Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Colony of Losers-Day 3

Posted on | April 1, 2010 | 5 Comments

Today I ran in my pajama pants in a circle around the Halifax Commons, dazzling onlookers with my grace and agility. Sure I looked ready to puke on the dogs pooping on the dirty grass nearby. Sure I was wearing my winter coat and my arms were pumping up and down resembled a penguin trying to take flight.  But I was running and everyone that wanted to say something couldn’t say it fast enough.

I ran in my flannel pajamas because at a certain point I grew too old to wear sweatpants and no longer own any and it was too cold to wear shorts.  My everpresent dirty jeans were so loose they were always falling down and revealing my ass to friends and strangers alike that does to the hip hop tradition I come from. The most reasonable thing I could think to wear was my flannel pajamas and I wore them like a king.  I raced past dog walkers, cell-phone yellers and IPOD zombies listening to Richard Simmonds urge them to reach their ideal weight.

Sometimes I ran until I was out of breath, heart beating like I was going to have an anxiety attack  until I had to slow down.  Other times I walked and felt in slow motion as thirty something joggers sped past me getting ahead of the stress of their days.

I saw a half beautiful young lady dying a little as she pushed herself past the point of endurance, face red and grimacing. I wondered if this was the run away from work or this was the run towards a relationship with herself and a mysterious as of yet unknown man/woman who would love her for the person she truly wanted to be. Did she have braces when she was a kid? Is that the reason why her smile  was forced and her teeth jutted out and faced the day like a jackal ready to feast on its prey?  She was probably thinking none of these things…or maybe she was wondering why that asshole in front of her was wearing pajama pants and she was running because she assumed he must be out of his mind. She ran past me and I stopped to have a mini asthma attack.

Whether I was running or I was walking it was in a circle and it felt strangely familiar. My run and walk began and ended at Tony’s Donairs where mustached masters make meaty and oniony satisfaction that becomes stomach aches and stains on clothing that people mistake for the last remnants of a passionate affair.  Or maybe Tony’s Donair isn’t the beginning or an end of my journey but an arbitrary point where I decide I have a mission and decide it’s finished. . I walked here to go for my walk so maybe my walk began at the door of my house. Maybe it continues every time I get up to go to the bathroom. Maybe it continues even while I am on the Internet writing this blog, my leg shaking with left over adrenaline.

My mouse takes the place of my legs, taking my mind in circles through the same websites I always check while I procrastinate from doing what I need to do—which is find a job so that I can stop look for jobs until I need to again. It’s Wednesday and I am going to pretend it’s Monday.

Because if it’s Wednesday it’s already too late. Job-hunting needs to begin on Monday. Otherwise you reach Wednesday and you’re half way to Friday and nothing gets done on the weekend and you arrive at Monday again no better off than you were the week before. Actually worse because each Monday you miss you lose a little bit of your belief that a real Monday will come and your pajama pants start to stink and slowly your couch replaces the rest of the world.

During the first dark period in my life, I went through two months of these weeks.  It’s still hard to talk about but I guess its best described as a coma where you are fully conscious of the fact that you aren’t living. You breath, you talk, but nothing goes in and nothing real comes out.

At first I was happy to have a vacation from the world after years of going to school and the previous months of working shitty job after shitty job making just enough to need handouts from my parents to make ends meet. Then I missed that first Monday and it got worse.

I’ve seen a couple of my less fortunate friends on this same journey.

Rent gets paid by selling everything you own, you take odd jobs that no one really needs done except for the fact that your friends and family know you’d prefer to do a job no one cares about rather than take a hand out.  You eat at your family table every other night. You never bring anything to Potlucks and you go to parties of people you don’t like. You eat your liver and take charity from the people that love you, looking at the ground because you don’t want to look them in the eye and see what they might be thinking of you. Soon you get stuck in your house because it gets tiresome having someone else buy your drinks. You get lonely and don’t want to be around people because they might make small talk. When you are looking for work or you’re looking for something better you start to get scared of the questions people might ask you.

When people have nothing to say they ask big questions rather than bear the weight of the silence. I can’t count how many people I didn’t punch in the face when they asked me “What are you doing these days?”

Life is good when I have something to say to that question. I am lucky to be an artist because I usually have an answer to that question that sounds vaguely impressive. For years I worked on my book and could always talk about the latest developments. I was also working on an album called Last Night with my best friend in the world Justin Kinch that kept me going. Get your own free copy here(http://www.atlantichiphop.com/?p=436
) This album is about this time in my life even if it never talks about it.

As the days went on my answers meant less and less. My grandmother suggested I join the Navy. I started looking with envy at Tim Horton’s employees thinking they had life figured out. I walked by my old convenience store job and asked Ms. Soze if they had any openings. They didn’t.  I signed up for Monster and Workopolis. I applied for a job in Burnside and went into the bathroom and had a strange laughing fit. In the bathroom where I was taking a shit they had a photo of September 11th and the towers crumbling. On it the words were written: “Worst Massacre In Human History”.  I will certainly say it was a horrible day and the debate about what day was worse is futile and stupid. Still I am Jewish and I probably would have laughed with the same horror if there was a picture of Auschwitz in that bathroom with the same words underneath the picture. After all what fucking madmen put that in their bathroom? I got the job. I pretended I didn’t.

I attended a workshop filled with fifty-year-old divorcees that taught you how to construct a resume.  The man giving the presentation was a cute sixty-year-old man who told us to reach for our goals, grinning like a kid at Christmas. He proudly told us that his goal had always been to become a motivational speaker. Following this he laid out a truly inspiring speech about work experience and the proper way to construct a cover letter.

I know about cover letters. I have filled hundreds of them out.  All insecure sales pitches like the back of a book that somehow encompasses everything I have ever experienced in my then 23 years of life. Fitting your life onto that paper has a way of making you feel small.

He beamed as he broke me down to typing 80 words a minute, good with people, able to use a cash machine and the ultimate compliment: adaptable learner. Which means I don’t know a helluva lot but if you talk real slow I might be able to catch on. He smiled at my degree in English and said that was nice.

I still wasn’t ready to apply for jobs scared that I wouldn’t be able to get any. I applied for four jobs in two months.  The longer I stayed stagnant the harder it was to move, the more ashamed I was of the lie the longer I had to live it.

My bank account was down to 130 dollars. Living on potatoes, bacon and eggs I lasted three weeks on my couch, eating at my parent’s place, keeping my head down, answering questions with lies about different job opportunities friends were telling me about. Finally I was down to nothing and I didn’t want to tell my parents that the education they paid for hadn’t taught me how to take care of myself.

A small thing changed my whole world.

My roommate Jennica took pity on me. I came back to my room after dinner at my parent’s place and found $20 dollars on my desk. I almost cried when she said it was a gift.

She said I didn’t have to pay her back and I could use it on anything I wanted to. She wanted me to go out and have fun. I can’t tell you how much I loved her that day, when $20 dollars meant I got off the couch and became a human again. I got a bottle of rum and a burger and fries and felt like myself. And I realized that I wasn’t a shitty person, I wasn’t pathetic, I was just poor and it was making me miserable.

Anyone who tells you that money doesn’t matter obviously has it. I wanted to not have to worry about money and that meant I had to go out and get it.  In our society money makes you able to be a person that others respect. Working means you are part of the common experience and even if it’s a shit job at least you are doing something to put food on the table and take care of yourself. There is no harder work than being unemployed.

It doesn’t matter that you’re too smart for the jobs you are applying for. Or that you can write well or that your depressed and don’t really know how to get out of it.  If you aren’t trying to pay your rent, buy yourself a drink or two, and feed yourself you can’t feel like a man, you are a child and you’re a loser and not in the sense that I mean in this blog.  In the Colony of Losers, it’s not that we lack the potential to succeed; it’s just that we haven’t yet. The Colony of Losers isn’t a prison, it’s a fraternity that every single man, woman and child will pass through in their lives. Your parents were losers before they succeeded enough to only be vaguely dissatisfied with their lot in life. Bill Gates was one of us, whacking off in the bathroom to that teacher he gave an apple to that didn’t give him the time of day.

I was a loser and it took one of my best friend’s unexpected act of kindness to wake me up and remind that I liked life enough to work to make something of it. She has done a lot of fantastic things for me over the course of our friendship but it’s that $20 dollars that I remember.

It was Saturday. And motherfucker it was only one day to the first Monday of the rest of my life. I printed off copies of the resume the old man taught me to make and I went out and I swallowed my pride. I got off the couch and I got a job.

It was at a Call Center and I hated it but it was a start.

I feel like I am walking in a circle but I’ll never let myself stay on the couch like that again.  The next Monday was my first day. It took me a week to get a shitty job and get my self respect back.  Of course it would get worse before it actually better but I didn’t know that yet.

I didn’t realize that in little more than month I would walk into in a clinic on Spring Garden Road, where I would fake a migraine in a room full of people infected with the mumps.  Strange as it is that would be my next small step closer to being the man I want to be.  Tune into Colony of Losers next time and find out why.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future. This is the story of Michael Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

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5 Responses to “Colony of Losers-Day 3”

  1. Caitlin McGuire
    April 1st, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    Kimber, this post made me cry. And heave another sigh of relief. It’s almost like therapy reading your blog, reassurance that I’m not alone and that I will get to where I want to be in life. I feel like somewhere along the line I lost my way, and with it my confidence. I can even tell you the exact couch I sat on getting fat and depressed, letting too many Mondays pass me by. I don’t know if it’s similar experiences, or just your fantastic writing abilities (perhaps it’s both), but your blog really truly is becoming something special in my life. Thank you, and keep being blazingly real.

  2. Ashley
    April 1st, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

    INSPIRATION!

  3. Timbo
    April 1st, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    How many times have
    You heard someone say
    If I had his money
    I could do things my way

    But little they know
    That it’s so hard to find
    One rich man in ten
    With a satisfied mind

    Once I was waitin’
    In fortune and fame
    Everything that I dreamed for
    To get a start in life’s game

    Then suddenly it happened
    I lost every dime
    But I’m richer by far
    With a satisfied mind

    Money can’t buy back
    Your youth when you’re old
    Or a friend when you’re lonely
    Or a love that’s grown cold

    The wealthiest person
    Is a pauper at times
    Compared to the man
    With a satisfied mind

    When my life has ended
    And my time has run out
    My friends and my loved ones
    I’ll leave there’s no doubt

    But one thing’s for certain
    When it comes my time
    I’ll leave this old world
    With a satisfied mind

    How many times have
    You heard someone say
    If I had his money
    I could do things my way

    But little they know
    That it’s so hard to find
    One rich man in ten
    With a satisfied mind

  4. Denis
    April 1st, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

    the tags in this are the BEST!

  5. Pajama Pants In My Backpack (Meeting with a Literary Agent.) | Colony of Losers-DIY Mental Health to Survive Depression of Being A 20 Something
    October 25th, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    [...] explanation behind the pajama pants goes back six months ago. One of my first blogs was about going for a run in pajamas in the Halifax [...]

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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