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So I fucked up again [Jan. 20th, 2017|04:46 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

But what else is new?

Turns out, I was supposed to be working on my second version of my TV show pilot  all this time. Like, since Dec 20. That’s when I got the email telling me what the submission schedule would be for TV Pilot 2 class, and then promptly forgot all about it until a classmate reminded me of it today.

All is not lost. I don’t think I will lose enough marks to fail the course. I missed the first deadline but the second one is Monday and I can totally have the whole thing written by then. It will be two 11 minute episodes, or around thirty pages. Easy peasy. I will work on it over the weekend.

Technically, I could get away with just submitting 2/3 of it, as the idea is that we will be doing this in three sets of pages. So I could write 20 pages of it and submit that, or even, conceivably, just the middle ten.

But I don’t work in batches like that. I will write the whole damned thing and submit it in batches. I will probably do the first episode tomorrow and the second on Saturday.

And it won’t be too brutally hard, as I already have a detailed outline for both the episodes. It’s going to be the first episode, the one that sets up Sam’s world and such, and the 4th episode, the one Ita said was “perfect”.

But why, pray tell, don’t you start working on it tonight? In fact, why are you sitting there blogging instead of working on it? 

Well, imaginary person, the short answer is : because emotions.

Specifically, I am taking tonight off to process the fact that I once more endangered my future career with my absentmindedness. Like I always say when this kind of thing happens, it’s getting to the point where I feel like I need a caretaker of some sort.

I have several apps on my phone custom built to remind people like me to do stuff. Sounds great, right? But you have to remember to use them.

Aaaaand I just learned that my smartphone went through the washing machine, and is currently not functioning. It’s sitting in rice, drying out.

I am so fucking sick of putting up with my own bullshit. I try so hard and yet the dumb shit just keeps coming. I am seriously wonder if I should be allowed to walk the streets without a fucking safety helmet on.

It never gets any better. I am doomed to blunder from one massive humiliation to another. The harder I try to keep my marbles together, the more they slip through my fingers. My subjective reality is highly unreliable. I never know where the next fuckup will come from. To me, it seems like they come out of nowhere, even though they always have causes that are really clear and obvious… in retrospect.

I think it’s a function of my trying to keep too many things in my mind at once. Past a certain point, I can’t add a new thing without forgetting another. There are only so many plates I can keep spinning at once. Add one more, and another goes crashing to the ground in a terrifying display of sheer crockery.

The thing is, I was doing so well up until that point. I had practically completed the cycle of dealing with the latest fuckup and I was feeling good about getting over it so fast and patting myself on the back for how much stronger and healthier my coping skills were becoming. And now this.

I just have to keep reminding myself that I am a brilliant comedy writer and that is enough. I don’t have to be that good at life. I have at least one genuine talent to offer the world, and if I can find a way to make money with it, I will be able to afford to hire a personal assistant whose sole job will be answering the question “What should I be doing right now?”.

And hey, I am sure I am not the first person to accidentally wash my phone. As bad as it is, at least that’s a regular-person level of screwup. Could happen to anyone.

But I am just so fucking tired of all this stupor and stress. I want to be competent, damn it. At least competent enough to look after myself. But I seem to be doomed to be this delicate hothouse flower who can’t survive without constant care.

And nobody to give that care. Why would they?

Maybe the problem is that I am too fucking old. I feel like as I age, my working memory gets smaller and smaller. 43 is not a great time to be taking on the challenge of school of any sort, never mind an intensive practical course like my VFS education.

I know what the problem between my school calendar app and me is. It’s that I get assignments during class and I have to choose between entering the assignment into the app or continuing to listen in class.

I really can’t do both at the same time.

I will get over these things. I will move on. I will hammer my life back into some kind of order and continue to do my best and just hope that my talent outweighs my ineptitude.

Surely somebody out there will pay me to write very funny things for them. Someone who will overlook my mental fog in order to get my very funny writing.

And it’s not just me saying I am funny. Everybody at school says it too. People read my stuff and laugh out loud, for reals, y’all. Genuine RL LOLS.

At these times in my life, I need to cling to that. I am not worthless. I am not useless. I will not be a burden on others forever. Some day, I will be truly independent, strong, respected, paid, and free.

I just have to survive three and a half more months of my own bullshit.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.




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On The Road : Do It Edition [Jan. 19th, 2017|04:18 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

Here I am, waiting for a table at my favorite White Spot. I was hoping that by showing up at 1 pm, I would avoid the lunch rush. Alas, it was not to be.

I am getting miffed about my education. Today”s class : watch 2 hour movie while the teacher fucks off entirely, presumably to do something she actually enjoys, fifteen minute break, five minutes settling in, total teaching time : 40 minutes out of the usual 180.

Hence my miffedness. When we watched movies in class when I was a kid, the teacher at least had the decency to stay in the room with us and look busy.

I have every reason to believe that the challenge level of this term will rise very soon. But this is week 3 and so far, very little has been asked of me.

Perhaps this is to allow us to concentrate on the five minute movies we are supposed to be working on in post production right now.

But my group’s movie is basically done. The “rough cut” the writer slash director slash everything else submitted on Tuesday was complete except for credits and score. There is very little for any of us to do at this point.

Which means it won’t be just me who will be learning fuck all this term.

This should not have been allowed to happen. There needs to be something in the rules about inclusion and something else about having to hire outside people so everyone get experience doing that kind of thing.

I don’t like having a lot of rules around any more than any other creative person. But rules keep people from getting hurt sometimes.

And now I am home.

Wow, I only wrote 275 words in White Spot. It felt like so much more. Virtual keyboards suck, especially when used by people with big fingers on tiny little smartphones.

I am proud of a choice I made today. Today is La Jour De La Cheque for me, plus it’s a GST cheque month (ragged cheer), so I had two cheques to cash. I had the idea that I would cash them and have lunch at White Spot, then go home.

But after class today, I really really did not feel like it. I just wanted to eat lunch at Bob’s and go home. I had more or less decided to skip it on the Skytrain ride back home.

Then, as we pulled into Lansdowne Station, I realized that I could get off there, walk a couple blocks to White Spot and have lunch, then cash my cheque. It would mean a bunch more walking, but I would arrive home having accomplished something.

And for a moment, fate hung in the balance. I could have gone either way. Either get off at Lansdowne and walk home, or stay on till Richmond Brighouse station like usual and walk a much smaller distance home.

What ultimately decided it was that I could not hide from the fact that one of the choices was obviously the healthier one that would move me towards the kind of person I want to be, and the other was listening to the Jagoff and wallowing in my own crapitude.

So I got off at Lansdowne. Yay me! I hope this is the beginning of a new pattern for me, where I choose the “do it” option over the “fuck it” option more often.

I am still free to be lazy from time to time. But in the long run, I am happiest when I stay engaged with the world and actively doing stuff.

And video games don’t’ count.

It’s just tough to keep it up when you have depression weighing you down. I wish people could see the kind of weight we drag around. Then they would begin to understand the true burden of this disease of ours.

Some of us even carry that weight in the literal sense as well.

Took a nap, had dinner, now I am back.

Was just thinking about my whole “stop trying to be a sitcom character because real life doesn’t work like that” thing.

Maybe that’s the wrong approach. Maybe instead of fighting my basic nature and trying to become more normal and tuned into reality, I should concentrate on being the best, funniest, nicest, most wonderful sitcom ever.

You know. The background character that ends up taking over the show?

I’m conflicted. The problem is that I really don’t know how to relate to reality in any other way. That’s a hard thing for me to admit, but it’s true. I perform for people. In a sense, I am always writing lines for my character.

It’s not exactly that I am always trying to be funny. I mean, I joke a lot, but I have other modes, like Intellectual Conversation Mode, and Quiet Cuddles mode, and Being Very Real With People Mode, and Amateur Therapist Mode, and so forth and so on.

But I suppose most people don’t think of those things as modes.

And the thing is, I am not being fake with people. I am a genuine kind of guy. I refuse to be insincere. I might polish the truth a little or try to get myself into a specific kind of mood depending on my goals, but I won’t fake emotions.

The thought of it makes me cringe. It’s a terrible mental sensation.

And yet, part of me is always performing as well. Trying to light the world with my brightness. Playing to the crowd. Wanting so bad to make people happy because I then get to empathically experience their happiness.

And the sad truth is, the happiness I get from others is far more intense – more pure – than the kind I generate myself.

Like it bypasses my busted joy circuit, or something.

I imagine a lot of funny people are like that. If there wasn’t something wrong with us, we wouldn’t have this terrible imbalance that we try to correct with laughter.

But hey, we bring joy and laughter to people with our neuroses.

And sometimes, we even get paid for it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.






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No thought whatsoever [Jan. 18th, 2017|04:03 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

Until this moment, I have given absolutely no thought to what I am going to write about tonight. This should be fun.

This morning was stressful.

It didn’t start out that way. It started out with me feeling pretty good, actually. Every once in a while, I will wake up in the middle of the night full of energy and verve. Enough so that it is physically painful to sit still. This leaves me with no choice but to get up and stay up.

It’s possible that this phenomenon is akin to the hypomanic state. As the name suggest, that’s a state that is like the mania of manic depressive disorder, but was less acute. During a hypomanic period, you feel good, you have loads of energy, life seems quite lovely, and you will find it nearly impossible to sleep.

Apart from the sleep bit, it’s really quite lovely. I’d recommend it. Five stars.

So what did I do with my bounty of energy? Something productive? Heck no. I played my current video game (Mass Effect) for a couple of hours. But the main point is that I was feeling pretty good.

And getting ready for school seemed so easy and I was remembering all kind of things that I normally forget to do. I put my book in my bag, remember to take my headphones (I forgot Monday), put my watch on, grabbed my wallet, and left feeling really good and totally on top and in control.

Now, kids, do you know what I forgot? The clues are all in there!

SPOILER : It was my fucking keys.

Alert readers will remember that I was a latchkey kid and I have a lot of mildly traumatic memories of having to sit and wait for my mother to get home before I could get in.

So forgetting my keys is kind of a thing with me. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it really throws me for a loop.

I realized my error when I was barely around the block from the apartment building, but I might as well have been a thousand miles away in terms of my having the power to fix the situation at that time.

My first thought, of course, was that I would just go back and get it. But of course, to do that, I would have to get back into my apartment build, and to do that. I would need to have my fucking keys.

It’s a hell of a catch, that Catch-22.

For a moment I thought of skipping class, or at least being very late, as I frantically tried to get back home. But then I caught hold of myself, calmed down, and realized that I was perfectly capable of going to class and back, and the keys thing could wait.

So I manage to get to the Skytrain station and onto the Skytrain with no more than the usual amount of pain, and realize that I don’t have the two local free papers that I picked up on the way into the station because I put them down to use my fare card and forgot to pick them back up again.

Oh well, at least I remembered my book.

Then I arrive at my destination, get off the Skytrain…. and realized I lost my hat. It was still on the Skytrain car I was watching pull out of the station.

It was morning rush hour. The trains don’t stop for long.

So not only did this mean that I could no longer wear my beloved headphones and listen to my even more beloved music collection (no hat to protect the headphones), it meant all that cold rain was going to fall directly on my head.

And me just getting over a cold. Lovely. At least I have been taking my time-release Vitamin C tablets.

So today has not been fun. It’s like when I realized I had forgotten my keys, someone flipped the switch from “good day” to “bad”. But at least I was hyper alert to enjoy it!

Not that I’m bitter.

Getting home was almost as bad. It was like getting there, only the rain was warmer. And now I do not have a hat to keep the rain offa my head. And that is gonna suuuuuuck.

I will try to motivate myself to include a trip to the Value Village a couple of blocks from here to get a new hat sometime soon.

Class itself was fine. The awesomely named Hamish Macintosh is a good teacher and we did an exercise where the idea was to come up with as many ideas for selling a fictional arthritis treatment for older dogs as we could in 45 minutes.

Ideas plus animals? That is my wheelhouse, son.

And my ideas were shamelessly manipulative. I honest sort of felt like I was using my powers for evil, because I was using my understanding of how animal loving people think in order to best hack their wetware.

Advertising is a weird ass game. But I am too old to worry about the ethics of marketing. If that’s what someone will pay me to do, that’s what I will do.

Soul for sale, priced to move, motivated seller!

And I am pretty sure I would be very good at it. I understand what makes people tick and I know how to appeal to them both emotionally and logically. And you can make crazy amounts of money in marketing.

As for “selling out”, I would love to do it. Well, except that I never really had a huge investment in my artistic integrity either. I mean, I care about it, and it would kill me to be associated with something way below my standards… but I could learn to live with it if it came with lots of dough.

I will worry about artistic integrity after I have bought a house. And some kind of financial instrument  to keep me set for life.

Turns out you can purchase your freedom from wage slavery.

It’s just really, really expensive.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.





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such awesome responsibility [Jan. 17th, 2017|04:23 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

I am going to take a stab at one of my recurring fascinations : the sense of responsibility one feels towards others.

I was prompted to write about this by the realization that what I always took to be my overwhelming sense of total responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable consequence of my actions is actually merely a rational label for something far deeper and stronger than mere consciousness can understand.

I chalk it up to what I will call my sensitivity. You could also call it, empathy, my intuition, my “feelers”, or even my skill at reading subconscious cues from  others.

But I am going to call it my sensitivity because it’s simplest. Most people have some idea what it means when you describe someone as “very sensitive”, and brother, I am so goddamned sensitive it’s insane.

Not in a clinical sense. I think.

See, I have always had a very deep feeling for others. And I soak up emotions from my environment very readily and easy. I am fairly sure that I don’t have a choice about that either. The only way to stop it would be to practically lobotomize myself.

And I made the decision long ago that I would rather stay sensitive and suffer than become hard and insensitive and isolated.

My id is not real happy about that.

That means that I have a lot of inputs that some people do not. I think that’s one contributing factor to my tendency to be confused. At any moment I am around others, I am getting empathic input that is very intense and it distracts me from what is happening in the world outside my head.

The fact that I turned myself into this hyper-rational left-brained dude made things worse because people like me instinctively filter out a lot of the messages our emotions (and instincts, and memories, and so on) are trying to tell us. We do this because we take comfort in the rational and sensible and this want to preserve our calm, rational frame of mind. When our emotions run wild, we tend to panic because we no longer feel in control.

This makes a lot of us to declare that emotions are the enemy. Hence all that Spock bullshit. So we build this wall between our supposedly “rational” mind and our real time emotional world, and proceed as though by ignoring emotions, one can be rid of them.

The catch-22 being that you are never more helpless against your emotions than when you ignore them. We end up doing a lot of irrational things then making up rationales later in order to preserve our delusions of order and rationality.

And that, until recently, describe me to a T. The futility of such a posture and the need to open up the other half of my brain and invite it to the table of consciousness is a relatively recent innovation for me. I wasted a long time with that rationalist bullshit.

But eventually I came to realize that the cold inside my soul was self-generated and that to only thing that could free me from my icy tomb was the pure warm light of the Sun, and in order to get that, I would have to stop ignoring empathic input and let the sun shine in.

I won’t insult you by pretending I had a choice whether to link that song.

Cue the end of Wizard of Oz, because it turned out that I had the power to fix myself all along. I was simply ignoring it. The wall of ice I constructed in order to stay “rational” and “in control” was the very thing killing me inside. My only salvation lay in unfreezing those old emotions and dealing with them, and thus raise the temperature inside me.

All of that is a very long route towards talking about my feeling of connection to others.The sort of sensitivity I am talking about makes it tricky to remember where you end and others begin. Thus my somewhat flexible sense of self. It’s an absolute necessity if you are to survive experiencing the emotions of others so intensely.

And for a long time, I mistook this sense of connection for my sense of total responsibility. This responsibility, after all, was something I had arrived at rationally. To me, it is the only logically supportable position, as onerous as it is.

But it’s more than that. It’s the feeling of being contiguous with others, with no hard and clear boundary line between myself and others. I think that accounts for a lot of my more unusual fears and odd reactions. I am terrified that I will lose myself in this sea of empathy and loss of self is, of course, the true definition of death.

So in that sense, I am afraid to die.

And I think that this connection to others informs my deep sense of responsibility. I am all too keenly aware of how people can hurt one another and empathy makes it so that when others are hurt. I hurt, and when others are happy, I am happy. So the last thing I want to do is hurt people. I would only be hurting myself.

Well, them too, I guess.

Thing is, sometimes in life, you have to hurt people. In fact, hurting someone might very well the moral thing to do, given certain situations. In this hardscrabble life, there will be times that in order to preserve and express your sense of self, you have to be willing to kick kneecaps and step on toes in order to assert your right to exist.

That’s why healthy people don’t have this sense of total responsibility and total empathy. It’s not healthy. There has to be some kind of boundary between you and others in order to have any sense of self at all.

And your self is the foundation for the rest of your psyche.

I am not sure how to set up these boundaries, but I have a feeling it involves deciding when it is okay to stop caring.

And I am not sure I can do that.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


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Let’s dump on Trump [Jan. 15th, 2017|10:47 pm]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

After all, it’s easy, and it’s fun!

Now, check this shit out : Rex Tillerson, ex-chairman of Exxon and soap opera doctor, has lied under oath at his confirmation hearings.

He said Exxon never lobbied against sanctions against Russia for that whole “stealing a piece of a neighbor’s land called Crimea” thing. But Exxon did do that. They did it a lot. It was a lie so blatant that even the Republican running the hearings couldn’t take it.

See, this is what happens when the alternate reality you live in because you are too stupid for the real one involves actual events with real people who can remember stuff. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, your narcissistic reality warping powers end when you include people who are not part of your delusion.

That’s why these toddlers in expensive suits will continue to trip over their own dicks when forced to leave their bubble. Like a toddler, they will blatantly lie to you right to your face because they are too stupid and/or cowardly to understand that they won’t get away with it and should just tell the truth,.

Nope. Truth = mama spank, ergo lie.

And this is what gives me hope about the Trump presidency. Every one of his personal picks is a dingbat and a loser. Like all dictators, he values loyalty over competence, and of course the people most likely to give a narcissist the kind of mindless devotion they crave are people too stupid to think past “I like nice man who gave me big job!”.

What all this adds up to is an incompetent government. And luckily for us, incompetent people are not particularly effective. So a lot of what these bozos try will simply fail because they don’t gave the patience or focus to get things done.

Of course, incompetent leadership can do a lot of damage, so we are by no means out of the woods yet. Some of what they try will get done, and it’s our job to call them out on it and give them maximal resistance every single time.

Then, there’s the Tyke In Chief, little Donnie Trumpington. I am still holding out hope that he will have a total meltdown on live TV when it comes time to actually become President. I honestly can’t imagine him lasting one day in that job.

He’s going to have to spend so much of his time doing things he doesn’t want to do,, and that is very tough and painful for a toddler his age. It;s bound to make him cranky and hard to deal with. And I think he is going to be in fpr a shock when he realizes that there is a lot more work that he can’t fob off to Mike Pence.

And wait till this hairtrigger temper tantrum has to deal with a hostile audience. That recent press conference confirmed that. I imagine he will not give very many press conferences in the future. But people can shout him down or yell from the sidelines and force the truth on him that way.

So I honestly can’t imagine him lasting long. He won’t be able to live his life in a safe little rich guy bubble any more, where everyone he deals with works for him and serves his ego. He’s going to be in charge whether he likes it or not.

He might just flip the fuck out, like, permanently.

That would invoke the “incapacity” clause of the Constitution, where the Vice President can become acting President if the President is dead or “incapacitated”. And then we would have to deal with President Pence.

Thing is, I can’t see him being up to the task either. Like I have said before, he strikes me as someone with a great deal of anger, like the classic angry controlling father. That’s not the right kind of personality for public office, let alone the Presidency.

And make no mistake : being President is nothing like being governor of some jerkwater red state. A lot more will be demanded of you, and you will not have a ready-made red state audience of sycophantic Tea Partiers ready to sit up and beg at a moment’s notice because he is strong and makes them feel safe.

And then there’s this new Congress, who have already learned that they can’t get away with any kind of shady bullshit any more. Everyone is watching for it. Clearly, even their own constituencies are wary of them, especially since they tried to gut the ethics office.

I hope like hell that they find everything those pricks were trying to hide.

Right now, I am really curious about this pressing issue : will Trump stop tweeting when he is President? Normally, even the most callow and craven of politicians would not even consider that an open question. They would have too much awe for the office to continue to tweet when they were POTUS.

But little Donnie is one spoiled kid. I am not sure anybody will be able to take his smartphone away from him. Which means he will continue to share his brilliant brainstorms with the world.

This could lead to a whole mess of complications, at least at first. International incidents, massive stock market shifts, you name it. Not good.

But I honestly think that it won’t take long before people simply stop listening. I picture it as being a policy of containment. The international community will simply stop dealing with him or taking what he says seriously. There will be a lot of people around him with many different job titles, but they will all have the same job : keep little Donnie distracted and amused so the grownups can talk and get things done.

Essentially, power will be rerouted away from the executive branch.

I know. One of his aides should delete his Twitter account. Then when he finds out, blame it on Russian hackers.

That would certainly put the cat among the pigeons!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.




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I fucked up big time [Jan. 15th, 2017|04:54 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

Le sigh. Ah, me. It is one catastrophe to the next with this one, non?

My film group is shooting today. I am not there. I didn’t go. Because I was mad at them. And that was, so stupid.

Granted. I was mad at them because they had told me outright that they neither wanted or needed me there. This was during one of my recent smelly periods, so it’s not hard to imagine why. But it still hurt me and confirmed my suspicion that I had been frozen out of the group from the very beginning and that nobody gave a fuck what I said or did, and really wished I would just go.

Now I have thought this before about people who would categorically disagree on all fronts and had evidence to back up their claims. It’s a part of my depression. My mind interprets the lack of positive emphatic input that my consciousness experiences as a total lack of caring on the behalf of others. I have spent a lot of time in that mode and it’s not fun.

But usually,. the real cause is not the lack of input, it’s the insensitivity of the instrument. Plenty of people are out there, outside the Wall, caring about me and most definitely wanting me around, but none of it is getting through.

Not in this case, though. They literally told me there was no need for me to even show up. So all I technically refused to do was order pizza for them. I figured they could figure that shit out themselves.

This was a dumb, dumb, DUMB move. Now there are four future writers who will think of me as “difficult”, and that’s like the worst thing you cam be in show biz. I am going to have to work really hard to get back on their good side or my career might be sunk.

And while they did, indeed, say those hurtful things about not wanting or needing me around, I never argued my case or stood up for myself in any way. I never told them how bad I felt about being frozen out of everything or how much being told not to show up hurt me. I never turned on the charm to get them to want me there on shooting day.

I just passively accepted what they said, and then threw a fit and refused to do the one thing they left me, and now I feel like a total idiot.

I should have just showed up anyway. I had a chance to be there while a (short) movie was shot, and I blew it. I could have learned so much and had so much fun,.

But no, I got all pissy when I hadn’t even told people I was upset, and now I am the dumbest student at VFS.

Oh well. At least my writing is funny. Everyone agrees on that. I have the knack for writing comedy, and surely some day someone will be willing to pay me to bring the big laughs that bring the big bucks.

And I will get over it. So I fucked up. Nothing I can do about that now. All I can do is move on and try not to make the same mistake again. Try to remember that no matter how I feel, I need to be Mister Helpful And Cheerful if I want people to want to work with me.

And, you know, that it’s not fair or right for the first time people know you are upset is when you leave. People are not psychic, they can’t know what I do not express.

It took me a surprisingly long time to figure that out. I spent a lot of time hating and resenting people for not caring about me when they were supposed to, but the truth is that I was very, very good at hiding my pain and so I can’t go around blaming people for not seeing something I was an expert at hiding.

How could anyone have known that deep within a frozen snowbank in my heart lies the little boy who found his life so unbearable that at the age of 8, he willed himself to die.

Thank goodness that doesn’t work.

I think I was also hoping someone would see me and want to rescue me. I was that desperate for nurturing. But presumably, all the world saw was a fat kid lying in a snowbank. Weird, maybe, but certainly no emergency.

I feel like this conflict between needing nurturing and being unable to express it has had me in its grip for a very long time. I still desperately need it, too, but adults get a lot less of it than kids do.

And I don’t know how to erase that deficit. I don’t know how one gets that kind of nurturing outside of a hospital. That’s why Munchausen’s Syndrome always made perfect sense to me. A hospital is someplace where a bunch of people look after you, care about you., treat you like you are important, and all without you having to do a thing to earn it.

To a certain kind of broken person, that is very appealing.

People like me. That is why I am very afraid of ending up in the psych warn of a hospital. I would never have the willpower to leave. The transition from a sanctuary where I am taken care of to the real world where I will be expected to cope and be a normal member of society with a job, bills, rent, and all that jazz would be far too harsh. Better to stay out of that trap. If I am seriously ill, I will go to the hospital.  Even if it’s purely mental.

But the moment I go, I will be anxious to get out. Because I know the clock will be ticking on my will to leave.

And if I disappear down that particular rabbit hole, I will never come back.

I willtalk to you nice people again tomorrow.


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Setting our ghosts free [Jan. 14th, 2017|04:46 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

It’s widely accepted (to the point of being trite) that everyone has their own inner demons to fight. But I don’t think that’s the right metaphor.

It’s more like ghosts. Ghosts because our problems revolve around memories we just can’t let go of, and the popular conception of ghosts is that they are waiting to complete some task here on Earth before passing over.

Plus, ghosts are people who are gone, and that fits perfectly with how our souls tend to be haunted by people from our pasts that for whatever reason we cling to… and curse.

These ghosts of the past inside us are frightening to us for a reason : they guard the forbidden knowledge, the memories we have walled off like in the Casque of the Amontillado because they are too traumatic for us to deal with, or so we think. So we freeze them in time and lock them away. The ghost acts like a Scooby Doo villain, scaring us away from where they do not want us to go.

And who know who we would be if we could set all our ghosts free?

I’ve described myself as haunted many times.


It really feels that way. Like I am not alone in my own mind. Part of me has become partly alienated and floats through my mind like an icy mist, keeping a big part of me on ice.

I would love to recapture and integrate the fuckers. But I don’t know where to start. And I feel like they serve some kind of purpose, however maladaptive that purpose might be. I am afraid of what would happen if they were not there.

I suppose they keep me in my place. Keep me from leaving my tiny comfort zone. A lot of the time, I feel like I am being held at gunpoint by someone who says they will kill me if I move. Or standing on ledge smaller than my feet and if I move, I will fall to my death.

Many times, I have dreamed that as I slept, the ground beneath me had risen up, and when I wake up I am high in the air on a column of rock barely big enough to hold me, and if I move, even just to roll over, I will plummet to my death.

Clearly, that is the very strong anti-action bias that depression engenders made manifest in the dreaming state. Depression has often made me feel like I am just barely hanging on and that if I move too much, something really terrible will happen.

Like any sound will waking the sleeping giant inside me and it will demand to be fed.

This operates on the level of dread. That’s how it makes you feel like something terrible is going to happen. That’s what dread is, more or less. I have experienced primeval dread when I try to fight certain compulsions of mine, like my compulsion to do what I had decided to do even if it makes no sense now.

It’s also the source of that “I have a bad feeling out this” feeling.

This unnatural quiet of the soul is very unhealthy.  It may not seem like it, but all those ghosts take up a lot of space and weigh down your mind, dragging you down. and pushing you deeper into the mud.

For a long time, I thought that cold wind I felt blowing through my soul and made me feel like I was always naked at the North Pole at midnight was simply a fact of life and there was nothing I could do about it except make myself as small as I could to preserve what warmth I had and cling to whatever shelter was available.

Paxil saved me from that. I still feel the chill sometimes, but not the wind. Paxil is my parka, as wells as my tuque, my mittens, and my scarf.

Of course, the only long term solution is to release your ghosts and be rid of them. The fewer ghosts, the less the chilling effect, and that means you can thaw out some of those frozen moments and set those ghosts free as well.

That does not come free, though. You have to let the ghost complete its task. Namely, to finish feeling and processing some traumatic memory from your past. You have to go to the places in your mind where you least want to go and open the boxes you are terrified to open, and deal with the things you dread most in the world.

So, you know, no big deal.

Therapy, ideally, should greatly aid this ghost releasing process. It’s a lot easier to release your ghosts when you have help finding them and bringing them to a conclusion. Only then can you set them free.

When the time comes, I get a very specific kind of chill. Like the process is so delicate and difficult that I have to stop absolutely everything else. Like a group of people falling silent as they watch a deer in their backyard.

Before they leave, I think it is not inappropriate to thank our ghosts for their good work. After all, it’s not their fault that they were left at their post for far longer than was good for you. They were only doing the job you gave to them.

Because remember : there is nothing in your mind that is not you.  You play all the parts. Even your deepest problems are mere puppets of your psyche. They do what you have told them to do, and then forgotten that you told them to do it.

To finish, I will give you a magic spell to use on all your scary ghosts :

Simply tell them “I don’t need you!” to them till they fade away.

It’s sure to work if you keep at it long enough to convince yourself!

The hardest and most important thing is to recognize that even our toughest inner demons are serving a need, and it is only when that need is gone (or met in a healthier way) that we can truly be free.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


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It’s too cold [Jan. 13th, 2017|05:20 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

Sorry that’s a long-winded live version of the song, but it’s the only version on YouTube.

I am seriously sick and tired of the cold weather. It’s true that if a younger me living on Prince Edward Island heard me bitching about how cold it is when it’s only -4C, he would have found it hilariously adorable, like a kid complaining about being tired when they had only walked half a block.

But I don’t care. I’m old now, and fully acclimatized to the Wet Coast’s climate, and the cold air really hurts my lungs. And that makes walking to and from school a miserable experience for me.  Especially when it’s 8 am and cold AF. The two blocks to the Skytrain have never seemed longer, even when in the hottest days of the summer.

Boy could I do with a few days of summer right about now.

At least the snow is gone. Well, mostly gone. Early spring gone. There’s still mounds of dirty disgusting snow in parking lots from when they were plowed.

Spread that shit out, people! Then it will melt! And do it in the afternoon, when it’s the warmest it’s gonna be that day. But don’t leave it too late, or you will risk having the melt refreeze into black ice, turning your parking lot into an ice rink and nobody wants that.

Aren’t I full of practical advice today.

All this coldness has made me feel cranky. I have a strong urge to speak my mind and let the bad words out. And I am sure that would feel wonderful…. for a few minutes.

Then I would be crippled by guilt and feel terrible.

SO not worth it.

I keep toying the idea of finding worthy targets when I feel like this. Find some right wingers on a message board somewhere and really let them have it. Vent my spleen about the recent rise of stupidism and all the utterly despicable things being gleefully said by people who suppose themselves the moral guardians of the world.

It still shocks me sometimes to see people – some of them of a highly venerable age – behaving like spoiled brats without any sense that there is any line to defend. Trump and his Trumpeters are the absolute negation of morality, the antimatter to its matter, the void to its creation, the debit to its credit.

Say, doesn’t the Bible say the Antichrist is a charismatic man from the East? One who will promise many wondrous things but lead the world into ruin?

Turns out those ancient whacked out nutjobs might have been on to something.

Right now I vacillate between, on the one hand,  being hopeful that the power of the checks and balances of the American system plus the fact that 70 percent of the USA hates his guts and are gearing up to stop him if he tries something crazy shit will make his Presidency the sort of thing you can laugh about, like a drunk clown, but not apocalyptic. And on the other hand, being scared shitless that he will do some truly crazy shit and end up fucking things up in ways that will take generations to fix.

So far, my compromise position  is to treat the whole thing like entertainment and just sit back and wait for all the lovely succulent schadenfreude the future Narcissist In Chief delivers on a daily basis.

And that’s easy to do in these last eight days before he takes office. Humiliating himself is about all he can do right now. He had his first press conference in six months recently, and he was preictably ill-tempered and cranky and prickly. It’s hilarious to watch a spoiled brat like him doing things he clearly doesn’t want to do and does so poorly at.

And now, there’s this whole piss-a-bed thing. For those of you who only ever hear decent news : the hot rumour is that Donald Trump paid two Russian prostitutes to urinate all over the bed at a fancy Russian hotel. Supposedly, this was because it was a bed Barack Obama had slept in.

And while nobody deserves to be a victim of a baseless and damage rumour more than Donald Trump does, I kind of hope it is not true.

Because if it’s true, that speaks to a very sick state of mind. Not because of the possible piss fetish – if that’s all it was, more power to him, That, I can respect.

But if it truly was a kind of revenge on Obama, that indicates that he truly does have the mind and maturity of a toddler. Because pissing the bed in anger is the exactly the sort of thing a toddler would do. And the thing is, he’s 70. So it is entirely possible that he has regressed to that age emotionally speaking.

If so, heaven help us. Or at least American democracy help us. Or if that fails, may he have a total emotional breakdown during his inauguration, shit himself messily and audibly, crawl under a nearby table, and refuse to come out unless he doesn’t have to be President any more.

Then hopefully the “incapacity” clause of the rules for the Vice President being acting President would be successfully invoked.

Because as evil as Mike Pence is, he strikes me as at least being competent evil. He’s not the type to provoke a war with a tweet or throw a temper tantrum at a press conference or start a trade war over something someone said.

I mean, sure, he’s funny now. But the tantrums of toddlers are always amusing when all they can do is scream and cry and hold their breath.

But let that toddler near the cutlery and suddenly it’s not funny any more.

Oh well, there’s nothing I can do about that. All I can do is keep my head down, do my school work, keep rolling towards a future in entertainment, and hope to whoever responds to the hopes of fat gay agnostic nerds that civilization is still going when I graduate from VFS.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.



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Life in the movies [Jan. 12th, 2017|03:28 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

A recent Cracked podcast has me riled up about the patriarchy again.

Right now, I am ruled up about how pop culture taught me to treat women. The fact that, as a gay man, this is all theoretical to me is immaterial. The fact is, I have this garbage in my mind, writ deep into my social programming, and it disgusts and enrages me.

The podcast in question is about consent, and all the bad juju that makes what you would think would be a dead simple issue to be fraught with peril instead.

Should there be another comma in that sentence? Whatever.

The example they give is the famous scene in Return of the Jedi where Han first kisses Leia. If you haven’t seen it in a while, here it is.

Once you put your “consent goggles” on, that scene just explodes with wrongness. Han approaches Leia, a woman with whom he has no previous romantic relationship, from behind, and she unequivocally rejects him with a freaking shoulder check to the chest. Then he grabs her hand, and slowly presses himself towards her, then kisses her.

And he gets her love that way! That’s his reward. The message is clearly that it takes a manly man like Han Solo to be confident enough to ignore consent (because silly women with their girl brains don’t know what they really want), force himself on a woman, and that’s how you get a woman.

Do I even have to explain how that leads to rape culture? AND RAPE?

Seriously. Straight men are taught that real men don’t ask permission. They just go for it. And even when a movie hero gets rejected, all he’s really risking is a slap on the face for being rude. All he’ll have to do is rub his jaw, grin, say “heh”, and then it’s game on again.

No wonder women all have awful stories of men following that script. These men were not evil and they were not sexual predators. They honestly think that this overpowering approach is how you prove to a woman that you are manly enough to be worth fucking.

After all, women like to feel pursued, right? And they don’t know what’s good for them or what they really want. So it’s up to the strong, decisive male to overcome their female dithering and give them the firm male hand they all secretly want.

Note that you have never, ever seen the reverse. You have never seen a scene where a female character pursues a male character, ignores his repeated and violent rejections of her, then kisses him and that makes him fall in love with him.

And if you put a scene like that in a movie, people would (quite paradoxically) think the guy must be gay, or at least a wimp with something very wrong with him.

And the woman in question would be seen as predatory and creepy. Well fellas, it’s the exact same thing when, in real life, you are pursuing the ladies. The kind of behaviour Han demonstrates is really not the way to go. Trust me on this one!

But the thing is, sometimes it really does work. So women have to realize their tiny part of this problem too. If you fuck a guy who acts like that, you are telling the world that yes, that is indeed the way to get the girl. Give it a shot, you might get lucky!

Also remember that a woman approaching a man is playing for far smaller stakes than a man approaching a woman. Our culture (and possibly instinct) teaches males that their entire worth as a human being rests on how hot a girl they can get , and what they can get her to do for them sexually. For a man, therefore, every time they approach a woman, their entire status is on the line.

That’s why men take it so hard sometimes. Why they get extremely angry and say crazy shit about women not thinking they are good enough because they aren’t rich rock stars with huge dicks. Sure, it seems (and is) crazy from the woman’s perspective, but there is a hell of a lot going on that most women don’t see, let alone understand.

Especially when you factor in the low status males. Men who society has very firmly and with enormous derision that they are unfuckable losers and therefore total losers. Their social status is way less than zero and they should just crawl into a hole and die.

Women have no idea what it is like to approach someone, putting your entire self-esteem on the line, only to have that person not merely reject you but act personally insulted that anyone as lowly as you ever thought you deserved to even talk to her in the first place.

And no matter how cruel her rejection is, society will not punish her for it and other women will praise her for it. In fact, other women will tell her what a bitch she is… admiringly.

Now imagine that gender flipped. A woman approaches a man, he rejects her in the cruelest possible way, acts like she’s a bug that just crawled onto his leg, and all his friends laugh and cheer him on.

It would be pretty clear that this was a horrible thing to do, right? That all the guy had to do was politely say no, and anything else was just plain mean?

And yet women get away with it all the time. It’s the sort of thing that makes men think there’s no accountability for women.

No wonder so many low-status men have decided to simply stop trying. Porn is good enough for them. Why would they keep trying to kick that football when they know Lucy is just going to snatch it away at the last second again?

And the wild thing is, women get angry when they hear that. You would think they would be glad that men they would never fuck will no longer be bothering them. But instead, they get all bent out of shape about these men and call them terrible things.

Almost like something else is going on. Like maybe women’s self-respect is based on how many men want them

But that’s a topic for another time.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


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A parade of pretty thoughts [Jan. 11th, 2017|03:58 am]

Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.

Every day, a parade of suitable topics for blog entries marches through my head. I’ve had at least half a dozen today alone. And they are always very good ideas with lots of scope for exploration or expression and an introduction already forming in my mind.

But only the last one matters, because the rest, I forget.

At least I know why. It’s because of the fast flowing way my mind works. My mind does not want to be hindered by its previous products. It would rather just keep flowing freely on to the next thing, and the next, and the next.

I could, of course, write the ideas down. But that would be pointless. Because there is no chance I will use any idea I write down. By the time I am sitting down to write, the river has flowed onwards and wants to create new things, not rehash the old.

That’s why I don’t keep idea files any more. They don’t pay off. The worst thing I can do to an idea is write it down. My mind interprets that as being “done” and moves on. As long as the idea stays in my mind, its energy has not yet been expended. But once I write it down, I never want to see it again.

Which is pretty messed up, I will admit. Turns out I am somewhat of a flake.

Had some bad moments at school today. Moments when I felt old and stupid and slow and started to wonder whether I belonged at VFS at all.

But I recovered quite quickly, which was good. Even better, it happened on its own, without my conscious mind’s input or control. This suggests that I am finally developing those all important mental defenses that keep other people going.

It brought up some shit that has been worrying me,. though. Feelings that I am not going to be able to cut it out in the world and that I am accruing a total of around $25,000 in total debt for absolutely no reason and that I would have been better off staying home and learning on my own and kept on trying to be a science fiction author instead.

This sort of thing has been on my mind for a long time, like a shadow in the background of my psyche, slowly growing over time till it gets too big to ignore.

I might just end up being another in a sea of millions of people saddled with crushing debt for an education that led them nowhere and means nothing.

But even if that happens, I will never say that the whole thing was a waste of time. From the beginning of my time at Kwantlen till now, I have experienced an enormous amount of personal and psychological growth. When I graduate from VFS, if nothing else I will feel good knowing that, at long last, I am qualified for something.

It would be proof that I am worth something, at least in theory. And that’s huge.

Obviously, I hope for a better result. But it is not going to be easy to convince anyone to hire a freshly graduated 43 year old. They would be very worried about whether or not I could keep up with the hot young writers and they might be right to be.

Maybe I am not as cut out to be a TV writer as I thought.

But the thing is, I know I am goddamned talented. I know I could write very good TV. And I am positive that I could contribute good ideas to a writer’s room, especially in comedy. I can write very funny, heartwarming, wonderful stuff, and I know in my heart that I could take absolutely any TV series and make it better.

Yup, even Fox News shows.

So it’s not a question of talent, and once I graduate, it won’t be a problem of education either. It’s the other little ineffables that are going to trip me up.

I guess I can only hope that my talent speaks for itself and that people will be so impressed by my portfolio that they will overlook my advanced age in order to get that high quality writing for their show.

A fella can dream.

It feels good to be back in the world, though. All that time spent away from school did not do me any favours. The occasional day off is nice, but too much and I become someone I do not want to be.

The walk to the Skytrain this morning was very rough. My lungs are still somewhat sore from the cold I am getting over, so the subfreezing air really, really hurt to breathe. And a big part of me wanted to go home, email in sick again, and retreat into my little womb here.

But that is loser thinking, and I don’t want to be a loser any more. So I told myself that I woiuld feel better once I really got going and had burned the gunk out of my system that had accumulated over four days of no school (and many more before last week).

And I was right. I feel a lot better now. Still don’t know if I am fully over the cold that had me in its grip all weekend, but I am going to keep making it to my classes anyhow, so let the chimps fall where they may.

Don’t worry. We have a trampoline.

Writing for Commercials class was fun. I didn’t do the simple presentation I was supposed to do, but we only did like four of them before moving on, so I am good.

Overall, I guess today was alright. I don’t have class until the afternoon tomorrow, so it will be a lot warmer when I walk to the Skytrain. So hopefully no “why do I live where the air hurts my lungs” feelings.

Oh, that’s right, I don’t. Normally.

Good thing I am almost done, because I am plum out of words.

That did it!

I will see you nice people again tomorrow.



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