For any other couple, drinking Four Loko on a park bench would be a low point, rather than a bonding experience.

It was around the point where we were asked to leave the Church of Scientology’s downtown New York headquarters that we realised things were not looking good for our heroes. I’ve always heard it said that taking a trip with a loved one is a big test of the relationship, because it’s in moments where you’re outside the comfortable bubble you’ve blown together that things can burst. Dealing with different wants, intentions and coping strategies really shows the points at which the strain converges. It’s becoming apparent that it’s not about the fact that conflict arises, but how you resolve the conflict while respecting the other’s wants, intentions and coping strategies of your partner in order to find resolution.

Enough vaguebooking. At some point this morning, dealing with numbing exhaustion and the 3rd night of fitful, unfulfilling rest in a row, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t quite getting what I wanted out of this trip. I was experiencing life as a tourist, rather than cutting a slice of local life. The bulk of the trip at this stage had been spent in the downtown core, around the bright lights of the big city. As someone who loves large cities for the clusters of culture, the idea of inhabiting a space built around the whitewashed absence of individuality was starkly depressing. I repeat, I love big cities, but Auckland, Toronto and New York all have this in common: The city centre blows. Up to this point, despite our enduring enthusiasm for adventure and play, to find opportunities for both in any context, I felt like I wasn’t meeting either goal. The areas I wanted to see: Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Williamsburg, Bushwick, somehow they’d evaded our path in deference to habitats with larger buildings. Not ideal, Neil. Not in the slightest.

It’s hard too, because I’ve seen this shit before. I visited for 11 days and got all of the touristy crap out of the way. This trip isn’t about me though, it’s about us. It’s about finding the compromise between those wants and intentions, to meet as many of them as we could for both of us. In realising that committing the day to waiting for Broadway standing room tickets because of financial constraint, I felt the pangs of loss. I knew that 5 days wasn’t enough to accomplish all that I wanted. In giving up effectively the next 6 hours to this, it meant that I was sacrificing one or two of those areas I’d intended to inhabit, as if grasping some modicum of life as a local. It brought into view my lack of preparation, how thinking and planning ahead would’ve drastically improved something I’d waited and worked hard for. This was nothing more than my own fault and having nowhere to move that negative energy to, nobody else to blame, caused it to bottle up within. Travelling with one other person, someone you love, you have no desire to push your negativity onto them. What is gained by bringing someone else down, let alone somebody whose happiness is your goal? Going into Matilda, a play I very much wanted to see, with such negativity meant it was hard to sweep my dour mood to the side and enjoy what was in front of me. So I didn’t.

For a while anyway. After 20 minutes or so I took a few deep breaths, realised that there were many elements outside of my control and that knowing my helplessness over a bunch of them meant I was still able to prioritise and accomplish the things that meant most to me. The tightness in my shoulders abated and I gave myself to the performance. It gave back. Amply. The scale was something very different from what I’d ever experienced. Spectacular is the right word. Everything from the music/lyrics (Tim Minchin), choreography and blocking, set design and divergent storyline from the movie made it utterly engrossing and emotionally affecting. This is one of my favourite childhood tales. A story where a special child gets to rise above adversity and realise the life she’d never been given. A tale with great representation for all types of kids. One where there’s even a fat kid who’s not castigated for his weight, where he proves himself with diligence and dedication. Even if it’s just to eating a huge cake, Bruce Bogtrotter was someone I could live vicariously through. Matilda was someone I could live vicariously through. The production was something that brought out a sense of wonder I often have trouble seeing through my own haze of disaffected cynicism. Like being a child again.

Upon leaving, I had one stipulation: We needed to be out of the downtown core and not return for the remainder of our trip. We needed to go somewhere where people lived and we could revel on others’ normalcy. We consulted the Reddit FAQ we’d bookmarked earlier. Going down to Chinatown to pick up dumplings (4 for $1) and a can of fruit punch flavoured Four Loko (still 12% in the US), we sat in a park and took time to breathe, to think about where we’d come and all the places we could go. Mostly we laughed at the absurdity of it all. We thought about how lucky we were to have this time away from everything, how fortunate we were to have each other to lean on and that just because things hadn’t been perfect up to this point, that was no reason they couldn’t get so much better.

Lying in bed with my girlfriend skin to skin, we’re both drinking and writing before heading out for more adventure. I wonder if 6 months ago when we planned this trip, I really could’ve imagined anything this excellent. It almost surprises me that the feeling in my gut says it’ll get better still.

I mean, hell. They asked us to leave the Church of Scientology for Xenu’s sake.

The marines started chanting “USA USA USA” and cheered. Someone chimed in “That was AWESOME”. ‘Murica.

Does anyone on a holiday have licence to grumble? You’re in the privileged position of having the means to temporarily leave your everyday millings and escape to a place of leisure and adventure. By the very nature of this, everything automatically needs to be rosy, right? Well I’m taking my chance to look for the thorns in this rose, because I can. Because while it’s absolutely a privilege to get away from everything back home, not everything’s rosy.

Accommodation. We were sorted, were. We had a place in East Harlem, closer to the meat of the city. Last time I came to New York I was in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant. It was a neat location to be crammed together with a bunch of friends. Bedford is slowly becoming gentrified and different areas hold their own appeal. In East Harlem we were to stay at the place of a friend of a friend. It fell through on Sunday, so instead we ended up with a last minute AirBnB place right around the corner from the last AirBnB place I stayed at. It would’ve been nice to have fresh new surroundings around us, but I guess The Rolling Stones knew what they were talking about. I can’t grumble too much. We’ve got somewhere to put our bags, which is all we really needed. It feels a bit further away from everything than I wanted, taking about 40 minutes to get into the city. We’re also lodging with a trio of older Québécois, who get up a few hours earlier then fuss about in the kitchen (directly adjacent to the closet we’re staying in) talking loudly. I’m averaging maybe 4-5 hours of sleep a night at this stage and I’m waking up exhausted. It’s definitely colouring the trip. A little bit of sunshine though, is that I managed to find good coffee under than 10 minutes walk away.

Food. I had high hopes for the food, which I knew would be hard to match. We’ve been failing to reach them spectacularly. The first time was my bad, no doubt. I’d been told to sink my teeth into some ribs at a place called Dinosaur Barbecue. Being about 20 minutes away, it wasn’t close, but not inconceivably far. It wasn’t cheap either. I thought to myself do I go for it and say fuck it because we’re on holiday, or find somewhere more reasonable? I did. Turns out Dallas Barbecue was cheaper and closer, but if quality was on the menu, I had a hard time seeing it. It became apparent that it was part of a chain franchise. The portions were fine, but the food was relatively tasteless. No authentic smokiness or rich flavours to enjoy. No succulent meat that dropped off the bone. Food that tasted like it was vat grown. The corn was juicy, but watery. The salad looked and tasted like it should’ve been served on an airline. How can you get eliminate the natural sweetness of corn? It wasn’t just my stomach grumbling. The whole restaurant was absurd. Tables as far as the eye could see. Big flatscreen TVs wall to wall playing rap/R&B videos. Frozen alcoholic slushies the size of your head in all colours of the rainbow. I crossed BBQ off our bucket list o’ food, but I didn’t feel good about it.

Before we left I’d said “no chains”. If we were to be in NYC and enjoy the multitudinous cuisine on offer, we could do better than a bunch of chain restaurants. Apparently not, because we kept ending up at them. Meeting up with friends from New Zealand who we’re coming through at the same time, we went with them to meet up with some of their friends (at some chain called Lucy). Some commodified approximation of a Hawaiian dream. Large glasses with beer slushies, frozen margaritas and nachos? We picked up a bowl of guacamole, which was fine. Fine. Did I expect too much of New York? I was expecting flavours to gush out of my every orifice, but apparently not. Apparently we get fine. I needed to get out of there and actually explore the city, so we made our leave and walked around central park, which was actually really neat. There was a large art exhibit going on with a variety of environment focused works and performances. The best of which was a solar powered ice cream truck giving out free ice cream, the colour of which would match the current temperature. The hotter it was, the reddder the ice cream would be. Ours was a strong yellow, perfect complement to a warm day.

I finally managed to get along to Rudy’s Bar and Grill, holy grail of dive bars. Serving a beer and a shot for $5 and a free hotdog with every drink you ordered, this was my kind of low class establishment. You know what? Those free hot dogs are probably the best thing we’ve eaten since we arrived. Simple, but I’m not used to hot dogs being so packed full of meaty flavour. Usually they’re fun to eat, but bland meat. I expected something insubstantial to line the stomach. These were very surprisingly delicious. Go Rudy’s. We left Rudy’s still hungry and wandered around for somewhere good. It’s hard to find anywhere stellar, because apparently people are shitty at rating restaurants on Google. We found a diner, looked at the menu and got out of there. We wanted a good meal and felt no obligation to stay just because they’d bought us water. Rudy’s had given me more hope. We could find this great food I’d been craving. Spoilers, we didn’t. After walking for about 20 minutes to find this place my friends had seen earlier, I took one look at it and knew exactly what we were getting. It looked and felt like a burger variant of Dallas BarbecueBills Burgers was another chain, but after all this wandering I didn’t feel like raising my concerns to the others. Everyone just wanted to eat. So we did. The burgers were mediocre. The alcoholic milkshakes were actually pretty damn tasty and by the end we were just so exhausted that it didn’t really matter. Despite wishes to head out and see more of the city, it was almost midnight by this point and we knew that our French buddies at home would punish us severely for eschewing any chance of sleep we had.

So here’s to today. Staying out of the city centre and everything awful that epitomises the downtown core. No more grumbles, we’re on holiday.

If this were Friends, it’d be the one where “trundled” was used excessively.

Greetings from 20,000 feet, or however many heels, toes, pads and balls (heh, balls) could accurately measure how high we are right now. Judging by the latter sentence you could be forgiven for misconstruing my vertical nature for a greener manner, but in that case you’d be incorrect. I wouldn’t hold it against you, (but secretly I kind of would). My love and I are sailing the skies in a vessel of aeronautical persuasions. Some might call it “flying”, but those people are a) squares and b) likely in possession of more than 4 hours of fitful sleep. Very few things have changed since I was a child. My excitement over air travel is not one of them.

If I’ve got a big flight coming up it’s rare for me to get more than an hour or four of slumber. My mind goes into hyperdrive contemplating the Hero’s Journey ahead of me. Am I adequately prepared? Have I forgotten anything? Will I face a road of trials on my way? Stave off interference from meddling authorities? Meet new friends? Acquire new foes? Become enlightened by my meeting with The Goddess? Return to where I started having changed? It’s all so Campbellian, so thrilling. To be plucked from my comfy residence and placed into a situation existing outside of my regular structure of control. Holy shit, I’m jazzed.

Preparations were made and we got lurched out of the gates with a roar. Not least because I woke up at 5.30, 3 hours earlier than we’d intended, giving us ample time to gather all of our things (I may have visited the supermarket and bought 20 cans of tuna. Mercury’s in retrograde, it seemed fitting) and slap on our kicks to hit the street. I mean, we may have been waylaid a little (lot) by getting… ahem “distracted”, which compensated nicely for the abundance of hours. Like I said, travel is pretty exciting. Despite this obstacle we zipped our bags shut and trundled our case along behind us. I don’t get many opportunities to use the word trundled here, so I’m taking my chance. Then again, since I call the rules I could say trundled whenever I want, even when it does fit. Jeez, soon I’m gonna proclaim myself God of this domain. Getting megalomania already? Who died and trundled me out as the Messiah?

The airport was a breeze. We trundled through it with nary an issue. Without having talked to me, the check-in clerk assumed I was heading to New Zealand. Apparently I’ve got that look? Like someone who goes down south? I’ve been known to from time to time, eh ladies? Gross. Not the right place to trundle out that gem. Okay, I’ve trundled that verb out enough. Time to pack it away. I’ve been virtually (and liberally) humming all day. The Wombats have been worming their way through my ears to my brain and they’re spinning on loop. It’s put me into a perpetually peppy and poppy mood, causing me to share smiles with all service staff. Even that burly dude who gave me a spot chosen pat down. Like father, like son eh?

Most importantly, with impending adventure coming our way we had to rise to the call and adapt. To fortify ourselves and hold strong against emerging challenges, we needed totems to believe in. Consulting the sage-like bathroom vending machine, it held the answer: His and hers sassy temporary tattoos. Straight onto the biceps they went. Mine: a blue and green bird with a red head. Basically a badass Woody Woodpecker in flight. Hers? A becleavaged maiden with the slogan “ For the Boys” underneath. Trite gender dichotomies are what we expected, but still, why is Woody Woodpecker a sign of virulent masculinity? I guess his last name is a combination of two terms for the penis, so if fits, put it in.

Tehe. Hey New York, we’re gonna get up inside you!

Goal 1: Find a plate of ribs the size of my head.

24 hours left. I feel so Kiefer Sutherland right now. In a day’s time I will have been launched into the sky inside a large metal box. I’ll move at a velocity so rapid that I’ll be propelled past clouds and birds, over the physical boundaries that define nations. Tomorrow around this time I will have landed in the metropolitan city where dreams are realised, provided those dreams involve tramping through an urban centre where everything’s available for a price. Will I somehow end my trip without procuring a shrunken head? Only time (and the vigilance of local law enforcement) will tell.

Seeing as I’ve polished off all my work in advance, all I have to think about now is the itinerary. I should grab myself an Indiana Jones hat and an S&M oriented whip, because I intend to do some exploring. The whip may or may not be for other things… I don’t know how much use it’ll be in Williamsburg and Greenwich Village, where I intend to make my stomping grounds. I’ve gotta spend some time in the Lower East Side, if only to redeem myself for my hysterical New Years Eve breakdown in that When Harry Met Sally diner. Note to self: Hold off on the Four Loko this time, buddy. I’d love to catch at least one big name stand up comic while I’m there, but I’m not finding anyone through my errant googling.

The goal as far as I can tell is to see, eat and drink as much as humanly possible on the span of 5 days. I’d say that I stretch the bounds of what is humanly possible, but frankly we’re going to ‘Murica. I’ve seen the portion sizes there, chances are I’ll only manage 2 meals a day. Challenge accepted. I recall last time that booze was irresponsibly cheap, so if I’m not arrested for public indecency I clearly haven’t tried hard enough. The secret seemed to be finding those happy hour locales that really didn’t care for the state of your inner organs. There’s an app for that. Finding happy hours, that is, not necessarily an app for damaging inner organs (though a secret black market organ sale app probably exists somewhere on the Google Play store) Failing that, I discovered on Reddit that excess stock liquor stores exist, so if our restriction really is a lack of funds, we’ve got a lot to be creative with.

We’re bringing the laptop, so my daily writing record will continue untarnished. There’s rest for the wicked, but none for the written. Plus, what better chance do I have to journal my experiences in a foreign land? I’m shit at taking pictures, preferring to opt instead for the mental ones. My girlfriend can take care of that part, with our #Coney2015 hashtag all sorted. What are we if not a couple of childish infantry taking the city by storm? Knowing New York, there’s too much insanity for me to not jot down a few daily moments of insanity in any case.

Packing is still on the agenda, given that I haven’t even taken that load of clothing out of the dryer yet. With 5 days travel, we can share a suitcase. Tempting as it is to just bring carry-on, the allure of buying at the very least one thing while in Manhattan (shrunken heads may be small, but they still take up room) means we’ll need to spring for the extra space. Also in the event that the aforementioned cheap liquor results in needing a body bag, that’s one thing pre-emptively crossed off the list. If I end up buying too much stuff I can just dispose of my used underwear and socks. I won’t need those again, right? Currently though, I need my knickers, because I’m practically shitting myself with excitement. There’s so much to do and it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve had a stretch of almost a week with no commitments outside of catching flights. If the city is our oyster, then its aphrodisiac qualities are working. Rock and/or roll motherfucker!

Rudy’s can’t fail.

Holy excrement. I feel like a high powered executive right now. I don’t walk, I stride with power. Things have gotten so busy I’m practically an inhabitant of a Richard Scarry town. My impending trip to NYC, city of a thousand names, means that everything else has accelerated to get me there. I’m surfing the crest of an exhilarating wave and it’s a rush to be atop. Work has been crammed full. See, when you crunch a department down to its barest operational staff, there’s not much room for annual leave. Hence a vacation essentially means you don’t have to be at work, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work. In order for me to take the time off, while easing the strain on the rest of my team, I have to complete my job up to Thursday next week. Essentially I need to do a week’s work in advance. Unreasonable? Who knows. I think I’m biting off a bit more than necessary just to do my part for the team. They stretched like a tanuki’s scrotum to cover my ass when I joined. It’s only fair I help out where I can. It’s been kind of great though. It’s not like I don’t do work normally, but having the extra responsibility feels like someone’s injected cocaine straight into my temples. I’ve got so much work to do that it’s causing me to push myself harder than I thought possible. Everything streams past like a blur and accordingly I’ve been rising to it. I even took the chance to skip lunch and take on a personal training session at the wellness centre across the road. It’s not loud unless it’s cranked to 11.

Now that I’ve stayed late (doing this so I can get my arse out the door and sleep at a reasonable hour), I’m pushing it even further. I’ve gotta get to my girlfriend’s house, have dinner and book it to the Phoenix Theatre to see Dan Deacon by 9pm. It’s gonna be tight, both the trip and the gig. Both times I’ve seen Dan Deacon he’s blown my mind. His albums are unrelentingly bizarre, yet consciously structured. There’s a joyful looseness that’s all too deliberate, backed only by his live performance. Comic dialogue and interactive interpretive dance punctuate a communally jubilant set. He engages the audience unlike any performer I’ve ever seen. Not to mention that his masterpiece Bromst was a mainstay of those core 2008-2010 years for me, the time period where my musical tastes were enriched and solidified. A few reasons why I flip my shit whenever he’s touring. I’d say I can’t wait, but I have to. A mere few hours.

Outside the demands of work, my girlfriend and I need to plan our itinerary for the trip. There’s an endless amount on offer in New York, but only so much time to do it. 5 days is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’ve been before, but she hasn’t, so there are a few customary things we need to tick off. Staten Island Ferry, a token 5 minutes in Times Square while my flesh crawls (hate that fucking neon monument to consumerism. If there ever was a space more indicative of a lack of substance, I’d quirk an eyebrow at least), checking out the glorious Strand Books and stunning Central Park. Seeing as the last time I visited was in the heart of winter, it’ll give the city a whole new vibrancy. We still haven’t decided which museum(s) to see, given that museum fatigue is a real phenomenon. I’m gunning for the Paley Center, but the Museum of Sex seems right up our wheelhouse (with admittedly worse reviews). There are almost too many dive bars, but after last time there’s no way I can miss Rudy’s Bar and Grill with its cheap drinks, red duct taped seats and free unlimited hot dogs. I’m a man of principles after all. If we’re lucky we’re hoping to pick up rush tickets to Tim Minchin’s Broadway adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. We’re both big kids, massive Tim Michin fans and eager to catch something on Broadway. It’s my first holiday in years and our first holiday together. Time to make some dreams come true.

Some say love, it is a river. It too involves fluids.

I feel very cagey right now. This restricted internet thing has me on edge. I’ve become so paranoid that I was even hesitant to come and update until after I’d seen the Mad Men finale. Still haven’t and I’m obsessing over the remote possibility that someone’s gonna chime in and be all oh man, wasn’t it crazy when Don transformed into a giant cockroach and bifurcated, obliterating New York in a twin roach tribute to King Kong, then shat out the iconic Macintosh commercial? I mean, I think I’d be ok with that transpiring and if anyone could make it work it’d be old Matty Weiner. But nobody has spoiled it thus far.

Frankly the thought that people may comment on this site is ludicrous. My audience is composed of algorithms and bots, plus (if site traffic and Google scrapes are to be believed) a concerning number of people who are into marshmallow porn. I don’t know how to work that, what’s the appeal? Pillowy sweetness with a dusting of powder? Are there people who cruise the supermarket aisles looking for jumbo marshmallows to use as proxy cock-sleeves? Is this the part when I find out that my girlfriend has actually been a marshmallow alien from the Staypuft Nebula this whole time? Honey, I love you, but if you’re a sentient, sugary, vaguely gelatinous and springy compound moulded to human form, we might need to have words.

My girlfriend finally met the family, a process that’s been in the works for some time. I mean, I hadn’t seen them in around 6 months, so it’s unsurprising that she hadn’t seen them during this time either. Unless they’ve been scheduling clandestine meetings under the moonlight or something. If so, they were very convincing in their unfamiliarity last night. Though I may have heard a whispered “heil Hydra” as they embraced. I have my suspicions. I mean, she’s “met” my immediate family, in so far as chatting over Skype counts as meeting these days. It’s a very different beast, given that physical proximity enables undeniably greater personal connectivity. Seeing as my parents, brothers, big sis in law and niece are back in New Zealand, meeting my wider family who are at least capable of a hug or high five wasn’t without significance.

There were nerves on her side, which I assured her were unnecessary, as my family here are unflinchingly lovely. We did the customary 3 courses and they were all able to place faces and personality to my countless stories of each other. Unfortunately we didn’t find time for Boggle, but given the absurd amount of time that’d passed since our last (confession?) hang out, there were ample things to talk about. It was nice. Much as I’m able to be a callous, cynical bastard when the situation calls for it (and doubly when it doesn’t), forming bonds between a romantic relationship and familial connection carries a certain gravity. If a girlfriend didn’t mean something to me, she sure as hell wouldn’t be meeting my relatives without a good reason. Obviously she does, hence the above two paragraphs. Geez, could I get any more stony? My rugged masculinity knows no bounds. What’s next, a gravelly attempt at romantic poetry?

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Things are coloured differently.
What do you want, a medal?

I just want to recognise this as the first act in order for the lead bunker solitude in the third act to make sense.

I can’t go on the internet right now. I just can’t. It feels strange and alien to have my rights stripped away, but it’s for the best. It’s for my own protection. I know this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. You get used to it, right? The convenience and habitual reaction to look things up, see how the world around you is spinning on its axis. It’s power and privilege and it’s intoxicating. It’s also a terrible idea at this second, minute and possibly for the next 28 hours. I want to use Facebook. I crave nestling into the comfy alcoves of my favourite subreddits. I’m keen to procrastinate and refresh my Twitter feed, follow and consume. But. I. Can’t.

Here’s what I know so far. I’ve seen a photo of Don Draper hugging someone. With the knowledge accumulated thus far, I have my suspicions of what this means. I’m cobbling together theories of where these strands lead and I don’t want to. If I’m to work out exactly what the above snapshot represents, it’s gonna dampen my enjoyment of the finale of one of my favourite shows. Did I say “of” enough in that previous sentence? I didn’t mean to skew all Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It gets worse and increasingly volatile that almost 24 hours have passed since the show aired. With each passing hour it becomes exponentially more likely that people will assume interested parties have taken it in. On a x/y graph you’ve got time and visible spoilers and the line looks like Dreamworld’s Tower of Terror. I have about 20 minutes left to write, then I need to get dressed and jump onboard public transport for dinner with the family and girlfriend. There is no 45 minute window available before or after to fully absorb Mad Men season 7 episode 14 with the respect it deserves. I can’t load it to my phone, plug in some headphones and ignore my fairer partner while I time travel back to fictional 1970. I refuse to deteriorate my viewing experience by stringing it between interchanging modes of transport, adopting a guarded public visage, thus closing myself off from every ounce of availability I have for this text.

Turtling, fortifying, withdrawal or hermitical behaviour. Whatever you choose to call it, that’s how I’m choosing to operate. Going off the grid in a lesser sense. I don’t want an ounce of non-essential communication until I’ve watched the episode. I don’t want to see, hear or read one little scrap that in any way compromises the impending fulfilment I’ll experience with this show. For the next 28 hours, these things will or will not happen:

  • I will not go on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. Frankly any social networking sites. Anyone who watches the show is a potential time bomb waiting to blow.
  • I will not check my email for the above reasons. For all I know my mum could send me a message.
  • I will certainly not check The AV Club, The Nerdist, anything on Gawker, Boing Boing, The Awl or Vice webrings.
  • I will not toggle on my phone’s data or wifi.
  • I’m wary of checking my phone whatsoever.
  • I will steer clear of social interaction with anyone who I know watches the show.
  • I will wear headphones blasting loud music whenever travelling public transport on my own or at work. I have a propensity for eavesdropping.

Is this absurd? Very much so. Am I taking my dedication to the cause too far? Entirely. Will this stop me from following through? No goddamn way. Why is it that spoilers are so poisonous to me? Why do they hold such gravity? Because I’m taking in something that has had insane amounts of care and attention put into it. Because I love and respect the creative product I’m devouring. Because this is a relationship I’ve built up over the past 7 years. Because I want to be open to every kind of passion this finale could stir up in me. I don’t want to feel cheated of my chance to fully absorb something I care about, to lose anything in the telling. I want to take in every frame of creativity on my terms, because what exists between myself and the show is not anyone else’s to impede. In this age of being told we’re entitled to the moon and stars, is that too much to ask for?