Palpz goes camping with friends!

I get a call from a friend from high school, one of those I don't see all that often now a days. He, another friend of mine, and his girlfriend are going camping, and wish me to come. Let's call them Ryan, Chris, and Ashley.

I should have known what I was in for, knowing these guys. They like to burn stuff. It's amusing. I remember one time we were in Fish Creek Park, the largest park in Calgary, and had a little fire going. Ryan brought some sulphur pellets that he got from god knows where, and decided to toss em in the fire. The smoke was quite noxious.

So, Ryan picks me up early Saturday morning and we drive off. The place we're headed to is in Kananaskis. It's a bit off the beaten track, and we do have to do a little off roading to get there.

Now, this place is of course stunningly beautiful. The weather is perfect, with a high of 28 C, and a nice breeze to help us keep cool.

It's also not exactly the type of place someone comes when they want to spend some quiet time in the splendor of nature. Instead, it's the kind of place that people go to if they want to cruise around on dirt bikes, have big fires, and set off fireworks.

Ryan and Chris fit right in.

We get there and find where Chris and Ashley set up camp the night before, and quickly set up. The next task on the agenda was to gain firewood for the night.

We set off up a hill a bit, and start clearing the place of some of it's deadwood, with help from Ryan's chainsaw.

Ryan ties up some nice medium sized trees behind his Volvo, and drags them back to our campsite. He manages to get about 6 logs.

So, we've got a nice load of dry wood. So of course we go and make two more logging trips.

We've got more wood than you can shake a stick at. What to do next? Start burning stuff of course.

A nearly empty can of gas is set up on a log and lit. And then we break out the BB Gun. 'twas impressive how it's flare up when it was hit. And then when it was punctured after hitting the same spot twice. Most impressive.

After a bit of that, we had to break out the big guns. The potato guns that is.

Man those things are fun. And since we had brought about 30 lbs of potatos, we had plenty of ammo. Ryan also had some arrows he had gotten at a garage sale, which were stuck into the tube in front of the potato. It took about 15 tries, but we eventually punctured the gas can, but not before leaving 4 arrows stuck in some of the trees behind it.

After some more time spent shooting high velocity tubers at various stuff, if is discovered that one of the cans of hair spray, one of the Alberto brands, is totally inadequate for the purposes of launching food items.

So we shoot it with the BB Gun. Watching a can spew a it's pressurized contents, flying around the campsite for about 10 seconds, was one of the coolest things I've seen for quite a while.

Anyhow, I think you can see how things went. Alcohol was consumed, a lot of wood was burned, spud cannons were used to launch fireworks quite high in the sky.

Anyways, we're going to pack up the next day, and Ryan decides that he doesn't want to keep the shitty tent he lent me. So we have to get rid of it somehow.

Anyone care to guess how?

It's dragged over to the remains of our massive fire the night before, and a small hole is cut into the top. Some gas is poured in, and we give it a bit of time to let the vapours fill the tent. We then pour a path of gas from one side of the site to the tent, and flick a match to the ground.

Fwoosh! It was quite satisfying.

So yes, anyways, we clean the place up and head home.

Quite a nice weekend. I must do this more often.

I wake up happy from an indistinct but pleasant dream. Within seconds I am irrevocably awake as the fear sets in. I want this situation to change. I am holding on.

Next week, if nothing has changed, I will be forced to chose one of the unpalatable options to keep myself afloat. Baring a job coming up. I have taken to refering to these to myself as straws.

Freud said that for happiness we need love and work. I agree with that - it's not a lot to ask. But don't look for reasons, balance, fairlness, that's not how it works. This helpless waiting just corrodes my self-confidence.

I've had such a strange weekend that I thought I'd write a daylog about it.

Rana and I had been staying at my sister's house for a few days because things had got so bad with our housemate, Jerry. We were barely talking for weeks, and even though I managed to make him sit down with me and discuss his greivances, the atmosphere there had become so claustrophobic, especially for Rana who's there all the time, that we thought it'd be good to have a change of scene for a while.

Jerry was pissed off with me for a couple of reasons, some of which were justified and some of which were a little stranger. For instance, he was annoyed because I am a lot messier than he is. He's a doctor, he's on call one night out of five which means he works for 30 or 35 hours straight and comes home totally shattered, and if the kitchen is messy when he comes home he says it makes him want to kill people. So, okay, I can understand that - I'm a messy person, and I said I was sorry. He should have said something to me instead of just letting the resentment build up, and I told him that, and he said yeah, he hates confrontation.

So far, so good, but he's still annoyed with me. It turns out that he has been feeling neglected and ignored by me ever since Rana moved in with me. Now, some of that is also definitely my fault. I've been totally engrossed in our relationship, and I haven't been making much of an effort to maintain my friendship with him by sharing some of the things he likes to do - he likes to go out drinking a lot, and I don't, but once in a while I would usually do it anyway just so that we can stay in touch and go a little mad together. We used to play a lot of chess, and we don't really any more, mostly because I spend all my spare time with Rana. So, again, he should have said something to me, because I'd no idea he was feeling like that for a long time. This happens to people when they get into a new relationship, and for god's sake, Rana and I are getting married, I'm bound to be distracted. So I apologized for that.

But this wasn't really it. He said "Alan, I just think you don't have enough respect for your friendships. You drop them when it suits you, and I think you're doing that with me." I was stunned, and I asked him what he meant, even though I had a suspicion already, and he confirmed it by saying that he'd been talking to Brendan and Emma, two of my oldest friends who I hardly see any more. I don't know what exactly they said to him, but he had come away from those meetings with a theory that I was just going to drop him as a friend now that I was in a relationship.

A little history.

Brendan was my closest friend for a couple of years, but there was a strange and problematic dynamic to the friendship caused by the fact that he is gay and, at some stage, as was obvious to everyone around us except me, he had fallen in love with me. Things got worse and worse between us as he became more and more depressed and manipulative, until they came to a head one day when he had a huge, flaming row with Emma, my then-girlfriend, during a night we were all out together, and I told him the next day I didn't want to talk to him or see him again. We got back in touch a year or two later, tentatively, and have been acquaintances since, without really resolving any of those old issues. End of story.

Emma is a more complicated issue, and I won't go into everything because we were together for about 3 years and we both went through a lot of changes in that time, but the short version is that we broke up in December 2001, a couple of months before I met Rana, and we were trying to stay friends, but after Rana came over here to live with me, it's been getting more and more obvious (again, for a long time to everyone but me) that Emma wasn't over our relationship, even though at the time I felt that she was more responsible for ending it. So recently I've been avoiding seeing her because of the creepy vibe I get. I tried talking to her about it, gently, months ago, when I asked her about how she was acting towards me. She said "If you're wondering if I'm still in love with you, I'm not, so don't worry about it." Idiot that I am sometimes, I took this at face value, but now that I know it wasn't true, I don't feel able to meet up with her as a friend any more. In my experience, that just can't ever work when two people don't feel the same way. It took me too long to listen to what other people were saying to me about her, probably because for most of the time I've known Emma, I've felt that people misunderstood her. Now I think that if they do, it's her own fault. She just wants everyone to love her, and surrounds herself with friends who won't tell her the truth about how she acts, because they "understand" her and basically let her get away with anything. What do they get out of it? They get the same back. Approval, and an unspoken guarantee that there will be no unpleasant confrontations and that honesty will take second place to the preservation of the relationship.

Anyway. It was obvious to me after talking to Jerry that these two people, who he's also known for a long time, though much less well than me, had been filling his head with all kinds of crap about me and what kind of person I was, maybe just out of self-justification, or maybe more maliciously, out of some desire to get to me, affect my life, maybe even try to interfere with my relationship with Rana. I got very angry about this, and I wrote an email to both of them. A 4000-word email, that took me three hours to finish, and which said basically everything I wanted to say to both of them. It was the kind of email you don't send unless things between you the recipient have become so bad that you don't care any more if you lose them as a friend - it's more important to tell them the whole truth about how you feel.

Brendan replied, denying pretty much everything I said and refusing to discuss it. Our friendship is therefore over, which makes both of us sad, but that's life. Emma hasn't replied, and I wouldn't be surprised if she never does. I don't think she will want to hear any more of what I was saying to her, because it would make it very difficult for her to maintain her all-important facade of moral superiority. I think it's very likely she was very upset, and feels very badly treated, because I'm not sure she can allow herself to hear some of the things I was saying about her dishonesty and selfishness. I don't want to hurt anyone, really truly I don't, but I've gotten into this position in the first place through being too trusting and too believing of what people tell me, when it contradicts my own feelings, and for once I had to confront them with the truth instead of just letting it slide because I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't expect to ever be friends with Emma again unless she changes radically, and that makes me sad too, because I used to have so much respect for her, but that person hasn't been around for a long time.

Things started to improve on Saturday night when I went out drinking with Jerry and we did some more apologizing and bonding and explaining. I really want things to get sorted out between him and Rana, because she's been so hurt by the way he's treated her and how rude he's been. He told me that he was being that way because of his own insecurity - he had gotten the idea, from somewhere (I am sure it was from Emma), that Rana was unfriendly, and he also got the idea that she didn't like any of my friends or his, and when Jerry thinks someone feels that way about him, he retreats into false politeness, communicating only when absolutely necessary. He doesn't understand people very well, especially not people as sensitive and intuitive and emotional as she is. He said he would talk to her and try to make things better between them, and he's been a lot friendlier with her, but I think he's afraid to actually bring up the subject, so we'll see.

I was pretty hung over on Sunday morning after all that. I'd cycled home after three Sambucas and three vodkas, which is a lot for me because I hardly ever drink, and gotten a bottle of Huzzar vodka and a Chinese takeaway on the way home. Bleeeuuuurrrrgggghhhhhhh. Rana and I and my sister and her boyfriend watched Ireland lose to Spain in a penalty shootout in the second round of the World Cup, which left a lot of stale adrenaline in our bodies, but other than that it was a pretty nice, relaxing day. We went to see Spiderman in the evening - it's brilliant, go see it - even though we both felt really tired and a little sick, and then we came home, hung around a little, and went to sleep.

I feel kind of cleaned-out after all of that - like a lot of things are now out in the open which should never have been hidden the way they were. I think things are going to be okay with Jerry, which is lucky, because our friendship could have been damaged irreparably by all that bitching and silence and manipulation. If I lose any friends over it, it's only because they care more about their own self-image than they do about our friendship, so good riddance.

Now if only I can meet my deadline at work, everything will be perfect...hee hee.

It's official.

I hereby declare that I am in the middle of a quarter life crisis. Given that I only recently turned 25, this is based on the fairly unrealistic assumption that I'll live to be 100...

In a few words, a quarter life crisis is that time period in your twenties (between teenage angst and mid life depression) when you stop going with the crowd; when you're stuck between a (mostly) worriless past and a mysterious future. When you try to figure out what and who you really are. When you start feeling old for the first time- although you know that, biologically, nothing could be farther from the truth. When things start to seem without purpose, and when educated self-interest begins replacing college idealism. When you begin to realize- but suddenly dispel the thought from your mind- that not all people are innately good, that everyone is in it for themselves, that the world is hardly a zero sum game. Dog eat dog; be assertive and aggressive; kill or be killed.

Or, for me, the time I first contemplated suicide.

First of all: I KNOW I'm NOT going to do it, because I do value life too much, and I'm (still) an optimist at heart- if I'm feeling down today, there's still tomorrow. I'm too curious, I want to know what life has in store for me- and this alone is, to me, a great reason for living.

But I was scared- scared by my little "what if" game. What would happen if I, by an act of my own will, were to be suddenly removed from the world of the living? Who would miss me- and what's on the other side? (As a scientist by training, I expect nothingness; as a romantic, I hope there's something more...) Do I have to change to be happy? Am I too young to be bitter? Then I tried to dissipate my dark thoughts, but it wasn't easy.

I read somewhere that depression stems from the unability to control your environment. I'd add- that, and from having too many questions unanswered. Answering one springs hundreds of others- ad infinitum. Is the quest of human knowledge hopeless? Is ignorance truly bliss?

I'm lonely.

(downvote away... it's a daylog, for God's sake. it's for venting.)

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