Monthly Archives: January 2018

When You’re Not Looking

I’m regularly wowed by the things we find when we’re not looking for them.

While we were leaving a restaurant near our home last night, my girlfriend told me that we had to go to our corner store. For coffee and dish soap, she said. I suspected that there was a third thing, something we had run out of at home and had recently talked about needing. I couldn’t think of what it was, but I was sure there was a third thing.

When we got to the corner store, no bell went off in my head. I walked the aisles hoping something would leap out at me, but it didn’t happen.

Later on that night, hours after the store had closed, she remembered what it was: soy sauce.

She told me this while was I tooling around ThemeForest looking at WordPress themes for an upcoming project. Except I wasn’t, not really. I was looking at themes, checking my email, checking in on my fantasy basketball teams, scrolling through things on Product Hunt, and listening to what she was watching (CNN’s The Nineties). More accurately, I was spending time doing little things because I couldn’t shake the suspicion that I was looking for something without knowing I was looking. So, even though I wasn’t doing anything, I kept doing it.

I was hoping to find the third thing.

I can’t explain this feeling — this idea of knowing you are looking for something without knowing what that thing is — but I bet you’ve had it. Possibly in front of a refrigerator.

When I found what I was unconsciously looking for (a tool for Amazon affiliate tags, of all things) I experienced a subdued sense of amazement. It was like my brain was rewarding me for trusting my gut.

A few days earlier, I had been looking for just such a tool. Apparently, some background process in my head had been whirring away for days, and then boom, it happened.

I felt compelled to type this out. I feel compelled to tell people to trust their guts and follow their instincts.

It doesn’t really have to make sense to anyone except for you.

More biking makes my list of 2018 resolutions


So, here’s a thing: I make New Year’s resolutions.

Some people think New Year’s resolutions are disappointments waiting to happen, but from what I’ve seen, people only screw up when they say they’ll do something fundamentally out of character for them.

You know the type. The friend who hates exercise but who says she’ll run a marathon; the colleague who hasn’t read anything longer than a magazine article since high school who says he’ll read fifty books; the relative who lives on a diet of cheeseburgers who says they’ll go vegetarian.

This is why I never resolve to do anything too outlandish. When I used to smoke, I never resolved to quit smoking. Rather, I resolved to smoke less. And I always did. And this February, I will be smoke-free for two years.

Keeping resolutions reasonable is the key to sticking to them, I think. Here are mine:

More books

I read a lot because I don’t like to be out of the loop, even for a few hours. After I wake up, I head to the internet to find out what happened in the world while I was sleeping and I try to stay in the know during my waking hours. It doesn’t even feel like reading — it feels like consumption.

So yes, more books. Right now I’m splitting my time between Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous and Guillaume Morrissette’s New Tab.

More words

Writing was my favourite thing, and then it became my job. When your avocation becomes your vocation, it can stop being fun. I’ve been writing for a living since 2005, and since then, I’ve only done a bit of personal writing that I care about.

In November, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) hoping to shake something loose inside of me. After a dynamite start and some characters that felt real and vital, I petered off. Still, it was encouraging. So yes, more writing. (I also hope to complete a rewrite of the Eat, Pray, Love screenplay, because that movie should be a dark comedy about solipsism and privilege.)

Less booze

A friend recently told me that he’s “reconsidering” his relationship with alcohol. Hangovers suck and I’m getting older, and so I too am reconsidering my relationship with alcohol.

Less news

I will never, ever be uninformed, but I definitely need to stop consuming news at the rate that I do. Being stuffed to the gills with information doesn’t make me feel smarter. It makes me despondent and fearful.

Less Facebook

Facebook is bad for you. It makes you feel bad.

More full houses, trivia, and pandemics

Playing cards and board games with friends in 2017 reminded me that I’d rather be playing cards and board games with friends than doing almost anything else.

More wind in my hair

Riding a bike makes me feel free. When I’m on my bike I’m not thinking, planning, or worrying — I’m just enjoying being alive. I rediscovered this love this past year, when I saw a lot of Montréal on a used Minelli Soloist I bought for $100.

More airports, rental cars

Aside from going to Greenfield Park for a wedding and to the Casino for a concert, I only left the island of Montréal five times in 2017 — and three of those times were for work. Working on Canada 150 was rewarding in a lot of ways, but it was also exhausting and limited my mobility. As such, a major goal for 2018 is to get out of town more often. Prospective landing spots include New York City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Lisbon, and Athens.