Dopen minded?

#ohcannada #marijuantario #torontoke #hightearonto #torontoreeferancelibrary #homeofthebluejays #hashhashtags

Honestly folks, I’m so old and out of touch that I initially had commas between each hashtags. I came out of my stupor quickly enough to realise. It’s the 17th of October and today marijuana was legalised in Canada. It’s an historic day, and having been at work for all of it so far, I’ve noticed not one difference. I don’t expect to leave the office and into a cloud of smoke. I don’t expect that the initial changes will be particularly drastic. I’m sure there’ll be people in parks ignoring the sub 10ÂșC temperatures and having a great time. I hope they all remember that while weed is no longer illegal, littering is still shit. I hope they have a blast, but responsibly.

Still, despite everything I just said, this is all kinds of wild. I’m not expecting drastic changes overnight, but I am expecting a bunch of subtle societal shifts. Firstly, I don’t really expect that there are that many grown ass adults out there who haven’t tried it before. We were all impressionable teenagers once, right? I never liked the stuff much as a teen, and to be honest it took a really long time to grow on me. I never knew what I was doing and always smoked too much. It’d leave me catatonic or paranoid and I’d have a terrible time. So I didn’t really do it that often.

I think this year was the first time I ever actually bought my own pot like a Real Adult. Even then, the rate at which I’ve been smoking has been altogether mild. I’m a light touch and don’t enjoy the experience if I’m too stoned to function. I tend to enjoy sativas or hybrids. Something to provoke the more creative parts of my brain instead of sinking into a comfy chair. I’ve definitely been smoking more often than I expected to, but I have been enjoying myself. It’s made some mundane tasks more tolerable. It’s been a nice way to unwind after a stressful day. The CBD strains have generally helped with feelings of mild illness or aggressive muscle pain. Also, as a frighteningly light sleeper, they’ve helped me rest a little easier at night. I’ve never been impaired at work, because I’m not an idiot. I couldn’t do my job high, so I’m not gonna try. I might not like what I do, but I at least respect that there’s an agreement that I’ll be sober while I do it.

It still feels weird though, this legality thing. I was looking on the government owned (!) OCS site to see what legally purchasing pot would look like. They have an assortment of strains to choose from. There are grinders and pipes and bongs, oh my. You can buy online and they’ll ship it to your door. It’s so surreal. You can smoke in parks or at any private residence. It’s hard to get past the notion that it’s all a trap. That it’s part of some elaborate Canadian bait and switch to fill the prisons with workers. I’m wondering how long it’ll be until the prison pardons are processed and those jailed for possession can be set free. So many condemned individuals being able to finally live a life that society robbed them of. It may be too little, too late, but it’s not nothing.

Tonight though? It ain’t a rainy day here in Toronto, but let’s just say that Bob Dylan was right.

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Oh fuck. This is a Drake song, isn’t it?

I’m Upset.

I got another job rejection. I know it’s not personal, but I’m taking it personally. I know it’s not about me, but it feels like it’s about me, y’know? It feels like if it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have this problem. I don’t think logic has any place in where I am right now. Logic would say that 200+ people apply for every position I apply for and only one person can be the right person. Logic would say that disappointment is inevitable for n-1 people where n=the number of people who applied. Logic would say this this is another singular disappointment in a series of singular disappointments. It doesn’t feel like a singular disappointment. It feels like a cumulative pile of failure in which I haven’t been the right person for anyone. That every time I’m not enough. Not experienced enough or talented enough or smart enough or capable enough. It feels like I’m coming up on several years of feeling at the very least low key bone deep miserable at all times and just kind of holding it together. This time feels different.

Logic has told me time and time again not to get attached, but I do. When I get an interview and the interview feels warm and responsive I get attached. I start thinking about what it could be like to meet new people in an all new department/workplace. To grow my skills and gain satisfaction in having done something well. To see progress and development in my own aptitude and confidence. To show myself that I am capable and bring value to the world with my output. When inevitably this doesn’t happen, I once again doubt all of the above. Logic tells me that I have value all of my own and I do bring something to the world in how I connect to others. It’s been a while since any of this felt logical.

I’m not logical right now. I’m Upset. “Capital U” Upset. I feel like I’m at a point of nothing. I’m 31 and I’m drifting, with no idea of what the future holds and zero assurance it’ll hold anything. I feel like any skills I had were honed almost ten years ago and my relevance has just been fading year by year. I know a fucking job doesn’t mean anything but it means something to me. I know the way I pay my rent doesn’t define me but I want it to, at least a little. Emotional as I am I know that even a dream job is still a job that sucks like any other job. I’m not asking for a dream job. If there’s anything the past ten years have taught me it’s to dream smaller. I’m just asking to do work that I can feel proud of, that makes people feel happy or understood in some way. That makes me feel like I’ve given something of myself. To feel like I’m connecting at least a little with others. I’ve long since known that money isn’t a motivator for me, but meaning is and I’m running on empty. I don’t know what I’m doing or why. I don’t know why I’m still trying. I’m scared that soon enough I’ll just stop caring and I don’t know what happens then.

Oh, I’ve had affirmations. That it’ll be my time next time. That something is right around the corner. That this wasn’t to be, but not to worry because something will come. That I am experienced enough and talented enough and smart enough and capable enough. Affirmations are great and all, but they don’t mean a thing unless I believe them and I don’t know that I do anymore.

I don’t know what the point of this is beyond venting, but I’m venting. Things feel pretty shit right now. They have for a while, but just that little bit more at the moment. I *know* that other people are struggling with worse problems, but I also know that doesn’t invalidate any of mine. I *know* that on a long enough timeline this won’t matter, but feeling shitty and worthless for years on end seems like a timeline that’s been long enough already. I’m so tired. I’m so tired of getting my hopes up and getting let down. I’m so tired of getting another deftly worded email that essentially tells me to go fuck myself. I’m so tired of putting energy out and feeling like I’m wasting my life. I’m so tired of swallowing my own disappointment day by day. I’m so tired of people telling me that things will just work out and both of smiling like either of us actually believe it.

I just kinda want to stop existing for a while.

And I know this too will fade. That everyone else feels this way a lot of the time. That we all feel shitty and worthless and like we’re not enough. That we feel like we’re just beating our heads against something, tasting our own blood and shrugging. That treading water is technically surviving, but it’s not a life. That there’s a piece missing that’ll make everything click, but its absense feels like a hole within ourselves. I know we all feel like this, but I’d kind of like to just not for once.

So for today, at least, I’m Upset.

It could be worse, people could be influenced by me

I feel old all the time. It happens with age, y’know?

Superfluous statements out of the way, a better way of qualifying it is that I feel increasingly out of touch with certain parts of society. I’ve been thinking of that absurd Gymshark line up over the weekend and having trouble working through my mental and emotional responses to it. I wonder if they’re indicative of being too judgemental or discounting large subsections of society unfairly. This is garble. I’ll try to do better.

I don’t Instagram. At a stretch you could say that I did briefly when I ran the Air Bud Pawdcast social media account. Really though, I posted and didn’t bother to look further into the platform. I’m not much of an image based person. I like reading and audio a ton, but there wasn’t a ton of appeal at looking at photos. This is no admonishment of anyone who uses the service, it’s just not for me and that’s fine.

I feel deeply unsettled by the rise of Attractive People Fame. Don’t get me wrong, attractive people have prospered since the beginning of society. This in itself is nothing new. It’s not like I woke up in 2018 and suddenly discovered that celebrities were pretty. Attractive People Fame takes this to another echelon. With the rise of the Kardashian Clan and the words “social media influencer”, being famous in itself has become a career trajectory in a whole new fashion. I’m not breaking ground saying this. There are a lot of people making money for being popular and attractive. There are corporate tie ins and sponsorships. These people a) being alive and b) using products has become a very visible avenue of advertising. I’m not trying to stand on a rickety pedestal and say this isn’t work. I know that a lot of effort goes into scheduling posts, cultivating an audience, reshooting and retouching photos until they’re perfect. It’s a real job with a ton of hours and thought. This isn’t my issue.

Cult of personality has become a career in a whole new way. Yet again, I don’t see that in itself as an indication of crumbling societal values. Take me as an example: I follow a lot of Dan Harmon’s stuff. I was a big fan of his show Community and began listening to his podcast Harmontown way back in The Year Of Our Lord (aren’t they all?) 2012. I’ve paid actual dollars to go to live podcast recordings. I bought a limited release book that his ex-wife put out of his Tumblr writings collated. I met him and got him to sign my book. I’ve interacted with other Harmontown fans in the online community. I’ve met some of these people out in public; When I was visiting Portland and sought out fellow Harmenians because I thought we might have similar interests. It’s not blind adoration. I don’t personally see Harmon as an aspirational figure in all manners. He has issues and views I don’t agree with. I do, however, think that he’s an incredibly good writer, is hilarious, talented and unbelievably sharp. I like a lot of what he does and the kinds of guests/friends he brings onto the show.

It might be a personal bugbear, but I have a ton of difficulty reckoning with Attractive People Fame. This might be rich coming after the past paragraph, but Attractive People Fame and its societal influence feels different to me. I don’t listen to Harmontown and ache to be those people. I’m not out there buying the products they shill to keep the lights on. I’ve met Harmon and other show members a couple of times, but it’s not why I follow the show. It’s entertainment, and the way its errant observations bring joy to my life can’t be understated. My mind sees Attractive People Fame and it worries me. Why? Because it seems irredeemably predatory.

Attractive People Fame is enormous in younger demographics. Teens and tweens following a collection of Influencers and their daily lives. I’m talking Instagram Models, Fitspo people, etc etc. It’s an industry that’s driven by aspiration porn. It’s telling these impressionable kids that this could be them. They could be hot, rich and successful by imitating these people. They see glimpses of these Attractive People at their best. They see all the rewards, but not the hardships.

They don’t see the 50 takes required to get that perfect shot. They don’t see the intentional angling of the model’s thumb right below the label. They don’t see the meticulous diet complete with calorie counting and a-z macronutrient content worked out. They don’t see the personal stresses and anguishes behind the scene. They don’t see the marketing team creating spreadsheets of release schedules. They don’t see the sales people hunting out sponsorship opportunities. They don’t see the Attractive People being told exactly how to cultivate their Brand. They don’t see what it’s like for your personality to be A Brand and how all consuming and dehumanising that is. They don’t see the hundreds of thousands of kids who don’t make it and spend their lives chasing a dream that’s so far out of their reach. They don’t see that no matter how many products they buy to emulate their role models, 99.9% of these kids will never be their heroes, never be friends with them. They’re a revenue stream to an industry which is so much larger and more brutally cynical than the heroes they look up to.

I see kids eschewing valuable life skills and experiences in order to aspire for something they don’t realise is entirely beyond their reach. I see kids developing eating disorders or dangerous health initiatives in order to have these perfect bodies. I see kids desperate to be noticed and adored without an understanding of the pacts that come with fame. I see a level of superficiality qualified as a goal that opposes true human connection and understanding. I see values shifted to an extent that growth really will suffer. I see a future with a much larger quotient of adults who will eschew compassion for Their Brand.

I already saw a 5-8 hour line comprised of thousands of individuals, waiting to be let into a warehouse with 19 different clothing items so they could take photos with Attractive People leading lives they themselves will never come close to. I’m not scared of who these kids will be, I’m worried for the people they could miss out on becoming.

Which is what I’m sure a generation said when MTV created VJs.

Would I go to hair-ven or hair’ll?

I have something to get off my back.

It’s an ingrown hair. It’s sticking out of a birthmark or pimple kind of thing. I think, anyway. It’s hard to see, because as I said, it’s on my back. You know how you get those little hairs and you pull them out and over time scar tissue forms and it may as well be a pimple? Well, that. It’s been growing for weeks and it’s a goddamn monstrosity. I’d pull it out myself, but I’ve come to realise that I just can’t. I can reach it and I’ve been clawing at it like it’s a malignant growth for days. No dice. I even have nails right now. Big talons that click when I brush my fingertips against each other. I should have all the equipment I need, but still this hair remains. It’s far from the only spot on my body that produces these little sprouts, but it’s the only follice factory in operation right now. I’m trying to pluck it ALL THE TIME. Have you ever seen someone trying to bite their own ears? That’s me in the office, reaching back with my stumpy, useless limbs to get a good grip and tug. Nothing. It’s not even like I’m failing to reach it. My nails just clasp feebly below the hair and do nothing but dig into the surrounding skin. Like one of those claw machines that drain your wallet for more than the stupid soft toy would cost in the first place. I’m coming up short and it’s starting to feel like I’m belittling myself by trying. The worst part is, in all my attempts of pawing at it I think I ripped off some of the hair, but the root is still in there. I’ve even had my girlfriend around, but whenever she’s been there I’ve forgotten about it.

So I guess this was just a pretence to say, hey love, if you remember can you pick this hair off my back before I remember to pull out some tweezers? Also this is how we talk now, apparently. It’s kind of one-sided.

It feels weird that at 31 there are still types of clothing I’ve never tried wearing. I’m a reasonably worldly dude filled to the brim with curiousity. I love trying new things. There are also countless types of clothing. Still, I thought by now I would’ve made a bigger dent. I’ve worn skirts, of course. Still, I’ve never slipped into a kilt/sporrin (sp?) combo. What if I really do love something about the way it feels? Or could a codpiece leave me snug and secure? Likewise, I’ve tried on dresses for costumes, but never a long, flowing evening gown. Or a corset. What if there’s something about rhinestones that ups my confidence on a massive scale? Could a suit of armour be my jam? Would a pork pie hat be a fetching part of an all new daily outfit? Would platform shoes play an “O Captain! My Captain!” Role in my personal development? What if overalls brought something out in me that I’d never expected? It’s a common revelation I have, but there are myriad worlds we’ve never experienced, often even on a micro scale. Not only is there a world of adventure across the globe, but personal journeys can be so simple and achievable, yet what holds us back? Comfortable adherence to routine? Fear of failure? Potential ridicule? A lack of faith in our own judgement? Too much faith in our own judgement? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that I don’t want to go to my grave without a few more.

But I also don’t want to die without getting rid of this fucking ingrown hair. I’ll get it out even if it kills me.

Wait, what if it kills me?

Colour them surprised

“You’re hard to shop for, because I know you don’t like colours.”
“Nope, I like colours now.”
“But you don’t really wear them out, right?”
“Yeah, I do. I wear colours a lot.”
“But not during the day…”
“My basic dress code is pretty colourful. It’s pretty much some colourful trousers and a colourful shirt on rotation.”
“Well I guess I don’t really know you anymore.”

My parents are here and, by this point in my life, I’ve become my own person. It’s not like I haven’t been an adult around them before, but it feels different this time. They’re in unfamiliar terrain and it happens to be my turf. They’ll always be my parents and have that above me, but it feels the closest to even footing it’s ever been. Which is nice. For all of us, I think. We’re all old enough and ugly enough to take care of ourselves and they no longer need to parent. Their job is done. I mean, it’s not like they’ll ever be able to totally let go of it, but they’re more hobbyist parents now. They do it for their own fulfillment, not obligation.

The best part is that now I’m the one who gets to introduce them to new experiences. Last night they got to try Korean cuisine. They weren’t working from a totally blank palette. New Zealand has a burgeoning Korean population and they both have Korean friends. But they’d tried Korean BBQ, rather than standard Korean fare. I figured starting them off with bibimbap was a safe bet. It’s hard to go wrong with meat, vegetables and rice. I got to enjoy my usual pork bone soup at my favourite place. As always it was an effortless, quick meal (effortless was a weird choice of words. Aren’t most restaurants effortless? Isn’t that the point of *not cooking*? -Ed) with the usual friendly staff. We got to shoot the shit. I heard how their holiday has been going and we kind of caught up. Ish. They’re here for two weeks. There’s no real rush.

We tucked back home to drink and brainstorm on what to do today. Man oh man, is Toronto ever crammed with options. There are places to walk, endless things to look at whether indoors or outdoors. There’s history and newer developments. There are activities and vistas, or activities based on vistas. So many local neighborhoods ooze with flavour. There are infinite restaurants and at least thousands of good ones. The hardest part is just making your mind up. We had a shitter of a time deciding where to brunch, primarily because there are too many appealing spots. We worked out a rough plan of coffee, brunch, a walk around the Scarborough Bluffs, afternoon lunch then maybe recuperating before seeing Chris Gerhard perform in the early evening. By any metric, that’d be a phenomenal Saturday. Even better when I get to show off my home to my parents.

I mean, I’m basically a whole new person for them to meet. I wear colours now and everything.

The giggle economy

I think I’m basically done with JFL42 this year.

That sounds like a pretty insubstantial statement, but it’s not. It’s a massive sign of growth. I’m becoming a responsible adult. I’m refusing to stay out late and suffer through the hollow feeling of insufficient sleep day after day. I’ve got stuff to do. I have a job and I need to take care of myself. Every year I’ve done 3-4 shows a night, hopped up on caffeine and excitement. I’ve been a wreck throughout the sunlight hours, then lather, rinse, repeat watched more shows. I’m tired of burning the candle at both ends for this week. Yes, this week. All I have is one show on Saturday that I’m gonna go to with my parents. I’ve also seen fewer shows this time around than I generally do. Last year it was 34 altogether. I think this year I’ll top out at 19. I’ve been cancelling the 11pm gigs this time, instead seeing a more reasonable two shows in an evening. Like a bonafide adult.

For so long with this festival, the draw card was buying a pass and hitting as many shows as possible. Taking advantage of the all you can see comedy. Getting the most “value” out of my pass. The thing is, I’m starting to learn more about value as I age. It’s relative. That’s the biggest thing. When I couldn’t afford to go out and see shows, having a smorgasbord of acts was amazing. By this point in my life I have other concerns. I like being able to spend time home alone or hanging out with my girlfriend. I’m learning to appreciate not running myself ragged constantly. With JFL42 for so long I was convinced that I had to catch ’em all. That the essential festival experience was ending up with an informed perspective on everyone I could possibly see. A lot of that was the reviewing. Since I was trying to wrap up and qualify the festival for an audience, I felt like it was my duty to amass a wealth of knowledge. The more I knew, the better I could serve them. It’s my fourth year. I’m older. I actually paid for my pass this year. I understand that I really don’t have to know everything. It’s okay to miss out on things. That not doing something doesn’t necessarily mean you are missing out. Value, once again, is relative.

I used to love buffets. Still do. All you can eat always seemed like a challenge. The goal was to stuff myself full of delicious tastes and get maximum value. Every time I’d go I’d feel borderline sick. Didn’t matter, patterns did not change. More recently my view of buffets has changed. You know what’s cool about buffets? The variety. Getting to choose from an enormous selection of things that’d be incredibly time consuming to prepare myself is a real treat. I’m still terrible with portion control, but I’m less often going back for a fifth plate. At 31, do you know what’s great for me? Trying an assortment of great food. Do you know what sucks? Holding my stomach in agony, spending hours in the bathroom and basically writing off the rest of the day. Is that value? For me now, value comes in quality experiences, not quantifying them in dollar amounts. You’ve paid the same cost no matter how much you eat. A dollar value doesn’t exist, but an enjoyable experience sure can. How would you define that?

So you know what? I’m having a home cooked meal tonight and a full evening’s rest. That sounds like a hell of a good time right now.

Passage advice

Do you ever feel like JUST ONCE you’d like to be hanging out in some eccentric dude’s mansion and leaning against a bookshelf which rotates and you find yourself in a basement face to face with a naked clone of yourself submerged in a glass cylinder then you hear voices so you duck behind a pillar and hear the eccentric dude and some unearthly being talking about their evil plan and you get overheard after your lucky coin rolls out of your pocket and the evil duo come after you and you’re terrified of the monster’s blue pupil-less eyes but just then your clone’s eyes snap open and it breaks through the cylinder and it interposes itself between you and the villains and says something poignant like “RUN. Live the life I never could” and so you do and hear a huge explosion behind you, then you come to hours later streetside with the place burned to the ground and an ambulance worker wrapping a blanket around you saying how lucky you were to live through that freak gas main explosion and you’re put on a stretcher and taken away as comforting chimes play in the background then the EMT opens his eyes and they’re both blue and pupil-less and the camera cuts to black and a demonic laugh is heard?

MUST BE NICE is all.

I dunno. A big part of me clearly wishes I led a life less ordinary, but I think deep down I know that if the call to adventure had my number I’d probably shit the bed and go back to sleep instead. I feel like I’m naturally risk averse. It’s not that I’m incapable of great things. Just that I naturally assume in most situations that my accomplishments will be less than great and avoid the situations instead. Thing is, in most movies they rarely give you a grounding for what life looks like after a grand adventure. How do you go back to working in a cubicle after seeing people murdered by unfathomable horrors or their own martyrdom? No matter how open the office plan, surely you’d feel trapped by ongoing PTSD? Part of the whole ordeal is returning to where you once were having changed, right? The greater the challenge, the more severe the change I’m sure. Would your relationships, both romantic and platonic, be able to weather the internal sundering of who you once were? Why don’t we see the cameras rolling on the breakdown and familial dissonance? Look at me. I’ve never had an adventure in my life and I’m already looking forward to living The Hurt Locker.

Complacency is a hurdle all of its own. I’ve never leapt from the security of a job without somewhere stable to land. Sure, it’s the smart thing to do, but it has a habit of whittling you down. I see friends who freelance or step boldly forward into the unknown. Where does that strength come from? Confidence? Desperation? Are they just skilled at hiding their terror? You know what? Stuff usually works out alright. It may be rocky for a while, but they persevere and come out with mere scratches and scrapes. Do we all shortchange ourselves? Do we deserve more credit? Are humans the resilient cockroaches I think they are? Am I asking these rhetorical questions fully aware of the answer, but still unwilling to enact and embrace change?

Who can say?

You know what though? The next time I lean against a bookcase and find myself in a hidden passage, I’m taking it.

Baby steps.