Half My Life

So I meant to write this post about a week and a half ago. I didn’t, and who knows why? Is it because I was too busy crying my eyes out? Throwing up? Lying on the floor in the fetal position with a snot bubble on the end of my nose that didn’t know whether to go in or out? Drinking coffee liquor? Taking a tomato juice bath? Probably all of the above.

What would have me in such a foul, non-bloggy mood? Some smart-ass decided to update his status on Facebook to indicate that he was off to University 20 years ago that day. Who cares, right? Except that I too would have been starting my post-secondary education that day as well. 20 years ago. I was 19. Do the math. I’ve been pushing 40 for a while. Only gently. Now, I’m pushing it like a bully in a room full of dorks. I’m OK with that for the time being, but the fact that I went to college 20 years ago is unacceptable for some reason. I’m not saying that it feels like yesterday. It doesn’t. It feels like 12 or 13 years ago. Not 20.

Let’s analyze just how ridiculous it is that going to College was half my life ago. I’m the same guy, right? Not even close. Not for the better either. The main difference is that everything hurts. Physically I mean, not emotionally. For no reason at all. I am in pain a fairly high percentage of the time. Nothing requiring a get well card. Just that nagging kind of pain that I know won’t ‘get well’ ever. By the way, for all of you who are over 40 and in more pain than me…. this isn’t a contest, so don’t fill up my comments section talking about your aches and pains…… That sounded selfish and mean. OK, tell me about your aches and pains.

I’m kind of crusty and frowny these days. I was NEVER like that! Why would I be? All I had was dumb shit to think and worry about. It was awesome! The simplicity of it all. I would go out for a beer with a buddy, and that was the most important thing I did all day. I walked with a spring in my step. Now I think I limp slightly, depending on the day. I can’t overstate that I think some of this has to do with the fact that I’m in pain. It probably makes me crusty and frowny more than anything.

I’m a husband, father and working professional now. I was maybe a boyfriend, possibly a part-time employee, and a crappy disinterested student then. I’m not saying that was better, but it was much much easier.

My neck is like waaay bigger now. Most of me probably falls into that category too, but the difference in neck size is astounding. My face too. My whole head really. I only suspected this before now, but recently I bought a ‘New Era’ baseball hat, you know, like the kids wear (oh and I say that now with a straight face), and they’re fitted, so you have to keep trying them on until they fit. My head is big, and that’s all there is to it. I hope you don’t have to sit behind me at the movies. So it only makes sense that I would have a big goddamn neck for it to sit on. I wish my ego, or earning potential, or generosity of spirit was bigger. It had to be my neck.

I’m sure I was way funnier back then too. I should have started this blog then. I don’t think blogs existed then, but I wish I kept a journal or something. I was funny. I don’t know that I’m any less funny now, but I am way less interested in whether people laugh or not. That used to mean the world to me.

I do miss those days. I sometimes long for my 19-year-old energy and enthusiasm. The good news (if I’m to make this blog entry one that ends on a warm and fuzzy note) is that I had a blast! It’s like that rollercoaster that you went on, and you loved it, but you have to line up 45 minutes to ride it again, so you say screw it. It was an excellent ride. I enjoyed every minute of it. I am enjoying where the journey has taken me, and I don’t have any recurring nightmares about how I should have done things differently. So if I’m to turn 40 in the not too distant future, I won’t do so with any sort of sadness, but rather a ‘holy shit, I can’t believe how amazing this last 40 years were, and how lucky I’ve been.’ The next 40 I’m sure will be even more amazing. They will hurt. Not emotionally, but physically.


Why I’ll Leave Toronto If Rob Ford Gets Re-Elected

I think this will be my last Rob Ford related post. I’m a little appalled that his name has even snuck into my blogs as often as it has. I guess the whole thing has been a pretty big news story around the world, and living in Toronto has given me that front row seat that I would NEVER have purchased. I don’t want to make it seem like Toronto isn’t big enough for the two of us, but I made a decision a while back that if he should somehow get back into office (which is not entirely out of the question believe it or not), that I will move out of the city. It’s a fairly interesting blog topic, and I’m not sure why I didn’t write about it before now. I saw footage of a press conference the other day. I’m not going to include the link here, but it was so bad. He should have just read off his paper, but he was trying to use his brain and improvise, and is ill-equipped. I don’t even think he was intoxicated. They were asking what he thought the top issue was in this election. He said jobs. Then he later said transit. Then he back peddled, and spent 30 awkward seconds trying to convince the media that if you don’t have a job, then you don’t need transit. If a 5-year-old was saying that I would give him a dirty look. The mayor of our great city? I’m outta here.

Before I discuss the Rob Ford angle, I want you to understand my situation a little further. I have a wife and a young son. We live in a condo that we will soon outgrow. Was I going to move anyway, and I’m just threatening this as a happy coincidence? Possibly. I do live on the very west-end of Toronto. Five more minutes by car, and I’m totally out of the city. To purchase a house in Toronto is going to be more expensive than doing so further away. I’m acknowledging this because some people who know me may not think that leaving Toronto is such a huge stretch in my current situation. That said, I do currently work in Toronto (on the west end as well), and my wife works right downtown. From that perspective, I’d certainly be willing to stay in Toronto if I could do it at the right price. So me leaving is not a done deal. But…….. If this election happens, and Rob Ford gets back in, I’m telling you right now…… The house hunt starts in earnest, and Toronto locations will not be considered.

Why? Am I such a close follower of politics that I would choose a place to live based on who was in office? No. Am I that embarrassed about my city being the laughingstock of the world for the last 4 years, that I would need to leave? Yes, but no. Is there anything being done at city hall right now, or in a future Rob Ford era that I think is going to make the city completely unlivable?? Probably not.

The issue is the voters. When Rob Ford got elected the first time, people didn’t know he was a raging alcoholic who did drugs (and by the way those aren’t even the main reasons why he’s a terrible mayor, but I don’t want this blog to go off the rails, so I’ll spare you the details). They wanted a fiscally conservative right-wing mayor. He seemed like the guy, so they voted him in. I say ‘they’ because I most certainly did not vote for him even then. In fact, I voted for a guy I didn’t even like, in order to try to block him from getting in. My reasons? Simple. I don’t like a guy that can’t look people in the eye. He didn’t seem intelligent. Small stuff like that. That’s OK. I give people a pass on voting him in the first time. They didn’t know he would be a train wreck. They didn’t see it coming. I get it. Now, it’s a little bit different. We know he’s a train wreck. We know that he’s in no shape to run this city. I’m not going to lie to you….. If I was the manager of a McDonald’s and he came in all shifty, and didn’t look me in the eye, I wouldn’t even hire him to sweep floors. So how is he being taken seriously in the next election?

Right-wing voters will seemingly only vote for a right-wing candidate. That’s been my experience anyways. George W. Bush got re-elected. I don’t think anybody thought he was the sharpest tool in the shed. So Rob Ford can get re-elected. He tells right-wing voters what they want to hear. Not in the most eloquent way, but he manages to get the point across somehow. I don’t even care about political ideals. Give these idiots their fiscally conservative mayor, just not the guy who smokes crack. It’s not even the crack. It’s the constant poor judgement. CONSTANT! Judgement is one of the most important things for a mayor to have. His is poor.

Speaking of poor judgement, why would I leave Toronto if Rob Ford is re-elected? It would mean that at least one-third of the population has poor judgment. It would mean that one-third of the population thinks it’s OK to let someone with an absurd track record of poor judgement run one of the biggest cities in North America. It means that if I’m not a Rob Ford supporter, and my next door neighbor isn’t a Rob Ford supporter, then my other next door neighbor is. Sorry, but I don’t want you around my kid! My son isn’t even 2 yet. Do you think as a parent that it would be a good idea to raise my son in a city where at least 30% of the people lacked any kind of good sense whatsoever??? No! It’s a horrible idea. It saddens me, because I love Toronto with a passion, but there are too many goofballs inhabiting this city. I don’t trust the general population. If you think he is a good idea, then what else do you think is a good idea? What other horrible ideas do you have? What other mind-blowingly unacceptable things do you find perfectly fine? I’d be scared to rummage through these people’s basements. What kind of jobs do these people have in the community? The more I talk about it, the more it freaks me out. I’m done.


Oh, I Know What You’re Thinking About

I went to the grocery store on a Friday. Not as bad as a Saturday or a Sunday, but not as good as a Monday through Thursday. I don’t mind the grocery store as long as it’s completely empty, or almost at least. I like food. It’s people I don’t necessarily like. That sounds harsh. People are OK I guess, but when they are pushing shopping carts I find them completely intolerable. Friday it seemed like everyone got paid, and left work early to stock up the refrigerator for whatever weekend madness they have planned. Perhaps that’s what people were also thinking about as they meandered through the aisles aimlessly with their shopping carts, and made perfectly sure that there were no available spaces for the functional humans who might actually have other things to accomplish this day to maneuver through.

Starting with my man who walks up to the cart line to grab his cart, and stops in front of it to read a text message. Don’t get your cart and pull it over somewhere first!!! Read that message now! Make haste! No, it’s OK, I’ll wait here. You must be confused with that alternate universe in which you are the only person in it. It’s ok, I’ll just pretend to look at the massive display of Oreo cookies which are promotionally priced. While I daydream about Oreos, you daydream about some ridiculous weekend decision like which checkered shirt to wear to Phil’s Barbecue, and whether or not Stacey is gonna bring any of her single friends this time. I know based on the fact that you don’t possess the intelligence to pull a shopping cart out of the stack and move it to the side, or alternately move yourself to the side, so other people can shop here too, that you will have a weekend highlighted by your own mediocrity, and if you do manage to get a girl’s phone number, it will be a fake, and you won’t have removed enough barbecue sauce from your ignorant little fingers to accurately punch it into your phone anyway.

Or the Fifty-something guy who is staring at the canned corn with his shopping cart JUST DIAGNONAL ENOUGH to prevent another cart from getting by. I wait patiently, listening to Air Supply on the speakers. How much analysis can you possibly do on canned corn? Let me run it down for you. The name brand one costs more, but they’re both exactly the same. Make sure you check for dents in the can. Are you waiting for the cans of corn to start dancing? That would be about the only reasonable excuse for standing there in full on space cadet mode with your cart blocking the aisle. Just tell me that the show’s about to start, because if these cans of corn start dancing, I will park my cart diagonally as well and watch the show with you, only after I pick up some Cheetos from aisle #3. Oh, they aren’t about to dance? THEN MOVE YOUR CART!! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! STARE AT CORN WHEN YOU GET HOME!! Or are you trying to avoid going home? Is your wife gonna make you clean the windows and trim the hedges? Are you stalling? I understand, just move your cart to the side.

Or the obnoxious lady checking every single egg in the package. Both sides. While standing in the doorway of the fridge, so less OCD people could just grab some eggs, do a cursory glance at them and check the date. She’s checking them over like she’s at the antique road show trying to put in a bid on some hand crafted trinkets from the 18th century, not like they are something that she will crack in half in less than 2 weeks, and guess where her cart is while she’s doing this? Blocking the way! Was there ever a doubt. She’s obviously thinking about how her life is spinning out of control, and making sure that these eggs are absolutely perfect is the only way to bring some semblance of order to her existence. The irony here being that if she only went through life as the type of person who didn’t stand in the fridge doorway blocking people from getting eggs while her shopping cart blocked the aisle, that she would probably be in a better place where she didn’t have to make sure her eggs were perfectly crafted works of chicken magic.

I of course would also be able to get home quicker.


Buying Back Your Karma, LeBron?

This past Father’s Day was a great day for me. Not only did I celebrate my second year of being a Father, but I became Godfather to my nephew. It was a lovely church service with an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet to follow, and good times hanging out with family. That was enough to make it an amazing day. Those are life events, and they’re awesome. That wasn’t the end though. As my day was winding down, I watched the NBA Finals in which the San Antonio Spurs defeated the evil empire Miami Heat to win the championship. To say that was the cherry on top of my day is understating. It’s like I was eating ice cream, and suddenly I got caramel, chocolate drizzle, peanuts, candy sprinkles, and frigging gummy bears raining down on my dessert. As a basketball fan, it was so unbelievably sweet. My only objective for watching the NBA playoffs was to see Miami lose. Why do I feel this way?

Four years ago Lebron James, who is the best player in the NBA currently, and when it’s all said and done, might be regarded as the greatest of all time, became a Free Agent. To my non-basketball watching readers, this means he was free to sign a new contract with any team of his choosing. He had played for the Cleveland Cavaliers his entire career up to that point. He was born and raised not far from there, so this was his home team. Up until this point, I kind of liked him. What followed was sort of off-putting. He decided to team up with the other 2 top Free Agents that year, and all sign with the same team, basically guaranteeing that they would be the best team in the NBA. This type of collusion had never really happened in any sport that I was aware of. This is all perfectly within the rules, so can’t be called cheating necessarily. There was a salary cap system that prevented one team from spending more money than all the rest. If the Miami Heat wanted to spend all their money on only 3 players, then I guess the other 9 wouldn’t be that great. Except for the fact that a lot of quality veteran players agreed to take less money, and play a lesser role in hopes that hitching their wagon to these guys might bring them a championship before the end of their career. So instead of having only 3 good players, they had 12 good players, and became the envy of the rest of the league. There was a TV show to announce Lebron’s intentions. There was introduction ceremony at the arena where they boldly predicted that they would win the next 5 or 6 championships. It was all really disgusting to me. I tried to imagine Larry Bird agreeing to play on the same team as Magic Johnson in order to dominate the league, and I think they would have rather died. As good as Lebron was, and as hard as the Cleveland organization really tried to put good players around him, I guess at the tender age of 25, he’d run out of patience with his hometown, and took his ‘talents to South Beach’.

I really just wanted them to lose. I would have cheered for any team who went against them. They made the finals in their first year together, and lost to the Dallas Mavericks. That was pretty sweet, but to be honest, making the finals in their first year as a new team was a pretty decent achievement. I was hoping for their failure to be more extreme. The following two seasons the won the NBA championships. I watched those games, and tried to suppress the bile from shooting out of my mouth onto the entire world. It was all happening, just like they said. I so badly wanted them to be brought down to earth. Finally this year, after making the finals for the 4th consecutive year, they ran into a team that could bring them back down to earth. This Father’s Day I got to see them hang their cocky little heads in shame as they walked off the court. That said, in 4 years they made the finals 4 times and won 2 championships. I wish I could say that they somehow didn’t live up to the hype, but that’s pretty good. I hate them.

Fast forward to now. They had opt out clauses in their contracts, and guess what? They opted out. Weird. I thought as stacked as they were, that maybe they’d go after another few championships. There was no reason to think that they couldn’t. Then this morning I find out that Lebron James is leaving sunny Miami, and going back home to Cleveland. Shocking! It is kind of a feel good story though. It’s kind of making me hate him a little less. Could it be that he finally realized that he would never feel true satisfaction from his achievements in Miami because of the way that situation had been manipulated from day one? Did it suddenly occur to him that if he were able to bring a championship to his hometown, that it would be way more fulfilling than bringing it to a place with nice weather, beaches, and a cool nightlife? Is there a part of him that isn’t whole because he basically sold out his people to take the incredibly easy road to success? I kinda think so.

I think Lebron has come to the realization that there is a thing called Sports Karma which most people don’t know about or understand. What he did only had subtle amounts of evil to it. So when Karma struck, it wasn’t in the form of a career ending injury, or a lack of success, but possibly an empty feeling that he wasn’t able to enjoy his success the way he thought he would. At 29 years old he’s decided to go against all Basketball Free Agent logic, and sign with his hometown team again to take care of unfinished business, and maybe right an old wrong by bringing that long suffering franchise a championship.

I gotta say, as cynical as I am about some of these things, I kind of like this. I think maybe I don’t hate this guy as much as I used to. I almost think that as long as it doesn’t conflict with my Toronto Raptors success, that I might be hoping Cleveland does really well. I did not recently envision a scenario where the sight of this guy wouldn’t really irritate me, but now??? I don’t really mind him. Until he does some other dumb thing I guess.


Guys….. Your Feet Are Fucking Ugly

First I want to apologize to the small number of people who enjoy reading my blog on a consistent basis. I apologize for the inconsistency. I lost my blogging mojo or something. Life’s been a little more challenging in the last while. I’m not going to make excuses, but I just kind of stopped blogging there for a bit. A bit of a shame too because I think I had a two-year streak of a blog a week going, and once I pissed that away, it just became easier to not do it, than to do it. The truth is I didn’t even miss it. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really enjoy writing. I do enjoy expressing ideas. I should just say them into a recording device and be done with it. All this typing and self-imposed deadlines kind of suck the life out of me. Now I do enjoy what I’ve written. I’ve gone back and read a few. I hope it’s not super obnoxious to say that I’m a fan of my own work, but I’d say I’ve enjoyed reading at least 60%-80% of my blogs. The typing, and brainstorming is just aggravating to me most of the time. Especially on a timeline. Plus, I haven’t made myself laugh in weeks. That’s part of the reason I blog. A good laugh. So today, if you’ve read the title, you’re expecting a rant. I’ve cursed in the title, which I try not to, but it had to be done this time. These rants are building up inside me, and I have to let fly.

First, let me address ‘The Book’. The faithful will know that I thought it would be a good idea to pressure myself into writing a chapter a week of a book, so I could get it done. This was a mistake. I’m officially shutting it down. I will continue to write that book, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It was arrogant of me to think that with no prior experience, and not a lot of free time, that I could just whip up a chapter a week of ‘book worthy’ material. I’m not happy with the quality of what I’ve written. It needs more TLC from the author. I’m not saying this is the last you’ll see of it, but I might just sprinkle a chapter in here and there when I feel inspired. It’s one thing to bang off a blog entry when you don’t feel inspired, but if you decide to write a book, you SHOULD be inspired (unless you’re extremely talented to the point where inspiration doesn’t matter).

So now that you’ve suffered through that, let me address why I’m really here. This has been burning a hole in my state of being for months. I’m here to tell all men that your feet are fucking ugly. Why are so many of you wearing sandals? Are we at a beach? Are you about to go swimming? No. You’re everywhere with these chopped up, beat up, dead nail, unkept feet that make a chicken breast whacked to bits with a meat tenderizer look like pre-Vegas Elvis Presley. I’m not suggesting you should have nice feet. You are men. Have nasty feet, I do! That’s why socks and shoes exist. Wear them. Now if you live in a 3rd World country, and you happen to be reading this blog, do what you gotta do. First World readers???? Cover up those wretched, hairy, dirty, smelly, crusty brillo pads you call feet. They disgust me. Dead skin flicking off into the atmosphere polluting the environment as you saunter around like a fucking Prince. Stop with the excuses too. Don’t tell me how oppressive the heat is, and how uncomfortable your feet are shackled in their sock and shoe prisons. If you own proper footwear, you should feel no level of discomfort whatsoever. Nothing compared to a little rock, or piece of glass getting under your feet while you’re walking which probably happens all the time. Even if you get pedicures and take care of your feet like a woman would, you are still a dude, and your feet probably look even creepier. What dude wants to have feet that look like they’ve never walked a day in their lives. That’s actually worse than having ugly feet if you ask me.

I would never say a human being is ugly, we’re all beautiful inside, but men’s feet are gross. I understand that summer is sandal time. It’s a losing battle for me, but how about a bit of compromise? If it’s not quite summer yet, how about you wear shoes? Like, if you are wearing pants for example, how about no sandals? I mean it’s too cold for shorts, right? If you’re wearing a light spring jacket, how about we rock the shoes and socks for just a bit longer? If you know you’re going to be inside for at least 80% of the day, how about proper shoes? Are you a fucking surfer? No? Shoe em up. Your feet gross me out. I don’t think I’m over-stating it. If I had a choice between holding a random guy’s foot in my hand, or reaching into a garbage can, and grabbing a fist full of garbage, I’m not hesitating. I’m just hoping for banana peels. You’re offending me. Knock it off.

A proud parenting moment….. My son is a year and a half old. On about 5 separate occasions, we have tried to get him to wear sandals. Each time we get the same reaction. He fights us. We overpower him. He tries to take them off. We don’t let him. He cries, and stands in one spot like his feet are in a bucket of cement, and he’s about to get thrown into the ocean like Bruce Willis in ‘Billy Bathgate’. He won’t even take a step. He despises it that much. As much as I hate the wasted investment, there’s a part of me that’s proud of him for not wanting to take part in something as dumb as guys wearing sandals. Even though his feet are totally not ugly yet, he somehow knows that the whole notion is idiotic, and he refuses to participate. That’s my boy.


My Mother-In-Law’s Eulogy

I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet (by my standards anyways). Because as we know, Carmencita was short….. and of course very sweet.

I first met Carmencita Catli in 2002 when I started dating her eldest daughter. I remember how easy she made it to feel comfortable in their home. I remember how welcoming and accommodating she always was. I remember being totally and completely fascinated with the concept of a rice cooker, and how you could have warm rice available to you 24 hours a day. I had heard that culturally it was typical to walk into a Filipino home and immediately be offered food. I’d also heard that the polite response was to sit down and eat. Carmen loved to cook, and when I would come over, there always seemed to be multiple meat options available which is right up my alley. We had an interesting dynamic right away, because if you love to cook, it’s always nice to have someone around who loves to eat. If you love to eat, it’s always preferable to have someone around who loves to cook. She spoiled me ROTTEN. She took note of all my favourite dishes, and just about every time I went over there, we were having one of my favourites. The beefsteak, the Adobo chicken wings, the barbecued Kalbi, She set the standard for how I feel all Filipino cuisine should taste. I think the reason there aren’t that many Filipino restaurants out there is because everybody thinks that their mom makes everything best. Well she became my Filipino mom, and she finally had a white son who had a stomach like a bottomless pit. Nothing was getting thrown out. I tried to help with the dishes a few times, but she wouldn’t let me. She’d say ‘Leave it… You go relax’…… Then I would insist. ‘Hey, you cooked, let me just help’, and then she’d say ‘LEAVE IT!!!!’ ‘Ok, I’ll go relax’.

Soon I found out that she was an avid golfer. It wasn’t long before we were golf buddies, and opportunities to play with her kept cropping up whether it was a little par 3 course, a top-notch course, or even a tournament that she was able to get me into. She was a tiny woman, so she didn’t have prodigious power on her golf swing, but I NEVER saw her hit the ball anywhere but straight down the middle of the fairway. I could hit the ball a lot harder, but not straight. So while I was in the forest having tantrums and looking for my balls, she would methodically work her way to the green 100 yards at a time. Golfing with her wasn’t so much about her golf game as it was about her snacks. She always had enough food with her, so that if Zombies attacked, our four-some could survive for at least three days. She made sure everyone was hydrated, using sunscreen, and had the proper equipment to play with. If you made a great shot, she was the perfect cheerleader, and made probably an inappropriate amount of noise while dancing around the green after a good putt. It was the type of excitement, that I’m sure only the pros have seen. We had great fun on the golf course.

In 2008, Carmen was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. When I do the math, it was like half the time I knew her. I remember being told at the time that she would be limited to approximately 2 to 4 years. We all felt an incredible sadness upon hearing this news. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because I feel like what followed was nothing short of incredible. Carmen didn’t slow down at all. She seemed to react well to chemotherapy, which I’m told is one of the worst things in the world, but you wouldn’t know she was going through that based on her attitude and her demeanor. She had her bad days, but when she had good days, she got up and did something, whether it was golf, shop or travel. She lived 6 more years and saw both of her daughters get married, and not only witnessed the birth of 3 grandchildren, but became a huge part of their every day lives. We were fortunate enough to be able to travel with her on 4 separate occasions during this time, from Maui to Orlando to Vegas. She didn’t slow anybody down. Now in a celebration of life, I didn’t want to bring up cancer necessarily, but during her epic battle in which she defied all odds, the positivity, the grace, the strength and perseverance, the positive attitude, the way she never let it get her down, or if she did, she wouldn’t let it show, and refused to let it bring others down…. to me this is a big part of her story.

Last year we had an opportunity to take her golfing at Taboo up in Bracebridge which she had indicated was her favourite golf course. I sort of felt like it would be the last time we would end up doing something like that together, so I wanted to go there specifically. I’ll be honest now and say that there were a few times when I thought we’d be doing something for the last time, and it wasn’t the case. I don’t want to cheapen her memory by comparing her to the Energizer Bunny, but she did keep going and going and going…….So we were somewhere on the back 9, and Dave and Mayur were off somewhere looking for a ball or something….. not one of mine this time. Carmen said something to me which I’ll never forget. She didn’t always open up with this kind of stuff, but maybe it was the sunshine or the beauty of the golf course that led to the moment, but she said ‘Ryan, you know what?? I’m so happy. I really love my life. I love having grandchildren and spending time with them.’ In light of all that has happened, it made me feel really good to hear her say that. She was loving life right up until the point where she was physically unable to anymore.

Carmencita left us with many great gifts. She was probably the most thoughtful person I’d ever known. Her selflessness, and giving nature made everyone around her feel like a million dollars, in some cases falling all over ourselves to try to make it up to her or do something nice for her. She was a giver, and when it came time to reciprocate, she just wanted us to ‘Leave it’, because it made her happy to be of service to all of us. When she came over to babysit her grandson, he’d already be asleep, and all she had to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. The minute we walked out, she would run into the kitchen and start doing the dishes or whatever. I was kind of embarrassed, I’d tell her to please leave everything, but she wouldn’t listen. Every time. To the point where I felt like if she was going to babysit, I had to go clean up the kitchen first.

While this is still short and sweet. I just wanted to leave you with the following thoughts. While I’m happy that she’s no longer in the pain that she’d been recently experiencing, her absence has left a void in our lives that we will feel for the rest of our lives. To have known her is to have experienced love, fun, strength, positivity, generosity, and a great sense of belonging that can only happen when you are welcomed into friendship by someone like her. She is a bright light that continues to shine in the lives of all who have been fortunate enough to be a part of her life. Carmencita Catli, I’m glad I knew you.


The Book – Have A Plan

So much of achieving your cool actually has to do with avoiding uncool behaviours and situations. We’ll go through a lot of these, but we can’t spend all of our time avoiding the uncool. We have to march towards the cool like an army of relentless soldiers. We already know it takes discipline, but what are the behaviours universally associated with cool? There are about 500 million of them. Let’s start with having a plan. Then have a backup plan. Then have a backup plan for your backup plan. Then accept the fact that nothing in life will ever go according to those plans. Sound logical?

Life is short. When you get older, you realize it and wish you had been more productive when you were younger. When you’re young, there’s no sense of urgency, because you feel like life isn’t short, and your dumb little young brain is impervious to that kind of information. Older people are forever trying to warn younger people of this fact, but to no avail. Let’s just say that at some point in life, it feels like the fast forward button has been pushed, and everything moves way faster. Most would argue that totally sucks. So this next little bit of advice doesn’t necessarily relate to your cool as much as it is just general life advice. Decide what you want to do, and start doing it. Even if it’s totally wrong. You can make corrections later, but you can’t get back the time you wasted trying to decide. I think the idea of a bucket list is sort of morbid, but you need to have some idea of things you would like to do in your lifetime. It’s probably important to get a good education and have a great career as part of this plan, but I’m not your parents, I’m just a guy trying to write a book about cool. For our purposes here, I’ll need you to make a list of every cool thing you have ever wanted to do, both short-term and long-term. There’s no due date for this homework assignment. It should take you your entire life to make this list, as you’ll always be adding to it, but when you first start it, you’ll have had your whole life up to this point to have thought of these things, so I expect your list to already have at least 50 awesome things that you’ve always wanted to do. They don’t need to be easily achievable either. Don’t limit yourself when making this list. If marrying into Royalty is the most absurd thing on your list, I think pursuing that is a great way to waste your life, but my opinion of this list doesn’t matter. Only yours does. You always wanted to be an astronaut? Write it down. You’ll also have to make sure that some of the items on your list are achievable short-term objectives. Think of things you’ve always wanted to try like an exotic food, or a challenging activity.

Take this list, and post it on your fridge. Every time you go to get yourself a snack to eat on the couch, you should be reminded that you are a person with hopes and dreams. Even though it’s really important to have this list, you shouldn’t attach too much importance to it. The completion of the list isn’t the point of the exercise. In fact, it would probably decrease your cool factor if you let this list hijack your life, and let your success at the completion of the list affect your self-esteem. What this is really all about is direction and ideas for when you feel like you don’t have any of either. As soon as you post this list on your fridge, you should realistically never complain of boredom ever again. If you ever say that you are bored, then subtract a few points from your cool factor. People don’t want to hang out with people who are bored. To make up those points, you need to be a person that cures others of boredom. In the event that you aren’t a fascinating conversationalist, you’ll need to have an idea of what to do with the time you’re allotted. If there’s not a lot going on in your life at the moment, then you should refer to this list, and start working towards one of these objectives. I’m not suggesting that you aren’t allowed to spend a few evenings on the couch watching sitcoms or ballgames if that’s how you unwind, but the cool people are out doing cool stuff. What are you doing?

Having dreams is cool. Having the courage to share your dreams with friends and family is cool. Being supportive of other people’s dreams is cool. Trying to make your dreams come true is cool. Helping others make their dreams come true is cool. Being able to recover from your dreams not coming true is cool. Dreaming new and different dreams when your other dreams didn’t work out is cool.

One of my greatest regrets stems from certain behaviours that I exhibited while in high school. I didn’t have a very clear perception of what cool was, which probably led me to think that a book like this should exist. I went to a school that had a Performing Arts program in it. So there was a lot of creative energy flying around at all times. The school plays and musicals were always a cut above what you might normally see at a high school because we had so many talented people who were passionate about what they were doing. I wasn’t part of the Arts program, and I don’t regret that one bit, but just going to that school presented a lot of opportunities to get involved with some of the creative projects that people were working on. I did take Drama classes, and I loved acting and writing, but beyond what was expected of me as a student, I didn’t participate in anything. Even though there were probably all sorts of opportunities and outlets for my own creativity. When I would hear about, or even watch some of these performances, I always secretly envied these students for pouring their hearts and souls into something, and then having it come to fruition. Witnessing their performances with a negative attitude from the back row probably seemed cool to me at the time, or maybe to whomever I was spending my time with. In my heart I probably wanted to be part of that creative energy somehow. Just to see the joy on their faces after everything they had worked for had finally happened was bittersweet for me. I was in slacker mode, and more of a hater than a participator. God forbid that a performance required some sort of vulnerability or a strange outfit. I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone for that. It was just easier to sit back and watch other people take chances. I don’t want to use a played out ‘caged bird’ analogy, but I had a lot of creative energy bundled up which I haven’t always been eager to share with the world, and I probably would have enjoyed letting more of it out when there was such an abundance of opportunity to do so. To this day, I’m not always able to sum up the balls to participate in really cool things, but I guess if I’m to give myself a small slice of credit, I’ve always been fairly supportive of other people’s creative endeavours . So I get half a point on my cool factor for that, but lose a full point or more for missing out on opportunities to take part in something that I might have really loved, possibly because I was worried that my slacker friends might have thought I wasn’t cool. The irony is that today I believe I was incredibly un-cool for even giving a shit what any of them thought. I didn’t find this out until later, but the true essence of cool is to follow your heart and your dreams while being completely unaffected by other people’s opinions of your choices. The lesson?? Don’t let people hold you back. Don’t hold yourself back.

Getting back to having a plan, here is the best tangible advice I can give you during this chapter. This will work at any age, under all circumstances to elevate your cool factor a bit. This will be important for dating, hanging out with friends or spending time with family………

Know your town and be a ‘Life DJ’

Knowing your town is the first step. It’s the research part of this 2-step cool tool. In your personal activities, try to avoid a lot of repetition. This is harder than it sounds. You may have a restaurant that you love, and want to go back there over and over again. I’m not saying that’s bad, but you have to check out a lot of different restaurants. If there are ‘fun’ things to do like bowling, or roller skating (not everyone considers these fun, but you know what I mean), you need to know where these places are. If there are hang-outs like coffee shops or pool-halls, scope them out. If there are festivals, or cultural events, know about them. If there are live music or comedy or theatre venues, familiarize yourself. You want to have a good working knowledge of everything that is cool in your town. If you are from a very small town in a remote area……(sigh)……. I’m sorry. This isn’t going to help you that much. If you are from or near a big city, there will be an almost limitless amount of great things for you to find out about. There should be lots of resources available to help you with this too. Think websites and community newspapers, or websites OF community newspapers. The whole point of this endeavour is so that you always have ideas when it comes to going on dates, or hanging out with friends, or entertaining out-of-town family members. You should be an ambassador of your town. The benefit of having these ideas is that if a good time is had by all, you will be the all-star that organized it or came up with the idea. Also, from a backup plan perspective, if a good time is not being had by all during an outing planned by you, or someone else, you can always easily segue into another activity which makes you the rescuer of a bad night. Now before you get too happy with yourself, don’t you dare take credit for it. This isn’t about you. Just let people quietly be in awe of you and how well you know your town. Chances are they’ll look forward to hanging out with you again.

Now that you know your town, you can be a ‘Life DJ’. A friend of mine told me I was a Life DJ once. I had never heard this phrase before, so I don’t know if he made it up, or if it’s an actual thing. He explained that a DJ in music suggests and informs you of all the good music that you need to be listening to. While I like to do that with music as well, he suggested that I was the type of person that tried to get other people to experience cool things whether it’s music, food, travel or otherwise (and possibly pesters people relentlessly until they try my recommendation). I was really happy to receive such a thoughtful compliment. (Be a giver of thoughtful compliments, and add half a point to your cool factor. Be a guy who writes a book, and talks about thoughtful compliments he’s received, minus half a point, but it was worth it.) I think everyone should be a Life DJ. If we’ve experienced awesomeness in life, then who are we not to share it, and encourage people to experience it with us? I love finding the ultimate souvlaki (for example), and bringing people to that restaurant so they can try it, and watching their faces as they enjoy it for the first time as well. Why would I be selfish about that information? It’s meant to be shared. From a cool factor standpoint, I think it’s really well looked upon to be the guy that recommended a great experience for others, and possibly even went along for the ride. Now that you are armed with ‘knowing your town’, you could be that ‘Life DJ’ for some of your friends. If you’re at a phase in your life where you are dating, how great would it be to be to never run out of great ideas for places to take that person that you’re trying to impress? If you have friends or family visiting from out-of-town, wouldn’t it be cool to show them all the best stuff that only an insider like yourself would be able to compile? If you’re a music fanatic, and really know your stuff, then aren’t you making other people’s lives better by recommending great albums? If you’re movie buff, and you’ve just seen the most amazing film, isn’t it your job to encourage other people to see it? There are a million examples of how you could be a Life DJ. Share the awesomeness of the world around you. You will make people happier for knowing you, and it will increase your cool factor. The best part is that you don’t need to have a particular skill set to make this happen. It just requires some research and some enthusiasm. If you want to go to the same place over and over and over again, then you better be really interesting in some other way. People get bored with stuff. If you can cure them of that, then you are indeed, very cool.


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