Beer and breaststroke seems like a lesson in drowning

I feel crispy and sun baked. Let’s work with this hazy day’s daze.

I finally joined in my first ever Run TO Beer. If you’re too lazy to click the link, I’ve got you. It’s a local Toronto running group that does weekly planned routes to breweries across Toronto. You run, then head to a brewery and get a free beer in exchange for an instagram photo or equivalent social media promotion. They do 10km, 5km and 3km runs that go in waves. The neat part is, they run as a homogeneous blob of activity. Like a Katamari of athletic folk, the 10km loops around to pick up the 5km runners, then the 3km runners join in the fun. There are pacekeepers who ensure nobody gets left behind (Ohana, etc) and it’s open to enthusiasts irrespective of speed or skill level. Also “skill level” sounds like an odd combination of words when you’re talking about moving forward at an advanced pace. I guess there’s a lot of technique when it comes to high level running, but the more skilled you are, I’m sure the more effortless it all looks. I still don’t really consider myself a runner. It’s just something I do for fitness sake, without being a hobbyist. I know that posture and knee driving helps with speed. Beyond that, I swing my arms and move my legs like everyone else.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I often have trouble meeting active friends. It just so happens that a lot of the people I gravitate towards don’t necessarily care much for running, lifting or climbing things. At least, not to the same extent that I do. I never hold this against people, because imagine that being a dealbreaker in your life. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like more of it in my social circles. I tried to put together a summer activity/open source fitness group on Facebook, but it never really took off. I think people had the best of intentions, but when I fractured my wrist and spiralled out of commission, I think I took their incentive with me. I get it. Motivation is hard to find and harder still when it comes bundled with buckets of sweat.

I didn’t socialise a whole lot today, but it was neat to meet habitual runners and hear about what it meant to them. Over our beers (and as today was a huge run, 250 odd people in comparison to the usual 30-40), we chatted about distances, times, wear and tear and whatnot. Marathon runners discussed the differences between race lengths. Apparently a full marathon feels around four times harder than a half. A few of them mentioned just how challenging it gets close to the 30km mark. Your body shuts down in a big way and motivation is difficult to come by. They said 37km is where it tends to pick back up. With the end in sight you think it’s only 5km. I can run 5km. Then they run 5km to the finish. C’est tout.

I thought about running some more. Aside from Tough Mudder, I’ve never really trained for a big event. Most years I tend to overdo the Mudder training, then end up in a group with people who didn’t train. It’s meant previously that I find the course pretty easy, since I don’t have to push the pace. This year because of my wrist I’ve undertrained. I also purposefully wanted to let myself have patio beers, etc, this time around. I’m doing it with friends who’re Mudder veterans and we’re planning on trying to jog most of it. I’m hopefully gonna find the challenge level this year that I’ve been searching for. If that’s too easy, what’s next? Do I finally do a half marathon and train incrementally? Do I consider a mini triathlon for something all new? Or is there something else out there that could take my fancy? Circus? Rock climbing? Finally learning how to swim Butterfly?

If they involve more sweet ass beer, sign me up.

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Could I be any more of an ideal spokesman?

I rode a bike yesterday!

It was magical. The wind whipping through the phantom locks I had in my experimental hair phases. Engaging my calves pushing uphill. Trying to wrap my head/hands around the odd downward sloping bullhorn style handlebars. An all new familiar experience. Unexpected and thrilling. I used to bike all the time. As a kid, from ages 10-15, I’d bike to school. I buckled my wheel at some stage and kept riding on that wheel for several years. It was so freeing. As a cookie-doughy child, I got to be active and experience the joy of speed. To have that control, to find new hidden routes and side streets. To zip around in charge of my own direction. I’d cover so much ground and see small changes on my day to day route. I tried besting my old times, it was awesome. I never really got the confidence to ride on the road, plus bike lanes virtually didn’t exist yet. So it was always ducking and weaving around pedestrians on the footpath.

Last night a bunch of us went out to Kensington Market for drinks. After chatting and chilling, we piled back to our friend’s place for more relaxed hangabouts. It was a no brainer. We could stay in a bar grabbing expensive drinks, or go back to her plounge and tailor our own vibe. Thing was, all the liquor stores were closed. Not even Wine Rack, the last refuge of desperate drunks, was open. She had a couple of bottles, but it felt like a dick move for us all to deplete her stash. When we arrived, I opted to go and grab some bottles from home. I was just down the hill, after all. With a monthly pass, I could even grab a bus there and back if the times synced. She off-handedly offered her bike. I opened my mouth for polite refusal and thought for a secondHow many years had it been since I’d ridden? Too many. It’d be faster and maybe more fun. The five or six drinks I’d had by then nudged me in the direction of yes and I went for it. I grabbed a helmet and climbed aboard.

Maybe the beers helped. It was just like riding a bike. Sure, the handlebars were more narrow than I was used to. My recovering wrist made things a little less secure. Given that it was almost midnight, nobody was around, so I took the footpath. It was great. I reined in my speeds coming down the hill and made it home in sub five minutes. I parked up front, put together a goody bag of liquor and climbed back on. Was it a fixie? Oh, it totally had gears. they were these odd little toggles that were quite estranged from what I’d grown up with, but they worked. Away I went. Even in my drunken state, the hill was a breeze. I didn’t even need to stand. I guess when you grow up in the land of dormant volcanoes, everywhere else is flatland by comparison. I was back at my mate’s place within 15 minutes.

Every year I think about buying a bike. Every year it gets late into summer and I think well, next year will be the year. It isn’t. Every year. Maybe though, and hear me out here, maybe next year will be the year. Not this year, because my wrists need time to heal. Next year though? It’s perfect. I’m sure it’ll happen. I do get bogged down by the artifice of owning a bike though. I’d need all the accessories; helmet, lock, etc. I’d have to consider lugging the vehicle around or where I was gonna store it. It’d make navigating public clunky at times. It’s that stuff that gets in my head ever year and thwarts plans to get one. Really though, I’m sure it’s not as bad as I think. It’s not an all or nothing conundrum. Just because I have a bike, doesn’t mean I need to use it all the time. I can take it when I want to, when the sun is shining just right. When I’d otherwise walk but want a swifter trip. Maybe if I was picking things up and slung my backpack over my shoulders.

2019, you hear me? Twenty biketeen. It’s coming.

Left write left right out

I feel like I kind of committed to last night’s entry being my final writing with my Infirmary Gauntlet. Turns out I’ve got around half an hour’s wait at the fracture clinic and no internet (why do I never get signal in waiting rooms?). Not one to renege on my word, I’m writing this one left-handed.

Waking up early, news of the Danforth shooting shocked me to consciousness. Fourteen shot, two dead, several injured. It’s too heavy a toll. The city mourns. Disbelief and denial. This is not our Toronto. What’s normalised in the US can’t become de rigeur here. For the constant longing to be a mini New York, this is not what we wanted. It’s not worth it. The city is changing, but at what cost? Affordable supermarkets becoming artisanal dessert stores, gentrification pushing culture to the fringes in favour of bland glass monoliths. Who’s really asking for condo developments in quiet neighborhoods? I’m a week shy of my fifth Torontoversary. This is not what I came for. Toronto, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

The waiting room feels uncannily muted. Of course, the standard hospital hustle and bustle is there, but underscored by a lack of chatter. The guy opposite me just pulled out a notable (pun intended) sum of cash. Thick wads, but maybe of foreign currencies. He’s older, I’m assuming much more worldly. He’s holding his elbow at a stiff right angle. Some other dude complimented the “Milpool” tag on my cast. Despite the legitimately great doodles, Milpool has probably garnered the most comments. Was that the final comment I’ll get? Have I already explained the swing accident for the last time?

They just called A5. I’m A11. I’ve been sitting for 40 minutes. There goes the notion of quick service before 10am. Still, it’s free healthcare. I have no place to complain about a wait. I’m not even late to work yet. Yet. I’m planning on it. Fingers crossed I can get an ultrasound out of the doctor too. I want to know what’s going on under the skin so I don’t break myself further. I’ve been running most days, am I helping or doing irreparable damage? Now there the bulk of the healing is finished, I need to strengthen and rehabilitate everything. Ligaments need fixing too. It’s a long road to the long road of Tough Mudder and I plan on being ready. I’ll need cardio, strength and explosive muscle movement. It would greatly, greatly help if my limbs went back to functioning normally, so I can temper them to function extraordinarily.

************

Well I have my hand back. It’s festooned with dry and decaying skin. It’s a little raw and sensitive to the touch. it doesn’t have full mobility, but it’s mine. That counts for something. The doctor strongly suggests not doing Tough Mudder. Three months prep time may have been fine, but two is a different case. He says I’m welcome to do whatever I want, but I likely won’t have the strength by then to a) compete or b) prevent further injury. Do the physio work and gauge where I’m at over the next seven weeks. In short: Outlook not so good. It’s disheartening, but it’s not apocalyptic. Things could be a lot worse. The doc says there’s no great ligament damage, otherwise it’d still be swollen.

Still, it’s my hand and I love it. I can grip things and wash my entire body. I can put my arms through my backpack straps in either order. I can run without flinging sweat from an overheated cast. I can turn my palm upwards with tremendous pain, but I can do it nonetheless. I’m learning again how to use the hand. That’s a curious perspective. It’s been my dominant hand for as long as I knew, but now I’m taking my time easing it back into use. Will I become truly ambidextrous when it all shakes out? Time will tell (but I sure hope the answer’s yes). Maybe I’ll finally be able to dual-wield battle axes like I’ve always dreamed.

Let’s work on a painless face up palm first.

Remember keeping your shoes on at the airport?

I was bored and hungry 20 minutes ago, so I ate a stack of plain top crackers that were next to my keyboard.

It’s gonna be one of those entries. Random thoughts for the sake of filling space.

The ability to work remotely must be a godsend for parents. I can only imagine that back in the 90s, if your kid was sick, what an inconvenience that would’ve been. What would parents do aside from take a sick day themselves? If they had to shuffle you off for appointments, etc, what would they do? Was it just that there were, in general, more stay at home parents? Both of my parents worked (well, off and on. At some point my dad worked from home for a while and kind of stay at home dad-ed), so I’ve got no idea what a hassle it was for them. Lots, I imagine.

I had a dream last night that I was at the airport, boarding a plane with my niece. Some dude behind me kept trying to stab me and I was like “oi, dick. I’m carrying my niece. Wait until I put her down at least for fuck’s sake.” I have no idea whether or not he declared the knife at customs. I’m guessing that this dream was set in the 90s. When else could you freely carry a knife through an airport?

The new Dirty Projectors album is really great. Fun dynamics, excellent harmonies and some of the best songwriting they’ve had since Bitte Orca. It’s weird, ’cause I’d kind of given up on the band since the last album. Just when I thought I was out…

In an inexplicable burst of curiousity, I emailed my editor asking if I could cover the Insane Clown Posse gig in late August. Also could I maybe grab them for an interview? Don’t ask me why, because I don’t truly have an answer for you. I don’t like their music. The subculture weirds me out more than a little. Juggalos are some odd people. At the same time, I feel like maybe they’re odd people with big hearts? That despite the violent and graphic imagery in their songs, that they’re probably somewhat on the level? If you look behind their word choice, there’s a lot of body positivity and acceptance. The whole “Miracles” conundrum was inscrutable. Was it actually a feint for finding religion? Did they backtrack and cave to public perception? Who are they as individuals? Plus, my best friend had a juggalo phase that still probably lives somewhere in his heart. I’m sure it’d make his life to get a shout out from the band. Who knows? In any case, I’m willing to peel back the layers and see what lies behind the paint.

While I’m still wielding my Infirmary Gauntlet on my dominant hand (comes off Monday), I’m gonna try to go to the gym tonight. I’m testing the waters to see if I can at least work the left side of my upper body. I’m sure it’ll feel weird and imbalanced, but my body is anyway. Why not try and fix that as best I can? I have the feeling that once the cast comes off, I’m gonna be disappointed that I’ll still need to take it easy. Tough Mudder is two months off, I’m determined to do as much as I can to be ready. It’ll break my heart if I have to pull out, so I’m bulldozing forward as if there’s zero possibility of that ever happening. Maybe my feeble left arm will finally be able to do mundane tasks. A boy can dream, can’t he?

Maybe next time I’ll dream of something other than stabbing attempts at the airport.

If she was surprised when I told her about the time I did a capital “G”, she didn’t show it. A true professional

I resolved to take care of myself today.

It’s Friday the 13th, I don’t know what fresh horrors are lurking out there. Impaired as I’ve been feeling lately (thanks to the whole fractured wrist and recovering ankle sprains), I’ve been trying to encourage healing. I don’t have enough faith in the spiritual to merely will myself back to health, so other means were necessary. I resolved to go for a run at lunch. That’s five runs since Sunday. Roughly 30km. I’ve basically run a part time half marathon and then some. It’s been pretty taxing getting back into it. The first six or seven times, my muscles weren’t used to the load. Recently, however, I’ve begun to regain some of my lost composure. I don’t need to take breaks as often. I’m adding a modicum of speed to my jogs. I’m sweating, the cast is still spraying droplets as I run. In the heat of summer, I’m often down to a singlet or even shirtless. The air flow does wonders for my endurance. I’ve noticed lately, with reduced physical activity, just how tired I’ve been getting. Being active and expending energy surprisingly helps me bounce back a lot quicker. It’s like kick starting a generator that holds momentum for hours afterwards.

Finishing early on a Friday, I had a free afternoon. I looked in the mirror the other day and was haunted by the visage I saw staring back. Some serious Lorne Malvo shit (Leon Malvo?). I needed to groom myself. Unfortunately, I’m naturally lazy when it comes to cosmetic upkeep, so I figured I could pay someone else to do it. I visited my usual hairdresser at Sum Coco and waited while he finished with a customer. The customer had an incredibly friendly dog named Lucy, so we hung out for the five or so minutes it took. A sweaty day, she was nice enough to lick the sweat off my legs and replace it with slobber. What a dame. The haircut went swimmingly, because I didn’t have to do anything. I sat there and he fashioned a sweet fade. He groomed my ungainly beard and even smoothed out the lines, which I never do. By the time he finished, it was like staring at someone who’d made better life decisions. A refreshing change.

With that taken care of, I wanted some assistance with my recovering ankles. There wasn’t any bone damage, but the doctor suspected that my ligaments weren’t doing so fine or dandy. I decided to give acupuncture a try. Why not? I’m open to anything that could help. There was a pretty intense questionnaire beforehand. Despite not knowing why it was pertinent, I felt like some kinda cool guy ticking “yes” on “are you sexually active?” It asked about previous injuries, health concerns, etc. Very detailed. The acupuncturist followed up with more questions. How much did I sleep? How much alcohol did I drink? Coffee? I’m not sure that the kindly old lady expected such a detailed and itemised response on my bowel movements, but that’s on her. She asked.

Despite not having any needle fears, I was still a little tense at first. She was incredibly gentle, with only one or two of the 20 or so causing even mild pain. It was pretty relaxing. She did a bit of back massage to, in her words, move around the energy. I mean, I felt good, so I’m not gonna question it. Standing up afterwards, it was quite remarkable. I didn’t expect the treatment to be half as effective as it was. My ankles, even now, are mostly painless. Will it last? Is it short term relief? Or is there more to this? I guess I’ll find out in the coming weeks.

But for now I’m gonna sit down, shut up, and watch some theatre.

When pregnant partygoers snort coke, do they call it a baby bump?

If you eternally felt like you needed to shit, but nothing ever came out, would that be pooer-gatory?

If you were subjected to scenes of tortured crocodiles until the end of time, would that be poor-gator-y?

If you were forced to eat a dish of feline prepared “hunter style” (with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine), would that be purrgiatore?

If your torment was to spend eternity under the purview of Gator Law, would your existence be as per-gatory?

I’m done with that game for now.

I want my arm back. I know I have to wait, but like Veruca Salt, I want it now. I want to not have to think about which arm gets strapped into my backpack first. I want to no longer consider whether or not I can be bothered blowdrying my arm post shower (and if not, keeping my arm clear of the stream). I want to use a can opener stress free. I want to open doors without considering which hand to use. I want for my arm to not smell like old rot. I want to be able to prop myself up on my elbow without pain. I want for removing my socks to not be a process. I’d like to see my forearm again. I want to lift and throw things with my right arm. I want full range of motion when using a spoon. I want those careless days back where I had no immediate worry of damaging bones/ligaments through regular use. I want to climb surfaces. I want an unencumbered life back. I want it all, and like Freddy Mercury did, I want it now.

But it’s still two weeks until I get my cast off (which doesn’t even mean it’s cleared for regular use) so I can’t have any of that. I’ve got one day of anti-inflammatories left, so things will become interesting. Typically it starts throbbing around 10.30-11pm each night. It hasn’t been a pleasant sensation. I’ve got no idea what it looks like under there. I’m imagining it’s a pale harbinger of doom, withered and misshapen. After all the time I’ve spent in the sun, at the very least I’ll come away with a mean tanline. Best case scenario I get super powers, but that’s a fail-safe best case for any scenario.

I know this is not realistic, which is why right now I’m hoping fate will settle for delivering me this bum bomb tout de suite. It’s a normal bodily function. Is that too much to ask for? Hell no.

Oh shit, maybe I’m pregnant.

It’s not everyday you get to use the word “expunge”

It’s been a very quiet weekend.

It’s times like this that I miss alcohol. To be clear, I can’t drink because of my meds right now. It’s not the outcome of a lifelong struggle with alcoholism or anything. I should technically be able to drink again by the end of the week. Whether I will or not is another matter. Summer is usually a big time for training. Tough Mudder kicks in mid-September. In order to be ready, I usually prep for months in advance. Perhaps a month out I’ll cut liquor and bread. It means my body doesn’t have to work as hard to break down what it’s eating. Without knowing the scientific specifics, I’ve read that the body treats alcohol like a poison. It’ll always work to expunge liquor from your system before processing the rest of your intake. It’s smart like that. So often when I drink, I’ll eat a bunch of complex and greasy food. If my body is already working hard to offload the better part of a 40oz, all the other delicious things I’ve eaten stick around for longer. My body has to work harder and training gets appropriately more difficult.

This year I’ve been voluntarily on leave from the gym for the past month. It sucks, ’cause I was pretty happy with my progress up to that point. It’s an uphill climb every year and I’m feeling downright Sisyphean right now. I’ve been jogging 3 or so times per week, but coming back from sprained ankles I haven’t been able to really push it. It’s almost as frustrating as the realisation that taking my time is the adult thing to do. Of course I want to run headfirst into everything as soon as I can, but if I hit a wall I’m likely to shatter upon impact. Not worth it. I’ve had to pull back from going dancing with friends. It sucks, but not drinking has been a blessing in disguise. It’s stopped me from overcommitting on the dance floor and doing even more damage. “For the best”, but in a way I’m not happy about.

Of course I want to start drinking as soon as I can. It’s an easy social lubricant. It means going out to social gatherings with the mindset of even if I’m not into it, after a few drinks I probably will be. Drinking equates to relaxing and going with the flow a lot more. It’s not like it’s this is my first time not drinking, but it does wonders to stave off diminutive anxieties. Most things seem easier, fears less monolithic. Sobriety at times can be all kinds of undesirable. Intoxication is escapism that helps me engage. Contrarily I’ve pulled away from a lot of parties lately. I’ve spent more time at home alone playing Magic, watching movies and constructing elaborate Rube Goldberg traps to ward off burglars. It’s been quiet. Different. Slower.

Except for that one home invasion. Thank Christ I have unlimited access to industrial strength tar.