Anyone need a spleen while I’m there?

Last night I dreamt that I had a rapid onset illness where my body stopped producing new cells. Untreated, I had a life expectancy of three days. We somehow caught it right away. My parents came over to Canada then whisked me away to London so one of the world’s top doctors could figure out what to do. It happened in what seemed like an instant and there was no chance to say goodbye to anyone. When I asked how long I’d be staying in this London lab I was told in an unwavering manner “this is your home now.” I asked about my girlfriend back home, our flat, my job. All my friends. They told me that was all over now, that there was science to be done. I was ostensibly not dying, but it didn’t seem like they had care for my quality of life. It felt a lot more like they were just intrigued by my condition and what a cure could mean for them on the global stage.

I got a message out to my girlfriend and told her our dark family secret. That my real estate parents had hidden genetic clones of me and my brothers in cryostasis, in the basements of three houses they’d sold over the years. She travelled to New Zealand and met up with one of my childhood friends. They cross-referenced every house my parents had sold with all houses currently on the market. They then posed as newlyweds pretending to be buying their first home and infiltrated every open home on the list, sneaking off to try find secret basements and hidden passages where my clone could be kept. Meanwhile I was wasting away as a London lab rat. Still alive, but barely more than a test subject.

I woke up really wanting to know how it ended. Did I die? Did my girlfriend find my clone? Was he an actualised person? Did I ever see her again?

It felt like a weird prescient dream given the events of last night. A friend hosted a birthday bonfire on the eve of Beltane. She read a passage on the Death card in Tarot rising with the pink moon. It emphasised the importance of letting old patterns and behaviours go. Beltane is a time of renewal and growth, part of that being death to held customs and anxieties. That in order to grow, it’s necessary to shed the known self and discover new potential. A time of transformation and the awakening of sexual energies. To discover your fertile self in every layer of meaning. Also we lit sparklers, which was dandy.

My spiritual belief cache has been barren for quite some time. It was nice, however, that the passage was written in a pretty down-to-earth manner that was easily relatable. We all feel stale from time to time, like we’d benefit from widened perspective. The idea of taking stock of where you’re at and questioning what brought you there is rarely a wasted exercise. It’d be no surprise for regular readers to hear that I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit a wall and stagnated. That I’ve been treading water long enough I’ve started to question weather or not my head is still above water. That not being dead doesn’t hold the same place as feeling truly alive.

Maybe the answer is to burn away those things inside me that no longer serve a purpose. Have I been getting in my way this entire time? What version of myself has yet to come out of cryostasis, held in reserve by a simulacrum past its expiration date?

Once I figure it out, I’ll make sure to light some sparklers.

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Now that you mention it, I am a pretty flash dancer.

Apropos of nothing outside years of fluctuating behaviour, I decided to google “hypomania” today.

Hoo boy.

How you might feel:

  • happy, euphoric, with a sense of wellbeing
  • lots of energy
  • sociable
  • racing thoughts
  • creative and full of ideas and plans
  • like you can perform tasks better and more quickly than normal
  • impatient, irritable or angry
  • confident, with high self-esteem
  • attractive, flirtatious and/or with more sexual desire
  • restless, on edge and having difficulty relaxing
  • heightened senses – colours may seem brighter, sounds louder and things more beautiful

How you might behave:

  • more active than usual
  • taking risks
  • very friendly
  • very talkative or writing a lot
  • sleeping very little
  • signing up for and taking part in lots of activities
  • taking on extra responsibilities
  • wearing colourful and/or extravagant clothes
  • making lots of jokes and puns
  • finding it hard to stay still – moving around a lot or fidgeting

I dunno. Maybe it’s a tad relatable. I don’t ascribe to the thought that self-diagnosis carries a ton of weight. I really don’t. I’m not even close to a medical professional. Even as an armchair psychologist, I have trouble sitting still. I want to be very clear when I say that any of the following is not meant to trivialise or tokenise mental illness or symptoms of mania at all. I’m sure a lot of the above is evergreen enough that everyone feels this way from time to time. I have never been diagnosed with a condition of any kind and the thought of detracting from the very valid experiences of others would not sit well with me.

That being said, how much of the above applies to my very regular behaviour? So often it feels like the world is moving too slowly. I’ve applied the word “ludic” to my personality before, but it’s occasionally felt insubstantial. I find myself on these spontaneous tears where I can’t do or say enough to convey how my brain is feeling. Overly sociable, charismatic and confident. I get antsy and impatient for people to finish sentences, because of this overwhelming urge that I already knew where they were going from the first couple of words. My thoughts are scattered, but rapid. Crazy quick synaptic connections. Jokes and puns, understanding and dismantling structures social, narrative and psychological. Focusing on/completing a task has never been a massive issue, but I’m usually thinking of the next couple while I’m doing it. Infinite ideas, creativity out each and every one of my wazoos.

The idea of not doing something at every moment feels suffocating. Relaxation seems like a punishment. If I’m not active, why am I alive? Despite knowing that my body needs it, I’ve always viewed sleep as a waste of potential waking hours. I’ll feel this compulsion to be doing more, as many things at once as possible. An insatiable urge for my consumption to keep up with my racing mind. Any substances that can preserve this overly energetic state, I need all of them at once. Sure, I know I’m not gonna feel great later if I drink an unhealthy volume of coffee, but it feels transcendent now. Why not gorge on everything and become one with every atom in my vicinity?

Then downswings. Days, weeks, months. Withdrawing from human contact. Excessive negative self-talk. Irrational irritability. Implacable frustration. A pervasive sense of dissatisfaction with everything. Feelings of disconnect and isolation. This notion that nobody really understands me.

Wait, am I just a teenager?

Who knows, really? If anything, I’m not sure what good labels would do. Is this cycle (which admittedly has more up than down) hurtful to my everyday? Is the cost of the lows worth the highs? I’m not gonna lie, if it’s a touch of mania that propels me, it’s an incomparable sensation. Like gravity has no hold on me. As if boundaries are abstract. An almost divine indomitably. It makes me feel special and gee golly that’s a swell feeling.

Or it could be nothing and maybe I merely drink too much coffee.

During #oscarssowhite was McConaughey reading nominations like “All white, all white, all white.”?

I went to a party last night. Crazy, I know. I don’t know if me having friends is a massive revelation, but if so I’m glad I still have the capacity to surprise you. That’s important in our kind of relationship, to keep things fresh, y’know?

Aw, I love you too.

So I was at this party. A blanket/pillow fort party being thrown by one of my exes. Like so many of my past partners, she was always wonderful and she didn’t stop being as such because we were no longer seeing one another. She’s poly and something I recognised is just how much I’ve enjoyed spending time with her anchor partner after her and I dated. I always thought he was a really cool bloke while we were together, but post-relationship it’s like some kind of vague unspoken tension was lifted. Whenever he’s at a party, it’s awesome being able to hang out. He and I are very different people, in that we look at the world in a wholly different fashion. He’s this very practical and logical person, while also being very creative. I obviously have zero practical skills, I’m just a borderline manic abstract creative person. So it’s cool chatting with the guy and sorta grokking the world with our combined perspectives.

I have this bit perma-locked and loaded in my holster. Every once in a while when the topic of having trouble recognising someone comes up, I’ll reply with “yeah, but all white people look the same”. Growing up in a small country, ethnically diverse as Auckland can be, there was still a lot of that mainstream wallpaper racism. People casually throwing out a “all Asian people look the same” or whatever. It’s always been a mentality I’ve had a visceral reaction to. I grew up in a house with Japanese au pair girls. My best friend’s family always did the same. It was a way to introduce another culture into the house and effectively expand the family by proxy. One of my best friends was Malaysian. By the time I reached high school a lot of South Koreans began immigrating to New Zealand, so I had a bunch of South Korean friends. The notion of collectively grouping all of these people into a homogeneous lump and bypassing their interesting cultural nuances always made me angry. It was not only ignorant and offensive, but intellectually lazy. So this “all white people look the same” bit is on some small level a humorous way of getting back at that idea.

I said my bit last night and people laughed. My ex’s anchor partner laughed and was also like “let’s talk about this, because it’s interesting”. It’s a nice conversational jumping off point, so I was in. We looked at the general idea of this western Pan-Asiatic view and broke down where we thought it came from. It went a little something like this:

While the behaviour is no doubt annoying and regressive, it also frustratingly makes sense. Learning more about a culture, like anything else, takes time. In any activity (and yes it’s more than strangely dispassionate to call recognising cultural differences an “activity”, but I think it helps to be abstract in order to understand this phenomena), say being a hobbyist botanist or something, there are innumerable subtleties to learn. I’m ignorant as shit when it comes to fauna. I might look at a flower and be like “that’s a flower”, whereas a hobbyist botanist could be all “it is, but it’s actually a daisy. That’s its stamen, this is how it photosynthesises, it’s from this genus, etc etc” (in this scenario, they actually said “etc” out loud twice. Botanists are weeeeeird people).

We respond to stimuli based upon our knowledge. It’s very understandable that some middle class white person from small town New Zealand may have super limited experience having met people of colour. They haven’t spent a ton of time with people from diverse cultures and as such, their knowledge points are really limited. So they see a South Korean and Japanese person standing side by side and they’re not able to pick out the subtle differences. They’re all “well they both a) look different than me, b) look more alike one another than they look like me c) have some similar features like eye or hair colour. Therefore they’re the same”.

The more time you spend entrenched in a culture, the more you can discern between these things. Say you went to Okinawa to teach English in one of those JET style programs. Maybe you’ll notice differences in facial structure, noses, ear sizes or whatever. Perhaps you’ll hear them speak and be like “oh shit, totally different dialects”. Or you’ll see them consume some cultural product whether food, entertainment or branding, and go “well it’s more likely they’re Korean than Japanese” or something. The more knowledge points you acquire about anything, the greater appreciation for markers of difference you’ll have (also why did that sound like Yoda talking?). You have a way more complex basis for comparison, so the idea of looking at a Thai and Chinese person without seeing these markers seems absurd.

Did I whitesplain that well enough? I’m sure I didn’t make it through that diatribe without a number of ignorant cultural assumptions either. We’re all constantly learning. I definitely am. Part of that process is fucking up and making mistakes. I’m happy to own any mistake I make, because it’s an opportunity to be better. I can’t imagine any more worthwhile goal than constantly getting better.

Maybe eventually I’ll learn to tell white people apart too.

If you’re not into it, “jog on” would be an altogether apt response

I went for a jog last night for the first time in ages. Things are warming up here in Toronto and it was a balmy -1°C. My nose didn’t run that much, my fingers barely froze and my joints were only mildly clunky. Inhaling oxygen wasn’t remotely like swallowing blades. I stretched out my decrepit limbs, tossed on the Black Panther soundtrack and set off down the road.

Listening to the soundtrack, I started thinking about music that’s been released so far this year. Black Panther ended up being so much more than a score to a film (especially since so many of its fantastic tracks didn’t even make it into the finished movie). Kendrick managed to weave together an assortment of songs that stood on their own, playing on larger ideas and concepts the film brought to life. Saying that it seems effortlessly engrossing probably betrays the amount of work put into the album, but it’s such an enjoyable listen.

I then thought about Janelle Monae’s song “Make Me Feel”, which might already be my favourite track of the year, regardless of what else is released. It’s simply incredible and, well, I have a lot of gushy and effusive thoughts. It’s so funky and sensual. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been able to shamelessly listen to it on repeat. The production is tight, the influences are worn on its sleeve (or they will be if it gets a vinyl release) and the video is gorgeous.

As I jogged, I wondered if there was some way of preserving the resonance of these songs in some kind of time capsule. To take what I’d been enjoying and catalogue it for the sake of retrospection. Would they hit me the same way a year down the line? A few years down the line? I’ve always been a fan of putting together playlists, why not turn this into an excuse for one more? The idea came to me, why not make an annual playlist? I could pick my favourite song each month and add them to the stack as the year went on. February could obviously be “Make Me Feel”. January could be “All the Stars” from Black Panther (unfortunately the rest of the album was released in February. Otherwise my answer would clearly be “Redemption” by Zacari and Babes Wodumo). It seemed a low effort way to produce a punchy snapshot of an audible year. Perfect for the gym or more jogs. Best of all, it could jog my memory. Eh? EH?

Thinking of this made me realise how much more attention I used to pay to the music I consumed. I mean, for sure I still really get a kick out of finding a new release. When something grabs me I listen obsessively, as if to absorb it into my very being. And yet, I’ve lost the thirst for knowledge surrounding music. In most ways, this is great. I know a huge part of my desperate search to seek out what was new and fresh definitely had roots in an identity I was trying to cultivate. I desperately wanted to be cool and part of that for me was being on top of pop-cultural movers and shakers. At 31, my desire to discover new music is more pure. It’s a sincere wish to consume art that speaks to some part of me. Even if that’s just a track that makes me nod my head or move my hips.

This playlist concept is kind of exciting to me. It’d help me refresh myself on the cool releases throughout the year. Occasionally I’ll wholly forget large albums that dropped, but this will help me cement exactly what it was I loved about them in the first place. The more I talk about it, the more I’m convincing myself I need to get onto it right away. It’s only two songs so far, I can manage that, right?

Let’s call it my 2 Unlimited potential.

The aftermath of my Austin holiday has been surprising. My typical response post vacation is to sink into a dense miasma of discontent. I’ll normally come back from my heightened experience to a jarring juxtaposition with my disappointing quotidian day-to-day. From the freedom and excitement that comes with exploring new territory unencumbered by schedules, to a regimented existence that sees me running on someone else’s timeline. It’s a harsh, brutal change that’s none too dissimilar from culture shock. In short, I have such a good time getting away from my life that it seems bleak in comparison.

Not this time.

Why? Is it because I had a shit holiday? Or that gravity relented when I set my foot on Canadian soil? Relief over the absence of open carry? I met a leprechaun in the hood and he gave me pot and gold chains?

I had an amazing holiday. I spent time with good friends and rediscovered parts of myself I thought long gone. Without the pressure and emotional weight of work, I felt lighter. My soul peeked out like Punxsutawney Phil and declared that whatever was bogging me down simply wasn’t worth it. To discover the summer of my heart in all that I saw. Everything the light touches, Simba. Etc. My sphincter loosened and I let go of all my tension. I felt at peace with myself and came away changed.

Returning from Austin I’ve come back in touch with my armchair social philosopher. I’ve been monologuing again and thinking about the human condition. I’ve looked at myself and wondered what’s been holding me down. The past week has left me charged and reminded me of something. I like me. I like who I am. I’m my number one biggest fan. I’m also quite okay with that. I think I’m more of a decent person than I’m not and I have no reason to not be okay with myself. I realise I’ve spent the past few years beating myself into submission. I’ve mitigated and minimised my personhood. I’ve softened my edges. I’ve been so afraid of making anyone else uncomfortable that I’ve compromised my larger than life existence. I know that I have the awareness and emotional cognisance to be as me as I want to be without dampening the light of others. It’s been as unnecessary as it has been damaging.

In short, I’ve grown tired of my shit.

There’s a fire in my heart that’s long been embers. I’m ready and stoked to bring it back to life. Gone is the mantra of “just get by” and back is the mantra of “making it happen”. I’ve been wasting the past few years of my life with the notion of contentment in lieu of fulfilment. I’ve been unfairly looking at how I pay the bills as a synonym for what I do. Frankly, I’m getting too old to care about the small stuff and I’m not old enough to settle for the little things.

I’m ready to be uncompromisingly me. Are you?

If I was drinking right now, this entry would be sponsored by Campari Sun.

Goddammit I’m tired of sneezing. Today was supposed to be a relaxing day off work. Instead I’ve spent it expelling transient innards from my nose. Did that sound like unnecessary roughness? It feels like it too. I was tired when I woke and I’ve kind of just deteriorated as the day has developed. My nose is running some kind of marathon that my body can’t catch up on. My brain is foggy and I feel sorta out of it. My stomach feels unsettled (which could also have just been an overabundance of cabbage). Also I’m vaguely cold, which could be solved by getting the thermostat turnT up. Overall, I could be better.

It’s looking like I might need to take tomorrow off for a legit sick day. I spent my day being productive and responsible and look where it got me. I went to the doctor and the gym. I booked a therapy session and a trip to London (the good one). I shovelled the path and took out the garbage. I was basically the paragon of an upstanding citizen. Is this some kind of divine signal that I need to abscond from my virtue and become a low down dirtbag once more? I can remember what it was like to be a teenager. Plus if I’d forgotten, Wheatus wrote a handy manifesto on it. Now where did I put my Iron Maiden?

The band. I know full well where my medieval torture device is. I lent it to Steve.

At times I do miss being a carefree early twentysomething. Then I remember how embarrassing a bunch of those memories are. Yeesh. The shit I said to unsuccessfully try and impress girls? Outbursts I would’ve had in school because I thought I was being funny? Edgy parental rebellion? I guess losing memories to ageing is sometimes a personal defence mechanism. It was a time. I wonder if anyone looks back at their teenage self without a grimace. I can think of people I always saw as onto it, cool and collected. I bet at 30 they now hate their teenage selves too though. I’m sure everyone who looked like they had their shit together really shat the bed as much as I did, I just wasn’t around to see it.

It’s weird how focused on comparison we are. Humans sociability does so much for us, but concurrently looking at others is the source of so much self-directed negativity. Of course we shouldn’t be judging ourselves by the successes of others. Still, show me someone who abides by that notion and you’ve found a hidden psychopath. Nobody is that confident, regardless of their many victories. I bet Elon Musk still looks back at his teenage years and thinks of the time he vomited on his crush at a party. Cheer up Elon, it gets better.

I’ve been thinking about comparisons lately because of a conversation I had the other day. I was at a friend’s soiree meeting another friend’s partner. She said she’d heard of me at some other party, because two of my other friends were talking about me. Frankly, I won’t repeat the content, but suffice to say I was embarrassed beyond belief. What they were saying was 100% the nicest compliment anyone has ever given me and they were telling a total stranger, unprompted, behind my back. That seems pretty genuine, right? The reason I’m embarrassed is because (aside from the fact that I’ve misspelled “embarrassed” as “embarassed” several times this entry even though I keep telling myself Okay, I’ve got this now) they embody the epitome of what they were saying about me. The way they saw me was how I saw them ten times over. I saw myself as so lowly in comparison, but here they were speaking so highly of me. It was fucking unbelievable.

What it brought home was something that wasn’t news, but deserved reiterating. Whenever we’re looking at our achievements, they’re filtered through our failures. Everything we’ve done is mitigated by a “but”. Yeah, I travelled across the world, but I had citizenship and a family safety net. To me that doesn’t sound like success. I look to immigrants who’ve risked life and limb, made difficult choices. They overcame adversity. I just bought a ticket and got on a plane. Thing is, we each are fighting battles the other isn’t. There’s no point in comparing our accomplishments, because we didn’t face the same struggles to get there. Context and background mean so much, but when we look towards anyone else, we merely see the outcome.

Now how can I parlay this into a sick day tomorrow?

Am my rite?

I have no idea where this is going, but I can only stare at a blank page for so long. It’s funny, but I’ve been doing this for so long now that I make it harder for myself than it needs to be. In thinking about an entry, I set up all these boundaries to keep me moving ahead, but who’s to say that they’re worth anything? Example: Years ago I did an entry where I thought about a theme and applied myself to it. It went well and the end result came together better than my random ramblings. So of course I took that and ran with it. Think of a theme before you touch the keyboard became, if not a mantra, then a guideline. I’m unsure of how many hours I’ve lost through trying to think of a theme. I’m writing every single day, I don’t have the luxury of producing a polished mass of condensed thought. Furthermore, expecting a theme to blossom in order to ensure a quality entry is a wash. Just because I have a general direction, it doesn’t mean I’ll end up following it. Hell, the point of this entire project was to go with the flow, stroll down tangential pathways and embrace meandering mental footsteps. Furthermore, the notion that certain entries were good because I’d thought of a theme doesn’t presuppose that entries with a starting point are the only good ones. I’ve probably had just as many stream of consciousness brain dumps that’ve led to interesting conclusions. Why should order matter?

I also try not to repeat myself if I can. Of course I have. How could I not? When did I start this? Something like the 22nd of March 2013? That’s 58 or so months. If we guess that a month on average has 30 days, we’re looking at 1740 entries. Wait, I can actually confirm this. Gimme a sec (he says when he’s the one who sets all the time boundaries. As if you have any idea)… Looks like this is my 1,771st entry in a row. I don’t think I could have 1,771 conversations without repeating myself, let alone 1,771 bouts of 30 minutes typing. Okay, so that means at the very least I’ve spent 885 hours on my current output. “At least” I say, because most often the half hour I say I’ll spend writing takes around 45 minutes to an hour. I start and stop, pause the timer. Sheesh. I’d start going into all the things I could’ve learned in that time, but I’m certain I did that entry some while ago. I just have this vague nagging feeling. It’s nibbling away at me and while I know that there’s no point in getting bent out of shape, that’s different than realising that there’s no point in getting bent out of shape. Facts and cognition are not identical.

Why is it that I care? It’s the height of silliness, but I know deep down that if I ever wrote an entry and someone pointed out that I’d done it previously, one of my horcruxes would go kaput. I mean, what are those previous 1,770 entries but little nuggets of my soul embodied by digital ink? Ugh, now I recalled having used the phrase “digital ink” and that’s making me feel sour. What’d be worse would be repeating a topic, but discovering that I’d done it far more eloquently previously. My inner being would be trapped in some kind of Soul Asylum bolting away from my body like a “Runaway Train”. Holy fuckers, did you know Soul Asylum had 11 albums? That they’d released them as recently as 2016? I kinda thought they released the aforementioned locomotive hit and “Misery” then called it quits. I bet Soul Asylum never repeated themselves like some hack I know…

At the centre of this distaste for repetition has to be a seed of utter narcissism, right? As if anyone out there has read all my entries. Even if they had, as if they’d take the effort to go out of their way and let me know I’d copied something from myself. Perhaps in repeating concepts there’s the chance I’ll get them better the second time. Or what if I found a new angle to explore? In a sense, my predilection for inhibition towards repetition is needless submission. What if there are creative drippings awaiting their time under my fingertips? I mean, real writers edit, right? My wry rite of writing is rightfully frightful, if not trite, what have I to be contrite?

Cut the crap. Just write.