Much as he would seem a southpaw, Buddy was a retriever, not a boxer.

If finding a copy of Monkey Up at Dollarama a couple of weeks back wasn’t a sign that we need to start the Pawdcast up again, then this definitely is. I’m starting a super low key grassroots campaign to see if we could host the event. Because what’s to lose? The Pawdcast might not be family friendly, but we’ve absorbed enough wholesome entertainment that I’m sure we could fake it. The concept is bonkers, of course, but just crazy enough to make sense. Imagine, my co-host and I standing in the Harbourfront Concert Stage introducing a film about a basketball playing pup to an audience of parents, children and oblivious stoners because one day two years ago I thought the concept of a golden retriever doing back handsprings ad infinitum was funny enough to record a friend and I chatting about its wider mythos for hours.

Buddy never did back handsprings, but he sure did capture our hearts.

It just dawned on me that it’s been almost five months since we last recorded an episode. That’s crazy. We resolved to come back once the weather was warmer and that’s barely been happening in the past couple of weeks. Five months. Fuck. I suppose in having some semblance of a social life again (or at least remembering what my girlfriend’s face looked like, rather than passing like ships in the night), it was too hard to track time as it zoomed past. Five months. I guess that makes sense. I own a beard now. Or maybe it owns me…

The Pawdcast was a lifesaver last year. Much as I dreaded being constantly busy. Much as I dreaded having to sit through children’s film after children’s film. Much as I dreaded having to think of how to fill an hour or more of podcast every two weeks, I needed it. Being stuck in a job that I wanted out of after six months, I had to have a solid creative outlet that would push me to branch out of my comfort zone. The Pawdcast provided that. Writing/voicing parody trailers was tough work at first, but I did it. Getting back into the grind of audio editing was slow going at first, but after a few episodes I got back up to speed. Building up chemistry with new guests week after week was daunting, but I had no choice, so I went with it. Doing these things helped re-awaken long dormant mental muscles and brought back a part of me I thought I’d lost to the daily grind. For all my talk of dreading the work involved, that’s just my natural response to being challenged. It’s not something I enjoy, but it’s something I know is essential for me to keep up momentum or elsewise collapse.

Unfortunately, much as I’m into forcing myself back into the magical world of the ABCU, it’s not on the cards right away. The Pawdcast is not just me, it’s a small team who are all vital to our little operation. Our producer has a sketch group she’s assistant producing. My co-host has jumped off the freelancing train and into full-time work that’s taking up more of his energy and time than he can spare for another project right now. We’re gonna have to stay on hiatus for at least another few months. So Monkey Up will elude me for a little while yet.

The question now becomes, what do I do with myself? I’m still in that dead end job, with no way out on the immediate horizon. It’s an energy vampire that gives me no creative outlet. If I don’t funnel intention into some new endeavour soon I’m gonna regress into going through the motions. I’ve been me long enough to understand these patterns and they don’t head to a desirable destination. I had a writing room I wanted to set up with friends, but people were too busy at the time. Maybe “now” aligns for everyone. I wonder if there are skills I could be upkeeping by giving myself little projects. More audio editing, perhaps? I’d been thinking of taking some improv classes to help foster that mental alacrity. Maybe it’s time to work at letting my brain keep up with my mouth. Or could I finally pick boxing back up after years and mould myself back into shape?

I need something, whatever it is. Because when I get bored, I stagnate. Which seems awfully unbecoming for one of Toronto’s foremost Air Bud enthusiasts. What Would Air Bud Do?

Résistance banned.

I broke a piece of gym equipment yesterday. I felt immediately bad, but also unsure as to what my next course of action was to be. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I knew the right course of action was to fess up and bring the evidence to the front desk, but the seven year old in my head told me that I’d get in trouble and suffer repercussions. What if they took away my computer privileges for the week (as an aside, when I was a kid we had TV weeks and non-TV weeks that alternated. One week we’d be able to watch TV, the other there was no TV to be had. I fucking hated it then, but I’m kind of stoked now. It forced me to find other sources of entertainment like playing with my toys, reading books, drawing. As an adult I no longer have non-TV weeks. I’m tuned in all the time and as a result, it’s rare for me to engage in a ton of creative endeavours. There’s no argument I’d be significantly more productive if I wasn’t so concerned with missing a moment of the internet. That was all)? Bummertown USA.

I wasn’t even doing anything egregious when it broke. It was one of those rubber tube things for resistance work. As it turns out, it couldn’t resist my pure herculean strength. Or else I wasn’t using it correctly. I guess we’ll never know. I have no earthly idea what the exercise I was doing is called. I learned it while I was in physio and it always kicked my arse back then. You get the tubing (in retrospect, I’d probably previously used one of those more solid black bands) and place it on the ground. Next, stand on top of the tubing, feet about shoulder width apart. Pick up the handles in the opposite hands so that the band makes a kind of ‘x’ shape in the middle. Then raise your arms above your shoulders, ensuring that they’re extended straight. Then hinge at your hips while keeping your arms straight, very similar to the mid position of an overhead squat. From there it’s a matter of crab walking with arms held high. Take care to keep your body aligned (rather than leaning to one side), in order to prevent work going into your back. Crab (verb) in one direction for 8-12 decently sized steps, then crab back still facing the same way to work the other side. It’ll burn your glutes to bits and with the arms raised, becomes a great full body exercise (though keep your neutral spine as best you can to once again prevent back pain).

I kept up my side of the bargain, but the tubing couldn’t keep up its side. I felt gutted and thought about the other members who’d want to use a piece of equipment that was no longer available. It wasn’t the only one there, but who knows how often they replace their gear? In the end I took it up to the front desk and awaited my reprimand. By reflex I almost put my hand out for a slap on the wrist, but no rebuke was forthcoming. They thanked me for bringing it in and the only sore part was my butt after two and a half sets.

Maybe it doesn’t always hurt to do the right thing. Maybe this is a lesson to quash my constant flight response in favour of crusading for justice. Will I suddenly no longer be a bystander at heart? Will I turn over a new leaf towards bold new growth?

Of course not. They might take away my TV privileges.

But it’s not like they made a black Care Bear. The panda doesn’t count.

The weather’s getting warmer, finally. I’ve been taking advantage of it by going for lunchtime jogs when I can. I work on the waterfront and there’s a bike path I can use the whole way. It’s great to get out into the fresh air, no doubt. Finding the motivation to leave my seat at work isn’t always easy, but I feel better (and monstrously hungry) once I’m done. So if anything, it’s having the foresight to appreciate potential satisfaction in hindsight. My main gripe really is sort of silly, so I’ll explain.

You know that bus driver wave? Two bus drivers going in opposite directions will nine times out of ten give a little head nod or wave just to say I see you. It’s neat, it instils a sense of camaraderie. It’s like saying hey, we both know this isn’t the best, but every cloud, eh? As someone who rides in buses all the time, it’s by far my favourite thing about the experience (aside from when that bus driver told me to organise my life because I handed him a $20 note. I was 12. “We’re not a bank for you kids” he went on. Tosspot). If I was a bus driver it’d brighten my day tenfold. But I’m not, so I don’t get to do the wave.

I’ve tried to bring it in on my runs, because I think it’s important. When I’m jogging near my home I do the little customary nod or wave and most of the time the person nods back. Yep, I’m struggling too I hear them think. Because empathy is basically telepathy. I see how they’re pushing themselves and it emboldens me to keep pushing. One foot in front of the other. Life goes on, and it’s only gonna make me strong. Can’t fight the moonlight (my motivational inner monologue is LeAnn Rimes, obviously). It’s also delightful.

When I run on the waterfront though, it doesn’t happen. People avoid eye contact at all costs. It’s a bummer. Is it me? What have I been doing wrong that they won’t meet my eyes? Do I carry a wafting stench? Is my aroma so arresting that it’s easier to look away than consider a human could smell that sweaty? Is my musk offensive? Or is it the way I dress? All black worked for Johnny cash and New Zealand’s national rugby team, but I have neither the cultural capital nor charisma to pull it off in the same manner. I may not be decked out in head to toe Lululemon, but I can still go the distance. Okay, so I may be wearing golf pants, but they’re from the Canadian Olympic team. Doesn’t that make them authentic enough to count? Are they turned off by my knee brace? Damaged goods too much for them to conceive of as a legit contender? I fought hard to tear my PCL (though admittedly that wasn’t the goal). Now I’m nothing but rotting flesh in motion? The fucking audacity of these monstrous perfectionists.

Or I guess they could just be focusing on their own shit. That makes sense too. I just want to make friends wherever I go, like a care bear in human form. Is that too much to ask?

Ours is not to reason why, but when.

Much like acclaimed musician, philosopher and scientist Pitbull, I went “Back In Time” last night. Toronto has a semi-regular event called Chronologic, a dance party spanning the years of 1890 to 2017. What does 1890s dance music sound like? NO IDEA. The event started at 10pm, moving forward through the years towards 2017. I’d wager very few people arrive early enough to hear the good ol’ baroque-n beats. By the time we got there (after hanging out, catching up and downing a few Lokoschewitz’ (Four Loko and Manishcewitz, obviously)), close to 11pm, we’d already reached the 60s or so. Some choice Motown tracks informed us we were in the right place. Without further ado, bullet points:

  • Since the playlist spanned such a massive period of time, it gave the DJs so many endless gems to work with. I’m seriously not trying to belittle anything in saying that low hanging fruit was the name of the game. Every track seemed to be a time tested dancefloor classic.
  • The douchebag quotient was astonishingly low. I didn’t see anyone having fun at the expense of others. The crowd was generally respectful, with no pushing or assorted friction.
  • People really came to dance, which I guess was the point. Given the lack of specific genre cohesion, the event required some ability to move along to a range of beats and styles. Something like that takes commitment, at least more than a focused playlist. Some dancers though, knew their shit big time.
  • At some stage the projector at the back of the stage was screening game footage from the 1983 Nintendo Entertainment System game Track and Field. On one hand it was quirky and neat to watch in the background. On the other, you feel so powerless watching people who are average at video games. If you feel like you could do better, there’s almost a phantom itch imploring you to get your hands on the controller.
  • People were friendly and well behaved, but concurrently I’m not sure I’ve been on a dancefloor with so much broken glass. Was it just that attendees were super drunk and clumsy? Or were staff not hyper vigilant about clearing the mess on the floor?
  • At one point my friend and I climbed up to the stage to dance along with twenty or so others. As I got up, a small shard of glass stuck in my hand. A woman offered to pull it out with her self proclaimed tiny hands, averting tragedy. At some stage later I looked down and my hand was covered in blood. Worried about getting it on my clothes (personal well-being was nowhere near the top of my concerns), I cleaned it in the bathroom and it stopped bleeding rather rapidly. If this is a sign I’m becoming Wolverine, I couldn’t be more stoked.
  • It’s not uncommon at dance events for a stranger to come up to me and compliment me on my dancing. Something along the lines of “Hey man, I’ve been seeing you dance the whole night and it looks like you’re having a blast. It’s awesome.” It’s true that I don’t take myself seriously when I dance and focus on having an awesome night. I’ve never detected a tone of sarcasm, they seem genuine every time. It’s the most delightful thing. Last night it happened twice. I was understandably chuffed.
  • I think I’ve deeply underestimated how much Britney’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” crushes a dancefloor. The whole place collectively lost its shit. “Toxic” came later and was suitably huge, but didn’t dominate to the same extent.
  • At some point in the night I noticed a massive sweat stain taking up around 60% of my shirt. By the time the event finished (over three hours of dancing later), my clothes felt like I’d been swimming. Pants soaked entirely through. The best way to get your cardio on.
  • Pitbull’s “Back In Time” was notably absent.

Chronologic. It’s a trip!

Cloth and greed.

I was lucky, with my gym membership, to scoop up a friends/family discount. Bringing the cost of a year’s membership down to $280 odd was outstanding, making it easier to put more money away for holidays, etc. When I signed up they asked me whether or not I wanted towel service. “How much would it cost?” I asked. They replied that it would only be $5 bi-weekly. So that would be $10 a month? $120 for the entire year? Did that include tax? Apparently not. $140 odd including tax. On a $280 membership? It didn’t seem worth it. I’d spent years bringing my own towel. Why start splurging now? I said thanks but no thanks and made a mental note to bring towels with me.

A funny thing happened the next time I visited the gym. It was rush hour and there was a line at the entrance. As I walked past to scan my card, the person behind the desk handed me a towel. I blinked and almost thought to say something but instead thought again. The towel was warm, soft, soothing. It was larger than the one I’d brought, so I held onto it and used it for my workout. What a nice treat, I thought. The next time I returned, the same thing happened. And again. Again. Time and time again, they’d just give me towels without a word. This was fantastic. I hadn’t paid a cent but I was getting all the benefits. I felt crafty, wiley, clever. Like I was getting away with… money laundering… or something.

Then I went on a weekend and was still handed a towel. And again. Again. Or there was a pile of towels and I took one. Nobody noticed or cared. Every once in a while sometime would mention to me that my membership didn’t include towel service. “Oh really?” I’d feign shock. “Sorry about that”. I wasn’t sorry and they knew it. No worries, they were just doing their job and they were right, it wasn’t a service I was entitled to. I’ll tell you what, I still felt pretty goddamned entitled. Because of course I would, I’m a straight white cis male. Thing is, they’d usually leave a stack of towels at one end of the front desk, so I’d go get changed, then come back and grab one. If worst came to worst, I’d just ask the person at the counter for one. They didn’t remember me. I don’t know if they even really cared. I justified it to myself as some kind of political move. A strike against Globo Gyms everywhere.

Yesterday they didn’t give me a towel. They also didn’t have the pile over the other side of the counter. I wasn’t keen on going into an RPM class and dripping everywhere. Still, no towel, what could I do? I did the class and wound up soaked, sweaty hands slipping all over the handlebars. Still, I resolved, I’d go back upstairs after the class finished, grab a towel and have a shower. I was going out straight from the gym after all. There was no choice in whether or not I’d be showering. Cloaked in hubris I walked upstairs to the counter in order to get the towel I was, by some divine providence, owed. Nothing. No towels to be had. I slunk back to the changing room feeling the weight of my arrogance. As I disrobed and plodded towards the showers I scrambled to think of any solution. Could I towel off with my used clothing? I thought again, the drenched stuff? Yeah right. I stepped into the shower and turned on the water. What about shaking off like a dog? Drip drying? Had my idiocy ever sunk in so deeply before?

I finished in the shower and tried to shake/swipe away as many droplets as I could. Very little difference, I was still sopping. I trudged out of the shower reigned to the idea that I knew was stupidly incarnate. Naked and dripping in full view of the changing room, I navigated the hair dryer down from my face and across my body. Another guy walked up to use the hair dryer beside me. He gave me a much deserved confused side-eye. “I’m an idiot and forgot a towel. This is my penance.” He chuckled loudly. “Dude, I have a spare towel. Wait here a moment.” He vanished for a second and brought back a fresh gym towel. My saviour. I gratefully clutched it close as he handed it to me, thanking him profusely. My day was saved.

This is the part where I learn a lesson, right? It should be. Really though, what did I learn? How did I suffer for my arrogance? I didn’t. I got bailed out. Being truly sorry involves a certain amount of contrition, and we both know I’m gonna try get free towels every goddamn time I can. I’m too addicted to the thrill, the idea that I’m somehow profiting. The tragedy of this whole exercise being that if there were actually real stakes to the equation (let’s face it, free towels aren’t the biggest social issue we have) I genuinely don’t know if I’d react through anything but stubbornness again. It sucks and it’s the response of all too many people in our day to day. If the system lets me take advantage of it, I probably will. Maybe though, just maybe, I’ll bring a backup towel for emergency circumstances.

I’m not a complete idiot.

Is it possible to exercise demons? Smite them with treadmills and shit?

This post is gonna be a hard slog. I’m operating at 25% capacity today.

I feel swampy right now. In my effort to shunt back to healthier habits, I’ve taken the cold bucket o’ water approach to a couple of things. No coffee today. The duelling tensions of sleep vs activities, artificial vs naturally produced energy, have meant that my coffee use has escalated as of late. It’s been none-too irregular for me to have four or five cups a day. Considering that all bar one of those are shitty brew coffee that I don’t even like, begs the question as to why I’d go there in the first place. Pretty sure it’s a combo of boredom consumption and habitual addiction. Too much coffee has meant flailing afternoons, which have led to crashing in the evening, no energy to get out and do things. I’ve been way less social than I’d like, unless prodded by alcohol. Not the place I want to be.

Drinking a ton of coffee is symptomatic of a larger addiction to consumption. It’s both because of this addiction and a cause of this condition. I feel a need to consume, which extends to filling a cup of coffee. The more I drink, the more my inhibitions are lowered. My sometimes foods, while usually during outside meal times, have become a larger part of my daily intake. I’ll make an exception for something I wouldn’t usually have, then make that same exception the next day “because it was okay yesterday”. Then I feel grumpy and bummed out that I’d veered so widely, leading to eating my feelings later on in the evening. At work our new-ish boss always has a well stocked treat table. If I had the discipline to not be treating myself constantly, I’d exercise it. With the way things have been, it wouldn’t surprise me if a caloric consumption (not that I’ve been counting) of one and a half to two times my normal intake has been the rule, rather than exception.

It’s a dumb, but understandable pattern to fall back into and it’s been throwing my mood way out of whack. I’ve been alternating between extreme grumpiness and fatigue. I’m distractible all the time. It’s shitting on my ability to concentrate on work, turning me into a home-bound mope and making me feel shitty about my body. It sucks. It’s also something that nobody else can really help me with. Sure, there’s emotional support, but emotional support is not habit forming and won’t help me get anywhere. It’s something I need to take care of on my own, because it’s not something I’m doing for anyone else. It’s also far from the first time I’ve hoisted this bugbear atop my shoulders and I’m sure it won’t be the last. As always, a long term view, self-compassion and hard work will be lead me in the right direction. Right now though, it’s slow going.

One foot in front of the other. Again and again.

I want to eat cheese and never stop.

Tired. Brain dead. Not to be confused with the 1992 Peter Jackson splatterfest renamed Dead Alive for the North American market. You know, the one with the karate master priest who exclaims “I KICK ASS FOR THE LORD!” Also a dude walking into a room full of zombies holding a sideways lawnmower. Great film. I didn’t walk into a room full of zombies carrying a sideways lawnmower. It just felt like it.

I had a run during lunchtime today though, that was a bright spot. Being able to get out of the office and jog across the waterfront was pretty fucking great. Fresh air in the face of Toronto’s recent jigsaw weather (today had a high of 10°C. Tomorrow’s is -2°C) meant I could attack the afternoon without feeling dried out. Instead I was achy and hungry. So my normal state of being, anyway. I protest too much. It really was awesome not only having the opportunity to run in the middle of the day, but to be capable of walking out the front door at work and jogging almost 6km. With Spring quickly approaching (yesterday, apparently), I want to get fitter again. I’ve been keeping active, but haven’t done the cardio I’ve desired. I’d say I’ve been itching for it, but realistically that’s just the beta alanine in my bloodstream. Tossing Girl Talk’s 2014 Coachella performance on my headphones, I put my legs through a decent pace. Tons of people were taking advantage of the weather and hitting the pavement. I’m not gonna lie, whenever I saw someone jogging on the bike path ahead of me, if I saw them slowly getting closer I made it my low key mission to overtake them. Because what else was I gonna do? I’d left my cellphone (Pokémon Go portal) back at work. Whenever I saw somebody jogging in the opposite direction I did that little bus driver wave. Nobody waved back. Maybe Toronto is as unfriendly as everyone says.

After eating everything in sight (and taking a walk to eat the things that were out of my sight), I was exhausted. Then realised I had a job interview in a few hours and being stuffed would be a sub-optimal strategy. So I did all of the things you typically do when you’re that special combination of nervous and anxious. Nervious? I re-read the job application to search for scraps of handy ideas to prepare. What kind of questions would the interviewer ask? Could I use an old list of questions to ask in an interview again? Oh shit, I’d already spent ten minutes picking the guy’s brain about the position a month back. Had I asked those questions then? Would he remember? Did my breath smell too much like tuna? Should I brush my teeth? Did I need to shit? Why was my mouth dry? Should I drink more water? Was I wary of drinking too much and having to pee during the interview? Could I just bring a drink bottle into the interview anyway? How many copies of my CV did I need to print out? What if there was someone with him in the interview? Wait, what did he actually mention when I talked to him a month back? Were there any things I felt I should take heed of from that previous meeting? Who schedules an interview for 4.15pm?

Interview went fine. It was also a minute’s walk away from my desk, so that was handy. I had decent answers for all of his questions. I didn’t oversell myself, but confidently stated my abilities and admitted faults (that honestly did fit the role). I talked about previous positions and how they’d help. I asked about what he was seeking from an employee and felt I represented the answers he gave. I asked a couple of questions he had to think about, which prompted further discussion. All in all, I think I did as well as I could. Whether or not I get a follow up interview will depend on whether I match what he’s looking for.

Then with ten minutes left in the workday, I messed around on the internet then left.

I’m still messing around on the internet.