12: Ideal

It physically hurt to be told I wasn't getting the IA role. I can't say it came as a complete shock because I was wracked with self doubt for three weeks after the interview anyway. But being told "no," or at least "not this time" is going to sting.

I had had my second interview on Friday, with Penny, and I was feeling optimistic, knowing I had done my best and put my best foot forward. I had prepared for a possible rejection the same way I had when I was up for Optimization, which is that I kept thinking about how I had done my best (and while this may not have been the case for Interview 1 it felt that way for Interview 2) and if they didn't want me there was nothing I could do. Penny told me I would hear back early the following week and that no matter what, Friday would not be my last day.

On Tuesday, Murray was back albeit clearly jet lagged. In the afternoon he grabbed me for "10 minutes" that turned out to be like 30. He started in with bad news/good news.

Intellectually, it was not hard to understand what had happened - I fact the day before, I had spoken with Isiah who touted the belief that, "Unless Jesus comes down to interview, you've got it." Well, I hope everyone at home office is ready to meet Jesus. I mean, I honestly think I am a very good candidate - and I don't think Murray had any reason to lie when he said they nearly went with me - but I was up against someone with 2 years experience in "the same role" elsewhere, who is ready to jump in and is apparently brimming with ideas on how to evolve the role. Now, I wish my first interview had taken more of a tone inquiring whether *I* had any ideas on evolving the role, but whatever.

So I'm a skosh bitter but also understanding. Murray then proceeded to present me with an alternative opportunity, to work in an Analyst capacity for the four reno stores through the Quarter, meaning my term would be up January 12. He sold me on it based on the premise that this was a high profile project with lots of potential to prove myself and get in front of the right people with visible success... Get this right and the world's gonna know your name.

He did emphasize that, although the mysterious "moving parts" were always in play, there was certainly less guarantee than ever that a job or an extension would be waiting for me at the end of this.

Agreeing to it was an obvious choice but I wouldn't say it wasn't hard. Like I said, I was reeling, shook, and after the meeting feeling extreme physical duress. Logically I understood everythog that was happening but I struggled to compartmentalize that against my disappointment, hurt and frustration at losing out on my bid for stability, and having to prove myself more, even if I frankly do need to do that. It was hard to take the compliment that they still want me enough to essentially invent a role for me, even if only for a short term.

I took the contract and resolved to sit on it for a day, even though time was not on my side.

That night, Ibrahim was in town, so he, Tony, Rachael and I went to Spin for Ping Pong. I gave them my news, highlighting my uncertain feelings, but we toasted anyway.

After Tony left for the Gord Downie tribute, we kept less scrupulous track of score and had a looser, more casual time. Then after a bulk barn run for Ibrahim we went to a pub called Gabby's, where Rachael got a plate of gluten-free ribs, Ibrahim got a salad and I got a steam sandwich I wasn't necessarily in the mood for. Mel joined us and we walked back to Union with Rachael. On the train, I told her about the job.

The next day was the big Holiday Summit and to be frank I was not feeling very positive on the company to be spending 8 hours sitting still hearing about all the great things in store. But I was also aware of being a baby who was far-too-seriously consindering taking his ball and going home, and I'm aware there's a note of that in this story as well. To feel so personally wounded that you would sabotage - torch?? - your future, with no prospects and no leverage. If I went back to the store, how could I ever attempt to come back, having turned down a perfectly viable opportunity to show myself? And if I couldn't even leverage my summer of experience into a permanent IA role at this time, how could I ever hope to fimd a new job elsewhere as an unknown quantity?

As if on pathetic fallacy, in sympathy and obvious symbolism for my emotional state, I began the day at the summit alone and isolated. I sat on the left bank of the auditorium, clear across from everyone I knew, who were filling the booth on the right bank. They saw me, and waved, and I could not join them.

I was also seen by Sandy, who texted me. I made a point to catch up with her whenever I could see her at break, to give her the update on my options.

The morning felt long, marked by Jeremy's usual song and dance and Heather relating the story of Indigo in more detail than any of us had ever heard (and indeed more than she was supposed to, going over her alotted time by a half hour or so, but she's Heather.) During the breaks I latched onto people I knew but also felt strangely aside. I think, perhaps sensing my alienation, or maybe regretting there wasn't more he could do for my cause, or hell just because he considers me a friend, Murray made a special effort to stand by me when possible. (Maria, who represented 50% of the call to not hire me, did not make much effort to speak to me... Draw your own conclusions.)

After break - half-sandwiches, fruit and some excellent coffee - I was waved over to the right hand side by Murray and Rachael, where several seats had now been vacated by, I guess, people who felt they needed to go do work. I sat next to Isiah, near Victoria and Yosra. The afternoon had some fun stuff and lots of familiar faces from my floor giving the lowdown on upcoming strategies, as well as some interviews with the likes of Jann Arden, Doug Gilmour, and Humble the Poet.

Thursday, feeling somewhat pumchy, I decided to take some time around lunch to DL some writing on a story that has been king around my head for years and recently resurfaced. There are still times I entertain notions of writing my way out.

I ended up signing the contract Thursday and scheduling a meeting Friday with Murray to discuss the parameters of the role. After that meeting, an impromptu inventory team meeting was called to announce my new role and some other role changes, including who got the AA role but not the IA one. (I applied for the AA role and felt I could perform it ably based on my new skillset, but was only somewhat interested and strangely wasn't seriously considered.) The rest of the day, after spending lunch losing a Hogwarts Battle now that Carol is back from her honeymoon, I fielded congrats and well-wishes and did my best to seem enthusiastic about the role, emphasizing that it will present some interesting challenges and s great upside... All of which is true but doesn't dent the fact that I signed a paper only guaranteeing employment through January 12.

Still, I intend to so the best with what I've got. It's my own choice. No surrender, no retreat.

Last night was Joe and Viki's Halloween party. We went as Gomez and Morticia, a costume we came up with while browsing Value Village, and it was a pretty big success, except my mustache kept peeling off and flapping, and it was hard to eat with. (I opted to shave and glue a fake on because I wanted it to be more costimey, and didn't want to be stuck with a mustache.. Although Movember is almost here...)

It was a nice night, we hung with our clatch of people, until the party merged and we played Heads Up until deciding around midnight it was time to head out... We thought about crashing but it was getting late and the house was not SK far as we feared.

That long summary is all for now. Rest assured there's more to come
 Keep on rockin'
  - Scotto


11: Imprint

Since there's no reason why I should expect to remember on future readings (we, don't read this) I will note that I backdated the previous post to when it was (mostly) done being written on my phone (I added some bits) and the immediately wrote this one... So it's a rare double post at a time when one post per month is about the max.

Last night we went out to the Niblick, and then Burlington Bowl, with Mel's family. We invited Eric along, and he came, and we had a pretty good time. It was the most time we'd spent together in a bit, although there have been plenty of occasions this summer, like that night with Amanda, or with Christina, or at Rib fest. Mel's affection for Eric helps bind us, in an odd way - he's my brother and we'll always be connected, but because Mel is also oddly latched to him he will always get the benefit of her doubt in a way that, strangely, B does not. That oddly makes me sad.

It was a good night, of too much food and many beers -Eric bought two pitchers without checking how many wanted some, and so I had to make a special effort to help him with that.  He was recognized by some hockey players from Canlan who latched onto him for the night, including one guy who we are pretty sure bought and consumed cocaine in the washroom. He began to get kind of erratic and even wanders onto one of our lanes as Unc was preparing to bowl. He and I defrayed that situation.

Later it was explained that Eric didn't even actually know those guys (and one gal.) That's just how it goes sometimes on a service job, where people know you but you don't know them. I often think of times I was recognized at bars from HMV and made myself closed off, misanthrope that I am. What did I miss out on from not having Eric's sense of adventure?

I say he and I have not spent as much time together lately. This is a natural development and not unheard of. He lived on Etobicoke for years and we were not so close. Hell we LIVED together for years and I didn't always feel close. It's somewhat only since he's held down work that I truly feel we relate, although we had our good times during his off years.

Now is the time when I spend nearly every night at Mel's, and I work 9-5 anyway while he tends bar mostly at night. Now is the time when we spend only one night or so, on weekends, at "my place," and Eric comes home around 4 and watches tv and it's loud -I've left it turned up by mistake - so I go ask him as nonjudgmentally as I can to turn it down.

Now is the time when I get up at 6:30 AM and shower and roll downstairs to make Mel's shake and some eggs and a coffee for me. Now we usually take the 8:17 train and I get to work around 9:15 and I feel that's a bit late but nobody's keeping track. Now I usually eat lunch with Tony and we talk about things like whether we have free will and if slavery is philosophically inherently wrong. Although I'm giving myself more latitude to skip that routine.

Now is past the time when I was at the store and she would get up early and I would roll over and sleep an extra hour. Now is past the time when I would meet her on her way home at the bus stop on Iroquois, after having between one and three or four hours just to write and be alone, depending when I finished work and depending on which train she got. Now is past the time when I had a late start on Wednesdays so I could go home, make a nice breakfast, shower in my own room, and write or watch wrestling (which conveniently got bad just as I no longer had time for it.)

Now is past the times over the holidays when she was at LCBO and worked many late night and weekends and I would come home and have a beer and watch, what pointless nonsense like Power Rangers or X-Men cartoons on Netflix. Now is the time in my life when our routines and structures are inextricably linked.

Now is long past the time when I would get hone from work, borrow my mom's car, drive to her place, do I-can't-even-remember-what all night and drive home. There is no more "going home" at the end of the night.

Gone are the days of borrowing my dad's car on Wednesday nights to grocery shop. I have not drive in months and I find that distressing.

Long long gone are the nights she stayed late, later than she should, because she loved me and didn't want to leave, and then I would go downstairs when she finally did and watch 2 AM reruns of Frasier with Eric and fall asleep o the couch. Gone are the days "my spot" was at a computer desk in my mom's basement. Now my main computer is my phone, and I have a tablet, and I haven't turned my PC on in months. (I dread to think what kind of updates it will need when I finally do.)

Gone are the days I did a little writing secretly at the store when we were busy and my co-worker was on break. Now I have my own desk and yet I feel I cannot secretly compose the novel of my dreams because /someone is watching./

Change, I accept as a fact of life. I did not always but it has always been there. This is what is it like today, it will not always be, but those days that are gone are gone. I have always felt sad when I could not capture the status quo in these posts, because once that changes you can never really get it back.

Last weekend we went to see Aunt Lori, Karen, Gail, Grandma and Cameron (Ali was at a friend's sleepover party.) It was fun, as I always say it is to catch up with then outside of a birthday context (gone are the days I suppose when everyone got full birthday treatment.) We also played Cards Against Humanity with the whole group. It was interesting to see who knew what, and what they approved of.

I have wanted to write this post for a while. But I go so long between posts that *things* come up to write about. Ah life! Bigger than you and you are (not me/knock-kneed.)

Keep on rockin'
  - Scotto


10: To Be Seen Knowing

To Be Seen Knowing

Currently sitting in RBC plaza watching an unending river of commuters make they way into Union station. I am ducking the cold and rain, waiting for Mel. Two weeks ago we bought a sprinkler and stood in it to beat the heat. Now I can't find a jacket thick enough.

As summer stubbornly and reluctantly gives way to fall, and a wet chill enters the air, I have half a second to reflect on the past few weeks. This entry comes with one of those rate meaningful, thematic titles.

The events of last week seemed all to converge on Tuesday. It was the day of my job interview, which was the source of a non-zero amount of stress. I was the veneficiary of a great deal of resources yet I felt like nothing could prepare me and honestly I was not wrong. They provided a few scenarios to which I provided answers as best I could -- there were tines when I could rely on my assortment knowledge,  but other times when I had to hem and haw and even talk my own way through an issue, sometimes on fear of contradicting myself and deliberately not paying mind to some of the indications they (Murray, Maria and Philip) seemed to be tossing me.

Although Murray came by afterwards to say "good job" I cannot convince myaelf this is necessarily the case. Well, Philip said at the end how I was succinct, which Murray had said in my Optomization interview, and hey I got that. I did not feel succinct - I felt rambly - but I guess that's all relative. I just hope that my supposed succinctness didn't prevent me from giving full answers.

I feel a lot of pressure. I came out of nowhere to get this Optimization job, and I learned it well in a short period with only bare bones guidance, let's face it. Now I am known and there is pressure to live up to the hype. It seems like I must know things, but do I?

Like I said, pressure. I should be good enough for this job but am I as good as they expect me to be? Can they hold me to the equivalent standard that they held 6 months ago? Or do I have to show my newly gained experience in everything I say and do? I will never quit having doubts about myself, only the stakes change.

After work, I needed a definite win. It was Office Trivia Night for Adopt a School, and while others on the print team talked a big game, Tony and I were dark horses. Together with Don, we comprised a three legged dog of a team - Rachael was going to join us but it turned out to be her vacation and we had a hard time filling her spot.

We started with just us three and it was rough. I do like my trivia but I wasn't so sure of myself and with good reason. The quizmaster was exceptionally cruel in linking the questions to Indigo - I such clever askew says as "In, Dig, Go" (answers starting with those) "Joy of the Table" (questions about tables, including  labeled parts of a formal setting) and Dwight Schrute esque questions abput paler production, and some more conventionally difficult questions about books (adult authors writing kids books was particularly tough). Partway through, a rando named Greg -who did not get the notice that it was rescheduled from 6 to 5:30, showed up at 6 and we really started to gel. I would put Don as the MVP for sure, though -he knew a remarkable amount about paper.

We made it to the finals with 49 points out of 73 - the next team had 42. This round very much resembled Reach, with its snap to start, and Who Am I questions. I did particularly well at the combo questions. (Ie, "A Time To Kill a Mockingbird", "Slaughterhouse Five People You Meet in Heaven.") We wpn by half a point and I got to have some very public, visible triumphs - just like grade 8 - and was lauded, despite the fact that it was a team effort and honestly I made virtually no dent in the early paper-based round. It was still a much needed win, and we got a delightful trophy for our efforts. I ran to get the streetcar, then Don't came on, chuckling, "Didn't even have to run!"

Friday that week was Murray's birthday and I was tasked with picking up cupcakes, which was an hilarious misadventure when I went to the wrong baker and then had to run around First Canadian Place. The effort was appreciated... I think, although Murray is not a birthday celebration guy (he is blessed with several workplace friends and of course his wife who masterminded the thing.) It reminded me of a birthday some years ago at HMV where I was working, and it was a Saturday, and the crew connived to get some cupcakes and a banner, and of course the amazing surprise bowling party Mel organized for me this year. Suppose I owe her for that...

That afternoon we knocked off early and took Kayla to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Not my idea of a preferable field trip but it's something, and we got in cheap because it was the end of day. Saw the cup and everything.

Thanksgiving had a strangely nice last minute feel to it... Dad and Deb confirmed plans on Wednesday following our visit for his birthday (for which we got him the customary sci-fi/fantasy books) after previously being unsure what they wanted to do. On Saturday, Unc had us over but it was lightly casual as well (also featured three dressings and little in the way of potatoes or veggies.) We also had a quick visit with mom, who needed to drop off some items for us, and we visited Nonna and Poppa on Monday, taking care not to stay too, too long.

The ensuing week was marked by my own frustrations at not necessarily having much to do, and anxiety over the outcome of my interview... Which I hadn't heard anything about until today, when I prodded Maria (at perhaps an inopportune time) to prod Penny into getting back to me. The interview is tomorrow and I'm a trifle nervous although the part of my brain that is going "you got this" is returning.

I started this post on the 10th, stopped before Greg joined our trivia team, and am only now getting back to it. I don't doubt that I've had a ton of other blog worthy thoughts since then... Plenty to observe, get off my chest, reminisce, theorize... But I think it best if we part here and maybe I can recollect some of these thoughts for a not too distant post where I have a bit more focus.

There is one last thing, though. A few nights ago, I had a vivied dream where it was the WOSS Fringe and I had to find Cary and apologize that I never did write a follow-up to Half-Past (referring of course to the Emerging Artists Series incarnation and not the WOSS one.) You don't have to be Freud to get the subtext behind that one... Hell it isn't even sub, just text.

Keep on rockin'
  - Scotto


09: Tectonic Plates, the Realm of Possibility, Overstanding

I am once again writing to you from the GO train, albeit long after I normally would have been getting home from work. It is 8:14 PM and I have just come from dinner and drinks with Joe, replicating after a fashion our Monahangs of old. Except now we are both 30, he is married and I co-habitating. We are not sad single people (he after a breakup and I after a sad long existence.)

It's remarkable that our lives differ so greatly from the way they were all those years ago but have wound up looking very much the same. We each would present an observation about my life - the dilemma of balancing a worklife routine, a relationship, and a desire to create, or about the push-pull of different family requirements within a relationship - and feel an intense sense of "Me Too," that he termed "Overstanding," as in "I not only understand that, I overstand it." I would like to think he coined it in the moment but if he had it ready in his back pocket I wouldn't blame him for utilizing it.

It is important in life to have people you can talk to not just about old times, but current times, ongoing subjects and current feelings. In fact I would say that Joe and I rarely discuss old times except in relation to our current scenarios - mostly not in a "Glory days, they'll pass you by" sense. That is probably because Joe's and me times never really involved having times together - we weren't adventurer-havers but storytellers, unburdeners, relaters. We are at a point - ten gat-danged years now - when our friendship has mostly been spent over pints discussing other things going on in our lives, and as those things have thankfully evolved, so have we.

Joe is blessed, it is a well-known fact, with numerous long-term friends with whom he can relate his innermost. I have only a few. Partly that's not naturally what happened with most of my friends from high school and partly I'm a very guarded person. I do have a very loving, caring partner, but mostly the things I am expressing, she is already aware, having lived through it with me. It would be somewhat redundant for me to sit down with her and say, "Man, let me tell you about my morning routine!"

Likewise, if I were to say, "Boy, I am not writing as much as I would like to," it is not inconceivable that she would take it as some kind of critique of our relationship, which it is not - I only with there were more hours in the day, or as I explained to Tony earlier today, that there were more of me so that I could experience it all at once.

That is what I would like to talk about, then. The realm of possibility. What can I imagine for myself? Last year I could not have imagined having a job where I sit down at a desk all day. That was no reason not to pursue it, but I had to bide my time for the proper opportunity. Years before that I could not have imagined moving out of my Mom's place successfully, or getting a driver's license, or being in a successful, stable, loving long-term relationship and somehow all of those things have come to pass, all those benchmarks of a happy, successful, productive life.

So. It would seem that anything I can't imagine turns out to be exactly what does. So I believe the next thing I will be unable to imagine is writing and publishing a novel. Completely impossible, just like driving, deskwork, and love. Nope, it will definitely not ever happen for me in my lifetime and certainly not in the next year or two, so I might as well give up, just like I gave up on all those other things.

Pardon me, I had one and a half drinks and am tidily buzzy.

We shared and told tales and as usual I was left with a somewhat raw throat. We discussed the importance of having an outlet, without making any sweeping proclamations. I caught him up on the situation at my work and inquired about his - so that I could finally say with certainty that I know just what he does, besides the fact that he does it for Telus. I told him about my stolen bike, and about the variously unsuccessful set-up schemes Mel and I have embarked upon.

"You spin a good yarn," he said, and I agreed it would be a tragedy if that skill were never to come to use. As is typical of our best Monahangs, my throat was quite sore from talking all night.

The realm of the possible. I stand around Union station and I see women and men and I wonder about them, what their lives are like. I think the thing that always spurred me as a writer was to imagine a life that wasn't my own, and the sadness I feel that no matter what I make of this life, this is still the only thing I will ever be, whatever I end up deciding that will be. I do, however, believe in reincarnation, and I think it will be a shame if I come back as, more or less, the same person. I like being me, my life and how I've lived it, but I expect I'll be done with it by the end.

But given that is the far-off-future, I owe it to myself to be as happy I can with one life, and I am definitely far more happy than I was a few years ago, a few months ago, or a few days ago.

After a busy weekend of balancing various needs (family obligs like a birthday-adjacent brunch, errands, our own exhaustion,) we took Monday for ourselves. The idea we settled on was apple-picking. Men don't willingly go apple-picking on their own, and it's safe to assume most don't harbour a secret yen to do so, but when you're a couple you find yourself agreeing to these things and just enjoying being out and about. We had gone to the big-name farm last year, paid the entry fee, seen the petting zoo, and picked apples to our hearts content. (Honey Crisps were extra.) This year we found the cool indie orchard, owned and operated by the brother of a friend from university. It was a Monday afternoon so we basically had the run of the place. It was swelteringly hot, so that was a downside, but it was a fun day of freedom. We went in the corn maze, which we got out of via the warp zone (I wasn't sure if we were supposed to go back to the front entry or if taking the side exit to the tractor path was okay.) On our wagon ride back, we rode with a woman, her daughter, and a cute little 8-year-old girl who wanted to sleep over. We all played in the corn pit, which was like a sandbox with dry corn feed, which was shockingly therapeutic. Then we drove home, our apples and cider rolling all around the trunk, had shawarma for lunch, and took a nap (which left Mel a bit sleepless later that night.) It was a lovely day.

The only problem with taking a day off is then you need to work twice as hard Tuesday. Well, I confided to Tony, it's different form a stat holiday where everybody gets the day off, because at least somebody is keeping the work from piling up too high. Still, our team is facing some issues, and the part of me that is a good soldier regrets taking a day for myself, but you know what, I never ever do that (the only days off I've taken all year were for weddings, fun but not necessarily "for me.")

The morning was off to a slow start, and just as I got to a good pace in the afternoon I was told to switch gears and focus on SF returns rather than LF, because SF is where the bulk of our vexation was. I had come in early (well, on-timeish) in anticipation of a possible 9 AM meeting, but it ended up being at 10. Still, better safe than sorry. Then it was a lot of waiting for stuff to be prepped and in the end I had to cram what could have been an all-afternoon project into the last 90 minutes or so. Which made me a bit late for Joe and kept me from stopping over to see Mel before that, but oh well. Things are how they are.

I also didn't get to go watch the staff baseball game like I'd hoped, which I felt oddly sad about.

There could be more. There could always be more precious, beautiful words, (and ugly, rotten, pedestrian ones!) but I think it good if - having reached home some time ago and settled in to listen to music in Mel's bed alone, while she is out at Rielle's, I have come to a good stopping place, and then some.

Keep on rockin'


08: The doors open but nobody gets off

Aka similarities and sames
Aka distinctions not necessary

So there's your sign of where my head is at... I walk around thinking up titles for potential entries but take forever to get around to them. And that isn't necessarily down to a lack of events on my part but perhaps an excess... Or a lack of time relative to them. Hrmph. I am working on finding the best balance of detailing the particulars of this summer without labouring over the unnecesaey minute things.

It has been a long week and change. Last weekend I was feeling like it was about time to emerge from our self imposed shell of inactivity following a decently busy June and July. August was a void, which is to say, for avoiding people. But by the time of last weekend I was openly saying "we've had so many weeks without plans, I'm starting to tire of the lazy thing!" Mind you we have had a nice rhythm this past month... Unwinding Friday nights, waking up late then having breakfast on Saturday morning, organizing our errands, finding ourselves back at my place for dinner. Long late hangs, Netflix or TiVo or bad movies. Sunday mornings there. Realizing I have forgotten once again to cut up the latest watermelon, leaving many dishes, scrambling at the last minute to get back to Mel's... Okay, that part could use improvement but what can I say.

Last weekend we were joined by Cristina, who had been coffeeing with Mel Sat afternoon, and came by on the promise of Mario Party. We had a good game, then a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. And while I was anxious and fretful when I heard she would be joining, I got over it and had a good time. (Mel by contrast wondered, did she maybe stay a bit long? After all our bedtime is like 9!)

At the end of the weekend I suffered an intense panic attack... There was a huge variety of causes at play. I had been feeling tense all weekend because I had wanted to do some writing but lost/missed/squandered several opportunities. Mel was getting her hair done for several hours and rather than camp out in the food court I elected to catch up with Monika (and as you no doubt know she can gab!) I was feeling anxious after that, then on Sunday our timing was way off and we ended up eating late, which left us feeling dazed and if I had to put a fine point on it I would say that sometimes my emotional state is tightly entwined with that of my lovely girlfriend and I take it hard when I feel I have let her down. This, a frosty ride back to her place followed by several minutes of shaking, trembling, hyperventilating and sobbing. Perhaps I ought to seek help.

It is a measure of how badly I want to write that I am scribing this post on my phone on the train, over the course of (so far) two days. Please mind any typos found...

It was a long week after that. We have had to do a lot of aftercare for optimization including bandaging up the fiction triage situation. We spent a goodly amount of the last two weeks saying goodbye to Ibrahim. Maria and Rachael were both on vacation for his last week so we had a team lunch while we were all still together. Then on his last full day, he, Tony and I went for Greek food (it seemed like a more special thing than what it was, three guys picking up lunch then going back to sit where they normally do.)

Friday was a half day so after a lengthy but informative lesson on Ibrahim's Regression equation work, we finished up for the week, tidied up our sentimentality as best we could, then went to play ping pong at Spin, where Ibrahim had wanted to go all summer.

Ibrahim and Tony were very competitive (and very skilled!) Whereas I had very unpolished form and a tendency to overshoot the table... I insisted I wax still having fun, but it grates she you find yourself down 10-2 in a game to 11. (I actually won two early games before losing my mojo somewhat. Or because they had gained theirs, who can say.)

Mel came after about 2 hours, bringing her Aussie workmate friend Kayla. Kayla didn't seem like she cared for ping pong but afterward we adjourned to the Firkin. Tony seemed to be into her but it would appear not to have been mutual.

Finally we said our last goodbye, after trying to moderate conversation between five very different people.

For the last long weekend of summer we were very booked and sadly had to bail on Joe's annual ASSES shindig yet again... After a long day of running aroundwe were just too bushed to drive out to Brampton, so we got some chicken and watched Are You The One until Mel caught a near fatal case of hiccups and we retired.

That relationship life.

Sunday morning we went to brunch(?) with mom and Ross, who were down seeing friends ostensibly for Burlington Ribfest, but they had gone to a restaurant instead. We went to Sunset Grill, although they both got Tuna Salad, Eric got a Egg and Peameal bacon sandwich and B didn't eat at all. Eric complained vociferously afterward about the vibe of the place. Think we'll go somewhere else next time.

After that, we went to Port Credit, Mel's favourite place, and wandered around all afternoon, stopping for some veggies and dip we had brought, then picked up some dinner, a simple yet elegant stir fry.

Holiday Monday continued the trend of exceptionally busy weekend days. We were due to meet Mel's friend Amanda downtown for Snakes & Lattes. We slept probably later than we should have considering all we had wanted to get done (well, there was plenty of cleaning to do, and we wanted to make mini egg pies for breakfasts.) We headed out to the city around 4 after missing a train or two. The main inspiration behind the outing was to introduce Eric and Amanda... The previous week while hanging out with Cristina I had suggested to Mel - who is constantly keen to introduce Eric to every woman she possibly could - that they might make a good match. (I should note that I am usually reluctant to encourage these matchups, not wanting to waste anyone's time if I can't envision them together - hence an endorsement of the pairing on my part.) She's smart, educated, funny, energetic... A real catch, and while she's just recently single, she was apparently at least willing to meet someone.

The night started at Jack Astor's, where drinks were had, and we were joined by Amanda's roommate's boyfriend (the roommate, who had been called into work, was to join us later.) We gabbed a bit while trying to goad Eric out of her shell, I doodled a image of Mel that she found unflattering but which I was actually kind of proud of? Oh well, I am unappreciated.

Incidentally, we saw a certain former Degrassi cast member there, as she appears to be a manager (which, hey, good for her.)

From there we walked - a long way, largely through the rain - to Snakes & Lattes. Eric and Amanda walked well ahead and appeared to have an animated conversation, although E later downplayed it. I was pretty pooped and a little grumpy by the time we got there, but I tried not to let it show.  We ate, although in typical Scotto fashion I let Mel tell me we should get fries to share instead of the salad that I wanted (she's the one into healthy eating!) And then she ended up splitting a sandwich with Amanda, with salad. Well, the fries were good, (as were the chicken tenders, which appeared to be house made.)  And we all partook.

We played Jenga, as well as Survive, which I had played and enjoyed at Cary's back in late '15 when I last saw him, and which I have had a yen to play ever since... And now I probably don't ever need to (it was a tad more complicated than I recall, but I feel we'll all be ready for it should a next time occur.) We capped off the night with Cards Against Humanity, which I won much to Amanda's chagrin ("Williams Brothers!" She cursed cutely.)

Whether or not there was a love connection, it has made me grateful -more so than usual - to be off the market. I watch the women on the street coming to and from the station, as I wait for Mel, and I feel lucky not to have to meet a new one.

We called it a night before 10 but of course that only meant we got home and I'm bed around 11:30, and then, tormented by writing that was not to be, I could not sleep a wink until 3 am.

The alarm goes off at 6.

The days that have followed have been busy. I have had to do the work of two, essentially, on our last round of Optimization aftercare. We are sue to have a conversation about my future late this week, and that feels good.

I don't know, though.

Fall has come on hard and fast here, with the briefly sweltering summer heat evaporating well in advance of labour day. Sweaters in the morning, and some times at night. I have felt very wistful and sad as a result.

I wish I were writing more, but focus is hard to come by. Spilling my guts, when the opportunity arises (currently in my third session, on the train, at day's end) is a different matter since this is all unfiltered, unstudied, unpolished, for nobody but my future self, whom I trust will read between the lines capably enough that I don't have to say what I really mean.

Ever? Wink...

I am nearing my destination, whereupon I will fix a meatloaf for Mel, quietly post this, and contemplate the nature of my existence. The I will go to bed, wake up, go back to the city, finish posting returns for wave 3 stores, move on to some other task, eat lunch, and live possibly the rest of my life.
I'm fine, why do you ask?

Keep on rockin'


07: Light Under Water

I dream every night but most mornings I wake up not remembering them. It isn't the same has having no dreams, where you spend all night floating in a void before awakening. I am aware my mind conjured some images, I feel I have been busy dreaming, but I can't remember the content. Two or three nights ago I had the most vivid dream I can remember in a while, most plot-centric one... we had moved to mars. Initially this seemed like a true revolution, but Mars was already turned into a green second earth. So we were escaping and going far only to wind up in a place not that different from where we started, with all the same people and even some neighbors. I will not over-inflate the significance of this symbolism but it might mean something that I remembered this dream so well in daylight when they lately have been fading. Last night's involved a gruelling fistfight with an implacable shape-shifting foe whose final form was a chubby old man. Go figure.

Mel often remembers her dreams in great detail, often complaining in the morning of "weird dreams," which she then describes, and I unsympathetically tell her just sound like regular dreams to me. Imagine being so averse to dreaming.

The past few weeks have proceeded quietly, and I both cannot and can believe that I've gone two weeks between posts. Now we're way past the point where I should remark on the span of time between posts - any given one could be my last for two years - but I've wanted to post. But much of what I wanted to write about has faded.

Work has provided me with some unique anxieties. Say what you will about my old retail job but I enjoyed a low level of scrutiny. Which is not to say that I am being harshly or unfairly scrutinized here - if anything my performance is being taken as given shockingly too uncritically. In retail I had a job I knew I was good at and didn't really need to hear from others. At Home Office I am constantly fumbling my way through, afraid of being "found out" yet desperate for guidance and clarity - too self-conscious to stop sometimes and say "Wait, what is it I'm supposed to be doing?" Or to know when to do so. Because I worry that if they hear that too much it will amount to "You know what, let's just fire this guy."

But all that self-consciousness and worry is just in my head, a Scotto original... if anything, Murray is exceedingly pleased with my performance no matter how much my self-sabotaging side wants him not to be. We had a one on one this past week whose theme was to be my future with the company... and he was exceptionally positive in requesting it but in the lead-up, my mind envisioned him sitting me down and saying "Hey man, you're dropping the ball in the following ways." In reality, he was passing along some information on a role that might be vacant in the near future - Bryant's departure has opened room for some shuffling, and while we don't know the result of that, it's likely we know what job will be open. He reminded me this was all hypothetical, no job offer on the table, but to be prepared... he was talking to Penny about me.

I should be chuffed, you know, but being under a microscope doesn't suit my personality.

The other drama this week - still ongoing - is our need to justify what we have done in optimization to the head of Fiction, who will be losing a great deal of shelf-space because of our work. He doubts the math, doubts the process. I have my own take on why this is the right thing to do and I hope I am not kidding myself that it boils down to more than "Oh a computer told me to do it." I feel guilty (and self-conscious) about my role in reducing the presence of general fiction in small format stacks across the country, but looking at the numbers it felt very right to do. Ira has actually been quite nice about it and forthright about wanting to know more (and directly or not, poke at our process and see what gives.) Personally I feel slightly out of my element attempting to justify coming in my first month at home office and irrevocably changing (for a year at least) the dynamic of the business, to someone who has worked there for so many years. I'm not alone though... we've got Martin, Ibrahim and Tony and Maria and of course Murray... it's a good team.

A week ago, Mel and I had our other social engagement of the season, Dan and Shannon's wedding. It was a really good time, we sat with all the expected people, which worked for me since I know where I stand with everyone in that group, shared some laughs and many drinks, and hit the dance floor hard. Shannon in particular seems to have an affinity for big group scenes - she led her bridesmaids, and then Dan, through a choreographed routine to get the party started. She also led the charge in the conga line and was quick to hit the floor for the Cha Cha Slide (Per Wikiepdia: "a song by American artist DJ Casper, often played at dance clubs, school PE/dances/proms, parties, ice and roller skating rinks, bar mitzvahs and weddings in the United States and the United Kingdom, where the song reached number one in March 2004.[2]") as well as Cotton-Eye Joe, and the Macarena. In the year 2017 I witnessed a large group of people doing the Macarena. What a time we live in. I personally requested "Mr. Brightside" as a palate cleanser, following a round of the Time Warp, because yelling and screaming to a only-somewhat-dancey rock song is a good way to blow off steam, and everyone under 40 loves that song and somehow knows all the words.

There were lots of speeches,each one specifically ending with everyone raising a glass, which got a bit tiring, but the speeches were often funny and moving... not really being close with Dan and Shannon it was nice to get to know them through their friends. The wedding was mostly put together as a reflection on the time when they met, the first week of University, and of course all the Uni friends they had then remain part of their present (but for the fact they now live in Swift Current, SK.). It's not a dynamic I have, ever had, or could imagine for myself... that tight knit friend group with a ton of enduring in jokes and fond memories. I was always just me, passing through. Now I'm "us." We have our people, our connections, but few who could gush they "knew us when."

But that's okay. We've got us.

The workweek progressed, as noted above, and we went to dad's for Wednesday night dinner for the first time in a while. (We had gone a few weekends ago, and met Alex's dog Zeus, for Deb's birthday,) which was nice and quaint return to an old routine. And then yesterday we came home, that is to my place, did some light gardening to pull weeds. We had dinner with Eric (B took the food and returned to his gaming,) chatted into the evening, played Mario Party and GoldenEye. It was good, in fact it was great, it was like that last-year feeling I've been chasing. We have spent much of the summer away from 471 Postridge, largely because we have had so much going on that returning to Mel's after one of our outings (weddings, the trailer, whatever) often just seems more natural. We can't go back to the summer of 2016 - when Mel was out of work and desperate to be away from her place. And those fond memories that could have been traditions are the casualties of that. We've eaten out back on our patio like twice, and though we often make smores in the microwave we haven't used our makeshift fire pit once. (We have twice, however, lit the mini fireplace accent torch thingy that Mama H got me for my birthday, it was very nice.) I'm ambivalent and torn about all that but this is life.

While preparing dinner, Eric and I even had a nice talk about creativity. We both are just in places now where we don't have the time to indulge as much as we'd like. I'm doodling a bit, but nothing concrete, nothing the world will see.

Not yet anyway.

I've got schemes. The ideas will never disappear and the drive, the need, simply has not died.

We'll see.

Keep on rockin'


06: Reminders and remembrances

There's a hornet's nest under the umbrella of my backyard patio set. That feels like a strong visual metaphor for the issues surrounding the place right now. We want carefree and casual but there are sharp, menacing bugs underneath the surface.

We can't really go backwards. And I am neither here nor there.

I'll keep that vague on the premise that, someday, sensitive eyes might see these words. You know, there's a reason why I always kept an online journal instead of a private one. It never caught on with me because somehow it never felt like the words were properly escaping into the world, they just sat in a book on my shelf. A message is partly the sender and partly the receiver. But there's the rub because I'm not being true to this blog if I'm not candid, but my being candid inherently involves not just me now but someone whose life is deeply intertwined with mine -- a situation I never faced (hoped for sure but never realistically anticipated) during the initial 8 or 9 or 10 years of this blog.

This blog was the invention of a perennially single 16-going-on-17-year-old and was able to continue in the fashion it did because I remained perennially single for many, many years. Now that I am not, is it regression to try to start it up again, or do I trust myself to refit my language for it? After all, there was always the possibility I could speak too loosely and offend a friend who would read it, but I feel like I walked the line pretty well.

I do trust my judgment. And if I feel like something is worth putting out there it probably is.

I leave myself hints and breadcrumbs, and work to piece it all together later because I know no full story will ever be told.

I was reading old posts again (there's regression for you) and came across this intriguing quote from August 2008: "This blog, with its fantastic treasure trove of descriptions of scenes wherein nothing happens, and feelings about nothing in particular, provide me some basis to say "This is what it was like." I might not otherwise remember that, week after week, we keep going back to Wendy's after grocery shopping, and my body doesn't seem to like it very much; nor that I keep going for these night-walks just to leave the house and be free for a while. It's boring now, but someday, maybe I'll look back and think "Those were the days."

And if that's the case, I'd hate to see what my life has become by that point. Mwerf.

Dang, Past-Scotto! I am roasted. No, but seriously, I do well not to think of those as the "good old days." I had potential (I even described it as "The Summer of Wasted Potential") but I was trapped in my psyche and things were not good. On my worst day today I am better by far.

That ties nicely in to what we have done this weekend. At the end of a rather tough week at work - which got off to a slow start and felt heavier as it went on, with lots of actioning needed for SF Wave 1 and 2 stores' returns, I left work on Thursday knowing I had to delegate my work out to the rest of the team, which I didn't want to have to do, but Murray encouraged me to do. I had Friday off for a wedding - specifically the wedding of Joe and Viki. Appropriately enough I had recently read my post from the first time I met Viki, which refers to her as "the love on Joe's life [sic]." There was nothing tepid about their romance; one could see even then. It seemed clearly very passionate and all-consuming from the start, and I am glad they have tied the knot at last.

You know, they split up for a while there, which falls in the lost years of this blog. We will probably never speak of it again, but for a while there, a year or two, Joe and I were hitting Monaghan's (for "Monahangs") every month or so to commiserate over the lack of female attention in our lives. Then he and Viki patched things up, and I met Mel, and that was that.

Mel and I even make a cameo in their engagement story, because Joe was able to choose the night he did to propose because we had sadly had to bail on a planned night out with them because Mel was feeling ill. That detail did not, however, make it into the version of the story that was told at the wedding.

It was a nice ceremony, a beautiful outdoor scene at the Woodbine golf course. I was worried about the air traffic since it was by the airport, but there were no serious issues or awkward moments. The bride looked beautiful. The groom looked handsome. Or maybe even beautiful, sure, it's 2017, a man can be beautiful. They wrote some lovely vows - Joe later noted to me that they were not "template" people, which is good. We met up with our friends who were not in the wedding party and sat with them. After, there were some impressive hors d'oeuvres, although they were a bit hard to get ahold of.

Mel looked beautiful, of course. She had gotten her hair done earlier that day and I picked up my newly-altered suit, the first properly-fitting jacket I have owned, the first suit I have owned. I got lots of positive notices on it, including from Joe, which was very kind since everyone all over was dressed nicely and I didn't think I stood out on that front.

We were seated with people I didn't really know, but tried to engage them a bit. Two couples I didn't realize immediately but I must have met at some point before, Dan's wife Crystal, Alicia, and Cristina's boyfriend Stephan - so, a few strays, which was healthy I think and the group was mostly quite charming. Stephan kept to himself but struck up a conversation about Spider-Man Homecoming. I haven't seen it yet but we were able to mold that into a more substantial convo about Marvel movies and even comics a little.

The night wore on. The ladies all changed into their flipflops. Many courses were served, several drinks were poured, even one shot was consumed. We hit the photo booth (a few times) for the photo guest book. Joe and Viki performed "Lucky" because I think they weren't allowed not to. The dancefloor was hopping but the hour was getting late so by the time they finally got to 90s jams (ie after he Italian and Middle Eastern Music and the Latin club bangers) we were just about ready to get back to the Hotel and flop down.

Anyway, it was all marvelous. Honestly, my heart is so full for them.

The next morning (ie, today), we woke up and partook in some breakfast buffet. It wasn't terrific but it was there and I was hungry.

I'm looking forward to the next chance I have to have a one-on-one convo with Joe. It's true that at any wedding your face time with the bride and groom is going to be limited... unless you're part of the head table I suppose. Even these days we mostly see each other in the context of double dates and group hangs, which is all good too, but nothing replaces a good heart to heart.

I stopped in at Coles the other day to check in with Monika and Will... Monika reminded me of all the stuff I need to catch up on. (Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Twin Peaks, Leftovers, American Gods... I should also watch Stranger Things sometime, and maybe Black Mirror, and definitely make time for the new Game of Thrones.) There will be time, I am sure, for everything.

Keep on rockin'