Just the motivation I kneeded.

I had one of those moments today where I realised what a sloppy garbage person I can be. I’d been for my run and felt both physically exhausted and sweat soaked. I’m lucky, in that my sweat is rarely that pungent. Still, something smelt stale. Was it me? Nobody else in the office had been recently active. My clothes had a “damp” odour, but nothing distressing. I looked over at my knee brace that I’d left to dry out. My eyes narrowed. I picked it up and took a big huff. My innards recoiled. Bingo.

Did knee braces need to be washed? What was mine made of? Some kind of compression fabric with metal bands sewn in for support. Would that rust? How would it handle a washing machine? A dryer? It was a $350 piece of apparel that I greatly need. The notion of ruining it holds no appeal. I thought back to whether I’d ever washed it. Presumably each year after Tough Mudder to get the copious mud and grit out. So maybe twice in almost two years. I entered a Google search string long enough for it to presume I wasn’t human. “Can I wash my knee brace in the washing machine?” earned me a captcha. I got a full page of answers and clicked a few. I was to leave it soaking in warm water and dish soap or vinegar. I was to hang it out and let it air dry. So no on the washing machine/dryer combo. Pity, despite my propensity for jogging, I clearly enjoy taking the easy route.

How often was I supposed to wash it? That depended on the severity of activity. If it was light work such as gardening or short walks, once every three or four uses wood be sufficient. For anything more intense it was advisable to wash it each time. Each time. Per use. I gave a quick thought to how many uses I’d have had in that past year. What was I using it for? Jogging, obviously. Hey lower body workouts for sure. I wear it when I go out dancing. Often I’ll use it for two intense physical sessions in a day. So altogether I’d possibly use it four or five times each week. So maybe I’d given it 200+ fewer washes than it needed? How was it still intact? Why had it not disintegrated into filth? How was my knee not a cluster of lesions and necrotic flesh? I was surprised the connective tissue had yet to become gangrenous. How the fuck hadn’t I smelled it yet? Boxing wraps I’d wash after each use or otherwise risk a nasty fungual infection. Yet I was fine leaving this harbinger of infection clasped around my second favourite leg joint?

I strongly desired sterilised tongs and a hermetically sealed clear plastic bag. This thing needed to be sent to a testing lab to examine the emergence of nefarious new lifeforms. Why are scientists wasting their time on teleporting photons to the edge of space when an all new lethal pathogen has been discovered on my knee brace. Wait, is this finally it? Am I patient zero? Can I finally go and loot sport stores to stockpile for the inevitable zombie apocalypse?

Oh boy, daddy’s gonna get himself a boomstick!

We all knew that was coming, right?

A while back a friend told me of a Vonnegut quote that I think of constantly. I’ve definitely mentioned it on here before, but if my worst case scenario is reminding you, I’m willing to take the consequences. It reads:

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

I wrote earlier that I think of it constantly, when really I should’ve instead admitted that I couldn’t think of it often enough. It’s easy to get bogged down by anything that irks you. Every day is a series of microaggressions and interactions that could’ve gone better. Living is anxiety, in that if we had to stop and consider every infraction, we’d find the nearest bridge and a pair of concrete boots.

Conversely, we don’t give enough credit to moments that lift us. Negativity is far easier to feed than the alternative and feeling petty is exponentially more satisfying than contentment. I wonder though, if that’s a function of how much energy we give to that which doesn’t go our way. If we spent more time acknowledging pleasant moments, to carve out those few seconds each time, if we’d notice the difference in our lives.

Take today for instance. Today wasn’t remarkable in any way, but it hasn’t given me anything to complain about. If someone tomorow were to ask me how my weekend was, today would’ve likely factor into my recount. Still, when I think harder about it, I’d almost say it was a perfect Sunday.

I woke next to my girlfriend and we snuggled for a bit. I got up, breezed through public transit and headed for the gym. Without immediate engagements, I didn’t feel remotely rushed. I took my time between sets and really considered which muscle groups I was hitting. While normally I’m bound by evening events or exhausted from work, today I got to spend as long as I wanted without trying to get in and out in about an hour. I left the gym and dawdled around a few shops, then checked out a new Japanese restaurant that opened in Koreatown. It was great, the yakiniku beef was incredibly flavourful, the salad was much more than the usual iceberg lettuce drenched in (admittedly delicious) salad dressing. There was some kind of dried vegetable on the side and the miso soup tasted unusually vibrant. I left satisfied, without a bulging stomach.

I did some fruit and vegetable shopping on my way home. Ten minutes after I arrived, friends came over to play some Magic. We played for hours, the games were interactive with shifting status and tensions. There weren’t huge stalemates, play was fluid and dynamic. We had discussions about the wider metagame and format, then they left and I had the house to myself.

I’ve got a bolognese sauce on the stove which is minutes away. I spent time prepping, listening to music and took advantage of the fresh ingredients I bought earlier. Having tasted it already, it’s gonna be piquant as fuck. Plus the satisfaction of having cooked it myself is an entirely salient taste.

I don’t know what else to say, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Résistance banned.

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, I’m a Boy Who Lived, but at what cost?

I spent last night tossing, turning and sweating in bed. In honour of this, I’m gonna think back on some peculiar ailments and injuries I’ve had over the years.

  • To make this easy, I just accidentally elbowed the toilet roll holder at work. Sounds silly, but it’s a firm metal structure with sharp corners. My accidental elbow drove the fleshy part of my left tricep just above the elbow directly into that corner. Now I’ve got a tiny, but persistent dot of blood that I’ve been dabbing at with a tissue. Out, out damned spot.
  • Speaking of damn spots and dabbing at dots of blood, there was that whole pilonidal cyst thing. It’s easy to throw out that polysyllabic word after having gone through it a bunch of times, but the first time was an odd sensation. I was working 11pm to 6am as a desk jockey at a talk radio station. Driving the levels, taking calls, making sure we stayed on air and timed out to the hour. I was sitting a bunch, but found it painful at a certain angle. Peculiar. As the night went on, it hurt more and more. I went to the bathroom and sitting on the seat was a literal pain in the ass. When I wiped, there was a mixture of blood and some translucent cream coloured substance. It was all kinds of gross and alarming. I didn’t know what to do, so I went back to work. By the end of the shift, I could feel a sizeable lump, about the size of a small pear. Given that I felt normal that afternoon, I assumed I had an alien host growing in my butt and was suitably shitting myself. I went straight to the A&E, who gave me amoxicillin/clavulanic acid tablets, which reduced the swelling within 24 hours. It was a terrifying ordeal, with flare ups every three months or so. They never stopped taking me by surprise. Eventually I had the thing surgically removed and I’ve been okay ever since. I still feel a little low level trauma and wipe with trepidation. I also now have a Harry Potter scar just above my butt cleft.
  • While teaching me about the functions of a car under the hood, my dad accidentally sprayed me in the eye with radiator fluid once. My knowledge of car mechanics is still pretty narrow, but I definitely learned one lesson that day.
  • I awoke one day with severe tooth pain. I found this odd, considering I’d had my wisdom teeth removed already and hadn’t felt gradually encroaching sensitivity like I’d imagined a cavity would feel. Being more than marginally worried (and armed with benefits) I went straight to the dentist. They took a bunch of x-rays, but couldn’t find a thing. The doctor pointed out how congested I sounded. He suggested that my nose was so stuffed that it was interacting with nerves in my teeth. On his advice, I bought a bunch of extra strength cold and flu meds, which took care of “both birds” handily.
  • I drunkenly did a handstand and fell out of it, dislocating my finger. This unfortunate incident led to a profitable understanding of how amazing my company’s unlimited physio plan was. No pain, no gain, eh?
  • I once asked my mum if something was herpes, worried that I’d caught it from a girl I was seeing. She pointed out the idiocy of asking if a bump on the inside of my mouth was herpes. Rightfully, I felt like an idiot.
  • I used a stubbed toe that bled for five days as an excuse to go to the doctor and ask for a shit ton of subsidised meds. We were leaving on a U.S. road trip and I wanted contingency supplies. She loaded me up with a ton of ibuprofen, a anti-diarrhoea and anti-nausea meds. I can thankfully report that we did not need any of the anti-diarrhoea meds.

In the greater scheme of things, a little tossing and turning wasn’t so bad.

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.

My takeaway? I need to make Egg McMutton a thing.

Had an odd encounter on the subway yesterday. As I sat down, I noticed an older man practically barking at a younger woman. He was sitting in the blue priority seats right next to the door. Usually I’d have my headphones on but after a gruelling gym session that made walking difficult, I was deeply craving a calm head-space. By the sounds of it, this wasn’t what I was in for. The man began going off at anyone in earshot (so namely, the whole car). Everyone was doing the Toronto shuffle (looking down at their feet, pretending not to pay attention while their ears pricked up).

I was busy chasing the dragon in Bejeweled, but I heard his voice directed my way. “So people don’t give a fuck about cripples now? Is that it?” I looked up and we exchanged glances. He talked at me “people too selfish to give a shit?” I thought for a second and replied “I dunno. That could be it, though usually I find people are more often ignorant than malicious.” His brow furrowed “people are fucking stupid, that’s what they are.” I paused for a second. “Do you really think that? Maybe they just didn’t realise.” “Not every cripple is visible” he countered. Excellent point. “Not getting out of the fucking way. Inconsiderate teenagers.”

I laughed “since when have teenagers ever been considerate? They’re still learning what being a person is.” He shook his head and replied, still angry “We were made to respect our elders. I never would’ve gotten away with this shit.” I nodded. I thought for a second. This was a voice I rarely ever heard and it sounded like he needed to vent. I could do worse than giving him my ear for ten minutes. “Things probably were different in your days.” “How do you know?” He barked “you weren’t there.” I shrugged. He continued “I fought two wars for this country, I have trouble walking and nobody gives a damn. You say people are ignorant, but they can’t leave these seats empty just in case someone needs them? Fuck ’em.”

He paused. “You’re not from here” he exclaimed “what part of the Commonwealth are you from?” “New Zealand” I replied. “New Zealand, eh? D’ya hear that at McDonalds you guys have got the Egg McMutton?” I laughed then sighed “I wish. I’d order it every day.” He looked up and noticed the station “Oh, Spadina? I’m getting off here.” He stood up and shouted “EXCUSE ME”. Nobody moved. “HEY. GIMP COMING THROUGH.” Still, nobody moved. The car wasn’t packed, but a guy was standing in the middle of the doors. They opened and the guy didn’t get out. People started walking in. The old dude pushed a man to the side and barged out the door “MAYBE FUCKING LET PEOPLE OUT BEFORE YOU GET IN” he screamed.

He had a point.

It’s finding something else to like that’s the problem.

I feel at a loss. Which is to say that I’m lost. I don’t know what to do now. Specifically at this moment, not in a wider what does it all mean? sense. I’ve got a limp self-propulsion that at the very least will stop me from treading water for too long. Right now though, I’m just floating on my back, heading nowhere in particular. I feel unwell in a very literal manner of speaking. I’m congested with a sore throat and low level physical fatigue. I happened to be working from home today anyway (so I could go to an Ear Nose and Throat consultation), so at least I didn’t need to be in the office. That sort of backfired. If I hadn’t taken the day to work at home I could’ve just had a sick day instead. Oh well. I got all my work done, it was more relaxing than being in the office would’ve been. I could mope around at my own pace and get loose-headed on NeoCitran. I also spent a fair portion of my down time watching Please Like Me.

I watched the first episode and really enjoyed it. I found its fusion of heavy events and irreverence entirely captivating. There was drama, but they rarely leaned into it without good reason. Bad things happening didn’t stop the world from revolving, they dealt with things and moved on, or talked around them until their impact gradually lessened. Hell, the first episode starts with the lead character getting dumped because his girlfriend knows he’s gay, even if he won’t admit it (they stay good friends regardless). Then his mum tries to commit suicide by eating a packet of paracetamol and drinking half a bottle of baileys. It’s serious content, but admits to the underlying silliness. The more I watched, the more attached I grew towards this tight knit group of characters. Somehow avoiding being beaten down by the world, it wasn’t relentlessly upbeat by any means, but neither was it maudlin or cheesy in any way.

Maybe it appealed to my underdog complex, but the show managed to champion the losers and weirdos without skewing self-congratulatory. The central character, Josh, is gay and they don’t make a massive deal out of it. It’s just his sexual preference, it doesn’t define him as a character as much as his wit, propensity for cooking or habit of trying to disarm tension with humour and irreverence. There are ongoing realistic depictions of mental illness, serious marital issues and realistic struggles of twentysomething life. There are also a multitude of dumb conversations about giraffes. Characters come and go, but they’re nearly always given three dimensional representation. There are meaningful friendships galore. It’s funny, sweet and disarmingly engrossing. I can’t tell you the last time I watched two seasons of anything in under a month, let alone four seasons.

Now I’m lost because the show is over and I miss it. It ended well, but I know that I’m never gonna get to witness all new interactions with these characters I’ve grown to love. It feels like a loss and I don’t know what fills that void now. Please Like Me was unique and that’s a double-edged sword. There’s a reason it stands out from everything else, but if I want to recapture that feeling I’ll have to settle for shows that have a few close elements, but fail to deliver the total package. I didn’t watch it because it had excellent fleshed out representation of gay characters. I didn’t watch it because it was a slice of life comedy about intelligent twentysomethings. I didn’t watch it because of its willingness to depict issues in a frank manner. I watched it because it managed to be its own thing and that means it’s gonna be pretty bloody hard to find anything quite like it.

So I guess, I dunno. I guess maybe I’ll just have to write something I’d want to watch.