Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmm....

"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."
-Steven Wright

For all of us who have had too many serious things to think about lately...

-why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are almost dead?
-why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
-why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a gun at him?
-why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
-whose idea was it to put an 's' in the word lisp?
-why is it that no matter what colour bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
-how do dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?
-why is it that in winter we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

More to come soon.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Don't wish your life away."
-unknown, but attributable to everyone wiser than me (way too many to count)

You'd think at this stage of my life I would have learned to savour one day at a time and not rush things. I try to, I really do, but at this moment I find myself wanting to fast-forward to next Saturday. 'Cause you see dear reader, that's when I hit what is sure to be one of the biggest concerts of my life. Tiesto is in town!

For those of you not familiar with trance concerts or Tiesto himself I'll break it down a little. Picture 8,000 people (most of them half my age) on a massive dance floor with a laser light show, pyrotechnics and headache-inducing bass. That pretty much sums it up.

Back in Part 1 of my Mid-Life Crisis posts I anticipated the chance to attend an event like this but didn't think it would come until sometime next year. Not only was she good enough to make me aware of this concert but Sandy's also coming with me. How great is that? She's awesome.

The concert runs 9pm-3am so the goal is to dance our asses off and stay as long as possible. Of course we'll probably walk out with ears ringing, sore feet and general symptoms of a hangover when we wake up around noon. But it should be worth it.

Can't wait!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This poem isn't about any one person. It's written for those among us who feel lost sometimes, who can't quite trust enough to let another in.

I hope in time that day comes for you.


May I be this bold
To chip away a piece of mortar
In the wall
Which surrounds you,
That I may peer in just a little
And let the light
Melt away
Some of your darkness.

Your glance betrays
Guarded secrets;
How you answer ghosts
Who call your name.
Your Self
Is your strongest weakness.

Still by your side I'll sit,
Take your hand in mine
And read of your life untold
While I wait
For you to become
Who you are.

Intellectual property copyright Barry O'Shea. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ten Really Bad Pick-up Lines

Jared Hindman

The title of my recent post (Hey Baby, What's Your Sign?) prompted thoughts of cheesy pick-up lines that you ladies must have to deal with from time to time. So I did a little digging and found some I like. And no, I've never used any of these myself.

It's been proven that the most effective line to break the ice is "Hello." (duh). More guys should try this sometime. Oh, and seasoning it with a healthy dose of sincerity and respect never hurts either.

Some of my faves:

-"Are you lost? Because heaven is a long way from here."
-“You must be tired because you’ve been running through my head all night.”
-“Can I have your phone number? I seem to have lost mine.”
-"Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk past again?”
-"Great legs, what time do they open?"
-"I lost my teddy bear, will you sleep with me?"
-"You must be wearing astronaut pants, 'cause your ass is out of this world."
-"There are 206 bones in the human body. Do you want another one?"
-"Excuse me, I'm lost. Can you give me directions to your house?"
-"You know what would look good on you? Me."

Unfortunately there are lots more out there to choose from, so most likely this isn't the end of the subject. :)

Inspiring Moments

Since my post in which I looked back on some of the more interesting things I've done over the years, I've received terrific feedback from some of you about the greatest moments in your lives.

In particular, I'm publishing with permission an e-mail I received from a family member. I feel very privileged that she's allowed me to post it here, and thought some of you may like to read it as her courage and determination have been an inspiration to me through the years.

Here it is, almost verbatim (I've removed some of the specifics to maintain anonymity):

Hi Barry,

This got me to thinking of some of my proudest moments. In no particular order, I would have to say...

-saving a person who would have drowned
-shaving my head and inspiring my whole ATC unit to do the same, raising $10K in response to learning that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer
-taking a mule trip into the Grand Canyon
-leaving a very well-paying job to move to the US with a man I had dated for 18 months from two separate continents (hell, how about dating a man for 18 months from two separate continents)
-judged a karaoke bar night as a cancer fund-raiser
-divorced my abusive first husband
-travelled throughout Europe with my best friend, a tent and my dog
-bought a car all by myself
-dealt with my first dog dying all by myself
-went through brain surgery and 25 radiation treatments with grace (I believe)

Wow...I didn't know there were that many moments!! I'm sure I'm forgetting a few but this list has made me quite proud of myself.

Thanks so much for sharing that with us hon, I love you!
Hope to hear from more of you, here or by private e-mail. It's always inspiring!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Cats and Massages

Okay, this isn't actually about giving cats massages. I mean if you're into that I guess it's great and everything, I'm not sure if I'd want to hear about it though. I'm just putting these two topics together because they're a bit short to stand on their own and they actually tie together (eventually).

On Wednesday evening I had the misfortune of slipping on a wet floor that had been mopped but not signed. You know the kind of slip, a very unexpected jolt where you instinctively stop yourself from going down. It probably would have been better if I just let myself awkwardly drop to the floor like a sack of wet mice.

As a result I was left with a pull in my upper back muscles and a rather interesting, slight kink in my neck. Thursday it was off to work, by Friday morning it was much more noticeable so I took the day off work and went for a therapeutic massage. The legitimate kind. Can't get a neck adjustment until Tuesday.

I've never stopped to list the five greatest pleasures in life, but massage has to be in there somewhere. Some people have never had it, amazingly there are those who just don't like to be touched and can't relax enough to appreciate it. (I've had conversations with my RMT about this). I'll never understand it, but to each their own I guess. An hour on the table seemed to help a fair bit.

After I got home it was into a hot bath with epsom salts and suds. Yeah, I'll admit it, I like bubble baths. There I said it. This is something that most guys would never admit to; you'll never hear the topic mixed in with the latest sports conversations. But I don't discuss sports much anyway, so maybe the same rules don't apply.

So there I am soaking in a tub of hot water, eyes closed. All of a sudden Dante (our one year-old black domestic shorthair) decides to start licking my big toe. Now, being nearly six feet tall it's almost impossible for me to find a tub in which I could comfortably stretch out; this necessitates some rather interesting underwater yoga-like poses to keep my extremeties submerged.

The toe-licking makes it kinda hard to relax. Once the chewing starts I shoo him away. This is soon followed by batting the shower curtain, and subsequently almost knocking my plastic glass full of ice cold water all over me.

God made cats cute so we don't kill them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to my Mid-Life Crisis (Part 3, in which I look back on some of the more interesting things I've done over the years)

Trey Ratcliff

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
-Helen Keller

I posted my Bucket List earlier, things I want to do but haven’t yet. So now I’m writing about some of the more memorable things I’ve done in my life. I wasn’t sure if I should write this, afraid it might come across as a braggy “Hey, look at me” kind of thing. It's not meant to but if it does, well, my dad can beat up your dad. So there.

The goal as I see it is for all of us to have as many shining moments in our lives as we can handle. Here then, in no particular order, are some memories that shine for me...

-hiked up a mountain in Switzerland
-walked up the CN Tower (Toronto)
-walked through the Coliseum (Rome)
-walked down the Eiffel Tower
-snuck into the Sorbonne, almost got kicked out
-waterskiied (at least tried to)
-rode horses
-acted in amateur stage plays
-had my fifteen seconds of fame on radio, film and TV
-got drunk and sang with one of my favourite local bands (and hogged the mike)
-deejayed in a bar
-performed stand-up comedy
-arranged and produced music
-saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo
-talked someone down from committing suicide (gun)
-put out a small house fire at our old next-door neighbour’s
-rode in a procession to bring one of our fallen soldiers back home (a very emotional experience)
-drove on race tracks (road courses)
-drove a sports car 225 km/h where I shouldn’t have
-saw the white cliffs of Dover
-hitchhiked in Italy
-rode public transit and rollercoasters in my pajamas and bathrobe

I’d love to hear from all of you what some of your best moments were, either here or on your blogs.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All I Wanted

Here's a song I wrote in December of last year. It's only half-finished (I haven't produced the music for it yet). I've written it as a dance piece so the lyrics are more superficial than I'd use in a ballad.

All I Wanted

Was a time
Warmed by whispered breezes
Sunrise with you by my side.

Moonlit skies
Blissful nights wrapped up in you, when
You were all I had.

Through all my days
Your stained glass window coloured rays
Of love rained down on me.

Rained on me…

But now you run
Hope something maybe someone
Fills that space that burns inside.

All that’s left
A thousand words unspoken
Lying broken at my feet.

And all you were
And all that I imagined
So much more than you could see.

To let you know
Was all I ever wanted.
Looking back
I never thought that it would be so
Hard to let you go.

Those pictures have all shattered
Lying scattered at my feet.

Held on too long
I fell too far, you flew too high
To ever come back down.

To let you go
Was all you ever wanted
All you ever wanted.

To have you near
Was all I ever wanted
All I ever wanted...

And you’re not here.

I remember
Those days in my life
You were music
You played for me………

Intellectual property copyright Barry O'Shea. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hey baby, what's your sign?

I’ve never really bought into Astrology. I find it hard to believe that a blanket statement such as a horoscope or a description of an Astrological sign can apply to everyone.

Someone sent me an e-mail this morning with a description of different signs and their meanings, along with the requisite warnings of how terrible my life will be and the possibility of burning in eternal Hell fires if I don’t forward it on. Boy I just love those, don’t you? Sheesh.

Anyway, out of curiosity I decided to break it down and see how much of it I thought applied to me. So this is how I see myself. For those of you who know me, if your opinion differs speak now or forever hold your peace.

PISCES- The Dreamer (Feb 19 - Mar 20)

Generous, kind, and thoughtful. I like to think so.
Very creative and imaginative. yes
May become secretive and vague. rarely
Sensitive. big-time (sometimes too much so)
Don't like details. this is so not true
Dreamy and unrealistic. definitely!
Sympathetic and loving. yes
Kind. yup
Unselfish. most of the time
Good kisser. so I’ve been told. Kind of funny to see this included on the
Beautiful. how does a guy answer that?

By the way I’m not forwarding the e-mail, so if I’m not around in the next few days I’ve either been struck by a meteor or I’m taking a permanent vacation in Hades.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Written after midnight, dedicated to Sandy.


The sun asleep
Through midnight's chill
My head laid
Upon pillow still
My inner shadows calm.

Curtain flutters
Through careless window
And carried
On a whispered breeze
Your voice comes to me in a Nightsong.

I'll comfort you,
Wrap my words around your naked soul.
As we lie entwined,
Our hands building reasons
To hold off the dawn.

But dawn soon awakes
And paints the canvas of the morning sky
With broad strokes of brilliant fire.

Careless window invites the day.

Shimmering rays of gold
Dance in celebration.
Shadows play
Upon thin sheets that cling to your form.
You stir,
Turn and smile.
And I know
This is where I belong.

Intellectual property copyright Barry O'Shea. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meet 'the kids'




"Dogs have masters but cats have staff."

As someone who has had both, I was always amused by this statement because it's so true. The comparison has been done to death so I won't elaborate on it, but for a good laugh check out Bill Cosby's routine.

Throughout my life I never felt the desire to have children. Sandy was on the fence about it when we started dating, but as our relationship progressed and the time came to talk about the subject, we were soon in agreement.

I was always a 'dog person'. Still love them, but our schedule isn't condusive to owning one. The thing is, I never felt the desire to have cats either. Never liked them. I remember the first time I was at Sandy's place when we were dating and saw this meowbox wrapped in white fur at the bottom of the stairs. It was then I realized that if we were to continue seeing each other I'd have to take him as part of the package. "Love me, love my cat," as the expression goes. So I did. Gradually, like a fungus, the little guy grew on me.

Eventually we all moved in together and I accepted that every inch of my stuff would forever more be covered in a layer of loose cat fur. Fast forward to today and we're proudly owned by three of the little critters. (A short while ago we had to put Mandy, our sixteen-year-old tortoiseshell, down. So I think now we're safely outside the boundary of 'crazy cat people' territory).

Amazing how an animal can make its way into your heart.

Friday, September 11, 2009

List of Tens

I'm not sure where this came from (where does anything in my brain come from?), but here's a quick list of tens. In no particular order:

Ten things on my bucket list:

1) Visit Australia
2) Scuba dive
3) Save someone's life ( I had an incredible dream about this a few nights ago)
4) Own a Porsche
5) Drive something 200 mph. Try not to die in the process.
6) Ride a horse again. Try to stay on and have a favourable experience this time
7) Make it back to Paris. Bring a translator.
8) Write at least one really great song (preferably a ballad)
9) Do another stand-up routine
10) TBD Suggestions? :)

Ten ballads that I won't admit to my guy friends I like (but I'll tell the whole world about here instead. Duh.)

1) I'll Be-Edwin McCain
2) Chasing Cars- Snow Patrol
3)High- James Blunt
4)You Want Me To- Sarah McLachlan
5)Possession- Sarah McLachlan
6) The Scientist- Coldplay
7) The Sound Of- Jann Arden
8) Sleepless- Jann Arden
9) All We are- One Republic
10) Nature's Law- Embrace

Ten hip-hop songs I can't get enough of:

1) Four Minutes- Madonna/Justin Timberlake
2) The Way I Are- Timbaland
3) 'Bout It- Yung Joc
4) Tilt Ya Head Back- Nelly f. Christina Aguilera
5) Alienated- Keri Hilson
6) Fire Burnin'- Sean Kingston
7) Throw it on Me- Timbaland f. The Hives
8) Ante Up- M.O.P.
9) Church- T-pain
10) Hotel Room Service- Pitbull (okay maybe he's rap, but this tune has more of a hip-hop feel)

More tens to come.....

Whitman a blogger? Who knew?

Several times during each work week I make the trek to my local Chapter's bookstore during lunch. Although my job affords a delicious freedom to come and go from my desk as I wish, it's always a welcomed break to feel the sun, taste the (relatively) fresh air and go to a place where I can also feed my mind.

Today I decided to spend some more time in the Poetry section, which I frequent fairly regularly. While sifting through the works of several writers my eyes chanced upon 'Leaves of Grass' (Deathbed Edition), a collection of Whitman's works published in 1892. 'Deathbed' refers to his view that this was the definitive presentation of his work, published two months before his passing.

This seemed an orchestrated coincidence, if one believes in such things, as I had heard several references to the poet over the course of this past week. I had eaten prior to leaving, so this was my literary dessert.

One poem in particular grabbed my attention:

"O You Whom I Often and Silently Come"

O you whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be with you;
As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the same room with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is
playing within me.

-Walt Whitman, 1819-1892

Despite being over a hundred years old it struck me as incredibly relevant to our blogging world, particularly for those on whose pages we briefly light and leave just as quickly. We can silently come to where our fellow writers are and sit near them for a while. But if we don't take a minute to leave our mark, even a fleeting ripple to let them know we were there, they'll never know how deeply their words may have resonated.

I'm sure most of us leave a comment upon reading something we strongly relate to; I think it's inherently within our nature to reach out to those with whom we connect. I desperately hope so, because many people need to know the subtle electric fire they leave playing within us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009



When the day weighs heavy
And I thirst for inspiration,
I stand before you
And drink you in.

-Barry O'Shea

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random Thoughts

Oh....em...gee... I've had the worst craving for chocolate today. Don't know where it came from but I gotta have it! I have a theory which I cling to very tightly, and it's that people who have a passion for chocolate also have a passion for life. I've rarely found myself to be proven wrong on this.

Perhaps my chocolate craving was transferrence from someone whom I just found out is pregnant. I've never felt the desire to have kids of my own; fortunately Sandy's on the same page. In fact if I could add up all the time I've given thought to how nice it MIGHT be to SOMEDAY have a rugrat of my own calling me daddy, I think it would tally somewhere around 10 minutes tops. No joke.

Yet, in recent years I've found that when I'm anywhere near a pregnant woman the fatherly instinct rears its head. I become incredibly protective, like I'm about to strike some really bad whitebread Ninja pose to ward off that which would harm mother and child. Afterwards, I go about my own business with no regrets about my decision to remain child-free. Strange.

A couple evenings ago I was waiting outside the local supermarket for Sandy. The name of the store isn't important but it rhymes with Sobey's. As I was people-watching I came up with some rather astute observations, mostly about women as (purely by chance) they're the people I noticed most. For anyone concerned, there was no contact and no flirting involved. Just had to put that out there. My observations:

First. There are way too many women in this town who are wearing the wrong bra. If you are wearing a bra and find yourself tucking the girls into your elasticized waistband, you're wearing the wrong size. Walk, don't run, to your nearest fitter. Because running would just look oh-so wrong and possibly cause severe bruising.

Second. Ladies, if you're out with your pretty blonde friend and the tag on her panties is sticking up over the edge of her low-rise jeans, let her know or tuck it in yo damn self. There are many things I find attractive, that ain't one of them. Yeah I'm talking to you. You can't tell me you didn't see it, you were walking right behind her skinny ass. Or perhaps you were so self-absorbed you didn't care.

Third. About 5% of the female population can wear spandex and pull the look off. The rest just end up looking like purple Shar Peis.

Fourth. (For the guys). Covering your face in tats doesn't make you look cool. If you were an asshole before, now you're just an asshole with ink on your face.

Ever notice sometimes when you have a roast beef dinner either the gravy or the beef stays hot, but rarely both at the same time? Why don't they just feed cows gravy? That way it'll all heat up at the same temperature. Simple.

Obama was at a high school today warning students about the dangers of Facebook. It's a refreshing change to see a US President who's keeping current with modern communications technology. I think the closest Bush came was trying to bang out Morse Code on an Etch-A-Sketch.

All for now. G'night.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thin Threads (fate vs chance vs coincidence)

"Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera sera."

Okay, despite being one of the most annoying songs ever written, it can still get one thinking. One of life's great mysteries and something we will never all agree upon is to what degree we control our destiny. How much do we steer the direction of what happens in our life?

There's an ancient Chinese proverb which states, "Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time." I'll never believe in waiting for good things to happen to me. Success in anything comes from hard work, going out and getting what you want.

Still, things will always happen that make me question how much these events are out of our hands. I firmly believe that most things happen for a reason; it's not always clear why they do and I don't think we're always meant to understand it. Maybe this way of thinking is for me a bit of a security blanket; a means of comfort in times of turmoil and assurance that (as quoted from Desiderada) "no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should". This has never been more applicable for me than when dealing with relationships.

I have an incredibly hard time letting go when those I care about leave, whether it's through a death, a falling-out, or moving to a distant location. Conversely I've met some amazing new people who have inspired me to keep my attitude up by giving selflessly of themselves through their words. My attitude's always been pretty solid, but it's nice to have the influence of those around me.

Then there are those people and events that enter our lives and leave us questioning what, if such things are meant to be, are we possibly to gain by experiencing them.

I don't have any answers, only theories. I think that if things do indeed happen to us for a reason, it's often due to a set of circumstances set in motion by choices we make. I don't believe fate decides for us what those choices are, but that they're conscious decisions which put a chain of events into play.
I also believe that traumatic events that occur in our lives are as beneficial (probably more) in the long run as the more pleasurable moments. Because through adversity we are able to grow, though reason isn't always present at the time.

Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gotta Get Right Back on That Horse

I've always had an inexplicable love of horses. I say inexplicable because I've had three experiences that were less than favourable. 1) As a boy I visited Sunnybrook Stables, where the police kept their mounted unit. Shortly after feeding one of them some hay I learned a valuable lesson: always know where your thumb is. Ow! The force of a horse's teeth chomping down on your finger is like getting it caught in a slamming car door.

2) Ireland 1977, galloping through a field in the country with my dad. Picture-perfect setting, surrounded by fresh green meadows. Patty O'Connor holding his shillelagh while Danny Boy echoes through the ethereal mist that blankets the lush, rolling hills.

Actually I made most of that up, I don't remember shit about what the place looked like. But it was in Ireland.

Anyway. There I was, twelve years old riding my trusty steed when I was tossed and fell off the side, only to be dragged through the field with one foot in the stirrup. Luckily there were no cow-patty speed bumps to make life more interesting.

3) Early twenties, I went riding at a local stable with friends. The horse I was on had no interest in doing much of anything. So we just sauntered along for a painful eternity until he sighted the stable, which happened to be at the bottom of a large hill with a 70 degree incline. Sure, now we decide we want to gallop. In Trigger's enthusiasm I was almost bucked over the front, sure to meet some grisly fate in a tragic equestrian trampling accident. Despite these experiences I love horses and would ride again tomorrow.


Because I won't allow a few negative experiences to prevent me from living the good ones. Too often we allow our attitudes to be beaten down, and give in too easily. I have a hard time holding a grudge; I find it takes much more effort to resent someone than it does to forgive them. Relationships die too quickly these days, when sitting down and talking it through can usually get things back on track.

Something that's always bothered the hell out of me is the attitude some people take after a messy break-up. Too often I've heard, "Men are just__" or "All women are__". No they're not. Maybe the one you were with is. I've only loved two women in my life, the first turned my world upside down when she broke up with me (I was about 21). But I never felt she spoke for all women, and my interest in the opposite sex never waned. I never lost faith in the goodness of people then or since.

I hope we can all keep things in perspective. There's too much we can miss out on when we choose to close our eyes or worse, our minds.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


"If every word I said could make you laugh I'd talk forever."
-John Stamos

A conversation between my good friend Tony (hey man!) and my new blogging friend Cindy (South Beach represent!) prompted me to write this bit of drivel. It's a welcome break from some of my previous posts, as I'm not used to putting my innermost thoughts to paper (as it were). And although I'm left feeling actually quite good about the whole thing, my tiny man-brain hurts more than just a little.

So, to prove I can write an article that's less than a thousand words long, here are some things I've come up with that should be, but aren't. I think it would be way-cool if these words were to make their way into everyday conversation, as long as they didn't become 'almost' words like "buck" or "hinky". Y'know, words that people have tried to make mainstream that haven't quite made it up that river yet. So without further ado I bring you...

"Feng shuitional" (pronounced 'feng-shway-shunal') adj.
Really kick-ass Chinese aesthetic design. Makes your chi vibrate, which is a rather unusual feeling. But safer than going downtown for the same experience.

"Poly-nesia" noun.
In this case, what a person experiences when they can't remember what kind of material their shirt is made of.

"Threeplay" noun.
Precedes foreplay. Refers to the three minutes of convincing a man has to endure when his partner isn't in the mood for anything that comes before having sex. Synonyms: grovelling; pussy-whipped; pathetic; begging; still not in the mood; sleeping alone; taking matters into your own hand

These definitions are the intellectual property of moi. Any attempt to pass them off as your own brilliant creations will result in a light spanking. Unless you're into that, in which case I'll come up with something else tomorrow. 'Cause I'm too tired right now and could only muster up a substandard flogging at best.

To Flirt or Not to Flirt?

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a huge flirt. I'm not always aware I do it, although I'm more conscious of it lately as Sandy reminds me of this fairly regularly. I'm blessed to have a wonderful wife who, if not encourages this behaviour, at least accepts it as part of who I am. Sandy also shamelessly enjoys this sort of interaction whether on the giving or receiving end and can keep up with the best of them. I get a kick out of hearing stories of Mr. Butcher Flirtypants, Mr. Hunky Flirtiliscious Shoeguy, etc. Where stories such as these can instill feelings of intense jealousy in partners, to me it's further affirmation that we're still desirable and it should be openly welcomed.

I love these moments. If variety is the spice of life then flirtatious encounters are coloured candy sprinkles. Not everyone will agree. We all have a line that we draw, some of us are just more generous with our chalk. Is it okay to flirt when you're married or is it another form of cheating, a kind of verbal dry-humping? Perhaps as married folk we're doomed to burn in the eternal fires of hell for even noticing members of the opposite sex. The good thing is that many of the people who are flirting back with us will be down there too, so the fun will never end. And we'll be warmer through the winter months. Win-win.

So how do we define flirting? What makes its shallow waters so inviting to swim in? How do we keep it at once fun yet safe? I have my own guidelines, I started listing them but scrapped it after it started to sound like a cheesy primer on "How to pick up chicks". Cringe.

One thing I will say is that familiarity can breed trouble. I've seen innocuous flirting escalate to affairs that have broken up relationships. Yes, there's an element of danger involved in flirting which requires those involved to determine where their lines are drawn and stay within them.

Through this I've learned that it's best to keep it away from those we're around regularly. The occasional wink, smile or blush between strangers is enough to add some candy sprinkles to my days. As long as I remember where I get my dessert .

Can We Talk? (kind of a continuation of my last post)

"He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words."
-Elbert Hubbard

Throughout the course of my writing you will no doubt notice (if you haven't already) a tendency to refer back to my car accident of last spring. This is because that event brought with it many unexpected changes, one of which has been an increased interest in others. I hasten to add that it's not a desire to pry into people's personal lives, but rather an intense curiosity in what it is that influences our personality traits. In other words, what makes people tick.

As a result of building gradual trust through friendship, I've had the tremendous privilege of engaging in some fantastic conversation with a select few. I'm not referring to the superficial day-to-day musings we all share, but rather the "My deepest fear is..." or "I've never told anybody this before, but.." conversations that can sometimes lead to the deeper "Let's see if together we can figure out why you feel this way" talks. Talks that take place only when a mutual trust and respect between friends is forged. I say mutual because trust is never, ever one-sided. If I expect someone to feel comfortable enough to open up to me, then I have to be willing to honestly give of myself first. And I am.

Increasingly, I've felt a desire to help others gain insight to their problems. I've always carried that need within myself, why it's intensified recently I'm not sure. Again going back to the events of last year, perhaps I realized we're all here to give selflessly and we should put the focus more on others than ourselves. If I'm honest I suppose I can say there have been many times over the course of my life when I was too self-centred. Perhaps to varying degrees we can all say that, but this is my turn to shine the light on myself. I'll be the first to admit I give advice much more easily and comfortably than I take it.

If there's one thing I've learned over the past couple years it's that most of us aren't as together as we project on the outside. I firmly believe that whether it relates to relationships, career, spiritual journey or other areas of our lives we all have some part of us that is looking for direction, or at least affirmation that we're on the right track.

I think all of us are fighting some sort of internal battle, and we all build walls of varying heights and strengths. Some of us will let our defences down at the flash of a genuine, friendly smile. Others won't let anyone in because they never want to be hurt again. What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that although those walls may be high, even insurmountable at times, they're often pretty transparent.

I'm going to go out on a limb and state that I believe most people feel an inherent desire to discuss their problems, to trust someone enough to listen. So many people don't show it. The challenge comes in making that connection, or rather, distinguishing between those who want to let us in and those who just want to be left alone.

So how do we make that distiction? Usually we can't, as most of us are guarded. I've never tried to force someone to open up to me, all I can do is let them know I'm here to listen if they ever want to talk. When someone's ready to let me in they will. It's usually through a series of small, carefully-planted steps. That process is the most amazing thing in the world to me, because I believe a person growing to place their trust in you enough to let their guard down is about the biggest honour a person can place on another.

When someone opens up to us, their words are ours to keep safe and never betray. What may at first seem insignificant could take every bit of strength they have to share with us.

We owe it to people to listen.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How Cool is This, Huh?

Morning rush-hour traffic. Highway 401 West-bound, baby. Years ago during a performance-driving course my instructor told me this highway in Ontario, Canada is the worse he's ever driven in North America. Worse that LA, worse than new York or anywhere else. No matter, I actually quite enjoy the drive. It definitely sharpens your senses.

So there I am, feeling rather like a lemming with a driver's license (except my destination was much more favourable than the bottom of a cliff, as I enjoy my job immensely). It's a gorgeous morning and I'm surrounded by my fellow lemmings on the way to work in their lemmingmobiles. The wind is blowing through my non-existant hair, an anthemic trance instrumental playing on the stereo with requisite overkill on the bass, courtesy of moi. And the thought sets into my tiny-man brain: "How cool is this blog thing?"

Really. I mean here's a chance to talk with anyone, anywhere in the world about anything, at any time. Yeah , I know there are many venues for this type of communication (Facebook, Twitter etc.). But these pages are the only outlet I've chosen, my chance to reach out to others in the blogosphere and hopefully either connect through shared experiences and similar opinions or engage in healthy discussion about why we see things the way we do and why we may disagree.

At this point in my life I've come to value conversation more than ever. People fascinate me, and although we may come from different walks of life I think deep down we're really not all that different. The chance to make friends through blogging is a bittersweet experience. I'm thankful for the opportunity to meet those I never would otherwise, yet somewhat saddened that we'll never be able to sit down over a drink or a cup of coffee, shake hands or hug.

It amazes me that people who would keep their secrets and innermost thoughts hidden 'in real life' are so willing to lay themselves bare before others on their pages. I think the relative anonymity of the blogosphere to an extent tends to break down walls, and provides an inward glimpse of others far greater than their defences would otherwise allow in one-on-one conversation.

What I've read as I've touched upon souls in all reaches of the world (from the comfort of my studio) is writing that is forthcoming and veiled, passionate and reserved, beautiful and ugly, uplifting and heartbreaking. Yet so much of it is brutally, beautifully honest.

I believe very strongly that we are the sum of those we meet. I think this is a great chance to expand upon who we are, and maybe find out a bit more about ourselves along the way. What an amazing journey this is.


(Incidentally the above pic is Melbourne, Australia, near where a good blogging friend of mine resides. Hi Anna!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So What's on Your Mind?

Enough about me for a bit. Got any random thoughts you want to share?

Welcome to my Mid-Life Crisis (Part 2, in which I question pretty much everything)

"And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
-excerpt from Desiderada

4:20am. That's the ungodly hour in which Sandy arises every morning to work out. She's amazing. It's also the time I started thinking about the subject of this post, when my mind should have been free of such things and focused more on sleep. No matter.

Since my accident last year I've become incredibly introspective. It's probably fair to say too much so. I'm also more emotional, which I hate at times. Perhaps it's one of those things that realizing you could have lost your life brings. Maybe I tend to feel more and express that to others because I realize at any moment I could be gone , and those who have affected me would never know how amazing they are or what they've brought to my life.

There's that introspection creeping in again.

I've heard it said many times that everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that; if not everything than certainly most things (especially the most traumatic events that leave us searching for reasons they occurred**). The older I get the more questions I have in my life, about myself and choices I've made in the past. What if I took the job at the pharmaceutical company instead of continued at Bell? What if I hadn't returned Sandy's call after losing touch months after our first date? Thankfully I did.

Our life is a series of events linked by incredibly thin threads, and making even the smallest choices can change it drastically. Lingering thirty seconds longer over that cup of coffee before leaving work could avoid a fatal accident you would have had if you'd left earlier. Turn left in the hallway instead of right and you may miss an eventual life-partner. I don't believe our lives are left to destiny, when circumstances are within our control we are the masters of our own fate.

So what have I learned over the years?

I've learned that you'll never count backwards faster than when you learn your ex-girlfriend is pregnant.
I've learned that, ah, 'making out' on the edge of a cliff or while driving isn't the best investment in self-preservation.
I've learned that a guy is rarely more pathetic than when doing the "I love you man" huddle with his best high-school buddies over a bottle of lemon gin.
I've learned that parents are people too and we need to allow them to make mistakes.
I've learned that doing stand-up was one of the bravest things I've done in my life, because I faced my fear and overcame it. We all need to do this; conquer whatever holds us back.
I've learned that leaving your belt at a strip club and forgetting what you did with it can be major cause for alarm.
I've learned that sometimes the best way to care about someone is to let them go. It can hurt like hell and you'll feel it in every part of you, but it's usually for the best.
I've learned that when most people tell you they want to know what you're thinking or feeling they really don't because they can't always handle the answer.
I've learned that no matter what our age we can learn from those much younger.
I've learned that Tequila is not my friend; mixing Smores into the equation a couple hours later only worsens that relationship.
I've learned that when someone confides in you they're often placing their heart in your hands. To be able to honour that trust is one of the most amazing, humbling feelings in the world.

Through all of this there are many things I'm no longer so sure about. So I'll continue experiencing what life has to offer, taking the occasional mis-steps along the way, in hopes that I can learn more about life and myself. Some things I may never find the answers to.

Yet I don't doubt that the universe is unfolding as it should.


** Footnote: Just as I was literally in the middle of typing this sentence someone walked in to tell me someone he knows committed suicide. No one can convince me the timing was just simple coincidence. More proof that life's one big mystery.

Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis (Part 1, in which I try to determine the identity of the twenty-five year-old who has possessed my mind)

"Youth is something very new; twenty years ago no one mentioned it."
-Coco Chanel

How much R&B and hip-hop does a middle-aged white dude have to listen to in order to convince himself that his "shiznit" is off the "hizzay"? I'm not sure what the answer is, it's a rhetorical question really. If you're using those terms then your shiznit is most definitely not off the hizzay because as everyone half our age knows, urban slang is old-school the day after it hits the sidewalks. There's nothing more pathetic than a middle-aged white guy trying to act 'street'.

So how to stay young and still enjoy a healthy mid-life crisis? Why do some of us wait until we're in our forties to do the things we should have done in our twenties? Why do some of us at this point in our lives notice more often those of the opposite sex who are ten or twenty years younger? (I'm not of course referring to myself, although it's very common in men my age. So I'm told. Wink.). Actually the answer to this question is very simple. We wait until we're in our forties before we start noticing those ten or twenty years our junior, because if we did this when we were younger it would just be major creepy. Really, do the math.

Anyway. As a continuation of thought from my recent post ("Youth is Wasted on the Old"), Sandy and I often find ourselves hanging out with a younger crowd. How cool is it to spend time with a couple only to realize they could be your son or daughter? On a scale of one to ten it can't be measured, because a negative number that low hasn't been invented yet.

The topic of this post came to mind as I was driving listening to my Ne-Yo CD (Year of the Gentleman). The fact that a middle-aged guy like me even owns, let alone listens to, a Ne-Yo CD is a huge thing to admit. Trust me. This is the thing that a guy can lose guy-friends over, because in another guy's mind whatever coolness factor you're riding on just got knocked down several points.

We hang on to what we can and chase that which is ever elusive. It seems we're never content to be our age, or act it. I know I'm not. Last summer I started composing music on my computer using a digital audio program. I've only produced two pieces so far; I'm not sure how to categorize them but I know they're not something a guy my age would normally listen to. I've written a few raps, one a gangsta rap which pokes fun at my very-cool neighbour (which I've performed in front of his entire family), another which could possibly have some commercial viability. Funny thing is I still consider myself first and foremost a rocker.

Occasionally I've pulled into the parking lot in the morning with my stereo blasting, revelling in the looks of disdain from those who are probably thinking I should act more my age. Actually I kind of like pissing people off sometimes (not at work of course). You can only go with the flow for so long before you've gotta shake things up a little.

When Sandy and I are out in public, the more I don't want to be somewhere the more likely I am to act up. So if we're grocery shopping, you can pretty much guarantee the forecast will be periods of scattered maturity with a 90% chance of silliness. Which includes the threat of embarrassing her in front of the "big hot sweaty firemens" again. Who knew a person could go bright red like that? Hmm.

Next summer I hope to attend an all-night trance concert, maybe Tiesto or Armin van Buuren if they're in town. Not because I'm trying to fit in but because I genuinely love the music. These events generally consist mostly of those much younger than I on a WAY-too crowded floor partying into the small hours of the morning. 'Course now, there are factors to be considered that weren't present before. Can I last nine hours on my feet? Hmm. I bet if I napped before the concert, took a bottle of aspirin with me and situated myself by the nearest bathroom for frequent breaks I could. Who, me getting older?


I take comfort in the fact that what I'm going through right now is coming very naturally, I'm not trying to fit in and it's not taking any effort. I surround myself with the people I do because I feel very much at home in their company, not because of any hidden agenda. The music I listen to, well, I think I'll always keep up with what's current. Yet I wonder, at what point do you draw the line? A sixty-five-year-old guy driving a souped-up import with a pair of twelve-inch drivers in the back pumping out hip-hop is very obviously grasping at fleeting youth. My time will come. Until then I'm in serious denial and I'm gonna have as much fun as my forty-four-year-old body and twenty-five-year-old mind will allow.

Ain't mid-life crises grand?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's the Little Things

"And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
-Kahlil Gibran

I tend to do most of my more creative thinking just before I go to sleep. Maybe it's because my head is free of the daily distractions that can get in the way. It's at this time I come up with ways to solve all the world's problems except my own, and get even more introspective than usual if that's possible.

Last night when my head hit the pillow and the day's echoes stopped reverberating between my ears, to be replaced by the steady din of the fan and the purr of my tabby laying all-too-close as he so often likes to, I took solace in the silence and my thoughts soon turned to those things in life that can make it so worthwhile. The things that we overlook sometimes or take forgranted.

Admittedly there are many things in life that turn me on. This is a provocative subject that can bring with it some delicious conversation. However for the purpose of this blog we'll keep it more PG, as I'm referring to those which move things within me besides the physical. Anyone wanting to know the rest will just have to get to know me better and buy me at least one drink first. Preferably a strong one. :)

So here's the list as it began to form in my tiny man-brain last night. These are just some of the things (in no particular order) that stir my senses, beginning with the physical, more tangible elements:

-sunrise/ sunset
-the sound of a grand piano in a large hall
-the sound of a sports car (yeah, I'm kinda shallow that way)
-a wink or a smile
-old books
-the smell of the garden first thing in the morning or after a rainfall

Things I find attractive in others:

-passion (in this case showing an intense enthusiasm for something that interests you)
-positive thinking
-fearlessly showing vulnerability, and placing trust to keep it safe (one of the biggest honours one can bestow upon another)
-good conversation, preferably being looked in the eye
-a sense of humour

These are all significant qualities, the importance of which should never be downplayed. But I think that too often we don't realize the impact they can have on us. Maybe it's just me.

I've just scratched the surface, I may expand upon my lists as time and mindset allow. But my point is there is so much around us besides the obvious that can move us in unexpected ways. It's the little things that are often the most valuable, and bring so much colour to our lives.