If I started a town of things I hated, he’d be the Mayer.

As I’ve aged, my edges have softened. There was no avoiding it. Whether by natural decline or deliberate change, I’ve tapered down the animosity and upped the empathy. It felt unavoidable. The more I went through, the less simply I could blindly judge without consideration. Is that what growing old is? Innate understanding through experience? Inescapable worldly wisdom? Compassion as a rite of passage?

I’m burying the lede, but what I’m trying to say is that despite all this, sometimes it’s really fucking fun to hate on things with no good reason.

John Mayer. My distaste for John Mayer originated in that same petty part of my teen existence that shunned pop music because it wasn’t tailored to my tastes. It was cool to act like you were better than others (believe me, I knew I wasn’t. Social hierarchy and my affinity for fedoras taught me as much). The early 2000s were my height of needless animosity. All the dime store Hootie and the Blowfish imitation acts, anything bubblegum or “techno” or syrupy ballads. To teenage Leon it was all shite. John Mayer fit squarely into this mould. “Your Body is a Wonderland” had vast reach and all of that saccharine bollocks I loathed. Plus he was popular with girls and I wasn’t. That was about all it took. The fact that he was an quite very accomplished guitarist was just fuel for the fire (not that which I desired). Jesus, just listen to Neon for fuck’s sake. What a smug bastard.

I was overjoyed, then, to discover that he was apparently a total prick. Snide and arrogant, rude and self-centred. Plus he was (intentionally or not) rude to Kumail. What’s not to hate? He was on this week’s Harmontown, surprising by any yardstick. He just didn’t seem the kind of guest they’d have on. I had no idea how I’d feel about him, given all that growth talk I shoehorned into the intro. Would I have gotten over it all, given that I’ve changed in leaps and bounds since I was a teen? Well, it doesn’t sound like Mayer has changed all that much. It wasn’t so much that Mayer was rude, but was still as self-absorbed as ever (though that’s rich coming from a Harmontown fan). His attempts to sound self-deprecating came off as endless bragging. He was nowhere near as clever or funny as he thought he was (as evidenced by his past stand-up material). All in all, I was vindicated.

Why any of this should matter, I have no idea. I don’t know this guy. His material has no bearing on my life. Still, I get some perverse joy from holding the guy in low esteem. Then again, Mayer isn’t the only thing I purposefully hate on. Without further commentary, here’s some other stuff I loathe for no good reason:

  • The DC Comics universe.
  • Stella Artois.
  • Marble cheese.
  • Mark McGrath.
  • Star Wars branding on produce.
  • Portable media.
  • The Emoji Movie.
  • The Big Bang Theory.
  • The Munchkin games.
  • The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ band name.
  • Carlos Mencia.
  • Canadian bus stop ads.
  • Wearing more than two layers.
  • Orange Pekoe tea.
  • Katherine Heigl.
  • Jimmy Fallon.
  • Instagram.
  • Digg.
  • Starbucks.
  • Kevin James.
  • Boss Baby.
  • People complaining about award ceremonies.

But mostly John Mayer. My life has no room for squares.

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There’s a VR game we could all use.

I may have overdone it with the coffee today and I think my body is imploding. You’d think I’d be bouncing off the walls, but instead my corporeal form is in disrepair attempting to process it all. I’m wading through mental sludge and progress is both slow and plodding. Can you plod in a swamp? Is plodding tied to speed or specificity of action? In my head it’s onomatopoeic and relies on heavy footfalls. Do you make heavy footfalls in a swamp if any evidence is mired within dense and viscous liquid? Does a foot fall of nobody can see or hear it?

Why is there no Buddhist film making team called the Kōan Brothers?

I bought a VR headset yesterday simply because it was cheap. $10 down from $50. Came with a bluetooth controller and earphones. It’s not advanced and for the most part it’s just plastic housing for a mobile phone. Still, I’ve been curious to give VR tech a try for a while. I’ve always had issues with motion sickness and my pre-eminent worry is that VR will be a quick way to throw up. In the past it’s been a depth of field issue. With First Person Shooters if I can’t see the character’s hands, I get queasy. I tried downloading this game Zombie Shooter last night, but five minutes in I got sorta nauseous. I’m hoping it’s not a VR-wide issue. Youtube has a ton of 360 degree videos. Perhaps I’ll try one of them. It’d be sort of shit to be pushed out of an emergent technology because my brain can’t handle choppy visuals.

Wait. Maybe the secret is to overdose on coffee first. How many cups have I had today? Four or five? If my brain is too tired to properly process the information being fed into it, maybe that’ll smooth out the lacklustre frame rate. I can hack my body chemistry with bro science! Or I’ll see what my innards look like on the floor. Bad end.

I got distracted and stopped typing. I’ve gotta keep this train rolling by any means necessary. Is Barney the Dinosaur still around? Apparently it finished back in 2009. Odd as it sounds, when I was younger I half wished I was even younger so I could’ve enjoyed it. Of course I would’ve wanted to learn math from a dinosaur. Still, when it premiered I was old enough to take joy in mocking the show. I remember hearing about a Doom 2 mod called Barney Doom. Back in those pre-internet days, everything was hearsay and bootlegs. It was rare to get a hold of those prized rarities. They were like contraband. I’d heard of Barney Doom but never played it. As a seven year old, nothing sounded funnier than blowing Barney to bits with the BFG. Was it some latent counter-culture manifesting at my young age? Rebelling against what exactly? Saccharine educational content aimed at a younger generation? Woah, don’t cut yourself on that edge, kiddo. Then again, it sounds like the wheel has turned and Barney now has lessons I’d benefit from.

Now all that free love he was spouting makes an awful lot of sense.

What does She do? Well She does Ra a lot. Is that a verb?

I was listening to my theme song playlist this morning. Why do I have a playlist featuring four or five hours of TV themes (also consider just how many theme songs that consists of. How long are most? 60-80 seconds)? Because when I left home for the Great North, I had a Comic Con themed leaving party. I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that it’d be neat to have background music composed entirely of TV themes. In practice it was silly and underwhelming. The tracks all varied in quality and volume. Some were obnoxiously loud and others far too quiet. I’d hoped the playlist would stimulate discussion, but that was mostly a wash. Every now and again a friend would comment on some theme song and that was enough for me. One large booster shot of ego validation. Considering the party revolved around me, it was like I was double dipping into narcissistic territory. Could you blame me?

Listening this morning was all kinds of choice. First up, it was an IV drip of nostalgia straight to my cerebral cortex. I got to relive all my Saturday Morning Cartoons. I even got to relive all the Saturday Morning Cartoons my parents watched. Years of animation binging meant my tastes spanned decades before my birth. Thanks Cartoon Network. It made waiting for a bus in the heart of Canadian winter mildly more pleasant. Anyway, here are some thoughts.

I miss the convention of TV themes that blatantly explain the plot so kids can plug in at any time. Not only is this Fantastic Four intro fabulously campy, but it tells me precisely what I need to know: Reed Richards is elastic, Sue can fade from sight, Johnny is The Human Torch, The Thing just loves to fight. I’m sold. Count me in. Or what about the She Ra theme? Not only does it explicitly get into the nitty gritty, but She Ra has a bizarrely antediluvian voice. Why does she sound like she’s 200 years old? Is that just a holdover from old timey radio dramas and whatever the US equivalent of Received Pronunciation was?

Other songs reminded me just how great some of our shows were. Samurai Pizza Cats was righteous. This isn’t just me being needlessly nostalgic. Filled with madcap quick-witted writing and stuffed to the brim with pop culture references, I’m sure certain elements haven’t aged well, but it’s a great little time capsule. One of the coolest thing about this little gem was how they basically had to reconstruct a ton of it from scratch. Back in the pre-internet days of 1991, translations weren’t as comprehensive as they could’ve been. The writers, then, had to make do with what made either made sense or dipped into total irreverence. I remember Lupin III being rather similar. The English version had to be contextualised, because the humour in the original was so culturally resonant. Thus you got references to Halle Berry and other Western cultural artifacts in the US one. Nifty.

If I can’t turn back time and be a kid again, I might as well engage in a little bit of mental time travel.

Bye bye Mr American Pie.

It’s easy to forget what it was like to be a teenager. With the wisdom of retrospection, I now openly mock the emotional struggles of teens. Wait, that sounds actively spiteful. What I meant to say is that looking back at some of the instances in which my hormones brought me to my knees, I can see how trivial they were. I was almost an entirely different person, chemicals viciously clashing through my body. My brain was a volatile beaker of testosterone, spunk and sadness. I saw the world with a mixture of curiousity, envy and anger. Why was it all chaotic and where was my part in that madness? The future seemed both distant and immediate. Moreover, I just wanted to get laid.

Perhaps that’s uncharitable. Having sex wasn’t the only thought on my mind. I also spent a bunch of time thinking about anime and Pokémon. Still, sex probably ruled 90% of my thoughts. Why?

Sex was everywhere. It was in the advertising I absorbed every day. It was on the internet (and how). Sex was walking past me every day at school (in short skirts, no less). Sex was in the shows I watched and the movies we’d put on when we hung out. Oh those teen sex comedies. In the tradition of Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the late 90s and early 2000s saw the resurgence of the genre. American Pie was the tentpole property (pun kinda intended), but it was far from the only one. Road Trip, The Girl Next Door, EuroTrip, Van Wilder and in a sterling example that both parodied and exemplified the genre: Not Another Teen Movie. My friends and I all loved them. How could we not? They were comedy and wish fulfilment wrapped into a single package. They also irrevocably shaped our attitudes towards sex and relationships on the path to adulthood.

On a whim, my girlfriend and I watched American Pie last night. In my memory it was just a typical teen movie irrespective of gender. All of my teenage female friends loved it, so I had no reason to think otherwise. It’s hard to see it the same way at 31. The women in the film are mostly without agency and almost exclusively seen as objectives. They’re tools through which the male leads can gain control over their sexual destinies. Prizes to be won. Personalities only as far as they can create obstacles for Jim and Co. It’s just dudes wanting to get laid. I mean, of course it is. I don’t know how the years dulled my notion that the entire plot was predicated upon that. It places sex on such a pedestal that all purpose for these guys pales in comparison to putting their dick in someone. Yes, the film has thinly applied lessons in the end. Oz discovers a different side to himself through his pursuit of pretending to be something he’s not for a girl. Finch’s plot resolution is maybe the most cringeworthy scene committed to celluloid I’ve seen in some time. It’s basically the personification of m’lady mentality and guys who think watching Rick and Morty gives them a genius level intellect.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. There was nostalgia in the rewatch. I didn’t hate it, but it felt great realising I’d grown past it. It’s not a good film by any metric, but there’s still some amusement in giving it a gander. Eugene Levy is a treasure. Plus I’d forgotten good ol’ John Cho gave worldwide public vernacular the word “MILF”.

The biggest revelation was how heavily I’d absorbed all the wrong messages it spread. American Pie and its ilk made me thirst for sex all the more. I was desperate for it. What’s worse is that I saw it as something I was owed, that was being kept from me. To teenage Leon, girls were gatekeepers of a treasure that was mine for the taking, but hidden within a locked vault. How do you think this shaped my attitudes towards the women in my life? It’s not like I treated them like trash. Still, underlying so many my interactions was the notion of looking for ways to unlock the opportunity for sex. As if ladies (m’ladies. Oh god, I did own a trilby), were a game to be played for the underlying goal of sex. Typical of someone my age? I’m sure. Still, gross as fuck.

As a teenager it never happened. You know what? Thank fuck. I’m glad I never put anyone through that. By the time I did start having sex I’d at least developed some modicum of emotional maturity. My heart was in the right place to treat women as people, not opportunities. Would getting laid as a teen have changed how I now approach the act? Would I still have learned to respect women in the same way?

Perhaps that’s an alternate reality I’m happy to not think about. At least I never got desperate enough to fuck a pie.

Am my rite?

I have no idea where this is going, but I can only stare at a blank page for so long. It’s funny, but I’ve been doing this for so long now that I make it harder for myself than it needs to be. In thinking about an entry, I set up all these boundaries to keep me moving ahead, but who’s to say that they’re worth anything? Example: Years ago I did an entry where I thought about a theme and applied myself to it. It went well and the end result came together better than my random ramblings. So of course I took that and ran with it. Think of a theme before you touch the keyboard became, if not a mantra, then a guideline. I’m unsure of how many hours I’ve lost through trying to think of a theme. I’m writing every single day, I don’t have the luxury of producing a polished mass of condensed thought. Furthermore, expecting a theme to blossom in order to ensure a quality entry is a wash. Just because I have a general direction, it doesn’t mean I’ll end up following it. Hell, the point of this entire project was to go with the flow, stroll down tangential pathways and embrace meandering mental footsteps. Furthermore, the notion that certain entries were good because I’d thought of a theme doesn’t presuppose that entries with a starting point are the only good ones. I’ve probably had just as many stream of consciousness brain dumps that’ve led to interesting conclusions. Why should order matter?

I also try not to repeat myself if I can. Of course I have. How could I not? When did I start this? Something like the 22nd of March 2013? That’s 58 or so months. If we guess that a month on average has 30 days, we’re looking at 1740 entries. Wait, I can actually confirm this. Gimme a sec (he says when he’s the one who sets all the time boundaries. As if you have any idea)… Looks like this is my 1,771st entry in a row. I don’t think I could have 1,771 conversations without repeating myself, let alone 1,771 bouts of 30 minutes typing. Okay, so that means at the very least I’ve spent 885 hours on my current output. “At least” I say, because most often the half hour I say I’ll spend writing takes around 45 minutes to an hour. I start and stop, pause the timer. Sheesh. I’d start going into all the things I could’ve learned in that time, but I’m certain I did that entry some while ago. I just have this vague nagging feeling. It’s nibbling away at me and while I know that there’s no point in getting bent out of shape, that’s different than realising that there’s no point in getting bent out of shape. Facts and cognition are not identical.

Why is it that I care? It’s the height of silliness, but I know deep down that if I ever wrote an entry and someone pointed out that I’d done it previously, one of my horcruxes would go kaput. I mean, what are those previous 1,770 entries but little nuggets of my soul embodied by digital ink? Ugh, now I recalled having used the phrase “digital ink” and that’s making me feel sour. What’d be worse would be repeating a topic, but discovering that I’d done it far more eloquently previously. My inner being would be trapped in some kind of Soul Asylum bolting away from my body like a “Runaway Train”. Holy fuckers, did you know Soul Asylum had 11 albums? That they’d released them as recently as 2016? I kinda thought they released the aforementioned locomotive hit and “Misery” then called it quits. I bet Soul Asylum never repeated themselves like some hack I know…

At the centre of this distaste for repetition has to be a seed of utter narcissism, right? As if anyone out there has read all my entries. Even if they had, as if they’d take the effort to go out of their way and let me know I’d copied something from myself. Perhaps in repeating concepts there’s the chance I’ll get them better the second time. Or what if I found a new angle to explore? In a sense, my predilection for inhibition towards repetition is needless submission. What if there are creative drippings awaiting their time under my fingertips? I mean, real writers edit, right? My wry rite of writing is rightfully frightful, if not trite, what have I to be contrite?

Cut the crap. Just write.

Though you can’t deny that I’m what’s left.

I got tagged in a Facebook missed connection group today. Turns out the guy was also called Leon, was also 31, but worked with computers. Don’t be sad, two out of three ain’t bad. Thing is, it made me realise that being someone’s missed connection is a bucket list experience I’ve been subconsciously hoping for. Just the idea that some stranger was thinking of me, that I’d lingered in their brain. That I’d made a solid enough impression that they sought me out. Isn’t that the nicest sentiment? How would you not feel chuffed knowing that someone thought you were worth pursuing? That they wanted to see you again in any capacity? Seems swell.

Of course here’s where male privilege kicks in, right? To me the idea of being desired holds appeal, because it’d rarely come with fears for my own safety. It’s not often I have to put up with that bullshit. For most women it’s an unfortunate element of their lives. One that’s become so ingrained that they’re resigned to it. It’s not that mutual attraction doesn’t happen, but the majority of times I’m sure it’s both one-sided and unwanted. Why must we ruin all that is good? How many male missed connections run the line of “we made eye contact, so I decided I wanted to fuck her”? I’m sure her side often involves minimising herself in the hopes that he’d lose interest and wander off. The equivalent of playing dead with a bear. Society sure could use a shake up.

Still, that doesn’t lessen my faint wish that someone on a bus or in a department store would think fondly of me in retrospect. Maybe I’ve had missed connections that remained missed. Who knows? I have a habit of chatting amicably with strangers because the alternative would be dense silence. Surely that’s gone over well once or twice? I remember when I first arrived in Toronto how shocked people would be when I talked. That because of my accent and latent Manic Pixie Dream Guy elements, I’d end up having short, sprightly chats then disappearing. I felt like a magical being. Some oddly knowledgeable NPC in the lives of others. I’m sure some thought me a figment of their imagination. Wait, maybe I was. Fuck.

Screw it, we’re all merely random molecules colliding. Who cares? We’re all gonna die, if we even existed at all. Perhaps we never missed connections because they didn’t occur in the first place. Merely the fever dreams of racks of Matrix style battery farms. Missed connections are merely faulty wiring that creates sparks. Anomalies in an otherwise routine world. Chaos within a system of order. Brief blazes in the dark. To put yourself out there, then, is heroism. To strive for that which is otherwise absent in an unforgiving reality. Aren’t we all searching for meaning? Purpose? Convergence? Don’t we all desire that which lifts us? Ascension?

What I’m saying is, perhaps we missed nothing. Perhaps some connections are meant to be fleeting. Perhaps they were exactly what both of you needed at that precise time.

Or perhaps I’m just trying to console myself that I wasn’t the right Leon.

Entering MiSophomore year.

I’ve always had an issue with certain sounds. Eating noises, mostly. Chewing, lip licking or sucking, the scrape of metal on plates or glass. For the longest time I assumed I was just fussy or pedantic. In recent times I’ve discovered that it’s a relatively common disorder. As time goes by, things are getting worse. It’s becoming intolerable to deal with and I don’t have strong coping strategies. Where did it all start?

That was a peculiar segue, cause honestly I’ve got nothing more than speculation. As kids our parents would chide us for open mouth chewing or pushing too hard with our utensils. My thought is that perhaps it shaped me into mentally acknowledging it as aberrant behaviour? That when I heard other people making those noises it triggered off some response in my brain. I knew innately that I wasn’t supposed to do that, so when others did, it conflicted with an internal boundary. Over time that tread deeper and deeper into my subconscious, creating an automatic negative response. See, I didn’t always have this issue. I noticed it as a teenager, but it’s been steadily growing as I’ve aged. It’s at the point now where it’s become actively intrusive, affecting my day to day. In short, it’s a problem.

I’ve been talking a bunch about how it started, most likely because that was the segue used to spark that paragraph. What I haven’t done is explain how it manifests for me. Let’s say, in a totally hypothetical example, that my co-worker eats approximately 30 crunchy baby carrots around 11.30am every day. I’ll hear a crunch and it’ll spark off a fight or flight response in my brain. I’ll get simultaneously furious and panicked. My heart rate will begin to race, muscles will tense and most of the time I’ll swear involuntarily. Or I’ll be on public transit and someone will chew gum. Or an old person will just be chewing nothing. I dunno, old people do their own things. Or I’ll be at a movie and I’ll hear open mouthed chewing of popcorn. Or my girlfriend will lick her lips in another room and I’ll hear it. My brain will zoom right in on that noise and I’ll barely be able to concentrate on anything else. To be clear, these people aren’t doing anything wrong. They’re not some worthless uncouth hooligans that cause me to sputter my tea and crumpets. It’s not their fault that I’m affected by these sounds or the degree to which I struggle with them.

For that reason, it’s not plausible or functional for me to politely ask everyone in public to chew with their mouths closed. I’m not gonna tell my co-worker that they can’t eat a certain food that they enjoy because I have an adverse reaction. I’m not going to interrupt other people’s movie experiences because they’re unwittingly hindering mine. I once mentioned to an ex-flatmate that she was chewing with her mouth open and she got embarrassed, upset, furious, then locked herself in her room and refused to talk to me for about three weeks. In retrospect, that was awesome. But I digress… Because I can’t expect everyone else to change for my sake, my only recourse is to take avoidant tactics to salve my reactions. Loud music on headphones comes in handy. I listen to music/podcasts all day at work. I’ll usually try to take a break when I’m transiting home, but if someone starts chewing those headphones come out lightning fast.

Thing is, these aren’t solutions. They’re band aids over a gaping wound. I need to address these issues with meaningful remedies. I need to embark upon Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or see an Audiologist. Perhaps hypnosis could help to ease the triggers. I have to choose to do something about it, because I know the other path this could take. I can easily see a future where this all gets worse. Maybe I’ll decide that instead of going out for dinner with friends, I’ll stay home where those noises won’t be present. Perhaps I’ll start carrying earplugs or white noise headphones on me at all times. What if I retreat further and further into these avoidance tactics instead of facing my issues head on? I’m a social guy. The concept of habitually retracting from others isn’t one I’m comfortable with. I could very easily see myself falling into the bad habit of letting misophonia dictate my behaviour.

Frankly, that sounds awful to me.