Just pop the tab with your sphincter. Why else would you squat so much?

Well I’m back on the pre-workout. If you remembered my previous experiences on the drug supplement, you’d find no reason to question why. If you didn’t, then the reason is obvious: I want to feel like I have super powers.

Whether or not mild discomfort is a super power is up to you. As I can only imagine Wolverine does as his skin knits together, five minutes after downing it I feel a tingling itch spread across the surface of my body. Like teensy little needles knitting together the fibres of my being, my pores are suffused with a wave of expectation. Hesitation lingers but a moment before realising that I’m about to ride what a mountain of coke would feel like without the euphoria: A disdain for limitations.

Taking pre-workout is indistinguishable from a metric fuckton of microdoses unified into one high. Let me rephrase: It makes you high. Pre-workout makes you feel young again, which is a nice way of saying that it shaves years off your life. You know that scene in Logan? The one with the bestial howls? It’s basically that in the middle of the gym, which is a super handy way of getting people to stop loitering at the squat rack. A heavy-breathing, sweaty dude behind you is a huge incentive to leave whatever you’re doing and never to return. To that end, given the packed gym during the prime 5.30pm time slot, it’s mostly standing around feeling your molecules vibrate rapidly.

The true fun of pre-workout is trying to justify to others why you needed to feel that for once you were capable of ripping a horse in half with your bare hands. Man once looked at the moon and started thinking “how” instead of “if”. Everyone who’s ever taken pre-workout has looked at the moon and started thinking how long would it take me to run there? Pre-workout is not merely to engage the limits of your strength, but to engage the limits of your healing factor. By tearing your muscles asunder, you’re daring your body not to keep up.

Even after these ringing endorsements, you may still be questioning whether pre-workout is right for you. In that case, take a hard look at yourself and search for these answers:

  • Do I crave the sensation of shelving an unopened can of Red Bull?
  • Are my workouts suffering from a lack of graft vs host style fear?
  • Is it not enough to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, that I need to make everyone else uncomfortable around me too?
  • Have I ever been envious of a pitbull’s saliva output?
  • Did I watch any of the Fast cinematic universe and think I wish I was a car?
  • Do I seek to make hummingbirds jealous of my heartbeat?
  • Am I bummed that I’ve never shit myself at the gym?
  • Do my eyeballs sometimes feel too small for my pupils?
  • Have I got #squadgoals for Nicolas Cage in the Wicker Man remake?
  • Is the dial up connection sound my favourite rapper?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that pre-workout isn’t for everyone. Sometimes though, you just want to know what it feels like for your muscles to exist outside your skin. For those times, pre-workout has your back. And will likely capture your heart.

Sorry, I meant will make your heart seize up.

Or I could open thirty more Chrome tabs. Possibility is everywhere!

If I don’t start this now, I never will. Time for some straight up stream of consciousness bollocks. It’s been one of those days where I’ve had next to nothing to do. It’s not a bad thing per se, to have nowhere to be and zero obligations. Sometimes it’s downright luxurious. Today however it’s manifested in an almost paralytic listlessness. I can do almost anything I want (short of activities involving high level reality warping), all I need is direction and motivation. The two things I’ve lacked thus far. It’s so cold. SO GODDAMN COLD that even at home, my fingers are chilly. The tiny muscles surrounding my knuckles need to thaw before working. Right now my typing is clunky, blocky. It feels unnatural moving at a pace beyond lethargy but if I don’t, this will never get done. My one job today was to try and get the right handle for our shower. Ours falls off periodically. We have a hex key close by in case it needs to be tightened (which it does, all too often). By this point, the screw’s thread is damn near stripped right through. I’ll turn the hex key and it’ll just rotate in the hole, finding little in the way of purchase. My girlfriend and I got a replacement a month or so ago, which turned out to be the wrong type. I was to bring back the one we bought and get the right one. A mission.

Still, that would involve leaving the house and simply being helpful wasn’t quite enough motivation for me. I needed something else. By midday I still hadn’t eaten, showered or coffee’d (holding out hope for someone being keen for brunch/lunch somewhere). I realised that if I left the house I could get coffee, catch a pokémon or two and feel like I’d accomplished something today. I went back to the store with backup. Not only did I take photos of the shower set up sans handle, I brought the handle with me. The sales assistant took one look at it and noped out, handing it off to his manager. His manager said they’d possibly have what I was looking for, but more likely I’d have to go elsewhere. We looked, but couldn’t find anything that fit the particular set up. Trust my landlord to grab something difficult to replace. One refund later, I came home with no new handle, no new pokémon (it wouldn’t even log in) and a stomach merely containing caffeine. At least I tried, goddammit.

With nobody taking up my offer for lunch, I was forced to take matters into my own hands. Sandwich time. Hearty multi-grain bread. Mushrooms, cheese, sundried tomatoes, sliced turkey, shredded cabbage (for texture), mayo, sriracha and tabasco all grilled in the George Foreman. It feels peculiar to name a sandwich the high point of my day, but frankly it was a big bastard of a sandwich. I watched an episode of MBMBAM, played some Shandalar and flicked through my comics library in case anything caught my eye. No surprise, it didn’t.

Surely those can’t be helped moods are something that everyone experiences, right? Even with myriad options, it’s impossible to find something that really catches your fancy because you’re so conditioned to saying no to things. Nothing will work out because in your head, you’ve got this preconceived notion of being inconsolable. You’re not miserable or depressed, just indecisive to the extreme. Perhaps it’s loneliness or a desire for company in disguise. Maybe I was actually clinging onto hope that someone else would grab on to the olive branch I was putting out, then take all decisions off my hands. My indecisiveness would be solved out of a lack of needing to make plans. I could latch on for the ride and simply be a passenger. Go to a restaurant or bar, have the burden of cooking, mixing taken away. Really relax, letting my tired bones, muscles and frozen fingers hang back to thaw out.

Then again, the day isn’t over. There’s still time for hours of possibility. Even a second sandwich.

Not in your mouth, not in your hand, but in your head.

Brain gone. Replaced by coffee. Coffee stocks fading. Brain fading accordingly. It’s gonna be one of thooooose entries. Work today has been a pissing contest of how much can go wrong. You know those days where each new issue begins to prompt maniacal laughter? Where you’re mere inches away from diving through a window screaming “I AM A GOLDEN GOD” to prove the fallacy of polytheism? When your boss has piled the junk food table high and you don’t have the discipline or presence of mind to imagine the cautionary image of what your brain looks like when you’ve eaten a brain sized portion of mini eggs?

As the great scholar William Frederick “Fred” Durst once said “It’s just one of those days.” He also said “Everybody’s judged by their fucked up face”, which may be more true than ever we knew. A true Nostradamus of My Generation.

I’ve been trying to book an appointment with a specialist over whether or not operating on my deviated septum would help with my breathing problems. It’s excellent that I’m covered by OHIP and thus get access to consultations without paying hefty GP fees. Furthermore, if I end up getting the operation OHIP will once again have my back (and septum), paying the applicable costs. I’ve been entangled in this weird system of trying to sort out the appointment. A few weeks back I made an appointment with my GP in order to make an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. She sent through the application and said they’d contact me.

Then yesterday, possibly ten steps after I turned my phone off airplane mode (I get no cell reception at work, so it just drains my battery otherwise). I got a call from my GP with an appointment time, telling me to call the specialist back directly to confirm. She said to do it quickly (within the next day) or else I’d lose my appointment. I asked why the specialist hadn’t cut out the middle man and called me directly. She said clinics rarely ever do that. I told her that because of my non-existent cell signal at work I’d left my email with them in case they needed to get in contact. The receptionist at the GP said they charged $10 per email, so they hadn’t emailed me. She once again implored me to call.

I called the specialist many times today without getting an answer. 70% of the times I called, there was a Rogers answer phone message saying that the number was not connected. The rest of the times brought me to a phone menu that eventually led to a number that nobody answered. I checked that I was using the correct number umpteen(!) times. I was. I sent them an email saying that I wanted to confirm, but got no response. You know, I should probably try again before they close for the day.

*****

Oh, I finally got in touch with someone at the specialist. They said their automated phone system is a piece of shit that loses calls and drops out so often that they should just pay someone to take calls. I couldn’t agree more. I gave her my details and she said my number didn’t match the one they had. The number she repeated back was the phone number of my GP. She asked me why they’d use their number instead of mine, when they could just cut out the middle man. I couldn’t agree more. I confirmed my appointment, which will no doubt culminate in the specialist telling me I don’t need the operation because my pre-existing allergies would negate its benefits, making this whole thing a colossal waste of time. Guess I’ll find out on Friday.

With my mind successfully melted for the day, let’s get the fuck out of here.

In other words, failing to work against type.

I’ve spent the last half hour staring at my screen, finding nothing but weak excuses not to write. I could’ve spent that half hour writing about weak excuses not to write and then I’d have the next half hour to do whatever I wanted. So for the next half hour, I’m gonna list weak excuses not to write:

  • I need to find things other than the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 villain that look like Cee Lo’s grammy outfit.
  • 11 minutes having passed since I last opened the fridge, looked around, was tempted by a swig of pineapple juice but instead closed the door and walked back to my computer. I mean, I could’ve at least picked up some water or something. I should probably go check again in case something has changed.
  • Combing through GP Pittsburgh’s top 32 to find at least one deck that wasn’t BG Constrictor, Mardu Vehicles or Copy Cat combo. Whoops, not gonna happen (though seeing Gonti get its time in the sun was some good time).
  • Ignoring the terrible dialogue and gratuitous CW style cheesecake to watch what’s quickly becoming a pretty well crafted teen drama; Riverdale. Oh wait, no new episode until next Friday.
  • Scrolling through Twitter to see people talk about The Grammys, so I can get worked up about an increasingly irrelevant award ceremony that may as well be called the Golden Lobes, vestigial as they are. Also I’m the asshole here. They’re not targeted towards me, why should I give a shit?
  • Meowing back at the cat, who keeps meowing loudly at me like I understand what she’s saying. C’mon cat, can’t you just speak human like the rest of us? Such an intolerant animal.
  • Reading Clickhole headlines out loud at my girlfriend, who’s trying to do her own mindless internet browsing. Then when she’s finally focused in on what she was reading before I so rudely interrupted with my emotional bid, read another one at her.
  • Checking on the pantry, in case it held something alluring that the fridge couldn’t match. Do I ever really need to have something to put marmite on? Or can spoons suffice?
  • Looking around at the many projects I said I’d start before getting distracted. Procrastinating through procrastinating about things I’ll inevitably procrastinate about again? Maybe later.
  • Buying Hindenburg Journalist recording software (tailor made for podcasting) for no good reason other than it’s absurdly cheap right now ($1.90 for World Radio Day instead of $80+). I have Pro Tools. Why would I ever need this?
  • Checking to see if any of my Facebook comments got more likes (even though I have the tab open and I can clearly see that they haven’t).
  • Trying to figure out a wittily worded Facebook post about Cee Lo’s GotG2 Grammy’s outfit.
  • Seeing others do it better.
  • Crying about it.
  • Cheering up once I realised half an hour had passed and so had my daily writing.
  • Finishing without so much as a snappy conclusion.

Negativity is one thing that ain’t in short supply right now. The solution? Positivi-tea!

As the January chill continues cool and unabated, so too does my semi-annual reclusiveness. It’s cold out and I don’t much feel like getting out there and being sociable. It’s fine, that’s why God created video games and subscription streaming services. Wait, what? That was Big Capitalism? Well I guess I know who butters my bread (a butter-ler of course). In any case, I don’t feel like doing anything and the unrelenting negative news running through my social media feed is doubling down on my desire to hermit up and ignore the world. What’s that you say? It’s time for a phoned in list of things I don’t like right now?

Happy to oblige.

  • You know that thing when you’re wearing pants and you pull them down to sit on a toilet seat? Then you pull them back up but the pocket with your wallet or phone twisted while you were seated? Then you try to reach into your pocket to grab said wallet/phone to reorient it but your hand can’t fit in that tight gap? So you’ve gotta grab the object with your thumb and forefinger to repeatedly pull it up and down while slowly turning it around or right out of the pocket? While concurrently you’re leaning your body to the side so your arm can have the necessary manoeuvrability to make it happen? Then someone looks at you and either gives you a raised eyebrow or asks you what you were doing, but the entirety of the explanation is too complicated, so you just tell them your wallet was twisted. Then they grunt affirmatively or nod like they understand , but as they walk away you can see their eyebrow raise anyway or feel the judgement radiating from them because apparently you’re the only person who this ever happens to. That thing.
  • Sharing a communal kitchen at work. It’s not that I don’t like sharing (except for me lucky charms. Hands off, trashbag!), but as always people are either accidental or intentional slobs. Especially in scenarios where the company has cleaning staff or a dishwasher. It sucks, because I get grumpy and monumentally passive aggressive. I’ll get pissed that other people don’t clean up after themselves, but fear of entering a prisoner’s dilemma scenario stops me from cleaning up after others. Thing is, the people who do this don’t care, so even if it’s not my problem it still feels like my problem. No matter what I do, I can’t win. I’ll resort to bringing my own cutlery, cups and plates and hand wash so I can stand back from the whole messy sink clusterfuck, but then I’ve gotta wash them in a sink stacked with dishes. Inevitably they’ll be blocking the drain, so I’ll have to move them out of the way otherwise I’m that asshole who filled the sink up with water.
  • Nazis in the White House. Also what the fuck does Putin have on Trump anyway? Have they made a number of shady profitable business deals, leading to a scenario where Trump fucks over the United States and gets rich in the process, then leaves the country in ruins while he leaves with his cash? Or is Putin just blackmailing him to sell out his country à la Black Mirror‘s “Shut Up And Dance”?
  • When people on a packed subway car refuse to sit down out of politeness to others. C’mon dude, sit your ass down. It means a fraction more room for everyone who’s standing.
  • Nazis outside of the White House, or anywhere for that matter.
  • A constant stream of emotionally overwhelming news on the internet. Feeling disempowered and insubstantial in the face of something so much larger than you.
  • Not drinking. Which in retrospect is probably a good thing at the moment.

Anyway, I just got a new kettle. Time for celebratory tea!

It hasn’t even been One Week.

How’s a guy supposed to get his jollies in his personal impermanent post Facebook pass time? In the least important self-directed experiment I’m taking a week off Facebook. I did it for two weeks while on holiday and I’m extending this into my first week back. Why? I feel like part of me is trying to make some dumb self-righteous statement that the rest of me knows is bullshit. I don’t need my feed or  I’m more than this or misguided sentiments that rhyme with “steeple”. Perhaps I’m of the opinion that it’ll stop me from spending so much time online (when in reality I’m just spending more time refreshing Reddit instead). It may even be a reaction to having been absorbed in so much face to face with friends that I’m taking a break from people for a week. Any or all of these could be true. Hell, there’s also the question of what the point is, given that I’m 99.24% likely to return to it next week.

In the meantime (-5:00 if we’re talking about Greenwich) some aspects I’m missing more than others. Given the death of Mary Tyler Moore (an actress “before my time” enough that I have no real concept of her. As far as I know she was hugely influential in the realms of comedy, talented and someone the years to follow took inspiration from), I’m quite okay with missing an onslaught of think-pieces. It’s also nice not to be bombarded with Trump news 24/7 (as if wilful ignorance was ever a sensible coping mechanism). Do I really want to know all about the multitude of ways he’s failing America and society at large? I’m sure people everywhere are doing shitty things because that’s part and parcel of being human, but right now I’m hearing less about that and compensating with Magic the Gathering news/decklists.

On the other hand, I want little more than to be constantly engaging with friends about how great the new Neil Cicierega album Mouth Moods is. Having saved it till this morning as a treat, for the first time ever I was dismayed to find my commute being smooth and hassle-free. No delays, long waits or anything. By leaving at the right time I somehow hit the perfect stride, doing a 50-55 minute trip in 40 minutes flat. What this meant was not being able to listen to the album in full while nothing else was occupying my thoughts. It’s fucking brilliant, if you’re into his particular brand of absurdism.

The opening track has judicious use of Montell Jordan’s 1995 smash hit “This Is How We Do It”. “All Star” references are throughout, but its pole position in the “Mouth” trilogy has been supplanted by Canadian darlings BNL‘s “One Week” (not without a sublime tail out on a wondrously uplifting YMCA/Hans Zimmer track). My current (ever-changeable) track is “Annoyed Grunt“, an ode to gratuitous vocal punctuation featuring Tim Allen and that guy from Disturbed. Of course, I’d be doing myself (and frankly, humanity) a disservice if I didn’t toss a mention towards “Wow Wow”, a new spin on Will Smith’s eponymous hit to the 1999 critical disaster “Wild Wild West”. To be honest, I could emotionally jizz over every fucking track on this album, and honestly that’s a little unbecoming. If you’re into weird send ups of 80s/90s pop culture then plug this into your ears right away. If you’re not, why are we friends in the first place?

Anyway, I’m off to the gym. I wanna see if Mouth Moods makes for good lifting music. Moodsic?

Let’s Face facts and noun a verb.

Having returned to Toronto, it’d be all too easy to post a diary style update of my first day back. Hell, it worked for most of the trip. Instead I want to spend some time thinking about one of the biggest (currently) lasting changes of my holiday. I made a decision early on that if I was gonna be back home in New Zealand I wanted to really be there. Presence and all that. I wanted to ensure that spending time meant getting the most out of my journey. To leave most of Toronto where it was and focus while I could on those in my proximity. A side effect of this was dropping Facebook.

It started as less of a decision and more as a matter of pragmatism.. I’d always been a heavy user. At work my phone sat in front of me, so any flashing notifications would cause me to reflexively pick it up and log on. Checking one notification could mean losing anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. Often multiple times per hour without thinking about it. This was fine while I had Wi-Fi or unlimited data, neither being constantly within reach on vacation. When I visited London back in November, I switched off all Facebook notifications, opting for direct Messenger notes only. I was on holiday anyway, it’s not like I wanted to be constantly logged in while a new city stood around me. It worked, and I had a great time looking in the spirit of the late Kim Jong-Il. When I returned to Toronto, I kept notifications off. It helped more than I thought. I was still an active Facebooknik, but it was less intrusive, more on my terms.

A few days after arriving back home, I opted in for logging out. I spent more time with people or out and about. Most of my (reduced) online time was spent pouring over new Magic the Gathering spoilers. It was noteworthy how little I missed it. As I noted recently, it started having a real effect on me. I was more present, yes, but I also felt better in general. No small part of that could be attributed to being on holiday. I mean, geez, spending time with my closest friends, seeing the country and gorging on all the rich food NZ had to offer. It’s not like I was in any danger of feeling shit anyway. More than that, though, avoiding Facebook lifted a burden I was unaware to be shouldering. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my News Feed a lot. I love absorbing the general wittiness of my friends and clicking dumb links. People share a shit ton of interesting or thought provoking articles.

People also share a lot of themselves, which isn’t inherently a big deal. If I didn’t like these people and want to know more about them, why would I have them as friends? The other side of this is that a lot of people I know have a lot of feelings. Yet again, I want to know when my friends are doing well. I also want to know when they’re having a hard time so I can either help or understand better how to be considerate of them. There are a lot of people in my feed and a lot of these people have a lot of feelings. It’s great that people feel safe enough to share. That’s something special.

The other side of this is a form of mass emotional shift similar to hysteria (which I hope I can say without belittling or minimising the relevance of these feelings). It may be a cognitive bias of sorts, but it feels like bad news is shared a ton more than its positive counterpart. The more that people share these stories and air their grievances (once again, better to be talking about these things than not), the more opaque things seem. If negativity is everywhere, it feeds into itself. The dying few months of 2016 held an unprecedented pervasive despair online that didn’t quite match up to its offline counterpart. As “Fuck 2016” gained meme status, people gave it more and more credence until everything was 2016’s fault à la The Fat Boy. It’s a lot for anyone to take in. Seeing these sentiments amplified and magnified, day in day out, hour after hour was tough to bear.

While on holiday, I knew that Trump was gonna cause a lot of anxiety for many people. With good reason, too. A lot of very valid fears, instability in the air. Self-care being one of 2016’s big buzz words, I thought it best to keep my distance from repeated sharing of awful news, hurt feelings and inner pain. I’m sure the time offline helped more than it hindered my experiences.

Returning home to Toronto, I’m conflicted. I feel better having moved away from the deluge of emotions Facebook pushes my way. At the same time, I’m loathe to admit that it’s the core of my social existence. It’s how I communicate with the multitudes of friends I’m often too busy to meet in person. It’s how I get the invitations to spend time with those who I am lucky enough to see. It’s how I’m kept abreast of what’s going on not only in Toronto, but in the wider world. Hell, it’s where I created a group to organise Magic games on the fly. It’s even where I promote the Pawdcast (aside from here. That was pretty sneaky, right?). If I don’t go back to Facebook, will I lose touch with a ton of people? I love these friends and having constant contact and online engagement is a big part of my life. That’s a big cost to pay for emotional stability.

As it stands, there are pros and cons in each camp. One day in, I haven’t checked in. I might see if I can last the week and chart how I feel on the other side. I’m sure there’s a balance to be struck, but damn if I don’t have enough unpacking, shopping and washing to do for the moment. Maybe I should get my life in order before prying into anyone else’s.