A plea for coffee more than anything else.

I went out for dinner with family last night. It was nice and some parts of it have stayed with me. Namely the parts blocking up my digestive tract. We ate a lot of meat. More than that, it was a good chance to catch up and chat extensively. EXTENSIVELY I say. We all got there earlier than our 7pm reservation and left at 10:30pm. Then we did late night ice cream for dessert. I think the only reason we ceased our catching up and extensive chatting was that the ice cream joint was shutting down and my girlfriend needed to use the bathroom.

I’d say shit happens, but I’m gonna need a coffee before anything’s happening in my system.

Anyway, we shot the shit, chewed the fat and talked ourselves to death. It was a great chance to discuss all manner of issues with people at a different stage of life than us, who have experienced the world in a different manner. I don’t want to make it sound like they’re eternal vampires who’ve witnessed the turn of many centuries. They’re not that old, but I’d wager being on the other side of having borderline adult children gives you a different perspective from disillusioned avocado toast munching snake people who’ve abandoned this cesspool of a world in favour of retiring to Never Never Land.

I dunno. I got worked up and ranted a little bit. Not like this is a huge deviation from the norm. At one stage I was asked something about coping mechanisms. In short, if everything seems dark out, how do you lighten up? I thought about it for a while, then went to the domain of thought: the bathroom. I certainly wasn’t doing much else there, the dinner had been lacking in dietary fibre (though overflowing with some manner of moral fibre). I considered it and later reflected. Escapism was my answer. Drinking, eating, watching endless TV shows, deep diving into video games. Many hours of mindless internet perusing. Basically all numbing behaviour. The response to a world in which seems to be circling the drain.

I posited that this kind of mentality had coloured the humour of this generation. I thought back to Generation X and the rise of sarcasm as humour in response to feelings of discontent. I considered this generation’s reliance on memes. Sarcasm, irony, meta narratives where the joke is on larger structures that society enables. Nihilism as common parlance. An understanding that we’re all fucked and if we don’t laugh about it, we’ll have no recourse but to cry. Frankly, we can only cry so much in a day.

I wanna point out that I’m not naive or ignorant enough to steadfastly believe that absolutely everything in the world is on fire. Small victories exist all over the place, it’s frankly just hard to see them through the smoke sometimes. Of course social media and groupthink play a big part in it. Disasters draw more notice than wins. We have rubbernecking on a global scale at a frequency that’s causing whiplash. I’m sure there are amazing scientific discoveries and advancements occurring every day. I’m sure that there’s probably more good in the world than bad. Thing is, you can only walk two steps forward, one step back for so long before you start focusing on how much further ahead you could be.

I mean, didn’t we all think we beat the Nazis over 70 years ago?

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My brain, too, feels like it’s floating.

This is gonna be a messy one. It’s been a while since I’ve had a decent sleep. For the past couple of months the cat has been noisy at night most evenings. Over the past few days it’s gotten ridiculous. I’m a light sleeper. Last night I probably got woken up around once an hour and, because it was a sweaty night, often found it hard to get back to sleep. Here’s an example of how nuts it’s been: We went to bed just before 11pm last night. Between 11pm and 11.30pm (when I finally came out to spray it with a mist bottle- our discipline method) it intermittently yowled six or seven times. It’s a catch 22. It’s gotten to the point where it’s obviously doing it for the attention (we feed it before bed) and while coming out to spray it obviously gives it the attention it wants, spraying it is the only thing that stops it from yowling.

My girlfriend, of course, sleeps like a rock and doesn’t notice any of it.

It’s becoming too much for me. I’m at the point where if it goes on for another night or two I’m seriously considering trying to find a friend’s house where I could crash for a couple of days. Just to sleep and recharge. To put that into context, I’m considering leaving my own house because of the cat that moved in. In short, if this is a war of attrition, the cat is winning. It probably doesn’t even know anything’s up. It’s dire. Things are starting to get a little The Shining around here. I haven’t started hallucinating yet, but it can’t be far off. I’m coming apart mentally. I feel hollow and ephemeral. I’ve started trying to calculate in my head how long it’ll be until natural causes take their toll. I’m not sure whether that’ll be on me or the cat.

For some reprieve, in any case, my girlfriend and I are seeing It tonight. I’m sure the film will be tame compared to the thoughts circulating around my noggin. I like horror films and the miniseries was pleasant, innocent fun. Hopefully the movie has benefited from time and increased SFX technology. I’m not one who usually gets scared in films, but perhaps there’ll be more affecting body horror than telescopic shower faucets. We can only hope. I’ve also got my fingers crossed that the repeated catchphrase “you’ll float too” will have more relevance. We saw far fewer floating bodies than balloons in the original. Also insufficient bodies floating in balloons. Has Pennywise ever considered investing in a hot air balloon company?

In other news, our newly elected Prime Minister just publicly laid the smackdown to capitalism. Maybe she’s afraid the dollar will float too. I’m just stoked to finally be hopeful about politics again. Make us proud, Jacinda!

Please do it before I lose my mind.

Or I could go astral travelling. Might be a nice vacation.

I only saw one JFL42 last night in an attempt to catch up on sleep. A combination of unseasonable heat and the cat being an anus made that decision null and void. So now I’m validating the lyrics to Katy Perry’s Firework. I feel like a plastic bag floating in the wind. Except it’s been previously used to hold rotting meat. Plus there’s a hole in the bottom, leaking the putrescent juices everywhere. Oh, and the meat was heavy, so the handle got stretched out till it broke. I think I may have accidentally suffocated a dolphin too. The burden of weariness is a grim load to bear.

I was thinking today how much it bums me out that “Influencers” exist. People whose job it is simply to be popular and shill on social media. It’s disturbed the natural order of being. The high school socialites weren’t meant to have viable careers post high school. They were supposed to peak at 17, then dwindle away into insignificance. Now they get free products and a shitload of money to exist and be admired. Maybe I’m just jealous. Of course I’m jealous. Sigh. I think selfie skills might legit be a more important life skill than algebra now. Too bad I’m awful at both. What viable career path is left to me?

I was also thinking today how weird it is that soft skills aren’t really taught in schools. It was oft spouted rhetoric that kids should be learning budgeting in high school. So many people don’t come by it organically and it’s pretty damned important. Knowing how to balance income against outgoings and forecast your needs is huge. Aside from this, teaching social skills would be a massive help to so many. Reading facial, tonal or conversational cues and hints could drastically change everyday interactions. Understanding how to be considerate to other viewpoints, to better interact in public or in the workplace would be a boon all across society. We’d hopefully see a ton less invasive/stalker-y behaviour. I’ve heard that at least here in Canada, consent is becoming part of the curriculum (which is amazing). This seems only a sidestep from that. Imagine how much better virtually any fandom could be. No more vicious nerds stabbing one another in the eyes with pens. What a wonderful world.

Ugh, even this paltry offering of writing has been a chore. I don’t know how I’m gonna manage to stay tethered to this plane of existence tonight. Perhaps I’ll have to bribe myself with a plate of nachos. Geez. Midnight Alt Comedy shows begin tomorrow. How long before I’m a mere shadow passing through this realm? At least plastic bags have some substance.

Look out world, somebody’s gonna roll ya!

Our mail is being held hostage. We’re on our third warning (though only two have been delivered. Maybe the second one is being held hostage with the rest of our mail) from the post office. Apparently our mail box is inaccessible. I mean, it’s accessible enough for them to deliver warnings to it, but not regular mail. The issue? Our path is COVERED in grass. Yes, it’s slightly overgrown, but it’s not a rampant expanse of forest. When did the mailman become my landlord?

I don’t know why, but I’m irritable. I’ve spent the last few hours traipsing around town on the hunt for various costume accessories for tonight. I didn’t find a single one that I was looking for. I kept getting distracted by other places to look. I stopped off at H&M to see if I could scoop up some sale jeans. I found some, but they had a hard time with my monstrous thighs and calves, even though the waist fit fine. The LCBO and beer store somehow didn’t have quite what I wanted for casual drinking. So I ended up leaving with a can of Watermelon Four Loko (the absurd 11.9% stuff). My new shoes arrived in the mail and they’re okay, though not as great as the previous model. Now after all this fruitless tripping I’ve got less time than I planned this evening. You know what was on my agenda if I had the time? MOWING THE FUCKING LAWN.

Today was supposed to go so well too. I woke up five minutes before my alarm. I felt so rested, turned over to look at the clock with fear in my heart that it was a good hour before I was supposed to wake. Nope, five minutes early. A free five minutes? That feels like being handed the day on a platter. I was out the door a full ten minutes before my normal time. I practically skipped down the road. I can’t help but feel that today’s had it in for me since. Do you know what sucks about being ten minutes early? It doesn’t gain you any time. Ten minutes before I leave the bus to the train station is rammed. The train is sardine-packed, meaning you’re inhaling someone’s armpit. When I got out of the subway and waited for my bus, the line extended around the corner and I still had to wait another ten minutes for it to arrive. With no seats, I stood at a funny angle wrenching my already sore back. Still my morale was up, I was five minutes early. So I got out and had a great coffee at my favourite cafe. They were playing Flashback Friday hits and it was all 90s bubblegum pop. I’d thought I’d turned it around.

Now I’ve got maybe an hour to have a shower, shave half my face, get dressed, have my girlfriend do my makeup and get to my friend’s place for pre-drinks. Then I’ll be in a limo drinking Four Loko. Things are looking up for your dear narrator.

Come to think of it, I don’t know why I’d be anyone’s “dear” anything. I sound like a curmudgeonly grump. What have I done to earn your favour other than gripe and grumble? Maybe the post office are right and we should be mowing our lawns more often than once every three or so weeks. Maybe mothers everywhere are right and we should wash our bed sheets weekly instead of… I don’t think even I want to know how rarely we do it. Maybe that bus driver was right when I tried to hand him a $20 and he told me to organise my life. Maybe I’m not perfect, okay? Maybe I am an incorrigible mess unworthy of your adoration.

Or maybe I should forget all of that and remember that I’m riding in a fucking limo tonight!

GET SHREKED, WORLD!

Can I get a head start if my head’s in the clouds?

I don’t know why I ever set an alarm on Tough Mudder day. It’s like the night before a flight. The chances of actually getting a full night’s sleep are zero. Of course I’m gonna wake up hours beforehand too excited to rest. I hate resting on the best of days, let alone a day when I’m gonna run up and down a mountain and climb things. I was in bed at 9:11pm (never forget), but as soon as the clock struck 2am I bolted upright and that was it. I tried getting back to sleep for the next hour or so, but it was painfully apparent that I was too awake.

What was on my mind? EVERYTHING. The cosmos seemed to explode behind my eyelids and Ariel Pink’s “Round and Round” played on repeat. I’ve never been great at falling asleep, but this was Sisyphean. I tried to block out all thought, to think of nothing but black. This worked for a second before I just started thinking of different things that were black. My mind started questioning whether I needed to think of pitch black or if other shades were alright too. What about charcoal? I tried blocking things out with the mental image of a white void. Then my brain complained that black was more fitting, given it was the middle of the night, fundamentally a darker time. NO BUENO.

A friend told me that she gets to sleep by imagining a mundane task and going through it in detail. Dishwashing is her favourite. I tried, I really did. In my mind’s eye I put the plug into the sink, turned the tap to hot and squiggled a little detergent in. I put a plug into the second sink and waited. It was taking a while to fill. Isn’t this all in my head? I thought. Can’t I make it go faster? It sped up. That’s not the point, brain. It’s not meant to be objective focused, it’s meant to be dreary and boring. The sped up water flow stopped and went in reverse, back to the level it was at before the speed increase. I tapped my finger on the counter. I looked at the dishes stacked up. I don’t remember pre-rinsing these. Shouldn’t I do that before putting the soapy water in? But then I’ll have to run the water again and that’s a waste of detergent. Wait, this detergent doesn’t actually exist. These dishes don’t actually exist. Let’s just pretend that they’re already pre-rinsed. But that’s disingenuous, I never did that. STOP BEING SO FUCKING LITERAL. I got bored of arguing with myself and went back to filling the sink, but at least let myself speed it up this time. Then I figured since I was making this up I could just somehow run the tap in both sinks simultaneously. I started washing plates, holding them up to the light and checking for any residue. I saw a spot or two glinting. Should’ve pre-rinsed. FUCK YOU BRAIN.

I opened my eyes. 2:10am. Fuck.

I tried re-tracing my lunchtime jogging path. I ran all the way there and all the way back. The other joggers/cyclists/dog walkers in my brain still refused to wave and smile back.

2:30am.

I jumped back into my memory and drew on a long journey I used to take. Back when I lived in small town New Zealand, I’d drive to and from Rotorua each week to visit friends in Auckland. I sped through the route in accelerated time, seeing how much was still entrenched in my head. It was amazing how vivid my recall was, all these years later.

2:50am.

I felt hungry and maybe like I needed to poop. Why were my knees sore? One was digging into the other while stacked on top of it. How did I usually arrange my knees while I slept? Wasn’t it normally like this? What about the rest of my posture? Did I want my arms folded? Or did I want my hand under my head? Should the blanket be pulled this far up to my neck? Was I sweating? Did my girlfriend just sleep-laugh? Why was my phone blinking? Was that a message from a team mate saying that they were injured and couldn’t go? Had my ride fallen through? Well there’s no point in looking at the phone now. The blue light would prevent me from getting back to sleep. Would I be able to sleep in any case? Should I get up and start stretching? Had I overstretched already? What was the weather gonna be like? Would today bring injury? Was my meal plan solid? Or had I eaten too much roughage? Should I have carbo loaded? If I don’t sleep, am I gonna be too tired on the course? Or would I be wired regardless? Could an unsafe level of pre-workout solve all of my fatigue issues? When was I gonna find time to write today? I could just get up and take care of it before my day started.

3am.

Turn on computer. Pour a bowl of cereal. Poop. Load up “Round and Round” to get it out of my head. Start writing.

Today’s gonna be a good day.

What would it be called if the sound of people drinking miso soup was your trigger?

I was on a bus. An old woman in the seat across from me was chewing loudly with her mouth open. I considered the situation. The trip would only be about five minutes. Could I survive five minutes with that sound continually jabbing into my sanity? She chewed again. Nope. No way in fuck. I moved to the middle of the bus. Opposite me was another old woman chewing with her mouth open, a certain “don’t fuck with me” stare directed straight into my eyes. A few seats in front of her was another woman chewing loudly. Escape was not an option. I spent the next five minutes twitching involuntarily.

Misophonia, as it’s called, is weird as shit to experience and creates a total mind-fuck of social vs sensory tension. I’m not sure how others handle it, but when I hear that chewing noise it sets my mind alight. The soft salival smack of lips coming together drives me mental. The crunch of open mouthed chewing feels like karmic punishment for whatever crimes I committed in a past life. It becomes impossible to think about anything else. My mind is laser focused on that godawful sound. It consumes me. My mind turns into a torrent of rage and it takes all that I have not to lash out. Concurrently I run into the barrier of social decorum and can’t handle it.

Here’s the thing. I’m an adult. Most of the people who I interact with are adults. I have a hard time believing that I have the right to tell another autonomous adult how to behave. Where would I get off telling people that the way they’re eating is wrong? Or correcting their behaviour because it suits me better? I’d be a dick to point out “oh sorry, but the way you chew is fucking disgusting and it makes me want to rip the lips off your face with my bare hands”. It just doesn’t seem proper, right? Even politely mentioning “look, I know this makes me sound pedantic, but I have a real issue with hearing the sounds of open mouth chewing. Do you mind eating with your mouth closed?” IT MAKES ME LOOK LIKE A TOTAL ASSHOLE. What am I supposed to do? Infringe upon the rights of others to make myself more comfortable? That flies in the face of the manners with which I was raised (manners which included being taught to chew with my mouth open, I might add). I’m being glib, but also more serious than I think I’m letting on. It’s really difficult for me to point out others’ rudeness, because I’d feel rude for doing so.

This means that, like the bus, every once in a while I’m stuck in a situation of extreme discomfort and can’t do anything about it. The guy who sits across from me at work, for instance, eats baby carrots. 11am every workday he opens a plastic container filled with 30 or so carrots and starts chomping hard, mouth open. I’m whipped into a swivet and reach for my headphones to drown out the sound. In a panic I throw on something, anything (though in a pinch it’s usually Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”). The other day I was playing Magic at someone’s place and there was a bowl of skittles in the middle of the table. A guy diagonally across from me started chewing them, open mouthed. I could hear the saliva swishing around in his mouth. My game started going all fucky as I lost sight of my lines of play. All I could think about was the fucking sound of his chewing and how much I wanted to wrench his jaw apart and pull out his tongue. Then my opponent began chewing skittles with an open mouth and I borderline lost my shit. THESE ARE ADULTS FOR FUCK’S SAKE. NOBODY EVER TAUGHT THEM TO KEEP THEIR FUCKING MOUTHS SHUT? But I was at someone else’s house. I didn’t feel like I had any place telling them how to act in a space that wasn’t my own. So I drove my game into the ground and decided I’d had enough, that I needed to leave. Post game I packed up my things and headed on out. It was easier than dealing with that sound any longer.

Is there a solution? I don’t know. I could get better about establishing my boundaries, finding an inoffensive way to let people know just how much it affects me. Then if they continue to do it in spite of my issue, I should have no qualms about jabbing my fist right down their throat and pulling out their uvula.

Or maybe I try hypnotherapy. It’d probably come with fewer manslaughter charges.

Buckling under pressure.

Do you ever get these minuscule moments of panic, even when you know everything will be fine? Logic sits there flailing its arms while emotion runs in the room and starts shitting all over the walls? I had one of these moments all of five minutes ago.

I was in the bathroom having just finished peeing. I went to go and buckle up my belt and noticed how it could do with another hole punched into it. This wasn’t news, I’d bought an oversized belt because I needed one urgently. I’d recently put on weight and thought it’d be nice not pinching my midsection for a while. It was. I’ve dumped most of that weight, meaning the belt now feels more oversized than it did. The pants I’m wearing were also a purchase of necessity. I was running out of pants and needed something to wear to work (elsewise cycle between two pairs of pants on alternating weeks). I got something that fit, even if it wasn’t a snug fit. I figured they were cheap enough that I could always replace them later and/or not cry if they died.

Combined, this meant the belt and pants could both be significantly tightened. I grabbed my belt by the end and pulled hard. The buckle bypassed the first belt loop and tightly locked in behind. Now I had a bunch of pant waist and belt loop firmly wedged in front of the metal buckle. I tried to pull it back through. It wasn’t budging. Shit.

As I pushed, a bunch of scenarios flashed into my head. Coworkers walking in and pointing, laughing. My boss opening the door and quirking an eyebrow. Ritual tarring/feathering as a shaming technique. Dumb, dumb, dumb my brain shouted, but the buckle wouldn’t budge. I looked at the mirror’s reflection and saw feet in a stall behind me. Shit. I pushed at the mass of metal, leather and cotton, but it wouldn’t move an inch or centimetre (it did move a couple of millimetres though). I tried twisting and pulling, but it was steadfastly squished in place. I poked at it in the hopes that by magic it would unravel. It didn’t.

This was my life now. In the ten seconds that’d passed, I’d resigned myself to my fate. Everything was fine. I’d walk back to my desk and for the rest of my existence, I’d be wearing these pants. Guess I had wedding day attire sorted. If I was going out dancing I could affix little LEDs to the waistband. Maybe I’d get them treated with some kind of waterproof spray. Turn them into chaps for ventilation. Or perhaps I could find a friendly neighbourhood firefighter with a spare pair of Jaws of Life to come to my aid. Leave those godforsaken leg traps behind.

Then the magical science of physics came to my aid and the buckle popped out. My new life flashed before my eyes and vanished into the aether. I was free. I questioned why I’d ever doubted myself. I realised that I could do with both a new belt and pair of pants. I then realised that yes, I could get new whatever I wanted, but did I need it? Was this just capitalistic imprinting worming its way to the surface? Or a valid understanding of my own ability to get myself into clothing related mishaps and shenanigans?