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.

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Solipsister Act.

It sometimes surprises me how self-aware my dreams are. Last night I found myself at work. Well, in a new job anyway. I’d been employed at some large theatre (in the musicals and one person shows sense) but it wasn’t immediately clear what I did. I sat at a piano mounted somewhere within the crowd. I had my own little area, but was totally enmeshed in the audience. I wasn’t facing towards the stage, more so I was on the left hand side, looking towards the centre of the seating. Right in the middle, there was some dude with a massive keyboard/organ contraption. In retrospect he must’ve been blocking everyone behind him. No complaining from the cheap seats, I guess.

This fella was the main musical maestro of the show. A one man orchestra, he handled a ridiculous assortment of tunes, fingers tickling the keys like little spider legs. On the other hand, I sat at my old ragtime piano, dressed like an usher in a vintage movie theatre. A blazer with those gold buttons on both sides. Little cap and everything. I told the musician dude that I was flattered, but ill suited for the position. I had no musical talent and couldn’t even read it. He told me not to worry, that it was a player piano. Entirely automated. All I had to do was sit there and make it look like I had some idea of what I was doing. Okay, so I was an actor then? I could handle this.

Time passed and shifts came and went. For some reason I was a crowd favourite, even though I’d told my secret all my friends who came to see the show. Nonetheless I was a hit, profiting off the hard work of some piano robot. Fine by me. I settled into my new life away from the television industry and time passed pleasantly. After a while I began training new recruits. One show night I’d been working with a new guy, but he couldn’t find his uniform. It was cutting close to the show. We searched all the dressing rooms, backstage, through the props and costume rooms, but found zilch. I heard the opening notes playing out from the theatre and realised I was just about to miss my cue. The fucking show had started! I bolted out as fast as I could. I got to my piano and faced an angry crowd. Our resident maestro threw down his hat and stormed out. The crowd looked towards me expectantly.

All of a sudden I heard a voice from the audience. It was my girlfriend singing some pop song. After a beat or two, backing music slipped in behind her, likely from the sound tech in the booth out back. The crowd turned to her and started clapping. She finished and bowed. Then someone else from the crowd rose up and picked a song. Once again, accompaniment kicked in right away. Sound techs earning their keep many times over. Then another. The show turned into karaoke en masse. Success!

Not all voices were equal and my girlfriend was very clearly the star. She had a better vocal range and projection than the rest of the amateurs. It didn’t go unnoticed. After the surprise hit of the show, I took her aside to thank her.

Me: That was amazing. Thanks so much for filling in.
Her: It felt like the right thing to do, plus I had fun.
Me: Yeah. Well you were clearly better than the rest of the crowd. Your vocal range in particular.
Her: Don’t be silly. This is your dream, right? So in reality while I seem like me, I’m just another projection of you. That means you’re the one with the great vocal range.
Me: That’s not how dreams work. Like, I may have created you as a character, but that doesn’t mean that your skills in this dream translate to real life.
Her: You’re totally wrong.
Me: No way. I dream that I have telekinesis or Spider Man powers all the time in dreams. That never happens in real life.
Her: We’ll just have to disagree then. So are you gonna write about this tomorrow?
Me: I guess. Unless something momentous happens during the day. I’ve got nothing else remarkable to write about.
Her: Is this really that remarkable a dream?
Me: Well if you don’t think so in this dream, then I guess I don’t either. Let’s leave that to any readers to decide.

Homophoning it in.

Feeling out of it today. Tired and vaguely nauseous. So tired and nauseous that I briefly tried spelling the word as “nautious” before realising the era of my weighs. What if I did that? The entire entry, intentionally opt four the wrong spelling? Would that make people flip their shit? Sounds like a worthy endeavour two me.

In any case, eye woke up tyred. The kind of fatigue wear all of your dreams are about trying to go to sleep. One of them eyed been out drinking and partying in town (back in Auckland). Eye knew eye was drunk, given the sloppy mess of a burrito that eye’d attempted too devour like a raccoon in the compost. Lying down on the concrete, eye lay my head back and tried to close my I’s. A police officer had other ideas, prodding me with his boot. Eye came home (two Toronto) and got into bed, butt I couldn’t stop tossing and turning, knowing that this restless sleep in my dream was disrupting my sleep in reel life. I’m strangely aware while unconscious, which doesn’t do my ability to stay unconscious many favours. My life is Inception, okay, butt without the snazzy Hans Zimmer score.

Eye was tempted too come home sic from work today, butt a teem member pipped me two the post. The teem was covering her work, sew heaping my lode on top felt like unnecessary ruffness. Being tired, unwell and busy meant today was won of those clusterfucks where things will only continue to go wrong. They did. Continual sais were all eye could muster as defence against the workplace’s continual excrement.

There was a dilemma of sorts that eye wasn’t sure how to handle. My manager asked fore our phone numbers in case of emergency circumstances. Won) I’m surprised she doesn’t have mine already. To) What constitutes an emergency? Is it if we’re late too work? That eye can understand. On the other hand, if it’s about work things after our’s, do eye really want two make myself available? Frankly, once I’ve left the office, eye put work out of my mind completely. Eye don’t think about it until I return the next morning. It’s not the kind of job where I’d expect to bee on call. There’s nothing I can do, four won, and secondly they don’t pay me enough to care. In the end I gave my number knowing full well that my phone is always on silent and that giving my number in know weigh means eye have too pick up.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get the fuck out of here. Piece out.

I guess that Point Break came after her breaking point.

It takes a long time to fly half way around the world. With four hours left of my third flight in a row, my bum can sure testify to that. My tailbone in particular is furious. Real “I am Jack’s raging tailbone” kind of stuff. My body has decided to cramp and groan all over, so sitting in my seat feels more like writhing in discomfort. I wonder if United wants to adopt that as their new slogan. I don’t know if the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” was coined for insomnia purposes, but after upping the ante and taking two melatonin pills, I’ve had a hard time getting much more than 20 minutes sleep per hour. I did just have the inimitable pleasure of shitting through turbulence. No typo. I love turbulence. I have enough faith in statistics to assume we’re gonna be perfectly safe and on the odd chance that we’re not, I won’t have very long to worry about it. When you’re sitting on the bog, bouncing up and down while holding on to an assistance rail, it just seems more adventurous. I don’t want to say that the one downside to riding a horse is not being able to shit on the go (without being bucked off), but if you’d ever been craving that unique experience, shitting through turbulence must be pretty damn close.

It’s been a peculiar day, as surely only an entire day navigating through transit and transit hubs can be. I guess expecting too much out of airports would be… hubris? To be honest, they haven’t been that lousy. Overinflated prices for sure. I’m not even gonna think about how much that bento cost. Still, San Francisco was nice, with bouncy horizontal travellators and the always enticing opportunity to eat Boston style clam chowder from a bread bowl (your quality and mileage may vary). After grabbing Japanese for dinner, we quickly found some seats and discarded plastic champagne flutes to do our Toronto New Years countdown/kiss. We made our duty free stop all of ten minutes before our flight was due to board, but weren’t allowed to carry our duty free to the gate (where we were directly heading). Instead we had to go to the gate and wait for the DFS service staff to deliver our goods at said gate. It’s the first time my alcohol has ever had an entourage. OH YEEEAH!

To be honest, the flights themselves have been fine. No real issue with food, decent entertainment, friendly staff, they don’t charge for blankets (which may indicate how low the bar is set for air transit these days. Thanks WestJet). The first flight, after an unusual 40 minute taxi, was smooth and a mere hour long. I spent the entire time listening to an old Harmontown episode. There was a sublime moment with a mom and daughter, both with long blonde hair. Sitting across the aisle from one another, entirely unprompted, pulled out hair ties and pulled their flowing locks into buns. The elderly woman sitting across from us was the oldest woman I’ve ever seen in my life. Not necessarily in age, but in mannerisms. She started ripping articles from the in flight magazine to save from later. She then began writing short emails to friends and family with strange capitalisation. 20 minutes before the flight ended she stated using the in-flight entertainment app, spent 15 minutes deciding what to watch and, with five minutes remaining in transit, settled on the Point Break remake.

The second flight, five hours in duration, went by pretty quickly thanks to the aforementioned in-flight entertainment. I’d heard great things about Your Name, a 2016 anime. The movie was about a guy and gal who began randomly finding themselves in each other’s bodies as they awoke. It sounds a lot more gimmicky than the touching, compelling film it turned out to be. A couple of twists and turns accompanied by stunning visuals and an emotionally manipulative score meant I basically spent most of my flight alternating between laughing and sobbing inconsolably. Especially after the next film I watched, Captain Fantastic. A quirky but earnest film about a father being left to raise his (six or seven. I lost count) children alone in the bush after their mother passes away. The film is a hell of a lot more layered than that, but I’d hate to give too much away. Viggo (can’t spell his last name) is in the titular rule (I guess. Nobody explicitly calls him Captain Fantastic, but it’s sort of implied), with a tremendous cast of young talents. I once again cried many times, but an equal ratio of happy to sad cries. A truly wonderful film.

But then the sound jack on my 12.5 hour flight was fucked and I couldn’t really watch stuff. So here we are. Anyway, I need to go. I’ve got a well sized turd waiting in the wings. Fingers crossed for turbulence.

Getting unstuck in time around here.

It wouldn’t be an international trip if I could sleep the night before. Whether tradition, happenstance or annoying habit, my mind is always too wired for trifling rest. Every time, dating back to my USA trip at eight years of age. Why sleep when you could be endlessly processing? Imagining everything that could go wrong? The multitude of things you’ve forgotten? The things you ran out of time to do? Things, things. Always things. Only amplified by the weird mind state induced by taking melatonin and only getting five hours sleep. After waking at 4am, by 5am I cut my losses and figured I might as well be doing something. It’s getting plenty surreal around here. I’m not sure the cat hasn’t asked to be fed in human words.

If that wasn’t fun enough, we get to mess with time zones too. We’re out of Toronto, into Washington, out of Washington and into San Francisco, out of San Fran and into Auckland. San Fran sets us three hours back, which means my girlfriend and I get to celebrate our Toronto New Years midnight kiss an hour before our San Fran flight. Then another one two hours after. As if we needed excuses. As for killing time between all the stops, we have a ton of Game of Thrones to catch up on. We’ll take flight into 2017 on dark wings, with dark words. Somewhere along the line we cross over another few time zones and end up in GMT+13. God only knows where my addled, sleep deprived mind will be by then.

Mostly I’m wondering how much clamato juice I can cram into my baggage. It’s a commodity back home, where bloody Caesars are a family tradition (quick, somebody cue Topol again). If I still can’t manage to sleep on a 12.5 hour flight, I’m gonna need a strong one. We get in at 8.55am (on the 2nd of January), so there’s little choice but to hit the ground running. Either that or we spend the first few days shaking off jet lag.

I still haven’t worked out the kinks of daily entries in a different time zone. Seeing as we’re skipping the 1st of January altogether, will I need to do a double entry before reaching NZ? Or double up on the way back? What did I do on my way over here in the first place? Moreover, will travelling again give my entries a much needed booster shot? Things have gotten stale here recently and I want to try breathe more life into this project. Whatever hopes I had for it way back when, I didn’t intend for it to be the next evolution of Live Journal. I need something to change in order to reignite a spark long dormant. A change in surroundings, reuniting with familiar faces, experiencing the old with renewed perspective. Fingers crossed it works. Otherwise we’re looking down the barrel towards a long descent into describing my daily bowel movements.

And then I’m shit out of luck.

I didn’t intend to make little odes to alliteration, but sometimes the magic just happens.

With the cat’s repeated meowling at 4.45am, getting back to sleep was a no go. Naturally I harnessed the extra hours gifted to me that would usually be frittered away on such frivolous enterprises as “sleep” as anyone would. I watched John Wick. I haven’t watched an action movie for eons. I normally opt for dialogue driven faux intellectual character pieces because I think I’m better than the vast unwashed masses. Really though, I’ve seen enough extreme violence that it’s hard for it to excite me much any more. It’s not that real world violence doesn’t shock me, but fictitious fatalities feel so done. If I’m gonna watch something action oriented it needs to be either starkly gritty or comically aggressive. John Wick seemed like it’d have Punisher: War Zone level theatrics. Stylised violence so far beyond realism it was farcical. A body count stacked so high that human lives no longer had significance beyond their use in flowing choreography. Plus I have a noted love of siege related content, defensive or offensive. To that end, John Wick gave me exactly what I want. Is it what you want? Here’s a short synopsis:

After Russian mobsters kill his dog, ex-assassin John Wick gets back in the game to kill them all.

Spoilers: He does. So many. He shoots Theon Greyjoy, stabs some guy in the jaw, breaks another dude’s neck over a kitchen counter, hits a dude in a car then shoots him twice through the car roof. It’s dumb, but gloriously so. It’s stylistically shot (pun surprisingly not intended) and has a ludicrously fun internal logic that it adheres to. The scenes in the armistice hotel and bar (barmistice?) were a riot. A cadre of cool, collected, civil spies living it up in the lap of luxury. The central currency of coin, the duality of dialogue and significance of style were enticingly extravagant. Also his ex-dog was cute.

Being worlds away from the word “masterpiece”, it was nonetheless an enjoyably excessive romp into the world of assassinry (I want that so badly to be a real word). Would sleep have been more beneficial to my rapidly deteriorating mental state? Hell no. I can sleep when I’m dead, which I will be if John Wick comes for me. Or when I discover that the cat’s endless yowls are pre-empting her transformation into a flesh eating beast.

Where did “It’s 2016” go?

What? How? Fuck. Wait, WHAT? No. No. NO. Fuck. FUCK. Fuck.

I’ve got nothing.

I don’t know what happens now. It’s a bleak day here in London. The sky is black, the heavens have opened and I heard crows. Dark wings, dark words. I’m not convinced the earth isn’t crying right now. I haven’t really slept. I curled up on a small couch just before 4am, terrified that what seemed to be happening, was. I hoped that by going to sleep I’d wake up to find it had all gone away. Instead I tossed and turned as my mind did back flips. Imagining foreboding realities where a soulless demagogue rode a wave of hateful rhetoric, giving voice to the bigoted, oppressive, angry and violent undercurrent of a global superpower. I woke to find those nightmares made flesh. This is not the same world as it was when I closed my eyes. Existence has been compromised, Cronenberged. Nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.

We’re all complicit in some way. We laughed at his insane ramblings and disconnect. Mocked his inability to capably voice policy. We clicked, watched. We paid attention to an entitled misogynist megalomaniac who’s never been told “no” in his life. Whatever our intentions or views, we helped give him the spotlight and this platform elevated him. People who conflated notoriety and popularity with intelligence and ability saw him as someone worth listening to In this society where we’re judged by likes, retweets and impressions, how would they know any better? We made him and I am so sorry.

I’m so sorry for every non cis male who finally got the chance to put their support behind a female candidate. I’m sorry for every generation to follow who’ll think their dreams aren’t viable on the basis of their gender. I’m sorry for people of colour, LGBTQ+ folk and anyone else who faces discrimination or systematic oppression because of who they are. I’m sorry for anyone who’s afraid, angry or hurt right now. I’m sorry that you weren’t heard or that nobody listened. I’m sorry that apologising won’t change a fucking thing, otherwise I’d never stop.

What happened to hope? Progress does not mean going backwards.