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.

The knight time is the right time.

I guess the big question is, how was Medieval Times?

I almost wish it was terrible so I could’ve called it a knightmare, but that would’ve been a massive disservice to an absurdly fun and wholesome experience. My usual M.O. is to pump the gas on cynicism, but I figured with something like Medieval Times there was no point. I was actively looking to have a great time at nobody’s expense. I headed there with such an expectation of excitement that if it’d somehow literally rained on us in the venue, our parade would continue unabated.

Speaking of expectations, let’s lay out what I expected.

I thought there’d maybe be 50-100 people sort of thing. A couple of knights doing choreographed battles and there’d be some kind of goofy storyline. Maybe some flagons of ale, a couple of chicken wings/drumsticks and some dinky little merch. This probably would’ve been enough to leave me pretty stoked.

I vastly underestimated the scale.

My girlfriend and I had taken the chance to dress up. She had a flowing purple skirt and a corset/bustier type thing. I had some stage squire costume I’d bought from a theatre store (because why wouldn’t you need that lying around?). We walked into the entrance hall and were assigned a table/colour. Our knight was the blue knight and we received blue cardboard crowns. We took a photo with the falconer (!) and walked into a large hall. Holy sensory overload, Batman. People everywhere. Hundreds of them. There was a deis with a throne where some form of lord was making announcements and bringing up people for paid photo ops. There was a large bar in the centre of the room and several smaller alcohol kiosks spread throughout the room. Wall to wall merch, whether kid’s toys, cups and jugs, replica swords, those creepy fairy/dragon/crystal ball statues. There were horse stables and a holding area for the falcons. It was all bright, colourful and fancy lookin’. I’m sure there’s a minimum number of beers one has to drink before walking home with a huge replica Game of Thrones sword. We’d gotten a little buzz on beforehand, but it wasn’t the purchasing a 1.5m letter opener level of buzz. The VIP customers with lanyards around their necks got to be seated first and the rest of us peasants followed behind once we were invited.

The arena was like a casino. Tiered seating organised by bright fluorescent colourful lights. We were led to our section, right at the back, with a view straight toward the king’s throne. Once everyone was seated (they packed everyone in pretty damn efficiently), the show began. Some waffly preamble about the mystical link between horse and rider. The writing could’ve used some punch up, but there was a FUCKING HORSE DANCING. I’ll let it slide. They did a bunch of tricks (as waiters began serving tomato bisque and drinks) and left the arena. Then we were introduced to our champions: The knights.

One piece of advice I’d been given going in was to raise hell for our team and shit all over our opponents. There were two factions, with three colours in each. The Western team: Red, Black/White and Yellow, vs the Eastern team: Green, Yellow/Red and Blue. Children were everywhere, so I couldn’t be as abusive as I’d intended. In short, I needed to be creative with my insults. The blue knight had our undying love and affection and we whooped for him as loudly as possible. At one point I swear he tried to throw me a rose, but it landed in the row before me. We let the little girl who caught it think it was meant for her, but really I knew I was the prettiest lord in all the land.

The knights played a bunch of games in order to get more roses. Spearing hanging rings on their lances, trying not to drop staves hurled between riders, relay races. The better they did on their rounds, the more roses they had to throw to the crowd. At some stage a falcon flew all around the arena, it was awesome. Servers dropped off half a chicken, some corn, garlic bread and potatoes. We got to eat them all with our bare hands. Then came the duels. The choreography, though obviously staged, was great. Literal sparks flew when swords clashed. A variety of weapons surfaced, from swords and axes to halberds and flails. There was jousting and acrobatics, and we got to yell shit at people dressed in armour. What’s not to love?

Turns out our blue knight was kind of chumply, but we loved him all the same. The green knight (the one I’d hoped to be rallied behind) was a certifiable badass and emerged victorious, defeating the invading barbarian and everything. The plot was flimsy, but a shitton of fun to play along with. Little kids were having the time of their lives, swinging around coloured flags and flashing light up wands. The food was tasty and abundant. All the staff played into their roles, ren faire style. The rare moments not spent in utter bliss had me wishing I’d gotten a job at Medieval Times when I first came to the city. How cool would that be? I could’ve maybe been a squire, learning how to ride a horse, swinging weapons around, that kind of thing. Instead I taught children gymnastics. If I could turn back time…

Well, if I could turn back time, maybe I would’ve just gone back to actual medieval times. Failing that, shelling out $40 to watch other people do it was pretty damn sweet.

If I was a contender, I’d go by the name MeLeeon.

When I was around seven or eight years old, I thought medieval stuff was the coolest. I still loved super heroes and transformers, dinosaurs were right up there, but medieval anything was a newfound obsession. It started exactly where you’d expect: Reading King Arthur. Here was a person who came to rule through exceptional circumstance. He started with nothing and ended up a king. If that wasn’t enough, he surrounded himself with a bunch of badass knights who all had their unique skills and attributes. To an eight year old, Arthur was pretty rad, but Lancelot was where it was at. The greatest swordsman in the land, but not an infallible hero. Even at that age I was drawn to characters with flaws, anti-heroes or those whose moral compass veered slightly off due north. I thought the whole affair with Guinevere thing was a bit shit, but created an interesting conflict. Then along came Galahad, who seemed too righteous to be any fun.

Finishing the book caused me to dive deep into fantasy novels. Courageous heroes wielding swords, shields and axes. Grizzly monsters and fire-breathing dragons. Magic and back-stabbery galore. I fucking ate it up. I fell hard for Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series and its diverse skillsets of magika and mental abilities. I loved Diablo and Warcraft, tried Dungeons and Dragons. I devoured Song of Ice and Fire, which went on to become the biggest fucking thing in the world. To this day I still play Magic the Gathering heavily. As it stands though, there’s still one thing I have yet to do to really harness my love of fantasy. In three hours, there won’t be.

I’ve never visited Medieval Times.

I first saw it on the 1996 Jim Carrey film The Cable Guy. It looked amazing, but also didn’t seem real. I was convinced that it was just invented for the film. Keep in mind that this was pre-internet and I lived across the other side of the world where it certainly didn’t exist. A friend and I took a trip to Chicago once and found out they had one. Without a car though, it would’ve been way too far out of the way. Disappointed. We then did a road trip across America, but still didn’t come close enough to one. Then I moved to Toronto and discovered that not only was there a Medieval Times, but they did birthday discounts. HOLY SHIT.

Three years have passed since then and I still have yet to go. Tonight however, tonight is the knight. I get a 45% discount through work, which makes it pretty damn reasonable for a night out. I’m pumped. It’s not logical how stoked I am right now. Friends are coming over, we’re gonna have drinks then go out to see the fantasy world of my childhood come to life. You know those moments where you’re reduced to that state of youthful wonder? I feel like that already and I’m not even dressed yet. Thing is, I don’t even know what I’m in for. It sounds dumb, but I’m not actually sure what the show contains. I assume jousting and sword fights. People have said you get a crown. I know that one of my co-workers used to play the executioner as a part time job back in college. We’re gonna get a big meal and drink beer. I may go hoarse from cheering on our very own Lancelot. I’ll likely be amped up from a little pre-drink before we go.

Goddamn I’m excited and the more I talk about it, the more excited I’m getting. Is this how normal people feel about watching sports? Why don’t we go out to watch athletes joust and melee any more?

Who cares? I WILL TONIGHT!

If they were cassava chips, I’d risk it.

Sometimes you have dreams that you swear are trying to tell you something. Other times you get weirded out by your brain trying to sell you something.

Without further ado, my dream from last night, punched up just a smidge:

 

The shot opens on two hands clasped together. They’re swinging, attached to two bodies walking side by side. The lighting is sunny, with upbeat pop music in the background. Humming vocals, etc. There’s a moving zoom as the shot widens to show a couple walking through a mall. A heap of rapid static shots:

  • The woman runs over to a sunglasses stand.
  • A few quick shots of her wearing different pairs, smiling, goofing around. She gives him a suggestive eyebrow.
  • He runs to her, grabs her by the waist and swings her around, both smiling and laughing.
  • He tries on a selection of goofy outrageously coloured suits. All get a shake of the head from her.
  • She tries on a frilly pink bathing suit (guy shakes no), a bright yellow suit (guy gives the “so-so” hand gesture), an alien mascot costume (big thumbs up from him)
  • He tries on the frilly pink bathing suit she’d tried previously (big smile and nod from her).
  • They’re zooming around the mall in ride on scooters (still dressed in their outfits) racing with some old folks all having a grand time.

The static shots stop and we have motion again. They’re dressed back in their “civvies”, laughing. They up to a small convenience store which has a “Cascade Chips” display out front. The woman points towards it emphatically. Camera zooms in. Vocals in the music cut out, just the beat remains. Cuts back to the guy who’s nodding enthusiastically. Big thumbs up all around. Vocals kick back in. We see her hand reach out to grab a packet. They walk in the store, arms around each other’s shoulders, a bag in each person’s hand. Cutaway to a security camera, red light blinking, zooming in.

They sit down at a table in the food court. It’s a nice food court, greenery and a water fountain in the backdrop, lit by a rooftop window. They’re smiling, the vocals in the track hit their zenith. We can hear the faint pitter-patter of a rotor blade in the background. The guy pops open a bag and reaches in to grab a chip. The Cascade logo is clearly visible. The pitter-patter intensifies. He tosses it in his mouth and crunches down gleefully.

At that exact moment we hear glass shatter and see black garbed SAS agents rappelling through the ceiling. Music instantly cuts. Heavy on the SFX. Glass cascades (intentional) down around them as the agents land on the ground around them. Brutally efficient. Guns pointed at the woman, an agent behind the guy grabs his head and slams it down onto the table. The bag flies out of his hand and lands on the table pointing away from him. The woman is hysterical, screaming at the top of her lungs (as you would if something unexpected and horrible like this happened). The agent holds the guy’s head down on the table firmly. The guy is repeatedly saying “it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault”, almost feverishly. The agent yanks the guy’s arm behind his back sharply. The guy screams out in pain and continues his previous statement. A close up of his face, tears streaming down. The woman behind him is loudly weeping.

The camera cuts to a mid shot of the agent from front on. Arm still holding down the guy. He speaks. “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” (guy still muttering in the background). Out of the corner of the shot we see a feminine hand reaching across the table towards the open bag. A hand holding a combat knife instantly appears from off camera and nails the hand into the table. We hear a brief blood curdling scream before there’s a quick cutaway to a static shot of the Cascade Chips logo. The pleasant upbeat pop from earlier plays in the background.

VO: “Cascade Chips. A taste so good, it should be illegal.”

Just pop the tab with your sphincter. Why else would you squat so much?

Well I’m back on the pre-workout. If you remembered my previous experiences on the drug supplement, you’d find no reason to question why. If you didn’t, then the reason is obvious: I want to feel like I have super powers.

Whether or not mild discomfort is a super power is up to you. As I can only imagine Wolverine does as his skin knits together, five minutes after downing it I feel a tingling itch spread across the surface of my body. Like teensy little needles knitting together the fibres of my being, my pores are suffused with a wave of expectation. Hesitation lingers but a moment before realising that I’m about to ride what a mountain of coke would feel like without the euphoria: A disdain for limitations.

Taking pre-workout is indistinguishable from a metric fuckton of microdoses unified into one high. Let me rephrase: It makes you high. Pre-workout makes you feel young again, which is a nice way of saying that it shaves years off your life. You know that scene in Logan? The one with the bestial howls? It’s basically that in the middle of the gym, which is a super handy way of getting people to stop loitering at the squat rack. A heavy-breathing, sweaty dude behind you is a huge incentive to leave whatever you’re doing and never to return. To that end, given the packed gym during the prime 5.30pm time slot, it’s mostly standing around feeling your molecules vibrate rapidly.

The true fun of pre-workout is trying to justify to others why you needed to feel that for once you were capable of ripping a horse in half with your bare hands. Man once looked at the moon and started thinking “how” instead of “if”. Everyone who’s ever taken pre-workout has looked at the moon and started thinking how long would it take me to run there? Pre-workout is not merely to engage the limits of your strength, but to engage the limits of your healing factor. By tearing your muscles asunder, you’re daring your body not to keep up.

Even after these ringing endorsements, you may still be questioning whether pre-workout is right for you. In that case, take a hard look at yourself and search for these answers:

  • Do I crave the sensation of shelving an unopened can of Red Bull?
  • Are my workouts suffering from a lack of graft vs host style fear?
  • Is it not enough to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, that I need to make everyone else uncomfortable around me too?
  • Have I ever been envious of a pitbull’s saliva output?
  • Did I watch any of the Fast cinematic universe and think I wish I was a car?
  • Do I seek to make hummingbirds jealous of my heartbeat?
  • Am I bummed that I’ve never shit myself at the gym?
  • Do my eyeballs sometimes feel too small for my pupils?
  • Have I got #squadgoals for Nicolas Cage in the Wicker Man remake?
  • Is the dial up connection sound my favourite rapper?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that pre-workout isn’t for everyone. Sometimes though, you just want to know what it feels like for your muscles to exist outside your skin. For those times, pre-workout has your back. And will likely capture your heart.

Sorry, I meant will make your heart seize up.

Or I could open thirty more Chrome tabs. Possibility is everywhere!

If I don’t start this now, I never will. Time for some straight up stream of consciousness bollocks. It’s been one of those days where I’ve had next to nothing to do. It’s not a bad thing per se, to have nowhere to be and zero obligations. Sometimes it’s downright luxurious. Today however it’s manifested in an almost paralytic listlessness. I can do almost anything I want (short of activities involving high level reality warping), all I need is direction and motivation. The two things I’ve lacked thus far. It’s so cold. SO GODDAMN COLD that even at home, my fingers are chilly. The tiny muscles surrounding my knuckles need to thaw before working. Right now my typing is clunky, blocky. It feels unnatural moving at a pace beyond lethargy but if I don’t, this will never get done. My one job today was to try and get the right handle for our shower. Ours falls off periodically. We have a hex key close by in case it needs to be tightened (which it does, all too often). By this point, the screw’s thread is damn near stripped right through. I’ll turn the hex key and it’ll just rotate in the hole, finding little in the way of purchase. My girlfriend and I got a replacement a month or so ago, which turned out to be the wrong type. I was to bring back the one we bought and get the right one. A mission.

Still, that would involve leaving the house and simply being helpful wasn’t quite enough motivation for me. I needed something else. By midday I still hadn’t eaten, showered or coffee’d (holding out hope for someone being keen for brunch/lunch somewhere). I realised that if I left the house I could get coffee, catch a pokémon or two and feel like I’d accomplished something today. I went back to the store with backup. Not only did I take photos of the shower set up sans handle, I brought the handle with me. The sales assistant took one look at it and noped out, handing it off to his manager. His manager said they’d possibly have what I was looking for, but more likely I’d have to go elsewhere. We looked, but couldn’t find anything that fit the particular set up. Trust my landlord to grab something difficult to replace. One refund later, I came home with no new handle, no new pokémon (it wouldn’t even log in) and a stomach merely containing caffeine. At least I tried, goddammit.

With nobody taking up my offer for lunch, I was forced to take matters into my own hands. Sandwich time. Hearty multi-grain bread. Mushrooms, cheese, sundried tomatoes, sliced turkey, shredded cabbage (for texture), mayo, sriracha and tabasco all grilled in the George Foreman. It feels peculiar to name a sandwich the high point of my day, but frankly it was a big bastard of a sandwich. I watched an episode of MBMBAM, played some Shandalar and flicked through my comics library in case anything caught my eye. No surprise, it didn’t.

Surely those can’t be helped moods are something that everyone experiences, right? Even with myriad options, it’s impossible to find something that really catches your fancy because you’re so conditioned to saying no to things. Nothing will work out because in your head, you’ve got this preconceived notion of being inconsolable. You’re not miserable or depressed, just indecisive to the extreme. Perhaps it’s loneliness or a desire for company in disguise. Maybe I was actually clinging onto hope that someone else would grab on to the olive branch I was putting out, then take all decisions off my hands. My indecisiveness would be solved out of a lack of needing to make plans. I could latch on for the ride and simply be a passenger. Go to a restaurant or bar, have the burden of cooking, mixing taken away. Really relax, letting my tired bones, muscles and frozen fingers hang back to thaw out.

Then again, the day isn’t over. There’s still time for hours of possibility. Even a second sandwich.