More than tutelage.

It’s late. I’m at work. The cleaners are doing their rounds, which offers me an amount of snooping I’m not used to. Why is it that my bin is sometimes cleared, sometimes not? How much cleaning do they really do? Are they gonna do more because I’m sitting right here? Is it kind of awkward being here, typing away when she’s just doing her job? Like, I don’t really want her to have to work around me, but I’m also happy to let her just not clean my desk area tonight. I can go a day without a clean desk. Hell, if you’d seen the dust and pubes on the floor where I live…

Oh, I guess it’s worth saying that I’m not drowning in work or anything. I had a little Pawdcast prep to do (the results of which you can hear right here) and figured it’d be easier staying downtown than schlepping all about the city. It may not sound like it, but there is some manner of note taking and planning that goes into the rambling mess of two grown men debating about a kids’ movie. After this I might head down to the waterfront and see how things are in the wake of the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal’s Pokémon purification.

Things in todayness: Therapy is finished for the year.

It sucks, but my therapy has wrapped up for 2016. Since we’ve moved onwards to a new benefits provider, my funds for therapy have dried up. We’re going down from $1500 per year to $500 which, presently, is enough for around three sessions. Hardly enough to sort anything. It sucks, because we’ve got a great dynamic and had actually been making quite a bit of headway recently. Today’s session was excellent and really hit on a few sticking points. Thing was, since we were in a rush we couldn’t dig as deeply as we wanted. I know I keep using the collective pronoun, but it truly has felt like a collaborative effort. One of us will throw an idea out and we’ll each poke at it. I might mention an insecurity I have or tension I’ve been feeling and we’ll try to analyse where that’s come from. Today for instance, since we were finishing up, I had to return a book (More Than Two) of hers I’d borrowed months ago (and hadn’t even read at all until this morning). Starting at breakfast I’d read ravenously and devoured as much as I could. It was overflowing with outstanding points and I felt dumb for having wasted the opportunity. It raised a bunch of concerns I’d had about myself in relationships, my responses to jealousy and insecurity, all in a relatable and concise manner. Using this and a few pull quotes I brandished, we were able to pick apart my emotional responses and come up with strategies for managing these responses. All great stuff.

My therapist said to keep in contact, that she’d been enjoying our rare style and that she’d try and push stuff around to see if she could find a workable rate. Who knows? She could say that to ‘all the boys’. Still, I know it’d be immensely helpful to be able to continue therapy with regularity. For now though, I’ll have to do that work myself. Expect the return of Deep Digging Soul Searching Leon. Christ. Maybe I even start dating again.

The cleaners have left. I’ve been here long enough. Bonne nuit tout le monde!

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Pier-rot in hell you monstrous circus bastards.

My biggest fear is coming to life. No, not dying alone or with company in a dead bedroom. CLOWNS. Not mere clowns, but KLOWNS, even. Have you read this?

WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?

This is a very real nightmare made flesh. This is the plot of Killer Klowns from Outer Space happening in Greenville, South Carolina. This is my phobia and as a grown ass man I have no idea how I’d handle the situation. I have mild coulrophobia. I don’t shut down when I see a clown or anything, but there’s definitely a localised pressure in my chest and a shortness of breath. Tunnel vision happens and I just want to escape from the situation (clown) causing this sensation. I don’t think I could handle a creepy clown offering me money to follow it into the woods.

Blinking green noses, rattling chains, exorbitant amounts of cash. These beings are either aliens, vengeful geists or The Joker’s gang crafting a trap for Batman. Why small town South Carolina is being plagued by these aberrations of sanity is anyone’s guess. I extend my deepest empathy for the denizens of Greenville.

If I had a child and they told me that clowns were tempting them, I wouldn’t even call the police. I’d gather up my family, drop a match on everything we held dear, get in the car and leave immediately. I would not hesitate. I wouldn’t, as some of the residents of the above apartment block did, start firing shots into the woods. Did they think about the possibility of stray bullets hitting innocents? South Carolina, eh?

What is it with sadistic weirdos capitalising on It‘s legacy of terror? Stalking the night armed with a sledgehammer? This extended series of pranks? I’ve never understood the allure of prank humour. It’s a form that purely takes advantage of others. Nine times out of ten it’s punching down, which is bullying by any other name. The exception being when the joke is targeted at those in a position of power or influence. Even then it’s a thin tightrope to walk. Chris Pratt being spooked in a hallway by some rad T-Rex suits? He knows how to take a joke, that’s a well chosen target.

Re-enacting the plot of Killer Klowns in small town USA? Maybe leave the kids out of it.

A better late than ever.

Weird excuse for my lateness at work today.

It all started out so well. My girlfriend left early and I managed to fall back to a restful sleep. 8am: Alarm went off and I rose with it. Fed the cat, took my pills, prepped breakfast, stretched and got dressed. Fitter, happier, more productive. Making good time, I strode (you bet your arse I was striding) out the door ten minutes earlier than usual. Jogging to work, playing Pokémon Go, I yet again made good time. Considering I had to stop to take over gyms and wait for lights (/my ever-crashing app. Probably once every five minutes), today was going swell. I arrived at my physio and took a shower, as I normally do after my runs. There’s no shower at work and arriving sweaty isn’t a viable option. My physio is right across the road and, after being such a frequent customer, they don’t care if I shower there. After washing off the stink I reached into my bag for clean clothes and came up short. Pants? Yes. Underwear? Yes. Socks? Yes. Shirt?

Walking into the office garbed in a sweaty dinosaur shirt was not an option. No matter how great the design is.

It was 9.20am. I was early still. Working downtown, I tried sussing out the best place I could get something I’d actually wear after today. Hudson’s Bay? Why? So I could buy a $50 shirt reduced from $150? There were a bunch of cheap odds and ends stores with virtually disposable clothing, but that didn’t sound enticing. I couldn’t see the dollar store (much as they have my enduring affection) having non-scratchy fabrics. H&M it would have to be. I’ve got a weird body shape and they stock clothing that fits it. My regular selection of plain work shirts already comes from there, so why not add to the collection? It was perfect.

Only issue was it didn’t open until 10am. What was I gonna do in the mean time? Drop my things off at work? Go in and get set up in the hopes that nobody noticed my odd attire, then duck out to grab something fresh? Phone a friend and ask for something delivered? Get a coffee?

Choosing the only realistic option, I walked around playing Pokémon a little longer and got myself a flat white. If I’m gonna be late I may as well make the best of it, I thought. I strolled around Yorkville and sat on things for a bit. There are many differently shaped stone structures in Yorkville. I used a good cross section of them. I trawled r/askreddit for mindless amusement. Stumbled upon a thread about the best “edgy teenage” things people had done. So many long trench coats and claims of emotional voids/psychosis. Cringe all the way down.

I got to H&M about ten minutes early and just waited. The woman behind the counter caught my eye and let me in early. I explained my situation and dashed downstairs to pick something out. An assortment of drab grey colours met my gaze. Guess summer is ending after all. I grabbed three shirts in a haze and checked them out in front of a mirror. Fine. Acceptable. I found the one that best met my bare minimum standards and strode (just because I was late, didn’t mean I’ve give up the chance for a good stride) up to the counter, shirt still on my back. I plucked off the tab and handed it to the staff member who already knew the situation. With a quick exchange (“I guess you know this means it’s final sale?”) she scanned me through and I was out the door afterwards. Arriving at my desk I discovered that, well, it was Monday. Practically everyone was late anyway. So any kind of disaster upon my arrival was thankfully avoided. Plus I’ve been enjoying my comfy new shirt all day.

Though that stitch in time didn’t save shit.

I’m an outlaw! A calligraphiend!

How often do you offhandedly mention something to friends only to be met with a resounding “wait, WHAT?” It could be something long forgotten to you, something you took for granted. Perhaps you just assumed that everyone had the same experience. Very quickly though, it becomes apparent it wasn’t common to sleep suspended in a birdcage hanging from your ceiling.

I’ll put it this way. Did you ever get your pen licence?

I casually threw out the words “pen licence” at a party last night and the room collectively lost its shit. “What do you mean, pen licence?” “what were the penalties for unlicenced pen usage? Probation? Incarceration?” “did they put it on your permanent record?” “did each new teacher check your documentation before entering the classroom?”

See, at primary back home we had a graduated handwriting system. Yes, now that I type those words I feel a little dumb. As a method of teaching good technique and adherence to form, we would follow certain restrictions. The end result was a bizarre tier system that made sense at the time, but now seems amazingly arbitrary. In essence, it was the summation of our entire system of teaching handwriting.

The default was to start with pencil, printing. We’d do lines and lines of the same letter and upon filling up a whole page, bring them up to the teacher to get marked. If it was deemed unsatisfactory, we’d have to stay back into recess until we’d improved. This sounds barbaric and felt so at the time, but really teachers aren’t idiots. They could see who wasn’t putting effort in and/or tried to blitz through to get it over with. My handwriting has always been borderline illegible (I once did a letter that looked neat and happened to be tiny, so from then on I wrote in miniature font. Took me years to cast off that terrible habit.

After a steady series of well done printing, you’d be ushered into the next tier. Cursive. I feel like the only reason I graduated to cursive was out of pity. See, my writing was disjointed enough that linking together letters made them look like new unknown characters. Those poor old teachers who had to deal with my sanskrit-esque scrawls. Thing was, all the other kids were doing it and the teachers felt bad for me. Is that the definition of selflessness? None of it was to their benefit, but it made me happy and I felt accomplished.

The weird part here is I feel like this graduated licensing spanned multiple year levels and I have no idea of how they kept track of each student’s progress. As an adult, the idea of auditing kids’ writing talent systematically seems really peculiar. If we moved from one teacher in one year level to another, what happened? Did they actually chart our skill? Or did they rely on honesty from the kids?

In any case, much like cursive, I never actually achieved my pen licence. Here I am, having spent years illegally and illegibly spreading my dastardly scribbles. You know what though? The mainstream adoption of typing was one of the best things to happen to me (and even then I don’t have regimented touch typing technique). Now I can put word after word on page with digital ink for the world to consume. Just think, if I actually got my pen licence, would I have ended up becoming this prolific? Or would my love of handwriting kept me in the paper age?

What a shame that would’ve been.

Let’s bacon cake!

It’s mah gurlfrand’s burfday.

Geez, that was unnecessary, but who are we if we don’t admit to our mistakes? Despite the misguided pronunciation, it is indeed my girlfriend’s birthday. I had this idea of surprising her with breakfast in bed, but things hadn’t quite panned out as I’d imagined. I had friends over last night and knew she’d be going to bed early (since she was on the opening shift at work). I thought I’d be super sneaky and sneak out after she’d gone to bed. I’d go to our handy 24 hour supermarket and pick up hash browns, eggs, bacon and orange juice for a hearty birthday breakfast.

Problem was, when my friends left I was tired enough to crawl into bed beside her. I didn’t want her to get wind of anything, so I had no idea how I’d wake up in time to cook for her. I thought about setting an alarm, but heavy sleeper as she is, I was doubtful she’d sleep through that. Plus she’d question why I was getting up so early (earlier than usual, even) on a weekend. NO BUENO. So I nixed all these plans and hoped I’d wake up early or something.

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE. I woke up around 5.30am, which was the perfect time to hatch my scheme. Her alarm was set for 7am, giving me ample opportunity to get to the supermarket, shop for essentials, come back, cook and plate. I snuck out of bed, grabbed some of yesterday’s clothing, my wallet and keys. Strapped jandals on my feet and set off to the supermarket. I came back and started to work out what this meal would look like (usually a good idea before shopping), the cooking order, etc etc. I prepped some kale, crushed garlic and set a large pan to a medium heat. I switched the oven to 150°F in case warming was needed. The pan had heated up, so I tossed a couple of hash browns in there to sizzle away. I put a smaller pan on a low heat. Oiling it up, I threw in the garlic, some cumin and smothered it in kale. Flipped the now golden hash browns and let them be. I wondered about how to present it. Breakfast in bed? But what if she didn’t want to be woken up with food shoved in her face? I cleared a tray just in case I felt like it, then felt the kitchen calling me again. Shuffled the kale in the pan, it was slowly wilting nicely. Moved the hash browns into the oven and turned the pan to high, then laid a bunch of bacon in the now greasy pan. Two slices of toast in the toaster oven meant it was all smooth sailing from this point on.

Shit, I heard stirring. Looking up, the clock had hit 7am. Fingers crossed she’d be a little groggy when she woke. I hoped my absence in bed would confuse her just enough to let me present. Placemats, cutlery, orange juice in wine glasses. I’d just started to plate it when she came out to the kitchen, obviously startled (as much as one is when seeing a naked man frying bacon). She went to freshen up and I finished setting everything.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy being able to do nice things for the ones I love, but sharing a leisurely birthday breakfast with my girlfriend pre-work felt like a bonus. We sat, chatted and had time that would’ve otherwise been lost to slumber. Oddly enough, since moving it, it feels like it’s been harder to find quiet intentional space just for the two of us. I guess the difference is putting in the effort to make that space. When better to find that than a birthday?

Plus now I have an excuse to drink my body weight in caffeine. It’s her birthday, but I get the presents!

Straight from the top of my dome.

I’m thinking of a toy. I’ve got no idea what it was called. Some kind of rubber dome. Usually fluoro coloured, or at the very least a “cosmic” shade. The kind of thing they’d give away at Pizza Hut. You’d push the middle and turn them inside out, then place them on the ground. You’d stand there, wait. Wait. Wait. POP! Out of nowhere they’d launch into the air, surprising anyone staunchly anticipating their ascension. You’d tell yourself again and again, “I’ll be expecting it this time”. Never. Like a pop up toaster, this inanimate object had a level of calculating self awareness usually the domain of sociopaths. It would bide its time until the moment you got complacent, then ruin any sense of security you’d cultivated. They were awesome.

I’m thinking of a tree. A Christmas tree. Artificial, no more than a metre tall. Unadorned. We were a Jewish family, unorthodox, which basically meant our parents picked and chose which traditions we’d follow. We didn’t celebrate Christmas. We didn’t do presents at Hanukkah either. I say this not as a cry for me plea. We weren’t hard done by. We had abundant love and never wanted for anything we really needed. As a child I hated Christmas. Christmas was other children bragging about what Santa brought them. Finding connection in a holiday I felt isolated from. The envy I felt for their experiences eventually turned to resentment. I doubled down. Fuck Christmas and its corporate bullshit became the mantra. It’s easy to find justification if you seek it.

Still, there was this one small tree. My mother owned a second hand toy store and she’d occasionally bring things home. I asked for this tree and requested that it be put up in my room for my January birthday. I wanted to wake up in the morning, birthday present underneath the tree. It was a strange request for a Jewish family, but my parents did it. That morning was strange, mixed. There was a joy in finally discovering what I’d missed all these years. At the same time, there was an absence, a hollowness. Where was this spirit I’d seen played out in every holiday special? Wasn’t the spirit of Christmas supposed to infuse my being, resulting in goodwill for all humanity? I’m sure I got a great gift that I loved, but why wasn’t the tree lifting me up to where I expected it to?

Isn’t it odd how much power we give to objects? How we expect them to envelop us in meaning? Why don’t they confirm to our intentions? What’s with this inverse correlation between expectations and results? Furthermore, if we know we’ll crush things under the baggage of these expectations, why, time and time again, do we repeat the same patterns and expect another outcome?

Also what the fuck were those rubber dome things called? I wonder if they’re still fun…

That was nothing if not a cheap shot.

There was a crossbow killing today in Toronto. Let’s file this one under bizarre, fucked up and more than a little bit compelling. I mean, this is Toronto, not the city Chester in northwestern England. What sounds like a family dispute (that police are linking to a mysterious box) ended up with someone going medieval on three people. That’s horrifying. It’s also not the only awful thing going on in our fair city. A former Degrassi High actor (minor part) was found guilty of child pornography and animal abuse offences. Jeeeeysus. A pretty rotten day. Also it rained briefly and my bus didn’t stop, meaning I had to wait for several minutes more than I would’ve otherwise. Things are clearly going from bad to worse.

Obviously I’m jesting mostly. These two news items, while being terrible, are so far out of my sphere of influence that it’s hard for them to rise beyond macabre oddities into something tangible. I had a mild headache and iffy throat most of the day, which left my evening plans of podcast editing feeling rather undesirable. I did it, because if I don’t keep up I’m gonna fall behind deadlines and release dates. We’re starting to stack up guests and getting ready for the madness of September. TIFF, Tough Mudder and JFL42? Plus we’re front-loading the month with podcast recordings so we don’t need to record during JFL42 (though I guess that means I’ve got a week of double edit duty somewhere in there? Egads). The episodes are getting sillier as we’re going along. As the films become less palatable, our attention shortens and the hour increasingly becomes a series of tangents. It’s as if we’re trying to distract ourselves from the sad reality that we’ve committed a serious number of hours to a meaningless project revolving around kids’ movies. This is our life now. Oh, did I mention that I co-host an Air Bud Pawdcast? I assumed I’d ranted about it enough by now, but if you’re curious, airbudpawdcast.com was somehow not taken.

I dunno. Today’s been lost to a funk of some kind. My juju has been off. Feng shui all akimbo. I’ve been putting out energy, intent or what have you, but it’s been falling flat. Take these two posts:

“Do you think in England they grow up watching Bill Nighy the Science Gighy?”

and

“I’ve realised that I say “No Worries” very often, but “Hakuna Matata” very rarely. I think I might have commitment issues.”

I thought they were pretty funny. I wrote them in my head and had a sensible chuckle to myself. I let them spill to Facebook and got slightly more than zero response. Am I bitter and resentful that these obviously half-baked jokes didn’t land? Maybe a little. Is it a big deal? Not in the slightest. Was it straight up that they weren’t that good? It’s not like they were particularly clever or anything. Was it a matter of poor wording? Or not posting them at the right time? Or maybe I needed to workshop them a little more. Do some punch-up. Perhaps fix them with some ADR?

Or just, y’know, make better ones? If I want to kill, my jokes need to be a lot sharper.

What else am I gonna do? Resort to a crossbow?