Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Your Ugly Human Heart

Full disclosure: I actually started writing this post a week and a half ago, after thinking about writing it for a week, before promptly leaving in my "drafts" (pulling back the curtain for you a little there). Anways, I badly need to write something and finishing this seems like the best way to accomplish that. Here you go:

Something that really, for real, happens to me is that after I’ve put up a bunch of longer posts in a row, I begin to think that every post has to be that way. I convince myself that only long posts are worthwhile and that if I’m not making some profound examinations about life, then it’s not worth doing any writing at all.

The reality, of course, is that I can write whatever I want, about whatever I want and put it up here because I am the “auteur”.

I was thinking about all of this on my lunch today because I was having trouble coming up a topic that would be suitably "big" to explore for a log post. The reality is that I can really talk about any topic I want. Putting a healthy amount of pressure on myself to write things "long" and "big" is good, because that I will write better things more often and it keeps my critical thinking active, but I also need to be wary of killing my writing drive by placing my expectations too high. It's a delicate balance.

After realizing that I am in fact the author of this blog, I decided to focus on a simple topic and write about music.

Every year, for the first six months of the year, I am convinced that I am not checking out enough new music and am so behind on what's going on in punk. I worry that I am losing touch and am in the process of losing my interest in music. Do I spend too much time listening to podcasts? Is that curtailing my music intake? AM I LOSING MY IDENTITY!?

But then, every single year, a whole tonne of new music comes out in the summer and it clicks with me really well and the problem is averted.

This year, I worried about the absolutely phenomenal Yunahon Mixtape by Oso Oso (Get it! It's free!) and Nightmare Logic by Power Trip being the only two releases of the year that were really sticking with me. How could my year-end list be two releases long?! Come on!

And then I got Vision by Pet Symmetry and Modern Pressure by Daniel Romano on the same day. Everything is okay. Flashing red light and blaring horn alarm have been turned off.

I loved Pet Hounds by Pet Symmetry so much; it was one of my favourite releases of 2015; so I was eager to see how the band would follow it up. Pet Hounds was a tight and compact power-pop album that was just banger after banger. Vision changes that up by adding some more experimental elements (keyboards, noise, a lot of different effects), a few longer, softer, and slower songs, a hardcore-ish number, and a WAY different and more distorted bass tone. This may just be me speculating, but I feel like Evan Weiss wrote this album on bass, as it figures a lot more into the backbone of the songs, whereas I feel like that last album was written on guitar. Cool stuff.

I am a pretty big Daniel Romano homer. I LOVE Attack in Black. His country albums range from "I like this" to "I listen to this with the lights off while I'm sad". Mosey was a wonderful departure in his style and sound and it made me wonder what type of 60's music he was going to pastiche next. Modern Pressure follows Mosey and is, somehow, even better. Romano moves into a mix of roots rock, country, and folk that, to me, sounds a lot like Music From Big Pink filtered through Romano's musical past. The bass playing is insane, the lyrics are wonderful, and the arrangements are sublime. Also, the various artworks are wonderful. Though I don't know if anything will touch Yunahon, this is making a pretty serious run at it. Amazing album.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

So It's Come to This: A Baseball Post

I haven’t written a baseball post in what seems like forever. I can discern two reasons for this:

1.    I have been pretty busy at work during MLB’s off-season. Whereas I would obsess over rosters and trades and prospects and lineups in years past, I do that to a lesser extent now. School had a lot of downtime. Fitting your whole life into the eight waking hours you aren’t chained to a desk does not.

2.    The Jays resembled a very large, very hot dog turd at the start of the 2017 season.

But regardless of how much work I have to do, baseball is still never very far away from my attention, so I still have some thoughts which only feel at home on the warm, lime green confines of IMU, so here we go.

The Blue Jays started this season extremely badly. Almost everything that could go wrong went wrong. Josh, Troy, Russ, Sanch, and Happ all got hurt and Jose started looking a lot more like Josh Phelps than Jose Bautista. When a team loses all of its good players in the first two weeks, it typically does not follow that by winning games.

Note: When I was a kid, I LOVED Josh Phelps and was convinced he would be around forever.

It’s funny how quick baseball fans’ expectations and temperaments can change. From 1994-2014, the Jays ranged from “yep, they’re bad” to “two or three pieces away” with nothing to show for it. Then I was spoiled with a magical 2015 season in which everything went right and was the most fun baseball could be, and a 2016 season where the Jays substituted magic with “just playing well the whole year”. I had waited my whole life to see the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs and both of those years absolutely met the unreasonably high expectations that I had set.

I, along with many others, had mixed feelings about 2017 though. It seemed like the team was increasingly leaning on the “if this, this, and this work out, we’ll be good” crutch which is always the sign of a middling baseball team. Then, in the space of two weeks at the start of April, the beautiful “playoff team” image of the Jays had been shattered. Josh Donaldson was hurt and Chris Caughlan was playing third base. Aaron Sanchez was hurt and Mat Latos was starting. Edwin Encarnacion was playing for the Cleveland Indians. Jose Bautista was swinging through letter-high fastballs.

Baseball is unlike any other sport because of how long its season is. Playing 162 games over the course of 6 months means that you have to be patient during bad stretches because they always come and are something every team (and more importantly fans) must endure. But the Jays started 1-9 and it got pretty hard to imagine them playing the first place team for the rest of the season. But because it was only the second week of April, you had to say "it's early", instead of "burn it to the ground".

The team’s recent success brought in loads of new fans, which is to be expected when a traditionally bad team suddenly wins a lot in a huge city (see: Raptors, 2013-14 season). However, those fans also don’t know what it’s like to suffer through a bad baseball season (they also *shudders* do the wave), because not only do you have to watch a shitty version of something you love, but you have to watch it every day for six months.

But even though watching Ryan Goins take everyday at-bats for a whole month can be tiring, it is much better than the alternative, which is no baseball at all. The fact that every MLB team plays almost every day (there are 21 days during the season in which I am not blessed with Blue Jays baseball) is a huge part of what makes me love baseball so much. Once you get into the habit of watching the team every night, the team takes a special significance and becomes an integral part of your routine. They are always there. If I have a shitty day at work, the game becomes a nice thing to unwind to when I get home. It’s something I do friends and it’s something I do alone. It’s there when I feel good and when I feel bad. Baseball never stops and I love that so much. Once you are sucked in, watching your favourite team becomes a very meditative experience. It becomes an automatic process in the best way. It’s at once something you can have on behind on you while you cook dinner and something that keeps you on the edge of your seat with your friends. Few things in the universe can exist with a duality like that, but baseball can because it is unique and it is the best.

Sidebar: The fact that the long games and season drive away people who would otherwise be casual fans makes me love it even more. Get the fuck out of here.

Baseball’s meditative nature has turned it into something essential to me: A time to reflect on my thoughts, feelings, and life. Baseball has space, which lets your mind breathe during the game and consider other things. I could conjure up hundreds of examples of this happening in my life, but I will choose the following:

One summer, I lived alone in Guelph after I had finished my undergraduate degree at the city's university. At 23, it was my first time ever living alone and I was very sad and unsuccessful in lots of ways for the entire summer. I spent most of my time alone and it was a very trying time for me. One thing that I had was no-name stereo receiver that I bought at a weird odds and ends store downtown to use with my record player, which also had a radio built-in. Every night that summer, I listened to the Blue Jays game on radio with Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby doing the call. I had a few friends in the city that summer, but I like to think that Jerry and Alan were my best friends. Listening to the Blue Jays on the radio gave me at least one thing that I loved every day. I would feel pretty bad most days, but that would subside when Jerry's calming voices would proclaim "the Blue Jays are in flight" after an Edwin Encarnacion home run. The team was terrible (4 out 5 starters got hurt in a week and a half in June), but the season was punctuated with small victories that felt like everything when they happened, like Edwin's great coming-out season or Colby Rasmus going 5-5 after moving to the 2-hole.

Another sidebar: Listening to a whole season on the radio was a significant moment in me being a shitty baseball hipster, as baseball on the radio was the main medium by which the sport was consumed for about 50 years. This is unique to baseball because of how old the professional leagues are.

Baseball is so important to me for all of these reasons. It does the amazing task of distracting me just enough to not focus solely on things that are bad while still allowing me to process them.

But this post isn't just a lengthy diatribe on why baseball is just the best. It just mostly is.

I said all of this to give context to the fact that the Blue Jays 2017 season felt a little bit weird to me for the first month. It felt very different. After two years of amazing success, this was such a quick, crushing return to the reality that your favourite baseball team is kind of bad for most of its existence. Unless, you are this guy. The last few years, I've grown a lot more skeptical about the state of the world and find myself continually angered by some of the things that happen and the rationale behind them. It's nice to be able to escape that by watching Brett Cecil's curveball at night. Now they are not doing so hot, but the funny thing is that they can still be that escape,

It's strange because when the team rattled off seven losses in a row, it almost felt like I was returning to a comfortable world I had been away from. I had watched the Blue Jays lose forever. This was just more of what I loved! But it also felt shitty because it was definitely the end of the murderer's row Jay's lineup that had led them to the ALCS the two years prior. It was nice and bad at the same time.

It's an ethereal thing, but the 2017 Jays team feels a lot more like the teams of the 00's than the phenomenal ones of the last two years. Things like Chris Caughlin diving over Yadier Molina are the sorts of small victories that I would pull out the ticker tape for in 2014. The infield tonight, which is currently losing to the Braves, is Smoak-Travis-Goins-Barney. Maybe they'll turn it around. Maybe they'll turn it around in two years. Maybe it will be another two decades. There's no way that I can know.

But thinking about all of these differences, I forgot the most crucial fact of all:

Baseball is always there, every day. They played yesterday, they played today, and they'll play tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Knowing I Don't Think About You, Even Though I Said I Do

After that last post, I thought that something I would like to add is the soundtrack to that time in my life.

These three albums always remind me of the early days volunteering at KWAG:

Those sure are three sad albums about being alone!

Also these two songs, oddly enough, were just constantly repeated:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Out of Order Signs on Things That Work

In May 2013 I was very confused about what I was going to do with my life going forward. There were many different things going on in my life and almost all of them seemed like they weren’t long-term things. I had the worst job I had ever had and was looking for the fastest possible way out of it. I seeing a girl mostly out of convenience and was planning to break it off with her at any moment. My future was pretty hazy and I had no idea at all about what I would be doing even in 6 months.

Amidst all of this, there were three constants in my life. One was my wonderful friends and family, who have steadfastly supported me, even when I was kind of stupid and not concretely aiming at anything. Another was Beat Noir, which was always important to me and always something that I valued being a part of. The last was my involvement at Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG).

Up to this point in my life, I had been volunteering at KWAG as much as possible. Of particular importance was a week I had spent working with their March Break Camp earlier in the year. I think the gallery was kind of taken aback that I volunteered every single day of the camp, as most people wouldn’t come in for that much time, but I had nothing else going on at the time, so I really threw myself into. As cliché as it is to say this about working with kids, that week profoundly touched me and was something that I really needed in my life at that point. A 10 year-old kid doesn’t care that you work overnight shifts stocking grocery shelves and can barely afford to take the bus to the art gallery; they just think you’re cool and funny. The great part about being adored like that is that it makes you try harder to become the person that those people see you as.

I took literally every volunteer shift available at the gallery and told the people there that I was going to keep volunteering that much until they gave me a job. I came to everything. Family Sunday, Open Houses before concerts, an art show put on by all of the elementary schools in the area, I did it all.

The next opportunity coming up was KWAG’s Annual General Meeting, in which the board of directors would discuss the gallery funding, how much they made, attendance, the shows, etc.  In order to keep up my routine of giving them as much facetime with me as possible and to learn about some of the inner workings of the gallery, I decided that I would attend the meeting.

In the week prior to the meeting, I received an email from someone with whom I worked with at the gallery saying that they had a few positions open at the gallery for the upcoming summer, with the one caveat being that they must be a student returning to school in the fall. Upon reading the email, I knew that this was something I absolutely had to pursue, regardless of how much work it was.

Sometimes it can be easy to quickly dismiss something because you don’t think that you will qualify for it or deserve, but that is also what the bastards want you to think. My parents had asked me about grad school, but I always quickly dismissed it, thinking that I was far too stupid to ever continue my education.

My thoughts process went as follows:

“Okay, so it is only open to returning students. I am not one of those.”
“Yes, but how can I become one?”
“By applying to grad school?”
“Maybe I will qualify for this job if I tell them that I have applied to Master’s programs.”
“Okay, then let’s email Sally. She’s always had your back and even sent you that really nice email after that presentation.”

Then I did all of that, which was a small start down the path towards me applying for my master’s program. It was a sunny afternoon and I was sitting on my bed in my bedroom at the Shanley house.

My new plan was to attend the Annual General Meeting, which I figured would surprise the people at the gallery in a good way. They would be very impressed. Then I would run into Nicole and tell her that I applied to the position and ask if it was okay that I had my applications out (there was only one application, in reality), but hadn’t heard back yet. This would put me in a good position to get the job, which would help me out a lot in my life.

The Annual General Meeting was on a hot night in late-May. I went through my clothes and tried to pick out something to wear. I ended up picking my pair of “nice shorts” and a short-sleeved button-down plaid shirt because I am very stupid sometimes. I thought I looked pretty good though.

When I got to the meeting, I quickly realized that most people there from a different tax bracket, as they were in nice suits and I stuck out like a sore thumb. I didn’t even have socks on for Christ’s sake.

I sat through the whole meeting, despite none of the material pertaining to me even slightly. Upon entry, I received a copy of KWAG’s Annual Report, which was sort of a published version of the meeting. Most galleries make them because they’re an easy way to present everything that the gallery does over the course of a year to potential business partners. I scoured the report throughout the entire meeting, flipping through all of the pages many times over while suits talked about the need for more funding.

It was thrilling and new for me to experience all of this. At the time, KWAG was a paragon of achievement to me and it seemed like everything would be okay if I could work my way into the place somehow. If volunteering at the camp did that much for me, how much would working there do? I still wasn’t part of the gallery, but I was now more than a visitor and that was exciting.

After the meeting, my plan went off without a hitch. I talked to Nicole, mentioned the job and my plans for grad school and she responded enthusiastically that that would be fine. It was all very exciting. I still didn’t know what was going to happen in the near future, but now there were some very positive possible outcomes for the first time in a long time and that felt really good.

This night has been one of those times that sticks to your memory since it happened. For a few different reasons, that I’m sure I could parse through if I took the time, it has taken on a certain significance and I still think about it often.

It’s been especially present in my mind lately because preparing the Annual Report for the gallery I currently work at has been one of the main tasks in my employment here. Last week while I was editing the text for it, that hot night in May popped into my mind and I had a moment where I had to stop and collect myself. I never would have thought that a glossy magazine would be such a crucial link to the past for me, but here we are. What was once this interesting key to my future is now something that I actually make. It seemed so exotic and important to me at the time, but now it’s a bullet point on my weekly “To Do” list. When I was at KWAG’s meeting, I really wanted to know how a gallery works on the inside and insert myself into that. It used to be this ideal situation that I could maybe one day attain, but now it’s just work.

The purpose of this post is not for me to draw attention to any successes I have had or for me to smile encouragingly upon my past self while he was going through a hard time, but to draw attention to how much I have changed over the four years since that night. I think it’s important to reflect upon who you used to be, who you are, and the space that exists between those two people. If you look back to the things you used to make and the person you were and think “Yes, that was awesome”, I think it’s more than likely that you are ignoring a few flaws and are probably doomed to make the same mistakes you always do. If you can look back and separate the good from the bad and appreciate both, then it can give you good grounding to continue growing as a person and be somebody that people like to talk to.

And hell, maybe I do need to draw upon a little more of the doe-eyed optimism that I had towards the art world back then, because I’m sure it would help.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Blow It Away and Wish for More

I’ve gone through a pretty big period of writer’s block recently and haven’t been particularly inspired to write lately, so you’ll have to forgive me if the rust on my writing is especially evident right now.

My daily responsibilities, things like making dinner, walking the dog, doing laundry, etc., have started to take over my free time and I find it hard to make time for writing a blog or work on short stories and songs. All of those have to be done and when you combine the time and effort that they take up, in addition to the 9ish hours I spend on the way to, at, and coming home from work, I find that I’m just too tired to even put five words beside each other. This makes for a silly ultimatum though: Either quit my job and write full-time, pass off all household responsibilities to Becks and spend all my free time writing, or just do it all and be tired.

I hope that you can tell I’m just being silly and that I’m going to try to commit to the last one.

I find it troubling that I haven’t been motivated to write lately and have gotten much stuff up here or into the “Short Stories” folder on my computer. Work has been relatively tame lately and hasn’t been driving me crazy the way that it sometimes does, so should I not be directing this energy towards writing? I know that there are some busy weeks on the horizon that will no doubt suck up almost all of my energy, so I’m worried that the last two months will turn into a batch of wasted time and a big missed opportunity.

I think that something else that has contributed to me letting my motivation slip away has been the upcoming trip to Europe that I’m taking with Becks. I think that I subconsciously put things off because I plan to write like a fiend while I’m there. This is not a healthy way to approach a large project. While I do plan to write as much as I can while we travel through Paris, Italy, and Germany (this no doubt a result of my infatuation with the Lost Generation), I think that the trip has developed into something unrealistic in my mind. I’ll try to write as much as I can, but I will not have endless free time to develop my creative pursuits. I can’t allow my whole writing project to hinge on a two-week trip.

God, I hate the way this text looks. It feels like recalling the way I write casually and the words I like to use is the hardest thing in the world. I don’t want all of this to sound like a professional email I’m sending to someone I don’t know.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Ass. There we go.

I have an especially hard time writing lyrics, which is not a new development. I used to use writing songs as a primary outlet for my feelings, but that has really waned wince I joined Beat Noir. I think a big part of it was that I knew that any lyrics I wrote would not be as good as Duff’s, so I gradually stopped bothering, though by no conscious effort of my own. It weirdly started to feel like I didn’t have things to write songs about and no proper way to say them. Then I had things to write about, but found I couldn’t force a word out of my head. Song-wise I’ve got at least a sketch of everything on guitar (which is actually good!), but everything else is nowhere close. I try to write about work and politics, but find it just comes out as hackneyed and juvenile. Things make a lot of sense in my mind, but for some reason any genuine thoughts and emotion don’t translate when I try to write them in a notebook. It’s frustrating.

For now, this is my plan:

Take a deep breath and think about the plan for the year. It’s perfectly reasonable and attainable. Don’t forget that you’re talented and smart enough to do this. Have confidence in what you’re doing and don’t stop working on stories on songs, no matter how trivial aspects of it may seem.

And please, ask me how this is all going when I see you, because that will surely motivate me to do more.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Don't Want to Lose What All Those Words Meant

The summer of 2015 was the last time that Beat Noir played shows regularly. During that summer, I bought a disposable camera with the intention of continuing that trend for the foreseeable future. I kind of always considered myself the archivist of the band and tried to make sure that I would have a lot of stuff to remember each thing we did.

I recently got these pictures developed and my friend Erik posted a few recently as well. I figured that posting a few of them here will serve as a proper memorial to one of my favourite things ever and putting film pictures on a blogspot will also be the strongest pledge I can make to my dedication to dead media.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm Remembering Those Times Too

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my identity and the various pots I've got my spoons in in my life. I do think that I crossover a lot of subcultures, but I wonder if a particular one wins out over the others in terms of the perception of me by others. How do others see me?

We don't live in a world of absolutes, so I guess the easy answer to this issue would be that your identity depends on the person you're talking to. Each person you interact with approaches you with a wide range of experiences, preconceptions, and biases which all affect how they consider you. To my co-workers, my love of baseball and music stick out a lot more than my interest in art because we all already share an interest in the latter. As a result of that, they probably see me as more of a punk dude or a "bro", because let me tell ya, the artworld knows fuck-all about sports.

Also, as a sidenote, I am consistently surprised by how little people know about punk music and the subculture. I guess I spent a lot of time hanging out with mostly punk people, which explains it, but it still surprises me when I mention a band like Against Me! and get blank stares.

By the same token, I'm sure that I'm the "art" person to my punk friends.

But with this in mind, can I control my identity? If I try hard enough, will one identity win out over the other ones? What the fuck is my identity now, anyways?

I guess that I've been thinking about this a lot because for a long time I could be pigeonholed as a punk. This was especially true when I was in Beat Noir, as BN was always my main pursuit artistically. Being a band guy was an integral part of my personality and I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "Are you an artist?" since starting my job. Since I'm not a practicing artist, at least in the "makes tangible artworks for the purpose of showing them in a show" sense of the term, my response was always "I'm a musician", which usually led to some haughty art fuck being slightly condescending about my elision of "artist" and "punk band".

Now I am sort of not a musician because Beat Noir isn't a band anymore. I'm still (half-assedly) working on songs, but not seriously enough that I would label it as my main pursuit. I've also had a lot of trouble doing any creative writing lately, as I'm sure you can tell if you frequent this blog with anything resembling regularity. For a time I would have maybe self-identified as a writer, but I've been kind of doubting that lately too. I am still less than a year removed from finishing Engineering Failure, undoubtedly the biggest writing project I've ever finished, so I might be being a little hard on myself, but the aforementioned doubt does carry a lot of validity with it. Maybe I'm not a writer.

Do I become a "Museum Educator" now? This is definitely not how I want to be known. I need to avoid that, for the sake of my sanity.

I feel like I'm using a lot of big words in this post to make myself feel better about not writing so much,

The project that I outlined late last year has slowed to a trickle lately. I initially was very gung-ho about it and outlined a whole schedule to keep myself on-track, but I can assure you that I am very behind schedule now. I think I'm still in fine shape, but I do really need to stay on it.

In thinking about my identity, I came to the conclusion that calling myself a writer would probably be what would make me feel most comfortable about myself. I also don't want to ever let go of the part of myself that's a competent musician in a punk band.

The path to both of those labels lies in working on stories and working on songs and writing on this fuckin' blog. It's important to remember what inspires you, hold onto the feeling it gives you like it's rope ladder, and never look away from it. As easy as it can be to let yourself grow stagnant and sink into watching TV, you can never let that happen, because nobody ever changed the world by sitting on their couch.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Entry #100 on the "Songs That Make Me Think About Jack and Cry" List.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Through Troubled Times

It is fair to say that most people's opinion of the world in the recent past has been a negative one and this is mostly due to American politics. The results of the most recently general election and the ensuing results has been divisive to say the least and the kickback online from everything not far-right on the political spectrum has been pronounced online. With an event as significant as the election of President Trump, the trend on social media has been that you must saying something about it, or risk being seen as "un-political", which, in a US election, is next to evilness. Seemingly every person in North America had something they did to express their opinions on the new President of the United States.

One such instance was Josh Caterer, the frontman of the great Smoking Popes posting a video of himself playing an acoustic cover of Elvis Costello's cover of "(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?"

I had never heard the song before, immediately checked it out, and found that it really resonated with me. Since then it's gotten a lot of plays and has sort of become my personal anthem for navigating the world right now.

I find that the phrase "Peace and Love" can be irritating because, for me, it's come to mean that the person is naïve in matters of politics. Though I recognize the importance of the hippie counter-culture in terms of 1960's resistance movements, most people that adhere to that lifestyle now are morons. To say "We just need peace and love!" is to dramatically simplify global politics to the point that it is clear you do not understand the state of the world. It's the equivalent of saying "People need to be good." Of course they do, but that doesn't mean that most will do the opposite. No shit we need peace and love. How about you add free food to that too?

That type of statement really bothers me. To the point that I always skip the Fountains of Wayne song linked above. It's on a favourite album of mine. And I always have to skip a song in the middle!

But this whole context is part of what makes the Elvis Costello song so fucking good. The lyrics to the song accept that the world is completely irreparably fucked. It's not about saying "We must do this" in a short-sighted way, it's about asking why humanity won't do that, which absolutely must be asked. Rather than blindly looking up to a vague ideal, it presents you with a darker reality.

As I've been compulsively listening to songs every day, the chorus has played in the back of my mind while I think about ways to be better and to help. It's impossible to be good all of the time, but it's important to try to do it a lot.

It's okay to be cynical about the state of the world. It's kind of impossible not to, actually. But it's also important to remember to not be cynical about how to fix the world.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Out For a Rip

I wouldn't say that I am a super fan of the TV show Girls. I really enjoyed the first season and a half or so of the show, but feel like it fell off a little bit and have since only watched sparingly. Something I feel kind of strongly about though, is that the show gets far more shit than it deserves. A lot of this is due to showrunner/star Lena Dunham, which is understandable, as she can be intolerable sometimes.

I feel like that's undue, because the show is almost entirely Dunham critiquing herself. The show isn't about the petty problems that millenials have, it's about dealing with those problems so that you can become a better person.

I say this because I just watched the first episode and thought that it was really good. The episode follows a fairly well-worn theme, in which Hannah realizes that she can be too cynical and judgmental and seems to vow to take pleasure in the little things and enjoy the moment. She is thrust into an environment she feels uncomfortable in, responds by trying to run away, but eventually comes to appreciate the small-scale beauty and perfection in what she's around. It was a pleasant take on the world.

I say all this because I've run through the same gamut of emotions today. This weekend, Rebecca is visiting friends and family out of town and has taken the dog with her. I was originally a little anxious about making plans to have friends over and bro out, because I couldn't think of what to do and ultimately didn't end up making any plans. I felt a lot of pressure to fill up the whole weekend, like it wouldn't be "worthy" or something if I didn't.

I watched the episode of Girls this morning while I was eating breakfast and made me start to think about lightening up a little bit. Then I went to enjoy some nice weather, skateboard, and eat a donair. While enjoying my sandwich, I couldn't help but think that I was more or less completely content and couldn't really ask for more. As horrendously cliché as it is to say, some times life seems to be about enjoying the little things.

I mean, it's unfair to say that just looking on the bright side or keeping a sunny disposition will fix all of the seemingly insurmountable problems in the world right now, but it can make one day absolutely great and sometimes one day away from the madness that is global politics right now can make a big difference.