I know I've been a little link-happy of late, but check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRw-lfXy_tQ&NR=1&feature=fvwp. As far as I can tell, some women realize their dog can talk, albeit in a strained and choked manner, so they get drunk and ask it questions, ending with that epic puzzler, “Mishka, are you stupid?” and the dog goes, “Noooo!” and the women laugh so hard they void their bowels. And the dog doesn't really say “Nooo”, just kind of bellows “Nuuuu!”, much in the manner of Dame Elizabeth Taylor in this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9vk5vUzuXc.
Anyway, the reason I bring these to your attention is because my floors are dirty, I haven't had a good workout in years, I can't get into the new book someone gave me, London is burning, and these videos are how I've spent my time. And I'm not alone! Tragically, Mishka, the Unstupid Dog, has been viewed over 12 million times. 12 million! At twenty four seconds long, that means the time humanity has collectively wasted on this video is over 3500 days! 24 seconds of my day, 24 seconds of yours, and so on and so on. That's nearly ten years of wasted time. This is sad.
Last year at this time I had two unsatisfying jobs in retail and a third very satisfying job writing and researching intros and sidebars for this book http://www.amazon.ca/First-Canada-Aboriginal-Book-Days/dp/0889772401 (out now! And it can be yours in just one to four months!). Now, only one of those jobs remain, and it's the unsatisfying one. Or is it dissatisfying? Either way, it's hardly satisfying, and it means I have lots of free time and very little money. The free time is good, but the lack of money is paralysing. For instance, today I thought I'd take a walk (because walking is free) and traipsed the length of ten subway stops until I was in the heart of the Big City's Financial District, sweaty and hungry. When I saw the TTC sign and realized how far I'd come, no one gave me a medal like I wanted, but I figured I'd treat myself to a power lunch with the business people. Despite scouring several foodcourts, the cheapest lunch I could find was a chicken wrap and flavoured water that cost eleven dollars. For that price you'd think I'd be on an airplane. And can we cool it with this “flavoured water” business? I remember when we just called it “juice.” But I digress.
Dream: Find something stimulating to do on the cheap.
Goal: Achievable. Many people take up past times to keep themselves amused, though I should mention, these are not hobbies. You may be reading this thinking, “Didn't James do a blog about hobbies before?” Yes I did, but what you aren't remembering is that hobbies often cost money, which I don't have, and what could be more cheap and efficient that recycling and repurposing an old blog?
Plan: As always, learn from the young people, and take up activities like:
Planking. The kids love it. Have you seen this, have you heard about this? From what I can tell, planking is finding a landmark, piece of architecture, friend's mom's car, anyplace, really, and lying stiff as a board on top of it. Why? Because you're a bad ass and you play by your own rules! I've been seeing lots of pictures and websites about planking and, I gotta tell you, doesn't make a lick of sense to me! First of all, what is this for, or against? Did someone tell you you couldn't lie stiff as a board on any number of things? I suppose you're proving them wrong, but let's get serious here! And I keep reading these accounts of kids doing it when they're really drunk and seriously hurting themselves. I saw one girl's sheepish account on her Facebook page where she planked on a wrought-iron fence and broke one of her ribs! Jesus, it's not even a sport! As an alternative, may I suggest Pizza Gutting, or P-Gutting, as I'm sure the kids will shorten the name like they do. In P-Gutting, you take the fattest part of your stomach and place it incongruously among a group of other objects. For instance, clear B through K of the medical encyclopedias at your local university's library. Hoist your gut up in it's place. When a med student reaches for more information on bursitis, she's gonna get a handful of gut!
Cone-ing. The kids love it. You know that Justin Bieber? Apparently he does the cone-ing. This is cone-ing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1ECuhTxCXU&feature=related. So many clips today, I'm like a teacher who puts on a movie but then the movie is boring as shit. Anyway, cone-ing is the practice of grabbing the ice cream end of an ice cream cone and leaving the cone part. Are we so bored, as a society? Good lord. May I suggest a healthier, fat free alternative: corning. Take an ear of corn to the checkout of your groceteria, place one of those rubber partitions after the groceries of the person in front of you, extract seventeen ripe corn kernels off the cob, place another rubber partition, and toss the cob aside. Insist on paying only for the kernels.
Cutting. The kids love it. You know that Demi Lovato? Apparently she does the cutting. Now, I didn't know this Demi Lovato until recently. Part of my unsatisfying job is packing up and sending back magazines that don't sell. A younger, hipper coworker was helping me file away back issues of Details, Vanity Fair, Porch Stainers Quarterly, and Teen Vogue. On the cover of Teen Vogue was Demi Lovato with a headline like “Bouncing Back!” My young, hip coworker told me Demi Lovato is one of these teenage stars, a Miley Cyrus type, who had a show on the Disney channel and did movies with the Jonas brothers and recently completed a stay in a rehabilitation centre for self-injury, also known as cutting. Cutting is the practice of taking a sharp object and slicing along your own wrists or arms to produce both blood and, I would guess, extreme pain. I have to say, I find this deeply, profoundly upsetting. I understand it even less than cone-ing. I know it seems like I'm making light of it here, but I don't think I could place cutting in any kind of proper context as I just can't fathom it. And if this girl, presumably a role model for millions of teens, is suffering the kind of turmoil where she sees cutting herself as a viable solution, maybe let's leave her alone for a bit. Maybe let's postpone her concert tour and tv show. You know, for her own damn good.
Okay, I know I'm derailing here, and I'm sorry for turning into Mr. Bleakpants, but I did a little research for my Demi Lovato paragraph back there, and found it satisfying, if not more intensely disturbing. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, instances of self-injury are on the rise among young people. In one survey they conducted of adolescents, 13 percent of the respondents admitted to engaging in self-harm. Good god, y'all. I don't know if I just went through high school with a bag over my head, or the tendency not to notice people wearing long sleeves, but I'd swear that I never even heard of cutting back then, much less known people who did it.
May I suggest, in lieu of cutting, in fact as a general rule regardless of your income and free time, loving yourself? I know that sounds so fucking dorky and I'm the first to jump off the self-esteem train (self-esteam engine?) because I always think, “How can I love myself or hate myself when I AM myself?” It's like trying to smell your own nose, how can you determine the qualities of x using x to determine its qualities? But, if it helps, I've recently begun to think of self-esteem in this way: What if you were your own agent? Or what if you were a friend of yourself, describing you to a stranger? What would you say? How would you treat you? Occasionally, it occurs to me that I'm being a lousy friend to myself. Or if I was my agent, I wasn't selling myself well. “James is kinda lazy,” I might say, “He doesn't take risks because he fails constantly.” But more often than not, I find it easier, cheaper, and more fun to be my biggest cheerleader. I spend more time with myself than with anyone else, so I might as well go on long walks and take myself out for expensive lunches, and so too, should you, because self-loathing is stupid, and are we stupid? NUUUU!!!