Decisions & The Fig Tree

Master of None, Sylvia Plath, and making those life choices.

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First point to make – watch Master of None. It’s an excellent show that touches on a lot of important issues. I’ve watched both seasons twice through now and it really resonates.

One part is near the end of season one. Dev (Aziz Ansari) is trying to decide what to make of his life, and his dad quotes Sylvia Plath:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

This quote popped back up when I was talking to a friend about what we miss most about childhood. Aside from having less responsibilities, missing recess, and watching Recess, one of the biggest things was having a lot more opportunities in front of me. It was the beginning of the fig tree, with none of the fruit yet chosen.

Some days it looks like there are a hell of a lot less figs than before. A lot of life has been set – high school, my University choice, my degrees, past relationships. Then I see my friends doing bold and daring things, and realize that some of the figs are just obscured by leaves right now.

While others found those next step figs, some of us may just be behind. Haven’t found that life partner one? Well, maybe you’ve got the job security someone wanted. Or maybe you’ve taken the trip someone has dreamed of. You have the body, the friends, the experiences, the skills, the whatever, that someone else is still looking for.

My friends do some really great stuff, and it makes me so happy to see them just out there living. All of us keep on picking these figs, and I don’t think we’re looking back on the ones we never chose. Instead, remember to choose. Take a chance, do the thing, make your own way. Don’t just sit there under the tree and watch them all die.

Learning The Differences Between Thunder Bay & North Bay

What’s a tankard, who is more north, and why is Duluth a tourist destination.

As you may know, I’ve moved from North Bay to Thunder Bay. It’s been about a month now, and as I’m getting settled I’m starting to note the similarities and differences between the two places.

For example, in North Bay the best city to go to for a weekend away that you can drive to is Toronto. The capital of Ontario is only like four hours away and has essentially everything to do.

In Thunder Bay, if you want to go on a vacation you can drive to in four hours you are going to Duluth, Minnesota. Duluth was the birthplace of the mall and people in Thunder Bay will defend it as a “tourist hotspot” if you challenge them. They are very passionate about Duluth. They are Duluth-ional.

Also in Thunder Bay, putting three beers in the same cup is called a “tankard,” are sold by bars and are frequently consumed on Tuesdays.

In North Bay, putting three beers in the same cup is called “being out of glasses” and also is frequently consumed on Tuesdays and other days ending in Y.

If you tell your friend you went to your first “shag” in Thunder Bay, it means that you went to a stag and doe for someone you either don’t know or know very little, probably saw a Staal brother and tried to win some wicked door prizes. The friend you tell will probably want to go with you next time.

If you tell a friend you went to your first “shag” in North Bay, they will not want to go with you next time and will likely ask you to re-evaluate your boundaries.

North Bay calls itself the “Gateway to the North.” Since I moved further north, this confirms North Bay as a gateway city. Thunder Bay is called the “Gateway to the West” which means my next stop is likely Flin Flon, Manitoba.

Also, Thunder Bay is more north on a map than North Bay. Meaning that Thunder Bay’s new name is officially “Northier Bay”.

There are some similarities though. Both are cold (I had an ice storm on my first day in T-Bay), friendly, and frequently mistaken for one another by people from Southern Ontario. They are the Northern Ontario equivalent of Daniel Radcliffe and Elijah Wood.

I’m enjoying finding all the differences between the two places, and when I eventually move to Flin Flon, I’ll see how it stacks up to these two wonderful city.

 

 

Therapy

Food therapy – both the good and the bad.

It’s time to talk about things that are therapeutic. Like learning. Which is what I just did when my computer corrected my spelling of therapeutic.

I think everyone can understand the importance of finding your own therapy. Just doing what makes you happy, and makes you feel of value. I know people who find therapy in books, in movies, in knitting, in their pet chinchilla, their work, their bed. Finding that happy place, and what makes you feel whole.

BTW – This isn’t a conversation around formalized therapy. That is in no way my expertise to speak to. I am a satisfied customer of what certified professionals can do when you want to work with them and talk to them, though. If anyone reading this thinks they may want or need to go to formal therapy, I give it two thumbs up. Go! See if it will work to help you how it has helped me.

Therapy for me usually takes two main forms – my friends, and my food.

Friends has been a constant. I’ve been blessed to meet and have great supportive friends. Through high school and university, and now in what people call “the real world” I’ve been lucky to have great people to talk to. Let me crack some cold ones with the boys, sip white wine with some former dons, or facetime my friends to catch up on their madness, and I’m good to go. My friends make me laugh, and when my bucket is empty they fill it.

My other therapy is food. Sometimes, this is not a good thing.

I love food. I’ve been raised to make food be an event. Portuguese family dinners last multiple hours, have multiple dishes, and usually make you ruin multiple belts. They are hearty and delicious. I was raised by excellent cooks, and know that there is a lot of art and passion in cooking.

However, if I’m sad then food is also the bad kind of therapy. The kind of therapy that involves eating a whole pizza and questioning why I ate the whole pizza. The therapy of ordering Chinese take out to count for three meals instead of getting groceries and cooking myself. The “why-did-i-do-this-to-myself-and-oh-my-god-am-i-still-hungry” eating binges. That’s not great therapy.

Lately I’ve been trying to avoid the second one. Don’t be confused – I still get sad (because I am a person, and not a robot, as far as all of you know) But I’m finding therapy in what I used to love a lot – the act of cooking.

I love the Food Network (which if you follow me on Twitter you are well aware of) and it has reignited my love of cooking. Thanks for providing cable in my apartment, Lakehead! It’s cathartic to do the chopping, the grilling, the cooking. Making something from scratch and seeing it all come together.

Eating, over-eating, and eating poorly are all things I’ve struggled with, especially in the past few years. My therapy had turned into something that negatively effected me. While it will be a long road to change some awful habits I have gained, I’m excited to get back to the part of food I really love. Making and creating.

Food is like art you can eat (just like macaroni art, though that isn’t as tasty)

I’m no Iron Chef, but I’m back in the cooking game. Send me your favourite healthy-ish recipes to try. Just no mushrooms, and I’m game.

Peace and blessings, friends. Love from Thunder Bay!

What’s Your Thing?

Making new friends with inspiration from a late 90’s PSA.

I had my first big-kid conference this week and I learned a lot. I also lost my keycard on the first day. Great first impression.

It was nice to be in a place surrounded by other people who understand your work and your day-to-day. Student affairs can be a very confusing thing to understand if you’ve never lived in or worked in residence, so I appreciated meeting new folks who got it.

stephen-king-it
Not this It. NEVER this It.

Once my “oh boy, I don’t belong here” jitters subsided, it became a lot easier to go up and chat with some new colleagues. When I did, I ended up trying to ask them one question: “What’s your thing?”

Most people looked at me with confusion. What did I mean by a thing? Like their favourite thing? And I would just ask again. The responses I got were varied.

People said shopping was their thing. Some said student affairs in general. One said income equality was their passion. While it took some a little time to think of, everyone seemed to have a driving passion that fuelled them beyond just doing their job.

Do you remember that super cheesy, always playing commercial from our childhood? The one with the Amazing Aiden, and the bug kid? This one:

It’s literally called “What’s Your Thing?” and I found asking and talking about a passion made conversations with new people a lot easier. Everyone can talk for ages about their passion. It helped me make connections.

In the land of adulthood, it’s been difficult at times to not be good at everything. I want to be more organized, have more knowledge in all kinds of areas. Some of that knowledge will come with time, but it’s important to realize that just like this old commercial says: “Nobody’s good at everything, but everybody’s good at something.” Just keep working on your passion, expand your skills when you can, and keep working on whatever your thing may be.

Things can change, too. What you’re passionate about now doesn’t need to be the same as high school or the same as when you’re 60. You and your passions will grow and change, but it’s always important to try and find what drives you.

And since you asked, my thing is jokes.

Same Kid, New City.

Off to a new city, but still acting 4 years old.

I was a precocious little rascal growing up. My mom tells this story all the time to demonstrate it.

The June before starting kindergarten, there was a day for parents to bring kids who would be starting school the next year to see the classroom. There we would meet the teacher (the phenomenal & phenomenally named Ms. Pucci, pronounced “Poochy”) and see what class was like. The main thing was that we were supposed to sit back and watch.

Well apparently, sitting back to watch sounded way too boring for me.

I’d been there maybe five minutes. After surveying the room, I walked up to the chalkboard and started writing. In BIG FREAKING LETTERS (or as big as tiny me could make) I wrote EVAN. Then I turned to the class and said: “That is my name in case any of you want to talk to me!”

My mom apologized to the teacher immediately. The teacher responded with letting her know some of those kids couldn’t read yet. Oops.

This has been my way of meeting people for as long as I remember. Not writing my name in big letters everywhere, because that would be strange. I always do like meeting new people. It’s an exciting energy. A buzz like not much else.

As it’s now known, I’m on my way to an entirely new place: Thunder Bay. Which frankly sounds like the Pokemon evolution of North Bay. I’m starting a new job, in a new place, with new people.

If I said I wasn’t a little freaked out, I would be a liar. I’m lucky to have two of my closest friends already living in the frozen tundra, so I won’t be alone. Yet I am excited to meet all of these new people. New co-workers, new staff, new person making my Subway sandwiches. Everyone!

That doesn’t mean I don’t miss North Bay people. I miss them like crazy. I haven’t even moved out of the city yet and I’m already nostalgic for Burger World homefries and a milkshake from Twiggs.

I’ve heard the expression that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. That’s the mindset I’m taking with me into Thunder Bay. So now I sit in the airport waiting for my flight to a new city where I will meet so many friends I just haven’t met yet. And when I get there, I’ll be sure to write my name as big as I can. Just in case anyone wants to talk to me.

100% Success Rate

A story and a video that make me laugh, guaran-damn-teed.

Fun fact – today I got cut off by someone in the drive-thru for Tim Hortons. The person ended up paying for my hot chocolate and bagel to make amends, and told the window person to make sure I knew how sorry he was.

I love Canada sometimes.

Laughter is the best medicine, provided you don’t account for traditional medicine. But seriously, it’s real good for you.

When I have rough days, I have lots of places I can go for a laugh. I’m sharing two – read one and watch the other if you want a good laugh.

The first is a story about wrestling. I am a wrestling fan because… well because it is awesome. It is part athletic competition, part telenovela, part bad-ass reality show. Plus someone once gave birth to a hand, so it’s pretty realistic:

That’s not the post I meant though. It’s a Reddit post about a guy who took mushrooms and went to a live WWE show in Vancouver. I can’t help but cry laugh whenever I read it. If you’ve ever watched wrestling, or you think it’s ridiculous, or both – read it here.

The other one is a standup bit by one of my favourite comedians, John Mulaney. The only set up I will provide is it involves Tom Jones, a diner, and I have yet to get through it completely without losing my breath laughing.

What things make you laugh without fail? What videos, stories, jokes, etc? Send them to me! I’m always looking for a laugh and to add more to my hilarious rotation.

Creating & The Fear of Failure

How challenging myself to create more is slowly working on my fear of failure.

Fun fact: I was the world’s worst loser growing up.

I hated losing with a passion. I’m still not a fan. Not just losing at competitions, but not being good at things at all would set me off. It’s why I didn’t learn to skate until I was in University. I once lost a skating race in the second grade and swore off it then and there. If I didn’t excel at it immediately, I didn’t want to do it.

While I’ve since learned to lose a bit more graciously through sports and video games (don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t learn anything from video games), I’ve started to accept that it isn’t a distaste for losing that really sets me off. It’s a generalized fear of failure.

I think people have lots of fears. Mine include heights (no thank you, people who jump off things for fun), drowning, and dying alone. But my biggest one is a fear of failing.

marge
Everyone after reading that last paragraph.

It’s not a crippling fear keeping me locked up in my room. It does prevent me from trying a lot of different things. I don’t want to just do things, I want to do things and be great at them. I’ll work at it, sure, but I want to be good off the bat.

This is one of the dominant fears for me when it comes to creating things. Making stuff is one of my favourite things. Writing these blog posts, coming up with jokes, doodling on art pages, writing articles about wrestling, playing guitar. Lots of creative avenues, which sets up lots of opportunities for failure.

I have stopped myself from sharing lots of things I’ve created. Are these things good? No. This post isn’t as good as a lot of writing. Please nobody compare it to War and Peace or anything. It is a creative outlet. If it’s relatable to some, then that’s amazing. If it’s just me shouting into a void, that works too. It’s getting the creativity flowing in my own brain.

The world needs more art and more expressions of creativity. Seeing La La Land made me inspired in the arts once more, because it is everywhere. Writers, graphic designers, painters, sculptors, Instagram photographers, other photographers, everyone. People who create, share it with the world. The odds are people will relate, understand, or appreciate. Even if they don’t, the odds are they’ll respect you for being bold.

Aside – if you are someone who believes in defunding art programs in school, I hope you enjoy a very vanilla existence and people take all the paintings down in any building you walk into. Art education is vital education.

I haven’t explored all of my avenues of sharing art. The one I’m most comfortable with is comedy because I started and it went well. I have yet to bomb entirely on stage. Pardon me for a second as I knock on every piece of wood in my house. Since I caught onto it quickly, it became something to easily share. I’m confident in it.

Learning to be uncomfortable creating things has been a challenge to me. I’m still learning, but I’m excited to be uncomfortable. Sharing creativity and ideas is one of the best things in life.

There is a deeper fear in the fear of creating, and that’s the fear that the things I make will be sent into the void. I love interviewing, creating, singing, joking, and making. What if all these things I do end up nowhere? What was the point then?

Even if they don’t have the far reach I may like, they are part of a creative process. A process that is ongoing from now until my ticker stops doing the work it’s supposed to do. There is nothing wrong with practice, and nothing wrong with working on something just because it fulfills you.

A presentation happened at work earlier this year about millennials and the fear of failure. We can be encapsulated as a generation who waits until they are 100% ready to do anything. If they need a poster boy for that statistic, I will throw my oversized hat into the ring. I want to be so sure that something is perfect before it goes out into the world.

My journalism professor was teaching us about deadlines, and told us a simple truth: Nothing you work on ever feels totally done. If it’s your best effort, and you’re happy with it, then put it out into the world. Odds are, the things you don’t like about it others won’t notice. People will just be appreciative of the work you’ve created.

We’re all learning. I love the people I get to learn with. Seeing the creativity of my friends inspires and empowers me to unleash my own creative side. So my friends who create, thank you. Those who do and don’t share, do it when you’re ready. When you’re ready, I’m sure we’ll love whatever you do.

To keep with the theme, I only spellchecked this once and published it. Livin’ on the edge!