It’s 2021 (!) and I’m still going to have thoughts. And then some of those thoughts will find their way here. So this is a series. Of thoughts. Published randomly. For no reason. Thank you for coming.

Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

I have hit a wall. A large metaphorical wall. Of understanding, or wanting to understand, or the ability to understand. I have hit a wall in my limits. I have run into the thing like some cartoon character. It has flattened my face and dulled my senses.

It’s not the plague though I’m sure there’s that. Here in Montreal, we are under a curfew now and are forbidden from galavanting outside after 8 PM, which seems early, doesn’t it? Unless you have to walk your dog (no joke), or deliver a pizza or work in a hospital, or have some other job for which your employer has granted you a government issued pass. My friend is a professor and he has one. I have a dog but I’ve yet to use her as a legit curfew buster. I will soon enough.

But I have hit a wall. Writing is difficult. Reading is difficult. Even deciding what to watch or stream is difficult. Thinking is proving problematic. I’m thankful that the NHL season has begun and that the NFL playoffs are reaching their climax (the modern sports-industrial complex is built on males’ avoidance of difficult issues and…feelings). I am cooking, every night. My inlaws are not doing well and my wife is busy caring for her parents and making arrangements (it is better to talk of arranging then caring; taking care of old people is about organization and endless phone calls and waiting for results of tests and then scheduling more tests and more arrangements and more phone calls) and she is being heroic about the whole thing (and at this point I have to say, I am more than thankful that my parents are in fine health). My wife is tough and resilient and amazing. So cooking. I am taking care of my family by cooking a good, sometimes complicated, meal every night. I enjoy cooking (and eating) so this is not a boast, simply a fact. And sometimes, that cooking is not so complicated because a few months back we bought an Instant Pot and I am here to tell you the hype is real. The thing lives up to its billing. I have talked two of my friends into purchasing one as well. One of them is the professor with the curfew pass. These two facts about him are unrelated.

I saw him two nights ago because he bought me a truckers cap with our bitmojis printed on it (for my birthday, which was last month). We’re playing hacky-sack like we probably imagine we did 20 years ago. More. Thirty years ago. Holy shit, I’m old. So is he. Though he looks amazingly young.

This is the cap; I’m not sure why I’m wearing such a pained expression; I might have been trying to think of something, or make a decision of some kind, or perhaps I’d just hit a wall again.

Via Cory Doctorow’s always interesting newsletter I found out that Yugoslavs (back when there was a country that went by that name) fell big time for Mexican culture, especially music. (Many years ago, when I was editing a magazine, I created a series of stories about interesting culture clashes around the world, but that was more stories of migration and how communities ended up in very specific places and what these migrants brought to their new homes and how their new homes changed in welcoming them. There are few, if any, Mexicans in the former Yugoslavia.) I dove into that history yesterday (parts of it are delightful) but because I’ve hit a wall, I didn’t dive in too deeply. I dig the new single from Jane Weaver. I am watching what is happening in the US with one eye open. With bated breath. We devoured Lupin. I have started watching WandaVision, which seems like the clash between an art school experiment and the most pop culture franchise yet created.

Canada’s vaccination schedule is delayed. Because we aren’t manufacturing any of the vaccines ourselves. Which is a scandal but Canadians in general are too lazy to complain. Or, put another way, they are not surprised (and another thing that will not surprise me is the horror of how the Americans botched their response to the threat but not the relative efficiency with which they will inject their populace — or those that want it but that’s another story). As a country with a (too) small population blessed with abundant natural resources, we just dig stuff or cut down trees, or fish (“hewers of wood and drawers of water”), but we don’t make stuff. Hardly. We are so relatively small Americans don’t quite take us seriously so gift us things like The Auto Pact (which made Ontario rich) and allow Canadian television channels to take over the signals from American border stations so Canadians can watch Canadian ads while watching the same American show (this is called simulcasting and it is the most Canadian thing ever; if you want to see laziness in action, watch english-language television in Canada and try to imagine this is a real place and not some American parallel world). We are in the G7 because the Americans wanted us there. The Americans are thankful that one of their borders is populated by nice and docile people (except when we play hockey or wrestle) so they don’t invade us (it also helps them that they have oceans on two sides, two and a half if you count the Gulf of Mexico). Their only invasion — at least since 1812 — is cultural and outside of Quebec we didn’t put up much of a fight. Every once in a while, we give them a Ryan Reynolds and in return we’re allowed us to go about our business and boast (smugly) about our health care system and our relative lack of crime. When the Americans come for our water, we’ll regret depending on them for so much. I don’t think we’re too far off from that point.

I’m working on a novel I suspect is going nowhere. I’m just not sure yet. A part of me still thinks I will find something soon enough. But I have to write more to get there. Which is, like, work.

Did I tell you I’ve hit a wall?

Writer. Complainer. I drink bourbon. I have edited media, worked in content and branding and strategy, and chances are I’ll do those things again. @arjunbasu

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