Am I too old to steal a street sign?

Here is a list of things I’ve appreciated at recent times:

Those moments where you walk to a bus stop and it arrives as you do. There’s something comforting about the idea of predestination. It’s not something I live my life by, but moments when you can feel like you’re swimming with the current have a certain a snugness to them that can turn a frown upside down. Walking directly to a stop as the bus pulls up, shifting your momentum from walking straight along the footpath to turning roadside and stepping onto the bus, there’s something there that feels like slipping your foot into a fresh, warm sock.

A road sign with an arrow that simply says “A WAY”. It might even say “AWAY”, but that’s not how I’m choosing to read it. Somewhere deep inside I harbour a certain mirth for the idea that there’s no reasoning behind this arbitrary sign. Why yes arrow, that direction is A Way. There are certainly other ways, but they don’t negate the Way you’re pointing me towards. If it does in fact indicate “AWAY”, what’s it in reference to? Maybe I’m being directed away from another sign, or perhaps there are more signs like it that point in other random directions. I didn’t really have a particular attachment to heading north on Spadina, but I do now. No longer is that A Way, to me it’s now The Way (which still doesn’t negate the sign. Nothing ever will).

Having found a great flatmate. I really lucked out first time around. She’s laid back, but ambitious, friendly and open. She helped me find work when she really didn’t have to. She seems to be a friend first and a room mate second, always having the time to talk when I need company. We’re pretty different people, which means we each have our own views on any given situation. Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to see an alternative side and she’s got a knack for offering her opinion without being intrusive or imposing. At other times we just need our space. It cuts both ways and we’re both respectful of one another while knowing that if either of us really needs to talk, the other is there. I was wary of the idea of moving in with one person, let alone a solitary female. But so far everything has worked out better than I could’ve conceived. Cut to a month down the line when she’s stabbed me with her tuning fork. Them’s the breaks though, right?

Stone fruit. There’s a chasm between New Zealand’s peaches, nectarines and plums and the ones here. The stone fruit here is so sweet, juicy and satisfyingly dense. I’ve had nary a flowery peach, instead the juices run down your chin like Niagara Falls. You’ve gotta fight off hoards of wasps (the insect ones, though I hear White Anglo-Saxon Protestants love their nectarines too) to get at the street-side boxes outside affordable Asian produce markets, but the delectable orbs of flavour are reward enough. I’ve yet to have a home made peach pie, but I’d wager that I’d float into the air as if I’d just ingested a Scooby Snack.

The generousity of others. I was given my bed, my sheets, a ton of blankets, towels and kitchenware. Family members scattered across the country have opened their doors and hearts to the peculiar character who projects his mind in this webspace. People have fed and sheltered me, shown me around, introduced me to friends and acquaintances without reservation. If a nation is to be gauged by the behaviour of its citizens then I’d be hard-pressed to fault this place. Canada may well deserve its status as loudmouthed America’s shy, embarrassed younger sibling, hiding behind its older sibling’s ostentatious displays of bravado. I’ve yet to find any real reason why I’d want to leave and no reason to regret my move.

Online dating. It’s no secret I’ve been messaging around. I’ve found it a great way to pre-screen people for some form of connection, rather than meeting random barflies and working out too late that you’ve got barely any commonalities. I’ve yet to meet anyone here who I’ve had a distaste for and on the flip-side, met a number of great girls who at the very least would be the type of people I’d like to form friendships with. I don’t know how much of this is my good fortune to be searching out the fairer sex, but regardless, it’s drastically improved my time here so far.

That’s just a snippet, really. My eyes have been opened to so many new experiences and cultural parameters. I’ve seen, heard, felt and tasted so much in the short time I’ve been here and I’m starting to cultivate a number of them that I want to keep around. I’m sure in a few months I’ll have exponentially increased this list (though I could probably write a completely different list tomorrow and still have a bunch of stuff left) and I can’t wait to look back from that vantage point.

Dear Future Leon, don’t fuck it up.

Cheers
-Past Leon.

Admit it, that “nimpressed” line was kind of okay.

There are times that my mind gets away with me. I find myself constantly referencing any number of pop-cultural artifacts in everyday conversation. I can’t count on two hands the number of times Emily (of “Well fuck, Emily” fame) has wanted to hang me by my own entrails for my inability to stop quoting song lyrics in everyday conversation. I’ve often fancied the idea of spending a whole day talking in nothing but lyrics. Like some kind of goofy peripheral 90s sitcom character named Chez with fluoro glasses and a purple shirt. I think in my head I’m just picturing Goofy’s son Max (oddly I didn’t intend to be that literal when I said “goofy peripheral 90s sitcom character”, but perhaps my subconsciousness did), who was seemingly manufactured explicitly for Disney’s 1995 animated feature A Goofy Movie. But I digress (actually, digression seems to be the point of this whole entry, so I guess I’ll allow it. My head is trying to throw out some kind of “tangenital” pun, because as always I’m thinking of sex.), there are times that my predilection for pop-cultural savant-ism has been slightly intrusive.

Here’s something tangenital: I once made an American Psycho reference during sex. No lies. You know the scene where Christian Bale is going at it, looks in the mirror and flexes? Yep, I’ve done it. How’s that for full disclosure? Several things though, 1) It was for nobody else. My partner was blissfully unaware of my referential dalliance. I told her later. She was halfway between impressed and unimpressed. “nimpressed”, I guess? 2) Beyond wry amusement, it didn’t “do” anything for me. It wasn’t like I was vain enough to even enjoy the view (of myself?) and it certainly didn’t expedite the current copulatory efforts (not gonna lie, kind of surprised that “copulatory” is a  real word). 3) It started me down a path that I probably shouldn’t be comfortable with. It gave me a thirst for more… References during sex that is, not perving at myself while going at it. Once was quite enough of that. I don’t know how porn stars watch themselves fucking, it’s gotta be pretty excruciating (actually, that’s part of one of my favourite Chuck Palahniuk short stories) to see the reflection of your pale body pumping away in front of you. I wouldn’t blame my partners if they all fucked me with their eyes closed.

Let’s see, what other strange nuggets have i thrown out there while throwing it down (seriously? “throwing it down”? I might as well have just written “bro-ing it down”)? I’ve referenced Microsoft Word‘s Clippy. Yes I have, yupyupyup (A Land Before Time reference, if you were wondering). Then again, it was referencing a YouTube clip whereby a guy calls a sex line and asks for her to talk him through while she voices as a sexy Clippy. So vaguely on topic I guess? Also a recent arrival to the stable was a reference to my favourite 90s LTNZ (LTSA?) ad. With my partner replying that she was sorry about something (I can’t even remember what it was, though I’m sure objectively it sounds like really bad sex. It wasn’t, I swear (by the moon and the stars in the sky) it was pretty choice (wait, did I just refer to sex as “choice”? This is why I don’t write post-coitally). Honest bro), I responded with an earnest (well I wasn’t Scared stiff. Okay, this is getting intrusive now. Moratorium on parentheses for the rest of the entry.) “DON’T SAY SORRY TO ME, SAY SORRY TO HIS KIDS.” She got it, it was okay. It’s not like I completely blindsided her with a foreign reference. I laughed at my own joke and we continued to have fun. Good ol’ fashioned family fun for everyone.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a ton more references I’ve made while carnally engaged, but they’re outside my grasp right at this moment. Do I have a problem? Likely yes, plenty more than these if this project is anything to go by. Is this pop-cultural obsession one of them? Probably also yes. At some point I’m gonna have to forge forward under my own steam rather than living out scenarios and conversations derived from pre-existing media texts. As it stands I’ve probably got bigger things to sort out first. For now I’ll just play my hand like my main man Kenny R.

Dispelling any doubts about being on some kind of NSA watchlist.

Yet another bit I’m working on. Have I got enough material for a 6 minute set yet? To be honest I’ve probably got enough material for a 30 minute set, but do I have enough for a *good* 6 minute set yet?

 

Have we got any strange fears in the audience? Strange fears. Things that you think nobody else thinks about late at night. Don’t worry, this is a safe space, nobody will laugh at you.

Okay, it’s a comedy club, they might well laugh at you. That’s kind of the point, actually.

I’ve got weird fears really. I’ve got this big fear of small-talk with people in public that I don’t know very well. Like old high school acquaintances, my friends’ boyfriends or girlfriends, my parents.

I’m scared because I actually have no idea how to do small-talk. I’m just no good at it. Someone asks me how my day is going and I’ll end up telling them about the delicate weight of our existence or my fear of small talk.

I’m trying, I really am, but I can’t seem to give a satisfactory answer. Which brings me to my next fear: small children.

I try to talk to them, I ask “so what’s happening in your life?” and they’re all “well you know how the rat-race goes, another day another dollar, am I right?”

Nothing, they’re giving me nothing. I know they’ve got limited vocabularies and sentence structure, but how am I supposed to respond when they’re just giving me empty drivel?

“So what’s new?” I say and they reply “ugh, well this weather lately has just been absolutely ghastly and those blue jays can’t seem to pick up their game. Sometimes life gives you lemons, you know?”

Superficial bullshit all the time. What’s wrong with these kids? When I was their age it was all Street Fighter and Power Rangers.

I loved anything with teeth, claws or violence. My favourite things were Dinosaurs, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat and Aliens vs Predator.

Hell, at the age of 8 I watched Ninja Scroll, a brutally gory anime that has a graphic rape scene in the first 5 minutes.

Here’s a story written by little Leon aged 6:

The Decepticons are fighting with the Autobots. Megatron is shooting Optimus Prime with his lasers. The Autobots are dead.

From the mouths of baby sociopaths. I don’t know why I’m not in front of you wearing cuffs and an orange jumpsuit right now.

Actually, now that I think about it maybe I’m terrified of kids because I was kind of a terrifying child.

You want to know the worst thing? I work as a children’s gymnastics coach. I’m basically training the people I’m afraid of to become ninjas.

Now all I need is my milk, my cookies and my View-Master.

Delivery day (deserves its own Silent Night Deadly Night 2 parody)! It’s like a lifetime of presents have come and arrived on my doorstep. First I got an assortment of towels and sheets, then a car worth of more towels and sheets. The car also had an iron/ironing board/cast-iron pans (in case my mother had fears that I was becoming iron defi… dumb. Just dumb.), blankets, pillows and (I’m now the proud owner of a two pillow bed, ladies (is it possible to do an emoticon with a quirked eyebrow? How about something like s:-) or ;:-) or ¿:-) .) Let the fine Canadian lasses roll on in to my eligible bachelor pad, especially now that it has) an assortment of single use kitchen utensils. Not only am I running a two pillow bed, but I’ve got a double potato masher kitchen and a melon baller (clearly the utensil isn’t the only baller) up in This Hisouse. To brighten the day that extra bit, my stuff arrived from Vancouver. It’s like a return to normalcy (or whatever that passes for around here).

Things that exist in my life once more:

  • My collection of Magic the Gathering cards that I’ve assembled over the last 13 years or so. I’m not ashamed.
  • Random useful trinkets and knick-knacks.
  • An assortment of warm weather gear. Coats and jackets. I now have more than 2 pairs of long pants and sweatshirts.
  • My snugglicious trio: pyjama pants (complete with top-hatted smoking dog pattern), dressing gown and moon boot style slippers.
  • My treasured green scarf, which was knitted with strands of TLC (except for Lisa Left-Eye Lopez. She was off chasing waterfalls by this point).
  • My first edition copy of Dan Harmon’s You’ll Be Perfect When You’re Dead (complete with misspelling of “foreward”, changed in later editions).
  • My ol’ drinking buddy Dr. Tipples PhD. She is a sippy cup, if that wasn’t apparent.

It’s strange, but as someone who doesn’t place a ton of sentimental attachment on material goods, these things carry a ton of loaded memories and connections to people, places and situations from my life. Some items of clothing were purchased during travels and automatically tie themselves into those trips. Other items were gifted to me by beloved people who’ve since left my life (so it goes). Dan Harmon’s book was the first present I bought myself in quite some time. It was to reward myself for pushing to enact change in my life (though shouldn’t the change technically be its own reward?) and continues to return on its worth with each subsequent re-read. Dr. Tipples joined my adventures after I’d gotten tired of the number of uncoordinated dolts ruining carpets by spilling precious alcoholic liquids. She seems to be much maligned by those who pass her off as unnecessary (much like the NYT one word review of Ghost Realty. In-joke much?) and childish. At times I think they’re really extending those descriptions onto me.

The concept of actually having enough clothing to fortify myself against the encroaching wintry months is more exciting than a mere seasonal imposition should be. Barring snow boots and a beanie, I might be able to brace for the bluster and rage of those bitter winds now that I’ve regained my armour. Even now I’ve got soft-filtered scenes of hot chocolate and warm slippers with a special someone and a new season of Community playing on repeat in my brain. I’ll be surrounded by things in my life that bring me joy and it’ll heat me more than apparel specifically designed for that very purpose. Of course I could always pre-emptively get splashed with toxic waste while holding a mole (rodent, not facial blemish) to gain burrowing powers and create an intricate network of interconnected tunnels, thus circumventing the need to ever set foot (or paw, in this case) into the harsh elements. I’d dig that.

So things are finally coming together. I’ve got two pillows, many utensils, my Dan Harmon book for intellectual warmth and many fuzzy things to insulate my corporeal form. Also hypothetical plans to develop subterranean superpowers. I can finally start to merge my appreciation of the new and unfamiliar with physical manifestations of past memories. It was a day that truly delivered.

The one where Leon tries to justify his childhood crush on Amy Jo Johnson.

Do we form relationships with the shows we watch? I know for certain we form fandoms, which seem like a kind of one-sided relationship by which you heap adoration onto a certain program. They can provide a certain emotional release or elicit an emotional response, but does that really constitute the return of affection? I am, of course, a massive Community fan. I gain absurd amounts of satisfaction through following the lives of all my favourite characters. I thrive on watching Abed and co. come to terms with certain trials and overcome them, having changed through the ordeal. I love learning the intricacies and special details of the multitude of characters and gain the feeling like I’m growing closer to them in the process. I’m well aware these people are no more than the evocation of words on a page, but the more I experience their lives through the conduit of actors, the more realised they become. The more time I spend with them, the more I feel a kind of kinship or relationship between us growing. Yet again, they’re artificial and it’s more like I’m growing closer to the writers who create the characters and situations that I’m viewing. Thus my weird idolatry of Dan Harmon, the matron behind my beloved series. He’s probably the Venn diagram between the relationships I’ve built with my television shows and the similar one way relationship I’ve formed around the various podcasters that I follow (which I’ve spoken of previously during this project). Still, it’s not something I’d really term as a true two-way relationship. Is the internet changing this though? Many writers are accessible through social media, the twitterscape/verse/plane (as in planar, not aeronautical)/whatever new trendy term newscasters are expelling these days. I know that Dan Harmon regularly engages with the fandom on Reddit (though I’ve always been far too intimidated to engage). In this way can we start to engage in fostering a larger relationship with the text? Or are we still one step removed by conversing with the people who create the shows that we relate to?

I guess it’s also worth looking at how we respond to these textual constructs. I know that I watch shows on a “use” basis. They fulfill particular needs and allow me to vicariously experience certain events that I’d never have the chance to partake in otherwise. This hopefully isn’t the way that one would value their relationships with other people. If I based my relationships with other humans on what they could provide for me I’d be some kind of monster (like the eponymous documentary indicated much of Metallica might behave). Then again in even bringing up the idea, do we at all form relationships in this way? I’m not saying it’s necessarily a deliberate and malicious action, but subconsciously do we surround ourselves with people who make us feel a particular way? In some ways this might be by making us feel better about ourselves, providing reassurance or affirmation, stoking our egos like a well tended fire. In other ways we might have people in our lives because we appreciate their views and ways of seeing the world. By having them around we allow ourselves to be open to new and exciting ways of experiencing certain situations. This could even be shown through interest in hearing the stories they tell, the way they conceive of the influences of society and how they’re impacted, the way they re-frame their position in a way we can identify with and cherish. How different are these things to the way we savour the television we watch? We find characters to identify with, value how they respond to situations and stimuli and enjoy how they confront incidents that come their way.

I still know intrinsically that a bond formed with a television show is not the same as one formed with another living being. That being said I have at times been more affected by the twists and turns of a favourite text than the happenstances of people in my life. I’ve heard people tell me of crappy things that’ve happened and my response has been along the lines of “wow, that sucks” without the event giving me a huge amount of emotional impact. I don’t think I was being disingenuous in my reply, I could identify that something shitty had occurred, but it didn’t hit me as hard as it’d hit them. Concurrently I’ve been laid low by fictitious emotionally raw scenes that’ve made me reexamine my own past experiences and examine how I’d respond in the shoes of the characters. Am I the only one? Is this another chalk mark on the side of me being a shitty person, incapable of honestly relating to those around me?

I hope this isn’t the entry where I have the epiphany that I’m a sociopath.

Then again I’ve always wanted my own organic wings.

After so much social interaction lately, I’ve been pulling back over the past few days. Curious things were happening. I found myself getting exhausted quickly in conversation, getting exasperated with people after they made simple requests (or merely even wanted to converse) and generally withdrawing into myself. I was getting drastically tetchy with almost everyone for almost anything and felt that I needed to abandon almost all social connection. It’s strange thing being a massive extrovert with a significant core of introversion. I don’t know if I’d been overdoing it, getting out there too much and not leaving enough time for myself. Or maybe it’s a number of other factors coming into play. The end result of my mood was a strong surge of ennui, feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness over lack of full-time employment and accomplishment. I’ve been sending a ton of CVs around and even calling after a bunch of medical trials and such in an effort to have some funds flowing towards rather than away from me. While in Montreal I jokingly brought up the idea of medical testing, as of a few days ago I’ve called a couple of places, who all refused me on the basis that I’ve given blood too recently. Curse me and the combination of boredom and cookie craving that hit me that day. I also called some social drinking test that was planning to do some CT scans and general testing. Seemed like an interesting experience, paid $400 for about 6 hours work. I answered their questions but they never called back. Still, desperate as I am (well to be honest I’ve got cash to last me quite a while. I’d just rather keep some of it as savings) I’ll stay away from this non-smokers test I found today. $7000 for 40 days work. Let’s see how this one reads:

Clinical trial for NON SMOKING men only…
Easy job to receive a medication and give blood, board & fed, soap, shampoo,
clothing except undergarment.
Activities: listen to the tv, computer or other. You can have your CD, DVD, your computer, your phone, ipad, games, books, etc. …

Explain to me how I participate in this experiment and end up without extra limbs, purple skin and fighting for my life, armed only with a crowbar in a research facility populated by the denizens of hell, spilling forth from some unearthly portal to the netherworld? Please explain that to me. Either that or I’ll be force-fed soylent green [spoiler]It’s made of people[/spoiler]. I’m pretty sure there’ll be people who’d miss me if I vanished off the face of the planet for 40 days and 40 nights. Some might think I’d embarked on some ancient Old Testament journey of pilgrimage or absconded to a foreign dimension. I’m sure it’d seem suspicious if I went 40 days without updating this project after staying on the wagon for so long. Then again if I’ve got my phone, surely I’d have internet access. I’d be saving money on food, toiletries and transportation. Not to mention I’d be well garbed in whatever swag they’d dress me in (but no undergarments. Unless that means I’m not allowed to wear undergarments. Going commando for a whole month? Sounds almost freeing). Maybe I should reconsider, it could be an adventure waiting to happen. I could discover all new things about myself. Just think, in 40 days I might even get through half of the media on my computer. I could finally get a Netflix account. $7000 would pay my accommodation for almost a year. What am I even hesitating about? It seems like everything I really need in life. I mean, I was just complaining about being overly sociable, right? This solves each problem handily.

That being said, they only mention soap and shampoo. No word of conditioner in there. What’ll I do without my hair retaining its sheen or softness? If it were to become wan and lifeless, losing that lustre and health that bring the girls in droves. That being said, they’ll be giving me constant medication, so I’ll surely be in tip top shape, right?

Oh, that’s right. They’re pumping me full of drugs the whole time. There’s the rub, my health likely plummeting or the potential of widespread side effects for the rest of my life.

Maybe I’m not that desperate to shy away from other human connection. Over the last few days I’ve retracted into my room, started catching up on various TV shows and reacquainted myself with how it feels to be in my own company. It’s been amazing, actually. After an initial bumpy road I’ve found myself to be quite the conversation partner. Perhaps I should take the next few days to once again familiarise others with this extroverted introvert.

But it’s funny because infant mortality. Right? Right? Tough crowd.

A bit of almost anti-joke comedy I thought I’d try to get down on a page. Seems a sure-fire way to bomb, do I really hate myself that much? Only time will tell.

New Zealanders have a messed up sense of humour and I can tell you why in 5 words:

“It’s the same day, David.”

Say these 5 words to any New Zealander of a certain age and they’ll either crack a smirk, start shaking with laughter or guffaw uncontrollably.

“It’s the same day, David.”

You’re giving me blank stares, rather than the Julia Roberts grin I’m used to seeing, so I should probably explain a little. I’m guessing you think it’s from some classic New Zealand cinema? A Kiwi heritage history moment or saying of some beloved national icon? Let’s go for b) none of the above.

“It’s the same day, David.”

5 words, one saying. The saying comes from a much loved anti-speeding Land Transport New Zealand advertisement.  I’m realising now that the more I explain of it, the less you’ll get it. So try to stay with me here, but I’ll totally understand if you keep up with this stony face thing. Because you’re normal people, not New Zealanders.

So the ad opens on a happy family vehicle, kids are playing in the back seat with the parents exchanging pleasantries in the front. They’re laughing gleefully and they’re New Zealanders, so one can only assume she’s told him “It’s the same day, David” or something (as we know how much Kiwis love that saying). We see the flash of a speed camera and the car continues on, swerving into oncoming highway traffic. Screams ensue, the wife yells a blood-curdling “DAVID” as the inevitable crash occurs and the camera spins. It’s a violent, bloody mess which is probably making you guys wonder why I’m smiling so much to myself like I just heard a particularly musical fart. Try to bear with me here.

So the camera fades up on a hospital room. There’s our old mate David sitting wheelchair bound and some woman comes up to him with a letter:

“This came for you in the mail.”

He opens it up and starts reading, She continues.

“It’s a speed camera fine. You were caught doing 126Ks.”

He looks down at the paper, forlorn, she turns away.
I’ve really gotta stop giggling, but here it is. Say it with me, guys:

“It’s the same day, David.”

He starts whimpering, sobbing and chokes out:

“I…. I’m sorry.”

She turns around, incensed and yells at him.

“Don’t say sorry to me. SAY SORRY TO HIS KIDS!” and storms out.

You guys obviously don’t get it. Can’t you see the hilarity? She’s just yelled at him, he’s sitting there bawling on his own as the camera zooms out. Big bold words appear onscreen:

THE FASTER YOU GO
THE BIGGER THE MESS

This is odd, I’m hearing a distinct lack of hollering, cheering and braying like hyenas. This is a preserved piece of national comedy gold, yet you’re treating it like I’ve just insulted the esteemed Tim Hortons coffee blend. A bit culturally insensitive of you, don’t you think?

Maybe you just had to be there.