To know him is to love him. No question.

My dreams have been an orgy of starfucking lately. Not sure why. Perhaps innate delusions of grandeur or my subconsciousness compensating for my pervasive dour mood. Whatever it is, in moments of reverie I’ve been partying with the rich and famous. The weird thing is, it’s all been tied into this idea that I’m back home in New Zealand. I haven’t lived there in over four years. Why now?

The other night I dreamt that Harmontown was on another tour, except this time it was a world tour. They were travelling around the globe on a combination of flights and tour buses. Thing was, with such a lengthy trip, they wanted all the comforts of home. Accordingly, they were making stops along the route to sleep over at fans’ houses. In the dream it made sense. They wanted hot meals, soft beds and showers. It was part outreach, but mostly for comfort’s sake. I’d volunteered my parents’ place, since it had gratuitous bedrooms and more than all of the comforts of home. Dan, Jeff, Spencer et al drove the bus down their long, steep driveway and somehow parked on that slanty bastard of a hill.

It was a dream come true (in the dream, at least). We all sat around the table, wolfing down pancakes and orange juice. Somehow in my dream I knew it was dinner time, which only made it better. Why not breakfast for dinner when you’re hosting company? There was an amicable, familial atmosphere and nothing performative. I didn’t feel nervous, there was no status imbalance, nothing. Just a nice meal around the table. Then one of my friends (a fellow fan) came around to join in and I started waking up. As I roused from rest, I blamed her for bringing me back to this harsh, unforgiving reality. Several days later, I still do.

Last night I dreamt that I had a decent part in The Big Sick, the Kumail Nanjiani/Emily V. Gordon romantic comedy. As a fan of their previous work, it was gratifying to be able to not only meet them, but have an active role in bringing the story of their relationship to light. They were warm and friendly on-set and off. Enough that once the job was over, we still kept in touch.

Not only that, but I had an unexpected and newfound celebrity in public. The kind that rarely exists in real life, but dream logic had no issue spoon feeding me. I did talk shows, podcasts, etc. People on the street would say hi, but not be pushy demanding my time. The role hadn’t been big enough to warrant it, after all. It was nice to feel respected and admired, but I didn’t feel like my privacy was being compromised. Lucky, eh?

I awoke from the dream, went to the bathroom and fell back asleep. The next dream retained my dream logic from the previous one. In this dream, however, I met Jeff Goldblum. Kind of. In this dream I’d supposedly always known Jeff Goldblum. I was walking past the Bridgeway Theatre in Northcote Point and Jeff waved at me. “Hey bud, remember me?” He asked. I paused for a second. Did we meet on set somewhere? I thought. How would I know Jeff Goldblum? He’s many rungs above my level. He did my job for me. “Don’t you remember the time you went for a bike ride and got locked out?” He inquired.

I thought to myself for a second and it sprang to mind. Of course, I was a little kid and I’d whipped out on my BMX to bike under the bridge. I had a great ride around The Point, but when I arrived back nobody was home. I didn’t have my key on me and this was a pre-cellphone time. I’d knocked on the door of my mysterious new neighbour to ask if they could help me out. A tall man welcomed me in (zero fear of stranger danger) and I used his phone to ring my parents at the office. My mum came to pick me up and Jeff became a close family friend. It was mega weird that I’d forgotten all that history with someone I’d grown up around. I chastised myself and my poor memory.

Even as I woke, the dream logic still seemed so real. I’ve thought to myself a bunch of times today did I really not know Goldblum?

Though that begs the question, can anyone really know Jeff Goldblum?

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As you would expect, I give waiters TMI every single time.

When I was a kid, my favourite egg dish by far was Eggs with Soldiers. Called dippy eggs by some (we in the biz call them “Dip-Shits”), they still remain a wondrous combination of ovum and military imagery.

Eggs and Soldiers were no mere dish, they were an event. Not only did I get to eat them from my top notch Bunnykins egg cups, but there was process and tradition. When I was small enough to fit into a high chair, mum would scoop out the egg’s viscera and tip it into the cup. She’d mix it together and create a homogeneous warm savoury mush, just like I loved it. I had one piece of toast that she’d mix-spread. One half would have plain margarine, the other would have vegemite (back when I was subjected to the tyranny of living in a vegemite household). She’d then cut it into strips for my dipping pleasure. The crusts were straightforward, I’d dunk ’em and munch ’em. The in between parts were more of a challenge. I tried dunking them like the crusts, but they’d bend and fold uselessly. How was I meant to get adequate coverage with such flimsy materials? I wasn’t gonna risk scalding my fingers in the lava-like egg innards. Eventually I figured out a plan. I’d take the floppy strip and fold it in half, thus reinforcing its stability. Then I could dunk away and what was more, I could get a double dose of margarine goodness in each bite. Flawless.

As I aged, techniques changed. I moved up to a two toast man. No longer did a slice of heat-forged bread have to face its own duality, each piece had its individuality intact. Moreover, I now had access to a spoon of my own. By this point my mum couldn’t be bothered scooping and mixing, figuring I was old enough to dunk within the fragile exoskeleton of the egg. She’d lop off the top and leave the rest in place. This was a new obstacle to work around. I still folded the middle pieces, but now in lieu of dunking them, I’d spoon some of the eggy flesh into the sling-like apparatus I’d constructed. With poise and balance, I’d navigate the faux dumpling towards my mouth and devour the package, leaving only the small crust pieces to reckon with. With age had come dexterity and I could deftly descend the delicate dough-debris into the desired detritus.

We all need to grow up at some point. The time came when I learned to soft boil my own eggs. Also my parents recognised my needs as a marmite muncher and began to stock a small jar just for me. My hunger for bread transformed me into a three toast teenager (like my dad had been). We all know that teenagers love excess and I’d become an avatar of appetites. My hubris had become such that I’d take one middle piece of margarine toast, one piece of marmite and smoosh them together, then dunk as one. I’d flown too close to the sun and I loved it. I had become the master of my own destiny, met with the goddess and atoned with the father having changed. This was some Campbellian shit. I felt reborn. My own man.

And now I know what I’m having for dinner tonight.

Jeff Whinger would’ve been a less likeable lead.

You know how you sometimes get in a dark mood because of one thing? How all your focus goes to that one thing at behest of everything else that’s going on in your life? Those times where enough of your energy is spent trying to think of anything else, that you’ve used up any resources you had to do so? It feels like that’s been my past few months. I know I’ll emerge out of this dark hole eventually and in doing so, marvel at the fact that light exists, absent as it’s been.

Look, I’m not vaguebooking here. The only thing I hate more than my job at the moment is my inability to propel myself towards something else. Despite knowing that my job isn’t a big enough part of my identity for it to be absorbing the majority of my mental energy, I still have an inability to phone it in. Little as I care about the position, I just don’t have it in me to not do a good job. I want to not give a shit, barely tow the line and be astral projecting when I should be in the office, but I can’t. I keep doing a good job and my “reward” is that they keep heaping more work on me. It’s all kinds of shit.

Geez, when did this place become a whinge zone? I used to use it as a contemplative space to muse on happenings and curiosities. I’d let my mind unfurl and ramble. I’m not saying it was good writing, but it was a hell of a lot more compelling than “I’m 30 and I’ve realised I’m just as mediocre as I always feared”. I travelled and got invested in the world around me. There was some sense of personal development, progress as I challenged long held ideas. Instead I became Eeyore, but less adorable. Things have been going downhill for a while and I’m waiting for the upswing.

(Ready for the ill-advised Winger-esque monologue?)

Obviously that’s the problem, right? I’m waiting. Staying static doesn’t create momentum and I don’t know why I thought it would. I didn’t take advanced science in high school, but I’ve read the dictionary and as such I know that inertia is the opposite of progress. I’ve become paralysed by indecision and my lack of direction has me spinning in circles. Sure, spinning creates a certain kind of energy, but all it’s managed to do is burrow me further into place. What I need now is a propeller. Something to hold onto that can lift me out of the hole I’ve created for myself. I know there’s light out there, but it’s become hard to remember what it looks like. I need to figure out where I’m going before I have any hope of getting there.

Or, y’know, give up and have a kid. It works for some.

Is anyone out there subletting a toolshed?

Moving Day! Not for us, but for friends. I dread the concept of moving and would happily never do it again in my life. I know the concept of change is exciting and novel, but it also means effort and most likely a combination of downgrading, paying more and moving further away from the Toronto city centre. My girlfriend and I have a charming, dumpy little place that has everything we need right now. On site washer and dryer, hydro and utilities included, a carport, central heating/cooling and an awesome location. Two bedrooms and a bathroom for $1400 per month. We also have five months until our landlord is renovating to sell, so it’s more accurate to say that we have everything we need right now but the choice to stay put.

I get the mentality that the journey to find somewhere to live is a downright adventure. I do. I’m also aware of the annoyance of getting attached only to lose a place. The terror of checking out an innocuous looking place and coming away wondering what was hiding under the floorboards. The stress of day after day dwindling away as the month draws to a close. The threat of homelessness, getting stuck with the lease to a place that actively makes you unhappy, staying somewhere that’ll “do for now”.

Yeah, I know some people have real fears.

It sounds petty and I get it. I’m also of the privileged belief that your home should be a place that makes you feel happy, safe, secure. Home is meant to be a refuge from the outside world. Somewhere you can retreat and recharge. I’ve rented enough places to know when I feel at peace and when I don’t. I’ve done many a time and by now I’m not content to settle for “good enough”. Things worked out last time, but I want to put the emphasis on the word “work”. After seeing 15+ places I still “lucked out” with where I am. I remember the dingy basement dwellings. The ruined party houses still come to mind. I’ll never truly forget the four levelled monolith with bedrooms on the top two floors, the toilet on the second level and the shower in the basement. Also the creepy artist’s homemade mannequins scattered around each and every floor. It was horror incarnate. I still put in an application, because renting in Toronto gets that desperate. Also the Bathurst and Bloor location couldn’t be beat.

I basically inherited my current place by winning a war of attrition with the kind of flatmate who left Love Dream Believe/butterfly mirrored plastic decals plastered across the kitchen wall when she left because she was worried about ruining the paint. I had a couple of rad flatmates over the years. One bought his own apartment and moved out, the other moved in with her girlfriend. My girlfriend has been here for a year and a half and subconsciously I guess I thought we’d die here and get buried under the floorboards together. The Toronto Snake Person renter’s dream. Instead we get to stalk Padmapper for somewhere we can settle for.

Or maybe we’ll win the lottery and get to rent a place to ourselves in student housing. This is Toronto we’re talking about here.

In other words… “This is a safe place. Now never sleep again.”

I used to be a planner. My weekends were sorted well in advance. I had an active social life and was rarely without company. Since moving to Toronto, it’s rarer that I’ve sorted plans more than 24 hours beforehand. Social media is so pervasive that it’s often easy enough to just rely on event invites, then picking and choosing the cream of the crop. FOMO has become the body’s sixth sense and committing to something too early can feel backbreaking when a newer, better option comes along. Which is to say that I went into this weekend with only barebones plans. The weekend delivered.

On Friday night I won a Saturday day pass to Blood in the Snow, the Canadian horror film festival. After a lazy day, I didn’t make it there until 4.30pm, just in time to catch the fantastic Fake Blood. A neat combination of fact and fictional narrative, it followed two filmmakers who received a disturbing fan video. They then set out to make a documentary about whether filmmakers are responsible for their depictions of violence and the social effect they can have. Excellently paced, funny and intense at times. The film did an immense job of blurring real life events (the fan video was a very real thing) with fake interviews and characters. If it gets a wide release, it’s well worth seeing.

Next up was a compilation of short films. I thought the idea of seeing 14 different narratives in one session was a little overwhelming, but it mostly passed quite quickly. Quality varied. Some stories re-tread well worn territory in a way that made me question why they’d been made at all. Others showcased novel twists on common conventions. Others did amazing things on a low budget, using obfuscation as an effective tool of suspense. It was outstanding to see a couple of narratives that expanded from First Nations cultural myths, reinterpreting them for a modern context. There’s a bunch of creativity flowing through the Horror medium and I often forget how eager to push boundaries the genre is.

Later on I headed out dancing for a friend’s event. I have a bunch of experience dancing to electronic music of all genres. I go out to silly pop dance nights regularly enough. There’s a regular disco night in Toronto that’s fucking great. I’m not sure that I’ve ever gone out to a Dancehall/Reggaeton/Afrobeat gig before. It was a fucking blast. In a weird hideaway event venue underneath a bank, the speakers were cranked high enough that anything unsecured rattled. In my infinite wisdom (and infinite age), I brought earplugs. Thanks past me. The mix was tight and featured a bunch of tracks from one of A Tribe Called Red’s founding members. The dancing was insane. So many talented folks out there strutting their stuff.

Some of the footwork was unreal. Every now and again the crowd would part for some manner of dance off. The hype gal kept repeating “this is a safe space. Get your free redbulls from the bar”. I guess it worked, people were hyped. Saw a bunch of daggering, even two dudes daggering, which felt pretty progressive. I made the mistake of going on my own to meet up with friends. The event started at 10pm, I arrived at 11pm. My friends arrived around 12.30pm, by which time I was a sweaty mess. I know this, because the venue was lined with mirrors. It’s bizarre and distracting to be able to see yourself dancing. Mostly I pointedly looked the other way.

Today with no plans I’ve got a low key day of shopping and making soup. With days like these, why plan?

Does a regular crastinator do things on time?

After yesterday’s pity party, did I crumble into an ashen powder? I did not. I went out there and did what I did best: Forget about my problems with some good ol’ fashioned escapism. With the present looking grim, I took a time machine back to a time when I felt like I still had potential. Before work ended I went to the LCBO and looked around until I found something to make me feel twenty again. As soon as it caught my eye, I knew I needed it as the bedrock of my evening.

I bought a bottle of Jägermeister.

It made sense in my head. Back when I drank Jäeger, the future seemed so bright and rosy. You’ve gotta understand, this was back in the day when the world’s virulent undercurrent of racism was still spoken about in whispers around the family table. After 9/11, but before the U.S. had a president who mixed up 9/11 and 7/11. The days when I hosted a meme party, but meme’s weren’t at a high enough societal concentration, so the whole thing ended being an exercise in Too Soon. A period in which we had an ice luge and would keenly do chilled Jäeger shots down it. When my friend’s younger brother instilled mass cringe by wearing a custom “shot belt” made to house a ton of mini Jäeger bottles.

Simpler times.

It gets better. To really bring those years flooding back, I paired the Jäeger with an equally fratty mixer. Jäeger and Mountain Dew, a combination friends described as “surprisingly non-offensive” and “better than it was worse”. It was great. The perfect beverage to toss back while hanging out at a legit house party. I knew a handful of people, but everyone was ultra friendly. Even the bros present were quite benign. Nothing got broken or trashed. At some point there was a push up competition in the kitchen (because it was a house party), the winner of which did 42 push ups. A random guy and I looked at each other and cocked our heads simultaneously as if to say just 42? The fact that I had that thought and realised how important it was not to engage it solidified the wisdom age has brought. Even with a few JäegerDews in me, I knew nothing good would come of boastful feats of strength. I had nobody I needed to impress and for the kinds of people I’d be interested in impressing, those aren’t the sort of shenanigans that’d cut it.

I felt older than a bunch of the attendees and for some reason this imbued me with a sense of responsibility. A couple of younger party-goers had clearly hit the sauce too quickly. I made sure their friends were aware of the signs, got them water and helped a couple of people out to cars. It was an instinctive response. I remember so clearly being in my early 20s and getting totally blasted off my face. I remember the help friends gave me. Accordingly, I had this “pay it forward” mentality etched in my brain. I wanted everyone to have a good night and part of that was trying to ensure they had a good morning too.

Most of all, it was a blast getting to meet a bunch of new people. I learned about small town Nova Scotia and the abundance of “Arsenaults” who live there. One of the birthday hosts had flown in from The Dominican Republic and we talked about our respective countries a bunch. The guy was an architect by trade, but had always been obsessed with movies. He told me his dream would be to plan out film sets, but the industry in DR wasn’t big enough for it to be a viable career. There was great music, a bunch of cuddle puddles and low key hangs that lasted until I left at 6am. I’m not narcissistic enough to assume they dissolved once I departed, though I also have no evidence that this wasn’t the case…

Escapism: Because facing your problems is for future you.

It’s Black Friday. I wonder if I can find a sale on concrete boots…

It’s been a while since I’ve used this space for some good ol’ fashioned venting. I tried to book an appointment with my therapist, but every session is taken between now and year’s end. Alright then, here goes.

I’m miserable at work and it’s my fault. Of course this prospect doesn’t fill me with joy, but I’ve gotta face facts. The only one who can take the necessary steps in order to get me on the bath to career fulfilment is me. I was on the path years ago, stepped aside and haven’t found my way back since. Today is my three year anniversary with my current employer. Co-incidentally this parallels three years being in the same job. It’s the longest I’ve held a singular position. Wait, that sounds like I got fired. Not so much. In each case I’ve stepped away in favour of better pay or better work. I’ve usually left one company and headed to another. I figure this is pretty symptomatic of my generation. Company loyalty doesn’t exist like it did for our forebears. There’s no incentive. There are restructurings, mass firings and general shifts of instability once a year. If the company is only loyal to us until a better option comes around, why stick our necks out for them?

This time around I’ve been keen to stick with the same company. They’re not a bad company and many of the other options are worse. The company was much more enjoyable to work for pre-merger, but that doesn’t suddenly make everything shit. If I was doing something that wasn’t so dull, I’m sure I’d be on board. Here’s where the lack of blame comes in. It’s nobody’s fault that I’m still where I am. Everyone around here is pretty friendly. My bosses are supportive. Sure it’s a corporate entity looking to tow the line, but without drinking the Kool Aid I can see that the higher ups care at least a little. If I’ve asked for help, I’ve usually been steered somewhere with best intentions.

I’ve applied for many positions. Constantly. I’ve been close a couple of times, but they’ve gone for other people (also it’s not their fault for being qualified. There’s no blame here). It’s hard and demoralising. I’m looking to get back into a production role, but they’re prized (and rarely prised) jobs. I’ve got a decreasingly relevant audio reel and audio jobs are even harder to find. I had a job that I recently applied for, really wanted and got in touch with the relevant departmental persons to convey my interest pre-interview. Then two people on my team got the job and I didn’t even get to the interview stage. It’s frustrating and hard not to take personally. So I’m still stuck in the same job three years later and it makes me want to walk out a window.

At the same time I know it’s uncharitable to complain because some people don’t have jobs. Some people would love to have my job. I’ve got benefits and I’m not struggling outside of my professional existence. I’m sure that’s a pretty desirable position. I recognise all that, while also recognising that I’m the kind of person who finds it hard to have a clock in/clock out style job. For some it’s easy to go to work, come home and shut off. That’s not what I want. I desire having creative input. I desire for my job to be relevant to my identity. I don’t want just a job I want the work that I do to be an extension of myself. Even if it only shines through every once in a blue moon.

So what’s happening right now is I’m clocking in, doing the work and dying a little on the inside with every passing day. I’m trying not to fall into the trap of medicating with escapism, but I’m struggling. Of course if I’m not happy I’ll want to be anywhere else, whether this is through substance, food or pop-cultural consumption. If I don’t want to face my problems, ignoring them seems so much easier, right? It’s also the easiest way to wake up in 2037 and wonder what I have to show for my lost years. If I want to be doing work that fulfils me, I need to be able to convince people that I’m capable of doing it. Or I need to create the job that I want. Both prospects are vertical climbs and I’m terrified of dealing with the heights. I’m already using my time outside of work as a refuge from the world, but realistically I need to take on more extra-curricular activities. I need to learn software, make things. I need to write with intentionality. I need to be the person who I want to be in order for others to see me as such. In order to work, I need to work.

Nobody else can do that for me.