Also maybe put an advisory against breakfast ice cream into the curriculum too. A good way to crash in two hours

In 2015 the Ontario Liberal government did an overhaul of the 1998 sex ed curriculum for children in schools. With the vast technological and societal advancements over the years, it made sense. The new curriculum taught concepts of consent, body positivity and respect for diverse gender/sexual orientations. It was a necessary upgrade. The recently elected Conservative government decided to scrap it because some of their more conservative voter base didn’t like the idea of children calling their own genitals by their real names. I dunno, people are odd. I didn’t agree with this notion, so for the first time in my life I wrote a strongly worded letter to a politician.

Dear Lisa Thompson.

You don’t know me. Well, I hope that’s the case. Not that I don’t want to know you or anything. I’m sure you’re nice. We just don’t have any mutual Facebook friends (I checked), so I’m sending this in the blind hope that you’re a swell person.

As I said, before I started rambling, you don’t know me. It makes sense, I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in the stunning, coastal country of New Zealand. It’s really pretty, you should visit sometime. I’m sure you’d love it. I don’t say this in full confidence of your likes and dislikes, but most people have a terrific time when they visit Aotearoa (that’s its Maori name. I think it sounds lovely). NZ was a really swell place to grow up. There were lots of beaches, our cheese and chocolate were sweet as, and we had summertime Christmas. We also had some choice public schools. As I said, I don’t know you, but from your elected position I’d guess you’d be interested in learning about other education systems. I’ll tell you about some of my experiences, if that’ll help.

When I was seven, I asked my friend if he wanted to hold hands while we walked. “No way” he said “that’s gay”. I’d never heard that word before (“gay”, not “no”. My parents used that one when I asked them for breakfast ice cream), so I asked him what “gay” was. “Gay is bad” he said. I nodded dumbly at his sage wisdom, and absorbed that thought. Easy. Learning is fun, right? I always liked reading as a kid and to this day, words are some of my favourite things. Seven years and I knew what “gay” meant. I was awful proud.

When I was eight, I was quite chubby. One of the few chubby kids in my year. It’s probably why my parents didn’t let me have breakfast ice cream. As an adult I know that my size and shape didn’t make a difference to how cool I was. As a kid, most everyone told me the contrary. Kids are pretty creative and bullies had quite the Rolodex of mean names. I was told by some of the other boys that with my lumpy chest, I’d probably be able to feed babies. I told them that was silly, but without the actual reproductive education, I wasn’t entirely sure myself. To be clear, I have yet to produce milk. A pity. Here in Canada milk comes in bags and after five years of living in Toronto, that still kind of freaks me out. If I made my own, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

They didn’t just call me names. A bunch of the older boys got physical too. I’d get pushed over or punched because I was different. They’d steal my stuff and throw it around until I cried and they gave it back. I remember one time being late for class because I was trying to run away from these kids who kept tackling me and shoving hay down my pants. I told them to stop, but they were having a good time and my opinion didn’t seem to matter. I guess they were more into Utilitarian than Kantian ethics. The teacher was not impressed that I was late. I didn’t want to tell on the kids by name, ’cause whenever I told the teacher they’d usually get rougher the next time.

When I was eleven, during a sex ed class, the teacher asked if anyone knew what a “wet dream” was. Being the total nerd I was (not sure why I’m talking in past tense there, Lisa), my hand shot up. “Yes Leon?” the teacher asked. I replied. “Is a wet dream where you have a dream that you’ve gone swimming at the beach with friends (a common NZ summer pastime) and you wake up having wet your bed?” The class laughed. This was the wrong answer. I felt pretty embarrassed. We didn’t learn a lot about sex and gender at Intermediate School (ages 11-12 ish). Mostly that we’d smell funky and get hair in weird places over the next few years. We’d get taller too. I couldn’t wait.

In high school, our sex ed got quite a bit better. We learned all about the whole cycle from intercourse to birth. We learned that STDs were now called STIs. We were taught about how contraception could decrease the likelihood of their occurrence. They showed us how to put condoms on fake phallic shaped things. We learned about different relationship styles and gender attraction, that they were all healthy expressions of love.

Now, despite being a pretty smart kid (my dad used to call me a smart arse all the time), I still hadn’t really gotten past what my friend had said when we were seven. “Gay” meant “bad”. We were teenagers in the early 2000s. Boys were still constantly teasing one another for being gay. I don’t think I actually had anything against gay people. My parents had lesbian friends and they were really nice. I babysat their kid once and he was well behaved. Teenage boys in NZ, however, thought being gay was one of the worst things you could be. I remembered what it was like getting bullied as a kid and I didn’t want to get bullied as a teenager. I mostly kept my mouth shut. I got called gay a bunch of times (which I think was the quintessential high school experience in that era), but denied or diverted the conversation. I don’t think I ever was gay as a teenager, primarily because I wasn’t sexually active. I knew I didn’t want to be though. That would be “bad”. Being a teenager was hard enough already.

Once I entered College, I met a girl and had my first kiss, etc. I liked the “etc” a lot too. We didn’t do a lot of it. We were both pretty new to it and didn’t really know how to put words to what we wanted. We mostly didn’t get what we wanted, so eventually we broke up. Don’t worry Lisa, I met other girls and they were all wonderful people. I got better at “etc” and asking for what I wanted. I was in my early twenties and I sure wanted “etc” a lot. I feel like I wanted “etc” more often than my partners did. Sometimes they weren’t in the mood for “etc” when I was and I’d get all mopey. Sometimes I’d moan enough about it that we’d “etc” anyway, even though they weren’t super enthusiastic about it. I didn’t know the concept of “consent” yet, but I did know “no” (remember breakfast ice cream?), so I’d often ask until they said that. I figured that was fair. Clearly, as a twentysomething I still had a lot of growing up to do.

Being a kid these days is quite different from how it was in the 90s. People were still using the term “Information Super Highway” and my parents would get angry that I’d tie up the phone line chatting to friends. Bill Cosby was a venerated family figure. Sexual and gender identities in public for the most part only came in basic flavours. Times have changed a lot. I know one or two high school kids these days who’ve come out to their school friends. Their friends have been really supportive. That sounds a lot better than bullying, right? Many many many of my friends are queer, with a myriad of sexual and gender identities. They’re wonderful people (otherwise I probably wouldn’t call them friends) who bring so much joy to my life. I often feel pretty disgusted at how I shunned alternative sexual identities as a teenager. Imagine, not having these outstanding humans in my life purely because of who they love. Seems like an awful shame.

In the past ten years I’ve learned a lot about consent. I no longer see “etc” as a finite resource. If a partner was not interested in having “etc”, why would I push them into it? There are so many things to do, why try to make them do something they didn’t want? In the age of #metoo, it seems paramount for children to know that it’s not okay to force people into actions that make them uncomfortable. I sure do wish those bullies who shoved hay in my pants knew about consent. I definitely would have told them “no thank you”. Being bullied had severe effects on my emotional well-being that therapy has only really unravelled over the past few years. Imagine the emotional anxiety of not feeling like you have a right to your own bodily autonomy. Kids should know that they’re allowed to speak up when they’re not feeling secure. Other kids should know how to look for ways to support them in these times. The emotional health of children is incredibly important. We can both agree on that, right Lisa?

I don’t have kids, Lisa. But I want them someday. When I have kids, I’d love for them to know that their self-worth is not predicated on how they fit into the expectations of others. That they’re wonderful beings full of potential. For them to learn about their bodies and what makes them tick. I’d hope that they’d treat others with respect and compassion. That other kids would treat them with kindness too. That someday they’d grow up and meet people that’d make their heart sing. That my kids would be caring and considerate. That whoever they loved, they’d be a positive force in their lives. That they’d get to feel the electricity of holding hands for the first time, of kissing and “etc”. That the “etc” would come when they were emotionally ready, nay, excited. Doesn’t that sound wonderful, Lisa?

Imagine if my hypothetical kids and their peers could grow up learning to be nice to everyone, regardless of who they were. Imagine if they understood about how their bodies worked and loved themselves no matter what they looked like. Imagine if they didn’t have to worry about being bullied. I know, kids are cruel and this one seems pretty far-fetched. Still, if we’re imagining here, why not shoot for the moon?

Lisa, I’m gonna try to be the best dad I can be, but I’m only one person. I don’t have the influence to encourage kids across the province to grow into fantastic adults. That’s kind of why I’m writing this letter to you. I know some people aren’t happy with the 2015 revisions to the sex education curriculum, but the curriculum in its current state has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of kids. You have a chance, in overturning the decision to repeal it, to do a lot of good for a lot of kids. As I said, I don’t know you Lisa. Still, I’m gonna assume you got into politics to help people. Younger Leon sure could’ve used the kind of help you can provide.

Thanks Lisa.

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Is it ironic to be so vocal about it?

Let’s talk about new experiences.

A friend of mine posted her report card for swimming lessons. To be clear, I don’t tend to make friends with children. She’s in her twenties and learning to swim for the first time. I saw the picture of her report card and felt, I dunno, proud? Is it possible to say that without being remotely patronising? As adults, it’s very easy to get stuck in our ways. We’ve spent years divining how to navigate the world, forming our views and values. It’s the easiest thing to be complacent and rest on whatever laurels you’ve accumulated. The antithesis of this is to acknowledge that you can be better, more. It takes a shit ton of courage to admit that you’re not a finished, complete human. The trait of admitting what you don’t know is massive. It takes a big person to be that humble. So many times I’ve seen someone paint or something and thought I’m just not that kind of person. The barrier between myself and being that kind of person is trying. I remember when I taught myself super basic picture editing. I was cowed by whatever potential that’d been there untapped. It made me so curious to know what else I could do that I’d always shunned. The too hard basket is too easy to fill.

Swimming? Learning to swim as an adult is incredible. You’re put into a potentially lethal situation and told “hey, learn not to drown”. Not only that, you need to come to terms with unfamiliar body movement. It’s totally unintuitive. Without having stepped into water, how would you really understand the physics of propelling yourself? How to pull your body through the water? The difficulty difference between kicking and arm strokes. Forward strokes, back strokes, butterfly, breath stroked, porpoise. It’s all goddamn alien technique. The timing of breathing is really bloody tricky to figure out. Knowing how to trust your body’s buoyancy must be terrifying if you haven’t had to. Back home, most everyone knew how to swim. New Zealand is such a coastal city. Beaches everywhere. Water safety is paramount. We’re taught to swim in school. We learn about kayaking and piloting Optimists (small dinghys, if that clarifies it for anyone). We learn about tides and winds because the alternative can be death. How else are we supposed to do bombs off the wharf in good conscience?

In short, I think my friend is super fucking cool.

I had a new experience last night. My first ever silent disco.

The concept wasn’t novel to me, but I’d never given it a try. At Post Script, the Toronto Fringe Festival after party, they had stacks and stacks of light up headphones. You’d hand over a piece of ID and they’d give you a pair. No cost. Also, the entire event was free. The headphones had three different channels, which had a corresponding colour. Blue, Red and Green all linked up to three different DJs on stage mixing distinct sets. Without headphones it was a little bizarre. Hordes of dancers doing their thing with only ambient background noise. There was an audio-visual disconnect. It was fascinating to watch the variation in styles of dance, depending on headphone colour. Occasionally an obvious massive song would drop on one channel and say, blue headphoners, would sing along or do a call and response. Popular colours came in waves. You’d look up and 92% of the dance floor would be blue. Then small pockets of green would open up and gradually expand. Maybe people were looking out for attractive folks and following their choices. Who knows? What an unusual phenomena to behold.

Getting my own pair changed the game. I’d be listening to a mix, then see other dancers change colour. I’d try it out and think wait, *this* is what they’re going hog wild over? Sometimes I’d see a dancer doing wicked moves and get the impulse to try out their wavelength. I was mostly doing my own thing, changing channels on personal whims. Looking around, I tended to see the same people matching my choices. Not intentionally, I’m sure, but kinship of tastes was really flowing. It was almost tribal, smiles all around. After having been so strict about post sprain ankle activity, it was incredibly freeing to let loose and shake myself sweaty. Goddamn I missed it. I can’t recommend the silent disco enough. It made the word Experience into a proper noun.

I’m not gonna be able to shut up about it for a while.

If she was surprised when I told her about the time I did a capital “G”, she didn’t show it. A true professional

I resolved to take care of myself today.

It’s Friday the 13th, I don’t know what fresh horrors are lurking out there. Impaired as I’ve been feeling lately (thanks to the whole fractured wrist and recovering ankle sprains), I’ve been trying to encourage healing. I don’t have enough faith in the spiritual to merely will myself back to health, so other means were necessary. I resolved to go for a run at lunch. That’s five runs since Sunday. Roughly 30km. I’ve basically run a part time half marathon and then some. It’s been pretty taxing getting back into it. The first six or seven times, my muscles weren’t used to the load. Recently, however, I’ve begun to regain some of my lost composure. I don’t need to take breaks as often. I’m adding a modicum of speed to my jogs. I’m sweating, the cast is still spraying droplets as I run. In the heat of summer, I’m often down to a singlet or even shirtless. The air flow does wonders for my endurance. I’ve noticed lately, with reduced physical activity, just how tired I’ve been getting. Being active and expending energy surprisingly helps me bounce back a lot quicker. It’s like kick starting a generator that holds momentum for hours afterwards.

Finishing early on a Friday, I had a free afternoon. I looked in the mirror the other day and was haunted by the visage I saw staring back. Some serious Lorne Malvo shit (Leon Malvo?). I needed to groom myself. Unfortunately, I’m naturally lazy when it comes to cosmetic upkeep, so I figured I could pay someone else to do it. I visited my usual hairdresser at Sum Coco and waited while he finished with a customer. The customer had an incredibly friendly dog named Lucy, so we hung out for the five or so minutes it took. A sweaty day, she was nice enough to lick the sweat off my legs and replace it with slobber. What a dame. The haircut went swimmingly, because I didn’t have to do anything. I sat there and he fashioned a sweet fade. He groomed my ungainly beard and even smoothed out the lines, which I never do. By the time he finished, it was like staring at someone who’d made better life decisions. A refreshing change.

With that taken care of, I wanted some assistance with my recovering ankles. There wasn’t any bone damage, but the doctor suspected that my ligaments weren’t doing so fine or dandy. I decided to give acupuncture a try. Why not? I’m open to anything that could help. There was a pretty intense questionnaire beforehand. Despite not knowing why it was pertinent, I felt like some kinda cool guy ticking “yes” on “are you sexually active?” It asked about previous injuries, health concerns, etc. Very detailed. The acupuncturist followed up with more questions. How much did I sleep? How much alcohol did I drink? Coffee? I’m not sure that the kindly old lady expected such a detailed and itemised response on my bowel movements, but that’s on her. She asked.

Despite not having any needle fears, I was still a little tense at first. She was incredibly gentle, with only one or two of the 20 or so causing even mild pain. It was pretty relaxing. She did a bit of back massage to, in her words, move around the energy. I mean, I felt good, so I’m not gonna question it. Standing up afterwards, it was quite remarkable. I didn’t expect the treatment to be half as effective as it was. My ankles, even now, are mostly painless. Will it last? Is it short term relief? Or is there more to this? I guess I’ll find out in the coming weeks.

But for now I’m gonna sit down, shut up, and watch some theatre.

Drake has a kid in Ontario, right? I hope he’s upset too

Recent changes to the Ontario sex ed curriculum are upsetting.

I don’t mean the 2015 update, rather the fact that the new conservative government has decided to roll back to the previous curriculum. Apparently the revised 2015 curriculum was upsetting to some of Doug Ford’s voter base and one of his party promises was to repeal it. The plan at the moment is to revert to the 1998 sex ed curriculum. I could be snarky as hell on this, but I don’t know that it serves much of a point. The world has changed a lot in the 20 years since this past curriculum was implemented. Here’s what the world looked like back then:

  • Bill Cosby was a venerated family friendly icon.
  • We thought the world banking system was going to collapse over a calendar issue.
  • The human population of the world was under six billion
  • The world had never seen a black president.
  • It was illegal for LGBT people to be married in Canada.
  • Apple created the iMac. iPhones were still years away.
  • Netflix was a physical operation.
  • The Global Financial Crisis was still ten years away.

Time changes, right? The world is a lot bigger now (roughly 7.6 billion people) and we’re wildly interconnected through the internet. Obama came and went. Turns out Bill Cosby wasn’t such a nice guy. A lot of people don’t even have TVs. Y2K would almost be old enough to drink by now. Because of smart phones, we can all ignore each other on public transit. The future is now.

Socially, it’s a whole new playing field. LGBT relationships have been accepted so widely that corporations cynically try to cash in on their sexuality every year in Pride. The concepts of gender have strayed beyond their binary trappings and we’re questioning the validity of old patterns. Like, why do single stall bathrooms need to be gendered? We have hashtags now, and #metoo has brought awareness to a ton of people about the necessity of consent. Same sex couples have kids enrolled in public school. While discrimination certainly still exists, the concept of treating someone differently because of their sexual orientation is a relic from ages long past.

The 2015 curriculum sought to address a bunch of these changes and prepare children for the world they live in. Concepts like the importance of consent and respect for people different to oneself were all part of it. Body positivity and self-confidence, challenging stereotypes and understanding one’s own body all found their place into it. The curriculum talked about cyber-bullying and creating healthy boundaries. Makes sense.

Apparently this was a bit too far for some parents. On one hand, I can realise that change is scary. The idea of kids growing up too fast fills some parents with dread. Thing is, whether kids call it their wee wee or penis, it’s not gonna change its form or function. Even if you’re against expanded gender and sexual orientation expressions, pretending they don’t exist isn’t gonna make them go away. Being aware of the existence of sex isn’t gonna make kids suddenly want to do it. Netflix is available at any time now and it’s great. I’m sure most kids would rather watch cartoons than porn.

1998 was a wholly different world. Let’s please not go back to there.

What would a polytheist talk about first?

Puns. Today is puns, at least until it isn’t.

As an aside, I’m ashamed it took me this long to start calling my wrist cast the “Infirmary Gauntlet”. Anyway.

If you were psyched for a play session with a dom, but you turned up and they were timidly masturbating, would that be a batin’ switch?

I asked this to my Facebook friends, and one chimed in that it’d happened to her before. Immediately I was moved to action. I told her that she had to admit, their shenanigans were a master bae shun. But also…

  • Sounds like a jerk move.
  • Guy wasn’t Onan his shit.
  • Wait, more like a jack off all trades. Master of none.
  • Did he pull a fast one on you?
  • Better ejaculate than never?
  • Surely you got the jizz’t of it by now?
  • Suffice to say, I’m in a seminal mood.

Then I wondered, do those ignorant folk who still believe female ejaculate is urine consider it the Piss De Résistance?

After Fargo won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, why didn’t they call them the Co-win Brothers?

Why do they call it tempo and not ear conditioning?

When the smoking gun is finally pulled on Trump, will he be considered Dead to Rights?

Where do old female monkeys go to drink? Barnanas.

Why do they call them pancakes and not flatjacks?

Technically aren’t all whales sperm whales?

If France wins the World Cup, will they drink Le Monde-ade out of it?

If the World Cup was anybody’s game, would that make it a Fifa all?

If someone burned incense despite their friend’s aversion to strong smells, would that make them incensitive?

Like a candle in a dark room, I’m out.

When pregnant partygoers snort coke, do they call it a baby bump?

If you eternally felt like you needed to shit, but nothing ever came out, would that be pooer-gatory?

If you were subjected to scenes of tortured crocodiles until the end of time, would that be poor-gator-y?

If you were forced to eat a dish of feline prepared “hunter style” (with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine), would that be purrgiatore?

If your torment was to spend eternity under the purview of Gator Law, would your existence be as per-gatory?

I’m done with that game for now.

I want my arm back. I know I have to wait, but like Veruca Salt, I want it now. I want to not have to think about which arm gets strapped into my backpack first. I want to no longer consider whether or not I can be bothered blowdrying my arm post shower (and if not, keeping my arm clear of the stream). I want to use a can opener stress free. I want to open doors without considering which hand to use. I want for my arm to not smell like old rot. I want to be able to prop myself up on my elbow without pain. I want for removing my socks to not be a process. I’d like to see my forearm again. I want to lift and throw things with my right arm. I want full range of motion when using a spoon. I want those careless days back where I had no immediate worry of damaging bones/ligaments through regular use. I want to climb surfaces. I want an unencumbered life back. I want it all, and like Freddy Mercury did, I want it now.

But it’s still two weeks until I get my cast off (which doesn’t even mean it’s cleared for regular use) so I can’t have any of that. I’ve got one day of anti-inflammatories left, so things will become interesting. Typically it starts throbbing around 10.30-11pm each night. It hasn’t been a pleasant sensation. I’ve got no idea what it looks like under there. I’m imagining it’s a pale harbinger of doom, withered and misshapen. After all the time I’ve spent in the sun, at the very least I’ll come away with a mean tanline. Best case scenario I get super powers, but that’s a fail-safe best case for any scenario.

I know this is not realistic, which is why right now I’m hoping fate will settle for delivering me this bum bomb tout de suite. It’s a normal bodily function. Is that too much to ask for? Hell no.

Oh shit, maybe I’m pregnant.

In another five years, maybe I’ll have this semicolon thing down pat

Five years ago I followed through on one of the most impactful decisions of my life.

I boarded a plane and flew halfway across the world. I had no friends or job waiting on the other end. I left everything I knew in the hopes that a sea change would inspire personal growth. I felt stagnant, stifled. It felt like the world was changing and my change lay elsewhere within it. I wasn’t unhappy, but on some level I understood my threshold for happiness could be higher. I’d plateaued at 26. I didn’t know who I wanted to be, but I knew I wasn’t him yet. Clothes, my desktop computer, and 10kg of Magic cards were piled into a bag and ventred across seas with me. In search of, well, I had no real idea.

This day is a strange time every year. I reminisce about the people I left behind. I think back to my journey from Vancouver to Toronto. I recall what it felt like establishing a life out of nothing. I picture all the new friends I’ve met across the years. I get Jebediah’s “Leaving Home” stuck in my head for 24 hours straight. Facebook memories pop up with a whistful ode to my childhood pissing tree atop Church Street, Northcote. There’s a lot swirling around in my brain.

I often cast my mind back to who I was before I left. I’ve always been pretty authentically “me”, but that’s shifted over the years. I think that, much as I marched to the beat of my own drum, the pace was dictated by established social circles. My life was flooded with friends I’d accumulated over the years. From kindergarten all the way up to university, I kept good company. This good company stuck around and it shaped who I’d become. They say that we’re all a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. I was the most “me” I could be, given my constant close company. I’d never really given myself time to breathe and understand who I was when I zoomed out. I had views, but without perspective.

For the first time in my life, I stepped onto that plane and found my own cadence. I shaped my life anew, deciding without exterior input as to how I wanted it to look. Everything that happened was something I did. I threw myself at the mercy of my own adaptibility. It was a trial by fire that sculpted who it was I’d become. Rolling with the punches of each new challenge forced me to find my independence. I found what I sought and discarded what I didn’t.

Over those five years I’d come to face my fears. I met my tribe through openness to new experiences. I challenged my own preconceptions of body image and sexuality. I learned important distinctions between “fuck yes” and “no”, following and trusting in my bliss. I allowed myself to make mistakes and be fallible. I discovered my potential in ways I never had. I found heartbreak, love, and learned more about the capacity of friendship. I came to understand how to love myself, and the value of self-compassion.

Over the past five years, I’ve found the blueprints for my place in the world. I’ve crafted the foundations and gathered all the materials I need. I have the werewithal and support, now all I need is time.

Time to make this house a home.