Flower Power

These brightly coloured flowers(tulips?) appear out of nowhere everywhere even in the weediest of straggly places. Many of their friends though were planned pregnancies by the city.

Photographing flowers feels overdone but when you’re always walking around with a camera with you, why not? Some these are from around my home, some are from the homes of others and some from public property. I’m not sure how my place ended up with any. Leftover survivors from previous gardening endeavours? Whatever the case I’m happy to have them stay awhile.

 

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Lost with Stoners

In the beginning of the decade I was regularly riding in a moving vehicle with a few potheads. At first they were a bunch of new people to hang out with but I was finding myself there too often for no good reason since I’ve never been much of a pot smoker.

Your life is rarely a coincidence. Your position in life and the people you associate with can almost always be thoroughly explained. To me, we were a bunch of guys who were filtered out and met at the bottom. It was a concoction of working stiffs and former drug dealers that didn’t make it.

From what I gathered this union assembled on a regular basis because of boredom and not having anything else going on in life. If they dropped this then there would be nothing else besides loneliness. Often I would be in the vehicle and wonder how much more of their life would they spend driving around, smoking weed, getting something to eat and then drive around some more and smoke more weed into the AM hours. There was never really much conversation and once the weed ran out whether it was 1 PM or 1 AM the consensus would be to go home. I would also wonder what is this saying about me and what am I going to do?

You never really know what is going on in other people’s heads. Were they planning on doing this forever or were they planning on being on this ride until they find a woman? I’m not sure if they thought it was a sad situation they were in but never talked about it or if they didn’t think much of it. Being in your 30s with no plan and in the same position in life as you were when you were 21 doesn’t get passed off as trivial, does it?

It was a confusing time for me as my good friend had recently passed away, other friends were getting married but most of all I was still directionless with what I wanted to do with my life besides put food in my mouth. As usual once I fully realized I was probably doing myself a disservice I cut myself off and opted for isolation, red wine and writing.

As with most groups a disagreement had split them up which was probably for the better. Often what holds you back in life is that one last piece of comfort you’re not willing to easily let go of.

At the Library

There’s an old guy reading newspapers and sneezing loudly into them like a handkerchief. Every sneeze is followed by the sniffles. It would appear to be a cold but he was doing the same thing 3 weeks ago. I pity the people who have to live with him. He could be a dying man living his last days but I doubt it. He just left. The world is in danger now without a newspaper to absorb his germs and phlegm particles.

“The wheels on the bus go zoom zoom zoom. Zoom zoom zoom….”

On the other side 3-year-olds and their mothers are gathered to sing songs while the husbands are suffering at work devising schemes to hide a bit of money from each pay cheque so by the end of the year they might have enough to buy a package of beef jerky.

I once asked a guy at work what he was going to do with all his overtime money. His reply was, “you’re not married, are you?”

Behind me are students appearing to be studying thinking that they might get a job after graduation that will pay them at least $15 an hour. By the time they find one the minimum wage will be $15 an hour. That is when I will put in my application at McDonald’s.

The librarian just walked by my area and looked at me funny when she saw Jewel’s autobiography on my table.

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Measure of Success

The true measure of success is how much better you think you are than everyone else or at the very least the people who you associate with. Yes, it is based on a comparison basis. Some might label the bench warmer of a major professional sports team unsuccessful but that bench warmer is probably more successful than 95% of people on Earth.

The cliched true measure of success is living every day of your life doing what makes you happy. I’m not saying it’s not true but it’s what everyone will tell you these days even if they’re constantly trying to fool themselves and everyone else that their life fits the mantra. To succeed means to win but most are playing not to lose.

It’s rare that people live life doing what they want since most people work very hard doing the opposite. Giving up that job you hate that sustains your place in society can feel like the equivalent to death. Hardly anyone strives and holds out for greatness. Instead, most solidify their place in hell so that they can stay warm by being close to others.

The chance you take by shooting for success is loneliness. The road to success rarely comes with an entourage. You’re stupid until you make it and especially if you don’t. To succeed greatly you must be willing to fail greatly.

 

Daily Prompt: Measure

 

 

Alone at the Pub

There’s a pub a few blocks from my home. I guess it would be called the neighbourhood pub. Prior to a month ago I had never set foot in there because I have no desire to sit at the bar alone. Going to the pub alone to drink is another step towards giving up on life. You’ve reached a point of shamelessness where you no longer care to hide your sorry drunk ass at home. You want the world to know that you have given up on life and you don’t care who knows it.

Since there is nowhere else closer to buy food, I found myself browsing their website. Sooner or later convenience will get you. On Fridays they serve beer-can chicken which I thought was kind of neat. I maybe could have done take-out but I thought maybe they were expecting people to eat-in so that they could make a beer off of you as well. Many people will only eat out alone if they have an excuse such as being on a lunch break. My excuse for going to the pub alone was that I wanted the beer-can chicken. Not that it matters but I guess it does.

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Not the actual chicken. Looks kind of inhumane. Can you imagine a charred human with a beer can stuck up their butthole?

This is not a hip pub or lounge. It’s more of a place where middle-aged to old people hang out at and many people seem to know each other. I was wrong to think that only deplorable single males go to these places alone. In the late afternoon there will be a bunch of guys there who come in separately who presumably just finished work. They’ll sit along the bar and bullshit about sports, news and their wives.

For whatever reason the number of lone men at these types of places greatly out numbers the lone women. Perhaps the divorce left the woman with the kid and house while the man at the bar. Men also seem more likely to just say, “fuck it.”

My First Job

To say that I was pleased when a big-chain retail store hired me as a clerk when I was 17 years old is an under-statement. At that point I had never had a job and was desperately wanting one to escape the stigma of being a fresh high school graduate doing nothing.

They say there’s no jobs today but in 1997 I found it to be much more difficult to attain any kind of employment. I had to lie on my resume to get anywhere and I’ve been doing it ever since. Sometimes having to lie to get a job means the job isn’t for you and your punishment is to hate your job.

When I got the confirmation from Human Resources, I was jumping up and down like I had just won Wimbledon. The starting pay was 15 cents above minimum wage just so they didn’t have to say they offered minimum wage. Working for $7.30 an hour seems like a waste of time or maybe even slavery but happiness is entirely relative to how shitty your life usually is.

Very quickly I began to hate management, customers and self-entitled senior staff. I found it hard to quit because it was a 20 minute walk from home, better jobs seemed hard to come by and I guess I was too stupid to just quit. When I did announce my resignation, the owner’s wife was ecstatic. She was disappointed at her failed past attempts to get me to quit. One time I told her I was thinking about quitting and she urged me to get it in writing first. Her husband probably got sex the day I quit.

If I could do it over again I would have announced my resignation through the PA system and walked out during the busiest time of the day. Two weeks notice is only a courtesy.

Daily Prompt: Pleased

 

Borrowing Digital Media

Yesterday I was at home searching the local library database online and took more notice of its digital capabilities. Borrow a movie, ebook or audiobook? Sounded odd but after a few minutes of clicking and reading, this is possible through Hoopla which is affiliated with my local library and quite possibly yours as well.

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Screenshot of my phone

I’ve been spending a day a week at the library and it’s more of a community centre than a place to borrow books. There are many people there using free internet, doing homework, reading newspapers or attending kid programs while the book aisles are empty.

Some people prefer physical books over digital ones but real books take up a lot more room, money and muscle stamina. Also, it’s easier to lay sideways reading a digital device than it is a book. I can see books becoming like vinyl records. They’re going to go away and then make a resurgence. People will buy a hard copy of the books they like and leave the other ones in the digital space. Bookphiles will argue, “there’s no other way to read.”

It might sound like a crazy transition but kids 20 years from now will hear stories of how we lived, and laugh at us. They’ll feel sorry for us when they hear our spiel about how they’re missing out by not having to physically turn the page or the feeling of giving a hardcopy to a friend.

 

 

Almost Half Goes to Tax

Without getting too detailed this is a tax breakdown for a reported annual income of $40,000 in BC, Canada:

  • Income tax – $5000
  • Canadian Pension Plan(money for old people right now(Ponzi scheme)) – $1800
  • Employment Insurance(in case I am out of a job and am eligible to collect) – $700

Total to government – $7500
Total leftover – $32,500

The first $10,000 is tax-free and the remaining $30,000 incurs a 25% tax(20% federal tax, 5% provincial tax).

That’s not entirely accurate since that’s just the money that is automatically taken from you. If you spend everything that you get leftover there is a 0 to 12% sales tax.

Most common examples:

0% – Healthier items at the grocery store
5% – Other grocery items and food at restaurants, gasoline.
12% – The great majority of transactions

If you purchase liquor from a store or a restaurant there is a 15% tax.

The amount of tax you pay can be largely dependent on your vices and lifestyle. A pack of 20 cigarettes will include a $4.78 tax(roughly half of total price).

There’s a $0.32 gas tax plus 5% sales tax for every litre of unleaded gasoline . The price per litre today is $1.35(taxes included). How much per gallon? Multiply by 3.78= $5.10.

The big one is if you own a home and have to pay property tax. You’ll likely be paying $2000 to $4000 a year.

There are other costs that aren’t labelled as a tax but in essence they are. A 15% cultural expectation tax(tipping) is expected at most restaurants. If your company doesn’t provide you free health insurance then a person of average income is required to pay roughly $50-75 a month for one person. If your annual income is less than $24,000 then it’s free.

If you are one of the many to have credit card debt then you have to pay about 20% a year in interest(we got you tax) on transactions that you have already paid sales tax on.

You can put your money in the bank and never spend it to avoid paying more taxes but one day you’ll pass the money on to a loved one who will spend it or if you don’t have anyone then the government will take it all. Either way they will get something sooner or later.

To avoid paying taxes where I live, the best route is to make less than $10,000 a year, eat only healthy food bought from the grocery store and buy through Craigslist.

 

 

 

 

We Weren’t the Champions

In grade 7 we had our very first basketball team. A bunch of adults decided that it would be a good idea to get all the grade 7 basketball teams from surrounding schools to compete in a tournament.

As an exhibition game one of the schools came to our turf for a game. We were confident going into the game. They smoked us 48 to 8. At that age, a good indication on who will win the game is the team with the most guys who have hit puberty. When it comes to school sports, having as many people as possible who failed grade 1 is an advantage because being a year older they’re more likely to have hit puberty before everyone else. Puberty is basically a process of inducing anabolic steroids. It’s the difference between a man and a beast.

With our hopes crushed our coaches seemed confident that we would come in at least 2nd to last place in the tournament. We wanted to believe it because we didn’t want to be the shittiest team. If you know you’re going to be the shittiest team then you might as well not show up and give the honours to someone else. Heck, you’re better off going to watch and laugh at whoever comes in last. Looking back, it was a fairly irrational hope that we weren’t the worst. To believe that we weren’t would mean there would have to be a team out there who could score less than 8 points. For you non-basketball fans out there, a basket is worth 2 points which makes 8 points seem even less impressive.

There were 6 teams in the tournament and 4 of them smoked us by a wide margin. Our last game was against that team we were supposed to beat. We lost. Any plans to join the high school basketball team next year were diminished. It was just going to be comprised of the best players from each team who crushed us so what would be the point? With my basketball career over, the following year in grade 8 I picked up smoking, hooky and failing 5 out of 8 courses.

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Daily Prompt: Champion

Procrastination and Motivation

Over a decade ago I illegally downloaded an mp3 file of a Tony Robbins talk. Awake the Giant Within, was the title and after listening to it in its entirety I was motivated. The unfortunate part was that I had no goals or wasn’t honest to myself on how to achieve them.  Just like having a bad day, I returned to my baseline normal after a good night’s sleep.

Though potentially effective the giant within will go back to being a midget if the motivational environment returns to its uninspiring regularity which is often the case. If I woke up to Tony Robbins kicking my ass every morning, life would be different. Unfortunately he’s not willing to give up millions of dollars every year to change my life. The only ones who might are your parents and chances are they’re not very inspiring.

Last night I was browsing blogs and came across one about a young man who grew up where I did. Around his 3rd year of university he decided his initial plan wasn’t going to take him where he wanted so he just upped and left to the oil fields of Alberta. After reading a few posts I felt like a loser. He’s 23 years old, owns 2 condos, a new BMW convertible and he’s far from the point of sitting back. Those are just material possessions but his work ethic, future endeavours and motivation are inspiring.

He’s been working in the worst Canadian winters for the last 3 years doing double digit hour shifts, studying and lifting weights so after reading a few more posts this morning, the least I could do was clean up my room! I’ve been putting it off forever, quietly telling myself, later. Even if I cleaned my room every day for the last 10 years I still can’t compare to this guy.

When the disparities are so vast, summing it up to motivation is just too simple. Every little piece of your environment from birth shapes your mindset. Perhaps this guy takes himself too seriously or is so unlikable that it’s easy for him to just dive into over-achieving…I don’t know. But it proves that how much you want something is dependent on how much you think you need to do it.

Typically most people won’t try harder than what they think is expected of them from the group they identify with. And often the people you do surround yourself with are your comfortable excuse to not accomplish more. “Later” is often an excuse to avoid discomfort hoping that you won’t have to deal with later.

 

Daily Prompt: Later