My life as an undiagnosed depressive.

1 Jul

You may be suffering from depression, anxiety or other mood disorders and not even know it. I’m not trained in psychiatry, or indeed any other profession that deals with mental health. Nor am I even a diagnosed sufferer. All I know is that something is wrong with me, and I want to share with you. You may see some similarities between my experience and yours. You may feel some of the same things. I’ll just say up front that if you do, I urge you to tell your friends. Seek society and don’t hide yourself away. As soon as you feel the doubt and anxiety, go out and do something, and don’t be afraid to admit that something is wrong.

Certainly I did not follow my own advice, or else I wouldn’t be writing this now. Part of the problem is that I don’t think I have a problem. I felt that I could turn the situation around, if only something good happened. But you need to know that something good doesn’t just happen. You have to work towards it. It sounds so cliché, but it really must be true.

Before we get to that, I’ll talk bit about my life before I suspected that I had a problem.

Turning thirty was elating. I felt like my life was finally beginning. I had a wonderful relationship with a beautiful and smart woman who was interesting, I had a nascent career in design and I was working with smart and challenging people. Over the next year and half, however, all these things started to peel away. I could never overcome my anxieties and fears concerning my career. I could never do what I felt needed to be done to be successful. Being a designer in Toronto in this economy is not easy, but I knew, and I still know, that it is a service that is needed. For some reason, however, I was ground down a little bit with every project. Every time I was asked to do something, my confidence faded a bit. A big part of it was that I never could get paid enough for the work that I did. Mostly it was my own fault, of course. I would drag projects on for way too long, until any chance of making a profit vanished. The anxieties that came with each project became harder and harder to overcome. Overheads are one of the big sources of discipline when you are business owner, and it’s a problem that can never go away. Even if you don’t need any tools or space or inventory for a business, you will always have to pay to keep yourself alive. I found it impossible to focus on growing a business when keeping a roof over your head became my main priority. I lost sleep, I became unpleasant and bitter, and I would fret and complain constantly. This in itself was not the problem for my then girlfriend, soon to be fiancée. It was the fact that I seemed completely normal to outsiders that really gutted her. I would laugh, and joke, and tell acquaintances about my problems and worries; things that I wouldn’t share with her. To her I was surly, negative, stubborn, bitter, antagonistic…you get the idea. It’s a fine example of situational irony, because I didn’t tell her precisely so that I wouldn’t upset her. My reasoning was that, since we spent all our time together, it would be too much for me to share my thoughts and feelings with her. I thought that it would wear her down and the extra weight wouldn’t be fair for her. I wanted to bear it all alone and solve my own problems.

In a way, I’ve always had this problem. I’m an only child, so I was born alone. I grew up alone. Until I was 18 I learned most of what I knew alone. I suffered alone, and I always felt I needed to solve my problems on my own. Part of this was my parents’ efforts to make me more independent, I suppose, for their advice on most of my problems, from bullying, to not knowing math, was to figure it out for myself. I understand that they meant well, and also that I was a tough bastard to teach. But there it is, a trend I can see now that I’m older, that started almost from birth. I have always had trouble asking for help. And I always look like I don’t need help. Some people are obvious when they’re in trouble, or in pain. I, on the other hand, always look fine. I may seem a bit thin and underweight, but no one ever suspects that I’m emotionally distraught, or confused or lost. That’s why I didn’t learn arithmetic until I was 11, I suppose. I just didn’t seem to need help. Casey’s got it, they thought, he’s a bright boy. And they were right; I was a bright boy. I could remember almost everything the teacher said in class. I rarely ever had to study, and even when I did I never needed more than a glance at my notes. Math, however, was a different story.

I’m telling you all this at the risk of giving the impression that this story follows the usual climb, plateau, crash and slow climb arc that seems to characterize these kinds of stories. No such luck. The climb is far away yet, as far as I can tell.

When my business partner John left for a steady job, I was finished. Initially I felt free and enabled. I could finally explore each project the way I wanted to, meet the client’s needs in my own way, use the materials that I liked. That was very rewarding, and I’m glad I got to experience that. Owning and operating a business, however, is very much more complicated than designing a piece of furniture. It’s much more complicated than just making something. Eventually, my irrational fears ground my activity to a halt. I sat in the dark watching stand up comedy for days. I didn’t eat for three days at a time. All the while my cousin, who is one of my closest friends, lived a five-minute walk away.

More to come.



I may have found my line. There are, after all, rules here.

13 Feb

I love comedy, but I feel like I am to a polite-having-a-good-time-joke, as a wooden club is to a baby seal. I feel that way because I often just totally kill a nice, friendly facebook thread with some over the top, inappropriate comment. The equivalent, if you will, of dunking in a five year old’s face on the Fisher Price basketball net, and making him cry as much from the shock of being betrayed by a trusted adult, as the pain of being hit in the face with a plastic ball.

For example, an acquaintance posted a funny picture of an unfortunately worded sign that was in front of a church. The message was meant to encourage people to attend the service. It read, “A warm   come Awaits you”. My friend had posted the caption, “Hahaha so this is totally why people believe in god/ heaven/ go to mass/ convert?”, to which there were several polite hahas and “likes”. And then I asked, because I wanted to know how it was kept warm, “Is it in a cup, or a chafing dish? Or do they have a line up of guys “on the edge” by the door?”. The image of church goers being sprayed with arcing ropes of cum could not leave my head. I think it’d be a beautiful, Felliniesque scene. There were no subsequent comments. That the friend, and her friends, were church goers probably did not help. I’d let off a stinky fart in the middle of fellowship, and they were now politely trying to ignore it.

Today, however, I found the line that I won’t cross. I won’t make fun of people’s appearances in a mean spirited way. I don’t think it’s funny to laugh at a person for being wrinkly, or fat, or horse faced or dog faced, or even monkey’s ass faced. So, today I learned about a Brazilian doctor that performs plastic surgery for dogs. And I tried to write something funny about the Brazilian dog plastic surgeon and I just couldn’t think of any person I’d mock about going there. Even though it’d be easy to say Anne Widdecombe should go there, or that Susan Boyle should have an appointment with him, or that Sarah Jessica Parker should get a facelift there, I just don’t think it’s fair or funny. I’ve had issues with my appearance too, so I know how it feels to have something you can’t really control be the butt of a joke. It hurts, frankly, and I’m currently writing some material about my insecurities about my body to tackle those bad memories…

Information Bartering. Privacy and Social Media for you and me.

30 Jan

A is to B as C is to D. (deep breath, here we go)

Language is more powerful than the “duh facebook and the internet is not private” delegation supposes. The status update that made me comment on this is, if I may paraphrase [putting up a comment to claim ownership your boob shot photos is like writing a sentence on your cigarette pack to prevent cancer].
The topic as a whole is interesting on several fronts, which I will get into, but I’d like to unpack this statement a bit before moving on.
First is the wrongness of the conflation of the relation between legal statements and intellectual property rights and end user agreements, and the effect of a statement on, shall we say an activity and its closely correlated physical effects, i.e. smoking and cancer. Continue reading

2012 in review

30 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Nuit Blanche 2011 coverage

12 Oct
Suited up for the future.

Suited up for the future.

How can a public spectacle help to shape our ideas of how we interact with nature, space and cities? Can it really offer a tangible route for creative alternatives to transportation, civic engagement and an investment in how we live with a less harmful impact on the natural world? These questions have been on my mind for years, and in the context of Kindle Project, it has recently become relevant. As we set out to explore the most current incarnations of unique collaborative efforts on the blog these past two months, we came across one such effort that got our attention. Flightpath Toronto took place on October 1 as a part of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, where for one sleepless night the city was transformed by hundreds of artists for the sixth annual sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art.

What masterplan rendering would be complete without middle eastern rebels?

5 Feb

Forget the usual shoppers, runway models and smart businessmen that typically populate architectural renderings. If you really want to show that you understand the culture of the place you are designing for, you should show that you know who the PEOPLE are. I’m guilty of inserting random people clipped from Getty or Flickr, and I think there could be a bit more subversiveness in terms of populating those artist’s concepts. I want to see soldiers and checkpoints, graffiti, and of course, middle eastern rebels

The mystery of the Kessel Run

5 Feb

You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?…It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.

Han Solo

Mos Eisley Cantina in Tatooine. Two robed men are looking for an escort past an Imperial blockade off the planet. They are negotiating with a smirking lowlife and hairy, bearlike creature. The older of the two men asks if the lowlife’s ship is fast. That is when the lowlife utters his famous line.

What I never got about Han Solo’s line was that a parsec is a measure of distance and not time. I thought about it from time to time until one day, I figured it out while showering.

What I understand about traveling in hyperspace is that a ship cannot pass near massive objects, as the gravity of the object, such as a sun or planet, would pull the ship off course, or worse, out of hyperspace with disastrous effect. That is why everyone says “plot a course to X”, before jumping to hyperspace, and that is why they need navigational computers. Han Solo was able to make the Kessel Run in record time because he plotted routes that edged closer to gravity wells, shortening the length of the Run. Normally this is dangerous, but Han Solo, being a gambler, probably acted on his instinct and went for it.

I was going to draw some diagrams showing a gravity well and its effect on a ship traveling at FTL speeds, but I found a cool map and a fuller explanation of the Kessel Run here.

I just want you to know that I fully put this explanation together in the shower, using knowledge gathered from Einstein’s writings on the gravitational effect on space, and Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, in which ship-borne gravity generators are routinely used to prevent Rebel pilots from escaping to hyperspace.

There are many attempts at retconning this line to show that Solo is lying, but I stand by my explanation, and the following comment from Lucas himself bears out most of it.

In the commentary for Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope DVD, George Lucas mentions that the parsecs are due to the Millennium Falcon’s advanced navigational computer rather than its engines, so the navicomputer would calculate much faster routes than other ships could. 1

Gorgeous renderings of an inflatable utopia from the recent past.

5 Feb

Old ass stuff.

16 Sep

My first video presentation for thesis class. It’s pure classic, like.

iDrugs make me so happy. Let me explain.

18 Jul

You’ve probably read about the use of binaural tracks to get people high, as well as the resulting low grade disapproval. I haven’t tried the tracks yet, so I won’t pass judgement on them, but the fact that they exist make me happy. As someone who wants to live the sci fi life here and now, iDrugs are a page right out of Snowcrash from Neal Stephenson. Though Snowcrash was a visual stimulant that locked the brain into an infinite loop, both the binaural tracks and Snowcrash are both non chemical, information based stimulants. All the moral and legal issues aside, I’m just straight nerdgasming.

Huffington Post Article

p.s. Cigarettes and booze are worse for you than idrugs in all ways except one. Smoking and drinking are both very social activities, and are very productive from a creative point of view. Do I condone drinking and smoking? Not really, but I do encourage you to pretend, and/or hang around smokers.