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(Written on the Gulf Islands Ferry)
When I put on these soundproof headphones, it’s like there is a constant pressure on my ears – especially when I’m in a public transit vehicle.
It’s like my ear canals are roads, and these headphones are boulders blocking the way. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s heavy and closed, as if they were hatches on a submarine… constantly under pressure by noise. When I am out in the city my footsteps are dull thuds, and my aural numbness translates into some kind of thickness of movement, in which I feel heavier and slower, clad in a protective spacesuit.
I am not sure if this is a comfortable feeling, not yet. I worry about long-term effects, but it’s good for times when I need to conserve my energy… when I need to shut out the world a little and not be burdened by the noise. It’s a nice, luxurious illusion in some ways… it offers me comfort, like a fluffy blanket against my head, protecting me from unpleasantness.
I remember how I almost went insane on the Granville bridge in Vancouver. I had decided to walk the entire way while darkness crept over the cityscape, and the cars, the water, the bridge, the buildings, the lights, the noise, oh god the noise… the people in their apartments, visible to the outside, the television sets blaring, the people crammed into these strange rooms open to the sky, visible to the world.
Step by step I went along that bridge, over the water. Bridges over water harbour intense fantasies of fear for me, for I fear not so much that I may fall, but that I’d be compelled to jump for whatever reason… or push someone in, like a loved one. My mind is so vivid that my fears come alive in my brain and shake me to the core, and I whimper and tremble as they snatch up my brain for an instant, just a moment. My particular worldly sensitiveness had made me susceptible to all kinds of fancies on that bridge, and I quailed from the pressure it exerted on me, from its people to its vehicles to its architecture, to its energy. I nearly went crazy crossing the Granville St Bridge, and it was a sign for me to head to quieter lands… to get away from the noise.
This protective gear for the ears is a useful gift; for times like those, when there is too much, too much for my mind to process, it would be good to have some protection… to have a barrier against the noise, against the lights. To not have to fear such urban sprawls, where there is so much – too much to feel. I think these thoughts, with the headphones on my ears, the pressure swelling and easing with every turn of my head, and I watch the ferry arrive at my destination. Sturdies Bay, Galiano Island… my once and future home. The ferry is a cacophony of noise barely muffled by the walks and floors, the surfaces. The rumbling cannot be escaped from, but at least for a little while I may have some respite.
It’s time to head down. Time to set foot on land. I go to my home again for a week. My home, for the summer.
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Happy birthday to me.

You know, I never put myself in a mindset beyond twenty-one. To me, that was the important age, and the fact that I was still, to some extent, fucked up was devastating to me. I wanted twenty-one to be special and mean something, and who knows? Maybe it did. I certainly went through a couple changes, and now I'm trying to change (amid some familiar pitfalls) and grow anew I set off on the path to adulthood.

But now. Now, I am twenty-two, and who knows what that means. One year older, one year advanced. I had a spirit medium tell me my future, that in many more years things would be better. I can't quite remember the details (and perhaps that's for the best) but I got the sense that the next handful of years would set me on a road of improvement, of recovery and fulfillment. I suppose I'm still getting there.

I'm twenty-two years old. No longer the adolescent but a young man, still confused, still somewhat inexperienced in the ways of the world. Yesterday I cleaned washrooms and helped maintain the film school I've been living at. A day before that, my boss off-handedly remarked that I was ten times more responsible than he was at my age. The ghost of VFS - one that taunts my inability, my immaturity, brings to light my tendency to hide and withdraw, is disappearing from my life. In this place, I feel like I've proven myself to be better, to be responsible... to be worth something. It's a job I enjoy doing, it's a job that's hard work, and it's a job I can handle.

No matter the stresses in this place, I have defined the role I've been given, to the point where even when I'm not here, the tech gal, A, tells the interns that they "have to be Tito until Tito gets here." That made me grin a little, when I heard that. Slowly I'm becoming a fixture in this place, and I don't mind that in the least.

So yeah, things are better. I mean, there are still some dissatisfactory details here and there, but they're not insurmountable beasts... though a couple might be a little painful to overcome. But whatever, it's a process.

Three more days and I'm on my break. Three week break. After that, I'm here for two months. We'll see how that goes. Until then, signing off.
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There is an occurrence in fiction that has transfixed me: A woman and a man, holding hands, running away.

It's an iconic moment in the game ICO, one of my favorites, made as a drawing by one of its creators for the game's cover art. Two figures, a boy and a girl, running across a large expanse. An extraordinarily built palace or castle of some kind. The characters are practically charcoal markings in the large tableau, but it is effective. Much of the game is spent running from two or fro, towards problems, away from problems. To run is to search, and escape.

There's another scene of this kind in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, another of my favorite movies, in a shot that transfixed me: A man and his love, trapped in his memories as they're slowly being deleted by a computer. Running away from the devastation his choices have wrought, trying to hold onto his moments of happiness, in futility. They are panicked, hoping to cheat fate, to find a place to hide in, somewhere they can be safe in their love.

I've just put down the end of a truly epic trilogy, written by Stieg Larsson, an accomplished Swedish author, now dead. (He has quite a few other accomplishments as well, but this was his most latest one.) The trilogy will now be counted among my favorite book series, of which only one cannot be counted as entirely science fiction. (More of a romance with sci-fi elements, of a quality that I'm thinking of re-evaluating.) I was aware of his death from the get-go, but it only began to affect me as I ran through the last of the pages, following the story of a man and a woman... and many others besides, revolving around their fascinating relationship in a story of conflict, injustice and trust.

It wasn't the man and the woman running in the story, it was me. My mind read on, its thoughts racing, wondering how it could escape the torturous trap. Because once the book was finished, the stories would be done. There is no one to fill in the shoes of this now-passed away fellow and continue the tales. And I certainly don't expect my fellows in the online roleplaying scene, panfandom or otherwise, to pick them up. (The characters are a tad more complex than the standard fictional anime pantheon.) Their tale was succinctly ended, and thus the classic consumer conundrum - the demand cannot be met, because there is no more supply. Capitalism's slavish failings are brought to light.

There was some running in the book, but at its heart there was no panic in the man, or the woman, in this story. What was shown instead was a glimpse into their fictional lives, wherein was placed a grain of truth, of plausibility - the seductive, devilish, tantalizing bit that makes the readers believe that they can reach out and interact with these characters, to speak with them... or at the lowest level, to relate to them, to understand them in some vital way that is also a reflection of their own personal understanding.

I will read these books over and over and the story will be the same. Time is frozen and taken in snapshots, laid in printed paper. I will be free to pore over the lives of those who never existed, except in the brilliant mind of a man whose fate has claimed him. And like in all things concerning a death, my spirituality kicks in, a safeguard to my cynical reasoning. Because it is horrific for me to think that these characters, protagonists and supporting cast, enemies and villains and fools... all included in the package, are nothing but imagined figments. If taken on the psychological level, this finished tale could be a reconstructed mosaic of all the experiences the author personally had, the traits of people he'd actually met, mixed with his own personal creativity and knowledge. There is a certain magic in that, because in there is life, and life is relevant. I do not think it takes faith to believe that.

But my love for the fantastical influences my spirituality. I want to believe in these characters, that the act of belief is creation. Somewhere Mikael Blomkvist is having dinner with his business partner/lover, or having an interview, or tackling another case of high-up corruption. Somewhere Lisbeth Salander is living her life, free of compromise, free of judgment. Somewhere there is validity, to justify my longing.

This is what paralyzed me when I was twelve years old: the characters came from me, my mind, my thoughts, my imagination. They were trapped there, free to be influenced by outside experiences, like a needle poking into a sphere of amniotic fluid, but all the same imprisoned. There were so many other creative minds out there, believing and thinking and wondering and longing, and just mine, me, my own. There was no collective shared consciousness where we could imagine characters in distant worlds, create our own stories. There was our own worlds.

And this is what, famously, led me to roleplaying. It's been a ride. And yet I admit I've been disappointed, as much as I have been connected to amazing people that have influenced me in so many ways. Been my friends, on some occasions my lovers, in rarer occasions my enemies. But the great vision quest I wanted to make out of this was not nearly what I hoped for. In the end, people are people, with all their magnificent strengths and failings. To learn of the stories, I've had to learn of the people. I've had to learn what it is that makes people write these tales.

I've seen my share of ugliness. I've had friends abused because of matters pertaining to roleplaying worlds. I've seen people ostracized, perhaps justifiably in a case of "street justice", but all the same I see the murmurings: I have his address, I know which conventions he goes to, I know how to get revenge. I've seen people hate, and longed for, and sniped at beneath a veil of anonymity, passive aggressive guerilla warfare. As of late, I've begun to get away from those observances.

I don't have the energy for it. I've drifted. Soon I ascend, like the Red Balloon from that BBC movie I used to love. I feel gravity tugging me away from the child's hand, but am I ready to let go? To get on, say that there is no more here for me? And if I do float away, what is up there for me to embrace? Another unreal world to craft? Another escape?

I've lost my train of thought. Again drifting into issues yet to be reconciled. Again drifting too closely to my own life, losing the vision. I'm going to wake up tomorrow and feel like hell, trying to make an important date. I'm going to have to apologize for being late, perhaps. I'm going to flit through the day with minimal hours sleep.

Time descends upon me and I am its captive yet again.

It is only when I glance down at the book near my bed and I smile. The running man and the woman are, at least, immune to it. Their tale is fixated into place, and there is a certain comfort in that. My life marches on, but perhaps some entity out there is writing my life story as we speak. Perhaps I can escape time this way, in some fashion.

I think, I hope, I imagine. But for now, I am done.


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May 2013

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