Friday, May 25, 2018

Gotta Do What You Can Just to Keep Your Love Alive

It's funny the way that a song can be to resonate with you, seemingly out of nowhere and in a new way. You've heard the song upwards of a hundred times in your mom's car, in your own head phones, in the shitty computer speakers you had in your room four years ago, but all of a sudden it comes out in a new way.

Sometimes the subject matter doesn't even pertain to you and a song about living as a touring musician somehow sums up your feelings about a completely different thing. There's an area in between subjects where we all live and it feels like I'm reveling in that now. For some reason the space between "riding a tour bus in the 1970's" and "ending my job" feels particularly relevant right now.

P.S. The ad-libbed "Ooooo-ooh!" in the second verse!

P.P.S. It always gets me when they kick into the main riff for the outro. Goddamn.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cobra Noir

Whenever I am having trouble thinking of something worthwhile to write, I go to one of two wells. 1) An anecdote I still think about. 2) A draft on my blogger dashboard. This happens to be both.

Since the age of 12, the only thing I've thought about has been being in a band. First came the daydreams of me playing Urethra Chronicles II-style pranks with my friends, then came the red Squire P-Bass starter pack, then came learning "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Then the Chinese Fingertraps, then the Pragmatics. I had a gap in bands where the desire to play was stronger than ever, until Mark asked me to join the "new" version of Beat Noir. We played together for a couple of years and it was really fun until it wasn't.

I still think about Beat Noir a fair amount. I try to be careful to not veer into embarrassing wistful nostalgia about playing in an unsuccessful punk band for five years, but at the same time the band was a big part of my life and it's hard to not think about it. I remember a friend of Colin's reminiscing on their old hardcore band and talking about it like they were paradigm-shifting. I don't want to be that. I'm aware that we were just a fairly run-of-the-mill band and that's okay.

Along the way, we had a couple of experiences that I think are part of a larger, shared experience of "being in a band". There's the corny, well-worn examples of sitting together and getting the first copies of your first album or getting your first van, but I think it's the shittier times that do more to bond you to your bandmates and others you meet. Those shit circumstances are also a lot funnier in hindsight and more entertaining to others, even if it doesn't seem that way when it's happening.

With all this being said, I'm going to dive into a story from Beat Noir. I don't mean to glamorize our existence or try to make it sound like we were super cool. Just the opposite, we were pretty pathetic most of the time and it was amazing how much money we threw away in this endeavor. I think most musicians will agree that being in a band is frustrating most of the time 

When Duff and I talk about the band, the consensus worst time we ever had in it was a show we played in Hamilton.

During one summer, we were particularly hard up for shows. Our first album was almost a year old and we were finding that it was getting hard to convince people to listen to us and even harder to find good shows to play. We had played with a couple of great bands around the release of Ecotone, but that pool dried up quickly and all of a sudden we were playing parties in Burlington. People always preach that you "just need to keep grinding", but that's hard you're not getting paid and a crowd of people are even giving you the "standing about 10 feet away from the stage" courtesy. Out of everyone in the band, I leaned most towards "I'll play anywhere", but that has its limits too.

A friend of ours told us that a friend of theirs was putting together a show in Hamilton with the band Brutal Youth, who we came up with in Kitchener and who we liked a lot and two others, Dry Socket and Dirty Kills. On top of that, the show was at The Doors Pub, which is a great rock bar where we had played one of our best shows earlier in the year. Thinking that this would be a good way to interrupt our run of terrible shows, I convinced the rest of the guys to go along with it. Then Brutal Youth dropped off the show. We in a shitty position where we all didn't want to play the show anymore, since the only band we liked and knew wasn't doing it anymore, but were also desperate to play and didn't want to look like we were unreliable. We decided we would stick with it, just because. It was at The Doors, so even if it was a shit show, it would be fine.

On the way to the venue, we stopped to get food. Colin brought a pack of cigarillos and for some reason he, Mark, and I smoked one on the way to a burrito place. It was grape flavour.

We got to the venue about a half hour before doors and were surprised to find that the only people there were the other opener, Dry Socket. We weren't familiar with the band, but were happy to find out that it was made up of acquaintances and friends-of-friends. They said that the promoter hadn't been at the venue at all and nobody at the venue knew what was going on. Both of us talked about giving up on the show and bailing, but ultimately decided that we would just both play and see what happened. While I figured that the show would turn out fine, I also wasn't surprised to see something stupid like this happen.

While we were loading our gear in, my stomach started to feel upset. I laid my bass down in the back room of The Doors (it has a pool table, a full bookcase, a high-back chair, and an Ozzy Osbourne poster) and then rushed downstairs to the washroom. The washroom walls were covered with old Marvel comics covers from floor to ceiling. I had the worst diarrhea that I've ever had in my life. Liquid was streaming out of me. The guy who made my burrito must have cooked the meat on a radiator it was so bad. I eventually had to go back down a couple of other times to fully clear myself out.

Just as Dry Socket were set up and were getting ready to start, Dirty Kills and the promoter, who was friend of theirs, showed up. To my immense surprise, the promoter who decided to go incognito and not show up until after doors was a crusty. Predictably, pretty much no one had come to the show. The rest of the band and I were incensed that this promoter was being so lazy about the show and the fact that it was the capper on a terrible summer as a band was the cherry on the sundae. We decided that we would finish our set and then get the fuck out of Hamilton. Out of solidarity, we all made sure to watch Dry Socket's set at the front.

Once they finished, we went and started to bring our gear to the front of the venue when the promoter stopped us halfway and told us that we would be headlining instead. Great. Plans of heading home early were dashed and we would be stuck watching Dirty Kills to boot. Why wait until right before we thought we were playing to tell us?

Mark was over it all and went to use our drink tickets downstairs. Duff and Colin were both straight edge and I didn't feel like drinking because I was mad and my stomach was upset, so Mark got the lot of them.

It all was a very defeating feeling. We were playing a show we didn't want to play to no one and most likely wouldn't be getting paid for it. It wasn't fun to play shows like this. All of us were frustrated and having a bad time. We spent a lot of time loading up and driving to the show and our van was gas guzzler, so we were essentially paying to play it. It was the exact opposite of the way you hope a show goes. And on top of all that I had bad diarrhea.

After showing up like two hours late and changing our set time at the last minute, the promoter hung out in the back of the venue drinking with her friends for the entire show. We were steaming mad and were still entertaining the thought of bailing on the show and just driving home. A couple of us said "I'm down if you are", but we had already driven all the way to Hamilton and figured that we would try to treat it like a band practice in front of 3 people. The four of us were over it and decided that our silly petty way to get back at the promoter would be to play for as long as possible.

A funny, self-defeating thing about Beat Noir was that we always played our best when we were mad. More often than not, this was because we were stuck on a bad show. We'd be so pissed that we were stuck on a bad show doing nothing for ourselves as a band and that, more often than not, we had driven out of town to the show, that the anger would translate into us playing tightly. We would end end up playing great sets on bad shows and sloppier sets on good shows. We were bad at being a band.

We decided to play every song off of our LP that we could play live. We also threw in an older song from our truly terrible EP. Halfway through the set one of us, I can't remember who, suggested that we play a cover of "The Good in Everyone" by Sloan, which we had played live regularly for about a year, but hadn't practiced in about as long. We pulled it off well. Spontaneously whipping an old cover out without practicing it felt like the coolest thing we had done as a band.

"Well, I played that set drunk as fuck." Mark said.

As soon as we finished we tore down and loaded out as quickly as possible. At bare minimum, it was August and warm out. Loading out your gear in the winter is one of the least fun things about being in a band, so I'll never complain about getting roll amps down the sidewalk instead of the snow. The Doors Pub is at the top of Hess Street in Hamilton, which is most of the city's student bars are. Since it was warm out and late, there were many people out drinking. While the four of us stopped to take stock of everything and make sure that we hadn't forgotten anything, three 30-ish drunk bros who looked like they spent a lot of time in Barrie came up to talk to me.

They asked me if the four of us were the band that had just played upstairs, as they had been outside on the patio and heard our surely muffled set from there. They complimented us and said that I in particular was talented. They were drunk and obnoxious and looked like they hung out in Barrie a lot. One of them told me that he sang and played guitar in a band and asked if I like Avenged Sevenfold. He also told me that one day he was going to steal me away from my band to play in his band. He asked what our name was.

"Beat Noir."

He smacked his forehead, smirked and half-turned away.

"You won't believe this." one of his friends said. They were all very excited to tell me.


"One of our songs is called 'Cobra Noir'."

This was the point in my night when I crossed the Rubicon and the night became so dumb and annoying that it was funny to me. I had nothing left to do but laugh. All we needed now was the van to break down on us.

I told the bros that we had we to finish loading our gear and get going, went back to the guys and told them what had just happened. They were all at a similar point in their evening to me.

I asked everyone else if we should go and ask the promoter for money. Mark and Colin didn't care and weren't going to do it and I was at a point where I didn't care what happened, so I said I would do it and Duff said he'd come with me.

I asked the promoter if she could give us anything for gas and she said "Sorry, all the door money is going to the touring band." That pissed me off a lot. I had a lot of things that I wanted to say. How is it fair that we drive almost as far as the touring band and don't get anything? How is it fair that there's barely any door money because you did a shit job as a promoter? Don't you have any responsibility in this scenario? Why do you get to spend money drinking at the show instead of saving that for us? Even $10 would have been appreciated. The way that bands are often expected to just play for nothing because it's the "punk" thing to do is stupid. It's really just you taking advantage of us. As a promoter, you should be prepared to pay the bands that are playing your show. If you are uncomfortable being forced to draw a crowd in order to ensure you'll make out okay financially on the gig, don't be a promoter.

I didn't say any of those things. Instead, I rolled my eyes, exhaled and stormed off. I said "Thanks for nothing" as I walked away, but I'm unsure if she heard it or not.

It was a less than fun drive home. I sat shotgun while Duff drove, with Colin and Mark both passed out in the row behind us. This was our usual set up on the way home. Duff put on You Are Beneath Me by End of a Year. The intro felt great to listen to. We stopped at a gas station about halfway home so that Mark could rock a piss.

While Mark and Colin were inside, Duff confessed that he didn't want to play shows like this anymore. He would rather play no shows than play shows like this, I agreed. For a second it felt like Duff was starting the "We Shouldn't Be a Band Anymore" conversation. He assured me that he still wanted to play together, but we would have to take a different approach to things.

You couldn't fault him for thinking that way.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sometimes, Every Once in A While

Given how much I write about the Blue Jays on IMU, one would assume that Toronto's baseball team occupies such a huge space in my mind that it takes up all of the brain power I have to give to sports. That is not true though, as I love to spend my winters watching Toronto Raptors basketball. I don't nearly the same relationship with the Raptors that I do with the Jays, but they have been a part of my life since my childhood.

I first became interested with the Raptors during the heyday of Vince Carter and Antonio Davis, as was the case with almost every other basketball fan close to my age, and my earliest memory of watching the team is seeing Vince miss the shot that would have beaten the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Since then, I went all in on the Bosh/Bargnani playoff teams, stuck with them during the ebb of the "just Bargs" after Bosh left to join LeBron, and then my fandom hit a fever pitch with the team's current Lowry/DeRoza incarnation. The team has been superbly run by Masai Ujiri and built into perennial playoff presence. They're young and mostly homegrown, so its been an exciting time to follow the team.

2017/18 has been, to this point, the culmination of the Raptor's building process. They have a great young core and they ended up winning a franchise-high 59 games (!) to pace the Eastern Conference. This season was, without a doubt, the most fun I've had watching the team and I think that most fans would agree with me on that.

The Raptors are also a little maddening to watch sometimes. They're always great in the regular season, but are choke artists, as much as I hate to admit it. They consistently lose to worse teams once the games that actually matter come around and seemingly forget everything they've done and learned along the way. It makes them easy targets for the rest of the NBA and it can be exhausting to defend them and assure everyone that "no, they're actually good".

This year seemed different and a lot of factors that that the Raptors have no control over (LeBron's teammates, injuries to other players) rolled in their favour. They still weren't favoured to win, or even be in the NBA Championship, but this was without a doubt their best opportunity and one like it wouldn't come around again for many years. I had a lot of hope.

Instead, by the second game of their second round match up against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it became apparent that the Raps were definitely going to lose, if not be swept, which is exactly what happened.

In the 4th game of the series, which ended up being the last one, they were getting blown out and it was obvious that there was no way they were going to mount a come back and that their 2018 season would end that night.

I thought about turning the game off, because who really wants to watch their favourite team get meticulously picked apart by one of the greatest players of all-time? It's frustrating and deflating. Then, I had a moment of clarity and decided to instead tick with the team and watch through to the end of the game. I felt pretty that Toronto's best opportunity at playing for the championship had once-again slipped away, but I also realized that it can be good and healthy to sit in that feeling for a little bit. Just because you initially feel sad about what the eventual outcome will be, doesn't mean that there is no beauty in the moment. 2017/18 was by a wide margin the most basketball I had ever watched in my life, so instead of trying to block this Raptors loss out of my mind, I figured that since I had come on this season-long ride with the team, I should stay on the boat and see it through to the end.

Watching the team go through the motions of playing a game, and season, really, that was already decided forced me to be present in the moment. This coloured the sadness with a bit of joy, making for a weird combination of feelings. I was sad and couldn't believe that they had choked yet again, but also felt strangely glad to be in situation.

I'm not sure how to describe the situation anymore or make my point any better. Describing ethereal emotions is hard. Basically, what I want to say is that when things seem annoying, frustrating, or shitty, sometimes it can be fruitful to take a moment and revel in the situation. Being present is hard and it's counter-intuitive, but that doesn't mean it's something we need to work towards.

On the other side of the coin, a similar thing happened at work this week. My workplace can be very frustrating and though I haven't been particularly bummed at work recently, it still wears me down. This week our youth outreach program had their end-of-year show and it never ceases to remind me that art can be very good sometimes. While everyone was making their speeches about how proud they were of the kids for making all that they did, I took a moment to sit in the elation I felt. Even a small inner victory like that can carry you for a couple of days.

It's beautiful, I would say. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, April 30, 2018

So Much Left Unsaid That We'll Never Get to Say

As is almost always the case, I've been feeling a crazy pressure to write lately, but don't really know where to start or where to focus my energy. Posts on here to keep me going? Focus on the zine? Go back to work on short stories? Start doing academic research again to buff up my CV?!

Working a (mostly) 9-5 job makes downtime a precious commodity, so even if I'm devoting time to one specific project, I can't shake the feeling that I'm letting myself fall behind by not working on songs or demos or whatever of the above-mentioned things I'm putting to the side for the moment. It doesn't always shows outwardly, but I put a fair amount of pressure on myself to keep up a steady creative output because I am terrified that if I ever stop I will lose everything that makes me interesting to people and become boring and useless. I know that stashing a black ball of anxiety pressure in my gut isn't necessarily the most healthy approach to life, but I also know that I need it to help push me into writing. It's a give and take where I occasionally need people to remind that it's okay to relax and not fret over the fact that I haven't finished my zine or EP, but I'm also well aware that without the self-inflicted pressure to meet deadlines I won't do shit.

As you can definitely tell, I'm mostly coaching myself through my thoughts. I need that sometimes too.

I've recently been on a big Descendents binge that immediately turned into an ALL binge. They're both in the pantheon of "Timmy Bands", as has been well-documented on this blog, but they sort of fell to the wayside recently until I had a moment where a couple of things clicked and I remembered that there's a spot in my heart that only those two bands can fill.

The Descendents are faster, gritty and silly whereas All has slower, more heartfelt melodic moments that would never fit in the other band. Both have their place with me, but the latter in particular has really been vibing lately.

I'm going to pull a very classic I, Musical Genius move and end my post with an ALL song. I used to like this song a lot when the main things I had to worry about were being poor and sad about girls. Now this song just makes me think about my dead dog. Kind of wish I could back to a time when problems were smaller and manageable.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Few Times

In order to keep both of I, Musical Genius's readers abreast of what is going in my life and to frame the post that will follow, I will give the following bit of news: I did not get into any of the doctorate programs that I applied to for this year.

This has been weighing on me a lot for the past month. I was really looking forward to going back to school and I've sorrowfully missed the academic environment since I've been out of it. I feel like teaching is my "thing" that I am good at and I feel like I've never been better at it than when I was in a university classroom. It sucks.

Now that my plans for the future have been altered, I've been thinking about what I am going to do and how I am going to deal with the way I feel. In general, there has been two main ways that I have done this:

1. Try to write a song about what you're feeling. It usually amounts to scattered phrases in two notebooks, one or two riffs and very little thought given to melody.

2. Write a post on here to work through things. I don't always directly address things that are happening in my life, but they are generally the inspiration for what goes up here, even if it seems like the ties are tenuous.

This all made me think about when I first started I, Musical Genius in the winter of 2009. I was having a hard time dealing with my feelings and I treated this website as a garbage dump for the young, dramatic mess that was in my head at the time. A lot of posts were short and over-dramatic and I might as well have stamped "JUST DUMPED" on my forehead. I was young and silly and needed a way to exorcise those feelings, so even though a lot of the old stuff on here is pretty mortifying, it did serve a purpose at one time. 

Coming forward and being honest about where you are at mentally is the first step in terms of having a healthier head and IMU was my way of doing that at the time. It's also not enough to just open a valve and let emotions gush out either. You need to have tact and understand how to deal with them rationally.

That leads us to today, where I am writing a post that comes from a similar place as my early ones, but instead of posting a break-up song or vague allusions that I thought were poetic, I'm being more direct and mature (I think). That's a tangible example of at least a little growth as person, so please remember that you're doing all right, Tim.

In order to make this a true classic IMU post, I'll end with a song. Am I finally coming around on Untitled? No, but you must respect that this one is a banger.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Flags Fly Forever

I’ve recently had two separate trains of thought returning to my mind and have only just located why.

The first is that baseball is back and I have been thinking a lot about it. It feels good. I’m already rediscovering the routine of putting on the game while I make dinner, passively soaking in what’s happening while I’m preoccupied and then reading articles by John Lott and Andrew Stoeten the next morning about the night before. Rebecca is already outraged that The Boys somehow manage to be on the radio every time we get in the car. It’s familiar and comfortable.

But while it is comfortable, it feels different. The character of this year’s team is much different than last year’s and that is due to a huge turnover in players, which was the biggest since the now-legendary trade deadline acquisitions in 2015. I knew that this would be a “new look” team taking the field but had underestimated how much the change in players would change the experience of watching the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball. It’s slight, but noticeable. Not everyone is gone, but many of the big players in Toronto’s 2015 march to the playoffs have steadily departed and been replaced by players who, while still capable, do not seem as dynamic at first. As I was trying to pinpoint what exactly was at the root of this feeling, it came upon me like turning a corner and hitting a tree:

Jose Bautista does not play Right Field for the 2018 Blue Jays.

I suppose that I had expected this sort of impact to come after a franchise icon left the team, but I was still surprised by it. Sure, David Price led the march to the playoffs and Josh Donaldson won the MVP, but make no mistake, the Blue Jays have been Jose Bautista’s team since 2010.

This was brought up by second thought, which was me reflecting on the story “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” written by John Updike for The New Yorker in 1960. His story follows him as he goes to Fenway Park in Boston to see Ted Williams’ last game for the team he played his whole career with. Updike’s piece is masterpiece and perfectly sums up the career of one of the greatest to ever play the game. Not only running through Williams’ extensive list of accomplishments, Updike also does an amazing job of covering exactly what it means to be a franchise player. You are never universally loved by the fans. You are criticized by the sporting press for not coming through in every high-pressure situation you face. You are deemed greedy for… some reason. There is an ebb and flow to periods of intense scrutiny when you are not singlehandedly carrying the load of an entire team and then even more intense affection when you miraculously manage to do just that.

In hindsight, many fans manage to forget the bitter feelings they used to hold when the occasion for a celebratory farewell comes along. Updike describes Boston coming together to see off Ted Williams, all of them realizing the significance of the situation. Similarly, last year I was present, standing, and applauding as Jose ran out to right field by himself for the last time. Fittingly, Marcus Stroman ensured that the P.A. played Drake’s “Trophys”, which was long Jose’s signature at-bat music, for the occasion.

Saying farewell to an athlete is a unique and intimate situation. It doesn’t carry the finality of visiting a dying relative or going to a funeral. They aren’t dying. They aren’t even going away, necessarily. They are just stopping to do what you have grown to love them for doing. Seeing Jose play his last game at the SkyDome instantly reminded me of all the great things he accomplished for the team. Essentially, you are watching the end of a hero, only instead of a hero valiantly dying, like in the movies, he retires to Florida to play golf.

This past weekend, Rebecca and I visited my parents for Easter dinner. As always, the Jays came up in conversation and shortly after that, Jose. As of this writing, he has still not signed a contract for the 2019 season, so he wasn’t playing baseball. My mom rued that he hadn’t simply retired as a Blue Jay in 2018, which was the right and honourable thing to do in her eyes. She said that that would have been a perfect way to end his time with the team.

This struck me as weird because in my mind his farewell was perfect. It was an organic response by the fanbase and incredibly sincere. Everyone understood the importance of Jose Bautista and giving him an earnest, emotional send off. We stood and applauded when he was introduced, before every at bat, and once more when he was taken out of the game in the top of the 9th inning. To me, there was no way to better honour his legacy with the team.

I started to think about “perfect situations” and whether they exist or not. It certainly would have been great to have pregame ceremony in which his name was added to the Blue Jays’ “Level of Excellence”, permanently adding his legacy to our park, but that was out of the question given the circumstance and him not retiring. The reality is that even if you meticulously plan something out, it will never come out completely perfectly. Perfection is achieved by being present. It is only in hindsight that we can look back on something, disregard any flaws and accept what we received as perfect.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Useless History

In a past life, I was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1957. I started to smoke cigarettes when I was 12 years old. I started drinking and smoking pot after my older brother brought me out with his friends and we listened to Led Zeppelin II. In 1975, I drove home drunk from a Cheap Trick show and died rolling the car over in a ditch on an empty highway. My best friend died with me that night.

In a past life, I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1904. I started working as a brick-layer when I was 15 years old, the same job as my father who immigrated from the south of Italy shortly before I was born. As a young boy, I fall in love with the Brooklyn Robins. As a young man, I fall in love with the youngest daughter of a Dutch family. I went to lots of games with my son at Ebbets Field. I died of a heart attack in 1953.

In a past life, I was born in Reading, England in 1830. My father worked for the Great Western Railroad and sent me to study in London when I turned 18. I studied literature, took an interest in art, and travelled to Paris twice to see the Salon. I wrote a novel, The Line, about the expansion of the British Railroad and it was unsuccessful. I worked my whole life for a publishing press. I lived for 71 years, had four children, took three mistresses, and died when I fell ill with the flu.

In a past life, I was born in Paris in 1764. My father was a baker and my mother took care of our Third Estate family at home. My father read the newspaper aloud to me every day. In 1789, I participated in the storming of the Bastille and was shot in the leg. In 1790, I briefly joined the Jacobin club. I fathered a daughter with a woman I knew and did a bad job of supporting them. In 1792, my lame leg caused me to trip at the Tuileries and I was trampled by the crowd and died alone.

In a past life, I was born in Valencia, Spain in 1602. I grew up on a family farm and then started my own when I turned 20. When I was 17, I married a 16-year-old girl from my town. When I was 22, she became pregnant and died during birth. The baby also died. When we bought our farm, we got a Spanish Water Dog puppy and named him Diego. He lived to be 13 and was my best friend. I died at age 50 from skin cancer.

In a past life, I was born in Changde, Huang in 1535. My father was a rich aristocrat and provided for me my entire life. When I was 24, I met a young girl from another wealthy family and our families arranged for us to be married. We took to each other immediately and she made me very happy for my entire life. I died of respiratory problems at age 74. I considered myself very lucky when I got to look at my wife’s face in my last moments.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

This is What Happens When You Fuck a Stranger in the Ass

All of my writing energy has been focused on a zine about ska that I've been working on. It's almost done, which is good! I've also neglected other outlets, like the friendly green confines here, which is bad, I guess, but also expected. The emotions and inspiration that I usually draw upon to make up the backbone of the posts that I'm proud of here are being re-directed towards the zine, so we've been left with spare parts around here lately. If I'm not writing about my thoughts and ~feelings~, I try to take another interest and draw that out, which is why it's been mostly "Baseball Hour" on IMU for the last two months.

Well, that an Opening Day being only 15 days away at this writing!

Anyways, I thought that I would try to give an update on my life to mix things up around here and get me out of my comfort zone.

I should preface what's coming next with this statement:

I am very lucky. I've found someone who is my perfect match and makes me so happy and a better person. We live together and still get along really well. We have a huge, nice dog and small, nice cat (who doesn't have Kidney Disease!). I'm mostly healthy, have an okay job, and can play most blink-182 songs on guitar. I say all of this so that what I follow it with doesn't sound as whine-y and entitled as I worry it does in my head.

The main thing that I have been preoccupied with since September has been preparing and submitting applications to start a PhD in Art History this coming fall. First, I applied to SSHRC, which takes a long time. Then I had meetings. Then an online application. Then letters of reference. Then transcripts. Then letters of intent. Then writing samples. I submitted both applications a week early so that I would like I was very "on top of things". We had a dinner with both Rebecca and I's parents to celebrate me getting the applications off. Then the waiting started.

I felt good about  my chances. I'm coming off a Fellowship at a well-respected art gallery, have good references from former professors, and think my thesis is still okay, which I understand is a rarity among grad students.

Then I heard back from Queen's University that they had turned me down. I wanted to type "rejected" there, but thought that was a little dramatic. I was blindsided by this and felt really bad about it. Rebecca and I had been day-dreaming about how much fun moving to Kingston would be. We could afford to rent a house! A Backyard! Onsite laundry! No more drunk 20-year-olds on Fridays!

This rejection was the first professional obstacle I had run into in a while. I had applied for an MA and gotten it. I was a good T.A. I kept teaching through university. I finished my thesis. I applied for a job and got that. I applied for a better job and got that. As soon as I started that job, my next step became "starting a PhD right after". Since then, I have been building my life around the idea that starting a PhD in 2018 would be my next step towards my eventual job as a university professor. This threw that all for a loop. My life was no longer a direct line ending with me being secure professionally doing what I love and playing a tiger-print Ibanez guitar while Rebecca gazes on adoringly.

I still haven't heard back from the other school I applied to, so nothing is set in stone, but I've to open up my worldview a little bit. I'm in between two eventual outcomes, either starting school or having to find a new job, but not committing to either one. I've had to resign to the fact that some things are out of my control and allow parts of my life to be dictated by forces other than me.

My initial confidence in my chances at the two schools has now faltered and I have no idea what to think. Is it good that I still haven't heard? Does it mean they're waiting to tell me? Does it mean I'm on a waiting list? It's hard to know and it's become a constant, dull stress in my life.

I Could Meet You Where the Shield and the Mountains Collide

I am a man of simple pleasures and I know what I like.

I like breakdowns.

I like palm-muting.

There are certainly worse ways to start your day off than finding two great releases by local bands. It's important for me to remember to stay active in looking for bands and shows that I'll enjoy in Toronto. That shit ain't gonna fall into your lap.