You ain’t seen nothin’ jetty

Greetings from cottage country. I’m splayed out on my belly, lying atop a dock. Or is it a jetty? What’s the difference? Is it a matter of protrusion? It’s certainly a matter of confusion. Who cares? I’m on holiday.

I’ve got a writing partner here with me today. She’s working on some comedy bits while I type. We’re chatting, discussing, thinking about wording and intonation. Well, she’s bouncing ideas off me anyway. It’s beyond idyllic here. This dock/jetty (I looked it up, I think it’s a dock rather than a jetty. I also learned that jetties are used to disperse currents and create a safe harbour for seafaring vessels (or since they need to disperse currents, maybe they’re sea fearing)) is idly rocking, and it’s absurdly pleasant. Our neighbours are whipping out on their stand up paddleboards, having a great time. We can see right across, it’s a gorgeous view.

Okay, cut to an hour and a half later. I didn’t get my writing done, ’cause we chatted a bunch instead. Now we’re back in the house, it’s a hive of activity. People are walking around clothed, in their undies or nothing at all. One of our pals walked in from the bunkie. There’s a great flow. People are chopping potatoes for some kind of hash. Someone else is frying stuff up in a pan. There’s some Big Chill style motown bursting out from a portable speaker. I’m getting repeatedly distracted, but I think that’s part of the process. Who knows? We’re on cottage time now, baby. Today’s writing has been a slog, not because I’m not enjoying it, but I’m having a hard time with stimulation overload.

We had a great night yesterday. We arrived, and the group who got there earlier were already a bunch of drinks in. I played catchup rather adroitly, and played darts at the same time. I won, somehow. The game itself wasn’t the hard part. See, I’m not a competitive person. I love cheerleading my opponent when they make good plays, but my opponent asked me specifically to trash talk her. I was puzzled, because I’m ever aware of the difficult line to walk when it becomes mean. I don’t like being mean. I tried, and I think managed to not destroy her very being. I did destroy her in the game though. This place is super stocked with board games, etc. Someone found a card game that was basically a forum to encourage intimate conversations, so we talked deep into the morning. I was somehow drunk enough for a nice deep sleep, and woke up grinning.

But now? Now it’s time for lunch. Catch y’all on the flipside!

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I can’t afford to be here for a long time, I’ve got packing to do. Good times await

I’m a free agent now, baby.

I’ve got six days off and they’re all mine. I logged into my work email (bad call) and removed myself from a bunch of distribution groups (good call). I brought home my work coffee machine and plugged it in. So now we have an actual decent machine instead of just relying on the french press. I’ve been scatterbrained, moving between playing Magic, coordinating plans for the cottage weekend my girlfriend and I are going on with friends, and pulling out stuff to pack. Packing has yet to occur. I’ve had coffee and maybe insufficient food, so my mind is moving at 1609344 kilometres an hour. Need to pack clothes, food, booze, weed. It’s a cottage, so it’s not like we’ll die of exposure if we miss something. It’s gonna be rockin’, rollin’, reeling and Barbara Ann.

I got to clean out my desk yesterday and hoo boy, I’d hoarded a bunch of shit for a rainy day. I had a ton of disposable cutlery, etc. Straws, coffee stir sticks, knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks. I had varietals of sugar, white, brown, coconut, splenda. I had coconut oil and oatmeal packets. There were random bits of makeup I’d lifted from the old building after everyone else had left. Dental supplies from hygienist freebie bags. A Tommy Wiseau bobble head (that I gifted to a greatful co-worker). Paper towels, ziplock and plastic bags, gift wrapping. There was some prime stationary, a solid swingline stapler, tape dispenser, calculator, a bunch of promo pens and white out. Paperclips, bulldog clips, pushpins. Notepads and post-its. Manilla folders and notebooks. Also cardboard cutouts of Emily Deschanel/David Boreanaz & Tea Leoni. In short, lots of useful junk that has no place in my new job. Dumping it on the table for people to take was all kinds of cathartic.

Maybe in six days I’ll have enough time to digest the new Tool album. Is there ever truly enough time?

In terms of “enough time”, I’m hoping to finish this, get packing, maybe go to the gym, pick up vitamins and whatnot from the health store, and get a new bag of coffee for the trip. All in the next three hours. It’s not gonna happen, is it?

I’m gonna have limited internet connection over the next few days, but hopefully should be able to at least post updates. We’re going to a cottage, not an empty field.

You know what? I’m finished with this. I need the time. Catch y’all tomorrow.

As the wise philosopher Justin Timberlake once said, “Bye Bye Bye”

Last day in this job. Finally. Here’s the leaving message I wrote to my team, with obvious redactions.

Hi team.

I’ve been waiting for this day for some time. As all y’all know, it’s been many years since I’ve felt challenged by this job or enjoyed it, and I’ve devoted most of my energy to trying to leave it. Fingers crossed I won’t be fired from my new job immediately and come crawling back. Given my hubris, that’s probably inevitable.

*Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” starts playing* (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8W5U2tIFQI)
ANYWAY. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom. We had some good times. Despite my big mouth getting in the way, I’m probably on good terms with most of you. I’ve seen many people come and go. It’s been odd, mostly.

I’m not gonna give words of wisdom, ‘cause that sounds like weird, condescending posturing. But here are some things I think could help in the job, take or leave them:

  • The 5th floor usually has the best free food. Take a walk up there sometimes just to check. It’s worth it.
  • The 5th floor also has the only freezer I’m aware of in the building. It’s in that narrow kitchen on the Eastern side of the floor.
  • If you’re ever unsure, ask questions. There’s no need to feel embarrassed to not know something. We’re all just faking it and hoping nobody notices. If you ask, you learn, then you know.
  • If you’re asking questions, don’t be afraid to ask for the “why” as well as the “what”. There are a lot of rules in a corporate environment, and it’s helpful to be able to discern which ones make sense, and which are totally arbitrary.
  • Email is great, but it also can lead to a lot of passive aggressive bollocks. It’s one dimensional conversation that lacks intonation or facial expressions. If it’s not important to keep a paper trail, and you can either call or talk to someone in person, you can often avoid a 15 email chain to get a simple answer. Also you get to chat with people, which is neat.
  • If you’re frustrated by another department, it can often help to ask them what their process is, so you understand why things aren’t working out. Oftentimes they’re just as frustrated with something up the chain and it’s not their fault.
  • Everyone we’re dealing with is just trying to do their job, and they’re all human beings. Don’t be afraid to be friendly. If we humanize one other, it’s a lot easier for us all to judge people by their intentions than actions. It often goes both ways, and will make your job flow that much better.
  • Mental Health is important. Take care of yourself. If you’re frustrated or need a breather, go for a walk. Have an hour nap in those green half-couch things in the atrium. If you want to have a bitch session with a co-worker, book a meeting room on another floor and vent. Don’t hold that shit in, it’ll only make you feel worse.
  • To that end, don’t be afraid to take sick days as mental health days. If you Just Can’t Do It, your managers will understand. They’re people too. Sometimes it’s all a bit much, and it’ll mean you can come back in fighting shape the next day. At absolute worst, they’ll ask you to come in, but maybe spread some stuff around to lighten the load.
  • Talk To Your Managers. You can be honest, and I’m sure it’s appreciated. I had a ton of mental health struggles this year, and mine was incredibly helpful with working around them.
  • I know that formal hierarchies and status differentials can be intimidating, but please remember that someone does not become a more functional human as they earn more money. It’s all bullshit, we’re all people, and everyone’s a unique mess.

That’s probably a long enough lecture for now. I’d shed a tear or two, but being stuck in this job made me miserable. I went on anti-depressants and the one side effect is that I can no longer cry. It’s strange, but better than struggling with the weight of the world every day.

So long!

There’s still time, I could be heroes!

Today’s been busy, so I’m gonna rely on some tried and true bullet pointing. Who’s in?

Here are some things I liked about today:

  • I watched this video about an influencer saboutaging a dumb reality TV dance show first thing in the morning. It kind of made my day.
  • I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm.
  • When I walked into the front of the atrium to grind my morning coffee, I stood on the glass platform as I usually do. I looked down, and realised that there was a self-contained glass box underneath me that never gets cleaned, as evidenced by the weird big mess that was there. Like a coffin for spills. I like finding out new stuff.
  • I got to get out for a lunchtime jog today.
  • Five people waved back to me on my jog today.
  • I saw a dude walking three huskies.
  • One of my co-workers used the word “delineation” in a meeting.
  • I got to chat with a longtime DV person, and she had a bunch of interesting stuff to say.
  • Another of my co-workers introduced me to K.Flay and her album Solutions. It was a fun listen.
  • I got to eat strawberries at work, which rarely happens. It’s not even that I like strawberries much, but I do like variety.
  • I ran into a guy I’d done a bunch of job applications for and got to tell him about my new position. He seemed genuinely very stoked for me.
  • I listened to half an episode of Netflix’s Daredevil so I could witness its Described Video. The DV was astoundingly good, even if I’ve long since given up on the show. Not only was it beautifully worded, but they found a fantastic balance between the dialogue and descriptions. The DV in particular is important, ’cause the show’s about a blind superhero. A+++, would recommend ‘watching’ with your eyes closed.
  • I drank a can of clamato that’s been sitting in my drawer for fuck knows how long, and it hadn’t gone off yet.
  • It was my penultimate day in this job.

Things that I liked less about today.

  • We started the day with a shitty meeting that was shitty. Nobody was particularly impressed by it.
  • The meeting sprawled into a bunch of extra work throughout the day and my schedule got totally blown out. I’ve been playing catch up all day.
  • The strawberries, while novel, were not very good.
  • I’ve had fewer poops than usual. Like, a normal human’s quantity of poops.
  • The TTC car I boarded was stuck between stations for maybe ten minutes. I had a podcast to listen to, but it still wasn’t ideal.
  • It was really sunny, so my jog was extra exhausting.
  • I hit a bunch of stop lights on my jog, which meant it took longer. Technically this gave me a bunch more breaks though, so that was kind of nice.
  • I still have an entire day at this job.

ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY.

Mel Gibson ain’t a fan. But who needs fans like that?

What’s Ned Flanders’ favourite brand of sunglasses? Okillys!

For no good reason, today I remembered something from high school. There was this girl that we all had a crush on. She was super cool and disaffected. Really pretty, long brown hair and almond shaped eyes. When I say that we all had a crush on her, I mean it. You know that stereotype of teenage girls excitedly tittering about the quarterback? We were those tittering teenage girls about her. ZOMG it’s mufti day, did you see what she’s wearing? That kind of stuff. Anyway, we were doing speeches for English class. She wasn’t in my class, but one of my friends told me he saw hers. She did her speech on Nelson Mandela, which was a neat subject. He was a cool dude. But she did a real half arsed job and didn’t really know how to finish. Instead she played Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” on a boom box and danced a little bit. Weird, and maybe more than borderline inappropriate. Incongruent enough that as soon as my friend told me, my crush on her instantly died. Simple as that. No more tittering.

In writing that out, I didn’t think I’d type “tittering” half as many times as I did.

Ugh, I used to love doing speeches at school. It was by far my favourite assignment. I was big into public speaking, considering that I spent all day talking shit in class anyway. I think I mostly liked making jokes, and it was an ideal opportunity to do so. I don’t fully remember my speeches from primary school. I did one about books that I kind of phoned in. It wasn’t my proudest work. I do remember getting a kick out of writing my barmitzvah speech, and figuring out metaphors with the rabbi. The friends I invited didn’t understand anything about Judaism, but they did enjoy pelting me with candy as I walked the Torah around the room. As is tradition.

I distinctly remember doing a fun speech during my ‘campaign’ for Deputy Head Boy in highschool. We all knew who was gonna win, so I tried my aim for silver strategy. I spent the whole time doing basically a stand up set. I leaned heavily on my best friend’s suprise campaign-

Which went a little like this:
“Hey bud” he said to me as he arrived at my front door to walk to school “I put up the posters”. I blinked. “Posters?” “Yeah” he replied “for your campaign”. Cue me walking into school, people coming up to me saying “oh man, love the posters. I’m voting for you for sure.” I saw one of the posters containing the image of an elderly Hasidic Jew and in bold: I’D VOTE FOR A JEW. WOULDN’T YOU?

-and really talked up my latent Judaism. I harped on about losing the Nazi votes, but hoping I could make it up with people proving they weren’t Nazis by voting for me. I didn’t win. Maybe I should’ve ended that one with Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and a little dance. Who better to claim the title “Survivor” than the Jews?

If I retconned every memory I had of giving a speech to have ended with that song, would that be the Mandela Effect at work?

I guess Talk Like A Pirate Day is only three weeks away

It’d been a long time since I last helped host a party.

My girlfriend’s birthday is tomorrow, and she wanted to have a weekend get together in lieu of a big shindig. An “open house” was her idea. Welcoming a big group of people to stop by any time between 11am and 11pm for as long as they liked. A quick drop in hi? Perfect. A lengthy, leisurely hello? Also perfect. Time spent with friends, food and drink. Firing up the barbecue whenever people wanted to eat. Grilled meats and veggies, tons of chips. Mixers and spirits to share. Non-compulsory potluck style, people could bring whatever they wanted to share if they so wished. A neat idea.

It was fantastic in execution too. Nobody showed up until the afternoon, and numbers never got overwhelming. There was a natural flow, with people coming and going as they desired. When it started getting a bit loud inside, we shuffled everyone out to the backyard. We got the grill going and tossed on some sausages. Music played from her computer to a portable speaker. We plugged in a lamp once things got dark. We improvised as we went, and it all worked out. There was tons of food for everyone, and an abundance of leftover chips. A few friends brought booze and happily offered it to others. When things got cold we grabbed them our clothes/blankets/onesies to borrow.

I was in my element. My fervent hope was that my girlfriend could stand back from hosting duties and spend time with her friends while I took the reins. I wanted to take care of our guests and make sure they had everything they needed. I got to have a bunch of drinks and cater it up. If people needed drinks, I made sure they knew all their options. I tried to keep food flowing, putting new sausages on the grill once others came out. We had a butterflied jerk chicken that cooked up beautifully. I somehow walked the fine line of considerate intoxication. It was fun having a ton of tasks. Moving between the grill and the kitchen, checking our glassware supply, keeping a steady stream of clean dishes. Dropping in for a drive by pun or joke, keeping conversation flowing. I got to do all the hosting I wanted, while still enjoying the hell out the get together.

I wonder what excuses I can come up with to have another party…

“Grims” for short

If there are two things I love, they’re food and words. If there are three things I love, delivering on promises probably makes it in.

I did it friends, I finally bought a bike.

Every year in Toronto it’s the same cycle (no pun intended, honestly [really? -Ed]). I’ll trudge through the winter muck, and think about a time where I could be speeding through the streets of Toronto, taking shortcuts and doing sweet jumps. I tell myself this year. This year I’ll finally get a bike. I could get around the city so quickly, keep fit, stop paying exorbitant amounts for a metro pass each month. Spring transitions to Summer, and I feel like I’ve lost my chance. It’s too late, I should’ve bought one already. If I get it in Fall, I hardly get to use it at all. So I tell myself next year. Next year I’ll finally get a bike.

I got my goddamn bike. His name is Grimsby and I love him.

I’ve been loosely planning to go shopping with my friend for a while. He’s been a bike mechanic off and on for years. Loves bikes. Bikes everywhere. He knows what to look for in a bike, all the factors to consider when buying one. He knows the places to go, he has connections and understands the parts intimately. Yesterday we finally made it happen. I told him that my overall budget was around $500. I met him at this place on Spadina. He said they find really good second hand bikes and do them up. Very fair prices, and quality materials. He’d traded/worked with them on and off for the past decade. When I arrived, he’d already picked one out for me to look at. He said it was around $300. He told me about the frame, and how lightweight it was. He compared it with another $700 bike and said they were virtually identical, aside from one or two small details that could be fixed up. He checked the height and shape of the bike against my stature. We tested how much leg extension I’d get, whether I could stand up straight on the bike if I was stopped at a light. It looked to be a decent fit. He checked the wheel alignment and tinkered around a little. He said he wasn’t gonna send me out on a bike that he didn’t think was 100% safe. He went out for a ride and came back a few minutes later, tinkered a little more and adjusted various things. He showed me the gear system, which was unusual. It was this little toggle on the right side of the frame, not far from where my knee would rise up. He passed the bike to me, and I whipped around the block. It was great to be on a bike again. I wasn’t wild about the handlebars, a little more narrow than I was looking for. The bike weighed almost nothing, but I tend to prefer heavier bikes. Makes me feel settled on the road. I didn’t change the gears, but I tested how it’d feel to use that toggle. It was odd, I kind of had to hunch over. I didn’t like it. I brought the bike back to the shop and said it was okay, but failed the Marie Kondo test.

The owner popped up beside us and asked what I didn’t like about the bike. I said I was looking for something heavier. I liked the idea of gears, and would’ve preferred something on the handlebars. He pointed out a bike off to his right. Big purple thing. The owner walked away and let us talk. My friend took a closer look. He asked how much it was, the owner said $500. My friend checked whether or not I’d be okay going over budget. I said I’d consider it. He peered closer at the bike. There was a gears system on the handlebars. Eight speed. He glanced at the gear system, then looked back. He checked the breaks. “Drum brakes” he said, as if I knew what that meant. He turned to me and whispered “these wheels are worth more than that last bike”. We measured the bike up to see if I liked the feel. It was a very comfy bike, and the height was much better than the last one. Heavy bike, which I was looking for. It had a rack over the back seat, to which I’d be able to affix a basket or something. The handlebars were wide, and I could ride in a relaxed position. He did some checks, then took it out on the road. He came back and passed it to me. I sat on and started pedalling. It felt like I’d owned the bike for years. I tried some curb jumps, messed around with the gears a bunch. It was perfect. I brought it back and told him what I liked, and what I thought could use some work. He chatted with the owner, who said the price was a flat $500. My friend told me a little about bike theft, how common it was to get wheels and seats stolen. He said there were options. I could get multiple locks, a solid one for the back, and a lighter one for the front. He also mentioned a pinhead system, which would make it extremely difficult for thieves to take your wheel on the fly. The store had one, the owner said they were $70. My friend haggled a bit, and asked how low he could go if I bought the bike. He got him down to $50, then saw a pinhead package that included seat security. Seatcurity? He asked the owner if $60 would be appropriate? The owner grabbed a bell and a few lights, said he’d throw them in for me. Cash only. I went to the bank and withdrew $500 (my max daily limit) and combined it with the $65 I had in my wallet. I had $5 cash left for the rest of the day.

We walked out, and my friend said the bike was worth about $1000.

We biked around, picked up a helmet, and I zipped off home. I blinked, and I was basically there. It took maybe 15 minutes for a ride that’d usually be 30.

Holy shit. It feels good to deliver on a promise.