Tag Archives: wondering

End-of-Coffee Ponderings

The sun is shining. It’s disconcerting. A tease. More rain lands on Sunday, if not before.

Vancouver’s in the throes of one of its wettest, coldest, greyest springs in recent history. I’ve not worn shorts once this year. I haven’t even entertained the thought of planting basil yet.

Today, most of the tech community will convene at Northern Voice 2011, at UBC, and I’m now realising how disappointed I am to not be going, given the recent turn of events and the loss of Derek K. Miller. Perspective took a turn of late.

I’ve always caught on in the end, but I’m often a late addition to reason.

Then, eventually, whomp, it hits me: The lesson.

Even if I had tickets, my financial situation would require that I work through the conference. That’s the way the dollar-cookie crumbles. It’s “meant to be” and in a way is providing mental spark-power on ideas I’m churning through.

It’s the end of the world as we know it & I feel “meh”

It feels as though life as a whole has been a struggle his year. Maybe the Doomsdayists and their “May 21,2011” end-of-times prognostications have a little oomph behind them. All the “end-of-times” prep I’m doing is holding off on my Costco visit until May 22. Why die with full cupboards?

For now, a man is mowing the lawn, sunlight is streaming in, and distant tires patter up busy roadways.

That’s the world. Beyond that, something else awaits. That’s for me, a train, and a bike to discover.

I have a pretty short list of what I want in life right now. One is to have the joy of regular paycheque-after-paycheque comfort, and to feel good in body and mind whilst pursuing steady, fulfilling work. The other is, a little sunshine. Everything else in life, that’s bonus.

In a way, my friend’s death has been giving me clarity about what’s important. I knew, once.

Keep it simple, stupid

There’s nothing like somersaulting off a scooter at 45 km/hr or so, landing on your head, and surviving with only silly things like a head injury for waking you up to what’s important in life.

So, for a while there, I had it figured out.

Live for today. Enjoy the moment. Celebrate friends. Be a part of it. Whatever “it” is to you, be a part of it. Celebrate what you have, try to get more, but don’t pin your happiness on that which isn’t in your hands, because then you’ll never have happiness. See how that works?

I had it figured out.

But life is like a vacuum.

Far enough away, you’re fine, unaffected. Get too close, unsettled, you may get sucked up into that vacuum. Caught inside too long, you can suffocate.

I’ve never been good at vacuum-proximity. My life balance, well, it’s like a bad day on a boat sometimes.

Cause/Effect: The Long Game?

Today, I’d like to do Northern Voice. If I did, it’d hurt my bank account, stress me out on the time-management-money-making fronts, and would probably be hard on my back. I’d overdo things, wouldn’t prioritize myself, and the fallout would probably continue for another couple weeks.

Not doing Northern Voice, I earn money, get exercise I need daily, can do all the right things for my back, will get the sunshine my soul desperately requires, will be freed up for my friend’s memorial Sunday, get to earn me a soul-day Monday, and will have balance I need throughout my week so I can spend important time with my family next weekend, before my dad and stepmom do a gruelling six-week cross-country roadtrip — the last of which didn’t end particularly well when my father wound up in critical care 2,000 kilometres from home.

It reminds me of a favourite flick about writing, The Wonder Boys, based on Michael Chabon’s novel. It’s not a perfect movie but it’s far better than the box-office, and title, suggests. In it, Michael Douglas plays a writing/English professor, and he teaches that “writers make choices.”

Choices, they’re harder than we think. It means acknowledging we can’t have it both ways. The heart wants what it wants and sometimes it wants both.

Years ago, I stopped writing fiction for my inability to create tenable conflict that had a beginning/middle/end. A friend surmised I’d had enough conflict in my life, that generating more in my recreational time was probably not what my soul had in mind.

Do whatcha gotta so you can do whatcha wanna

Days like these, where I’m torn between what my heart wants (to spend time with awesome people talking about fascinating things) and what my soul needs (head down, steady progress in work and rehab, daily balance so I can have the summer I want), I try hard to make the right choice.

Then I remember that my friend was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer at the exact age I am now, and would be dead before his 42nd birthday, and I get confused: What’s the right choice again?

Fortunately, my body seems to think it knows, so I can ignore my brain and heart, and listen to my bones, which seem to long for a seaside bike ride and a quiet day of not carrying a backpack and bustling from uncomfortable seat to uncomfortable seat, followed by ungainly bus rides.

And that’s all we can do. Guess. Listen to something, anything, and interpret. Among Derek’s last words were a cautioning that we can make plans but they often will never come to pass, and all we can do is be in the moment.

I thought I’d be at Northern Voice this year. Instead, I have the gift of getting well enough that I can return to something I love, sunny day cycling.

That’s a moment I can be in, that I must be in, because it’s the only moment I have available to me, the best this day has to offer.

Sounds like the right choice after all.

Waiting, Waiting, And More Waiting

I’m supposed to be using this week to create a framework for my next six weeks and next six months.

But that hasn’t happened.

I’m sitting around chewing on what’s left of my fingernails, trapped by a shitty rainy day, and lost in worry about whether my father will even survive an operation that’s SUPPOSED to be happening today. As of this hour, he still hasn’t gone under the knife, and I’m still in a “what if” panic.

Whatever happens in that operating room decides what happens in the next six months of my life far more than any timeline I could write today.

There’s nothing in my head that’s worth extracting today.

There’s no hope or faith, no optimism or belief. There’s just empty pulsating limbo as I wait for life to fill in the blanks for me.

Waiting is criminal. It scars the soul. Hope is the only antidote, but it’s not one I’ve been afforded much of.

The longer this takes, the more I’m adrift in uncertainty, the louder those discordant heartbeats echo inside as wonder floods in and worry takes over.

I’ve been useless today.

When I was waiting for the answer on my book proposal, that was fine. Why? Because I knew the book might be better if I was in fact rejected by the literary agent. No, really.

There’s a much more organic process that comes in creation when you don’t have a deadline or third-party involved. This book of mine should be a journey to places I’ve never been before, and right now I don’t know what that’ll require of me, so I want to explore that and really go there without muddling from others.

But this?

Father-who’s-alive versus Father-who’s-not is a pretty big fucking stipulation in how your life unfolds, especially when it’s down to a 24-hour window.

The possibility being this tangible is nothing anyone should experience, but is something we all are faced with. Don’t kid yourself. Your turn is coming.

Grief is an unavoidable process, and, as a creative person, there’s nothing that fucks with the mix greater than the all-consuming end of someone you love’s life.

I can’t be there, I can’t talk to my father, I can’t do a goddamned thing to help.

Some dude a 5,000 kilometres away, who gets to stand there with a scalpel in his hand, HE’S the guy that holds my immediate fate in his hands.

I can’t write a timeline for that. I won’t even fucking consider that Alternative today.

I just know it’s there.

The Possibility. Statistical Likelihood.

Like calling it that is so innocuous. Oh, the “chance” of fatality. Like one might buy a ticket in the hopes it’d go a specific way other than the Usual.

Powerlessness. That’s what I get today. I get to wait, wait, wait, wait. I don’t even get to know when particularly my fingers should be crossed. The ward nurses will get 10 minutes notice, then it’s off to Sliceville for Pops.

Risk.

I grew up thinking it was a board game.

Now it’s the line between what might be the result for an “average” person with my father’s surgery, and, well, my father. The triple-threat disease cocktail his unhappy body offers is more full of oddsmaking than a weekend in Vegas, man.

And I’m supposed to wait, productively doing what humans productively do. Conjuring little lists of objectives, crossing off achievements, planning for all my tomorrows.

Well, tomorrow might literally give me a completely different life to live. Today I’m spent praying for anything but that.

Sure, the odds of the unexpected climb for each of us daily, but it’s just not the same as when mortality’s literally on the table and giving the prospective outcome causes all professionals involved to lead with a pregnant pause.

Yes, I’ll wait.

I’ll sit here with toxins bubbling in my stomach as fears I know too well return — fears I’ve dealt with from my mother’s passing and my father’s three close calls.

Sure, I’ll wait.

Phases Come and Phases Go

Two or three years ago I made myself the promise that I was going to stop stopping. No more stagnation. Growth, growth, growth! Think tumour, think– uh, wait a second. Scratch that one. Think… something.

When I was a kid, about 15, I’d gotten a bit more sophisticated than the “George-Michael-over-every-single-fucking-wall!” method of interior design, and now only had George in a few select spots, as I had begun to fill the rest with Johnny Depp and witticisms I’d cut out of my teen magazines. No, I’m not being ironic. I just had to look really hard. Continue reading

Am I Really Channelling Dorothy Parker?

Watching Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart this morning had me waxing nostalgic on my Twitter feed.


smuttysteff I think I was born in the wrong decade. I think I should’ve been some bitchy vixen singing jazz in the ’30s.

smuttysteff The kind who laughed and blew smoke in mens’ faces. Yup.

DavidStephenson @smuttysteff No, you’re channeling Dorothy Parker http://tinyurl.com/2ml5ae

smuttysteff @DavidStephenson I’m channelling Dorothy Parker? Let’s hope I skip the alcoholism, depression, and lonely, bitter death, then, eh? :)

It’s funny, you know. Dorothy Parker was known for her caustic way, her incredible essays and other writing, her brilliant witty but cutting use of language, and when she got old, she got all depressed that she was just a “wisecracker” and more or less drank her way out of this life.

It reminds me, really, of when I was younger, around 19 or 20, when I was super-popular and everybody’s friend, thanks to my wise-cracking ways that everyone loved, of a dream I had one night that pretty much literally changed me forever. Continue reading