Ya googly

It’s my birthday and I’m hosting my own funeral to celebrate. What follows is my personal eulogy.

I believe it was Des’ree who once said:

“I don’t want to see a ghost,
It’s a sight that I fear most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
And watch the evening news
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life,
Doo, doot doot dooo.
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life,
Doo, doot doot dooo.”

I think those words speak a little louder for us all on this day.

We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Leon. His cause of death is currently unknown. Given the amount of tuna he consumed, mercury poisoning is probably a safe bet.

Leon was survived by his beloved girlfriend Julia, and his rival, Mr. Smashmouth. Turns out at some point the years stop coming. Check and mate, Mr. Smashmouth.

Leon was born on January 17th in Auckland, New Zealand, at approximately 3pm. To whom it may concern, Capricorn, Leo rising. I know, it sounds weird. He was.

Leon was known primarily for his predilection for puns, Paddington, pooping and polysyllabic words. He fathered no children, but sired sigh-ers and grown groaners. He gave a wide berth to Birthers. He knew this would make no sense to you in audio form, but maybe not everything is about you. Jeez.

Leon was an ambitious child. When he grew up he wanted to be a voice actor, Jim Carrey, or a Street Shark. Instead of growing into a mutant fusion of shark and teenager with large teeth and killer attitude, he grew old. It was considerably less jawsome.

At the age of eight, Leon had a dream that he would die at 33. Given that being right was one of his favourite things, he at least died doing what he loved.

Leon was many things; a living cartoon character, a wholesome pervert, strangely particular about apples. He loved monologues, being the centre of attention, and breaking the fourth wall [what, too meta?]. Unbeknownst to many, he did not love Air Bud movies, but that didn’t stop Netflix algorithms from recommending every single talking animal movie it could.

Things weren’t always easy for Leon. Many times he wasn’t totally in love with living. For him, sadness was a big part of life, and he’d made peace with it. He figured it was entirely normal to not feel okay a lot of the time. He often resonated with those who understood. Sharing struggles with those close was important, and he always wished to be there for friends when he could. If anything, knowing that he could make others feel more comfortable, known or seen was one of his guiding principles. He knew first-hand it wasn’t easy to ask for help, but resolved to do what he could when he could.

Friends were what mattered most to Leon. When he found good ones, they were friends for life. There was a special kind of love Leon reserved for his friends. People he could lose time with, sharing vulnerabilities, stories, and secret pettiness. Those who bought into his endless bullshit, hijinks and the weird way he just assumed everyone understood his niche references. His favourite feeling in the world was the comedown after a room full of laughter. By this metric, he lived a pretty good life.

I guess you could say, the real life he lived was the friends he made along the way.

And now I invite you to lift your glasses. As the Black Eyed Peas said in their Grammy Award winning song, “I Gotta Feeling”: L’chaim.

When there’s Big Willie, there’s a way

Greetings from Will2K20. We survived the second decade of this new Willenium not unscathed, but forged. Despite the ravages of an increasingly divisive reality, the Wild Wild Western world may have undergone a seismic shift. Y’know what? In 2020 I’m Getting Jiggy With It.

I feel like the night never ended. It’s midday on the first and sleep is still a few hours away. Thank the Gods, but mostly caffeine. It’s been a remarkably sound way to ring in a new decade. There was one thing I wanted out of a NYE bash, and I did the fuck out of it. My simple wish was to lean against a kitchen counter and talk absolute nonsense with new friends. Achievement goddamn unlocked. I don’t know how many hours I spent trying to unlock why I just can’t find the vibe with Lana Del Rey. Verdict: Still no fucking idea when or where to listen to her and get it. Who cares? I’ve got Joni Mitchell. Some dude talked my ear off about toffefe and, most pertinently, when did toffefe become a thing that everyone just knew? Someone at the party was like “my friend’s boyfriend is coming. He’s a magician. He has never had a career outside of being a magician. He hasn’t earned a cent outside of illusions. Isn’t that fucking insane? Wouldn’t you want to know absolutely fucking everything about this man’s existence? I sure did. I was so psyched for him to turn up. Then I got to the afterparty and I talked about it with someone. She was like “oh year, he was there. His name was ____”. And I realised I’d met the magician. He was really swell. I gave him pineapple faygo to mix with his gin. AND I NEVER REALISED I WAS SHARING LOW RENT PINEAPPLE POP WITH A GODDAMN MAGICIAN. Egads. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing me to share my faygo without revealing he was a BLOODY MAGICIAN. And like, can you, verging on 33, change what your favourite pokémon is? To which a friend later remarked “dude, you’re poly, you can have any number of favourite pokémon”.

I met someone called Adrian, and it reminded me that back in high school I had a friend called Adrian. I didn’t call him Adrian, however. I instead greeted him as Adrian The German Who Throws Apples At Policemen Out Of Buses. One breath, of course. Why? Well I feel like it’s self explanatory. I related this story to my girlfriend later in the evening, and remembered that Adrian The German Who Throws Apples At Policemen Out Of Buses wasn’t the worst of it. One of my friends Mike I instead knew as Robot Communist From The 1940s Russia Who Was Created As The Ultimate Weapon But Then They Figured Out Nuclear Warheads Were More Powerful So They Scrapped The Project And He Was Brought Back As A Sixteen Year Old Nowadays After Being Put In Cryostasis. The nickname didn’t start out so convoluted, but hell if I have any idea how it got there. I was a weird teenager. Fuck it was funny to remember it out of nowhere.

Of course, I’m not even at that party now. For the past five or so hours, I’ve been surrounded by my favourite goddamn people. At an afterparty where I can just be naked, and nobody gives a shit. Where I can go for a polar bear vape, nude but for socks. I’m not a monster, eh? Ringing in the new year with great tunes from decades past. Having a big brunch cookup. Spiked coffees. Endless bullshit and love.

Just like Big Willie intended.

Three more years on here until I get tenure

I’m sure this deserves a little more pomp and a lot more circumstance than I’m giving it, but 2019 is coming to an end. A decade closing out. For all I know I could be talking out of my arse, but I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up being the best decade of my life. From 22 to 32, it’s been ten years of freedom and exploration. I came into 2010 an apple cheeked dreamer, and I’m signing out 2019 with saggier cheeks. I think the dream, miraculously, may still be alive. It was a tumultuous time, searching for meaning, passion and connection. I jumped between jobs, industries and countries. I fell in love, experienced heartbreak, fell in love again and again. Sharp and pointed intelligence gave way to wisdom and understanding. I made more than my fair share of mistakes, and tried to learn from them. I’m beyond a doubt a more compassionate, empathetic person than I was. I’ve met so many people who have shaped the person I’ve become, and I’m so thankful to have had them in my life.

A decade is a ton to cover. So here are some loose things that happened:

  • Friends and I went to New York for New Years. I met Four Loko and begun a long term tryst. I got beyond drunk and was almost kicked out from Katz’s Deli for crying too loudly and being a menace.
  • People I went to high school with began getting married and having kids. I’m still yet to check off either of those marks.
  • I started drinking coffee, which may have been my first step down a long dark path.
  • I worked in a university radio archive. We digitized National Radio shows spanning 1960-1999. I got 1-4 emails per month and listened to hundreds of podcasts.
  • I went to Lollapalooza with a friend, then zig-zagged over to my brother’s wedding in Whistler.
  • I had my first adult relationship with a wonderful woman. Our breakup was the catalyst for my life-changing move from New Zealand to Canada.
  • I started this project back in 2013, just to get better at writing. The jury’s still out on whether that happened.
  • I taught children gymnastics, in a weird part time job. At this job I also fell through a roof, and fed lizards.
  • I took on writing opportunities to see if I could expand into that professionally. I wrote live music reviews and had a brief stint as a ghost writer for a food blog. Turns out it wasn’t my calling.
  • I started dating here in Toronto. A couple of those dates ended up introducing me to communities that defined my life here, and ultimately led me towards meeting my girlfriend of 5+ years.
  • We’re still together, we live together, and I grow more in love with her with each passing year. We’ve helped each other grow, been supportive during difficult times, and approached new life challenges as a team. She’s fostered a kind of communication I haven’t found with anyone else. Instead of things blowing up, we talk through them and look for compromise. I’ve never harboured the illusion that things in a long term relationship have to be rosy all the time, but we’ve got an eerily solid track record. I don’t think a good relationship just happens, it’s maintained. Some people make that easier than others, and it’s hard to imagine waking up next to anyone else day after day.
  • I launched the Air Bud Pawdcast with a friend, and it’s possibly the most work I’ve put into something dumb in my entire time breathing.
  • I met so many amazing friends who have become integral to my life. I love them utterly, and my Toronto friend circles have become family. We’ve had weeeeird experiences together, but by GOD have we experienced things.
  • I became an uncle. MULTIPLE times.
  • After years of death by a thousand cuts, I became depressed and totally lost my will to live. I started taking anti-depressants, and they entirely turned my life around.
  • I saw Cats (2019).
  • I once found Waldo in the world of Waldos.

Mostly though, I say “y’all” now. What a world.

See y’all on the other side.

If you vomit up a meringue, is that a boomeringue?

Today I have not left the property. I certainly haven’t put on outside clothing. If this entry comes of as convoluted cabin fever incarnate, we both know why.

On the subway yesterday, I sat opposite someone who reminded me of some kid from high school. Weird dude. He was both intelligent and socially incompetent. I don’t know that he ever really did anything menacing, but boy howdy was he watchlist-able. He’d constantly tell us how much he wanted to kill us or wish for our deaths (in more of a cartoon villain Mojo Jojo manner than actual threats). He’d make devices, often weapons, and bring them to school. There was the home made taser, some chemical (which may have and/or probably was chloroform), and the miniature rail gun he brought in for science class show and tell. It wasn’t deadly, but could fire a piece of paper clip from one side of the room to the other in a straight line. He had some little notebook that he wrote in a cipher. One of our friends managed to swipe it and decode it eventually. Nothing super incriminating, I feel like it was more the kind of thing he made to try and get attention. He was probably more lonely than legit evil, and I think that’s why we always gave him a pass. If he’s not an engineer by now, he’s probably a super villain.

I need to cut my toenails today. It’s been so long since I last cut my toenails, that my fingernails are probably ready for a chop. I’ve missed a whole cycle. It’s just that when I cut my fingernails it’s easy. I have two nail clippers at my desk (I brought my work one home and it hasn’t moved), and I can do it while passively watching something. Toenails are harder to remember. I’m often wearing slippers or something. Even if I’m passively watching something, I need to not be wearing anything on my feet, then bring my knee one at a time to my chin and often end up cutting on an angle, leaving me with mangled toenails. Then I need to ensure that a rubbish bin is wedged beneath my foot to catch the nail shards. Whether it’s a science or an art, it’s excessively not my forte. Which is why my big toe looks like it’s being forcibly cornered by a crescent moon.

I’ve been staring at this page (and, to be fair, procrastinating by looking at other pages) long enough that I think I’m done for the day. My brain has gone and I’m gonna commit to this toenail chopping business.

See you on the clipside, folks.

99 black balloons

I’ve had an idea for a party stewing in my head on and off for years.

Well that’s unfair. I’ve had many ideas for many parties stewing in my head for years. The particular one I’m thinking about is the idea of hosting my own funeral. It’s something that none of us get the chance to do, and I want to stake my claim. Get guests to dress in funeral attire, have finger foods (will someone bring cucumber sandwiches?), make a playlist, etc etc etc. Then the “bit” of the event, is For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’d have a bell in an accessible place. At any point that someone wanted to ring it, they’d have the floor to talk. In a combination of funeral, wake and good ol’ narcissism, I’d want attendees to give me eulogies, or tell stories about treasured times we had together. I’m a sucker for sincerity, punching up my friends’ ego, and telling people I love them as much as possible. That doesn’t mean I don’t want a little bit of the same, y’know?

The idea of organising your own funeral screams peak control freak, and I’m quite okay with that. It’s my party, I can die if I want to, etc etc. I’m sure deep down it’s some hack rip off of Empire Records. Or more likely, it stems from years of teenage suicidal ideation. Curious thoughts of what my own funeral would be like, who would be there, what they’d say. I’ve long been obsessed with death, and morbid thoughts have resonated strongly. Over the past few years as my depression deepened, I’d more readily imagined a world without me in it. Last year was a major upswing, where things changed for the better. I started off the year with no desire to continue living. That’s not sarcasm or glibness, I really had lost my interest in life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such a personal reversal. A massive component was finally going on anti-depressants instead of staunchly assuming I’d get better on my own, or give up. It really turned my life around, and gave me a recourse against constant negative spirals. It eased a burden, and allowed me to take full stock of the things I loved, and focus on them. The second big aspect was finding a new job through a combination of luck and straight up hustle. I’m now in a position where I’m not only thankful for so much of my life, but I have a renewed perspective with lessons learned. It’s been huge, and I think it’s worth taking this event to consider the parts of me I had to put to rest in order to move forward.

So I’m doing the event and sent out invites yesterday. I dropped the ball hard. I gave no consideration to the fact that a couple of my friends had a hard time in 2019, going through deeply painful loss. It was thoughtless, and tacky. So today, I posted this addendum on the event:

I’ve been thinking about this event all night, and I think there are things worth saying. A few of my friends have undergone very real and deep loss over the past year, and this whole thing comes off as very glib and inconsiderate of that. I don’t have/want a good excuse. While those weren’t my intentions, they were the outcome of my actions. That’s not something I can take back. I’m sorry if, in my ignorance, I’ve caused hurt.

It makes absolutely nothing better, but I want to pivot a little. I’m gonna keep the written event description up as accountability, but I’d like to change things a bit. Instead of making things just about me, I want to open up the floor for people to talk about those who are no longer in their lives. To tell stories about loved ones, or give sincere eulogies they never had the chance to. In amongst the roasts I no doubt have incoming, I want to make space for people to talk more about those who have affected them, and share memories.

Is this still a bad idea, with the best recourse to just do another event instead? Obviously yes. Am I gonna try to have my cake and pay respects? Of course I am.

More like vent-y two, amirite?

There’s a trend happening on social media at the moment, where people will post side by side photos of themselves from 2009 and 2019.

I thought I’d give it a try.

Since navel gazing is one my my favourite hobbies, I thought I’d cast my brain back a decade. Who was I? Where was I at in life? What guided me?

In 2009 I was living and working in Rotorua. After lingering in Auckland post radio internship, I got sent off to “the regions” to level up. I brought all my worldly possessions, a lack of worldly knowledge and an shit ton of entitlement. I was an Aucklander, from the Big City, why was I tarrying with these common folk in a dead arse tourist town? Those weren’t my words verbatim, but they probably weren’t far off. I thought I knew everything. I mean, I was 22, of course I did. It was my first time moving out of town, and I had more than my fair share of baggage. I saw it as a temporary displacement. I needed to earn my stripes, do some good work and get back to where I knew I belonged. Really what I needed was a dose of growing the fuck up, but you’ve seen the picture. Don’t worry, I got there.

The whole experience shook me to my core. I was so used to things just happening for me. I was smart and things came easily. I’d enjoyed school and university, and managed to get through both without too much struggle. It’s not that I didn’t work hard, it’s that I saw myself as constantly deserving of success. It made sense with the way things had gone. I had this innate feeling that I was gonna do well, and evidence hadn’t presented otherwise. I’d hit a bump post university where I was stuck working my government call centre job full time for five months. I naively thought that was rock bottom, then a scholarship came my way and I got catapulted to a position of privilege. I worked hard, people in the industry with Names started to know who I was and what I did. In my head, it was just a matter of time.

Maybe it was, but I was 22. My perception of time was very different than it is at 32. I expected I’d be down in Rotorua for maybe six months, a year tops. I’d be back in the big leagues before I knew it. That was where I was meant to be. At 22 I’d drive back from Rotorua to Auckland maybe once a week. Sometimes more, depending if there was a concert mid-week. Two and a half hours’ drive, I’d sometimes do it closer to two. At the time I’d memorised the entire trip, and could visually recall every single intersection in my brain. At 22 I devoured content voraciously. Every week I’d download several albums and listen through them. It was of the utmost important that I was at the forefront of indie music developments. It was imperative that I had an opinion, because I was 22. I had an opinion on everything. I was always online (before that was the norm), and most of my nights in Rotorua were spent drunk in front of the internet.

At 22 I loved drinking. It was at the uncomfortable point between an interest and a hobby. I drank desperately. Desperate to escape fears that maybe I wasn’t going somewhere. I was “stuck” in a small town and the only friend I’d made there was off 4chan. I had no luck with women, and I was at the stage of life where I thought that defined me. I was incredibly insecure, and I have no doubt that I carried the stink of it. I felt lonely, isolated, and- once again- entitled. I didn’t want to be a Nice Guy, so I was an edgelord instead. It’s the kind of mind frame that’s a roadmap to incel culture. At my core, I just wanted to be wanted. But I looked past my lack of real confidence and blamed external sources. I had so much potential, and somewhere in there I had the potential to become a real piece of shit. Like so much of my life, I was lucky to be surrounded by people who thought when I didn’t, and weren’t afraid to speak up. I had friends who’d known me since age 1, and they course corrected where I wouldn’t.

At 22 I clearly thought I was the protagonist, years before realising we’re all here to help each other. I was deserving of far less than I had, and I wanted so much more. At 32, I’ve earned the lines in my face. I’ve started to realise what’s important in life, and what’s fine to let go of. Some might say I got bailed out again by stumbling into a job I love, and that’d be fair. The difference a decade makes is that I’m now humbled, not emboldened. I’m no longer lonely or isolated. I’ve found so many connections that I deeply treasure. I look for opportunities to help, rather than take. I’m thankful rather than expectant. I love where I’ve ended up, instead of feeling inadequate for not being somewhere else. It took ten years, but those were ten years well spent.

Egads though, I miss having 22 year old joints.

Did you know you’re supposed to wear bum bags backwards?

Work Halloween party in an hour and a half, and I still haven’t figured out my costume.

To be clear, I know what I’m going to wear, I just haven’t figured out what I’m gonna call it. I want to wear my lion onesie, because it’s comfortable and doesn’t require any planning. That’s fine, and the only issue really is that that it has no pockets. I need pockets, because I’ll want my scan card to get in and out of the party. I have a bum bag/fanny pack, which works great for the pockets dilemma, but it doesn’t do wonders for the costume. So if I’m gonna have the bum bag and also retain a modicum of decorum at a costumed event, I’ll need to justify it somehow. Unless…

I’ve definitely told the story here before, but I used to have a friend back home with one particular costume for parties. A taco. She didn’t even own the costume, she just loved it. Her friend worked at a costume rental place. My friend borrowed the taco costume so often that eventually she started getting it practically for free. She’d go to parties as a taco, any parties. Halloween? Taco. Themed parties? Taco. I had a Comicon themed leaving party from NZ, and you can bet your arse she dressed as a taco. It was a fun bit, but it got better. Every time she’d show up at a party, she’d meet new people who didn’t get it. They had no idea that she was some form of wonderful sociopath dressing to her own theme no matter what was on offer. So they’d start making offers. “Oh, are you the character Taco from The League?” Whatever they’d suggest, she’d be like “oh, you totally got it. Good job”. Then if someone else came up with another suggestion, same thing. Everyone thought they were so astute for guessing, and she didn’t have to justify a thing. It was great.

I wonder if I could take the same tack at this work party. Just wear what I want to wear, and put the onus on others to let me know what I am. I know I’ve got a twisty turny brain that’ll contort itself to come up with concepts. If I saw someone wearing a fanny pack and lion costume I’d be like “ooooh, are you Muff-asa?” Maybe not safe for work, but my brain sure isn’t. I can leave the job of figuring out my costume to others, and just have a good time. I can make people feel great for ‘guessing correctly’, and if someone comes up with a really good one, I can take it for myself. No stress whatsoever, and I’ll be comfy as a bean in a burrito.

Or just like, make a cardboard crown and go as The Lion King.