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.

Yeah yeah yeah, you turn it into a rectangle, then how do you not get tangled?

Oh I love The Internet.

It probably consumes most of my waking hours. Whether I’m scrolling through Reddit/Facebook/Twitter, playing Magic, streaming shows or, well, doing exactly what I’m doing now. I’ve become used to the internet as a forum for arguments, hatred and showcasing the worst that humanity has to offer. Political rhetoric may not have overtaken porn as the central use of the internet, but it’s zooming right up its butthole. Even with the absurd amount of time I spend on it, I still forget how genuinely useful the internet can be.

I’ve had this muscle in my arm that’s been sore for days. At the top of the forearm, kind of on the outside, by the bicep. I don’t know how I stressed it (some kind of overuse, no doubt), but it’s been making itself known quite profoundly. Any time my right arm has been bent and doing some sort of pulling motion, I’ve felt pain there. Bicep curls, obviously. Pull ups, definitely. Outside of gym stuff, certain gripping actions have inflamed it. Feeling down the arm, I noticed that the muscle was connected somehow to my index finger. I wondered if it’d been because of workplace RSI. I’ve tried at multiple junctures to do trigger point release. In short, finding points on the muscle where pressure created strong pain, and holding that point firmly until the pain eased. Letting the muscle relax, basically. I did a bunch while lying in bed last night, and found the stress abating a bit. Pleased, I nodded off. I woke up this morning, with the pain still there.

Disappointed, I consulted the internet. Google has gotten adept enough to handle my dumb queries (“muscles connected to the index finger”), and I found a page full of individual arm muscles. I looked through them all until I found the one that seemed to fit my symptoms/arm location. The brachioradialis. I then searched for brachioradialis stretches. Within a minute I’d found a YouTube video of a British physiotherapist giving a stretch for the muscle. I tried the stretch, it went straight to the source of the pain. I tried on the other arm just to test. Nope, no pain. I’m pretty sure that I’ve found how to ease the strain over the next few days. I consider this a total success.

It’s so easy to forget this part of the internet, but it kinda feels like that was what people originally had in mind. The internet, despite all the trolls and clickbait, is a massive repository of human knowledge. Chances are, anything you’ve asked has already been solved (and/or, pornified. Thanks Rule 34). I don’t know how many times I’ve asked the internet questions like:

  • How do I fold a suit for travel?
  • How do I fold a fitted sheet?
  • How do I iron a shirt?
  • How do I cook ______?
  • What is a remedy for _____?
  • How do I sew a button?
  • Sorry, I forgot the fitted sheet thing?
  • Which bike accessory fits my needs?
  • What do I eat/drink/see in this city I’m visiting?
  • Is there a free alternative to this software?
  • Is there an easier alternative to fitted sheets?

Mostly, the internet has delivered. There are any number of tasks that get so much easier with guidance, and if you’re willing to look, the internet provides.

Also, thanks to The Google effect, I still haven’t bookmarked that Martha Stewart folding fitted sheets video.

Hark, the Bone King cometh

What’s in a name? I’m Leon. I’ve always been Leon. Nicknames slough off me like water from a duck. They don’t hold or stick fast. Not sure why.

I’ve always been one to strip bones bare. Sounds like a red flag tinder profile, but really it means that I love BBQ ribs a whole bunch. Last night we had a big communal cook-up. Ribs on the BBQ, grilled mushrooms, corn, hot dogs, peaches, and a simple side salad. We sat around and had our bellies filled by the work we’d all pitched in. Everyone at the table had helped out somehow, and the rewards were bounteous. It turned out I had different standards than everyone for when a rib was considered “finished”. My friends’ bones piled up, and I flayed them one by one. I finished with a stack high to the heavens. Like a throne. A throne of bones. I was the Bone King.

Of course, this happened in my head. Nobody else had picked up on my clever moniker. So it was my duty to bring them onboard. This was a nickname that could stick. I tried incidentally sprinkling it a few times into conversation. Y’know, “hey, mind passing the chips over here to the Bone King?” They were all “wait, who’s the Bone King?” I was like “thats me, I’m the Bone King. Y’know, all those dinner bones?” My friends exchanged uneasy looks. I tried it once or twice more. It didn’t land. After a particularly egregious one my girlfriend gave me a sidebar. “I’m not sure this Bone King thing is landing. Maybe it’s not happening.” I looked in my heart of hearts and stood firm. “I know this can work, I just haven’t found my moment. By the end of the night, I’ll have it.”

It was evening. There’d been a bunch of pot going around. We were all quite high. We’d all slid into colourful, comfy clothing. I wore my lion onesie, with these dainty rose tinted glasses; gold chain draping from either arm across the back of my neck. People commented on the aesthetics of my attire. I shrugged and said something to the effect of “that’s how the Bone King rolls”. Gentle chuckling ensued. I stepped outside to a spritely bonfine. We played around, making smores. Some tended the fire. I grabbed a bold stick and struck a pose. I referred to myself once or twice as the Bone King. Still not a whole lot of rececption.

Hours passed. I’d put down my rose tinted glasses, and they’d become absorbed into a silly joke about a toy car wearing them. People were still laughing about Lightning McQueen in his rose tinted glasses. I grabbed the glasses, unaware I was cutting off their joke. Someone started to protest my theft of Lightning McQueen’s apparel, and I realised the only choice was to commit to the bit. I methodically applied the glasses, draping the chain over the back of my neck to the sound of the room’s protests. A friend called out “are you challenging Lightning McQueen?” I pushed the glasses to the bridge of my nose, squared off against Mr. McQueen and exclaimed “Hey Lightning McQueen, you come at the Bone King, you best not miss.” Rapturous applause exploded as I walked out the door for a smoke. Thus began the legend of the Bone King.

And I finally made that goofy nickname stick.

I can’t afford to be here for a long time, I’ve got packing to do. Good times await

I’m a free agent now, baby.

I’ve got six days off and they’re all mine. I logged into my work email (bad call) and removed myself from a bunch of distribution groups (good call). I brought home my work coffee machine and plugged it in. So now we have an actual decent machine instead of just relying on the french press. I’ve been scatterbrained, moving between playing Magic, coordinating plans for the cottage weekend my girlfriend and I are going on with friends, and pulling out stuff to pack. Packing has yet to occur. I’ve had coffee and maybe insufficient food, so my mind is moving at 1609344 kilometres an hour. Need to pack clothes, food, booze, weed. It’s a cottage, so it’s not like we’ll die of exposure if we miss something. It’s gonna be rockin’, rollin’, reeling and Barbara Ann.

I got to clean out my desk yesterday and hoo boy, I’d hoarded a bunch of shit for a rainy day. I had a ton of disposable cutlery, etc. Straws, coffee stir sticks, knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks. I had varietals of sugar, white, brown, coconut, splenda. I had coconut oil and oatmeal packets. There were random bits of makeup I’d lifted from the old building after everyone else had left. Dental supplies from hygienist freebie bags. A Tommy Wiseau bobble head (that I gifted to a greatful co-worker). Paper towels, ziplock and plastic bags, gift wrapping. There was some prime stationary, a solid swingline stapler, tape dispenser, calculator, a bunch of promo pens and white out. Paperclips, bulldog clips, pushpins. Notepads and post-its. Manilla folders and notebooks. Also cardboard cutouts of Emily Deschanel/David Boreanaz & Tea Leoni. In short, lots of useful junk that has no place in my new job. Dumping it on the table for people to take was all kinds of cathartic.

Maybe in six days I’ll have enough time to digest the new Tool album. Is there ever truly enough time?

In terms of “enough time”, I’m hoping to finish this, get packing, maybe go to the gym, pick up vitamins and whatnot from the health store, and get a new bag of coffee for the trip. All in the next three hours. It’s not gonna happen, is it?

I’m gonna have limited internet connection over the next few days, but hopefully should be able to at least post updates. We’re going to a cottage, not an empty field.

You know what? I’m finished with this. I need the time. Catch y’all tomorrow.