I think maybe I'm kind of an asshole.

I don't think I'm supposed to say this, but when something happens to someone I know, something great and wonderful and exciting, that it is something that I have been wishing for, or I have deluded myself into thinking I can achieve, normal, sane people are genuinely happy for them. I'm mostly jealous. And resentful. And in my head I think of every reason that I deserve to have or achieve what they have more than them. Just on the surface, I know deep, deep down I am truly happy for them. But it's like pretty deep. I'm doing some digging.

The thing I think I realized while pondering this today, is that I don't think I am truly resentful about their success, I think what I am resentful about is that I haven't achieved it myself. I'm angry with myself that I didn't do it first, or better, or stronger, or at all. And then I silently take it out on them, cursing their name and deciding in my head that they have found some sort of secret loop hole I was not privy to, or that they have unprecidented luck. Once in a while the line "who did they blow to get that?" creeps into my mind. Obviously this is much easier than facing the fact that I have failed myself. It's pretty pathetic. The tried and tested "make someone else feel like shit to make yourself feel better" route. Though I'm not actually making them feel like shit to their faces, only in my head. Still, it's sad.

I don't think I'm the only person that does this, I think it's pretty common. I hope it's common because I am going out on a limb here and exposing some truly terrible thoughts. But of course, no one is going to parade around the fact that they think someone's else's achievement is a sham and that they probably deserved it more. In fact, we probably didn't. Which is why they achieved it, and we didn't. We're not mad at the person for being successful, we're mad at ourselves because we know we're capable of that kind of success, but we haven't gotten there yet. Happens to me all the time. And then I end up feeling awful about myself.

When did I start being so hard on myself? When did I become so focused on resenting other people's success that I forgot to work towards my own? Just when I think I have done something great, I see someone else do something ten times better. Why does that matter to me? Why do I peg myself against everyone else? I'm sure it doesn't matter to anyone else what kind of success I'm having, so it should only matter to me. So if it only matters to me, why am I so obssessed with "beating" everyone else?

Life is not a contest. Life is not a contest. Life is not a contest. I need to keep telling myself this. Or buy a giant blackboard and chalk and do some Bart Simpson-ing. If anyone else told me what I just wrote myself I would tell them to shut up. Or that they are nuts and need to chill out and relax or get some xanax. Or a kitten. It's so easy to talk the talk about living one day at a time and not comparing yourself to other people and blah blah blah. When it comes time to walk the walk, I am crawling. Actually, I'm lying on the sidewalk begging passers-by to drag me by my heels behind them. This week I am going to reflect on this and find a brilliant way to stop this self destructive behavior.

Don't beat me to the punch though, cause if you do I won't be happy for you.


Shitty People

Some would argue that there is a distinct line to be drawn between good and bad. Simply said, there are good people and bad people. Others might say that its not that straightforward: there is good and bad in everyone and it is impossible to categorize people as only one or the other. I am too lazy to make an argument for either side of that debate, so instead I will totally bypass it and move onto new categories that are loosely connected to the aforementioned distinctions: shitty people with money, and shitty people without money. For the purpose of this article, shitty will be considered a technical term.

In August of 2009 I moved into an apartment building in the South End of Halifax, right at the end of Young Avenue, which occupies beautiful homes, several mansions and one giant fucking pink monstrosity that I am 94% sure belongs to Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly. The yards are all beautifully kept, the cars in the driveway all top end, the people all immaculately dressed. Jesus, the fucking dogs are groomed better than I am. It was a “good neighborhood”, so to speak. My top story apartment had an amazing view of the harbor, and you could spit on Point Pleasant Park from the front door. It was widely accepted as a nice place to live. I fucking hated it, but not because of the neighborhood, but for reasons I will not burden you with as they are melodramatic and quite frankly, stupid.

Just this April, I moved to the North End of Dartmouth. It is not Real Estate heaven, like South End Halifax, but agents have predicted that market values will rise in the next five years, as most of the area will be gentrified, much like North End Halifax. I bought my first place for a very low price, knowing that the neighborhood was perhaps considered a little “rough”. Any given night there is a steady parade of cop cars down the block, and there is an ugly bingo hall across the street. Large women and shirtless men sit on their front steps. There are several corner stores with dilapidated store fronts; a few of the buildings surrounding mine give off that certain, “your drug dealer lives here” vibe, and it is socially acceptable to light up a joint on the street corner in the middle of the day. Still illegal, but generally accepted by the neighbors.

At first glance, it is not the most glamorous place to live. It is clear that this is a mid to low income neighborhood, and people generally live here because they can afford it- not because there is a fantastic view of the power plant or because of the 24 hour quick-e-mart on the corner (which in reality is open about 12 hours a day, at best).

I have been living here for almost 4 months and I think I have learned a few important things. Painter’s tape is the creation of Satan, buying a dog and then buying a leather couch was admittedly not my smartest move, having more closet space does not mean I will no longer maintain a floor-drobe, it is more upsetting to break a glass once you’ve bought the set yourself, and as I mentioned before, there are two kinds of shitty people: shitty people with money, and shitty people without money.

Before I touch on that, I really do want to make it clear that I have met some wonderful people in my building and in the houses up the street. Off the main road there are rows of side streets with small houses painted odd colors, mostly with lovely yards and little fences, and generally occupied by families and elderly couples and nice ladies who I chat with at the dog park. I’ve met a handful of people in my building and have grown quite attached to my daily talks from balcony to balcony with the three year old girl who lives next door. I get most of my writing ideas from her as she is infinitely wise. Today I met a young couple expecting their first baby next month and we exchanged numbers and have plans to meet up.

They are all decent, hardworking people who are just trying to live their lives comfortably. Our building is very quiet and generally when I do run into people they are polite and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some very friendly people. That being said there are a couple shifty douchebags and if you look out the front of my building around midnight you can spot the hookers working the main drag. But who doesn’t like the odd hooker now and then?

Yes, there are some questionable characters on my block. But I think there are questionable characters everywhere. When we first see someone, we make judgments. Don’t say that you don’t because you do. You take into account a person’s dress, their hygiene, their general appearance. You recognize the way they speak, their grammar, their tone and their body language. We immediately form an opinion of someone just from looking at them, from speaking to them, and from listening to them.

How valid are our first impressions? How do I know that someone who speaks perfectly and is dressed perfectly and drives the right car and lives in the right house isn’t the notorious “South End Stalker”? Dude breaks into apartments in the South End of Halifax and stares at girls while they sleep. Creepy as fuck, right? My theory is that it is unlikely that one of my neighbors hauls ass from the North End of Dartmouth just to watch a bunch of university chicks sleep. It’s probably some button down, father of three in a Lexus SUV having a mid life crisis or some varsity football player who has tired of the bar stars and needs a new way to get some kicks.

Just because someone has money doesn’t mean they’re not a shitty person. And I don’t mean like, shitty as in they yell at their kids and drive a Hummer. I mean shitty as in they’re stalkers or drug dealers or rapists or thieves or they watch Grey’s Anatomy. They do shitty things that hurt other people. Rich shitty people are probably the people that pick up the hookers on my block. So why does my neighborhood get the bad rap?

Why just today some shirtless men on their front porch drinking beer complimented my dog and were very friendly. I don’t think that’s shitty at all. Maybe they smoke drugs. Maybe they are on social assistance. Maybe they are lazy bastards living off the system who have sex with hookers and steal stereos off the back of trucks. Or maybe, they’re just two dudes who were hot on a Saturday afternoon and wanted to have a beer and watch some people walk by in their neighborhood. I’ll probably never know, and neither will you.

So yes, there may be shitty people in my neighborhood (those would be the shitty people with no money), but I’m betting there are also shitty people in my old neighborhood (shitty people with money). The point of all this, is that I am tired of defending my building and my neighborhood to every small-minded half wit who scrunches up their faces and says, “Oh, you moved to Dartmouth?” Shut up. There are nice people here, and there are shitty people here – just like your neighborhood. Just like every neighborhood on the planet. Go ahead and make your assumptions about people, but bear in mind that people are doing the same to you- good or bad, no matter where you live, no matter how much money you have.


The Joy of Pug

I adopted my pug Jay on September 28, 2009, and it was the best decision I ever made. I have always been a dog person, and I remember when I moved to the South End of Halifax just the month before, walking through Point Pleasant Park and being so jealous of all the dog owners exploring the park and playing with their dogs.

The moment I saw him I knew he was going to be mine. He has the sweetest face and disposition, and despite an appetite that can never be satisfied, I dare say he is perfection. I love taking him all over the city, to different parks, to different walking trails. I love when he sits with me watching tv at night, I love how he takes over my bed and by morning this little animal is sprawled out in the middle of the bed and I am awkwardly scrunched into one corner.

Once I came home from work and he had gotten into a garbage bag that had been left on the kitchen floor, and he had licked coffee grounds into the linolium. I don't live there anymore but I have it on good authority that you can still see little brown specs in that kitchen.

For his 6th birthday I got him a cake from the Three Dog Bakery, and as he tore into it, he looked up at me intermittedly with gobs of brown icing all over his mouth, in his eyebrows, and on his ears. It was the only time I couldn't get him still enough to get a picture.

For father's day I got my dad a "garden pug". My parents love Jay so much, and refer to him as the "grand-dog". They are the only two people on the planet who spoil him more than I do. I often find my dad napping on the couch in the sun room with Jay conveniently positioning himself on dad's stomach. One weekend dad and I were walking through the garden and Jay was sitting staring at the garden pug, sniffing him curiously, confused. He sat there for some time with garden pug. Luckily that day I did get a picture.

Last weekend I went to a cottage in Pictou to look after my cousin's kids and a few of their friends. Jay came along and we all went to the beach. I don't think I have ever seen Jay so excited. He darted all over the beach from trail to shoreline and splashed in the small pond and river running into the ocean. He would paddle his little body for a few seconds then run into the sand and sneeze and roll and chase a helpless child. It was awesome.

We came home that night and I thought I saw something in his poop. I tried to think of a nicer way to describe this scenario but I can't, so if poop offends you, stop reading now. It almost looked like a little white fleck, and I didn't think much of it until I saw another one the next morning again, so called the vet and made an appointment. I googled "poop worms" for several hours that night, and freaked myself out about what he could have eaten at the beach or something he picked up in the grass. We got to the vet and then ran some tests and charged me $170 to tell me it wasn't worms and he was fine.

That night he pooped out a wrapper. It was white and had letters on it but I couldn't make out exactly what it was but I wasn't intrugued enough to research it any further. I just was thankful to know that my dog had eaten some sory of packaged food and not something with worms.

It's funny the things you become thankful for when you acquire a mischevious food driven little dog. More than anything, I am just thankful for how much joy he has brought to my life, and how grateful I am that I get to love him so much. And to everyone who told me it was a terrible idea to get a dog- I like him more than you. And, I told you so.

Love you Jay xo