Does Ned Flanders pop a diddly squat?

When did my body become a flesh filled garbage bag?

I dunno, I’ve just felt junky lately. My muscles are deteriorating from lack of use, and I’ve become lethargy incarnate. It’s probably just a combination of seasonal changes in weather, the fact that I had a consistent cold for a week or so, snow getting in the way of my ability to bike, and feeling too lazy to gym half as often. I’m 32 going on 40 right now. I’d finally cleared out most of the knots in my back, then I returned to the gym. I realised that my lack of workouts was probably weakening my back muscles, and my desk set up at work was doing numbers on my posture. I’m doing constant personal posture reminders: Walk like you’re wearing a cape. Shoulders back and down, tilt pelvis forward, tighten core. It’s work, especially since it’s so tempting to let my shoulders slump forward. Slumping is the utmost in comfort, and it’s too tempting to just do it all the time. But if the choice is between temporary comfort and an eventual sore back, it’s a boring and adult choice to make.

Having not been to the gym in quite some time, yesterday’s experience was sorta neat. My mp3 player had nearly run out of batteries, and as I stretched on a bar, I noticed a charger plugged into the wall. It was the right USB for my player. I asked some dude if it was his. It wasn’t being used, and I had a mighty need. He said to go ahead, he was finishing up. He said he’d go shower and pick it up after he’d finished. The extra juice gave me enough charge for my workout and the rest of the day. It was a really nice gesture from some stranger, and put me in a great mood.

Then some personal trainer came over to chat. He asked where my friend was, and I told him he’d gotten me mixed up with someone else, but that was fine. I mentioned that I loved this weird little club with its labyrinthine hallways and weird layout. He told me about the history of the club, how it used to be a platinum club with all kinds of member benefits. Then they relented and took away its platinum status, but kept the benefits. Which explains why there are always ample cotton swabs lying around. It was very clear that he was just chatting, not trying to sell me on anything. It was nice to have someone to chat with while I stretched and waited for my player to charge.

He said he hadn’t seen me around in a while, and I told him about my muscle troubles lately. The borderline tennis elbow on my left, and the brachioradialis stuff on the right. I asked him for advice. Was I was messing things up by working out? Should I relent on the trigger point work I’d been doing with my home equipment? He said that it was fine and good to keep doing the stuff I was doing. Work out until it starts hurting, then back off and move to something else. He said the big thing that would help would be introducing ice into my routine. The problem, he said, is that these muscles get worked and inflamed, but ice is a fantastic anti-inflammatory. He suggested doing the trigger point work, then putting an ice pack on the area for the next 20 minutes. He said it’d take a long time to clear out, because they were muscles that were in use all day, but ice would really help.

But then I did the worst exercise- front squats- and everything hurts. Front squats fucking suck. First you’ve got the fact that you have to hold your arms in rack position. I’ve always found this flexibility frustratingly difficult. Years ago when I got into crossfit (before the endless injuries, etc), I really worked on it. I could get all my fingers wrapped around the bar. These days I can only really get two fingers on each side, with the others splayed out uselessly. Secondly, that bar crunches right down onto the collar bones. I don’t even put much weight on, and it still grinds right in there. I know that it’s a good exercise, but it activates all these back muscles that otherwise get a free ride. That’s precisely why I did it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt a bunch in the short term. Double plus unfun. It’s all work to get good posture back, but we all know slouching would be way more pleasant in the short term.

It’s gonna be a long winter. Best get started.

Was “Down with the Sickness” a protest anthem?

I’m not good at being sick.

I know what I should be doing: Sleeping, relaxing, eating and drinking the right things. I don’t want to be doing any of this stuff. I wanna be out and active. Doing sweet kick flips and cracking cold ones with the boys. I wanna be snuggling up with fly honeys and be getting rich or dying trying. I wanna be your lover and getting with your friends. I wanna be making moves and shakes, preferably creaming soda flavoured, but dairy is not good for a sore throat. What’s up (what’s going on)?

I’ve got a sore throat. It’s stuffed heavy with mucus. I haven’t as of yet developed a virulent cough, but my girlfriend’s had one for the past week and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. I’m not sniffly/dripping constantly. My energy is sapped and my muscles are kind of achy. While my normal recourse would be to say “damn the man”, and burn the candle at both ends, I’m trying to be a responsible adult. Moreover, I’m an independent contractor now. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Sick days aren’t a thing these days. So I’m trying to use my four days off productively, for healing and recovery, in the hopes that by the time my shift rolls around I’ll be able to spend eight hours at a time voicing without incident.

It’s not easy though. All of my favourite foods are ones that ain’t great for cold/flu symptoms. Dairy is no good, because it increases mucus production. I want ice cream, I want cheese, and I want chocolate (reminder: it’s 2019, I use the Oxford Comma now sometimes). I’m not supposed to be drinking coffee (he says after finishing his third mug), because it’s a diuretic. Obviously I’ve side stepped that little suggestion (and I’m probably drinking close to four litres of water a day to compensate). Sugar apparently increases inflammation, so I can’t just tuck into bonbons on repeat. What does that leave left? Uncaffeinated tea, soups and broth. Maybe oatmeal (though my appetite weirdly is pretty low) and trace amounts of fruit. Vegetables and protein. It’s not fun food, it’s responsible stuff.

My girlfriend and I have done a good job recently of keeping bone broth around. We toss in a few things to turn it into a simple mug soup. I finished a jar of kimchi yesterday and had this great idea, I’d use the remnants inside for a nutrient packed broth. It was all going so swimmingly until it didn’t. I put broth in a mug, then added coconut oil, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, chicken stock and honey. I warmed it up in the microwave to get everything dissolved. I poured it into the kimchi container and closed the lid. I shook it all up so it’d a) clean the container and b) absorb all those little spice specks. It started to bubble up a little. I assessed the situation. The container was about 1/8 full. When it bubbled up, it got to maybe 1/4 full. There was nothing carbonated in there, and the built up pressure wasn’t enough to create an issue. Or so I thought. Almost immediately after resuming shaking, the top burst off and this hot broth went everywhere. It covered the sink, the counter, the floor, and splashed over my hip. I immediately pressed a cold pack to my hip, kept in place by my underwear. I cleaned the floor, the counter and the sink. There were trace remnants left in the kimchi container, so I poured it into a mug. It was like heavenly mead. The flavours somehow intermeshed swimmingly. I’ve never had kimchi and honey in the same dish but by gawd, it was something.

I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here, but chances are it’s gonna fly past my head. My burns were minimal, and I discovered a new taste sensation. At least there’s something good I can eat.

If only I had a taste for humble pie.

Unless your show is called Lovesick, that is

Okay. Just one day left of shift, and I can be as sick as I want.

It’s coming. I’ve got the phlegm-y throat. My energy is drained. I’m sweating in bed and sleeping tons more. Despite the previous sentence, I’m not taking this lying down. I’ve been doing salt water gargles. I’m mainlining fluids and peeing heaps. I’ve been bringing bone broth to work. I’m drinking tea like a fancy lady. I’ve tried to be considerate to my body, because I have to. There’s so much freedom that comes with being an independent contractor, and I love it. Almost everything about it is an improvement. The only thing that’s lacking is sick pay. I don’t get sick days. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. No middle ground. Worse, my job is directly contingent on my voice. So no karaoke or screaming into the void anymore. If I’m coughing, if my throat is raw, it all affects my ability to do my job. I like my job. I like doing a good job at my job, and if I can’t, it sucks.

But I only work four day shifts. If I can hold on for one more day, I’m in the clear. I can be as sick as I want. I can lie in bed with popsicles and finally finish the second half of Toni Erdmann. I could even watch the 2015 film Happy Hour, in its five hour long glory. I can sup on bone broth, and hack up all the phlegm my body seeks to offload. I can break down into primordial goop and reform into a functional human at the end of my four day break. I can scatter my brain to the aether, play among the stars, and align every single one of my chakras, then crash down to earth. I’ll still have a day or so left to recover. Four days off at a time is unreal. One more day.

For today though, I’m a working boy. I did four episodes of this dating show last night. The Blind Date reboot. It was hosted (well, voice over-ed) by Nikki Glaser, who I like. The show? Well it was kinda standard reality TV dating fare. The thing I liked, is that they gave their participants all the rope to hang themselves that they needed. Some of these dates were insanely cringeworthy, with some truly odd matches. It was interesting seeing how much the subjects leaned into the date, trying to give content for the show. I wonder if half the kisses, for instance, would’ve happened if not for the televised element. The most cringeworthy part, however, was the endless parade of graphics, animated thought bubbles and tag lines they posted over the dates. Someone would say something, then an animated thought bubble [sounds like something a virgin would say] or whatever would pop up. Meh. It did help me make interesting descriptions, and challenged me to think of how to convey them to a partially sighted audience. So that aspect made the show fun to do.

Being on a dating show is 100% on my bucket list. I’d love to take part. I mean, I like dating. It’s fun to get to know someone on a deeper element. It’s even more fun when you’re actively engaging in neat activities. Whether that’s getting drinks, going bowling, doing paintball or what have you. Placing people in scenarios that’re outside their norm and seeing how they adapt helps you gauge them better. I almost had a chance once or twice. The first time, I applied for Beauty and the Geek Australia. I got shortlisted, but the audition was on a date where my friend and I had booked a holiday. I wasn’t gonna leave my friend in the lurch, so I opted out. The second time, my girlfriend and I were in London. She went to a drag show, and I hung out in a nearby bar to drink and mess around on my phone. I sat alone, and a woman approached me. She said she was in casting for a dating show, and wondered if I was interested. I said that I absolutely was, but I was poly/partnered and that turned out to be a no-go. Alas. Will lightning strike again? Will I get my chance? I think what I’m saying is, if you have a dating show and need a male contestant, call me.

Just let me recover from my plague first.

An endless cycle, and I want mine back

My body is breaking down.

Or at least, that’s what being 32 feels like. Since my work/life schedule shifted, it’s been harder and harder to stay consistent with fitness. I’m not complaining, things are great now, but that doesn’t mean everything has become easier. For me, so much of my sweat based activity has revolved around habit. It makes sense. If fitness is bundled in with obligatory stuff, it’s less imposing. When something’s hard enough to do on its own, coupling that with extra obstacles has an exponential effect. One of the gyms I frequent has had a broken upwards escalator for months. Do you know how difficult it is to hoist yourself up that escalator on a good day? When it’s broken, you almost feel like turning around, satisfied with a good workout by the time you reach the top. Maybe enter the gym for a shower, at least.

It was so much easier when I tacked the gym onto the end of a workday. Great way to shake loose the day’s frustrations. With a five day work week, it was simpler to maintain a one day on, one day off schedule. It’s four days on, four days off now. I know it sounds like it’d be a breeze fitting a one hour workout into an entire day off, but that’s not the case. If you have no reason to leave the house, going somewhere to lift heavy things isn’t a stellar motivator. Also my bike is out of commission, so I have to pay $6 in transit to get there and back. Disincentive.

Look, excuses are the easiest things to find in the world, and I’ve found the most success when I’ve minimised my ability to make them. Having a bike means I can accrue incidental activity. It’s only been a recent addition to my life, but I’m glad to have finally joined the cult of cyclists. It makes trips into mini adventures, instead of passively riding transit. Bundling gym stuff with other errands makes it feel worthwhile, and lowers the barrier to entry. Today, for instance, I’ve bribed myself into doing a yoga style class. It’s in the vicinity of the fruit and veggie shop where I get my apples, and I’m gonna buy a ton. It’s small, but if it gets me there, it’s worth it.

Something that’s been brought to light for me recently, is how important it is to have goals with fitness. My always and forever goal has been to feel good in and about my body. If I’m feeling fit, it’s straight up easier to navigate life. I have more capacity for activity, and it makes it easier to quash excuses. I have more pep in my step, and those steps take me further. If I’m well stretched and limber, living is less of an encumbrance. I don’t ache when performing small tasks, and it greatly lifts my quality of life. If I feel good about my body, it improves my attitude. I’m happier in general, and my mental health gets to take a break. I’m not getting stressed by looking into mirrors and finding negativity. In general, being active makes my day to day better.

However, I’d been mostly pretty pleased with this stuff lately. Maintenance is a positive place to be, but it’s kinda piss poor as a motivational tool. I don’t have things to strive for, and it’s turned down the fire under my feet that’s historically pushed me out the door. What this means, is that I’ve had a harder time getting there. I’ve had a stressed muscle that needs time off, and it’s kept me out of the gym. I still need a new mp3 player, which has made workouts less engaging. It’s been cold, which is a death knell for getting out and about. What this means, is that my body hasn’t had the same level of activity. My muscles are under worked, and they’re not getting stretched as much. While maintenance is the goal, it’s not an exciting one. It’s become a good reminder that keeping up with all this is a choice, and not something to take for granted.

Suffice to say, treadmills are boring. If you’re on auto-pilot with a bunch of this stuff, it can be worth checking in on why you’re feeling that way. I know that in my case, keeping active is an act of self-love, even if it doesn’t feel like that at the time. I’ve been getting so achy, feeling tepid about it all. I’m both getting older, and too young to lose touch with why I’ve been keeping up with it in the first place.

You wouldn’t think those were strict criteria…

Y’all ready for a “let’s get this out of the way” post?

I sure am. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in just over an hour, and while I could probably just write in the inevitable half hour waiting room break, I don’t wanna. I’m doing my check in post anti-depressants to gauge how things are going. Oddly enough, my doctor has gone on mat leave and I’m meeting her year long replacement. With something personal like this, I’m starting to understand the mentality of people wanting to see their specific doctors. The decision for me to go on these meds was thoroughly discussed, and would’ve been a rollercoaster if not for the time and patience my doctor had for looking at all of our options together. Ultimately, I know they’re working and have been an outstanding decision, so I’m not worried about talking with some new dude about them. At the same time, it brings me closer to the importance of a personal doctor relationship kind of thing. Usually, I don’t care. I trust that the clinic I visit has qualified professionals. I’ve had only good experiences with the staff there. The receptionists are very hesitant to put me with anyone else unless it’s an emergency. I don’t blame them whatsoever. That’s just policy. Still, if there’s something wrong with me, I will go to most anyone who has more knowledge than I do. Just put me in, coach.

I’ve got a fancy, fancy party tomorrow night and I’m excited. I got so excited that I bought two tickets by accident. See, I can trace back the idiocy of this decision. Let’s back up. I go to this Library fundraiser every year. It’s the one event that’s very costly (over $100 per ticket), and I get all dolled up with friends. We’ve gone for the past few years. Tradition, and all that. There’s early bird pricing, which we generally tend to get. This year, because of my shift work, I wasn’t sure if I’d be free on the night or not. We have a big group chat going about it (and other neat events). I re-read the chat yesterday. Everyone chimed in back in early September about having purchased early bird tickets. Normally with these events, I post something like “got my ticket” or whatnot. I hadn’t. A few weeks ago I was like oh shit, did I get my ticket? I know I missed early bird. I looked in my emails for a sign of a ticket purchase. No confirmation emails. I looked back in my bank account. No sign of an earlier non-early bird ticket purchase. I bit the bullet and bought a billet. Then yesterday, I got an email telling me to activate my ticket. I logged in and saw two tickets. Weird. I looked back in my emails, and realised that I didn’t have a ticket purchase receipt for the second one either. So that was clearly what happened first time around. I’d bought two tickets. Dummy.

I emailed back asking if I could get a refund. Then my mind started spinning. What was my best course of action? These weren’t cheap tickets. I think the fully priced one came to over $130. I could offer it to my girlfriend, but I couldn’t really expect her to pay for it. Also she’s kinda flu-y at the moment. What if she was too sick to go? I started thinking of other friends, but more importantly I thought of the group I’m going with. It’s a tight knit group. Wonderful, witty people. It’s also a very particular vibe. If my girlfriend couldn’t make it, I’d need to find someone else. It’d have to be someone who’d a) fit with the group, b) have fancy things to wear, c) like eating/drinking a lot (on account of the open bar and unlimited delicious foods) and d) be available last minute. I made a shortlist and it had possibly five people who’d fit a-c. Turns out that I can get a refund, however, so I don’t have to worry about last minute rearrangements. I just need to make sure I have a non-creased shirt.

I better get a few ice cubed and toss my shirt in the dryer.

Yeah yeah yeah, you turn it into a rectangle, then how do you not get tangled?

Oh I love The Internet.

It probably consumes most of my waking hours. Whether I’m scrolling through Reddit/Facebook/Twitter, playing Magic, streaming shows or, well, doing exactly what I’m doing now. I’ve become used to the internet as a forum for arguments, hatred and showcasing the worst that humanity has to offer. Political rhetoric may not have overtaken porn as the central use of the internet, but it’s zooming right up its butthole. Even with the absurd amount of time I spend on it, I still forget how genuinely useful the internet can be.

I’ve had this muscle in my arm that’s been sore for days. At the top of the forearm, kind of on the outside, by the bicep. I don’t know how I stressed it (some kind of overuse, no doubt), but it’s been making itself known quite profoundly. Any time my right arm has been bent and doing some sort of pulling motion, I’ve felt pain there. Bicep curls, obviously. Pull ups, definitely. Outside of gym stuff, certain gripping actions have inflamed it. Feeling down the arm, I noticed that the muscle was connected somehow to my index finger. I wondered if it’d been because of workplace RSI. I’ve tried at multiple junctures to do trigger point release. In short, finding points on the muscle where pressure created strong pain, and holding that point firmly until the pain eased. Letting the muscle relax, basically. I did a bunch while lying in bed last night, and found the stress abating a bit. Pleased, I nodded off. I woke up this morning, with the pain still there.

Disappointed, I consulted the internet. Google has gotten adept enough to handle my dumb queries (“muscles connected to the index finger”), and I found a page full of individual arm muscles. I looked through them all until I found the one that seemed to fit my symptoms/arm location. The brachioradialis. I then searched for brachioradialis stretches. Within a minute I’d found a YouTube video of a British physiotherapist giving a stretch for the muscle. I tried the stretch, it went straight to the source of the pain. I tried on the other arm just to test. Nope, no pain. I’m pretty sure that I’ve found how to ease the strain over the next few days. I consider this a total success.

It’s so easy to forget this part of the internet, but it kinda feels like that was what people originally had in mind. The internet, despite all the trolls and clickbait, is a massive repository of human knowledge. Chances are, anything you’ve asked has already been solved (and/or, pornified. Thanks Rule 34). I don’t know how many times I’ve asked the internet questions like:

  • How do I fold a suit for travel?
  • How do I fold a fitted sheet?
  • How do I iron a shirt?
  • How do I cook ______?
  • What is a remedy for _____?
  • How do I sew a button?
  • Sorry, I forgot the fitted sheet thing?
  • Which bike accessory fits my needs?
  • What do I eat/drink/see in this city I’m visiting?
  • Is there a free alternative to this software?
  • Is there an easier alternative to fitted sheets?

Mostly, the internet has delivered. There are any number of tasks that get so much easier with guidance, and if you’re willing to look, the internet provides.

Also, thanks to The Google effect, I still haven’t bookmarked that Martha Stewart folding fitted sheets video.

Getting in my own sway

I’m not sure if you know this, but if you get tired enough you’re basically high.

Cut to me roaming the halls at work, swaying as I walked. Not a sexy, seductive kind of sway. Less hip movement, and more of an I’m losing touch with reality and boy oh boy I need to keep my head from flailing into errant walls kind of sway. Perhaps it wasn’t a wise idea for me to bike to work. Perhaps it was an even less wise idea for me to bike home from work. All I know is, I’m very thankful it was a moderately slow shift, because I don’t think I could’ve handled much workload. I messaged my girlfriend at some point to let her know I was getting motion blurs from turning my head too quickly. It was like bad VR, which already gives me motion sickness. Thank fuck my eyes have a decent depth of field, otherwise I’m not sure I could’ve handled my own body. The saving grace was that as long as I was stationary, I was mostly fine. I don’t need to rapidly turn my head at my desk to do my job, so I could at least get the work done without much of an issue.

Last night I made an important, but boring decision. I decided to stay home from the final of Late Bad. As I’ve raved over the past week, it’s quickly become my favourite local comedy show. The hosts are fantastic, the recurring bits are absurd, and it tickled my funny bones all over. In a whimsical, not creepy way. I think having your bones tickled might be a meth symptom, but I can’t be sure. Hell, I’m not even sure how many funny bones I have. I clearly cannot be trusted as a medical expert. In any case, I was at work thinking I might be stepping outside of liminal time right now, but do I stay up in the present to see Late Bad? I did notice how much better I’d felt after eating a full meal, and I’d thrusted enough caffeine into my body to make sleep an intangible concept. T H R U S T E D. I knew going to Late Bad wasn’t a good idea, but I didn’t trust myself to make smart decisions. Like, how could I know that the things I thought were ill advised were actually, well, that? What if my concepts were twisted all challah-like? It was Rosh Hashana, but what if it was also opposite day?

Deep down I knew I shouldn’t go. Look, there’s no misdirect here. I already told you I didn’t. But we’re living in the future. I didn’t know that even after I’d left work, liminal time or no. I got let out early, and had ample time to actually make it to the show. I was on my bike, and still couldn’t decide. I was riding seated, one-handed, up a hill, texting my girlfriend about my indecision. Then I realised, that I was riding seated, one-handed, up a hill, texting my girlfriend. I wanted to go to the show, but I clearly wasn’t in a sane state of mind to make those decisions. I took stock, and thought back to the festival. I remembered how good I’d felt making smart decisions not to fall prey to FOMO. I thought about my potential next day after staying up late at Comedy Bar. No doubt I’d get a drink, maybe two, get sucked into the frenzy of the final off-festival show and 4am last call. I knew how terrible today’s shift would be, given that it might actually get busy. I understood that, if I decided to see the show, much as I wanted to, it would mean I’d clearly learned nothing from my experiences. I may have been delirious with exhaustion, but I wasn’t a dummy. I went home, chilled out, and had a full night’s rest.

Sure, I kinda regret my decision, but I was going to either way.