A pity party is still a party.

Happy birthday to moi. As is de rigueur, it’s been spent way up in a cloud of negativity. I haven’t felt special, I’ve felt shitty, insufficient. I’m at a place in my life that seems comparatively joyless. I don’t like my job and aside from fleeting distractions, my day to day adds up to a cumulative total of fine, I guess. I’m 31 now and feel like the only direction I’ve gone from 30 has been backwards. A year has passed and I have nothing to show for it. A couple more memories to file away, but it doesn’t feel like I had a year’s worth of experiences. I have nothing to complain about, but that doesn’t equal tons to celebrate. My grand plans for the day involve going to the gym, going home, eating dinner and in general wanting everything to go away.

I’d usually treat myself to something, but my patterns of celebration all revolve around consumption. I’d go out to a restaurant or drink myself blind, but keto has stripped the fun out of that. I’ve subtracted the enjoyment from basically my favourite thing to do, which likely forms no small element of my birthday blues. Still, going full humbug has been an anniversary tradition for as long as I’ve been making my own money.

For at least the past 10 years, birthdays have become a mire of self-examination. Another trip around the sun seems emblematic of how much I haven’t done. My lack of progress and general listlessness. It’s navel gazing at its most cruel. Creating unrealistic comparisons is always a fool’s errand, but like a fool I get sucked in every year. Of course I understand intellectually that my life isn’t a garbage fire, but that does little to lift my mood.

The smart thing to do, then, would be to have a paradigm shift. Instead of asking what have I done in the past year? I should be asking what would I like to do in the next year? Nothing as grand as where do I want to be? Something more along the lines of what would make me happy? What does happiness look like to me? What does “good enough” represent? The answers seem self-evident. Of course I want my work to fulfil me. I’d like to be more confident. Fitter, happier et al. The real question should be how do I decide where I want to be without resenting myself for not getting there?

Self-compassion is a skill that we’re not taught. Our society rarely makes a habit of celebrating mediocrity (outside of Rotten Tomatoes’ fruit based rating system) and successes are paraded around as inspiration porn. The side effect is that the yardstick we measure ourselves with goes way beyond our range. It’s unbalanced and the expectations we hold don’t match up to workable metrics. We’re told we can be film stars, entrepreneurs, artists, millionaires. The 99th percentile is achievable if only we try hard enough, right? Sure, for 1% of us. Most people aren’t them.

Look, I’ll be fine tomorrow, when expectations are back to their low bar. Something about the day always makes me feel like there’s pressure to be extraordinary and the surplus of ordinary really twists the knife. It’s a birthday, they come around every year. By the time I sleep I won’t have to worry about it for another sun cycle.

If that ain’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

Advertisements

Guess I forgot to say the magic word.

Magic the Gathering post. As the usual disclaimer goes, if you don’t play or care about the game, perhaps this entry isn’t for you. Try again later.

It’s been a busy weekend and I’ve been more social than I had in a while. It’s also the Rivals of Ixalan pre-release weekend. I was gutted to miss the Ixalan one, considering this is basically a set tailor made for me. A Mesoamerican themed deck filled to the gills with merfolk, pirates, vampires and dinosaurs. It’s silly EDH fodder, which is precisely my style. I didn’t play much Ixalan limited. In fact, I don’t really play much limited at all. Usually I do alright at pre-releases. Probably around 2-2 or 3-1. Spoilers, I didn’t do well today. In fact I did about as poorly as I could. I went 0-3 then got a bye in my last round, adding insult to injury. I didn’t even get to play one more match and see if my deck was as non-junky as I’d assumed.

Why was I so surprised to punt so hard? Because I’m usually a decent player and my pool seemed quite solid. I had a ton of removal in an aggressive red/black shell. There was a pirate sub-theme, I had a low curve and sitting at the top was Angrath, who I hoped would swing a couple of games my way. Other colours had strong cards (there was a Trapjaw Tyrant, but my white didn’t have enough depth), but nothing that deserved to make it into the deck. Without fixing, there was no real way to effectively splash either. So I was staunchly in red/black. Anyway, let’s get to the deck so you can see what I was working with:

Creatures (15)
1x Skittering Heartstopper
2x Dusk Legion Zealot
1x Fathom Fleet Firebrand
1x Dire Fleet Hoarder
1x Raptor Hatchling
1x Nest Robber
2x Fathom Fleet Boarder
1x Deadeye Tormentor
1x Frilled Deathspitter
1x Thrash of Raptors
1x Brazen Freebooter
2x Dire Fleet Neckbreaker

Noncreature (9)
1x Reckless Rage
1x Mutiny
1x Buccaneer’s Bravado
2x See Red
2x Bombard
1x Impale
1x Angrath, the Flame-Chained

Lands (16)
8x Mountain
8x Swamp

As you can see, my curve was decent. I had a bunch of two drops, a couple of three drops, some decent four drops and Angrath at my top end. My removal was high quality, which should’ve been able to clear the way for my creatures to kill ’em dead. The Dire Fleet Neckbreakers (couldn’t stop reading them as Neckbeards) put in work, making my pirates monstrous. I had eight pirates overall and didn’t spend a ton of time blocking. Having a Fathom Fleet Firebrand attacking for four or more was pretty harsh. The Neckbreakers often meant my three and four drops were hitting for five, which is a big chunk of life. I’m often wary of auras, but See Red put in work. With Skittering Heartstopper or the Firebrand, it started putting a clock on the opponent. It had the potential to turn Dusk Legion Zealots from dumb utility dorks to actual menaces. Buccaneer’s Bravado was an all-star. It either made sure my creatures emerged from combat victorious, or hit for unfathomable damage off the back of the Neckbreaker. When I got Angrath out, it presented itself as an immediate threat that my opponent needed to deal with.

So that all sounds good, right? How did I shit the bed? Because I didn’t just lose a couple of games, but every match I played. Firstly, I wasn’t playing my best. In the first game I kept a hand I should’ve tossed. It was a two land trap that had Fire Fleet Firebrand and See Red. I’d hoped to ride that out and draw a swamp, but I should’ve known better than to have trusted the heart of the cards. I made some questionable plays early on and felt fuzzy brained all day. I don’t know why, but I was having trouble focusing. My brain was wandering non-stop. I was a little shaky and it didn’t help in plans to win. Also mana. Mana destroyed me the whole day. That was the one game that I got mana screwed and aside from two games, I flooded on the rest. It was land after land after land. Starting with a four land hand and drawing six lands in a row seemed to be my deck’s innate line of play. That shouldn’t be happening in a 16 land deck, right? Statistics weren’t on my side.

All that considered, the day wasn’t a bummer. All of my opponents were friendly and chatty. Nobody took it too seriously. I got most of the cards I’d been seeking for my Marath EDH deck. I took my losses without getting frustrated. Sometimes that’s just how the cards fall. You know what? It can be nice to finish the day early and head off home.

I mean, not as nice as winning, mind you…

It had a Julia Roberts grin and everything.

I know I often joke that all I do here is talk about poop, but today I want to do just that. I mean, wanting to talk about dropping bum bombs is never far from my mind, but occasionally I write something about pop-culture or what I’m eating. Recent entries have focused on the ins and outs of keto. This one’s all about the outs, because today I dropped a game changer. Enough preamble, let’s get into this.

I’m mildly obsessed with what comes out my poop chute. Since childhood I’ve never ceased to find the hilarity in shitting. My first level up came when I discovered how to really poop. The raised ankles technique. Talk about a game changer. Where I’d previously strained and struggled to cleanse my intestines, I found a smooth sortie at my disposal (pun intended, obviously). I had my first metaphorical taste of slick bowel action and I wanted more. I looked into foods with high fibre content and folded them into my diet. Cabbage was a godsend. I oddly discovered it when a bunch of us went out for Korean. As an entree they put down a plate of chopped raw cabbage and QP mayonnaise. I loved it. I started steaming, roasting and sometimes downing it raw. I adapted chia seeds into my porridge. I started drinking coffee. The pieces came together and the faeces flowed easily. Bliss.

Keto has constricted my stream like a noose around my anus. It’s been hard to reckon with the loss of what had once been a point of pride. It’s not my first time mentioning this, so you know I mean it. This was one of the primary tools in my arse-nal. I’ve been recently reaching for something that just isn’t there. Sitting in my misery, waxing nostalgic for those days of long soft-serve strands. Better, more innocent times.

Today I had a breakthrough. Maybe the psyllium husk is kicking in. Or perhaps I drank the right quantity (read: lots) of coffee. In any case I felt a familiar burbling in my bowels and got excited. For some reason the lyrics “I’m gonna do a poo” popped into my head, to the tune of “We’re Going to the Zoo”. I, a nearly 31 year old man, giggled to myself. I was eager to unload. I sat down, raised my heels and grabbed my ankles. I didn’t strain, it all came naturally. I looked down and saw it. In the bowl there was a cute little mild curve, like the mouth of a smiley emoticon. I had a revelation. I felt the next package making its way down. I let a little come through, then pinched off a small nugget. It landed perpendicular to the smile, directly above it. Was I doing this? I tilted my buttocks to the right and moved an inch back in my seat. I pinched off another dot. It landed just to the top left of the first one. I took a breath, shifted my buttocks to the left and pinched out the last dot. I waited a second, heart racing, then looked down at what I’d done. Had I accomplished my grand design? My Mona Lisa Smile?

🙂

They’re pretending to be something they’re not. Doesn’t that make Autobots as deceptive as Decepticons?

Do you know what’s cute? Looking back at stories you wrote as a child. That’s cute. I’ll always remember one of my most salient pieces of kid fiction: “Optimus Prime met Megatron. The Decepticons shot the Autobots with their lasers. The Autobots died.” There’s a clear arc. The stage is set, characters established. We see the characters take action and overcome adversity. Then there’s a satisfying conclusion. I couldn’t write better these days if I tried. Do you know what’s not cute? Looking back at any writing after the age of ten.

Teenage stuff? Oh geez it’s dreadful. I remember, as an adult, finding my diary from age 15. It was firmly couched in the exact time and age to be classified as “emo”. Lots of “I like all the girls, but they don’t like me. Something something System of a Down. Why do adults treat teenagers like kids? We’re way more mature than they give us credit for. Man, getting drunk is so cool.” That wasn’t verbatim, but not far off. Of course there’s no value in criticising our past selves, but fuck it’s fun to rip them new orifices. It’s so easy to shred the versions of us who bled hormones, who felt like adults undergoing constant body dysmorphia. When we could understand more of the world around us, without realising how much wider the world was than our viewpoint captured. There’s a question I oft see floated “would you restart your life with the knowledge and experience you have now?” Each time it’s those teenage years that give me pause. Could all the intelligence in the world counteract the ever-present fear of cumming in your pants at any moment?

A different experience is reading your writing from later. As a 25 year old, you’re technically considered an adult. I’m barely considering myself an adult going on 31. I still don’t consider whoever I was at 25 the kind of bloke who would’ve paid taxes (I mean, I did. No need to come at me, IRD). At 25 I flew to the U.S. with a bunch of mates, rented an RV and drove across The States. Today I stumbled across our old travel blog and read it again. It was about what you’d expect. Some parts were bafflingly hard to digest, either in message or perspective. Certain references are too insular, based around group dynamics or New Zealand memes. Others have fallen by the pop-cultural wayside. A 2012 Twilight reference seems a lot less inspired in 2018. Some viewpoints still needed a few years to slow cook before becoming fit for human consumption. In a few parts it was just poorly written or made scant sense. It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.

At other moments I was surprised to find passages that read well. Vocabulary I’ve since forgotten or cycled out. There was a creativity and excitement about the world I found refreshing. Occasional lucid moments that still resonate. Most pieces were basically journal entries (what’s changed?), but I found workarounds to lighten them up. One of them I did time based mental snapshots, using certain moments to create a larger picture of the day. Our New Orleans adventure was structured as a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. It was silly and gratuitous, but remains a neat read.

I can’t deny that any of it happened, it’s all there for the decades to lay bare. On the other hand, why would I care? None of us would be who we are without the steps we took. If they didn’t leave an imprint, what would be the point?

Sadly the “ketogeneric” line was the standout here.

The more that I try to think about what to write about other than keto, everything circles back to keto. Is this some kind of mental trick? Like “don’t think about X” means that “X” filters all other thoughts and as such, just forces you to think about X more? I can’t be bothered filtering and there’s very little else going on in my life at the moment, so you’re getting more keto content. I guess you could say we’ve reached a ketogeneric state?

Dumb puns aside (there goes my entire arsenal -Ed), I’m finding this whole process interesting (even if none of you are). It’s causing me to look at everything I ingest under a magnifying glass, which is another way of saying I’m obsessing. I pissed onto a small stick today, like some faux pregnancy. They’re called Keto Sticks and they’re used for measuring the ketones in your urine. Unlike the pregnancy test, there’s a colour scale. It’s not like you can be kind of pregnant, but you can be in varying degrees of ketosis. My reading (which was hilarious to do. As I peed on the little stick it boinged back and forth like one of those door stopper springs) said I have trace amounts of ketones in my body. Trace amounts? I figured my past week’s fanaticism deserved more than trace amounts. I wanna be pissing ketones out the wazoo (otherwise known as my urethra). On the other hand, according to a bunch of threads I read, the sticks aren’t super accurate and being overly hydrated (or dehydrated) could affect the reading. They universally said to check first thing in the morning. So first thing in the AM I’m gonna check my pee-M.

Secondly, broth. I’ve got chicken broth bubbling away in the slow cooker. It smelled amazing when I left this morning and it’s only gonna get better. I’m no stranger to chicken soup and it’s wondrous panacea qualities. It’s one of my favourite foods, no joke (also that’d be a pretty tepid joke at best, even if I was leaning against an exposed brick wall for authenticity’s sake). Bone broth is a whole different endeavour. It’s quite possibly one of those hipster health movements, but maybe it’ll help encourage some healthy movements in my bowels. I don’t think that’s one of its benefits, but I’ll try most anything at this point. N. E. Way. I threw in the corpses of two whole chickens, plus some apple cider vinegar yesterday evening. They cooked all night and this morning I added chopped carrots, onion, garlic and celery. By the time I get home tonight, I should have a savoury gelatinous mass that I can melt down into a rich broth. I can wait (and I’ll have to) but I don’t want to.

Moving back to the movements, I got myself some psyllium husk powder in the hopes that it’d ease my struggles. Holy coprophilia, Batman, does that ever taste foul? Nobody told me it doesn’t easily dissolve in cold water, so the first few times I tried it there were little orbs of repugnant gel in a viscous liquid. Even after figuring that out, the stuff is nigh inedible without gagging. Like some form of rotting mushrooms, it’s fucking hard to get down your gullet. Then again, I figure that’s the point of this biological equivalent of drain cleaner. It terrifies everything clogging up your pipes, which rushes to the exit. So far I’ve had middling results, but here’s looking up. I’m increasing my dosage day by day as it suggests, which seems to merely be upping my revulsion. Positive signs?

Worth mentioning is that last night featured exceedingly the best meal I’ve had since I started this bloody diet. Emphasis on bloody, because I had roasted strip loin done pretty rare. It was divine and so goddamn simple. Down to $3/lb from $12/lb, I felt pretty chuffed to have a high quality meat cut for once. I cranked the oven to 450°F and put on a dry rub. I tossed it in for 15 minutes, turned it to 350° for 35 minutes, then took the slab out and rested it for 20 minutes. That was it. I flanked my steak with a heaping of silverbeet (known as Swiss Chard over this side of the pond. Silverbeet’s a better name) and cabbage. While luxurious, it was also the most normal meal of my past week. Nothing in it felt like I was pandering to the diet. No extra fats added in order to hit macros, just a glorious and delectable dish.

Have I bored you enough with the comings and goings of my intestinal tract? Like I give a shit.

🙂

Whether you Winfrey or Losefrey, some games shouldn’t be played.

Would I like Oprah to be the next president of the United States? Most definitely not. Would she be leagues better than Trump? Most assuredly so. Is there more to it than that? Well I’d hope so.

A few months back I realised that I knew very little about Oprah. I knew she was part of the elusive Single Name Club with Prince and Adele. I knew she once gave away cars to the audience, and took another audience to Australia. I knew she was immensely popular, enough to have her own magazine, television network and book club. I knew she often shilled products, perhaps not as repulsively as Gwyneth Paltrow, but enough for it to bring in significant amounts of cash each year. I knew where Oprah had gone, but I didn’t know where she’d come from. Was she ever Jenny from the Block?

It turns out Oprah’s rise to fame was actually badass. Born to a broken home, she was tossed around various family members throughout her childhood. Over this time she was molested by multiple family members. After she’d had enough, she left home at the age of 13. She became pregnant at 14, but her son was premature and passed away shortly after. She eventually moved back in with a family member who pushed her back towards education. She flourished and got top marks, earned a scholarship, etc. She went into communications and entered a career first as a radio newscaster, then onto television news. This led to talk show work and I’m sure you can guess the rest.

Oprah struggled throughout her life and learned resolve. She had to fight to get to where she is and she’s become an industry. Donald Trump probably never even learned to spell the word adversity. He was born into a family of excessive wealth and ushered through life on a figurative palanquin. Even when the Vietnam war loomed, he managed to dodge being drafted multiple times, no doubt because of family connections greasing the wheels. Trump started his adult life with a loan of one million dollars.

Oprah is an articulate and experienced public speaker. She’s experienced real loss and met others who have. She’s had to be compassionate and warm to get to where she is. Trump is an ageing buffoon who stumbled his way through a presidential run, buoyed by the mantra of “anyone but her.” He’s in no way fit to lead the Western World’s economic superpower.

You know what though? I still don’t think Oprah should be president. I don’t think Kanye should be president. I don’t think we should be looking to celebrities and opinion leaders to the head of a nation. Of course it’s not unprecedented (unpresidented? -Ed), but that doesn’t entirely justify it. Politics, like any other career, has steps of experience and skills to learn. I’m sure Oprah has a vast array of skills at her disposal and, at her prime, would’ve had the thrust to take on such a role. Thing is, Oprah isn’t at her prime. She’s become too large. She’s too much of a persona with the constant drone of yes-men buzzing around her. She’s a corporation and, as we’ve learned with Trump, a corporation should not be President of the United States. I have tons of respect for Oprah and her journey. I just don’t see it leading to The White House.

Frankly, I don’t know if she’d want to take the pay cut.

What kind of change was I expecting?

I feel quite bushed. Worn out. Flattened. Wrecked. Ruined might be stretching it a bit far, but in any case I’m feeling under the weather. Easy sentiment when it’s snowy and gross out. I stayed home from work today. I tried, oh God did I try. I got on a crowded bus down to the station. The train platform was wall to wall people. I felt sweaty and achy. Slightly out of it. I’ve felt a little off all day. I’m still not right as rain. I wish I could blame all the tired and cliché expressions I’m tossing out on that, but really they’re a part of who I am. In any case, I headed back to work from home, but on the way realised I was quite possibly unwell. Temperature of 96.5°, which isn’t crazy far off, but neither is it a picture of perfect health. I tend to feel guilty taking sick days, but end most years with an abundance of them. They’re there (there, there) for a reason right?

This weird thing has happened in the past few years, that if I’m just butting around at home I have a hard time doing zero productive things. I tried to take it easy today, but still kept pottering around, doing washing and the like. At some point I resolved to take it easier and tooled around on the internet. I watched a couple of episodes of Lovesick‘s new season. The show is fine, watchable and totally mindless. In short, it’s basically the perfect kind of sick day TV.

I could’ve picked up my malaise from any number of convalescent pals. Hell, my girlfriend has been feeling a bit run over lately. It would surprise me zero at all to discover that the dastardly keto flu was still hanging about. I knew I had to increase my sodium intake, but most days I’ve been getting up to one or two grams. Apparently for the first little while I should be at three or four grams per day. Six days in, I still have no idea if I’ve entered ketosis. I do know that (unlike the first few days) I’m actually getting hungry around meal time. That could also be the fact that I’m hovering around 1400 calories per day. It’s not a huge amount, especially on gym days.

One thing that hasn’t sorted itself out yet is my digestive tract. I’m still not pooping like I want to be pooping. Let’s get one thing straight, before trying keto, pooping was one of my legit skills. I read a great article years ago about someone who created a blog where she’d do absolutely everything Oprah suggested for a year. The logline (seriously, no pun intended. You’ll see) was about doing “S” shaped poops. Oprah had a guest on who talked about stool health (maybe this show is up my alley). They said that a poop with two curves was an indication of a great digestive tract. Since then, I’ve prided myself on my ability to create lengthy and curvy poops in all manner of shapes. “S” was almost too easy. I’ve made “M/W”s, pretzels, ampersands and maybe even the Prince symbol. Once I discovered coffee, I’d poop even more. I’d drop heavy loads many times per day. I felt transcendent. Lighter than air, even.

As for the last few days, it’s dwindled to rabbit pallets and fun size bars. I expected that I’d lose weight on this diet, but I didn’t think I’d lose such a massive part of myself. I feel like I’ve lost a part of my core identity. Still, I’m not gonna take this sitting down. I’ve been continuing to drink coffee and eating a ton of fibrous foods. While I wasn’t sure if they were keto, I’ve discovered that I could fold chia seeds and nutritional yeast back into my diet. I got a bag of psyllium husk powder, so we’ll wait and see if that penny drops (though I’d be happier if it were a pound).

At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom dollar.