Young Casey Casano-no

Last updated on January 12th, 2021 at 08:27 pm

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1. Sometimes we wish we could hit the rewind button. Talk about an experience that you would do over if you could.

2. Write about spending time with a baby or child under the age of two. The challenge: if you’re a parent, do not talk about your own child.

— The Scintilla Project’s Day 10 prompts

I did not handle things well with girls at all when I was young. I always kept insanely busy and sucked at letting anyone in, so relationships were kept pretty low-tier on my list of priorities. It all ended well after those years of screw-ups, but if I could have do-overs, I’d:

  • not have ditched that girl on her prom just because I’d broken the garage door and was broke; I’d have found a way to make it work;
  • have asked that girl out; especially after later discovering she would’ve said yes;
  • kissed that girl when the perfect opportunity arose, but I chose logic over feelings;
  • have kept talking to that girl despite my friends thinking she was weird; and
  • taken more chances with the girls who made it obvious that they were interested.
Subtlety is key. Casey Palmer with a Dating for Dummies toolkit.

There were also idiotic things I did in the name of trying to get with a girl, like:

  • the time I went to a party at university with no way home thinking I’d hook up, but the only thing I got hooked up with was an $80 cab ride home;
  • the time I got involved in an online relationship with a cocaine addict who lived in California;
  • the time I got involved in another online relationship with someone who was actually my then-buddies having some very elaborate (and extremely creepy) fun with me; or
  • the mix CDs I’d spent my time making for girls… to give to other guys.
Get your game on!

You live, and you learn. We all make idiotic mistakes—but it’s all part of growing. I wouldn’t be who I am today without being burned so many times, but even if I could change it, I’m happy enough with who I am today that being anyone else isn’t an option.

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I Once Was Lost, But Now…

Last updated on April 14th, 2021 at 09:42 am

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1. Talk about where you were going the day you got lost. Were you alone? Did you ever get to where you meant to go?

2. What is the longest thing you know by heart (for example, a prayer, speech, commercial jingle, etc.)? Why did you learn it?

— The Scintilla Project’s Day 9 prompts

I’ve been blessed to have a pretty solid sense of direction—I’ll go somewhere and orient myself with the sun’s placement in the sky, landmarks, where the moss is growing on trees (yeah right—I’m a city boy; no way I know that)—generally, I tend to know where I’m going.

But my internal GPS isn’t perfect. There have been times that I’ve gotten ridiculously lost, either due to my ignorance or just rotten luck. Some of the more notable examples include:

  • Getting lost at Centreville when I was 7 or 8 with my baby brother and getting paged over the PA to find my way back to my Mom, blubbering all the while. I think I got spanked for stressing my Mom out by getting lost and for crying about it that day…
  • Once I wound up stranded at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON because I’d gone to school sick, fell asleep on the bus back and didn’t wake again ’til well after my stop! The worst parts: I was on my way to work; I forgot my wallet on the seat; and when I got off of the bus, I asked the driver where the bus was going next and not where I actually was. I eventually wandered around and saw the McMaster Marauders logo on a signboard, and found a friend who’d spot me $20 to get home and a place to sleep for the night—but did I learn my lesson?
  • obviously not, because I’d fall asleep on the bus going home from school yet again and awake to it being empty and driving in unfamiliar territory. When I got up and asked the driver where we were (which received a quick “Oh shit!” as I’d scared him half to death), he told me to downtown Toronto to drop off the bus—the opposite direction I needed to go for my shift at work. Damn it. In what can only be described as the best luck ever, the driver put me on the bus heading back in the right direction, and I bumped into my buddy Alfred who’d give me a ride to work, actually making me early for my shift! Boss move.
  • Once in my 2006 L.A. visit, my buddy Jon and I wanted to find a bar where we could celebrate his 21st birthday on a hot May day and told to walk a few minutes down the road and take a turn or two, so off we went. For four hours. Eventually, we’d end up at Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles with a couple of brews and more fried everything that we knew what to do with. Getting lost can sometimes end very, very well.
That's... a lot of food.

So what can we learn from this? That sometimes you’re gonna get lost. That sometimes things aren’t going to work out like you expect them to. But if you can keep a positive outlook and learn to improvise a little, just about any situation can go from bad to rad!

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A Recipe for Catastrophe | A Tale of Teenage Stress

Last updated on January 25th, 2021 at 09:52 am

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Casey Palmer swing jumping at age 12
Sometimes you’re going to jump and there’ll be nothing to land on—but no matter how you end up, you’ve always gotta crawl your way back up.

1. Write about someone who was a mentor for you.

2. What have been the event horizons of your life—the moments from which there is no turning back?

— The Scintilla Project’s Day 7 prompts

I had to do some real soul-searching to write this one.

16 was a hell of a year for me. So much was going on in my head, and so much was spiralling out of control. Everything I’d worked at for years was unravelling, and it started to become clear that I couldn’t continue what I was doing for very long. Something had to give, and I didn’t know it then, but 16 would mark the death of Casey Palmer as I knew him, and creating something new altogether.

But who was he and what would he become?

Bred for Success

I guess I was never all that normal after all.

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Showing promise from a young age, my parents would do whatever they could to develop the skills they saw within me. My parents raised me to always strive for my best performance but didn’t teach me as much about balance. I’m a child of the ’80s—a child of 20% interest rates on mortgages and two parents working their butts off to make ends meet. My first 16 years were spent cramming as much into my head as possible.

I’m a child of the hustle.

In hindsight, it all makes sense. Dad would work 70-80 hours a week tending to the restaurant, Mom had to balance 40-50 hours a week at a corporation that ultimately didn’t value her efforts, and come home to keep three rowdy boys in line that sometimes didn’t either. They indirectly raised me believing that the stress, working to the bone in the quest for success and never being satisfied were all just part of life.

And it wasn’t until well into my life as a 16-year old that I’d come to appreciate just how dangerous a combination that could be.

Case in point, the first 16 years of my life were always busy. To give you a brief summary of just how busy that was, this list gives you a quick overview of what I remember from those days.

Casey’s Teenage Life: An Overview

  • 5-6 years old: Kindergarten—Grade 1, French immersion; piano lessons
  • 7-11 years old: Grades 2-6, Mode 3 education (aka “the gifted program” or “the brainers”), showing an aptitude for language, problem-solving and math
  • 11 years old: Compete to get into the University of Toronto Schools, earn one of the 78 spots (from 1000+ applicants!)
  • 12-16 years old: Grade 7-12 at University of Toronto Schools:
    • School Activities
      • Deputy Prefect Althouse house
      • Tenor in the Junior Choir
      • Various roles, Junior Play (2 plays)
      • Member of Math Club, Film Qlüb, Impro Club
    • Sports
      • Track & Field Team (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, 4x200m relay, long jump, triple jump, high jump)
      • Half-back, Rugby Team
    • Volunteering
      • Volunteer, Square One Youth Centre (Vice-President of the Youth Leadership Committee and in charge of writing grant applications for the Centre)
      • Volunteer, Trillium Health Centre (Team Lead for coordinating the volunteers; co-editor of Trillium Talks, the volunteer newsletter)
      • Volunteer, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee (Chair of Mississauga Youth Week 2000)
      • Contributor, YouthMEDIA Newspaper
      • Contributor, The Cuspidor
      • Counsellor, Tawingo Winter Camp
    • Work

But Success Has Its Price…

It might sound impressive, but a whole heap of accomplishments can bring its own set of problems:

  • I never slept. I remember the first time I had to code a website on my family’s 386 when I was 14 years old—and going 5 days straight on almost no sleep to get it done. (We’re talking surviving from Coke and 15-minute cat naps, here….)
  • I was always broke. I was never home to eat and you don’t make a heckuva lot as a take-out cashier. Looking at my bank statements from this time years down the road, I was appalled at how much I spent on fast food and comic books!
  • It was never good enough. Despite having many people who cared about my well-being, a number of accomplishments under my belt and knowing that I was making a difference in my world, I was never satisfied. I could never focus on the victory at hand—I was always looking ahead to the next one. What could I improve? What was still on the to-do list? Why aren’t I at their level?

And when you’re not sleeping, always stressed about how much you’ve got left until the next paycheque and never happy enough to change the habits breaking you down, all that pressure adds up, and the mind can only take so much. For me, it only led to one thing—me, huddled with my head between my knees in the Grade 12 hallway, tired. So tired. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I couldn’t be the son my parents wanted, and I was in too deep to find a way out of the mess I’d gotten myself into.

It was a full-blown mental breakdown.

There’s a Light at the End of Every Tunnel

It would take years to rebuild myself from the low I’d hit, but I’d eventually learn the skills I needed to find my place in this world. I learned that I didn’t need to bend over backwards to get everyone to like me. That it was okay if people didn’t like me. I learned that I didn’t need to meet my parents’ every whim to be a valuable human being. I learned that I could pour out every effort within me to make others happy, but if I burned myself out in the process, I was no good to anybody.

But most of all—I learned that there are no second chances for those who give up, and that’s what’s kept me fighting since that day—another shot at finding a path that makes Casey Palmer… Casey Palmer.

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