Here’s a little song I wrote…

So it’s come to this, has it?

I don’t know why I phrased that so ominously. I’m elated. Look, I may be a sincere person, but I’m rarely if ever sentimental. Today is my last day of daily writing. So it goes. This writing project was been a necessary part of my life for many years. Having a creative outlet during the tough times helped immeasurably. I’m not gonna begin to pretend I always wanted to write. Maybe I actually wanted to write five times per year. The other 360 times were under my own duress. Then multiply that by seven. I decided that I would write every single day irrespective of what I had going on. If I was tired, it was 3am, and my organs were seeping out of my skin from fatigue? Too bad. Writing still needed to happen. This also meant that most days, I really didn’t feel like it, but forced myself. I might not be sentimental, but I can be quite disciplined if I tell myself I have no other option. I’m not kind when it comes to diligence, I just decide that I don’t have a choice and suffer through it.

The best part, is that I essentially did my summation entry yesterday, so today I can be back on my usual brand o’ bullshit. I dunno. My brain is a little loopy at the moment, which feels fitting. We’re moving house. I’m surrounded by detritus, which is an unkind way to refer to our belongings. To be fair, on a long enough timeline we’re all detritus. I’ve been throwing things away all day, which is one of my favourite things to do. There’s little I love more than shedding the past and moving on. I don’t really like owning stuff. I hate that I gradually accumulate more things. Fortunately, my trash can be another man’s trash. Or woman. Or anyone along the gender spectrum. Gender is a construct, and wholly irrelevant when we’re talking about things I may have cared about at some stage. Then again, at some stage gender was a thing I cared about. Plus ça change, eh?

Mostly, it’ll be weird for my parents. Seeing an entry posted every day is the only way they know I’m still living. I think my girlfriend reads too? I never really accrued much of an audience, but that also wasn’t the point. The point was to have somewhere to jot down thoughts, work on improving as a writer, and finally figure out some kind of stance on the Oxford Comma. Obviously, I’m pro. I didn’t even write the sentence that way on purpose, it just happened.

I’m also thrilled that the summation of this project lined up with me getting my shit together. I’m in a great place. My girlfriend and I are about to move into an all new apartment together. I’m leaving the only Toronto home I’ve ever had. I have an expansive circle of friends I adore. I’m stoked to be working in Described Video. It’s challenging, creative, and ever evolving. I’ve done a lot of work on my mental and physical health over the years, and they’re both paying dividends. Moreover, I’ve learned how better to process, accept, and move forwards. I’ll struggle again, and again, and life will be riding those waves. It’s what we do, no?

I remember going out for dinner with my mum once. We used to do that kind of thing. Go out to the movies, get dinner. We were homies. We went for a fancy dégustation, because we both share a love of food. It was a fantastic meal, and a lovely evening. At one point I levelled with her. “Mum, you need to understand that I’m never going to be truly happy. I know that there’ll always be something holding me back, and that’s okay. I’ve made my peace with it, and I think it would be healthy for you to stop having that expectation.” It was a horrible thing to say. I don’t think she took it well, but I meant every word of it.

Sorry mum. I lied.

Penultimate Showdown of Penultimate Destiny

PENULTIMATE.

Do you know how rarely I get to use that word? You can bet your sweet cheeks I’ll shoehorn it in at any possible juncture. Other words I’ll rabidly attempt to “make happen” include:

  • Zenith/nadir
  • Fortnight
  • Penumbra (partial shadow)
  • Incidence
  • Myriad

But why Penultimate? Because I’ve only got one more daily entry after this, baybee! Seven years of [questionably -Ed] hard work, and discipline. Spending at least 30 minutes every single day putting finger to keyboard. I’ve written on trains, planes, and in automobiles (which, given my low level motion sickness, was undoubtedly a terrible idea). I’ve written in restaurants, cafes, watering holes. I’ve written in the city, the country, and in tents. I’ve written through sunshine, sleet, snow, hail and the Toronto wild winter storm of 2013. I’ve written across cities, countries and continents. I feel like this is a Dr. Seuss book in the making. Have you written in a car? Have you written in a bar? I’ve written sober, drunk (rarely) and high (still rarely, but surprisingly somewhat less). Did you know that this entry was written after my friend and I made weed caramel chocolate slices for her birthday and took them to the zoo? It should be far more obvious in retrospect.

Between the time I started, way back in March 2013, and now, I’ve grown up [debatable -Ed]. What started out as a way of hopefully loosening up my creative juices so I could write stand-up, became a weird, sometimes starkly honest, catalogue of my life. I moved across the world from New Zealand to Canada. I left family and friends behind in the hopes of finding myself [yeah yeah, lay it on thick Elizabeth Gilbert -Ed]. I started in the wake of a long term relationship coming to an end, and discovered a whole new world of dating, sex, and longer term commitment. I started polyamory, and while it’s come in waves (and basically doesn’t exist in the midst of a pandemic), it’s something that I’ve slowly come to appreciate within my life. My attitudes and approaches to different aspects of life have morphed over the years. I’d like to think I’ve generally become more tolerant, accepting and empathetic as time has passed.

I’ve struggled, but who hasn’t? I moved away from a cushy job into vast periods of uncertainty. Finding work that fulfils me took almost the entire seven years. I took on menial part time jobs when I first arrived in Canada, got helplessly stuck in a comfortable but draining position for the better (or worse?) part of five years. I went to therapy. I’ve (mostly) overcome the body image issues that borderline controlled my entire life. I came to terms with my depression, rather than assuming/ignoring it as I had for the past few decades. I take anti-depressants now, and they’ve totally changed my outlook. My income has fluctuated, and it’s caused me to hold a greater appreciation for how fleeting money is. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, but I care a lot less about money’s worth than I used to. “Value” is a nebulous term that’s entirely individual. For me it’s having love in my life, a base level of stability to have my needs met, and being surrounded by people I care about deeply.

Also I co-hosted a dumb podcast about the Air Bud Cinematic Universe. If you’re looking for extra-curricular content, there you go.

I know it’s not perfect, but I’m hoping this penultimate (YUS, ONE MORE TIME!) entry serves as a nice little ribbon on this project. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that when shit hits the fan I shit the bed, and tomorrow’s entry will probably be a shitshow.

P E N U L T I M A T E

Bless this stress

What’s a stupid thing that stresses you out? I’ll start.

I hate ordering takeout. As someone who’s 500% a maximiser, not a satisficer, I feel like I need to be gaming the system. I strive to get meals that make everyone as happy as possible, and anything less is a failure. I worry about finding a place that does free delivery and hitting those targets. I try to get the best coverage of meals that gives enough variety, but it takes me so long to choose that sometimes without exaggeration it’s 90 minutes before I’m ready to submit my order. I never know if I’m ordering enough, too much, and whether I’ve gotten sufficient side dishes (rice for curries) etc. After six years in Canada, I’m still shocked every time tax isn’t included in the initial price, and feel tense seeing the cost increase so dramatically. I also still don’t understand the intricacies of tipping, and this is at its worst when someone shows up at my door and I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to give them. Then after all that, if I’m ordering in a big group, I worry that people won’t pay me back and I hate asking people after the fact, even though I’m 100% sure that it wasn’t intentional.

Being late. Like, at all. I hate it. If I’m gonna be five minutes late, I instinctively feel like this is behaviour that requires a warning message. Something in the vein of “hey, I’m en route but I’m gonna be 5-10 minutes late”. In these scenarios I’m usually two or three minutes late, but I still feel guilty as sin. It’s irrational, but there’s something about giving someone my word that I would be somewhere at a specific time, then failing, that corrodes my insides. It’s like I’ve reneged on a social contract and betrayed them. If *they’re* late? Less than zero worries. If they turn up 25 minutes past the time they said? Hey, it’s 2020, I have a computer in my pocket and more ways to entertain myself than God intended. Why in the everloving fuck would I care that they’re not exactly where I expected when I expected? Who am I? Punctual Pilate? But if I’m seven minutes late, don’t worry about me turning up. I’ll just perform ritual seppuku on the TTC. Or at least, I would if I wasn’t worried about creating work for the already under-appreciated cleaning staff.

Group video chats. I would rather send individual messages in bottles to my family back in NZ than do one group chat. Conversational rules don’t exist, group chats are lawless, godless voids. Nobody knows when to speak. It’s too hard to take turns, because lag is as much of a constant as disappointment. There will always be video or sound issues from one family member that take most of the chat time to resolve. It’s so much harder to take visual or audio cues, which means trampling over one another like crabs in a bucket. There’s no making glib comments, because they’ll require excessive explanation that a) they did not deserve and b) ruins the point of the glibness in the first place. If I had the choice between never hearing from family again or only doing group chats, I’d immediately adjust to life as an orphan.

Wow, I sure feel better getting all that off my chest.

Stress > relief

Oh hey, I’m stressed. Isn’t that novel?

Once again coming to you from Toronto’s Own TTC. Picked up paint, rollers, a drop cloth and roller trays from a friend. I crammed it all into the milk crate on the back of my bike. Had to go extra slow to ensure nothing fell off, since each bump in the road was a potential hazard. My girlfriend and I washed some walls, and did the tiniest bit of painter’s tape edging. She’s still there. I’m off to work to do some live DV. After which I’ll probably come home, sleep and wake to do more tomorrow. Partially the fact that we’re scrambling so much to get things primed and painted before Friday’s move is our fault. We had time and could’ve worked on this in the preceding weeks. Also we’d figured that it would be entirely fine to ask friends to help with this stuff. In any other circumstance we’d be fine. We didn’t bank on getting shafted by a global pandemic that made gatherings of more than two people highly questionable at best, and quite irresponsible in the least. Let me tell you, we did not see physical isolation as a likely outcome when we planned to move. Not even remotely on our radar. I’m working each evening until Tuesday, when we’re hoping to have finished all the painting. Then two days to pack up an entire house, and the move on Friday. I must not fear, fear is the mind-killer, fear is the little death that brings total oblivion.

So what’s good right now? Oh I know, I got a bandana. I won’t say how many times I had to try re-typing that into my swype keyboard predictive text, but it was a ducking pain in the arse. It’s not even an amazing banana (fuck it, if it comes out that way, you know I’m not talking about the fruit), but it was cheap, and fulfills a need I have. I got it from Dollarama. I saw ages back that they had “buffs” – bandana kind of things just cover your mouth, but enable you to breathe – and I didn’t buy one. They’re incredibly useful for winter or cold weather jogging. Instead of inhaling ice cold air that feels like knives going down your throat, you can put a barrier on that really helps. I’ve searched at a ton of locations, but I’d come up with zero, zilch, nada and naught. Then the other day while we were looking for painting equipment I came across these fantastic bandanas, same kind of thing as the buffs, but under a different name. They’re stretchy, comfortable, and thankfully not garish. I also have several bananas (actually the fruit) that will be good for the next couple of days. Come to think of it, we probably need more bananas. Great, something else that needs doing.

I’m looking forward to having the move out of the way. To getting off these work shifts and spending some time zoning out, decorating the new apartment with my girlfriend. Despite the frustrations of the world inverting and collapsing, there are fun times ahead. In a week’s time, I won’t even be doing this daily writing, and imagine what a relief that’s gonna be after seven whole years without missing a day.

A silver lining right now would be totally golden.

Gimme shelter already you money grubbing rutters

It’s kinda weird that this is my fifth to last entry and I’m entirely out of pomp.

It’s an exhausting time. I came home from work, had an hour of leisure time, slept, woke, checked out things at the new apartment place with a handy friend, bought paint with my girlfriend, now I’m writing on the train on my way to work. This is my life for the next week. I’m already worn out and we have yet to paint or pack. Sigh. What a weird fucking period for moving house.

Everything feels too up in the air right now to latch on to a single emotion. It’s a tragedy what some people are going through right now. It’s stressful to see so many suffering, and infuriating watching any news from America right now. I know that Canada is not America, but their entire system is giving me grief. Hearing about the senators who took their advanced closed door briefings to dump stocks weeks before the public were told to worry is maddening. So much information has been kept back from citizens, with the Trump administration misleading the public of COVID’s severity until it was unavoidable. Prioritising fiscal interests over the well-being of their society means that exponentially more will die. That’s on them and it’s hard not to feel powerless about it. Seeing the hordes of twentysomethings partying up at Spring Break was mindblowing. I don’t blame them for being ignorant. They haven’t learned yet the importance of empathy, and I don’t think that’s expected of them. I’m sure we were all selfish pricks at that age, and I don’t think their culpability is something they’re yet capable of fathoming. Maybe if their government had sufficiently warned them, it would sink in a little. Once again, not totally these kids’ fault.

I wonder what society will look like in the wake of this pandemic. I have every hope that things will change, that society will realign its needs and demands. That we understand that corporations and profits don’t exist without the workers who enable them. That wealth distribution, universal basic income, access to education, healthcare and affordable housing are rights, not dreams. That homelessness is a systemic issue, not an individual one. That trickle down economics is the conservative fairy tale we all know it is. That putting money into the hands of the needy goes right back into the economy, while providing tax breaks for the rich puts more money into untouched coffers and the back pockets of politicians. The system is broken, and our adherence to capitalism is at the expense of the most vulnerable. The cost is too great to keep going as we have. It’s okay to admit that we were wrong, and recalibrate as necessary.

I’m as hopeful as I am doubtful. Those airlines are getting bailed out, eh? Maybe if we’re giving them free money, there should be strings attached. Maybe the cost of accepting the bailout should be some amount of ownership, so the industry can face widespread regulations. Maybe if we’re gonna give mortgage relief to home owners and landlords, it should be mandated that an equivalent amount of rent relief passes on to tenants. Maybe the free market is a terrible system for renting, and there should be mandatory price ranges depending on the amenities. Like, I dunno, a one bedroom apartment can cost between 600-1200, a two bedroom between 1200-1800 and so on. If it has certain amenities onsite, like laundry and air conditioning it gets closer to the 1800, if not, 1400 max. Just spitballing. Find whatever prices are fair, that allow landlords to pay off their properties, rather than living off the rent because they were lucky enough to buy before home prices sky rocketed.

If there’s anything I’ve discovered over the past seven years, it’s that empathy is a strength, and it’s learned. Kindness is courage.

Crossing your fits and dotting your eyes

I did a crossfit workout yesterday.

It’s probably more acceptable to say that I “attempted” a crossfit workout yesterday. I used to do crossfit. It’s been at least four years. I stopped because I realised I was coming up on 30, and it seemed sub-optimal to be encouraging my rapidly degenerating bones to undergo excessive hardship. Crossfit is silly. Crossfit is known for its excessive reps and irresponsible joint strains. Movement standards often get pushed aside in favour of more efficient technique. These shortcuts can have adverse effects on the body, creating undue wear and tear. There’s no reason, for instance, that a person should be striving to do 120 pull ups in a single session. By any metric it’s fucking absurd. Yet I’ve done workouts before that’ve involved 4 rounds, with 30 pullups in a single round. People shortcut with kipping pull ups. This is what a kipping pull up looks like, it’s a gymnastic movement that uses the elasticity of your shoulders, follows a smooth body motion and lifts you up. It doesn’t use the same muscle groups as a regular pull up, and is significantly lighter on your body, zero questions. The thing is, most people I’ve seen doing kipping pull ups don’t push back from the bar, they just drop straight down once they reach the top. It’s fucking brutal on your joints, and a bad, bad call. Don’t do that.

I had a fun time with crossfit, I really did. It helped me push myself past soft limits I’d built. Of course it encouraged me to push past hard limits too, and I paid the price with long term injuries. It was, however, remarkable how fit I got. It lifted my fitness capability in ways that I still harness years later. It gave me a confidence within my own body that I didn’t think I would ever obtain. I learned a ton, and I’m also extremely glad that I’m talking about crossfit in past tense. In exponentially more ways than I do, I don’t miss it.

Once again, I did a crossfit workout yesterday.

I googled “free WODs no equipment” (WOD being crossfit slang for Workout Of the Day) and found one right off the bat:

For Time
10 Burpees

10 Burpees
20 Push-Ups

10 Burpees
20 Push-Ups
50 Lunges

10 Burpees
20 Push-Ups
50 Lunges
100 Sit-Ups

10 Burpees
20 Push-Ups
50 Lunges
100 Sit-Ups
150 Air Squats

It seemed imposing, but doable. I did the math, 50 burpees, 100 push ups, 150 lunges, 200 sit ups, 150 air squats. On the page, comparing with past workouts I’d done, it all seemed within my reach. I decided to swap the sit ups out for Mountain Climbers, because sit ups are a fucking worthless exercise. I filled up a bottle of water and set myself up in the hallway. Spoiler, it did not go as planned.

Immediately I realised there was more at play. I hadn’t remotely considered the cumulative strain of the round structure. With the way it was set up, I was effectively doing 20 burpees off the bat. I’m good at burpees, I’m quick at burpees and I generally like burpees (because I’m sufficiently short). They’re also fucking exhausting. I forgot that while I used to be able to make it to 100 push ups, it’s been years since push ups were part of my fitness routine. I struggled through my first round of 25 push ups, and immediately realised I needed to tweak the numbers or I’d never survive. I dropped push ups to 15 per round, lunges to 30 per round, mountain climbers to 50 per round, and air squats to 80 overall.

I still shuddered through the entire thing. It’s been a long long time since I was doubled over, nigh-heaving with exhaustion from a workout, but that was me in every single round. The push ups were intense, the lunges weren’t so bad, but doing them round after round really picked up. The air squats were a huge surprise. I found that I’d do them in groups of 20. Each time I got to 10 squats and thought hey, this isn’t so bad, maybe I’ll do 30-40 this group. Then at 14 squats I’d start feeling it. By 18 my thighs were screaming and at 20 they shut down. I couldn’t do any more until I had a minute or so’s rest. It took me about half an hour, which I was happy enough with. I wasn’t racing, I had nothing to prove, and I mostly wanted to see if I could do it. Today my whole body is screaming at me, which seems like the only appropriate response.

For the rest of this social isolation, I’m also happy to talk about having done a crossfit workout in past tense.

The site name spells it out explicitly

Having distractions in these trying times is immensely necessary.

A couple of months back a friend introduced me to Watch Cartoons Online. I’m certain it’s incredibly illegal, but it’s also an incredible resource for long forgotten cartoons (as well as current ones if that’s your flavour). If you’re bored and looking for some animated ways to pass your time, here are a handful of suggestions:

  • May I suggest this fantastic workplace comedy about a cantankerous Chosen One fighting demons? Written by Toronto comic Mark Little?
  • Or Samurai Pizza Cats?Likely the most influential piece of media on my burgeoning absurdist sense of humour? Re-written by Canadians who couldn’t work with the abysmal Japanese translations they received? It holds up exceptionally well.
  • Or Gravity Falls? Which people have been telling me to watch for years. Supposedly a fun intersection of family adventure and X-Files style monster of the week?
  • Or Unikitty? A breakneck slapstick absurdist cartoon that I fell in love with from DVing it?
  • Or ProStars? Where Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretsky are international superheroes with the power of SPORTS?
  • Or Venture Bros? The most dense and tightly written adult cartoon I’ve seen in my entire life?
  • Or the original TMNT? With no explanation necessary?
  • Or Over the Garden Wall? An ideal 10 episode self contained story that’s a rollercoaster of a watch?
  • Or Harmonquest? Where Dan Harmon and friends play D&D and it’s animated?
  • Or Gargoyles? The Avatar:The Last Airbender of the 90s?
  • Or Denver, The Last Dinosaur? Because the theme song is catchy as fuck?
  • Or Cupcake and Dino? Because even though it’s on Netflix, I just like repping this cute and very funny show?
  • Or Captain N: The Game Master? Because a 90s Nintendo ad disguised as a cartoon probably hasn’t aged well?
  • Or Captain Planet? Because honestly a green mullet is probably all that stands between us and a total climate collapse?
  • Or Batman: The Animated Series? Because you want to cry watching the Mr. Freeze episode?
  • Or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Because there was a time where people adapted R rated Z grade horror films into children’s cartoons?
  • Or Toxic Crusaders? For exactly the same reason? His best friend is a goddamn mop?
  • Or Beast Wars? Because I remember it having some pretty satisfying arcs, and it was at a time where we thought CGI animation was super impressive?
  • Or The Tick? Because I’m wagering it probably holds up pretty well?
  • Or The Mask? Because while I’m not certain it holds up, I remember the voice acting talent being something fearsome to behold?
  • Or The Berenstain Bears? Because you’re a conspiracy theorist who wants to prod for loopholes?
  • Or Steven Universe? Because I know a lot of people who love the shit out of it and it’s probably a fantastic show for kids?
  • Or Star Trek: The Animated Series? Because apparently Trek is pretty popular and it’ll probably make a lot of y’all nostalgic?
  • Or Spawn? Because it was made by HBO and I remember it being exponentially better than the terrible film?
  • Or Jackie Chan Adventures? Because I have pretty positive memories of it?
  • Or Garbage Pail Kids? Because I’ve never watched it but I’m CERTAIN it’s fucked up as all hell?
  • And lastly, Earthworm Jim? Because while it probably doesn’t hold up, my childhood self would strangle me with a skipping rope if I didn’t include it?

That should do y’all for the next week. Stay in and THRIVE.