If you’re a pick up artist, you can pick up the bill right?

I was thinking earlier about that book The Game.

Y’know, the Neil Strauss pick up artist book? When I was 20 and lonely, that book hit hard for me. I was stuck in a weird place. On one hand, I loved this idea of being attractive and enticing to women. I craved the knowledge of how to be so, so charming that they’d want to sleep with me. I read these accounts of men sleeping around, dating up and connecting with a range of women. It sounded so exciting and scandalous. I didn’t like the methods. They felt dehumanising, turning intimacy into a numbers game. There was something odd and cult-like about the way they’d live in what start-up folks these days would call “incubators”. The idea of having a routine felt awful and mercenary. If clicking with someone was turned into finding the right thing to say to unlock a puzzle, what was the point? I’ve always been attracted to people the more I learn about them, and if reciprocal engagement was based on me running social tricks that others had made up, then it wouldn’t really be me they were interested in, would it?

There’s a concept in a lot of artistic endeavours of finding your voice. In stand up it’s working out how to be true to the unique standpoint you have. To do the type of comedy that both gets laughs and makes you laugh. In clowning people find their archetype, work out their status and how to play with it. Writers often find their calling and style. I think what I’ve discovered lately is that I’m starting to find my voice in life. There are so many better writers. I’m not being self-effacing. I know how to put words together okay, but I’d never say that writing is my forte. I’m not the funniest person, and I don’t really know that I have the soul of a comedian. I’m okay looking, but there are more handsome men out there. I have a solid moral compass, and also I see others doing kind things without thinking that I’d love to have as a natural reaction. I don’t always own a room. I make mistakes. Hell, it’s insane I’m not better than I am at Magic considering the amount of time I’ve spent playing over the past almost two decades. That said, I’m finally at the point where I’m comfortable with myself, and leaning in.

Recently I’ve been going on dates and getting closer to people a lot more often. I don’t use pick up lines or try to get people into bed. I’m just me. I joke around and treat people with kindness. I have a weird sense of humour, and I don’t sell out my values to try and impress people. I’d rather just date someone else. I know that money doesn’t impress me, and I’m not drawn to those who think it’s important. I’m very happy being vulnerable and letting people vent. I enjoy spending time hearing about others’ problems, learning about their lives. The people who I tend to be drawn to are quite different, and sync with varied parts of my personality. I know that I’m a human cartoon character, and that this is unlikely to change with time. I’m becoming the person I both admired and didn’t know existed when I was a kid.

If I think back to all that The Game kind of stuff now, I realise I have the kind of life that I sought from that lifestyle, but it’s one that makes sense for me. I don’t pressure anyone into sexual encounters, and instead operate on a Fuck Yes or No philosophy. If they’re actively looking to connect intimately, then fuck yeah we will. If not, zero harm. If they never want to, who cares? We’ll just spend time together hanging out. If they do, then that’s great. If I’ve shared intimacy with someone previously, I have no expectations that they’ll want to each time, or even again. Sexual play has become the icing on the cake of making deep friendships where sometimes we want to kiss. I’m certainly not standoffish or emotionally distant, but I let my partners dictate how physically affectionate they want to be.

I think it’s important to regard your trajectory. To see who you’ve become, and where it could lead. To sit in your identity and analyse it. None of us are truly immutable, and we all have the potential for happiness.

Except, well, pick up artists can go fuck themselves. I’m sure they’ve got a routine for it.

I’ve got pores but I’m not a porpoise

I don’t have anything important in my brain, so I’m gonna resort to unimportant things instead. Bullet(point) Time:

  • Ham, kimchi and powerade entered my body within a 30 second span. If I don’t get superpowers, the system is rigged.
  • Last night I was waiting for a taxi, and it got so cold that I started jogging on the spot. Weirdly, it worked.
  • I don’t get why people don’t celebrate any holiday they want any time they want. You know you can do Christmas on any day, right? Given the fact that I grew up with Summer Christmas, it’s not like the weather is an important factor. Why don’t we have six Halloweens a year? Why should decorations be seasonal? This arbitrary notion that their significance will diminish if they’re repeated too often? That’s silly. You can eat turkey at any time, even 2pm. It doesn’t have to be a holiday meat. Christmas mince pies are tasty, why not have them in August? I would happily eat matzoh any day. Even Tuesday. What I’m saying is, do what you want if it doesn’t hurt others or infringe upon their rights.
  • I don’t really fuck with crumpets. There’s something about the textural nature that makes me feel mildly uncomfortable. Like, the combo of soft and crunchy isn’t bad, but the fact that they’re porous means that hot honey or golden syrup drips through the otherwise sturdy bottom, leaving your hands sticky. Also they’re a nightmare for anyone with trypophobia.
  • I went to the Distillery Christmas Market with a friend yesterday for the first time. It was this weirdly dysfunctional trip. Like, while we had a great time, we kind of did everything incorrectly. We got there and immediately needed to go to the bathroom. But most bars wouldn’t let people come in and use their washrooms. The public ones had a huge line, so we went into Balzacs and waited inside. We had this notion that we’d be eating from market stalls, then all the market stalls were like “how would you like to pay $13 for a handheld sausage?” We didn’t want that, so we ate at the Mill Street Brew Pub instead. We figured that if we were gonna be charged $13 for a sausage, we might as well just get seated burgers for $16 instead. Much like the beer, the Mill Street Brew Pub was totally unremarkable. Then service took so long that the rest of the market had closed by the time we’d finished our meal. On the bright side, we didn’t really want to buy things, we just wanted to look at lights, so we got to do that without crowds. Then our first Uber driver cancelled on us without picking us up. It was the kind of night that would’ve been utter crap if it wasn’t for the fact that I was in great company, so it was the opposite of that.
  • All these years later, I still think “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers is dumb. In honour of that:
  • I’ve got rays but I’m not a raisin.
  • I’ve got mast but I’m not a master.
  • I’ve got laugh but I’m not falafel.
  • I’ve got past but I’m not a pastor.
  • I’ve got piss but I’m not a pistol.
  • I’ve got Bast but I’m not a bastard.
  • I’ve got darns but I’m not a dancer.
  • I’ve got salt but I’m not assaulter.

Okay, glad I got all that off my chest. Ka kite!

Failing anything, it’s a carte blanche to harmlessly gossip with friends. Who doesn’t want that?

Did everyone have a lovely night of death and intrigue last night, or just me?

I went to my first murder mystery party. I had half-baked expectations, but realistically I didn’t really know how it would play out. In my head we’d all be free roaming around a house with directives, trying to pick at people’s brains in private conversations. Instead, we were led through a structured game as a group. There were eight specifically defined characters all linked to this murder scenario. Each round we were given more information about ourselves and others. We had details we were encouraged to keep to ourselves, and other details we had to share each round. Nobody was allowed to lie, but at the same time you were encouraged to talk around things, change the subject and/or mislead without actively stating the facts. It was like one big gossip session, and it was a blast.

Okay, so the scenario was that we were all friends who’d come back for our 5 year high school reunion. We were chilling in a malt shoppe waiting for one of our friends, Rock N. Roley. Roley was a big shot music star, and he was coming back to play a show while he was in town. The plot thickened, however, as Roley had been quite the ladies’ man back at school. He’d had flings with almost everyone. More intriguing was that on homecoming night, his car had stalled on the train tracks with Betty Sue in the passenger side. He’d escaped unharmed, but she’d been killed on impact by a runaway train. Then unbeknownst to us, HE had been killed in a copycat crime earlier in the evening, while we waited at Maltie’s Falcon. Instead of our friend, the door opened and a goddamn COP was standing there, talking very film noir.

The game was old enough that it came with a cassette tape. Some kind folks had uploaded it to youtube, and it introduced us to the wider scenario. In around four minutes, it gave us a ton of information and maybe red herrings? Oddly enough the train crossing had been green from both sides, instead of stopped. Roley had been in his hotel room, visited by a mysterious woman with a dark scarf and glasses. There was an external lock placed on his door, but when locksmiths broke in, they discovered he’d escaped over his balcony by tying sheets together. The plot thickened. A strange man next door had also left his room, but in the afternoon a bomb had gone off there. Lots of shit was afoot.

Truthfully, it was super fucking convoluted, and a shit ton of fun. For instance, my character had tried to commit suicide on homecoming night by jumping off a bridge (but landed in a goose feather barge and hurt my wrist instead?). A few other characters knew that I’d weirdly been in the hospital, but didn’t know why. So I had to try and hide my motive, while they wanted to bring truth to light. I couldn’t directly lie, right? Then I got given a Hail Mary to throw others off my scent. A different character said we’d had a date at Lookout Point that night, then he’d dropped me home and later found out I’d been in the hospital. However, I had zero knowledge of the date he and I had. It wasn’t in my booklet. When he brought it up, I could truthfully say “I have absolutely no memories of going on a date with you that night”, then turned it around as an accusation that maybe he’d slipped me something or gotten me drunk. Every time he tried to circle back to it, I misdirected without breaking the rules whatsoever. My character had also cheated on a big exam, which led to me getting this great job out of college. Another character knew it, but I also deftly sidestepped away from that information coming to light with good ol’ subterfuge.

I can imagine that these old How to Host a Murder box games are cheap as shit now second hand on Amazon. In fact, I’ve been kind of loathe to spoil important details in case anyone ended up picking this game up. If you’re looking for a cool and different night out, I totally suggest grabbing one. Then you can all blame the wrong suspect like we did.

Happy plotting, everyone.

Did he at least cross it off his bucket list?

I’m going to a murder mystery tonight!

So far I’m very on theme, because I know so little about the experience. I was brought in last minute and aside from my character, it’s mostly a mystery to me. I think the setting is a 50s high school reunion. I’m playing a lady who’s the former valedictorian. I’m excited to put together some kind of costume, probably involving glasses and a light woollen sweater. Frankly, I’m terrible at solving mysteries. I lack the proper logical skills to deduce causality. I’ve devoted most of my brain cells to esoteric pop-cultural knowledge, and unfortunately that hasn’t involved synthesising the plots of old Agatha Christie novels. However, I do like playing a character and interacting, so either way I’m happy. After languishing in sickness for most of the past week, being social is a huge treat. Aside from the host, most of the attendees are strangers to me, which only increases the mystery of it all. I’m significantly excited.

I DV’d an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County yesterday at work. Christ, it was confusing. There are five or six central characters who are blonde women, and they look Of A Type. The thing is, when we do Described Video, we’re supposed to use characters’ names. This show is on its 14th (!) season, so it’s likely that fans will know these women intimately. If I use the wrong name, it’s a big deal. It’s way harder than it sounds to get them all right. I had a chart of their names and faces pulled up, but still made a ton of mistakes. In the show, they’re constantly moving between smaller groups and the larger group, but they’re changing clothes and locations, which is confusing as hell when they look nigh identical. Their hair is all the same shade, even. Their faces look alike, with minor deviations. The one way I could tell two characters apart was that one of their noses was mildly more narrow than the other’s. So many times I finished a scene, then realised several scenes later that I’d been calling one of the blonde women the wrong name. One of the characters is called Tamra, but I accidentally switched to calling her Tamara at some point. I had to comb back through the show and discern where that switch flipped in my head. This show is maddening. MADDENING.

In Toronto they finally caught Poopoo Peepee Man. For anyone not immediately in the vicinity, it’s not funny, but it’s also the funniest thing in the world. Three times, this dude emptied a bucket of “liquefied fecal matter” (as per the police report) onto hapless Torontonians. He was swiftly nicknamed Poopoo Peepee Man and the name stuck. He’s finally been arrested and charged, bringing his grime spree to an end. Look, this is immensely gross, but I also have so many questions. How full is the bucket? Did he use the same bucket for each throw? Is it one poop per throw or is he accumulating a day or few’s worth? If so, does he care about the smell? What are his storage methods? Are there specifics about the poop that we don’t know? Does he have a certain signature style? Did he just come up with this idea or is he a copoocat? What was his motive, if any? Goddamn I do live in a city where shit happens.

Okay, that was for real unintended.

A capital idea, old chap

Black Friday is coming up on Friday, and I have nothing left to buy.

Don’t worry, I’m not posing this as a problem. I’m also not gloating. In the past few months, since I got my new job, I’ve been purchasing things almost non-stop. I’m earning more now, and part of that means I feel comfortable upgrading items that’ve languished over the years. I was doing fine before, I wasn’t suffering for income, but I wasn’t at a place where I felt okay about buying bigger ticket non-necessities. Let’s take my computer speakers for instance. A few years back they kind of stopped working. Like, they still produced sound, but the left speaker would cut out periodically. Sometimes for 10-15 minutes, sometimes for a few months. I could still hear audio, so technically they were running, but it was a disappointing way to experience all of my favourite media. Not a tragedy, but ultimately sub-optimal. It felt wasteful to buy something new unnecessarily, so I put up with them for literal years. When I got my first pay check, speakers were the first thing I bought. Decent ones. $200 or so speakers instead of the refurbished $30 I bought first time around. The idea was to get quality goods, treat them well and hopefully have products that would last for years. The “buy it once” policy. Of course that’s a pipe dream in today’s built to fail environment, but at least if I could get two channels of working audio (that sounded great), it’d be a vast improvement.

I bought a bike. That was a big cost. I didn’t realise that getting a bike committed me to buy so many other things. Once I had a bike I needed a helmet. I had to get a heavy duty lock to make sure nobody took it. I needed reflective patches. I needed a front and back light, one for vision, the other for visibility. Plus a tune up and other little trinkets. Getting the bike running was a serious investment (but then again, each month I don’t buy a TTC pass saves me $140 or so), and I was in a position where I could spend a little more on solid gear.

That wasn’t all. My beloved iPod broke a few months back (as they do. I think this was my fourth or fifth one in the past 12 years). It was gonna cost almost $500 to fix, which seemed unreasonable. So I was in the market for a new mp3 player. I did a ton of research, waffled between options and eventually got myself something decent. Once I had a new mp3 player however, it dawned on me that I could get a new earbud option in lieu of my wonderful m50x headphones. The headband had been broken for the better part of two years. Like the speakers, they still produced audio (and still do. Damn fine audio at that). Until I was earning more, it seemed wasteful to get something new when they were only an issue while I was being active. Sure, they’d slide down my face when I ran, or did pull ups, bench presses, deadlifts, squats, or anything where I wasn’t strictly vertical, but I could manually adjust them as I went. Why neglect something that mostly did its job? In the past week, I bought new bluetooth earbuds. They’re great for biking. They’re cordless, so they’ll be less intrusive at the gym or running. Their sound isn’t quite as great as the m50x, but those can be used while I’m stationary or in transit.

What I’ve realised now, is that I don’t need new stuff, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I still live in a capitalist society, and I’ve wondered what happens to all those other people who buy everything they need. I realised, it’s insidious. You don’t “need” new things, much like I didn’t “need” most of the things I bought, but you have the option of greater convenience and that’s where money goes. Money allows us to cast aside discomfort in favour of ease. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until I get a new computer. That’s not ridiculous, it’s seven years old by this point. What comes next? Will I decide that it’s finally time to get a lounge television option? Or buy matching sets of plates/bowls/cups? Maybe we’ll get tired of the usable, but ratty couch. Or perhaps we’ll want nice art options for our walls. Would any of this stuff be necessary? Hell no, but that’s how capitalism works. If you’re not buying things for validation or comfort, what’s the point? What else am I supposed to do? Save so I can buy something bigger like a house? I’m a millenial. We both know that’s not gonna happen.

They don’t do Black Friday deals on those.

It’s like you don’t even listen to me anymore, Zucc

What does your Facebook advertising say about you?

Mine tells me it’s about time to clear out my preferences again. Okay, let’s scroll through my feed and see what Facebook wants me to buy…

  • Alan Dupetit: Suits. I’ve been seeing these ads A LOT. The most common ad involves a dude sitting at a table in a suit. He has a bowl of dry cheerios and an empty coffee cup in front of him. I noticed it immediately, and now I have trouble remembering anything else about the ad. I think the kitchen has wood panelling, but I couldn’t tell you what colour the dude’s suit is. They also have another one in rotation where some guy is wearing a suit, standing in the middle of one of those garden things where they have sparse plants within a cluster of rocks. I don’t know what the ad is really implying, it’s just a baffling situation. The ad I’m currently seeing is for Black Friday and has a headless body wearing a white suit. They seem to be more conceptual than they are effective. In fact, if I were in the market for a suit, I’d specifically go somewhere else. I have a head, I’m clearly not their target demo.
  • Mill Street Brewery: They’re a Canadian beer that’s pretty okay. They tout the word “organic” as if it’s an improvement. No, it’s not piss water like Molson, but neither is it a Good Beer. It’s the kind of beer a corporation would offer at their Christmas party. It’s a beer you can ignore, but not one I’d ever spend money on. I don’t know if I’ve ever bought a Mill Street, but I’ve drunk a few of them.
  • Nordstrom: They’re selling gift packs for Under $100. By the looks of it, they’re all cosmetics. I’m curious what I clicked on to get sent this ad, but since I spend most of my time ignoring ads, I’m not super bothered.
  • Beam Me Up: It’s a disco party from a local bar. This one makes some sense. I’ve been once or twice to this event when it used to be hosted at The Piston. It’s honestly a great party, with some deep disco cuts. I would 100% go again. They must’ve scraped my event attendance (dance event attends) or something?
  • Zaful: Okay, this one I totally clicked on. I was at a party in the park, and saw some dude wearing a cool dinosaur T-shirt. It had little dinos of all varieties in multiple colours. I asked him where he got it, and sheepishly told me that it’d been a Facebook ad, and he ended up actually liking their stuff. I have yet to buy anything, and probably won’t, but it’s a pretty inoffensive company to have on my feed.
  • Independent City Market: I think this is an off-branch of Loblaws or something? They’re peddling dietician services, with points on offer. Weirdly, I bank with PC Financial. I joined them when I first arrived solely because they were owned by Loblaws, and Bob Loblaw is the name of a character on Arrested Development. I can’t see myself being bribed with points into spending money with their dieticians.
  • Polestar: It’s an electric car. You’d think Facebook could gauge my lack of income by the kind of things I click on. In what world could I afford a car? Let alone an electric one? I just bought a bike and that was a Big Fucking Deal. Where am I supposed to get the money for a car Facebook?
  • BoardGame2Go: A board game rental place? That’s not a terrible idea, considering that some are more like bored games, amirite? Nonetheless, I’m a few years past tired of picking up new board games. I think they’re great, but I get really anxious having to constantly learn new rule sets.
  • Dior: I think I fucked my Facebook up good. Why would Facebook ever think I had a cultivated sense of style? Or is it more that they know I have all the style of an ant, and are seeking to change that?

I think what we’ve learned is that Facebook thinks I have money, and like to spend it on my appearance. You’d think they were better at spying than that. Let’s clear out my preferences and start the roulette again.

C’mon Facebook, you already have all my data. At least use it wisely.

If your date solely eats red meat, get the fuck out of there

A friend of mine works as a dating coach. Jumping on the 2009-2019 trend, they started a post wondering what dating advice people had learned in that time.

I’ve got nothing else to write about today, so why not this?

I feel like in 2009 I’d barely started dating. At that time I’d been in one relationship, and it was kind of disappointing for all involved. I think we liked each other, but we certainly weren’t deeply in love. We were drawn to the idea of being in a relationship. We had fun together, but sparks had trouble getting off the runway. I’ve always been a weird dude, but I was far more of an off-putting kind of weird than the innocuous and endearing kind of weird I am now. I didn’t draw women in. Not to mention, I reeked of desperation. It wasn’t a good look. Or smell. Now it might sound that I’ve taken to being unnecessarily rough on my past self. The truth is, I had so much to learn, and that’s taken the better part of a decade. I feel like I’m still learning. So what lessons have I learned?

Firstly, it’s okay to not have great dates. I’m not talking the kind of shitty stuff that happens to women constantly, where they feel threatened or unsafe. I’m talking about dates that feel meh all over. You just don’t get the butterflies, or getting conversation rolling feels Sisyphean. Maybe you have an okay time, but neither of you are excited. That’s not a bad thing, it’s part of the process. Average dates help you learn what you do and don’t want in a partner. After an average date, can you pinpoint what it was that put you off? Or things that you did like, but less than the things that you didn’t? That stuff all helps you to get a picture of your desires, and ways they manifest. Then you can start looking for those aspects in others.

Kind of a corollary to that, not all dates will be winners. That’s kinda the point, and it’s entirely okay. Personally I find an unremarkable date to be a gift. The sooner you know you’re not into someone, the quicker you can both go your separate ways and seek people who light you up. I’d much rather have an average date that results in knowing where I stand, than someone appealing in many ways who also carries a load of red flags. Mixed signals are tricky to parse (and unfortunately are also part of the whole deal), they can really mess with your head. Finding people who really click with you is hard, and we all want instant gratification. Sorry, dating isn’t that easy. Even if you’re ravishingly attractive, you still need to wade through a lot of bullshit.

Next, get used to not taking rejection personally. I know it seems like the most personal thing in the world, but I can assure you it’s more about that person than it is about you. We can’t expect that others will be drawn to us just because we’re drawn to them. We all have a complex network of desires, and some things are quite specific. If you’re not hitting the marks for someone, would you want the kind of relationship that resulted from it? A constant imbalance where you wondered how long you could hold onto that person, irrespective of what they sought? It’d be worse than you think. I’ll put it this way. Say you just don’t like flaky pastry. There’s just something about the texture and buttery nature that feels weird in your mouth. If someone offered you a high end croissant, would you expect to like it? Maybe it’d be okay for you, but it wouldn’t hit the spot like a great cookie or doughnut for you. That wouldn’t mean the person who made that croissant was bad at making croissants, they just weren’t your thing. Everyone has a flavour, and everyone has different tastes. It’s unfair to expect them to always align. I know rejection seems like it’s gonna tear you into shreds, but most of the time people don’t like being mean. Rejection is more innocuous than you’d think. Often, this is how rejection plays out:

You: Hey, you have a really endearing smile. Would you like to grab a drink?
Them: Oh sorry, I’m really busy at the moment (unless they follow up with a legit attempt to propose an alternate time, this is a gentle let down nine times out of ten).
You: No worries, have a lovely day.

For all the notion of waiting for the right time, it’s not usually about the right time, it’s about whether or not there’s interest. If there isn’t, that’s not something you can force or manipulate. In fact, that’s a great lesson too. When it comes for dating, don’t manipulate. Just don’t. Anything fake won’t last, or be truly satisfying.

Be yourself. It’s common advice, but so often it comes off as cheesy. It’s doesn’t have to be. I tend to think of it more as not wasting your time trying to be things you’re not. Don’t try and delude someone into thinking you’re different than you are. What’s your goal? Entrapment? Are you trying to make them fall for someone who doesn’t exist, then hoping they’ll love you so much that when you turn out to be someone else, it’s too late for them to escape? Fuck that noise. Be authentic. Don’t post photos in your profiles that look wildly different from your everyday. Don’t wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t say things you don’t believe because you think they make you sound cool. Don’t agree with sentiments you oppose just because they’re coming from someone you’re attracted to. Let’s go back to the first point. It’s okay if things don’t work out, and the sooner you know, the sooner you can stop wasting each other’s time.

Most importantly, be compassionate. Everyone’s having a hard time, be gentle when you can. Learn to communicate your feelings in a mature fashion. Own what you feel, use “I” statements and don’t try to push blame on others. If you want a relationship to succeed, then work together on it. If you’re making earnest attempts to understand one another, and consider each other’s feelings, then you’ll be able to deal with difficult situations without breaking every time. If you’re not, then maybe it’s a sign that the compatibility simply isn’t there, and you’d both be better with others.

I’ve certainly learned a lot more than that, but I don’t have time to write another book tonight. Plus Jordan Peterson ruined white dudes writing advice books for everyone.

Sure, they could’ve asked Jeeves, but I was right there

The past few days have been spent trying to stave off sickness, but also cabin fever.

I’ve felt cooped up. I’d hoped, as ever, to use my time off to see friends, hang out, eat delicious things and have heart to hearts. Instead I’ve snotted everywhere. Yesterday I was sitting at my computer frustrated. I don’t like relaxing, I like doing things, solving problems and finding solutions. I had this thought. I was in front of the internet. Aside from providing a massive platform for fostering hate speech, it’s also very good for finding answers. I realised that I had nothing important to do, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be useful. I’m okay at Navigating the Netscape and Exploring the Internet. I’m pretty decent at doing research on things I’m intent on figuring out. Why couldn’t I lend that skill to others? I made the following post:

“Okay friends, here’s the deal. I’m at home sick. I’ve got nothing important to do in the next few hours and I’d like to help some of y’all out. I have the internet and whatever brain capacity isn’t being used. Do you have information you need? Something you’ve been trying to find on the internet? A guide on how to do something? Unsure of where you can buy a certain something that’d improve your life? Trying to figure out the name of an old song you used to love? For the next couple of hours I’d love to lend a hand to the best of my capabilities. If there’s something I could make easier in this thread, let me know.”

A friend chimed in. They’d recently gone through surgery, and they were wondering what the best heart rate app for ios was. They needed to rest, but the information would be useful for their recovery and prep for any further doctor’s visits. I hit Google and Reddit. I looked up threads of heart rate apps, and ranked lists. I sought personal recommendations or balanced reviews. I hadn’t really thought about heart rate apps. Apparently they use a combination of camera and light functions to analyse heartbeat through your fingers/thumb. Some are tied into hardware; chest equipment, etc. Signs seemed to point to Instant Heart Rate as a constant overachiever. I presented this info back to my friend. Hopefully it proves helpful to them.

Another friend posted. They said they were having trouble with getting an overabundance of robocalls. I looked up Toronto/Ontario robocalls. I found a Do Not Call registry that these places are supposed to abide by, or elsewise face repercussions. I got my friend’s number and added it to the registry, adding mine too. I’ve been getting upwards of ten a day at times. We’ll see if this sorts them out.

Someone needed 75 cupcakes for their birthday, and wanted to know where to get them. I searched Google, Reddit and Toronto based lists. I found ten or so places that offered gourmet cupcakes. I created a list. I jotted down how many flavours each place had (and how adventurous those flavours were). I did the math on how much 75 cupcakes would cost, whether the place required orders of full dozens or not. If not, I worked out six dozen and three cupcakes. I figured out delivery costs where I could, and the relative costs for mini cupcakes if offered. I presented the list to my friend in the hopes of making their party planning easier.

One of my friends wanted to know where to learn clawhammer banjo in Toronto. I found lists of banjo teachers, and zoned in on the teacher who a) taught clawhammer specifically and b) was recommended on several lists. I gave my friend a link to Toronto library books on the subject, and found a page with free online lessons.

A friend had been going through a bunch of medical stuff, and wondered if it was possible to get concussion assessments without visiting a doctor. I looked up a few places around town to try and get an answer. I called somewhere and asked a stack of questions. Was it possible? What would it entail? What was the cost? Were there any things that were good to know before seeking consult? I found out as much as possible, and relayed it to my mate. They’ve had a rough time, and being able to help in any way was terrific.

It was an unusual offer to make, and I’m really glad I did. The straw breaking the camel’s back is so common, and I know just how much one tiny thing can tip the scales into a spiralling situation. It was nice to give, considering I had little else important to do. Selfishly, I felt considerably less helpless in my sick state, and that was pretty damn empowering.

It’s in all of us to give. I’m just glad I figured out some way I could.

More like vent-y two, amirite?

There’s a trend happening on social media at the moment, where people will post side by side photos of themselves from 2009 and 2019.

I thought I’d give it a try.

Since navel gazing is one my my favourite hobbies, I thought I’d cast my brain back a decade. Who was I? Where was I at in life? What guided me?

In 2009 I was living and working in Rotorua. After lingering in Auckland post radio internship, I got sent off to “the regions” to level up. I brought all my worldly possessions, a lack of worldly knowledge and an shit ton of entitlement. I was an Aucklander, from the Big City, why was I tarrying with these common folk in a dead arse tourist town? Those weren’t my words verbatim, but they probably weren’t far off. I thought I knew everything. I mean, I was 22, of course I did. It was my first time moving out of town, and I had more than my fair share of baggage. I saw it as a temporary displacement. I needed to earn my stripes, do some good work and get back to where I knew I belonged. Really what I needed was a dose of growing the fuck up, but you’ve seen the picture. Don’t worry, I got there.

The whole experience shook me to my core. I was so used to things just happening for me. I was smart and things came easily. I’d enjoyed school and university, and managed to get through both without too much struggle. It’s not that I didn’t work hard, it’s that I saw myself as constantly deserving of success. It made sense with the way things had gone. I had this innate feeling that I was gonna do well, and evidence hadn’t presented otherwise. I’d hit a bump post university where I was stuck working my government call centre job full time for five months. I naively thought that was rock bottom, then a scholarship came my way and I got catapulted to a position of privilege. I worked hard, people in the industry with Names started to know who I was and what I did. In my head, it was just a matter of time.

Maybe it was, but I was 22. My perception of time was very different than it is at 32. I expected I’d be down in Rotorua for maybe six months, a year tops. I’d be back in the big leagues before I knew it. That was where I was meant to be. At 22 I’d drive back from Rotorua to Auckland maybe once a week. Sometimes more, depending if there was a concert mid-week. Two and a half hours’ drive, I’d sometimes do it closer to two. At the time I’d memorised the entire trip, and could visually recall every single intersection in my brain. At 22 I devoured content voraciously. Every week I’d download several albums and listen through them. It was of the utmost important that I was at the forefront of indie music developments. It was imperative that I had an opinion, because I was 22. I had an opinion on everything. I was always online (before that was the norm), and most of my nights in Rotorua were spent drunk in front of the internet.

At 22 I loved drinking. It was at the uncomfortable point between an interest and a hobby. I drank desperately. Desperate to escape fears that maybe I wasn’t going somewhere. I was “stuck” in a small town and the only friend I’d made there was off 4chan. I had no luck with women, and I was at the stage of life where I thought that defined me. I was incredibly insecure, and I have no doubt that I carried the stink of it. I felt lonely, isolated, and- once again- entitled. I didn’t want to be a Nice Guy, so I was an edgelord instead. It’s the kind of mind frame that’s a roadmap to incel culture. At my core, I just wanted to be wanted. But I looked past my lack of real confidence and blamed external sources. I had so much potential, and somewhere in there I had the potential to become a real piece of shit. Like so much of my life, I was lucky to be surrounded by people who thought when I didn’t, and weren’t afraid to speak up. I had friends who’d known me since age 1, and they course corrected where I wouldn’t.

At 22 I clearly thought I was the protagonist, years before realising we’re all here to help each other. I was deserving of far less than I had, and I wanted so much more. At 32, I’ve earned the lines in my face. I’ve started to realise what’s important in life, and what’s fine to let go of. Some might say I got bailed out again by stumbling into a job I love, and that’d be fair. The difference a decade makes is that I’m now humbled, not emboldened. I’m no longer lonely or isolated. I’ve found so many connections that I deeply treasure. I look for opportunities to help, rather than take. I’m thankful rather than expectant. I love where I’ve ended up, instead of feeling inadequate for not being somewhere else. It took ten years, but those were ten years well spent.

Egads though, I miss having 22 year old joints.

Was “Down with the Sickness” a protest anthem?

I’m not good at being sick.

I know what I should be doing: Sleeping, relaxing, eating and drinking the right things. I don’t want to be doing any of this stuff. I wanna be out and active. Doing sweet kick flips and cracking cold ones with the boys. I wanna be snuggling up with fly honeys and be getting rich or dying trying. I wanna be your lover and getting with your friends. I wanna be making moves and shakes, preferably creaming soda flavoured, but dairy is not good for a sore throat. What’s up (what’s going on)?

I’ve got a sore throat. It’s stuffed heavy with mucus. I haven’t as of yet developed a virulent cough, but my girlfriend’s had one for the past week and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. I’m not sniffly/dripping constantly. My energy is sapped and my muscles are kind of achy. While my normal recourse would be to say “damn the man”, and burn the candle at both ends, I’m trying to be a responsible adult. Moreover, I’m an independent contractor now. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Sick days aren’t a thing these days. So I’m trying to use my four days off productively, for healing and recovery, in the hopes that by the time my shift rolls around I’ll be able to spend eight hours at a time voicing without incident.

It’s not easy though. All of my favourite foods are ones that ain’t great for cold/flu symptoms. Dairy is no good, because it increases mucus production. I want ice cream, I want cheese, and I want chocolate (reminder: it’s 2019, I use the Oxford Comma now sometimes). I’m not supposed to be drinking coffee (he says after finishing his third mug), because it’s a diuretic. Obviously I’ve side stepped that little suggestion (and I’m probably drinking close to four litres of water a day to compensate). Sugar apparently increases inflammation, so I can’t just tuck into bonbons on repeat. What does that leave left? Uncaffeinated tea, soups and broth. Maybe oatmeal (though my appetite weirdly is pretty low) and trace amounts of fruit. Vegetables and protein. It’s not fun food, it’s responsible stuff.

My girlfriend and I have done a good job recently of keeping bone broth around. We toss in a few things to turn it into a simple mug soup. I finished a jar of kimchi yesterday and had this great idea, I’d use the remnants inside for a nutrient packed broth. It was all going so swimmingly until it didn’t. I put broth in a mug, then added coconut oil, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, chicken stock and honey. I warmed it up in the microwave to get everything dissolved. I poured it into the kimchi container and closed the lid. I shook it all up so it’d a) clean the container and b) absorb all those little spice specks. It started to bubble up a little. I assessed the situation. The container was about 1/8 full. When it bubbled up, it got to maybe 1/4 full. There was nothing carbonated in there, and the built up pressure wasn’t enough to create an issue. Or so I thought. Almost immediately after resuming shaking, the top burst off and this hot broth went everywhere. It covered the sink, the counter, the floor, and splashed over my hip. I immediately pressed a cold pack to my hip, kept in place by my underwear. I cleaned the floor, the counter and the sink. There were trace remnants left in the kimchi container, so I poured it into a mug. It was like heavenly mead. The flavours somehow intermeshed swimmingly. I’ve never had kimchi and honey in the same dish but by gawd, it was something.

I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here, but chances are it’s gonna fly past my head. My burns were minimal, and I discovered a new taste sensation. At least there’s something good I can eat.

If only I had a taste for humble pie.