societies divide themselves, as seen with politics, or sports, or food choices. And of course, some division is necessary in order to stimulate discourse and develop new ideas, but it seems to me like when we attack or defend these differences with hostility, we’re just not being productive. So next time you’re about to get into an argument, start by agreeing that you’re both alive, and go from there.