10P 10: How To GSD (Get Shit Done) – To-Do List PART 2!

T0P 10:

How To GSD (Get Shit Done) – To-Do List PART 2!

written by Cameron Brtnik

Here we go again…

It’s Wednesday…

You’ve still got a million things left to get done, and already half the week is over…. You glance at your increasingly-looming To Do List: buy fish oil (need more vit d!), drop off kids at practice, email clients back, pickup dry cleaning, take laptop to get fixed, call sister back, watch ep 6 of The Crown… You start panicking: “I’ll never get all this stuff done, why did I take on so much? How am I ever gonna finish this damn to to list!” Through further research, trying out new methods, and more trial and error, I’ve created more of my own techniques on being efficient and compiled them here in Part 2 of “How To Get Shit Done On Your To Do List” or the easy to memorize acronym “HTGSDOYTDL!” Check it out!

Now let’s Get Shit Done on that To-Do list!

1. Note To Future Self – You can see the future – Write a note to your future self (or friend, partner, or even dog for that matter) informing them: “I have finally finished {insert task}!” eg. “My first week of yoga class,” “Painting the bedroom pink” or “The second chapter of my book!” Writing this note your “future self” will help you to see the task completed in your mind, and motivate you to follow through! I mean, how could it exist if you never completed it in the first place?

2. Feeling Bloated – If your To Do List has grown too big (which it undoubtedly will), it can be frustrating and feel like you’re barely getting ahead. At that point, I move any “Non-Urgent” tasks to the bottom of the list. As I only assign numbers to the top 6 things on my list, they become the “Urgent” tasks to complete . By the end of the week if you haven’t gotten get around to these ignored errands, DELETE them. After all they can’t be that important can they? Option 2: If you can’t bear to delete them, start a “Master To-do List” where you can copy & paste these pesky tasks to collect digital dust.

3. For Ever-note – I know I mentioned this in my first “Top 10 on To-Do Lists, so do yourself a favour and start using the Evernote app. You can organize your Notes into folders, shortcuts and tags so you’ll never misplace your Notes (like those cursed car keys!). This leads us into our next two items on our list…

4. Labeling Theory – Have some fun with labeling your Notes! (I know, my life is sad.) Try labeling your Note with a unique title so you can easily search for it later, then ‘tag’ it with categories like “Job Search” or “Social Media Posts.” If it’s a Note you refer to often, add it to your ‘shortcuts’ folder. Now go ahead and have fun scrolling through your Notes! *Cheering ensues*

5. Find a Due Date – When making my To Do Lists, I often label them by time or date (I really do have no life). For example: “February Goals, Complete this Week, Today’s Tasks;” by setting a self-imposed due date you subconsciously push yourself to complete those tasks in a shorter amount of time. Remember: whatever helps you to Get Shit Done!

6. Living Large – CAPS LOCK THE TEXT FONT. This subconsciously works by making the task seem “bigger,” and therefore more important, than the rest. JUST DON’T KEEP IT ON WHEN YOU’RE COMMENTING ON YOUTUBE VIDEOS! Thank you.

7. Re-Adjust – Try changing seating positions. Go from sitting in your chair to kneeling on the floor, or sitting on the edge of your bed to standing up. It not only helps to regulate blood to your extremities (pins and needles be gone!), but helps “shake things up” so you don’t get too comfortable, or uncomfortable. Now try standing on your head.

8. Make Your Bed – I started doing this even before Jordan Peterson was a household name (and my personal “self-improvement guru”). I just realized one day that if, upon waking up, you immediately make your bed it programs your brain to be productive and puts you in that “success mindset.” Besides being a good habit, it will also make you less likely to crawl back into it after a long day of eating breakfast.

9. Just Begin – If you’re having trouble starting on even one of your To Do List assignments, just start a random project: it doesn’t even have to be on your list! Even if it’s “change the lightbulb” or “return library book,” you’ll be surprised how much one action snowballs into another. Keeping oneself busy creates momentum that transfers over to other things, like stuff you actually have to get done. So start cleaning out the fridge and you may just end up finishing the end of your brother-in-law’s weeding speech.

10. Change Spaces – If you’re struggling to Get Shit Done at home or from the office, try changing your environment: like specifically going to the actual place on your list. For example, I hate looking at my bank statements so I do my banking from the bank! Somehow being in the “real life” location helps me completely focus, and it does seem like the “natural setting” to be viewing bank statements – until security kicks you out for looking suspicious.

Want more ways to Get Shit Done? Read this: https://cambrtnik.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/top-10-list-how-to-get-shit-done/

***To my (three) readers: If you have any advice for how you “Get Shit Done” please leave a comment below or email me at cbrtnik@gmail.com and I’ll feature it my next Top Ten segment!

Cameron is a freelance writer and promoter of “Getting Shit Done” cbrtnik.com

BLOG-Bits: A Man

BLOG-Bits

A MAN

4.13.21Vision “Vision without action is a dream.”

Why don’t I have a vision? Something that guides me, and motivates me along the way? I can envision so many great things, almost will them into being. But by own future moves along a different timeline. I can open the door to my mind, yet have no access my future. Even a hazy vision would be fine; it doesn’t have to be crystal clear. When I close my eyes, all I see nothing but darkness, still I can hear the voices sneering and snickering hiding in the corners of my mind. I suppose that’s what therapists are for. Wait a second – my vision is to have a vision. Eureka, I’ve got it! Time to get to work. What is my vision? Why don’t I…

3.04.21 – Cog in The Machine

Most men are simply a cog in the machine… In that they, no matter how integral, are just part of what makes the whole contraption run. But they, too, will be replaced after churning out their best work, put through the grind, worn and abraded, a thick layer of elbow grease, blood, sweat and tears, with another just like him but at cheaper cost. None the matter; as long as this thing keeps running. Now go back to work!

3.03.21A Man

What is a man, if not his word? A man is his promise. And I cannot keep promises. In fact, anything I’ve “promised” you before this very writing could not and should not be counted on. And for that, I apologize. I am human, but I feel more like a scrapped blueprint for one. “I am my thoughts,” and my thoughts are made of shame and regret. Shame and regret for what? For letting myself down; for I know what a man is – sense one when he is in my presence – and I am not that, although it is what I strive to be: to finally become A Man.

Franky The Christmas Elf – A “Short” Christmas Story

Franky The Christmas Elf

A “Short” Christmas Story

by Cameron Brtnik

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Franky wasn’t like the other elves: joyful, happy, full of “Christmas spirit” all year round. He was more of a realist, and had a sense of how the world really was – apathetic and uncaring. Even if you dedicated your whole life to giving and helping others, the world owed you nothing. It was a cruel, unforgiving world that didn’t care if your were good or bad, naughty or nice.

He didn’t mind his job; making toys was a decent gig these days considering most of the assembly lines were automated now, putting thirty percent of elves out on the snow. And he was proud to say he was pretty good at it. Franky had come from a long line of toy makers – from his great-great-elf father all the way down to his father – and now him. He learned the art of toy making from his father who was, at one time, Santa’s right-hand elf. But Franky didn’t share the same fondness for the fat guy. Sure it was true – Santa was a kind, old, jolly man the same way he’d been portrayed in Christmas movies, greeting cards and shopping malls. But the big guy just wouldn’t update, get with the times, still stuck in the glory days of old when toys were still appreciated by kids around the world. Now you could simply download Elf Run on your smartphone for free. Who needs toys anymore? Franky wondered out loud as he put the finishing touches on a train set for Timmy (he knew for a fact Timmy had been a naughty boy this year, but Santa would nonetheless fly down his chimney and stick the train set wrapped in blue wrapping paper – blue for trains, red for trucks – under the undeserving little shit’s tree). Santa always repeated the same mantra which, behind his back, we called a Santra: “All children, naughty or nice, deserve a gift on Christmas morning. Only in this way can we teach the true meaning of Christmas,” followed by the mandatory, “Ho Ho Ho!” I didn’t buy it. How does giving a gift to a rotten child like Timmy teach him anything except that he can get away with murder and be rewarded for it? I knew it was a futile argument to have with the jolly guy, plus it’s never a good idea to argue with your boss.

It was two o’clock – three hours till work ended – and Franky was getting his usual wave of itis (he overdid it on the roast reindeer at lunch) so he went to the elf-room to do a line of snow. This always put some pep in his step, and he went back to the assembly line full of renewed energy. He was pumping out train sets double-time now, and realized he’d finish early today; he could finally catch up on Season 3 of Breaking Toys. As Franky went to clock out he ran into the merry man himself. “Ho Ho Ho, hello Franky! Clocking out early, I see?,” he said with just a hint of suspicion. “Um, yes sir, I finished my work early today…” He was hoping Santa didn’t notice his nervous facial twitch that always manifested after a line or two of quality snow. “Ho Ho Ho, good work! You are a hardworking little elf, just like your father.” Then another, even louder (if unnecessary) “Ho Ho Ho!” Franky smiled and quickly made his way out the back door.

On his way home Franky ran into Susie, a sexy little elf he’d been checking out since she’d started a month ago. She was the new secretary. “Hiii Frankyyy,” she purred innocently, her cheeks blushing scarlet red against her angelic white skin. He could tell she liked him, but Franky wasn’t sure if he should pursue her or not. She was still an elfin (or virgin in humanspeak) as far as he could tell, and so much more attractive than all the other slutty elves who worked at the shop. She smiled her bright, snow white smile and he felt himself melting into his boots. “Where are you off to so early?,” she teasingly interrogated. “Um, I finished my work early so I was just gonna catch up on some Elflix.” “Ooh Elflix and chill…I’d be down to join, if you don’t mind.” “Uh, I just wanted to go home and relax. Maybe another time?” Fuck, he thought. “Looking forward to ‘Elflix and chilling’ with you Franky,” and she winked and skipped back to the shop. Franky knew he’d have to stripe the ol’ candy cane when he got back home.

   The next day at the shop was like any other. Jack got in shit for using superglue instead of wood glue, and the wings of his airplanes kept falling off. He was sent home for a week with no play. There were only ten days left till Christmas and production had ramped up to full speed! Most elves were working double shifts, and some even pulled all-nighters meeting their quotas of train sets, teddy bears, Barbies, snowboards and board games (Candy Canes & Liquorice was Franky’s favourite as a kid, a Shoots & Ladders knockoff). He heard Santa had finally opened a smartphone division, but that he had built the assembly line out in the East Pole because of the cheaper labor. He also heard the conditions there weren’t cold enough, and the elves were overworked and under-played. It was run by relentless managers, and one guy even attempted elficide but was saved by a hammock they had hung outside the window (apparently it had happened before). It may not be perfect but Santa treats his elves pretty well, Franky thought. Plus he received a good elf plan.

  …sprawled out on his polar bear rug, her glistening white skin hot by the crackling fire posing for an elfie, her perky breasts innocently exposed through her green, furry blouse, her long legs stretched out and her delicate hand placed on her thigh, arched high enough to just cover her trimmed…

 “Franky!” He heard a voice snap him back to life. “Looks like you didn’t show up for work today, he he he. Wanna join us for lunch?” It was Carl. What a way to end his daytime fantasy. “Um, yeah, I guess.” What he really wanted though was to sit with Susie. “The roast reindeer with a side of baby carrots, please.” Franky usually had the same thing. It was either that or the vegetarian option (Gross! Franky never ate the cold dogs either – he heard they used all parts of the reindeer to make them). He sat with Carl and the rest of the gang, shooting the shit, with the usual gossip: Who’s fallen behind on their quota, who’s dating who, Santa’s tour route this year, the usual dull conversations that made Franky wish he could ride away on Santa’s sleigh and never return to this dull little town in the North Pole. But then, Susie… 

    …There was red splashed everywhere: red on white. The reindeers shuffled in their reins. Santa lay motionless in his suit, tuffs of his beard speckled with his own blood. The last thing Franky and the reindeer heard was Santa’s bells hitting the ground, and one final “Ho” escaping his rouge, pouty lips. Franky looked down and didn’t recognize his own hands holding the bloody snowbar. Franky realized something: He’d killed Santa…

    After lunch, Franky was on his way back to the shop when he noticed Santa out in the shed feeding the reindeer. He walked over and said, “Hey Santa, hows’s, um, it going?” “Ho ho ho Franky, no need to be shy around me. You know, your father was always my right-hand elf before he became ill, and I fully expect you to take over his post one day. Now, come help me feed the reindeer, Ho Ho Ho!” Suddenly Franky’s vision went blurry, he felt dizzy and he blacked out… When he finally came too, he jumped back… There was red splashed everywhere…

 Franky found himself staring up at the giant sleigh. It looked empty and ominous. A void Santa’s corpse left, would leave, Franky realized, for eternity. He also immediately realized someone would have to take his place. Without a third thought, he threw the snowbar in the back of the sleigh, climbed up the stairs and sat in Santa’s seat. He must’ve looked like a child in the driver’s seat of a car. He reached for the reigns and thought they felt quite heavy; it took all of his elf strength to lift them. Prancer – or Dancer, he could never tell the difference – shuffled his hooves impatiently. Franky looked behind him: Santa’s sack full to the brim with toys that he had made: trucks and train sets, doll houses and dinosaurs, robots and radio controlled cars – who would deliver them all? He would, he thought. To all the good girls and boys. What about the bad ones? Santa would have delivered toys to every girl and boy, naughty or nice, good or bad. But Santa wasn’t here anymore, Franky reminded himself. Santa was laying stiff in the snow: he was reindeer food. Which reminded him, he’d have to find food for the reindeers. What did they eat again? Carrots, apples, bird eggs…and something for the naughty kids. He suddenly had some ideas.

    …Franky had spent the day looking for things for the bad girls and boys to fill Santa’s sleigh with. He looked everywhere: the shed, the toy shop, and even visited the city dump. There he found treasures: gifts for all ages, and the perfect stocking stuffers. He spent all night carefully wrapping them in the shop; no one noticed the light on. When he finished, he never felt more satisfied with his work. He pictured all the little brats waking up excited, running down to their sparkling tree, only to be disappointed once they opened their gifts. “This year you’ll get what you deserve,” Franky said to himself.

 Franky was on his way back from the shed with a bucket of carrots and fresh chicken eggs to feed the reindeer with when he ran into Susie who just finished work. “Hiii Franky!” she said in that sultry voice of hers, a voice that could melt snow. “Oh hi Susie, how was, um, work?” “Franky, are you okay? You look, um, a little pale.” “I’m fine! I’m, uh, just feeding the reindeer.” “Oh, can I help?” Franky felt his little heart beating out of his chest. He hoped the fresh powder snow had covered Santa’s stiff body by now. “Hmm, maybe, just um, help me feed the reindeer.”  He walked – Susie skipped – over to the sleigh. Franky could see a sliver of red peaking through the fresh snow – perhaps one of the arms of Santa’s housecoat. (That’s really what his suit was, wasn’t it? A colourful bathrobe.) “C’mon Susie, this way!” he quickly directed Susie toward the reindeer. She held out a carrot for Dasher, or Dancer, who ravishingly munched it out of her hand. Susie said, “Did you hear about the new reindeer that was born with a red nose?” “Yeah, uh, I heard something about it. Like, his nose lights up or something. Weird.” “I think it’s cool! Would sure help Santa guide his sleigh at night, what with all the bad snow storms around Christmas… Say, where is Santa anyway? Shouldn’t he be getting ready to fly already?” “Uh, yeah, actually, Mrs. Claus told me he came down with a cold, and he’s feeling under the weather, and she, um, asked me to take over tonight.” Susie blinked at him in disbelief. “No fucking waaay..that’s amazing! Can I come?” Franky had to think quick. For what he had planned there was no way he wanted her getting involved. Then again, she would be good company on the long journey, and she didn’t have to know what he put in the boxes for all the naughty kids. And who knows, maybe even a little sleigh sex. Franky had heard of other elves joining the mile-fly club.

    …Susie was already loading the last of the gifts into the giant sack. He watched her as she stepped up on the sleigh’s ladder and reached upward with all her might, her sparkly blue elf skirt lifting just above her thighs, exposing just a peak of her pink apple bottom, and he was beginning to think this was a good idea. “Okay!” He said a little too excitedly. “Okay, what Franky?” “Um, I mean yes, you can join me!” “Duh, I already know that.” “Oh,” was all Franky said.

  They were both seated in the sleigh – Franky holding the reins, Susie comfortably sitting on his left (the North Pole followed UK driving regulations to leave Santa’s whip-hand free). She felt warm next to him, like a living, breathing blanket, one he could snuggle in all year round. At that moment, Franky had never been happier in his life. Santa was gone, but it didn’t matter. It was his time. The world needed a new, updated Santa, one who was fair and just, who cared that the good kids were good and the bad kids were bad, a Santa who would teach proper beliefs and values based on the real world! Life didn’t reward you for being mean, dumb or lazy. You had to be smart and hardworking like his father – like him – he thought. The bad kids would soon find out that being bad had consequences. The worn out empty threat of, “Santa only delivers coal to the bad kids,” from every mom desperately disciplining their child was a sham. It was time for these pitiful parents to follow up on their word and stop giving in to their rotten child’s every whim just so, in their and society’s eyes, they seem like a “good parent.” Franky inhaled a big breath of fresh air, and everything was right with the world.

   “So Franky, you actually know how to fly this thing?,” Susie broke his trance. “Uh, yeah sure, I’ve seen Santa do it hundreds of times! Plus, when he would go to the local tavern he took me along sometimes so I could fly him home after, you know, one too many eggnogs (Santa’s favourite). I got the hang of it. Just gotta steer the reindeer in the direction you want to go and whip’em every once in a while, but only if they’re slowing down,” and quickly added, “Don’t worry, reindeer don’t feel pain.” He wasn’t sure if that was true, but he could see it put her at ease. Franky gave the reins a slight shake and suddenly remembered how heavy they were – Santa was a big guy after all – and felt a little embarrassed. Susie reached over and took one of the reins and they shook them together. This jostled the reindeer out of their satiated state and they stepped forward. They shook the reins a little harder and the reindeer started moving forward in unison, an exciting feeling because they were doing it together. Franky got the whip out of the glove compartment, but Susie quickly stopped him declaring, “No, Franky. I don’t want to hurt these poor animals.” Franky relented and instead said, “On Dasher, on David..” – Susie quickly intervened – “On Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen!” Franky continued, “On Comet on Q-tip..” – “Cupid silly! On Donner and Blixem!,” and she let out a squeal of joy. What kind of name is Blixem anyway? Franky thought. Must be German. Now they were picking up speed, dashing towards the edge of North Pole Valley… Suddenly both their hearts dropped like the sleigh itself off the cliff, and they were airborne now, flying through the cool, snowy air, snowflakes landing freshly on their rosy cheeks, and Susie grabbed Franky’s hand, and he could now die a happy elf, and his green tights grew even tighter.

…Franky didn’t have time to rub one out before leaving on his long journey, and he imagined Susie getting wet under her velvety dress, leading his hand down the inside of her thighs, her juices warm on this freezing night, glistening in the moonlight…

  “Look out!” Franky quickly jerked the reigns out of reflex, narrowly avoiding a flock of geese honking wildly as they flew past. He had to get his mind out of the gutter and focus. He took out his elPhone and connected to the Sleigh Bell network. He turned on the GPS, or Global Positioning Sleigh, and they were off, into the night together, to deliver joy to all the good girls and boys and, unbeknownst to Susie, misery to all the bad ones. Franky, I gotta pee,”Susie complained. He pictured her squatting over the side of the sleigh, pulling her panties dow– “Franky! I can’t hold it any longer!” He knew there was a Porta Potty on board, but he needed to stretch his legs anyway. He tugged hard on the reins, indicating to the reindeer to slow down and start descending.

    They landed on a rooftop in a snowy suburban town somewhere in middle of buck fuck nowhere, Canada. Susie hopped off onto the roof and pulled down her pants right in front of him, squatting, the fresh rooftop snow stained light yellow, like syrup taffy on ice. “Don’t look!,” she teasingly squealed. “Unless you like it…” Did he just hear her right? Or were his fantasies starting to blur with real life? Franky attempted to be a gentleman and half-looked at his list. A kid named Lucas lived here, and he saw he was a naughty boy this year, as well as every previous year to this one. (Weren’t all boys named Lucas naughty? It’s funny how you can tell so much about someone just by their name. Tylers were also bad, Jordans, Ryans and Brads. Franky wasn’t exactly a common name, but he imagined all Frankies were good boys, studious and hardworking.) He grabbed the appropriate parcel and threw it down the chimney. It bounced off the bottom of the fireplace and landed under the tree, a trick his dad taught him, who in turn had learned it from Santa. “What did you give him Franky?” “Oh, uh, just a train set he asked for..I made it too!” She would never know it was actually a box fill with petrified reindeer droppings, his own version of coal, wrapped nicely in shiny, blue paper along with the obligatory Christmas card reading: “Dear Lucas, make sure to be good to your mother next year! Ho Ho Ho! Love, Santa.”

By eleven pm Franky and Susie were making good ground, already covering half the U.S. in less than an hour. (Of course this was only possible on Santa’s sleigh, a kind of time machine if you will, using the principles of space-time Einstein laid out in his special theory of relativity, effectively slowing time down for them but ticking the same for everyone else in the world something Franky had learned in grade 3.) The children were tucked away in their warm beds dressed in their cotton PJs, or perhaps curled up by a warm fire, some already in dreamland imagining all the nice things they’d find under the tree in the morning, their tired parents draining the last glassful of eggnog, putting milk and cookies out for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, and all the other banalities that parents do to give the whole event a touch of theatrics because, Father Christmas forbid, the little rascals didn’t believe in a fat guy dressed in a red bathrobe coming down their chimney full of soot, late at night while they were sleeping, carrying awkwardly-shaped parcels down the narrow passage, somehow not waking anybody in the house, not even mom who’s a light sleeper who wakes up at the sound of a light switching on, placing them under the tree ever so delicately, wash back some stale cookies with nine day-old milk, then somehow manage to pull his fat ass back up the chimney (Does he fly, use some sort of hook fashioned to a rope or a grappling hook?) back to the roof, then do that another 7 million times in the same night! The milk and busquits were a desperate attempt at keeping that far-fetched fantasy alive as long as possible before the little brats became teenagers, experimenting with drugs, alcohol and casual sex….

    So far Franky had delivered a box of tacks to Kyle (another terrible kid’s name) with the card: “Stick’em up cowboy! You were bad this year…maybe next year you won’t be such a prick” (Franky always had a way with words); a pack of dirty socks and skid-marked undies with the accompanying note: Just wash once and they’ll be like brand new!; a dozen rotten eggs to Sam with the sentiment: A dirty rotten gift for a dirty rotten child. Another box was empty with the card reading: Dear Billy, this is exactly what you deserve. Love, Santa. “Hey, next on the list is Sarah!” Excited to be bringing joy to all the girls and boys, Susie peaked inside. “Franky, why is this box full of tampons? Eww and they’re bloody…” “Uh, weird, that must be a mistake.. maybe one of the elves thought it was the garbage sleigh and, um, accidentally threw the trash inside.” Susie had opened more boxes, disgusted at what she found: reindeer dung, used condoms, a dead mouse, moldy cheese, old socks, a rotten fish, live worms…”Franky, what the fuck is goin on?” Shit he had to think fast. He could just tell her – maybe she’d actually go along with it – but what if she didn’t? That would certainly ruin their trip, and he’d have to turn all the way back to drop her off and that would mean no more sleigh sex for him… But he had no choice – he had to tell her now. “Um, see those are only for the bad kids. The good kids get the train sets, the bad ones, well, they get bad things. It’s only fair. The naughty children don’t deserve nice things. They deserve nothing, or reindeer droppings, or dirty socks, and the worst possible things imaginable so they actually learn their lesson! Santa was too nice, but he shouldn’t have been nice to all those undeserving little shits, they didn’t deserve it!” Franky was yelling now and was worried to think he may have frightened her. He could tell by the appalled look on her face that she wasn’t convinced. He decided to let it all out. “Those kids deserved what they got! They were rotten, spoiled, naughty children and somebody needed to teach them a lesson! Santa didn’t understand that you can’t be nice to everyone, that there are just some people who are born evil, and they need to be put in line! If not, who’s going to discipline them? Their mothers? No, they think their child is ‘special, or ‘it’s just a faze, they’ll grow out of it.’ They think their child deserves to be loved. No they don’t! They deserve to be disciplined and beaten with a wooden spoon. They don’t deserve gifts, they deserve garbage! They need to be taught that it isn’t okay to be rotten!” Franky realized he’d been screaming. What would Susie think of him now? He suddenly felt ashamed. “S-Sorry, I didn’t mean to get angry.” “Franky, it’s okay.” He realized Susie was embracing him now, and he was actually crying, sobbing into her warm chest, her arms wrapped around him like a warm blanket. “It’s okay Franky, I understand, it’s okay…”

…Susie liked Franky. She often thought about him at work, and watched as he expertly put together train sets, a master at his craft, his adept, strong, sculptor-like hands… She was wondering what else those hands would be good at. She’d fantasize being at his place, watching some Game of Gnomes (her favourite show), their hands accidentally meeting in the bowl of chocolate covered almonds, then slowly turning toward each other, their eyes meeting, both knowing what the other wanted, going through the motions, Franky’s elfly hands spanking her tight bottom, she tells him to hit harder, asking him to call her one of Santa’s hos, felt herself getting wet as she sat at her desk…

    “Franky, did you…kill Santa?” The words didn’t seem real, like he was in another one of his daydreams. “No, of course not! He’s just.. taking a day off. You’ll see, he’ll be happy we helped him, maybe even give us a promotion!” Franky could feel his body getting hot underneath his parka even in the bitter cold. He wanted to tell her, tell her everything, but not yet… “Franky, I know you’re lying! I had a weird feeling when we were back at the North Pole, but I just didn’t say anything because, well, I wanted to come on an adventure! I’ve never left the North Pole – I’ve never even left Toy Town – and I wanted to join you because, well, I liked you too Franky, until I saw what you did to those children, to, to Santa! How could you?” Tears were rolling down her cheeks, freezing to her angelic skin. “Franky, take me home, now!” The thought briefly entered his mind.. but he knew it was too late now. If it ever came to elf court he would say she was his accomplice. He felt bad for her, but she was already in too deep. They were both guilty now. 

    “Susie wait, listen, I gotta tell you something… First, I really like you. I mean, I think you’re special, not like the other elves, and I think I, um, love you.” But he knew it was too late. He wanted to confess to her about what he did, killing Santa, his whole plan, but he was afraid she’d never talk to him again, as if she was ever going to now. “Franky, turn around now, or I’m calling the police.” Susie reached for her phone, but he quickly snatched it out of her hand and smashed it on the dashboard. Franky made up his mind: he put the sleigh on autopilot, picked Susie up, hopped in the back and dumped her inside the big red sack. She flailed her little arms and kicked her legs, but she was no match for Franky’s strength. Franky felt bad, of course, but he knew it had to be done. Evil thoughts crept over him… He would just tell the other elves she didn’t have her sleigh belt buckled up and she fell out of the sleigh, or maybe that she committed elficide because, uh, because Franky turned her down.. Yeah, she asked him out, he said no, she felt depressed so she took her own life by jumping out of the sleigh at high speed and landed on a rooftop, her tiny guts spilled out all over the snow covered shingles… He would miss her on his journey home. Her skin was a warm retreat from the frigid air, her icy blue eyes cooler than the snow. 

    Susie screamed and kicked, but it was useless. She slumped back in the sack. Her mind was whirling now… How could Franky have done these horrible things! And..he…did Franky really kill Santa? She didn’t want to think about it. It all didn’t seem real.. Just this morning they were flirting on their way home from work, and she remembered thinking how cute Franky looked in his green tights… Blah! She tried to shake the thought from her mind, but couldn’t. One minute Franky was this sweet, happy-go-lucky elf that she was falling for. Now she didn’t even recognize him; he had turned into a monster. What happened? He must be taking drugs. Her Franky would never act like this. Her Franky was kind, caring and generous. At least that’s what she thought.. Maybe he had developed a serious kind of mental illness. We’ll get him help when we’re back in the North Pole, she thought. She found a loose candy cane and started sucking on it.

    After what seemed like ages, Susie suddenly heard the sack unzip, and a breath of fresh air blasted in through the opening. The foul odour from inside the sack was starting to make her feel nauseous. Slowly, she climbed out. Franky was still flying the sleigh. His comparably tiny elf hands were squeezing the large reigns in a death grip, eyes fiercely faced forward, his head clearly somewhere else. Just then Susie noticed something laying behind his seat. It was covered in blood. She grabbed the snowbar and… Now! she thought. It was her only chance to knock him out and get safely home – but she hesitated for just a second and Franky suddenly turned around, easily grabbing the bloody snowbar from her hands. He threw it over the side of the sleigh and her only weapon disappeared into the snowy void… “Sorry I had to put you in the bag. I just, I just couldn’t risk it. I’m sorry you had to be a part of this. I didn’t mean for you to get involved.” Susie remained silent. Franky didn’t know if he should fly back the North Pole, or keep going till the reindeer ran out of steam and just let the sleigh plummet into the icy ocean, floating calmly to the bottom of the abyss, never to be seen or heard from again… His thoughts were muddled, unclear, unfocused. He thought he had a plan, but didn’t much think about the repercussions he’d face later on. He’d stupidly planned out this toyorist attack without thinking of the consequences… He would be strung up on a candy cane and publicly hung. “Gnomicide!,” they’d angrily shout knowing that he had murdered the fat jolly man in cold blood. Why go home? Maybe I could start a new life with Susie in the South Pole… Raise elfants together, go ice fishing on weekends, make a living building igloos…

    Susie suddenly lunged at him with a sharp object – this time Franky didn’t see it coming –  but he ducked out of the way at the last minute, just barely getting stuck with the sharpened end of a candy cane. Even though they were roughly the same size, Franky easily overpowered her and was able to pin her down… The reindeer veered sharply upward, sending them flailing backward. Susie quickly reached out and grabbed onto one of the reins and clung for deer life. Franky fell backwards, thwacking against the bulky sack, then cascading over it. At the last second he grabbed onto the top of the sack… Susie was reaching to try and grab him. “Franky! Hold on!” Now everything ran through his mind like a movie reel. All the bad things he had ever done: beating up Gordie in third grade, stealing five elf dollars from his mom’s purse, getting Carl to clock him out late even though he’d left work early, having a wank in Santa’s office, and how the elves would react if he did make it back alive, what would happen to him, more importantly what would happen to him and Susie… “I’m sorry,” Franky said. “I..I love you.” Then he let go… Franky felt himself falling, falling, through the crisp, snowy air, and suddenly felt much lighter, no more feelings of hate or anger, just pure and perfect bliss, and he felt happy. “I’m coming Santa,” he said, although his voice easily got lost in the wind…. 

    …thoughts and images flashed in front of his eyes… Slaving in the toy shop making toys for all the undeserving girls and boys, his father telling him he’s not good enough and beating him with a candy cane, his mother drunk on Christmas Eve, Santa touching him on his bits as a young boy, Susie naked, oh Susie, how he longed for her embrace… He never loved someone like that his whole life… They’re married now, with little elfkins, one of them looks like him! Susie looks so beautiful, baking in the kitchen wearing her apron, only her apron, and she’s such a wonderful mother, and now Franky felt happiness like he’d never felt in his  entire life… Then, splat.

   Susie was in shock – Franky was gone. But she had to get control of the sleigh again. Quickly she tugged on the reigns and pulled as hard as her little hands could…and the reindeer quickly corrected course and flew back into formation. She checked the GPS and saw she was a bit off course. Since it was a long way back, she made a decision. She made a sharp turn and headed back in the direction they were going. I’m gonna make this right, she decided.

Since she was on elf time it was only 2 AM and she calculated she’d still be able to hit all the stops on Santa’s route and be back by morning. She read the list of all the “naughty children” and returned to all the homes they’d already been to, making sure to replace all the bad gifts with toys and teddy bears and train sets and skateboards and doll houses and robots and Barbies…. She knew, deep down, these kids weren’t bad, or if they were they wouldn’t stay like that forever. These kids would grow up to be the students and teachers, firemen and police officers, bankers and lawyers, secretaries and salesmen of tomorrow. She believed they deserved love and gifts, just like the good children did. Franky was wrong, she told herself and now tears rolled down her cheeks, glistening and sparkling like the stars.

   When Susie got home, she curled up on her couch from Ikelf, threw on some Elflix and watched House of Toys, her second favourite show. “I love this show,” Carl said, even though he’d never seen it. He’s no Franky, Susie thought, but Franky was gone and she wouldn’t let that spoil her evening as their hands met in the bowl of nuts.

The End.

Cameron Brtnik is a Canadian short story writer and educator. He admittedly still believes in Santa Claus.
(original post Dec. 31, 2019)

10P 10: How To Throw a GOOD Party This Summer

10P 10:

How To Throw a Good Party This Summer

written by Cameron Brtnik

44736842-diverse-summer-party-rooftop-fun-concept

“Make it a Potluck”
    We’re finally into the summer party season, and you’ll no doubt be celebrating at your cottage up North, hitting a patio downtown, or throwing a backyard BBQ. You will surely be stocked with cold beers, coolers, freshly rolled joints and other party favours to help keep your guests inebriated. And let’s not forget the staples: juicy burgers, sausages, and some unidentifiable vegan choice. You’ll probably have a couple card games on hand like Cards Against Humanity, or Uno. And this would all seem like enough..but often, it’s not – not if you want to make your party memorable. Here are some ideas to add some originality, fun and excitement to your shindig, and ensure your parties will be the most talked about this summer!
1. Get Decor – Buy some decor at a store. I know it seems tacky, but it’s better than nothing! Eg: Streamers, balloons, and other party favours. Tip: These can all be bought at Dollarama.
2. Plan Some Games – This may seem childish, but as I’m sure you’re well aware, a drunken crowd is a childish crowd. Some ideas: Pin the Tail On the Donkey, Twister (this will turn x-rated pretty quick, unless it’s a family function), Truth or Dare, Card Drinking Games like Kings Cup
3. Have Prizes – Don’t forget to have prizes for the winners. I usually like to have cheesy prizes ie. stuff you can get from the dollar bin, as it makes it funnier, promotes good sportsmanship, and will ultimately save some $. Some favourites: Bag-o-nuts, a pair of socks, or some kind of childish toy. It’s probably good to have a real prize for the harder games like Trivia. For this you can have nicer items like a bottle of Tequila or a movie Gift Certificate. Tip: For a great prize (and to save you more $) you could make a “Dinner for two with Me and You” gift card where you invite that guest and a plus one for a dinner night. They will love it cause they’ll get to spend more time with you!
4. Host a Trivia Game – Everyone likes to play trivia at the pub, but how about in your own living room? And have guests answering questions you designed yourself? Tip: Make it theme related ie. On a trip to Chicago you could include trivia about that city, or for a birthday you can find out trivia about the birthday boy (ask his girlfriend the answers beforehand so it makes it super subjective!)
5. Play Kings Cup – I mentioned this in #2, but I felt this game needed a whole category in itself. You know it – it’s that game you played in college where, by the end, you were either throwing up in the bathroom or making out with a stranger. Kings Cup is still the king of drinking games (see what I did there?) and what I love about it is that you can tweak the rules or even make up new ones along the way. “Kings! From now on no one can use the word ‘drink’ during the game.” Good luck with that one.
6. Entertain Your Guests – Invite at least one talented friend. This could be a musician, a dancer, a clown, or even a chef. It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re prepared to be put on the spot at some point in the night to put on a show. It’s a win-win: They entertain your crowd for free and they get invited to the next party.
7. Play Match-Maker – Know a couple of stand-up individuals in your circle of friends who haven’t found the right one (yet)? Perfect! Act as matchmaker. Whether or not they hit it off by the end of the night, they’ll thank you for your well-meaning efforts. You never know – they may just name their baby after you.
8. Throw a Dance Party – Halfway into the night guests will be chilling on the patio, deck, or huddled inside if the weather’s chilly… That’s when you ask Alexa to throw on some party tunes! Watch as your normally shy friends bust out the Floss. Ah DMX never sounded so good.
9. Make It a Potluck – Make the party a Potluck Party and that will certainly take a lot of the stress off of hosting. You can designate one cook, or guests may use the grill to cook their own food (this comes with an obvious warning).
10. BYOB – Ask guests to “Bring Your Own Booze.” This seems evident but it’s worth mentioning. Imagine the PR nightmare if you ran out of booze halfway through the event – apocalyptic. If everyone brings their own booze, you can relax knowing there’ll be plenty to gulp down for the duration of the event (and even leftovers for dinner the next day!). Oh the joys of hosting. Tip: To make the party amusing put out a bowl of edibles. WARNING: Make sure your guests know they’re edibles! If they’ve never tried them advise doing just a little so your guests don’t disappear halfway through the night. I recommend gummy bears, but just the head.

Cameron is a freelance writer based in Toronto and part-time party planner cbrtnik.com

Poetry Corner – Between

Between

Be
In Between
I constantly walk a tightrope
Never quite giving up, never quite committing
Lingering in an state of purgatorial limbo
An incessant internal torment
My soul is never at rest
Permanently caught
In Between
tween

Poetry Corner – Rain

Rain

I feel like today is a good day to write..

The patter of rain in the background
the soundtrack to my lyrics

The gentle thunder
like rumblings from within

Calm yet restless
darkness with brief flashes of light

My heart pours onto the page
bursting from heavy purple rain clouds

A seemingly endless reservoir
flowing from a broken dam

Now lulling me off to sleep
till it just becomes white noise

Infusing with my dreams
washing away my worries

CamsBLOG: Why I Get Up Early On a Sunday (and You Should Too!)

CamsBLOG

These Boots Are Made For Hiking Meetup

Why I Get Up Early On a Sunday

(and You Should Too!)

Ah, Sundays… The perfect day to hit snooze, sleep in another couple hours, and finally get up only to transport your slothful behind from your cozy bed to your nearly-as-comfy couch. Or perhaps you reserve Sunday as your “chore day” where you can finally get around to cleaning that pigsty you call a house. Productive, right? Wrong! Try this instead: set your alarm for 7am, brew a fresh pot of coffee, have a cold shower, pack a healthy lunch and go “take a hike!” Specifically with These Boots Are Made For Hiking, a hiking Meetup I discovered during covid lockdown.

“What’s a Meetup?” I can hear you asking. Here’s the definition right off their website: “Meetup is a platform for finding local communities to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions together.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I myself have been a member on Meetup for years and have attended the odd event, but I truly discovered its power this year during lockdown. Like most people, I was going through a tough time – isolation, boredom, depression – and through the power of Meetup I discovered all sorts of groups that connected me with others dealing with the same crap. Those Meetups helped me get out of my “uncomfortable zone,” beat loneliness, and provided that much-needed motivation I was desperately seeking.

“These Boots Are Made For Hiking” is a Meetup group started by Sherry Bagnato, aka “Dear Woo Woo girl,” a Toronto-based author, podcaster and hiker extraordinaire. When asked why she started this group, she replied: “I tried organizing hikes with friends, but our plans always fell through. I started These Boots to get a group of motivated people together every week!”  And boy, did it work. It started off as a modest group – about 10 members – and has grown to around 40 regular walkers! The skill levels involved are anything from beginner to “moderately challenging” meaning that anyone, age or experience, is able to join. I’ve met people from all “walks of life” (pardon the pun): from the spry and sporty to retirees; from students and newcomers to Canada to those needing the exercise or looking to get closer to nature; or folks just looking to fill up a Sunday afternoon. There are even trekkers who brave the trails as a form of physical therapy. For myself, these hikes have been an excellent form of mental health therapy; I always feel better (or otherwise exhausted) after a hike, and I’ve found it’s a positive and motivating way to start off the week! Whatever the reason for joining, I believe we all have one thing in common: a sense of “finding connection.”

I’ve had a great many conversations with my fellow hikers, and they all have something unique and enlightening to share. These hikes are also a great chance for networking.  Each week we choose a new location to brave, reachable either by public transit or a short drive (and always generous drivers willing to carpool for those who need a ride). We hit up all sorts of hiking trails: some through canopied forests, others through rollicking fields, treks up mountainous bluffs and down winding, wooden staircases – hikes for any challenge level you’re looking for! If this sounds intimidating, no need to fret; the group breaks off into smaller groups so that you’ll always find members who are more “your speed.” And of course we take breaks to rest, eat lunch or go for a refreshing swim along the way. All in all a fun, challenging and exhilarating way to spend your Sunday!

So next time Sunday rolls around, what are you gonna do? Hit the alarm and roll over, or get your backside out of bed and join a hike? If you decide on the former, enjoy your lazy Sunday. But if you are ready for a change, want to take action and get out and meet new people, then click the link below and join our next hike! You won’t regret it, and your alarm will thank you.

> >Sign up for the next hike on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/these-boots-are-made-for-hiking

Follow Sherry Bagnato: https://dearwoowoogirl.com

Cameron is a freelance writer, short story author and novice hiker living in Bloordale, Toronto

Contact Cameron: cbrtnik@gmail.com

Floetry Corner – “Broken Dreams”

Floetry Corner - "Broken Dreams"
by emcee Problem-Addict
*Note: I get inspired to write verses after whilst smoking weed and listening to hip hop instrumentals I randomly search on Youtube. I felt this beat was special, stirring deep emotions, simultaneously conjuring both depressing motivating feelings... I posted the link to the instrumental so you can try to rap along! 🙂

Old School Hip-Hop // Rap Instrumental | Rotten Mind | Decibel Lirical https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRjZsP1FOT8&ab_channel=DecibelLirical

"This beat...bring out my inner sadness, fuck 'rose-colored' all I got's tinted glasses / Like a hand I can't stand this, I feel bad, fuck sad, this is madness / Ill and manic, pop pills, still an addict, shit is tragic, got skills, but still imagine / that I'm livin' in a palace, filled with lavish things, and if I wanna leave could just spin an atlas / But I feel the axis...still the fact is, payin' bills, still sleep on a shitty mattress / Thinking bout life, just tryna stay afloat... but I keep sinking back into blackness ('ahhhhhhh') / I suppose hanging myself is the fastest - way to stop these feelings, havin' flashbacks like a hit of acid / In a panic - almost go insane, overload my brain - until it crashes (boom!) / Suddenly I feel the fire...like I lit some matches, throwin' on sticks, twigs and branches, until it catches / Let me out of this cage, so I can let loose and spit rage, till all that's left of this stage is a pit of ashes / Doesn't matter if you got a God-given talent, gotta balance that shit with a vision, stick with it if / it's a passion, gotta make it a mission to start buildin' habits, that'll get you to the next level / of this challenge, with practice yo skill advances, begin to master and move on to bigger pastures / Like lennon just imagine where you'll be in ten years...picture chillin' in yo mansion / But like a car gotta start now - cause time's tickin fast, and in a flash yo dreams begin to shatter and die like they were given cancer... ('and all the shit I thought did didn't matter')" -freestyle by problemaddict

Poetry Corner – Trapped

Trapped

I feel trapped...

A flickering moth, abducted by the light
in an eternal state of phototaxis

A struggling rat, caught in a mousetrap
gradually accepting the thought of death

A cocky roach, appendages paralyzed by amber molasses
feelers erratically flailing in distress

A tiny ant, drowning in a pool of honey
gulping every last, sweet breath of air

A jittery fly, tangled in spider's web
unwittingly preparing itself to be its next meal

A busy bee, suddenly engulfed in green teeth
while greedily drinking at its deceitfully sweet nectar

A naive rabbit, snagged by metal cuffs
wildly spasming with each attempted escape

A fluttering butterfly, snatched in soft mesh
impulsively flapping its wings to take flight

A dangling fish, held proudly from angler's hook
desperately gasping for atoms of air

A restless dog, tightening its leash with each futile tug
foolishly strangling itself to get ahead

A tamed tiger, restlessly stalking its cage
endlessly pacing, awaiting the day its at last released

An imprisoned primate, thrashing about in its manufactured enclosure
painfully aware of its dire and futile predicament thinking

Let me out

I want to live

Poetry Corner – Stuck

Stuck

I am stuck

An invisible force holding me down

Gravity binding me to the ground

I try to get up,

but I feel three times my weight

I want to get up,

but this constraint is overpowering

I go to get up,

but I am unable to move

Caught in a Venus flytrap

Feeling inevitable death

but doing nothing about it

No one can help me

I am stuck

Poetry Corner – Supersymmetry

Supersymmetry

I am me, but there is another me

Completely opposite

Moving in the right direction

Unknowingly spinning me backwards

in the opposite direction

A contradictory pair

Dancing through time

Both partners unaware of the other

Invisibly influencing the other

I wish I could detach

and just float away

So I could map out my own path

Unaffected by myself

Poetry Corner – Sun

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!

Poetry Corner – End of Covid

End of Covid

(or Spring is Here!)

People out

Children playing

Mothers shouting

Dads catching

Babies crying

Friends laughing

Joggers running

Athletes training

Couples smiling

Guys joking

Kids frolicking

Teens flirting

Birds chirping

Cars driving

Ambulance wailing

Babies screaming

Dogs barking

Planes gliding

Gangs hanging

Crowds gathering

Bands playing

Music blasting

Cyclists cruising

Bells clanging

Men working

Seniors sitting

Boys chasing

Girls giggling

Balls dribbling

Clouds parting

Sun shining

Ice melting

Mood shifting

Depression lifting

THIS IS THE END OF COVID

Poetry Corner – finally!

finally!

I'm finally going to...

start a podcast!

who the fuck would listen to that?

perform at open mic night!

who would find you funny?

apply for that job!

why the fuck would they hire you?

get in shape!

what shape?

start jogging!

yeah, to the convenience store maybe

start my business!

are you joking?

get my life in order!

what life?

I am ready!

no you're not

This time I'm going to do it!

I don't think so

Today's the day!

maybe tomorrow

I'm gonna start on it first thing...

we'll all be waiting with bated breath