The one where Leon thinks the guy at the Sexual Health Clinic called him a chump. Or is that more Seinfeld than Friends?

I went to the Sexual Health Clinic today. That sentence got re-written a few times because I don’t know if we’re referring to them as STDs or STIs. Disease? Infection? Obviously the former has harsher connotations. I can almost see the self-righteous right wing media headline as I type “Are we getting too soft on syphilis? Going gooey on gonorrhoea? Too calm about chlamydia? In my day, we named these virulent bastards as diseases as an ode to their rampant spread. Some people clearly don’t have the balls to call it like they see it, which is why I’m campaigning to put the D back into the chlamydia zone. Who’s with me?” I’m not. Not fussed really. I was mainly there for the free condoms. The thing is, I’m not the most promiscuous fellow and I’m certainly not the least. I’d always had the view that as engagements with partners often lasted a few months, I should be checking out what’s going on down there after each one. I hadn’t for a little while. I’ve been using condoms, playing it safe and all that, but as sex Ed (Tom Cavanagh) taught us, the only truly safe sex is abstinence. It’s also the least exciting type of sex. Even self-sex is preferable. As Green Day taught us in their salad days, when masturbation’s lost its fun you’re fucking lazy (I also believe that faithful readers need to take a drink for another masturbatory reference. Unless you’re a career alcoholic, this project is NSFW).

Right, I got lost. Oh, back to the clinic. So anyway, I’m used to getting myself checked out after each partner (because there’s usually a significant gap between them). That hasn’t been the case recently. I obviously went to a clinic specialising in gay/trans patience. Fine by me, but the guy behind the counter was a bit miffed I’d come on a Friday night for a general check-up, because it’s usually a busy night for HIV testing. That’s my new thing learned today, not a wasted day. I got into the exam room and he started asking me about my recent sexual history. I told him I’d had 3 sexual partners since the last time I got tested and he looked blankly at me. He kind of started giving me a hard time (in the nicest way possible. This was still in Canada) about getting checked out too regularly, being needlessly careful. “You’re straight and you’ve been using condoms, right?” he asked. I nodded. “So why would you need to come in so soon? I’d think maybe after 30-40 partners or 2-3 years, but there’s very little chance you’ve got anything to pass on.” I blinked and quirked my head “isn’t it best that I know that I’m clean so I can ensure I’m not passing anything on to other clean people?” I asked. He then explained to me the likelihood of catching something. It was lower than I’d expected. I did my blood test and peed in a cup (because that’s a skill in my arsenal now. Thanks CAMH!) then I was on my way (after grabbing a few more free condoms).

I don’t know where I stand on this. Do I suddenly feel prudish? I’d like to think that I’ve been having a pretty fulfilling sex life. I’ve had no real complaints about frequency or the people I’ve been with. I connected with some better than others, but I’ve never felt pressure to get out there and actively work to make it happen. It was strange, I know the clinic guy wasn’t denigrating me for a lack of experience or anything, but on some level it felt like I was at odds with my basic biological imperative (THE PENIS IS EVIL. THE PENIS SHOOTS SEEDS). It felt like a challenge and put me in a strange mood. I started to feel weird that I don’t gain fulfilment through frequent sexual liaisons with numerous partners. That’s what we’re taught by an onslaught of media, right? The guy is meant to justify his worth by a series of meaningless hook ups and conquests. Hearkening back to his days as a hunter, the male shows prowess by revealing his prowess, if you know what I mean (can I be any more obvious, Avril?). But no, that’s never worked for me. There has to be something more to want to connect with someone sexually. Why would I try to accumulate numbers to validate my ego rather than finding people who I like and respect, to share a mutually engaging experience (and hopefully not an STD/STI) with? Once again he probably didn’t meant to imply that at all. I’m just guessing that he was used to gay guys who “get it” way more than straight dudes.

Shame “players”, justify your self-worth now.

100 internets to anyone who watches the show. That’s almost enough to buy yourself a bread maker.

Rick and Morty is here and it’s better than a debilitating severing of your tendons. It’s better than having cement mixed into your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. It’s better than comically slipping on a banana peel in front a crowd and seriously injuring yourself, only to hear a series of sniggers behind the concerned hush (and the worst part? You know you’d be laughing too had the situation been reversed). It’s better than a botfly infestation in your scalp, resulting in the incubation of multiple larvae underneath your hair. It’s better than buying scalped tickets to a gig, only to discover that they’re invalid. It’s better than a promising date turning sour, then having your date refuse to go Dutch. It’s better than your dad accidentally squirting radiator fluid into your eye (this may have happened to me already). It’s better than getting E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for Atari 2600 as an early Christmas Present. It’s better than unleashing the apocalypse from a tome bound in human flesh when you really thought you were summoning a delectable key lime pie. It’s better than the John Butler Trio song Better Than (which isn’t terrible, just not as good as… RaM? RnM? R&M? I don’t know what the appropriate acronym for this show is yet.), probably not as commercially successful though. It’s better than the subtle product placement in Hawaii Five-0:

It’s better than your body the next day after post-booze pulled pork poutine. It’s better than anything Weezer did after Pinkerton. It’s better than the season 1 finale of The Walking Dead. It’s better than Family Guy from season 4 onwards. It’s better than Community season 4.

Though that last one wasn’t difficult, admittedly. I’m almost half way through and it’s taken more perseverance and willpower than uprooting my life did. The demoralising fallout of being barely employed and taking on any number of baseline addiction/mental health studies to pay for food funds doesn’t sting half as badly as seeing my favourite characters reduced to little above catch phrase humour and regressive character decline. I’ve had one laugh in the first 5 episodes. It’s pretty bleak.

But we have Rick and Morty, so all’s not lost. Fast paced, quick witted insanity stitched together from the pubes of Dan Harmon’s massive balls and Justin Roiland’s phenomenal voice acting. This series is nuts (probably due to the aforementioned scrote-rope thread), hurtling itself towards the screen at breakneck speeds. The animation is fluid and gorgeous, otherworldly landscapes rendered in a lovingly diverse palette. Characters have room to grow, a myriad of eccentricities and snort-provoking lines throughout the episode. I can’t really say much to do it justice. I want this show to succeed because the thought of it only lasting one season when The Vanilla Ice Project is in its third unnecessary season of “Gangsta” titled episodes seems worse than a debilitating severing of my tendons (and most everything else I mentioned in the first paragraph).

Instead of words, have Rick and Morty. It’s better than this writing project:

 

It’s weird how nice things always seem to bum me out. Maybe I should’ve become a mortician after all.

I don’t know when I became scared of getting excited. Anything promising, eventful, surprising that comes my way, I remain determined to see it through with unfazed acceptance. I’m still reading this Wheel of Time book. Everyone’s dying. Characters that’ve been cultivated and nurtured over the last 13 books are all dropping dead. Some given evocative tearful deaths, others dispassionately disembowelled. Still I won’t allow myself to feel. It’s a book I tell myself, these characters aren’t real. He’s deliberately weaving a story to get you invested. There are 100 pages left, the situation has to sharply intensify to make the ending that much more affecting. It’s a fantasy novel, Deux Ex Machina is about to rain from on high. Don’t let yourself get manipulated, don’t let yourself get pulled into the obvious structure. Let it go man, don’t let it in. So I don’t, but a large part of me wants to. I want to care, I want to worry about the fate of these people. They started as blank outlines and were filled to the brim with personalities. I’ve read along as they’ve grown into themselves. Destinies fulfilled, promise come to light. I’m near 14,000 pages through this series and I still won’t give myself to it wholeheartedly. What’s the point in putting that much of my time into something if I’m not willing to care? Why invest if I won’t open myself to the possibility of loss? How can I even hope to enjoy the reward if I’m not willing to risk?

I had my interview today. It went well, I think. It. Did? Much the same as with the book, I don’t want to hope. I want so badly for this to be it, but I’m terrified of letting it trick me into caring. What happens if I fail? If I don’t get it, will I succumb to sorrow, loss? If I let myself feel then I’m opening myself to potential grief. I can already see how this could make things click and the possibility of it not coming to fruition seems tough to bear. I like the location, it’s so close to where I live. The environment is where I want to be. The way that the interviewers talked about the company’s operation makes me feel like I’d feel at home there. I’d be given duty and responsibility to ensure things ran smoothly. The work would be engaging and challenging.  To feel some burden, to know that I was needed. To have something new that forced me outside my comfort zone, to encourage growth and banish complacency. To work hard and attain competency, mastery. Upwards mobility, the light of ambition lit once more. To craft structure, regularity in my life. A salary, not having to worry about rent, sleep schedule back on track, returning to “fighting fit” shape, finding the path back to who I want to be. It’s all within reach, but if I let myself want for it (as I fear I already have) its absence will sting all the more.

When did it happen? When did I become callous? When did hope become a four letter word? When did I actively withdraw my feelings from the world? When did I last let someone in? Throwing out scraps of myself, but nothing that compromises my core. Pushing others away before they get close enough for it to hurt. Am I so scared of being tossed aside again that I cut away at emotion whenever it blooms? Am I afraid to feel human? To flip the coin of joy and despair? To relinquish control and let things fall as they will? Why do I second guess every step? When did I become afraid of life’s potential? How do I just let myself be?

Is it as simple as crossing my fingers?

I talk about talking about myself. Meta enough?

I was recently reminded of how much I despise ironing clothes. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. I dislike ironing clothes. I dislike ironing clothes because it’s something I’m not good at. I’m not good at ironing because it’s something I don’ have a lot of practice doing.  I don’t practice it too much because it’s something I dislike. I’m sure you can grok how this circular logic rotates ad infinitum. Every now and again though I require a creaseless shirt. Not often. I’m pretty sure that I have more shirts that require ironing than the amount of shirts I’d iron annually. What I’m trying to say is that I ironed a shirt and a pair of pants, and found it trying. I’m trying to put together some kind of interview ensemble for an interview I’m required to attend in semblance of a structured person. This means I can’t show up in my scottie-dog pyjamas, moon-boot slippers and fluffy bath robe. I’ll have to wear my grown-up costume like so many others do daily. Blast! Zounds! Curses! And a litany of other exultations.

Wait, why am I complaining? I’ve got myself an interview for a reputable company in a position I’d very much like to do. Unlike ironing clothes, the job is one I think I’d be great at and calls on a number of skills I’ve employed in other positions. It’s important to me, finding something I can excel at. If I’m gonna spend my days doing something, I want very much to do a good job in that workplace. I’ve got a strange dichotomy between my love of creativity and love of efficiency. I’m not saying they’re mutually exclusive, but they usually sit at opposite ends of the table, if you know what I mean. I’ve always found myself to have a proclivity for administrative tasks, accurate data entry and attention to detail. It seems the opposite of self-expression, but there’s just something captivating about ensuring the highest possible productivity in a given position. Similar to my bizarre love for the domestic sphere, finding the most efficient path in order to complete tasks fills me with a special kind of satisfaction. My joy for the seemingly mundane is a quirk or ism that I’ve never been able to shake.

I’m looking forward to the interview in a way that feels at odds with the dread people commonly hold for them. I like talking to people, I enjoy meeting new people and I’m always intrigued to be in situations outside my routine. It’s been years since I last had to sit in front of a panel in order to justify my expertise. Obviously I like talking about myself, as this project would attest to. An interview gives me a chance to highlight why I’m worth thinking about, it’s practically a narcissist’s dream. It may sound contrary to what I’ve been saying, but I hate the incessant bragging that comes associated with an interview situation. I tend to be pretty honest, because I don’t see the point in creating a false picture of who I am if it’s only gonna be seen through later. Why not be transparent? If an interviewer asks me what my weaknesses are, I’m not gonna roll out the standard “well, I’m a perfectionist” line, or “I just get too invested in my work” bit. I’ll be honest, I’m dealing with an unfamiliar media landscape. I don’t know the major players and it’d be a new position for me. Fortunately one of my strengths is that I’m not afraid to ask questions. I don’t merely smile and nod or pretend that I understand (when I clearly don’t), I ask people to elaborate. I listen to and learn from the answers and because of that I tend to adapt to a new position pretty quickly. I don’t think that’s dishonest, I don’t think it’s overly braggy. If an answer like that is a deal-breaker, then I probably wouldn’t have done well in the job in the first place. I’ve worked with people who never suited the role they were in, I don’t want to be one of them.

I’m aware this might not be the break I’ve been seeking. There are probably other talented, capable people going for the same job and that’s something I’ve gotta be ready for. If I don’t get it then I’ll move on. That being said, I’m going in there with a mind to tell them why I’m more suited to the role than anyone else they’re seeing. Exhibit A: See these crisp clothes? Not something I like doing, but I’m not afraid to challenge myself in order to get results. Ignore the shoes, the fact that I don’t own leather footwear does not impede my ability to kick this job’s ass. It just means I won’t care as much about stepping in shit in order to get results.

Is that my opening line?

The importance of hygiene can’t be understated.

I have had thoughts after a break up that’ve made me feel like a total asshole. Justifiably too, because they’re assholish thoughts. There was that time that I tried to think of any possible polite way to ask if I could take the toothbrush I’d used while sleeping at hers. It lived there, but the bristles were much more orderly than my home brush. I do enjoy a good firm toothbrush and, rather than merely go out and spend another $3, could I not find a way to utilise this one that already existed? I started rationalising it to myself. What was the alternative? It’d get chucked out if I didn’t claim it. That’s just wasteful, I’m sure there are starving kids in Africa… nah, let’s not go down that road (though I do wonder how teeth degrade when you’re not eating much. I guess the gums would deteriorate from a lack of use, but low sugar diets must do wonders for preventing plaque build up. I’m not really negating my assholery here, am I?), I’m better than that (but I’m not and I just did).

So I tried to devise some way that it could play out fine. I reviewed my options. First off, I could just leave it be and she’d throw it out. No toothbrush for me. Secondly I could ask her for the toothbrush. Bad plan, makes her realise just how petty I can be at times. Then again, would that make her feel better about my absence in her life? Would she be glad to be rid of me? Third option, just take the toothbrush without asking. Okay, this is probably pettier than the last one. How’s that internal justification working for you, Leon? Well if I really applied myself to it I could say that it’d save her any potential ill feelings of having to look at the foreign object in her bathroom, a place that should be hers. If she didn’t have to throw it out, she may just forget that it was there in the first place and not worry. Nope, still not valid justification, but there’s some truth hidden in there.

See, the ex and I used to have a system. I had my regular towels stacked away in a cupboard, but in our bathroom I had mine hanging up on a rack with my flatmate’s towel, while hers hung on the back of the door. We also had a spare towel folded up in my room that was next in line to be used when a bathroom towels needed a wash. It doubled as the “Towel o’ Modesty”. Our path to the bathroom took us through my flatmate’s office. If there was a chance of him being there, the Towel o’ Modesty would hide any accidental bits from floating into view, thus both preserving modesty and preventing embarrassment. It was cute, fun and a nice little “bit” we had. When the relationship went, the Towel o’ Modesty still sat in its same spot. Her towel still hung on the back of the bathroom door.

Each morning I’d look at them and wonder when it was time to put them away. As soon as that happened it was one more sign that what we once had no longer existed. It sounds trite, holding sentimentality to these ephemeral characteristics we give to inanimate objects. A towel and a toothbrush are just things, mass produced and created for specific uses. They have no inherent emotional weight unless we ascribe it to them. In putting them away or throwing them out, it feels like we’re trying to dispose of something that’s a part of our lives. As if the weight of that meaning we’ve gifted them is that easy to shift. Looking at that towel you hear her laugh in your mind. Memories resurface by merely touching that toothbrush. Scenes play out, mumbled conversations carried with mouths full of toothpaste froth. Glances saying more than words can. Those little wrinkles at the corner of her eye when she smiled. We store shards of ourselves in the things we keep around us. Objects become keepsakes, preserving the story of our lives. Each trinket starts as a blank canvas until we give it colour. When we remove them from our lives it’s like taking down a picture, revealing a sad unpainted square on the wall. Is that something you really want to deal with? You’ve earned that heartbreak, but do you really want to deal with that pain?

If you were wondering, I left the toothbrush behind.

It’s alright, Arnie’s Mr Freeze puns will warm my frozen heart.

It’s come to my attention that snow is now irrevocably a part of my life. I feel that the childlike amazement and magical preoccupation with it lasted all too briefly. I was at work, I ran outside in my bare feet sweatpants and short sleeved t-shirt. I did one of those 360 degree turns while looking upwards to the sky, like Nicolas Cage in the only part of City of Angels that I remember (apart from the Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris getting a starring role). No sooner had my turn ended than the implications started sinking in. Dreams of mulled wine and ginger biscuits dissipated when the bearings of part time employment on my alcohol consumption kicked in. Instead complications came to mind, most of which were realised in the flesh later that evening.

I encountered the “joy” of layering. As someone who doesn’t like tinkering with many finicky little bits, it pisses my tits right off that I’m gonna have to repeatedly pull gloves on and off. Warm scarves and fuzzy hats are also unnecessary indoor attire, so they get added to the pile. It means I’ll often have to wear either an undershirt or a sweatshirt, in addition to my warm coat. This pile is getting rather large in my head. Depending where I’m going, say a bar, I could be disinclined to bring too many extraneous things for fear of having to take care of them. As someone whose idea of putting together an outfit could be likened to a Mr Potato Head style mishmash (things that fit without necessarily suiting), rather than a coordinated effort, I’m gonna be exerting extra care in ensuring that I’ll be fully covered for the elements. If only I could find a magical cloak of resist elements or something. Yet another in a long line of times I’ve wished for life to be a fantasy RPG. If it was I could likely teleport without resorting to Scientology. What a world.

Waiting for a night bus becomes more of a concern when you’re buffeted by the frosty winds of the Ninth Sphere of Hell. There’s a small part of me that respects some ladies’ audacious choice of vanity over practicality in wearing short skirts to show off shapely legs, while being garbed in $500-and-up Canada Goose jackets. It’s like they had enough forethought to realise that hypothermia exists, but a lack of willingness to impede the flashing of their gams. It’s times like these that I strongly feel the need for stripper pants to make a resurgence. The scene plays out like some Britney Spears music video, the girls walk into a packed club, swaddled up in their winter warmest. They grab their coats and disrobe with a simple arm gesture, then clutch their pants at the base and pull up. Sides clasped with buttons apart and suddenly our heroes (heroes? I’m sticking by it) look immaculate and ready for a night out. Sparkles even start floating around them, but only because our onlookers view them through an enchanted beer haze, plus Post Production came in under budget and wanted to celebrate.

It’s interesting just how rapidly the shared experience in a mob of suffering folk turns dismay into humour. When you’re chilled to the bone just like everyone else around you, communal misery transforms into mirth. It’s a defence mechanism pure and simple, but it works. People start bonding over how ridiculous the weather is (and Canadians love talking about weather. Everyone has an opinion, no matter how banal (this coming from the guy who’s currently writing an entry about it? – Ed)). Necessity makes for fast friends and the warmth of human company seems preferable to giving into cold isolation. Wrapped in my pile of gear I looked like a snowman would if it tried to dress as a ninja, but only had the dressing skills of a Mr Potato Head. My Canadian blood better have latent qualities of insulation, otherwise I’m gonna be very disappointed.

All I need is for an SEO bot to “like” or “follow” this entry on the basis of the words SEO showing up in a google search. Because life can be art.

I have Boom Shake the Room stuck in my head, which is weird for several reasons. I haven’t heard the song in quite some time. I don’t think I’ve even thought of the words “boom”, “shake” or “room” recently. This song reminds me of that almond eyed racist Australian gal who briefly rose to notoriety as the “Chk chk boom girl”. Claire Werbelhoff is her name. I’m disappointed I’ve contributed even one more google search in her honour. That being said, it uncovered the fact that she was the last ever Ralph Magazine cover model. A pretty sad state of affairs for a pretty sad excuse for a magazine. Trashy, classless and bogan as a swappa crate, she seems too indicative of their target demographic to be an accident. I should know how craptacular the mag’ was, I bought enough of them as a teenager. Blame puberty, horniness and immaturity. I do. You’d think I would’ve at least had the decency to put work into it and find free scans, rather than shelling out my own pocket money. Lads mags. Oy vey! I’m not going out there and casting out every male periodical, but the vast majority I’ve read would be better used for ransom note collages than cluttering up the minds of men around the globe.

I feel like I’ve got a lack of great regular male targeted writing coming my way. I’m more likely to be found reading The Hairpin or Jezebel than anything that’s made to resonate with my gender. There’s gotta be an abundance of stuff out there for me to follow. I used to track Boing Boing, Warren Ellis and a bunch of webcomics for contemporary musings. Then that role was filled by podcasts, now I don’t even bother. I guess Reddit suffices, if anything. If this project was more of a dialogue I’d ask for suggestions on pages to start following, good evocative writers who’ll challenge my ideas and force me to reframe my experiences. As it stands the comment section remains practically empty, so that request will fall on deaf ears. Anyone who wants to throw a thought or two my way is welcome. I get inspired by reading great writing regularly (hence my sycophancy for Dan Harmon) and it can only help my own skill at structuring words on a page. I probably have a ton of infinitely more qualified writers than me following this here page.

The community is a weird thing. At times I cast an eye over the pages of people who’ve decided to follow my writing and they’ll be straight up too legit to quit scribes. It surprises me that they’ve found a kernel of anything in my words that appeals in some way. The majority of the people following me seem to be robots or at least paint by numbers blogs driven by some SEO directive. Hey, everyone wants a bit of cash in their pocket, I understand that. Reposting fitness articles with slight edits though? I feel like there should be a more fulfilling use of your time. Of course I’m just holding my own values judgements against them, it’s everyone’s right to flood the internet with whatever nonsense they desire. This page exists, obviously. It seems like WordPress is about “liking” and posting on other people’s pages in order to drive traffic to your own, the supposed popularity of which you can then springboard into google ad revenue. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had times where I’ve considered seeing if this jumble of mixed metaphors, lacklustre language, poor puns and annoying alteration could be marketable in some way. I’m devoting my time and thoughts to something, shouldn’t there be some kind of kickback? I don’t know how much of that is natural belief verses societal imperatives of entitled benefit based behaviour. We both know that my rewards should be increased writing skills and an enhanced feeling of self through having grounds to vent and espouse my views. I gain some small modicum of validation whenever someone else likes an entry, contributing to my considerable narcissistic cachet. Yet I ask for more?

What a shitty person, I’m no better than that selfish orphan asshole, Oliver.