30 in 30: Day 30

This exercise winds down with one last entry. It's a relief to not have to worry about my daily posting quota or feel guilt over marking the day with a one-sentence post, and there's some bit of satisfaction to take in posting every day for 30 days, but the thing I worry about is that I'm going to squander this momentum. Maybe it will channel itself into my renewed focus on the SNL reviews, but what I really want is to regularly update the two streams of my blog. I aspire to the level of writing I see regularly on The Belle Jar and Trans Canada (My Way), and want to have something more to say than what I thought of a 30-year-old episode of a television show. For someone who's been trying to write for years, I'm still searching for my voice. 

I started a new job last week; it's in Dartmouth, so the commute is a bit longer than it was to my old job. This means I have to wake up earlier, which technically means I should be getting to bed earlier than I have been. Old habits die hard. Wil Wheaton just posted an entry on his blog about seven things he did to reboot his life that gave me pause, but do I need a reboot of my life, or do I need to figure out what I want before I can do that?

I'm giving myself two weeks until my friends' party to pare down the growing backlog of photos I still need to edit from this summer (going back to June). I don't know what the penalty will be aside from feeling like I can't stay on top of things, but it has to be done or it will either grow bigger with every event I shoot, or hold me back from wanting to take more pictures.

That's 30.

30 in 30: Day 29

Another year of skipping the Halifax Pop Explosion; the fourth in a row. I keep telling myself that I'm going to go to the next one, but just like Sappyfest, I don't even bother. Maybe I'm being needlessly frugal or maybe I've reached the age where I can't be bothered to get excited about live music. When my friend was in town last week, he suggested just going out to random shows with no regard as to whether I was familiar with the band or knew anyone else that was attending. Sometimes I just prefer to spend the money on a burrito.

There are nights where it hits me that I live in this amazing harbourfront city, and taking advantage of what it has to offer is just a matter of me willing myself to take a bus out of suburbia. And yet, when I do, I'm at a loss as to what to do, or I realize that I spent the time and effort to do something I didn't exactly want to do, and now have to spend even more to make it back home. If I take my camera, it suddenly becomes a load I wish I didn't have to carry or worry about. If I don't, I come across a scene that I wish I could take a good picture of. I have to justify everything to myself.

Random scenes come to me when I'm out and about, but they dissipate by the time I sit down to put pen to paper. I have an idea for a mood I want to create and some of the people that come to mind as the basis for characters, but nothing much in terms of plotting.

I leave you tonight with a 30 year old Prefab Sprout song.

30 in 30: Day 27

I keep thinking I need to make plans to go for coffee or drinks with people, but by the time I'm back home from work, I'm back into hermit mode and come up with a litany of excuses for not sending the message. It's late. It's early. I just saw them. I haven't seen them in a long time. We're not really that close. I can't afford it. Et cetera, et cetera. (I keep hearing the voice of one of my freshman year Poli Sci profs at Mount Allison saying the "et cetera" part.)

I've always felt that in the unlikely case that I manage to become famous for something, I would handle it poorly. As much as I would like to be able to do something that gives me respect and recognition, or create something of lasting value, I have a feeling all these insecurities I have would only magnify under the spotlight. Would I seclude myself like Jan Hooks did in her last years? Possibly. 

30 in 30: Day 25

I could speak at length about the federal election, but I used all my good stuff on social media, and I don't really want this space to get bogged down with my own political leanings. My main hope is that Atlantic Canada is on the receiving end of some major investments: I want economic opportunity, but more than that I want this place to not feel as cut off (in various respects) from the rest of Canada as it often does. 

30 in 30: Day 23

I'm still trying to make sense of why I didn't bother checking out more of Nocturne last night, instead opting to go home almost immediately after leaving Lot Six. I checked even less out than I did last year, which also was a little bit of a bust. Was it just the rain that actually let up fairly early on but dampened my interest to the point where I went home? Was I really in a rush to get home for Saturday Night Live? Do I actually give a fuck about the arts, or do I only try to convince myself that I do?

I haven't really felt that I've been able to take full advantage of living in the city, largely due to financial constraints. Live music, art shows, theatre...I can never really bring myself to go out to any of these. Maybe it's just a side effect of the precarious work I was doing for the last 11 months. It's funny, when I lived in Miramichi, I longed to be in a place with a decent amount of cultural life, but now that I'm in Halifax and close to all this art, I don't normally bother, not even when it's free and involves people I know. Ever since the provincial government gutted the film tax credit in April, I'm afraid that one ripple effect is that the cultural life of Halifax is going to dry up.

How long will I stay in Halifax? I don't know. I'm not especially settled here; I do have a good circle of friends, but I don't have a stable career or family tying me to this place, and I'm very reluctant to be in a relationship or follow through on an attraction until I feel a little more stable on the career front. Life tends to go on even while I'm trying to figure out who I am and what I want: I have to eat, pay rent, try to socialize, and sleep anyway, regardless of whether I write or take pictures. I'm not sure whether either is what I should be or want to be doing with my life.

Then again, as Carolyn Mark sang, "everything happens either not at all or at the same time."

30 in 30: Day 22

The last few days since I got back into Halifax weren't especially good for sitting down and writing, for some reason or another. I really didn't like it, but I don't know why I just didn't sit down and power through it or shut off all the other distractions I had going on in the background.

In the last week or so, I came up on a few reminders of the past: a script from a summer-stock production of Annie; an old website profile with a list of mix CDs I compiled, some for other people... All these mementos of the person I was, the things I thought I wanted, and the people that drifted in and out of my life over the years. Quite a few are still around.

There's a yearly multi-venue art festival in Halifax called Nocturne: I ostensibly went out to it tonight, but didn't really feel like checking it all out. I love what it represents, and that it brings so many people out to check the different installations all through the city, but I think I only peeked at about three or four of them. I was more invested in meeting up with one of my old friends who was in town.

I could make this a long treatise on my changing motivations and desires, but I'm still trying to figure all that out right now.

30 in 30: Day 18

I use the "like" button on various social media sites as a half-assed way to connect with other people. I've call this the "passive like", where you want to acknowledge the post or just say hello, but you just don't have the energy or words to type a comment or response. Likes are empty calories. I need to stop this pattern, or at least hit like more judiciously and try to comment instead. Elan Morgan (aka Schmutzie) wrote a great article a while back about how she decided to stop reflexively hitting the "like" button on Facebook. I may have tried to do that a while back, only to regress back to the instinctual clicking of the button. Do I really think I'm actually interacting with people this way? It's like going to the convenience store for a chocolate bar, bag of chips and can of pop instead of taking the time to put together a more filling meal.

I worry that I can't really think of anything to say to people anymore. I supposed that's another danger of sharing thoughts and feelings on so many different outlets. Everything has to be so watered down and generalized. I keep meaning to write people letters, but what's my motivation in doing this: the act of sharing pent-up thoughts and emotions, or the hope of a response? 

I have to ask myself what my aspirations and motivations are for my writing and photography. Am I trying to say anything, or am I more driven by the idea of gaining access to certain circles and communities? On some level, am I merely seeking validation for whatever I put out at the expense of authentic self-expression? I'm sometimes afraid everything I put out is just quick crayon drawings of different things I see and like.

30 in 30: Day 17

Another travelling day. I always forget about how much being in transit takes out of me, despite the fact that I'm not the one driving. The bus ride from Moncton was actually a little shorter than expected because it was a limited-stop express coach, meaning I got into the city about an hour earlier than scheduled. I was hoping to get home early enough to vote in the advance poll today, but between my exhaustion and a long trip from downtown to home, I decided I wasn't going to leave the apartment again tonight.

I may not have been as social as I wanted to be on the weekend, but I'm glad I was able to spend some time with the pets, particularly Natalie, the 18-year-old torby. She still has her feisty moments, but she's much more frail than she was the last time I came home: she spent most of her time resting in the kitchen. The other four cats and the older dog all seemed to be happy I was there and particularly affectionate. The 7-month old puppy took a little while to warm up to me.

Been thinking more about the conceptual portrait photography project again (mentioned on Day 4). I want to do something focused on the face and eyes, but I'm also fascinated by the idea of tracking changes through repetition and how multiple shots of the same thing taken over a period of time can tell a story. I'm still having a little bit of trouble trying to come up with a specific enough statement I want to make; if anyone can lead me in the right direction, let me know. I'm also looking for volunteer subjects once I have something figured out for the concept.

30 in 30: Day 16

The SRC is running a French-dub version of Harold and Maude right now and it makes me want to break out my DVD when I get back to Halifax. I have so many movies I bought when I had more income to dispose but haven't watched for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I didn't want to block off the whole chunk of time it took to consume the movie, or I wasn't otherwise in the mood.

Long day today. Thanksgiving Dinner was good, but I'm glad to return to my own space and routine tomorrow evening. I don't feel like I can access my thoughts unless I have enough space and time alone, and both are difficult to come by here. It's only going to be worse at Christmas. There are enough cute animals here to distract me, though.

30 in 30: Day 10

I'll be honest; I'm feeling a little blocked tonight, so I'm just going to get all meta in this post. I've been thinking about the following: Do I keep using this space for first-person navel gazing, or should I try to attempt to break out of talking about myself in the coming 20 days? Should I work dashed-off pieces of fiction and abstraction into the mix? If I mention people I know, should I come up with decent aliases? (Let's just say I have a lot of friends with interesting names). 

You know how sometimes a specific piece of music takes you back to a specific time and place? I actually remember feeling that with a particular episode of Saturday Night Live a while back. It was a show that aired years before I started watching the show myself, but when I put on a VHS recording of a cable rerun of the Bruce Willis / Neil Young show (originally aired September 1989), it brought me back to Miramichi, NB, spring 2000, and everything I felt around that time seemed to be embedded into the experience of watching Neil Young do takes of "Rockin' In The Free World", "The Needle and the Damage Done", and "No More" that made the album counterparts seem a little too polished and clean. I remember that was a difficult winter and spring, but that particular year brought me to a lot of the people I've been fortunate to remain friends with for over 15 years. For someone who moved around quite a bit when growing up, it stuns me that these people have been a part of my life for almost half of it. 

I don't know if music (or other media) has the same power to root itself to specific memories in the last 10 years, though, which is the length of time I've been out of university. I also ended up buying too much music in that period of time before I move to Halifax three years ago, so that may have something to do with it. It still happens, though; the last year is going to be tied to these specific songs  (links below take you to Spotify, except for the last one):

Do any of these songs evoke anything for any of you? Is there a common thread, atmosphere or mood that holds this list together? I know this is a bit of a fish for comments, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Hell, I managed to work through this block after all.

30 in 30: Day 9

I got my HST rebate yesterday. After paying a bill I decided my big "splurge" would be to order something in, although now I've got that morning-after regret where I didn't use the money to do something a little more fun and social. Coffee. A beer at the Company House, Charlie's or Lion & Bright. For some reason I always prefer to drink in the North End...maybe it's because it's the closest thing in the city that replicates the spaces of my university days in Sackville, NB over a decade ago. 

I have Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece album playing right now; it's been a long time since I've put that one on. The way the sun is coming in through the dirty windows and curtains creates an interesting effect when combines with the song that's currently playing ("You Don't Pull No Punches But You Don't Push The River").

The city beckons, but I have to do laundry yet again. That's always the way. I had my fun already on Friday night. I'm thinking of going out to Nocturne, but maybe I need to budget my money and sociability to the point where I'm going out for coffee with the people I need to catch up with more often, rather than waiting until I can put a big enough gamble on whether the vibe is right, I'm outside of my own head enough, and my wallet can absorb the cost. 

30 in 30: Day 8

I read a few good graphic novels in the last little while: The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire and Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald. Both were very good and emotionally affecting in different ways. The middle story in Essex County, "Ghost Stories" was the one that stood out for me: it's the one about the two hockey player brothers in the 1950s. I found that one especially sad and haunting, particularly the whole thread of loss and regret that carries the whole narrative.

In a way, Photobooth also deals with loss. Fitzgerald's book serves as a history of the devices, a eulogy for the obsolete chemical booths, and an examination of her own relationship to her long-time hobby. The sense of having a connection with an object or experience that's gone was something I could especially relate to...I kept thinking of all the time I used to browse the racks of long-closed mall music stores, and how that's just something that won't ever happen again. There are the indie stores, but there was something specific about browsing a chain store in a mall with a well-stocked and diverse back catalogue selection that I miss. Yet it occurs to me that it's a weird thing to get wistful over.

The end of the book, where Fitzgerald reflects on what she's gained and lost from her fascination with the booths, also gave me pause, specifically about my own relationship with Saturday Night Live. My interest in the show and its history has connected me to a number of interesting people over the last 17 years (over half my life ago), but I couldn't help but relate when Fitzgerald mentioned her fear that her "glimmers of resentment" towards photobooths would grow for what she gave up to chase her passion. I sometimes ask myself what I'm hoping to get out of my interest in the show.

I've long had an interest in doing a collaborative narrative comic or graphic novel (I would write, someone else would take care of the art stuff). I don't know what it would be about, though.


30 in 30: Day 6

Sorry this came in a little bit after midnight, but it's at least done before I go to bed, so it still counts, right? It's at least before midnight in Winnipeg.

I decided I would try to write something a little earlier during my breaks at work about my perceived lack of meaningful conversations, but the whole thing came off as a little too abstract for my liking. I didn't really feel what I was writing, and really only had the vaguest outline of the idea without exploring further whether this would be a good topic to write about. I'm also still in the process of figuring out how "naked" I'm going to allow myself to be in these blogging exercises. 

I had to go to the NSLC to buy some beer for tomorrow night, and that reminded me of a particular headache of living in this city: the public transit system. I live on the outskirts of both Clayton Park and Fairview, right near where a lot of new condos and McMansions have been built over the past five years. I'm fairly close to a bus stop, but the area itself isn't particularly walkable, nor is the bus service that frequent. The way the bus service works in my neighborhood is that there are two routes that run a block away from each other near my building, but hit the same terminals and follow (mostly) the same path once they get onto Joseph Howe Drive...however, the routes cut back to once an hour after 7pm or so, with each running a half hour apart from each other. It's also a long and convoluted route if you're taking the full trip from Clayton Park or Fairview to the North End or downtown...it can take about 45 minutes to get downtown from my place. While there are limited stop express routes that take a more direct path to and from the city core, those only run during rush hour. The bus service is one reason why I don't go out as much as I want to.

I suppose there are always things to talk about, but the question is whether it's the right time. I have to get to bed soon, so I don't think I'll say anything more tonight.

30 in 30: Day 5

There's a rain blob approaching Halifax tonight, and I wore myself out with an extra trip to Sobeys for cat treats. I have a few ideas I want to write about in the next little while, but those probably need a bit more energy and focus than I have tonight. Ties into the other night's post about not getting enough sleep, I guess. I can hear the wind starting to gust outside. 

I was hoping to get back to work on my classic SNL review project tonight, but I can never get myself back into the headspace needed to write these things. Maybe tomorrow, but I have to clean.

It's already the end of September. I've had some conversations to the effect of "Summer got away from us, didn't it?" with a few people in the last little while.