We all knew that was coming, right?

A while back a friend told me of a Vonnegut quote that I think of constantly. I’ve definitely mentioned it on here before, but if my worst case scenario is reminding you, I’m willing to take the consequences. It reads:

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

I wrote earlier that I think of it constantly, when really I should’ve instead admitted that I couldn’t think of it often enough. It’s easy to get bogged down by anything that irks you. Every day is a series of microaggressions and interactions that could’ve gone better. Living is anxiety, in that if we had to stop and consider every infraction, we’d find the nearest bridge and a pair of concrete boots.

Conversely, we don’t give enough credit to moments that lift us. Negativity is far easier to feed than the alternative and feeling petty is exponentially more satisfying than contentment. I wonder though, if that’s a function of how much energy we give to that which doesn’t go our way. If we spent more time acknowledging pleasant moments, to carve out those few seconds each time, if we’d notice the difference in our lives.

Take today for instance. Today wasn’t remarkable in any way, but it hasn’t given me anything to complain about. If someone tomorow were to ask me how my weekend was, today would’ve likely factor into my recount. Still, when I think harder about it, I’d almost say it was a perfect Sunday.

I woke next to my girlfriend and we snuggled for a bit. I got up, breezed through public transit and headed for the gym. Without immediate engagements, I didn’t feel remotely rushed. I took my time between sets and really considered which muscle groups I was hitting. While normally I’m bound by evening events or exhausted from work, today I got to spend as long as I wanted without trying to get in and out in about an hour. I left the gym and dawdled around a few shops, then checked out a new Japanese restaurant that opened in Koreatown. It was great, the yakiniku beef was incredibly flavourful, the salad was much more than the usual iceberg lettuce drenched in (admittedly delicious) salad dressing. There was some kind of dried vegetable on the side and the miso soup tasted unusually vibrant. I left satisfied, without a bulging stomach.

I did some fruit and vegetable shopping on my way home. Ten minutes after I arrived, friends came over to play some Magic. We played for hours, the games were interactive with shifting status and tensions. There weren’t huge stalemates, play was fluid and dynamic. We had discussions about the wider metagame and format, then they left and I had the house to myself.

I’ve got a bolognese sauce on the stove which is minutes away. I spent time prepping, listening to music and took advantage of the fresh ingredients I bought earlier. Having tasted it already, it’s gonna be piquant as fuck. Plus the satisfaction of having cooked it myself is an entirely salient taste.

I don’t know what else to say, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Good things happen to those who… wait…

I need to start writing now, otherwise I know how the next half hour will play out. I’ll tab between Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, ostensibly looking for something to write about. Realistically, it’ll be procrastination by any other name. I’ll go to the toilet even if I have no need. Maybe stand there and shake it in case something comes out. I’ll refill my water bottle, even if I’m not thirsty. You can never be too sure. Plus if I have water to drink, that’d justify future procrastibatory toilet trips. I can’t forget the kitchen, because that’d be on the menu big time. There’s nothing like opening a fridge to forage for snacks, finding nothing, then checking the pantry to no avail. Lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe I’d be lucky and find a pickle or something. Cheese would also be a hot ticket item. Realistically I know I’m more likely to leave having consumed a spoon of some spread (be it peanut butter, cottage cheese, honey or marmite). Having completed that noble quest, I’d return to the keyboard and continue refreshing Facebook.

As always, it’s a challenge to put words on the page when there’s nothing urgent or exciting going on. It’s a Friday night and I’m at home with no immediate plans. I’d tried to set up hang out time with friends, but with that having fallen through, the amount of energy I want to put into shaping tonight is minimal. I’m helping friends move a ton of stuff into storage tomorrow, so a big night is less desirable. Plus I’m not drinking until Tough Mudder. Oh, and I’m cutting out bread-y things and most sweets too. Why? Because having fun clearly was overrated. It might seem overkill, but I’ve forever been dreadful at moderation. Saying no in an absolute sense makes it a lot easier than falling prey to my ability to justify eating delicious things purely because they’re delicious. I’m not demonising sugary or fatty foods, just my ability to consistently eat things that aren’t them. SUMMER OF NO FUN IT IS.

Alternatively I could put together a list of things I’d like to do in lieu of “anything fun”. Considering the money I’ll save by not drinking, I could do some rad stuff. A bucket list for the next two and a half months before Tough Mudder, eh? Let’s see what I could get up to…

  • Sleep in a tent. I’ve got a cottage weekend away with friends planned, which’d be a good chance to knock this one off.
  • Go for a long bike ride. I don’t own a bike, but I’d sure they’re easy enough to borrow or rent. I’ve always been interested in biking through the Don Valley parkway. It was a nice walk that looked way more enjoyable on wheels.
  • Flying trapeze. I used to love flying trapeze. The only place I know that offers drop in classes offers them on Fridays at 7pm. It’s a bit of a hike and with work finishing at 5pm, it’d be tight getting there in time. We’ve got summer hours at the moment, which means we can leave early on a Friday. Why not take advantage of it and give it a swing?
  • Improv classes. Well this one’s cheating, ’cause I signed up the other day. I’m taking a weekly class for two months in the hopes that it’ll help me brush up on my front-of-brain skills. I’ve got no illusions of becoming a performer, but there are myriad ways improv skills could help in my everyday life.
  • Cook something special. I have no idea what yet, but this summer is the perfect time to flex my culinary muscles and try a dish I’ve never done before. Something that intimidates me. I could try home made sushi, fresh laksa, make my own ice cream, some kind of extravagant mushroom pasta.
  • Get back into indoor Rock Climbing.
  • Try an epic hike with friends.
  • Rent a car and visit a small town with my girlfriend. Stay in a cute little B&B owned by lovely old people. Desecrate the room with filthy sex.
  • Finally get around to re-watching There Will Be Blood.

Endless opportunity abounds if only I put my mind to it. Or more accurately, if I can stop procrastinating for once.

I’m certain tomorrow will be better. I get to eat a sandwich on a bus.

I’ve been in a grouchy mood most of the day. Primarily because the cat decided to be a furry anus and yowl constantly outside the bedroom at 5.30am, stopping only to jump at the handle or barge into the door. This went on until 7am, at which point I figured I’d been fully conscious for an hour and a half, I was unlikely to get back to sleep. Today’s been a day that’s delivered both the good and the bad. You know what that means… BULLET POINT ENTRY:

  • Bad: Even in her sleepy state, my girlfriend refused my offer to dip the cat in a bucket of carbonite.
  • Bad: Upon waking and checking Facebook, I read of Chris Cornell’s death. While my tastes over the years have mostly shifted away from grunge, metal and most things prog, grunge was essential in sparking my interest in music. When I deep dived into the annals of rock at age 14, I was pulled instantly into the music my brothers had listened to at the same age. This basically consisted of Seattle’s big four and Tool. While I’d always like “Black Hole Sun”, hearing Superunknown in full was a revelation. I mean COME ON. Chris Cornell’s range blew me away and I needed more. I devoured the remainder of their back catalogue, Temple of the Dog, and adored both his solo work and Audioslave side project. Hearing his capability to turn on a dime from bestial growl to soft crooning meant that virtually every cd, mini disc mix and iPod playlist I put together over the next five or six years featured something Cornell. Seattle’s lost one more of it’s favourite sons.
  • Good: I woke up before my alarm.
  • Bad: If I’d had my choice, I would’ve chosen the alarm.
  • Good: I got out of the house earlier than the norm, allowing me to go to a sweet little neighbourhood coffee joint.
  • Good: On my way there, a little girl on a pink bike with streamers zoomed past. She was trying so hard that she started getting speed wobbles. Nostalgia washed over me.
  • Good: The coffee at Contra Café was its usual pleasant self. Gotta love them Social beans.
  • Bad: Getting to the bus, there was a massive line. It looked like it was time to stand in a cramped bus on a hot day.
  • Good: A bus arrived as the prior one filled up. I waited 20 seconds and boarded an empty bus.
  • Good: I was on time for work.
  • Bad: Because of my pending holiday weekend, work was busy.
  • Good: A holiday weekend was coming up?
  • Bad: They’d booked an hour long team meeting on a busy day before said holiday weekend.
  • Good: The meeting had cookies.
  • Bad: The peanut butter ones were down the other end of a long table.
  • Good: I had to “suffer” through oatmeal chocolate chip and double chocolate. Life is tough.
  • Bad: I was slammed with a shit ton of administrative shit getting in the way of completing my work.
  • Good: I don’t have work tomorrow.
  • Bad: I had to do all my tomorrow work today anyway.
  • Good: I got to try my new pre-workout before the gym.
  • Good: I didn’t suffer immediate heart palpitations. Workout was swell.
  • Bad: Toronto was apparently in for heavy thunderstorms.
  • Good: I dodged all of them.
  • Good: My girlfriend made gazpacho.
  • Good: The gazpacho was goddamn delicious.
  • Good: I’m now on holiday.
  • Good: I’ve finished my writing for the day.
  • Bad: Tomorrow is another day.

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 flowers are thanks then I’m A Bouquet right now.

*** Possible Master of None season two spoilers to follow. Proceed with caution and I’ll try to signpost as best I can.***

In solidarity with the new Facebook flower “like”, I’d “like” (in a flowery fashion) to talk about some things I’m thankful for in this moment.

***Master of None season two is one of my favourite things this week. I feel in love with the first season instantly. Funny, sweet and intimately relevant to modern life as a twenty-to-thirty-something, it handled its subject matter with care, insight, nuanced characters and excellent production design. So well put together, relatable and surprisingly insightful for what seemed on the surface to be just another vehicle for a stand up comic (not as if that isn’t directly in my wheelhouse anyway). I’m only four episodes into season two, but in the least spoilery manner I can manage, here’s some stuff I’ve enjoyed:

  • Giving development to Arnold’s character: Most of the friends in the first season weren’t simple caricatures, but neither were they well fleshed out. I’m hoping to see the rest of the gang given similar treatment, but it was wonderful to look under the hood a little with Arnold and see him as more than just a big loveable goof.
  • The use of Italian: It wasn’t something that seemed shoehorned in. Rather it felt pretty natural, especially the flow between the two languages.
  • The flow of episode four was really compelling and superbly executed. A total joy to watch.
  • The treatment/representation​ of religiously conservative characters in episode three was outstanding: Hollywood has this habit of resorting to simplistic and reductive stereotypes that presuppose that deep religious belief invalidates the ability to also have a personality. Faith as a plot point so often results in one dimensional characterisation as a boring cardboard person, which is stupid. A belief in a higher power is not mutually exclusive with being interesting or inquisitive in other areas of your life. As someone not remotely religious, it’s still of importance to me that characters aren’t reduced to stale strawmen. Thanks Master of None.

My girlfriend and I made late game plans to go to Montreal this upcoming weekend. I’d put a hopeful enquiry out to an auntie to see if we could stay with her to cut down on costs. She’s a lovely woman who put me up on my way through Canada first time around. She’s one of those “take my key and come and go as you please” kind of people, understanding that being on holiday means being out and about constantly. Ironically, this kind of attitude makes me more likely to want to spend time with her. I’ve felt guilty for a while over not keeping in touch, because to me that seems mercenary, as if I’m using her for what she can give me instead of the wonderful person she is. So of course when we sent out our last minute request to lodge with her, she agreed without question. Because that’s who she is. It’s gonna be a busy weekend, but I’m really looking forward to my girlfriend getting to meet my dad’s sister for the first time. I’ve always had a lot of affection for her and it means a ton for my girlfriend to see why she’s so special to me.

The weather today was a godsend. It’s been a lacklustre Spring to say the least. Cloudy, cold and rainy with patchy sunshine. Today couldn’t possibly have been a more archetypal Spring day. A sunny, cloudless sky with a light breeze rolling through. I took a waterfront run at lunchtime in an ideal 16 degrees. I wasn’t sweating profusely, but neither was I chilly. The waterfront was stuffed with bikes, dogs and other runners all making the most of what’s been a desperate rarity for the past few months. My feet pounding the footpath filled my body with a sense of completion and a lightness of being. As if a missing puzzle piece clicked into place, creating a greater whole. It may sound like flimsy bollocks, but trust me when I say the words are coming from a mouth that was split wide in an involuntary grin.

Yeah Frankie, what of it?

Often upon leaving work, I just want to go home and relax in front of the computer (so basically what I do at work anyway?). I want to eat a thing and watch a thing and maybe hang out with my girlfriend if I’m especially lucky and our conflicting schedules allow for it. Most of the time, fate tells me to fuck off. It’s rare that I get to lax out. I’ll instead go to the gym or spend time with a friend. I’ll go to some kind of event, whether it’s comedy or film related. While we’re in season, the Pawdcast chews up most of my spare hours (between episode prep, recording and editing). I wish that I could say things are calm, that I’m making the most of my downtime.

I could say that, but I’d be lying.

Last night I tried running home from work for the first time. In my head this seemed like an insurmountable task. It looked way too far and I didn’t think my body would be up for it. Then I made a mistake as innocent as forgetting to bring a towel to work. No more could I get physically active through running at lunch. I’d stink up the office with my sticky sweatiness. If I had a towel, I’d be able to use the workplace showers. NO BUENO. So I was forced to find other plans. I had a drop-in improv class to go to at 6.30pm, so I’d need to be home by 6.10pm at the latest to give me time for a shower and a bus to the theatre. That left me with about an hour to run eight and a half kilometres. Entirely achievable, right?

I put in the effort, folks. I really did. It was a sweet run. I zoomed along the waterfront like I normally do at lunchtime, but I kept on going once I reached Bathurst. I don’t know if I’d sufficiently stretched , cause my left IT band was shouting a constant stream of expletives all the way up my side. The bike path continued through some park towards The Ex. There were other joggers running with their doggos. It was idyllic. My IT band wasn’t letting up, so I took small chances to stretch every time I was stopped at a light. So like three times in five minutes. I ran up Strachan Ave, left on King and up Shaw towards Dundas. At Dundas I looked left and saw a big clock outside a hardware store. 5:52pm. At this rate there’d be no chance of getting home for a shower before class. If I wouldn’t do it to my team at work, I certainly wouldn’t do it to total strangers. I hopped on a bus and headed home, having jogged a respectable six kilometres or so.

Jogging six kilometres in 40 minutes isn’t amazing. I’m certainly not at my peak, but I’d probably average five kilometres in around 27 or 28 minutes usually. I was wondering why I’d been moving at a snail’s pace, then it hit me. Traffic lights. There’d been so many goddamn traffic lights. Each time I’d wait for a minute or so, slowing down my overall time. Bummer. The cost I pay for living in Toronto, I guess.

Into the house at 6.07pm, out of the house at 6.23pm. Reached the theatre at 6.29pm and class started a minute later. The class rushed by. Things clicked a little bit better than the week before. It felt like less of a disparity in skill levels between attendees. I was more relaxed. I tried really hard to be present and front of mind instead of keeping suggestions in my back pocket to bail me out. I hope this doesn’t come off as cocky, because I wasn’t doing anything trail blazing by any stretch, I was merely not shit. A nice change. I had a heap of fun, enough that I’ll probably sign up for the eight week class. I think there’s a ton I could learn from the training that’d extend into being more confident in my everyday goings on.

Then once class finished at 7.15pm, I grabbed a kebab and headed down to a volunteer meeting for this megagame. A friend is running a massive (60 odd people) game that’s somewhere between a model UN and D&D style roleplaying. It should be really neat, but there’s a hell of a lot of rules to wrap your head around. Something that large doesn’t get anywhere without a ton of organisation and we’re only a month off game day. Time is ticking.

Which is a clean way of saying I’ve got to GTFO. Tonight is a quieter night. Merely going to the gym then off to some info session for an upcoming camping event. Quiet indeed.

Fortunately I steer clear of that kind of bullocks.

At times it’s all too easy to sink into the green mire of envy. You can’t help but covet the looks, skills or sexy, sexy oxen of others. Spending so much time worrying about what others have that you forget all the glorious shit you bring to the world. It’s hard not to know that feel when society’s central message is that you’re not enough, but you should always strive to be. So for today I’m going to dig deep into self gratitude. Looking into all the things about myself that I’m thankful for. Or maybe even the things that I’m not.

I’m thankful that I look okay when I run. First and foremost, if you have the wherewithal to get out and be active, then power to you. I won’t reach as far as to say I look cool, but jeebus it could be far worse. My legs don’t splay akimbo, my arms stay by my side without flip flopping like a muppet. I have a slight angle as I move rather than being bent over or ramrod straight. I don’t glow beet red or puff like a Big Bad Wolf. I’ve somehow reached a point where I have a modicum of composure and I’m super gracious of that.

I’m thankful that I’m the least threatening seeming person alive. Just have one of those faces, y’know? I’ve never sought to intimidate people with my presence and frankly, I’d be a shit enforcer of any variety. So I’m glad that my image reinforces what’s on the inside. I’m basically a carebear made flesh. Of average stature with cartoonish features. I hate making people feel uncomfortable and I’m fortunate that it’s not one of my default settings. I’m also fine that I’d never ironically have the nickname Tiny.

I’m stoked that all of my sexual proclivities (at least the ones I’m aware of) are legal and consent based. I don’t tread lightly here. Kids and animals really don’t do it for me (even dat sexy, sexy ox) and that’s a godsend. How shitty and guilty would you feel if the activities that ignited drum fills in your heart caused misery to others? If you knew that you’d never be able to experience that which set your world alight because you felt it was fundamentally wrong? If there was this part of yourself you had to shut away in a sealed vault forever? That sounds heartbreaking, which isn’t to condone these activities whatsoever, but to point out that people have no say in what excites them. It’s a lottery for sure. I’m in a position with a loving, supportive partner who’s really open to trying things. My family and friends would be there for me if I discovered I that my sexual orientation had changed, without question. Not everyone is that lucky and I understand that’s not a privilege that people are afforded by default.

I don’t have any food allergies, which means I can be as gluttonous as I desire without medical repercussions. Well, if I ate my neighbour’s entire sexy, sexy ox in one go, my stomach would probably rupture. My lack of allergies means I can enjoy cuisine from all across the globe. I’m able to adapt to any requirements friends have at parties without being disadvantaged. I don’t need a personal food taster, plus since I’m so nonthreatening, it’s not like people are champing at the bit to assassinate me anyway.

It goes without saying that I’ve got every other privilege under the sun, which is amazing. Because of genetics, heritage and my socioeconomic environment, I’ve been able to blossom in a world unencumbered by the hardships that for many are a sad reality. I’m not gloating, I instead want to point out that I understand the number of aspects in my life that have aligned in order to mean that my life is not constant suffering. That whatever issues I face aren’t the issues that burden others. That when I complain (you know, constantly) it’s done with an understanding that a multitude of things are going my way and I’d be an asshole not to be grateful.