Sweater weather

Well I feel like wet garbage.

I don’t know what exactly has me down, but I feel cold and flu-esque. My skin is ultra sensitive, my muscles ache, I’m mega congested. I spent most of last night in bed just tossing and turning around. It felt like purgatory. I’d turn one way, settle in, then feel uncomfortable and turn the other way. I don’t know how much sleep I actually got, but I imagine it was in the realms of 4-5 hours if even. According to this article I read yesterday, that ain’t enough. The article says eight hours or bust, basically. That while we think we’re doing fine on fewer, we ain’t. That the cumulative effect of losing an hour daily can be tantamount to feeling drunk. Maybe 2020 is the year I finally tackle my dislike of slumber. Much as I don’t want to be sleeping that much, if it’s the healthy and responsible choice, I’m getting too old not to make those. It only gets worse from here on out, and the undesirable task of mitigating that falls to me. Gross. Is that what growing old is all about?

I’m honestly kind of gutted to be missing work today. It’s my first sick day as an independent contractor. Without paid sick leave, there’s a very real cost to being sick. I’m impressed that this is the first time since I started in September that I’ve had to stay home. Still, I could use the funds. We’re going to Montreal over the weekend for a wedding. So yes, money could be handy (as if it’s ever not), but I think it’s more important to take the time and heal up, rather than potentially ruining a trip. I’ve got a few days to right myself, or at least to get to a place where meds can do the heavy lifting. It’s gonna be cold and snowy no doubt. Montreal in January tends to be. Last year when we walked down the road in Montreal, cars were entirely covered by snow. It was nuts, and felt like we’d strolled through a blizzard. If I don’t get healthy soon, I really will be under the weather. Pun 1000% intended.

I’m actually pretty excited for this trip. I love weddings, and while I don’t know this couple super well, I do know them as abundantly loving, creative people. I’m sure it’s gonna be a fantastic ceremony, but moreso it’s gonna be a great crowd to spend time with. As far as I understand, there are a few group activities, and the wedding itself has involved a lot of communal work. The bridal party is quite extensive and close-knit. My girlfriend is part of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up, and the special touches that the ceremony will exhibit.

Right now though, I’m looking forward to kicking this flu to the curb.

Good news if you wanted to live in an escape room

I have nothing significant to say, and I feel more than borderline sick, so why not write?

I feel conflicted writing about shows I’ve done Described Video for. Most of them have yet to air, so that seems tantamount to spoilers? I don’t know that anyone would care, but something about it still seems iffy. For the first time in so very long, I really like my job. If there was any way my behaviour could lead to losing it, that’d be good behaviour to avoid. That said, I was watching a show last night where two characters wanted to have sex but OH NO, they were out of condoms. They had a chat about whether or not they had to use them, because she was on birth control. She was like “well, how about we both get tested, and try this again tomorrow night?” It read as if there was some causality implied. They’d get the tests, and if they were both STI free, they’d have sex sans condoms. Have these writers ever had a check up? What kind of place do they go where they’re getting instant answers? Every time I’ve had a sexual health check up they’ve been like “here, pee in this plastic container and if you never hear from us again, you’re all good.” It’s not the biggest issue in the world, but it also seems a little odd that nobody in the writer’s room would speak up. It’s great they’re encouraging check ups, but it would’ve been nice to handle those little details. I mean, look, I’m not asking for them to do a detailed scene where these characters sideline the plot to get check ups. It wasn’t even a big plot point. I dunno, just felt lazy. I’m sure very few viewers even batted an eye.

In other news, the Ford government is back on its bullshit. For those too lazy to click, they’re essentially trying to bring in changes allowing developers to hire their own building inspectors. I can’t imagine a world where this is a good idea. I’m not gonna pull any Chicken Little rhetoric here, but I get the sense that this would lead to a ton of rushed jobs, where safety concerns went largely ignored. The chances of developers hiring inspectors who were fully impartial, and held building codes and standards with the respect they deserve, seem incredibly low. Like most of the Ford government’s policies, it seems the type that favours those with money at the expense of those without. The rich folks sure aren’t gonna have to live in these potentially unsafe hovels. They’re not gonna be so desperate that they’ll opt for subpar accommodations. If the province is SO worried about the abundance of inspections required and the lack of inspectors, why not pump money into hiring more inspectors? There are already institutions that perform these exact jobs, and it seems a ton easier than creating the infrastructure required for adequate additional training. It’s not like I’m well learned in these matters, but I’m not sure Ford sees a lack of education as an issue. I mean, it never stopped him.

Also, just a reminder that the Ford government removed rent caps for any properties built after November 2018. So if you’re getting one of these new rush jobs, it may be potentially unsafe, and they can raise your rent as they see fit. For the people, eh? Cool, just when we’re looking to find a new place. Will the fun never cease?

For me it will. I’m out.

All for spree and spree for all

For a change, and mostly to save time, I’m writing this on an exercise bike. My hypothesis is that by doing so it’ll cheapen both simultaneously. Last I heard, efficiency was a positive attribute.

It’s Sunday evening and this gym is dead. I’m literally the only person in the cardio area, possibly even on this floor. Who knows? The leading quality of this location is that it’s built like a labyrinth. Twisting hallways and weird back areas. The layout is so unintuitive it’s almost charming. As a result it’s very unpopular, and that’s a perk. I don’t have to wait while power lifters spend an hour and a half in a single squat rack. I can do my workout without too much hassle and leave. Even better, the bathroom is always stocked with cotton buds, so I can pick earwax AND there’s nobody around to judge me. The perfect crime. It’s crazy how quiet it is at the moment. They even turned off the music. Weird. I didn’t think there’d be listener quota.

Oh. The guy just came over. Turns out it’s quiet because this place closes at 6pm, and it’s currently 6:01pm. I need to shower tout de suite.

I’m hunkered down in the corner of a Starbucks. Because I’m a strident political activist, I’m not even gonna buy anything. Once again, the perfect crime. I’m practically on a perfect crime spree tonight. Man, I feel like spree is a word I barely use. I wonder what kind of sprees I could go on. If I get more than eight hours of sleep in a night, is that a slumber spree? I ate half a rack of ribs last night. Was that a bone spree? Does half an hour count as a writing spree? Y’know, I just worked a whole day, which felt like a veritable DV spree.

Honestly, today was an OWN spree. Oprah’s network. For the past two days it’s been almost nothing but OWN content. It’s very much not my kind of entertainment, and that’s fine. One show though, egads it’s abysmal. I don’t know that I’d ever seen Tyler Perry content before starting this job. Having watched The Haves and The Have Nots, I yearn for those days of innocence. Apparently the show is wildly popular, which seems the greatest crime of all. If there’s a spree to end all sprees, it’s that show continuing to exist. It’s tacky as shit. The acting is incredibly forced, with all the subtlety of an anvil. The writing clunks along like it’s on square wheels. I saw a bunch of people retweeting Perry saying he writes everything solo. No writer’s rooms. It shows. The plot is staid and predictable. Everyone inevitably sleeps with everyone else. For all the credit I’d be ready to give it for writing gay male characters, it fails to write any that are believable. So I guess that’s equality in 2019. That said, I can’t judge Perry on his work ethic. He’s prolific to a fault. Now that dude must engage in some writing sprees. Is that the perfect crime?

You know, maybe what we’ve learned today is that I’m an even worse criminal than I am a writer.

Well excuuuuuuuuse me Princess

Are y’all ready for a little secret? I hate making responsible choices.

I guess that’d have more impact if you knew me better. It’s not like I’m a bastion of decorum, living as an adult should. At the same time, I eat three square meals a day, try to get eight hours sleep a night, and I obviously keep regular. I never miss work, I wake up to my alarms, I do my dishes and clean my laundry regularly. I bike to work when I can, and catch public transit when I can’t. I am the very model of a boring aged millennial.

I also love to drink, smoke weed, and eat more than is necessary any chance I can get. I use excessive Oxford commas. I stay up late doing nothing meaningful on the internet. I rarely read books these days, and my mum would balk at how infrequently we clean the sheets. I still haven’t watched Parasite. I’m not perfect. I try, but I’ve got time. I’m not dead yet.

But back to the second paragraph, I get stuff done, right? I’m not a total mess, and there’s a reason for that. I’ve developed a system that works for me in making responsible choices. I’m not gonna say “it’s easy”, but here’s what works for me: I try to make excuses really hard to come by. If I have the choice to do something less responsible, I’ll usually want to do it. Maybe eight times out of ten, at least. So I’ve found that if I create a structure whereby it’s so easy to make a more beneficial choice, I will. If it’s late at night, I’ll always want to snack. If we have chocolate, ice cream, candy, whatever, that’s what I want. Over the years I’ve tried to cut down those options. I’ll stock the house with healthier foods to minimise the severity of binge eating. I’ll give myself options, but they’re pretty tame. Apples, granola, peanut butter and jam on rice cakes. If it’s more work to go to the store to pick up ice cream, I’ll likely settle for whatever’s in the fridge or cupboards.

I don’t use the snooze function on an alarm. I have a time to wake up and that’s that. If I gave myself the option of snoozing, who knows when I’d actually get out of bed? Without that choice I either get up when my alarm goes off, or I miss work. I could either be slightly frustrated by tensing my fingers and toes a bunch of times to keep myself awake, or I could get fired. It’s hard to make excuses when it’s easier to make the responsible choice.

I like biking to work. I’m not sandwiched between people, the activity keeps me alert and awake, it’s exhilarating to speed down hills. It’s also more effort than it would be to take a bus and be passive. It’s so easy to sit down and listen to a podcast, walk a small amount, then be at work. On the other hand, it’s so much cheaper to bike. Every day that I bike to work, I save roughly $6. That stacks up. Back when I worked five days per week, I was paying $145 or so per month for a bus pass. It’s Winter, so I’m biking a little less often, but if the weather was conducive I’d be spending somewhere closer to $30 a month, probably? Over the course of a year, that’s a big chunk of change. It’s definitely enough to have reimbursed myself for the cost of the bike itself. With that at stake, it seems a no-brainer to bike when I can. If I legitimately need the break, I’ll take it, but otherwise I strap on my helmet and head downhill.

Dishes, gym, sleep, washing. I don’t necessarily want to do these things. I know they’re good for me, but they’re not fun. At some point, I will have to do them. If I keep procrastinating, I’ll have to think about how I’m not doing them. The frustration will sit in the back of my brain, and it’ll niggle at me when I’m doing something I like. So the thing I like becomes less enjoyable, ’cause I’m too busy being annoyed with my procrastination. The sooner I do them, the sooner they’re over and I can enjoy the stuff I actively want to do. These tasks may mean I spend less time doing my chosen activities, but it’ll be quality time when I do. When I think of it that way, where are my excuses?

Case in point, this daily writing. Do I want to do it every day? Any day? Mostly no. However, my choice is to do the writing before I go to sleep. I’m not allowed to sleep until I’ve written. Insomnia would be less desirable than putting aside half an hour, so it’s hard to find an easy excuse. Accordingly, I think I’ve done almost 2500 days in a row. See, it works!

Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna buck the trend and excuse myself for the day.

Is “I watch too much TV to watch TV” a real issue?

I watch more and less TV than ever.

Most of it isn’t elective viewing. Given that I’m working in Described Video, my job literally requires me to watch TV for eight or so hours per shift. I have very little control over what I watch. Sometimes it’s good, most of the time it ain’t. Whatever, that’s my job. I’m not complaining. It still boggles my mind how dominant reality TV is after all these years. Entertainment is entertainment, and I judge nobody for what they choose to watch. That said, egads these shows are fucking garbage, and I’m sure that’s part of the attraction. Rich white women with manufactured conflict and unrelatable issues. I’m sure it’s part train wreck, part vicarious. What would it be like to have all that money, and such simple problems? Hell, I see these dating shows and mentally insert myself into the situation. What would I say? How would I react? I get that. What I don’t get is how, in the Golden Age of Content, we’ve placed the mundane on such a pedestal and made stars out of unremarkable nobodies. Things like Bravocon freak me out. I don’t know at what stage people go from mocking to idolising these figures. It’s beyond weird. Celebrity is fucked up, but that’s nothing new. I mean, it gave us Trump, right? That played out well…

I don’t know what the point of that preamble was, if not to say that I’m watching TV all day at work. When I get home, it’s hard to sit down and get invested in a narrative. My stack of TV I meant to watch has grown out of control. I never got around to Chernobyl, which I’ve only heard amazing (and bleak) things about. I think I’m a series behind in Killing Eve, which feels like a travesty. That show is a goddamn marvel. Excessive critical response to Succession tells me that I’m far overdue to watch and catch up. Search Party is one of the most original shows I’ve seen in years, and my girlfriend and I have been at the start of season 2 for yonks. I don’t know what, aside from discomfort maybe, has kept me from diving deeper into Baskets. It’s as funny as it is cringeworthy. I have yet to finish Hannibal, a show that I can’t believe ever made it to network television. Still haven’t finished Legion, something I would’ve chastised myself for a year ago. I loved True Detective season one so much, and while season two was a shitshow, I’ve heard overwhelmingly good things about season three. The Americans is apparently impeccable, but the amount of seasons feels daunting when my list is already so long. It’s part of nobody’s water cooler talk, so I think I’m safe for now. Speaking of which, when am I gonna start Deadwood? Will I ever get far enough into Lodge 49 that I understand the widespread adoration people feel for it? Then again, Fosse/Verdon is supposed to be fantastic and the people involved are amazing. But what of Watchmen? It’s been so high on critics’ lists and makes sense given all of my tastes. It feels like if there’s a time to start, it’s now. But Kumail/Emily’s Little America is only a week or two away. When am I gonna find the time for that?

All of which is to say that I started Ramy last night at around 2am and instantly fell in love. While I’m not and have never been religious, I really appreciate media that depicts religion as an everyday part of normal people’s lives without being preachy. It’s something that’s integral to so many, and in the kind of narratives I watch it’s usually some kind of boogie man or metaphor for a system of control. Thing is, belief is something we all have whether religious, spiritual or systemic. While much of the cultural climate depicts faith as an outmoded concept, for so many it isn’t. Ramy, from the one episode I saw, manages to depict the struggles of living a modern Western life, balanced with the demands of personal faith. Specifically with the Muslim faith, I’m so naive as to what it means in a mundane context. How does it change dating? Work? Social interactions? Does it even affect those things? Is it possible to package all that into a hilarious, heartfelt show that’s immensely accessible? It looks like Ramy may well have those answers.

So I guess that other stack can wait.

Three more years on here until I get tenure

I’m sure this deserves a little more pomp and a lot more circumstance than I’m giving it, but 2019 is coming to an end. A decade closing out. For all I know I could be talking out of my arse, but I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up being the best decade of my life. From 22 to 32, it’s been ten years of freedom and exploration. I came into 2010 an apple cheeked dreamer, and I’m signing out 2019 with saggier cheeks. I think the dream, miraculously, may still be alive. It was a tumultuous time, searching for meaning, passion and connection. I jumped between jobs, industries and countries. I fell in love, experienced heartbreak, fell in love again and again. Sharp and pointed intelligence gave way to wisdom and understanding. I made more than my fair share of mistakes, and tried to learn from them. I’m beyond a doubt a more compassionate, empathetic person than I was. I’ve met so many people who have shaped the person I’ve become, and I’m so thankful to have had them in my life.

A decade is a ton to cover. So here are some loose things that happened:

  • Friends and I went to New York for New Years. I met Four Loko and begun a long term tryst. I got beyond drunk and was almost kicked out from Katz’s Deli for crying too loudly and being a menace.
  • People I went to high school with began getting married and having kids. I’m still yet to check off either of those marks.
  • I started drinking coffee, which may have been my first step down a long dark path.
  • I worked in a university radio archive. We digitized National Radio shows spanning 1960-1999. I got 1-4 emails per month and listened to hundreds of podcasts.
  • I went to Lollapalooza with a friend, then zig-zagged over to my brother’s wedding in Whistler.
  • I had my first adult relationship with a wonderful woman. Our breakup was the catalyst for my life-changing move from New Zealand to Canada.
  • I started this project back in 2013, just to get better at writing. The jury’s still out on whether that happened.
  • I taught children gymnastics, in a weird part time job. At this job I also fell through a roof, and fed lizards.
  • I took on writing opportunities to see if I could expand into that professionally. I wrote live music reviews and had a brief stint as a ghost writer for a food blog. Turns out it wasn’t my calling.
  • I started dating here in Toronto. A couple of those dates ended up introducing me to communities that defined my life here, and ultimately led me towards meeting my girlfriend of 5+ years.
  • We’re still together, we live together, and I grow more in love with her with each passing year. We’ve helped each other grow, been supportive during difficult times, and approached new life challenges as a team. She’s fostered a kind of communication I haven’t found with anyone else. Instead of things blowing up, we talk through them and look for compromise. I’ve never harboured the illusion that things in a long term relationship have to be rosy all the time, but we’ve got an eerily solid track record. I don’t think a good relationship just happens, it’s maintained. Some people make that easier than others, and it’s hard to imagine waking up next to anyone else day after day.
  • I launched the Air Bud Pawdcast with a friend, and it’s possibly the most work I’ve put into something dumb in my entire time breathing.
  • I met so many amazing friends who have become integral to my life. I love them utterly, and my Toronto friend circles have become family. We’ve had weeeeird experiences together, but by GOD have we experienced things.
  • I became an uncle. MULTIPLE times.
  • After years of death by a thousand cuts, I became depressed and totally lost my will to live. I started taking anti-depressants, and they entirely turned my life around.
  • I saw Cats (2019).
  • I once found Waldo in the world of Waldos.

Mostly though, I say “y’all” now. What a world.

See y’all on the other side.

Maybe I shouldn’t have ditched he brew school

Well excuuuuuse me for trying something new.

I had issues sleeping last night. It could’ve been the glass or two of wine I had prepping dinner. Maybe I was just overheated, given my sweaty sheets. It could’ve even been the cat, meowing loudly enough at 7am to pierce my earplugs. Whatever it was, the evidence hung in heavy bags below my eyes. I had no time to make coffee at home, and- given that there were no buses for almost 20 minutes after leaving the house- I had no time to pick one up en route to work. Tired indeed.

In our office we have free coffee. There are metal brew carafes¬†on either side of the kitchen. Enough to make up to five pots at once. It’s a big company and well-populated floor. That all tracks, right? Well nobody else was here this morning. It’s Sunday in the middle of a holiday period. I get it. Still, I had to be here, and I wanted coffee. It’s all pretty shitty coffee, but I thought I’d be smart. I spied the sachets of hot chocolate and had an idea. I could mix the chocolate powder in with the ground beans, then maybe they’d mix to create a great chocolate coffee concoction.

Things got messy. I came into the kitchen ten minutes later expecting a finished brew. What I found was quite different. The carafe cradle was FLOODED. Nothing had reached the floor, but it’d spilled out onto the bench a little. One of the cleaning women was washing dishes in the sink. I hastened my pace and grabbed a drive by paper towel roll. I begun wiping it down, but the brew kept coming. I cleaned the bench. I lifted the carafe- taking care to catch the droplets- while cramming towels beneath it. The carafe, however, was strangely light. It wasn’t even full. Still, the brew kept dripping on out. The cleaning woman laughed heartily. Specifically at me, not with me. I finished up the cleaning and stood back to ponder. Why had it made such a mess?

I realised, when the hot water hit the chocolate powder, it probably foamed up instead of dripping through grounds as it normally does. Then the filter basket filled, spilling over the sides. I looked down at the carafe and lifted it.¬†Well, hopefully it tastes good at least. Somehow, it tasted worse than normal. I’d taken two middling to bad things and combined them to make the sum of their awfulness. The coffee had a weird, artificial taste to it. Somehow the chocolate had only emboldened the bitterness. It was, in a word, gross. I made a label to warn others away from consuming it. It was bad enough that I’d brought this monstrosity to life, let alone spread my horror to tired, unsuspecting Sunday-goers. I slunk back to my studio, downtrodden. How had this turned out so dismal? I just wanted to skill-lessly bring together two of my conceptual loves. I’ve had many a mocha in my life. Why am I eternally doomed to failure with these amateur level concoctions? It’s very much not the first time, and I doubt I’ll overcome my hubris enough to exclusively trust professionals instead.

So cheers to future fuckups, I guess.