03: What Amn't I

Last night, Mel, Eric and I, along with Mel's fam, went to Ribfest. We had all done so last year and it was an extremely memorable outing - we did a few rides, won various stuffed animals at the Midway games, Eric sprung for a blooming onion that everyone enjoyed, and there was a Bruce Springsteen cover band (Glory Days). This year was much the same pattern, except the Springsteen band was a Fleetwood Mac cover band (Fleetwood Nicks.) Fleetwood Mac has a ton of great songs although I feel like there isn't the excess of potential material that Glory Days was working with - all the hits, plus some Nicks solo stuff and if I'm not mistaken at least one Tom Petty song. Mel and I danced to some songs I didn't recognize. I think they closed with Don't Stop.

At the beginning of the night, Mel, Eric and I had to save everyone's seats, which was tough and it took so long to get for that our already late start really got pushed back, but the ribs at the fortuitously named Kansas City Bad Wolf were the best I've had from Ribfest ever.

Another difference was that Eric didn't won us any huge stuffed animals, as he missed out the games. I won Mel a pug at the water gun game and we won a penguin together at the dart balloon game. It was chilly, I wish I'd brought my sweater. Eric spent much of the later point of the evening waiting in line to pick ribs up for Brandon, and frequently choosing the wrong line - when he wasn't in the latrine. He did  join us on the Ferris Wheel though, which Mel agreed to go on after I had told her it was OK if she didn't want to do rides (Eric had bought tickets thinking they were for games but not realizing they were in fact literally just tickets to ride.) Mel and I also did the merry go round and while we considered bumper cars, or me doing the Gravitron myself when we were down to 3 tickets, I chose to ride the spinny arm ride myself because it had the least wait.

I sprung for Tiny Toms doughnuts, four dozen for $20.

The week had had its ups and downs. This was the thickest part of our optimization project, with my being charged with actioning a bunch of large format stores as well as filling in the template for small format ones. At points I felt like I was keeping myself in a tunnel, unable to interact with others because I had so much work to do - it was lonely. Friday I had technical difficulties that prevented me from getting as much done, so I spent a lot of time talking to Isaiah about comics. When I do that I seem so bitter because I love comics as a medium but have totally fallen out of love with Marvel. My current position is that I want to someday be coaxed back.

Monday had been the Drive to 25 conference where Indigo touted all its successes this year and the way it was building toward the future. I've got go say it really does feel good to work with a company on an upward trajectory after all those years at HMV. It also feels like my own life is on an upward trajectory, which is new.

At the conference (assembly? Show?) I ran into Bruce, my old RD, and he expressed the belief that I was doing very well and they would want to keep me here, and while I don't know where he might be hearing that from, it was borne out a few days later at my one-on-one with Murray. We agreed I was past the learning curve in good time, and now it was time to expand a little bit. Of course, the next day revealed that I'm not exactly 100% all the time in this role, yet, so maybe we're jumping the gun a bit. But it's nice to be perceived as excelling.

It was a rainy week, and although the weather was clear for Ribfest, it was a chilly night. Poured the next morning and a light sprinkling today. What a dreary start to summer.

I've been reading old posts - hence this one mimicking the format - from way, way, way back around first year of U of T. Even then I was talking about how I was not posting as much as I used to! Incredible how things change/stay the same. Also I was, like, suuuuper into How I Met Your Mother (which I am almost done re-watching with Mel as we speak, as it so happens) and Guitar Hero.

I kinda love my habit back then of just dropping in the various names like everyone is expected to be acquainted. I don't love, as much, those times when I had to keep names secret or hadn't felt comfortable naming them yet, because it's so far on now I have to guess. But that's in itself something of a fun exercise.

I think about where I was then, how I was down on myself, how I would blow with the wind depending on whether it was a good day or bad. I recognize it all as myself, as things I had thought or noticed, but obviously I'm not him anymore. Ten years can do a lot! And that person to some degree really wanted to be who I am now, couldn't imagine being him, and yet would probably also have a few choice words of concern if we were being honest with each other.

And yet, we're not so different. He beamed over good marks and stressed over whether he was faking his way through school. I beam over kind words from my boss and stress over whether I'm just faking my way through this job.

He also let a lot of typos go through - holy shit was I in a hurry to flush out all these thoughts.

Not long after I started here, it was my birthday and I made everyone guess how old I now was. Everyone underestimated by a range of 2-5 years, which felt nice but also not - like, I have maintained a steady, youthful appearance, which is cool. But that also makes me look inexperienced (which I suppose I am!) Crying out loud, my boss is my same age! Yet because he wears a suit to work and has a wedding band I can't help but regard him as older, wiser, more authoritative. Strange.

I got a late start, but perhaps I'm off and running now.

Here's what life is like, for the five-years-from-now Scotto who can't remember. The alarm goes off at 5:30, but she snoozes until 5:45, and then she either gets up for her workout or she sleeps in. I stay in bed until about 6:25 or 6:30, grab a shower and get dressed. Lately I've been making her shake for her, as a kindness. And a timesaver. For the time being we're both commuting to the city so it behooves us to co-ordinate. We get the bus at 7:25 usually, which gets us to the train well ahead of the 7:47. They've opened a Tim Hortons on the platform and every day is a struggle to resist it. Occasionally but not so much lately we get a seat on the train.

We get to the city about a quarter after 8. I walk with her up to Bay and King and then we part ways and I walk far down King to Spadina, where I walk up to the fourth floor, sit down at my desk (I have a desk! Which is where I'm typing this now!) and work, or stall. Lunch is at noon. I can leave before 5 if I want to but usually I'll end up waiting a while for her anyway.

We get home at 6 or 6:30. I make dinner. We've developed a stable of recipes we occasionally add to. Sometimes we collaborate but let's face it, it stresses her out too much to see me do it. We watch Netflix. I do the dishes. We are in bed by 10, usually. Sometimes well before.

It's a quiet life.

I like it.

And yet...............

Keep on rockin


02: King of a Small Place

First of all, I'm pretty glad to look at the hit counter for the last entry and see it at zero. Not that don't want anybody to read this blog... I wouldn't likely be writing it if I didn't, and I won't write anything I would be uncomfortable with someone sensitive hearing about (I hope) but I like the idea of accruing thousands and thousands more words as the years go on and not having to defend them in any forum. My private public record.

In my last post, I made a quick offhand reference to having a phone interview for a job at Indigo head office, after working in the store for 2.5 years. Anyone who is working in retail past a certain age starts to wonder about what comes next. If you're like me and never really settled on a direction for yourself, that can be a source of stress. I mean, I had a big birthday coming up, and the forward momentum in that aspect of my life had seriously stalled. I entertained notions of "writing my way out" but in truth I've always been more of a tinkerer. I never get anything done, and these days I don't really have time to do much more than that. I was always trying to steal a few moments when the store was slow, or on my lunchbreak, or in the hours before Mel would get home from work, or after she'd fallen asleep but I was still up. But what I was writing wasn't serious. They were just little scenarios I could toy with, things that were always on my mind never in finished form, thinks that occurred to me when I was walking the aisle of the store. You see a title, it reminds you of another title, you think what it means to you... you read the inside flap of a book, or the first page, and you use that as a jumping off point. Inspiration is not hard to come by, if you're open to it. But productivity, that's harder.

My idea was to write some scandalous stuff, sell ebooks on Amazon and publicize it on less-than-reputable forums under an assumed name. The endgame there? I suppose just to say I had. Even if it had to remain a secret to everyone and I couldn't literally say I had done this. A true matter of not being in it for the glory but for my own feeling of accomplishment and an incredibly small payoff (because let's face it, what can you charge for 40,000 words of an unknown writer's work?)

It was a far-off, far-out dream, and I succeeded only in amusing myself for small periods when I had nothing else going on. (More successful has been my long-dreamed-of blog where I just read and write about old X-Men comics. A boon to society? Not really. But amusing to me, and it would seem, at least five people reading it.)

So I had no real professional direction. I was spinning my wheels. Occasionally I would get very frustrated with my place in life and start applying for jobs I probably had no business going for. Things I thought I could do or learn, sure, but that there were others with highly specialized knowledge and experience I had not gotten and had no time to get.

My best option always seemed to be Indigo Home Office. It seemed unlikely, because any posting for HO would be mobbed by people just like me, so I kept my expectations moderate, but I would not let that stop me altogether. But one day, the stars aligned, and Sandy showed me a posting on the company's internal message board from someone at HO who she had hired many years ago, looking for someone to help with the Bargain Optimization project. I sent in my resume and as strong of a cover letter as I could. Somehow I got a call. The call was actually not for the job I had initially applied for, but a related one (Trade Optimization instead of Bargain - a bigger project, a contract through September 29) The first call led to a test with the Optimization Template, and somehow my findings, as well as my discussion on the follow-up call, were coherent enough to warrant an offer.

It was bewildering. I got word on April 26 that they wanted me to start on May 15 - or the 8th if I could make it work. (I could.) In under two weeks I said goodbye (for now) to the people and store where I had been working for over two years, to the type of work I had been doing for most of my adult life. By the time of my 30th birthday I had achieved my goal, at least for the time being, of having a job where I sit down.

I went from a job where I was senior, knew everything, had a hand in everything, was (as the unusually applicable title of this blog states) King of my little world, to one where I was just learner, newbie, small fish. It's not a job I ever anticipated myself doing, but I'm picking up on it well. I want to make myself vital. I want to earn my spot. Some might prefer to be the King of Town, but I'd rather be peasant of the city.

Then again, here I am slacking writing all this, because I'm somewhat between tasks right now. That's not ideal. But I did always envision an office job including time for this, so, yeah.

Where does this all lead? I don't know. New career? Fun summer then back to square 1 in October? Either way, I've got momentum for, like, the very first time.

Keep on rockin'


01: Minutes beome meaningless

A hand turns a doorknob, a man enters a darkened room. He runs his hands along the table, which he knows is to his left, and feels on his fingertips a palpable layer of dirt.

Am I back?

I haven't missed blogging this blog per se. But a lot has happened in the four years (!!) since I last checked in here. And lately, for whatever reason, I've had occasion to think what I might say if I happened to check in here. For what it's worth, I don't not-exist. I can be found around the internet, on Twitter and Tumblr at the same places I could be found back in 2013 or 2010. I've been writing music reviews at a few different (mostly self-started) blogs, and other kinds of projects too. I'm out there. I'm being me. But not like this. I don't primally scream into the void anymore, perhaps because my mind has expanded over the past few years and I didn't see the point in the grand scheme of things. I mean, I think I always sensed the pointlessness of this endeavour, but I had to confront it within myself at some point after 2013 and while I never made the decision to not blog anymore it seemed less and less like a thing I had to do. I got a little woke and decided that my problems were very small - which is still true.

I tried journaling on paper for a while, but that seemed even more pointless. It's strange. I hate the idea of anyone ever reading this and yet if I am going to let my feelings out I need to feel like I am writing to someone, an audience, a listener.

Cheaper than therapy, I always said.

I've also done a bit of it on Tumblr every now and again, but I feel icky about leaving my detritus in the river of content that is that website - put on the dashboard of people who follow you... I feel like when you're on a website where your content is supposed to exist side by side with that of other sources, where people are choosing to read it all at once, you have a bit more responsibility to be interesting or good or worthwhile. Here, you've come to me (for whatever reason) here I make the rules. I do promise to be benevolent though.

There's no reason why now, though, except that now is a moment where I have a great awareness that things have changed a lot since I left off. I think the person who was writing this blog as late as 2013 (and I would have thought for sure I had quit much sooner than that!) would be happy with where I have ended up and probably cheer me on to go further.

So here's what happened.

HMV closed in September 2014. We found out in... I want to say July? Really early. Being in a closing store was a depressing but liberating experience. Earlier that year I had been caught having too much fun on the job by my boss' boss' boss and he was none too pleased and after that I felt very disillusioned that the company I was working for didn't suck. But I got a little severance out of the deal. For a while I still texted Meg every now and then about the Walking Dead and how are things, but that has died off. The company announced earlier this year they are done in April. I still know people who work there, so that's a drag. But what lasts forever?

I'm glad not to be working there at this time. A crisis like that brings out the smugness in a lot of people.

I started at Cole's not long after. It was always my happy thought, when I was bitter about the company, that I could walk upstairs and get a job there if I wanted it. For the first year there weren't too many hours, which should have been a sign that this is only a detour on the way to bigger things, but somehow I managed to fritter that away and now I'm embedded. Nobody to blame for that but myself and my lack of drive. I'm trying though... I have a phone interview next week for a head office position (only a 2.5 month contract but it's a start.)

I learned to drive. That is a trip, let me tell you, trying to fit in time to learn to drive when you are not a teenager. I have done it so gradually it would blow your mind. As detailed below, I got my G1 in summer 2013, the first of many planks of Scotto that have been replaced since. I took Driver's Ed in November of that year, didn't get behind the wheel until the following June, finished my in-car course in October after HMV closed, failed the G2 Road Test twice due to an inability to park well, took another year and finally passed after paying the driver's ed company to use their car - I suspect collusion. As of today I am in need of practice time on the highway before I can confidently go for my G. I have until May 2018.

I moved. That was a big one. My brothers and I moved into a place together a year ago in early March 2016 and though yes there are issues - cleanliness and the occasional concern over, well, money - I don't really regret it. The factors that led to us all moving out, all at once and together, were fairly unavoidable but we needed that push.

But the biggest thing has been the relationship. Not long after my previous post, in fact, I met a girl online. It didn't end up happening but we stayed friends and a year and a half later - right when I was getting settled in my new job and about to take my second failed G2 test - introduced me to a friend of hers. And while I won't sugarcoat the record by saying it was an easy start, going from being an eternally single guy to someone who was expected to be around a lot and share lots of his world, I knew I could transition and become that, and I have. I have become a relationship guy. A "they're always together" guy. A guy with a future.

That's probably the biggest reason why I haven't even thought much about blogging here in years. Am I sharing everything with her? Perhaps not always, but I know I can if I choose to do so. But the main reason I did this blog isn't that I had oh so many feelings inside me that needed to get out. It was because I didn't trust myself.

I never trusted myself to remember.

I was living a life that was passing me by, day by day, and it all blurred. I had a few landmark memories, but the rest of the landscape just became hazy. Blogging constantly, or infrequently as the years went on, became a good record of things that would be - and functionally are - gone from my memory, because they were irrelevant and the need to remember them was little. But I wanted them anyway, so I wrote them down. I am famous for not actually paying that much attention to life, knowing facts but being unable to put myself in a former time and place.

Now I have a partner who shares all of my best memories, and that helps me latch onto the other ones. My memory is still shit, of course, but it's easy to remember when there's a whole other human being walking that path with you, because you will remember them and what they did and how it turned out.

It's all different now, although I'm still the same. But I've learned a lot. And it's a bit of a shame that all the experiences of the past four years or so are not on this blog, but I'm satisfied that I have them for myself. All the love and fights and breakfasts and outings and late nights and early nights and late starts to the day and Sudokus and kisses and headaches and compromises and gatherings. I have it all.

So that's good.

So why am I here, now? Perhaps because the story needs an ending. But truth be told, this is life, not a story, and so it doesn't end. Not ever. Perhaps I'll be back in another three years, vaguely alluding to everything that's happened since now. Perhaps I'll check in more regularly again because truth be told this feels good too.

I don't know. Life is long and this blog may not end until I do. And I have a lot left to do.

And miles to go before I sleep.

What was it we used to say? Keep on rockin'


XIV: Relative to what

In a coma tonight. Sitting back, sipping a beer, letting the minutes pass. Not upset about anything, not depressed or sad or even bored. Just content to listen to The National and be passive. Maybe the music is making me more morose then I would otherwise be.

I'm just happy not to be doing anything. I was doing something earlier, colouring a page for the comic I'm currently slowly putting together. I spent nearly an hour trying to decide on a colour for a single panel's background. In the old days I'd just pick a shade or a gradient and be done with it, but I decided that wasn't good enough so I went through all these options and in the end I choose a faded mint green anyway. Then I began to letter it, ran into some technical difficulties, and decided to call it a night.

Then I thought, what else can I do? Could write a story, could write a review, could do a lot of things. But I satisfied myself just to stop everything for a little while. All the real estate in my life is either occupied or being developed. Very little open space, you know? I had half a day of work today, as a trade-off for coming in to work on Sunday. When I explained the trade-off to family, why that led to half-day today, I don't think I got my point across. I think I kept hidden my perspective, which is really just getting out of work: not doing more than "my share." Not accepting added responsibility without being relieved of something else. I don't want to let them think they can keep piling stuff on me, that I'm just gonna take it out of the kindness of my heart. "Oh but Scotto, you get paid for that 3 hours." Yeah, well. I don't want them to think I'm just about money. That they can buy me into putting in an extra day of work. I'm not just about the money, and in fact I'd work less if there was any way to manage that. Shoerter days, fewer days, I don't know. I'd be open to it because lately my time is what I value most of all. Maybe I'm getting resentful, bitter. I just don't want to TAKE it, you know? It's a peace of mind thing.

In any case, Bev didn't seem to have a problem with it.

Not that I did anything useful with my time off. Walked downtown, got overheated. Set myself up to feel exhausted tomorrow morning, I'm sure. I did it on a whim because I knew that if I just went home, I'd be... home, doing nothing. Which I am now, but... on time that I would have had anyway. My choice. Maybe. Maybe not.

I had a date last week. It went okay, not great, I don't think there'll be a second one but that's not my choice. I was probably unimpressive, quiet, bad company. She was downtown, see, and I went out to see her, and it just took it all right out of me, plus nerves. Pressure. We just didn't know what to talk about, which seems to be my MO lately.

I don't think it needs to be this tough, y'know. Other people manage. Other people spend entire Friday nights without spilling all this verbiage and getting nowhere. Other people.

On to the next one.

Keep on rockin'


XIII: A Hiccup of Self

Things have happened in the past few weeks. It's been a lot of birthdays and gatherings and family drama. And self-drama.

Saturday, May 25th, I was curled up on the bathroom floor having a panic attack/nervous breakdown/episode/thing because I didn't want to go out for the night. Note that I was under no obligation to do so, it was merely a suggestion, which I brushed off, because I just wanted to stay in and relax. Then I felt bad about that and I had all these conflicting impulses inside me, thus the episode. All I really want in life, most of the time, is a little peace and quiet.

But hey, some people have real problems.

Four days later, Wednesday May 29th, I got my G1. Only ten years late. It was a surprisingly easy process, although I'd been preparing off and on for months, all I really did was take a refresher course online before setting out. I took a long, long bus ride to the Maple Grove area where they have the Drive Test center. There was some light paperwork, a vision test, and then the written test, 20 questions in two categories each, and you can get four wrong in each. I think I wound up with 17+18. Then I got outside at it was pouring. Sigh.

I haven't driven yet. Haven't started. Not eager to think about it. I've gone so long without it being part of my life, although I feel like I could learn now, better than when I was a teenager. But it's one more plank replaced in the ship of Scotto.

Today was a big family gathering that I was looking forward to in the sense that I was excited to get through it and go to the other side so thaT I would have nothing on the horizon. Things were complicated when I ended up working for three hours to help Bev out of a jam, ultimately to show up an hour late. It was a meeting of my mom's cousins on her dad's side. Very chaotic, but it was what it was. I'd say it's all done with but that just adds a new entanglement in the web of family gatherings: we missed one birthday a few weeks ago and it's all got to be rectified. Honestly.

I spent most of the day entertaining the kids (ie taking them to the park) and picking at salads while awkwardly discussing what I am doing with my life with distant relatives. I dunno. It was what it was. There could've been a more detailed explanation for all of this but I'm not 18 anymore and I don't have the energy for it. We have so much in the way of leftover cold cuts. Come have some.

I've ramped up my efforts in online dating. Went out on Friday night, to Toronto no less. Crazy that I would go to the trouble but I don't know. I need to get out more. I need to be more okay with doing things. We walked around a lot, went to a bookstore, talked, asked awkward first date questions... it was nice. It ended well. I think there'll be a second one.

I was so nervous beforehand though, I ejected my dinner behind a convenience store near the subway. Classic Scotto. Tsk tsk.

I hope nobody's reading that, but I'm gonna leave it in anyway.

It was such a weird week for stuff like that. Vasa and I tried to rig up a meeting, but I was secretly unsure if I felt up for it. In the end she made the call to postpone and I didn't fight it. Then there was a belated gift from Eden, which we had to meet up for. We're at the mall at the same time a lot but we hardly see each other without going out of our ways. Well, that was always part of the problem with us, I suppose.

I feel tangled up in a lot of things, some being my own design, some being outside forced. I guess that's life, huh. You can't always cut the threads you want to.

I was recently described anonymously as "complacent." I guess I asked for it. Like, in a literal sense, I asked Tumblr for an anonymous opinion of me. "Fair," I said. "Not nice, but fair." But hey, the Internet's never been for nice people. I learned that when I was 13.

This has been my semi-coherent attempt to get a grip on things that are probably not as big as they feel in my life right now.

Keep on rockin'


XII: Imagine If I Had A Point

Ooh, I got the apathy bug bad tonight. I have numerous thihngs I could be working on, including one or two that I should be working on. Instead I just want to crawl away for a while. Click away from Twitter, close my browser altogether, unplug my earbuds, slink away, lie down, eyes closed, feet up... be nothing.

It's been an odd few weeks, marked by a bit of frustration, a bit of disappointment, a bit of tragedy. I don't want to tell the story. Maybe someday I will, but this is one of those things I don't feel comfortable spilling out into the world. I told one co-worker and the look on her face, one of abject distaste, showed me that I should never have opened my mouth. I felt bad with burdening her with that story. It's not something to happen to me personally, just something I was witness to and felt bad.

Somewhere down the line, maybe I'll re-read this entry and in case I need a reminder, it was Ali's birthday. Yeah, that one. I wonder if she'll remember. I wonder if it'll haunt her in great detail, or if the whole day will melt into a vague feeling of unease. You can never tell with kids.

There was an ordeal with a secret shopper at work that really got me in a snit. I'm feeling more and more pressured and it's making me want to bolt more than I have in a while. Bottom Jenga block syndrome. I feel like I've made myself too available to people. I have these conflicting ideas about who I am, what I should do, what my responsibilities are to other people. What my next move, if any, is. I want to just power down. I'd like a vacation, but what is a vacation? When you get back, you're back to yourself. In a way, if I had a vacation set for the end of summer, I would have that something to look forward to, and it would be like 2011 again. That weekend, that was bliss. That was paradise for me. One whirlwind weekend, no more, no less. All about me.

I'm wiped, man. Right now I don't even like the things I like.

Call it.

Keep on rockin'


XI: "He falls in here and becomes bad"

The post below this one, I wrote late one night during one stressful sleepless episode. I opted, probably smartly, not to post it then, as the feeling passed.

I dipped myself back into online dating. There's been some activity, and it's going well, but time will tell in the long run if it's worth talking much about. I guess just getting out of the house is worth noting these days. A few times in the last month I've gotten out to see Trove play at the Less Than Level Lounge, even starting the official "first mosh pit" in Trove history. They're good dudes (and lady,) and I wish them well. I'm glad I have such talented friends to support, and when I can, I will -- it's a shame I haven't been able to go see Joe play since November.

So this dating thing. I changed my approach and it yielded some results, got off POF and onto OKC. The personality quiz aspect of it did half my work for me, but there was still heavy lifting to do. But you know me, I won't comment on a case that's ongoing.

So what has happened? A rather busy few days even without that. There've been some unfortunate, but comparatively relieving developments in my dad's health. He had us over with their old friends Henry & Penny on Saturday. It's always a bit of a trick to account for yourself with an old acquaintance. "Oh, what are you doing?" Keeping busy. Working 35 hours a week. Still at home. Yadda yadda. Henry always has good stories, though.

Today was Elizabeth and Madison's birthday, which we'd put off from the beginning of April, since the originally planned date was too short notice and everyone had stuff going on. I was grousing a bit, because I had mistakenly booked Saturday off, so I worked Mon-Fri this week and had Saturday off (didn't do much with it.) Miscommunication, erring on the safe side, oh well. No problem in the long run. They're living out in Kitchener now, in a four-bedroom apartment. We were worried about space, but honestly it's not that different for space than Aunt K's. The event itself went off without a hitch, and it's not like my family gets mad at each other, but things go awry, people get snippy, I don't know... it's all under the surface. My read on it was that everyone was good. I mainly played with the kids.

Little Aaron is going to be 7 in May, his birthday's three days before mine. Elizabeth told us she was pregnant with him on the same day I found out Eddie Guerrero died. I was not up for hearing that. But I yielded my birthday territory to the little guy, and while he has a shyness to him, he's also imaginative and playful. He's the only boy most of the time, and the youngest. He looks up to Cameron, but Cam's a lot older -- at that age, three years is a big difference -- so their interests are starting to split, as Cam gets more into sports and video games and Aaron's still playing with kiddier toys. So Cam keeps pulling away from him and he doesn't understand why.

I was the youngest, by coincidence, by three years. I know what it's like for everyone around you to outgrow you, to not have any time for you. I had an older cousin, Evan, even older than my brothers. We'd go visit him in North Bay, and he'd take us around on walks and play games with us. Then one year I asked him what we were going to play this time, or whatever, and he just kind of shrugged and said "Oh, that was when we were younger."

So I took it on myself - this is not the first time, but it was one time I really felt the need - to go with Aaron to his room and sit with him and let him play. He didn't need me to do anything, he just wanted to bash his action figures together and make up stories about them, why they were fighting, what they could do, who's the bad and good guy. The kid's real imaginative, he reminds me of me. He just really needs someone to pay him some attention, to acknowledge what he's doing. In the last year, his parents went through an acrimonious split, and some of his toys, favourite ones, were lost in a housefire at his dad's. He puts on a brave face. He appreciated me being there for him.

I'm not a parent. I might never be a parent. I like kids, though, and not in an "aw, they're so precious" kind of way. I think I understand them, I have a feeling for what they need sometimes when they're neglected or left out. Maybe I'm just flattering myself, but I know he appreciated it, and I could just see he needed it. Maybe someday he'll grow out of it, he'll be able to amuse himself or he'll be too self-conscious to want to hang out with his big cousin, but right now he's just a 7-year-old kid with a world that's been shaken up in the last year more than I could've handled at that age.

So that was it, today. An early dinner, and hour drive, some light playing (we went out to the park after, although it was a bit chilly.) Harmless day. Good weekend. I feel good about what I've done with it.

Keep on rockin'