Lunar eek-lipse.

Do you ever marvel at how talented your friends are?

Honestly, I’ve got no hope for the contrary. My life is inundated by clever, creative and industrious folk. I say this en route to my friend’s colossal steel standing swing: The Moon Shot. It’s a marvelous contraption that lets you swing 360° around the bar. Last time I went over backwards. Exceptionally physically demanding, it’s also a process to put together. Dude went down to Salt Lake City to fabricate the steel with one of his mates, and it’s essentially a stack of large bits o’ steel. Heavy as fuck. All brought together by a comprehensive understanding of maths and physics.

Last night my girlfriend and I had the treat of seeing a show our friend directed. Avengerdale: The Age of Archie. An insane crossover between, of course, The Avengers and Riverdale. Oddly enough, it’s not the first Archie/Marvel crossover.. Anyone remember Archie vs The Punisher? Oh it happened. The 90s were a hell of a time.

The show was a fucking riot. The plot somehow made sense, the jokes were great and the cast knocked it out of the fucking park. Some enormous voices in there. Oh, did I mention it was a musical? The theatre group were the Queens Players, a troupe assembled from former Queens University alumni. The show, however, had an open audition. My girlfriend and I both auditioned, didn’t get the parts but loved what we’d read so much we couldn’t wait to see it live. Watching the show, there was no contest. The actors were excellently cast and put together a stellar ensemble performance. All put together with earnest affection for the two IPs. It was all there: Jughead’s overwrought monologues, Bruce Banner wielding a dildo, Stan Goddamn Lee. The best part was the spirit of the show. It was rowdy as fuck. A bunch of calls and responses kept the crowd on the friendly heckle plan. The songs were well chosen and the band kicked ass. There are still three more performances. If you’re in Toronto, look it up and get there. Tell ’em Large Marge sent ya.

Oof. I just got back from Moon Shot and it was a wild ride. I accidentally broke a cinder block with a hammer and had a mild accident on the Moon Shot. I mean, at least I got the loop. I went up twice and was nowhere near as exhausted as last time. It’s technique, physics and all that. I also did my first ever double loop. Unfortunately, it was backwards. On the second loop I had maybe five whole seconds stalled at the top. It was unbelievable. After everyone who wanted to try it out had a go, I took a second shot. My friend had shown me my previous swing and where my technique was lacking. I took it to heart, pushed my hips like I was doing an Olympic lift and I swung with all the fuck I had. I looped. THREE TIMES IN A ROW. It was unbelievable and such a rush. After the third I knew it was time to come down. I relaxed, but too quickly and my wrist straps slipped. In my squat, my ankles swung back. It hurt. A lot. I came down and grabbed the ice right away. Lots of bruising, but nothing feels broken or twisted. My wrist especially is a little messy, but she’ll be right as rain in a few days.

It’s one thing to leave the atmosphere, but jeez re-entry is a bitch.

Advertisements

Do you believe in life after Doug?

For some circles, last night was a tense night in Ontario politics.

A super brief recap: The three leading parties were PC (Progressive Conservatives – right leaning), Liberals (centre left) and NDP (New Democratic Party – left leaning). Liberals previously led the province. People seemed to hate their leader, Kathleen Wynne, for some reason. I really don’t know why. She seems to have done a fine enough job and nothing major has gone wrong. *Shrug*. I didn’t see what everyone’s issue was with Hilary either. Anyway. Libs had been super down in the pre-voting. Oh, get this, Ontario is still First Past the Post. Fucking ridiculous, right? Doug Ford was elected leader of the PC party, which seemed cause for consternation for a bunch of people. Why? Because his brother , former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was infamous for smoking crack, being generally aggressive, corrupt and incompetent. He’s dead now. It’s since come out that Doug has been mismanaging their family business and pilfering from Rob’s family savings to fund his campaign. A campaign with no concrete platform. He’s largely cut from the same cloth, so many of my friends are concerned. His principle seems to be to provide tax cuts by cutting social initiatives. Seems shortsighted to me, but I’m not in politics. What do I know? Oh, and Andrea Horwath is the NDP leader. She seems fine.

It took all of 15 minutes post polls closing to get the results. It was a pretty clear sweep for the PC party. If we had some kind of proportional representation, a coalition between NDP (the new head of the opposition) and the Libs would be running the province. Instead, PC with 40% of the votes are on top. It’s a head scratcher for sure. Also the Libs lost party status by only getting seven seats. Facebook today has been awash with friends voicing their fears and girding their loins for battle. A lot of feelings. Friends saying stuff like “if you voted PC, please remove yourself from my friends list”, etc etc. I get it. It’s emotionally charged and challenging. I’m not gonna tell anyone how to feel. I’m not sure if I have any right leaning friends anyway, but I think there’s a bit more nuance to the situation. I had a few conversations…

“Looking at the ridings, these were not your peers. Most of downtown Toronto went NDP. It’s a lot of small town Ontario, people who live a very different lifestyle and are very much outside the sphere of our influence. I’m just spitballing, but it feels like the kind of rhetoric that circles in these communities is in stark contrast to ours. Prioritising social initiatives for those who need them likely isn’t as big a concern for many small town PC voters. But they’re hearing that they could have more money in their pockets for them and their family and that makes sense in their mind.”

“I don’t think there’s a silver lining to all of this. At the same time, I’m not sure that Ford winning suddenly means your neighbour is your enemy? Much as I’m disappointed, I really don’t want to fall into the condescending notion of “well small town people are just idiots” or anything. I’m sure it’s not that they’re aggressively anti-humanist, but that the bulk of PC voters just flat out don’t think about the issues we care about. Like, they wouldn’t encounter them in their daily life, so it’s unlikely they even realise that they’re issues. Most of them are probably totally reasonable, but blissfully ignorant of how this would affect others.

Before any of us knew any better, how would we have known?

It’s four years. It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking that people who need support will likely not have access to all of the resources they require. Fingers crossed it’s not gonna have as big an impact as we dread. I don’t think we’re all gonna die. If things go pear shaped, we can only hope things change next time around.”

Can we at least get past First Past the Post already? That’s some regressive, antiquated shit right there.

I scream, you scream, I take my coffees with a splash of cream

Working from home for a day is great.

Working from home permanently would be more of a challenge. For me, I think anyway. When you’re home for one day it’s novel. You can be at the office without pants. You can teleport to and from the office with a simple alt+tab. You can be doing all sorts of things in the background without your boss watching (though to be honest, I was just listening to podcasts/music today like I would at the office anyway). You can sleep in since your commute is maybe five minutes (depends if you’re making coffee or not). You can make a big ol’ lunch and watch Netflix (or even Mark Forward’s comedy special that you can stream for a mere dollar. He’s really good. One of the best). You can do washing and sing to yourself or put plans into place for a fancy dinner. Without the commute you’re literally getting more free hours in the day (I’d save close to two hours daily or ten hours weekly). You could even stretch out or foam roll without people giving you odd looks.

On a long enough timeline, I think working from home would get to me. I need human contact. I need to be able to make snide comments or gossip with co-workers. I require the ability to pun with other non-cat living beings. While we don’t have a water cooler at work, there’s a kitchen where I chat aimlessly. It’s more fun face to face. Online it all just feels so hollow. It’s nice to move around a bunch. While the location of my work is pretty out of the way, it’s a huge building in a space where you can get fresh air. Being an office, it’s also very well designed to get work done. I have double monitors. The computer was optimised for the software we use. There are printers and bookable meeting rooms and people to interact with physically if you need a question answered right away.

If I was at home all the time I’d get frustrated. It’s great on slow days where in the office I’d normally seek out ways to kill time. At home I have all of my favourite things. On busy days, the latency would bug me. The software is slow and less responsive. You get misclicks where you shouldn’t. It just takes longer to do the same work. I’d constantly be going to the fridge out of frustration or boredom. It’d be hard to concentrate on wanting to do work when I could be goofing off. At the office, it feels like that’s the right thing to do. When you’re dressed merely in a bathrobe or yoga pants and slippers, comfort and relaxation seem imperative.

As for today, today was great. Usually I have to deal with a commute for nearly an hour. Today I got up an hour later and logged in. At the office I usually get bored and drink 3+ cups of coffee. Today I felt so well rested that I didn’t even drink coffee. Normally I chat to people for a while and eventually get stuff done. Today I “got to work” and finished up quickly. My ordinary lunch involves eating tuna and crackers with an apple at my desk. Or going for a run. Today I invited a fellow work-from-homie over to make sandwiches and hang out. We got to chat in a zero stress environment without worrying about strict timelines. If the work was getting done, what was the worry? I typically leave the office around the five-ish mark and make my way home or to the gym. It’s draining after a full day in a cubicle and I want to be anywhere else. Today I logged off my remote desktop and was magically here. Instead of trying to avoid strangers’ personal space, I played Magic.

Tomorrow it’s back to the office and y’know, absence could make the heart grow fonder.

But we all know I’ll silently scream for death like every other day.

Is this how I finally start a cult?

A few years ago, fresh to Toronto, I was looking for a job. For convoluted reasons, with no prior experience, I became a children’s gymnastics instructor.

When I say “no prior experience” I mean that I’d never worked with kids before. Or done gymnastics. Or taught anything professionally. You do the math. Truth is, while it wasn’t my favourite thing to do, I wasn’t terrible at it. I also learned a bunch about gymnastic technique and how to do a couple of things. My handstand walking got much better. My cartwheels and round-offs came a long way. My split front lever was actually pretty reasonable. I never learned to do back handsprings, but it’s not like I expected 2BA Master in a year or so’s time. One trick that I didn’t manage to land, however, was my one-handed cartwheel. It seemed within reach, but I couldn’t quite get there. I trained at it, but face planted more than my fair share of times. Eventually my drive to get there wilted and I forgot about it.

Yesterday a bunch of friends and I were goofing around at the park. One of them was doing one-handed cartwheels and I got wistful. With more than a little Dutch courage, I decided to give them a crack. It’d been years since I last tried and in that time I’d trained not one iota. Nevertheless, I did my best. Turns out my best was good enough. I landed the trick easier than I’d expected. It just felt natural. I was stoked, but also kind of stunned. Without practice, how had I landed it? I gave it more thought and realised that the accumulation of my assorted physical training over the past few years had put me in a position where it was possible.

The lesson being, we’re so often goal oriented. It can be incredibly frustrating when you’re putting so much effort and intention towards something that doesn’t materialise. It’s easy to beat yourself up over your inability to rise to the challenge. That’s not a failing on your behalf. We all have so much potential. Maybe it’s just not the right time for you. All you can really do is focus on being the best you can, but giving yourself enough leeway to understand that being the best you can be doesn’t mean that you have to hit your peak potential right away. We don’t blame saplings for not being towering oaks. Like Mainland Cheese, good things take time. Take heed, shitty Canadian cheese.

I’m an active guy and a lot of my friends know it. I hear so many frustrations from mates who don’t think they’re good enough, fit enough, strong enough. It breaks my fucking heart every time and I’ve had enough of it. The thing is, we all need to start somewhere. My journey through fitness has taken sixteen years so far. I vomited at my first personal training session. It probably took three or four years before I really started seeing active results. I quit and restarted and cried out of frustration umpteen times. It was too hard, it felt like I’d never get anywhere. Whenever I took a break, starting again felt like climbing a mountain. I forced myself again and again to get back to the gym. I hated it and hated myself for my inability to commit. After a while I took away the option of being inactive. Without giving myself compassion, it was a rough road that was all kinds of emotionally damaging. What I gained in discipline, I paid for in therapy both cognitive and physical. I have permanent injuries that won’t ever 100% heal.

What I’m saying is, while I got to a place of progress eventually, I can’t in good faith recommend my path. If I’d been kinder to myself, maybe I’d still have an untarnished PCL or rotator cuffs that don’t click. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to listen to yourself, to give yourself the space to not be at 100 all the time. I can say without question that I’ve progressed exponentially since then. Some quick things I’ve taken to heart:

  • If it hurts, stop. No question.
  • There is no such thing as too much mobility.
  • Active stretching beforehand. Passive stretching afterwards.
  • Progress is not linear.
  • Just because you could lift it last time, that doesn’t mean you will today.
  • Form>everything. No goal weight is worth the risk of long term injury. I will regularly drop 10-20kg off an exercise if I feel my form is suffering.
  • Don’t look at the scale. Those numbers mean nothing. Instead, take measure of how your body feels. Are you a little less puffed post-jog than you were a year ago? That’s massive progress.
  • Your body has muscle memory. It’s a lot easier to get back to somewhere than it was to get there in the first place. If you’re not there right now, that doesn’t mean you won’t be again.
  • If your body doesn’t feel ready to be as active as you want, don’t force it. Do something lower impact or save it for tomorrow.
  • No More Zero Days.
  • Forgiveness is a longer road than pressure, but a much safer one.

Take care of yourself if you want to get there in one piece. You’re the only you you’ve got.

I guess a perfect Sunday would’ve had even more cheese

Let’s begin. I think I was drunk earlier today and I’m hoping I’ve sobered up enough to put coherent word to digital paper.

I’m not sure how much I’ve spend on food/drink/entertainment this weekend. My guess is close to $200. That might be an extravagant guess, but I’m mildly concerned it isn’t. My belly is very happy. I’ll be even happier once the food has moved its way out of my body. This morning my girlfriend and I went off for brunch with our Toronto family. It was amazing. I don’t wanna use that word lightly, but I feel like it fits here. We brought Prosecco and made mimosas. They were the least decadent thing on the table. There was cheese and crackers. They’d set out both bagels and challah loaf for all of our bread-y needs. There was a wonderful salmon and cheese bake, vegan hashbrown casserole thing, coleslaw with apple and cranberries and a pseudo caprese salad thing. If we’d gone to a restaurant, we’d have been astounded by the meal. This was much better, since we got to share conversation with beloved family we hadn’t seen in maybe six months or so. It’s Toronto, “busy” is everyone’s neutral state.

Next up was the live Doug Loves Movies show. Remember yesterday when I talked about the cool The Leon Demon name tag I made? Well it didn’t get chosen by any of the guests. Poop. I was so psyched too. I spent ages spitballing with my girlfriend over who my “shithead” should be. I joked that Hitler would be a fun choice on a meta level. Like, isn’t he the poster child for shitheads? Isn’t it an answer so obvious that nobody would ever pick it, thus making it kind of funny and unexpected? I wasn’t sure, so I went for Jordan Peterson. I’d say he could go fuck himself, but I don’t want him having any pleasure, self-directed or otherwise.

The show was a fucking sweaty riot. Mark Forward, Kayla Lorette and [some random knowledgeable audience member]. It was a fun mishmash with endless riffing. The audience member was getting a little ranty and Forward was reciprocally antagonistic. It was a fun dynamic. At one point Kayla turned to the audience member and asked “how does it feel becoming the villain in your home city?” The mood was less aggressive than I made it sound. The audience member did a great job on the games, but Kayla came out ahead. Mark mostly cracked wise the whole time. There was a ton of great creativity with audience name tags (and a fair number of candy based bribes) and the two hours went past in a breeze. Everyone also sweat their balls off on a day Toronto turned the heat up to 11. Wait, that’s not particularly high in Celsius. Maybe 30 degrees is more accurate. I had maybe three beers, which weren’t helping with the sweat-age.

After the show, I got a burrito with friends then we headed off to the park to meet up with some others. We spun hula hoop (and at the age of 31, I finally learned how. I was just putting too much force into it), poi and staff. We did some handstands, cartwheels and round offs. We basically just goofed around a bunch in good company.

Honestly, I don’t think I have the imagination to conceive of a more ideal Sunday.

A swing and a miso

How do I know so many cool people doing so many cool things?

I don’t know if it’s a matter of like calling to like, but it seems my circle finds me more than I search it out. One of my enduring favourite things about Toronto is how it tends to provide more than I could ever imagine possible. Opportunities are ever-present. I know so many individuals with fingers in disparate flavours of pies. I’m babbling, but that’s what happens when I get excited.

First up I saw a friend post a message in a shared group. One of her buddies was starting up a new Japanese food tour. Consequently, he needed curious and adventurous individuals to give it a test run. If you a) enjoyed Japanese food, b) loved sake and c) didn’t mind getting your picture taken for promotional purposes, then get in touch. Guess what I’m doing in an hour? It’s 15 minutes’ walk from my work and I was looking for something to do anyway. I was even craving Japanese or Korean for dinner. Perfect, right? So now I get to learn about new and exciting cuisine and more importantly, eat it. All for free. Sometimes luck just presents itself on a silver platter.

Next up, another friend posted about an awesome structure he’s put together. You know how as kids we all dreamed of going the entire way around the swingset? He’s basically made something that can accomplish just that. Instead of a loose chain, it has long arms that extend to just above the ground. There’s a platform, sort of like a trapeze, that you strap your feet into. There are straps for your arms too, so you’re totally secure. From there it’s a matter of building up momentum. Much like a swing, it’s about straightening your body at the right time and keeping a tight core, flowing with the arc. He posted a video and it looks like total madness. Once you get your speed up, not only do you go the entire way around the top, but you can start chaining up loops. It’s fucking insane. He extended the invite to come along and test it on Saturday. You bet your ass I’m gonna spin myself into a centrifugal state.

If that wasn’t enough, I’ve got more talented friends doing awesome things. One of my favourite local Toronto attractions was Pursuit OCR. It was an indoor obstacle race styled after Tough Mudder type competitions, but with an emphasis on fun and play. They did such a fantastic job of making sure each obstacle scaled by difficulty level, giving options no matter your strengths. A community minded place with an unwavering commitment to inclusivity. Every single time I went the atmosphere was wonderful, encouraging people to try their best without any shame. Accomplishments were celebrated wholeheartedly and giving it a try was everything. They had workshops on handstands, aerials and acro yoga. All the staff were super knowledgeable and would offer their expertise freely. I remember when I was trying to train for human flag, one of the instructors stepped in without fail, explained the physics of the movement and gave advice on how I could work towards it. Never condescending, rather he was extremely helpful. I went there for lightsaber battles, NERF wars and a bunch of parties. Everyone was always up to play and gave it their all. It was an amazing space, but when I heard it was being torn down for condos, my heart sank.

Fortunately my friend who owns the place never shies away from a challenge. He’s found a new, much larger location and has even bigger plans. They’re incorporating a paintball-esque escape room, Mario Kart style trikes and an enormous all new track. Different obstacles, with a renewed emphasis on accessibility. I’m so excited about it coming to life later this year. They’ve put together an Indiegogo campaign in order to raise the funds to bring it into existence. If you’re based in Toronto and this sounds like your kind of thing, please take a look at what they’re planning. If you want to kick in some shekels (and snag yourself some cheap perks while you’re at it) then go right ahead. If you want to signal boost or share the word with friends who’d love it to bits, please do so. All I know is that any steps I can take towards this coming to fruition are worth actioning.

Speaking of steps worth taking, I better get to this Japanese food tour. Arigato, go as I must!

Good ol’ fashioned effigyniality

I’m not entirely sure what I expected out of a Burn, but I don’t think I could’ve planned for any of it.

It’s been so interesting entering wildly different spaces. No matter the theme camp, the unifying factor seems to be an overwhelming generousity of spirit. An excess of gifting, both emotional and of tangible goods. Walking through the grounds, I find myself hustled over by well meaning folk. “We’re having a bacon party” they’ll say. An array of treats greet your eyes. Bacon wrapped marshmallows smothered in chocolate. Cream cheese bacon dip, chocolate covered bacon bit shot glasses filled with vanilla and apple whiskey. An angel stops by the camp every morning with home baked cookies. A cornucopia of culinary delights. Spicy tequila shots, distilled spirits, sangria, midnight poutine, crepes, cold brew and that’s just the fucking tip of the iceberg. Oh, and iceberg lettuce in the free salad bar. My stomach and heart have been so gosh darn replete.

The generousity of activities are a marvel too. Octomassage was something else. Eight people rotating giving the person in the centre a simultaneous massage. Eight sets of hands on your body was an enveloping sensory experience. Everything was consent based, with participants aiming to give the massagee their desired physical release. Having hands on your shoulders, upper back, feet and butt at the same time was unreal. There was such a sense of goodwill, with no ulterior motive outside of making the face down participant feel as great as possible. Especially after having received such a boon, it was gratifying to be able to give back and help others access the same joy.

The most intense experience, however, was the burning of the effigy. I came in cynical about city hippies coming out to the country to set shit on fire. When it came time for the effigy to burn, I was taken in completely. Seeing ashes blow into the night sky, strata falling apart, all consumed by the encroaching flame, it stirred something inside. I began to question the person I needed to become and what I’d have to give up in order to get there. The pain of separation a thousand times over. A life of constant death and rebirth, finding myself again and again. One of our blissful connections, a French Canadian dude, came over to talk to me about the Maori gods. It brought up feelings of regret, guilt. Had I abandoned my homeland? What had I taken with me? Was I too proud to admit the pain of separation? Had my resolution in leaving been the right path? I stared into the flames and wept uncontrollably, wondering when it was I’d find my path in life, instead of the purgatory of aimless drifitng. I found comfort in the arms of my friends as I sobbed into their shoulders. I unravelled, cut open to the world with a vulnerablity I’m not sure I’ve ever felt.

Something in me shifted, and I’ve got no idea how it’s settled. I feel different this morning, attuned with my body and trusting that my mind will follow. I spent time in the sauna, sweat dripping out of my pores. As my bodily fluids drained, I felt something leave me, as if a possession had lifted. I’ve remained naked throughout the day. I joined friends in the field doing naked yoga. I lay bare underneath the sun to feel connected. I’m starting to feel centred. As if I’m coming back to rediscover who it is I am. I’ve got no idea what it is I’ll find beneath the surface, but I know I’m ready for something different.

With no concept of what’s burned away, I’m excited and scared to know what’s left.