Non-Fiction

Life is Absurd

Photo of the body of a stuffed long-neck dinosaur toy sitting on a ledge in front of a window. A fence with some vines on it can be seen behind the dinosaur outside of the window. Green filter over image. White text in the centre reads, "Life isn't that serious." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

Life isn’t that serious.

Sure, it has its moments, but mainly, life is absurd.

I am at my healthiest when I can recognize the absurdity.

I am at my healthiest when I can laugh at my life.

It’s when I get too serious that I get stuck.

If there’s one quality I could never live without, it’s my sense of humour. I wouldn’t be here without this coping mechanism, and I wouldn’t be me.

Life is absurd. Think about it.

We’re living through late-stage capitalism and making memes.

We think of ourselves as these incredibly productive beings, yet we sleep for a third of our lives.

They sell chocolate pizzas at the store. I’m an adult who hasn’t swept their apartment for over three months. I broke off the end of my favourite knife on a frozen burrito.

None of us know what the hell we’re doing. We’re just stumbling around trying to put on a good show.

Life is a lot of things, including absurd. Embracing that absurdity has gotten me through its most difficult chapters, its darkest moments.

Also, I like absurdity. It keeps things interesting, keeps me on my toes, laughing, expecting the unexpected.

Life can be incredibly serious, yes, but even at its most serious, it’s not that serious. Life is absurd.

Non-Fiction

The Vaccine

Photo of three unmarked vials with clear liquid inside them arranged around each other on a white table. One is laying down with another rested on it.
Image Source

Content note: this piece is about the COVID-19 pandemic.


I walk up to the hospital. There’s a line with a sign that says “COVID VACCINES”. I get in it. A woman lines up behind me and starts coughing. I inch forward. A nurse hands me a medical mask. “You can take off your mask and put this on or put this on over yours”. I put it on over. The mask I wore already has two layers and a filter, so now I have four layers of mask. It slides into my eyes. I fix it. It slides into my eyes again. I am ushered into a foyer, and a nurse with a mask and face shield screens me for the first time. I have to ask her to repeat herself. It’s loud with all the people milling about, and I can seldom hear anyone who wears a mask. “Has anyone in your household been ordered to self-isolate?” I lean my ear towards her, unable to maintain social distancing and our conversation. After a bit of repetition, we settle that my answers to all her questions are no. I am ushered forward again and told to follow the pink dots.

I am grateful for the pink dots because it’s overwhelming inside with nurses, doctors, admin staff, and patients everywhere. I am no longer used to being in places so full of people. I’m thankful for the double masks. I follow the pink dots and am told to stand on a circle. “No, not that circle, stand on the circle at the end”. I walk towards the circle at the end when someone with a tablet beckons me over. Sorry, circle, not today. I hold out my health card, and they do not take it. They don’t take anything from you these days. My details are read off the card and typed into the tablet, and I am screened once again. Then they ask, “Why are you getting the vaccine?” I wasn’t expecting this question. Why are any of us getting the vaccine? Not sure of the appropriate response, I just say “Work”. I give them the name of my agency.

I am told which door to go through. I have no autonomy. I’ve become compliant, turned into putty. Another nurse asks me to stand on another circle. Someone else is told off for standing on the wrong circle. I enter the doctor room. Their names are posted on each tiny cubicle. Dr. This, Dr. That. I see an older woman getting vaccinated. A doctor is explaining to her that the vaccine is not a substitute for social distancing. I follow the line and move to a new circle because it seems to make sense, hoping I’m not doing it wrong. Everyone is terribly close together, but there are screens everywhere to prevent virus particles from floating into mouths and eyeballs. I am sent to cubicle six. My doctor’s name is John. I feel a sense of familiarity, like I’m always encountering doctors named John, though I don’t think this is actually the case.

I sit down and neither of us speak. He is looking at his tablet. He asks for my name, and I tell him it’s spelled with an I. I’m screened for the third time. I still don’t have any COVID symptoms. I am told that this is not a substitute for social distancing and wearing masks. I tell him I understand. I get the evil eye because I am a young person. I swear, Doctor, I’ve been good! Doctor, doctor, I have an anxiety disorder. I’m a hypochondriac. Trust me, I’ve been good! I am given a choice of arms and sacrifice the left one. “Do you consent to the vaccine?” “Yes”. God, yes. It’s quick, painless. “Well, that’s it, you’ve been vaccinated.” “Thank you!” “Go over there. You will have to wait for fifteen minutes to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.”

I am directed to a hallway where people are lined up and waiting on chairs between screens. They print out my ticket and tell me I am allowed to leave at 12:21. I hear the nurses tell others that they can validate their parking at the welcome desk. I left my ticket in the car. Damn.

When allowed, I exit the hospital with a little more autonomy (though not a lot). I use sanitizer before I leave. I’m not protected just yet. I get in my car and begin the hardest part of my journey. I don’t go back in to validate my parking because I believe that would disrupt the order of things. Just a few people out of place in there could throw everything into chaos, and then I may end up on the news: Local vaccinations stalled by careless redhead over parking dispute. The person in the car in front of me struggles with the parking meter, but eventually, the bar rises and they are free.

I drive into place. The person ahead of me left their ticket in the machine. For some reason, I pull it out and try to put it back in. Then I try with my ticket. Then I try with theirs again. Then mine. There’s a car behind me. I realize then that the machine is telling me to stop putting the tickets in upside down. I put in their ticket again. It tells me it’s already been used. Duh. I put mine in again. It says I owe six dollars. We’re getting somewhere. I pull out my credit card and tap to pay on the contactless “tap to pay” spot. It beeps. Nothing happens. The car behind me pulls into the other lane, pays, and leaves, which I am grateful for. I don’t need a sustained witness. I tap my card about six more times. I begin tapping my card all over the meter. Sometimes it beeps, sometimes it doesn’t, but otherwise, nothing happens. I will die here.

I have to call for help. I press the green “call for help” button. A voice answers.

“Hello?”

“Hi, um, I’m trying to pay with my credit card, and it isn’t working”.

“Have you tried putting it inside the machine?”

“Like where the ticket goes?”

“Yes”

OH”.

Thank goodness there were no other witnesses.

“Thank you!” I say. They hang up.

It accepts my payment, and I leave. As I roll out of the parking lot, I say to myself, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Not the vaccination, just the parking.

I was impressed with how well-organized and efficient they were, like a well-oiled machine, easily able to handle my chaos. If the hardest thing about getting vaccinated is leaving the parking lot, that means they’re doing something right. Thank you to all the frontline workers, the nurses, doctors, screeners, and admin staff, for working long and hard all year to protect fools like me. Your services are essential and greatly appreciated.

Uncategorized

50 Ways to Avoid Writing

Close up of an open notebook sitting on a couch with a blue-and-grey pen in the middle. The page on the left contains mostly empty boxes, one of which reads, "9 SUNDAY" and the page on the right is empty and lined.

People always ask me, “Sage, how is it that you have so skillfully refined the art of avoiding writing?” I tell them there is no one simple answer, no quick fix. There’s a lot of little answers, a whole variety of distractions that make up the whole. You have to practice, do a little every day. This is an honest answer, but I recognize it isn’t all that satisfying. That’s why I have decided to compile this list of tips, showing you fifty different things I do in order to avoid writing. I believe that you too, with enough practice, can avoid ever getting any writing done. Don’t expect to get there overnight. It has taken me years to learn how to properly avoid writing. Years. Take it one step at a time. Don’t give up. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. With guidance from mentors like me and enough dedication, you too can basically never write again.

Please enjoy this list and don’t forget to preorder my e-book, which will be coming to a virtual shelf near you this fall. It will be completely blank.


50 Ways to Avoid Writing

  1. Check Discord. Oh, what was that, a notification? Better check again.
  2. Open Instagram to look for a NaPoWriMo prompt and immediately forget why you opened it.
  3. Build a brand.
  4. See what’s trending on Twitter.
  5. Call your doctor. Get the busy signal. Rinse and repeat.
  6. Do the dishes! There are three dishes, ya’d better do ’em!
  7. Read a novel. Read another.
  8. Play some music to help you focus. No, not that music. Find another playlist. Find another platform. Turn the music off, it’s too distracting. Now it’s too quiet.
  9. Go get a tissue.
  10. Refill your cup of coffee.
  11. Go make some breakfast!
  12. Get a snack. Eat that snack. You can’t write while you’re eating a snack, but you should do something to entertain you and your snack. Open youtube.com.
  13. Get invested in someone else’s drama.
  14. Experience your own drama! Oh no! Ah! (This is ideal as it will prevent you from writing for quite some time).
  15. Google the lyrics for the song you heard yesterday in the convenience store.
  16. Think about how you’ve been using commas wrong for twenty-eight years.
  17. Stare at your blank word doc. Open another tab.
  18. Curl up into a ball on your couch and start crying because the world’s been like this for over a year and you’re tired.
  19. Take some nudes.
  20. Check how many likes your post got. Check again in twenty minutes.
  21. Reread the DM someone sent you three weeks ago shaming you over your writing.
  22. Overly censor yourself. Think about all the different things people could yell at you about. Nitpick your own writing before the call-outs can. Try to get ahead of them.
  23. Remember what it was like to write on trains when you used to ride trains. Think about riding trains again.
  24. Shame yourself for not having published a book yet. Think about how you’ll be thirty in two years. WEEP.
  25. Update your profile, doesn’t matter which one.
  26. Go for a walk. Bring your notebook with you but call your friend to hear the latest gossip instead of write in it.
  27. Ask yourself if perhaps the well is empty.
  28. Allow yourself to relax for once. Take a day off.
  29. Look at the NAKED TREES out the window.
  30. Treat yourself like a machine but forget to oil yourself.
  31. Remember visiting your ex in a cafe and the frothy yellow drink you ordered that he found off-putting. Try to recall the details of your conversation.
  32. Drink some mushroom tea.
  33. Have a little cry about it.
  34. Notice that your friend has left his watch on your mantle.
  35. Remind yourself to write about something other than your childhood.
  36. Light two candles, one for the goddess and one for the god.
  37. Listen to a podcast about cancel culture and get worked up about it.
  38. Wonder when the pandemic will end. Wonder again.
  39. Reach out to a new therapist and ask to be added to their waitlist.
  40. Remember the shitty breakup you went through six months ago.
  41. Feel the barometer change in your head. Ask yourself what to feel instead.
  42. Close your eyes and hear all of the sounds around you. Pull them into pieces.
  43. Read your friend’s thesis.
  44. Think about moving to Montreal. Make a plan. Learn French on Duolingo.
  45. Look at the fog outside the window. Think about how it’s foggy out there and lonely in here.
  46. Ask yourself if this year of lockdowns means you’ve run out of things to write about.
  47. Remember that you have to finish doing your taxes.
  48. Hop in the shower.
  49. Pick up your phone.
  50. Write a list. Ask yourself if that counts. Ask yourself what it means to count.