Wednesday, May 26, 2004

"Travelling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!"

I started what should have always been a birthday tradition for me last night. I watched Star Wars: A New Hope for the very simple reason that it was released on the very day I was born. That, and it still kicks ass, 27 years later, much like yours truly.

And now for something completely different. I just finished reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge, and it's actually quite good. And it's 206 years old. I guess that just proves that a classic is a classic, no matter how old it is.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

HBD 2.7

I checked out a picture on my buddy Mike's blog today, and it made me squirt apple juice out my nose. Thanks Mike, you really helped to brighten up my day! And a big thank-you-very-much-you-guys-rule to everyone else who's emailed or called over the last few days.

This year, I decided to get myself an early present, something I've wanted for years: an x-box, and I love it. I've only had it since Sunday and I'm already thoroughly addicted. I'm thinking about playing Crimson Skies right this very minute. And after I'm done playing that, I'm gonna play the hell out of some Star Wars games.

Some of you have also offered support for what happened last week with me and Stacey, and I just wanted to say how much it means to me to have such good friends. Having people like you who stand by me when my life turns upside down makes times like these so much easier to bear.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Most Selfish Thing

Life has a way of changing on you. Sometimes the changes are predictable, sometimes they catch you by surprise. Sometimes the changes are so big that you feel that a piece of you is starting to fade. You may feel your dreams and goals starting to shrink away from you, just out of reach. Your only option is to change your dreams or change the situation.

Both things are hard. If you change your dreams, you're transforming who you are and reassessing what you need to be happy. If you change your situation, you may have to leave a big part of your life behind, and you have to be prepared for that. Either option is attainable, but really, you have to accept any repercussions to make it work.

I couldn't change who I was. I tried, but I couldn't keep who I was and what I needed on hold any longer. And sometimes it takes time for you to realize that about yourself. But I also realize that it's inherently selfish to make that decision when it also affects someone else, someone you love and care very deeply for. Unfortunately, you can't make that kind of decision without being selfish.

Last night, I broke up with my girlfriend Stacey. We've been together for three and a half years, three of which we'd been living together.

Since our very first date, we knew we had something special. We were mapping out our future lives together on the second date. We dreamed of living in Europe, of adventure and travel, of a big house together, of a life shared between two successful professionals making their way through the corporate jungle together.

Six months later, we decided that we couldn't bear to be apart any longer. We moved in together and we were happy.

Of course, there were growing pains. Any relationship that moves to the next level has them. Up until last night, we were still trying to find the best way to live together, to make each other happy and secure. In many ways, we were successful, in others we were not. Maybe in any relationship that process never ends, but I can only speculate.

We had a lot of very happy times, particularly on vacations. We saw some amazing things together, holding hands, being comfortable in who we were and in each other. I think we were always at our best when we were on vacation.

Stacey has always been there for me. She's always been caring, and supportive, and loving, almost everything I would ever ask for. She was the first person I brought good news to and the first I turned to when I needed a shoulder to cry on. We just fit together. We didn't always agree, but she was always willing to talk about it. She knows me better than almost anyone in my life.

The last year hasn't been easy on either one of us, and we both came to realize that our plans for the future were different for the first time. The circumstances were out of our control and affected us in different ways. Things spiraled to the point where we separated briefly in April.

Since then, we've both been trying to find a way to reclaim what we once had. We were both committed to this. In the end, Stacey was sure we could make things work while I felt that if they did, in the ways that she could accept, I would be losing something bigger than our relationship. I would be losing myself.

Stacey's has a lot to be proud of and a lot to be thankful for. Unlike me, she's already done a number of the things that I still have as life goals. She had already out-partied, out-achieved, out-traveled, and out-planned me before we'd even met. She has more friends than I'll ever have, a prestigious job, a bright future, and goals that are not only achievable, they're already in the pipes.

She's going to have a very comfortable, fulfilling life ahead of her, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wish her both happiness and success, and I know she'll have both. And if she'll let me, I still want to be a part of her life, even if it is in a smaller way than before. Nothing would make me happier.

Stacey, I will always love you. And I'm so very sorry it had to be this way.


Thursday, May 13, 2004


Gah! Blogger done gone and moved everything on me. Just when I was starting to get used to the OLD interface...

Three more items to scratch off THE LIST.

1) Went and spent a nice evening chatting with my friend Mike Chaiton at a martini bar (#94). We tried a place called Helsinki in the Byward Market (where the Black Tomato used to be, NOT Finland, surprisingly). The atmosphere was swanky, the tunes were chill, and we thoroughly enjoyed the candy-like martinis (I tried a white-chocolatey one called a Polar ice and an apple-y one called an Apple Jacks) before feeling a little fruity and deciding to switch over to beer.

Our time spent at Helsinki wasn't nearly as noteworthy as where we went after. What started out as a run-of-the-mill trip to Zaphod's became a surreal experience, featuring a long conversation with random Peruvians who were complaining about how Ottawa wasn't a fun place to party and an even more random photo taken of Mike on the dance floor. The photo was taken with a girl who ran up to him, got her friend to take their picture, and then ran away again, without an explanation. We both decided that it would be better to think of this as a random event rather than think that Mike was targeted in some way.

2) Finished up a contract and got more than a handshake for it (#64). I went out for beer and some Trivial Pursuit after work on a lazy Friday with the client team and had a blast. It wasn't really a party for me exactly but I was invited along, and really, they didn't have to do that. Including me in their social event was thanks enough for me. It made me feel like I belonged there, even if it was going to be short-lived. I'd be very, very happy to go back and work for them again.

3) I settled things up with a friend that I had a falling-out with almost a year ago (#81). I had been hoping that he would call me, but eventually I gave in and called him instead. I guess, in the end, I realized that it just isn't worth holding a grudge against anyone for too long. Life's too short to waste it spoiling relationships with the people you care about. Better to just let things go and move on.

Anyway, expect nostalgia sometime real soon. I'm turning 27 at the end of the month and I'm not sure what I think about that just yet. Better not to think about that for at least another week. Ah! There go the endorphins. Sweet, sweet endorphins.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

....What You Can Do Today (or Part 2 of the Washington Trip)

Another big surprise for me was how obviously proud I was being about being a Canadian. While I was in DC, I made a point of wearing my Keith's IPA "Those who like it, like it alot" tee shirt. I actually had one guy come up to me and say "That's the BEST beer in the world, man. Can't wait to get back to Canada," much to my delight.

While I was there, I couldn't stop talking about how great Canada was and how much cooler everything is here. I couldn't help myself! I probably made all the Americans within earshot want to beat on me a little bit. I didn't even take a break on hockey. Tara (a Leafs fan) and I (a Sens fan) found a little pub in Arlington that was playing Game 6 of their series. We made it just in time to catch the overtime period, and we weren't the only canucks there enjoying the game. I was the only Sens fan, mind you, but whatever. It felt a little weird being the only guy in the place cheering when Ottawa won. I guess that's how it feels to be a Sens fan in Toronto, these days.

I also went to Washington DC hoping to catch a little live music, or at the very least some dancing. And once again, my roots started showing again. We ended up seeing Sarah Harmer with Hayden at the world-famous Birchmere nightclub in Alexandria, and it was a GREAT place to see a show. Even though the acts wore maple leafs on their shoulders, this place was all American (if you ever go, try the meatloaf, it's wicked-rad). It was nice to see two of our lesser known (but completely awesome) musicians are making a name for themselves in the States. I'd say there were two hundred people or so in the bar, but I wonder how many of them were ex-patriots trying to build a life south of the border?

Sarah and Hayden played a great show. Hayden opened as a one-man act, playing a good selection of old and NEW (yes, brand-NEW!) songs, peppered liberally with his trademark dry wit and off-kilter, mock-profound statements on life. We learned that Hayden gets thrown off by people clapping while he plays (yet he encourages it and is disappointed if no one claps), has a cat who disappears every spring for six days who lived in the house when he moved in, and that there will be a new release from him in May (whoo!). Even more amazing, Hayden had an album out two years ago named "Skyscraper National Park," and I didn't even know about it. I'm a bad, bad little fanboy.

Sarah was great too, but we found out she's an avid Leafs fan. That didn't work so good for me. Good thing she has an achingly beautiful voice and a charming Kingston attitude to make up for it. I think she was a little surprised when she talked about her hometown and two people in the front row started shouting and hooting at her.

Other high points:

Don't miss the International Spy Museum, which was one of the most fascinating and unique museums I've ever been in. Get a good look at some real, operationally-used spy gadgets disguised as ordinary things like lighters and shoes that would make James Bond look like an amateur. There was a single-shot gun disguised as a cigarette on display (and they had that back in the 50's!). Boggles the mind what they might be able to do now.

And hey, when you're done at the National Air and Space Museum downtown, catch the shuttle out to the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles. It's a long way out, but so worth it. I got a good look at the space shuttle Enterprise, an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, a Concorde, and the Enola Gay (the B-29 that dropped at Hiroshima), just to name a few things. There are hundreds of planes and spacecraft there, you can easily make a day of it.

The best monument in town was the FDR memorial, which was classy, extensive, and provoked the most thought and discussion of any of the ones that we visited (including the Vietnam War Memorial, believe it or not). It's divided into four rooms, one for each of his terms as president, with sculptures and waterfalls throughout. Be careful to avoid useless, dumber than cement high school teachers who are guiding their students through it and permanently ruining their appreciation of history and politics.

Crispy Juicy! But I already told you about that, didn't I? I washed it all down with this vile soft-drink concoction called Inca Kola, which I, in my naivity, thought was an authentically El Salvadoran soda. Imagine my shock when I turned it over and saw it was made by Coca-Cola. I can only compare its taste to a mix of corn syrup and cream soda. It was also yellow. One can was enough for me.

Arizona Iced Tea for 99 cents! That's crazy talk, even if it was in American currency!

Big Xtra's from McDonalds are called Big N' Tasty's in the US! It was just like that Vincent and Jules conversation in Pulp Fiction.

I learned that the subway isn't really a subway in Washington. It's a Metro. It took me three days to get that right.

And of course, my host Tara, who put up with my wide-eyed wonder and my Canadian suburbanite values all weekend long. Thanks for a great time, Tara! I owe you one!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Why Put Off Tomorrow....

Whenever my life gets busy, it always seems that there's something big, something that I want to spend time on, that always ends up on the "I'll do it tomorrow pile." So here I am, two weeks after returning from Washington, and still no post about it!

Well, the obvious solution is to abbreviate the account and finally get it off the pile.

The trip to Washington DC was fantastic! In many, many ways, it is a beautiful city, especially in the spring. I was lucky enough to be there shortly after cherry blossom season, so there were still plenty of blossoms on the trees and many of the other flowers had started to bloom. For the entire weekend, I was treated to near-summer temperatures and beautiful sunny skies. I found myself leaning down to touch the lush grass and staring slack-jawed at every new flowerbed filled with daffodils. It was like a game of "Spot the Canadian" on the Mall. I'm sure I wasn't the only one there who had traveled south and left the springy-semi-winter behind us for a few days and was completely blown away by the weather.

I had a lot of things I wanted to do in Washington, but overall, I just wanted to get a feel for the place. Tara understood completely, and we spent a good portion of the trip driving around, with Tara pointing out the sights while I stuck the camera out the window to snap some quick in-motion shots of landmarks. We also spent a good amount of time exploring on foot, walking the Mall and through various monuments and spending an evening window-shopping in downtown Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of the city that still had a lot of 18th century colonial charm.

There is a lot to do at the Smithsonian Museums alone. Really, we could have spent the entire weekend in the various wings of the museum and still seen only a fraction of it. We spent the most time at The National Air and Space Museum, home of such amazing historical artifacts as Apollo 11, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Wright Brother's Flyer, and the Bell X-1 (first plane to break the sound barrier). I compared walking into the lobby of the museum to premature ejaculation: you get all excited, expect it will take some exploration to see these things, and then when you get there you look up and all of these amazing pieces are right there in the lobby, on the floor and suspended from the ceiling, and it's all over in a matter of moments. Total information overload. I can only assume this was for the benefit of museum-goers with a short-attention span. Really, most people must walk in, see the most famous vehicles, and walk right out again.

The best part about the Smithsonian is that they're all free, something that would seem like sacrilege in the money-strapped Canadian tourist industry. We also caught about 45 minutes-worth of the National Art Gallery and wandered around the National Sculpture Garden. With another day, we would have done much, much more of the museums, I'm sure.

I think the biggest commentary that I can make is that none of the landmarks or monuments really seemed all that real. I mean, you see the White House or the Lincoln Memorial and it's just like "Whoop, there it is. Seems more impressive in movies." I can only imagine that seeing any world-famous landmark or object is the same: the Eiffel Tower, the Sphinx, the Mona Lisa, you name it. They just can't live up to the hype that you set up in your mind. Not that I've seen any of these, mind you, so I'm only guessing. But I'd also think that seeing big, awe-inspiring natural wonders is ultimately more impressive, like the Grand Canyon or the Alps.

So in the end, I'm very happy I saw them, but I'm not sure I'll ever be desperate to see them again. Is that how it normally goes?

Well, out of time for now. I'll finish up this post tomorrow. The irony of my post’s title hasn't escaped me, by the way.