Quite quote unquote, quid pro quo?

I’ve been humming and hawing (a word I’ve been using for years without knowing the true meaning. Apparently it’s to hesitate in speech) about what to write. No cohesive themes are popping into my head. I don’t have the darndest notion of where to start, but if I’ve learned anything from this project it’s that starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere.

Man, that sounded like I dropped some serious wisdom:

“Starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere” – Albert Einstein.

Maybe I’ve finally gained the ability to casually drop aphorisms on the fly. Wouldn’t that be a rad superpower. It sounds meek at first blush, but the more you think about it, you’d be able to give your opponents pause while you came in for the coup de grâce. They’d be standing there doing some serious hawing (’cause the only way to truly learn a word is to use it in a sentence, right?), and I’d take advantage of their flat footed predicament. An ability to drop truth bombs at will sounds like a great power with great responsibility.

I read an Onion article the other day “Man Forced To Reverse-Engineer Point In Midst Of Meandering, Absentminded Rant“. I was just happy they had the restraint not to print my real name. Perhaps it’s come from years of downing Harmontown episodes, but I totally do this. I’ll start at a certain point in a conversation with this unearned confidence that I’ll be able to spout something vaguely resembling sense. I’ll twist and contort, taking non-linear sidesteps while engineering a through-line that comes together at the end. It’s a high wire act. I’m well aware that most of the time it doesn’t work, but when I have a couple of drinks, any potential self-doubt is clipped in favour of blind faith. I’ll make it happen, even if I have to force it with clunky segues and tenuous narrative links.

I get away with it far more than I should. Maybe here in Canada it’s an offshoot of accent privilege. I’ve mentioned it a bunch of times before, but I feel like having a Kiwi accent affords me a great many privileges here in a foreign country. You know that socially observed phenomenon whereby attractive people go through life with strangers being nicer to them? 30 Rock did a great episode on it with John Hamm. Living in a foreign country, I feel like having an accent gives shades of the same. So perhaps people smudge over those times when my conversational crafting is bumbling at best. Possibly they’re not even understanding the words I’m saying, but get a kick out of my cadence. If neither of us notices and it gives me neat little advantages, I’m certainly not gonna complain.

I was saying to my girlfriend the other day that I’d love nothing more than to have a job where I could just be amicable and charming all the time. Spout total nonsense, but help facilitate others having a blast. I like making people happy as much as I enjoy being liked. Win/win all around. I was speaking to a French dude today who said when he was in Korea, he got invited on a popular KPOP panel show just because he was a) tall and b) spoke English. They were all oh, your English is so great as he spoke in his thick French accent. He told me he had zero qualms about monetising that shit, because it made others happy and he benefited from it. Is there some way I can do the same? Find a line of work where I can be me and that’ll be enough for others? Where my meandering absentminded rants are marketable? How do I even set out to find that?

Then again, as the great Albert Einstein once said: “Starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere.”

Wise words indeed.

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Gotta hand it to me, at least I’m committed to curmudgeonliness.

Like Nelly during his Kelly Rowland period, I have a dilemma. It’s a dumb problem that I’m not complaining about. Humblebrag sort of shit. It’s in the same realm as those times where I have to take vacation days before I lose them and I’m all ”oh no, I need to be somewhere else in the world enjoying myself for a week.” So the qualm isn’t how do I choose between this positive or negative outcome? It’s a more Kondo Marie style ”which of these excessive privileges gives me the most joy?” Yeah, fuck me, right?

So my parents gave me money for my birthday. They told me to go blow it on something and enjoy myself. Get a nice meal, go to a hotel, buy myself something. I should be grinning and winning, right? Yes I should. Instead I’m having to reckon with how my life has become some fun black hole (to clarify, that’s a hole in my dimension that vacuums any fun with the misfortune of drifting past. Not some groovy slide to another world). I can’t think of a single thing I want. I’m a shitty capitalist who, while not overflowing with loose change, can kind of just get things without affecting my bottom line. It’s a rock solid position to be in. I’m not complaining about that. It does however steal all the fun from small windfalls.

I’m 31 years old. I have everything I need. I’m not a gadget dude or someone who wants new toys. I fucking despise clutter so I don’t want to buy shit just to have it. I mean, I already hate gifts. They’re basically just time bombs ticking down how long it’s gonna be until you can throw them out. I’m not a sentimental person who attaches significance to objects. I want functional things and experiences.

The thing about functional items? They’re the least exciting. Am I supposed to get jazzed about cutting onions with a brand new knife or getting a pan with better heat distribution? An Instant Pot would be faster than my slow cooker (could’ve guessed that from the name) but they’re so expensive and I can wait forever until they’re on sale. It’s not urgent, the slow cooker is in perfect working condition. There’s nothing out there right now that would greatly enrich my life, so none of it feels like treating myself.

Is any of this relatable whatsoever? Or am I just a spoiled dipshit?

What about some kind of nice experience? Like what? When it comes to experiential delights, everything with me boils down to food. Doing keto though has drained all the fun out of that. It’s mechanical. I’m eating to fit macros, to make sure my body is getting the necessary percentage of carbs, protein and fats. Still, one blowout can’t hurt me, right? So fucking wrong. A cheat day would most likely throw me right out of ketosis. Then I’d have to get back there, which would mean more days of keto flu, feeling fatigue, headaches, mental fogginess. It’s just not worth it. It sucks, because food is how my brain has been conditioned to celebrate. I’ve been taught that food is love in its preparation. Food is nurturing to take care of my body. Food is comfort when I’m feeling down. Food is pleasure on a basic primal level. My love of food is so gratuitous that I’m hoping this diet will help me re-learn healthy patterns of eating, to find what moderation looks like. I’m not gonna be on it forever, but maybe it’ll lead me towards some kind of balance.

Also I fucking hate hotels.

Not that the word “flaccid” was important. I just wanted to add texture.

It’s been some time since I’ve talked about anything polyamory and that’s likely because it’s been some time since polyamory was relevant in my day to day. Neither my partner nor I have had much interest in dating other people, so neither of us have. When enough’s going on in your life that you’re having difficulty spending time with those you love, it’s hard to muster up enthusiasm for getting to know even more people you’ll eventually have to cancel on. Hell, it’s hard enough failing at re-working a sentence not to end on a preposition.

I figure that still being relatively new to the practice of extending romantic connection beyond monogamous commitment, there are muscles to be worked. It’s not like those muscles atrophy without use, but have you tried going for a run after a weeks spent marathoning The Wire? One of these things is only an exercise in patience. I haven’t had to think about romantic/sexual connections with others in yonks. Nor have I put myself through the mental gymnastics of working around the abundant social programming of a largely monogamous society. I haven’t been considering my anchor partner meeting others and how my brain reacts to that idea. She hasn’t dated anyone in an age. The last time I dated anyone was maybe ten months ago. It ended amicably enough, but I also didn’t yearn to get back out there. So we’ve been nesting comfortably.

My girlfriend and I went to a party the other night. I noticed she was getting close to a guy there. Nothing remotely explicit. A light brush here, a hand on the upper arm or waist. My immediate response wasn’t anything apocalyptic, but more aw geez, now I’m gonna have to do the work of mental unpacking. I was bracing myself for the thought of dealing with feelings that could potentially be challenging at some point. Like standing behind a wall holding a shield encased in a suit of armour. Are feelings that monstrous?

I tried poking and prodding at them a little. I’d met this dude a couple of times before. He’s always been a friendly, welcoming fellow. He’s open and honest, fun to be around and a warm soul. He’s a tall, good looking guy, so I understand her attraction. It’s not like I harbour any ill will for him, so why would I bristle at the thought of my girlfriend wanting to spend time with him? Because my italicised counter-thoughts chimed in, if she thinks he’s attractive, then she doesn’t think you are. That was silly. I find other women attractive, does that mean I don’t consider my girlfriend to be a knockout? Hell no. She’ll get infatuated with him and you’ll feel lonely, sad, holding your flaccid dick in your hand. I mean, this was getting to the heart of it. I didn’t want to be left behind or put out. The assumption that she’d no longer want me was ridiculous. I went off and had another relationship while living with her. Did I desire her less? Hell no. It made me appreciate even deeper all the things that made her special. But she’s a hyper-desirable person. She’ll be constantly out at parties finding people to fuck while you circle the snack table and talk to people about Air Bud like a child or adult with severe arrested development issues. Like a textbook narcissist, this was all a big plea of “what about me?”

I’m sure I sell myself short, but my base assumption is that nobody is interested ever. Straight up, my brain tells me that nobody wants to fuck me. The fact that a) I’m not a virgin and b) don’t think I have it in me to coerce anyone, should contradict this all to hell. It’s a worthless mental affirmation that I constructed years before I’d ever had sex. I don’t know why I’m still holding onto it. I’ve got a strong conviction against making anyone feel unwelcome or uncomfortable and it’s really hard to shirk the notion that my advances would cause discomfort. To be thought of as That Creepy Dude is anathema to my M.O. My involuntary response is to never hit on anyone at a party ever. Then I feel like a fucking child as people are getting frisky around me. It’s not that I don’t get hot under the collar when I meet someone sexy at a party. It’s more akin to having a mental collar that threatens to blow my brain to giblets if I were to act on that. I’ve conditioned myself to be harmless and in so, severely damaged my self-esteem.

I’ve got work to do. I need to train those mental muscles to relax and chill out. I need to accept that my partner will be attracted to others and it’s fine for her to act on that attraction. If this relationship is to have the sustainability we both desire, then I need to work on compersion, to be happy for her finding connection. But also that it’s okay for me to do the same. I also need to understand that I’m not a burden or continually unwanted, that sending out flirty vibes is not the same thing as assuming the woman I’m talking to has no agency or choice in the matter. That it’s possible for someone to look at me and think I want to put my lips on his and maybe touch his butt.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

I did knot expect to tie that all together.

I’ve been procrastinating about starting this. The Internet has been far too alluring. So to make up for it, I’m gonna let you in on what I’ve been reading. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Sorry, messed up the word order there. Meant to say That doesn’t sound exciting!

Let’s begin.

I watched the trailer for Ready Player One. I enjoyed the book. It was a silly wish fulfilment narrative. The lead characters weren’t terribly well carved out. The whole thing was pandering stacked upon pandering. It was also a lot of fun, and even if it felt like the evocation of something my friends and I used to play called The Anythink Game. The premise was simple, you could be anyone and do anything you could think of. We used to play it on a trampoline. We’d be Transformers one minute and Ninja Turtles the next. I don’t know if we ever played as everyone’s favourite female Street Shark, but that was obviously a missed opportunity. Ready Player One felt in the same spirit and as such, it was a neat world to slip into. If I’d read it at age 13, I can guarantee you it would’ve been my favourite book of all time. I have no idea how Spielberg’s team is legally gonna get a hold of all that copyrighted material, but they’re the real heroes of the film. The scale of the idea makes sense on the big screen and in watching the trailer you can already see how specifically tailored to 3D they’ve made it. A big dumb film perfectly fit for a cheap Tuesday.

I had forgotten how cringeworthy a bunch of it was though.

I bought a new keyboard. I’m so tired of having to write on my phone while in transit. The Swype keyboard sure speeds things up, but it also gets overworked pretty easily. My poor Moto G can’t keep up with my fingers. I’d been considering buying a tablet or laptop, but if a keyboard can fix all my issues, why not go with the simplest solution? I realised the other day how I still haven’t adjusted to Bluetooth as a technology that exists. I’m a curmudgeon who’s already been made technologically obsolete. I was at the park the other day, marvelling at my friend’s rugged and robust bluetooth speaker. In my head, if it’s not hard-wired, it won’t work. I guess I’ve acclimated to the understanding that I often buy technology that’s behind the curve. Since my gear’s never top of the line, I just assume that all technology is as shitty as mine. The last time I bought something cutting edge was my beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. Even when it was dated, it still worked great. Stupid different Canadian networks not working with my pride and joy.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to constantly carrying a heavy work-around everywhere I go.

Lastly, T.J. Miller. I always thought of him as a provocative performance artist in the vein of Father John Misty. If that’s what he’s going for, judging by this interview he overshot the moon and ended up in another galaxy. Ugh, he comes off as a totally snarky, condescending prick. Just an unrepentant asshole. It’s a pity, his live performance at JFL42 2015 stands as one of my all time favourite comedy experiences. Densely interwoven meta commentary that was both flashy and subtle. He’s always walked that line for me, but if he’s trying so hard to present an unlikable persona, I’m fine accepting him as thus. Bummer. I hope he gets hoisted on his own petard and comes back to earth.

By the time he does, I might even have my own Bluetooth keyboard on which to write about it.

Maybe it’ll be after seeing him in Ready Player One.

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.