One of the other boxes we had to move out of Cassidy’s closet was a banker’s box labeled “EA STUFF”. This means it’s supposed to be stuff from 2006-08, when I was a high school educational assistant. It turned out, the top layer is also stuff from when I went back to University to attempt getting my education degree. (This was right after I was an EA, so 08-09.)

Those papers are jarring to look at. As in, education went so poorly for me that even looking at my notes and photocopies, twelve years later, makes me uneasy. It’s clear that back then I just chucked everything into a box and told myself some combination of “you’ll sort it out eventually” and “this could be useful again sometime” and then neither of those things ended up being true.

I haven’t really written at length about my Bachelor of Ed. days, though I’ve told other people the story plenty of times since my experience there. After working as an educational assistant, and already having an undergraduate degree in English, the next logical step was to become a teacher myself. I’d always respected the profession and I seem to have a patient way with people, particularly kids. So I applied and was accepted.

The courses went fine. The in-school practicum did not. At my request I was placed in a rural school not far from my folks’ place, so I stayed there for the duration (although my bedroom had by this point been turned into an office, so I slept around the corner). The kids were great, the other staff and practice teacher were welcoming, and despite everything I went through what I have later come to realize was a major depressive episode.

editor’s note: at this point I went into detail about how exactly things were going but it wasn’t necessary. suffice it to say I was in a dark place for several weeks. I hit pretty much all your common signs & symptoms.

In any case, thanks to the gentle encouragement of my faculty advisor, I stuck it out and finished my practicum blocks as well as I could. I really made every effort, because as the adviser put it, if I didn’t, I’d always wonder if it was just a question of motivation and willpower toward the work. It wasn’t. It was my (lack of) heart for the job and my personality that held me back. But things had to get very, very bad for me in my head before I’d actually open up to ask for help from others; something I’ve slowly been getting better at ever since.

So! All that is to say that when I look at the assignments I made up for my grade fives, I still feel a complicated mix of mostly negative sensations and emotions creep over me. As such, I’d resolved to burn everything in the box and purge it from my life. Then my green conscience got the better of me, and I’ve been going through and laboriously removing the staples so I can recycle everything instead.

Thing I Saw: Outer Wilds, one of my GOAT games, is getting new story DLC in September and there was a trailer that look super cool and I’m hyped.

Thing I Learned: Even though we can know and infer a lot about the dinosaurs, we really have no idea exactly how they looked and sounded. Neat??

I’m Grateful For: Every little bit of rain we’ve gotten this summer so far. I’ve never cared so much about rainfall before, but before last fall we didn’t have a bunch of expensive new shrubs and trees in our backyard either.

I’m Dreaming Of: Getting a cheap PS4, even though I have an enormous backlog of games I mean to finish, and then a boatload of games on Game Pass beyond that. Still, I wanna play the Last Guardian, gimme

This album probably didn’t do the depression any favours but there are some pretty good songs on it

Days Go By

I’m going to try and get a little heavy today. Real introspective. Bear with me, or you know, skip this post and come back another time.

We reorganized Cassidy’s closet, and that meant hauling everything out of there that had lurked in it since we’d moved into the house. One of those things was my Box of Memories, a sturdy box full of a disorganized mess of pictures, documents, souvenirs, and other carefully collected useless junk. I haven’t opened this box in quite a while and Cassidy was, naturally, quite curious about it. One of the artifacts within was a fake book filled with printed photos from 2001-02, which I began poring over in earnest. (She lost interest and started pawing through the rest of the box almost immediately. She is four, after all)

The photos were of me at twentyish, getting my first car, my first apartment, going on road trips, goofing off with friends. My mom is in a couple of them, healthy and smiling. I have memories of this time, but they aren’t as specific and full-colour as photos tend to be. And there are things and people I haven’t thought about in a long time. So going over these was certainly making me feel ways about stuff.

A day or two later I was having lunch with my family, and somehow we got to talking about memory and the passage of time with Cassidy. I still had these photos on my mind, I suppose. And I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I was trying to articulate to her that things can be a long time ago and still feel like they just happened recently. I knew it was futile, but she asks a lot of questions, and we’ve always tried to give honest answers in ways that she can understand.

In trying to find the words for this effect, I suddenly teared up, and couldn’t speak. All I could do was sit at the table and silently cry, making small hand gestures, and eventually giving up. I’ve often been profoundly affected by things that remind me of the passage of time in this way. Cassidy asked me why I was crying, and I truthfully answered that I didn’t know.

“Are you sad?” she asked. No, I replied, that wasn’t it, not exactly. And that’s actually the feeling I’m probing at right now. There’s I think an element of sadness to the feeling, but it’s more. A little overwhelmed, maybe, at the rush of memories when I really get to thinking about my entire life to this point. All the things that come back, places I’ve never been back to, people I’ve not seen in years. But with it, the good times, too. I was free in ways I’m not now.

Part of the feeling is awe at the beauty and mystery and twists and turns of life. I don’t know a more concise way to put it. That guy, back there, he has no idea about what’s coming, and the profound ways he’ll change, or the unexpected directions he’ll go in. And this guy, right here in 2021 has no idea what the next twenty years (Lord willing) have in store. 2041-me is going to look back here in the same way as I’m looking back at 2001-me, saying oh, you sweet summer child, please enjoy all you can while you can. Good things are coming, to be sure, but there are things you have that you will miss one day.

So we finally come around to Tales from the Loop, and the post I threatened to write months ago. For being a sci-fi anthology show it is surprisingly, deeply interested in grief and the ways we change and grow over time. And sometimes, as in episode 4, there are no flashy science-fictiony tricks that will save the day; sometimes, someone you love will be go away and there is simply nothing you can do, even if you know what’s going to happen.

In the finale, a young boy named Cole disappears for a number of years, although no time passes for him. Early in the episode, before his disappearance, Cole and his mother share a moment where she sees he’s reading a book that she signed out of the library as a child some decades earlier. “Does it feel like a long time ago?” he asks. “Blink of an eye,” she replies.

When he’s returned to his mother, he’s still as young as the day of his disappearance, though she’s aged noticeably and quite a lot has happened in her life, as we see in a series of dialogue-free flashbacks through her life. Rebecca Hall, who plays Cole’s mother Loretta, is an incredible actor in these scenes, and the events of the episode put me in a highly emotional headspace, even though I was only following along peripherally, working on my illustrations while it played on a second screen. Although I admit that as things went on I ended up turning my attention away from my drawings entirely.

The final scene hit me like an emotional truck. We the viewers suddenly time-jump forward, and Cole is in his forties, with a wife and child of his own, standing outside of the house he grew up in. His wife mentions this fact, and his son asks, again, if it feels like a long time ago. Backed by the series’ excellent music, Cole shakes his head slightly and says: “Blink of an eye.”

Reader, that is the line that wrecked me. Because it’s true! So much has happened, and will happen, and yet somehow the present moment often feels like it’s the way things have always been. And I know a lot of art has been made about this exact phenomenon, and I’m far from the first person to have been affected by the idea that time marches on. But goodness gracious, I don’t mind telling you that I full-out sobbed for several minutes while the credits rolled and the show’s beautiful score played the series out.

It’s life, I guess. It’s strange and beautiful and sad, but it’s also good, and it’s the one we have. You realize that time goes fast, sang the Flaming Lips. It’s hard to make the good things last. Enjoy what you can, while you can.

(Looking over this post I really don’t know if I’m any further on understanding why I reacted the way I did, but maybe I’ll understand things better one day)

Thing I Saw: A fascinating speedrun of GeoGuessr, of all things! This last week was Summer Games Done Quick, a marathon of speedruns benefiting Doctors Without Borders. I watch as much as I can during the week it’s on, but almost nobody I know does, so I end up excitedly trying to contextualize my hype levels to anyone in earshot. Or as I put it on twitter,

Best part is that nobody reacted at all to this tweet, so I had to show it to my wife and say “was this good? did I do a good joke?” she said yes

Thing I Learned: You can soak ground flaxseed in water for like 15+ minutes, and hey presto, you’ve got a nice egg substitute for your crepes recipe. Attempted this morning when we only had one egg left, and I needed one more.

I’m Grateful For: Being Vaxxed + 14 days as of last Monday, so I am now officially Totes Vaxxed. Made going to the zoo yesterday a bit less stressful, because despite the heat there were a good number of people. I’m also grateful that Cassidy is seemingly not bothered by having to wear masks in certain areas, and has never made a fuss about it.

I’m Dreaming Of: Finishing my Nathan Plays Silent Hill 2 series. I cracked the project files open for the first time in a long time, just recently.

I’ve never seen the video for this and it’s freaking me out


Canada Day was on a Thursday, and felt like a Saturday. Then today, Friday, I didn’t do any work either, so it felt like another Saturday. Tomorrow, confusingly, is also Saturday. It’s fine. I’ll figure it out.

I have a Canada Day tradition of playing Super Metroid to completion. Sometimes with an audience, sometimes not. Last year I streamed it. Canada Day is as good a day as any to do this sort of thing, because one usually has the day off and most shops are closed.

Side note! I mainly started this tradition because I felt like, as an adult, I didn’t have any good traditions. Much like the Imaginary Friend I wrote about earlier, I suppose I started doing this because I felt as though I “should”. Again, on-brand for me.

This year, I hadn’t decided if I was going to play it until about half an hour before I actually did. I’m most of the way through Metroid Zero Mission so I felt like my Metroidy itch was being adequately scratched, plus it had been a lengthy (and hot) day overall. I hadn’t made the space to do it before putting Cassidy to bed, and bedtime with her is often an epic, multi-hour test of will and determination that had been a bit draining overall.

Side note the second! One of those bedtime sessions is happening as I write this post! It’s taking me quite a long time to do even a few words, because she’s quite distracting!

Anyway, my daughter was finally winding down, and a couple of friends had asked if I was doing it, and I thought what the hey. Let’s grab an Adult Beverage, slap a stream together, and play the game. I decided that if nobody was watching by the time I got to about the Maridia (underwater) section I would probably call it a night. Maridia isn’t terrible, but the pace of things slows down and it’s usually where my runs go to die if my heart isn’t in the game.

So, I let me friends know I was doing the thing and went live at around 9:30pm. For about the first half hour of the game there were…2 viewers, one of which I was pretty sure was me on a second PC as I occasionally made sure the stream was working correctly. I was trying to keep talking and sip my beverage, but there was absolutely nobody chatting back. About a half hour into the session, I got a notification that I was being raided.

Explainer! On twitch.tv, where I stream my things, streamers can “raid” others by designating another stream that the audience will be magically shifted over to. This is often done at the end of your stream; if there’s still a decent number of watchers, you can sort of pass them off to another streamer and the viewers can keep the fun going. (Or not. Viewers are warned and can opt out of the raid, or just, you know, close the tab)

The raid was by a channel called “Neebs Gaming“, and suddenly, over 700 new viewers flooded into my stream, spamming my chat with greetings and emotes I didn’t recognize. They were, by and large, super positive and supportive, and exactly the kind of audience that would go along with someone like me casually playing through Super Metroid as I bantered with them. They were mostly North American, but at least one person was from Norway, which is crazy!

Eventually I gathered that the Neebs Gaming streamers had wanted to raid a Canadian streamer in honour of Canada Day, and I was the lucky recipient. And I had a blast! Sailed right through Maridia and onward to the end of the game, answering questions, making it weird at times, and continuing to drink adult beverages in a responsible manner. After about two and a half hours I was at the finale of the game, and down to about 100 people left but even that completely eclipses any amount of viewers I’ve ever had. Honestly it’s probably more than I’ll ever have again.

But you know what? It’s really turned me on to streaming again. Lori pointed out that I seem quite energized after most of my streams, even if they only draw a few people. I was positively buzzing on this one well through the day today, messaging my friends to brag about the party they missed. Again, I know that the energy of future streams will probably not be quite like this. But if there’s just two or three people chatting with me while I do something I love, it seems to make all the difference to me. I have a lot of fun with it, and I come away happier than when I started. I want to do that some more, on a regular basis!

So! I’m talking with Lori about how we can make even a weekly, part-time stream work. I’m definitely not planning to quit everything and go fulltime, but I want to do this more, again. We’ll see what happens!

Thing I Saw: The ending of the 5th book in the Dog Man series. These are deeply silly graphic novels for kids about a Cop with the head of a Dog who is also the Best Crime Fighter of Ever. They started out quite random and crude, and as they’ve gone on, the crudeness has diminished in favour of a remarkable amount of heart and good lessons for kids. The silliness very much remains. But the introduction of a tiny, adorable clone of the main villain marked a real turning point for the series, and as they keep reminding readers, you’ve always got the choice to do something good in the world. I kind of love them.

Thing I Learned: Metroid Zero Mission is almost perfect to play on bathroom breaks, because the frequency of save rooms means you can play in 5-10 minute sessions easily. This is probably by design, because almost any GBA game you can name is set up to be played in short bursts given the nature of the system.

I’m Grateful For: The streamers and community of Neebs Gaming for making my Canada Day one to remember 🙂

I’m Dreaming Of: A new phone. Not because mine (an LG G7 ThinQ) has anything wrong with it, I just like shiny new things. We recently changed phone providers at work, and since this is a work phone I could have used the opportunity for an upgrade. Unfortunately, my brother Lloyd, who handles such things, says he specifically asked me if I wanted an upgrade already and I said “No, I’m fine”. I don’t remember doing this. He and my Dad are getting new phones. Bleh.

Summer drive vibes for ya