Monday, February 23, 2004

North America is Boring

"What keeps me from writing?" I often ask myself. "Why is it that I have this wonderful opportunity, this electronic freedom to publish whatever & whenever I want with no boundaries and restrictions, and I can't think of a single thing that will hold the interest of someone for longer than ten seconds?"

Is it me? Is my life boring? I don't think this is necessarily true, I have a wide variety of interests and I always have something to do. Is it my job? Well, yes, in a way, in that it sucks up a big chunk of my time (and my soul) and makes me not want to sit in front of a computer all evening long. But that's too simple. Is it that I don't party enough? I guess a lot of stories come from wild and crazy nights out with friends. But I do go out, not as much as I really want and not in the grand style that I did during university, but I think I still have plenty of opportunities to party and fun people to party with (those that remain, given the black hole effect that Toronto seems to have on the young people of this country). But really, even then, the stories generated by these events tend to follow a pattern or fit a mould.

Let me give you an example. This past weekend, I was at a party at my friend Sean's place. It was sort of a last-minute thing, but a bunch of the old high school crew made it out. We had a great time, met some cool people who work with Sean and some of his girlfriend's friends. We spent the night talking about movies and music and sports and booze. Although I drove over, they talked me into staying over the night so I could do some shots with them. We pulled out some JD and some tequila and a wide variety of other toxins, challenged each other in that macho "I can drink more than you" kind of way.

One guy, Steve, kept upping the ante by pouring terrible shots and trying to pass them off as something else. Like, a shot of vodka which he passed off as peach schnapps, or the strange milky white one that he brought out of the kitchen. We convinced him he should drink his invention that time. He never did tell us what he put in it. Anyway, everyone got hammered, especially that guy Steve, who had to have someone help him put on his boots. Moments after leaving, his step brother came back into the house to proudly proclaim that Steve had fallen face-first in the puddle at the end of the driveway.

Anyway, that's the detailed account. The simple story is we sat around, talked about movies, music, and sports, everyone drank a bunch, we had a laugh at the plastered guy, then everyone went home. Maybe it's me, but it seems like that's the way pretty much every party goes down. Which is fine, because it was fun, but it doesn't make for the greatest writing. In the end, I can't help but thinking that here in North America, we happily live cookie-cutter lives and follow pre-set paths like a bunch of blind worker ants. The routine is so heavily ingrained in us that we don't even notice that it's a routine, and may even love everything about the routine, depending on what kind of person you are.

And it goes deeper. Once you get to a certain point in age, there are expectations that are set for us. We should buy a house and a car. We should stop going out as much, because we're just too old for that now. It's too late to follow our dreams, better settle for the cubicle and a cold beer after work.

So where am I going with this? I wish I knew. All I know is that people who are living outside of North America don't seem to have these kinds of problems. My buddy Matt's blog has been awesome, because it seems like him and his girlfriend are always out exploring Scotland or trying something new or just sucking in life experiences. A lot of the people I know have had similar experiences, at least at some point in their lives, where they did the same and became better people for it, no matter whether they moved to Prague, or Tokyo, or Jerusalem, or South Africa. Even my girlfriend Stacey spent a year in Wales and still talks about how profound an influence it has had on her life. Is making this connection overly simplifying the matter? Maybe, but I wouldn't know without a frame of reference.

But regardless, where does that leave me? Well, feeling like I'm missing out, big time. And it's not that my life is all that unhappy, because it isn't. In most respects, I have already achieved something close to a North American ideal. But there's a big chunk missing, and I think it's keeping me from fully enjoying what I've got.

The solution might seem simple. "Get off your ass and buy a plane ticket! Go out there and make it happen!" I think I've told myself that one just as many times as I've heard it from others. But something's holding me back, and that confuses me all the more. Other than the most obvious thing, of course: money, and not enough of it.

So is it fair to blame North American culture on a lack of blog updates? Probably not. I suppose all along I could've done what I have in the past, and what so many of my fellow bloggers continue to do in the name of disciplined writing: spend most of my time talking about movies, and music, and sports, and drunken nights out with tha boyz. Beat my personal interests in pop-culture into the ground with a stick. Proclaim loudly why I liked or didn't like the latest blockbuster or video game. Poke fun at anything I can get an angle on or pitch a witticism for. But a few months ago, I just got tired of that.

As I said before, that kind of blogging isn't necessarily a bad thing. It makes lots of people happy, and that's great. And because of that, I'll probably start being disciplined about it. I expect that everyone hits a snag like this at some point or another, and hopefully some understand and support me for it. I continue to support others who are struggling with the same, at the very least. And maybe one day I'll throw off the shackles of North American life and find out for myself what else is out there.

Speaking of which, it looks like Irish rock band Ash is releasing a new album. Expect "Meltdown" in stores soon (sooner in the UK than here, though, I'd bet). Check out a track listing and other details here. Also, for those of you in the Ottawa area, it looks like Metric will be playing the Babylon nightclub on March 2nd, with a show in Toronto shortly after at the Phoenix. Check out Metric's website for more info.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the longest five-sentence update I have ever written.


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