They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.

Disclaimer: I don’t know how this will turn out, I’m not expecting much. I could wake up tomorrow and think what the fuck did I write? I don’t know. I just can’t not write something.

The Ghomeshi verdict was released today and the not guilty verdict landed with a resounding thud. There’s an emotional drainage going about that’s all too severe. I’m not a particularly informed or knowledgeable person on matters of sexual assault and trauma. It’s a reality that, on the basis of my gender, I haven’t had to deal with on a personal level. However, the stories my female friends have shared are nearly endless. As a guy whose daily life doesn’t feature an endless barrage of threatening behaviour including (but not limited to) assumptions of ignorance, ineptitude or weakness, expectations of emotional labour, unwanted sexual advances, physical, verbal or emotional assault, I figure my options are to believe one of two things:

  • There is a global conspiracy involving women crying wolf in a ploy for attention, sympathy, exposure and power.
  • Or that these “stories” happen frequently, day in and day out. That the portion I hear about is an infinitesimally small percentage of  these occurrences. That by virtue of gender, women have to deal with things that men would never think of because it’s so far out of their experiences. That spaces we men consider to be benign or safe could hold very real threats to women for no more than their “crime” of existing.

I can understand (which is not the same as agreeing) how so many men could not believe the second option. If something doesn’t fit into your lived experiences or world view, it’s hard to empathise with it. Most people don’t believe in mythical creatures like dragons because we haven’t seen dragons before us. It’s easy to dismiss them as works of fiction. If you’d met a dragon that would change your outlook, right? If a dragon had swooped down, lunged or breathed fire in your direction, that’d be terrifying. Just because you didn’t suffer physical injury, a narrow escape would still leave you pretty shaky I’m sure. I could see it being all the more terrifying because you didn’t think it was something that even could’ve happened to you.

Then what if you tried to tell people, but their response was “that’s silly, dragons don’t exist”? You had no marks or physical scars from the encounter, no proof beyond your word that it’d happened. They’d never seen a dragon, they had no evidence that they loomed among us, but their lack of evidence didn’t suddenly make your life threatening experience any less real. You were legitimately fearful for your life and nobody would listen to your fears in a judgement free capacity. What if every time you told people, they chided you and told you that you were crazy? You’d suffered through the terror of slavering jaws and searing hot flame, but because it didn’t fit into their life’s experiences they didn’t have enough trust or faith in you to give your trauma the benefit of belief. If you kept hearing that you were crazy, would you keep coming forward with your admissions? Or keep it to yourself out of fear of your personal credibility being reduced to zero? If being honest and forthcoming about your experiences would equate to nothing more than opening yourself to slander, insult and lowering yourself in the eyes of the public? I’m sure that’d make you feel alone, vulnerable, frightened and insignificant.

The dragon thing seems glib, but living in a culture that consistently undermines the experiences of victims is anything but. I’m not the most observant fellow out there, but even I’ve witnessed instances of women being made to feel uncomfortable in public spaces. Encroaching of personal space, vulgar, sexual and undesired advances. Men prioritising their desires over respect for women’s autonomy. Treating them like objects and a means to an end instead of free willed people. It happens constantly and so often the male response is apathetic or dismissive. Because we don’t have to deal with these issues, clearly they’re not issues at all. “Bitches be crazy”, ad infinitum. Emotional outbursts are criticised as unreasonable, an unmeasured reaction. Of course these reactions are judged as illogical. The male logic often follows that these things don’t happen, therefore a visceral reaction doesn’t adhere to the laws of logic. Fuck this. An unwillingness or inability to look beyond things within your world view does not mean your view is always right, it just makes you smug.

You may not be able to see the world as they do, but that’s because they navigate life with their own series of rules for survival. In 2016 we still live in a society that tells women they need to mitigate their behaviour in order to curb the impulses of the men around them. What if I told you that you constantly had to be prepared in case someone felt like stabbing you? If they decided they wanted their knife in your belly, it was your own fault for being there when that impulse overtook them. How would that make any sense?

I already feel like emotional weight stopped me from making sense a while back. For fear of invoking some “bitches be crazy” parallel, I’m gonna bring this train into the station with a simple suggestion:

If you’re a man who believes the “crying wolf” option, try finding an important woman in your life, someone you trust implicitly. With their explicit consent (and it’s understandable if they wouldn’t want to talk about it), try asking them if they’ve ever experienced situations that’ve made them feel threatened or unsafe. Try to listen (the word “listen” should be triple underlined) in a judgement free capacity to what they felt, why they felt that way. If this is a person you trust on most matters, why should this be any different?

Why is it so hard for men to just believe women? Is it possibly because deep down you fear what their truth says about the world we live in?

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Comically generic? I’m not kidding. I’ve legitimately mistaken someone else for myself before.

I have a date tonight. I have a date tonight and it has me feeling sorta nervous. I have a date tonight and it has me feeling sorta nervous and I don’t know why. I have a date tonight and it has me feeling sorta nervous and I don’t know why I keep repeating the same sentence structure as if it holds some deeper significance or impact.

If my date isn’t a beatnik I’m clearly in trouble.

The nerves are weird because even though I feel mildly tentative, I’m not dealing with high stakes here. If I have a shitty date I go home to my girlfriend and unpack why things didn’t work out. I’ve got love and support backing me up, annulling the consequences. I have no reason to think it’ll be a shitty date. I mean, she listed Turtles in Time on her OkCupid profile. I know that she has a sense of humour, because obviously we’ve chatted. I don’t just appear at a time and place and tell random women “we’re on a date now. Act accordingly” because I’m not a sociopath. I also know that I have the capacity to be charming from time to time. Failing anything accent privilege steps in and makes people think I know how to flirt when I’m often just being oblivious. The few things I could see happening that’d steer the date towards disaster include:

  • She thinks the Air Bud Pawdcast is a terrible idea.
  • I accidentally monologue for three hours about Smash Mouth.
  • I drink too much and she discovers how bad my Christopher Walken impression is.
  • She repeatedly calls me Leron by accident.
  • I foolishly let slip that I once ate four steaks between two slices of white bread and was paralysed by meat sweats for the rest of the evening.
  • It turns out she hates puns and we’re unable to communicate beyond eyebrow movement.
  • She’s actually massively racist.
  • She mistakes me for another generic looking bearded brunette white dude and I sit alone while she chats to him for several hours.
  • I exclusively talk about my love for the George Foreman Grill.

Provided none of this stuff happens, it could be fine. Given past outcomes, it’s more likely we’ll have a nice conversation. Only one (or neither) of us will feel a spark and we’ll end up being friends (or texting once or twice more before scheduling conflicts cause us to gradually fade away without animosity). No hard feelings will be felt, but things won’t work out.

Perhaps this is the underlying issue. I feel secure in my relationship, so there’s very little to worry about with pending additional connections. I’ve been delving into polyamory for maybe a year now, but had very little progress. It’s not something that I’ve pushed towards naturally, so it’s not like there’s an aching need to be filled. A big part of me feels like I’m trying it out in order to stave off future feelings of loneliness when my girlfriend is dating others. The other part is firmly rooted in the don’t know until you try camp. This could be that puzzle piece that previous relationships were missing. I admire the poly ideology so much and I want it to be something that gels with my own. Because of this, a promising date makes me feel like there is something deeper riding on it. If I keep trying and it doesn’t work, does that mean my relationship has a doomed inevitability? Or could this be the spark that ignites a whole new outlook?

In the words of the famous scribe Smash Mouth: “You’ll never know if you don’t go.”

The quick and the dead and the punished and the dared and the devils in the details.

I’m gonna keep this brief (as brief as 30 minutes of writing can be) because I want to get back to Netflix’s Daredevil season two. It’s been a sort of average season so far, but episode three contained both the return of Rosario Dawson (one of the show’s MVPs) and a lovely tribute to a particular Oscar winning film from last year that had me gripping my blanket/ersatz shawl in an adorably giddy glee. I’m not gonna qualify those as spoilers, surely The Internet is smart enough to assume the above two things would happen? They were smart enough to come up with the name Boaty McBoatface, after all.

Daredevil was never a favourite super hero of mine growing up. To be honest, I tended to veer towards anything X-Men or Venom aligned. The Marvel universe being what it was, endless team ups and altercations meant the cast of characters I grew to enjoy seeing in its pages multiplied as the years went on. Daredevil was never one of them. Most of The Avengers felt boring to me as a kid, barring perhaps Iron Man. All credit to the 90s Saturday morning cartoon and its immaculately animated transformation sequences. Captain America was way too righteous, Thor seemed uninspiring and his costume was dumb. Perhaps I just hated characters with wings on their head. The Flying Nun inhabited a strange grey area. Daredevil was a character I never knew too much about. He showed up in a Spider Man storyline every once in a while and felt like he was born from similar putty as the webcrawler, but with fewer wisecracks. The Affleck film did the franchise no favours. Hell, even Colin Farrell failed to sufficiently lighten up the film. Why would I be pulled in after that?

Netflix’s Daredevil hit the right notes, that’s how. The choreography was exciting and stunningly executed. The flashy fanfare of the large scale Marvel films was scaled back to a grittier crime story with a captivating and loveable villain. The series itself wasn’t perfect. Some of the plots were predictable and silly. The dialogue skewed a tad hammy and “comic booky” at times but it did what it wanted well enough to be engaging. Characters outside Matt Murdock actually had a point. They accomplished things and helped the show progress outside of the realm of vigilante justice. It was great to see a hero with a certain human fragility. Episode after episode he got the ever-loving shit beaten out of him. Rarely ever did he emerge from a fight with a casual scratch or two. He took the beatings and progressed as the series continued. It felt rewarding, earned.

Season two adds The Punisher to the mix and from what I’ve seen they cast the exact right guy. Jon Bernthal strides straight into the show and doesn’t pull his punches. He’s unwavering in his conviction and plays the part note for note. I’m a huge fan of Punisher War Zone (ignore the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, it’s a gory, silly, masterpiece of action comedy). The film is nuts with insane action and impeccable comic timing. It casts The Punisher as a complete psychopath and its madness is all too enthralling. I stand by that film and its splendid skewering of parkour culture. War Zone is a completely different energy to Daredevil, however, and Ray Stevenson’s Punisher just wouldn’t fly. From what I’ve seen so far, Bernthal is killing it and I’m happy to announce that 30 minutes is up, so I can get back to the show.

True love is a knockout.

I apologise for the rash of “moving in” posts, but it’s the most notable thing that’s happened recently. Today I’m not gonna talk about the move, you have my word. Well, not about the move per se, but the most miraculous feelings that’ve been brought to light as a consequence. You know how sometimes something small will happen that completely reinvigorates your lust for life? A myriad of possibilities unfold before you that were always there, but long forgotten? I’ve been brought back to parts of myself I deeply cherished but lay long dormant. It’s all thanks to one of the great loves of my life. Someone who brings a sparkle to my eyes and a skip to my step. Someone who reminds me to reach for what could be rather than settling for how things are. Someone upon whom any amount of admiration and honour I placed would fail to convey the depth of feelings I hold for them. It’s for that reason that I extend sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks to the one, the only…

George Foreman.

Quite likely the largest perk of my girlfriend moving in, aside from waking every day beside the woman I love (etc etc etc. Get to the meat of it, poindexter —Ed), was discovering she had a George Foreman Grill to bring with her. Sitting virtually untouched on her shelf it looked dirty and neglected. I saw it and almost did a double take. I’m sure you’ve all got a picture in your mind of an old beatnik coming across a prized vintage record, well that’s how I was. At first I told myself it’d just be some third party piece of shit that would’ve been picked up off the footpath. Closer inspection revealed the immaculate and immensely descriptive “LEAN MEAN FAT REDUCING GRILLING MACHINE” logo in all its glory. I feel like everything slowed down to bullet time while the grill was wreathed in focus lines, but that may have been a lack of blood flow due to my rapidly hardening penis.

It brought me back (the grill, not the fictional hard-on) to years long past. I still remember my mother bringing home the brand new George Foreman Grill. It was a small grill with a translucent purple lid. The grill was all smooth lines angling downwards. A small plastic fat catching tray promised healthy meal after healthy meal. There was a bun warming tray on the top which would lead to many a lightly toasted bun. Steve Jobs would weep with the perfection. It grew to be a vital part of our household and eventually we pawned the cutesy sized unit for something more family appropriate. If we wanted to cook six burgers simultaneously, we would. Just because we could. We did.

Any chance I had to use it, I’d take. Grilled capsicum, chicken breast, burgers, paninis, eggplant, steak. Everything was simple and adroitly cooked. The fat drained off into its cosy reservoir and all was right in the world. Then the breakup. I moved away from home and left my love sitting in the cupboard. I had dalliances with ovens, cast iron pans and slow cookers, but nothing was the same. I longed for those gradient grooves drifting towards the potential of lighter meals. I craved the sweet smell of grilled meats filling the kitchen its savoury aroma. I missed George.

Past tense.

With George back in my life once more, meal times can return to the pure joy of simplicity. I can feel the rush of owning a kitchen barbecue, tasting those succulently seared steaks and for one moment, touching divinity.

Even better, now I have someone to share my passion with.

One more catastrophe for the road.

There had to be a stumbling block somewhere. Everything was far too seamless. The move yesterday took under two hours. Today’s move was similarly simple. All the big items (bed, bookshelf, dresser, etc) fit into one minivan load (with the mattress conveniently hitched onto the roof à la my friend’s Boy Scout skills) and the unloading went off without a hitch. I’m now sitting in a house that has more than it needs, but at least it’s all here. In a week or two it’ll be a true blue domicile with all the comforts of home. Scratch that, it will be a home. We made it this far on the backs of friends. Friends who helped because they could, not because there was something in it for them. I know this to be true, we tried bribing them with sweets and alcohol, but to no effect. The hard part has nothing to do with them.

Nor does it have anything to do with my girlfriend. We’ve been tag teaming this move across the board. Working together or separately for the common goal. We wanted to bring our lives together and this has meant countless hours of organisation, packing and lifting. It’s been at the behest of sleep and social lives. She’s been a true champion, especially considering how much stuff she’d accumulated. Cutting down 5+ years worth of build up was a feat of patience and dedication, but it was all for the best. Who doesn’t change from their late teens and early to twenties? The things you hold to be important shift, replaced by an updated outlook. Facing the physical reminders of this isn’t an easy task, especially when you’ve grown used to having them around you constantly. She’s been a fucking workhorse in tracking towards deadlines. She deserves any and all accolades I can send her way.

The biggest issue we’ve faced so far has been acclimatising her cat to the new digs. See, back at my girlfriend’s old place, she had one large room. Her cat’s life was in that room and as such, was used to free rein within the space. Our place has two bedrooms and a lounge. I’ve never been a cat person. I have no ill feelings towards them, I’m just a steady streak of apathetic. She has a nice cat, a friendly cat and that’s a cat I don’t mind living with. Sleeping with it is another matter entirely. Having her cat walking on and off the bed or meowing around as we sleep has always made it tough for me to get a good rest. That’s one thing if it’s while I’m sleeping over at hers. It’s a whole different ball game if I can’t get a good night’s sleep in my own bed. My girlfriend agreed to leave the cat out of the room while we sleep. I have zero issue with it in the room at any other time (especially because it’s developed a finely tuned talent of becoming scarce whenever we start getting frisky), but despite my general dislike of the activity, sleep is important and something every body needs.

As we suspected it would, the cat took exception to our decision. The closed door to our bedroom was assailed consistently throughout the night. The cat yowled for minutes at a time. We then started hearing loud thumps. Neither of us could decide whether the cat was trying to grab the circular handle (to no avail) or actually headbutting the door. Things got aggressive and very, very loud. I don’t think either of us got more than a scant hour of shut-eye here or there. With what we’ve read, this will likely go on for a few days until the cat gives up and realises its actions won’t accomplish what it wants. Apparently the worst thing we can do is give it attention of any kind, whether positive or negative. Don’t soothingly pet it, don’t yell at it. Ignore it completely and we’ll thwart its pleas for attention. I felt so shitty for our upstairs and downstairs neighbours, being put through the ringer because of something entirely out of their control. I went out and bought wine and wrote a little apology note.

The thing is, there’s no point being angry at the cat. She doesn’t know any better. It’s not like she has human senses of reasoning. All she knows is that she’s always had attention/affection on tap and now she feels its absence. None of it is her fault, but it’s still behaviour we need to curb. Failing anything because I’m mildly concerned she’ll get brain damage if she keeps using her head as a battering ram.

MARGE! We need more Neapolitan ice cream!

My life is boxes. I’m being dramatic, but the past 24 hours has involved finding boxes, filling boxes, sealing boxes, moving boxes, stacking boxes, removing boxes, re-stacking boxes, opening boxes and emptying boxes. The move happened and is still happening in so many ways.

The convenient part is that we were just moving my girlfriend into my place. The less convenient part was deciding what to take and what to leave. The move itself was admittedly quite simple. A total of three car loads (with 1-2 van loads coming tomorrow). We’d prepped for an apocalypse. With expectations that we’d be going all day, I made three different types of jelly (what you North American folks call Jell-O) and bought a fuck-off sized (4L) tub of Neapolitan ice cream (my reasoning being that with a tub that size everyone could choose the flavours they liked and we’d inevitably be left with a tub of vanilla). We got up early, had a hearty breakfast and picked up orange juice/beer. If this was gonna be long and arduous, we’d have supplies to keep people trucking along. In the end we had four friends help out and were done in under two hours. Nobody was particularly exhausted and/or felt like ice cream/jelly/beer (given that it was 2pm). My girlfriend and I had a celebratory beer each, we ordered pizza for everyone and hung out drinking tea. It was almost anti-climactic. Now we have a freezer/fridge full of the aforementioned ice cream/jelly/beer. In retrospect, we bought ourselves house-warming gifts without knowing.

Here’s the thing. Putting boxes into cars and ferrying them across town isn’t that draining. Finding places for all the stuff in those boxes certainly is. At the moment we have consolidated stuff that takes up space. Our place has yet to take shape, bringing together our tastes and influences, inspirations for functionality and aesthetic opinions. Right now it’s basically my place, a bunch of boxes and an added cat. It’s not gonna feel fully like our place until my girlfriend’s stuff is accessible. I understand, that takes time. It’s not like I expected us to be all unpacked by the end of the night. I swear anyone capable of unpacking within the first day or so is a bona fide sociopath.

With priorities in place we took care of the kitchen. The cupboards were never organised in a functional manner. The goal has been to put things where they’ll actually be handy. The stuff we’re more likely to access needs to be in arm’s reach. Now the baking equipment has its own place. The spices and raw baking materials are finally separated. The tupperware drawer is functional, organised, neat and temporary. I give us a week until it descends into full on Mad Max style chaos. The plates/bowls have been reshuffled. Our excessive numbers of colanders have been shifted to a more appropriate place. The cutlery competed in a survival of the fittest pit fight where any spoons with shallow bowls or forks with insufficient tines were unceremoniously tossed. With our teas combined, we could soothe a spinster cat lady for a year.

There’s still so much to do, but there are significant signs that we’ve done something. There were points in time over the past week where it seemed insurmountable. There was too much stuff, how would we ever find room? With each task we finish it feels like we’ve passed a new step. They’re accumulating and a picture is starting to take shape that’s larger than its composite parts. The more we’ve done, the easier it’s becoming to see what life together will look like.

I had a moment this morning. We were in the midst of prepping for the move. We’d stopped off at a cafe to gather thoughts and fuel ourselves for the pending job. We were both exhausted and burdened by the weight of what we were about to do. I looked across at my girlfriend glancing down at her cup. A thought percolated in my head: We’re just kids. In that moment it all caught up with me. Nigh on 21 months together and we’ve gone through so much. Relationship steps compiled one at a time. Now we’re bringing our lives together in a whole new way. I’ve never cohabited with a partner before and we’re standing at the threshold of deciding which plates best complement the décor. Discussions about finances, boundaries and accountability with a pressure I’ve yet to face. We’re still just kids and we’re about to take on responsibilities we don’t even realise. It’s scary, it’s unfamiliar and there are moments between moments when I don’t know if I’m ready.

But it’s not about me any more. It’s about us. That’s something I can handle a lot more of.

I’m having doubts? Oh really? Ia R’lyeh!

I want to promise you that this entry will be worth your time. I’d like to pave the way from my intro paragraph to the real start of the entry with nuggets of gold (or crispy, golden chicken nuggets if you’re Hansel and Gretel-ly inclined), but honestly I misspelled pave the way as “pathe” 30 seconds ago. Clearly shouldn’t be writing cheques my addled mind couldn’t accurately fill out. For the purposes of this entry, consider me mentally bankrupt. Anything amazing that we’d love to see will fail to appear and that’s okay. Not every entry has to be gilded. Frankly, very few of them are. Plus, if the way paved to my entry is littered with foodstuffs, does that make it some kind of witchy business? Obviously not, because I’m having trouble spelling right now.

Not too tired to pun though, by the looks of it.

Why am I tired? Because I haven’t slept enough. Why haven’t I slept enough? Because tomorrow is moving day. My girlfriend is moving all her stuff into my place, henceforth known as “our place” (we’ve kind of adopted the moniker preemptively). To prep for moving day, my girlfriend and I have been working through all of her stuff (though she’s been doing the bulk while I’ve been at work. We’re planning things we should’ve planned weeks ago and her late shifts mean that often we don’t get to start together until close to midnight. Accordingly, bedtime has shifted past 1am most days. Waking up for work then doing it all over again has become the norm. Now just in case I’m actually eliciting sympathy here, this has only been the past few days. It’s not like this has been a sustained effort for the past week. Still, it’s a draining process to go through and this is just one of us moving. I can’t imagine how much of a nightmare it’d be for us both to be packing up.

It’s overwhelming seeing just how much stuff she has (I mean, most people have a ton of stuff) and trying to form a picture in my head of how everything will come together is taxing my brain-meats. How much kitchen stuff do we need? Is half of what we bring gonna end up on the footpath outside our place? Will we have enough linen to dress an entire toga party? How much space does (the space that’s currently known as) my place actually have? Will we transport everything only to find our aesthetics clashing wildly? Why do any of us have so much stuff? Was I destined to live in a capsule hotel instead?

Then there are all those niggling doubts playing through my head. I’ve never cohabited. What happens if I can’t handle it? If I snap, go postal, climb a lamp post and shout Eldritch epithets at passing cars? What if I don’t like living with a cat? If I find the lack of solitary space and affront to my equilibrium? If my girlfriend and I become feral and walk around on all fours snarling over errant flecks of floor meat we failed to clean? My mind darts to the elephant in the room: What happens if our relationship can’t survive our close quarter company?

The answer to all of the above questions, of course, is that we’ll deal with it like we’ve dealt with every issue that’s arisen thus far: We’ll talk. We’ll raise problems while owning our feelings. We’ll listen and consider each other’s point of view, because we’re both too smart to shack up with someone whose views we don’t respect. We’ll both grow the fuck up as much as we need to and deal with things like our parents did when they were (likely a few years younger than) our ages. We’ll also remember that we love each other, to have fun, to not lose sight of the reasons we grew so close, the reasons why this move is even happening at all.

I’m tired. I may be delirious, but behind it all I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that things will work out. I guess that’s the crispy, golden chicken nugget ahead of us.

In any case, I’m certain that this entry was worth my time, because I know what we should have for dinner now.