Runaway Future


The ides of Smarch

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 22:38

It was the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month of the thirteenth year.

Lousy Smarch weather.

I thought the observation that January 2014 is actually Smarch 2013 was clever. The thirteenth month of the thirteenth year.

I’ve never been good with Smarch. Even looking back in previous years, Smarch has always been a rough time. The end of a year.

Smarch 2010 saw me face a dark period.

Smarch 2011 had me unemployed and aimless.

Smarch 2012 was burning the boats.

And now this Smarch abused me. I actually meant to type ambushed there, but the wrong word works too. Might even work better.

Smarch has never been kind.


A diatribe

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 23:21

This post will contain spoilers for the film Inside Llewyn Davis.

But then again, no one will read this post and so the ending for the movie won’t be spoiled.

That’s kind of the point, I suppose.

I just came from seeing Inside Llewyn Davis and walked home in the cold all full of piss and vinegar.

The film is about a struggling folk singer trying to make a life out of his music.

The film begins and ends the same way. Llewyn is playing his music, finishes his set, apologizes to the club owner for heckling a performer the night before, is told there’s a friend waiting for him outside, goes outside, gets punched in the face and beaten for heckling the night before.

On my way out of the theatre, I overheard some guys mulling over the ending and one of them confidently assuming it was a flashback. I held my tongue, crossed the street, swore at the cold, got to my apartment, cracked a beer and now here I am.

Allow me to rebut.

The ending is the same as the beginning because it’s about the futility of life.

Llewyn pours himself into his music. He loves it and he hates it. He doesn’t get a break, he doesn’t get ahead, he doesn’t win. This isn’t a happy Disney story, this is life. The story of being punched in the face, literally. That’s his agreement with the world, that’s his deal with the universe.

It’s not even Groundhog Day, it’s his life. Some people win, some lose. As Llewyn goes outside to be beaten again at the end of the film, a young Bob Dylan takes the stage and his story is already immediately known: he does the same thing that Llewyn does, but he finds success. Life is unfair.

During the film, Llewyn makes his way to Chicago to play for a producer who says he doesn’t have it. There is no happy ending here. There is no big break. But he keeps at it. Every day, a hard scrabble life, the same kind of living that he’s rejecting by not following his father’s path into the merchant marines, but in a completely different direction.

Everything is a nod to that futility of life. The last words we hear from Llewyn as he lays against the alley wall, beaten and bloody are “au revoir”, directed at the man who beat him. Directly translated to mean “until I see you again”, a complete acknowledgement of the repetition he lives in.

One of the other themes repeated throughout this film is shit. It’s possibly the most used curse word and Llewyn’s father shits himself while his son plays him a song. More memorably, his friend’s girlfriend who might be pregnant with his child accuses him of being King Midas’ horrible brother because everything he touches turns to shit. Llewyn lives a shitty existence and despite all his efforts to pull himself out of the shit doesn’t work.

Oddly enough this theme of a world of shit makes me think of South Park and the episode where Kyle gets old, sees the whole world as actual shit and is diagnosed as being a cynical asshole.

In related news, I was accused of being a cynic over the Christmas break and replied in the only way I know how: “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” That whole idea does make me feel sad and make me feel old.

Which brings us back to Llewyn Davis.

I liked this film a lot and it hit me, because I get his sacrifice and I get his inevitable punches to the face.

I’ve also been accused of embracing the tired idea of a tortured writer a bit too willingly and I don’t shrink away from that. Sure, it’s likely completely futile and it may never progress farther than where things are now. But I feel this ache in it to keep going. Whether that’s covering the Anaheim Ducks prospects, going to Mooseheads game, sarcastic outlets to politicians that I share with my Dad or writing navel-gazing drivel here. I need to keep doing it.

Even if I’m a fuck up and get punched in the face, I’ll be there again, walking those same steps, because I need to and I don’t know how else to go about my life.


apologies and the things you can’t take back

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 17:01

A couple months ago, I got a message out of the blue from someone I hadn’t spoke with in a couple years.

As things happen, we stopped being in contact and it wasn’t under the best circumstances.

So the message was an apology. An apology after two years.

Which was hard to swallow.

And today, I found the words why.

In this article, Ta-Nehisi Coates lays out the issue with forgiveness:

As Cooper says it puts a moral burden on the injured party; the injured having already lost his dignity at the hands of the aggressor, is asked to give one more thing. I’d argue it’s better to seek forgiveness of oneself, to learn from one’s own wrongs. An apology made in hopes of getting something is already compromised.

His example speaks of white guilt and racism, but it could speak of anything. An apology made externally just to gain internal forgiveness is hollow.

Learning things

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 13:30

It’s really cool to learn something small and then put it into action and see it actually work.

This is pretty minor, but I read once that when talking to little kids, it’s good practice to squat down and interact with them on their level.

So on a number of occasions over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself hanging out with some kids and I’ve tried it out.


In every case, the previously shy and nervous kids became open and friendly. Which was awesome.

I learned how to play with kids, by operating on their level.



Not your personal superhero

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 23:54

I like to help people. In a way, that’s been the guiding light for almost everything I do. I justify my job through whether or not I’m helping others, whether that’s fixing a computer problem, helping someone do their job, listening to a requirement and turning that into an actionable change or bigger picture stuff like providing support to get more children participating in sport or helping build the groundwork that may one day change how health care is administered.

My parents sometimes like to tell a story about how I came home from school one day crying. I was living in Chester at the time and a kid in my class said his family couldn’t afford the $15 or whatever it was for a field trip and that really bothered me. So I begged my parents to let me pay for him or to take it out of my allowance. In the end, my parents ended up going into the school to find that the school had a program to handle these things.

My dad says I wear my heart of my sleeve and maybe that’s true. Or maybe I’m just a complete bleeding heart. I’ve been reading from this Forty Days of Dating project for some time, but today’s entry really hit me: the whole perception that someone who is trying to make everyone happen might also appear to be completely spineless.

At times, I feel like I carry too much of this, more than I need to and more than anyone ever asked me to. But I shoulder this load and then eventually falter or end up like that guy in the book I read, handing out huge chunks of flesh to try to spread the weight. I find myself sharing in the dreams of others and honestly hoping for a better path for those who need it. Of course, I also unabashedly put myself on that moral high horse or up on that cross if it’s too my own advantage.

And then there’s the flip side, where I shoulder these loads, whether it’s all of my own doing or people shovelling their individual loads on board, and when I need someone to help me with my own load, I feel like I come up empty.

I don’t know, today alone, I saved a little girl from two spiders, but I wasn’t able to save the world.

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