It’s not like fire doesn’t cut down on humidity.

I’m a huge fan of garage sales. Even if everyone else here seems to pronounce them “guh-raj sales” instead of the obviously correct “garridge sales”. I love finding affordable (dirt cheap) pre-loved (used) goods that hopefully still work. Hell, free shit is some of my top tier favourite stuff in the multiverse. It doesn’t always pan out (the broken microwave I carried about a kilometre that had a working light, but no heat, comes to mind), but sometimes it pans out entirely literally (the curbside cast iron frying pan for instance. Spent some time scrubbing off the rust and now it’s A+. Not even a nuke could ruin one of those babies). Throwing a few bucks on top of that can come with massive rewards. I had a $2 backpack that I used for about a year, some $4 pants that got a couple of years’ use. I mean, our bedside lamp, blender, large pan and food processor (to back up the blender’s blind spots) collectively cost us under $50. So much value I was in total Rapture.

Yesterday I found a great buy at a local (in direct line of sight from our place) garage sale. I mean, the place was swarming with neat stuff. There was a preserved scorpion paperweight, tons of old cameras and camera technology, clothes and books, etc. Then I saw an item I’d been thinking about for some time: A dehumidifier. We always grew up with one. It was a sturdy machine with a computerised display on the top. My favourite feature hands down of this old dehumidifier was the whale on the computerised display. A goddamn whale. This animated whale was an indicator of the humidity levels of the surroundings. If it was too humid, the whale made a frowny face with “x” eyes. If it was neutral, it had dot eyes and its mouth was pulled into a tight line (like thus: “-“). If the area was at low humidity, the whale would be stoked, mouth pulled into a huge smile with big smiley eyes. PLUS A BIG FUCKEN SPOUT OF WATER ON ITS BACK. I loved this whale possibly more than I loved the dehumidifier itself, even if the logic of it was pretty peculiar. Shouldn’t the whale be stoked with humidity? It lives in the ocean, basically the most humid place there is. I don’t know if this is one of those great white voluntary sand whales I’ve often heard tale of. Whatever it was, it liked its atmosphere like I like my gingerale: dry. Also maybe with whiskey, I’m not sure. It was a two dimensional whale, whatever its liquor preferences were, it was tight lipped.

This garridge sale didn’t have a whaleriffic dehumidifier, but it did have a $10 one. A bargain by any other name wouldn’t smell as cheap. Metaphorically. This thing had no particular odour. Frankly with a dehumidifier I’d take that as a warning sign. I asked the guy holding fat stacks of cash in his hand (I assumed he was one of the people running the sale) if there was anything wrong with it. According to him (and who wouldn’t trust a white male flashing large quantities of dollars?) it worked fine, they just upgraded to a bigger model for the family home. He said he was so sure that it worked that if I took it home and it didn’t work, I could bring it back and he’d swap it for his other one. Sounded completely un-suspicious. I bought it and carried it the 20 metres or so to our front door.

It worked. I plugged it in and it happily (I can only assume. No whale, remember?) did its thing. Within an hour or two, the humidity was down to the requisite level. Soothing. Later that evening I looked up the manual online to see if there was anything I needed to know about the unit. Googling the model number, the first couple of results were the same. PRODUCT RECALL. The model number was one of the many models recalled for potential fire risk. They’d apparently had some cases of the dehumidifier super-heating and exploding. DOUBLE PLUS UNGOOD. I wondered to myself, was it worth still running it? I asked my girlfriend, who was fine with taking a chance (humidity being the moral enemy of virtue, of course). I also thought, how much would they pay for a recalled unit? I had no proof of purchase and the recall was a few years ago. Still, could I get more than the $10 I paid for it? Would this be one of my many lucrative get rich quick schemes that didn’t pan out (curbside cast iron pan notwithstanding)? Or was the best option to keep using my cheap dehumidifier and turning it off once nobody was in the house? Thus preventing it from overheating after, I dunno, 24 hour use or something? Would you dice with the devil? Or go for the Faustian recall deal? The devil you know or the one you don’t?

Sounds like what we bought was really… a dehumidifire.

Foie grasshole.

I’ve never claimed to be a good person and anyone assuming the best of me would be left poorly shortchanged. Today I’ve been in a shifty mood, no idea why. In honour of this, I’m devoting today’s entry to the many petty moments I’ve had since rising.

  • This morning when I was readying to board the bus, there was a dude walking slowly with a cane. There was a line, but he was at the front just to the side of the queue. I saw him approaching as the bus was pulling up and decided to wait, to let him get on before anyone else. I noticed a woman in a yellow sweater approaching quickly from behind. She was walking around the line and barging anyone whose shoulders were too close. So I deliberately stepped out to the side and in her way, giving the man time to board. I could tell she was antsy but I was wearing headphones and pretending to be oblivious. I could sense her fuming from behind me. I felt immensely satisfied.
  • The entry to our bathrooms at work involve a double door system. There’s a door that leads into an intermediary room with a bin and hand sanitiser. This room has a door that leads you into the bathroom. Because the air gets pressurised in the little mid-room, you can hear when someone’s coming out from the bathroom. People are either oblivious to this air pressure thing, or don’t care. The result is usually walking into the mid room and both people getting spooked. So instead when I heard someone opening the door to the mid-room this morning, I stood stock still at the entrance to the mid-room without opening the door. When I say standing at the entrance, I was practically perpendicular to the door frame. The guy walked out and almost shot into the air Hanna-Barbera style. I refused to acknowledge his surprise and walked past him into the bathroom without saying a word. I smiled inwardly to myself.
  • My girlfriend and I are going to Montreal this weekend and we’ve been scouting for recommendations. A friend told us about a place with great brunches. When I was chatting to her later about unrelated stuff, she mentioned how excellent their menu was, making particular note of the foie gras. I’ve never had foie gras. It’s not because of anything ethical, I just haven’t had a ton of high end French cuisine. I thought about foie gras a little. I thought of how lucky I was to not have any dietary restrictions. Then my mind drifted to the notion that not only would it involve something dying for my meal, but suffering too. Then I was filled with this intense feeling of relief and satisfaction from having been born pretty high up on the food chain. If that has you riled up, keep in mind that if there’s an afterlife, I won’t feel so smug then.
  • I was first to the donut box at work today and had my pick. I quickly nabbed the only sour cream glazed donuts. I don’t particularly like donuts, primarily because of their soft, airy texture. The sour cream glazed variety are one of the few dense donuts that Tim Hortons stocks. I took a certain glee in thinking only of myself.
  • Two and a half weeks ago, an acquaintance had asked if she could leave two pieces of furniture at our place overnight. They were moving and needed to store it somewhere that it wouldn’t get rained out. I said that was fine. A few days later it hadn’t been picked up, so I sent her a message to remind her. She didn’t respond. Another few days passed. I sent another message. She said she had plans to get it picked up and that she’d sort it. A few days later, I messaged again to check the status of it being picked up. This was a far cry from an overnight thing, which felt like I was being saddled with something because it wasn’t a priority to her. She didn’t respond. I messaged her again a day later. No response. I messaged her a day later and said that if she didn’t want it I was happy to put it curbside. She messaged back saying that her plans had fallen through and she had plans to pick it up. Finally today I messaged and asked her when it was getting sorted. She said she’d pick it up tonight. I said great and offered to help carry the stuff if she needed it. She arrived earlier than she’d said, which coincided with my dinner being plated. I took certain delight in sitting down for my meal, not coming out to help or even saying hello. I simply sat there enjoying my meal, satisfied that I didn’t have to lift a finger. It’s the little things, y’know?

And now that this entry is done with, I can go back to idly not giving a shit. Some days are better than others.

Would you rather a bin ate it? You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to give away food these days.

With social decorum being what it is, by living in society you make a tacit contract to “not be a dick” as best you can. Some people commit harder than others. Some people succeed harder than others. Some people get hard in an unwanted capacity in front of others and succeed in being committed to a facility. There are tiny little arrangements we all agree to on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re just out of perceived politeness. It doesn’t stop me from thinking of exactly which unspoken contracts I’d like to break.

  • Riding in shopping carts: It’s okay when you’re a kid, but for some reason when you’re big enough to push one, cramming yourself into a cart and getting pushed around seems the height of malarkey. BUT IT’S SO FUN. Nobody is getting hurt (except maybe me when my bulk tips the thing right over). Furthermore, by virtue of being alongside the produce we’d load into the cart, it’d be less likely for any of the shopping to escape. I’d guard it with my life (precariously hanging in the balance of, well, my ability to balance in the cart). Is having a good time not a good enough excuse? It’s not even at the expense of others for once.
  • Eating leftover food in public: This one seems more symptomatic of inoculating ourselves against the unknown. A fear of germs or other contagion that strangers could be carrying. Or even worse, a fear of being caught taking other people’s leftovers. Shock horror. We buy leftover furniture and clothes. Why not chomp down on that plate of chips at a food court? Just because they’re cold, doesn’t mean they’re infected. Just remove the bit of that Big Mac they’ve bitten into. Safe as houses. Get a different spoon for that uneaten curry or soup. Why not? Because we’re afraid of looking poor or desperate? Check your ego at the door and enjoy free chow. It’s already been paid for, so it’s not like you’re taking money away from the business. What’s the worst that could happen? We already got rid of the black plague.
  • Everyday costumes: I don’t know why corporate stiffwads decided that eccentric clothing would adversely affect performance. Why can’t I dress like a knight every day without the expectation that I’m not capable of my job? What you’re wearing is no indication of competence, unless it’s your competence at conforming. If I was dressed like Wolverine, you can bet your sweet ass I’d feel confidence and capable. How would that not significantly increase the quality of my work? Plus maybe if I could brandish razor sharp claws at a moment’s notice, annoying people from other departments would leave me the fuck alone to get my work done. Who am I kidding? They’d just email instead.
  • No shoes, yes service: I get that this is more of a safety liability thing, but I love being barefoot. I can only imagine how much more relaxed I’d feel eating a burger and sipping a sweet brew if my toes were free to wiggle away in the open air. Why deny them that freedom? Maybe let me know that glassware could potentially break and cutting myself would be a possibility. Or let me wear jandals and I’ll slip them off when I get to my table. No harm, no foul. Only the foul stench rising from between my toes.

Don’t worry folks, I get it. I understand that these rules were created to try and keep everyone happy. Still, can’t we find a little wriggle room? For my toes at least?

Yeah Frankie, what of it?

Often upon leaving work, I just want to go home and relax in front of the computer (so basically what I do at work anyway?). I want to eat a thing and watch a thing and maybe hang out with my girlfriend if I’m especially lucky and our conflicting schedules allow for it. Most of the time, fate tells me to fuck off. It’s rare that I get to lax out. I’ll instead go to the gym or spend time with a friend. I’ll go to some kind of event, whether it’s comedy or film related. While we’re in season, the Pawdcast chews up most of my spare hours (between episode prep, recording and editing). I wish that I could say things are calm, that I’m making the most of my downtime.

I could say that, but I’d be lying.

Last night I tried running home from work for the first time. In my head this seemed like an insurmountable task. It looked way too far and I didn’t think my body would be up for it. Then I made a mistake as innocent as forgetting to bring a towel to work. No more could I get physically active through running at lunch. I’d stink up the office with my sticky sweatiness. If I had a towel, I’d be able to use the workplace showers. NO BUENO. So I was forced to find other plans. I had a drop-in improv class to go to at 6.30pm, so I’d need to be home by 6.10pm at the latest to give me time for a shower and a bus to the theatre. That left me with about an hour to run eight and a half kilometres. Entirely achievable, right?

I put in the effort, folks. I really did. It was a sweet run. I zoomed along the waterfront like I normally do at lunchtime, but I kept on going once I reached Bathurst. I don’t know if I’d sufficiently stretched , cause my left IT band was shouting a constant stream of expletives all the way up my side. The bike path continued through some park towards The Ex. There were other joggers running with their doggos. It was idyllic. My IT band wasn’t letting up, so I took small chances to stretch every time I was stopped at a light. So like three times in five minutes. I ran up Strachan Ave, left on King and up Shaw towards Dundas. At Dundas I looked left and saw a big clock outside a hardware store. 5:52pm. At this rate there’d be no chance of getting home for a shower before class. If I wouldn’t do it to my team at work, I certainly wouldn’t do it to total strangers. I hopped on a bus and headed home, having jogged a respectable six kilometres or so.

Jogging six kilometres in 40 minutes isn’t amazing. I’m certainly not at my peak, but I’d probably average five kilometres in around 27 or 28 minutes usually. I was wondering why I’d been moving at a snail’s pace, then it hit me. Traffic lights. There’d been so many goddamn traffic lights. Each time I’d wait for a minute or so, slowing down my overall time. Bummer. The cost I pay for living in Toronto, I guess.

Into the house at 6.07pm, out of the house at 6.23pm. Reached the theatre at 6.29pm and class started a minute later. The class rushed by. Things clicked a little bit better than the week before. It felt like less of a disparity in skill levels between attendees. I was more relaxed. I tried really hard to be present and front of mind instead of keeping suggestions in my back pocket to bail me out. I hope this doesn’t come off as cocky, because I wasn’t doing anything trail blazing by any stretch, I was merely not shit. A nice change. I had a heap of fun, enough that I’ll probably sign up for the eight week class. I think there’s a ton I could learn from the training that’d extend into being more confident in my everyday goings on.

Then once class finished at 7.15pm, I grabbed a kebab and headed down to a volunteer meeting for this megagame. A friend is running a massive (60 odd people) game that’s somewhere between a model UN and D&D style roleplaying. It should be really neat, but there’s a hell of a lot of rules to wrap your head around. Something that large doesn’t get anywhere without a ton of organisation and we’re only a month off game day. Time is ticking.

Which is a clean way of saying I’ve got to GTFO. Tonight is a quieter night. Merely going to the gym then off to some info session for an upcoming camping event. Quiet indeed.

Oh, and in retrospect it tasted great. Hope that allays any fears.

I’m not really big into pot. It’s the kind of thing I’ll smoke socially from time to time, but it’s far from a mainstay in my life. I rarely clean my bellybutton (which is probably why it smells more like a bellybutt), but I likely clean my bellybutton more than I smoke pot. My girlfriend is trying medical marijuana as an anxiety treatment and she’s been pretty pleased with the results. Occasionally I’ll join her if I have a free night where I don’t need to accomplish anything. Not often, but every once in a while it’s nice to coast for a stress free evening. When it comes to alcohol, I have a large tolerance. Weed on the other hand, hits me hard and fast. I like retaining a certain level of awareness and getting high throws that right out the window. I’ve always been a soft touch on it so I’m careful to have only small amounts at a time. One or two puffs is more than enough for a few hours worth of mellow and it’s rare that I imbibe more. Last night we were having a couple over for dinner who’d just moved to Toronto. We had a tiny toke maybe 15 minutes before they were set to arrive. I had a drag and a small puff. Five minutes before they were due to arrive I turned towards my partner in horror.

“Oh shit. I am way too stoned to host a dinner.”

She assured me that we were a team and we’d get through it together.

One of my issues when I smoke is that I have trouble parsing information. It’s not that I don’t take in information, but my usual subconscious filters come out to the fore. It makes almost everything a conceptual minefield. Furthermore, it certainly didn’t help me prepare dinner. We’d put roast veggies in the oven much earlier, so those were cooking away. We’d chopped up and salted eggplant to sweat out the excess moisture. All that we had left was to pan fry it and heat up our guests’ shepherd’s pie. I had two pans going with 1cm thick slices of eggplant. One was large and non-stick, the other was a cast iron grill pan. Outwardly my guests saw me cooking eggplant. Inwardly my dialogue was a little more like this…

When was the last time I cooked eggplant? Have I ever cooked eggplant in a pan? How long did the recipe say? Five to seven minutes per side? Does it change if one of the pans is flat and the other has a grill? Does that mean they need different cooking temperatures? How much oil do I need? Is this a light pan fry or something deeper? Does deep frying even happen in a grill pan? Won’t the oil get stuck in the grooves? What kind of texture does fried eggplant have? Do I want it to be soft and gooey or crispy? Or a combination of the two? I remember something in the recipe about eggplant being naturally bitter. Is that a flavour that subsides once it reaches a certain level of cook-ed-ness? Or is that something I need to counteract with spices/ingredients? Isn’t eggplant umami? How do I balance that flavour? Do I need to add lemon for acidic elements? Garlic? More oil? But doesn’t eggplant soak up a ton of oil? Does that mean I need more or less? It’s getting burnt, is it supposed to get burnt? Does that mean that I’m cooking it well or does that make me a bad chef? Am I a bad chef? I know that I like it when there’s a burn to things, but is that because my tastes are weird? Or is it a taste that people naturally enjoy when it comes to eggplant? Wait, am I trying to place my values when it comes to food over the preferences of others? How am I supposed to know how other people like it? There are three other people here. What if I cook it in a way that only one or two others enjoy? Does that make me a bad host? Or is it impossible to guess how others enjoy things and you just do your best? Is this subjective or objective? Are the darker bits the more or less cooked parts? Let’s have a taste of one. Hmm, is that what bitter tastes like? I’ve forgotten what a bitter taste is. I think I enjoy it, but it has a certain aftertaste. I’m pretty sure I like that aftertaste, but is that just because I’m stoned? What if others don’t like it? Does that mean I’m being shitty to them? How am I even supposed to know this? Would I understand better if I wasn’t stoned? Do I normally automatically know all of this stuff? Why am I thinking so hard about something that shouldn’t be challenging?

That was maybe a minute of internal dialogue.

The rest of the night was just as much of a maze. I felt like I was in some dinner party disaster movie and this was my subplot. I kept saying things, but not understanding why I was saying them or how I gauged whether or not things were appropriate. All I knew was that I somehow had to make it through the evening without our guests knowing that I was stoned. I don’t know why that was such an issue, but I think it had something to do with this lofty sense of social decorum (when in reality if I just said “sorry folks, but I’m really stoned right now, so if I’m acting weird that’s it”, they would’ve most likely been receptive to that). I’m pretty sure I enjoyed myself and the evening went by without any major hitches. Still, even today I still feel a little unhinged. I’m still piecing together how my brain works. Like, at brunch this morning I ate grilled plantain and didn’t realise I was eating the skin too. I ate maybe half a plantain skin.

Maybe I’ll wait a while before smoking again.

Solipsister Act.

It sometimes surprises me how self-aware my dreams are. Last night I found myself at work. Well, in a new job anyway. I’d been employed at some large theatre (in the musicals and one person shows sense) but it wasn’t immediately clear what I did. I sat at a piano mounted somewhere within the crowd. I had my own little area, but was totally enmeshed in the audience. I wasn’t facing towards the stage, more so I was on the left hand side, looking towards the centre of the seating. Right in the middle, there was some dude with a massive keyboard/organ contraption. In retrospect he must’ve been blocking everyone behind him. No complaining from the cheap seats, I guess.

This fella was the main musical maestro of the show. A one man orchestra, he handled a ridiculous assortment of tunes, fingers tickling the keys like little spider legs. On the other hand, I sat at my old ragtime piano, dressed like an usher in a vintage movie theatre. A blazer with those gold buttons on both sides. Little cap and everything. I told the musician dude that I was flattered, but ill suited for the position. I had no musical talent and couldn’t even read it. He told me not to worry, that it was a player piano. Entirely automated. All I had to do was sit there and make it look like I had some idea of what I was doing. Okay, so I was an actor then? I could handle this.

Time passed and shifts came and went. For some reason I was a crowd favourite, even though I’d told my secret all my friends who came to see the show. Nonetheless I was a hit, profiting off the hard work of some piano robot. Fine by me. I settled into my new life away from the television industry and time passed pleasantly. After a while I began training new recruits. One show night I’d been working with a new guy, but he couldn’t find his uniform. It was cutting close to the show. We searched all the dressing rooms, backstage, through the props and costume rooms, but found zilch. I heard the opening notes playing out from the theatre and realised I was just about to miss my cue. The fucking show had started! I bolted out as fast as I could. I got to my piano and faced an angry crowd. Our resident maestro threw down his hat and stormed out. The crowd looked towards me expectantly.

All of a sudden I heard a voice from the audience. It was my girlfriend singing some pop song. After a beat or two, backing music slipped in behind her, likely from the sound tech in the booth out back. The crowd turned to her and started clapping. She finished and bowed. Then someone else from the crowd rose up and picked a song. Once again, accompaniment kicked in right away. Sound techs earning their keep many times over. Then another. The show turned into karaoke en masse. Success!

Not all voices were equal and my girlfriend was very clearly the star. She had a better vocal range and projection than the rest of the amateurs. It didn’t go unnoticed. After the surprise hit of the show, I took her aside to thank her.

Me: That was amazing. Thanks so much for filling in.
Her: It felt like the right thing to do, plus I had fun.
Me: Yeah. Well you were clearly better than the rest of the crowd. Your vocal range in particular.
Her: Don’t be silly. This is your dream, right? So in reality while I seem like me, I’m just another projection of you. That means you’re the one with the great vocal range.
Me: That’s not how dreams work. Like, I may have created you as a character, but that doesn’t mean that your skills in this dream translate to real life.
Her: You’re totally wrong.
Me: No way. I dream that I have telekinesis or Spider Man powers all the time in dreams. That never happens in real life.
Her: We’ll just have to disagree then. So are you gonna write about this tomorrow?
Me: I guess. Unless something momentous happens during the day. I’ve got nothing else remarkable to write about.
Her: Is this really that remarkable a dream?
Me: Well if you don’t think so in this dream, then I guess I don’t either. Let’s leave that to any readers to decide.

Perhaps I’d think better on my feet if I spent less time on my arse.

Well it turns out I still suck at improv. I tried the drop in class last night, and came out with two conclusions: Firstly, yes, I am terrible on the fly. Secondly, I really want to get better. Make no mistake, I had fun, but it was difficult and I spent the class oscillating between joy and panic. We played a couple of games under the guidance of our teacher as she fed us small snippets of advice. Good ones too that seemed simple but didn’t feel instinctive. The idea that your goal is to make your partners look good. The idea of establishing a who/what/where/why when entering a scene. The idea that it’s best to grasp for simple concepts, that it’s not about trying to be funny but instead aiming to make the scene work. To start low tension in order to have headroom. All excellent advice that I forgot in the heat of the moment. Even without stakes, it felt like there were and I shrunk from my first thoughts, slowing my process.

First and foremost, I’m too far in my head. For some reason in everyday conversation I’m fine pulling out all kinds of bollocks, but when there’s an audience I get embarrassed. Even if it’s an audience of friends or classmates. My first thought pops up and I quash it. At least five times I had an idea or word pop into my head. I started thinking about how everyone would respond to it, what they’d extrapolate about me for thinking that way. Whether it’d lead to me being gradually ostracised (seriously. Can’t help how my brain works) and I’d shy away from it, scrabbling for something else. Then another classmate would say the word I’d be thinking of and it worked well. Another issue is freezing up merely by being on the spot. Having to think of a profession or activity seems monstrously difficult, when I know I’d be able to do it without strife in a normal, carefree environment. Then when I do have thoughts, they stay super linear, being terrified to stray from a safe path.

The games were neat. We played one called Convergence where two people count “one, two, three…” and say the words in their head. The goal from then on is to find the word “in the middle” of those two words. Everyone’s working together to move towards this “convergence”. After two people say the words they thought were in the middle, those become the next round’s words in which to find the middle word..It doesn’t have to be literal (after my brain told me the middle word between a chair and a snake was a body pillow), a general concept is fine. It’s incredibly fun and goddamn rewarding when it finally comes together.

We did the classic Word at a Time, where you tell a story one word at a time. I found this challenging. Not difficult to come up with words, but difficult not to try and lead sentences in a particular direction I had in my head. It’s not like my partner would be on the same wavelength. Because of this, both times I played my partner and my story went nowhere. Zero narrative. It was fun, but challenging. Our last game was to start doing some kind of action. Then our partner would come in and establish who we were, what the situation was and we’d put together a short (under a minute) scene. Then we’d swap around and our partner would come up with the action. I remember seeing others perform and having thoughts like oh, a gym? That’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that? I’d criticise myself for thoughts before and after putting them out there, just a cacophony of negative self-talk. It’s tough to move past but getting there would do wonders for me.

After the class finished (and at 45 minutes, it sped by) I immediately wanted to go back and improve. I started trying to work out when I could next return. There’s this combination of terror and excitement and I feel impatient to come out the other end.