Like Swiss cheese, I’m seeing holes in my plans.

Does everyone like regular editions of “things Leon’s not allowed to complain about?” I hope so, because it’s happening.

This poly dating thing is hard. That’s my complaint. Oh, it gets better…

I’m finding poly dating to be difficult because I’m a guy.

Boo hoo, right? Here we go.

As a cis straight white male, I’m finding it hard to meet women who are interested in dating a cis straight white male who dates other women.

Take a second to absorb that, because essentially what I’m saying is that, as someone in a fulfilling, loving relationship I’m dissatisfied that it’s proving difficult to date people while being above board with the fact that I’m in a fulfilling loving relationship. It’s not just that I’m a relationship, it’s not just that I’m a cis straight white dude. It’s no secret that (and I’m generalising here), in a hetero-normative situation if a girl is interested in meeting guys, it’s much easier than the alternative. I might get one message a month on online dating. Most girls who I know who actively use the service get 20 or so a day. Maybe more. That’s without messaging anyone. This simply is not a reality for guys. Perspective females for the most part aren’t as desperate as guys to have sex, because it’s not as difficult to make that happen. I also happen to be unfairly picky. To add to this, I’m not just looking for random hook ups to have sex with. I’m looking for potential partners I could form meaningful longer term connections with. There’s the rub.

When I was searching for a relationship, I had standards in place. I’m not knocking that, everyone should have standards and things that they want. Everyone should have boundaries they feel comfortable within, dealbreakers and also things that light a fire in their heart. I have a lot. I construct complicated interlinking scaffolding that erects an enormous structure around myself, with only small gaps for people of exactly the right geometrical shape. What I’m saying is I don’t date squares. Dumb, considering my propensity for dad jokes. To enter this fortress of solitude, there’s a plesiosaur filled moat to swim through, scattered caltrops by the entrance and a barricaded door behind a flaming hoop. Provided you can pass all those shit-tests I’ve set up, once you’re inside it’s quite roomy and comfortable.

Now that I’m searching for someone else to give of myself to, I’m not inclined to drop those standards. I want someone interesting and engaging who elicits a response from parts of me that’re otherwise unstimulated. I want someone I can be around who allows me to be those facets of my personality that are hidden, waiting for someone who’ll appreciate them for what they are. My as far unsuccessful options have been online dating or meeting people within the poly community.

Thing is, I’m still not at a point where I’d consider trying polyamory to be a part of my identity. It’s just something I’m doing. I certainly can’t speak for people within the community, but I perhaps haven’t explored it enough to know better. I feel like I’m just dipping my toes at the moment, which leaves me hesitant to delve too far into this community lest I’m outed as a fraud or something. Some kind of charlatan putting on a ruse in order to infiltrate this foreign society. Yeah, so it’s not like that whatsoever. Most poly people I’ve met within the community have been friendly, interesting people. Thing is, I’m not looking to date someone because they’re poly. I’m looking to date someone because they’re awesome and they want to date me. I just don’t want the fact that I’m openly dating someone to be a complication. So far the people I’ve met are lovely, but none of them have sparked anything akin to romantic interest. Not a huge problem, there are other avenues to pursue.

Online, right? I’ve done online dating before and I have a ton of high percentage matches. Thing is, once I toggle my “looking for” section to include non-monogamy, my options are narrowed significantly. I’m finding myself messaging people I probably wouldn’t have messaged before just because they happen to be non-monogamous. Doesn’t that seem disingenuous? Like I’m putting their status above what I’m actually looking for? The other route I’ve taken is to look at normal matches and search their questions for the words “open” (in an attempt to see if they’ve answered their opinion on open relationships) or searching for the book “sex at dawn” in their profiles. Even then, I feel intimidated messaging people because I don’t want to offend anyone or waste their time with messages that won’t interest them. I mention at the top of my profile:

** I’m actually seeing someone at the moment, but one of the things I’m looking into is practicing mindful, ethical polyamory. I have very little idea how to actively pursue this, so it you’re not into it feel free to tell me to bugger off. I won’t be offended.**

I still wouldn’t want to message anyone who’s not into it though. I don’t want to burden anyone with unwanted solicitation. So in reality I’m my own worst enemy here, I’m not only putting barriers between myself and people I would date, but I’m then making more obstacles for myself to overcome in order to get to the people who would potentially want to date me. Making things easy isn’t my strong point.

So far I’ve had zero success. I’ve had one response, but attempts to actually put a date into place have been dismal. She’s cancelled on me three times. I understand she’s busy and has stuff on, I don’t blame her. At the same time it’s hard not to count this against her. I can see how little of a priority I am, which would be undesirable in a partner. I’m sure things would shift if we actually started dating, but if she’s that busy all the time that might be a dealbreaker. I generally like to be able to spend time with partners. It seems like the whole point of a relationship to me.

As it stands, I’ve been looking to try this poly thing for a while now, but I’ve had a grand total of no dates. My girlfriend is encouraging and supportive, but things still haven’t worked out. It’s a bummer, considering I’m part of a generation of people used to immediacy in our lives. I want things to happen right away, because the internet has taught me that life works that way. But it doesn’t. Things, like cheese, take time. People, like cheese, are worth it. But some of them, like cheese, smell.

So for the moment, I’m without any additional partners. I do however have a block of cheese. So I’m not truly alone.

A stitch in time saves much more than $9.

Because I’m a man of more than sufficient class and taste (I’m neither of those things), but less sufficient means, I’m selective when getting new things. Because I know very little about doing clothes (seriously, the button fell off my most common pair of pants and now they’ve basically fallen into non-use. I don’t own a needle or thread (causing me to keep the frayed thread that previously united button and pant), so I’d contemplated just throwing them out. Surely I’m a better person than that? They’re nice pants and only cost me $3 from a thrift store, but I want them to remain in my life. What’s a boy to do? I think that while clueless, I’m clued up enough to sew on a button. At least it’s not as difficult as ironing a shirt. That’s some SWAT team shit), I don’t buy new ones. I don’t know how to match stuff with things (though this result of 5 seconds’ googling should be a help), so I kind of need help finding fabrics and stitchings that work in concert with what I’ve got going on. I’m a hot mess that sometimes works out by some divine concordance. My disinterest in funnelling a lot of funds into something I’m fundamentally broke at achieving means that I place a limit on what I purchase. So when I find something that I can take home and make friends with, I’m afforded no small amount of personal satisfaction.

What I’m saying is that I now own a suit.

This means a suit is now something I could wear just whenever. Going to the dairy for a bottle of milk? Bam! I can now make it look like a business expense. In the line for an unemployment benefit? Bam! I now look like a formerly successful businessman who’s empire has fallen. I could even sleep in a suit if I so wanted, because it’s mine. That’s power.

It’s not much of a power suit though. It’s brown and would be crisp looking if it didn’t spend the last 24 hours sitting in a bag. So now I need to iron it. Damn, my weakness. It’s very 60s, so I’m working on a lavish moustache to go along with the thing. The thing that caught me the most however, was the price. Procured from a vintage boutique and starting at $275, it got priced down to $135 to shift it out the door. That didn’t work, so they just dropped it to $9. $9 for a full suit. Come to think of it, that’s how much it probably cost in its heyday. I spent more than that on breakfast this morning and breakfast didn’t open up a whole new world of costume possibilities. It also makes you question the abstract nature of value. How can something be perceived to have a particular price, then drop to 1/27th of that and still have it be acceptable? Money doesn’t mean anything, peeps. We’re living in a flawed system.

Anyway, the store was kind of neat. Called Cabaret Vintage, they had a store full of decadent old dresses and dapper blazers. They also had a basement where everything cost $9. Dress ups ensued. I tried on 10-15 suits, only finding one that fit (and even then, it wasn’t a perfect fit. It’s tough wearing a suit when you’ve got shoulders. How are you supposed to raise your arms? The whole experience was excellent though. Things ranged from the kitsch to the classy. There was an old raincoat that, judging by the weight, must’ve been made of lead. Putting it on, it barely stopped short of my toes. I felt like I was three children stacked on top of each other pretending to be an adult. The shirts were absurd and parachutesque. Everything sported ruffles and had cuffs that could only be secured with cufflinks. Things just felt too large, for the most part. A peculiar experience for me. I was like a child who’d raided my grandfather’s closet. My fingers barely cleared the sleeves and these double breasted suits could’ve likely fit if I’d had a third breast (on that note, I should ask a scientist how to get a third breast in case of necessary suit-wearing). Still, it was fun to take a little time travel to the 60s and understand that my non-standard body shape would make it just as tough to find a fit back then too. Time, the great equaliser.

Dildinosaurs and rapping professors. What else is new here?

Are there any rappers out there called Will-Da-Beast? What about Ry-No or Ape-raham? I guess I just like the melding of wild animals and street smart ethos, primarily because I love using the phrase “urban jungle”. Who doesn’t? What would my rap name be? I guess I’d feel obliged to be Leon the Prof as an ode to my lyrical academia and pop-cultural sensibilities. A name like Leon the Prof certainly speaks to my whiteness, something I find difficult to ignore.

On that note, I had a weird experience with colour today. Come As You Are were having their March Madness sale so I went along with my girlfriend to check it out. One of the things I found that I thought was equal parts neat and novelty (a noveltoy?) was a vibrating dildo mould. The idea of giving my girlfriend a personalised dildo was hilarious. When she mentioned that she’d have no hesitation in using my silicon simulacrum well, the naughtiness felt more than a little nice. On special for $10, we had a winner (wiener?). The catch? They only had it in dark skin tone. So it’d be like she had my black vibrating brother from another mother. In retrospect that sounds amusing and totally fine, but at the time the idea of representing myself somehow other than who I am felt weird, as if somehow disingenuous.

It’s strange, considering it would’ve just been an object. A sex toy is just a tool, there’s nothing animating it beyond batteries. I’ve never had an issue with jealousy over a toy for the usual reasons. While they’re great fun and can offer exciting pathways to new plateaus of pleasure, a toy can’t hug with real human warmth. A toy can make you feel physically splendid, but can’t listen to your feelings and respond thoughtfully. A toy can’t show compassion or make you feel like it’s pleasing you because it loves you and wants you to feel transcendant. A toy is just that, something to play with. At the end of the day, it’s not gonna remember your anniversary and write you a sweet card full of sentimental mush. It’s not gonna form memories that make you laugh till your guts are sore. It’s not gonna take care of you when you’re sick, call you just to check how your day is going or cheer you up when you’re having a hard time. A toy is lovely, but it’s not a lover.

So if I had’ve bought the dildo mould, I guess I would’ve had to give it a name. Maybe even a rap name, since I got one too. How about MC TOYSauRUS? PrehistoRick? If I’m gonna give a black penis mould of mine a name, is there any reason why I can’t make it a dinosaur too? Would it give saurgasms? Damn right it’d Bedrock her world.

One day someone’s gonna slap me for shit like this. Fitting, given my cheekiness.

Reviewing things. I’m a fan of this guy’s work and jumped at the chance to check him out live. Also any possibility of spending time in Massey Hall should be taken. That place is magical.

http://www.liveinlimbo.com/2015/03/28/concert-reviews/shad-at-massey-hall.html

Can Competitive Erotic Poetry Slam Battle replace Snapchat now please?

I guess it’s fair to tag this one as a guest author entry. If that exists on here. Starting out as a fun, flippant message, an exchange between my girlfriend and I quickly became what I can only term as a silly “Competitive Erotic Poetry Slam Battle”. I think she won, but she thinks I won. I guess we’re both winners. Her passages are reprinted (with full permission) in italics. I caught me a smart one.

Yo.
Stopping by to say I love you so.
Gotta go.
Woah.

Fun, right? But I’m never one to let something go…

Girl I know that feel.
My love for you is real.
I’m full of zest and zeal,
supportive and leal.
This I do reveal,
in hopes you won’t repeal.
In that case I’ll appeal
and showcase my appeal.
Then clothes we might both peel,
I’ll show you my steel,
on my knees I’ll kneel
and make of you a meal.
Tongue slippery like an eel,
your breath I’ll seek to steal,
until you canst not squeal
and then your moans will peal.
Do we then have a deal?

I thought I’d done fine, but I was ill prepared for the comeback.

Boy, I’ll do you one better than a deal and a meal;
your love has got me high. Up I fly in the sky,
every day much better. 
In your bed I will lie, every way much wetter
than I’ve been now, I’m in now without a doubt.
The match has been lit and I’m not tapping out.
I’m about you, around you, and so I know
I’ll wrap my lips around you, never let you go.
Your hard and my soft are the best kind of match,
we start a fire, desire that burns and burns on.
Lighting a pyre, inferno that turns and turns on
like a record, setting us for beautiful things,
setting records, as to your sweaty form I cling.

I just rhymed the same sound. She had to go and bring extended metaphors into the mix (she’s a catch, right?). Still, cracking knuckles I crafted a response:

Girl that was slick, your words have me yearning from my head to my dick,
your love has me turning from lust to desire to get lost in your pyre.
Your flames they did catch, ill-content to sit, your heart found its match.
My tongue craves your clit while my brain craves your wit. It’s whittled away
a wanting to stray now I’m wanting to stay inside you all day but as time marches on,
the feeling gives way to my heart’s buoyant song. I see where you fly
and I’m floating right by you and nothing feels wrong, reaching out for your hand
to remove any doubt, with you I stand with both feet off the ground
and there’s no need to land while I trace your mound and cause you to shudder,
your heart all aflutter like wings beating utterly quick like your heart
as it starts to race, as your thoughts start to roam with a quickening pace
as this little poem makes you picture my smile
locking lips with yours right by your hips so
maybe
think
on
that
a
while.

Yeah. We might be gross, but at least we’re gross together.

I ain’t even mad, brew.

My stats tell me that an intrepid reader found this page by googling “Mad Jacks Rum”. That’s a tick off the ol’ bucket list. I now feel like a public service, giving back to the masses, eager to engage in guilty pleasures of low class alcohol. Because unlike almost anything else, that’s something I can be considered an authority on.

Mad Jacks Rum, saviour of debaucherous New Zealand teens from Cape Reinga to the Bluff. Some might call it rum, but that’s a misnomer. It’s actually rum flavoured vodka, but is now a far cry from its glory days. Mad Jacks Gold Rum is its new incarnation (I say new, but it’s been singing its siren call to disenfranchised teens since May 2003). See, because alcohol is subject to delicious tax monies for politicians and adults just want to ruin everyone’s fun, low cost, high potency (read: dangerous) alcohols got extra tax dumped down all over them. Glibness aside, it was probably all for the best. There are many reasons that New Zealand has a vile binge drinking mentality and the availability of strong, cheap (I liked to say efficient) spirits doesn’t help young livers as much as it aids their wallet.

In any case, this rum flavoured vodka still costs $9.95 for a 1L bottle, but it’s a svelte 13.9% alcohol instead of a much headier 23%. 14 year old Leon would’ve raised a riot, but 28 year old Leon is content to muse that it was probably for the best. It’s a wonder how little issues seem to rankle your ire once you’ve ascended their reach. If it’s not in your relevant period, it’s not relevant. Period.

Mad Jacks’ bedmate Kristoff Vodka never really appealed, because if you can imagine foul tasting water and shitty vodka, it was a hybrid of their worst attributes. Mad Jacks on the other hand had a taste that could easily be masked by coke’s caramelly confection. Or, y’know, you could skull it straight from the bottle. If your liver is untarnished, you can do some damage before things get truly vile. It also has the failsafe vomit response, cleansing you from all ills. You’re a teenager, you’re indestructible, right?

I think back to my first dalliance with Mad Jacks. Waay back in 2001. It was a different world back then. 9/11 (or 11/9 if you were to flip the dates for down under relevance) had yet to happen and the innocence made us feel indomitable. Ah, who am I kidding? We were all angsty teens who just wanted to be liked. What’s changed? It was the Shakespeare production cast party (because despite an abiding love of The Bard, let’s just say the existence of a ritualistic illegal drinking occasion didn’t exactly hamper our desire to be involved) and my best mate had procured a fine bottle of rum flavoured vodka.

There was reassurance in the gnarly swashbuckling pirate visage on the bottle, armed with two cutlasses. With another friend, we didn’t crossbone so much as skulled that bottle, chugging away as much as soon as possible. The rest of the night was a buoyant blur. Things seemed hyper-real. Conversation flowed smoothly, unfettered by nerves and the aforementioned angst. Confidence emboldened my spirit. We danced, joked, sang. I kissed a girl (and I liked it), then almost too soon the post midnight hour struck and we scampered off home.

We realised with some mirth that my mate had accidentally lifted a Victorian hat from the costume department. We chuckled through the neighbourhood, causing lightheaded mischief as only drunk teens could. We all took turns vomiting in assorted bushes on the way home and stumbled back to bed. Truly a picture book in the making. I awoke in the morning to parents, guardians of propriety and responsibility. They cooked me eggs and noted my frazzled state. “Obviously we know what you got up to tonight. You’re probably feeling pretty rough right now, so this should help. We’re sure this won’t be the last time, but it’s the one time we’re on your side. Everybody gets one. This is your responsibility now. We love you and trust you and want to keep trusting you. Just try not to mess up too bad.”

I turned out alright, didn’t I?

Nipping tuck rules.

Tonight’s topic (you mean I actually have a cohesive train of thought sometimes?) will be irrelevant for most of you. I’m not gonna lie, marginalising the majority here gives me no end of pleasure.

In any case, tonight I’m ranting about the new Magic the Gathering EDH/Commander rules that’ve come into effect. So if this isn’t up your alley, abandon all hope. Or just come back tomorrow.

Truthfully I can’t be bothered making links to every card I refer to here. If you have Autocard Anywhere it’d be super handy. You should probably have it anyway, it’s a great Chrome extension.

By now if you’ve got any interest in the format it’s likely you’ve heard about the changes. The manifest stuff isn’t really significant, so we’ll ignore that. The big rule that’s been making waves and rustling jimmies worldwide is the change to the “tuck” rule. I could quote the official ruling, but basically if your commander would be returned to your hand or library, you can return it to the command zone as a replacement effect. Let that sink in.

Done? Not yet? I’ll give you another second or two.

Okay, time’s up.

Now that we’ve thought it over, how many tuck cards does this ruling affect? I’m guessing maybe 13, 6 or 7 of those being commonly played in the format.

Let’s go through the big ones:

Chaos Warp – Red’s answer to problem permanents it’d be otherwise unable to touch. Despite getting powered down, this is still a great solution to deal with enchantments or high toughness creatures.

Oblation – Yeah, this was hit pretty hard. Still, much like Chaos Warp it’s also a versatile toolbox card for white to deal with a variety of problems.

Hinder and Spell Crumple – You might want to shift up to more powerful counterspells now. Keep in mind these can still take care of dominant graveyard-centric cards, but they’ve been taken down a notch or twelve.

Terminus and Hallowed Burial – Excepting the graveyard shenanigans thing, there’s probably no reason to play these any more.

Spin into Myth – It was barely playable before, but it won’t see the light of day now.

Bant Charm – Still a hugely playable, relevant card. Anyone sobbing over this can call the waambulance.

Condemn – Yeah, it’s kind of meh now. Still one mana though.

Deglamer and Unravel the Aether – Purely to deal with the God Commanders. If you were playing single target artifact/enchantment kill you’d probably still run these to deal with graveyard shite.

These spells (with the still playable exceptions of Chaos Warp, Deglamer and Unravel the Aether) are all blue/white. Green/Black/Red (I haven’t forgotten Chaos Warp, but it’s one card out of thousands) still don’t have access to these solutions and they were fine the whole time. Before you go on and gripe yeah, but these were colour pie effects of U/W. Of course the other colours didn’t have access to them. We still want to be special there’s a host of cards to reconsider (also I’m reminded of when counterspells were powered down. Blue players decried the death of a colour. Turns out it’s still a viable strategy, it’s just not totally dominant any more). Need you be reminded that if you wanted versatile ways of handling these generals you still have Nevermore, Declaration of Naught, Prison Term, Faith’s Fetters and Meddling Mage up your sleeves? Oh, you say, these are all tied to a permanent that’s fragile. Yep. You’re complaining you don’t have a near final solution (implication 100% cheekily implied) to deal with your opponent’s commander? I think what you’re looking for is a denial strategy, or a way to leverage your fun against the opponent’s by preventing them from accessing the card they’ve likely built their whole deck around (the relevant counterpoint to this is when it comes to oppressively powerful commanders. Give me a few paragraphs, there’s a lot to talk about here). The cards I’ve mentioned above give you breathing room and necessary tempo to enable your fortifications without entirely hosing a player out of a game. Do you know what kind of player doesn’t care much about whether their general is accessible or not? Players who choose generals purely for their colours, usually ending up in some kind of “5 colour goodstuff” arrangement. They’re looking to play strong cards that dominate the game irrespective of the flagship element of the format.

Supporting the meek.

That’s the rub and the crux of this whole rules change. The thing that really separates the EDH format from others is the existence of your general. As such, it encourages players to conform their deck around synergies and allows you to try cards that would otherwise never see the light of day in the most mainstream formats. Ever made a Chisei, Heart of Oceans deck? How about Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder? Experiment Kraj? Mayael the Anima? Homura, Human Ascendant? Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker? On that note, almost anything from the Kamigawa block? These decks operate about as well as doors do when the hinge holding them together disappears completely. They crash and burn (if your door vandal also happened to be a pyromaniac). Seriously, the number of times I’ve sat behind a field of permanents that fail to muster up any meaningful plays is manifold. It’s totally crushing and creates a harshly joyless play experience. You came to Twiddle permanents, not twiddle your thumbs. What this change does is makes it possible for a lower powered deck to maintain a presence at the table, rather than being hobbled and sitting around as a target. It still slows things down when your general dies, but you’re not totally debilitated. The format was created to be a fun and creative, showcasing all manner of new interactions and big splashy plays. These kind of rules changes facilitate that intent.

General Dickishness.

Now one of the more vocal arguments I’ve heard comes from control players being incapable of dealing with problematic generals. Your problematic generals would likely be cards like Sharuum the Hegemon, Deveri, Empyrial Tactician, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Uril, the Miststalker, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Rafiq of the Many, Zur, the Enchanter, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Jhoira of the Ghitu and Maestrom Wanderer. Deveri was a mistake by Wizards, no way of getting around that one. The card was created to deliberately subvert an essential component of the format. Turns out that’s silly. The rest of the generals are generally (not an intentional pun) kind of dickish. They’re widely played because they’re so powerful. Because they’re so powerful, players say it’s necessary that they have silver bullets to battle them back. That argument makes sense in a vaccuum, but we don’t exist in a vaccum. It’s not like, because these tools exist, they’ll only be used on these dickish generals. Silver bullets kill non-werewolves too and every general is fair game, including those more fragile, creative commanders. If you have one of these answers are you really not gonna play it against the weaker general, instead leaving it clogging up your hand? Then you’re not playing your deck to its full extent. If these kind of answers weren’t necessary, this problem wouldn’t exist. So here’s where we move to the next paragraph.

A social contract?

There’s nothing wrong with a style of play involving these dominant generals, but they don’t really mesh well with the weaker ones. What the whole situation really requires is a kind of tacit social contract. If you’re both playing strong decks, then go on, have fun (or not fun) battling it out to degeneracy. You’ll all do unfair things and everyone will have their grumbles, but you’ll be on level playing fields. If there is a shitty commander making things difficult for the table, multiplayer politics will (in 90% of cases) handle it and even things out. If you’re not playing multiplayer? Well there’s a reason tuck effects were already nullified in French EDH/Duel Commander. It creates a massive disparity. The main problem here is when you’re mixing upper tier generals with more casual ones. Surely if you have a really strong deck, you know it before the game starts. You already know everyone’s general before play begins. If you have a sense that you’re playing with a much higher tier general then perhaps take a second and reconsider. Couldn’t you pull out something else? By all means, go to a knife fight with a submachine gun, but know that it’s not gonna be nearly as satisfying as a more balanced, healthy competition.

This took longer than I expected.

In summation, the rules council of EDH generally operate around the best interests of the format. It’s not like this kind of thing was just decided yesterday and issued in a fast-tracked decree. These will no doubt have been rigorously playtested to see what overarching effect they have. You know, I was disappointed when Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, Erayo, Soratami Ascendant and Braids, Cabal Minion could no longer be played in your 99 cards (excluding general), but the effect on the format really hasn’t been a negative one. At the end of the day, you’re still free to operate under house rules. If these changes really irk you that much then disregard them while playing in your friend group. For that same token, if there are super oppressive generals being played in your group, then make a banned list of unfair generals. This sucks if you’ve spent money making a deck, but if your friends aren’t gonna want to play against that deck then you wouldn’t be getting use out of it with them anyway. Save it for other groups who’re into that kind of thing.

Or try Tiny Leaders. It sounds neat.

Counselling out.

Had my last day of counselling today. The way this work-funded program works is that we’re offered 6 sessions to deal with an issue or conflict. After that they assume the problem is solved. It’s not structured to deal with long term unpacking of emotional issues, but a quick fix and resolution for an issue that’s struck out of nowhere. I’m not knocking it, it’s great that the company allocates resources to the mental health of its employees, but after undergoing my sessions I’m left with the same impression that I started with: It’s not quite what I’m looking for.

It started off as it always does. My counsellor asked me how I’d been since our last session. I told him that I’d been sick but I was recovering. I told him about recent developments in my romantic relationship and how this made me feel. We just booked tickets to New York for late May. It’s the first time I’ve taken an international flight with a partner and I’m almost unfairly excited about it. Child as I am, this feels like the kind of thing an adult does. We’ll have our own space and tour the city together, doing whatever takes our fancy. By that point we’ll have been together 11 months, which seems like the longest relationship I’ve had in quite some time (no need for anything patronising here. My personal life has been in constant flux for a while now). She’s gonna be meeting the family over Passover dinner which, including extended family, could be a task in itself. She’s got this one, she’ll be her charming self as always. As someone who loves celebrating small successes, these are milestones of sorts. I rarely ever felt partners were worth introducing to the familials. It means something and that’s worth acknowledging. All positivity right hurr.

We moved onto progress. I said that while sickness had inhibited my quest to sleep more, I’d been trying. I’m on day 8 without caffeine and I’m past that hump. It’s not an issue any more. Consequently I’m feeling less frantic and agitated. When I lay down to rest, it’s because I’m actually tired and not just trying to enforce good habits. I said I’d been using his “exit and wait” strategy to try cope with certain negative issues that cropped up. If something got on top of me I’d take a breather and consider the situation before re-engaging. With my recent dental mishap I took a second and decided to make some breakfast before making rash decisions. It worked out. I said I’d been trying to slow down with activities and give them the breathing room they needed. Understanding that these weren’t issues and consequently weren’t worth my stress. If taking care of myself meant I had to miss out on an event or other desire, I could say no to things. I didn’t have to cram my life full of every possible stimuli. So developments there. All positive.

My counsellor agreed. He said I’d made great progress and said he thought I’d excelled at working through my issues. He didn’t think further sessions were required, that long term therapy was still an option, but didn’t know if it would be necessary. He asked my thoughts on the issue. I blinked, considered and replied. I hadn’t really taken great leaps, I said. The issue that surfaced was my fear of failure and so far all the only things I’d learned were to step back and take care of myself in lieu of pushing myself to complete as much as possible. If my fear was that trying would lead to failure, so why bother trying in the first place? Well I’d only really supplanted that negation of effort with the idea that I was better served taking a step back and doing less. In this scenario I still wouldn’t find myself trying, I’d just be happier with my decision not to try. Net result: zero. Massive gains? Perhaps not.

Furthermore, this was only one of the many issues I needed to unpack. We’d spent 5 sessions dealing with the tip while the iceberg underneath remained an imposition. We hadn’t begun to discuss my litany of body issues, gender guilt, relationship and sexuality baggage. These were all things I sought to delve into with a tailored, personal therapeutic relationship. I still had a ton of work to do that this program wasn’t really structured to deal with and as such, my views and goals hadn’t really shifted since the first session. There had been baby steps made to address the smallest issues, but those steps paled in comparison with the hike ahead of me. I was thankful of the things we’d begun to resolve, but didn’t see this particular arrangement as an effective way of confronting this baggage I’d been hoarding for years.

He said that he understood where I was coming from and thanked me for my time. His door would be open if I wanted to revisit anything that’d been getting on top of me. So now we’re onto the next step, which is finding someone who can actually understand the voluminous claptrap floating around in my head. Finding a four leaf clover would be easier.

I missed throwing down a “talk to the hand” line. Facepalm.

I’m no mystic. I’m not even particularly spiritual. I’ve always found myself wanting to believe in forces outside of the things we see, but never been given a strong enough push or sign that mysterious forces are at work shaping our world. Except for those reptilian shapeshifters and their Machiavellian schemes. The scale of their crimes is beyond doubt. Cold blooded bastards.

Anyway, less about my impassioned vendetta against those slippery salamanders and back to the topic at hand. The unknown, mysticism and magic. Sage wisdom from the beyond. Yeah, so I find it a tad woo woo, but I’ve had a longstanding yearning to believe. No, I don’t think any of us are living an existence preordained by the exploits of those dastardly lizards. I don’t believe in fate so much as coincidences and causality intertwining merrily. Okay, have I hit my quota of polysyllabic words yet? Can I drop the bullshit and pretense?

My girlfriend and I went to one of those $10 palm readers for shits and giggles.

It was fun, a neat thing to try if you’ve got the luxury of time, $10 and imagination. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief you’ve gotta engage before partaking in something like this, so we tried our best. She went first while I sat out in the hallway, staring at the various mystic looking landscapes and astral designs with aspect ratio issues obviously printed out from google images. Okay, I’ll try and tone down the cynicism a notch. She was gone for about 10 minutes, then came out in a kind of hush, obviously thinking about what she’d just heard. She tagged out and I went in.

I was brought into a small room and seated at a table. She said she could perform the $10 palm reading, which was quite general, or a more precise reading for $25. I chose to stick with the cheap and cheerful option. She nodded and asked me to place my dominant hand face up on the table. She looked down at it and started talking. A few things that surfaced:

  • There is a man in my life who has cast a dark curse upon me. His first name starts with an “M” or a “J”. He often acts outwardly kindly towards me, but is secretly deceitful behind my back. The curse occurred last year and I brought it with me into this year, casting darkness on my path. She said it was the reason I kept putting out good energy into the world without receiving reciprocal returns. She said it’s the reason I’m often kept awake at night deep in thought, unable to turn off. She also said that for $25 she could purge it from my body and return me to normalcy. I declined her kind offer.
  • She said I’d have no major health problems, just minor issues. I’d live to a healthy late 80s or early 90s age.
  • Someone in my family will go to the doctor over the next few months with a chest or throat issue.
  • She asked me if I was employed. I replied affirmatively. She said that my responsibilities wouldn’t change much over the next little while, but she saw more money coming my way.
  • She asked me if I was in a relationship. Once again, I replied affirmatively. She asked how long. “8 months” I replied. Almost instantly she said I’d met my soul mate. She saw love, marriage, no divorce and a few children in the equation.

She thanked me for my time and said that was all she could see. She warned me that telling anyone before a week would result in bad luck. I paid and gave thanks before leaving. My girlfriend was sitting on the stairs writing and prompted me to write too, so we’d remember what to tell each other a week later. It was good, innocent fun.

A few things though. Not once did she touch my hand. Everything was “read” from a distance. If the lines on your hand don’t change, doesn’t that mean you’d get the same fortune no matter when it was read? So anything time based would be rendered irrelevant? The chest or throat thing, that seems pretty general. More money coming my way without a significant increase in responsibilities? Knowing the industry, that’s not likely to happen unless I win the lottery. As someone who doesn’t gamble, that’s significantly unlikely. Unless a relative passes away from a chest or throat thing that causes them to visit a doctor. Oh shit son!

The soul mate thing is the part I find the hardest to get on board with. Not because my girlfriend isn’t a wonderful person I have endless affection for, but because of the way she said it. It was such a cursory, throwaway line, as if she tired of saying it 20 times a day. It felt cheap and rehearsed, belittling the information it held. She said the same thing to my girlfriend. I don’t know what’s coming in my life, I don’t know what personal or emotional turmoil could be lurking on the horizon. I know that I’m in love, but I also know that life finds a way of complicating anything it can get its hands on. I’m 28 years old. Even though I’m an adult, I still don’t know what could happen next week (though this google calendar thing is certainly helping), let alone anything involving happily ever afters. I want to believe that this is it. I want to believe that I’ve met the right person and things will flow from here. I want to believe that it’s time for things to just fall into place, but the one thing I know for sure about life is that it’s anything but predictable. There are too many variables, and with each person added to the mix, the complex cauldron of coincidences and causality changes completely.

But that’s why life is exciting, right? There’s too much in the future to be fixated on any point. Like Aerosmith and the soundtrack tie-in to the 1998 film Armageddon, I don’t wanna miss a thing.

I do eat an apple a day. May the spirit of idioms protect me!

I don’t have a dentist in Toronto. It’s something that would make a lot of sense, but a combination of laziness and overwhelmed-ness has nixed any thrust to make it happen. It seems like having a dentist is one of those things that you only really consider once you really need one. You rarely think of dentists when things are going swimmingly, which is why I found myself frantically searching for available dentists in a mildly hungover state. See, since Thursday I’ve noticed a weird constant dull pain in one of my back molars. It was annoying, but not the most concerning thing. It also came packed with a complimentary nugget of pressure behind my right eye. I didn’t think too much of it, but was definitely reminded of it whenever I blew my nose. This sharp pain would jolt through the molar, causing discomfort. Sub-optimal to say the least.

Today I found that it was getting to the point that it was encroaching on my ability to sleep. Sleep being one of the primary cures for a mild hangover, this became concerning. With no dentist, obtaining one was suddenly a concern. I called a couple of places, but taking on a new client and looking at something on a Saturday at short notice is apparently not a done thing. A place close to me said they could take me on, but I’d probably be looking at a check up some time in April. I couldn’t wait that long. A friend referred me to their long-time dentist, who seemed lovely, but said she couldn’t see me until maybe Tuesday or Thursday. Still a lot better than April. She recommended that if it was urgent, I should go to one of the emergency dentists around Toronto. “Whatever you do” she said “don’t let them take your tooth out. They’re gonna want to pull it, but you’re too young for that.” Equal parts spooked and impressed with this compassion from a stranger, I gave my thanks and called up the emergency clinic.

They could see me in an hour, the receptionist said. She queried my payment method and said that if I had insurance they’d be able to sort me out with the proper forms for reimbursement. Wow, immediately into the money. A yelp review had given them only 2 stars, citing their focus on payment and inadequate workmanship. This person had been given a filling that fell out later that day. Once again, I was spooked. I went there nonetheless, shaky and fragile on the streetcar. Despite my apprehensions, I needed to see someone about this toothache and I didn’t consider waiting out a number of days to be an option. I arrived at the clinic and opened the door.

The receptionist gave me a few forms to fill out, payment and insurance details, etc, and I saw the nurse in under 5 minutes. Still a little reticent, I was surprised by her friendly, warm manner. She prepped a few things, laid a lead apron over me and got me to bite down on some plastic stick with a few solid panels attached. It was uncomfortable and dug into the roof of my mouth a little. She apologised and said it was unfortunate, but essential for the x-ray. “Please keep holding it for 5 more seconds” she said, and dashed out of the room. I heard a buzz and a few thumps, then the x-ray was done. Couldn’t have been more than 2 seconds. She removed the apparatus and apron, then said the dentist would be in to see me shortly.

Once again, friendly guy with a warm and welcoming demeanour. Maybe the yelp review was wrong. He poked around a bit and gave me the verdict. My teeth were perfect, he said, no signs of decay or rot. If I was experiencing pain, it was being influenced by something other than my teeth. He asked me about how the symptoms had presented themselves. I told them they started on Thursday and had been present but increasing since then.

I mentioned the pain I felt when I blew my nose. His eyes lit up. He explained to me that there are all these empty pockets around the sinus. If the sinus is to become inflamed, it can cause those pockets to fill up with mucus. The mucus places constant pressure, which would explain the pain behind my eye. It can also press on the complex system of nerves that link between the mouth and sinus areas. Seeing as my teeth were fine, he said that the most likely cause of my tooth pain was sinus congestion. In short, my cold has gotten so bad that it’s causing me toothache. More common than I’d think, he said. There was nothing that he could do, seeing as there were no problems to treat. I just had to take some over the counter meds and treat the symptoms until they ran their course.

Ludicrous. The body is a bizarre sack of organs, nerves and muscles that interlink in the strangest ways. He wasn’t wrong though. Following his suggestion I bought cold/flu tablets that were decongestants and anti-inflammatories. While straight ibuprofen didn’t do shit, these ones have wiped the area clean and as a side effect, I can actually breathe through my nose again. When the meds kick in, the pain vanishes as the mucus and congestion subsides. Weeeeird. It’s not until we’re actually sick that we seem to appreciate how great it is to be healthy. Still, at least my teeth are fine. Though maybe just in case I should look into finding a dentist. It makes all the sense.