Category Archives: In Progress

First Improv Class

I improvised the other day, and did some improv. I’m so clever. I’m sure there’s a cleverer way of saying that, though.

This was a while ago, I forgot to write about it. I was just dropping off some resumes, and walked by a theatre that was advertising an improv show. I asked some random people standing outside about it, and one woman said it was cheaper if you attend the class beforehand. The class was open to anyone, and conveniently, it was starting right then, so I walked in.

I wasn’t really able to fully let go, so I’m not sure how much I enjoy it yet. I want to go more times and really get into it; I think I could really learn from it. Even from just that one night, I learned a whole bunch of stuff, some of which has been applicable to writing. For example, I learned that an ordinary story is often the best one; it’s not necessary to sensationalize things in order for them to be interesting. This simple piece of story-telling advice has already opened my eyes to more writing topics — you can really write about anything.

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Night Chillin'

Here at 2am, after a night of music, on the terrasse at Second Cup. It’s so wonderful to be outdoors right now. Rihanna’s a little loud in my brain right now, though.

Love.
Wind.

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… I Got Bored

So about that self-congratulation stuff. Yeah, I got bored. Plus, I don’t have internet at home, so when I do feel inspired to write, I can’t. Well, I guess technically I can, but it’s not fun if I can’t post immediately.

I’m still trying make it a point to congratulate myself for things I do right, I just haven’t been writing about it. I’ve actually been making tons of progress in different areas of my life, so I’m pretty happy about that. For example, yesterday (or the day before?) I called my parents. I always think about calling them because I know they’d love me to and they tell me so, but I never do. I just don’t really like talking on the phone for no reason, I guess. But that day, I bit the bullet and it turned out really well because my aunt was visiting my parents, so I got to talk to her a bit, too. Also, I had a time limit because I had to be somewhere half an hour after picking up the phone, so knowing I could say “I have to go now” truthfully made the chat time more enjoyable.

Another thing I did right was finally order a frigging cell phone. It should be here in about a week. I wish it would get here sooner though, because right now I’m borrowing one from a friend… and I have a bad history of breaking cell phones. I won’t forgive myself if I break his.

What else?

I think my efforts to build more meaningful relationships with my friends is working. Constantly being around people distracts me from what’s important, so I’ve been spending more time alone, trying to figure myself out. And because of that (somehow), when I do spend time with my friends, I feel like I’m being more respectful towards them, and towards myself. I’m spending more one-on-one time with people, which I think is really important.  I’ve always been more comfortable getting to know people privately or in small groups, so I’m not sure why it’s been so long since I’ve made that happen. In fact, large social events actually traumatize me. I have fun, but for some reason, I regret so many things the next day. Which is what is happening right now, but it’s all good. Just means I’m taking something away from the experience, though I’m not sure what it is yet! Time reveals all… (I think I just made that up?).

In terms of career… Like anyone else, I’d love to get paid to do what I love to do. The problem is that I’ve been having trouble finding the motivation to actually do what I love to do. What the hell? It’s really hard for me to play music, to write, to make art. Especially the last one, because art (like painting, or whatever) is such a private thing, and I’m already lonely enough. But I tried something yesterday: combining art with goodwill. That sounds so mathematical and ugly, but oh well. I spent all day making and decorating cookies for a friend’s birthday and I had a lot of fun doing it… but I can’t see myself having had that much fun if I hadn’t been doing it for someone. I wouldn’t have been able to just make these cookies for myself; I wouldn’t have cared and I wouldn’t have tried as hard. I’m trying to figure out how I can couple painting/sketching/whatever and goodwill. The thing is, I don’t see why people would have a desire to own a painting, for example. You can eat a cookie, but a painting? I just don’t get it. I guess that’s why artists are poor. But there has to be some sort of value artists provide! Why do I like looking at paintings? I don’t even know if I do. I like guessing at the artist’s technique, but only to get ideas on how to experiment with my own. I don’t feel like, thankful towards the artist, and that’s what I want from what I do: I want what I create to come from a place of love, and I want to feel like I’m contributing to someone’s happiness.

So I can’t bold this one yet, but I’ll leave it in italics because I don’t want to abandon it. I’ll probably write about this periodically (well, that’s essentially what this entire blog is), but I still think sitting down and writing self-congratulations for the small stuff consistently (as in, once a day for a week) would be a great way to motivate yourself to do more things right. Give it a try if you’ve got more stamina than I do!

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Oops.

I missed two whole days of congratulating myself. Crap. I guess if it were easy, it wouldn’t be on the list, right? If it were natural, it’d already be part of my life, and so wouldn’t make much of a difference as an achieved goal. This means it actually has the potential to be beneficial!

I’ll write two congratulations now to make up for it. Maybe if I had actually done this properly it wouldn’t be so hard to think of something now…

1. I invited a friend to hang out, even though this friend repeatedly turns invitations down or ignores them. I don’t think they are doing it on purpose to be this elusive, which is why I don’t think it’s time to give up. Normally though, I would get embarrassed about asking again, but I swallowed my pride and did it anyway. I read somewhere that when you’re old, you regret the things you haven’t done more than the things you have, and these words have been swirling around in my mind for quite a few days. Plus, one of my closest friends is in my life now because I didn’t give up on them (weird that the neutral pronoun is plural… is this right?), so I guess I have a positive experience to keep my hopes up. But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard.

2. I read that one way to be happier is to act the way a happy person would act. At first, I thought this was ridiculous and counterproductive to building real relationships with people, but after experiencing the way people react to people who are visibly unhappy (as I have allowed myself to be before), I think there might be some wisdom in this, though I’m not exactly sure why. Yesterday I was having a really bad day, but I tried to act the way a happy person would. I didn’t perform flawlessly, but I gave it a try. I think I’ll have to do it more often to see if it’s worth it, though.

Wait, wait! Another!!

3. I find it difficult to differenciate avoiding a friend because I’m afraid, from avoiding a friend because I’m just not in the mood to see them. For a long time, I’d assume that I was afraid (because I’m afraid of most things) and I’d push through it; I’d hang out with whoever wanted to, even if I maybe wanted to be alone or wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about seeing them. However, I think I’m now realizing that this contributes to both social scarcity and destructive relationships. I’ve found that if I don’t listen to my intuition, the conversation doesn’t flow, the relationship doesn’t grow, and the bad vibe acts as negative reinforcement for seeing the person in the future. And because of this bad, forced experience, I’m conditioned to think I have to try very hard in relationships to create positive outcomes, leading to the idea that good relationships are rare and I have to cling tightly to the ones I have and to the ones that have potential — unhealthy. Maybe sometimes I just need to not be around someone, even if I don’t know why; if I don’t feel inspired to see someone, then maybe I should just not. Which is what I did the other day: I avoided people I didn’t feel excited to see, and I think it was a good decision.

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Becoming a Night Owl

I guess it isn’t as though I’m not already one. Ever since I was little, my sleep schedule has been fucked. When school ended and summer began and I had nothing to do with my days, I’d find myself going to sleep later and later, and consequently getting up later, too. Eventually, I’d stop seeing the light of day. I love the light, but I think I like the night better.

I’ve been trying to create a lifestyle that allows me to be productive and happy, but I haven’t really been successful yet. Yesterday I had the entire day to do whatever I wanted, had no real pressing obligations, so I decided make it a creative day: I’d write songs, poems, edit my photos, etc. I tried to write a song and got so frustrated that I picked up Bukowski and fell asleep. I woke up at 7:30pm and hadn’t gotten anything done. It was depressing.

After a couple glasses of sangria with a friend and a beer with a couple more, we went to get poutine. Watching the workers do their job at 1am, I got inspired to get a 1am-type job, too. Why not?

Lately, and maybe for longer than I realize, I’ve been overwhelmed by the day and all the possibilities it offers. The pressure to be productive makes me a vegetable; I spend so much time thinking about what I should do, how much I should do and how I should do it, who I should see, who I should meet, what I should learn, bla bla bla. I make plans, I make lists, and I’m scared shitless of accomplishing anything, because it will never be enough. I’m so tired of thinking about myself all the time — I’m not that interesting, especially in this immobilized state: it’s just me, petrified, thinking the same old thoughts, and not doing shit about it.

However, when everyone else is asleep, I feel like living is more natural. My mind is quiet. I can write, I can read, I can learn. My anxiety is significantly reduced. Why have I always wasted the hours during which I enjoy life the most? During which I really feel alive? I’ve always studied at night, I’ve always written at night, I’ve always spent all night watching movies. And I think stars are really cool.

I went to bed and didn’t sleep much. I decided to get up at 5:30am, and now I’m writing at a coffee shop. I’ll check my e-mail, go to the gym, and hopefully it’s nice out and Tam Tams will be going strong and I can get some sleep on the mountain.

I’m going to try to come up with a daily schedule that excites me. I really don’t enjoy the hours during which everyone is waking up (so maybe 7am to 11am — chipper morningers are annoying), and the hours during which everyone is hoping to get rowdy after their day jobs (so maybe 7pm to 11pm). Even if I don’t see or talk to anyone during those times, I can feel the excitement in the air, and I can’t handle it. So I’m thinking of a couple ways I might be able to deal with this:

There’s a 9-5 job I’m hoping to get, which kind of sucks and I don’t really like the idea but it will support me financially, and it will give me something to do during the hours of the day I enjoy the least. Maybe once I get home, I can go to sleep, and then wake up at midnight or something to do some creative work of whatever kind, read, or meet friends who are out on the town, go dancing, or whatever. And then maybe another nap before work.

If I don’t find a 9-5 job, maybe I can get a night one at a pub or somewhere that is open 24 hours. It could start at 7-9pm, end at around 3am. I would come home, do some writing/creative work, go to bed at around 6am, sleep until around 2pm. Do whatever I have to do, see friends, whatever, then go back to work. I’m actually pretty enthusiastic about an Irish pub job, because I think it would be fun to be around people and live music at work. Not sure how other activities will fit into either of these systems, but meh. A consideration for later days.

Every time I have an epiphany, it’s about something I’ve known/felt all along but was resisting. What makes you happiest? When are you happiest? Why do you think you’re resisting what you know (or at least have a hunch) is true for you?

It’s been easy to shed some societal conventions, but most want to stick around and they put up a fight. They also like to hide; I never even thought of playing with my sleeping schedule in order to be happier and more productive. The only thing I’m worried about is not seeing enough light, because the sun is one of my favourite things in the world. It’ll be weird and I’m not sure if it’ll work, but I’ll give it a try.

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Congratulating Yourself

I’m really, really hard on myself. Harder than I realize most of the time, I think. I was at the gym the other day, and I watched this very muscular guy do some kind of exercise. I started imagining him as someone who was just beginning to get into working out, and I thought that there must have been a reason for it. Maybe he was fat, or maybe really skinny. In either case, he found the motivation to get from there to where he is today, even though he started from a place he obviously wanted to get away from.

I find fitness goals depressing if I don’t allow myself to be happy with the small successes, such as actually getting myself to the gym. There are no immediate results after a workout (in terms of physical appearance), so in order to keep going, I have to find something else to be happy about. I know the goal is worth it, and I’m on the right path, but it’s a long one — I have to find a way to enjoy my time on it, even if I’m still 5-10 pounds overweight. I guess the endorphins help with that, but even so, it was hard at first. I still have some work to do in keeping my motivation up for attaining fitness goals, but I rarely believe that I will never be able to reach them. I’ve conditioned myself to be “okay” with the fitness aspect of my life, and this is because I know how to motivate myself: patting myself on the back constantly. Similarly, the muscle guy no doubt found and finds his motivation in his self-congratulations after every workout, as well.

It never occurred to me that it could be the same for many, if not all, other goals. If I constantly told myself I was fat and not capable of changing, I would never go to the gym. Ever. This is a behaviour that would be in direct conflict with achieving my goals. Why should I be allowed to be this hard on myself when it comes to other areas of my life?

I guess part of the reason it might be easier to keep fitness in check is because though results are slow to appear, they eventually do, and they’re easily recognizable because they always look the same. There’s also only one factor involved in getting there: exercising. If you’re not getting more fit, you’re not exercising enough. If you’re not exercising, there’s no way you can hope to get fit. Also, there’s no place for luck or randomness; you don’t expect it, you don’t depend on it, you don’t wait for it. Single variable equation. You do something, something happens. You don’t, it won’t.

However, I’d argue that other types of goals follow basically the same pattern. First of all, though results are sometimes invisible, they are there — they’re just better felt than seen. For example, if you’re working out, you’re getting stronger. No matter how strong you are, the situations you find yourself in will always either be manageable or not. The goal is to have the majority of your situations become ones you can handle, so you aim to become stronger. If you find yourself having an easier time than before in some area of your life, you’re probably on the right track. If you find yourself in difficult situations most of the time, it could mean your training program isn’t effective. As an alternative interpretation, you could just be making some wrong decisions and ending up in places that don’t make it easy for you to congratulate yourself for what you’ve accomplished. You’re living beyond your ability; you’re choosing weights that are too heavy to train with.

So let’s say you’re setting social goals for yourself, pushing yourself to achieve them and you find you’re not getting good results. Maybe it’s because you’re making bad decisions in your career, for example, and meeting the wrong people. It doesn’t necessarily mean your social skills haven’t improved in previous situations, it just means you’re not equipped to handle these particular ones, and maybe they are even too difficult for you to learn from. You’re unhappy, unable to be productive, unable to see any results to congratulate yourself for, unable to motivate yourself. Is there something you notice you might be able to work on to improve your situation? If yes, then do it; maybe the weights aren’t too heavy, after all. If not, go find other situations.

Second of all, I believe that most of what you get in life is proportional to what you give. I guess there exists something called “luck,” and sure, you could get famous overnight by some mysterious working of the universe, but usually not. You have to find a way to keep giving, in order to keep getting, and no one else can give you the kind of support and encouragement that you can give yourself. Some goals might be harder for you to attain than they would be for others; some people have a talent for being social, creative, sporty, whatever. But lack of talent shouldn’t stop you — you might be missing out on some serious life. You just have to keep congratulating yourself for the small successes, in whatever form they appear. Growth is happiness!

I’ve never been very good at giving myself a cookie. I mean, too many cookies is bad because you’d start to overlook the work that needs to be done, but I’m so unforgiving that I often experience crippling despair and then I’m of no use to anyone. I need to figure out a way to keep my productivity up. I think this list is a good way to keep myself in check, to remind myself of what I want to accomplish and what I do accomplish. But there are many steps between wanting to accomplish something and accomplishing something, and there’s no one to push me to keep stepping except myself. How will I do this?

I’ve decided to write about at least one success a day for a week, regardless of how small. Writing about it will force me to think about it for more than a second, which is what usually happens, and having it written will give me something to refer to when I’m feeling down.

Today I’m going to congratulate myself for my bravery the other night when I walked into that bar alone. It might seem insignificant to someone else, but it was very satisfying for me. I’d been wanting to try it for a long time in order to assess the bar scene’s friend-making potential. And it worked! Every time I eliminate a fear, it makes life just a little bit more accessible.

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