Category Archives: Ephemera

Scratch

The corners of my brain were itchy.

The corners of my brain were itchy, and I was staring at the many blank pages of my 2017 agenda.

Every year, I buy a new one, the blank pages filled with promise, and every year I end up staring at those very same pages, all too few with notes and tasks written on them as intended, even fewer with those notes and tasks fully executed.

As I flip through, I remember all my great plans. The burst of energy at the start of the year giving away to… giving away to another sea of nothing. Then very suddenly, the pages fill up once more, this time far more meticulous as everything falls apart and I cling to any kind of structure that I can find.

“Please remember to eat”, it reminds me.

“Water will stop you from dying, maybe.”

Many of these too, are left unchecked, which means I couldn’t even save myself when I needed saving the most.

The rest of the year gets better and worse, months of rebuilding, days of regret, weeks of half-hearted work giving away to nothing once again.

 

So.

The corners of my brain were itchy, and filling with regret. And hope.

I look at the calendar for 2018, and hatch a plan. I will get another agenda. I will do better, not just on those pages, but in general. I will hold myself accountable, and I will make and write and do.

I will be a better husband.

I will be a better me.

I won’t spend another December looking through an agenda filled with regrets, and think to myself, “another year wasted”.

I can’t.

As I get to the end of January, I’m already a little behind where I want to be. I was sick for a bit and it threw me for a loop, but… but that can’t be an excuse, because there’s always an excuse. Always. That’s why the agendas stay to empty.

And so, there’s this. A note from the middle of the night. A signal flare saying something… anything… selfishly for me. For today, it’s enough. It will calm my brain and let me push on to tomorrow which… will be better.

 

And so here’s to 2018. The year where it all happens, partly because I need it to, but mostly because I’ve always wanted it to. Every year. This is the one where it happens. Whatever “it” is.

Kings of Nothing

I’m frustrated.

Frustrated at all the people who see silence as a preferred behaviour. Frustrated at those who think only of winning. People who want to stand on their tiny mountains at the end of the day, and feel proud they destroyed as many as possible. Those who push others down to stand on their backs, perceiving this as “standing tall”.

At the end of your days, standing on top of your shit mountain isn’t worth it.

Whatever you think I’m writing about, you’re right. I’ve been watching people come forward and attempt to change the system (any system), only to promptly get squashed down by others who feel more comfortable with the status quo. Who are terrified of any change, lest it take away some of their power within their tiny ecosystems. Rumours begin to spread, the poison takes over. Because that’s what this all is. Poison. And those who are dolling it out are wearing gloves. In their minds, they’re blameless because they’re not touching the poison directly. But it’s still out there, hurting people.

We’re all here for a short time, and if there is some kind of afterlife – everyone is going to know you’re an asshole for eternity.

5 Things: Maximum Derek

Five Things is an occasional check in on what’s been and what might be. I refuse to set a regularity for it, because life is some bullshit, you know?

01. So I learned something about myself last year: I find it a whole hell of a lot easier to write when I am angry or feeling depressed.

You can actually track my production level on Submetropolitan as shit hits the fan in my personal life, or when the comic book industry (and by extension, my professional life) blows itself up. That’s… something I want to get away from this year. So I’ve done two things. First? I’ve promised myself to try and make things when I don’t feel like trash. And two? I built myself a schedule. One that’s ambitious, but contains several breaks to maintain sanity. We’ll… see how that all goes.

02. Folks who have been popping into Variant Edition lately have probably noticed a bit of a change – mainly that Danica is around a lot more often, and I seem to be out and about a whole lot more. For the past two years, Danica has really been holding things down for us financially, and… well, things have shifted. First, the store is doing really well. I mean, it’s always done well under the circumstances, but when you don’t have to pay a lawyer to figure out how to get yourself properly split from a garbage old business partner, and your roof stops flooding, things tend to run a bit smoother.

Anyway, Danica has drastically scaled back her out-of-shop work, and I’ve picked up some of the slack by helping out the liquor shop that’s just down the road from our store. It’s been nice to have a job where all I have to do is a set amount of tasks, and then walk away when the clock hits a certain time. Almost relaxing in a way.

03. Tomorrow is the long-awaited return of Doctor Whooch where we tell you all of our opinions about the last episode of the Stephen Moffat era. It gets a little spicy. After that? We have plans to revisit another show in the Doctor Who universe that was practically made for a drunk podcast to talk about, as we wait for Jodie Whittaker to pop in again.

04. Some upcoming content to keep an eye out for:

  • Several articles about DC’s brilliant Young Animal line.
  • A 2017 year in review in comics retail for Comics Beat.
  • Some reconstituted pieces from the past, including some Drunk Comic Recaps that will start appearing as a part of Thirsty Thursdays when there isn’t a Doctor Whooch to post.
  • Cat pictures.
  • Terrible motivational words.
  • Definitely some words about Tom King and his amazing work in comics and prose.
  • More? Sure. Whatever.

05. I am tired. I shall die now.

But Seriously

2017 was quite a mixed bag.

Danica has spoken about where we were and where we are quite a bit more than I have this year, and there’s good reason for this. I’ve always considered myself a writer, but I never write. I will take almost any excuse not to, thinking in my head “but I should be writing” while reaching for the remote to let the next episode of Bob’s Burgers play.

This year, like most years, I’m pledging to be better. And not just when it comes to writing. When I look inwards, and when Danica looks at me, we both see someone who is avoiding his problems. I put off going to the doctor, I put off talking about my problems, I push back and back and back, attempting to find comfort in my discomfort instead of trying to… be better.

So.

In 2018… I just… I want to be able to confront myself. And to do that, I think I’ll be confronting others a little less. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be quiet about bullshit, but as Danica and I have talked about personally a lot lately, I need to stop worrying so much about everyone else, and really take a look at the things that are making me feel like garbage. I need to stop avoiding how my brain perceives myself.

Anyway.

I hope last year has treated you well, and I hope the new year is good for you. We’re both going to be here, talking and listening.

Thank you all.

Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.
Variant Edition // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Let’s try this again

At the end of last year, I do what I always do, and made myself a work schedule to get a decent amount of content out in 2018.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’ll see you all back here in a few weeks when I explain how everything went horribly wrong. Or who knows, this time, things might work out. I might actually accomplish a goal.

Psh. Sure sure.

SaveSave

Happy New Year!

Edmonton has not been reduced to a crater just yet, so it’s time for another spin around the sun.

Danica and I would like to thank you all for the support that you’ve shown us this year, both emotionally and through Variant EditionWithout you, we would be lost, as we are wee depressive baby ducks, often wondering off the path into the jaws of certain danger. Or something like that.

Metaphors are fun.

Thank you and we love you and we’ll hopefully talk with you soon.

Was and What’s Next

One of the benefits of this job has been the ability to walk to work and sometimes, see sunrises like this one.

Changes abound in my life these days. I’ve been working full-time at a large company for the past month, and although the job has been satisfying in a lot of ways, it’s been draining my energy. I’ve chosen to end my contract at the original end date of December 1, rather than extend it. That was an option, but I knew that working full-time and trying to cover the store in the busiest retail season would have been a mistake for me. I know how I feel when I burn out, so these days I’m better at preventing things before they get started. Sure, an extra three weeks of pay would have been nice, but I’m done choosing money over my health.

I had my doubts, because it has been an enjoyable job, but I feel that longing to be at the store. I know there’s always much to do, even if it doesn’t support me financially. I feel that when I’m there more often, I’m closer to my goals.

Thanks to a friend’s referral, I have a lead on a part-time position at another office, so I’m pursuing that. That way, I can be at the store at least half the week, rather than a smattering of hours throughout and Saturday (though Brandon and I still intend to continue our weekend schedule).

SaveSave

Good, Great, Better

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. At first, it was because I had nothing to say. Then, I had no time to sit down and properly create words. I have some time to catch up and gather my thoughts about everything that’s been happening.

I’ve begun taking my mental health seriously. This year was about putting myself first, and making sure I’m healthy enough to take care of my family. I started on a mild antidepressant back in August, and it felt like the little boost I needed. I had spent the months prior starting to exercise, meditate, and communicate better with my loved ones. This was simply the final step. I am also seeing a therapist, although with my schedule, it can be difficult keeping appointments. I feel like me again. No, I feel better than me. I feel functional, which at times I’m still uneasy about. This Current Me is confident, and can handle most problems. She feels positive about the future, which is good, because there’s a lot of good coming down the pipe.

At the end of October, I was let go from my part-time office job, which was basically how I paid my bills (I won’t let the store pay me until we’re doing really, really well). Funnily enough, I wasn’t worried at all. I knew I could contact my recruiter and pick up some temp work, and even if I didn’t, I was happy to be at the store full-time. The timing worked out, and I began a full-time contract about 10 days after being let go. I’ll be there until December 1, and possibly longer(my contract may be extended). It’s a delightful job, and I’m enjoying reception work much more than I thought I would.

The store has some new opportunities beginning. Variant Edition announced our partnership with the The Alberta Library last month, and some libraries have already signed up for the program. It’s like getting dozens of new file customers all at once! Brandon spoke at a conference in September, and he said lots of people were excited about being able to order comics from a store that would assist them with recommendations. A huge part of the program is the interactivity.

We also took the first big step towards being focused on graphic novels. The store now has beautiful gray curvy shelves, full of cubbies. Brandon had the brilliant idea to curve the single issue shelves to match, and now walking through the middle aisle feels like you’re in a storybook.

In media news, I’ve been in a few podcasts over the last couple weeks. I was invited to speak on That’s So Maven!  With Andrea Beca about being a woman entrepreneur and the ups and downs of running a business with your life partner. If you’re at all interested in female representation in business, check out Andrea’s podcast. She’s interviewed many amazing women, and has no shortage of options for future episodes.

I also spoke with Steven, Warren, and Chris of Radio Free Skaro as part of their “Second Chances” season. I had picked “Eaters of Light”, written by Rona Munro, and it was an absolute delight chatting and sparring with the group. We didn’t agree on everything, but I feel that made the discussion more interesting to listen to.

Since I last wrote, Brandon and myself have also reinvented and relaunched Yegs & Bacon, Variant Edition’s now twice monthly podcast about the comics industry. Rather than a weekly show talking about the new comics, with light comics news, we’ve opened it up to evergreen discussions about the comics industry as a whole. What are the issues, what could be better, etc.

I’d say that’s all for now, but I know that’s a lot, and there’s likely more on the way. I’m going to take my days off when I can, center myself when needed, and try to write a bit here and there. My time is limited, but I’m usually on Twitter. Reach out if you need me!

Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.
Variant Edition // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram