Cloth and greed.

I was lucky, with my gym membership, to scoop up a friends/family discount. Bringing the cost of a year’s membership down to $280 odd was outstanding, making it easier to put more money away for holidays, etc. When I signed up they asked me whether or not I wanted towel service. “How much would it cost?” I asked. They replied that it would only be $5 bi-weekly. So that would be $10 a month? $120 for the entire year? Did that include tax? Apparently not. $140 odd including tax. On a $280 membership? It didn’t seem worth it. I’d spent years bringing my own towel. Why start splurging now? I said thanks but no thanks and made a mental note to bring towels with me.

A funny thing happened the next time I visited the gym. It was rush hour and there was a line at the entrance. As I walked past to scan my card, the person behind the desk handed me a towel. I blinked and almost thought to say something but instead thought again. The towel was warm, soft, soothing. It was larger than the one I’d brought, so I held onto it and used it for my workout. What a nice treat, I thought. The next time I returned, the same thing happened. And again. Again. Time and time again, they’d just give me towels without a word. This was fantastic. I hadn’t paid a cent but I was getting all the benefits. I felt crafty, wiley, clever. Like I was getting away with… money laundering… or something.

Then I went on a weekend and was still handed a towel. And again. Again. Or there was a pile of towels and I took one. Nobody noticed or cared. Every once in a while sometime would mention to me that my membership didn’t include towel service. “Oh really?” I’d feign shock. “Sorry about that”. I wasn’t sorry and they knew it. No worries, they were just doing their job and they were right, it wasn’t a service I was entitled to. I’ll tell you what, I still felt pretty goddamned entitled. Because of course I would, I’m a straight white cis male. Thing is, they’d usually leave a stack of towels at one end of the front desk, so I’d go get changed, then come back and grab one. If worst came to worst, I’d just ask the person at the counter for one. They didn’t remember me. I don’t know if they even really cared. I justified it to myself as some kind of political move. A strike against Globo Gyms everywhere.

Yesterday they didn’t give me a towel. They also didn’t have the pile over the other side of the counter. I wasn’t keen on going into an RPM class and dripping everywhere. Still, no towel, what could I do? I did the class and wound up soaked, sweaty hands slipping all over the handlebars. Still, I resolved, I’d go back upstairs after the class finished, grab a towel and have a shower. I was going out straight from the gym after all. There was no choice in whether or not I’d be showering. Cloaked in hubris I walked upstairs to the counter in order to get the towel I was, by some divine providence, owed. Nothing. No towels to be had. I slunk back to the changing room feeling the weight of my arrogance. As I disrobed and plodded towards the showers I scrambled to think of any solution. Could I towel off with my used clothing? I thought again, the drenched stuff? Yeah right. I stepped into the shower and turned on the water. What about shaking off like a dog? Drip drying? Had my idiocy ever sunk in so deeply before?

I finished in the shower and tried to shake/swipe away as many droplets as I could. Very little difference, I was still sopping. I trudged out of the shower reigned to the idea that I knew was stupidly incarnate. Naked and dripping in full view of the changing room, I navigated the hair dryer down from my face and across my body. Another guy walked up to use the hair dryer beside me. He gave me a much deserved confused side-eye. “I’m an idiot and forgot a towel. This is my penance.” He chuckled loudly. “Dude, I have a spare towel. Wait here a moment.” He vanished for a second and brought back a fresh gym towel. My saviour. I gratefully clutched it close as he handed it to me, thanking him profusely. My day was saved.

This is the part where I learn a lesson, right? It should be. Really though, what did I learn? How did I suffer for my arrogance? I didn’t. I got bailed out. Being truly sorry involves a certain amount of contrition, and we both know I’m gonna try get free towels every goddamn time I can. I’m too addicted to the thrill, the idea that I’m somehow profiting. The tragedy of this whole exercise being that if there were actually real stakes to the equation (let’s face it, free towels aren’t the biggest social issue we have) I genuinely don’t know if I’d react through anything but stubbornness again. It sucks and it’s the response of all too many people in our day to day. If the system lets me take advantage of it, I probably will. Maybe though, just maybe, I’ll bring a backup towel for emergency circumstances.

I’m not a complete idiot.

I wonder if Shirley Manson ever did turn the tables.

Did anyone else realise that Frances Bean Cobain was not only not a child, but an actual adult? And an artist? That by the age of 24 she was (past tense intens-ional) married? I only know this because of some headline about her getting a court order to have her father’s acoustic guitar (from the MTV Unplugged performance) returned from her ex-husband. Fancy that, Kurt’s little girl is a person now. For all I know she’s been a person for years, but like Macaulay Culkin and Hayley Joel Osment the world will always think of her as a child. Wait, in the case of those last two, maybe it’s that the world would prefer them to still be children. I kid. The Pizza Underground are a slice of good ol’ American national treasure.

There’s probably some internet neologism akin to sonder about children we once knew/knew of who grew up. It shouldn’t be weird or unexpected, I mean, that’s what time does after all. Still, it gets me whenever I’m faced with an adult I used to know as a child. Hell, I’m sure I’d feel the same about old friends of mine I only knew as children. As if I needed yet another surefire sign I was ageing into irrelevance. My vacation back home was a lesson in the aforementioned as yet unnamed internet neologism (see how much cleaner it could’ve made that sentence?). Not only my two and a half year old niece (who I last saw at four months), but younger cousins (I’d guessed they were about seven and nine by now, not 11 and 13) too.

We’re all too aware of how we grow as we age, but with someone who’s been out of sight it seems crazy. I can wank on endlessly about my mental and emotional progression from 16-30. Concurrently there’s this dumb lizard part of my brain that doesn’t extend the same courtesy to those who I’m rarely near. It’s like my internal logic imagines some Schrödinger-esque quark-y existence whereby they could be any type of person in the time between our last contact. It’s only my proximity that solidifies their personality, before that they’re a jumble of potential, positive or sub-optimal. I’m clearly an idiot and a narcissistic one at that. It’s fine.

Kids’ll often grow up to surprise you. Who knew my niece would be so goddamn intelligent and perceptive for a two and a half year old? Seriously, you’ve gotta watch your mouth around that gal. She’ll pick up any conversational scraps left behind. Who knew my cousins would have their own interests and passions that they’d ardently stuck with? Who knew cute lil’ Hayley Joel Osment could be utterly reprehensible in the equally reprehensible Entourage movie (I mean, Entourage being a odious shitpile surprised nobody)?

I guess it’s just weird to think of somebody else for a change. When I grow up maybe I’ll get better at it.

A Mood for Mouthing off.

Because I’ve been procrastinating on the internet all night, it’s time to dig in and get this done. How about a round of dumb complaints?

  • I’m tired because I procrastinated on the internet last night instead of getting a good night of sleep.
  • I’m tired because I’ve been abstaining from drinking coffee. New Zealand’s coffee was so good that I’m loathe to drink shitty coffee and be disappointed.
  • I’m tired because jet lag has finally caught up with me after gloating about avoiding it for the past 24 hours.
  • I’m tired because getting back into work after three weeks of vacation is exhausting (oh poor me).
  • I’m tired because my diet was in travel mode. Getting back to normal food has been a shock to the system.
  • I’m craving rich foods because I’m trying to curb my diet back to something reasonable. The worst part is that they’re easily within reach and I have to exercise willpower. Once again, oh poor me.
  • After eating cheese, bakery food and quaffing booze most nights of my holiday, I feel bloated. I haven’t worked out whether my clothes seeming tight is psychosomatic or not. All I know is that my movement feels sluggish.
  • My body feels achy after my first time back at the gym post holiday. As with everything else, it’ll take a week or two to feel back to normal. Right now it’s like I’ve body swapped with a sloth.
  • Not drinking coffee after drinking so much coffee on vacation is wreaking havoc with my regularity. I used to pride myself so much on my ebullient bowels.
  • I got new slippers. That’s not really a complaint. They’re comfy and come half way up my calves, keeping me warm and toasty. The problem is that when I sit on the dunny my pants (both over and under) can’t slide all the way to the ground.
  • I wanted to chill out and watch something, but as I mentioned I wasted too much time on the internet and the evening is rapidly dwindling.
  • Neil Cicieraga just dropped the third album in the “Mouth” trilogy and because I’m taking a week off Facebook I have nowhere useful to share it.
  • I so want to listen to “Mouth Moods”, but I know how much it’ll lift my morning commute if I save it for tomorrow. I’m part of the internet generation, I’m no longer used to waiting for anything.
  • Then again, part of my identity was forged listening to this twelve times in a row in order to spend several hours downloading Weird Al parodies off Napster. So I guess I need to hand in my Still Jenny from the Block badge.
  • I wanted to go out and watch Moonlight tonight, but as I previously mentioned, I was tired. This means I either need to wait a week for cheap Tuesday tickets (and as I previously mentioned, I’m no longer used to waiting for anything), or see it for full price.
  • I’m mildly miffed that Amy Adams didn’t get a nomination for Arrival. She was fantastic. Then again, The Lobster was nominated for Best Original Screenplay so I have very little to complain about.
  • I like having things to complain about, so I guess The Lobster ensuring that I can’t complain is something to complain about.

If clouds are gonna rain on my parade, at least they have silver lining.

Definition impossible.

There’s a bike parked permanently by our work. It’s a little tattered, pale yellow. In the spokes of its back wheel is a piece of paper. It reads “In loving memory” or something of the like. Dedicated to its rider. I have no idea how long it’s been there. I’m not sure if The slip is actually paper, card or something laminated. In fact the only thing I’m sure of is that some dude rode this bike and it’s stuck around longer than he did. It’s a gesture that was done out of love. Of that I have no doubt. A desire for the ones he left behind to resonate how important he was to them in life. I don’t know this guy, but as far as I know, biking was pretty important to him.

I know nothing else about this bike. I’m not sure if the gesture was decreed in his will, but I’m guessing by his age this probably wasn’t the case. Seeing the bike my first thoughts were “isn’t that sad?” Followed by “aren’t his friends nice?” Followed by “geez, I hope that never happens to me.” Not death, that’s riding my back all the way to the end indiscriminate of my wishes. I hope that nobody ever says “welp, this is what Leon would’ve wanted” and builds a monument in my honour. Nobody else knows what any of us really want in a given situation, sometimes us least of all. It’s strangely presumptuous posthumously to think “they liked this thing. Let’s make it represent them to everybody who sees it from now on.” Does nobody else find it weird to have others deciding how you’re defined? That after you’re gone, ages come to pass and you’re just that individual who liked to bike?

We’re all infinitely multifaceted. We know that about ourselves and others know that about themselves. Sonder was the neologism created by the internet age to define the notion that this impression could go both ways. The thing is, we’re not everything to everyone. I’d wager that it’s a pretty rare individual who is authentically themselves all the time. There’s the fact that we assume roles banking on the path of least resistance (A.K.A. Letting things go at the office when Darryl is being officious and twerpy). We pretend to be a different self because it makes things easier or, rather, less convoluted. Sometimes things will go smoother if you don’t mention your aversions or doubts. You could have conflict, or you could let something that doesn’t mean a lot to you pass by and become forgotten. You could even be trying to avoid going deeper with people who mean very little to you. Your colleagues or netball team members don’t need to know about your part time metallurgy habit if you can’t be bothered answering questions. You might have friends you talk about anime with, others who are your basketball friends, a literal knitting circle (or crochet, I don’t discriminate). There could be no cause at all to blend these groups, so why would you even try?

A write. It’s one of the things I do. It’s not the only thing I do and it’s very far from a thing that defines me. To some people though, that’s my identity. If there’s an afterlife and I was peering at the Earth I’d vacated, it’d bum me out to see a typewriter erected in my honour. On one hand, it’s nice to be thought of. On the other hand it’s a very small part of who I am, who I’ve been and how I’ve affected others. I think back to all the funerals I’ve been to where new information came to light. It’s kind of bittersweet. Knowledge that’d never been brought up that could’ve entirely changed how I saw that person. Instead they were the version of themselves they chose to present. It’s sad that I never got to meet that person.

I don’t know what the takeaway is. I guess it’d be nice to figure out who my authentic self is. To figure out how to be the person I want to be irrespective of the judgement I assume others hold. To be impossible for anyone to describe in a sentence. To make any monument seem daft, because any physical reminder would be missing the point.

People, I’m more than just a Smash Mouth link repository.

Let’s face the truth: I obviously got bitten by a radioactive scrotum.

Something lately has changed in me. My posture has naturally shifted. I’ve been walking with my head held higher, chest more pronounced. Not bogged down so much by the weight of the world. Perceiving life through a different lens. Slights that once seemed so daunting have shrunk in my eyes. There’s a confidence I carry that for years was absent and nigh insurmountable goals feel closer. At times I feel like I can reach out physically and pull myself past them. I’m less inclined to meekly accept, when I could instead act. At the same time I’m mindful that my patience has dwindled somewhat. I’m quicker to frustration at being incapable of making things work out. When I see the obstacles in my way and understand they’re immovable, it feels like I’ve somehow failed myself. While I’m suddenly conscious of my capability, the area beyond my reach itches like a phantom limb.

I think my body has finally worked out how to produce testosterone.

I’m only half joking. Post Tough Mudder I’ve been cognisant of my own wherewithal to a greater extent. I’ve been putting effort into keeping active. I’ve also been buoyed by acknowledgement from others. Is this a psychological phenomena? Or could there be a chemical element to it? It’d explain the mood shifts I’ve been having, the chaffing of constraints and the perception of potential. The assurance in my back pocket of my own capability. The ability to dampen white noise in favour of the peaks. A reduction in seeing myself as the problem in all scenarios and an ability to instead look outwards.

It’s worth considering, if only to manage any potential harm it could do. I’ve definitely noticed myself being easily irritated at work lately. On one hand, since moving buildings while being stuck in the same job, there’s the awareness that I could be doing so much more. I’ve been trying to move on up (like M People). The fact that I’m not, after almost two years of a role that rarely changes, has become increasingly stifling. Over the past week, every time I leave the office to grab lunch I note my shitty mood. Stepping outside to take a breath has become less of a treat and more of a necessity. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve treated people with less respect. Still, I’m mildly concerned that this decreased inward reflection could cause me to at bullheaded or indelicate.

Like the majority of my thoughts, it’s probably bullshit. Concurrently, like any good coprologist, it could be bullshit that’s worth keeping tabs on.

Also if I hoist a car above my head, I think that’s an affirmative.

Icy red, icy red, icy red.

Things aren’t going precisely to plan and I’m seeing red. I’m not pissed, so much as looking at life through tinted glasses. No metaphor, I’m literally wearing red glasses right now. It’s bizarre. How bizarre? I can’t see green crossing lights. Anything red instantly pops, making the TTC ride entirely surreal. I’m partially colour blind and I can’t help but feel that I’m seeing in vampire vision right now. If I’m bloodlusted, I’m the most benign vampire around. Any cravings I had were sated by the mocha I quaffed. My plans may be awry, but I’m keeping a level head. I’m calm, or as calm as one can be while seeing red, hopped up on caffeine and pseudoephedrine.

Any questions you have are quite reasonable right now. Why am I wearing red glasses? Why am I on a train? What plans? I’ve been talking about a fancy party for a few days, so it’s time I cleared that up.

I’m terrible at New Years Resolutions (like last year when I said I’d watch all of Seinfeld. I finished to the end of season two), but not everyone is. My friend told me his resolution was to go to more chic cocktail parties. Getting dressed up in his best fancy pants and knocking elbows with Toronto’s finest. There was some type of allure calling to me. Like for one night I could pretend I’m not the type of person who looks at the paper after I’ve wiped. Just to make sure I’m regular, y’know? So I told my friend to keep me abreast of any swanky soirées coming up. Lo and behold, the Toronto Public Library has an annual fundraiser, “Hush Hush”. This year is superhero themed, which means not costumes, but classy dress with superhero accents thrown in. So far up my alley it’s a strike. Only problem? I don’t own fancy things (flashback to The Shirt Saga). Are we about to cue a shopping montage? Damn straight.

I told a co-worker I needed help buying a suit and she damn near flipped her shit. “Be ready to leave in an hour.” She told me. I was marched out of the office and down to H&M, where she nabbed a sales assistant and told him everything I was looking for. We had an ally. The two of them conspired, handing me different shirts, pants and jackets to capture the right look. I’ve got awkward proportions, so it was tough to find something that fit my shoulders, chest and waist. After the 5th or so suit, we had a perfect fit. Swish. Dark blue with brown patches on the elbows. It looks better than I make it sound. Took it in to the tailors to get the sleeves and hems taken in and bam! $300 or so later and I own my first real adult suit.

So I’ve got a suit, I’m wearing red glasses and on a train. Where is this going? There’s an unknown variable, clearly. An “X” if you will. Or maybe an X-man. Cyclops, I’m going as the bespectacled team leader of everyone’s favourite mutants. Hence the red specs I picked up from a bunz trade, but there’s one more component missing to really make the costume pop. I’ve got hazel eyes, that’s no bueno for a dude whose eyes function as apertures to a dimension of concussive force (yeah, that’s really the explanation for his powers. Comic book logic, eh? I thought they were just the portal to his soul. Unless his soul is pure concussive force. That’s pretty metal). The solution? Red contact lenses. I went on the net and bought some red contact lenses, special ones that glow in UV light.

Thing is, they weren’t delivered in time. I waited patiently at home, only to discover the couriers picked them up from the store yesterday at 5pm and they don’t deliver on weekends. So now I’m railing on out to Etobicoke to pick them up in store. An hour transit each way. The things we do to look good, eh?

So now it’s simple, I just need to clean the new brown leather shoes I bought, iron a shirt (and which part of that is simple I’m not sure) and borrow a tie from a friend. Maybe even a shower and a shave. Sheesh. At this stage, including the ticket, I’ve spent over $500 to try look like a million bucks. All this for one party (and I guess everything I bought will serve for later occasions. I’m not gonna bin it all once I leave). Being fancy isn’t cheap.

No wonder I’m seeing red.

There’s a difference between venting and seeking validation. As you can tell, it’s pretty slim.

Having one of those brain days where everything feels like a festering pile of shit. It’s fine, because I know I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling normal, in love with my life. Today though, I’m questioning why. So you, the lucky reader, gets pure stream of consciousness. Let’s get back to our roots!

Today I’m wondering how some days I wish my arms were twice the size so I could hug myself all over, then others I question whether it’s possible to loathe myself any more than I already do. I wonder when I’ll be funny enough, smart enough, attractive or desirable enough, informed enough, aware enough and what “enough” even means. How do you decide where you want to be when you have no earthly idea what form that takes? Why persist in this quest to find passion when that feels like too much work, when you could just dwindle away in obscurity instead? Why give a shit about anything when you don’t know what you want and even if you did it would seem too hard? Why do people care when you don’t? Why do people think you have it together while inside you’re crumbling, splintering into pieces too fragmented to ever come together?

I once interviewed an embalmer. I asked her what the worst thing she’d ever had to do was. She said some girl once got hit by a truck. Little girl, somewhere in the range of 5-8 years. She shattered, just came apart. Some of the pieces were smaller than a five cent coin. It was this embalmer’s job to put “humpty dumpty” together again. How do you even do that? Look at this scattered mess of skin, organs, bone, hair and muscle that used to be a tiny human who formerly lived, breathed, laughed, cried and loved her parents and think that there’s any justice, mercy or meaning to any of this? We’re all just bits, so many gross, squishy bits and after all this is done we’re just gonna be bits again.

Why am I doing this? Any of this? Why am I writing every day when I very obviously stopped caring so many entries ago? When was the last time I wrote something I was proud of? That wasn’t putting words on a page to fill a daily quota? What’s keeping me running? Some ill-conceived sense that it’ll lead somewhere? Or just inertia? How am I gonna sit in front of a microphone for an hour tonight, recording the tenth episode of a podcast about a fucking children’s film, that only started because of a one note joke? Why will there be a warm body hugging close to mine tonight when we’re both gonna be nothing but bits in the end? How has she not wised up and left yet?

Why is society such an overgrown rot? Why is anyone ever sure of anything? How do we keep butting heads with some misguided notion that we’re right, or that there is such a thing as being right? When are we going to cede that we’re all a little bit wrong and things wouldn’t be as polarised as they are if we didn’t constantly tell the other side that they’re assholes for thinking differently? How do we think that’ll help? As if calling someone out doesn’t immediately make them raise their hackles and stop listening to what we’re about to say because they don’t want to hear that they’re wrong? How can I say this knowing that people feel real, true, bone deep pain and it’s in every way reasonable that they’re gonna want to lash out, even if it’s the reason that we’re all gonna fail without getting anywhere? Because it’s so easy to confuse hurting someone who hurt you for actually feeling good. That utopia will never be possible because all of us, no matter how open-minded we are, don’t really want that, we just want to be right, affirmed and validated. We want to be heard and told that we’re not the problem, but we all are in some tiny way. Thinking that any of us have it figured out is the biggest joke of all.

It’s fine to not feel okay. Pretending otherwise doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself. Be vulnerable, accept that sometimes you’ll fall apart and that’s just part of picking up the pieces and putting them back together again. We’re all broken and admitting our own weakness is what makes us human. We’re all just bits in the end, right?

Plus, there’s always tomorrow.