You Mad Bro?

You Mad Bro?

Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.  Clearly I am not Bruce Banner, physically I may resemble him (read the source material)but that is where it ends, I won’t be flying into an uncontrollable rage while turning green and growing in to a 10 foot tall mass of muscled destruction.  While it does sound like a tremendous amount of fun it seems like such a hassle, what with all the police and insurance companies, I’ll pass. 

Recently I heard from close friends. “Brother I have never seen you so visibly pissed off.” A few hours later I was asked “Where does it go? What do you do with your anger?” I made a joke in answer to it but honestly it probably would affect my health if I was prone to frequent bouts of outrage.  I recalled a car ride last fall where a friend pointed out “You don’t really get mad.” I hadn’t thought too much of it because we had barely seen each other in 20 years, sure I get mad. I don’t splatter it all over social media, I don’t have an arrest record, restraining orders or anger management classes as evidence.  Truth is I used to fly off the handle pretty easy, mostly I’d get mouthy and offensive, that often times led to several pissed off people willing to get destructive on me.  Hindsight being 20/20 I deserved it, not that I was not provoked initially but it wasn’t always by those I lashed out at and when that unfortunate transference happened I certainly earned not only my reputation as an asshole but the bruises as well.  

I didn’t have much of a social life in those days, to say it bothered me would be an understatement. One particularly frustrating evening I took a hard look at myself and realized I had to change, I had to adjust my actions, pardon me, my reactions.  I had to learn to empathize with people and their side of things, to not put how I would treat people on them, instead I learn how they act and anticipate that they will behave like they have behaved. The later works great with friends and family it cuts down on a great deal of disappointment and drama. 

I am happy to say it worked.  My social life expanded, I found I had an ability to channel things in to humour, busting balls instead of ripping apart egos, or trying to. Girls started talking to me, I even managed to get laid before I graduated high school (disclaimer: there is a future article on that, the graduated part not the loss of virginity). This all isn’t to say I was instantly bullet proof, certain people and things still got under my skin and I didn’t always handle it well, of course I can tell stories about times I asked nicely for antagonists to lay off and when that wasn’t respected I did go off. The point is I was learning to manage it better. 

I think the big turning point was one night, as I lay in bed, I realized that people spend a lot of time talking about their friends that  aren’t there, some of it good, some not so much but it occurred to me that one of my big insecurities was what others were saying about me when I wasn’t there, not necissarily behind my back but that too. There I lay and I finally got that it can’t be helped. Those that like me will talk about me, those that don’t will talk about me, not like I am the only thing they will discuss but at some point I will come up in conversation from time to time.  I still get invited out, get dates, have friends. I stopped letting drama and non-sense rile me up, I may get annoyed or frustrated with such things but I let it roll off my back and I have become quite adept at cutting of the negative feelings at frustration or annoyance rather than let the little things send me right into full blown anger, it is to the point where things that probably should piss me off, just don’t, it’s not worth letting ‘that guy’ out again, he’s a douche nozzle. 

You want to see me visibly pissed off, like recently, start Saturday morning with idiocy and drama, stack dozens of more minor irritations and insults on it, wrap it in some stress, shenanigans of four children and let it simmer for a week as you add more frustrations to the pot and serve with a lack of sleep and physically exhausting day. 

About a decade ago, I was watching one of my favorite movies, alone, as a newly single father and the true wisdom of a joke in a buddy cop movie washed over me so allow me to share this pearl of wisdom, had I understood it would have saved me years of tension, from Lethal Weapon 2: Capt. Murphy: I don’t give a fuck, Riggs. That’s why I don’t have an ulcer, because I know when to say “I don’t give a fuck.” 

Harry is a Douche 

Harry is a Douche 

Do you know the story of Harry Burns and Sally Albright? If not you should, if you think you do but can’t remember where from let me jog your memory with an excerpt from their story. 

Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.                         Sally: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?                   Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too. 

In Rob Reiner’s Classic 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan play the title characters as they ride share from college to New York engaging in several personality clashing discussions and proceed to run into each other years later eventually forming a close plutonic friendship, until one night when an emotional Sally cries on Harry’s shoulder and Harry ends up proving his point. To be fair it was neither planned nor calloused but Harry had fallen in love with Sally he just wasn’t seeing it that way yet. 

I love that movie, it is in my top 5 of all time, however Harry is a giant tool at the start. Over the course of 96 minutes of Seinfeld  (also debuting in 1989) like dialogue Harry grows far more as a person than Sally does, he literally matures to an acceptable level of adulthood. The depth of that movie slowly dawned on me as I went through the stages of life Harry did, granted our early to mid twenties seemed different but my understanding and empathy grew over the years as did his .  Now I see that he was wrong. Very, very wrong. 

I have many platonic female friends, in fact my best friend is a female and I wouldn’t touch her with stolen junk. I’m so sure that she feels the same I’m going to ask her to share this and simply state “true story” in the post.  Now then, that being said there are many women I consider close friends that I do not think about sexually. My friend that encouraged this writing career and I have publicly said “I love you….non-sexually.” at which point we then ‘boop’ each other on the nose. I will confess there was a lot of alcohol involved in that particular ritual’s origin.  A few years ago I partnered with a great lady to host some karaoke shows, the problem there was guys like to hit on women and since her fiancé was already running another show I became ‘the fiancé’ once a week, which did cause some confusion for regulars, however it kept random wolves from the door and caused no problems because her (now) husband already knew that she was completely loyal and I was not a douche bag. I can legitimately be just friends

Here is a story to prove it. Like Harry, one day my best friend showed up at my door, emotional, upset, distraut. Things weren’t going as she wanted with the man she was dating. She came in, lay down on my bed and let it out. No, not  that ‘it’. I had known for a while she had fallen in love with this man, I knew him, it was a good fit but life isn’t that easy all the time. So for about an hour I lay in bed with her and let her get herself strait. During this I was talking to a girl, on the phone, that I had just started seeing. Here’s a challenge boys; tell your new girl your best friend is laying on your bed crying over a love life not going to desire, then tell her your best friend is a girl. I am happy to report that not only did my new girl not hang up but we are engaged today AND not only did my friend figure her situation out those two are married. 

Unlike Harry and Sally we didn’t fall in love or lust, sweet baby Jesus we were and are JUST FRIENDS. Recently we discussed that our dynamic could have easily ended both of those fledgling romances had we not truly be just friends, if either of us harboured secret desires it would have derailed everything.  Our current partners could have called every thing off, understandably, but our attitudes towards each other were quite clear, so clear that because we behave as an old married couple or siblings. I once joked that we may as well be married since there is all the bickering and respect AND no sexual desire. Since then we call each other ‘Not-Wife’ and ‘Not-Husband’. I told this story at her wedding on a live mic to a full house. 

I won’t say that it is easy to understand a purely platonic friendship between your spouse and the opposite gender, I myself had issues with an ex-girlfriend and a friend I would have coffee and watch Game of Thrones with, one got it the other did not (yep sticking with that joke).  I am saying that despite the philosophy of Harry Burns and far too many other guys, they exist, they are common, they are in your life too. We all have those people that we find attractive that because we are friends and not douche bags we have no desire to mess around with. If you find yourself in a position to act on the opportunity either by design or by opportunity you are either a douche bag or in denial, either way you should take a good hard look at your situation, it may not be your true desire. For me I can look at a dozen gorgeous women and say “Oh gross, not even with a stolen dick.” There is a fine line between friendship and love but it should also be a solid wall. I have my walls, I am at peace with them and with all due respect to you lovely ladies I’m not climbing them because….ew gross, still love you though. BOOP!

The Weather Outside is Frightful

The Weather Outside is Frightful

I love a Canadian winter, it looks fantastic on TV and it can stay there thank you very much, I live in the GVRD. Before I go too much further let me explain to the handful of international readers I have gathered up what I mean by that. The Greater Vancouver Regional District is the South Western point of main land Canada, we have 3 ski hills a relatively quick drive from our beaches and rarely does the snow creep down those mountains, you may remember out Winter Olympic nightmare of needing more snow and ice, in Canada, how are those igloo jokes going now? 

Recently I met a long haul truck driver out of Texas that had brought a fully loaded trailer from Dallas to a warehouse on the Surrey/Langley city limits. We chatted about his drive through winter locked states and he mentioned that he was surprised our snow had melted for him. When I told him that the grey skies and drizzle of rain was what we locals call winter he looked at me and said “I could get used to this.” Before he got to fired up and applied for citizenship I told him it was a relatively small area that doesn’t fit our stereotyped Canadian reputation. From Chilliwack to Squamish we are pretty damn blessed to bypass the icy winters most of our beloved country endures, the trade off being that when we do see a bunch of snow we are woefully unprepared on the whole be it at home or in our infrastructure. If I was in charge of the heavy equipment needed to deal with winter conditions I doubt I would change anything either, why should we waste money hoarding equipment better used elsewhere, you know the places where ice and snow are an everyday issue. 

I am writing this on Family Day, February 8, 2016, today I was helping my fiancée with clearing out our gardens, getting them ready for Spring when we can start planting things.  Blue skies, 16 degrees weather (Celsius that is), a lovely warm day that felt more fitting for early May.  It seems to happen every year too, we get a few weeks of Spring in February, that was what we showed the world in 2010.  I bet those athletes and tourists thought it was weird to have Winter Olympics in such warm sunny weather, I also bet that they thought it was a fantastic  time. 

It’s a great thing to have this sunny and green Winter, the breaks of false Spring that creep in to alieviate the seasonal depression that set in after the holiday joy and stress subside. I love the snow but having to shovel a driveway more than once or twice a year would change that extremely quickly.  While the cost of living here in the GVRD is not as easy to maintain as say Winnipeg, I’ll tough it out in exchange for the weather. I can cope with the rain, don’t misunderstand me it does rain a lot, what I hate though is the slush and the sleet, which we don’t see much off here. My only true complaint about our weather is there are only so many days like today a year and it seems for the few extra Spring days we get through Winter we trade for what has become know as June-uary, when all our warm winter days are cashed in for rainy, chilly days that keep our swim suits in drawers. 

Sorry, not sorry 

Sorry, not sorry 

Before I get into this let me just tell you, dear reader, that this isn’t personal, do what you want, this is just an open letter on my feelings about a certain habit many of you have, cigarettes.  It has hit home with me both literally and figuratively recently. I don’t expect anyone to change what they do I just want to explain my side, how I see it.   

This habit of yours is expensive, ridiculously so, a financial calculator and a little know how can probably prove that your retirement woes are easily lessened if not cured by saving money you quite literally burn. Is your debt load stressing you out? Maybe if you applied the money you are using to temporarily calm your nerves to the root of the problem you would find that not only does your financial picture improve but you have taken away the need to calm those nerves. You see me in person and I’ll show you exactly what I mean by this.  I have no sympathy for anyone complaining about cash flow issues with a cigarette in their hand.

Many years ago my family watched the slow decline of my Grandfather when he was diagnosed with ALS, it was extremely difficult to watch a once vibrant man reduced to nothing.  Recently my fiancée lost her Grandmother to cancer and it was no less trying to live through, neither of these instances were the result of smoking. So what’s my point?  I have watched people I care about waste away through no fault of their own, it will be no less difficult to watch my friends and family that have literally chosen to ignore the very clear warnings and evidence that smoking is going to cause a health problem that through EVERY fault of your own will cause you to waste away, not only do you chose to ignore it you are paying for the privilege of it.  You are buying the honor of a slow, costly death. Oh I said costly because while our beloved Canadian health care system is free (remind me to rant on MSP later please) if you think battling any of the cigarette related illnesses isn’t expensive in all it entails to go through it you are ignorant, go ask a cancer survivor about the collateral expenses involved.  There is not one of you that wouldn’t fight either. 

So there you will be, fighting for a little more time, I hope you win, I truly do, I would rather have my friends and family around to celebrate birthdays than have to lose you and celebrate your life.  There I will be, helping in any way I can, worried, stressed out, heart broken that this has happened to you and your loved ones.  Under all  that though I will be pissed off, how dare you do that to us?  You weren’t ignorant of the consequences, no one told you that you would gain immortality or better health.  You were told the truth and the truth is simple; cigarettes are a paid assassin and you are paying them to kill you. You are paying them to cause unbelievable mental and emotional pain to everyone that cares for you. Digest that thought, you are paying to cause those that care for you immeasurable grief. 

Let me be clear, I smoked for a time in my late teens, quiting sucked, took me three tries before I found a concept that was stronger than the addiction, but I did it.  If my point here resonates with any smoker I hope you find the concept you need to put down this hurtful habit. I will never say it’s easy, may be the hardest thing you ever do to be honest, IF you chose to do it, that is not my call.  What is my call is to allow myself to be pissed off with you at your weakest moments because they will be mine too. 

I did not lightly choose this topic but recently I was forced to reflect on good times with an old friend who is battling cancer and in many of those memories he had a cigarette in his hand, while I have not seen the medical reports first hand I would be shocked to learn cigarettes were not a contributing factor based on the location of the disease.  That is were I realized that under my sadness was anger.  This wasn’t some unknown cause or new found hazard, this was conscious decision. 

 I have seen many of my friends in the weeks since then and suppressed these thoughts as I considered them in a similar situation, I could see in my minds eye their parents, kids and friends and my heart silently broke for each of them and yet I wanted to punch them while they were healthy for a future when they aren’t.  

Above all those there is someone I care for that has this habit, too close to me for me to be anything but devastated at the consequences of this habit, my feelings on it have been made abundantly clear to little avail, that’s not a comment on our relationship at all just how those evil little cylinders can selfishly  override logic. With very little effort they convince people that illness is a problem they face alone decades later, which is a terrifying concept in itself if it comes to be. 

Please don’t think that I am speaking from a place of protection or detachment, I don’t believe a smoker considers the full impact of their choice. This choice you make is yours but it DOES affect the rest of us, we who love you, we who support you, we who will mourn you.