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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Cure#7: An idiot’s attempt to learn to ride a bike

Posted on | July 18, 2010 | 2 Comments

November 23rd,2009

The little girl bike is not properly suited to my body’s weight and height. I am a grizzly bear balanced on a unicycle.

Only this bear has no fucking idea of what he is doing and is a few second from falling on his ass.

I have never learned how to ride a bike.

Tonight I’m going to learn even if it kills me.

My friend “Paddy” is with me.  He is not on a little girl’s bike.  He is riding his state of the art stunt bike, doing little tricks in the air, making me look like a dipshit.

His girlfriend shouts encouragement at me from the wings.

In that pitch black November night anything is possible.  Trying to figure out the best way to sit and not fall is my first task.  This results in lots of angling towards the side and frantic putting down of my feet.

“Come on you’re getting it,” says Paddy.

“I’m doing fucking great,” I say, huffing and puffing.  When I was 13, I was in a nationally syndicated Macdonald’s commercial. As a result I was able to afford a lot of happy meals and a lot of sad teenage nights resulted from said purchases.  To put it bluntly I was 5’1, had bitch tits and a big ass in high school.  Though now I’m skinny as a horny Jew can be, I haven’t excercised in a long time.

“I’m king of the fucking world, Paddy.”

“Sure you are, just need to get you around the block and you can see it all,” he says.

“Race ya,” I say, and with a frantic burst of speed I take off.

I’m hoping that somehow that moment when I know how to do this will happen and the rest will take care of itself.

This is generally the way I deal with conflict. Race into it and hope I figure it out along the way. Unfortunately there is a tree racing towards me that disagrees with my logic.

“Slow down, your head is too big for a fucking helmet,” he says. I skid to a stop saved by my quick feet that barely fit on the little girl pedals.

“Gotta protect those brains,” says Paddy. “Otherwise how the fuck are you going to write this screenplay?”

“Good point,” I say. “Let’s go again.”

Just before this adventure, one of my best friends asked me to start writing a screenplay. Whether it was because of my talent or his love for me I don’t quite know.

Two years previously we had lived together. Faced with the utter pointlessness of getting an arts education he played Halo. With an IQ of 170 he didn’t feel like playing academic reinder games in classrooms filled with 19 year old philosophy students.  So he played Halo until he became a ranked player. So he played Halo until he flunked out of school and lost half of his trust fund. So he played Halo until there was nothing left of the cushions that let him make his way easily through life. In the shattered remains of the good fortune he was born with, he became a man.

He took a shit job at a local production company as a computer analyst and worked his ass off until he became invaluable. Within a year he was producing commercials and award winning short films.  This is the King in the world of shit I referred to in my first post. And he is my brother who offered me a chance at my dreams in the grips of my worst nightmare.

I stagger off the bike, reeking of Old Spice and sweat.

“You going to give up?” asks Paddy.

“I’m going to take a break,” I say, struggling to catch my breath.

“Get on the bike,” he says. “We’ll have drinks afterward and we’ll celebrate.”

“Alright.”

“We’ll ride to the liquor store.”

“It is going to be a long time at this rate,” I say.

“All the time in the world.”

I want to ask him what happens if I fall and crack my skull. I want to ask him if the reason why I can’t seem to ride this fucking little girl bike is that I’m sure I going to fall.

Instead I get back on the bike and continue to embarrass myself.

**************************************************************************************************

“Mikey,” says my brother. “What you so scared of?”

“I don’t know,” I say. It’s vaguely humiliating explaining my poor mental state to my brother.  Though I explain it to everyone. I have always felt that the only way to be a man is to be honest about what you are feeling even if you fee like shit. “I don’t feel like I’m going to amount to anything. Just going to fucking die in Halifax, sucking on the family tit. Now I’m this scared guy and I feel like my whole life has already passed me by.”

“Dude, you are fucking 25,” says my brother, Matty Kimber aka Josh Martinez. “Everyone goes through this.. I’m still going through this. I’m 31 and I’m still a kid, Mikey. You got a lot of years to go before you can say you aren’t going to amount to anything. ”

“I can’t do fucking anything,” I say. I notice how pathetic it sounds. Lucid moments when I realize how fucked I am and how silly it is occur too often.

“Only because you’ve never tried,” he says.  “You didn’t cook once while you were up here. You spent a fucking grand on food. You can. You just don’t. You eat like shit and you have a heart problem.”

People sometimes call me Minimartinez due to the way my voice mimics my brother’s intonations almost exactly. As a child he was my hero. The badass brother that somehow managed to travel the world and never get a real job.

As I grew up we lost touch.

I saw him only on family vacations where his time was divided between haunting the ghost city that used to be his home and hanging with the family he saw once a year.  Being so disconnected from people that actually knew him meant that he reverted to 18-year-old rebel Matty the moment he walked through the door. I was too young to know that he was digging into that reality, that old life, wanting to somehow uncover lost pieces of himself in the familiarity of family.  That the way he regressed was a desire to bury himself deep in a world that actually loved him enough to tolerate his bullshit.

For a while we weren’t very close.

He moved away before I grew up and had the impression I remained the gullible kid he tortured for sport. Living a life of the day to day scam of becoming a celebrity meant that he sometimes treated people he loved in ways he shouldn’t.  This involved becoming temporarily involved with a girl I once thought I was in love with. I said stupid words about how if he didn’t change he wouldn’t be my brother anymore. And he actually listened and now here we are.   I’m calling him via skype and leaning on him in my time of need.

“Mikey, you were fucked up here too,” he says. “Spitting blood in the fucking toilet every day.  You spent your whole time working on your book and you didn’t see the fucking city. You gotta get out of that head. You gotta get out of this city.”

“I guess so…..”

“Dude when you let yourself go things just happen for you,” he says, using the same tones I do to woo people. “You’re a charming little asshole with all the sneaky tricks that I got. People can’t help but love you, little man.”  I’m taller than he is.  Somethings don’t change even when they do. “You’re scared of life because you hide from it. You don’t know how to drive a car. How to ride a bike. Do it. Don’t be scared of it. You haven’t left the country and seen the world like Emily and I did. You think you can’t. Just fucking do it. Take your girl and go to Japan. Just do it. Take a risk and you’ll realize there is nothing to be scared about. Dude, you are a fucking Kimber. The world is going to love you. You just gotta get out and see it. ”

I’m on the edge of tears. The possibility of a reality where this exists feels so close I could reach out and touch it.

“Thanks,” I say.

“I been a dip shit enough to know when to tell the truth,” he says. “You can do anything. You aren’t a kid anymore and its time you saw that. I love you Mikey. I always got your back.”

“I’m going to do it,” I say.

“What’s first?” he asks.

“I’m going to sign up for driver school,” I say.

“Fucking right. What’s next?” he asks.

“I’m going to learn to cook,” I say.

“Chicks love that shit,” he says.

“I’m going to go to Japan and I’m going to teach English and see the fucking world,” I say.

“There we go, Mikey,” he says. “Nothing stopping you from doing it, but doing it.”

***********************************************************************************************

We zig-zag a few feet at a time towards our destination.

Learning to ride a bike is easier for a six year old. They don’t have so far to fall. Same is true with learning life lessons. As you get older you have more to lose and you become more used to your failings.

For me this bike ride isn’t a happy go lucky adventure on a November night. This is a race against my own expectations for myself. Laughing like a madman, lit on one rum and coke, I’m ready to change my life.

Dead trees line the walkway of the city where I have lived my whole life. I feel like I’ll never escape this place.  Houses built in the fifties filled with new families, all stuck in the same trap they were born into.  A life where the familiar kills you and courage dies with each and every day.

I have always wanted to be a hero and never been much of a real person.

When I was a kid I was convinced I might be the next messiah until I turned 12 and an angel never came. I thought I was going to be the youngest published author until every year I got older and the day didn’t come. I thought I was going to write my book in a year and it took eight. A million times I thought I was going to find a woman, sweep her off her feet and find love and sex at the same time. Years went by and I kept making up love and watching the fictions fall apart.  As I got older I became convinced I was never going to find love.

Somehow it found me.

She was everything I wanted. A poet with the body of a porn star. No testing or convincing. Just love.  Geronimo!  Falling from a cliff hoping I’d never land.

Tonight I’m going to learn how to ride a bike and I’m going to save my world from the dead trees and houses that become traps.  I’m going to race past all the times I told myself I couldn’t, past the girls I loved that didn’t love me back, past the point I said I would never pass beyond.

Into madness, love and loss.

And the liquor store.

Paddy stops, awe-stricken.

My feet are peddling.

I’m in motion.

Racing past the bright lights that hang from dead trees like crucified angels.

The ground moves with me. Every speed bump just adds momentum.

I’m flying.

I can do this.  I can fucking do it. I can do anything.

Crack.

The bike spins out from under me and I crash to the ground.

It hurts. It hurts a lot.

Paddy skids to a stop, gets off his bike and runs over.

“You okay?” he asks.

My body is scratched the fuck up. My knees hurt and I’m momentarily out of breath. I turn over and see his concern.

“That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crisis, 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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2 Responses to “The Cure#7: An idiot’s attempt to learn to ride a bike”

  1. Julia Smith
    July 19th, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    Just catching up to the last couple of Cures. Gripping and moving, Michael.
    Julia Smith´s last blog ..Weekend Writers Retreat – 16 My ComLuv Profile

  2. Anna taylor
    August 10th, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    I really liked that one mike, I have a fear of leaving the country too.

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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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