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BY Joel

01/01 Direct Link
Ah, New Year's Day 2020, did the grasse matinée, or just grasse mat because I'm finally becoming one of them. Spent last night with my landlady, her fiance, and her sister doing living room karaoke. Oh Seigneur was it fun, most certainly the best Réveillon I've ever had in my life. We sang and danced till three. Gigi L'Amoroso, champagne... A new decade, so far so fresh and full of hope and friends and happy tears. Looked after their dog in the afternoon, went out walking, let her play and bound in the sunlit snowbanks with four other ecstatic pups.
01/02 Direct Link
Stayed up late last night, had a cup of coffee at the meeting around 8, now I can't sleep and it's already 5am. Back to work for 8am, the holidays behind us. But still my heart sings. It will be one of those light and giddy days, fuelled by caffeine, the after work crash, nodding off on the train home. I scratch my head at all these people who say is just another day. It's a new year, a new decade! I see it as a big blank canvas, a chance to leave all the bullshit trapped in the past.
01/03 Direct Link
But maybe the people who say that really do have all their affairs in order, and so it truly is just another day for them in their long string of days of perfection. Admirable, but I doubt it. Smells of complacency to me...

Or maybe they're the kind of people who quite frequently check in on themselves and make adjustments to their behavior, and the calendar has nothing to do with it. Admirable, with no buts!

Not me. Nope, I'm riding this 2020 thing as far as it will go. I am a humble worshiper in the House of 2020.
01/04 Direct Link
So, large swaths of Australia are on fire and I wouldn't doubt if it's part of the reason it's above zero in January here in Canada.

It's really too bad that this global warming/climate change thing is a thing. We can only vow to help each other however we can to minimize the damage and make more sustainable improvements in all areas of life.

A few weeks ago I was struck with some ideas to help deal with plastic waste. I'll try to communicate them here. They may not be original ideas, nor even viable, but, well, scientific inquiry!
01/05 Direct Link
So basically instead of burning our waste we become a Sorted Society. Every household sorts waste as finely as necessary. The waste is collected on schedule. We take all the plastic, chop it up, sanitize it, and suspend it in more plastic. So we'd be trapping all the garbage and whatnot in a plastic mousse material that could be used to make houses or boats or furniture frames. And everything we could make out of it we will last for a long time because it's fucking plastic. Sort, sort, sort, bin into bin into bin, chopped, suspended, job creation, neato!
01/06 Direct Link
Would that work? Would making the plastic mousse create too much pollution? Would it start an oil war?

Maybe we could just mix all the chopped up plastic waste in with cement? That would make the end product stronger and more stable, I think?

In any case, I'm sure we can isolate the mess somehow. I'm sure there are plastic engineers who would be able to figure out the necessary densities and whatnot of every material involved.

We could make it sparkly with plastic glitter and make it fire retardant!

Let's honour the air and the earth and the water.
01/07 Direct Link
Ah, but the sanitization process. Would it create toxic runoff that would pollute the groundwater? Would hydrogen peroxide be enough? A potent vinegar that could be neutralized before disposal?

No, the cement would eventually crack and create pockets of plastic leakage, I imagine. It would have to be a stable material. No harmful by products, thank you.

First there's creating the infrastructure, implementing the sorting and collection systems, which could take years.

Then there's creating the processing facilities. Air tight cutting rooms, Hazmat suits... Nothing goes to waste. The powder. What would we do with the powder?

Onsite moulding? Blocks.
01/08 Direct Link
Heavy, glittering, molded Lego-like blocks that snap together in a jiffy. Could be used to create low income housing.

Put the powder in a pocket in the middle. The Caramilk secret.

Sanitize with steam heat?

But I wouldn't want a project like this to encourage the continued use of single-use plastics. We still need to move away from the disposable mindset. Green alternatives.

Writing this on a crowded bus. Everyone is back to work now, it seems.

The snow comes, blankets all the litter, makes everything feel fresh and clean.

The snow goes. Puddles, trash.

Praying for Australia.
01/09 Direct Link
So it's a brand new decade and America starts it off by crying terrorism and terrorizes Iran, Iran retaliates with a terrorist strike and hundreds die, including 60-odd Canadians.

Add it to the pile.

It can be a depressing world we live in. That's why I smoke weed and rely on antidepressants. If I didn't, from experience I know would be bedridden, sleeping 3/4 of the day, thinking of little more than overdosing on insulin again. I am not afraid to die.

Our systems are messed up because of greed and toxic masculinity. I defend myself, but halfheartedly.
01/10 Direct Link
I stuck around for family, for friends, for the idea that I may still be of some use for humanity, for the possibility of love, for life's many simple pleasures, for hoping of better future coping.

December 2018. Six pens in the top floor bathroom of the city's central library. I wandered around downtown for an hour, threw up into my backpack, called 911, hesitated, told them my vicinity. Kept wandering, waiting to lose consciousness, hid myself on the floor behind a column. Security guard found me.

Four days in the ICU, glucose pumped into my arms until they ached.
01/11 Direct Link
Yes, I have been on quite a mental health journey over the past few years. I'm on a good stretch right now, thankfully. I think if I could only share one piece of advice to someone starting on their own mental health/recovery journey, it would be to relinquish control, forget your ego, and rely on others' words of wisdom and support to guide you back to a life of sanity and independence. Be vulnerable. Reach out. Talk about it. Don't isolate too much. It's all about letting go of your old lonely life and embracing the love of others.
01/12 Direct Link
We're going to need a lot of sandbags. Maybe the plastic slaw could be used to cheaply bulk up all of the sandbags we'll need to distribute to the coastal regions. Gotta make sure that the bag's not gonna bust open and release a bunch of plastic chaff into the water. Maybe layers of mesh around each bag... No, still could be punctured, I think. Oh well, not every idea is a winner. Maybe what's needed in this case is a clear, concise guide for the rapid creation of sandbags.

Sandbags for your brainstorms, homosapien. Fill and tie and stack.
01/13 Direct Link
Last night I went to a gym for the first time in a long time. Didn't go too hard - just kind of scoped out the facility, did my regular yoga routine, then did twenty minutes on a bike. How great to witness my lungs transform the air into raw energy, feel my heart leap out of dormancy, feel blood flooding every extremity, sweat splashing into my eyes, in big drops that slide down and off my nose... Broke the bank and bought a three month membership. A lot can change in three months. Let's hope I can keep it up.
01/14 Direct Link
Feeling tired but healthy today. Didn't have the urge to smoke anything interestingly but I didn't go to the gym again as planned. Decided I'd take it easy and instead went to the library to research workout routines. Found one for building cannonball deltoids. I doubt if I'll ever have cannonball deltoids, but anything would improve upon the ping pongers that have been my shoulders since I was a teenager. Strange how real life so rarely requires strenuous use of the delts... I'll have to humbly start with very light weights. Gym regulars might judge but I couldn't care less.
01/15 Direct Link
So I was reading this article the other day that said that China not accepting our waste anymore is a good thing, because when we landfill it here at home, less of it actually ends up in the ocean. Not only that, but we still have about 50 years' worth of landfill space to fill up anyway, so don't worry about recycling plastic or improving the system and just chuck it and business as usual. Oy. Gross. Glad I don't have kids because I won't ever have grandkids who will have to sort through half a century's worth of crap.
01/16 Direct Link
Just after the New Year I shared on my Timeline a video message put out by Vandana Shiva. In it she's standing in a field in her sari next to some bulls and talks passionately about the importance of sustainable agriculture for the future. I think I was high when I watched it so I missed the part where she slams fossil fuels altogether, using words like poison, hate, and concentration camp...
01/17 Direct Link
Oops, thumb slipped!

The only people to like the post were my mom and my hippie cousin. For days I didn't understand. Vandana! Gardens! What the haystack?!

So I watched the clip again just now not stoned and now I see where things go awry:

Most of the people I know and love are addicted to fossil fuels and are afraid to get their hands dirty.

We live in a dystopia where people trick themselves and each other into thinking that work is something to be endured and then avoided for as long as possible.

Instead we could be chilling in the sunshine in our gardens, laughing with our kin as we plant seeds and and pick weeds. Genuinely enjoying it, feeling healthy, not being violent and destructive.
01/18 Direct Link
The other day I saw this article that said the city is wanting a renaissance of commerce in certain emptied areas. One ignorant fellow said the problem originates in immigration, which is an absurd and ridiculous and bigoted idea. I think part of the problem is that actually there are a few generations of would be entrepreneurs who can't go into business because they're bogged down by student debt and it's ensuing existential misery. Interesting degrees, useful information, but not at all paying! Anxiety, low self esteem, despair, hopelessness, just maybe(!) but where would one even begin with no capital?
01/19 Direct Link
I was the first in my family to go to university. I didn't know what I was doing. Only knew that I was somewhat smart and that I wanted to be a highschool teacher. Took an ecology/sustainability cohort in my first year, which depressed me even more than I already was. I fell deeply in love, not knowing that the relationship would ignite my bittersweet marijuana habit and prevent me from completing my French Minor. Diagnosed with (depression/stress-induced?) diabetes in my second year. I should have sought after a degree-related co op in my fourth year. Hindsight, 2020.
01/20 Direct Link
The university could have done a better job of guiding me through the academic process. For amount they charged in tuition, they should have hooked me up with an advisor from day one instead of leaving me to seek out advising when I wasn't working part time on top of all the readings and paper writings. They could have made the co-op happen for me so that I would have the experience necessary to land a job that would help me pay down my loan immediately upon graduation. Simple solution for a broken system. Retroactive co-op opportunities? Bring 'em on.
01/21 Direct Link
Borderline Personality Disorder. Diagnosed two years ago at age 32, hitting all of the 9 criteria in the DSM. Suddenly it all made sense: the impulsivity, the desperation for romantic love, the phenomenon known as splitting, suicidality...

A disorder not well understood by most psychiatrists. There's a reluctance to treat BPD patients because many don't turn on their doctors and don't finish treatment.

There is definitely a lack of therapy for this available. I would still be completely lost if it weren't for rehab, 12-Step fellowships, online forums, and my prescription.

Despite it all, today I feel stronger than ever.
01/22 Direct Link
Hahaha. Because they don't turn on their doctors! Add that to the pile of typing errors I've made so far this month. Too lazy to proofread. Also I'm trying to maintain a chill vibe...

Because we start blaming our doctors. That's what I meant.

So us BPDers go to emergency over and over hoping they'll lock us in the psych ward. Because we are genuinely worried we're going to kill ourselves. But the root problem's usually some kind of compulsive behavior we're in denial about. We're too proud to dissolve the denial.

We blame everyone else.

Insane in the membrane...
01/23 Direct Link
Indeed, it does little good to blame others for our compulsions, but that doesn't mean there wasn't abuse, neglect, or trauma in general in our pasts that need healing attention.

Roots of roots, deeper down...

I should write from the first person, as not everyone has the exact same experience with BPD.

I've been trying to piece it all together from videos I've seen online, things I've read, my own recollections from childhood... and it gets complicated so bear with me here.

So let's imagine little Joel at home after school watching TV with his sister...
01/24 Direct Link
Well, it's February 2nd now and I've got 800 words to fill in order to complete my January batch. I took a long pause there because I didn't like how I was approaching the subject of Borderline Personality Disorder; there's really no reason for me to illustrate it all with vivid personal anecdotes. I would do better to try to express it all in more general terms. And then I was just tired from work and I met a new guy... But here I am. My weekend started at 4pm. Just had a long nap. I'm ready to write this.
01/25 Direct Link
So let's say you grow up with parents who grew up in dysfunctional families themselves. They weren't raised in a religious community and yet patriarchal nonsense was quite prevalent. It was just a few generations of people having babies and just sort of winging it without any kind of framework to follow. There was no Internet back then, no culture that encouraged reading, so the parenting ideal was just something you pulled out of your ass, based loosely on what your own freewheeling parents did. You'd pull it right out of your ass and hope for the best. Loosely. Hahaha.
01/26 Direct Link
Rage was all the rage. Your parents lost their patience sometimes and would spank you, yell at you, send you to your room in tears. Hearing your sobs as you hide under the blankets, they might tell you to "dry up" or say things like, "I'll give you something to cry about." Sometimes they would fight with each other and one of them would drive off into the night to let off some steam. You might think that their fighting was your fault. Sometimes a reassurance would come that it wasn't your fault, but the suspicion it was indeed remains.
01/27 Direct Link
The bouts of emotional chaos become the norm, and while you can see the contrast between these dynamics and, say, the dynamics of the families of Full House or Family Matters or Seventh Heaven or Little House on the Prairie, that's just TV, and you unconsciously begin to take on the traits of your parents. When someone hurts your feelings you get really pissed and run away, for example. At the same time, you start to take on a kind of perfectionist personality in order to minimize the drama. You become a good kid - room clean, straight A's. Amazing, transcendent!
01/28 Direct Link
So you're a good kid, paying attention in class and studying hard, not only because it minimizes the drama, but because you can see there is a chance at a better life for yourself if you work for it. Much like your parents wanted to do better than their parents, you want to do better than your parents. You help your Mom emotionally through the divorce. You reassure her, you realize how hard she's working to support you, how strong she is, so you don't bother her with requests for extracurricular activities. You're satisfied by a computer in the basement.
01/29 Direct Link
Oops. Read the 30th's entry and then this one if you're reading this. Thumb slipped!

So all this time while you've been patiently riding out your rather solitary adolescence, you see that in your peer group there are incredible athletes out there, there are amazing musicians, there are business-savvy moneymakers who have all profited greatly from healthy, loving households. You realize you are none of these things. You don't even have social skills. But it's okay. You carry on trying to be as perfect as you can. You don't realize how low your self esteem really is. No one does.
01/30 Direct Link
So you take on a kind of martyr role and you maintain your philosophy of perfectionism. You're not an athlete nor a talented musician, but once upon a time a good teacher suggested you might have a talent in a subject like Math or English, and you see yourself eventually going to university for that. There's hope on the horizon. You're addicted to Internet porn, but isn't everybody? Besides, you dream of falling in love and finding true romance. Your Disney happily ever after is on its way. But, all this time, you've been developing a kind of inferiority complex.
01/31 Direct Link
Eventually you do fall in love and you try your best to be perfect in the relationship. You put their needs before your own. Maybe you take on some of their bad habits, like drinking or smoking, drug taking. You go along it, looking for the love and validation. You're there for your partner 100%, taking care to love them in a way that wasn't demonstrated by your parents' love for one another. You make sacrifices - little day to day ones like cooking and cleaning, big ones like moving across the country to be with them.

(Continued into February 2020)