Hmm… the last Newsletter I sent out was October 28th, 2002. Now it’s February 2003 and as usual, lots of things are going on.

I have to admit, I haven’t been motivated to send out an update for the last few months. I don’t expect reply from everyone for each and every e-mail I send out, but I’ve been feeling particularly hermit-like for the last little bit. Most people haven’t made any effort contact me and it makes this occasionally feel a bit futile. It may not be a gold-plated invitation or anything, but it is an effort to stay in touch and that’s the key I guess. It usually doesn’t bother me… I guess I’m just in a mood.

Christmas was a nice break, overall. Seeing family, being goofy as usual and showing Gal downtown Toronto. It was a good chance for me to take stock of the last year or so and relax. Time spent with the relatives was good: great food, fun conversation and the typical Christmas silliness. Missing it last year made it even more important this time around.

The only trouble spot over the holidays came when I invited a pile of people to meet Cornflake, Gal and I at our favorite pub downtown. It ended up turning out oddly. I’ll be honest: it felt down right weird and awkward.

After the initial meet and greet, we grabbed some pints and settled in to a booth to chat. I had told Gal all about these wonderful people from residence and almost all of them had mentioned to me that they were looking forward to meeting her. But now that they were all there in person, they just ignored her and she felt horribly left out and annoyed. I knew that everyone would want to catch up, but I hadn’t anticipated all of them being this self-absorbed. Luckily my cousin stopped by, so Gal and her headed off to do some shopping. I felt like crap about it, but there wasn’t much I could do.

The Sheridan crew indicated that they’d be at the pub from 3:00 until 5:00ish and I invited our old Toronto friends to be there at about 6:00. They’re two very different groups of people and they have pretty much nothing in common. I figured that way we could meet up with both groups and everyone would be happy. Instead, the Sheridan kids stuck around and everyone ended up being there all at once after 6:00. I tried to toggle between the two groups, but didn’t really feel like I belonged anywhere.

Either everyone’s changed or I have and everyone’s practically the same. I didn’t know what to say to people and my normally glib social interaction turned into staring at my pint of cider. The Toronto crew was polite and it was nice to see them, but I really wasn’t sure what to talk about. When the Sheridan people pulled out cameras and started taking pictures, I could appreciate the sentiment, but just wasn’t into it.

By 8:00, I was tipsy and more than ready to leave… I apologized like crazy for taking off early, but just needed to get out. As I headed down Queen Street to get the subway I ran into Josh and Allison, two of the people I’d invited down. They were running late and were obviously surprised to see me on the street instead of at the pub. I was embarrassed as hell when I explained to them that I’d cut out early from my own get together. Ugh… just thinking about it over a month later and I’m still frustrated by it.

This type of thing has been echoed several other times when I’ve called up friends and tried to carry on conversations. Lots of reminiscing, but it’s hard with connect to them on any current level. I don’t know what it means, but it’s troubling. I really enjoy the friendships I’ve made and it annoys me that everyone seems so apathetic about communicating with each other, myself included!

It’s obvious that we’re all growing up… I don’t have delusions that we’re all going to be the same people. But the common interests seem fewer and farther between. I don’t want to be trapped with a few old time stories that we tell each other over and over each time we meet with nothing else worth sharing. “Do you remember when…” should be “This is what I’m doing right now.” Even still, I talk about what I’m doing currently and I can sense a shift over the phone. They’re no longer a part of it, they haven’t been there for it, they just want to get it over with, hang up and let people know “I talked to Jim the other day. He’s doing good.”

Worse still, I’m the same way.

Other than the ol’ break down of communication, things are actually pretty good.

I shaved my head to about a millimeter soon after Christmas, which was entertaining. I don’t have the head for this lack of hair thing. All my head wound scars are way to apparent and it just looked messed up. It’s finally growing in now, but it was really bizarre for a while. Gal was suitably surprised when she first saw it, with a shocked “What the fuck did you do that for?” I wish I could have taken a shot of her face at that moment with the camera; Truly priceless.

Work wise, we’re in the home stretch on this show. 3 more episodes and it’s done, which could mean that work itself is finished for a few months. I’m not looking forward to a lay off. I can’t get excited about it like some of the guys at work. I don’t want to sit on my ass and collect EI. Even though I’ve put money into it, it just feels like a failing of some sort. I don’t know how else to explain it. I have more than enough pet projects to keep me busy, but I’d rather be working as well.

Speaking of pet projects, my big one is almost finished. At the end of this month, The Makeshift Miracle will be done. “Oh yeah” you say. “The Makeshift Miracle… that thing Jim has been doing for two years. I wish I could read the story, but that damn subscription thing is in the way.”

It’s actually really strange being in the home stretch on it. It’s been relatively constant, doing 3 pages almost every week and not doing it will be downright odd. I have plans to possibly bring the archives back to my webpage for free again or get the story printed in a book or both. More details as these things develop. In any case, it’s been a good exercise in drawing, storytelling and work ethic for me… warts and all. Joining Modern Tales has been a weird and wonderful way to be slightly “pro” about it, and the contacts I’ve made there have been quite valuable.

Writing-wise things are going well too. I submitted an article to Steve Jackson Games for their on-line magazine called d20 Weekly. I was super pleased that they took my article and the next too submissions as well. In a tiny way, I’m now getting paid to write RPG material, which is a tiny geeky dream. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to read that either, d20 Weekly requires a subscription. Geez, you’d think I was in the online porn industry with all this subscription stuff. I thought the internet was free, what the heck?

Artwise, I’ve made a lot of progress with more painterly approaches to color, which has been a really good feeling. You can see some examples on my portfolio page along with a bunch of work stuff:

http://www.makeshiftmiracle.com/ZUB.html

I always wanted to be able to paint when I was in high school but didn’t have any aptitude for it and was horribly disappointed with my initial forays into it. My digital stuff is really progressing now thought, but I’m hitting the limits of what I seem to be able to do with the mouse. I’m really kicking myself for selling my Wacom digital tablet back in Calgary. Oh well, that’s a monetary goal down the road now…

Gal’s had a nasty cough for weeks now and is doing her best to fight it off. It’s really drained her and between work and school, she’s been like the living dead around here. Not a pretty thought I know, but still. The cold weather has made it harder for her to shake this and I’m popping vitamins like crazy to ensure that I don’t catch it.

I can’t wait for it to warm up again. Crisp winds from off the ocean can be a killer. It’s not as brutal as Calgary’s winters were, but it can still be plenty cold.

That’s the report. There’s probably more but I’m finishing this early in the morning and my brain’s a bit fuzzy. More next time and some pictures too if I can get around to it.

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