Does Game of Thrones exist in a diechotomy?

This page sat blank for at least half an hour. Can I count it as my daily writing?

Frankly I feel a little blank. There’s a pall hanging over the office in stark contrast to the brilliant Spring day out the window. Everyone’s quiet, plodding. Movement has ground to a halt while people recover from a long weekend away. Even the flood of emails into my inbox has slowed to a trickle. Everyone’s exhausted, but remarkably nobody’s grumpy. It’s a comfortable haze, like yawning as a party winds down. Happy Birthday Victoria.

I skipped out on most physical activity for several days. My body is feeling it. I don’t know what it is about becoming regularly more up and atom, but an absense of movement really takes its toll. Like your body craves those sweet, sweet endorphins and without them, assumes you’re dying and withdraws accordingly. My limbs are slow and ungainly. My digestive tract has been a good little soldier, bravely scoffing down everything I passed its way (including but not limited to ice cream for breakfast, lunchtime steak and whatever leftovers ended up in that dinner pan), and now the rest of my system has forgotten how to extract the right nutrients. Or, y’know, I forgot how to give it the right nutrients. A bad workman blames his stools after all.

Egads it’s hard to motivate myself to write right now. My brain is swirling the drain, meekly calling out don’t talk about work. Don’t talk about Game of Thrones. Don’t talk about your holiday weekend. You’ve done it all to death. Some days it’s just not forthcoming. It happens. I’ve been mustering all my energy to simply stay awake. To keep my eyes open and meander through my day. I’ve even been keeping a normal walking speed in the hallways instead of racewalking. I have no idea how I’ll lift so much as a towel at the gym tonight. Why can’t they have one of those stupid vibrating platform things that’re touted as effortless muscle sculpting machines? Sure, they’re probably more likely to give you indigestion than work your body, but I could pretend I was doing a bunch while listening to a podcast. I could trick myself into sweet, sweet endorphins and feel like I’d made a real effort, when in fact I’ve failed to produce a modicum of effort to do a single thing today.

Speaking of which, it’s time to call this entry (that should’ve been pronounced dead on arrival). They can’t all be winners.

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Do they greet everyone at the door with a “Well Met”?

Did you realise the the only things standing between me and the Met Gala are the $30,000 ticket price, my share of the $275,000 table costs, the acknowledgement of Fashion maven Anna Wintour, any semblance of celebrity or notoriety, a publicist willing to shill on my behalf, travel funds, a haute couture costume and any knowledge of the industry whatsoever? I’m just a stone’s throw away from being best buds with Rihanna (who I think we can all agree would be a blast to hang out with. She seems neat). Sometimes dreams really are within a hug’s reach.

It was nice enough outside to go for a run at lunch today. It’s one of the few boons of where I work, not only having access to the waterfront, but a basement shower so I’m not a sweaty mess at my desk. Mostly when it’s swell out and I’m running, it loads a full-time smile on my dial. I can’t help it. Something about breaking free from the monotony of an air conditioned office and stale lighting makes me come alive. I look around at all the tourists taking photos, young families going for strolls and dogs out strutting their stuff. What else would I do but crack a grin? Whenever I cross paths with another runner or cyclist, I smile and give a little wave. I figure it’s a pretty universal signal that “oh, isn’t it great that we can get out and test out our lungs?” Turns out it’s not universal. Very few people wave or smile back. There’s one dude I cross paths with in the summer, he’s always got one locked and loaded. It’s nice taking any form of connection I can get. We’re not alone, even if it can somehow feel that way in a city of skyscrapers. One of my favourite things though, is when one of my smiles not only catches, but sticks around. If spy a dour look, make eye contact and see the person turning away with a goofy grin. That’s the good stuff.

Maybe if I spread my smile to enough people, I’ll make new friends. If I make enough friends, perhaps one of them would know Anna Wintour and be able to put in a good word. Then I could crowdfund through the others to earn ample dough for a ticket, table and flights. I have friends who know fashion, and a couple who are handy with a needle and thread. Y’know, this whole Met Gala pipe dream might not be that far off, and I could be chums with Rihanna in no time. Then I could use my high powered influence to bring my other dreams to light. You know what that means, 2019 ALF revival, baby!

Shoot for the stars, friends. But like, literal celebrities, not celestial bodies. You may just be a short jog away.

And I’ve got the bones to prove it!

Hi friends. Toronto’s in the middle of a snowy shitstorm. I haven’t left the house in two days. I can remote into work, and the good coffee is better at home, so it’s all been for the best. I figure I should get some air, so I’m going out to the gym and I’ll grab Korean after Why don’t you come with me?

I still haven’t shovelled and I still kinda feel stink about it. The snow hasn’t ceased and my neighbour broke the back door off its bottom hinges. That’s two doors slain by this ceaseless sleet. Bummer. I noticed that the postal worker stepped through the shovelled path, only to deliver junk mail. Poor postie, wasn’t worth their effort.

I’m on the bus and three separate passengers are eating chips. Every once in a while their chip rotations sync up and they cronch in unison. It’s kinda creepy. One of them has a sneaky ziplock in her purse like it’s contraband, and her eyes are darting around with suspicion. Maybe she has a shit flavour and she’s trying to hide it. Wise.

On the subway and I’m listening to the sniffs sync up. I just did with the guy next to me. It’s rush hour, but going against the traffic. Everyone’s tired of course, but it’s different. There are seats. People seem happier, even the standing ones. There’s no desperation. I even feel refreshed. I guess it’s nice to go against the tide sometimes.

No sooner had I said that, of course, than I hit the transfer station and the train got instantly flooded. Oh yeah, and the next stop was mine. Not ideal, Neil. When we hit the station, I resignedly announced that I had to get off and, well, the waves parted. “No problem man” said a cheerful onlooker. UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY? ON MY TTC? What weird world was this? Going against the tide was like entering The Upside Down. Anyway, gym time.

Aaaaand done. Off to grab some veggies on my way to dinner. With all this snowfall, I’ve been reticent to leave the house. Wait, was that meant to be a euphemism for lazy? I haven’t seen daylight. My supplies of greenery have dwindled. A few more days and they’ll find me lying dead, clutching my bloated stomach stuffed full of meat and bagels. Honestly, doesn’t sound like a bad way to go…

… And wasn’t that just a comedy of errors? Like a goddamn pratfalling clown, I was a whirling dervish of clumsy. Limbs akimbo, constantly in everyone’s way. I went off to the local apple section, and in doing so, my massive bag closed in a couple looking for Ontario produce. Sometime else had to get past, so I pivoted in the hopes she could slide past. She did, but once I turned back she had to get out again. I’d become a turnstile. Then sheet taking a futile age to try cram a too-large cabbage in a bag, I found myself blocking someone from passing. With a sigh, I left the store to get a basket and allay the madness. I re-entered and noticed my shoelace was untied. I knelt down in an opening to fix it, and my new basket blocked no fewer than three people. THIS WAS WHY I HADN’T LEFT THE HOUSE. GAWRSH.

But I made it. I just ordered pork bone stew. We did it, team. Adversity overcome. Wasn’t that fun?

If they ask “which generation?”, they’re a keeper

I’m sure it’s not the first time I’ve done something like this, but there was a thread on fun first date stuff you’d want to do. I put together some ideas.

Oh wow, I love this question.

I’m big into spending hours chatting, eating tasty things, doing activities or some combination of the above. First dates I’ve wanted to do (but haven’t yet):

  • Both of you come prepared with a list of Speed Dating style questions (Which movie could you live in? What pokémon would you start with?) then go back and forth.
  • That 36 Questions thing, trite as it is, does make for great in-depth conversation.
  • Both of you come prepared with Scavenger Hunt style things you want to do (find a green alcoholic drink, shout PENIS in a public place), then work through the list together.
  • If you both have metro/day passes, blind pick a number of stops, then go to those spots, find something to do at each of those spots and take a photo together at those spots. Then make a photo collage of your day spent together to keep as a memento.
  • Have a budget (like $10-$20), go to an op shop and buy each other outfits within that budget, then go out for a meal at some fun divey place.
  • I mean, anything divey is great. Toronto comic Jordan Foisy wrote this excellent article where he went to a shitty bar, ordered a drink and asked someone there what the worst bar in Toronto was, then went to that bar and repeated the process. I’d love to do this as a date.
  • Look, I like cheap drinking. Having a bunch of drinks then going out to a fun dance party (Beam Me Up, Chronologic, etc) sounds like a good night to me.
  • Some kind of dance class neither of us has tried before. I’m physically capable, but very clumsy when it comes to choreo and I love trying new things.
  • I love cooking, and I’ve had this idea of getting a 70s cookbook (Be Bold with Bananas or the like), then trying to make something dire from it. Also we’d both have to at least taste it.
  • Play one of those adventure games where you have to make choices. Telltale Games sorta stuff. Take turns alternating who gets to choose. It either brings up tensions nice and early, or helps you see what kind of decision maker your date is. Or if they want to share their thought process, that’s really awesome and helpful to know.
  • Lots of Fuck/Marry/Kill. It’s fun to come up with people/abstract concepts that you’d either want or hate all of them. The game has legs.
  • Cult Film/Bad Movie showings. Something at The Royal/Carlton/Revue. Especially if there’s a fun theme to work with.
  • I genuinely like pretty active stuff. I’ve done this one before, but I was doing friend dates for a while and we plotted out a route, then jogged to a brewery (chatting all the way) and got beer flights. It was neat.
    Pursuit OCR is pretty far out now, but it’s an amazing place and I’m sure it’d be a great spot for a first date. If the conversation is fun, you could even turn the long transit into a feature by spending the time getting to know one another better. Then once you’re at Pursuit, seeing how someone approaches play is an important thing for me, because I’m often all sorts of goofy.
  • For improv nerds, I’ve thought of going to a Wedding expo together and making up your long term relationship as you go along. Seems like a rad, potentially high-wire act.
  • The Toronto Public Library has some free recording facilities. You could record a date and turn it into a podcast episode.

Will I do even half of these? I have no earthly idea. I went on zero dates in 2018, hopefully I’m in more of a dating space in 2019.

It was her, it was me

Well, my therapist broke up with me.

Maybe that’s not the best way to phrase it. We’re going to be seeing other people from now on. I mean, we were already seeing other people, so that probably doesn’t fit either. Our time together has come to an end. I swear it was amicable. There’s nothing wrong with either of us, we just weren’t right for each other.

I’m not making it any clearer, am I?

The long and short of it is, we talked through matters and she wasn’t sure that her expertise and particular skills were useful when it came to my particular thinking patterns. That’s not to say that therapy is out the window (and I still have my previous therapist to fall back on, who is very very good). I’m gonna keep at it, but not with my now ex-therapist. It’s in no way because she’s not a great therapist, but as she said, her methods weren’t really conducive to helping with the issues I’ve been facing.

What we were talking about was very interesting. She was saying that there are, of course, a myriad of treatment options for all manner of mental health needs. Whether it’s Eastern or Western medicine, there’s no one thing that always works. It’s tailored to the individual and the context. Within Western medicine, she said, there are a number of different pillars that are commonly addressed. There’s exercise, mindfulness, sleep, therapy and medicine. We addressed each of the different pillars and what I’d been doing to cope. We talked about exercise and whether or not that’s been useful. It very much has helped. It’s boosted my mental fortitude and reserves. If I don’t exercise for a few days, I notice it. I don’t feel as sharp, and it’s harder to work myself out of sticky mental places. Exercise is great. It’s also not a catch-all. It doesn’t always effectively disperse dark moods, but it does often facilitate the process. So exercise is great.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness is thoroughly difficult for me. I’ve tried meditation, to very little success. It’s so hard to slow my thoughts and just let them pass me by. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a worthless exercise, but it is profoundly frustrating. Mindfulness is of course not limited to meditation. She suggested that going on holiday like I did in Montreal was in fact a version of mindfulness. It’s a way to put yourself in a different mental state where you’re paying attention to what’s in front of you, rather than obsessing about frustrating life situations. Still, going on holiday all the time isn’t super accessible fiscally or time-wise. It may help to find a way to access mindfulness that works for me. I get mostly enough sleep, and I’ve made real strides in recent years to regulate how much I’m getting. I used to subsist on 5-7 hours a night. I try these days to get at least 7, but closer to 7.5.

Then we get to therapy. I think therapy is something that works well for me. I did a lot of extremely helpful work with my previous therapist. I mentioned to my now ex-therapist that it’d been really useful looking at the root of thoughts, where they came from, etc. “Oh, that’s not something you’ll get from CBT”, she offered. We looked at how I’d been incorporating CBT style methodology to difficult mental/emotional times. Really, I had been trying. Understanding that they were just thoughts and not concrete realities, letting myself feel what I was going through, offering contrary thoughts and options to what I believed in that time, trying to find helpful behaviours that mitigated my experiences and/or helped move towards more productive thoughts. I’d been doing it and it hadn’t been helping. She wasn’t sure that the methods and structures she offered were giving me tools I didn’t have. Which wasn’t to say that I was beyond reproach, but that she didn’t see herself having much of a potential impact. We agreed, with no malice, that it wasn’t really working.

So she suggested that I could consider medication as a viable option. That maybe it’d be worth talking to my GP and seeing what she thought. She said to keep in mind the options she’d mentioned (exercise, mindfulness, sleep, therapy and medicine, remember?), and see if I could incorporate any of them in ways that helped. As for the two of us, she was happy to keep working with me, but wasn’t sure it was a great use of my time.

I wonder what my other therapist will say about all of this…

Do wanna be All By Myself

Yesterday I had no meaningful interactions with a single other human being. It was wonderful.

Lest this reads as a hermit’s manifesto, it happened organically. I had half-arsed plans to do things with other people, and they didn’t come to fruition. I also had some potential errands to run. I needed a costume for a party next week, and I was tempted to go out and find some nice coffee beans to keep around home. Easy errands. After a late night of hard dancing, my legs were shot. Still, I’d only been to the gym twice that week. I figured I had nothing urgent to get to, I could have a smoke and do a basic upper body maintenance workout, then pick up those two things. I made a post gauging interest in having a Make Your Own Pizza night, in case anyone wanted to come over.

The gym went quickly enough. A friend recommended this artist BØRNS, and I gave his albums a listen. Fun bouncy electro stuff. His second album, Blue Madonna, was a real good time. Pretty cheesy/campy, but with a fun slick 80s vibe. Very theatrical, but also supremely goofy. It’s great music to make a workout tick by. I kinda zoned out and got stuff done, but mostly spent an age stretching. I can’t emphasise enough how integral stretching has become after a night out dancing. If I were a smarter gent, I’d stretch before too. Thing is, I normally have to be a drunk enough gent to dance in the first place that stretching is my last thought. Stretching post was time well spent. My legs don’t feel like they’re gonna drop off today. Bonus.

My mind wandered and this scene started playing out; two strangers in public who were listening to the same song simultaneously. That was it. I had no idea what song, where they were, just that. The same song. Maybe the song would make them think back to certain memories. Maybe they’d have entirely different views of the song, read lines with alternative meanings. I thought back to the time when I went to a silent disco. There were three different DJs. The DJ you were listening to was denoted by a coloured light on your headphones. You could look around and notice others on your wavelength, see that they were dancing to the same beat. What if you were in public and noticed that someone was dancing as if to the song in your headphones? What if it was actually the same song. That’d be crazy right? I showered up, still with this idea playing through my head. It looked like pizza was not a go for people that night. I thought about seeing a movie. The Favourite was on at 7pm, friends wanted to see Spider Verse and I was happy to see it again. I asked if 9.15 worked. I had all day and I wanted to take my time. My friends were busy, so no Spider Verse, but I still had stuff to do, right?

I still wanted my costume shirt and coffee. I could hit up Black Market, then walk East towards M Street Coffee to pick up some Phil & Sebastian beans. Deal. Black Market is a great place. A bargain basement where most everything is $10, nothing over. I found a couple of shirts, but none of them fit. I’ve also had a side hustle of trying to get a cheap burgundy leather jacket for a few years. I found one that mostly fit. Mostly. The shoulders were a little narrow and poked up when I zipped the jacket. It looked dumb done up, but kind of fine while open. The rack said $5.99. Was $5.99 a fine price for a consolation “close enough” jacket. Seemed that way. I took it up to the counter, and it turned out to be $10. It was a leather jacket, was $10 still a fine price for “close enough”? It was. I tried it on again this morning. I might be KonMari-ing that shit. Unless it’s exclusively for costumes. I tried a couple of other stores for this ugly orange shirt (Nic Cage, Leaving Las Vegas), but their tastes didn’t stray so low. Apparently.

Turned out M Street Coffee was closed, so no deal on the beans. Since I was near Chinatown, I figured I’d drop in at some of the stores. I had ideas of cooking liver and other offal while my girlfriend was Down Under, and the Chinatown shops were filled with the stuff. I got myself a big ol’ pork liver, some fancy apples and a big jar of kimchi. I’ve never kept home kimchi and I’ve got no idea why. I love the stuff and it keeps well. A friend messaged about her storytelling night at 7pm. It was already 5pm and I’d had no time to chill. Was it worth busting my ass to get there? She’s an excellent writer who gives a lot of herself in her work, but also I’d been on my feet for hours. I was even allowed to stay in and not get roped into Saturday night partytime. The stranger song idea was still in my head, and I wanted to get it down on a page. I told her I’d need time to decompress, and if I could make it out of the house, I’d make a beeline for the event.

I didn’t make it out of the house in time. I got back, took ten to catch my breath, then started writing. It wasn’t a fast process. When I do this kind of writing, my normal writing, it flows a lot easier. I don’t have to think about reasonable structure, if I’m reusing words or expressions too much. I don’t have to think about tenses or pronouns, perspectives, etc. I can just write. Fiction is so far out of my wheel house, even for a low stakes story, that it takes eons to get anywhere. I lost hours to yesterday’s writing. I kept writing, deleting, writing, editing. I was maybe 500 words in before I even figured out what song they’d be listening to. A friend had recently written about her and her boyfriend bonding over it. The song had some sweet sentiment, but also it was well known enough for people to catch on. I didn’t even plan for lyrical coincidences, they just happened. Nothing about the idea was well thought out, so I had to think as I wrote. It was sort of exciting.

Then it was somehow almost 9pm and I hadn’t even eaten dinner. While everyone opted out, there was nothing stopping me from having a pizza night. I had a little tub of gravy in the fridge left over from the other day’s pork roast. Had I ever tried gravy as a base instead of tomato? Why not experiment? I pre-heated the oven then went to the supermarket to grab bases. I remembered that people had suggested bacon to cook with liver, so I grabbed some. Back home I spread gravy on the base, and put it on the pizza tray. I thought about caramelised onions with the gravy and roast pork tenderloin. I chopped the bacon up and threw it into the pan with the onions. It was all coming together. Sundried tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, cumin, cayenne and a slathering of cheese. It was magnificent, decadent and exactly what I wanted. My friends had opted out, but there was no reason I couldn’t watch a movie by myself. So at around 11pm I sat in front of my computer with a delicious pizza and watched Roma.

It was fucking perfect, and I was in perfect company.

Eatin’tinnabulation is ringing a belly

I’m hungry.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t eat an irresponsible amount of rogue jalebi today. Sure, it’s the wiser, healthier choice. I may not feel unwell, but I do want to devour every foodstuff I make lock eyes with. I’ve eaten so little today. I had my breakfast porridge, a tin of tuna with crackers and an orange. I also snuck in a spoon of vegemite. It’s an insufficient quantity of food for eight hours of wakefulness, but I don’t know what to eat.

Why?

My girlfriend and I are going out for dinner tonight and I’m trying to save my appetite. For Christmas, my parents sent us money to have a nice meal. It’s finally time to cash in and we’ve reserved a table at a swell French spot. It’s been an age since I last dined out at a nice place. Sure, I love my almost weekly Korean pork bone stew, but it’s a cute neighbourhood spot. I’m throwing down sub $15 for my total dining experience. I’m sure tonight a glass of wine won’t be much less than that. It’s an experience we wouldn’t usually have access to, and I’m excited about it. I’ve never been one to consider fine dining a necessary common extravagance. It’s wonderful to treat ourselves once in while, but if we had it to often, the meaning and significance would be lost on us. It’s not that we can’t ever afford to have swanky meals, but I don’t know if either of us care to make it a mainstay of the relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, the meal is about four hours away and I will need to eat something in that time. Most likely, however, I’ll have something that fills the gap without just absorbing empty calories. I have no problem with empty calories or enjoying food for food’s sake, trust me. Still, I know that I’m on the precipice of a week where I’m gonna have a lot of it. I’ll probably eat some tasty stuff on my birthday (or more realistically, I’ll go to the gym then get pork bone stew from my local). Then I’m flying to Montreal (sky high, mofos!) with friends for a weekend of post New Years NYE style partying. Montreal has abundant delicious things and I will solely consume delicious things for the entirety of my time there. “Guilt” will not be a concept, just pleasure. I want to give these meals the respect they deserve. I want them all to be special, not to take them for granted.

ALSO I’ve been slack on keeping active this week. I blew off going to the gym after the dentist yesterday. The aforementioned jalebi did a number on me, plus I’d spent the weekend burning the candle at both ends. I was exhausted, which led to this exchange:

Dental Hygienist: Long time no see man, how’re you doing?
Me: Honestly, I burned the candle at both ends all weekend. I’m feeling kind of shattered.
DH: Oh, that’s rough. That’s happened to me before. What did you eat?
Me: What didn’t I eat? It was just non-stop for several days.
DH: And you went to work today? That’s pretty brave.
Me: I feel like if I’ve done it to myself, I don’t deserve to take a sick day, y’know?
DH: I don’t know. From both ends? You must’ve been pretty sick.

It became rapidly clear that we had very different ideas of what “burning the candle at both ends” meant. To compound matters, in a very on-brand outcome, I injured my right calf by goofing around trying to learn pole dancing tricks with friends. It’s not serious, but it is annoying and has acted as a successful deterrent for hitting the gym. I did half-learn some cool new moves, so overall it was worth it.

Maaaan, four hours feels very far away.