I wish I had some kind of jean genie.

Welp, I did it. I cashed in any anti-consumerist cache I’d amassed over the years of rants and brand dodging. All of it down on credit at Lululemon.

I remember this slang term from my childhood. Being a “label basher”. A label basher was someone who prided themselves on being a head to toe brand ambassador. Maybe the term rose from the 90s anti-corporate cultural climate. People rallying against those buying into snug franchise affiliation. Maybe it was a mentality erected to oppose the Valley Girl movement. Whatever it was, it eventually all became meaningless as the style and fashions of the contrarian backlash were commodified and sold back to a willing consumer base. Pre-ripped jeans, big stompy Doc Martens and intentional safety pins. Hell, Hot Topic Mall Goth became a thing. Nirvana’s legacy of band tees probably outlived their music. Check and mate.

For years I’ve extolled how unnecessary branded fitness attire is. Wear whatever’s comfortable, but there’s no need to add a hefty price tag to something you’re gonna ruin with sweat. Get things that’ll be useful and ease the struggle of grueling workouts. Then my parents sent money over with my Big Sis for me to get some decent cold weather jogging legwear, since my shorts won’t cut it once the weather reaches five degrees or so. I’m not gonna say how much they sent, but it was more than I considered these things should cost. I’m sure the smart move would’ve been to buy something cheap and pocket the rest, but that didn’t feel like it inhabited the spirit of the arrangement. They’d sent me a generous amount, so why not get high quality clothes that would last. My mind went to Lululemon. They’re a premium brand, but they’re also certainly high quality. The only Lululemon clothes I’d previously owned were hand me downs. My dad had a pair of long pants that got a bit beaten up with time. He had them taken up and tailored into shorts. He used them for a bit, then offered them to me after a while. I used them consistently for around three years until finally they gave up. They were great. Sturdy construction with zippered pockets. Harder to find on pants than you’d think, but perfect for an iPod that bounced back and forth. In the hopes of something that’d last a similar amount of time, I decided to give Lululemon a shot.

A salesperson spotted me as soon as I walked in the door. I told her what I was looking for and she grabbed me a couple of styles, telling me the pros and cons for each. I found a decently priced pair of workout shorts on the sales rack and grabbed them to try on too. To be honest, the pants were really comfy, with a pleasant amount of compression. They stretched to allow for depth of moment, with a good weight. I don’t like it when pants are too light and hang loose. Then I tried the tights and discovered surprisingly they were even better. Solid compression with a pocket that would hold my iPod tight while I ran. Thick enough to keep me warm in the chilly lake air, but also protect against the all too real threat of camel tail that comes with male tights. Unexpectedly I walked out with the tights, paying far more than I ever would’ve expected. Plus the shorts, because they were somewhat reasonably priced. It’ll nice to have two pairs of workout shorts I can rotate.

In terms of my anti-consumerist bent, whatever. We all selectively decide when rules do and don’t apply to us, right? The concept of “selling out” is outmoded, especially as it pertains to fashion. I’m not remotely saying that protesting unfair sweatshop working conditions and the companies that employ them is a bad way to go. I’m also not gonna suddenly start outfitting my wardrobe with only the finest things. I’ve been looking for new jeans for a while. After I finished at Lululemon, I walked across the street to H&M and balked at the idea of paying $20 for a brand new pair of jeans.

So don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

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Success or phalanx?

I have exactly nothing to talk about today. So let’s see how this plays out.

My left thumb is sore, because I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know how to properly wrap his hands before boxing. You’d think this’d make typing insufferable, but I don’t type using a structured Mavis Beacon style touch typing approach. So while my left thumb rests right by the spacebar, it never really sets print on the keyboard. “Sets print”? I wasn’t sure either. My thumb’s hardly gonna set foot, but I’m not entirely sure what that part of my thumb is called. The pad perhaps? What does Google say? Obviously I was indicating the second phalanx (duh. it’s not like we’re talking about metacarpals like some AMATEUR FUCKING MORONS AMIRITE?), but the fleshy part rather than the nail. “Print” will have to do for now. Anyway, it’s sore. Not prohibitively so, but just enough to justify complaining. Since this is my space and I can do what I want, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.

Waah, my thumb hurts. I wish it felt pain free as per the norm, but it doesn’t.

Done.

Clearly you’re all here for these breaking stories. Hope you’re getting all you wanted. Frankly, I’m not sure why most if any of you are reading this. It’s been some time since anything interesting went on around these parts. I apologise for my lack of compelling life changes. I guess going to Portland was fun. Remember when I metaphorically took you on a trip with me? That was exciting. People were smiling in the streets. I drank a lot of beer. I had coffee in a reclaimed bus. Marijuana was legal to purchase. It was like being in another world. Maybe my life is feeling worn in right now because I’m not trying many new things. Perhaps I need more hobbies, or some kind of way of sampling novel experiences on a regular basis. Anything can get boring if it becomes overly repetitive. That’s how relationships find slumps. Perhaps I need to spice up my relationship with myself.

What could I do?

I could force myself to go somewhere new every week. It could be a new bar or restaurant. It could be exploring a new neighbourhood just to look at things. Or perhaps jog in a new environment (though to be honest, when I’m jogging I’m paying more attention to the music in my ears than my surroundings). Maybe I need to find books to read that challenge me in some way. Frankly, I barely read at all any more, so simply adhering to flipping pages in my leisure time would be challenge enough. What if I went to a library and got a book out on some new skill, then worked on that skill? I don’t know if I’ve made something out of wood since I was sub ten years old. What if I messed around with audio editing again? I’m a mic away from recording things. They’re easy enough to find.

I guess the unspoken truth here is that there are infinite things I could do to work out of this rut. The difference is whether or not I do them. I’m so used to reacting to change, having it forced upon me and adapting. Enacting change from within requires discipline, motivation and the endurance to carry on past obstacles. Where does that come from? What drives me and how can I harness that in order to regain momentum? It makes sense that the hardest time to see the road ahead is when you’re down a hole. At the same time, it’s the most crucial juncture in which to launch yourself back to that path. If I’m struggling at harnessing that will, is it time yet to ask for help?

It’s a pity my thumb is sore, I could’ve used it to hitchhike somewhere new.

Before you ask, I would happily board a literal gravy train. I’ve dreamed of little else in my life.

WELL THAT WEEK IS OVER.

In a week I’ll get to write some silly Barenaked Ladies “One Week” cover. For now I’m focusing on moving forwards. Slowly though. My body has become wracked with pain post boxing. I woke up last night with a tightness in my core. It’s been tricky to straighten up my body. I guess that’s what I deserve for skipping abs over the past few years. Eight or so ab exercises in a row will do that to you. All these muscles in my back have activated. You know when you find old coins and stuff between couch cushions? I don’t, because I use debit cards like a goddamn human being, but a lifetime diet of TV has taught me that this is an issue some people face. Well my back is like that. I’d forgotten that holding up gloves and jabbing use certain muscles that’re rarely worked otherwise. My groin is super tight (did I mistake the class for dick-in-a-boxing?) and my calves too for good measure. It was silly of me to go back to the gym last night, but I’d just joined back up and needed to work off steam. I’d forgotten about the day after the day after pains. Well, I’m paying for it now.

It’s Friday night and to be honest, I’m big on the stay in plan. Unfortunately for me, I live a privileged life and sometimes opportunities get thrown at me. What I want to do is stay in and watch the Magic the Gathering World Championship stream. What I’m going to do instead is go out and watch Future Islands perform at Massey Hall. Yeah, it’s a band I’ve been looking to see since 2011. Yeah, Massey Hall is my favourite venue in the city. Plus it’s a seated gig, so any qualms I have over a stiff body fall flat. Still, I’m lazy both physically and intellectually today. But people would pay for this kind of experience and I’d be a dick to pass it up. Story is, I applied to review this gig last month at four in the morning while quite drunk. After not getting an email confirmation of my gigs for this month, I checked in with my editor. He said if I didn’t get an email, I didn’t have any gigs this month. Fine with me. After such an intense succession of JFL42 gigs last week, I’m quite alright staying in for a while. Then today I got a confirmation email on this gig and handily (or maybe not, in this case) didn’t have any alternate plans. It’s hard to argue with free (well, writing a review is a pretty small cost). I’m sure Future Islands will be amazing. We all saw that Letterman performance, right?

The rest of this weekend is fancy free fun. I’m gonna play some Magic the Gathering tomorrow, maybe head along to a Cthulhu/undersea themed rave tomorrow night. Sunday we’re going to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. Then on Monday, we’re hosting our own Orphan’s Thanksgiving with friends who don’t have family close. I’ll take any excuse to gorge myself on gravy. Why not two days in a row?

Cause it’s been…

Is not being able to lift my arms a valid excuse for a sick day?

Forgive me, but my brains have turned to mush. I invoke an armistice for anything that may be said here today. Keep those pitchforks at bay and have pity at the ready. This is gonna be a sad excuse for an entry.

Blah blah work sucks, etc and so on. I think one can only bitch and moan about their situation for so long before the well of sympathy runs dry. In my case I think I’ve been complaining about this job for two years straight. The last few weeks have been pretty rough. When my girlfriend asked if she’d picked up the right magnesium citrate pills I almost said no, because they didn’t read “cyanide”. 3edgy5u? I’ve been reminding myself that I can’t just quit outright. I’ve got bills to pay, the benefits are important, other people have it worse, it’s easier to find a job when you have one already, at least I have a job and other whatnots. It’s hard to motivate oneself to go to an uninspiring, non-creative job that drains all enthusiasm at the best of times, but right now it’s more bureaucratic and busy than usual. The tolerability index has dropped accordingly. I need a new job.

My gym membership ran out, so I’ve been forced to find other means of keeping active. I was fortunate to be using a discounted friends and family pass, but my friend has had trouble renewing it. I jumped on Groupon and found a boxing gym around the corner from me offering cheap boxfit classes. $25 for 20 classes? It’s pretty damn cheap. Even if the classes aren’t amazing, that’s an absurdly low opportunity cost for an intermediary option while the membership gets sorted. I feel like I’ve got a good grip on what they’re likely to be. Traditional boxing training often involves a ton of skipping for cardio/footwork, then ridiculous numbers of simple exercises. Push ups, sit ups, burpees, jumping jacks, squats, planks, squat holds, banana holds and anything else that can be done in repetition or held for unfair amounts of time. Then maybe if the trainer is feeling merciful we’ll get time for bag drills. Jabs, straights, crosses, hooks, upper cuts and combos. It’s exhausting stuff, but geez does it ever work. I guess we’ll see soon. I’m headed there in ten minutes.

*** Several hours pass ***

Well, that was exactly what I expected. I left with a two-tone shirt. The loose parts that weren’t touching my body stayed a faded brown, while the rest was drenched a dark tone. It was hard and unrelenting, but also a fun atmosphere. Real community style place. Some teenagers and older folks who’d been there for years. Sully, the coach, was a little absent at times as he floated around the gym. He kept us working hard nonetheless. For two hours we worked and sweat. I’d forgotten just how difficult it was to keep my gloves up. We started by going for a short run, then came back for a circuit. 20 plus exercises for a minute each with short breaks. Within the first five minutes I thought a chest burster was gonna pop out of my core. We did some partner crosses (with the other person holding their gloves up to receive the punches), moving partner crosses and bag work. We did endurance training with high reps. We did some harder exercises to round it out. A hardcore full body workout in a room lined with carpet. I was surprised my hands weren’t steaming by the end. This is gonna be fun.

My brain might be mush, but at least my body’s keeping active.

If I was to put together a personal ad, “Miserly, loves company” would be my tagline.

And reality comes crashing back in. While it’s tempting to grumble about how returning to work makes me want to walk out a window, we’re only five stories up. That’s more trouble than it’s worth. So let’s try and figure out positive things about being back home.

  • Life is cheaper. Do you know how goddamn expensive it was to go away for a week? I’m sure if I wasn’t such a lazy mook I could’ve put effort into keeping my costs down, but you can clearly see my use of the conditional above. I spent a fuckton. Close to $100 USD per day, which is absurd. Let’s not forget that I was spending at least $10 a day on coffee, let alone booze, food and whatever activities floated my boat (or submarine, as the case may have been. Now that I’m home, I can scrimp and save and be as miserly as I desire.
  • Friends. Miserly loves company (see what I did there?). I had a great time in Portland, but there’s no skirting around the fact that for significant portions of the week I felt lonely as shit. I thrive on human connection and the absence took its toll. A big part of what keeps my running is feeling fulfilled by my close relationships (whether romantic or otherwise). Now that I’m home, I can reconnect with everyone I missed on my date with the Northwest.
  • Girlfriend. Yes, we’re nuanced autonomous people with lives of our own, but we’re also a massive part of each other’s lives. She’s the last person I see before I go to bed and the first person I see in the morning. We share food, cat feeding responsibilities and naked body heat. She tolerates all my dumb jokes and touches my butt. These are vital components of being human, people. While I had a blast checking out Portland, I also missed the fuck out of her. When you get so used to sharing space and skin with someone, it’s hard being without them for too long.
  • Other Magic Decks. I was so stoked to have brought my Chainer, Dementia Master deck on holiday with me. It gave me an excuse to meet people while travelling. I stopped in at a few local game stores and had an amazing night at Tonic Lounge’s “Monday the Gathering” evening. The deck over-performed, exceeding my expectations. It was reactive and surprisingly resilient, with the capacity to win out of nowhere. I also have a ton of other decks, none of which got to come on vacation. Hazezon, my pride and joy. Ruric Thar, the deck that still hasn’t found its potential. Hapatra, which is proving to be scarily formidable. I miss my playgroup, where the meta has evolved to reward tight plays while still being fun and friendly.
  • Being active again. After blisters created a pincer formation on my right foot, I started walking funny (not silly. It’s an important distinction) to avoid the pain. I guess it engaged the wrong muscles, because I pulled something. I developed a limp, stifling my speed and hindering my progress in navigating Portland on foot. it also meant my plans of jogging to keep active and work off the beer went unfulfilled. I felt slow and bloated, which didn’t help my mood. I’ve found in recent years that my state of mind is often contingent on a certain amount of physical activity. Not getting that meant I moped around more than would’ve been ideal. Towards the end of the trip I managed to locate the stretched muscle and rehabilitate it myself, but I wasn’t instantly better. It’s finally sorted itself out enough for me to get back to the gym. Maybe I’ll skip the weigh in today though. Baby steps.
  • Toronto Events. Competitive Erotic Fanfiction tonight. Father John Misty is on Monday. JFL42 begins on Thursday. Life in Toronto is constantly moving at a rapid pace and it runs in tandem with my heartbeat. It’s great to be away on holiday, but Toronto is home. That sure counts for something.

Most importantly, it’s the end of a Friday workday and I won’t have to think about being miserable at my job for another two days. Life is pretty sweet, when you think about it.

Walking on the street I saw a discarded toilet sitting there. I couldn’t get the phrase “cisterns are doing it for themselves” out of my head.

One more day. One more day until I’m on holiday. I can handle one day of work, no matter how garbage it’s going to be. Oh, it will be utter rubbish as I strive in vain to clear up extra work so the rest of my team doesn’t have to pick up too much of my slack. Wait, why am I wasting thought on something that’s gonna be shit, when I could instead focus on non-poopy stuff?

Last night was just what I’d been looking for. This weekend was super quiet. A ton of downtime and early nights which, while not unpleasant, felt unbecoming of a long holiday weekend. I looked in vain at all the event pages to come up empty handed. In this goddamn metropolis, it looked like it was gonna be a silent night. Instead, one of my mates came through. He said his friend had been keen to check out Tilt, the arcade bar that seems to have been plucked straight from my wildest dreams. Free to play arcade games, pinball and N64. Great craft beer on tap for super reasonable prices. In short, paradise. Knowing just how noisy Tilt tended to get (drunken gamers yelling over noisy arcade machines), I proposed to my friend that we met up somewhere beforehand. Rather than drinking for drinking’s sake, I was craving social time. I wanted to loosen up and shoot the shit. Another one of my friends opted in, meaning we had enough players for a full ring of Wrestlemania. We met up at Crafty Coyote (a craft beer bar) and hung out.

Honestly, this was my favourite part of the night. One of my not so hidden pleasures is getting friends from assorted social groups to interact. It so rarely happens at parties, right? People tend to glom onto those who they already know. This was more a case of forced interaction, and it went well. My friend brought someone we’d met at Fake Prom last week and she turned out to be awesome. A friendly newcomer to Toronto, very switched on, riding a wavelength that really resonates with the kind of people I enjoy spending time around. It instantly felt like she’d been part of the group forever. We all chatted about old favourite albums, general pop-culture ephemera and how we knew we were getting old. The Shiny Bootleg Spiced Whiskey Cider proved a smash hit, with the entire table ordering a round. Look out for it if you’ve ever wanted to drink liquid gold.

This morning I felt the revels of the night before. I’ve got bad at hangover type symptoms. Now that I treasure weekends as a time to get shit done, I find lying around cradling my head to be a hard sell. So with five hours sleep and a low level headache under my belt, I skyped my parents then went for a run. After two days of decadent food and downtime, it felt great to remember what speed and motion felt like. Oddly, my brain worked itself out. I guess endorphins are like your body casting healing spells.

Of course, endorphins can only do so much. Whatever restoration I had from my five hours sleep and coffee have fled my body. I think I just deflated.

Oh well, it was nice having bones while they lasted.

I’m some sorta Cherishire Cat.

Gee willikers. What an ardently enjoyable weekend. After months of training, disengaging from social contact and staunchly monitoring my consumption, letting go has been such a release. Since Friday I’ve spent so much time in the company of others, appreciating delicious food and refusing to stress about most anything. I think my soul needed that.

Yesterday I put a Facebook call out to see if anyone wanted to join me for lunch. I was severely hungover and figured the best cure for what ailed me was a metric fuckton of meat, broth and rice. Pork Bone soup would be my saviour. I often post last minute plans to grab food and virtually never get anyone taking me up on the offer. It’s often a deluge of “wish I’d seen this earlier” or “just ate, sorry”. Yesterday, however, I had three people opt in. Plus it turned out that my girlfriend’s shift (a block away from the restaurant) finished up right as we’d planned to meet. It was a diverse group. One of my Magic buddies and two acquaintances I know through general community. Having this range of people opened the door for fun, varied conversations (with people offering viewpoints others wouldn’t have considered). We ate excessively with a lunch that ran for around two hours. Nobody was in a rush, we all just enjoyed being present and spending the time.

Our plans for the evening involved an Alice in Wonderland themed backyard bash. Costumes were mandatory and nobody disappointed. An array of colours and choices. Some went for specific characters, others took general inspiration from story themes. There were long dresses, corsets and bonnets. Most eschewed pants for leggings. Some opted for creative makeup or little accessories. Most of us ended up strangely flammable, which became all the more pronounced when we realised just how many tea light candles there were. The backyard had been wonderfully dressed, with fairy lights, deco light, little butterflies, streamers and an array of colourful accoutrements. Everyone brought treats of all shapes and sizes: Fruit, candy, chips, cookies, juices and soft drink. Peppermint tea in a big carafe. We came bearing blankets and pillows. The host had crafted a great playlist that lasted the entire night. It was a joy to settle in such a curated space.

Best of all, the social atmosphere was ideal. You know the feeling of walking into a room where the temperature has been perfectly set? It felt like that, but with mood and attitude. We were all there to enjoy one another’s company, to lift up rather than tear down. No aggression or bitchiness, just friendly positivity and joking around. As with the lunch earlier, I had a blast having the platform to just be funny. It’s understated, but being surrounded by people who’d yes, and… was bliss incarnate. Having that wavelength sustained through close friendships meant I could read the room well enough to know how to throw out good lines and bits to hearty group laughter. A night filled with solid pulls, deep cuts and callbacks. It also helped being surrounded by a bunch of clever, funny people who’d dish it back. My heart felt a warm tingle being surrounded by such a great crowd.

The misguided sentiment to pull from this weekend would beĀ oh, I guess I just have more fun when I drink. That’d be missing the deeper message. The greater realisation is that it’s more about not feeling guarded. Back when I was monitoring my intake, I had to be hyper-aware all the time. I was thinking about calorie consumption, the ratio of exercise to downtime, whether I was keeping limber and stretched. Then if I was in a social space, being sober around those who weren’t meant that I’d notice too much. I’d see how people’s behaviour would change after a drink or two. I’d hear the noise level creep up. It’d be too much to take in and make relaxing impossible. What a relief then to let go of that and go with the flow. To not have to be so rigid all the time.

Golly gosh, it does lighten the load.