Oh cap tan, my cap tan

I’ve never really been a hat person.

I’ve worn a lot of hats, don’t get me wrong. The ozone layer was so thin over NZ, that growing up I had the choice between a hat or imminent cancer. I chose the hat. I wore caps, but they looked weird on my head. I used to curl the brims so tight that if I had two you’d have thought I was advertising for McDonalds. I mean, as a child I would’ve willingly advertised for McDonalds. What kid wouldn’t? Children can’t do shit about marketing. They’re not smart enough yet. I wasn’t, anyway. Smart enough or a hat person, that is. Yes, I wore them, but I never really embodied them. My head would sweat. Sometimes the plastic ribbing would stab my head. I never knew if I was supposed to tuck my ears in. I still don’t. Is there a rule?

I tried bucket hats. Or rather, I tried one bucket hat because it had an army pattern and as a kid I thought that was cool. Look, I told you I was a dumb kid. Or rather, a kid. I thought the army and guns and killing were cool. Consequently, I thought wearing an army bucket hat would make me cool, even though I knew bucket hats were fundamentally uncool. I was not a cool kid. The bucket hat did not last long.

At a concert once I borrowed my friend’s fedora. Yes, it was a literal fedora, not a trilby. I had a photo wearing it that I used as my OkCupid profile picture for several years. I also had literal neckbeard. I thought it made me look distinguished, rebellious and cool. I was none of those things. I also didn’t keep the hat, it was his. I wanted it, but never brought myself to get one of my own. I wanted to be a hat person. I was not a hat person.

A friend and I once went to Chicago for Lollapalooza. It was a big deal, going to a massive overseas concert. Summer in Chicago was awesome. We drank and feasted and melted our fucking faces off in the sun. So I got a hat. I had fond memories of that fedora photo, but I didn’t realise fedoras and trilbys were different things, so I ended up buying a trilby. It did not suit me like I thought it suited me. I still did not look cool. I still was not a hat person. I got too drunk and accidentally lost in a mosh pit. Really though, nothing of value was lost.

Does anyone remember those animal hat things that were in vogue for a while? They were kind of like winter hats, but with conjoined mittens. Wait, I have the internet. They looked like this. Anyway, I thought it was the height of comedy to wear the hat tilted forwards so it looked like its face was my face. Or rather, that I was some form of goddamn chimera with a fuzzy panda head but human jaw/body. I have multiple photos of this, each with diminishing returns. A hat still did not make me cool.

My girlfriend has a bunch of hats. Big floppy sun hats, the kind you’d wear to The Races. There’s one with blue and white concentric circles, and another that’s a bold yellow. I didn’t steal her hat per se, but I sure as hell wear her yellow hat a ton more than she does. I’ve worn her yellow hat enough that it’s become somewhat iconic as my hat, even though it’s very clearly hers. So in some sense I’ve stolen its essence, which as we all know is a big part of fashion. Being Key. It’s vampires all the way down. I “stole” her hat knowing full well that it wasn’t a cool hat, that it did not make me cool and that any of this was secondary to the mass sun protection it’s provided. In all of the kerfuffle and semiotic layers, the juxtaposition of this hat not suiting me whatsoever and the candour with which I wear it almost has made it suit me. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to being a hat person, but I’m still not a hat person.

But at least I’m smarter than a child now.

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Antelopes live around 10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity

I don’t really feel like writing today, but like every other day I don’t have a choice, so I’ll write.

I haven’t really felt like doing anything today, but that’s how some days are. I dunno, I’m getting used to it. While it doesn’t feel like today was worth waking up for, I got out of the house, I’ve finished my work for the day and I just have to wait it out until I can leave and go home. I don’t want to talk to other people, so I’ll probably just avoid that. I made a big pot of chicken soup last night, so at least that’s waiting for me at home. I realised last night that the final season of Catastrophe had a) started and b) finished. It’s British, so the season is all of six episodes. I was kind enough to leave two for myself to watch tonight. So that’s what’s waiting at home. Small victories.

If this all sounds kind of miserable, don’t worry, it is. At the same time, it’ll pass and maybe in a few days I’ll feel better. I did extra work today so I can have a breezy work from home day tomorrow. Paying it forward. I figure that’s a kindness. I’ve been trying to go out of my way to do tasks ahead of time, take care of chores when they arise, not when they linger. Oddly enough, frontloading this work is as much self-care as I have in the barrel right now. I’ve got a full fridge and freezer. I’m trying to make sure I have healthy food to eat. At the same time, my freezer has gotten so full that it barely stays closed. I think I need to start eating the food instead of saving it for later. That should be easier. Once again, small victories.

The weird thing is, I’m not even low in my lows. I’m hovering somewhere between a 4-5/10 at the moment. I’m surviving. I’ve got enough function to operate and take care of myself, but thriving is still closer to a 7-10 kind of thing. There could be stuff on the horizon, but as ever I’m tempering my expectations. As shitty as it sounds, the last couple of years have taught me that excitement breeds disappointment, so I’m leaving that on the sidelines for the moment. I’ll save excitement for when things happen, and until then I’ll be cautiously tentative. Things could be worse, and that’s a mercy of sorts.

I had a busy weekend, and distractions helped to stave off too much misery. Who knows? Maybe it’s just that during the week I feel like I’m wasting my life, going into the same office to efficiently deliver unremarkable work. That the drudgery and worthlessness of what I do is enough to strip my desire to exist. That I understand how pointless things are right now, but that they’ve been that pointless for too many years. Realistically though, my lack of professional pride is just the straw breaking the camel’s back. I’ve got enough intertwined frustrations, anxieties and issues to keep this going for years. Whatever reason I have to thrive is beyond me, so until I find one, I’ll stick with surviving. I don’t have the energy spare to waste otherwise.

Like writing, I don’t really have a choice about living. So I’ll just keep doing that until I find a good reason to do so. Then I can thrive.

The LAN before time

Remember how things mattered until they didn’t?

I used to be meticulous with my music curation. Okay, let’s take it down a peg. I used to Care A Lot about my iTunes metadata. I downloaded a ton of music and ripped all my CDs for the digital realm. Just years and years worth of stuff. It was all organised in a way to make hearing exactly what I wanted to hear as simple and efficient as possible. I’m sure this doesn’t make a ton of sense to all y’all, but when we used to torrent stuff or grab it from Napster/Morpheus/Kazaa/IRC or whatever, it often had weird characters, was misnamed, etc. It was a bunch of work. The number of times I’d download the same track, but with different names, was astounding. They even used to sometimes insert weird SFX into tracks as an odd form of copyright protection. Hell, I used to burn albums by downloading each individual track, then arranging them in order on a CD. It was the opposite of sophisticated. So I’d spend the time to get everything in order on my computer before porting it over to my iPod. End of story. Sorta.

I used to go to LAN parties (we’d all bring our desktop computers around to someone’s place, then spend the evening getting loaded up on caffeine, snacks and stay up all night gaming). The unspoken law of LAN parties is that while everyone was up, computers were for gaming. Inevitably we’d crash at some point, usually after sunrise. One of the exciting aspects of LAN parties was getting to leech content from each other. You could load up on anime, games, movies and music. Maybe it was that I got used to having limited space, needing to be conservative, etc. Or perhaps I was just a control freak. I would be discerning as to what I grabbed. When it came to shows, movies and music, I’d go through and only take what I thought I’d use. This wasn’t the case across the board. A bunch of people with massive hard drives would just take everything. They could, they had the luxury of not needing to care.

When it came to music, this always made me feel really uncomfortable. Why would you take everything? What if there was tons of stuff you weren’t into? I took a personal stake in it. I’d spent all this time curating my collection, making sure it was exactly how I wanted it. These people, however, would just absorb it into their own. Most of it would likely never even be heard. For them it was about having more data. For me it was about tailoring specific experiences. After all the work I put into it, I felt almost betrayed. They wouldn’t appreciate it like I did. Did I really want them to have it in that case? I never said anything, but it stewed up inside me something fierce. An unspoken grievance that stayed with me. It was weird.

These days, of course, streaming exists. Music is all free and accessible, with collections that are exponentially larger than mine. None of it matters. What a load of wasted energy.

I wonder if anyone wants to come over for a LAN party…

That’s one hell of a blank canvas

I was at a party last night, chatting to some guy I’d met before. Lovely dude. He mentioned he’d recently come back from Antarctica. Antarctica is one of those beacon subjects for me at a party. I don’t know why. It’s not the first time I’ve talked to someone who travelled there for work, but it never ceases to be a fascinating topic. Maybe it was growing up in NZ, the proximity meant that we heard about Antarctica a bunch. I remember watching all these old school videos of large barges breaking up the ice. Or March of the Penguins style documentaries. I remember being so excited to visit the Antarctic Adventure at Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium when it opened. There was just something otherworldly about such an inhospitable location. It was exotic and outside of the realms of anything I ever imagined experiencing. So when I chatted to this dude I was understandably engaged.

As he talked, I was struck with how subdued life in Antarctica sounded. We’re so overstimulated in our daily lives. Between the infinite sprawl of the internet and the constant bombardment of advertising, Antarctica seemed stark, like the simplicity would bring things into focus. The guy talked about how mundane pleasures really meant something while he was there. The emotional warmth of a luxury item brought from home. Maybe some Baileys he’d stowed away added to a hot chocolate. Being able to send and receive scattered messages from his girlfriend back in Canada. Having to be driven around by someone else until he got his bearings, then having the freedom to explore. Someone else asked him how he passed the time, if he’d brought hard drives full of series’ to watch. He countered that while he’d assumed that’d be the way, he never found himself having the spare time. Antarctica was still so fresh and new. If he wasn’t working, he was sleeping or adventuring out just to see things. That without stimuli constantly vying for his attention, his mind seemed free to run wild. He was processing information in a whole new way. Friendships he built seemed built on a genuine desire to connect and see the best in one another. Supplies were rationed, which took his mind off a lot. He was able to exist in a way that wouldn’t be possible back in normal society. He could kind of just “be”, y’know? He couldn’t wait to go back.

Imagine finding your centre like that. Arriving somewhere that enabled you to find parts of yourself you didn’t know were important to you. I’ve gone on holidays before, obviously. I’ve had a great time exploring, living as the locals do. Losing myself in how it feels to travel, to feel uninhibited. At the same time, it’s always felt temporary and fleeting. I’ve never been somewhere that resonated with me in such a profound way. What does that feel like? I swear I’ve had those passing moments, but it’s never struck me to my core. At the same time, I’m sure there’s somewhere out there. There has to be. How do you find that? Do you just know once you’ve arrived? What if there’s a life out there that would complete me, but I’ll never know it?

Egads, I wasn’t looking for a personal crisis. I just wanted to know about penguins.

I also have a series of Rube Goldberg based traps in reserve

I’ve been home alone for maybe three weeks now.

Honestly? I fucking love it. It’s different. There’s something about having a place entirely to yourself that’s comforting. Everything’s always as you left it. Every responsibility falls back on you, but at the same time, you’re only responsible for yourself. Your mess of a life is your own to tidy. Sure, there are chores, but the stakes aren’t multiplied by having extra people to cater for. Many hands make light work, but also many minds can make for enabling behaviour. I dunno, when my girlfriend is home all the time, we procrastinate together. We put things on the maybe pile and don’t get to them as often as you’d expect. Because of this illusion that many hands will make light work, so far from living together, I’ve found that safety net lets a lot of lazy behaviour slip past. Maybe that’s more about us than it is about cohabitation. Perhaps if we had more discipline, this place would be spick and span, vacuumed, mopped, done and dusted. There wouldn’t be stacks of pictures yet to frame, despite our best intentions. Best intentions are great, but we bought a print at TCAF several years ago and it’s still sitting there. None of this is on my girlfriend, it’s more that we’ve made allowances and found a certain status quo of least resistance.

Having this place to myself, I’ve tried to redefine what living here feels like. I read a long forgotten piece of wisdom that said essentially if you can do a task in two minutes or less, do it there and then. It’s been a game changer. I’ll often think about cleaning for 15 minutes, then procrastinate for several hours until I’ve worked myself out of doing it. With this two minute task mentality, it breaks things off into little kit kat portions of productivity. I’ll be like I could wipe down this table in under two minutes, then I’ll see something in the kitchen that needs to be pulled down from a high cupboard, get on a chair and pull it down. Then I’ll think while I’ve got the chair, what else could I get to? Say there’s a lightbulb I’ve been too lazy to change, why not do it then? Maybe I’ll notice while I’m changing a bathroom light that there’s a bunch of hair around the floor, so I’ll get the brush and shovel to take care of it. Simple two minute tasks amass into perhaps half an hour’s work, but in a mere half hour I’ll have done a ton of little things that make the house more livable. Dishes are done, washing is folded, sheets are clean. Hell, it turns out cleaning a litter box takes all of ten minutes to do, and the cat is significantly less crabby. And it’s all done in time I probably would’ve spent messing around on the internet. It’s crazy how easy it all is.

Aside from the responsibility aspect, the unspoken truth about living at home is also that you get to be as selfish as you want. Maybe it’s different if you’re the kind of social butterfly who has people over constantly, but in recent times I haven’t been. It’s just been me and whatever the hell I want to do. I’ve been coming and going as I’ve wanted, bound by nothing more than my whims. I don’t need to consider anyone else when it comes to noise, activities, eating or bed times. I’m 100% driven by my own desires, and that feels kinda neat. It’s been easier to get in touch with what I actually want, when it’s the only thing I need to take heed of.

And OF COURSE this is one side of it. Living alone is great, but I’ve also been dealing with the novelty of a short term solo abode. There are the unspoken joys of living with a partner that I’m not sure I’d want to give up in the long term. It’s lovely sharing space with someone, making something together. It’s great when a partner has an idea for an activity and it’s a total blast. Or those times when you’re sharing the same space, but doing wholly different things. Cooking together is one of my prime loves. As great as it is to have several more portions for yourself, the process of allocating tasks and enjoying the result with someone else is wonderful. Also casual spontaneous sex, that’s great.

But for the next month at least, I’m gonna enjoy being selfish.

It behooved me to make the pun

Quick story time.

The building I work in has a ton of meeting rooms. Like, eight+ on every floor. They’re all different, some have AV capabilities, some have frosted windows, they all fit different numbers of people. They have all manner of thematic designs. Right by my desk there’s a meeting room. Part of our team has meetings there often. It’s also surrounded by entirely clear glass. From my desk I can usually see what’s going on. Today I was returning from the bathroom and peered in on my way past. I stopped. On screen there was some kind of presentation. It had a picture of a centaur, and said something involving the word “Spokescentaur”. I had no idea who the woman conducting the meeting was, but I looked at her, shut my eyes and shook my head. She quirked her head to the side, confused, and I walked off.

20 seconds later I returned with a piece of paper that read “Spokesmane is catchier” and held it to the glass, standing there with an entirely straight face. I waited about ten seconds, saw everyone laughing, and went back to my desk without saying a word. Someone from my team who was in the meeting said that the woman loved it, took my criticism to heart, and is going to change the wording. The woman also suggested that I sit in on the meetings in case I have any other ideas. So that was my today weirdness.

I actually left the house last night. It was a big deal. Last Thursday I woke up thinking it was Valentines Day. It wasn’t, but I went out and caught up with a friend. She told me about this emo anti-valentines gig she was going to. A couple of local bands getting together to do tribute sets of five songs. Sounded kinda fun. In my teens/early 20s being anti-emo was kind of a big part of my identity. As an adult, I don’t really care. I’m not into emo, as such, but I am into themed events. There were gonna be four sets: Dashboard Confessional, Coheed and Cambria, Paramore and Death Cab for Cutie. I don’t like Dashboard, I’m indifferent to Paramore, but I listened to a ton of Coheed/Death Cab in my 20s. It was enough to get me to leave the cosy confines of home. I ransacked my girlfriend’s makeup collection to get black eyeliner. I was a theatre kid, I’ve used eyeliner pencil before. However, the only black eyeliner she had was liquid eyeliner and I was way out of my depth. It looked like trash. My hand wasn’t steady enough and I had zero idea what I was doing. With the experiment considered a failure, I wiped it all off and left the house.

The gig was fun. I had no interest in seeing the Dashboard set, but I did need to get there early to grab one of the few remaining tickets. I bought my ticket, then peeled off to a craft beer bar for a few pints. By the time I returned, the Coheed set was just about to begin. They had a female lead singer, and she totally killed it. Claudio Sanchez (the Coheed lead singer) has a very distinct voice, and she nailed it to a T. I’d seen Coheed at my last ever Kool Haus gig (before the venue was tragically shut down), and their set brought back fun memories. Some dude behind me lost his shit and sang along to every line. It was swell. I skipped most of Paramore to get another beer, but profusely enjoyed hearing Death Cab songs again. This time, I was the dude losing my shit and singing along to every line. The whole tribute thing was neat. I know there are a bunch of bands who do it around town (there’s Radiohead, Tool and Rage Against The Machine at least), so maybe I should be heading out to more of them. It wouldn’t kill me to leave the house once in a while.

But not tonight. Tonight is for me, a rack of ribs and an internet full of possibilities.

Thank you ex, why and thee

It’s a Valentines Day.

I feel like that’s the kind of thing worth presenting as a neutral statement. Look, I like Valentines Day. At least, I do this year. I don’t every year. Some years it makes me want to invest in a pair of concrete boots. Oddly, in The Year Of Our Lord 2019, when my partner is halfway across the world and I’ve spent most of the past three weeks at home, alone, without physical touch, I’m into it. I don’t know how I work, and I don’t expect y’all to either.

Is it ’cause the day’s pretty performative? I’m not sure it’s that. If I was with someone who expected big performative things on V-Day… well I probably wouldn’t be with them for long. I think Valentines Day is a stupid Hallmark holiday that places an everyday occurrence on an unnecessary pedestal. It creates a massive amount of stress and anxiety for a lot of people. It wouldn’t surprise me if Feb 14th was a tentpole suicide day each year. I don’t know what the fuck roses have to do with love. Flowers don’t even fuck. The heart is an unsexy organ, so I don’t fully get why it’s become symbolic of l’amour. At the same time, it helps pump blood to penises and labia alike, so maybe there’s something there. I digress. I like celebrating things for the sake of celebration. That’s about it.

I was thinking yesterday about an ex. Not because I have anything approaching interest in her anymore (of course I’ll Facebook stalk her maybe once annually to check if she’s up to cool stuff), but more that I have this bathrobe that I wear all the fucking time and every once in a while I remember that she gave it to me for Valentines Day. It was a lovely gift. It’s been maybe eight or nine years and I still treasure it. This morning I was thinking about my ex, and thinking of how strong my feelings for her were at the time, and how they’ve dwindled down to the occasional thought. Except, when I really cast my mind back, it makes me realise that I still love her to some extent, even if it’s just affectionate respect for the times we shared and lingering memories. She was a good person, even if our relationship had an expiration point. I’ve been very fortunate to date a bunch of good people. So in true IHMD fashion (and I Have My Doubts that I haven’t done this before), I feel like navel gazing back at some things I took from past relationships.

My first relationship was gentle, but also a total dead bedroom situation. We were friends who became something more, but not a lot more. There was emotional support and companionship, but we just didn’t click in bed. We really didn’t. I was incredibly nervous, and I don’t know how experienced she was either. If she hadn’t pulled the plug and broke up the band, I know I would’ve clung on desperately to any shred of affection. There’s no way I would’ve been brave enough to do it. But she did, and that was mercy incarnate. I guess I’m thankful that she taught me it was okay to end things if they weren’t working. Not every love story ends in a fairytale, and undertanding that takes a certain kind of compassion.

Another ex taught me that I actually liked sex. After the aforementioned nonexistent sex life, I truthfully wasn’t sure. Maybe it was all a sham, and I just thought I wanted to get down and dirty because everyone said it was the bee’s knees. It turns out, I’m actually into it. What a shocker (but not that kind of shocker). Moreso, she was patient and I think we really learned together. I’m sure that all sounds trite, but it really wasn’t. It set me up for most of my adult relationships, which is fucking huge.

Another ex taught me that sometimes you’ve gotta listen to what people are saying between the lines. She was pretty big on “keeping it casual”, but that didn’t mean she didn’t want to go on dates and stuff. What I’d thought was just hanging out wasn’t quite enough for her. I was very interested in more, but thought she didn’t want that. Turns out she did, and I was reading signals incredibly incorrectly. Funnily enough, once we started going on dates it turned out that we weren’t as compatible as we’d thought. Still, lesson learned.

Another ex taught me how to remain friends. That if there was enough to bring you together in the first place, maybe there was enough to keep you together afterwards. We don’t see each other that often anymore, but it’s pretty damn special when we do.

Another ex taught me the beginnings of how to navigate poly. I really liked being able to spend time with her outside of my anchor partnership, to get to know her anchor partner and learn about how much time I have to give. She’s still someone who I hold a ton of affection for, and consider her one of my favourite people.

However, time’s up. Gotta love you and leave you.