Fortunately I steer clear of that kind of bullocks.

At times it’s all too easy to sink into the green mire of envy. You can’t help but covet the looks, skills or sexy, sexy oxen of others. Spending so much time worrying about what others have that you forget all the glorious shit you bring to the world. It’s hard not to know that feel when society’s central message is that you’re not enough, but you should always strive to be. So for today I’m going to dig deep into self gratitude. Looking into all the things about myself that I’m thankful for. Or maybe even the things that I’m not.

I’m thankful that I look okay when I run. First and foremost, if you have the wherewithal to get out and be active, then power to you. I won’t reach as far as to say I look cool, but jeebus it could be far worse. My legs don’t splay akimbo, my arms stay by my side without flip flopping like a muppet. I have a slight angle as I move rather than being bent over or ramrod straight. I don’t glow beet red or puff like a Big Bad Wolf. I’ve somehow reached a point where I have a modicum of composure and I’m super gracious of that.

I’m thankful that I’m the least threatening seeming person alive. Just have one of those faces, y’know? I’ve never sought to intimidate people with my presence and frankly, I’d be a shit enforcer of any variety. So I’m glad that my image reinforces what’s on the inside. I’m basically a carebear made flesh. Of average stature with cartoonish features. I hate making people feel uncomfortable and I’m fortunate that it’s not one of my default settings. I’m also fine that I’d never ironically have the nickname Tiny.

I’m stoked that all of my sexual proclivities (at least the ones I’m aware of) are legal and consent based. I don’t tread lightly here. Kids and animals really don’t do it for me (even dat sexy, sexy ox) and that’s a godsend. How shitty and guilty would you feel if the activities that ignited drum fills in your heart caused misery to others? If you knew that you’d never be able to experience that which set your world alight because you felt it was fundamentally wrong? If there was this part of yourself you had to shut away in a sealed vault forever? That sounds heartbreaking, which isn’t to condone these activities whatsoever, but to point out that people have no say in what excites them. It’s a lottery for sure. I’m in a position with a loving, supportive partner who’s really open to trying things. My family and friends would be there for me if I discovered I that my sexual orientation had changed, without question. Not everyone is that lucky and I understand that’s not a privilege that people are afforded by default.

I don’t have any food allergies, which means I can be as gluttonous as I desire without medical repercussions. Well, if I ate my neighbour’s entire sexy, sexy ox in one go, my stomach would probably rupture. My lack of allergies means I can enjoy cuisine from all across the globe. I’m able to adapt to any requirements friends have at parties without being disadvantaged. I don’t need a personal food taster, plus since I’m so nonthreatening, it’s not like people are champing at the bit to assassinate me anyway.

It goes without saying that I’ve got every other privilege under the sun, which is amazing. Because of genetics, heritage and my socioeconomic environment, I’ve been able to blossom in a world unencumbered by the hardships that for many are a sad reality. I’m not gloating, I instead want to point out that I understand the number of aspects in my life that have aligned in order to mean that my life is not constant suffering. That whatever issues I face aren’t the issues that burden others. That when I complain (you know, constantly) it’s done with an understanding that a multitude of things are going my way and I’d be an asshole not to be grateful.

Plus then I wouldn’t have had access to the internet. What would the point of life be then?

I don’t think it would’ve made sense for me to be born any time before the 50s. I’m trying to think of a society I would’ve prospered in, but they all fall apart. Knowing who I am, how much I enjoy complaining and how flimsy my immune system is, I’d be ill suited to a life that existed before widespread inoculation. In medieval times I would’ve fallen for the first round of black plague, or been mowed down in the initial rain of arrows. I’m not an inherently brave person, so unless I lucked out and was born into a family of means, I’d be pretty much fucked. In the Wild West I’d no doubt contract dysentery, and in the Wild Wild West I’d stand no chance against a giant mechanical spider. I can’t see myself having excelled in the Victorian era, given my lack of concrete skills. I probably would’ve been the lackey of some merchant or an apprentice candlestick maker. The 20s through 40s were all filmed in black and white and I don’t know if my eyes would pop enough, so they’re out. In fact, if not for the age in which I was born, I think the only place for me would’ve been as a disaffected member of Gen X.

I’m being deliberately silly of course, but as I started typing my objections, I pondered how impossible it would be to predict how I’d be in any early generation. With my personality so utterly shaped by my culture (my sum of lived experiences up to this point), I’d be an entirely different person. So much of me has been sculpted from parental influences, the specific friends I’ve grown up around, my home country, my education, relationships I’ve had and (let’s be honest), the media I’ve consumed. This concept of who would I have been is erroneous from the start, because the simple answer is that I wouldn’t have have been me. I’d have been an entirely different person, a creation of my surroundings.

When I start to think about the “whys” of who I am, it wigs me out. It’s a matter of pulling at threads and seeing how far they go. I’ve changed so much even since I arrived in Toronto. For instance I was always sex positive to a point, but connections I’ve made here have led to further understanding and education of what that means, engaging in experiences I would’ve otherwise likely not had. The friendships I’ve made through the community have constantly caused me to question and restructure held beliefs. People I’ve met have introduced me to others who’ve become hugely important parts of my life. Most of which I can track back as the lasting effects of going on one particular date (of the many I’ve had in Toronto), which kick-started a chain reaction. There’s a point here where anyone could jump in and say “yes, but getting to where you are required a tacit buy-in at each new juncture”. I had to say yes at every step of the way, otherwise I likely would’ve headed down a different path. The further back I go, this only increases the massive range of who I could’ve been.

At the end of the day, picking apart how I’ve become who I am doesn’t change who I will be. Errant navel gazing doesn’t serve meaningful progress. Concurrently it’s not like the viewpoint is a total waste. Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle. Further consideration of actions taken could help shape who I become. Which is a fine idea in theory but useless in practice. Who wants to think about things all the time?

That’s how you wind up with a project like I Have My Doubts.

Is it possible to exercise demons? Smite them with treadmills and shit?

This post is gonna be a hard slog. I’m operating at 25% capacity today.

I feel swampy right now. In my effort to shunt back to healthier habits, I’ve taken the cold bucket o’ water approach to a couple of things. No coffee today. The duelling tensions of sleep vs activities, artificial vs naturally produced energy, have meant that my coffee use has escalated as of late. It’s been none-too irregular for me to have four or five cups a day. Considering that all bar one of those are shitty brew coffee that I don’t even like, begs the question as to why I’d go there in the first place. Pretty sure it’s a combo of boredom consumption and habitual addiction. Too much coffee has meant flailing afternoons, which have led to crashing in the evening, no energy to get out and do things. I’ve been way less social than I’d like, unless prodded by alcohol. Not the place I want to be.

Drinking a ton of coffee is symptomatic of a larger addiction to consumption. It’s both because of this addiction and a cause of this condition. I feel a need to consume, which extends to filling a cup of coffee. The more I drink, the more my inhibitions are lowered. My sometimes foods, while usually during outside meal times, have become a larger part of my daily intake. I’ll make an exception for something I wouldn’t usually have, then make that same exception the next day “because it was okay yesterday”. Then I feel grumpy and bummed out that I’d veered so widely, leading to eating my feelings later on in the evening. At work our new-ish boss always has a well stocked treat table. If I had the discipline to not be treating myself constantly, I’d exercise it. With the way things have been, it wouldn’t surprise me if a caloric consumption (not that I’ve been counting) of one and a half to two times my normal intake has been the rule, rather than exception.

It’s a dumb, but understandable pattern to fall back into and it’s been throwing my mood way out of whack. I’ve been alternating between extreme grumpiness and fatigue. I’m distractible all the time. It’s shitting on my ability to concentrate on work, turning me into a home-bound mope and making me feel shitty about my body. It sucks. It’s also something that nobody else can really help me with. Sure, there’s emotional support, but emotional support is not habit forming and won’t help me get anywhere. It’s something I need to take care of on my own, because it’s not something I’m doing for anyone else. It’s also far from the first time I’ve hoisted this bugbear atop my shoulders and I’m sure it won’t be the last. As always, a long term view, self-compassion and hard work will be lead me in the right direction. Right now though, it’s slow going.

One foot in front of the other. Again and again.

Weight and see.

I could write up a snazzy preamble slowly working into the topic, but frankly it’s better to put it out there. I’ve gained weight recently and it’s bumming me out. Eight kilos altogether. I’m the heaviest I’ve been in years and I can feel it, you know? It’s there when I see myself in a mirror. I see it in my face, a softness there. When I’m clothed, there are bulges I haven’t seen in years. When I’m not, curves have replaced definition I worked pretty hard for. I feel it at all times. Not just emotionally (I mean, that’s present too), but physically. My pants are tighter, less comfortable. Before I left, I bought a larger belt than normal because it was all they had close to my size. It fits pretty snugly now.

Emotionally I’m coping. Handling it. I’m not happy with how things have turned out, but I’m not letting it consume me either. Credit to my therapist, she coached me a little in case this came up. Yes, I’m in a situation I have control over. No, my identity is not tied to the way I look. Yes, my friends and family still love me as much as they did before. No, this one thing will not drag down every other aspect of my life. Sound melodramatic? That’s just how my thoughts manifest. You try telling your brain not to think like it does.

Now the why. Diet and exercise. End of year celebrations always involve a cluster of celebrations and I’ve rarely been one to shy away from celebrating. Due to barely taking a holiday in the past few years, I had to burn through a ton of vacation time. From the start of November to the end of January, I was away for five weeks. Five weeks of travelling, dining and drinking. I’ve found that a huge part of maintaining healthy habits is routine. It’s a lot easier to keep plugging away if the pieces are close at hand. The less effort you need to put into making more informed choices, the harder it is to fall back on excuses. Do you have healthy food in the cupboard or accessible at work? Whatever your fitness plans, are they close to your usual route? It’s hard to be as consistently active when you’re overseas. Between that we had Christmas in all of its splendour. Much feasting and revelry. I had a great time and even now I don’t regret it. Just keep breathing.

What now? First, compassion. A big thing I’ve learned in struggling with weight is to forgive myself for slip ups and deviations. At the same time, it’s important to recognise that this is nobody else’s issue to bear. They have their own trials. I’m not a robot, and to err is to be human. Letting go every once in a while stops me from fetishising unhealthy food. If I use it to reward myself, then I’m setting up an unhealthy relationship with my consumption. Casting rich cuisine as a “treat” ascribes a correlation of ethics to food. Food is neutral, it’s inanimate. If I give it a moral compass, that effects my relationship with it. If I feel guilty for having “bad” food, what is that gonna do to the way I feel about myself? It’ll set up a self-perpetuating cycle where I consume because I’m unhappy and I’m unhappy because of how much I’m consuming. Compassion is important.

Next, adherence. Routines. Simpler, healthy foods. More basic proteins and green/fibrous vegetables. Fruit instead of baked goods. Dropping alcohol consumption for a while (and when I do, moderation). Physical activity at least three times per week (cutting alcohol makes it a lot easier to get in for weekend workouts). More of a reliance on cardio (such a pity it’s winter, making outdoor running pretty tough). Maybe putting the money saved on alcohol into fun rewarding physical activities like indoor parkour, rock climbing or obstacle courses. There’s a non-zero chance that I’ll start to shed the first few kilos simply by being back to a regular routine. As always though, moving ever forward. Not beating myself up for what’s happened, but looking towards a solution and not at myself as a problem.

And now? Patience. With myself mostly.

Definition impossible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Icy red, icy red, icy red.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder I’m seeing red.