Good ol’ fashioned jean therapy

Oh Jeans Jeans Jeans.

Never change. I mean, do change, that’s half the point. The changing rooms specifically are the focal area of Jeans Jeans Jeans. I’ve written about Jeans Jeans Jeans before, but rarely do I run out of things to say about Jeans Jeans Jeans. Okay, I’m likely to type that many times today. Let’s stick with the acronym JJJ for now.

If you haven’t read one of my many other experiences at JJJ, let’s boil this down. JJJ is a big underground warehouse. Jeans cover the walls. Not just errant pairs, but cascading styles and sizes of brands. The different coloured hangers on each pair denote the size, to easily pick them out. There are tons of new seasons jeans, and just as many old seasons pairs for 50% off. Very nice jeans at affordable prices. If there’s something you want, they probably have it. If they don’t, maybe come back in a few weeks. If it doesn’t look like they have what you’re looking for, you probably haven’t asked.

Customers and staff alike stand around the changing rooms. Customers go in, try things, then come out wearing them. There are mirrors everywhere for customers to check their fit. Staff are on the lookout to ascertain how good they look, and to pin up for alterations. Alterations are free, and take 5-10 minutes in store. If they pairs don’t look so great, staff will call around the store for certain styles, sizes, brands, etc. More accurately, Leroy does.

Egads, Leroy gets his own paragraph. Leroy is the engine that keeps JJJ running. He’s a whirling dervish, weaving between customers, making things tick over. He’ll peek at customers looking in mirrors and give suggestions. He’ll get back to customers he dealt with earlier, offering them alternatives. He’ll bark around the store “Harry, get me a 410 in Sierra on a grey hanger”. Half a minute later, a pair of jeans will fly through the air, Leroy catches them and hands them to the customer. He’ll stop and pin up hemlines in 5 seconds flat. A guy waiting around was like “is he going to pin me up?” His friends looked down “he already did” they said. Every now and again, while dealing with one customer, he’ll toss a pair of jeans into another changing room. “Oh, thanks” you’ll hear, surprised as they are by the impromptu delivery. Other staff consult with Leroy and he’ll give them snappy and seemingly accurate suggestions. Then he’ll hurl a pair of jeans halfway across the store to another staff member walking through. It’s Leroy’s circus.

I walked in today looking to pick up a few pairs. I love all the jeans I grabbed two years ago. Some of them are starting to show wear and tear. One pair in particular, I adore. Every time I “get” to wear them, I’m bowled over by how comfortable they are, how smooth the fit is and the flexibility in them. I can walk up big stairs without worry. Without looking at any jeans, I walked right up to the changing rooms. I found Leroy and showed him the jeans I was wearing. “I got these here last time. They’re my absolute favourite pair. If I could wear them every single day, I would. What do you have that fit like these, but in some interesting, outrageous colours?” He directed me towards a changing room. A minute later, he trust eight pairs of colourful jeans on hangers into the room. He picked my size exactly. A lot of the legs were a little long, but they got pinned back easily. The fit was astounding. Each pair I tried, I loved. I picked three pairs with colours that would complement my wardrobe: A soft grey, the colour of shark skin. A shade of green slightly lighter than olive. Finally, a gentle sky blue. I spent all of 20 minutes between the front door and having three pairs. I spent almost $300 once I added a belt. I’m banking these pairs because I know some of mine are wearing down and I want to future proof myself. Maybe soon it’ll feel like I’m wearing my favourite pair every day.

JJJ doesn’t just sell jeans, but by God does it ever sell jeans well.

Love chaps, baby love chaps

Turns out the fashion show was great.

I’m sure it wasn’t standard fashion fare. I’ve, perhaps undeservedly, created this expectation of what fashion shows are in my head. To me they’ve always seemed like this assumed upper class, gate keeping sort of phenomena. I think of a certain amount of stoicism and high art perspective, when maybe it’s not that. I think of exclusively thin bodies, draped with weird and impractical garments. I think of clothes and rules and propriety, and what any of them mean. Also mostly I think of rich people and needless extravagance.

I mean, sure. Needless extravagance, plus weird and impractical garments were on full display last night. It worked. The event, perhaps because of its non-traditional fetish roots, worked for me as a bridge between my expectations and desires. The pomp and design choices were intentionally gratuitous and fun. Everything was so overblown, that it subverted what I thought fashion shows were. To me, it seemed almost more of a theatre performance, which perhaps is what fashion shows have been all along. We were flanked by billowing silk (looking, I’m not sure what the material actually was) curtains. Laser lights shone around the room. The runway was raised, but within arms reach of the front row. Models interacted with the audience. Particular groups of models walked set to differing music, which accentuated certain themes and ideas. I stopped seeing the clothes as the point, but rather the overall canvas created by the models. They were art, and bringing together so many components: visual, auditory, physical and mixed media, really stood out to me.

The designs took such a side step away from reality, that they were two feet forward into the absurd. The models all either had some type of blue face paint, or wore strange masks. Sometimes fetish wear, sometimes more masquerade style. Small plastic trinkets were stuck to peoples’ faces. A gift and bow here, a fleur de lis there. Outfits brought together a range of ideas and materials. One I liked featured a model with an orangey-blonde afro, who wore a big fur coat that transitioned to thinner fabric as it flowed. She had green harnesses and garters beneath that glittered. Models had odd accessories hanging off them. One had some kind of beaded tail object that seemed half way between a scorpion’s tail and anal beads. She started ducking her head in and out of it, and eventually removed it to slam it to the ground. A model walked with her hands bound in some kind of sleeve, led down the runway by another model. It seemed like a deconstruction of traditional Disney princess tropes, though maybe I’m just reading into the choices of colour.

I never really thought about the potential for comic timing in fashion. If the audience starts seeing only the front of an outfit, it’s entirely possible to hide something funny or cute on the back. One model walked out confidently, and it wasn’t until she passed me that I noticed a big heart shaped cut in the back of her dress showing her bum. One had criss crossed lacing running all the way up the back of her legs. Another’s legs/heels were covered totally with red stockings. My more knowledgeable friend informed me that it was probably a custom made piece, specifically moulded to the shape of the heels. There was an aerial act, and a French new wave (nouveau wave?) performer who kicked ass. I honestly had a blast, and I think it’s safe to say a door I considered closed may well not be.

Still, the clothes could’ve done with more pockets, y’know?

Clothing à la mood

I’m going to a fashion show tonight.

To be clear, I know next to nothing about fashion. I know that David Bowie had a song named after it and that GRUM did a cover. I know that a la mode means “in the fashion” or something, but I’ve usually seen it in the context of adding ice cream to a dessert. I know that fashion can be a verb, as to fashion oneself a weapon from otherwise non-weapon goods. I know that it rhymes with “passion” and the two are often used in conjunction with young girls’ personal bios. That’s most of it.

Let’s see, what do I really know about fashion as it relates to clothing? I know that there are a bunch of rules that are hard (for me, it seems), but rarely set in stone. Good looking people seem to be able to endlessly shirk them. A rule I know is that you’re not supposed to wear white socks with black pants. I don’t honestly know where you’re meant to wear white socks. On a sports field perhaps? I owned exclusively white socks until age 20, when I learned about this rule. I also wore track pants daily in winter for a very, very long time. I know that you’re supposed to tuck your shirt at a formal event, except when you’re not supposed to. It depends on the cut of the shirt. I know that practically every shirt I buy has a curvy hem, and those are the wrong ones to keep untucked. For the ten or so times per year that I wear a dress shirt, this fills me with no end of regret. There are different ways to tuck shirts, and I know the French Tuck (one half of the shirt untucked) got popularised a year or two ago because of Queer Eye.

I know that the colour wheel exists, and I seem to shit the bed on it constantly. Like most fashion, it’s never been something that’s come naturally to me. There are complementary colours, contradictory colours, triads and quads. They’re all our of my reach. Oh, and I think denim is a neutral? At the same time, I don’t have the luxury of knowing the rules of power-clashing either. There’s something about having one dominant pattern alongside a neutral or colour, and power-clashing is when you subvert this expectation with patterns that match so badly that they become a double negative. I’m positive. Frankly, I really wish I knew how to wear the clothes I already own, let alone contend with the endless options I could fuck up out there in the world.

Fortunately, I don’t need to know anything about that for tonight. My friend is modelling and she got me a comp ticket. I’m there to watch, support and hopefully learn something.

Oh wait, what the hell am I gonna wear?

Get enough change and you’ve got yourself some dollars

Life has been a little different for me lately.

I’ve written a bunch about my shift work and how that’s changed my day to day. Working fewer hours, having blocks of four days off at a time. I think it’s what work/life balance is meant to resemble. For me, it’s eased an incalculable amount of stress. It’s a very big deal, and it’s straight up made my life better. The other part of the equation is money. I’m earning more money, and it’s incrementally showing me just how many ways in which low income earners stack inconveniences and hardships atop each other. Nothing revolutionary, I’ve just been blind to it.

A very obvious outcome is that I’ve bought a lot of things lately. I’m not even talking toys, but upgrades to things in my life that’ve fallen into disrepair or at least diminished efficacy. I’ve been keeping this note on my phone listing things I need, and things I want. I hadn’t checked in a while, but looking yesterday, I crossed three or four things off. My bike has been repaired and maintained. It has all the necessary safety gear. I bought a new mp3 player to replace my dead iPod. I replaced my five year old speakers that often only played from one channel. All of this took money. If I hazarded a guess, I’d say I’ve probably spent over a grand since changing jobs, just on little life upgrades. Consequently, things have been more convenient, enjoyable, I’m stressing less about constant negotiations and workarounds, and it’s easing tensions in my life. All of these things cost money and time for research, they’re paying off.

Here’s an example. I was in the kitchen this morning. I had my mp3 player in hand, Bluetooth earbuds in. I turned on a track, and my girlfriend asked me to fill a bottle of water for her. I obliged, put down the mp3 player, grabbed her bottle, filled it, and handed it back. I then picked up my mp3 player and carried on my merry way. If this sounds unremarkable, it both is and isn’t. It’s not even an ad for Bluetooth technology. It’s a minuscule convenience in one small moment. I could easily and quickly drop what I was doing. I didn’t have some bulky player connected to a think tangle of wires, that I’d then have to cram into a pocket so it could move with me, or otherwise put down the entire thing. As long as my player was within a certain radius I didn’t even need to drop what I was doing to do something else. I accomplished a tiny tiny task with virtually no effort. I had more capacity to do things, because the task was simplified by a slight degree. It’s very unlikely to be the last time I have a similar convenience, and this is just one device. I’ve improved a host of tools in my life lately, and each of them make a multitude of things better. It’s an exponential growth in my quality of life, and money made it possible.

I very much don’t think my message here is “let’s all hoard wealth and live easier”. What I’ve noticed, is that money eases burdens, and the difference between easing these burdens is not as costly as you’d think. What did I say I’d spent? $1000 or so? In the grand scheme of things, $1000 is not much, but it’s helping me navigate life more fluidly. How many people couldn’t afford to spare that $1000 for unnecessary, but nice things? If $1000 can help, what could $2000 do? How much easier would that make some people’s lives? $5000? $10,000? It shames me to say it, but $10,000 does not seem like a significant amount of money when we’re talking about totally changing someone’s life. For some people, that’s just a portion of what they’d spend on a desired extravagance. How much does a new high end car cost? A lot more than $10,000.

I’m not especially wealthy, and if I lost 10,000 I’d be frustrated, angry maybe. However, it wouldn’t significantly change my life. I’d still be able to afford my everyday costs. I’d have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, clothing to take care of me over the winter months. It wouldn’t heavily impact future needs. I certainly wouldn’t be destitute. For others, $10,000 could totally change their lives. It would turn things upside down, ease stresses, and help prevent compound stresses. They have a habit of stacking up, where one thing impacts another, which has a knock on effect to other areas. Problems create more problems, and the fewer problems you have, the fewer problems you will have. Sure, mo money mo problems, but there’s a large threshold before money really starts becoming a problem. $10,000 isn’t it.

So if $10,000 wouldn’t really impact my life, what about people who do earn a lot of money? What about billionaires? If Bill Gates gave away $100,000,000,000, he’d still have $7,000,000,000. That’s 10,000,000 allotments of $10,000. That’s ten million families whose lives could be eased, and he’d still have more money than most could spend in a lifetime. The only reason I’m picking Gates in this example is because his net worth recently came up in public conversation. I’m not saying Gates should be giving money directly to people (there’s probably a way to make that money have an even higher overall yield for public good), but it’s a simple example. One person could make ten million people’s lives easier. That’s massive.

Money is a lot of things. There were probably ten thousand paths this entry could have gone down. This was only one. All I know is that my path forward has been made a lot easier lately, and it didn’t take much.

Succumbing to my baser instinks

Friends, I have a sad announcement to make. It’s with a heavy heart that I say, in the year of our lord, 2019, that I pooped my pants.

It didn’t need to happen. It was a shamefully avoidably tragedy. Lest we forget, WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY. In this day and age, for a grown man to poop his own pants, is unfathomable. Unconscionable even. There were outs, but I chose a track so singularly greedy and destructive that it brought on my own demise. I was hoisted by my own pootard, if you will. Note that I could have spared talking about this, but I chose to. I think it’s important for us all to come to grips with our own failings, so that we can understand how far we have fallen from The Great Creator and its vision.

Here’s the sitch. I’d walked out the doors of my workplace, and realised that I kinda needed to go. It wasn’t urgent, but that just made it so much more insidious. Like a coiled viper, waiting to strike, its scales my own unbalanced sense of judgement. I digress, it wasn’t a big deal. The ground was laden with snow, and I kinda just wanted to get the fuck home. I hadn’t eaten much, knowing I had a huge dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse coming up that evening. I had however, drunk a lot of water. See, I’ve noticed lately just how much coffee affects my vocal performance at work. I speak into a mic all day long, and coffee actively dries out my mouth. It really ramps up all those clicky mouth noises. I don’t want to invite viewers into a misophonic nightmare. To compensate, I keep a large bottle of water by my side at all times. I’ll take a swig of coffee, then three or four gulps of water. I’ve been drinking a lot of water, friends.

All day long I had weird poops. I’ll spare y’all an in depth description, suffice to say I desired more substance. Because I was drinking so much water, I had a nigh constant path between my studio and the bathroom. So when I left work, I figured there wasn’t much to get riled up about. I was sure I could hold on until I got home. I’m an adult. I have a degree. Surely I also had the kind of grit that’d allow me to hold it in? I did my writing during transit, and dialled in on getting it finished. There were several station transitions, and each time I assured myself I could hold on. My final bus took a long time. I was crammed, standing by the door, with no room for anything but to hold my bag by my knees. I huddled, uncomfortable, knowing something was coming.

Friends, allay your fears. This is not a story of your not-so-humble narrator pooping his pants in public.

I made it home. I hustled in the door and took stock of the situation. I needed to go. Situation over. Almost. It was snowing outside. I was wearing a big winter coat. I had my winter boots on. I was listening to music on Bluetooth headphones. I was still wearing pants. Obstacles, surely. I took off my coat. I undid my shoes. I paused. This was my moment. I should’ve gone, but instead I took my mp3 player out of my pocket. I turned off my Bluetooth headphones. I turned off my mp3 player. Hubris kicked in, and I let out a little fart. The idea was to remove the straw from the camel’s backside, instead it sounded mildly wetter than it should’ve. Still, I relented. I took off my pants. I placed my backpack on my bed. Then I entered the bathroom and sat down. I did my business and felt relief. It wasn’t a big poop, but it was one. I looked down at my underwear. There was a tiny little brown line. I’m talking 1mm thickness, maybe 2cm in length. Surrounding it was a wet circle. It had soaked right through my underwear. Disgusted, but mostly disappointed, I washed my underwear in the sink and put them in the dirty clothes basket. I checked my pants. No poop, but the wet circle had permeated my pants too. I sighed, washed them and put them in the dirty clothes basket. Pity, I’d just pulled them out of the drawer that morning. I’d been intending to wear them to the restaurant. No dice.

Friends, I think the true tragedy would be to have undergone this trial without learning. I can safely say, I learned my lesson. Rounding out that fourth paragraph, I realised I needed to poop and I was holding it in. I looked at the preceding paragraphs. I thought back to yesterday’s atrocity. I removed my fingers from the keyboard, and I went to the bathroom. To err is human. To shit yourself two days in a row, that would be something far less.

We can always strive to be more.

I’m telling you, it’s unquestionably ugly and I love it

It is cold outside and warm inside. Nature, we have won.

Of course, we’re all gonna die, so nature gets the last laugh. I dunno, I’m in a weird head space. I slept in, ate a banana, had coffee and biked to a yoga class. I biked back and ate a sandwich, and now my brain is floating away. What I think I’m saying is that I haven’t eaten enough for my mind to get on track, but without my mind on track, I’m not sure what I’d want to eat. It’s a conundrum to be sure. I’m at day three of a four day break. Yesterday I spent a lot of time hanging out with friends. I met a friend for brunch. She’s been having a hard time lately, so I wanted to give her space to vent. We tucked into some eggs and bacon, and chatted. We spent time wandering Kensington Market in search of nothing important. Mostly, we got to spend time hanging out. We moved between a bunch of vintage stores. I’ve loosely had my eye on Paddington style duffel coats lately, in an attempt to get closer to my hero.

Instead I came out with this long leather coat. Knee length, in this off-yellow. If yellow got sick, it’d maybe turn this shade. Like a putrid beige. I don’t know what I’ll match it with, but I’m ready for the challenge. It’s a piece that speaks, and says mostly nonsense. So naturally it’s ideal for me. The remarkable thing about this coat, and remarkably odd thing that led me to get off the pot and purchase it, is that the pockets are ideal. It’s some serious Goldilocks shit. They’re at just the right height, with perfect depth. My arms can relax fully instead of being slightly bent at the elbows. I can let my weight drop into the pockets, and the feeling is sublime. If that isn’t worth spending $40 on an ill-coloured 70s leather jacket, I’m not sure why you’d buy one.

After we parted ways, I went to hang out with another friend. She too has been going through a lot. It was another good opportunity to listen, and let someone vent. I dunno, when I was going through heavy depression a ton of people created space for me to rant my little heart out. I think it’s important that while things are solid for me, I make sure I take the time hearing people out. Providing support and listening. Being there when it matters, and doing what I can to make them feel understood. I consider it a quiet act of rebellion in a world that teaches people to minimise their own hurt. If we all made a bit more space for others, I think it would do a remarkable amount to increase our capacity to care.

Just because it’s cold outside, it doesn’t mean we can’t keep each other warm.

Did you know you’re supposed to wear bum bags backwards?

Work Halloween party in an hour and a half, and I still haven’t figured out my costume.

To be clear, I know what I’m going to wear, I just haven’t figured out what I’m gonna call it. I want to wear my lion onesie, because it’s comfortable and doesn’t require any planning. That’s fine, and the only issue really is that that it has no pockets. I need pockets, because I’ll want my scan card to get in and out of the party. I have a bum bag/fanny pack, which works great for the pockets dilemma, but it doesn’t do wonders for the costume. So if I’m gonna have the bum bag and also retain a modicum of decorum at a costumed event, I’ll need to justify it somehow. Unless…

I’ve definitely told the story here before, but I used to have a friend back home with one particular costume for parties. A taco. She didn’t even own the costume, she just loved it. Her friend worked at a costume rental place. My friend borrowed the taco costume so often that eventually she started getting it practically for free. She’d go to parties as a taco, any parties. Halloween? Taco. Themed parties? Taco. I had a Comicon themed leaving party from NZ, and you can bet your arse she dressed as a taco. It was a fun bit, but it got better. Every time she’d show up at a party, she’d meet new people who didn’t get it. They had no idea that she was some form of wonderful sociopath dressing to her own theme no matter what was on offer. So they’d start making offers. “Oh, are you the character Taco from The League?” Whatever they’d suggest, she’d be like “oh, you totally got it. Good job”. Then if someone else came up with another suggestion, same thing. Everyone thought they were so astute for guessing, and she didn’t have to justify a thing. It was great.

I wonder if I could take the same tack at this work party. Just wear what I want to wear, and put the onus on others to let me know what I am. I know I’ve got a twisty turny brain that’ll contort itself to come up with concepts. If I saw someone wearing a fanny pack and lion costume I’d be like “ooooh, are you Muff-asa?” Maybe not safe for work, but my brain sure isn’t. I can leave the job of figuring out my costume to others, and just have a good time. I can make people feel great for ‘guessing correctly’, and if someone comes up with a really good one, I can take it for myself. No stress whatsoever, and I’ll be comfy as a bean in a burrito.

Or just like, make a cardboard crown and go as The Lion King.