It’s not like fire doesn’t cut down on humidity.

I’m a huge fan of garage sales. Even if everyone else here seems to pronounce them “guh-raj sales” instead of the obviously correct “garridge sales”. I love finding affordable (dirt cheap) pre-loved (used) goods that hopefully still work. Hell, free shit is some of my top tier favourite stuff in the multiverse. It doesn’t always pan out (the broken microwave I carried about a kilometre that had a working light, but no heat, comes to mind), but sometimes it pans out entirely literally (the curbside cast iron frying pan for instance. Spent some time scrubbing off the rust and now it’s A+. Not even a nuke could ruin one of those babies). Throwing a few bucks on top of that can come with massive rewards. I had a $2 backpack that I used for about a year, some $4 pants that got a couple of years’ use. I mean, our bedside lamp, blender, large pan and food processor (to back up the blender’s blind spots) collectively cost us under $50. So much value I was in total Rapture.

Yesterday I found a great buy at a local (in direct line of sight from our place) garage sale. I mean, the place was swarming with neat stuff. There was a preserved scorpion paperweight, tons of old cameras and camera technology, clothes and books, etc. Then I saw an item I’d been thinking about for some time: A dehumidifier. We always grew up with one. It was a sturdy machine with a computerised display on the top. My favourite feature hands down of this old dehumidifier was the whale on the computerised display. A goddamn whale. This animated whale was an indicator of the humidity levels of the surroundings. If it was too humid, the whale made a frowny face with “x” eyes. If it was neutral, it had dot eyes and its mouth was pulled into a tight line (like thus: “-“). If the area was at low humidity, the whale would be stoked, mouth pulled into a huge smile with big smiley eyes. PLUS A BIG FUCKEN SPOUT OF WATER ON ITS BACK. I loved this whale possibly more than I loved the dehumidifier itself, even if the logic of it was pretty peculiar. Shouldn’t the whale be stoked with humidity? It lives in the ocean, basically the most humid place there is. I don’t know if this is one of those great white voluntary sand whales I’ve often heard tale of. Whatever it was, it liked its atmosphere like I like my gingerale: dry. Also maybe with whiskey, I’m not sure. It was a two dimensional whale, whatever its liquor preferences were, it was tight lipped.

This garridge sale didn’t have a whaleriffic dehumidifier, but it did have a $10 one. A bargain by any other name wouldn’t smell as cheap. Metaphorically. This thing had no particular odour. Frankly with a dehumidifier I’d take that as a warning sign. I asked the guy holding fat stacks of cash in his hand (I assumed he was one of the people running the sale) if there was anything wrong with it. According to him (and who wouldn’t trust a white male flashing large quantities of dollars?) it worked fine, they just upgraded to a bigger model for the family home. He said he was so sure that it worked that if I took it home and it didn’t work, I could bring it back and he’d swap it for his other one. Sounded completely un-suspicious. I bought it and carried it the 20 metres or so to our front door.

It worked. I plugged it in and it happily (I can only assume. No whale, remember?) did its thing. Within an hour or two, the humidity was down to the requisite level. Soothing. Later that evening I looked up the manual online to see if there was anything I needed to know about the unit. Googling the model number, the first couple of results were the same. PRODUCT RECALL. The model number was one of the many models recalled for potential fire risk. They’d apparently had some cases of the dehumidifier super-heating and exploding. DOUBLE PLUS UNGOOD. I wondered to myself, was it worth still running it? I asked my girlfriend, who was fine with taking a chance (humidity being the moral enemy of virtue, of course). I also thought, how much would they pay for a recalled unit? I had no proof of purchase and the recall was a few years ago. Still, could I get more than the $10 I paid for it? Would this be one of my many lucrative get rich quick schemes that didn’t pan out (curbside cast iron pan notwithstanding)? Or was the best option to keep using my cheap dehumidifier and turning it off once nobody was in the house? Thus preventing it from overheating after, I dunno, 24 hour use or something? Would you dice with the devil? Or go for the Faustian recall deal? The devil you know or the one you don’t?

Sounds like what we bought was really… a dehumidifire.

A brush with coat-dependence.

I’m an everyday illusionist. I wrap myself in layers of mystique set to misdirect and confuse those who cross my path. I carry with me a halo of competency that causes many to assume I’m a capable, competent individual. If they were to look closer they’d discover how very wrong their assumptions were. I run on a fake it till you make it platform. In truth, I don’t have a great many practical skills. If I were to find myself stuck in a forest alone I’d likely just wander around for a short while until I died, moaning about the lack of local pho restaurants. If anything goes wrong in the house, my default response is to wonder who I could convince through friendship or money to fix it. I’ve never had to do much in the way of manual labour, so the sight of me trying to accomplish anything constructive is laughable at best.

Which is why it was so odd for me to offer my services to friends with an overwhelming amount of home reno work to do. They’re moving soon and need all the help they can get making it look spiffy for potential buyers.

Truly I meant best, blindly flinging myself into their home before thinking of the havoc I could wreak. When my girlfriend and I arrived, I offered explicit instructions as to my use:

  • I don’t know how to do many things.
  • I will ask silly questions.
  • I will be incredibly slow at first.
  • By the time I’ve finished I will have gained some competency.
  • You will seriously wonder how I’ve survived life thus far.

My girlfriend is not an incompetent person. She’s done a ton of stuff before, so she was a lot easier to manage. They had a ton of projects for her, like sanding down a door, dusting its grooves and spray painting it. Useful stuff. Me on the other hand, they dumped on the floor and set to work. They were gonna paint the base boards/quarter rounds and needed it taped off. I also learned what base boards and quarter rounds were. Looking around my house now, I can see that they’re everywhere. I set to work right away applying masking tape to the floor and walls. At first it was significantly slow going. I was so set on getting everything tight up against the base boards/quarter rounds that I was taking an age to set anything down. I’d do small bits at a time, afraid of having even a speck exposed to potential paint. Or what if I left a smidgen of the baseboard covered? It’d never get painted and I’d no longer be trusted to help with anything, banished from their friendship for all eternity. THE WORST PUNISHMENT.

I got faster. After I’d done one corner I realised I’d need to start moving things out to get access. Their TV cabinet? Right in the middle of the floor. All those carefully wired speaker cords? GONE. I pulled out the nails they’d used to keep the cords in place, undoing all their hard work. In my head I told myself all this stuff needed to get done eventually, but it was hard to shake the idea that I was committing minor vandalism at a friend’s place. I moved around the living room putting tape down at the top and bottom of the baseboards/quarter rounds. My friend started following my work around the room, painting as she went. Eventually I finished up my taping and wanted more work to do. She instructed me to remove these box shelves on the wall then pull out the plastic screw covers drilled into the wall. There I was, balanced on a chair holding this shelf with one arm, cordless drill between my neck and left shoulder, holding a plastic zip lock bag in my left hand while carefully trying to drop the loose screw into the bag. As I said, I’m not a competent person. Though I did manage to pick up the drill between my big and index toe. That should count for something.

She had to leave to have lunch with her boyfriend, so told me to take over the painting that she’d started. Painting her house? She was trusting me? The only painting I’d done was as a child in school. I painted many shit things, the only highlights being a taniwha and myself as a werewolf. I reluctantly took up the call to adventure as she assuaged my fears. It was only the first coating, I couldn’t fuck up too bad. Had she met me? To be honest though, it wasn’t too difficult. I’m sure I wasn’t doing an amazing job, crawling on my side, but as a first attempt I think it was only slightly shabby.

Riding high on my relative success, I taped off another window alcove and set to painting. I tried to make sure I got all the corners, then got in there with a paint roller. After the handheld brush, the roller was a revelation. I made sure not to lay the paint on too thick and aimed for an even spread. By the time I’d finished, exhausted as I was, I had no concept of whether or not I’d done a good job. Then I thought hey wait a minute, this morning I didn’t know how to do any of this. The fact that I’ve done a job at all is progress enough. By the time I’d left, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and pride.

So maybe there’s something lurking behind my illusion of competence after all.

Okay, so I looked up the word “irascible”. Get off my back. And lawn.

I’ve spent enough days staring at this blank page blankly to know that the best way to steer out of it is to merely start. I know that addressing a central theme is the easiest way to burst out of the gates exuding chutzpah, but when all else fails, simply taking the lead until an idea forms can suffice. By this point, four years in, I expected that daily writing would’ve gotten easier. Half the point of this exercise was to stimulate that forebrain and jog my front of mind-ed-ness. Given the past sentence, you can see that it hasn’t been a total success. Yes, I’ve written each day, but I’d hoped by now I would’ve found more improvement with the 1400+ entries I’ve committed to the page. That’s a lot of words, though how many of those are unique is another question entirely. I’ve written a lot, but my skills haven’t risen with the word count quite like I’d expected.

Of course, I’ve always fallen into the trap of expectations. As a kid I rarely had to struggle through work, which in turn failed to develop a backbone of discipline and effort in order to overcome tricky situations. Things kind of came naturally to me and even if I didn’t put in a heap of hard work, I’d usually do okay. As the years progressed life got more challenging and as a recurring theme, I stopped putting in effort. If I couldn’t simply roll up and do it, was it actually something I wanted to do? I’m not saying that I’m lazy in every aspect, but often when the going gets tough, I go elsewhere.

At the moment I feel like I’m stuck in some form of rut. This ain’t a unique moment. Rather, it seems like this vague ennui rolls around multiple times per year. My mindset right now is creatively, professionally, interpersonally and motivationally mired. While my job isn’t a shitshow, it’s very unfulfilling and easy to phone in because I’ve been doing it for so long. This results in a slog of a workday that feels like it’s chipping away at something inside. How long before I give up, buy a TV and watch reruns of Last Man Standing (too soon?)? Work bumming me out overflows insidiously into other areas of my life. The lack of creativity in what I do affects how I see myself represented. This digs at my self-confidence, skimming away at my seminal (screw me, I was looking for a synonym for “creative”) energy (plus “seminal energy” is fun to say. This is my circus and I’ll let it run rampant as I see fit). If I’m feeling shitty about how others may see me, I’m not raring to put myself out there for others to see. I withdraw from social obligations and turn into a irascible old hermit. I GET OLD SOMEHOW, YOU GUISE.

I always surface from this rut, but through distraction rather than progression. I’ve been trying to move into other avenues of work, potentially more fulfilling jobs. These attempts have come with multiple disheartening rejections. While my mind is screaming that I’m at an impasse, I’m sure this isn’t the case. I am however unsure of what to do. The answer is most likely to dig in and upskill, or put myself out there in my own time. The problem though is that these ideas smack of good honest hard work and that makes my brain crave familiar and safe spaces. Effort is difficult and failure is terrifying. Improvement doesn’t come easily, but continuing to go through the motions isn’t sending me anywhere help. Is this why people get life coaches? So someone else can do the hard yards of telling them what to do?

OH WAIT GUISE. WHAT IF I BECAME A LIFE COACH? THEN I COULD FEEL FULFILLED TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO WHILE NOT HAVING TO MAKE ANY PROGRESS MYSELF.

Creatine? The container is round. They should’ve called it Roundtine!

I remember first hearing about supplement use for fitness. One of my friends was talking up these creatine pills he’d started taking for his workouts. At the time, “creatine” sounded like the purest marketing term that existed. What does it do? IT’S A CONDUIT FOR CREATION. Or something of the like. In whatever his science speak translated to in the mind of my 20 year old self, it sounded like creatine enabled his body to be able to push 10% beyond its normal limits. It sounded like a super power. It also sounded like cheating. I let him have his fun with his expensive products and bro science while I continued working out normally. At my first Tough Mudder (eight years later, for anyone counting), one of the samples was a Cellucor C4 branded pre-workout. I didn’t really know what it was, but with my novice powers of deduction, I presumed it was for consumption before a workout. I mentally shrugged and gave it a go. Here’s how that went.

In my lead up to Tough Mudder last year, I saw some pre-workout on sale. I thought back to the ludicrous experience of pre-workout and thought it could be fun to aid my Tough Mudder prep. Hell, if anything was gonna make working out more enjoyable, it’d be getting borderline high beforehand. The pre-workout helped and I had a great training season. A couple of months ago I saw some cheap pre-workout at Walmart and decided that I might as well. At that price I was practically losing money by not buying it.

This is the logic that gets me into these situations.

It helped. My workouts have been great and the extra push has really helped. I noticed last week that I was running out and contemplated what brand to try next. Some dude at a health product store gave me a sample from behind the counter. He said that the packet had two servings, but if I’d been using pre-workout regularly I’d have no issue taking both.”Mr Hyde” it was called.

[I swear, the fucking branding on fitness products is so goddamn douchey. It’s like real life Powerthirst. Back in 2007 I was embarrassed to admit I liked nerdy shit and wished I was more into fitness. Now that it’s 2017, it’s cool to be a nerd and I’m almost ashamed that I like fitness stuff.]

I took the whole thing yesterday and had a very intense workout. I got a lot out of it and pushed myself further than I have in some time. It just felt like I had energy reserves where usually I only stocked self pity and a desire to cry. By the end of it I could only move slowly. My body felt used. I held no small satisfaction in that. This morning I was considering taking half of the other packet for a midday run. I looked at the ingredients, knowing full well that it’d basically be gibberish to me. Wait I thought I know what “caffeine” is. 400mg, apparently. I googled caffeine content of various things to get an idea of how much this was. A shot of espresso is 64mg. A small can of Red Bull is 77mg. Holy shit, 400mg per serve is a fuckton of caffeine. I’d taken two servings. That’s like nine Red Bulls. How did I manage to sleep last night? I’d no wonder my body had crashed so hard.

Thing is, I’d already ordered a container of Cellucor C4 pre-workout. Looking at the ingredients, I was relieved to see it was “only” 150mg per serving. While still a lot of caffeine (two and a half espresso shots), it was hopefully not gonna leave me hospitalised after prolonged use. It also has a bunch of other chemicals that I assume are leftover super soldier serum. If I’m not dead in a few months, I’m gonna be one Tough Mudder.

Buuuut I’ll likely just be dead in a few months.

If I travel and eat enough, my blob dreams could be manifested in reality.

I do love going on holiday, but holy shit do I ever hate getting there. Being somewhere outside your norm is amazing. Exploring new territory is exciting and makes you feel like you’re expanding your boundaries. Not gonna lie, I primarily enjoy being somewhere else because it allows me to eat from areas beyond my favourite restaurants. Maybe I should forego vacations and instead look for a good restaurant at every Toronto subway stop.

When I’m on “tour”, I don’t want to have to make hard decisions. Neither though, do I want to be mentally pressed in the lead up. So in simpler terms, I wish everything could just be organised for me in accordance with my wishes. Oh, and let it be dirt cheap too, of course. It’s dumb, shitty and entitled, but undeniably true. I can tell that when I grow up, I’ll be the kind of person who’d gladly put money into other people’s if it made my experiences all the more convenient. For the first time since the 90s, I understand why travel agents exist.

I mean, it’s not the 90s. There’s still no fucking way I’d use a travel agent, but I get how it could be a viable option for old people.

Ugh, can’t I just develop teleportation powers already? That way I’d never have to book flights or any other transportation. Dealing with additional insurance costs for car rentals, delivering them to specific locations and shopping around Google for promo codes would be a thing of the past. Accommodation wouldn’t be a necessity, but if I wanted to stay somewhere different it’d still be an option. I just want to appear in an area and start ravenously devouring local cuisine. Like the sudden appearance of a B movie blob, devouring innocent passers by. I’m sure French people would taste dainty and delicious.

The reality of the situation is that life doesn’t happen like that. If you want nice things, you need to work towards them in one way or another. People don’t rush to prostrate themselves at your feet and do things for you. Unless you’re part Veela anyway. If you don’t want to think about the minutiae, then you pay for the privilege of not having to do so. If you don’t want to windmill slam fat stacks of cash onto someone’s desk, then you need to pick through travel forums, Facebook threads and RetailMeNot for inevitably outdated or invalid promo codes. Or happen to be travelling with a mega type A saint who gets off on that kind of thing. Sometimes they accept gratitude as payment.

None of this is news for anyone, but sometimes I like to use my space here to whinge profusely (read: every single day). A holiday is supposed to be relaxing. So why can’t I earn enough to do that windmill fat stacks move? You there. Person reading. Can you cause me to become a viral sensation somehow? I could use the sponsorship money for all of my dreams of laziness. It’s a worthy cause, at least from where I’m sitting.

Which is on the internet. Co-incidentally the right place to find all the info I need. Dammit. I was looking for excuses, not solutions.

I considered making this a Hirsute Yourself entry, but it was a bit on the fringe.

I don’t know how much further procrastination I can do. It’s 10:20pm and I obviously haven’t finished today’s writing yet. In fact, I’m about as far as you’ve currently read. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for the past three or so hours, but each time I find another excuse to not get around to it. First it was dinner, then watching Fargo, then dishes, etc. The internet itself was pretty damn distracting, whether it was random Magic the Gathering content, Facebook or AV Club reviews. By now though, I’ve run out of those meagre excuses and anything further would be tantamount to self-sabotage. With no pressing subject matter on my mind, it’s gonna be a bullet point kind of entry:

  • I got a mediocre haircut today. My usual salon (oh, we fancy) was closed so I roamed Bloor St in search of anywhere that was open. I’ve got a wedding coming up next weekend and I wanted to make sure I got it clipped by then. I figured I had spare time and it’d free up the pressure to get it done during the week. I ended up in a barber shop close to Bathurst. My barber had started his shift while I was waiting and I was his first cut of the day. If he had any fucks to give yet, he certainly wasn’t wearing them on his sleeves. It was a pretty basic cut. The guy I normally go to does all kinds of fancy texturing and whatnot, plus he knows how I like my fringe. This guy did not. He seemed pretty chuffed with the job he’d done and I’ve always had a hard time bucking up and asking hairdressers to fix things. The cut was surprisingly four dollars more expensive than my usual one. Plus the fringe was noticeably cringeworthy. It’s basically the most noticeable thing about hair on a face. I guess it’s kind of a big deal. Hours later I stood looking at myself in the mirror, not stoked with how things looked. Against my better judgement, I reached into the bathroom drawer and pulled out a pair of small hair scissors. I have no experience cutting my own hair. I’m not aesthetically gifted in basically any fashion. Knowing these things, I decided that it looked terrible enough to take action. He’d cut my fringe in a straight line on an angle, so it looked like a weird, flat, lopsided ‘U’. I took the scissors and started making small snips to break up the strange curve. Give it a bit of texture, y’know? With each cut, I felt less confident about what I was doing. Still, I made sure to keep things asymmetrical. Then after a few more cuts I began feeling incrementally more confident. I put the scissors down and took a look. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better. Easy to ignore. I’d said fie to my worries and come out on top. Also I learned my lesson to never again take chances in my life. Or at least my hair. It turns out shitty most every time.
  • As always, I had a weird dream last night. I remember none of it except for giving my girlfriend this sage advice: “Well if you like farting and sitting then maybe you’d be into pooping.” True wisdom.
  • Saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yesterday. Without any spoilers, it was an incredibly enjoyable film. The kind of film where you don’t want it to end because one scene after another you’re having such a blast. The soundtrack was awesome (having become such an integral part of the film), the colour palette was gorgeous, the battle scenes were fantastically set out. Really, really funny. Concurrently, I’m not sure it was a ‘good’ movie per se. It didn’t do a ton to advance the overall narrative or characters. That being said, I love that they made the decision to create a wonderfully engaging movie experience instead of leaning hard into the Marvel Infinity War through line. It’s also hard to feel like this criticism meant that the film didn’t succeed at everything it set out to do. So many fun character moments and sequences. I had a great time seeing a big budget blockbuster. I don’t know that I expected them to deliver anything more than that.

There, finished. Now I can finally get around to procrastinating about going to bed.

“Friendly” doesn’t have to imply “nice”.

I usually think I’ve got an okay grasp of people. Reading the situation and the like. Then I’ll have an interaction that’ll make me question how other people read me. Or whether the issue is with me, that I’m an odd duck myself. Mallard-justed, y’know?

I feel like people often mistake politeness for personal interest. It’s rare that I’ll be in a scenario and not feel like being genial. Just because we’re strangers, it doesn’t mean I can’t be friendly. On the other side of this, just because I’m being friendly, it doesn’t mean that I feel like we have any close connection. If my choice was to be friendly, grumpy, or neutral, why wouldn’t I prefer to enjoy a conversation more than less? Aside from times in which I’m feeling super low energy, of course. I’ll very often chat with people with no intention of taking anything further than that one time interaction. I try to delve beyond the more base level stuff because that’s not interesting to me. It happens at parties all the time. I’ll be making conversation with someone while we’re both waiting for the bathroom or they’re in the way when I want something that’s behind them (usually snacks or drinks). I’ll joke around with them purely because it’s less awkward than being rude or blunt. Why not, right? Then the next thing I know they’ve sent me a Facebook request and I have to feel bad because I don’t remember who they are when I walk past them on the TTC.

I dunno, maybe I’m still holding onto something that happened the other day. My girlfriend and I were at a friend’s comedy gig. As excited as I was to watch some comedy, I was also stoked that I’d get to eat the $10 fish and chips meal. Two guys came over and sat down. One was a dude who I’ve chatted with a bunch. Nice guy. The other was some dude who’s in a shared online community space. Friend of a friend kind of thing. I’d met the guy before, but he wasn’t the kind of person who interested me on a fundamental level. You know how you can sometimes sense it on others a few sentences into a conversation. Your brain sends you this reading of oh, this fellow isn’t on my wavelength whatsoever. It doesn’t make them a bad person by any means, just not compatible with you. Maybe it was his brand of confidence or something. The way he seemed to say things matter-of-factly rather than implying that they were his opinions. I found myself uninterested in not only what he was saying, but how he was saying almost everything he said (to note, I would never contradict anyone who held these same opinions of me. I just so happen to be in agreement with the way that I think). I wanted at that moment to be elsewhere, or rather for him to be elsewhere. But we were watching a comedy show and I didn’t want to leave that. So I stuck around.

The gig finished. My girlfriend and I were tired and ready to hit the sack. We stood up and said our goodbyes to friends, passed around hugs. As we were leaving the guy said it was nice to meet us. We did the typical “cheers, goodnight” kind of thing. He said he’d add us on Facebook. We nodded, said goodnight and headed for the door (also my girlfriend is her own autonomous being. We’re not The Borg or anything. She happened to be doing the same stuff). He called out “wait!” and we turned around. He had his phone outstretched, open on Facebook. He passed it to my girlfriend with the search bar highlighted. “Add yourselves” he said. I tried to think of what to do or say to extricate myself from this situation. I didn’t want to be rude, but neither did I want to have this dude in my social sphere. If I had self respect for boundaries in that moment I probably could’ve said “no thanks” and when pressed for an answer respond with “I don’t feel that kind of connection with you” or something of the like. Why did he think that I would? What about my conversation indicated that I had any interest in him as a person, rather than being trapped in a social space? Who would be that presumptuous? What remote commonalities did he see between us? I couldn’t understand what was happening in that moment and my brain shorted a little. So while I could’ve refused and given an entirely justifiable response, I didn’t. I took the phone he handed to me and added myself.

Then as soon as we left the bar, took out my phone and deleted his friend request.