Next time I go, I’m packing an Escape Rope.

Is there anywhere more depressing than the Dufferin (read: Sufferin) Mall? Sure, the Dufferin Grove Mall looks like the post apocalyptic survivor of an 80s zombie apocalpyse, forever frozen in remembrance. Still as one can see from the car park, at least you go there without expectations. Sufferin Mall has a unique soul numbing terror of its own, that sets in steadily with each step. Perhaps it’s the harsh fluorescent lighting, violently expelling the sight of the all too present shadows like some twisted Dorian Gray made brick and mortar. When the automatic doors reluctantly open before me, I swear I can hear the car park seagulls chanting “you were warned”.

It has a multi-level Wallmart. That should’ve been the first clue to run from the hills. Why do I know? I went there in a desperate search for some kind of protein bar my girlfriend and I could split (after an hour of searching left our spirits sapped). Nutrition is as sparse around Sufferin Mall as real value. Cheap prices are merely a Faustian pact in the form of numbers. The true cost goes unsaid. Approaching a free sample kiosk for kinder bueno minis, the lady behind accosted me desperately, resting her hand on my arm. Holding a camera in her other hand, she pleaded “sir, could you take a photo with us? We need to take photos with samplers, otherwise we don’t get paid.” Soul bleeding away into the aether, I numbly agreed, clutching the sample betwixt my thumb and forefinger. I dropped it, then scuffled around on the ground, where I’d left my dignity. I smiled as best I could, a mournful grimace trapped behind my eyes. If I didn’t escape soon, I never would.

Here’s the thing. Being in Sufferin Mall demands every sliver of your metaphysical vis. No matter how frequently you’ve fed and watered prior to entering, you’ll feel drained within twenty minutes. Endless empty promises of sales and values take more from you than they could ever give. There’s nothing of substance to be found in the food court and there’s no way this wasn’t done purposefully. With no reserves in your body, it’s impossible to navigate the endless storefronts without giving in out of desperation. You think that maybe by purchasing something, you’ll be allowed to leave. Your mission accomplished, you can slip away and preserve some semblance of sanity. The divine joke is that you came away with anything at all.

Things look and feel different there, it’s a palpable vibe. Children eschew their cherubim features for demonic visages. As if like moonlight in Pirates of the Caribbean, the fluorescent bulbs show the evil lurking beneath the skin. Shrieking and bawling endlessly, there is no appeasing a toddler in Sufferin Mall. The Escherian architecture too much for their sub-formed minds, letting all hell spew forth from tiny lips, lungs audibly agape. It’s graft vs host on a primal level, sub-human shells not fit to repel the venue’s demonic siren call. So they embody it, miniature vessels of horror forced to contend with forces of a magnitude beyond their comprehension. I mean, how is it possible to be miserable in a dinosaur cart for fuck’s sake?

Did I get what I came for? Would I ever have? There’s a reason the attached Beer Store sells Four Loko. Clinging to sanity by a thread, would the desperate few managing to emerge from Sufferin Mall’s predatory maw have the willpower to resist this modern day wormwood? As someone who’s somehow lived to tell the tale, it takes all you have and more.

Sufferin Mall: Just because you’ve abandoned all hope, it doesn’t mean you’re without anything to lose.

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.

Is today the day I’ll finally get to see Greene Daeye perform? They’re somewhere out there.

Happy St Patrick’s Day, if that’s a thing that makes you happy. It’s been years since I went out to celebrate. I used to love it back in university, but most of my post uni celebrations have fizzled. I’ve got no connection to any Irish heritage. I like the colour green and enjoy celebrating things, but that’s about it. St Paddy’s in my head has kind of become synonymous with a certain brand of douchedom, long lines, aggressive loudness and bizarre acculturation. U2, The Cranberries and oddly enough in some cases, The Proclaimers, on repeat all day. Conversely, I enjoy an excuse for a few pints of Guinness and rarely make them outside of the holiday. I’m sure it’d be painful after having had legit delicious Guinness in Belfast (people telling you it’s better closer to the source are 100% correct), but sometimes it’s nice to have your beer more closely resemble a thickshake.

I’m going out with co-workers today. Our team at the moment is actually a pretty decent group. They’re outgoing and friendly and there’s some value in spending together outside work hours for a more cohesive work atmosphere. It happens that a day where drinking is celebrated is a good way to get them enthused with the idea. Given my team, douchedom should be thankfully absent and it could be a fun outing.

Back in my early 20s, I felt like drinking was a part of my identity. That’s a terrifying concept to me now, but I was a lot younger back then. If not only physically, then definitely emotionally. It’s a thing that I do, but by no means does that consumption define me now. Gross. At that age, it represented a kind of community. Fellow BCS students would come out together and get to know one another. The openness it encouraged helped solidify friendships. It was an essential part of my time as a student (no doubt buoyed by New Zealand’s rampant binge drinking culture. Definitely not something to celebrate).

I can remember the first time I went out for St Paddy’s being a nigh magical experience. A couple of us had finished lectures by 11am, so we went out for a jug. Everyone we met was uncommonly friendly, so we got another. Then strangers told us about a couple of other bars that were hosting festivities, so we went along. The Fiddler had Irish tunes going strong and a bunch of middle aged folks getting ripped. It was a blast. Then out of nowhere, a little person dressed as a leprechaun descended on a platform from the floor above. It was a major WTF moment for us that seemed to be taking advantage of this dude. We chatted with him afterwards, said he loved it. That the owner was a nice dude and he was getting paid pretty handsomely for the gig. He was training to be a vet, so any extra cash was well appreciated. He was working the whole night, so he couldn’t come out with us, but we picked up other strangers to join our motley crew.

It was crazy, processions of people roaming the streets dressed in green. It may have been the boozy haze glossing over things, but I remember everyone being in great spirits. Friendly randoms giving out free drinks (SO welcome to our poor student budgets) and smiling faces wherever we went. It felt like people made time and space to get to know us (for the night at least, I’m sure the next morning would’ve felt like Memento). Good natured partying all around.

I think every year since then has failed to live up to that first time, which is why I laid the idea to rest a couple of years back. It seemed unnecessary, gratuitous. Who knows though? Maybe it’s a matter of attitude, choosing the right things to celebrate. If we can sidestep the less desirable acculturation elements, could we have a good time just celebrating camaraderie?

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.

Gland to be of some use.

I think the most exciting thing I’ve done in the past hour was get up to go to the toilet. Bleak. This isn’t the life I yearned for as a child. Then again, as a child I wanted to grow up to be a dinosaur or Wolverine. Hell, I probably would’ve settled for becoming a wolverine. I could go for having potent anal scent glands used for marking territory and sexual signaling. I’m sure it’d be preferable to this dim office job. I can blame the weather all I like, but truthfully not a day passes that I don’t rue my lack of a special upper molar in the back of the mouth that is rotated 90 degrees, towards the inside of the mouth. Now THAT’s something that’d make my CV pop.

As a kid though, outside of the desire to inhabit every pop cultural IP I could easily obsess over (and there were so many), I found it hard to latch on a Stanislavski style through-line of action with which to be guided. In short, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Furthermore, I didn’t know what was within my reach. My parents were always encouraging, but grounded. Reach for that rainbow, but don’t expect the pot o’ gold to be waiting for you without working for it. For years I decided that I was gonna be an actor, almost purely because I shared a birthday with my favourite actor; Jim Carrey. At this advanced age of eight I hadn’t pursued acting with any zeal. I just thought it’d be fun. People would give you lines and you’d say them. Then you could play superheroes as a job and all would be right with the world.

I didn’t actually start drama until age 13 or so, and even then it was a pretty tepid toe in the water. For something I’d supposedly wanted to do my whole life (five years basically being that at 13), I kept myself from launching headfirst. To be honest, I was fine. Totally unremarkable. I could act, but without the spark of greatness that eludes 99% or people who truly believe they’ll make it. I knew it, and so the dream passed me by without any particular feelings of loss. It didn’t matter, I had potential. I could do anything. As the years went on, I did a ton more and my expectations of what the future held widened. I’d write a book, or articles, or a comic, or speeches. I’d act in movies, TV shows, voice act. I’d edit video, audio, music. I’d do something in media. Surely that was a more defined dream?

I hope nobody is expecting some profound discovery or declaration here. I have worked in media for going on ten years now. I’ve had a plethora of jobs that’ve certainly varied in satisfaction levels. Even if the only constant in my future careers is uncertainly, I know at least that I’m in the right industry. I am the very model of middle class angst. Having your life struggle surrounding the fact that you’re fine, but have yet to excel is the kind of privilege so many would adore to suffer.

I may not be Wolverine, but when the right costume party strikes there’s nothing stopping me. I might not have found my niche in media, but it’s better than clawing at the industry from the outside. Taking a shit might be the highlight of some days, but give me a cup of coffee or two and that’s one thing I do excel at.

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.

In-sub stantial.

Because this page encompasses everything I want it to (and more oft’, many things I wish it didn’t), I’m gonna spend today’s 30 minutes exploring Reddit. I’ve seen the Random button before, but never really acknowledged its existence. Well my friends, let’s see where the lolsorandom button takes us…

emojipasta.

I haven’t vomited yet, but it’s only because I’ve got an uncannily strong stomach. The circlejerk is so turgid it’s making me squirm in my seat. It’s also that self-aware train wreck brand of amazing. What kind? This kind. I may not add it to my subreddit list.

wowservers.

People still play WoW? That’s pretty impressive. I remember I once had a level 9 night elf ranger. I was excited to get to level 10 to get my animal companion. Playing solely at my friend’s house, however, I lost interest and forgot about it. I wonder if my character misses me, hanging out in the aetherspace of the aethernet alongside my much neglected Neopets.

uwaterloo.

Well that’s strangely close to home. In case anyone can help out, there’s 1B CS/BBA looking for grill. I hear your plight, whicheverpartofthatsentencedenotesanidentity. I only pray someone comes to your aid post-haste.

memphis.

I went to Memphis, actually. I was there on my birthday in 2011, I think. We parked our RV in an RV park, I bought cheap Chinese food and marshmallow flavoured vodka (not as bad as I’d expected). We were creeped out at how dark and ominous everything seemed. It was quiet, but disconcertingly so. An older woman with two dogs (named Grits and Gravy respectively) warned us that crime was on the up. Fortunately, everything felt rosier after half a bottle of marshmallow flavoured vodka. Everything usually does.

astrophotography.

This is exactly what it sounds like. I’ve never been a huge space guy, but there’s a bunch of stunning hi-res stuff. I mean, look at this for fuck’s sake. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking at. For all I know that could be the inside of an arsehole after eating cheap Chinese food and drinking half a bottle of marshmallow flavoured vodka. Because that was a thing of beauty. I think this one just earned a “subscribe”.

node.

Well we knew this was gonna happen. I’ve stumbled into something I have zero knowledge of. Some programming language. The top post of all time is an AMA by Ryan Dahl, its creator. If this is your thing, maybe watch out for these 10 things you shouldn’t do while running Node.js in production. You’ve been warned.

floor.

Well, here’s one for the girlfriend. Puffy, cuddly, long haired cat+ creatures. Fake or misidentified animals will be removed, so watch out. No dropbears in this establishment. 22,269 readers are watching. They may love soft things, but they draw a line on fakery.

rally.

This has everything to do with cars and nothing to do with people coming together for a cause. Unless that cause is about a race. Cars. I have nothing to add here.

VEDC.

Somewhat tangentially related, this is a more everyday person’s vehicle requirements. Instead of speed, these folks go for versatility. Vehicle Everyday Carry. I’m not convinced that this person isn’t Batman, given their absurd preparedness. I wonder though, if they’d ever manage to cross the border. Or do they have a pocket universe hidden in the truck to hide their excessive carry.

Time for ooooone more. Let’s hope it’s good and not just some fan page for postage stamp glue.

Oh boy, subscribed without a second thought.