Sun Sun filters in Forming a rectangular shape Penetrating my safe enclosure Reminding me The outside world still exists If only I could harness it to power my body To get out of bed Now that’s solar power!
Darkness The darkness creeps in again As day changes to night An unstoppable phantom An all-encumbering blanket No light can make it bearable Just surrender and accept It is dark once again Until morning
Starbucks I don’t even recognize this world around me. How am I supposed to be productive? Maneuvering on an unstable rock, an unknown planet, through an ever-evolving galaxy… Staring at the unfamiliar person across from me at a Starbucks, one of many, not special, drinking brown water, trying to find the inspiration at the bottom of the cup… Multiple unimportant conversations fill the space around me, fleeting moments in a day that blends into the next, any other day really, not special, they’ve all been repeated before... People pretending to be busy, all the while thinking the same thoughts as me, feeling the same feelings, experiencing the same sense of dread… Some people staring off into the distance, waiting for a reply on their phone, waiting for their partner to join them, waiting for an email, for a response, any response, waiting, always waiting… We are our gadgets and our gadgets are us. Coffee, Cappuccino, Americano, Chai Latte, Cold Brew, Iced Tea, Frappuccino, down the hatch, feeling wired, feeling tired, feeling happy, feeling sad, feeling hope, feeling hopeless... Just another day at Starbucks.
Sunset Sunset People waiting in anticipation For something so natural, so primitive Mother Nature must laugh at our pettiness A game of hide and seek Trying to inconspicuously dip away Not trying to draw attention to itself Doing a poor job of it Trying to run away from sky Trying to escape from civilization Away from world Away from people Unaware that it will return again tomorrow Repeating the same process Again and again For eternity The definition of craziness Reflecting off the surfaces of the water Reflecting the human experience Sunset -Bali, Jan 11/2017
On Being 29
by Cameron Brtnik
Getting older is not fun.
NOW I’M THAT GUY: the one who I always despised. The guy who goes out to dinner with his wife or girlfriend of three years and asks the young looking waiter how old the he is. Upon proudly asserting he is only 19, his wife/girlfriend replies (with just a hint of flirtation): “Oh, you’re just a baby.” For some reason I always thought that was lame. I always thought I would stay that baby. But now, now I’m that guy…
No matter what anyone says, getting older sucks. Nothing is as good as it once was. I just don’t buy when (old) people say, “Getting older is great! With more experience comes greater wisdom!” Not to mention with more birthdays comes greater joint pain. I think the best part of life is attaining that wisdom; “The journey not the destination” and all that. Sure it’s great to give it, your wisdom, passing it on to the youth who will surely ignore it as you once did because you needed to learn it for yourself. And what would be the fun in following it? Sure you’d stay out of trouble, but you’d miss out on the best part of growing up! Wisdom, therefore, is contradictory, an oxymoron if you will…
I feel shame.
I am no longer proud of my accomplishments. Possibly because I have not made any in a long time. I think the last time I felt good about anything I did was at age eighteen, the first time I traveled – to British Columbia, Canada – and made something of myself; I became a ski bum. I got a job at a ski resort and fell in love with snowboarding. I felt liberated, absolute freedom in the mountains, and felt like I could conquer the world… Since then, I haven’t felt quite as high: L.A., Carnival Cruises, China, all great challenges and experiences, yet not the same feeling of accomplishment…
I feel off.
It may be a chemical imbalance; my family is evidence that this is probably the case. Or it could just be me. Or maybe it’s something I could adjust if I just changed my thinking. But that’s just it: No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to change my thinking. I’ve become stuck in a rut, and I’ve been here, or there, for years. I’m not sure what I can do…
I feel helpless.
Perhaps it doesn’t help, not having any family around. I hole up deeper inside myself, and it becomes a self-perpetuating emotion, a form of self-sabotage, and it’s something that I can’t shake. When I return back home, I should seek help. I just hope it’s not too late. Like Saito recited in the movie Inception, I don’t want to “become an old man, filled with regret.”.
I feel lost.
I’m sick of not knowing what I’m supposed to do in life. It seems as though everyone else has figured it out by the age of twenty five and set their lives on course to reach their goals. I feel like I was born with the career-oriented portion of my brain missing. I can’t figure out what exactly it is I want to do. I suppose there may be many other people out there who don’t know what they want to do either. But they decide on something: Something that they could be happy doing, not ever fully knowing if that’s what they were destined to do, if they will ever reach their full potential, both creatively and emotionally…
I’m a teacher.
I truly enjoy teaching, but sometimes lack the patience it takes to make sure every student reaches their full potential. I believe in helping each child individually, no matter how dumb he is or hopeless it seems. I think I should focus on teaching, but…
I’m a writer.
I think I really want to be a writer. I’d like to write for a magazine, sharing stories about my travels and experiences, or even write fictional short stories that I could submit weekly to a publication just to get by, and one day write that deceivingly simple word “book,” expecting my life will have been interesting enough by then for anyone to want to read about. But…
I’m a family businessman.
Deep down, even though I left the family business a decade ago, I’d like to make sure my family’s restaurant continues on and remains a mogul in Toronto. I know we have a good thing, and I want to be involved in continuing its success, ensuring its reputation lives on throughout future generations. But I feel like…
I’m a prostitute.
On prostituting yourself (Bruce Lee quote): “I realize that if you prostitute yourself in anyway, it won’t make you happy. That means anything; Don’t give anything for free!” This doesn’t mean you can’t be charitable, I’m all for that. But you must feel like it is a good deal for you. If you are giving for the betterment of the community or for children, that’s a good thing. But if you feel you are doing something for free, against your will, DON’T DO IT! It’s not worth it, I know. I’ve prostituted myself, and lost myself, my self-worth, along the way…
I can’t remember what I wanted… I can’t remember what my morals were…I can’t remember where I was supposed to go…. It’s time to remember.
Cameron is a regular Blogger, Writer, self-styled Psychologist cbrtnik.com
Starless Sky a poem about Taipei Taipei, Taipei, starless sky Up above the world so high I can't see you, your guiding light You never show up, day or night Taipei, Taipei, starless sky I look up and you always hide You're full, but down here lose your power Starlight wasted by the hour Taipei, Taipei, starless sky I look up and I wonder why You're bright, but light cannot shine true Clouds like a membrane obscure view Taipei, Taipei, starless sky I feel a void, a great divide You're strong, but cannot break on through Pollution thick; light sticks like glue Taipei, Taipei, starless sky Sometimes I look up and I cry I miss you stars, why did you leave Without your guidance eyes bereaved Taipei, Taipei, starless sky Even if you really try You won't see them, they've gone away For now it's starless, black and gray
I feel heavy. A constant weighing down; I try to pick myself up, but it’s almost impossible. I try to inspire, to motivate my myself, but it’s like pushing against gravity; I don’t budge. I know I have potential, I know I do! But…it remains stagnant, unmoved by my intentions. I feel sad. I can’t really figure out what’s wrong with me…am I depressed? And if so, am I depressed because of my circumstances or simply because I am depressed, like a never ending cycle, perpetual motion.... I feel hope. I have more opportunity than ever. But I’m so scared I won’t be able to follow through, the thought of starting anything frightens me. I don’t want to let down my partners, my friends, and perhaps overall, myself. I feel chaotic. Like a constant battle going on, a magnet: positive and negative; drive and break; up and down; good and evil. How can I find a happy medium? Drugs, prescriptions, psychoanalysis, it’s all available. I’ve tried some in the past, I just wish I could do this on my own without anyone’s help…. I feel foolish. Immature, and selfish asking for others’ help, even though I know they would happily offer it. I want to do it on my own, but that may be impossible...I’m not sure where I’m heading…. I see the sunlight above the clouds, but it’s far in the distance………. Will I ever reach it?
9.2.15 – Depression
I ate a whole box of O’s in bed last night and passed out. I effectively both avoided Skyping home, as was my plan (every time I want to Skype home I have guilty feelings of all the times I never Skyped home, and therefore avoid it again to rid myself of those negative feelings, therefore causing the cycle to continue) and all responsibility – I had planned to accomplish a few things before bed. WTF is wrong with me! I’m afraid I haven’t improved since I was a teenager, and I’m not sure if I ever will… I’m scared, and feeling more depressed than ever. I have a prescription for Ritalin, which helps me focus for long periods without getting tired or eating, and gives me feelings of inspiration, motivation and happiness… but those do not last. I feel worse the next day. It must be what a cocaine hangover feels like. I should probably change my prescription to antidepressants.
Memories of Germany
Remembering Edith & Wolfgang
by Cameron Brtnik
June, 2014 – We’ve lost someone dearly beloved to us. Edith Herzog, 1932-2014. She lived a long, full life, then lost a battle with cancer. Otto, her brother, and my dad, spoke with her on the phone in the weeks prior to her death and said she sounded well, in good spirits. He was able to talk to his only sister before her passing, and I am grateful for that.
I always wished we – my younger brother, sister, and I – were closer with our family in Germany: Aunt Edith and Uncle Wolfgang, cousins Roby and Bepsi, her husband Helmut and their kids, our dear cousins Eva and Kati, and of course, our Omi. Not close in the sense of family, but in terms of distance – we saw them very infrequently as kids, but made trips whenever we could visit. Sometimes Otto would take all three of us. I went alone once, and Adam and Meghan went on other occasions. They were all memorable trips, in no small part due to the generosity and hospitality we felt as soon as we arrived.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my wonderful family in Stuttgart, Germany. Our Aunt Edith – sweating and slaving in the kitchen, our uncle Wolfgang – yelling Edith’s name from another floor high above, perhaps about the laundry or maybe looking for his glasses. Taking a short car ride into town to pick up some sparkling water (which I hated. They never drank spring water so I just had to get used to the unpleasant fizzy taste) in Wolfgang’s Mercedes Benz – never the “top of the line model with leather interior,” but a beautiful automobile nonetheless (as a retired engineer at Mercedes he would receive a new Benz every two years, not a bad retirement package!) or to pick up fresh pretzels in the morning (I still have an unhealthy love of those warm, squishy pretzels). And watching Walker: Texas Ranger (which was unusually popular in Germany) starring, yep, Chuck Noris, on TV with my auntie Edith.
Eating is a considerable part of German culture and I can remember Edith working in the kitchen all morning to prepare lunch (in American culture dinner is the biggest meal whereas in Germany lunch is – In Taiwan EVERY meal is the big meal), which was always hearty and delicious. We would then make our way into town to shop, or travel outside of Holzeim (the quaint, hillside town where they lived) to go sightseeing, visit picturesque towns, gothic churches and modern museums (my favourite was always the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart).
They generally made sure we were always busy during our visit. There were also neighbours who had kids our age, so we were never bored, even if there was a language barrier – isn’t it funny that these things don’t matter as a kid? My favourite way to pass the time would be to wander beyond their backyard, cross over the train tracks, pass through the poison ivy, and into the rolling green hills just beyond their home. It was a beautiful, picturesque landscape, and I can remember feeling quite at peace, riding a bike or just hiking through the hills.
One of my fondest memories of my aunt Edith was when I was about 15, and had met a German girl at the local gym. This girl had particularly long fangs that masqueraded as teeth. We went on a date and I ended up with a painfully visible hickey on my neck. Edith nicknamed her “Vampire Girl” from then on. We never had a second date. (If you’re reading this, add me to Facebook! Or should I say Fangbook?)
I’ll really miss Edith and Wolfgang – I never got to say bye to them, and I haven’t visited in almost ten years. But every visit I had was so momentous it never felt that long between visits. I wish I could sit down and have a chat with them now…. Edith’s laugh filling the room (she always did have a great sense of humour), Wolfgang, serious, stern, but generous and always joining in on the joke. They were more than just great but amazing people that I’ll always hold close to my heart.
I remember always looking up to my cousin Roby as a mentor – a fashion expert, music buff, and ladies man (though he’s now engaged with children), he had a big impact on me as a kid. We still have lots of great family in Germany, and we should all make efforts to see each other whenever possible. In fact, Meghan and JP will travel to Germany next week. I wish I could join you guys! I know you’ll have an incredible trip, and make even more lasting memories. And if you happen to see Vampire Girl, tell her…that she left a “lasting impression” on me.
Dedicated to Omi, Edith & Wolfgang
Written by Cameron, September 10, 2014