I have a three stripes rule, and she’s on one

[Intros are hard]

My girlfriend and I watched this film Burning last night. It’s a South Korean film that’s been heavily lauded in critic circles, so I figured I’d give it a try. It was something else. I’m not versed on world cinema. It’s not like I’m out there ticking up cred points. That said, this one blew me away. It probably wasn’t a good idea to watch it stoned. Maybe I was looking for a thematic link. The film was a bit complex for that. There was this really provocative tonal shift throughout. I can’t say much without spoiling the film, so I won’t. Here are some very neutral things to say about it. The only actor I knew from Burning (more because of my own ignorance than anything) was Stephen Yeun, fan favourite Glenn from The Walking Dead. It’s based on a Murakami short story called Barn Burning. I’m pretty naive when it comes to cinematography, but the cinematography was fucking gorgeous. You couldn’t help but notice. It did this outstanding job of showcasing scale. I’m not sure if I’ve ever picked up on framing as an indicator of socioeconomic inequality before. Yet again, my own naivete. Not a lack of representation. The super noticeable aspect were these lingering shots. Incredibly long shots that must’ve been a nightmare to choreograph. It’s not like there was just one long take for everyone to go wow, the director sure crossed that one off the list. Again and again, these shots that don’t end, while the actors continue to give and give. The script is pretty meandering, then at some point it’s like a switch has flipped and the tension ratchets up to a fever pitch. The experience was wholly mesmerising, and I profusely recommend checking it out if you want a cinematic adventure that strays from easy classification.

I have a weird complaint, and I don’t know if it’s a valid complaint. I have a tiger onesie. Not my complaint. It’s Bluenotes. I got it second hand from a thrift store for $8. Still not complaining. It’s hardy. I think it’s made from durable hoodie fabric. These are all positives, not complaints. I’m getting there. The zipper broke a while back, making it unusable. I was gutted, and looked on the internet to see how much they cost new. I couldn’t find one. I tried searching all manner of sites. I tried googling it using slightly more advanced search strings. Even knowing the brand, I couldn’t find a new one. After having replaced the zipper on my winter jacket, I knew that if I got the local alterations lady to fix it, it’d cost something like $30. I only paid $8 for it first time around, did I want to pay more than triple that? I didn’t. So I left it hanging in my closet for a while. Eventually I tried fixing it, failed and made it worse. But in my research for fixing it, discovered that the fix could be pretty simple for anyone who wasn’t incompetent. It was just replacing the slider on the zipper. I couldn’t do it, but my alterations lady probably could. I took it in, and sure enough she said it was a quick fix. Which was a lot nicer than the time I brought in a white shirt covered in fake blood stains. She shook her head and started saying “no, no, no, no, no” and pushing the shirt back towards me until I left the store.

This time she said she could do it for $10. Deal. So I left it in her capable hands and skipped back down the street. I probably did one of those heel click things while whistling “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” (get it? Zip?). My girlfriend was nice enough to pick it up for me, and holy heck. It’s fixed, but at what cost. It kinda looks like a murder happened and they stitched up a wound in a hurry. I’d thought she’d maybe cut the top of the zipper to insert it in, then stitch that back up. Instead she cut the stopper at the bottom (just a big ol’ slash above the crotch) and did a hatchet job. Look, she used the right colour thread, but it’s a lumpy mass of stitching. I thought she was better than that. I know she’s better than that, ’cause she’s done fantastic work for me before. At the same time, it’s functional and not super noticeable without looking closely. But if you do look closely, it looks like a massacre. Altogether, the fact that I can wear it is more important than how weird that tiny bit looks, but still. I don’t know how to feel. I spent $10 and now I can wear one of my favourite bits of clothing again. That’s the greater good, right? Oh wait, it’s a tiger onesie, the grrrrrrrrrreat-er good.

[Pretend I did a great outro too. I gotta go]

 

1999 called. It just wants to say it’s still thinking of you

I never watched Justice League, but if you don’t think the credits should’ve rolled with “Superman” from the Tony Hawk soundtrack, you’re flagrantly incorrect. For all I know, they do, which just means it should’ve played twice. I guess I’ll never know.

I still can’t understand how those Tony Hawk games were so popular. I’m not implying that they weren’t awesome. I bought the first one on PSX. I gave that game 50+ hours of my life. I just don’t know why. Back in the 2000s, skating captured the zeitgeist in an all encompassing capacity. Like the 70s reborn, it was pop punk bands and wide, cushioned, slacker footwear all the way down. Jackass thrived. Blink 182 united listeners across genre spectrums until that weird Tom DeLonge verse from “Miss You” made us give up the ghost. Then he got mixed up in alien conspiracies, which should’ve only made him more endearing. It didn’t. He isn’t. I’m saying all this as a non-skater. I don’t know that I so much as stepped onto a board, but I had friends who did. It’s like when yo yos got cool in the 90s again. I never had one, but it seemed like something I should be enjoying. And what are skateboards if not cordless yo yos bound by trucks to a deck? Everything’s connected, so I guess that entirely explains the colossal popularity of Tony Hawk (before they adopted the awkwardly juxtaposed acronym THUG). Or maybe they were just fun games. Perhaps they even set the stage for sandbox games to emerge. Would you have Batman: Arkham City without Rune Glifberg’s Christ Air? Geoff Rowley did Dark Slide for our sins.

On some level, Tony Hawk gave rise to a kind of grounded fantasy. As far as game settings/scenarios, it was mundane. You were skating in urban environments. Whether in the city, a big airplane hanger, or a school, it’s not like you were grinding rails in Narnia. But then you had a secret alien in Roswell. You could paint entire buildings by doing tricks off them. You made physics your bitch at every turn. Glass windows shattered with your arrival. Glass ceilings, maybe less so. Though at least you got to play as Elissa Steamer. And Officer Dick proved that cops could bust a mean kickflip. Even within these limited stages, you felt free to explore your own whims, instead of following a prescribed course. Subsequent games got steadily more insane. Manuals meant you could chain up ludicrous combos and stack multipliers. They had something like eight games, making Tony Hawk a household name/brand. Funny, he wasn’t even the best character in his own game.

Look, I’m mired in nostalgia here, slipping into the past. I can barely think about writing when I’m mentally doing ollies in 1999. It’s time to let the credits roll on this entry. HIT IT BOYS!

So here I am, growing older all the time,
Looking older all the time,
Feeling younger in my mind.

This is what we get after remakes have run their course

I listened to this great podcast Never Seen It. Guests come on and write a scene script for a film they’ve never seen. I’m not trying to ape that. There are neat games, and I’ve really taken a liking to one in particular. I’m pretty sure they’ve mostly lifted it from Wheel of Fortune, but it’s a Before and After game. It’s simple enough. They give a synopsis for a hypothetical film that’s a mash up of two pre-existing films. These films have titles linked by a word. Let’s give it a try.

So maybe the hypothetical title would be “Boss Baby Driver”. A combo of Boss Baby and Baby Driver. the synopsis might be something like: A business oriented infant with a penchant for music moonlights as a getaway driver for Kevin Spacey.

Is that clear enough? Let’s give it a crack. Scroll to the end for answers.

  1. Emma Stone stars as a clean cut student, who takes advantage of the school rumour mill to survive in a world where sound can be deadly.
  2. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston learn valuable life lessons from their incorrigble dog with dissociative identity disorder, played by Jim Carrey.
  3. Jennifer Aniston pretends to be Adam Sandler’s soon-to-be-divorced wife in order to help him evade a much younger woman who stalks him across the world.
  4. A billionaire weapons merchant creates a mechanised suit to free Leonardo DiCaprio from the clutches of his evil twin brother, King Louis XIV.
  5. Two hapless losers are forced by the mob to deliver $50,000 to Australia, but must scramble to reclaim the money after it’s stolen by a Kangaroo, who happens to be Adam Sandler’s nerdy, passive aggressive sister.
  6. An alcoholic musician fosters a fresh rising talent, after his Vietnam War injuries leave him questioning the country he fought for.
  7. A couple navigates the frought nature of their multi-decade spanning relationship, after they’re magically transported to 1920s Paris everyday at midnight.
  8. After a car crash leaves a woman in an amnesiac state, she searches for truth in reality, with the aid of Nicolas Cage, a vengeful father who escaped from Hell to avenge his daughter’s death.
  9. Set in the 80s, a group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms of adulthood, as they disguise themselves as part of an all-female band to hide from the mob.
  10. After a troubled youth is sentenced to community service, he falls in love with Mandy Moore and they solve racism through football. Mandy gets cancer.

That was fun and silly. Everyone ready for the answers?

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  1. Easy A Quiet Place
  2. Marley and Me, Myself and Irene
  3. Just Go with It Follows
  4. Iron Man in the Iron Mask (this one might be cheating, but I couldn’t resist)
  5. Kangaroo Jack & Jill
  6. A Star Is Born on the Fourth of July
  7. Before Midnight in Paris
  8. Mullholland Drive Angry
  9. Everybody Wants Some Like it Hot
  10. A Walk to Remember the Titans

I’m pretty sure Nic Cage would star in any of these, given the chance. Dude just loves making movies.

Hot off depress

Today I went to my GP for a consult on potentially starting anti-depressants. Despite shifting societal views towards mental health, I still feel like there’s a general lack of awareness going on. My social circles are awash with individuals who struggle in some capacity or another. It’s an everyday part of life for many, many people. I firmly believe that normalising the notion of seeking help and destigmatising mental illness is pretty fucking important. Which is all to say, what’s to follow is a rundown of how my experience went, to give some idea of what a diagnosis looks like.

The first thing my doctor asked me as she walked in the door was, “how are you?” I thought this was a conspicuous question to someone sitting in a doctor’s office. It’s hardly that they’d be feeling in prime health. I said as much. I then immediately realised that this could also be a shrewd way of instantly getting the information she needed for her consult. I said as much. She saw my smirk, and raised me a flat stare. It’s fine, she’s been seeing me for years. She knows which comments of mine to take seriously by now.

Before she’d entered the room, I’d filled out a couple of forms. I’d been supplied a generalised anxiety checklist and a generalised depression checklist. There was also a sheet asking me to rank how my moods had been affecting different aspects of my life: Work, home life and social relationships. She took a look through the forms and did some quick tallying. She then began to ask me questions on how my moods had shifted over time. It’s not the first time we’ve brought up this topic. She helped me get registered for OHIP sponsored therapy, which didn’t turn out to provide sufficient help. Before we parted, the therapist recommended that I considered talking to my GP about whether or not she thought medication could help with my symptoms.

I said that I’d first acknowledged signs of depression during my teenage years, with frequency and severity increasing as I entered adulthood. She asked how depressive episodes would manifest for me, and how long periods would last. I told her that they ranged from shorter periods of hours, to days and sometimes weeks off and on. That during depressive states I’d withdraw emotionally, that I’d lose touch with a desire for anything. Functionally I could complete tasks, go to work, exercise, eat healthily and sleep enough, but with no desire for more than keeping the engine running. During these periods, I’d generally prefer to no longer exist. In no way would this manifest as a desire for self-harm or dangerous behaviour. It would be more likened to hunkering down and waiting for the storm to pass.

We talked about the action that I’d taken to combat this over time. I said that I’d been going to therapy for years, but that financially I couldn’t afford to see my therapist as often as I’d need to in order to do the necessary work. I said that I exercised regularly, tried to get sufficient sleep, was conscious of nutrition, and general intake. She asked about alcohol and drug use. I said that I’d admittedly been smoking weed regularly since it was legalised. This had also severely lowered both the frequency and quantity of my alcohol consumption. While I hadn’t been smoking vast quantities of weed, my frequency was giving me trace concerns. I didn’t want to rule out the idea that regular use could be having negative mental effects, and creating a certain dependency. She agreed that it would be wise to ease up, and use it more recreationally than habitually.

She asked about any family history of mental illness. She asked about periods of increased or erratic energy. I replied that while these periods existed, they felt less symptomatic of a response to depressive episodes, and more like my normal personality. In short, if my excessive pun-making was wrong, I didn’t want to be right. She said her line of questioning was to establish whether or not elements of hypomania were present. We agreed that while this very well may be the case, they’ve never been harmful behaviours, or had negative consequences. She also mentioned that she wanted to account for this with potential medicinal side-effects.

At this point she declared that she had enough information to comfortably diagnose Major Depressive Disorder (which is just a fancy doctorly way of saying “depression”), and she wanted to talk options. She outlined the potential routes we could take. She gave me a quick run down on each type of medication, taking care to mention the benefits and/or possible side-effects. She said my options were as such:

  1. I could choose from the medications she listed, she’d give me a prescription and I could start right away.
  2. She’d list the options, I could go off and do my own research, then come back to her once I’d made my decision. After that, it was basically back to option 1.
  3. She could register me with a psychiatrist, who could give a more in-depth diagnosis. It could, however, take months for me to get the appointment.
  4. I could trust her judgement, then circle back to the second part of option 1.
  5. I could trust her judgement, but also get bloodwork taken to rule out any underlying conditions. She could give me a prescription, which she advised me to fulfill after getting the bloodwork back. Realistically, about three days later.

We talked it over, and decided on option 5. She’d narrowed it down to two medications, and she thought one of them would narrowly edge out the other for suitability. She gave me the forms to get my blood work taken next door. She said that once I had my prescription filled, to start off at a very low dose for five days, then increase my dose. She told me to book a follow up appointment for a month after I’d started the medication, so that she could gauge how my body was responding and decide whether it would be necessary to up the dose or not.

I could not have imagined the consultation going better. At every stage, I sincerely felt that my GP had my best interests at heart. She gauged all of my symptoms and history in her diagnosis. I felt both informed and involved in the decision. She carefully outlined the risks and benefits. At no point did I feel like she was trying to give me a quick answer and move on. Medication is a big step, and was giving it the gravity it deserved. I’ve been seeing her for over five years, and I’ve always felt like this has been the case.

I don’t know if my experience has differed from that of others. I get the feeling that unfortunately not all doctors would treat it with sufficient respect, as I was incredibly fortunate to receive. I hope I’m wrong. I also hope that if there’s anyone who’s felt like medication could be a positive step, that they feel validated asking for help. It’s not easy to do. Fingers crossed that it’s worthwhile.

Let’s break it down

I stayed behind for two hours at work today. Oddly, I’m not grumpy about it.

I’ve been dealing with a certain protocol for many months now. It was something I inherited without instructions. Nobody in the office really knew what the deal with it was, but we kept doing it. I’ve been needling away at the “why” for some time, and today I finally got some answers. It turns out that I’ve been doing surplus work since I inherited it. The person who I inherited it from also had been doing surplus work. The person she inherited it from had been doing this protocol for years, and it turns out she’d been doing surplus work for those years, all because nobody had bothered asking why. At this point I’m not even angry, just totally baffled at the absurd amount of extra work that we’ve been doing, for no point or benefit. The fucking weird part, is that we’re just a link in a chain of actions. There are many links in this chain, and none of those links at any point bothered to ask why. So it’s never been caught. It’s goddamn unreal. Having solved that was worth the extra office time.

Today’s been a clear day, and those have been rare lately. I’ve been mentally foggy, gloomy, for a while now. Look, I’ve been depressed for 6+ months, and it means that some days are total write-offs. I haven’t found rhyme nor reason for it. Maybe I’ll have one thought, or hear something, and the next few days will be gone. It’s not that I can’t think, go to work, exercise or complete tasks, it’s that I’m disconnected from them. During these times, I’m not emotionally intact. I don’t *want* anything, I just want to be nothing. I don’t really know what to do to engage myself, because the concept of desire is part of a whole different hemisphere. I go on auto pilot. Joy doesn’t exist, because I’m not connected to the part of myself that feels it. Just totally disconnected. Being in a social space is too difficult, because the pressure of acting in a manner that’s commensurate with normalcy is beyond me. It feels like I have to perform happiness, and that’s really fucking difficult when I forget how that feels. I can’t go out for live music or comedy, because they become hollow experiences. Seeing more than one friend at a time is out of reach. So I don’t. I just stay at home until it’s reasonable to sleep, because being unconscious sounds preferable to the alternative. It’s difficult, frustrating and removes me from myself. I become a void, and frankly that’s a waste of my brain, body and life. I’m tired of it.

Of course, this is only if I’m sober. If I have a few drinks, it all fades into the background. Legal weed has been a double edged sword. It makes me instantly feel better, which is great. It’s helped a lot. At the same time, I’m also afraid of getting dependent on it. I’m worried that some of my mental fog lately has been due to overexposure. That I’m using it too often. No, I’m not smoking excessive amounts, but my frequency is giving me concerns. For the past two days I’ve been a total write off, without any significant reason. I decided not to medicate with weed. My fugue broke around 10pm last night. Today I’ve been clear, but I don’t know how long this will last for. While I’m mentally composed, I’m trying my best to stay present. Tomorrow I have an appointment with my GP to see if she thinks targeted medication would be a productive step. I’ve been stumbling for long enough that it’s time to take a stand.

Yeah, don’t think about that line for too long. It falls apart pretty quickly. So I guess in a way it’s more apt than I thought.

Stitching time saves nothing

I’ve never professed to love capitalism, but there are times it works for me.

I’m not without skills. I know my way around audio editing. I can sometimes assemble words in an order that makes sense. I’m not great at choosing the right line at a grocery store, but we can’t all be heroes. The latter, alongside horse riding and sleight of hand, is just one of many skills I’ve never mastered. I’m not terrible at mental gymnastics, but it’s practical skills that are often my Achilles heel. Like practical gymnastics which, despite teaching children as a profession, I’ve no flair for. True skills are a dime a dozen. Some skills, like baking, pay a dime a dozen. It’s fine. At no time in my life have I seriously entertained the notion that I’d be rich. It’s not something that calls to me. I’m not tempted by fancy things, so much as I’d just like not to struggle to get by. I guess that’s fortunate, ’cause I’m neither rolling in it, nor scraping by.

It’s hard to pick up new skills, no matter how accessible The Internet makes it. That’s why I usually just pay someone to do my dirty work for me. It’s not because I don’t adore learning new things. It’s not because I’m totally inept either. Mostly. It’s straight up because I often lack the competence to solve my problems as well as others could, for a small fee. It’s a simple equation. How good am I at the thing? How good is someone else at the thing? How much does the thing cost for someone else to do? How many hours would I have to work in order to pay someone to do that thing? Is it fewer hours than it would take for someone else who would do that thing for pay to do the thing at a greater level of mastery than I could accomplish in an equal quantity of hours? If so, let them do the thing. That’s mostly it. There are addendums, naturally. If the thing I want done doesn’t necessitate having a great job done, it might be within my wheelhouse. If it’s something that can be done at an amateur grade for a while without causing suffering, maybe I’ll do it at an amateur grade for a while before building up experience over time.

In short, it would be a ton of work to cut my own hair. I’d do a shit job for a long time, and looking in the mirror would affect my mood. I don’t think I’m picking up fine scissors any time soon. However, I’ve suffered through my own rudimentary cooking for sufficient years that I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I’ve saved immense amounts of money cooking for myself, I get satisfaction in catering to my own tastes, and it fills me with pleasure when my cooking brings joy to others. That’s what I call a positive return on investment.

I’m not a tailor. I can sew buttons back on. I can fix basic tears when they occur along a seam. I could possibly affix a patch to a garment, but honestly it’s not my aesthetic, so that’s of limited use. I don’t fuck with zippers. I just don’t. I’m not at a sartorial level to make sure they’re rigidly attached with full functionality. Hell, it took me about a week last year just to make a faux fur loincloth. While that sounds difficult, it was basically cutting down a pair of leggings and hot glue gunning fake fur onto them. Not complicated, but also barely in my wheelhouse. Zippers seem far more of a task. Especially when the zipper I want fixed is in the middle of a onesie. There’s a whole lot of fabric to cut it out from. Then there’s finding one of the right length and ensuring I don’t fuck it up, rendering the garment useless. It’s a ton of pressure.

My treasured tiger onesie broke some time ago. Or rather, its zipper did. The onesie for the most part is unharmed. That’s what I like about it. It’s made of durable hoodie material. It can get dirty without compromising its structural integrity. It fits more than it doesn’t. All great stuff. However, having a broken zipper means it just doesn’t work. It hangs limply and falls off my shoulders. No deal. After months of hanging limply on a coathanger, I thought I’d see if I could fix the zipper myself. I figure it’ll cost over $30 to fix, and I paid $8 for it second hand. Good incentive to get off my arse and try a new skill. I used this lifehacker page as a guide. It mentioned rubbing soap on the zipper, which another friend suggested. Failure. Another option was using pliers on the slider itself. I gave it a try. Some success. The zips came back together, but they were peaked forward in a triangle shape instead of locked flat. After this small victory, I assumed I was on the right track and tried again. I broke the slider. I didn’t mention it at the start, but admitting defeat is a skill that’s firmly in my wheelhouse. I did that. Let’s see if my usual alterations guru can replace the slider easily.

In fact, I wonder if it’ll cost her less to do that than I’d make in an hour. Because I don’t think I could fix it in an hour.

Skip the self serving pity party, there’s a lot of internet out there

On Friday I sent facilities the following message:

Hi there.
I have a pumpkin that I drew on, anthropomorphised and named Pumplestiltskin, and it’s finally started to rot. Where do I dispose of it?

I have yet to receive an answer. I’m not sure that one is forthcoming. Consequently I left Pumplestiltskin sitting atop the organic bin in the kitchen. This morning, it was gone. I guess that’s the last I’ll ever see of it.

*Obvious foreshadowing* I hope.

If it seems like I’m recycling empty material, it’s ’cause I am. I stared at my screen for 15 odd minutes before resolving to put something, anything, where the blinking cursor rested. I’ve lost most interest in most things, so finding a writing topic every day has long since become exhausting. But hey, so is life. I’m sure I’ve whined enough about losing interest in that too, so I’ll search the internet for a more captivating option.

Well ain’t that grand. I searched the internet for a random website button. That took me to Age Geek, a website that tells me what more accomplished people did at my exact age. Well wasn’t that serendipitous? I guess a little salt in the wound can’t hurt. Turns out that Beck, Neil Patrick Harris, Gordon Ramsay, Elvis Presley and Will Forte were all more successful than I am. Great news. Next thing you know you’ll be telling me that one day I’ll die, and until then I’ll stay unfortunately alive. According to another random website the button took me to, I’m 11,755 days old, which does sound like I’ve overstayed my welcome.

I’m sure there’s some lesson in the bollocks I’ve typed about the power of positive thinking. That if I just reshape my reality à la The Secret armed with nothing but good vibes, I’ll manifest everything I’ve been dreaming of. Pass. While I’d do a lot better not to wallow in the mire, I have less than zero interest in artificially inflating my enjoyment of the everyday. Things could be worse is hardly a mantra to live my life by, but it seems to be mostly what I have to cling to. Cool beans.

You know what? A new book just came through on my library app. I’m gonna go read that instead of indulging myself any more here.

See you tomorrow, for more sad, self-serving drivel.