When you think of it, swap meets couldn’t be more accurately named.

It’s late and I have to be up tomorrow to play Magic. Let’s go for some straight up stream of consciousness stuff.

I just came back from a clothing swap. Since the first time I heard about them, I’ve thought they were the best idea. Our culture is so wasteful. We buy endless things we don’t need and they end up lingering for no good reason. I say this peeping at the broken dehumidifier in the hallway. It has no power cord, it can’t be used. Yet it’s been sticking around for maybe half a year just taking up space? Pointless. Clothing swaps, however, are such a clever way of repurposing previously loved goods in solid condition. It’s like having a thrift store in your friend’s lounge. Each one I’ve been to has had piles of clothes, music and snacks. People goof around and try stuff on. You usually come away with some swell pieces while clearing out the shit you never wear. Win win. This time I had a heap of things I bought for costumes, or sweaters I thought looked rad in the store, but after wearing them once or twice saw nothing but faults. Usually it’s a jarring cut or just not hanging right on my frame. Whatever it was, I’m glad to have rid myself of seeing them sadly draped over hangers, ever hopeful to be worn. There weren’t many other guys at this swap, but I walked away with some fur lined faux leather vest. Seems like righteous festival wear.

One thing I noticed clearing out my closet was how each piece had a story to it. I don’t have an expansive wardrobe, and what’s there has always been intentionally chosen. I’ve needed certain items for a specific purpose. Because of this, I found that for most everything I pulled out, I remembered where or why I got it. The gaudy Hawaiian shirt was for an Ace Ventura costume (the hair was the hardest part). A red sweater came into my life during the JFL42 comedy festival. I’d bought it to save myself from freezing, then realised it really didn’t suit me. There was the blue and white striped shirt my flatmate had given me. She’d ordered a couple (?) for a sailor costume and had one spare. I figured it’d perhaps come in handy for a costume some day. It didn’t, but some guy at the swap grabbed it and the fit was perfect. Guess it was destined for him. I realised that as I was rifling through shirts, jackets and sweaters that I was flicking back through years of memories.

It’s not the first time I’ve thought this, but it’s crazy to look around your home and think of the stories items hold. Stuff doesn’t just accumulate. There’s a how and why to each piece, even if that story was merely “I wanted it, so I got it.” Why did you want it? How did you get? Where did you get it from? Did you have any unusual encounters there. Was it for a party or costume? Did you inherit furniture? Who did that come from? Does it have any stories from its past life? How old are the things around us and what path did they take to get into our grasp?

Is that also why it’s hard to let go sometimes?

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How did I make it through that entire entry without using the portmanteau “Leongerie”?

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, I’ve got solid New Year’s plans. A big fancy do at a friend’s house. It’s gonna be a super classy affair, suits and dresses, champagne at midnight, people trying to pronounce hors d’oeuvres. All sorts of swank. That’s not the entirety of the party, however. There’ll be different levels (in multiple senses). The main floor will be all about dressing up and the basement plounge/private rooms will be for dressing down. Our finest intimate apparel (and possibly less). This sparked a thought that I haven’t been able to quash. Is there a male equivalent for lingerie?

Sure, there’s such a thing as nice underwear for guys. I’ve been systematically trying to cull my boring old cotton boxers for the past year or two. I’ve bought soft spandex blends, micro-modale and compression fabrics. All in the service of greater comfort. Sure, they look nicer, they usually have some kind of segmentation that I’ll guessing helps accentuates my assets, but the primary motivation has been comfort. They feel great. I’m sure good lingerie is comfortable, but I’m not sure that’s the greatest motivation for wearing it. Lingerie looks fancy, expensive, intricate. It’s supposed to be sexy apparel and I’m not sure that nice undies really stack up in the same fashion.

I asked a friend for his opinion. He said perhaps some form of chest harness could be roughly equivalent. We thought about it some more and realised that wasn’t really the same. A harness is certainly intimate apparel and has sexual connotations, but it’s a more specific stream of sexual interest. Lingerie, while of course being greatly varied within the category, does have a catch all of sexy implication. Lacy, embroidered, shiny, what have you, it’s not quite the same as the specificity of bondage gear. Darn (though perhaps not. I can’t imagine woollen knickers inducing much in the way of lust).

The “why” seems incredibly obvious. Lingerie, as it was designed, fit into the male gaze at large. Women then (and frustratingly still in a widespread manner) were perceived as objects or commodities. Lingerie, then, was a way of making your “assets” more appealing (commodititties, as it were). It was for women to sex themselves up and snag a man, which in those days (when women were largely forbidden from the workforce) was one of few revenue streams available to them. Say it with me: We live in a patriarchal society. I’m in no way trying to imply that women these days are without agency, but we’re still influenced by societal foundations that teach women that their value is supplicant to men’s. It’s bullshit, and trying to unravel the dichotomy of lingerie as sexual empowerment or a tool of the male gaze is a minefield for a more thoughtful essay than this. Of course men can exist as sexual entities, but that’s more often tied to physicality, status and power. Skimpy undergarments are an afterthought.

In lieu of building a better body by Sunday, I think the answer is that sheer confidence would fit the atmosphere better than sheer garments. If I choose to visit an area of more intimate dress, to take comfort in myself rather than worrying about my lack of embroidered underwear. Male lingerie could be mere years away from the mainstream. With the societal loosening of strict gender conformity, who knows? Until then, I’ll hedge my bets and leave the grey cotton undies at home.

If you look at this board game without the slightest trace of irony…

Woowee, I feel shattered. Last night was a big one (as things tend to be when you start drinking at 3pm). Today has been far more restrained. I’m chilling out, maxing and relaxing at home in a cosy bubble of lethargy. If I get anything accomplished before bed, I’ll have ascended my personal Mt Olympus. I had goals today and succeeded in basically none of them. However, I managed to complete missions I didn’t even know that I had. I guess we can chalk that down as a success.

One of my big goals today was to get some new pants. I’ve been going through pants like crazy over this past year. I don’t know what it is. I’ve been wearing them down/out enough and scrambling to replace them. Then yesterday at the work party I dropped a little too low while dancing and tore a small, unnoticeable hole in my mustard yellow jeans. Bummer. Well, more inside leg than bum, but regardless, I was non-stoked. I once had these perfect dark green pants. They lasted for years, but they developed a hole in the pocket that wasn’t close to the seam. Game over man, game over. So I’ve been trying to find some evocatively lush/verdant/flourishing trousers to replace them. I didn’t realise I was such a fucking stickler, but it hasn’t happened. Failure all around. They’ve been too expensive, too big or small. Some real Goldilocks shit. The day I find some that are just right is the day I’m devoured by bears. You heard it here first.

I will not be eaten by bears today. I went to a thrift shop and value village, but found nothing. I looked at a shirtload of pants, tried a couple on, but no dice. I did however, find an old cheesy smoking jacket adorned with blue roses. I had this sweet one that I grew to quickly love until I fucked up and put it in the wash. It got torn to shreds. This new one will do nicely. I spent quite some time in Value Village searching the racks for slacks but there was a lack. They’d be taxed anyway. I had time to kill so I looked for a good dress up suit. There was a slick purple number, but just to break my heart it was a large. Boo-urns. As I wandered I found two onesies to try on. A zebra and giraffe. The zebra was way too small and the giraffe was only mildly too small. For $5, I could live with that. Still no pants.

I looked at the kitchen supplies for a cheap frying pan in good nick. I found nothing but disappointment. When I turned the corner to see the framed pictures, I was hit by a bolt of inspiration. The work Secret Santa was coming up and there was a $15 limit. This place was perfect. My heart soared seeing a sublime picture of two cats. It was glorious, ghastly and colossal. It’s hard to see the scale from that image, but this thing was roughly the size of a coffee table. We’re playing the game version with gift stealing. Can you imagine how hard people would work to get rid of that? Brilliant. Unfortunately, there was a tear in the plastic seal covering it. I’d feel bad giving something damaged as a Secret Santa gift, no matter how amazing it was. I looked around for any other pictures even half as tragic, but came up with zilch.

I tried looking around for weird appliances, but came up similarly short. I found a Jeff Foxworthy You Might Be a Redneck If… board game, but figured my co-workers might be a bit young to get the irony. Not worth letting a joke fall flat. I looked at the soft toys, hoping to find something both ugly and outrageously sized. Then I noticed a Care Bear roughly the size of a toddler. It was $5. Better yet, I noticed another one. Then another. Perfect. I’m hoping they straddle the line between desirable and not. Will people fight over them? Or try to dump them on someone who really doesn’t want them? Both, I hope. We’ll find out on Friday.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss my accomplishments after all. Today was a good day.

Sounds more Autummy-nal than anything else.

Oy vey, I’ve eaten well today. My girlfriend and I started the day with a solid sweet potato, onion, salami and garlic egg scramble. Yes, I realise that rather than a cohesive meal, that sounds more like multiple single items together. We paired them with my brunch nemesis: grilled to tomatoes. I swear I fuck them up every time. They’ll be burnt, but cold inside. Way more solid than desired. None of that hot warm goodness with slightly crispy exterior that makes them pop. Today I loaded them the fuck up with sea salt and pepper and hoped for the best. They delivered. I defeated my personal dragon and claimed its treasure.

I had one of the $3.50 large banh mi buns for lunch. Loaded up with cold cut meats, paté, salad and chillis. Then caught up with a friend over key lime pie and tea. Later my girlfriend and I are off for homemade pizza and beer with a couple we haven’t seen in ages. As you should be able to tell from the diet, fall is setting in. There’s a reason why this is my favourite time of the year. It’s comfort food day in and day out. Consequently, I feel comfortable.

With each year that passes, I get more and more settled into the vastly different sessions Canada has to offer. Back home in New Zealand the variance wasn’t that huge. Winter was colder, a bit more drizzly, but ultimately not considerably different from Autumn. Here you actually make use of a rotating wardrobe. Certain pieces only make sense for a couple of months each year. Layering comes in stages with incremental temperature shifts. Beer changes and you have seasonal brews. Some months you rarely go out. Life revolves around the weather and it’s logical, because you don’t have much of a choice otherwise.

I think after four years that I’ve reached the point of normalcy. I’m used to the flow of the year. It’s no longer jarring or unnatural working around my environment. Instead it’s become a matter of embracing each season as they come. Learning to love the intricacies and charms of temperature fluctuations and shifting winds.

Or in short, enjoying the food.

Wet feet, cold feet, I’d take it.

A combination of dairy before bed last night meant weird dreams to follow. How weird? You tell me.

The first dream is a little hazy in my mind. I remember my girlfriend and I going to an Amanda Palmer concert. We were right up the front, right in “mosh central”. I shouted out a song request that got cheers from people around me. Amanda couldn’t quite hear it, so she thrust the mic my way. I got nervous and screwed up the word order. It made very little sense. The rest of the crowd booed. I shouted out “wait, I got nervous and messed that up. I’ll do better this time.” Strangely, Palmer complied and put the mic in front of me once more. I said it again, the way I’d intended. She nodded and the crowd roared in approval. She launched into whatever song it was I’d requested. I felt vindicated and the rest of the concert was great. My girlfriend and I came home and crashed in bed.

Then I woke up in the real world and went to the bathroom. I was floppy from the melatonin, so I stumbled around a little as I remembered how my limbs worked. I did my bathroom thing, then fell back into bed, finding sleep once more.

I found myself on the way to a job interview at some boutique advertising agency. I was dressed in a fancy suit, though in retrospect maybe too fancy for a job interview. It was shiny and gold, like something I’d imagine Elton John wearing in his prime. Oddly though, I’d decided to pair it with open toed sandals. I think I was on my way from the airport. I didn’t know it for sure, but I was in a shuttle van and had luggage with me. I arrived and looked at the agency from the outside. To be honest, it looked kind of like they’d converted an old bungalow into a funeral parlour. Large vases with ornate flower displays stood inside bay windows. A red carpet extended from the porch into the front door. The carpet was a shade of baby blue and the walls were a darker sapphire. I shrugged, grabbed my bags and walked inside.

I was greeted by a woman in her 30s. Hair pulled up into a bun. Bulky square glasses. Flowing floral dress. She was barefoot. The soles of her feet were covered in baby blue paint, her hands with sapphire. Odd, I thought. I shook her hand. Mine came away sapphire. She brought me over to a bar style desk in the centre of the room, where another associate was standing. “Are you ready to begin?” She asked. I nodded. She clicked the play button on a boom box and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” began playing. She and her associate started to dance. Her eyebrow rose. It felt like she was implying I should dance along. I started moving, then noticed that my suit was ripped from my elbow all the way down the side. It must’ve been from the Amanda Palmer concert last night. I thought. I took off my suit jacket and continued dancing. My interviewer nodded and the music ceased. I looked down at her bare feet. Her associate also had bare feet. I kicked off my sandals and stood on the carpet. My feet felt wet. I realised that the carpet and walls were covered in wet paint. Everyone around the office had feet stained baby blue and hands stained sapphire.

My interviewer and her associate told me that they’d been watching me for some time and liked my work. They appreciated my attitude, but that there was a final test I needed to pass. They invited me into a boardroom with a vast table in the centre. An intricate and complicated board game covered the table, pieces lining the side. It looked like the entire company was there. Everyone was high-fiving everyone else. It seemed bizarre and cultish. I felt immediately uncomfortable. We took turns choosing tokens, but I couldn’t escape the notion that everyone was judging me. It was too much, I had to leave. I excused myself and walked out the door.

I realised that I’d left my luggage inside and returned. The interviewer was standing in the doorway. “You had your chance.” She spat venomously. Her face split apart into a sharp toothed grin, a snake’s tongue flicking in and out of her mouth. Lightning surged around her fists. I looked down and fire erupted from my palms, enveloping my hands in a burning aura. I charged at her headfirst…

…and heard the quiet tones of my alarm. I know, I’m as disappointed as you. I wanna know how that ended.

I mean, did I get the job or not?

Worst of all, the Dollarama has finally sold its singular Agent Cody Banks 2 DVD. What monster would buy that?

The past 24 hours have been the most amazing downtime. After putting the pedal to the floor at the work Halloween party, I didn’t have much oomph left in me. I went to the gym, went out for Korean on my own then came back and spent the night oscillating between TV, the internet and the 90s Microprose Magic the Gathering mod. Frankly, it was awesome.

At work yesterday, I had this fear that I’d lost my go-to sweater while I was out drinking. I remembered bringing it to work, but not taking it to the bar or the after-party. But it wasn’t at work either. I started fretting. By the time I’d considered calling the bar to check, I was most of the way home. If it was at the after-party, I was screwed. I didn’t remember the names of the people who’s place it was. I remember the vague location of the apartment, but that was about it. I started thinking to myself maaan, I should’ve put my name on the tag or something. I thought back to those times as a kid when a name on the tag meant getting clothes back from camp. I realised that the last time I lost any clothes was probably 20 or so years ago. For the most part, when I go out I make a point of picking up stuff I brought with me. I don’t want to make my shit someone else’s problem. Losing one of my favourite sweaters was a bummer, and a blow to my (admittedly smug) sense of pride. What do I have to be proud about? I’ve got a mere 4.97 Uber rating.

Anyway, the sweatshirt was hanging up when I got home. Turns out that even tired, I managed to hang it up back on its usual hanger. I guess not much has changed from the days of drunk Leon cooking meals and packing the sealed containers in the fridge.

Today was all about marathoning Stranger Things season two. More accurately, it was about my girlfriend and I doing all of our boring adult chores before spending four hours doing nothing but eating and watching. We had good breakfasts, took in dry cleaning, sorted out our Halloween costumes, went food shopping (braving the nightmarish Galleria Mall. I swear it’s a portal to The Upside Down. The lighting is eerily bright and it’s a cluster of stores where the products seem like macabre perversions of those you can buy elsewhere) and fixing a hearty soup and sandwich lunch.

Then we vegged the fuck out and got stuck into the first four episodes. Without spoiling anything, they’ve done a great job of taking an enjoyable show and taking it to necessary places. Slow reveals without holding too much back. The kitchy 80s period mise en scene walks the line of being neat, while occasionally tipping over into pandering. Most importantly, they’ve strongly considered the events of last season and weaved them into character progression. It’s not a hard reset, characters act as if they’ve gone through something. It’s stuck with them and changed how they interact with people outside of their normal circles. Plus the show still looks fantastic. The budgets must be insane. I wonder how many Stranger Things season two costumes there’ll be this year. Is it actually too soon?

I guess we’ll find out tonight.

So I guess you could say I feel more Holloween than anything.

It’s Friday night and I feel subpar. I was super smart last night and had a late evening of drinking on a school night. I could’ve called it quits hours before I did, but that would’ve required exceedingly more forethought than I was ready to put in. Why was I even out drinking with work the next morning?

It was the work Halloween party. Not a huge deal. I mean hey, it’s pretty neat that our company puts on a Halloween party at all. It’s not like every company out there does. It’s strange though, that they put it on during work hours. 2pm-4pm means that we need to scoot back to our desks for an hour once it’s done. Couldn’t they shift it by an hour? We’d be able to continue partying straight away instead of playing into the ridiculous notion that people would actually work afterwards. They gave us two drink tickets each (though it wasn’t difficult to find more), played music and scattered a bunch of chippy packets/fun sized bars around the atrium.

Some people put a shit ton of work into their costumes. A few towed the corporate line and came as something work/company related. Brown nosers. Those who went all in however, really went all in. There was a neat Inspector Gadget costume. The guy had made his own hat and created a propeller/handles that weaved into it. Someone else came as a trash lobster (?). No idea if that’s meant to be from something, but it looked tremendously good. It even got surreal as someone dressed as the claw machine from Toy Story. There were group costumes (my team did Mario Kart) and a bunch who put in either minimal effort or didn’t even bother with a costume. I had a Devil of Hell’s Kitchen costume from a couple of years back. Reusing a past Halloween getup was the least amount of work I could put in to still come dressed decently. Plus most of the items were normal clothes I could wear to work anyway. Bonus. And, working at a television company, nobody mistook me for Dread Pirate Roberts this time. BIGGER BONUS. The costume came with cons. My vision was piss weak, it was hard to make out little details on other people. The gloves I wore were just winter gloves, which meant I had no strong tactile fingertip grip. I couldn’t open a chip packet or fun sized bar. So I didn’t eat. I juuuust drank.

I also got to do more voicing at work. I used to do a little back when I worked in radio, but frankly there were better voices around. Here in Canada, my accent is a neat little commodity so I get more opportunity to read. Yesterday I got to do my first movie trailer. It was fucking fantastic. The engineer is new to the company, but he’s been doing voice/talent coaching for years. He was endlessly patient, so we kept going at it from different angles (plus the clients were known to be notoriously picky, so we wanted a bunch of options). We tried the faux LaFontaine thing (both in a NZ and North American accent), we tried a more natural read (both accents). We then tried to punch up specific lines, pronunciations, moods, etc. It was fucking great to work with someone who wasn’t afraid to take their time and who gave thoughtful advice/feedback. I think we spent around 40 minutes working on the 30 second script, but hopefully they bite. After I got warmed up, even I was surprised at how good it was sounding. It’d be awesome to do a ton more voicing. I’m finding work to be pretty damn tedious at the moment. Any chance to leave the desk and do something I actually like is worth taking.

At the moment however, it feels like the only thing worth taking is a nap. Night night!