Sweet Dreams

Man, I miss the old days of nursery and day care where part of your day was just curling up for a nap.

I’m at work right now and tired out by stuff I’ve been doing since morning. Of course I’m too self conscious to sleep. It’s not something you do at work.

But imagine if sleeping was in fact a part of your workday. Some new-fangled study claiming that it boosts productivity and miraculously, ensures bug-free code (nothing ever ensures bug-free code).

This would be the next big thing in quotidian work lives.

Now, people fuss over their hair and clothing, cuff links and ties, formal leather shoes and a neat haircut.

Authoritarian look, good language, a firm handshake. Sharp briefcase. All the things we focus on because we’re allowed them at work.

Clean wallpapers, work-filled laptops.

Now bring sleep into the foray.

Imagine IKEA rolling out its latest collection of chic yet work-friendly pillows. Pillow cases and pillow stands for people with their own office rooms. Foldable pillows that fit into your briefcase. The artist’s work-pillow. The boss’s work pillow. The intern’s work pillow.

The big question to be asking a successful CEO in a ‘look into the life of’ interview: what sort of pillow do you prefer?

How does the sort of pillow you carry affect your job interview? GQ articles on the most subtle yet effective pillows to bring to the workplace.

Adverts showing approving colleagues watching the smartest pillow-carrier sleep:

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight
But they while on Impressionist Pillows©™ slept
Were toiling upwards all the while

Impressionist Pillows: Making marks… even in your dreams!

Of course this is going to be more about the pillows than the sleep itself, or atleast until Memory Foam decides to enter the scenario.

It probably won’t happen, but oh well. I can dream. And get back to work.

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Pro Tips

I just realised something today. You can actually measure your level of distractedness by the number of tabs you need open on a browser. The more tabs open, especially those you feel you cannot close, bam, you’re ultra distracted.

I often go from working on a page, to doing my research for that work on a second page, to having a third tab redirecting from something interesting I found on the second tab and can’t afford to close the second tab for. Then I’ll read something that will lead to a nagging question popping up out of curiosity and leading me to google on a fourth page. Then when I finally hear time stop tapping her heels indignantly at me and choose a more direct route of action: a whack on the head and back into reality, I’ll keep those tabs open for break time and head back to my work.

At break, I’ll probably want to check out listen to a particular song that’s been stuck in my head and then I’ll check my phone for texts and someone would have said something that reminded me of a scene from a SpongeBob SquarePants episode, which means I’d just have to notify them of that fact got sending them that particular scene. A sixth page opens!

Post break, I’ll remember an important part of my assignment that needn’t be started until I finish the current part, and will open a new  tab and begin a search. After half an hour of working on that, I’ll realize I will probably not get too far if I don’t finish my groundwork.

Then I’ll look up and scroll through the ten or so tabs I have open and think, sheesh, this must be slowing down my laptop. I’ll pop down to laptop activity to see if it’s (unsurprisingly) taking as much of my power as it should. Woo, it is!

Back to work.

I’ll look for my first tab and think, what a mess am I. I should close one of these tabs.

Ten minutes later, I have so successfully argued out why I need each one of these that I could easily quit my job and become a lawyer. They stay, this case is closed, and the work continues.

Fifteen minutes of work later, it strikes me that this probably means I’m quite distracted. I think to myself, what a find. Everyone should know about this.

And so I head over to WordPress to share my little musing.

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Lo and behold. The power of a distracted mind.

In the end though, we’d have finally reached puffin documentaries.

Behind Enemy Lines

I hate the people behind the counter.

Yeah, you know the smug guys on the other side of the barrier, showing you how clearly and plainly they have not picked your side in this war. Them of the tired, weary looks, and also them of the indistinguishable, incomprehensible drive-thru voices, but they’re a different story.

It’s them of the “Next, please” that I am onto today.

(And also, this has nothing to do with the little yellow guy who’s biggest ambition was to stand before a table, pen and in hand and say, “May I take your order, sir!” Just so we’re clear.)

So I went to buy my a sandwich, which is a very ordinary, Adult™ thing to do. Nothing fishy here.

…I occasionally stop by to buy food, because I don’t want to cook for myself.

And given my cooking capabilities stretch across the vast expanses of egg, bread, cereal and milk, who am I kidding, I’ve bought me more food from outside this month than I have in the last nine months combined.

So I go to Tim’s, and ask for a sandwich.

Hi, could I have the xyz sandwich?”
(No, I’m too mad to recall which one it was)

“Sure thing!” Says she, because why wouldn’t she say that?

I say, cool! Sandwich for dinner and then straight to bed for the tired adult kid who stayed up till 4 last night. I’ve only half a good reason, and that reason was SpongeBob SquarePants. The other half was work.

What, logically, should have been the next thing for her to say?

Maybe “to go?” Except everything in Tim’s is wrapped.

“Napkins?” If you’re feeling judgy.

Or, “Have a nice day!”, because you’re Canadian.
Okay, no that’s too nice, even for a Canadian.

The correct answer is, you ask, “debit or credit?”

And guess what she asked?
“Debit or credit?”
—NOT!

She asks, “Would you like a combo?”

No, I would not like a combo, I just want a sandwich.
… what’s in a combo?
Well, I just want a sandwich.

Somewhere behind enemy lines, a siren rang out. Soldiers gathered in formation and blared their trumpets, cocked their guns upwards, and sang the national anthem. They summoned the very fathers and mothers, and going back far enough, apes, velociraptors and cockroaches, of this land and poured their very animal spirits into their souls. Then all together, they looked towards the enemy approaching on the horizon, with a look of hope and new found confidence, as they prepared to begin their march for victory.

Whatever all that above was about, this lady seemed to sum up, within milliseconds, with a smile.


The end of the day arrives, The soldier takes a break. Trying to walk back home is great for the adrenaline, not so much for a backpack with a laptop on a back for an hour. At least I don’t need to make me food.

The hand dips into my bag for that hard earned loaf, and wanders to the side pockets of the bag.

Defeat is bittersweet, and I mean it.

She had me and my social awkwardness at the eyebrow raise. You can’t take a word back. You can’t take a question back. The aftertaste of the question is bitter.

Good for me that I have this whirlpool to numb it down.

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It smells like vanilla, but this stinks.

Lockdown Adventures

I already know the layout of the fire exit.

Yep, I am not even two days old at my internship, and I already have the layout of the fire stairwell memorised.
Adulting is in motion, and has been going swimmingly so far.

Day 2 of being a Real-World Adult™ has been an eventful one.

Now a proper member, I have a badge.

The thing with being an intern is that, you’re temporary, and last priority.
So I went to collect my official Employee Stuff, and was being taken around by someone a lot more permanent than me. So we go up to a different floor and I collected my needs. I figure out how to configure a few networks I will need for work. Then I collect my things to leave.

See, the building is connected across floors by a stairwell and elevators. The doors to everywhere are restricted-access and you need to swipe yourself in and out.
So the so other guy swiped me in, and on leaving, I was free to check out the wondrous pride a beeping piece of metal can be made to give you.

Now my badge is on a retractable string, and being a fidgety person, I was dying to give it a pull!
So I open the door and get into the stairwell and practically hustle to my floor door.

Pull string!
Badge face up? Check!
Scanner running? I mean, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be my problem so much as theirs, but check!
And sling! Pull it forward, and scan!
Now for that sweet green light.

Beep!
I get red, blue, green, purple.
Purple? That’s a scanner colour? Also, the blue was pretty.

Whatever. I try the door. It’s still locked. I try the handle more properly (I’m learning that I have a problem with turning the keys all the way at home sometimes. It doesn’t help that I often have other things on my mind when I’m leaving in the mornings), still locked.

The SpongeBob in me kicks in.
Oh well, looks like we’re just gonna have to swipe again! Baahahahahahahahahaaa.
(Swipe)
Oh, not yet? Guess we get one more chance, to feel the pride, the importance, the glory…
(swipe)
…the, the,
(swipe)
utter…
(Beep beep beep!)
sheer…
(Boop boop boop)
impo–
(Ka-ching boop beep)
impotence,
(boop boop boop)
im.. impudence…
(Poop poop poop)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!
It won’t budge!!

By this point, my face had begun to follow the scanner: red, green, blue, purple. So I decided to go back up.
Let’s say I had a nice long conversation with the door.
After that, I ran like bonkers checking other floors, but hey, if I don’t have access to my own floors, what are the favourful, flavourful odds that I’d have access to other peoples’ floors?

But stairwell-trapped me didn’t think too much about practicality. What I did think was, there’s gotta be a way out of here!

I ran down two floors till I was in the basement.
All those instincts that had taken a nice long nap hibernated, were waking up and kicking in like a Thor coming back into action after a long, beer/Fortnite-fuelled vacation.
(Okay, not having water is my poison, and my goto game is Pokémon, so I haven’t hit rock bottom yet.)

If those guys were waking up, this was turning out to be some internship alright.

I was like a soldier underground right now.
All I wanted again, was to see the sun. Get out of this trap box!

In the basement, the unlikeliest place of all, I see my choice. It’s the emergency exit. And it leads out! My way to freedom!

But if there’s one thing school has taught me (apart from, hey, coding will take all night), it’s that freedom has its own price. I haven’t seen an emergency exit that’s a free way out in a long time. Most of them are equipped with the most sophisticated psychological attack ever: you touch me, I scream.

Too many kids at orientation, too many tired all-nighter kids at libraries, too many instances I’d seen of people setting off the alarms by opening the wrong door. I still had to work here you know. This was an exit, not a get-out-of-jail-free heist.
I needed them to not think me a sociopath and let me come back and finish my shift.

So I opened the door to the basement and stood at the door that led to a passage that led out.
Through the glass windows on the top half of the door, I watched freedom stand a hundred meters from me. So close, yet so far, unless I dared to get kicked off my job on only day two.
So instead, I turned around and ran the other way. A T from the staircase meant I had a second option to explore. I stopped by a layout of the building in the walls in the corridor.
And now you know where this episode gets its first line from.

Well, it led out to the basement parking. From there, it was just a matter of finding the elevator to go up. No, I wouldn’t actually see the light until I got to my desk again, but figuratively, this was enough.
I made the triumphant ascent on the elevator, trumping one floor at a time, got out at the second, and sweet victory, I was home.
Well, not home, because I could’ve just taken the fire exit and run home, but you know what I mean.

I won. I was back. You couldn’t take me out of the game that early, I would survive day two, and with all my Internly grace.
I then promptly got myself locked out of the door again.

The receptionist let me in and taught me how the locking-wiping system really works, once I’d explained my little adventure, minus a little emotion because I don’t think an office is up for the high-adrenaline thriller that I can sometimes inadvertently make out of my life, but you know what I’m thinking?
This little orientation would’ve been a little more handy before I’d locked myself out.

Let’s call it a draw for consolation, but then, under her watchful eye, I proceeded to go out at swipe myself in.
Tap.
Wait.
Click.
Boop.
Beeep!
Turn… and,
Ka-chik;
Success!!

Hooray for sweet greens!

After that was all done, I pretty determinedly worked till I had worked my determination away and finished the day with this being my biggest contribution of the day:

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I’m gonna be such a pro.


This post is being posted on Day 5 as the hero, the intern was out faster than bacon on broccoli night somewhere within twenty seconds of reaching home. 

Adventures of A Real-World Adult™

So I begin today.

Your wildchild is entering the real world. Setting out on a new journey, equipped only with a bad sense of direction and a faulty Google Maps.

I’m off to work.

Really, it’s only an internship and so under the adamantium shield of Intern I get to make every mistake in the book, and get away with it, but it doesn’t make things less real, and I say that because I’m sitting in office.

Before you ask why I’m sitting in office, on day one, and typing up a blogpost, I’ll specify I’m sitting in the reception. The wait begins.
You know, it’s diplomatic strategy. You make someone wait, and then they seem more important. Well, I’m handling that game really well: it’s blogpost time!
You’re probably just glad I am not drawing a comic in here.

So far, my journey’s been great. I misread my watch this morning. In the dim morning light, my watch seemed to read 6:55. I said great, I’m up before my alarm.
You know that sweet, sweet feeling when you get up on your own, and see that there’s some time left before you’re scheduled to drop out of bed? Yeah, it’s even better than waking up on time, because you feel like you’ve snatched away those five extra minutes of sleep, never mind the fact that had you not woken up then, you’d have scored them anyway. Heck, by setting your alarm to 7:05, you’d earned them the night before!
Well, guess who thought they’d earned 20 extra minutes.

I don’t know about you, but once I’m awake, the anxiety that my alarm will shoot off, “any minute now”, is very real. It’s awful, and it doesn’t let me sleep again. It’s nearly pointless, I don’t get those ten minutes back!

So I lie there, waiting for the drill sergeant to scream. I used to have a siren as an alarm once, it was proven to be the most effective, yet it gives me absolute shoots in blood pressure, the cold sweat, the entire package.
At least I know I’m bodily ready when a real emergency hits!

So I lie to acting for what seems like forever, and nothing rings, there’s no sound.
My first thought is, shoot, the alarm isn’t working!
My second thought, shoot, I missed my alarm?
My third, and finally, action driven thought, let me check the time.

It’s 25. Shoot, I was scheduled for 7:15!
… but wait, what’s that? 6?
It’s 6:15?!

And then I lay waiting for 7:15. Turns out, I’d misread 5:50 for 6:55. That’s an hour and 20 minutes of my sleep I’ll never get back.
But I’ve mostly been on schedule since.
Then I got pranked by Google Maps this morning. As I stood at the bustop, I was texting a friend, and two seconds later, Maps shows me, with an A-OK in green text colour, that my bus was on time and had departed three minutes ago.

Okay, I was talking it was semi-important, but did I just let my bus pass me by? I was trying my damndest to be early too.

How early, you ask? Well, I live about ten minutes from work, and I begin at 9 AM.
I left home at 8:18.

But something tells me, my not so asleep senses aren’t wrong today, no bus did come!
I stood there panicking, almost considering walking the whole way, and I’d have done it too, but my footwear stopped me. I’d have looked quite a sight, stomping and struggling my way to work in a shirt and 0.05 mm heels. I’m really bad at this.

So I waited, and a bus did come. But before it did, with me at the stop, Maps tells me, “you are scheduled to arrive in one minute.”

Yeah right, smart mouth.

The bus I did get on came smack in between the two scheduled timings. So now I don’t know if I was late on my bus, or early on the next.

And now I’m sitting and waiting, for formalities, casualties (me), and forms—oh god, forms!—must be filled.

And as I sit here and wait, I can hear a high-end meeting beginning in the room next to me.
They’re discussing Pokémon.

Applications

After months of filling forms, your doctor’s appointment will begin to read like your latest college application.

Name: Mr. James Owen
Age: 18 years old
Sex: Male
Date of appointment: Freshman, undergraduate, 2019-20
Reason for visit: Ever since I was a young child, I have wanted to visit the doctor. This selfless man with the white coat and the stethoscope asking me to take a seat as a four-year old on Christmas morning with a Thomas the Tank Engine play-set stuck in my mouth, shoved in with Thomas and a few of his mates intact (or maybe not) in pure excitement of the sort only a four-year old high on Nesquick on Christmas morning could be, I was enraptured by this man and his love for his art, and the enigmatic pearls of wisdom he occasionally sprouted.
He spoke seldom, and when he did, it almost wasn’t ordinary human English.
“Aaaah”, he said, and while that should have made no sense at all, somehow, I understood the man. His command over his subjects was complete, his composure and dignified mannerisms subtle, yet screaming.
He nodded ever so slightly and passed me an ancient puzzle, a few scratches on a paper. Once again, while none of this made any sense to me, mum seemed to understand, he was universal; she nodded, although I felt her body relax for some reason, as in defeat.
I—

‘Oh shit, I think I’m close to the word limit, I gotta end this!’

*scratch, scratch*
“—That incident left a very deep impression on my younger self, and for the last fifteen years, I have only had one thought every night that I go to bed: I would like to study medicine at Harvard.”

‘There we are, now we just sit and await that call.’

Ten minutes later, a nurse walks out holding a clip pad and a wearing a concerned expression.

‘Mr. James Owen?’
‘Yup, that’ll be me. Tell me, did I make it?!’
‘Mr. Owen, it’s alright, I’d like you to come with me.’
‘Definitely!’

‘Nurse, where are we headed?’
‘We read your profile, James, and there may be a slight problem,’
‘Oh dear! Would you need an additional portfolio? Recommendations? My thesis from summer research?’
‘No Mr. James, you’re really sick, and just to make sure you’re not a hazard to yourself or anyone around you, we want a little check up.’
‘Nurse, you must have made a mistake, I’m perfectly fine! Take a look at my athletics! I played for Junior Varsity, I’m very fit indeed!’
‘Don’t worry kiddo. It’ll all be okay.’
‘No, no, what does that mean? I’m perfectly fine, I told you, I’m not crazy! Are you rejecting me?!’
Nurse smiles sweetly
‘We only wish the best to you now, and in all your future endeavours. Come with me.’
‘What?! Nooooooooo!!’

Leading Line Adventures

 

Where do these lines lead? What lies beyond the bright point? What’s that blue blob? A door? A portal?

I find it interesting how you’ll never know. I do know, because I took this picture, but to you, the very same picture is, and will remain, an utter mystery. A supposition, at best, an educated guess, a figment of your own imagination.

Can you imagine a character running towards the light, arms outstretched, trying desperately to reach that portal and escape to some imagined safety? Do you see a lost traveler wondering how on earth they got into this underground labyrinth, feeling the brick walls as much as to feel its texture and feel some warmth, some assurance, some hope that they’ll ever get out alive, as for some direction? Them, feeling their way along the long, low corridors, fervently wishing for some sign of life to appear… As they make their way down, they see a door. Then another door, hidden in an alcove. Which one might lead to escape? Oh dear, there isn’t time to go exploring, and there isn’t time to waste around guessing!

It’s now or never, they must take their best shot!

The hidden door, that must be it! Freedom can’t be that obvious, right? Here goes, swing, and in!

Swish!

What’s that? Carpeted floors and low, concentrated light. Where is our hero now? They look in front of them: another door? What on earth? It’s too late to turn back. Swing this one open too!

Weeeeoooooeeeeoooowwwoeeeeoooooweeeoooeeeoooo!!

Siren! They’re done for! What sort of trap have they triggered now? What lies ahead for our protagonist?

Our hero sees movement: there are living beings here! They slowly turn their head and look at our befuddled hero. They don’t look happy. In fact, they seem almost… gruntled?

Our hero takes a step back in panic and confusion. They grip the strap of their backpack. So down they must go. Well, they’ll go down fighting!

Sweat droplets begin to form on our hero’s forehead in spite of the cool night air around. Their fist clenches, their muscles tighten. They silently promise themselves that if they make it out of here alive, nothing is going to stop them from going home. They will go home.

Slowly, they take a tiny step forward. They suck in a breath. They open their mouth to say something, but they’re still shaky from the wailing siren around them.

And the figures in the light, they don’t seem to like the wail either.

As they’d figured two minutes ago, “now or never”, our hero whispers through their parched throat.

Just then, a larger figure appears! Her silhouette descends from a higher level and comes down to stand before our hero! As she does so, she blocks the blinding light before them, and our hero’s vision finally begins to come into focus.

With the alarms still blaring around them, our hero really sees the scene they’ve landed themselves in for the first time.

The figure… she seems human, just like our hero! Her brows are furrowing on her forehead, and she adjusts the glasses on her nose. Is she from around here? Will she be able to help me find my way home, and out of this fearsome place? Or is she one of them? What do I do?

At that moment, the woman—for woman she seems to be—begins to speak.

“Sir, I’m going to need you to enter through the other door.”

Our hero simply stares at her in confusion. A-what now?

“Sir, do you hear me? Are you alright?”

Our hero looks up and meets her eye. “What?” they ask.

The lady shakes her head and sighs. “You don’t look like you’re in any shape to pull an all-nighter. I suggest you go home and rest.”

It made no sense, but one word resonates with our hero. Home! That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do all this while: get home.

“I don’t understand,” they reply slowly, the confusion beginning to climb up their chest.

“Kid, you can’t enter the library after 9 PM through this door, don’t you know it’s an emergency exit? It says so on the wall. Now you’ve disturbed everyone around. I understand it’s finals season and tensions and emotions run high, but you need some rest, look at you! If you really have to study in here right now, I won’t stop you, but I highly recommend one thing: get home, and get to bed!”, the librarian gushes.

The librarian?

Our hero looks around as the other faces come into focus. Human indeed. Or maybe almost human. Finals season zaps the humanity out of every studying soul and turns them into zombies. They don’t look happy to have had their preparation for that big final worth 40% of their grade interrupted. Now one of them gives up and leaves to go to the washroom. Curses, now they can’t focus and need a break.

Our hero stands there with their mouth hanging open as they watch the kid leave, taking it all in at once. It’ll be a few more minutes before they can remember who they were and what’s really happened in the last half hour or so. Did they fall asleep in the corridor, or one of the classrooms it leads to? Were they really home? Are they just another student taking finals season badly?

For the truth, as you shall now discover, is that this is an underground passage connecting two of our residential buildings on campus. There is an underground entrance to the library, which comes in very handy during cold wintry days. And during finals season, almost all libraries are open twenty-four hours. It’s a blessed necessity.

Now of course I knew that. You only did a paragraph ago, unless you’re also at my school or just made a brilliant guess, which like I said, is only a brilliant guess.

So there you have it.

Also, if this reads a little weird, I’ll put it out there that I have never written a gender neutral character before. Never used these many “they”s in the same piece. Pick your own adventure, I guess.

Has Rock Music Changed?

People are always complaining about how things have become so much tamer. People aren’t wild enough. They don’t take enough risks. They don’t step out of home, or their comfort zones.

It’s ubiquitous enough a complain, but it really seems to roar louder in the world of rock music. There are reasons for this.

Since the demise of the grunge movement following Nirvana legend Kurt Cobain’s death, the entire rock music scene lost momentum and spiralled inwards. By the end of the nineties, only the bands that survived the chaos of the younger half of the decade would go on to make it into the next era. The others would be lost, and so would their fans.

Kurt Cobain on stage, Ireland, 1991. Credits: Pinterest

As a kid of the aughts, bands from the zeros seem closer and more familiar to me, but on the grand timeline, it could be argued that they were definitely more obscure than rock musicians have been in past decades. For those that did prevail though, the set of problems they faced were a little different in nature than their predecessors.

Of course, those who grew up in the ‘golden ages’ of the sixties, seventies, or even the nineties, claim that they don’t make it like they used to. The nature of showmanship has changed. The faces of venues have changed. Artists’ demeanour is more closely scrutinised than ever before, and they’re everywhere, all the time.

This is a big change. Earlier, the only exposure you’d have to your favourite artist would be through an interview they did with a music magazine, or an MTV special on the late night telly. You’d hear from them when they dropped their music, and of course, in their music, where they’d always be with you. None of these have changed, although as a compelling article in Spin Magazine argues, the interviews have become rarer, and the music has broken itself into smaller and smaller pieces: from albums to singles, and singles to snippets and breadcrumbs (a phenomenon I recently explored and outlined in this article).
What has changed though, is that in addition to this, you can find your favourite bands on YouTube, their personal Instagrams, Twitter, and for younger artists, even Snapchat. Like every other person, they find these platforms ideal to express their own thoughts and opinions. Of course, for a fan what this means is that your favourite stars are now living in your face, having comfortably nestled there after building themselves a little fire and drinking hot chocolate.

Metal exposed to free air for too long begins to rust, and the same is true of your interest in your favourite musicians. The tabloid has exploded, and everybody can be a reporter; heck, the artists themselves can do it. As you scroll through your news feed in infinite scroll mode, there’s too much stuff to catch your eye, and soon enough, the fifth reposted promotional picture of favourite artist becomes boring. You cast a momentary glance at a gothic, high-heeled, heavily made-up picture of that band you like who would swear to be so strictly folk rock that their getup would be otherwise shocking. But then you move on, because you just saw another picture yesterday.

Rock music was built on the social foundations of ‘rebel and shock’, but what used to shock people is either seen so often that it’s just not shocking anymore, or it’s simply unacceptable.

If Iggy Pop were a rising musician today, he’d have had a tough time.
Iggy relied heavily on the effects of the shock he could have on people, and do it more subtly than contemporaries who would proclaim themselves rebels. (See: MC5)

In particular, Iggy used to cut himself up with a blade live.

Today, he’d probably be cast as having mental health problems. He’d be told, it’s okay, everyone has darker days, and it’s great that you’re putting it out there for everyone to see. Self-inflicted harm? Total sign. Do talk to someone though, please!

And he’d have been a mental health advocate, broken by the stress we all face, a product of that system, with all our respect and our sympathy.
Rebels don’t get your sympathy, and that’s what endeared young rock and rollers to him. That’s what shocked people, and what made him a rebel. It simply wouldn’t work today.

In the face of this, the Noel Gallaghers of the world say that bands simply don’t have it in them anymore, that they’re not dangerous enough. They don’t wake up stoned or turn up drunk onstage (au contraire, only a month ago I witnessed a bassist down seven cans onstage). Artists do what they do. Only the implications of their actions have changed.

Of course, this also makes a band like Coldplay so likeable. In short, Coldplay are anodyne rock and roll: maybe a gateway band to artists more rock and roll, but also a band that you, your mother and your puppy can bond over. They aren’t out to offend and mum and dad won’t hate them. They won’t be in the news for the wrong reasons. In fact, all Coldplay have done to iff anybody is make more mainstream, pop radio-friendly music, and that seems to piss you off more than it does your mum.

But they’re hitting the charts alright.
This is something you’d see showing up all over the charts. Softer pop rock and more mainstream friendly artists are dominating the rock airwaves. Imagine Dragons, Coldplay and Twenty One Pilots are the biggest things rock on the charts. Oh, and probably Billie Eilish.

So is this the changing face of rock music? Has it become so mainstream friendly that it’s no longer friendly to those who created it in the first place? (Case in point: Greta Van Fleet. You either love them, or you love to hate them.)

The short answer is it’s not the end. The rock music scene was always stronger underground. A quick glance at Billboard’s archives tells you that rock music seldom dominated the hot music charts. There were moments when artists shone bright before being replaced by hotter tracks. The limelight was never meant for endurance, only an upthrust. And all legends are written in hindsight. Maybe we’ll be looking back on something we may have missed in our Instagram feeds and think it an incredible display of rock and roll showmanship.

In the meanwhile, do us all a favour and hit your local club, or a bar. There’s tons of good music buried under the unassuming air of carefreeness there that’s just itching to be discovered.

Tip: If you are looking for new music right now, here are some artists I could suggest.

Looking for some laidback surfside Cali blues, and generally a good time? Check out the Beach Goons. In their own words, they hate the beach. San Diego based surf blues-with-a-dash-of-Mexican-rock and roll, they’re my age.

Looking for something with the punk attitude but with catchier tones? I’ve said this before, but check out SWMRS. They’re also a lot better live than their records suggest.

While we’re talking punk, check out PUP. Even Pitchfork seems happy with them, which either means they’ve all caught the flu, or we have a rare conciliatory two seconds before they’re back.

For a classic throwback, try Greta van Fleet. For some good alt rock, try Wolf Alice, or even Royal Blood.

Wolf Alice

Looking for some old fashioned indie rock? Come on, there are tons of bands out there, I won’t even try. Just go to a club, for goodness sake.

Looking for some hard hitting garage rock? Do, do, do check out Phono Pony. It took me forever to remember their name right, but it’s all worth it. British Columbia based duo hitting it in the vein of the White Stripes. Also, in the words of their drummer, “We’re not the White Stripes”. As a bonus, if you happen to be in Toronto tonight, hop down to the Horseshoe Tavern, they’re playing a midnight set.

Then come back and answer me, is rock music dead?

Looking Back

Here we go, it’s finally over. I’ve reached the end of the game. Whether or not I’ve crossed the finish line, the game’s over. The suspense may have been killing me, but I’m too exhausted to feel the suspense at this point.

Year 1 is over. I’ve finished a whole academic year at university, my first big change since high school began. It’s had its ups and downs and sheer ecstasy moments; I’ve loved the freedom that’s with being on my own in university, I’ve enjoyed being able to prove myself wrong— in good ways! I’ve loved what I’ve learnt this year, not just in that typical ‘personal growth’ way, but also academically: it’s nice to fall in love with an area you may be in for a long time to come!

I’ve also come to fall in love with the area we live in: downtown Toronto, the heart of the city. I’ve always been a city kid, but my “city” ended in the suburbs—I never fancied living in the rush of the sprawling upward expanses with square glass fingers desperately stretching higher skywards in a place where you’d enjoy it if you live for the thrill of the fast lane 24/7.

Not my kind of thing. But I’ve come to love it. It’s not entirely an about turn, though. Our campus is 1865 powering its way into 2019 and adamantly staying that way, and it’s beautiful. It’s neo-gothic style architecture drives students crazy (and me; sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s a tourist and who’s a student because even as recently as this month,  eight months in, my phone camera is still out. This was on the way to an exam location, no less. I guess imminent death makes everything look prettier! (Naw, it’s pretty as it is)

Now that I’m sitting home, it’s kind of this bittersweet wait. A long, anticipated wait.

I’m awaiting grades and major decisions. It’s been a chaotic last few weeks, and my finals weren’t even half the reason. Finals don’t stress me out, as you’ve clearly seen. All my best work (a twenty-six and counting comics included) comes during my highest periods of pressure. And I’m not even talking academic work. My creative output skyrockets under pressure. When people bring up the whole debate about the tortured artist, I hide my face and run away. It’s not something I can pretend doesn’t happen!

But it’s been a tiring year.

I am, or at least, at this point, I think I am, a computer science student. I can’t pretend I knew much better when I signed up for this, but apparently it’s a well sought-after major. Which means resources are limited, but the demand is pretty high. Which means stuff gets competitive. My school is one of those that selects majors once you’re already in college, so you have a bunch of people scrambling around for places in a pretty limited program, because everyone can take their shots. At the end of the year, based on how you’ve fared compared to the rest of your class, you’re either in, or you’re not.

And guess what, it’s the end of the year.

So it boils down to this. Numbers will be concrete now. The hypothesisations are out. Over. I could be out and over. The possibilities are literally limitless and are veritably driving me nuts.

I’ve been doing more math than computer science this last month, and there are so many loose ends. I don’t normally think of myself as someone with loopholes. It’s a challenging field out there, and while I can’t say the actual coursework has been stressing me out—no sir, I’ve loved it—the consequences of messing something up are killing me. Getting an assignment back is no longer about look! So much of this is right, I’ve learned—maybe even mastered—so much!, it’s about oh no, I’m below the class average this time! How much better am I going to have to do on the next assignment to make this up? Back to the calculator it is!

At this point, I genuinely don’t even remember why I liked computer science in the first place. There’s this hazy mist above my head that’s saying “I remember I used to like it, so I must’ve liked it. Can’t recall why though.” I’ve forgotten what I wanted to do after college, what area of computer science I wanted to specialise in. Goals have shrunk down to micro-goals. What do you want to do in life? I want to get into second year. I don’t remember what came beyond that. Was it research of some sort I’d wanted to do? Go into graphics or interaction or something? Jump on the AI bandwagon? (Look, I’m open, but that probably wasn’t it. I feel an internal need to run away from the mainstream, even if it may end up being something interesting. I wish I could change that, but my internal magnet repels way too strongly.)

The point is, I don’t remember, I’m just so exhausted and worn out, that me saying anything about this will have me sounding like a broken record (ask my poor roommate). I used to be kinda interesting, you know. I used to talk computer science stuff like I was really interested, and I’d leave the conversation having you hooked onto something you’d never imagined you’d find interesting or remotely imagine spending the day with (I can vouch for myself here because I’ve had a twenty minute conversation with a self-proclaimed luddite on binary storage. Better times! Talk to me about it if you’d like, I’ll see if I still have it left in me).

Well, here’s the thing, me not knowing is worse, because it means I’m going to have to do the painful discovery process thing again. If I need to get my ass out of this place and at a new place that’s not quite as much of a gladiator showdown, I’ll need to write another bunch of long and thought out essays on why a college should have me as a computer science major. Last year, I’d swore I wouldn’t do that again.

So here we go, it begins again.

The hunt, the search, the outputting. If you missed the shitshow last year, here’s a repeat telecast.

Man, I just want to be sure, for once. Just know that there’s something out there that I can come back to, and bank on. Maybe you’d call it a backup.

I really don’t want to have to go. I love the place, I love the people, I love what I do. I have friends (I am personally surprised by the number of people I’ve discovered in the last month that would vouch for me) and I was really settling in quicker than I ever have before.

Starting uni, I really just hit the ground running. Things weren’t out of place, culture shock didn’t really hit me, I was weirdly not homesick either (hurray for WhatsApp!) and I really just clicked. It was a beautiful feeling, almost like Toronto had been waiting for me since forever. Even if it wasn’t me in question, Toronto can make anyone feel home and familiar, I’ve noticed, but hey, this here is my theatre production, so back to me.
You can’t seriously be telling me at this point that I’m going to have to pack up and move. Not after I’ve worked that hard. Not after things have worked. Not after everything had been blue skies (actually no. Grey skies with a 40% chance of snow; this is Toronto, guys!) and wind in the sails and a 90 on cruise control. The blow those finals dealt me has me kind of stunned, because me numbers don’t predict graceful nosediving worth a perfect 10 in synchronised swimming.

Basically, I’m confused. I didn’t see that coming and I am not prepared for it. Denial may kick in soon, but I need to plan my bust before that happens.

Look, there’s nothing pretty about this piece of writing anymore, it has descended into a pure mad rant. This is Lady Macbeth checking in, deliriously washing the blood of her murdered grades off her hands and whispering, what have I done? Or more precisely, when have I done this?
Can someone tell me what is going on here.  

You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to, it’s a one-person tragedy now. There’s no more script, just rants. Just someone who doesn’t want to write FIVE more personal statements and who wants a tiny little bit of security in life.
Ironically enough, here’s a computer science major insecure. I heard an english major whining about it the other day and sympathised. Well guess which one of us knows they’re gonna be at this uni in four years time and actually graduate.
The irony kills me.
The competition just killed me. It’s almost not fair.
If you’d have told fifth grade me about this, you’d have gotten a smirk.
Trivial. All you’ve got to do is get from first year to second year!

I’ve added a fancy picture here because reading all that must be an eyesore and you deserve a break. Commendable that you got this far. I wouldn’t have. But thanks anyway. 
Source: not my work

Yeah, it’s totally that simple when you’re not in my major. Really. I have nothing remotely optimistic or witty or quirky to say. I can’t say I’ve learnt how to deal with anything better than I would have without this kind of failure. I’m a little bratty about not getting my way and this isn’t a humbling learning experience. I’ll probably remain a brat. All those easier colleges we collectively shit on because ‘we’re so hard’, I shall probably not feel sorry or take back all that, shall we call it, letting off steam? It’s not a learning curve, we genuinely are harder. I’ve compared course syllabi with other schools, and I like ours better. Call it a learning curse. I shall be sorry to not have access to the incredible stuff my uni’s computer science department has to offer if I leave. I just wish I could still have made it.

I just wish for once I could go to bed thinking I’m a tiny bit of a satisfactory success.

Perceptions

The “Turn Wi-Fi On” button can be dangerous space.

I’ve been sitting around for a while, working on the last—would you believe it, the last?!—big assignment I have for this term.

Of course, that meant my Wi-Fi has been firmly turned off, blissfully isolating me from the almost other world we call the Internet.

For all the physicists complaining about how we haven’t, and never will, have enough energy to open an interdimensional portal, and one wide enough for people to traverse through it, well, they’re not looking hard enough. Right here, for a dime off your phone bill, exists a portal to an alternate reality where even your best friend may not be who they seem.

But I digress!

The point is, often, you can’t really keep away from the Internet. If not to avoid distractions or hour-long breaks, then you’d have to check back in because half your work in online, and being a computer science student, that’s all the more so true.

So every now and then I need to hit that unstable metaphorically-red button and hope that nothing blows up. You know, like a lot of time.

But today, opening up the dropdown options to reconnect, I saw this.

Screenshot 2019-03-31 at 1.22.54 PM.png

Ordinarily, I’d have interpreted that as someone hitting a random letter on their keyboard and keeping it pressed. It turns out, people are absolutely terrible when it comes to naming stuff. Ask any computer science kid ever, in particular. That’s probably how we ended up with an application called Facebook in the first place. Shed your familiarity with the term for a minute and really look at it. Face-book? We’re in 2 AM territory!

Naming something we’ve been working days and months on really puts us on the spot.

Naming variables is a nightmare.

Naming 25 test case files is a nightmare.

I have a friend who gave up explaining what exactly he was testing on each file’s name midway and just calling all his remaining test files Testpacito_(1/2/3…). It was a glorious moment.

At this rate, it’s a wonder I have a name at all, isn’t it?

So one might imagine someone would’ve thought, Well, it’s a Wi-Fi connection, but just calling it ‘Wifi Konnekt’ probably means I’ll never find it again. Hmmmm…

What about my dog’s name? But no, every time I ask someone to connect for me, my dog’s going to get confused hearing her name!

What about that mean first grade teacher I had?

Oh, lord, she was awful! She made us write our times tables out every morning! I can’t even begin to…

(five hours later)

Oh well, what the hell, I’ll just hit a random letter on the keyboard!

Only now, with the context of approaching finals, I’ve been having different ideas for that ending.

(five hours later)

No, wait, what? It’s been five hours already?! But–but, it was literally five minutes ago…
Have I really been trying to think of a wifi name for the last FIVE HOURS? Oh dear, who’s going to round the errors on those physics readings I took? Who will mess up the French grammar in my place? Complete, debug and turn in my coding assignment??*

AAAAA, SO MUCH WOORKKKKK!!!!

(hits ‘aa’ on the keyboard at random out of frustration)

Some random wifi checker: *name is valid*

Wait… did — after five HOURS, did you just—

Oh well.

I guess its a miracle any of us are named. We struggle, we name, and then some. Whose idea was a band name?

*Yes, you code first, feel hella proud of yourself, and then run into 17 bugs per line. 

And now, seeing how I plugged right back in and have spent the last half hour most definitely not doing any of my work, I’m going to make a quiet exit.

Better get going before the imps of either the Internet or Time find me strolling in the digital park!

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