Due to budgetary cuts, we’ve been forced to air repeats.

2014. That’s a year. Was a year, almost. With fewer than 10 hours between myself and the beginning of another solar cycle, it might be time to reflect on the past one. In the language of TV fanatics, I think we’re in for a clip show recap episode.

The wanky thing to do here would be to produce a couple of central themes and explore their relevance to my past year. I mean, this is my life, I don’t know that its narrative has really played out as an interesting fiction. There have been ups and downs, I’ve learned things about the world, about myself and the things that drive me. I’ve faced certain challenges and new experiences in all different capacities. Does it sound like I’m winding up for a Scrubs style ending monologue yet? I promise I’m not.

Two thousand and fourteen has been my first entire year (with one day’s grace) spent in Canada. In Ontario even. Actually, in Toronto. I’ve been landlocked by time, funds and the pressures thereof. They say restrictions breed creativity and I’ve donned by best Indiana Jones hat for some prime exploration. Clip show mode, let’s relive some interesting or key moments I’ve been through or dealt with.

Love, loss and forward momentum. Raise a cup guys, cheers for sticking around thus far. See you here next year. Same bat time, same bat channel.

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I mean, Azealia Banks happened. Is any of this too much of a stretch?

The end of the year is often one of my favourite parts. Of course it’s riddled with holidays, feasting and general sloth (sometimes you sink that full-court Hail Mary), but that’s not it for me. I’m a glutton for end of year lists, reminding me of everything great I consumed over the past 12 months. I’d forgotten gems like The Lego Movie and Obvious Child, two films that couldn’t be more polarising in their focus on children. More importantly I get an accessible shopping list full of things to absorb. New albums, movies, games, TV shows. There’s too much produced these days to take it all in, but these lists help me reflect on what it is I actually want in my life. Isn’t that the greatest gift of all? Maybe only if you’re a pop-cultural savant like I am.

Pleasingly, this time of year lends itself to frivolous navel gazing too. Rather than resolutions that I’m bound to fail, I go for expectations. Probably also bound to fail. I get to cast my naive eyes upon everything the light touches and wish upon a star (it also gives me a chance to mercilessly butcher famous Disney quotes). Despite all the fine albums released in 2014, here’s my wishlist for 2015:

[Note, the exceptional candidates James Blake, Radiohead, The Decemberists, Grimes and Dan Deacon are all conspicuously absent from this list. Because those things are actually happening. Get excited.]

  • Battles: Mirrored was fresh and unexpected, Gloss Drop added a variety of spicy new influences to the pot. I once heard someone say that Battles were what Radiohead might’ve been if they’d continued along the Kid A path. Whatever they are, it’s aural confetti to me.
  • CHVRCHES: Syrupy sweet and bouncy to boot. I thrashed their debut last year. A follow up would do me quite nicely. Also the lead singer is pint sized with an adorable accent. What’s not to love?
  • Dirty Projectors: Swing Low Magellan feels so long ago. Bitte Orca is probably one of my most played albums ever. I need this in my life, if not only for an excuse to get the band touring again. Non-stop harmonies live? That’s my kind of show.
  • Fang Island: Their last album was kind of average, which is such a bummer after their impeccable self-titled debut. They described their sound as “everyone high-fiving everyone”. It’s upbeat and inspirational instrumental rock. Plus, kids love it.
  • Fleet Foxes: This world needs more baroque pop. I half-heartedly wish that mainstream pop would shift into a baroque stage, if I didn’t feel it’d cheapen Fleet Foxes‘ work. It’s about time, guys.
  • Frank Ocean: Channel Orange kind of blew the arsehole off 2012. The music world could do with its arsehole being blown so intimately again. Heh, buttstuff.
  • Girl Talk. The Broken Ankles EP was cute. It was all well and good hearing new beats being created, but mash up is what Gillis does best. Despite Kim K’s efforts, the internet hasn’t been broken quite like it was with the release of 2010’s All Day. You go girl… talk.
  • Grizzly Bear: Was Shields really 2 years ago? 2 years too long. The band I billed as being “better than Radiohead live” were better than Radiohead live. Go figure. I need to form a second opinion for research purposes.
  • Japandroids: I’ve thrashed both albums. If they were in cd form they’d look like they’d spent too long on the floor of a pickup truck. This is an imperative. I need a new album.
  • M83: Yes, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was dream pop on a grand scale, but Midnight City has dominated the mashup subreddit for years now. Can we get some new material?
  • MSTRKRFT: Punchy dance punk that might be on hold with the reunion of DFA1979. It feels wrong to complain, but can’t we have both? I want an oompa loompa now, daddy.
  • Passion Pit: My second most played album (after The Antlers – Hospice) was Manners, their debut LP. Gossamer was a great follow up and another one would do perfectly.
  • Purity Ring: I didn’t expect Shrines to pull me in quite like it did. Moody and evocative synth pop that’s a total treat to experience. Apparently they just released a single a few weeks back. Fingers crossed.
  • Sant(i/o)gold: However she’s spelling her name now, the world could do with hearing more from her. The last record was patchy in places, but I’ll still happily thrash Big Mouth with glee.
  • Sufjan Stevens: A straight up release, no gimmicky Christmas/Hannukah bollocks. Age of Adz was phenomenal, how could I not crave more?
  • The xx: Stunning music with cross-genre appeal. Also great music to fuck to.

Quite the list. Is it too much to hope for more than TV on the Radio gave? Label me beggar and chooser, just please please please let me get what I want.

Just my potluck, I guess. Woolverine I ain’t.

When it comes to cooking I’ve got a pretty decent success rate. That’s not to say that I’m decent at making things look pretty, but that I have success with people rating my food. Tonight’s offering for a large potluck gathering however, has backfired. For some reason- whether very deeply seated national pride or force of habit- I keep trying to make lamb dishes. Something different I guess. Most people here in Canada wouldn’t reach for baby sheep as their go to meal (when I put it that way it sounds even more barbaric), yet as if I have something to prove, I keep trying. Most of my attempts have been pretty successful. The fare here, though imported, usually isn’t as succulent. It’s expensive too. Lamb mince is 3 – 4 times the price of its bovine based cousin. Despite these overwhelming obstacles, I keep striving for greatness against all odds. What I’m saying, guys, is that I’m the Phil Collins of burgers.

A couple of things got in the way tonight. Much as I’d love to blame the beast, human error takes the lion’s share. With inadequate prep time, I formed the patties yesterday. They’ve been sitting in the fridge for just under 30 hours. Due to the price, I had less mince than I’d usually use to cater to a group this size. I bulked the mixture out accordingly. Or so I thought. I overdid it on the onions and egg, detracting from the natural taste of the meat. I’d thought it adequately spiced with garlic, rosemary and a touch of cayenne pepper, but somehow that didn’t translate to the final product. Usually I would’ve patted the onions down with a paper towel post sauteeing, but I was out of them. Consequently the patties came out tasting bland and unappetising. They pretty much taste like fat. If I had my choice I wouldn’t eat them, let alone serve them to sentient beings. Problem is, I’m late to the shindig as it is, so I’ve got no time to start over. As one of the few meat related dishes in a largely vegan buffet, I know that omnivores will probably reach for them regardless. Gutted. I’m not angry, just disappointed. Maybe I should give myself a motivational mirror pep talk, or adopt my best Twisted Sister music video impression. Maybe if I just act sheepish the whole night that’ll compensate for the lack of lamb-like flavour. Baaa humbug.

My current strategy is to scan profile pics for froyo, meatballs and lingonberry juice.

I got back on online dating. Kind of.

It feels weird now. It really does. I was so comfortable with it back when I was looking to meet someone and now that I’m happily entangled it seems the last thing I’d be interested in. I guess it’s worth clearing up how I got back there, because at the moment it probably sounds like a guy who wants to have his cake and just start amassing cakes. That’s not it, I’m no Lex Luthor. Sidebar: that was a pretty problematic metaphor. I don’t see women as some type of good to be consumed (there’s a low hanging cunnilingus joke I refuse to make here. I just can’t go down to that level. Okay, we both knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself) and even if females as cake was an apt metaphor, I don’t have any issues with polyamory. On that note (and more relevant to the subject), while I’m at the stage where I’m considering trying polyamory I don’t quite think I’m emotionally ready for that kind of intimacy with multiple people. Not that I have much say in the matter. My general dating strategy is to stand looking awkward until someone takes pity on me and grabs my hand. It’s been working out thus far. So the online dating thing is window shopping at best. If it is, it’s the laziest window shopping possible.

I went back to the site to find a quote for that lengthy diatribe about my ex and ended up looking around while I was there. Now, like Twitter I find myself aimlessly surfing without an agenda. I go on, check my matches, see how little they’ve changed and log off. It’s the most dispassionate way to view other people. Due to my general disinterest it’s not dissimilar from looking in a catalogue and matching up compatible personalities like creating outfits. Much like my inability to dress myself, my inability to find complimentary aspects is legendary. I look up profiles and think how emotionally draining it’d be to message any of these lovely gals. I’ve gone back and looked through my past messages. It’s a humbling experience. If you’re a beta male who wants to feel like a total fedora tipping neckbeard, just look back through your online dating message history. A metric fuckton of cringe is a heavy weight to bear. They weren’t all terrible, but the further I go back, the worse it gets. At least that’s a sign of personal growth. If I was Benjamin Button-ing my maturity that’d be a curious case indeed.

The curious case that’s cropped up, however, is the number of friends or friends of friends popping up in my high percentage matches. I’ll find people I’ve met at parties or actual friends I interact with pseudo regularly in my top 10% of matches. Someone will post on Facebook and their friend’s profile picture will look familiar. I’ll hop on the site and they’ll be a 99% match. That wasn’t a hypothetical scenario. It’s doing no disservice to my notion that Toronto’s the biggest small town in the world, nor my hypothesis that good people beget more good people. If you find someone choice, they tend to know other choice individuals. It’s why I end up seeing people at parties who I recognise from unconnected situations around the city. It’s why buses might as well be my local pub, because a statistically disproportionate amount of time somebody knows my name. When this comes to online dating, it makes complete sense. Remember back when we talked with our mouths and you’d meet people at social events? You’d find a friend of a friend and hit it off? Well since social interaction has shifted online in a significant way, the “mutual friends” tab is often a decent indicator of your compatibility with a certain someone. If the people you have in common are excellent humans, chances are your personalities might just interlink like Voltron, Megazord or IKEA clip seal containers.

So basically what I’m trying to say is, dating for me is finding someone who’ll indulge my unabashed love of IKEA.

Furniture doesn’t mean furmature. Wait, did that even make sense? I’m furunsure.

Am I an adult yet guys? I’ve been waiting so ever long and yet I still feel like adulthood escapes me. I’m trying, I swear. I’ve been making myself healthy meals, trying to get trace hours of sleep, doing regular washing and cleaning. I’m putting in the time to keep myself on the rails. In the ultimate test of grown up-titude my flatmate and I even went out and bought a table.

That’s right. No longer do we have a ready breakdance floor in our kitchen/living room. Instead we have a large wooden structure that opens the door to a host of entertaining options. Board game days, dinner parties and extra food prep space are all now on the… well, table I guess. Oh the parties we’ll throw once we get more than 3 chairs. With the table leaves it’s probably large enough to seat 8-10 people. Whether our lounge is large enough is another question entirely. Still, we don’t stand on ceremony enough to reject the notion of just moving things around to fit. The table’s a sturdy, heavy bastard that’s not in perfect condition, but will suit our needs just right. Picked it up for $110 altogether down from $500 or so, because whoever assembled it got a bit manic when screwing in the bases, leaving bolt cracks in the top of the table. Fine by us, it’s bound to get damaged through negligence anyway.

We headed along to a furniture seconds factory at the end of our street, braving the boxing day crowds. Figured that if we didn’t make the effort to go and see what was out there, a table wasn’t just gonna work its way into our lounge on its own. Aladdin lied to us, sentient furniture’s clearly still a few years off. Seeing that most things were exponentially out of our price range, we went upstairs to the clearance/end of line section. There we found it. Solid and weighty, supported by two large pillar style bases, the thing doesn’t shake when you put your glass down. Perfect. We got a rep to ring it up and I grabbed an ex-showroom soundbar for $40 while I was at it. Living room sorted.

$70 for delivery they said, despite the fact that we were 2 minutes’ drive away. The other option they suggested was trying a taxi company, but the table was practically the size of the car. Seemed unlikely at best. So we opted for the next viable option: carrying the thing ourselves. It was only a 10 minute walk each way, so if we removed the legs to make it manageable we could bust this thing out in under an hour. Plan sorted. Meeting the guys down at the loading dock we told them our plan. We got a quizzical brow in exchange. “You’re the first to try that” he admitted, handing us a leg, some bolts and a table leaf. Slinging the chunky legs over our shoulders, we hustled down the road with our bearable burdens. Those bearable burdens burned soon enough, shoulders firing up with exertion. Dropping things off in the flat we briefly considered just leaving the table top. Briefly. Slinking back to the factory we mentally steeled ourselves for the return journey by complaining profusely.

However heavy the legs were, the top was heavier. Much heavier than we’d expected. We’d gotten ourselves into this mess now though, it was a matter of pride. We made it as far as the street corner and watched the oncoming traffic before putting it down. Shit. Only 9.5 more minutes. My flatmate noticed a white pick-up doing a U-turn and called out to him. Any chance he could give us a quick ride down the road? “Sure” he replied, “just gimme a couple of bucks for gas and we’re square”. Never hurts to ask, right? He chucked it on the back and strapped it down. 2 minutes later we were pulling it in the front door. $10 to circumvent something we’d rather not do (and potentially more damage to the table)? Capitalism, how I do love thee.

Now we have this huge structure in our living room and pending plans to make use of it already. It seems any attempts to breakdance will now need to be tabletop or Coyote Ugly style.

So yeah, owning a table clearly doesn’t instantly make me an adult.

If things don’t work out, will I be polyamorose?

I have a girlfriend.

That may be neither new or news to some of you. I haven’t decided which camp I fall into yet. See, I knew she existed, I knew we were involved with each other in some capacity and I knew that we each thought one another were something spiffy. Translating that into readily digestible words was a process in itself. We’ve been seeing each other for a while. Coming up on 6 months in a day or two. “Seeing each other” as it stands, was the phrase I used as a stand-in for other options. I think I can say we’re “dating” without standing on any toes, but the hesitation to do so has only receded recently. I can say that we’re in a relationship without it feeling weird to me. It feels natural, in that the word tumbles out on its own when I think of the connection we share. The term “girlfriend” has only lately felt fitting because it’s planted itself subconsciously in my dialogue. For a while it was “lady friend”, which felt comfortable, low-key and safe. It felt quaint without laying down too many expectations. It meant we saw each other slightly more than casually and if she happened to take her leave, that I’d somehow linguistically guarded myself from taking it as a slight. If she was only a “lady friend” rather than a “girlfriend”, that had fewer serious connotations.

The word shifted to “partner” for some time, which I amusedly realised probably made people think I was talking about another guy. Funny, I thought, and made no move to correct them. Still, partner for me held less weight. Once again innoculated against loss if she skipped out, I could find my comfort without worrying about investing too much. This was an ongoing theme. Try as I might, whatever baggage I still clutched from my previous relationships, innately I felt it necessary to hold back in case she suddenly decided I wasn’t fit for her. It was only another permutation of my common leave them before they leave me mentality. If I didn’t invest too much in the first place, it wouldn’t sting quite so much when she went. So I did what I did without thinking and linguistically controlled my frame of reference. It’s almost shameful the time it took me to even think in terms of being in a “relationship”. I was, but somehow I thought that by failing to use the words, it didn’t make it true.

Let’s pump the brakes for a second here, because it sounds like I’m just a “typical guy” with frigid feet, entirely afraid of commitment. I’m not a robot (but the time I spend telling myself and partners this gives me pause) and I do have feelings. When I get invested I really do, but fear of future hurt leaves me tentative to do so. Hence by ascribing to labels, nebulous as they are, it deludes me into thinking I have even a modicum of control over my emotions. The illusion breeds comfort and here we are. Still I feel like you’re not getting the whole picture, which makes me feeling like I’m skewing a little Koenigian. So here’s that missing piece of the jigsaw that’ll link it all.

My girlfriend (my current go-to descriptor) is polyamorous. I’m not.

At some point you’ve gotta wonder if I just seek out complicated situations. It’s not the first time I’ve been in this arrangement. Usually the way I respond is to be upfront and honest. Dating a polyamorous person as a monogamist for me means that they’re free to date others, but when I find someone I want to pursue romantically, it’ll be time for me to move on. It’s difficult terrain to navigate. I have no issue with a partner dating other people if that’s established as the deal. I’m not gonna invalidate or infringe upon someone else’s life choices. That’d be barbaric. That’d be like telling an LGBT person that dating within their gender is wrong. If you’re conducting yourself in a way that your choices aren’t hurting anyone else, why would I oppose that? Pursue your own happiness. So that’s the arrangement I entered into this time. It worked. She kept dating others, I loved her company when she was around. I met one of her partners, who was equally lovely, and things went well. I was happy and didn’t put much stock into meeting anyone else for the time being.

Then I met somebody else.

So we know the plan, right? I meet someone, I say “thanks for the hospitality” and go out with the new gal. Easy. After a super promising date that left me humming with excitement, I was all ready to pack up my things and move on. Easier said than done. The problem with words is that they’re so malleable, while feelings are staunch and uncompromising once they’ve made themselves known. Ecstatic from having met this new gal, feelings meant I was forced into confronting how I felt about the current gal. I realised that despite the casual way I’d been treating the relationship, there was a depth of connection and I’d merely been paddling at the surface. I couldn’t just drop my things and run when I hadn’t even explored my current situation. So rather than opt out, I invested.

It’s been something I’ve come to over time. She makes it easy. She’s a wonderfully accepting woman. She knows how to play in any situation. She’ll yes, and… at a moment’s notice and I get an earnest sense that we’re capable of making each other pretty damn happy. We challenge each other to try new things that might be out of our comfort zone and give as much support as we can along the way. She’s a nuanced, three dimensional person who communicates easily and clearly. The fact that any insecurities we might have over the arrangement are talked about and understood in depth means that neither of us is confused about where we are. Wherever that might be. It’s naive to think that any of this exists on a fixed point. The way things are right now gives me no reason to want to go anywhere. I’m at a good place and there’s far more in this relationship that makes me want to dive in than paddle about. I may stay content with our arrangement thus far. I may even dip into polyamory myself (given that everyone I meet involved in it seems to be such a great ambassador for it) and see how that suit fits. Who knows where I’ll be? I certainly didn’t expect to be here. Wherever I am, whatever’s happening here, I know that I’m not worried and the words I use matter much less than the intentions behind them.

I think The Animals said it best.

Django bells. Are you listening?

Is Santa a scientologist?

As an atheist Jew I have a meagre understanding of both St Nic and Elrond Hubbard. Still, is there some congruence between the two? Both have emerged as cult-like figures, buoyed by legions of rabid fans. I have little belief that either exists, yet people swear by their permanence and significance. You might say that those are surface coincidences, but hey, it’s post Christmas feasting. I’m fat and vegetative, so if my mind escapes to flights of fancy then so be it. Let’s keep this train rolling.

Both men run organisations that, through some manner of coercion or indentured servitude, are staffed by slaves of sorts. Is it fear? Mind control? Or something even more sinister? That jolly old fellow seems kindly and benign, but what’s he hiding behind that inscrutable beard? Do the elves work tirelessly to create toys for children worldwide through some sinister threat? Is their family at stake? Are they mentally present (yus! unexpected pun)? Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Funding. A hot button topic. The church of scientology is funded by a member tithe, but I’m sure that’s not their only avenue of income. Quid pro quo, how does Santa get all of his supplies? Timber, plastic and fabric ain’t cheap en masse. You can quote the magic of Christmas all you want, but who created Santa? Coke. Does this mean his entire operation is bankrolled by the South American coke trade? I’m not saying that Santa’s a thugged out drug dealer, but if there’s something going on, he nose.

The transportation. You’re not gonna tell me that you believe in this reindeer nonsense, are you? I don’t accept it. Much easier to believe is that Santa is a level 8 scientologist, by which point the abilities of teleportation and invisibility are bestowed upon you by Xenu or something. Even with the rapid (nigh instant) transit of teleportation, I’m still not inclined to believe that he could reach every child’s house without help. I’m sure hiding from sight would smooth out operations. Though kissing mummy would certainly slow down matters. C’mon Nic, you don’t have time for those kind of shenanigans.

Coming into question is also Santa’s insane knowledge. He creates a list of every human in the world and forms naughty/nice lists to track their progress. Surveillance gone too far? How does public opinion even accept this kind of nonsense  without flying directly to the North Pole and crucifying him against a giant candy cane? How does he possess this intel anyway? I’ve heard that at level 6 of scientology our main man would gain the secrets of the entire universe. This would directly feed into a viable answer list of his subjects. I’m sure scientology also has a vast network of spies backing them up. Seems otherwise all too convenient for our jolly ol’ Nicolas.

Look guys, all I do is lay out the facts and conjecture. It’s your choice if you follow it or me.

Merry Christmas everyone. Keep watching the skies.