Okay, let’s just beat this thing already

The What: It’s not that politicians can’t stop COVID, it’s that they won’t.

The Why: Politicians don’t actually understand what COVID is, how it works, or how to beat it.

It’s not fair to judge someone on what they don’t know. My country beat COVID, so I’ll explain some things:

1) COVID-19 is not intelligent. It’s a virus, and a virus’ job is to infect things. That’s all it’s doing. It’s good at its job. It doesn’t know we exist, it just does.

2) COVID-19 is not playing politics. An infectious virus is not playing politics. It’s just infecting people. Once again, it’s good at its job.

3) COVID is not a political issue. It’s a public safety issue. The public is being massively infected, people are dying. Every single industry is being impacted, and many are dying.

4) COVID is being looked at as a Problem. Not an Emergency. This part is hard, because when we think of Emergencies we think of sudden occurrences: An Earthquake, a Hurricane, a Tsunami, a Snow Storm. COVID is an Emergency, but it doesn’t look like any of the above.

5) Because COVID is being treated like a problem, politicians are going through their usual methods. They’re trying to address what they can with the budget they have, without getting caught up in political bills that have to run through opposition parties. The goal is to save money, because it’s hard to get agreement without strings attached. Politics sucks for getting things done.

6) Politicians work for Taxpayers. They’re employed to enable better lives for the Taxpayers. The money they’re spending is our money. We’ve given them the power and responsibility to work on our behalf. Remember though, politics sucks for getting things done. Which means a lot of our money is wasted on people trying to get leverage in order to accomplish their goals. They’re spending ENORMOUS amounts of our money on things that aren’t fixing our problems.

***

So if you’re with me so far, COVID isn’t political. It’s a virus doing its job. Politicians’ job is to use the money we give them to create infrastructure and laws to improve our quality of life. COVID isn’t a Problem, it’s an Emergency, and needs to be treated like one. We’re paying them to do a job they’re not doing.

***

I think part of the issue is that politicians don’t know what kind of Emergency COVID is, but they love the economy, so I’ll try to think of a money based metaphor. I’m not a money guy, so this will be kinda loose. Please bear with me, I have good intentions.

COVID is less like a natural disaster, and more like Debt/Interest. If you’ve ever been in Debt, you’ll know that you are charged a fee for being in Debt. It costs you money to be poor. I know, right? You might be charged $20 a month for owing money. The more you owe, the more you pay every month. Maybe you’re paying $100 every month. That’s pretty shit, right? You’re spending money on not having money, which means you’re absolutely paying money to get nothing. This is exactly what COVID is doing, but the scale is exponentially larger.

COVID is like everyone getting simultaneous Debt. Everyone everywhere gets Debt. The amount they have depends on a bunch of factors. The fewer resources you have, the more Debt you have. Working in public is Debt. Taking public transit is Debt. Not being able to afford good PPE is Debt. Living in cramped areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain is Debt. The more Debt you rack up, the higher cost you have to pay every month.

But being rich isn’t enough to ignore Debt. You might have less Debt, but you’re not inoculated from it. The more Debt there is around you, the higher chance there is that you’ll pick some of it up.

Remember, it’s not just one Debt. All of us have Debt of differing amounts. When we put this together it’s not cumulative, it’s compounded. The more Debt society picks up, the more Debt we each accumulate. The Debt of others increases our Debt.

COVID has exponential growth. I repeat, it’s SO GOOD at its job. You know how local stores get utterly driven into the ground by big box stores and franchises? That’s what COVID is doing to every industry by saddling them with Debt. This is Debt with exponential growth, so every month, we all have to pay more and more.

What politicians and companies right now is making the mistake of thinking they’re inoculated from Debt if they just make more money than it. They’ll be able to Stave Off the Debt if they keep it at bay long enough to close a big deal that helps them pay it off in full. Spoiler, that’s not going to happen. They’re taking chances, and COVID is not. Remember, it’s good at its job. Politicians don’t seem to be. COVID will continue to saddle us with Debt while we waffle around, and they’ll do it faster than we can make money to pay it off.

Think about the huge costs spent on CERB. CERB is part of the Debt. We can’t not pay CERB, because HUMAN LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY. Not to be controversial or anything. People need money to live. The longer we’re in lockdown, the more CERB we pay. The point is not for the government to just give people free money forever, it’s to save the Taxpayers who pay their wages. It’s also a temporary measure. It’s supposed to get us through this so we can resume our lives once the pandemic is over. The longer we’re in this, the more CERB the government pays.

They have already wasted so much of our money accumulating Debt. Remember that with Debt, that monthly cost keeps coming. Spending money on not having money, right? It costs us a COLOSSAL amount to be in Debt, and the longer we are, the more it will cost. Every month we spent trying to mitigate the effects of Debt instead of paying it off was a month of blown human lives, Taxpayer money, and businesses in the drain, spreading more Debt to the wealthy. Nobody at all likes COVID, because it’s bad news for every single one of us.

This is all very gloomy, yes? But that doesn’t mean we are powerless. What would you tell your kid if they’d amassed too much Debt for them to handle? You’d tell them that you can beat Debt by paying it off and getting into the black. Once you’re in the black, no more monthly payments. Not only have you taken care of that ongoing cost, but you’ve likely created a framework of managing your money that allows you to make better decisions going forward.

***

Politicians won’t defeat COVID, but they can. Here are things that need doing in order to defeat COVID:

1) Money needs to be shifted to places where it makes sense.

This isn’t politics, and the most important thing to our country/province right now is to defeat COVID. Any economic bills that don’t work towards defeating COVID are wasting money. We don’t want industries to collapse and leave the population vulnerable, sure, but now is not a time to make money. It’s a time to defeat COVID. Doug Ford can take all the existing safety protocols away from industries AFTER we’ve defeated COVID. Before they get to have fun with Taxpayer money again, they need to do their jobs. Prevent Taxpayers from dying.

We don’t need any new construction projects. We don’t need to fund military purchases, or police munitions. We definitely don’t need to be paying the salaries of suspended cops. We’re in a restructuring period. We don’t need to enable leisure industries. We don’t need dining at restaurants or bars. Not even patios. We do not need people in public, and we ESPECIALLY do not need people drinking alcohol in public, inhibiting their decision making skills. They can do that just fine at home.

We need to look at budgets and re-prioritise where these funds go. If it’s a Taxpayer funded department and money is not going to infrastructure or projects that aid Taxpayers’ ability to live, it’s wasted money. That’s money that could go towards paying off Debt.

2) Letting Experts and Experiences drive policy.

There are people who know so much more than I ever will about all of this. We need to listen to them. It’s not important that they tell us what we want to hear, we need to listen to what we need to know. We need to take their advice and shape protocols around it. Otherwise we’re wasting Taxpayers money. Once more, politicians not doing their jobs.

We are not the only country experiencing COVID. Other countries have tried pre-emptive re-opening. They’ve tried making masks optional. They’ve tried bringing kids back to school. None of these strategies have worked, and we can see just how badly they haven’t worked. If politicians have this data and are choosing to make the same mistakes, they’re either idiots or callous. We need to follow effective strategies and fold them into our methodology. If experts say masks are mandatory indoors, we need to follow that advice. Same goes for social distancing, bubbles, sanitising, maximum capacities, etc. Otherwise we’re wasting money and accruing so much more Debt.

3) Excessive and clear public information.

It is not the fault of the public for not knowing how COVID works. There is a lot of information out there, and what we’re learning about COVID changes constantly. The public needs up to date information. All of the public. Don’t leave rural areas out of the loop either. This information needs to be clear, so people can follow it regardless of education levels. We need daily broadcasts from Parliament that are apolitical and only focused on science. They need to be conducted by experts, not politicians. The public have a right to know what we’re up against, and not to be taken advantage of for the goals of the wealthy.

We also need the Why. People rarely ever learn if you just tell them the What. Without context or deeper understanding, it’s easy to forget. If they know the Why, they can take productive and intentional steps towards keeping themselves safe, instead of making unfortunate but understandable mistakes.

We need to know what a bubble is. We need to know how it works, its goals and objectives. We need to know scenarios in which our bubbles could be popped, leaving us exposed. Did you know that if you’re eating indoors, you’re not being safe if you or anyone in your bubble is next to or across from someone in another bubble? If anyone in your bubble is exposed, everyone in your bubble is exposed. That’s how the metaphor works.

Plagiarise info from other successful countries, I don’t care. I know this is expensive. It’s part of the cost of paying down COVID’s Debt. Do everything in your power to protect the public. Misinformation kills.

4) We need to go back into lockdown.

PLEASE LISTEN TO ME. I know how much it sucks. I know how dispiriting it is, but it’s important that we don’t confuse inconvenience for a violation of our rights. The more people in public, the higher chance of exposure. The more interaction between people, the higher chance of exposure. The more exposure, the longer we have to deal with COVID. Remember, we’re trying to beat COVID, not learn to live with it. We all need to make sacrifices, even if it’s inhibiting what we want to do. We need to look at all the ways that COVID could spread and take away all of those opportunities. We don’t compromise with COVID. Like we were supposed to do in lockdown.

We don’t need to go back into lockdown forever, but until we’re at a point where the cases are low enough they can be tracked by Contact Tracing. Once we know who has COVID, can keep those people safe and isolated. If we have a framework set up that can take care of these people, then we will be able to handle new cases while reducing the threat to lives, jobs and the economy. While lockdown is on, PAY TAXPAYERS WHO CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE OTHERWISE. Even if the government doesn’t care about the lives of its citizens, it should care that the more people who die, the less tax they get to collect, and the smaller their budgets get. The quicker we deal with this, the quicker we can go back to our lives.

***

Did you know that back in my home country you can shake hands with strangers? Pash a hot person in a public bar? Walk around without masks? My home country is smaller than Ontario. The country has a GDP 1/3 the size of Ontario’s. My country beat COVID, and they have far fewer resources. The reason was cultural, not economic.

Information from experts was prioritised, heeded and understood. Communication was transparent, informative and easy to follow. The public knew why they had to take actions like wearing masks, staying home, keeping safe distance. Because of this, the public was able to take the initiative and do what needed to be done to keep each other safe. They beat it. Boring story, but a better ending. Let’s end this too. Please.

Is Defund a river in Egypt?

I got stuck ranting on Twitter about gun violence and defunding police, and I think it’s worth sharing my rant in case people were confused about what defunding actually means. Because I don’t think it’s as clear as POLICE BAD. PUNISH POLICE. FUND ORGIES IN THE STREETS.

I don’t think that people act violently just because they want to. I think it’s a response to desperation or feelings of powerlessness. I think a lot of people are desperate because of a myriad of issues: Not being able to find jobs, pay rent, stress or mental illness. If police budgets have risen with time, and shootings are not decreasing, maybe increasing budgets is not the answer. If that’s the case, it could be more effective to look into the root causes of why this stuff happens and address those issues.

If people had access to resources to shift that stress away (help with rent, income support, mental illness services), would they be as likely to act out? Who knows? But if our current options aren’t working, it’s probably worth looking into a better solution.

Police budgets are MASSIVE, and the bulk of those costs are salary related. Here’s a snapshot of the 2020 budget. As a reminder, the police budget is paid for by taxpayers:

Regardless of your political affiliation, a lot of citizens are being very vocal about how the police are not sufficiently doing their job right now. Why are taxpayers paying so much for a bad service? If this were any other service, you’d demand more for your money. Something that many people have expressed is that the police are being given too many responsibilities that they’re not equipped to deal with. There are so many tasks that would be better driven to other departments/organisations. Mental health stuff, etc. And if the police were no longer to provide these services, then the budgets should be under review. Taxpayers should not be paying the police for services they’re inadequately providing just because they have strong unions with a lot of political support.

And while this sounds very far from the idea of gun crime, I don’t believe it’s as far as you’d think. These are not short term solutions, and would require updating over time. It’s not something that would be fixed in a year, but these issues have been ongoing for decades. If you have a deep wound, you don’t just put a band aid over it. You take care of the underlying symptoms and let it heal slowly. Gun crime, violence, unrest, they’re all symptoms of a system that makes people feel like acting out is their only option.

Militarised police, for instance, is Cart Before the Horse kind of stuff. Why are our forces equipped with military grade equipment? Because we assume a level of violence that necessitates this equipment. That equipment is EXPENSIVE. If we treated the symptoms that caused people to behave in a way that we assume necessitates this kind of equipment, there’s a good chance we would not need this equipment. We would be saving money AND helping people, which seems doubly good, no?

All of this stuff is REALLY complicated, and a lot of us citizens have been convinced that we don’t deserve access to quality support through years of eroding services. But we do. You do, I do. The current system is not providing enough value for what we’re paying. The concept of “defunding” gets a lot of knee-jerk reactions, because people are afraid it will make them less safe. But what it really means is looking at what our issues are, and recalibrating the budgets so that everyone is paying for quality services that work.

Refusing to try and/or consider new options because we’ve always done it one way is the epitome of “we’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas.” These are good options that could provide value for all taxpayers, and they’re not being seriously considered because of politics.

My presence is a present kiss my ass (once lockdown is over, if you’re into it)

The other day I got high and rammed my body with an inadvisable amount of caffeine. Then I found presence.

So during this pandemic, on my days off, I’ve been getting high for midday workouts on my balcony. I’ve stopped doing anything weight based, just low impact joint friendly stuff. I do my own guided stretching that can take anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, then I’ll do a 30 minute Youtube workout video (quick plug for The Body Project, by the way. Fun and easy to follow for a whole range of fitness levels). It’s also a good time for me to let my thoughts wander ad infinitum. I’ve never been great at concentrating. My thoughts seem to be always in many places at once. I’m sure the weed wasn’t helping there.

After turning my blood to coffee, I wasn’t bucking this trend. I walked out onto the balcony and couldn’t stop my thoughts from racing. Not doom and gloom stuff, just what would a dog look like in a turtleneck?/when do I get to play Magic again?/what am I gonna eat for dinner tonight?/how much of Gremlins 2 do I remember? Altogether it wasn’t conducive to my goal of stretching and working out.

So I gave myself a Time Out. I sat down on the chilly bin and stopped. I closed my eyes, made myself take deep breaths and asked myself a few questions. Is any of this important enough to focus on over what I’m doing? If not, will I need to address it in the short term? If not, is it more of a long term thing? If so, why not put it aside until it’s necessary? Why waste my time and energy on these things that don’t matter right now? Why shortchange something I enjoy for no reason? Why not put my effort towards getting more out of my stretch, enjoying the music, and just being where I was?

And things stopped. I calmed down. I started stretching, really taking into account what I was stretching. I found where to push, what was helping and what wasn’t. Whenever an intrusive thought came up, I asked myself it was important at that time, or if I could think about it later. If it was important, I addressed the thought, then got back to what I was doing. If it wasn’t, I shelved it for later. I had a fantastic workout, and whenever a new thought came up, I continued with this process. Very quickly, I found it quite straightforward to just be where I was.

I came in and talked excitedly to my girlfriend about giving myself a time out. She looked back excitedly and said “babe, that’s mindfulness meditation”. And I stopped. And I thought. And I realised she was right.

In the past few days, it’s made EVERYTHING better. I assess every thought/task and ask myself if it’s urgent. If it’s not, I’ll put it away for later. I focus on what I’m doing. I put full effort and intention into one thing, then I move onto the next. I’m still doing things at the same pace (or more efficiently sometimes), I’m just doing them better. If I’m spending time with my girlfriend, I’m there with her. Kissing is better. Touch is better. I’m listening more. If I’m playing Magic, I’m consciously thinking of the best play, taking into account all the information at hand. If I’m watching TV, I’m paying attention rather than thinking about other things I could be doing. I know that this sounds complicated or exhausting, but it isn’t. It’s the opposite. I trust and love myself to know that I have my best intentions at heart, so I can gauge what’s best for me. If at any point that changes, I’ll figure out how to adapt and move forward. If I’m wrong, I accept it and look for a better option.

Forgive the stoner philosophy, but I’ve realised that life is an infinite series of moments. At any single one of those moments, we can decide to change. We’re not stuck with thoughts or opinions because we had them. We can change with new information. Sunken cost fallacy is bullshit, and being wrong isn’t a curse. Ego is. There are lessons in error. If we realise we’re wrong or misguided, we can stop, take stock, and figure out the best course of action from then on. With ANYTHING. There’s absolutely no purpose to holding onto resentment, regret, or self-doubt. If it’s not helping us, it’s worth taking apart and asking what it’s doing for us. Is there a reason I’m fixated on this? What is it really trying to say? Is there a more constructive way to look at it? Is there an alternative line of thinking? Is there a way to turn this around? If it’s not a quick fix, are there steps I could take? Will that take moments? Days? Months? Years?

Cool. No better time to start than now.

On, Tario!

I think that this is an important article for Ontarians to read. Our public health communications have been an abject failure, and have directly caused preventable deaths.

So many of the issues that we’re facing now: Conflicting information, Communications that are difficult to parse or misleading, and the lack of a timely response backed by science, not spokespersons, are a direct result of cuts to public organisations for the sake of “fiscal responsibility”.

This is exactly what Ford said he was going to do, and sometimes it’s worth believing what people are saying rather than listening to their rhetoric.

I don’t know what contact any of you have with Ford’s base, but it is vitally important for all of us to put in the work to educate people on how the actions of his government have directly harmed the vulnerable. I’m not talking about “cancelling” relatives, or shitting on them. I’m talking about frustrating, methodical conversations where you listen to their concerns and lead them towards real information. It fucking sucks, but continuing to let partisan bullshit prevent actionable change for the better is actively harming us. We need to be better, and that starts with us.

A genuine “Whys” guy

Back when I taught kids’ gymnastics I quickly found that people learn when you give them the Why, not just the What. If you know what the purpose of a behaviour is, the benefit is much clearer.

I have read a bunch of Ontario’s COVID Stage 2 announcement and it is not that.

The document is long, with a bunch of sub pages. To find the information you want requires a lot of clicking. Most of the information on the different pages is very similar, just tweaked for the current topic.
And then it mainly tells you What to do.

By not telling the public why we adopt certain behaviours around COVID, we’re putting the onus on them to find it themselves. This is easier for some than others, and those who find it difficult will likely get discouraged. EVERYONE deserves this info and the right to be healthy.

It also sows the seeds of misinformation. If people are finding it too hard to parse how COVID works, they’ll go for the explanation that they understand, because then they get to feel better about themselves and their place in the world. They understand it now. Fin.

But it’s not. If people are ignoring information in favour of what they want to believe, they will continue to do so if it’s easier and continues to make them feel good about their competence. This leads to partisan rifts over facts, which is always worse for the public.

You don’t have to Make It Sexy, but public information should be clear and easy to understand so the public is informed. If you’re not telling people Why to follow your instructions, you’re not doing your job. People need to know Why these COVID measures are in place.

If the public understands how COVID spreads, then they’ll be able to take ownership over their behaviour, and understand how dramatically it affects the spread. The more people who understand how it works, the quicker we can mitigate the spread and get back to safe reopening.

There is no reason a children’s gymnastics class should be unable to understand this information. That’s how clear it needs to be.

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.