I would preemptively crack and I have no shame about that

I wrote a Facebook status today that went:

Me being tortured:
“I’ll tell you whatever you want. Just don’t call me late to dinner!!!

I swear I’ve spent 30 minutes laughing at it. Not one 30 minute period where I thought about it from time to time. 30 minutes of total laughter spread across the past five hours. 30 minutes is a lot of chuckling, considering each time may have been for about 10-15 seconds or so. Hell, 10-15 seconds laughing at a single joke is a buttload of time in itself. With strangely little exaggeration, I’ve thought of this joke and giggled to myself roughly every five minutes. For fact checkers out there, I did zero math on this, so my calculations may be one or two decimal points off. To be clear, I don’t think it’s a good joke. Even filtered through a myriad of meta layers it still barely makes sense. More so, that’s why it tickles me so. This whole preamble isn’t to highlight my scintillating wit. All’s I’m saying is that if I end up alone and destitute, at least I’ll be in good company.

I’m tired as all heck today, but for good reason. I got to work mega early for a clandestine meeting. Half right. I’ve been trying to track down this dude in our company about an something. It’s not super secret, but I also don’t feel like going into it. Suffice to say, it may lead to a new job directly or far more indirectly. Thing is, this bloke lives in Vancouver and commutes to Toronto every once in a while. I’ve missed him the last couple of times and he never felt super jazzed about setting a time to meet in person. Considering it’s leading towards something tied directly to my interests, I’ve been tenacious. Like a slavering bloodhound with prosthetic wheels in need of oiling. I also figure it’s easy to be dismissive of someone you’ve only interacted with over email or the phone, but once you’ve actually met it engenders them to you. Like naming a stray and getting separation anxiety when it comes time to say goodbye. Turns out he was friendly and the meeting will be helpful one way or another. Almost worth getting to work an hour and 45 minutes early.

I’ve got Doug Loves Movies on Sunday and I’m excited. The thing I don’t have is a name tag or the graphic design skills to put one together. I guess I should probably take a step back and explain how it all works first. So Doug Loves Movies is a live podcast taping with comedian Doug Benson (who, as you guessed, loves movies. Here’s an episode where Captain America gets drunk and bro-y, but in a charming fashion). He invites a bunch of special guests (usually comics, actors, etc) on stage to play movie trivia based games. The guests all bring gifts for a communal prize bag. Here’s where the name tags come in. Audience members make posters of a chosen movie that combines with a pun on their name. I’m planning on The Leon Demon, for instance. Some people get incredibly creative. Guests go out into the audience and pick a name tag, playing on behalf of that audience member. Whichever guest wins the games, their audience member gets the entire prize bag. But wait, there are no losers! Everyone gets to write a “shithead” in an envelope on the back of their name tag. If their champion doesn’t win, Doug reads out their “shithead” to the crowd. You might write “Harvey Weinstein” is a shithead or something.

So how long does it take to learn basic photoshop?

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Chilli out, bud

Right now I’m. I dunno.

If that isn’t the least inspiring beginning to an entry in some time…

Wait, I already don’t like how this has started. It feels so disconnected and loose, so I guess that’s what we’re going with. I’m borderline stressed at the moment, I think. I’m going away to the burn on Thursday, which is awesome. I’m gonna have an otherworldly festival, challenging myself and trying to be as present as possible. Radsome To The Max, right? I’m also the right amount of antsy for an upcoming unfamiliar experience. I think that tracks.

At the moment I’ve got this vague but pervasive sense that I’ll get it all wrong. A big part of the festival is being self-reliant and self-sufficient. I’m stressed that my preparations will be insufficient and I’ll be forced to rely on others too much, which will put a strain on the time they’re having. I feel like I’m not gonna have enough water or food and that I’ll have to source this from friends. Alternatively I’m worried about bringing too much stuff and filling our transportation with unnecessary baggage (literally, the metaphorical baggage doesn’t take much physical space). I made a big batch of vegan chili to share with camp mates, but after I packaged it all up last night I discovered there were only ten portions. I’m probably gonna need four or so myself. Is this a matter of over-promising and under-delivering? That’d make me feel shitty, especially because they’re already being so generous with their time, expertise and emotional energy. I don’t want to lean on everyone, and the thought of doing so is filling me with nerves. Also I have no real idea if it’s spelled “chili” or “chilli” and by this point I’m almost afraid to google it.

To be clear, deep down I’m sure it’ll all be fine and everything will work out. Even if I do end up leaning on friends, I’ll no doubt provide support when they need it in return. That’s what a community is. Aside from that…

Will I pack everything I need? Or will I get there and think oh shit, I can’t go commando this whole time? What if I get too drunk and pass out? My body being ravaged by insects and burned to a crisp through exposure? What if I get injured and it ruins my festival? What if I play with fire and suffer the consequences? What if I fuck up my volunteer work at Sanctuary and someone in an impaired state fails to get the help they need? What if my radical self-expression just ends up pissing everyone off? What if I take generosity for granted or do something with ramifications that extend beyond the festival?

Once again, I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m a big boy and I’ve faced much bigger challenges than a regional burn. It’s not my first camping festival either. The scale just seems a lot larger. I’m certain I’ll have an astoundingly good time and deepen a lot of my friendships. I’m sure I’ll make new ones. I’m sure that all of this anxiety is the mental equivalent of dusting. Shaking things up in the hopes that whatever settles is less laden than it was before. In holding my stress points up to the light, perhaps I can see how unfounded most of them are.

If we’re being entirely honest, the hardest part will probably be coming back to reality once it’s all over.

If so, you’re the person bankrolling Nic Cage’s career and I thank you

I was listening to an episode of Good One today. It’s a podcast about jokes, where the host talks with a comedian about one of their jokes and they break it down. They pull the curtain back to show the strings. Why did they choose certain words? How did the joke evolve over time to reach its final form? Where did the concept come from in the first place? Good One is good stuff, if you’re a comedy fan who loves that kind of minutiae. The episode was about Pete Holmes’ Green Eggs and Ham joke. I’m not gonna go into the specifics of the entire podcast, because you’d get a better experience listening to it instead.

One part that spoke to me was where Pete talked about his distaste for comedy where sarcasm is the punchline. It’s not challenging held expectations with a deft misdirect, it’s lazy. You’re not having to search for a creative out, it’s basically the punchline equivalent of a shrug. If you’re using your time on stage for that, why are you there? You’re not giving the audience anything. He was saying how grotesque (my word, not his) it was to get onstage with the intention of reaffirming what people already knew. His example was dudes getting onstage and being all “hey, isn’t sex great?” You did nothing. Nobody was suggesting the contrary. If you’re not gonna take a premise somewhere new, congrats, you wasted everyone’s time. Yours included. Comedy has this gift of showcasing your unique viewpoint. Why waste that spotlight to settle for mediocrity? That’s not to say by any means that people can’t start somewhere and improve, but more that thinking about what you’re really saying gives you an opportunity to leave the crowd better than they came. You’re taking their time and that’s something that should be respected. If you’re onstage just because you want to stoke your ego, then justify that ego. Make what you say worth hearing.

His point stuck out to me because of a conversation I had with a friend to other night. We were talking about how eye opening it was to really delve into your sense of humour and figure out what leaves you tickled. As dating profiles have taught me, everyone loves to laugh. It’s a gift. Enough so that knowing more about the kind of material you get off on is like a path to harvesting joy. That’s pretty much the best resource life has to offer. Aside from living and loving, if embroidered pillows are to be believed. I’ve realised lately that I’ve got such an affinity for excessive specificity. Going into such a microscopic level of detail that zooming out makes the scope of everything else seen utterly ridiculous. Liking action movies isn’t particularly funny, but the conceit of being obsessed by movies where people save the Statue of Liberty is all types of silly. What is it about the symbol of Americana that pulls you right in? I want to know everything about you right away. Please, I need your life story in my brain. What origin story made you into whatever it is you became?

This parlays into how much I adore rampant enthusiasm about things that don’t matter. Our lives are so crammed with stimuli. We’re constantly absorbing information and performing mundane tasks. If so little of that is notable, why are we here? Tell me why it is that one particular activity/interaction that everyone takes for granted sticks out to you. I want to see the world through your eyes. Give me hope that there’s still magic in the world, because I’m oh so ready to believe you. If your illuminating observation is that music was better in your day, go home. You’re extinct. A million someones are already raring to give that same hot take. Why shit on something that you don’t understand. Why not tell me how ridiculous it is that when you were 17 you built a shrine to Rush in your basement, complete with a full animatronic band that’d play Tom Sawyer on repeat 24/7? Because that’s a metric fuckton funnier than complaining that young girls like Justin Bieber? Use your time to make something.

Or I guess I could just continue skipping open mics.

You’d be surprised how difficult it is for me to find the right cookie on the regular

Papa’s got a brand new bag!

I did not intend to buy a bag today. I went out to buy an afternoon cookie and came back with a brand spanking new backpack. I failed at buying the cookie. The shitty cafe in the building did not have any good lookin’ cookies. Just these teensy ones and some godawful soft cookie. Who has time for that kinda bullshit? I tried ol’ faithful Timmy Ho’s, who usually compensate for their abysmal coffee with crispy chocolate chunk cookies. NOPE. They were closing and merely had sad looking donuts languishing in their glass case. The attached food court was already closed and as such, my dreams of cookies came to its unremarkable demise.

I got a bag though! I’ve been low key looking for a new backpack for maybe a year or so now. In earnest, possibly the past four months. My last bag was purchased from an underground bag store that I’m quite convinced deals in counterfeit products. I went there last night and felt the texture of their Jansport bags. I did a comparison at the university store today and the counterfeit ones couldn’t have been flimsier. I’m no narc, but I’m not going back there again for all my backpack needs. Pity, some of their designs were pretty snazzy.

The reasons that I’ve been faffing about in hunting down a new bag are manifold. I wanted something sturdy. My last bag was damaged by me cramming too many things into it. I may or may not have tried to carry two cabbages. Why would a sane person need two cabbages? Did you ever think me sane in the first place? In any case, the straps have been hanging by a thread for some time. I wanted a bag that was well constructed and wouldn’t shit the bed just because some jackass decided it was prudent to cram two cabbages in there. I’m pretty rough on my bags and I don’t treat them nicely. I drop them on dirty floors, take them out in the rain and sweat excessively onto them.

Secondly, I wanted something that was spacious without being enormous. Back in high school I had a gigantic bag. People would tease me about how excessively sized it was. When I transitioned to university, I resolved to get something more svelte and accidentally came back with an even larger one. Much like a hermit crab, I became known for carrying my house on my back. It became a bit, a conversation starter. By the time I got my last bag, I downsized. Look where that got me. To be honest though, the size was right but I the bag wasn’t.

Thirdly (I’m gonna keep going with this paragraph convention for as long as I can keep thinking of new things), I wanted something that looked nifty. A lot of those Hershel bags are kind of neat. The Jansports have endless designs. The MEC ones are no doubt sturdy, but would make me look more active than I am. Whether it was a pattern or colour scheme, I desired a bag that would stand out more than something in plain black.

I was prepared to put down what I considered to be a decent amount of money. Somewhere in the range of $40-$80. I thought that was around what a bag should cost. Instead, in my journey to buy a cookie from the university food court, I found the clearance box. To my credit, I looked at all the regularly priced bags but nothing was fitting my criteria. They were too big or had insufficient pockets. The colour scheme wasn’t right. The shape wasn’t aesthetically pleasing or they looked like they’d be ruined by my careless ownership.

So instead I went back to the clearance box and found one that fit my criteria. It’s blue and purple, but has that cool chameleon tint that makes it look blue in certain light but purple in another. It has endless pockets, with purpose-built sections in each. I don’t own a laptop, but if I needed to stow one somewhere this bag could fulfil my requirements. It’s more svelte than the last one. A little taller, less wide. I can fit my Magic the Gathering long-boxes in there just fine. It even has some dumb brand nobody’s ever heard of. Who would call a bag brand Jean Book? Those are two different objects that aren’t bags. That’s quite possibly why it was $30 down from $50. A successful venture all around.

Except for the whole cookie thing, that is.

Anyone need a spleen while I’m there?

Last night I dreamt that I had a rapid onset illness where my body stopped producing new cells. Untreated, I had a life expectancy of three days. We somehow caught it right away. My parents came over to Canada then whisked me away to London so one of the world’s top doctors could figure out what to do. It happened in what seemed like an instant and there was no chance to say goodbye to anyone. When I asked how long I’d be staying in this London lab I was told in an unwavering manner “this is your home now.” I asked about my girlfriend back home, our flat, my job. All my friends. They told me that was all over now, that there was science to be done. I was ostensibly not dying, but it didn’t seem like they had care for my quality of life. It felt a lot more like they were just intrigued by my condition and what a cure could mean for them on the global stage.

I got a message out to my girlfriend and told her our dark family secret. That my real estate parents had hidden genetic clones of me and my brothers in cryostasis, in the basements of three houses they’d sold over the years. She travelled to New Zealand and met up with one of my childhood friends. They cross-referenced every house my parents had sold with all houses currently on the market. They then posed as newlyweds pretending to be buying their first home and infiltrated every open home on the list, sneaking off to try find secret basements and hidden passages where my clone could be kept. Meanwhile I was wasting away as a London lab rat. Still alive, but barely more than a test subject.

I woke up really wanting to know how it ended. Did I die? Did my girlfriend find my clone? Was he an actualised person? Did I ever see her again?

It felt like a weird prescient dream given the events of last night. A friend hosted a birthday bonfire on the eve of Beltane. She read a passage on the Death card in Tarot rising with the pink moon. It emphasised the importance of letting old patterns and behaviours go. Beltane is a time of renewal and growth, part of that being death to held customs and anxieties. That in order to grow, it’s necessary to shed the known self and discover new potential. A time of transformation and the awakening of sexual energies. To discover your fertile self in every layer of meaning. Also we lit sparklers, which was dandy.

My spiritual belief cache has been barren for quite some time. It was nice, however, that the passage was written in a pretty down-to-earth manner that was easily relatable. We all feel stale from time to time, like we’d benefit from widened perspective. The idea of taking stock of where you’re at and questioning what brought you there is rarely a wasted exercise. It’d be no surprise for regular readers to hear that I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit a wall and stagnated. That I’ve been treading water long enough I’ve started to question weather or not my head is still above water. That not being dead doesn’t hold the same place as feeling truly alive.

Maybe the answer is to burn away those things inside me that no longer serve a purpose. Have I been getting in my way this entire time? What version of myself has yet to come out of cryostasis, held in reserve by a simulacrum past its expiration date?

Once I figure it out, I’ll make sure to light some sparklers.

Being grounded doesn’t mean six feet under

I feel ungreat.

The last time I went on holiday I came back a new man. I don’t know what it was precisely, but it did for me what a vacation is meant to do. I felt renewed, confident and ready to tackle any opposition life could throw at me. The one bugbear in my life, my career (or lack thereof) taught me that by its status as my only real issue, stuff was going pretty damn spectacularly. I used this newfound vim to launch myself at everything possible. I made more time with friends and was enthusiastically present. I disregarded my displeasure for my job and instead focused on the things that fulfilled me. My attitude, which had been in a severe downwards spiral for the previous nine or so months (since returning from my trip to Portland), pulled out of its nosedive and ascended. Things were better than bad, they were excellent and I knew I had the personal provisions to keep up that momentum.

After returning from London, I feel the same way as I did post-Portland.

I’m miserable to be back at work. The job still sucks. It’s busier than it was and any motivation I garnered was dissipated by my disappointment that I never got so much as a reply about the job I applied for pre-vacation. I don’t feel renewed by my trip. I feel exhausted. I’m sick with a cold. 22 hours after touching down my ears still haven’t fully popped. I’m unbalanced (physically. I forgot how much hearing dictated your sense of balance) and all congested. I’m exhausted, because the cat decided it’d be prudent to meow outside our door literally all night. It’s Spring and the ground in Toronto is covered in snow. Physically I haven’t been active in a week and a half and my body is letting me know. In short, I’m a bit of a wreck.

What went wrong?

Honestly, I don’t know that I was ready for a vacation yet. My holiday in Austin was at the end of February. That’s only six odd weeks ago. Travel takes a lot of planning, which for me at least requires a lot of emotional energy. I didn’t muster up enough to make adequate plans and as such, the holiday suffered. Travel is expensive. My nine day trip to London, including airfare, cost about $1,800. $200 per day and that’s with free accommodation. The exchange rate from CAD to Pounds was brutal and my wallet felt the sting. Furthermore, aside from the wedding (the reason for the visit) and the allure of seeing old friends again, I wasn’t particularly excited about anything London had to offer. I just went to London back in late 2016. This time around, nothing was really taking my fancy.

Linking all this together, here’s what happened: I spent a bunch of money going on a trip I wasn’t hugely looking forward to. The pace of the trip felt off. I’ve gotten used to a certain style of holiday. I want to be on the move constantly, covering a bunch of ground, going to interesting local events, eating everything fascinating and having fun through spontaneous encounters with strangers. That to me is an ideal holiday. I just had my ideal holiday in Austin. London wasn’t my ideal holiday. It was too soon and didn’t scratch that itch. It burned more emotional energy than it gave and as a result, going on the trip felt more taxing than staying home. As shitty as it sounds to complain about a holiday, here we are.

I know I keep mentioning the finance aspect, but that really isn’t as much of the issue as it sounds. The fact of the matter is, I was in a really good place before going on holiday. I’d had a massive swell of personal development. I’d turned a corner on a truly shitty mire of anguish and anxiety. I felt like I could conquer the world. Now I feel like I’m back where I was when all of that started. It really fucking sucks. Maybe a good night’s sleep will make everything better in the morning, but I have an inkling that there’s something deeper at play here. Fingers crossed this is only temporary. If it’s not, I’ve got some work to do.

Aside from the shitty job, that is.

Now that you mention it, I am a pretty flash dancer.

Apropos of nothing outside years of fluctuating behaviour, I decided to google “hypomania” today.

Hoo boy.

How you might feel:

  • happy, euphoric, with a sense of wellbeing
  • lots of energy
  • sociable
  • racing thoughts
  • creative and full of ideas and plans
  • like you can perform tasks better and more quickly than normal
  • impatient, irritable or angry
  • confident, with high self-esteem
  • attractive, flirtatious and/or with more sexual desire
  • restless, on edge and having difficulty relaxing
  • heightened senses – colours may seem brighter, sounds louder and things more beautiful

How you might behave:

  • more active than usual
  • taking risks
  • very friendly
  • very talkative or writing a lot
  • sleeping very little
  • signing up for and taking part in lots of activities
  • taking on extra responsibilities
  • wearing colourful and/or extravagant clothes
  • making lots of jokes and puns
  • finding it hard to stay still – moving around a lot or fidgeting

I dunno. Maybe it’s a tad relatable. I don’t ascribe to the thought that self-diagnosis carries a ton of weight. I really don’t. I’m not even close to a medical professional. Even as an armchair psychologist, I have trouble sitting still. I want to be very clear when I say that any of the following is not meant to trivialise or tokenise mental illness or symptoms of mania at all. I’m sure a lot of the above is evergreen enough that everyone feels this way from time to time. I have never been diagnosed with a condition of any kind and the thought of detracting from the very valid experiences of others would not sit well with me.

That being said, how much of the above applies to my very regular behaviour? So often it feels like the world is moving too slowly. I’ve applied the word “ludic” to my personality before, but it’s occasionally felt insubstantial. I find myself on these spontaneous tears where I can’t do or say enough to convey how my brain is feeling. Overly sociable, charismatic and confident. I get antsy and impatient for people to finish sentences, because of this overwhelming urge that I already knew where they were going from the first couple of words. My thoughts are scattered, but rapid. Crazy quick synaptic connections. Jokes and puns, understanding and dismantling structures social, narrative and psychological. Focusing on/completing a task has never been a massive issue, but I’m usually thinking of the next couple while I’m doing it. Infinite ideas, creativity out each and every one of my wazoos.

The idea of not doing something at every moment feels suffocating. Relaxation seems like a punishment. If I’m not active, why am I alive? Despite knowing that my body needs it, I’ve always viewed sleep as a waste of potential waking hours. I’ll feel this compulsion to be doing more, as many things at once as possible. An insatiable urge for my consumption to keep up with my racing mind. Any substances that can preserve this overly energetic state, I need all of them at once. Sure, I know I’m not gonna feel great later if I drink an unhealthy volume of coffee, but it feels transcendent now. Why not gorge on everything and become one with every atom in my vicinity?

Then downswings. Days, weeks, months. Withdrawing from human contact. Excessive negative self-talk. Irrational irritability. Implacable frustration. A pervasive sense of dissatisfaction with everything. Feelings of disconnect and isolation. This notion that nobody really understands me.

Wait, am I just a teenager?

Who knows, really? If anything, I’m not sure what good labels would do. Is this cycle (which admittedly has more up than down) hurtful to my everyday? Is the cost of the lows worth the highs? I’m not gonna lie, if it’s a touch of mania that propels me, it’s an incomparable sensation. Like gravity has no hold on me. As if boundaries are abstract. An almost divine indomitably. It makes me feel special and gee golly that’s a swell feeling.

Or it could be nothing and maybe I merely drink too much coffee.