A passableport in any storm.

Because I’m a mook, I got my passport photo taken the other day. I’m not claiming that travel is dumb. Lordi knows I’m keen to travel a ton more now that I’m in the right hemisphere for it. Moreover, if having a Canadian passport means I don’t have to queue for an hour in the “visitors” line re-entering the country, then it’s anything but silly to grab it sooner rather than later. It’s $160 for a 10 year passport. Perhaps I should get a ton of them to decorate for a blacklight party, given how gorgeous they look with a “blinging” set up. I could get a car solely to cover the wheels with pages from Canadian passports, then line the hubs with black lights. Travelling in style. I could make a rave suit for maximum street cred and show Pitbull who the real Mr Worldwide is. Wait, scrap that. It’s a shitty nickname I want no part of. All I want is my Canadian passport so I can stop worrying about it for the next 10 years.

Oh. That’s right. Why am I a mook? Because I got my photos after sleeping for a mere 3 hours the night before. Bedraggled, unkempt, slovenly, ailing, infectious. Any of these should carry the right image. I wore a beanie to the store and it shows. Perfect hat hair. It looks like I’ve walked in fresh from putting a condom over my head. Cinched above the ears, my hair appears soft but messy. My fringe is clumped and the sides poof out over my ears. Descending down my face, you’d be forgiven for thinking I had pink eye. I’ve got the kind of red ocular halos usually reserved for junkies and the like. Because I’m exhausted, my left eye looks super lazy (more so than normal). Deep saggy bags weigh heavy underneath each eyeball, indicating the Eldritch horrors I must’ve faced prior to stumbling through the door. Deep grooves score my face, cheeks laden and heavy with fatigue. Thank fuck I at least took 2 minutes to shave my neckbeard, I’m doubtful I otherwise would’ve made it through the door of that fine convenience store. Not without being assaulted by a cattle prod anyway.

My girlfriend suggested it was probably the best kind of shot I could’ve gotten. In her mind, it’s an accurate representation of what I’ll look like to a customs officer when I’m asked once again to check into the visitors queue coming into Canada, despite the fact that I live, work and pay taxes here. She’s not wrong. For the next 10 years I’ll carry myself with true authenticity through the boarding gates.

Or I’ll just bring that passport rave suit and get them to stamp directly onto me. Mr Worldwide indeed.

De La Soul were right. Three IS a magic number.

Please don’t take this post as some kind of ill-advised braggadocio. I’ve got no desire to engage in any kind of metaphorical dick swinging. The sole purpose of this post is to impart perspective on why last night was such a fulfilling, sex positive experience.

Last night my girlfriend and I participated in a threesome. It wasn’t our first, but it was one to remember.

There was no seduction or heavy handed flirting. We’d simply been at a “wear what makes you feel sexy” party, hanging out in a hallway (the second-most popular location after kitchens) and chatting to a fellow partygoer. We’d had a great conversation about calling in/out, the notion of when/how to interject or help in public situations and how to know the difference between being useful or taking up space. Within the tight quarters of the two walls, the conversation had meshed with the fact that we were all in various states of undress to become close, intimate. It was animated, a little silly. I’d tried to learn how to twerk while this gal and my girlfriend (oft’ dubbed “The Queen of White Girl Twerk”) gave tips. All a little tipsy, we soon moved from out of the hallway into the lounge and grinding started happening. The suggestion was raised that we found somewhere more intimate and everyone was in agreement. We cabbed back to my girlfriend’s place and got cosy. As has become custom in my girlfriend’s room, I stripped down to my underwear. Both of my companions followed suit (birthday suit?).

We sat down on the bed in a circle and my girlfriend took the lead. Did anyone have any questions or concerns? Was there anything we thought the others should know? Was there any way that people preferred not to be touched? Any way that anyone wanted to be touched? I stated that there was no wrong time to pause, that checking in at any time was welcome behaviour. The comfort of all participants was paramount and it was okay to give voice to doubts that arose. Our companion said she was pretty open to most things, but at that stage she was leaving anal off the table. My girlfriend intimated that while her and I are fluid bonded (no condoms), if penetration was gonna happen between myself and this other girl that we were to use condoms. We took things in stages and slowly worked up the scale. Did she want to be touched? Kissed? Touched in more intimate areas?

Having vocalised our needs and wants, everything after that flowed organically. One of the most beautiful qualities was the collaboration. Everyone was on board to help one another enjoy themselves as much as possible. We took turns with the others focusing on pleasuring whomever was in the middle. There was desire, affection and vivid intimacy. There was no hierarchy, no competing status. We concentrated on building a caring yet passionate space, making each other feel valued and gratified. By the time we’d all put our hands and mouths all over each other, everyone felt flush, tired but deeply satisfied. We snuggled together in the afterglow and drifted off to sleep.

I find that the most understated part of a group sex experience like this is that connection you’ve crafted. Waking up in the morning to others in bed is nothing short of magical. There’s a bond that feels like you’ve shared a special, private world. The lingering intimacy is a thing of beauty and having experienced it in a truly utilitarian fashion is amazing. Joking around in the morning sun, warm inside and out helps you leave better than you came.

Then again, people did cum pretty spectacularly ;)

The long and short of it.

I was at the bus stop, buds tuned into Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Draw any clichés you want from that, but it stands as a phenomenal album. Having not listened for at least 6 months, it enveloped me in memories. I was pulled back to Kool Haus in January 2014. A full body sensation of wonder and transcendent bliss experiencing a band I never thought I’d have the chance to witness. While my body waited for the bus to arrive, my mind was projected into the past, miles from my corporeal form. My eyes registered movement and traced it to the lips of a fellow bus stop resident. I stared, transfixed for 5 or so seconds before I realised she was talking. My mind met my body and I jolted to a start. I pulled my earbuds out and apologised, admitted I hadn’t been listening.

“Oh” the woman remarked “I just saw a limo drive past and thought that’s the life.” I chuckled and agreed, expecting the conversation to subside, to crawl back into my aural embrace. “It used to be, you know?” I turned my head once more and looked her in the eyes. Eyebrows raised, head tilted I mustered a bemused “oh?” I searched her eyes for mirth, but none was forthcoming. Who is this woman? Who was this woman? Is this a façade? Does she just like conversation? Is she lonely? There’s more here.

“We used to have a monthly account just for limousines. When we reached the city, neither of us liked driving. Traffic was too much, too stressful. We’d just funnel it into a specific account and pay it off monthly.” I smiled. “That’s a fair chunk of change. How’d you guys afford it?” She responded “he started a software company and it just made sense at the time.” I nodded. “That’d be the life. Instead of ordering an Uber X you’d get an Uber XXL?” As if she didn’t hear, she continued looking straight ahead “if we wanted to go shopping, pick up the kids. It was so easy. Things were so much easier.” My brows furrowed and I inquired “I’m sorry, but you’re speaking in past tense. What happened?”

She looked me in the eyes. “He doesn’t live here any more. They live in Montreal. He… he wasn’t a nice man. No he wasn’t.” My eyes narrowed, unsure of how to proceed. “Once again, past tense, right? Lessons hopefully learned?” She turned her head away, cast her eyes down “sure. Maybe.” She looked back to me, smile on her face, pointed down at her legs. “Fishnets, vocational necessity.” She laughed. “I’m going to Burlington today. This should be fun. It’s nice to get away, isn’t it?” I smiled back. The sight of the bus approaching startled us into action. She smirked. “The bus. It’s no limo.” Reaching into her pocket she fished around “oh God, is there a hole in my pocket? I can’t seem to find my change. You think the driver will accept mints as currency?” Reaching into her other pocket she fished out a few coins. “Guess this is how it goes now.” She walked onto the bus and out of sight.

Certainly not out of mind.

Would it be poor taste to create a money lending company named Shabbat Shaloans?

Have you done your civic duty as a member of capitalist society today? It’s weird how in Canada it’s not even Thanksgiving (ours is in October), but we’re in the habit of adopting American traditions. Hence Black Friday has crossed the border into our shops, hearts, minds and wallets. I did my part and ordered a stack of Magic the Gathering cards I’d been eyeing up for some time (what’s the matter. None of you seem as excited about that as I am for some reason). Unfortunately I couldn’t seem to find any flights to Portland, but hey, that’s what Cyber Monday is for. These folks thought of everything. If this holiday tradition continues, we’ll end up with some form of financial Hanukkah by 2020. 8 days of savings to keep the fires of desire burning away all our money. Then we’ll have some kind of yuppie Yom Kippur to celebrate how kipoor we all are. Oh boy, goys!

I’m basically just killing time at work now. It’s been a long, frustrating day dealing with fallout from our new software and I’m ready to relax for the night. First up is the beginning of Blood in the Snow, a film festival celebrating the jewels of contemporary Canadian horror. I won tickets to Farhope Tower, chronicling the madcap misadventures of a bunch of fun lovin’ paranormal investigators hoping to film a TV pilot for a quick buck. Too bad they chose Farhope Tower, the renown site of untold numbers of suicides. It sounds like things go batshit in a short order as sanity unravels the higher they climb. Shenanigans abound! To be honest though, it looks absurdly fun and hopefully very graphic, because I’m in that kind of mood.

Because I’m that hip hop happening of an individual, I’ve got further plans. What did you think I was? Some kind of rube? Common? Pedestrian? Yeah I’ve got further plans. Cameron Esposito is in town and I’d be some lowly schmuck if I didn’t head along to see her. She’s a tiny person packed full of energy. Man, I’m so shitty at describing things, why did I ever decide writing was a thing I wanted to do? I swear I was this close (you can’t see me (I hope. Creepiness abounds) but I was holding the index finger and thumb of my right hand in near proximity (no, not while I was typing that sentence, but afterwards. Maybe for a second. No shit, I really took a second or two out of my writing to make that gesture (and not just so I’d be able to write about it), because I have that little to do aside from make asides within my asides) to illustrate how close I was) to writing the words “lesbian energy” before I realised that’d be a terrible idea and it’d make me a terrible person. Now that you know that I was thinking it, you understand that I’m a terrible person anyway. Cameron Esposito isn’t in the slightest though, so I’m delighted to go see her perform at Comedy Bar tonight.

For some reason today I was thinking about gay marriage and how often people call it “gay marriage” because it’s such a recent advancement. In reality though, it’s just marriage, not gaymarriage. The couple would happen to be gay, but the marriage is no different from any other. Once again, just a marriage. Because of this ambiguity though, I’ve been giggling at the idea of people calling the whole ordeal “gay marriage” and people asking each for other’s hands in just that manner.

“Hey Steve, would you do the honour of gay marrying me?” “JUST GOT GAY MARRIED”, etc. It sounds adorable. Or I’m a dork. But not adorkable.

I can 6-Step poorly. Is that enough foundation for a proper hero identity?

The most telling sign that the winter season encroaches is the return of my latent mutant powers. I didn’t get anything useful like a healing factor or the ability to charge objects with kinetic energy. Instead I was gifted the power of inconvenient static shocks. Yes, I can use these offensively, but the recoil is real. When I roam my house at night it’s essential to discharge excess static on the walls, lest I give myself a true electric shock on any light switch. It happens far too frequently for it to be a joke. It stalks me everywhere. My bourgeoisie seat at work has a microfiber cushion, which results in shocks touching my cubicle, resting my forearms on co-workers’ cubicles, pressing the metal panel on the bathroom door, the elevator button. My life has become a death trap. When I run on the treadmill at the gym I need to discharge excess energy into the wall every two minutes. It’s severe, people have even looked up after hearing the electricity ground itself. If I don’t, I shock myself on the machine. I’ve shocked my trainer by accident once or twice. I’m like a wilder, no formal training to harness the great responsibility saddled with these great powers. Think of all the good I could do if I truly harnessed them. I could wear a onesie as both a costume and means of generating offensive capabilities. I could breakdance to charge up and take down opponents with a spinning b-boy style kick. Folks could call me… The Circuit-Breaker.

I’m stalking my upstairs neighbour through a Facebook group. True story, let me explain. In the two years since I’ve moved into my flat, 6-8 people have come and gone upstairs. I see them infrequently enough that we exchange a friendly conversation when we do chat, but seeing how infrequent that is, the conversation is pretty general. See, I can’t remember who any of them are. I can remember slivers of past conversations, but I’ve got no idea what their names are. That’s not entirely true. I tend to remember the names of the ones I see more often, who are inevitably quick to move out. I feel like the girl currently upstairs has been there for maybe a year and a half. Enough time that I should know her name. I want to know her name because we get a shit ton of mail and most of it is for people who haven’t lived here in the time that I have. Some of them may well have, but I’m that shit with names. It’s not like I’d remember. I just want to unclutter my mailbox, folks.

We have a shed out back where people dump stuff. If things have been left for long enough, a vague squatter’s rights culture is employed. It’s how I got my second shoe rack, my printer/ink/paper and a frying pan. My upstairs neighbour got a bike. It’s basically a magical place where dreams come true. The other day I ran into my upstairs neighbour for the first time in maybe 6 months. She’d broken up with her partner and he’d moved out, so she was reorganising shit in preparation for her friend to move in. We chatted for ages and she told me of her plan to ransack the shed. I said I’d join her in the hopes of finding fun new toys. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the market for a broken kettle, tiles, a couch-bed frame or one of the two coffee percolators. She found a dog gate, some clothing and a few other kitchen items. She’d recently become addicted to a Toronto based trading page on Facebook and planned to offload the items for token, tallboys and the like. She said she’d flick me something for helping. Choice.

So, the stalking thing. My logic follows that if I can find her posts on this group, I’ll be able to figure out her name (because frankly after a year and a half it’d be rude for me to just ask her. Stalking is the polite means of reconnaissance). Once I have her name I’ll know everyone who lives in this house. Once I know that I can sort through our mailbox and have it as clean as possible for all the mail I never get. I guess knowing her name would be handy for conversational purposes, but really, who uses someone’s name when they’re talking directly to them? Weirdos, that’s who.

And The Circuit-Breaker is no weirdo.

Dais ex machina.

It’s gotta be some kind of cognitive bias (don’t ask me which one. I always answer confirmation bias and I’m consistently incorrect. Here’s a list if you’re a super sleuth (or just smarter than me), but I’m seeing algorithms everywhere I go. I don’t know how I feel about it. Obviously in the wake of watching Ex Machina (excellent film) I’m second guessing everything in my vicinity. Given that I’m on the internet, I’m in the worst possible place to trust, well, anything. I’m irritable from work and it’s overclouding my experiences. Let’s have a look.

I only recently discovered the unfollow button on Facebook and it’s changing the way I experience the site. For the better, I hope, but that’s still to be discovered. I know I’m building a tighter bubble around me, but I’m poking and prodding to see what kind of shape the bubble takes before it inevitably pops and everything sucks. At the moment it’s not ideal and I’ve been aggressively trying to pursue a more enjoyable experience. There’s some kind of balance that these algorithms haven’t struck because I’m human, thus irrational. I’m sure they’re trying to appeal to what they presume are my tastes, but those are flippant and subject to mood. Sometimes I enjoy lovely things, at other times I’m misanthropic and just want to see the shit raining down. I’ve been culling as I go. I’ve tried the “see less of x person” option, but it hasn’t really done much of anything. Still I’m greeted by cat pictures, selfies, spiritual fodder and motivational quotes. There’s nothing wrong with this stuff, it’s just that when I’m not in the mood I’m exceptionally not in the mood. This is when I tend to unfollow. I’m sure everyone out there is shouting at their screen as they read. “Why don’t you just fucking unfriend them?” Because they’re still good people and I’d like to have them in my orbit. These things would be fine if their content was in a smaller ratio to the other content I prefer, but the algorithm doesn’t understand that. Is it based on people whose statuses I’ve previously liked? Because that’s only leading me to see content from the same people. Of the 400 or so people I have on there, it probably shows me the posts of 50 or so people max. What happened to the rest of them? Did I have them as friends for too long without liking their output? Because most of them I’ve never seen. Jeez. Like any of this actually matters. Facebook is just another service that delivers us ads, right?

Netflix I’m a little more apprehensive about. I know we’ve just started seeing each other, but I want it to like me so badly. NRE at its finest? I love the service so much and want to build up a complex algorithm that suggests films I’ll love. It’s already suggesting that I watch Nightcrawler, Frank, Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day and Obvious Child. Isn’t that brilliant? At the same time it somehow registered that on this computer, on a different Netflix account we started watching Enchanted. Because of this it keeps suggesting The Princess and the Frog and The Princess Diaries. Somehow it’s not taking into account that we got 20 minutes into Enchanted, I really wasn’t enjoying it and we looked for something else. I even gave the movie a thumbs down and continually award thumbs downs to similar programming, but Netflix hasn’t taken the bait yet. Is this a symptom of me jumping head first into a new relationship before realising it’s gonna take time for Netflix to really get to know me? That’s it. Cool it Leon, you can’t expect Netflix to immediately understand the intricacies of what you actually like. Give it time and it’ll have a carbon copy of your personality archetype, ready to cater to your every taste.

Holy shit, that’s creepy right? We’re feeding so much information into these services for the sake of convenience. I mean, I’m not gonna sit here writing a project where I intentionally divulge intimate personal details and start pointing a finger at the evils of surveillance. Yes, we’re giving so much of ourselves away, yes the singularity is on its way and yes, we’re sowing the seeds of our own destruction.

Still, if Netflix realises that I’m the kind of person who has an impending Air Bud Pawedcast and recommends me animals-imitating-human-activity movies, then isn’t that worth sacrificing all my privacy for?

If you needed proof that perfect things exist, my spirit dog is a Leonberger.

And that’s a year. A whole year since I switched from being an unqualified (and frankly poor) barista back into the familiar environs of television. Back to the world of broadcast scheduling, regular meetings, corporate manoeuvring and too many departments to remember. Reflecting back on my first day of work, I had virtually nothing to do. There was some introductory training for an hour or two, meetings that meant nothing to me, then I was asked to find a picture that represented my spirit dog. Nailed it.

After a short burst of training it was straight into trial by fire. Given I started just prior to Christmas, we launched almost directly into double work with advanced logs. With minimal knowledge I did the best I could to basically not be in the way. When we kicked back into the regular schedule I didn’t really know what to do with all my spare time. The internet helped.

In one year our team of 11 has shrunk down to 9. Two departmental transfers, two maternity leaves, but with the arrival of a new manager. In January our team shrinks back down to 7 as the short term maternity leave they hired expires. We’re still doing the work of 11 people. Fun times.

I protest too much. It can get busy, but I’m altogether not overworked and the company gives back in spades. The benefits are absurd. Flat out ridiculous. Unlimited physio means my body is moving better than it possibly ever has. Regular dental check-ups have my teeth feeling strong and smooth. I’ve gotten a knee brace, orthotic inserts and a night guard without paying a cent. For the first time in my life, allergy medication is accessible (and free). Breathing normally was previously nothing but a dream. Now I’m living it. I went through therapy, helping me deal with callused internalised issues. Hell, it even includes travel insurance, just in case something goes wrong abroad. The level of stability, both financially and health-wise, are immensely helpful in getting up every day without a brooding attitude.

The company tries to maintain a positive working environment too. For our last holiday party they rented out the Toronto Aquarium, we went on a team building outing with axe throwing, pizza and alcohol (a conspicuous combination). For Christmas, we were given a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off card. Simple, but brilliant, we could cash it in for one free day off if we ever felt like not coming in. There are lunches, accessible further education and mentorship programs. Our manager meets with us twice a year to help us move towards company-wide goals, opening up doors for us to stretch for positions we’d be otherwise clueless to reach.

Therein lies my main issue right now. I’ve done what I need to within this position. I can do it without sweat, but it’s stopped being particularly interesting for me. I love the company, they’ve been great to me and I want to stay here. What I need is to figure out what I want and how to move towards it. I’ve been offered opportunities but through my own laziness or complacency I’ve let them pass by. Do I take what writing experience I have, learn a little HTML/Photoshop and try to find an editor position? Do I get back in contact with audio production, sacrifice my nights to upskill and hope a role comes up faster than the usual 7 year turnaround? If not I’m just sitting with my dick in hand, waiting like a chump. Promo production is an awesome area I’ve always been fascinated by, but I haven’t leaned in. We work with them regularly. Again, it’d probably involve sacrificing evenings in order to get some experience. That sounds like an easier burden to announce than practice.

I’m one year in and I’m happy, but will I still be saying the same thing next November 24th?