Okay, so I looked up the word “irascible”. Get off my back. And lawn.

I’ve spent enough days staring at this blank page blankly to know that the best way to steer out of it is to merely start. I know that addressing a central theme is the easiest way to burst out of the gates exuding chutzpah, but when all else fails, simply taking the lead until an idea forms can suffice. By this point, four years in, I expected that daily writing would’ve gotten easier. Half the point of this exercise was to stimulate that forebrain and jog my front of mind-ed-ness. Given the past sentence, you can see that it hasn’t been a total success. Yes, I’ve written each day, but I’d hoped by now I would’ve found more improvement with the 1400+ entries I’ve committed to the page. That’s a lot of words, though how many of those are unique is another question entirely. I’ve written a lot, but my skills haven’t risen with the word count quite like I’d expected.

Of course, I’ve always fallen into the trap of expectations. As a kid I rarely had to struggle through work, which in turn failed to develop a backbone of discipline and effort in order to overcome tricky situations. Things kind of came naturally to me and even if I didn’t put in a heap of hard work, I’d usually do okay. As the years progressed life got more challenging and as a recurring theme, I stopped putting in effort. If I couldn’t simply roll up and do it, was it actually something I wanted to do? I’m not saying that I’m lazy in every aspect, but often when the going gets tough, I go elsewhere.

At the moment I feel like I’m stuck in some form of rut. This ain’t a unique moment. Rather, it seems like this vague ennui rolls around multiple times per year. My mindset right now is creatively, professionally, interpersonally and motivationally mired. While my job isn’t a shitshow, it’s very unfulfilling and easy to phone in because I’ve been doing it for so long. This results in a slog of a workday that feels like it’s chipping away at something inside. How long before I give up, buy a TV and watch reruns of Last Man Standing (too soon?)? Work bumming me out overflows insidiously into other areas of my life. The lack of creativity in what I do affects how I see myself represented. This digs at my self-confidence, skimming away at my seminal (screw me, I was looking for a synonym for “creative”) energy (plus “seminal energy” is fun to say. This is my circus and I’ll let it run rampant as I see fit). If I’m feeling shitty about how others may see me, I’m not raring to put myself out there for others to see. I withdraw from social obligations and turn into a irascible old hermit. I GET OLD SOMEHOW, YOU GUISE.

I always surface from this rut, but through distraction rather than progression. I’ve been trying to move into other avenues of work, potentially more fulfilling jobs. These attempts have come with multiple disheartening rejections. While my mind is screaming that I’m at an impasse, I’m sure this isn’t the case. I am however unsure of what to do. The answer is most likely to dig in and upskill, or put myself out there in my own time. The problem though is that these ideas smack of good honest hard work and that makes my brain crave familiar and safe spaces. Effort is difficult and failure is terrifying. Improvement doesn’t come easily, but continuing to go through the motions isn’t sending me anywhere help. Is this why people get life coaches? So someone else can do the hard yards of telling them what to do?

OH WAIT GUISE. WHAT IF I BECAME A LIFE COACH? THEN I COULD FEEL FULFILLED TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO WHILE NOT HAVING TO MAKE ANY PROGRESS MYSELF.

It’s finding something else to like that’s the problem.

I feel at a loss. Which is to say that I’m lost. I don’t know what to do now. Specifically at this moment, not in a wider what does it all mean? sense. I’ve got a limp self-propulsion that at the very least will stop me from treading water for too long. Right now though, I’m just floating on my back, heading nowhere in particular. I feel unwell in a very literal manner of speaking. I’m congested with a sore throat and low level physical fatigue. I happened to be working from home today anyway (so I could go to an Ear Nose and Throat consultation), so at least I didn’t need to be in the office. That sort of backfired. If I hadn’t taken the day to work at home I could’ve just had a sick day instead. Oh well. I got all my work done, it was more relaxing than being in the office would’ve been. I could mope around at my own pace and get loose-headed on NeoCitran. I also spent a fair portion of my down time watching Please Like Me.

I watched the first episode and really enjoyed it. I found its fusion of heavy events and irreverence entirely captivating. There was drama, but they rarely leaned into it without good reason. Bad things happening didn’t stop the world from revolving, they dealt with things and moved on, or talked around them until their impact gradually lessened. Hell, the first episode starts with the lead character getting dumped because his girlfriend knows he’s gay, even if he won’t admit it (they stay good friends regardless). Then his mum tries to commit suicide by eating a packet of paracetamol and drinking half a bottle of baileys. It’s serious content, but admits to the underlying silliness. The more I watched, the more attached I grew towards this tight knit group of characters. Somehow avoiding being beaten down by the world, it wasn’t relentlessly upbeat by any means, but neither was it maudlin or cheesy in any way.

Maybe it appealed to my underdog complex, but the show managed to champion the losers and weirdos without skewing self-congratulatory. The central character, Josh, is gay and they don’t make a massive deal out of it. It’s just his sexual preference, it doesn’t define him as a character as much as his wit, propensity for cooking or habit of trying to disarm tension with humour and irreverence. There are ongoing realistic depictions of mental illness, serious marital issues and realistic struggles of twentysomething life. There are also a multitude of dumb conversations about giraffes. Characters come and go, but they’re nearly always given three dimensional representation. There are meaningful friendships galore. It’s funny, sweet and disarmingly engrossing. I can’t tell you the last time I watched two seasons of anything in under a month, let alone four seasons.

Now I’m lost because the show is over and I miss it. It ended well, but I know that I’m never gonna get to witness all new interactions with these characters I’ve grown to love. It feels like a loss and I don’t know what fills that void now. Please Like Me was unique and that’s a double-edged sword. There’s a reason it stands out from everything else, but if I want to recapture that feeling I’ll have to settle for shows that have a few close elements, but fail to deliver the total package. I didn’t watch it because it had excellent fleshed out representation of gay characters. I didn’t watch it because it was a slice of life comedy about intelligent twentysomethings. I didn’t watch it because of its willingness to depict issues in a frank manner. I watched it because it managed to be its own thing and that means it’s gonna be pretty bloody hard to find anything quite like it.

So I guess, I dunno. I guess maybe I’ll just have to write something I’d want to watch.

I digress in excess on progress.

Is it weird how much of our lives are spent online now? I don’t know if I’m talking sheer time or the amount of activities we’ve relegated to digital spaces. The point is, we invest so much of ourselves in this platform. It’s a marked change from 20 years ago, but then again, so is gender. Things change. I wonder then how much we’ve changed accordingly. Have our expectations altered given our constant connectivity? Working in television, I know our expectations have definitely altered. Immediacy is the name of the game. We want things straight away on our schedule, whether this is entertainment or communication. Waiting is pretty much insufferable now. Whether it’s streamable content buffering, a release schedule or a response from someone. If you’re online, why aren’t they? Is this everyone? Or am I the lone arsehole here?

I wonder if we’ve all become more or less insufferable than 20 years ago. It’s impossible to tell, because it’s not 20 years ago, our memories aren’t that great and we can’t peer into alternate realities through some high tech pensieve. I know for certain that I expect more than I ever did, because my expectations have been continually surpassed. The world kept delivering beyond what I assumed its capabilities were. Accordingly, my beliefs of what should be capable rose. Ironically in a world that’s transcended my hopes, I’m disappointed constantly. I’ve become entitled to this idea that the world now owes me the sensation of being impressed. With artificially inflated standards, I should know that’s not gonna happen. Still, I often catch myself getting angry with a world that doesn’t owe me shit.

Oddly enough, the older generation often has the opposite problem. They’re angry that the world has progressed beyond their comfort levels. In their ironic twist, we’re achieving what they fought for and it’s making them feel insignificant. How many times have you heard the refrain of “in my day we had to…”? Safe spaces, non-binary genders, a whole spectrum of sexual attraction and identities. “You want safe spaces? In my day we had to deal with polio. You can’t handle someone calling you a boy? We were lucky if we lived to 30!” I’m being deliberately being both facetious and straw-manning. The point is, people don’t have the same struggles because you beat them. Thank you.

The wars we fight revolve less around literal bloodshed (though let’s not undermine the fact that many minorities still face disproportionate fatalities in our society) and more about wars of identity. Struggles of freedom to be who you are, they’re a good thing. Believe it or not, this is actually what you fought wars for. Your generation died specifically so that this generation could have their battles be ideological. I’m telling you folks, you’re winning. Is the concept of people wanting a safe space that offensive? Are you really that against the fight for acceptance? Or would you prefer that they suffered the same indignities you hated? Because that seems like a shitty thing to wish upon others.

At the same time, I often find myself being a shitty person without realising it. I spend so much time reading the thoughts and feelings of others online and reacting. I might read something and feel inflamed. I get these uncontrolled, unmeasured reactions in the heat of the moment. Thing is, I’m not interacting with somebody else, I’m seeing their words devoid of their delivery. I’m taking the distillation of their thoughts, lacking the emotions that birthed them, then basing my reactions on how my brain filters how I’d perceive those thoughts in my head. So I’m reading those words in my brain without taking into consideration their gestures, inflections, cadence, or backgrounds. It’s pretty easy to see why we come to so many misunderstandings when we really don’t put much effort into understanding one another. But, of course, that would take too long and immediacy is the name of the game.

We could be living in a utopia folks, but it’d take a lot of patience and hard work.

Also her farts smell real bad. Just another feature.

It’s Valentines day, and I think discussions of romance have been pretty scant around here as of late. Mentions of “love” or “relationships” have been reduced to a few token mentions of my/the girlfriend, hardly a sentiment overflowing with evocative imagery or flowery prose. I haven’t been talking about how things are going between us, ongoing tensions or resolutions. Peaks we’ve overcome or trials we’ve faced. Really though, I haven’t mentioned anything purely because things are going so well, and that’s boring to hear.

On the other side of the equation though, things going well feels anything but boring to experience. I remember the early days of the relationship fondly. One of our biggest issues was that we were terrible at watching things together. In short, every time we lay down to switch on a movie or show, we realised we could be fucking instead. Pure, adrenaline fuelled passion while we were figuring one another’s bodies out. Discovering sweet spots, how to drive one another wild. Steamy and unshackled, almost furious with desire. Throwing ideas at one another to see what stuck. Once again, fond memories. The unspoken element however, were nerves. Being unsure of how things could go, often being afraid to ask. At times, holding back or pushing too far. Communication, endless communication that to this day I still cherish. Asking before pushing blindly into new territory. Enthusiastic consent, or offering suggestions. We worked at it and improved on our chemistry together, discovering all the areas where we meshed. Aiding one another through the areas that needed help. The sex is less frequent now, as spare time, physical and emotional energy have been in shorter supply. It’s also a lot warmer, deeper (emotionally. My dick didn’t somehow grow an inch or anything) and satisfying on a whole different level. We’re still more than happy to try new things, but the way we communicate about them is much smoother, there’s no ego about it. We’re great together, we both love our sex and simply being able to touch skin night after night is one of the greatest daily pleasures I couldn’t have imagined a year ago. It’s not possible to take something for granted when it brings you so much joy.

This time last year we had a pending move on our hands. Time was wrapped up in prepping, packing and dealing with the associated stresses. A see saw of excitement and dread. So much potential hidden under piles of exhaustion. Once it happened, the stress seemed to fall away and we stumbled joyfully through the new boundaries of living together. Thankfully because of who we both are, it couldn’t have been easier to navigate. Learning about how to make space for one another, the tensions of desire for intimacy and a need for solo time. I don’t want to sound too saccharine about it, we had tons of fun. It allowed me to see a whole different side of her. Yeah, I knew who she was before we shared a home, but it wasn’t the same. When we’d visit one another there was an implied necessity to be “on”. If we were hanging out it sorta felt like we had to be our best selves, constantly try to remind the other why we were so rad to be around. Living together the artifice is gone. We have nothing to prove, we know we love one another and that ultimately we’re on the same team. We want the relationship to thrive and grow. Part of that being the ability to accept one another as we are. To accept the things that at first glance aren’t our favourite aspects, but are just another feature of the person we’d each love to spend the rest of our life with. To know and trust that we can talk things out. That if something truly bothers us, our partner is likely not being intentionally malicious, but blissfully ignorant. Using our words.

I’ve found myself sharing my life with a gorgeous soul through and through. She has a passion for the things she holds dear that’s awe inspiring to behold. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be one of those things. She’s smart and sensible, in ways that complement me. We work well as a team. She’s boisterous in all the right ways, always happy to look for the adventure in the simplest of errands. She shares my love of play, whenever we can find it. She’s a goofball, makes me laugh deep resonant belly laughs till I cry. Seeing her smile lights up my world. She’s so giving in everything she does. Her heart’s in her hand always, in her touch or desire to help those she loves. She cares so much and it warms me to my core, inspires me to look for the good in others. She’s beautiful and sexy and catching her eye is enough to make my heart quiver. It’s so effortless to be in love with her, because I can’t imagine any alternative. She makes me say things that could only sound cheesy if you hadn’t met her. I tell her I love her time and time again every day. I mean it every single time. My biggest worry is that no matter how many times I do, it won’t convey the depth. Then again, words never could. That’s something I’ve got the rest of my life to keep working at.

So that’s “the girlfriend”. She’s one hell of a dame and I’m one of a lucky fella. Happy Valentines day Lioness. Once again (but never enough), I love you.

Wait, I’m a “snowflake”? Have you looked outside?

With Toronto covered in a gentle blanket of snowfall, there’s very little that holds allure other than keeping cozied up inside. Retreat sounds like a fantastic word right now, seclusion from the world around. It’s a shitshow out there, but being holed up at home with central heating, food and internet is nothing of the sort. I’ve been thinking of the concept of retreat a lot lately, but divested of the notion of defeat. Retreat as a pre-emptive measure, taking time to reassess and recuperate. Seeking simple comforts, a luxury in this world where some people have so little. When comfort comes to my mind, however, there’s one sensation that rises to the top. Nostalgia.

As I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks, I’ve been falling back into old habits. Playing more Magic, listening to some of my more formative musical fixations. I’ve been thinking fondly of the video games/systems I so obsessed over as a kid. Sega Mega Drive, N64, old MAME style fighting games and side scrolling beat ’em ups. This regression feels symptomatic of a subconscious sense of loss, longing even. I’m casting my mind back to a time where I felt overwhelmed by the world around me, but excited rather than weary. Before cynicism kicked in. The future seemed so far away, but shiny and hopeful. Now that we’re in a future, it’s hard to look past how far the world has slipped. It’s hard to hold an unfettered hope for continual progress when the Netflix release of a Dear White People series prompts a #whitegenocide response. I guess nobody said we’d all evolve in the same direction.

My desire to reengage interests from when I last felt the world held nothing but promise makes sense, much as it disappoints me. I should be moving forwards instead of looking back. The answers aren’t gonna come from hiding away from the world. Still, this is why YA fiction has a massive adult fan base. It’s why we continue to watch shows with twentysomethings playing 16 year olds. A longing for a time when things were different, when responsibility meant that at the end of the day, your parents had your back. When the world was unfair because you might get roped into a family dinner instead of hanging out with friends. Seems leagues better than the potential of being refused entry to the U.S. because you won’t hand over your social media passwords.

I’ve been reading Max Landis’ leaked Power Rangers film script. It’s not perfect, but seems the natural evolution of the 90s franchise. It’s PG-13 material while still having an edge. It’s got humour and creativity while still paying homage to the goofy mess of camp that Power Rangers once was. It has unexpected twists and more characterisation than we’re likely to see from this solemn blockbuster treatment. I’m happy to be proven wrong (and they’ll still probably get my fucking money. Bastards), but outlook not so good. Reading the script of an IP I adored as a kid felt neat. I didn’t feel totally pandered to, more that I’d consumed a script written with deep enthusiasm for the subject matter. Landis may act a little entitled at times, but when he nails it he nails it.

I’m sure we could chalk this one up to SAD and leave it at that. At the same time there’s an obvious correlation between lack of direction and seeking out our anchors. What last made me happy? How do I bring that feeling back? How do I head towards it while still moving forwards? We live in that future now, surely we can bring the past along with us.

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.

I’m sitting in transit writing this. Seems apt enough.

It’s hard to gauge how I feel right now. Having just come off an 11.5 hour fight and still coming down off of sleep meds, my mind’s a bit woozy. It’s tricky to grasp on to solid trains of thought and there are a bunch of elusive ones slip n’ sliding around my brain box. I just realised that I need to do an entry for NZ’s 22nd of January, but also Canada’s 22nd of January. It’ll be two entries in one day for me, but should square things with you. With my current mind state it’s hard to figure out why, but all I know is that I need to, so let’s do that.

The one thought that’s making itself a constant is that I’m far more disheartened to be returning home to Toronto than I expected to be. Mum asked me on the way to the airport what big things I had planned for 2017. Right now, it feels like finding an answer to the above may be a large part of that. It’s strange, because I know that I love Toronto. I know that being home in Toronto I find constant reminders that make me grateful to have left in the first place.

Being back in NZ, however, I noticed the same phenomenon. It’s easy to find small things to tie the sentiment to: I think New Zealanders are generally a more pleasant and sincere people, less beholden to the strange artifice of implied social niceties. In Toronto, it feels like people act the way they act because of how they’d like to be perceived. On the flip side of that is accent privilege. I’m pretty fortunate to be living in Toronto with all the rights of a Canadian, but with the accent of a New Zealander. People straight up treat me nicer. People will go out of their way to help me out, in a way people back home wouldn’t. Without a doubt, it works to my advantage.

Whatever 2017 holds, I know I need for it to hold a big change I haven’t yet discovered. I’ve passed the “making it work” stage of my immigration. I’m settled, I have a place to live, diverse groups of good friends, local communities, custom Toronto coffee map, stupid but fun podcast, loving girlfriend and salaried position. I still have yet to find my why. I don’t know if it’s enough to straight up say that I “hate” my job, so it may be better to note that it’s a necessity that brings me no end of dread. There are places that this job could lead, but if it doesn’t at some point I’ll get more satisfaction from bashing my head into a wall continually. I don’t think this point is terribly far off.

I need a new job and I need that job to give back as well as taking. Something either creative or involved in the creative process. I need to be able to look back on a week and see things that were accomplished in making something happen. Going into the office every day to do the equivalent of drag and drop data entry would’ve felt beneath me at the age of 24, let alone 30. Despite the mitigating circumstances (having your company sold and trying to hold on to everything while hiring freezes and mass layoffs explode around you do factor in. At least a little), I’m disappointed in myself for having been stagnant for so long. It’s not why I left and it’s not where I want to be.

Most of all, 2017 is gonna be spent examining the above and working towards a solution. Why did I leave a situation where nothing was wrong outside of complacency? What can I do to justify my decision, preventing the same from happening again? I need to fall in love with Toronto all over again and I need to start making my life not the life I want right now, but the life I’ll want to continue building for years to come.