Dave's Diaries

Okay, so maybe I am not going to give you all the inside details of my diaries, but hopefully you will learn a little bit about who I am. I'm in a rather somber mood at present so this account of my life will probably come across as being a little dry and depressing. I was in a more humorous mood when I wrote about the various entries for Let's Talk About Dave Behind His Back so you may wish to check it out to see some more details about my earlier life.

I was born on July 3rd, 1969 in Middle Musquodoboit. I have a sister named Juanita who is two years older than me. When I was three we moved to Tatamagouche. I started keeping a diary when I was eleven. My very first entry was as follows:

Tuesday, October 14th, 1980
9:20: Not much happened today. Tatamagouche played soccer against Bible Hill. They were winning 1 to 0 but then I left. Tonight Tiny is in my room, he is very wild tonight. Well goodnight and see you later.

Although I have missed a few days over the years, I have continued to keep a diary ever since.

Things didn't get really interesting in my diaries until May 18th, 1984 when I fell in love. At least that is when I first realized I was in love. A few weeks later I asked the girl of my dreams to the Prom.

Wednesday, June 6th, 1984
Yahoo! I did it! I asked HER to go to the prom with me and she said yes! (Do you think Id be cheering if she said no?) Oh well, Im soooo happy! I asked her at noon after about 15 minutes of trying to get enough courage to ask her. At noon, the teachers played a baseball game against the grade 12s and everyone had to go outside so while everyone was leaving, I had a few minutes alone with HER and I asked her.

Yes, I was madly in love. Ahhh, to be that naive once again. I knew we were destined to be together forever. Over the summer we managed to get together a few times and go swimming and biking. We went to see the movie "Phar Lap". I spent a couple days raking blueberries just to be near her. We went to the Exhibition and went on all the carnival rides there. I was awfully shy in person but I wrote her a number of letters over the summer, signing them with such daring things as "P.S. I really like you!" and "Love David, your not-so-secret admirer."

And I was so blindly in love that I missed all the obvious signs. Like how, in response to my romantic gestures, she signed her letters with things like "your everlasting friend". Or how she completely ignored me when a bunch of us went to see "Ghostbusters" in the theater. I just went on thinking everything was fine. I kept talking about upcoming dances and how I wanted to get her something grand for her birthday (still many months away) and how we'd have to do something special together when we got our drivers licenses the following year.

So it took me completely by surprise on October 4th when I received a note from her telling me she just wanted us to be friends and that "nothing more can develop as of yet". And that should've been the end of it. But we were both young and naive. I saw those final three words as a ray of hope. She still wanted us to be friends and I foolishly took any gesture of friendship as being a sign of something more. And the next 2 1/2 years (especially the bizarre twists that took place in grade twelve) contained many of the most traumatic moments in my life. All these years later I am still trying to make sense of it all. But we shall leave the full story of that for another day.

In the fall of 1987 I left Tatamagouche behind and headed off to Saint Mary's University. Looking back, it's obvious that I should've taken Writing or Computer courses. But for some reason I went into Physics instead. And I was terribly disappointed to find that this place of higher learning was filled with professors who couldn't teach and students who were only interested in where the next party was. The scars from high school stuck with me for the first two years at SMU. I mostly kept to myself and spent almost all my free time watching movies. During the summer of 1989 I end up writing a movie script called "Tears of Life" featuring a main character going off to university, still obsessed with a girl he loved from high school.

Then, in September of 1989 I met Lillian. And she liked me right away. She made that especially obvious one evening. After helping her with some homework, I was about to leave when she gave me a big hug and then backed away saying "I hope that wasn't too forward." That was the beginning of a two year relationship. Going through my diaries, it is obvious after around 3 months that we just weren't compatible. But she could be quite wonderful. She loved me and I really liked her. Breaking up with her was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But it was also probably one of the most important things I've done. Although it was incredibly painful at the time, I have never regretted the decision. I wrote a short one-man script entitled "Picking Up the Pieces" which basically detailed what was going through my head in the days immediately after breaking up with her. Most of the dialog was taken right from my diary entries at the time.

The original idea was to get my Physics degree and then go on to TUNS to become an engineer. But after three years at SMU I had lost faith in higher education and was burnt out. I ended up taking a cashier job at the Lawtons Drugs on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, putting my BSc to good use. After breaking up with Lillian I started to try focusing on filmmaking. I joined the local film co-op and even managed to assist on a few local film shoots. But the more I tried to get involved with film, the more I realized that I just didn't have the right personality for it. Perhaps if I had made some real friends there I might have felt more able to get involved, but I always felt like an outsider. I shifted my focus to just writing and spent my free time working on scripts, including a fantasy story entitled "Three Heroes". I sent off dozens of copies of my various screenplays to script agents without any luck.

Meanwhile, I was climbing the job ladder at Lawtons. Something that frightened me immensely. I ended up being promoted to being the manager of a new postal outlet at the Gladstone Lawtons. I had my pay increased to a whopping $6.25/hour. I poured all my energy into the job for the first while, working 80 hour shifts while I got everything set up and trained my co-workers. But eventually the novelty of the new job wore off and it became painfully obvious that all my efforts were going unappreciated. That, coupled with the lack of success from my scripts, and general loneliness, left me terribly depressed.

In 1994 I quit my job and returned home to Tatamagouche. I decided that I would go to TUNS and obtain a Computer Science degree. However, my timing was rather poor so I had to wait until the following year to attend. I drew UI and spent most of my time reading. I also ended up babysitting the two kids (ages 4 and 6) next door occasionally. Over the following years we became good friends. Each year I would set up elaborate treasure hunts for them under the guise of a pirate named Shivery Timbers.

In 1995 I attended TUNS and made a number of friends in the residence there. I still stayed behind when everyone else went down to the bars to get blitzed on weekends, but during the weekdays I felt like I kind of belonged for the first time since high school. Some of our best moments came from epic computer battles in Outlaws, Warcraft II, and Starcraft. I became good friends with my roommate Dunk. (He got his nickname after stumbling back to residence late one night and, not wanting to be disturbed, missed an R when he wrote "I'm dunk, leave me alone" on his door.)

The TUNS program was a co-op program, meaning we got to have three work terms during our studies. I used them to tour the country. My first work term was at a company named Ultimateast (now called Stratos) in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. My second work term was at Syncrude in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Everyone laughed at me when I said I wanted to go there because of the location. I worked in a building with no windows, the weather was freezing, and my roommate was psychotic. But the area was beautiful. One of my most memorable moments came when I was out skating after midnight in -35 C weather, watching the northern lights. The other highlight of my time there was my writing. While in Newfoundland I had started work on a fantasy novel called "The Tower of Ithern". During my time at Syncrude I made a promise to myself that I would write at least two pages every day. And I did. By the time I returned home I had over 300 pages. (Unfortunately, many years later, it is gathering dust at the 350 page mark.)

For my third work term, I applied to a company named Paradata in British Columbia, but when that didn't pan out I just took a job at Martec in Halifax. However, after graduating in 1998, I ended up getting hired by Paradata and went all the way out to Whistler, BC to work for their credit card processing company.

During my final university term, I ended up enrolling in a filmmaking workshop in Halifax. My short script, entitled "Cole's Notes" (about a shy guy trying to ask a girl out on a date) was one of the ones chosen to be filmed. The filming of it was somewhat disastrous but it was still an exciting experience. I joined the film co-op once again, just in time to abandon it and head off to Whistler.

Whistler was a beautiful and very unusual place. I felt like I was the most out of shape person there. Back in Halifax, I was the only person I knew who road a bike. In Whistler, I was the only person I knew who didn't ride his bike down the side of mountains. Everything was EXTREME out there. I kept my adventures fairly tame, walking up Whistler Mountain and hiking up the mighty Stawamus Chief.

When I started working at Paradata in January 1999, the company consisted of 5 or 6 people. Everything was very casual. You could come to work whenever you wanted to, as long as the work got done. If there was fresh powder on the hills, everyone took the day off to go skiing or boarding. The main programmer had to leave shortly after I arrived and so I was given a lot of tasks to handle and it was great fun. My job basically consisted of looking around, seeing what needed to be done, and doing it. I put in long hours, occasionally even spending the night in the offices if I had a particularly troubling task. In the early days, the set up they had was not the most reliable and so I would often end up biking in to work in the middle of the night to reboot machines and the like. And I loved it. It was a great challenge, I enjoyed the work, and I felt really appreciated. By Christmas, we probably only had a dozen workers but I still felt great to be awarded employee of the year. They also gave me a new set of skis, which was their way of saying that I'd better get off my butt and start enjoying the snow.

Things continued to go great for the first half of 2000. I bought myself my very first car, an '86 Subaru, which was very exciting. However, the company began to grow and as it did so, the enjoyment diminished. Soon we had 30, 40, even 50 employees. Then came all the meetings and the cubicle walls and the 9 to 5 hours and all the joy quickly got sucked out of the place. To make matters worse, despite still putting all my energy into the company, I felt like I was quickly being forgotten about. Depression started setting in.

One of the highlights during this period was a trip down to the Seattle Film Festival. My favorite director, Peter Weir, was being featured there so I drove down to see him. Inspired by a bizarre dream and a few strange occurrences during the trip, I started working on a script about a man (living in a place very similar to Whistler) who suddenly began having visions of the future.

By the time 2001 came around I felt that my days at Paradata were numbered. During the Easter weekend I took a road trip to Takakkaw Falls and seriously debated whether to quit or not when I got back. I ended up deciding to gives things a little more time, staying on until at least Christmas. That decision was helped, in part, by the arrival of a girl named Amy to the company. She had a wonderful smile and seemed somewhat interested in me. We went for a hike, went biking together, played frisbee, and went swimming. For a while I thought there might be something there between us, but I eventually realized that the interest she showed in me was pretty much the same interest she showed in every guy she met.

With that hope gone, I took some much needed time off in July and decided to drive down to the Grand Canyon to try and relax and figure things out. I returned by plane a week early. My car's engine died crossing the Mojave Desert. The poor car is likely still sitting down there at Barstow Automotive. (After months of calling them, trying to convince them to replace the engine so I could come pick it up, they told me I had abandoned the car and that it had been scrapped.)

Around this point things really started falling apart. I took part of August off to go home to Tatamagouche. I had kept in touch with the kids I used to babysit and spending a few weeks swimming with them helped undo a lot of the tension that had been building in me. I returned to Whistler in September, feeling somewhat refreshed and hopeful that I could work things out.

But then came September 11th, 2001. I had never really been to New York before, except passing through it on the way to Florida. Before that day if someone had asked me where the Twin Towers were I would've shrugged my shoulders. I didn't know anyone who was killed in the attacks. And yet I was completely overwhelmed by the tragedy of it all. I couldn't get it out of my head. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't work. The script I'd been working on suddenly seemed completely trivial. The only way I could fall asleep was if I was too tired to stay awake. I would go to bed at 5 in the morning and drag myself in to work at 10. I felt like I was working at 5% of my potential. A month or so later, when it was anounced that the company was making cutbacks and would have to lay off quite a number of staff, I cleared out my desk, convinced that I would be one of them.

But I was not. And so I continued on in a kind of haze. Nothing mattered anymore. I had lost faith in everything. I felt like just giving up. Finally, in mid-November I decided to give my notice. I managed to survive for another month, making my flight home for Christmas a one-way trip.

Not that being home was much better. I still couldn't sleep. Still couldn't deal with the world in general. The only solace came from watching movies with my folks and spending time with the two kids next door. Whether it was watching movies, going for walks, skating, playing ball in their basement, or just goofing around on the computer, they were the one bright light in my life. The rest of the world seemed to have gone to hell but as long as they were around, I was fine.

During the final months at Paradata, I toyed with the idea of creating a web site devoted to movie posters. When I created my Peter Weir web site years before, I made a small amount of money (a couple bucks a month) by linking to sites that sold posters, DVDs, etc. for his films. Since poster sites paid the best commissions, I thought that the idea of making a site with hundreds or thousands of different movie posters linked to affiliate sites might actually bring in a reasonable amount of money. So, after a month or so at home, I began to seriously work on the idea. I decided to make it an awards site that honored the best posters of each year and called it the Internet Movie Poster Awards site, or IMP Awards. I registered www.impawards.com and started setting up the site. It was nothing fancy but once the site got listed in Google it started to actually earn some money. In April, 2002 I averaged a measly $1 per day but by June I was making over $20/day and steadily climbing. Before long I realized that I didn't need to look for another job. This was my job.

In the fall I got an apartment in Halifax and was finally able to do some serious work on the site now that I could access high speed internet. But I was still hiding away from the world. I still couldn't sleep right. I'd end up staying up until dawn and then sleeping in until past noon. I seemed to exist in one of two modes. I would either be working obsessively on the web site, adding new posters or new features 18 hours a day, or I would lose myself in some online game like "Ultima Online" (or eventually "World of Warcraft", which I am still slightly addicted to). The only time I would come alive at all was when the kids would come in to visit.

This continued for another year until the summer of 2004 when the inevitable happened. The kids were becoming teenagers and their interests were changing. The things we had in common were disappearing and our differences were growing. They may have only been friends I had once babysat, but I cared for them as if they were my own children, and having them drift away from me so completely over the course of just a few months tore me apart. Too late, I realized that I had still been clinging to them desperately like a life raft ever since I had returned from Whistler. All the depression came rushing back with a vengeance.

I ended up buying myself another car (over eBay) and flew down to New Hampshire to pick it up. In the fall I put it to the test by going on a long road trip down to Florida, spending 36 days tenting, updating my web site using my laptop at various hot spots through the States. The trip allowed me to get away, clear my head a bit, and prove that I could indeed be completely mobile and continue keeping my poster site up to date. At the same time, it was kind of a disappointing trip. I'm not quite sure what I was looking for on my journey but I definitely didn't find it. No true love, no meaning of life, no signs of hope...

The following spring I took another quick trip down to Florida but it did not last long. I got down there, couldn't figure out why I was even there, and ended up heading back home after just a few days. A nice waste of gas. In the fall of 2005 I went on a tenting trip around Nova Scotia, starting out in Antigonish and eventually going to Kejimkujik. During the trip my thoughts started returning to high school. All the anguish I had gone through out in Whistler and more recently with the kids seemed to bring back all the emotions I had felt back in the late 80s. So when I returned home I broke out my old diaries and began re-reading all my entries from 1980 up until 1989.

Most of the people I spoke to about doing this thought I was insane for purposefully wanting to re-live my high school years. But there's a part of me that has never left the 80s (just look at my music collection) and so the idea of returning to it was actually kind of exciting. Going through the entries, I was surprised at just how much I had forgotten or remembered differently. But more importantly, I was completely unprepared for how traumatic the whole experience was. Even now, re-reading it all, I found myself going through the same powerful emotions I had experienced back then. Overpowering feelings of love, rage, guilt, and sadness.

I took a break from all the reminiscing to go on a couple trips with my parents, including a three week trek down to Florida, hitting many of the spots I had gone to by myself on the first trip down. But once I returned, I shifted my focus back to the 80s once again.

And so, the spring of 2007 sees me continuing to go through all the old memories, trying to make sense of it all, trying to see whether dealing with the past can somehow help me better deal with the present. At the same time, I am working on a script about those painful three years of unrequited love back in high school that still haunt me 20 years later...