Making It Work

(I wrote this as a gift for one of my closest friends in the world, Kerryn Taylor, an ex, a friend, an acquaintance, an irritation, and finally a confidante. She knows me like few do, and I wanted to use my new passion for writing to make her a birthday gift. I hope you like it, dearest).

The cold blue light of the computer monitor bathes me as I type away. I am angry. No, I am furious, in a way that only teenagers can be about matters that matter little to none in adulthood.

“Dear Kerryn, I hope you understand how much you’ve hurt me…”

We met in 2007, where my geek flag was just beginning to show in true form. I was awkward, gangly, and didn’t know the social dances. She was 14 (Shut up, I know it’s weird), a budding photographer, and cosplayed,  she loved anime to an obsessive degree, Kingdom Hearts and Dance Dance Revolution.

After a dose of long glances and my lack of courage in following through at Supanova 2007, where she dressed as Demyx-

I finally took the plunge on MSN messenger, before it became another nonfunctional backdrop in my past.

“Wanna go out sometime?”
“Aw! I’d love to!”

I still remember our first date. ‘My’ first date, ever. Butterflies does not cover it, when I saw her in her WWF t-shirt (fun fact kids, WWF was what wrestling used to be called!), jeans and checkered vans. It was perfect to me. We saw Kung Fu Panda, and  believe ir or not, we didn’t kiss until afterward. I snuck up behind her at the snack bar, and all of a sudden… there it was. It was tender, sweet… it felt right. Many more kisses later, we decided we would go steady, or if you like, the Australian equivalent, “Put the sheep in ya swag” or something.

A myriad of sushi, lying in the grass and smiling, reading manga, and discussing our “cosplays to come” flashes across my mind as I remember our 6 months together, where we were still figuring out who we were but were glad of the support of someone to watch us transition. I even had her as my date at my high school formal, in which she looked beautiful, I looked okay, and the whole event sucked. We spent the whole time listening to Muse on my CD player outside.

It was a happy, exciting, teenage interest.

But like most teenage interests, they will either last forever inside you, transform, or disappear completely. I was convinced for a time that our relationship would be the latter.

Our relationship was one of firsts: First kiss in the rain, first holding hands and walking through the city, other pedestrians be damned, (we were that annoying couple), first DNM over music Greenday and pop punk for her, and my passionate emo tendencies, and our first teenage like activities in dark movie theatres.

However, first relationships mean that, at least for me, it was the first time trying to grasp the concept that the world does not revolve around you, and that meant serious lack of empathy. There was tears, frustration, and our eyes rocketed towards our skulls so often towards the end of our relationship, that I’m surprised they’re not lodged in our skulls. It would take us both a long time before we were happy with who we saw in the mirror each day, and it showed.

I broke it off. It hurt, but not as much as I thought it would, for either of us… because I think we knew instinctually we didn’t fit like lovers should. Let me put it to you this way… When I asked her “What am I to you?” She responded “You’re my Edward.”

Yup. This Edward.

Not gonna lie, folks… Huge boner killer, for a teenager who “didn’t” want to be seen as an abusive badly written statue. In her defense, she was a teenager, and you’ve done some stupid stuff in teenage hood too I bet. But if I’m honest, I’ve never quite forgiven her for that slight.

I think I knew we wouldn’t last after that.

The relationship ended, but we didn’t lose touch. The pain, and fear of losing her forever came further down the line.

She had gotten a  new boyfriend. A boyfriend that I’m going to call Jerkface. This, unfortunately was the beginning of a long hiatus from each other.

A series of emails to each other read like this, mind you, I’m paraphrasing:

J:”YOU AND YOUR BOYFRIEND DITCHED ME.”

K: “FUCK YOU I’M ALLOWED TO HAVE MY OWN LIFE.”

6 months later.

J: YOU AND YOUR NEW BOYFRIEND DITCHED ME.”

K: “FUCK YOU HE’S WONDERFUL.”

3 months later:

K: I was an idiot, I miss you.

J: Please, stop shutting yourself out.

K: I’ll try.

3 months later.

K: REMOVE MY FUCKING PHOTOGRAPH FROM DEVIANTART. YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME CREDIT.

J: YES I DID.

K: NO, YOU DIDN’T FUCK YOU.

J: WELL FUCK YOU. DON’T TALK TO ME ANYMORE!

K: FUCK YOU MORE! AND GLADLY!

J: (dammit).

On and on it went, where we dug ourselves deeper into our respective holes, shouting at each other “Dig up, stupid!” But eventually, Teenage Pride and the relationships destroyed along the way led us back in to each others lives… But it wouldn’t happen for a few years yet.

My first memory that sticks out of our reunion period is at a Hog’s Breath cafe in maybe 2013. For those not in the know, they’re these ridiculous steak cafes which charge you an obscene amount for beef. Give me a Hard Rock Cafe any day.

I arrived early, and soon after she came and embraced me in a way only the truly close or emotionally inexperienced can (trust me, if you don’t know what a GLOMP is, look it up).

We were in our 20’s now, and it had been at least a few months since I had seen her. She had a new boyfriend, Matt, a man of resounding plaid cloth and bearded like the pard. Matt was awesome, a man I considered a friend straight out of the gate. We talked Batman and ended up cracking each other up within 5 minutes of  meeting each other… But it was more than that. They were happy. Happy to the point that I knew if they didn’t fuck it up, they’d be together forever.

She was so different. She had garnered a new love for comics, was more open, honest and was finally pursuing her dream to be a Forensic Photographer. She glowed. She seemed to finally have taken my advice to love herself as much as I once did. She had changed so much.

And I? I dunno. I’m the worst at self analysation, my own worst critic. I can only hope that I was on my way at that point from the selfish lazy prick I had been as a teenager, to just a lazy prick. I set achievable goals.

Come 2015, right before I left town for Melbourne, I knew that we’d be in each other’s lives forever when she and Matt stopped me and as a couple, after having a lovely goodbye dinner, and handed me $100 to help me with my transition into my strange new land.

I was blown away by the generosity. Little did I know how much that generosity would save my life.

November 18, 2015. The day of my big move to Melbourne Town. I pack my PS4 into my suitcase, thinking it would be just under the weight I’d paid for on the flight, and let’s face it, I wasn’t waiting 2 weeks to play my game. I get into the airport, put the suitcase on the weighing machine and… it was 10 kilos over.

$25 per kilo meant that it would cost me $300 extra just to get on the plane or abandon all my possessions. I had to  be at the gate in 15 minutes. SHITFUCKSHIT! I didn’t have that kind of money!

Except I did. The $100 they gave me made me just able to make up for my stupid mistake. That $100 saved my life, and I am so grateful that Kerryn, or as I call the couple-blob that is Kerryn and Matt- Mart- exist in my life. I love you guys.

Today, we live in separate states, but I talk to her quite regularly still. I’d be lying if I said I went to her with everything, but like family, I know I can always count on her, and she me.

We’re planning to get tattoos together next time I come to town. Matching Mary Poppins tattoos. It’s that internal “WTF?” reaction you felt as compared to our internal squeeing, that reminds me why our relationship is fucking awesome.

I love you loads, my friend. Thank you for being you.

-Jack

Don’t Take The Personal Experience™ Personally

Well, hi!

So with my last bit of writing, I seemed to strike a chord with people in a way I secretly hoped, but didn’t expect to. Gaiman said it best when he said that your work is like a little message in a bottle put out to sea, amongst thousands of other little bottles, hoping yours gets picked up by someone, and they too will make a message saying they liked it, put it in a bottle and send it back to you. Often, it just isn’t to be.

On that note, I’m fairly sure I referenced that exact same Gaiman speech in my last entry, so let’s move on.

gaiman judging me.jpg
I can’t even be original when I’m quoting other people. *judgmental Neil*

I started writing this article yesterday with the idea of talking about my despair with social media, and while this is very relevant to me, personally- it’s not a new idea, and it’s certainly one I’ve ranted about in the past.

To friends who have heard this from me before? Bear with me.

Older folks will be the first to say that we’re too connected. That we don’t take the time to be outside anymore. I guess they’re neglecting the time they spent with TV/Radio/Newspapers/Pulp comics/nudie mags, but I digress.

Recently though, I can’t deny that facebook, the epitome of ‘personal social media experience’, is getting the better of me. I often find myself on two trains of thought.

1: Wow, what a useful tool for my career!

2: Fuck this fucking thing, all it’s doing is making me miserable-CAN YOU STOP REMINDING ME ABOUT HOW I WAS FRIENDS WITH THAT PERSON TWO YEARS AGO?!

Today, I’m on #2. It’s not pleasant. Facebook is this weird bubble, worse in a way than any social media network that’s come before it, at least for me.

It’s all about ‘friends’.

It’s not ‘followers’. You can lose a follower. It’s not about ‘subscribers’, that’s their business if they don’t like my content. It’s about ‘friends’, and fuckalmighty does that make it sting when relationships crumble.

Stand By Me, the hit film of 86, made a point with 10 year old me that I’ll never forget. “Friends move in and out of your life like busboys at a restaurant”.

Thanks for the wisdom Wil Wheaton!

That’s natural, it happens. Friends move on. Even in the more dramatic situations- you were a dick, they were a dick, or you were genitalia together, you’re allowed to make mistakes. But on facebook, your failure is there to see. Unfriended. Over. Done. *Dead Pacman Noise*

Enjoy your ‘personal social media experience’ dry heaving in grief over your keyboard, you pathetic mess!

But even worse for me personally? The professional contacts. I feel like this is the social media version of high heeled shoes. Cool concept, but painful as hell to execute.  You don’t know them, and more than likely after the professional thing you had is said and done, your facebook friendship lingers on way past its expiration date.

But you won’t cut the tie, and you know why? The potential of something. A close professional relationship where you have each other’s back- maybe something more…?

What a witty gif you just posted. Be here in 20 minutes. 😉

THEN they cut the tie on YOU.

WHAT?!

WHAT?!

Slow down, bud. Think about it for a sec.

They didn’t do anything wrong. They just saw what you didn’t. They were more self aware than you- they knew your relationship with them was strictly professional, so they decided to trim the fat on their ‘personal social media experience’.

After all, facebook is just for friends! Don’t take it personally!

Huh? Why did we add each other in the first place then…? Good question.

I’l give an example from my own life- I did a show one time with a girl, she was kinda cool, we were bros for a while. She asked me acting questions after, we did another show together, bro relationship went down a bit but still okay.

Months pass.
No talking no talking-
“Hey I’m doing a one woman show!” “Sorry can’t make it.”
No talking no talking no talking-
“Hey I’m doing a comedy show!” No response.
No talking no talking-

UNFRIENDED.

That right there? Is the definition of “don’t take it personally”. Even if she had a problem with something I had done, she didn’t have the guts to confront me about it, so what can be done? It’s not personal!

Don’t take it personally!

But how can I not?

That’s what Facebook is FOR  after all. A personal experience. I’m an actor. I need to keep contact with people that might give me work. I’m also a depressed person, and judge myself most harshly of all. Every time I have someone deleted me, it’s a little knife wound I can’t deny.

Obvious image use is obvious. Still, if it ‘aint broke.

This makes me question the whole idea of personal connection to our technology. I miss the days of vague hand gestures when someone asks “Are you and Carol good?” Because you legitimately didn’t know.

That’s not a bad thing, either. Hell, by the time you see Carol again, maybe she’ll have forgiven you for not cleaning up the piss you left on the toilet seat you disgusting heathen.

But in this ‘personal social media experience’, there is no grey. There is only knowledge that that person is not your friend anymore, carol is not your friend, and your piss staining ways are not in her life anymore.

“You’re not my friend anymore.”
“You’re not my friend anymore.”
“You’re not my friend anymore.”

Sound familiar?

Remember saying that exact phrase?

“YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!”

Yeah you do.

You were a ton shorter at the time and couldn’t go outside without a hat.


I SAID DON’T POST SPOILERS! YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE! 

We’ve been downgraded to the squabbles we had at four years old. And no, you’re not invited to my birthday party. These ‘personal social media experience’s are, in my opinion, making it harder and harder for us to trust one another and build healthy relationships.

Where does this leave me? Should I become a hermit in the woods Perhaps. But not today. There are some positives to our technology, and ‘personal experiences.’

Today I did a little bit of research on the new phase of gaming that will be entering our consciousness in a big way in the next few years- Virtual Reality gaming.

Ghost Busters meets GI JOE. I dig it immensely.

Long story short, we’re gaining the ability to walk around a warehouse space and shoot zombies. AND you can do it today, in Melbourne! Incidentally, if that sounds like a good time, hit me the hell up.

This is really cool. It’s amazing in fact. Our technology seamlessly integrates with our lives to the point where we can spend an hour walking around deaf, blind and by the end, sweating our tits off- and all in the pursuit of a fictional goal. We are so connected to our virtual selves in this moment that gamers who stereotypically are seen as lazy exercise haters (and rightly so)- will actually exercise, because these people have created a seamless ‘personal experience’.

Hell, in my work, in anybody’s for that matter- aren’t we trying to make something that connects with someone? To make them feel engaged? Can I really fault Facebook for what is clearly my own personal issues projected by a feature that the social media forum could not function without?

In reality, the only way I can make it better for myself is to slowly extricate myself from Facebook, maintain my page, and cross my everything that it doesn’t cost me too many opportunities. But even today, before writing this, one of the first things I did was lament the loss of above bro I did two plays with.

Whatever you choose to believe though, you can’t deny the power social media holds over us now. To the point where if I saw Carol who had unfriended me over the piss stained toilet seat, I would assume we’re not friends anymore. Because of a button pushed.

But maybe Carol was still open to being friends if I just apologised?

I would know nothing of that. I would simply ignore her, because I would think that’s what’s appropriate to do with someone who doesn’t like me. Damage done. From there, Carol would see me ignoring them and ignore me too. A friendship dead.

Where as before this fucking social media took hold, I could see a world where I, awkward as I am, would go up to Carol, and awkwardly apologise for being such a dick, and she would laugh, and I would laugh, and she would hand me a roll of toilet paper as a truce and we would ride off into the sunset together.

A likely scenario even then? Nah. But now it seems nigh impossible. The social dance has 12 more steps thanks to social media, and we don’t quite know how to dance them yet. In the meantime, we will squabble like four year olds, and end friendships that could’ve lasted much longer in another age.

And on that note, I’m gonna go play Tomb Raider. Another age? Eh?

(I really wish I could say every piece I do won’t end with a lame joke. I really, really do.)

-Jack

TL;DR: If you’re not quite mentally stable, social media can be a bitch, and video games are fun.

You can find me on my website or my twitter!