John Ancheta. Portrait of anonymous man, 2011. Oil on wood, 48 x 72”.
I swear that the anonymous man of whom this is a portait is my fucking muse. They get his face right and everything.Semi-Obligatory, Slightly Belated New Year’s Post
So there seems to be a bit of a buzz about 2013. Something special and optimistic in the air. It’s been there with the people I know and have been with in person, and it’s been in the posts of those I keep up with online. There is something about the start of 2013 that has been there at the starts of many of my other good years. It was there at the start of 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012 for me, and here it is again now, stronger than ever. But it’s different this time. It’s there for a lot of people.
It’s almost as if the world did end with last year, but not literally. Perhaps this is the start of some strange and wonderful post-apocalyptic land of hope and creative fertility.
All I know is that this year will be a year of adventurous student films; of music in small rooms and in pubs; of refined novels, short stories, poems, and scripts; of new friendships and restoring old ones to former glories; of good wine and good company. This year will be the first year I will set foot on foreign soil - or indeed, travel out of sight of land. This year, I will finally see snow and the stars of the northern hemisphere. This year, Amy will be reunited with her family - twice. This year, my best friend gets married. This year, I will return to film school and sow the seeds of my career proper to begin in 2014.
In 2012, through many more ups and downs, I finally shook off the last of my adolescence and really got the hang of being James Finlay.
In 2013, I’m going to fucking rock at it!
Happy new year! May it fulfil all it promises!
Never in my life have I done anything that has received as wide recognition and acclaim as posting this motherfucking 'Pictures For Sad Children' comic accompanied by the acronym “GPOY”. I have toiled for months on novels and films, and agonised for entire days over songs and it has come to very little.
I’m sorry, I’m feeling kinda low tonight, and I get a bit bummed out whenever I see someone’s liked or reblogged this.
There’s no rationality in any of this, is there?
Driving home and my mother decides to pretend to fall asleep (running joke of the night) and when we arrived home my dad carried her inside over his shoulder, and I could hear her laughing while still trying to continue making snoring noises, before he messily dropped her onto the couch and both burst out into laughter.
A reason to believe in lasting love;
[note: my parents too]
So just under three years ago, I bought a bass amp off a guy who wasn’t using it anymore. I got a text from him today saying that he wants it back. No money ever actually changed hands, so really I’ve had it on permanent loan the whole time.
Thing is, I’m in a band now and I have no money, and bills to pay when I get some more. So it’s not the best time to have a week to give my amp back.
GPOY (it’s been a while).
This year, I’ve learned that when you work from home, you need to dress for work. So, this is what I’ve taken to wearing these last couple of days. Shit just got productive!
I do have to admit, I kinda like this photo.
P.S. I’ve been enjoying rocking the brown jeans.Math is for Bears
Me vs. Self-Doubt
I’m writing this to you, swathed in the bedclothes and underpants that I lost my last shred of goget’em to deal with, to talk to you about weaknesses.
We’ve all got ‘em. We’ve all got strengths, too - but who cares about those things? Strengths are just the doorknobs of failure, am I right? So, flush ‘em.
The biggest weakness I’ve had throughout my life has been mathematics. I know! Math! To this day I still can’t fathom the mechanics behind long division. You might as well blind me with pie filling and ask me to sing the Mexican Hat Dance with my thumbs. It’s not happening. I can do a lot of things, but as soon as you throw in a numerical factor pertaining to any figure above zero, it’s like my brain turns into a marshmallow peep: pink, delicious, microwavable, but largely decorative.
Ah, let me recount the early days of my youth..
I can remember very clearly the first time I was presented with a math problem. Picture this: A young, bright-eyed, blond-haired cockney girl, not six years old. The sun is shining. Flowers flecked with morning dew, scattered beneath a golden English honey sky. Birds and bees proliferating, etc. etc. It’s a new day, it’s a new beginning, and it’s time to learn about bears and baskets.
I remember this particular class having a pretty broad-spectrum method of teaching. Some of us had beads to count, some of us had bears. Of course we all had to count both the beads AND the bears, but the order didn’t matter. And I didn’t care, I was busy coloring bears and generally not giving a fuck about what was about to happen, until I was told that I had to count the bears in the baskets.
Okay, you can do this.
Here we go.
There are three bears in the basket. Count the bears.
Yes! Three bears, there’s three of them! That wasn’t so bad. Oh man, am I going places or what.
There are five bears in the basket. Count the bears.
Five bears. Five! I can’t believe it. My life is unfolding rapidly at a cellular level; I’m valedictorian, I’m receiving my Doctorate, I’m rolling in piles of money and tiny chocolate bars, I’m..
There are no bears in the basket. Count the bears.
..What? Wait. No! No this isn’t what’s supposed to happen!
The whole problem felt entirely unfair. If they’re asking me to count the bears, why are there no bears to count? What does it mean? Is this a trick? Did I just lose sandbox privileges?
My poor underdeveloped brain took a turn for the existential as I suddenly began questioning the meaning of zero. What is.. zero? What is no bears? What does it mean to have bears that are NOT bears but are instead a mass of vacant space that could or should or would have at some point in Earth’s time CONTAINED bears?
The ensuing ocean of tears was memorable, and the teacher promptly removed the offending bears. I never had to count them again.
That was only the tip of the monstrous iceberg for me. I spent the next twelve years of public education quietly sobbing in math classes. And oh, how I tried to keep up - I enlisted boyfriends, tutors, student teachers, friends, family, they all got in to try and keep my sorry math grade afloat, but at the end of the day, the bears kept bringing me down.
It all came to a head when I had to write my Grade 12 provincial Math exam.
I thought I was writing Biology, and I showed up a half hour late.
My teacher was sympathetic, because she knew how hard I had been trying. I wrote practice exams and went in for extra help and did all of the extra assignments (all of which received abysmal results). She gave me the exam, put her hands on my shoulders and told me that I could do it.
Okay, you can do this.
Here we go.
Suddenly I was five years old again. I looked around and found my classmates were all gone. The door crept open, a hand - no, not a hand, a paw - reached around the door frame..
It was time to confront the bears of my mathematically doomed childhood.
I spent an agonizing hour and a half mulling over pointless problem after pointless problem. Why do I care if it takes more or less time to walk diagonally over a field? Isn’t extrapolating a type of skin treatment? Why hasn’t x settled down and figured itself out yet?
And with each question, a bear was waiting to be vanquished, and could only be defeated by my mighty HB.
I stabbed those bears in the eyes. And you know what I said?
I said, fuck you you lousy, life-ruining, shitty bear.
One week later I got the test results back. My math teacher pulled me aside before presenting the grade to me to assure me that the grade was 100% mine. I passed with exactly a 50%. I had done it. I had conquered!
To this day I still struggle immensely with math problems, but I’ve learned to manage. So can you, with anything. Everyone has a Bear they need to deal with. And you know what? Bears are assholes. I wish I had known that when I was five, because I’m sure my life today would be vastly different.
So take a page out of my book the next time you’re dealing with a weakness you feel you can’t overcome.
You stab a bear in the eye and you say
Doing some “research”?
Yeah. I need to know how to go about getting this novel published.
Of course. You know, actually working on your novel is productive too, right?
Yeah, but I’ve done a bit of work on that already today.
I saw you staring blankly at a screen for twenty minutes with intermittent typing, which you would almost immediately backspace.
Well, I found out some useful stuff. There are a few agents I could query out there. Australian, too.
I know. I’m amazed you could tell which ones were suitable when you don’t even know what genre you fall into.
I told you, I decided it was Lit Fic.
Oh come one, it’s not THAT well written. Besides, you’re absolutely it’s not fantasy?
And look, you were reading earlier that you should expect 100 rejections before someone takes you on. You’ve found, what, maybe seven agencies to contact?
It’s a start.
Hmmm… relentless rejections… You know, this reminds me of—
—Shut the fuck up! We’re not talking about unemployment!
Actually, I was going to mention—
—Or the sales job!
Fine. But you do have to admit, this is going to take up a lot of time and effort for something that’s not your main thing. I mean, you’ve got a paid editing job that you should be working on right now. Isn’t that what you wanted? Or don’t you enjoy that anymore?
Shut up! I’m allowed to have multiple passions! You never let up about me having no ambition a few years ago!
Okay, okay, fine. But the music thing too? I mean, you just kinda launched into organising that second gig. You don’t have a support act, and you’ve already asked more than half of your likely options.
I know! You didn’t let me sleep because you wouldn’t shut up about it last night!
Yeah, because you’re going to fail!
You know, you speak with a lot of confidence for someone who’s meant to be the personification of my self-doubt.
It is ironic, isn’t it? You should put that in your novel.
That would never work in this one.
Now who’s being negative?
Finally got around to making a finishing stamp. It’s a stylised version of my initials that I’ve been using for about seven years now (an Olde English “JF” mashed into one letter) cut out of a one inch cube gum eraser with a scraping razor. I kinda like the rough-and-ready look.For dinner we have…
White wine (pre-drinks for a 21st) and chocolate muffin.
Get married young, kids.