There’s going to be a generation of kids to come who are going to hear the word ‘eco’ and never think it means “ecosystem” or “ecology” or even “economics”. The first thing they’re going to think is “eco-friendly”, and it’ll completely be our fault.
Flowing out of tops like the memory of song comes on demand
Except for those agonising moments when you can’t remember
Which is great.
But the only defence of your own downloaded libraries
Is that every single piece on there
Is there of your own free will
And each song is really your own.
Shh, I know, I’ve been gone. I’ve been a terribly escapist vacationer. I’ve been home and I’ve been living the home life. The very home life. The doing absolutely nothing life. Allow me to sneak back into some semblance of normalcy. September is round the corner.
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:
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.
In the end though, we’d have finally reached puffin documentaries.
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.
Sometimes, you just have nothing to say. I’ve often had nothing to say, I’ve just hung around wondering how people talk so much.
Then they turn and hit you with the s-bomb. You’re so silent!
Yes, well, if all you can talk about is the last wedding you all were at and all the food you ate there, there is no way in a million lives I can contribute to that chatter.
I’ve realised of late that my way of coping with this, anticipating that dreaded blow, has been verbal diarrhoea: oh you wanna talk food? Allow me to divert and rant about how spicy this was, and then hijack the conversation and start talking about the history of spices and why all countries in the world wanted to set sail for India back in the set sail times (hint: thé answer is spices). Then I plan to dart and run away before you can throw any kind of bomb at me. I’m out.
Or you can be nice and give me the wifi password and we can avoid this whole mess. Keep me leashed, I guess, if you value your sanity.
And yeah, of course you’ll probably end up in one of my comics. That’s the sole reason why artists exist. We love annoying you.
To be honest, I’m probably more of a panel number two. Who wants to deal with real people anyway, right?
Wait, you’re telling me they exist and I’m hurting their feelings? What?
Anyway, there are probably even more stereotypes, but I only get so many square inches of napkin.
You ever sit around wondering how on earth could anyone be enthusiastic about something as dull as a “reunion” with people you mostly don’t know? Or rather, people who ask you if you remember them but you could swear you’ve never met them in your life—but of course you remember them don’t you? You met when you were two years old!
Well, call me a silver-liner, but here’s what I just realised: reunions, or any gathering with a lot of people, are happy hunting grounds for material. So much material. And so here’s the outcome: new material!
What other stereotypes have you seen at gatherings? (Yes, you’ve been to one and had to stay for five hours, don’t hide it. And you observed too. You were too bored, so spill.) Did you run into my characters? And were you the life of the party, or me?
Alright guys, suit yourselves. Look who’s back here, especially when I said I wouldn’t do this here. I’m around kids quite a bit these days—kids of every kind, including a little pupper—so I’m kind of used to dealing with people putting their foot down here and around. The only way to win is to give them what they want, while getting what you want. Subtle. An art. A master move.
And so I’m back to posting these here.
I suppose most of you guys are more familiar with this blog, and I’m too lazy a bean to update you guys with links to every comic I post over there (FYI if you actually are suddenly in this weird position where you’re craving napkin comics, head over to Origin of the Pitchforks, in spite of the name, I promise you the site doesn’t bite. It’s actually quite a pretty blue colour. That came about after precisely four hours of a CSS colour code nightmare. It’s pretty) so the comics have come home.
Don’t you cheer in that corner, you’re promoting anti-lazy behaviour. Boo.
Anyway, speaking of lazy, here’s a lazy Sunday morning comic, because I don’t get to read the newspaper on most other days now.
What do you think of it? Would you have spent any time looking at that dashing Lolex model? I imagine he’d be a tad bit disappointed if you didn’t.
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!
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.