In light of the continual push-and-pull-and-fuck-about us Wertern millenials call “being an artist,” I present an abridged list of procrastinations here on my side of Freelance Arsehole blvd.:

1- A relatively lucrative week among the shills down here means that while writing should follow an afternoon of catching up on my more quixotic reading pursuits, I end up inevitably down at Simons looking at their latest cotton knit collection and buying a comfy, blindingly orange sweater.

2- The issue with the hustle and bustle of being boss No.1 in one’s working life—i.e., being entirely reliant on one’s own motivation to get shit done and mo’ money sans mo’ problems—is that something like Instagram, a very recently disdained and ignored network in the ether, suddenly becomes a “creative outlet” for a “constructive” “presence. In light of sweater guilt, I take the following pic and compose the following Insta-poem: “Everything is starting to look like Chandler…” It is liked by strangers, which only further serves to reinforce the time-suckiness of “presence.”


3- While there’s nothing quite as refreshing as waking up to a warm, svelte body, being woken up by one at 8AM and spending the rest of the pre-dusk day delving deeper into it’s most naked of hyperrealist nuances, and breaking only for bacon and eggs and Nutella pancakes, is by no means a way to “hit the books” and/or “make literary history.” It’s fun, though—so duh.

4- Friday: 1AM. In a much avoidable attempt to foul my own sleep before a 7AM photo shoot that may lead to some paid writing work, I mentally argue the pros and cons of using the word “bitch.”While I find no more qualms with the gendered nature of the expression as I do with that of “asshole” or “motherfucker,” I find it is undeniable that when used as a blanket term for women—outside of a self-aware, ironical context—it is indefensible. For illustrative purposes only, consider: “Don’t be such a little bitch about it.” Ew. Of course, I write none of this untimely mental practicum down, which I totally could have made into something (still trying, but failing, apparently).

5- While binge watching, the former 8-hour daily scourge of my writerly existence, has finally, I think, been gotten out of my system, the sudden return to form of Frasier in the second half of season 10 does threaten with the possibility of a relapse. For those interested who have access to American Netflix (a binger must-have): S10e11, titled Door Jam, is a Niles-and-Frasier dandyism must-watch hoot!

6- Irony alert: Internet articles. Though I’m aware there are remaining vestiges of qualified and worthwhile reading on the web (interlocutor clears throat), the vast majority of what is posted, shared and indeed trafficked shadily online is so foul and indicative of a devolution of any kind of journalistic or editorial standard that I’ve basically stopped reading anything unrelated to clothing, art and/or kittens that appears on the Internet. That being said, some time this past Sunday afternoon, I read an ill-informed FB post about the alleged “content-less” nature of Gravity that drove me up the wall, comment-reading as I went. Before I knew it, I’d commented on it, and read five unrelated, un-researched articles, and looked over the Internet edge to see how deep its shit-maelstrom now went, and I’d ranted to my naked lover about the antagonism of this “democratization of ‘information’” and the general misinformation most Web 3.0 dwellers feel entitled to spew in light of our socially networked era and how PEOPLE’S OPINIONS ARE SUDDENLY JUSTIFIED BY THEIR ABILITY TO CLICK ‘POST.’ By the time I had come up from the void of my own melancholy, and though my lover seemed oddly charmed by the haughty rant, I thought to myself what a waste of bile. I felt like an angry tween with all the shoulder chips that might, at its worst, suggest, and I had nothing constructive to show for it. Oh well. The Internet can be depressing. If you allow it to be. I cuddled it out, for shame.

7- Though I’ve been good enough to eradicate most shit-maelstrom bound WWW tangents, I still fall into the perhaps twice-weekly concussive wormhole of clothes creeping. One minute I’m exploring the edge of some polemical creative spurt against mass dysfunction, or reading something ingeniously printed on paper—the other I’m creeping agatine eyelets, ravello cordovan leather, and alpaca insoles, wondering if I’ll ever see the last two hours again. Short answer: I will not. I’ve killed them.

8- Work. This one is tricky and entitlement-drenched and gross. I like work. But I like it best when I get sent a 600-word, $150 translation that takes up an hour and then I can call it a day at noon. Sure, I love the final product of the odd $1000 week, especially in the aftermath of a $1000 month, but then I’m also left with embarrassment and the faint, sustained sting of what seems to be my own hackishness: a non-reading, non-writing and non-anything-prioritized kind of week. Hence the sweaters, the Instagrams, the lovers, and, again, the rants. MUST RUGGEDIZE 4 REAL WORLD.

9- Taking pictures of my cat . . .


10- Myself. Let’s not dwell on this one. A catchall term, let’s face it. Own worst enemy, the lot of us.

You don’t know this by the look of me, but I’m very, very straight. I mean, I grunt whenever I get up. I crack my knuckles, and give things slight punches à la Underwood (there’s an irony there, I know). I do pushups and shadowbox—a Rocky fan. A die-hard Die Hard fan, a roadie for Roadhouse.

Along even more stereotypical lines, I can watch anything from basketball and football to curling, golf and snooker for supple, easy hours. I’m also, in the most personal of terms, unwavering, decisive and, as far as my most discerning and schizoid pal AJ is concerned, manly.

Basically, I am, in the queerest of terms, a male-identified cis male, and I’d probably score, no joke, a 5 or 6 on the Kinsey scale. For the sake of exposition, this is how it is.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the better part of the last 5 years in very tight 510 Levi’s. We’re talking so skinny they put a “super” in front of it. And the occasional ladies’ pair, too. And coupled with the rest of my telling sartorial zealotries, I’ve gotten so many double and triple takes and finger points and flaring come-ons—and put-offs, even in fair ol’ Montreal—I’m quite aware of and comfortable with the impression the whole look delivers. It’s never posed a real problem, so that’s that.

Granted, however, the square narrowness of that impression remains a continual curiosity for me, and I mean with queer, not-so-queer and straight-as-an-arrow types alike.

And so—somewhere between my queer-minded dialectics, which have worked their way into my queer-acquainted rhetoric, and the “Blossom”-coloured ladies’ cable- knit sweater I picked up at AA last Friday—a lady friend started making the most expectable little jabs at my homo potential. Plied as she may be by both my clothed and unclothed charms, “You’re so fucking gay!” was suddenly coming out of her mouth on the regular.

Now, for the sake of the utmost clarity: my lady friend is no homo-basher. In fact, she’s a bit of a queer one herself. And the colloquial phrasing was in fact uttered for the sake of conversational irony, mostly—a kind of off-colour joke that opened up to a much enjoyed, crappy Southie-accented “You’re so fuckin’ qware!” line of jokeries shouted at each other over donuts. We both agreed the sweater looked good, and so it was. The Coldstone Cremery section of Timmy Hos is the most agreeable.

But then another queerish lady friend, beholding the same sweater I was modelling for her over the sound of “Raspberry Beret” (played in honour of a certain cyclical affair), multiplied the sight of it by the factor of the last 510s I’m sporting on the regular (a rather baby blue mineral wash pair that fits rather perfectly, looks rather flaming), smirked, shook her head, and let out the exact same “You’re so fucking gay!”

And I was, yet again, arrested by the curiosity of it in the moment.

There I was: feeling manly as hell in my sinew-accenting dirty-rose sweater, a young straight man with something to give, and apparently qware as fuckin’ rainbows. A lady before me on a quest for a slick midnight delight, pinning the G word on me, only half joking.

In that moment, I pondered the idea of a dude in my bed, yet again, and got ever so softer. I thought ‘maybe Paul Newman, or that boy Bryce Cody,’ but even then, I knew I’d get nowhere. I am what I am. I looked her over. I gave her a smile. So where do we take this?

I decided to slip the sweater off, and stuff happened. I slipped out of something else, and another something else, and more happened. “If I Was Your Girlfriend” came on, for instance.

Finally, naked, nothing got lost in translation. No one gave a good goddamn. Finally. So I kept doing my thing.

There’s this thing I do the second I get in the door: as soon as I’ve removed my shoes, be they oiled leather boots or burnished tan calfskin wingtips, I pull out the large Moneysworth 100% horsehair shoe brush I keep by the door especially for these routine instances and I vigorously, smartly, swiftly give my shoes a no-nonsense brushing.

Now, this, to the connoisseur, is a matter of simple maintenance. A properly patina-ed dress shoe or boot will shine back to life as dust and pedestrian hazards are effortlessly swept off the upper; the general muck, calcium or unmentionable whatever will part with a well-oiled shit-kicker with miraculous ease under a brisk hand. Every proper clotheshorse will tell you this simple bit of care will add years to quality shoes, whether they be dainty or heavy duty.

But everyone else—and there’s a lot of everyone-elses—will first wonder if I’m endearingly fastidious, or just compulsively weird. Never, though, will they doubt I’m being peculiar. And with those for whom the sight of the brush in my hand has become an expected one, I am more than a little familiar with the recurring eye-roll or sigh, not to mention the not-too-occasional snigger or scoff.

I don’t mind, of course. This isn’t ninth grade; I have no desire to pretend I don’t know better. But I wonder how they don’t realize I’m just efficiently ruggedizing for the vortex. If maybe they don’t realize their own spirit animals could use a little winter shellac. This wind-chilled port city of ours is a case study in emotional and physical decay a full five months a year, and surely you’ve noticed the signs yourself. It runs deeper than potholes—marks every foot, colours every bit of skin.

You may, for instance, have a friend, as I do, who schedules morning baths of Vitamin D light in his kitchen. He’s got a lamp for that; they have a spiritual bond, he and it.

You may, say, have spent all of December wrapped in blankets bingeing on Frasier. I know I did, with all of House of Cards, and Arrow’s heavy-handedness, too, for good measure. Lots of peanut butter cookies, for shame, and lots of late-night squats to repent (my ass got to hurting from all the sitting).

Needless to say, we all fall into and try to strike out of all that—me included, thankfully. Now, I’m braving the slush and black ice and anti-freeze-laced salt the city sprinkles over everything. And you know what makes it easier on the soul? Footwear that doesn’t look like it belongs in second grade, and leather that doesn’t look like gluttonous deposits are trying to eat their way through to the toes.

And so, shoe care is the balm to the well-prepared wintering soul, keeping winter’s teeth out where possible. A step-by-step meditation, you might say, with clear results.

Take a cold solemn night, for one, where I can literally see the heavy cold ghosting off the school across the way. Then, there’s nothing like a good shoe-shining session to keep the lid on the old mind. Imagine a little Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee for warmth, a little Trophy Wife, guilt-free, in the background. Picture those formerly calcium-eaten boots then sheening like big Blistex-ed lips, or a fine pebble grain cap-toe resplendently reflecting your silhouette. Take it in. Keep it with you.

My back always hurts a tad by the time I’m done shining, but I’m always greatly relieved knowing my feet’ll be ready for the upswing, the storm, the mess. I look over at a healthy-looking pair or two and I know they’ll get me wherever. I know ecstasy could indeed swell from the ground up, even on the cold front. And the elements can go screw themselves.

And the brush is a big help.