We are all of us failing to climb K2

Through the haze of endless and brain-dead Netflix menu scrolling, I have managed to watch two documentaries about mountain climbing. I can’t remember what they were called. One involved K2, and the other some mountain I can’t remember except for that was suitably tall and grueling to climb.

In both movies, nobody reached the summit of either mountain. This is reasonable; I bet it is super hard to climb mountains. In both movies, the mountain climbers, kind of dejected but also grateful to be alive, talk about how it’s about the journey and not the destination. They might actually feel this way.

From the vantage point of my couch, I am not having this shit. I want to see some people on top of some mountains.  Like yeah, these climbers are pitching tents on the edge of windy oblivion, waiting for their bodies to acclimatize to the oxygen at these crazy elevations, and I am a person who just yesterday dipped my finger repeatedly into a jar of Nutella, licking chocolate-hazelnut spread off my dumb body while I waited for my dog to pee outside, but in the end me and these mountain climbers are all the same – pushing the limits of the human experience while never reaching the summit of K2.

I think the destination is as important as the journey, but at the same time the destination of irresponsible Nutella intake is ultimately death, and I think the lives we lead are more important than our ashes/corpses/tombstones, so I guess I do agree with those mountain climbers after all.

Meanwhile, I keep finding empty fast food packaging on the section of the street in front of my house. The weird thing is that the wrapping is always from a place that is not walking distance from my neighborhood. I never see who does this. I am not ruling out subliminal advertising or performance art.

It is none of those things, however. It is just the wind, blowing garbage all over.

A list of instruments I have never learned how to play

  1. Saxophone

Soon I will be twenty-seven years old, and, as I reflect upon my life and I can see that I haven’t done anything remarkable with it. I am relieved. Had I accomplished something truly great, the risk of me choking to death on my own vomit would be a lot higher.

  1. Guitar

Can you imagine if I could play the guitar? Can you picture yourself at a cottage, sitting by a campfire, feeling relaxed and at ease with the world and your place in it, and then I walk up with an acoustic guitar? You could have rightfully strangled me by the beach, and watched as water lapped at my feet, then my body, then carried me out to sea where I would join my 27-club brethren. It is a good thing that I cannot play the guitar.

  1. Tambourine

I am very okay with the state of my life though. For instance, I started writing a thing about how I don’t like Father John Misty, and I deleted it. I almost dedicated an hour of my life to articulating my Father John Misty thoughts. I could have pet my dog.

  1. Recorder

I actually do know how to play the recorder, but my 8th grade music and art teacher kicked me out of class for adding a free jazz solo to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. She had it out for me because I tried to resubmit a 7th grade drawing of a bowl of fruit for extra credit.  I can still remember this, but I do not know the name of my across-the-street neighbor, who I have seen and made small talk with for three years. He called me ‘big guy’ last week, so I am pretty sure we are on the same page.

Teaching is a hard job.

  1. Fuck it, I don’t even know how to play Bass

Still, I feel legitimately happy.  I spend 8 hours a day in a building that is the colour of the sky when it is about to rain, but that just means I have a job. It isn’t even soul-sucking, because sometimes I help people. Also, they pay me money! Excellent!

  1. Drums

I live with another human being, and we regularly grapple each other and mash faces together, but that just means that I have a girlfriend. She’s the best. Sometimes I feel like I have constructed this really comfortable trap for her – here is all of this great life stuff; here is comfort; here is so much comfort that it is almost boring! When she reads this I hope she realizes that this is just my own insecurity, and I have to direct it somewhere. Last summer I harnessed my insecurity into thinking that my home was infested by carpenter ants.

  1. Piano/Keytar

And these worries about THE TYRANNY OF COMFORT or whatever, it’s really just stuff that I am worried about in my own life, and I am projecting it outwards. My girlfriend has free will, bro. I do too, but I use it to just constantly consume things so that I don’t have to think about my life too much. Why else am I reading Stephen King’s It? That book is fucking awful, and it’s also over a thousand pages. That avoids a lot of introspection. I feel like I am in this cycle right now where I am compulsively reading and checking my phone for Instagram-related validation, and scrolling through endless Netflix menus paralyzed by indecision; all of this stuff is easier than writing, which is something I want to do, but am afraid to do.

  1. Violin

Despite the despair in my heart over not knowing how to play the piano/keytar, which is the same instrument, I do want to guide you back to point number 5 about not knowing how to play the bass. The bass is a dumb instrument even though the rhythm section is the foundation of a good rock band. And also I feel happy. I am happy a lot of the time.

  1. Voice

A post-script: last time I was at Canadian Tire, I was standing by their discounted rack of winter apparel, and pictured myself standing by this rack for hours and hours, trying on different kinds of ski masks. Which one would obscure my face enough to allow me to become a vigilante who deals exclusively in vandalizing the cars of people who are shitty at parking?

I believe that if I found the right mask I could change my life.

On the topic of bicycles, Susan B. Anthony once said: “I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.”

Shit man, when I ride a bike I feel the same way.

The conclusion of Heartland Rock week.

I think I like heartland rock because I am a grown fucking man:

I get strong paternal vibes from caramelizing onions. I have a mortgage. I found water in my basement and I don’t know what to do about it. My dog got bit by a tick and I drove to a 24 hr Shoppers in the middle of the night and asked a tired clerk where to find tweezers and what if I can only take care of a living thing for two weeks before it dies.

I am nostalgic for the action movies I watched as a child. Watching an angular Nic Cage and a dreadlocked Angelina Jolie steal cars brought back a flood of memories. Is this tied to those other things? Is this why I am listening to familiar songs that I used to think were corny bullshit?

A woman at my office job and saw my desk and how I had stacked up 5 coffee cups on top of each other and laughed. She said “I understand you. The things we do to cope.” It was very perceptive. I didn’t even know why I was stacking cups.

I look at Bruce Springsteen’s earnest dad-style rocking-out dance moves and I can respect them and their honesty.

I am tired all of the time but I can adjust.

I can drink any pumpkin-flavored beverage I want and I choose not to.

Probably my dog will be just fine.

Heartland Rock anthems are sometimes written on toilets.

I made coffee at work and stole milk out of the communal fridge because I didn’t want to drink it black.

I know.

It is nice to think that you are a good person, but it is a whole other thing to be faced with the reality of having to drink black coffee. Basically I support and identify with my fellow man until there is a very minor inconvenience and I can drink your work kitchen milk anonymously.

I would be a great drone pilot.

I pour my stolen milk and the coffee goes from black to slightly murkier black. Skim milk. If cows knew about skim milk we would see them self-immolating in fields on road trips. We’d see black smoke from burning pyres in the distance and the air would smell of steak, and you’d ask “What’s that?” and I’d say “Cows figured out about skim milk.”

Skim milk is of no value. If skim milk were a person it would steal milk from the communal work fridge.

I am human skim milk.

The coffee was ok.

Born in the USA is a good one.

This morning I stood on my back porch in a light rain with my dog and a warm cup of coffee. I wondered…what it would be like to be a disembodied head? Would you be a drooling head shaped rock? I don’t know if I’d be into that. If it was more like, hey, just a head that could still eat food and talk and grow a beard, only free of pesky flailing limbs and my constantly farting asshole, I think I could do it. I could burden my loved ones and make them carry me around, hoist me high above their (not disembodied) heads  at concerts, finally free from the tyranny of tall motherfuckers at concerts. What a beautiful life.

I find myself listening to more and more heartland rock

I bought an eight-dollar breakfast sandwich. To do this I had to drive to a warehouse type area that houses a local artisanal bakery, and walk from my car to a machine that spits out a ticket for free parking, and then back to my car because the machine needs my license plate number which I never remember, and then back to the machine again to get my ticket for real, and then back to my car to put the ticket on my dashboard, then into the bakery to order and not balk at the price and wait for and then eat my sandwich. It tasted, realistically, like a $3.25 breakfast sandwich.

My dog Gertrude is seventeen weeks old and she threw up in my car and then ate half of it before I could drive home. The vomit still looked a lot like her regular dog food; I get it.

I think if I threw up my eight-dollar breakfast sandwich I would not try to re-eat it. It’s weird I guess, but vomit does not look delicious to me. I’ve thrown up a few times before and have never been tempted.


I have returned; a deadbeat dad with promises to take you to that cool fucking carnival that is in town. Let’s go on that ride that looks like a rusty zipper. We’ll win a giant plush bear. I will buy you a disappointing cheeseburger.

I would like to apologize for my last post, about the sinks at work. I couldn’t even make myself care about it as I was writing it, and I hit post anyway. Now I will leave it there forever as a reminder of past mistakes. No, my abandoned child, that is not a metaphor for you.

Other posts, like the #SOLOBOOKCLUB one, are more broken promises. I tried to write about some of these books, and it was like that thing with the sinks. Do you want to read a bullshit post about how I think Steinbeck is like Steven Spielberg? How On Being Blue is like a fart-y Jazz solo? Does that make sense about the farty jazz? I like farts, but cannot really wrap my head around jazz, although I could sniff a glass of wine while feigning jazz knowledge. These limp comparisons are all I can offer you. You should Read Leonard Cohen’s The Favourite Game; it’s good.

I drink more water now. I feel a sense of pride about how much of it I can drink. Not like an immense level of pride. It is not like I am sitting in my own perfect rocking chair that I have crafted from reclaimed wood (note: this is a fictional chair). It is more like: I will go to the sink to get myself another glass of water, and in my head I will picture myself nodding satisfactorily.

I sent an email to someone with a broken jpeg. Sometimes I feel like eating a salad. I turned off the college rock on the radio because it sounded too weird. I am old as fuck, god damn it.

Feel like saying “I am snuffing out creation,” after eating many ribs.

A thing I used to be able to do was wash my hands at work with a high degree of competence. I was good at it; my hands would be clean and you and I could share in a robust handshake with no hesitation. As our hands continued to shake long past what is called for by social norms and our smiles became strained, people around us would grow concerned but not about the hygiene of my hand and its constricting veins.

We have these hand-free sinks in groups of three. They worked alright, and I didn’t mind being liberated from the responsibilities of having to control water pressure or temperature. Shit’s changed though. It what has become a misguided effort in generating efficiencies, water now shoots out of the sinks at crazy high pressures, and the temperatures go from cold to scalding. Every time I wash my hands it is a high stakes game of not burning my hands or making it look like I’ve pissed on my pants and shirt. I have a strategy where I lather on the soap and dart from sink to sink trying not to generate too much heat or splashback.

I have regressed.

A catalogue of new fears: all of my teeth falling out, carpenter ants, being attacked by Canadian geese.