I guess using that word was a bit of a stretch

I talk about stretching a lot, but I think “stretching” is a little bit of a misnomer. When I say stretching, what I really mean is relieving tension in the body.

I think it’s an important distinction, and here’s why:

Stretching is a method, but the overarching goal is to relieve tension. Stretching is putting muscles under strain, to loosen them up. It’s also very far from the only way to do this.

If you’ve ever experienced a massage, that’s not stretching. It probably relieved tension though. A massage is not stretching, a massage is a variety of techniques. Maybe they’re giving myofascial release, applying pinpoint pressure, using intense sonic vibrations, etc etc.

If you’ve ever used a heating pad, that’s not stretching. Once again though, relieves tension. It’s another method. I hope this doesn’t sound needlessly patronising, because I’m heading somewhere.

I’m gonna stop talking in the abstract now, but please keep in mind I’m not educated on this stuff. It’s mostly what I’ve figured out by doing. Here are some methods/techniques I’ve found that work for me with a “What”, “How” and “Why”:

What: Dynamic stretching – Instead of staying static and holding a position, I’ll move in and out of the position.
How: Instead of holding my foot behind my bum to stretch my knee, I’ll kick my heel back, then return it to the ground, and repeat this a bunch of times.
Why: Sometimes joints and muscles are stiff, and by moving into the stretch instead of just holding it, it allows the tension to be broken up gently and gradually, rather than by forcing it. This one is great to use in conjunction with static stretching, because it often opens up pathways that then can be further explored by static stretching.

What: Heat – warming up an area to reduce tension in that area.
How: Hot baths, showers, heating pads. If those things aren’t accessible, I’ve honestly taken to just rubbing the area really vigorously.
Why: Heat works. It’s often far more gradual than other methods, but it feels relaxing and probably takes the least effort out of anything I’ve mentioned so far.

What: Pinpoint pressure – Instead of stretching an area, figuring out where the central point of pain is, and applying increasing pressure until it dissipates.
How: Using an object with a small, firm tip (a thumb would probably be most common, but elbows and balls (tennis, lacrosse, rubber/bouncy) are great too. I’ll use literally anything I can find. The corner of a table, a block of wood or brick), press that tip into the affected spot. Apply pressure to your tastes/pain tolerance. You can start small and gradually apply more pressure, or if you get off on pain, you can just push really hard.
Why: It’s probably one of the most effective and quick techniques, but it generally takes more knowledge and experience than others here. You need to understand how to track down the point of pain, and withstand the constant sensation that comes with it. I do a ton of this, but it’s not for the faint-hearted.

What: Vibration – Vigorously vibrating or shaking the tense area.
How: Instead of bending at the waist with a straight leg to stretch the back of my leg, I’ll shake the leg out vigorously. Or if you had something like a car buffer (don’t laugh, it works), Hitachi Magic Wand- or honestly any powerful sex toy- that would be quite effective. I just don’t have those things.
Why: This is great for breaking up residual lactic acid and associated etc. Stuff that’s lingering around and getting in the way of being able to stretch deeper. TBH I tend to use this one as a way to further static stretching rather than a solo technique, but it’s also great for post deep stretch, moving blood back into areas before you put weight on them. This is incredibly helpful for injury prevention.

What: Tapotement. This is less of a technique to fix things, but more to figure out where problem areas are.
How: You just kinda… slap or hit the area? I’m not talking about hurting myself, but short quick slaps or taps that ripple through an area. If you feel tiny twinges in certain areas as the slap ripples through, they’re good spots to look to take care of with another method.
Why: Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I sorta liken this one to radar or echolocation. Putting out stimulation that triggers a response, which tells you where to look.

So when I say that I stretch all the time, I’m actually talking about using a ton of methods and techniques with the overall goal of relieving tension and stress throughout my body. None of these is better than another, they just have different applications. Sometimes a one method will be great, and at other times that same method will be an ineffective tool. You can swap between methods and apply different techniques on the fly, and it’s a fantastic way of pushing past blocks to get at dense, underlying issues. When I’m “stretching”, I’m combining the above stuff constantly:

I might use one technique for five minutes, switch to another for 30 seconds, then onto another one for the next ten minutes.
I might oscillate between static and dynamic stretching.
I might be in a static stretch, rub the affected area vigorously to use heat, then notice just how much further I can stretch after ten seconds of said heat.
I might spend 5 minutes doing pinpoint pressure, shake the area out to get rid of anything that’s lingering, then go back to the pinpoint stuff. If I feel like I’ve worked a spot totally out with pinpoint work, I might try tapotement to see if there are any other spots where pinpoint would be beneficial, then apply it. Maybe I’ll realise that I’m experiencing tension in that area because there’s tension further along the chain. Say, my knee is sore because my adductor (stretches from the knee to the groin) is tight, and I’ll do a static stretch on that out to lessen the tension. Once I’ve done this, I’ll sway through my hips with dynamic stretching. Then tapotement to figure out where pinpoint would be effective, and alleviate a spot that was too tense to get into before.

The point is to relieve tension. Whatever gets you there, gets you there. The only way to figure out what’s gonna help is to try it. If it works, great. If it’s not helping, try something else. Worst case scenario you’re back to whatever you already know works.

And this is how I lose two hours working on a single hand. Whatever, we’re in a pandemic. Time no longer exists.

Have fun, and let me know how you get on.

Galaxy Brain Hot Take Time #004

An incredibly useful and difficult paradigm shift is to consider yourself no longer done. Ever.

Times and information change regularly. No matter how long you’ve been doing something or how experienced you are, it’s never a bad thing to ask yourself “with everything I know now, is this still the best way to do this?” If the answer is yes, keep doing it that way. If there’s a way to do it better, you can slow down, learn and adjust, then go forward with the new best method. It doesn’t mean you’ll get there instantly, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get there.

It’s difficult, because we’re used to associating work with stress and effort. It’s work to change your view, because it means admitting you’re not doing your best, which sounds a lot like failure in our brains. But it’s not, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. It doesn’t mean you have to do this every single time. It means that any time you do this, you’re creating the potential to do better going forward.

Being content is the enemy of progress. It’s pretty arrogant to think that you can’t improve. This also doesn’t mean that you’re failing by not looking for opportunities to improve, but more of a value added proposition. If you’re doing fine without changing things, great. If you could do better by changing things, great. You always have the option to consider it.

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

The site name spells it out explicitly

Having distractions in these trying times is immensely necessary.

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

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

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

Mark your calendars for a date to be forgotten

We haven’t moved in, but I’ve already pooped at the new place.

I dunno, we have about 20cm of snow, high winds, and I’ve developed a severe disinclination towards straying far from home. It’s warm and comfortable in here. I walked in the door after checking out our new abode and felt an unfamiliar wistful tinge. I realised that my time here is coming to an end. I’ve been in this apartment for six years (I mean, contrary to the paragraph intro, I’ve been outside a few times), and I really have loved it. The neighbourhood is quiet and peaceful. There are young families around and local amenities. There’s an innate security that comes with walking to a place where all your stuff lives. Yesterday it was a little chilly outside. I entered and I’d left the lights on. The central heating was turned up. Our scarves and jackets lined the entrance. I didn’t have want or need of anything that wasn’t there. So much comfort, and walls that held memories. When we move to the new place, it’ll concretely leave those memories in a past stage of life. I understand that our new place isn’t that far away (it’s about 1km south of here), but the physical change is a specific demarcation. Change is always hard, yknow?

Which brings me to my second big change, this. The thing you’re reading here. I Have My Doubts is closing up shop. At the very least, I’m gonna call it quits with the daily writing. My enthusiasm has been waning for years, and it’s no longer a project that brings me joy. I can throw out all the it’s not you, it’s me platitudes I want, but the truth is that this feels like a burden. No, 30 minutes is not a lot of time to set aside daily, but it’s immensely rare that this takes a mere 30 minutes. My “30 minutes” is often upwards of an hour or two. Either I’m forced into writing some kind of nonsense while in transit, or I sit in front of a computer procrastinating until I force myself. In either case, I’m not jumping in front of the keyboard out of enthusiasm. I’m stoked that I’ve had the discipline to stick with it for as long as I have, and maybe that’s what I’ve taken most from it. My writing has definitely picked up. At the very least, I’ve vastly improved my cadence. I feel like I used to think there was some charm to endless prolix. I’ve learned with time that, nope, this ain’t it, Jack.

I looked up my start date a week or so back. I tend to like round numbers, and taking my leave at exactly seven years seemed appropriate. March 25th (New Zealand time, so who knows how that works?) will be the last day I post. I’m not putting out any kind of special lead up to it. That would feel disingenuous. It’s gonna be business as usual until the end. At this stage, even I don’t know what as usual implies. I expect I’ll talk about pooping once or twice. There will be puns. I’ll probably go on wrong-side-of-history pop cultural rants. I’m certain whatever it is, I’ll be able to look back in ten years and thank all the deities that I matured the fuck up and left the nonsense of 33 year old Leon behind. This project made a lot of sense when I was in a tumultuous time in my life. When I was on the verge of a huge transition to the other side of the world. When I wanted to explore my creativity and see where it would take me. In many ways, this seven year project will give me a lifetime’s worth of content to digest, to understand who I was and how I’ve grown. Failing anything, 2555 days of writing in a row is nothing to be ashamed of.

But there is a lot in there to be ashamed of.

Ready for some groan ups

So I’ve been watching Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 3.

It’s fun, if forgettable and I like it. Something I’ve noticed is that while it’s a period piece, it seems to have a super sanitised view of race relations. Fair game. I’m here for light-hearted entertainment. I don’t need to see folks being shitty to people of colour. At the same time, I’ve noticed the “R” word being used twice. Neither time was it important to the script. They could’ve easily used different words. I’m not offended, it just seems like a weird choice. The show may take place in the 50s, but the writer’s room exists in 2020. For whatever notion of period appropriate dialogue they have, they’ve already chosen to smooth over contentious elements. Why not this, when it’s a very easy thing to not include? It’s a massively popular show, and the word is known to be offensive enough that y’all knew exactly what I meant by “the “R” word”. Seems like unnecessary roughness, or a room that specifically relished the chance to use that word. Am I the only one who finds this odd?

We’ve delved further into searching for a new rental. It’s depressing. The market is brutal, and rather than paying another $500 monthly for an equitable place to our current abode, it’s looking closer to an extra $800. Grim. Our real estate friend hooked us up with an agent exclusive search engine. It’s even worse than the public ones. Our current two bedroom costs $1450 monthly including utilities. Using this search engine to find a two bedroom with a rent cap of $2500, there are two places within desirable areas of Toronto. Literally two. One costs $2400 monthly, the other is $2500. Neither include utilities. We already realised that we’d maybe have to lower expectations. Having a two bedroom with on-site washer and dryer in a relatively decent area looks to be over budget for two professionals in their thirties. The system might be broken. At least the slumlords are thriving. Always a silver lining. Has there been a film where a professional couple stage a hit in order to take over a rent controlled unit? If not, I guess I’ve got work to do.

In good news, I forgot I was going to a staged reading of Tom Scharpling’s Grown Ups 3 script tonight. It’s good news, because I didn’t make alternative plans, and it’s an awesome surprise. I’ve never seen Grown Ups or its sequel, but I have listened to a few episodes of The Worst Idea of All Time podcast, where two Kiwi comedians watched Grown Ups 2 every week for a year, and recorded a podcast after each viewing. Suffice to say, I have a very basic idea. From what I understand, Scharpling did not write a spec script, nor did anyone actually ask him to write a Grown Ups script at all. He just had a twisted idea, and put it together with a disturbing amount of respect for the entirely lacklustre franchise. They’re films made so Adam Sandler can go on holidays with his actor friends. A good cause, to be sure, but not cinematic landmarks by any measurements. I’m thrilled. I haven’t even read the script yet, and can’t wait to see how weird it gets.

I bet HE won’t use the “R” word.

Give ’em the good new fashioned

My girlfriend had been telling me for months that there was something secret and special planned for the wedding.

“Is it a flashmob?” I asked. “It’s probably a flashmob.”
“A secret is what it is.” She replied.
It was a flashmob.

As the years have passed, I’ve naturally attended more weddings. Each a little different, each their own. What I’ve come to appreciate the most is how each couple tailors their marital unity to their distinct personalities. It’s neat to see all the little touches they add, whether in presentation, vows, even food. This wedding was entirely the summation of these two individuals tying the knot together.

The vows were incredibly sincere, and made absolute sense for a couple who’ve been together for the past 15 years. While distinct people, they’ve grown together in many ways. A myriad of nicknames and bits found their way into the vows, while I didn’t know the couple well enough to be in on them, I still got the gist. I don’t know that I managed to straight up cry, but there were definitely a bunch of moments that yanked on the ol’ heart strings. The vows made sense in a modern context, talking in a wider sense of trust and understanding, a desire to grow together, work as a team and see the best intentions in one another. I mean, they were worded much more sweetly than that, but the gist is there.

Everyone involved in the running of the wedding was absurdly pleasant. Nothing close to any drama. There was the wedding party (denoted by their silly tiny hats), helping out with little tasks around the place. Making sure the bridegroom ate, drank and had anything they needed.  The servers taking around finger foods were lovely, incredibly friendly and super helpful. The bar staff were great, and the DJ kept things rolling on. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a wedding where both the Tetris theme and Die Antwoord have played, but it was that kind of wedding. Get on board already, geez.

The food was excellent. Instead of a personal meal, they had servers coming around with all sorts of hors d’oeuvres. The bride assured us all that nobody would go hungry. She was right. The hors d’oeuvres did not stop coming. There were calamari sticks, meat and veggie skewers, potato cake things, mushroom risotto, pad thai in takeout containers, these amazing fig and blue cheese concoctions, warm pumpkin soup in little shot glasses, and my favourite, the seared tuna. Even with my reduced appetite, I still managed to try everything. Except maybe the desserts. There was a literal wall of desserts, and I had no hope in trying more than three or four things.

We had such a great time. The music kept going until the early hours of the morning, and the dance floor stayed full the entire time. All of the couple’s friends were great, very easy to get along with. There was nothing contentious whatsoever, just a wonderful night of excellent people getting hitched. And a flash mob.

If you have to ask, it’s probably a flash mob. And it was a fun one.

A Leonardo original

Last night I left the house only to shovel the footpath. I returned over two hours later.

Yesterday was a total whiteout. It snowed all day long. The streets were covered. Some dude in our neighbourhood was going double time with his machine, doing his self-imposed duty to keep the footpaths clear. At some point I looked out and realised our footpath was still snowed over. Snow was still falling. I thought if I at least shovelled, it’d make things easier to work on later. I wrapped up and grabbed the shovel. I put on some music and went to town. The show was so soft. I found that in lieu of shovelling, I could kind of just push the shovel and send snow flying. It was less intense on my back/forearms, and made quick work of the task. Our neighbours are older, so I thought it’d be a nice deed to shovel their footpath too. Satisfied with a job well done, I walked out back to return the shovel. I looked at the picnic table sitting in our backyard. It was totally covered with snow. Maybe I could use that snow to make a lil’ snowman.

I’d never really done a lot of snow sculpting before. I scooped snow together and tried to make the ball base. It wasn’t coming together quite like I hoped. It was too difficult to roll the snow on the table, so what I had was more of a mound than a ball. I stopped and thought, wouldn’t it be funny to make a massive penis? Give the upstairs and downstairs neighbours a good chuckle when they came home? I worked on the balls, set up good foundations. I wanted the sculpture to top out around head height (pun surprisingly unintentional), so I could work on it from the ground. I realised that if it was gonna be a truly impressive sight, I had to establish some solid girth.

Having not done much snow sculpture, I totally loved it. I’m not a big visual art guy. I had a blast when my girlfriend and I had a modelling clay evening, but that was a specific style of sculpture. With the right consistency, snow sculpting is amazing. Last night’s snow was so soft. Unlike other mediums, I had basically unlimited materials. It was easy to pick up (and if I ever needed more, I could just shovel and dump the pile on the table) and shape. I realised that there were all kinds of techniques. If I was shaping vertically, I could shave away with firm downwards karate chops. It worked really well. If I wanted smooth surfaces, I could polish with my gloves. My fingers don’t go right to the end of my gloves, so there’s always a little tip at the ends. I found that I used these tips to do most of my line work or whittling. If I rapidly rotated my wrist, I could get a real Edward Scissorhands thing going on. If I made a mistake or wanted to change something, I could just pack more snow on, then whittle away at it to get the shape just right.

Hours passed and I lost myself in my task. I started really getting into the shaping. It was cool to be able to look at it from all angles, consider proportions, etc. I knew I wouldn’t quite get the girth to length ratio exactly as I wanted because of the height limitations, so I tried to decrease the size of the balls to help my shaft perspective. I stood on the table and looked down. Was it even on all sides? What kind of gradient did I want for the head? Were all sides even? What did I want the ridges to look like? Was I gonna do veins? I decided it could use little a frenulum, as a treat. My girlfriend came out at some point, worried I’d slipped and hurt myself. She offered hot cocoa when I finished. I had such a blast, and it might finally be time for me to own some waterproof pants so I can try again.

Anyway, here’s what you came for, in all its glory.

Was cleaning afterwards considered a dust-y dust?

Welp. I just hosted my dream funeral.

To be clear, I had no idea how the event would go. It was uncharted territory. An attempt to celebrate life, and explore the mix of darkness, humour and sincerity that keep me going. The basic conceit was that the party was a mix of funeral and wake. There was a bell anyone could ring. If they rung the bell, it was their turn to give a eulogy for me. Whatever they chose to say. In an attempt to give a modicum of respect for the dead, I also kept the floor available for anyone who chose to share a eulogy for someone they’d once loved, or a memory from their lives. Nobody took that option, but it was there just in case. Who knew if it would be a farce, or incredibly sombre. Knowing my friends, I assumed the former,but I would’ve accepted the latter. It was in every part, the former.

My girlfriend and I had done some last minute prep. We hung black streamers from the centre to the corners of the room, draped like the roof of a tent. We put a black foil curtain over the entrance to the living (/dying) room. We made charcuterie. We had havarti, gouda and aged cheddar. We bought chorizo, maple smoked ham and sliced salami. We had crackers, pickles and olives. As a birthday present my girlfriend had ordered me a ton of Cookie Time snacks for sharing. As always, I love being able to share my favourite foods with people, and invite them to try things I grew up with. They were just as delicious as I remembered. Friends brought with them a heap of snacks, and ultimately we have more snacks left than we started the party with.

It took a long time for people to show up. I got antsy. Had the theme kept friends away? We had a start time of 7:30pm, in the hopes that it’d get people arriving closer to 9pm. A friend arrived just before 9. By 9.30pm, another friend arrived. I was nervous. At around 9.40pm, some more friends arrived. Then more, and more. The living room was thriving with conversation. Suddenly, I heard the bell ring. My friend stood on the table and gave her eulogy to The Bone King. As my mortal enemy, Wingding, she lorded her victory for all to hear. She stood in exultation and beamed with pride that she had finally conquered her arch nemesis. It was wonderful. Soon afterwards, another friend gave a heartfelt eulogy extolling my virtues. Mostly though, he wanted to shoehorn in a pun. It seemed only fitting.

One of my good friends stole the show. He’d prepared a written eulogy based on absurd and notorious injokes. Our shared love of Manischewitz (a bit that keeps on giving) and my well-known hatred of Marmaduke. He (lying), talked about our ritual of “Mani and Marm Mondays”, where we’d get together to drink Manischewitz and read Marmaduke comics. He then explained in excruciating detail, a Marmaduke comic from panel to panel. Egads I hate Marmaduke, and I love my friend for digging in so deep.

Just after midnight, when the party was in full flow, I gave my own eulogy. It was fucking great. Every joke landed just as I’d hoped they would. It’d been so long since I’d last done a speech, and I forgot just how much I love the process. Understanding how to read the room and deliver words for maximum impact. I got to share personal bits with friends who understood and appreciated them. I had my moments of sincerity, and got to truly thank everyone for being there. There was a point where I looked around the room. It was filled with people I cared for so deeply. They were all shooting the shit, chatting or playing games. Everyone was well-fed, and we had abundant drinks for anyone who needed them. I was so happy with how it went, and if my real funeral is anything like it, I’m gonna die a very lucky man.

As for now, I’ll just have to settle for living a very lucky life.