I’m sure they all wondered why they stayed so long. Then they read the poop jokes.

Do you ever look up your exes on Facebook? I certainly do. From time to time my mind will wander and my fingers will follow suit. Usually following an old “On This Day” post, I’ll get curious. What are they up to? Where do they live? Can I somehow contrive to have “won the breakup”? I’m petty like that occasionally. Most of the time when this trope comes up in movies, TV shows, it’s accompanied by strong pangs of longing. Pining for days long past when you were last happy. In moments of relationship strife, it seems easier to romanticise what you left behind. Yeah nah bro. I can’t think of a single ex I’d want to get back together with. Communication, empathy and sex with my girlfriend are leagues better than they had been. So many of my past relationships fit the period of my life when they occurred. I’m not sure that they could’ve withstood the person I am. Then again, who would I be if I were still with them?

To be honest, I primarily hope to see that they’re doing well. I’m lucky, in that none of my past relationships were spectacular tire fires. One came close, but with the benefit of hindsight it’s easy not to hold a grudge. In the end, things just failed to work out. They weren’t bad people. I don’t think I was. I don’t doubt that we all said or did stupid things, but I was fortunate enough not to have left the encounters with deep scars (he says, until he’s ten gins deep). I’ve moved on and I assume they have. Still, what’s better than assuming? Knowing.

There are all these loose threads left when a relationship bites the dust. Did they finish their degree? Are they working in the fields that they sought? Did they travel like they wanted to? Have they found someone who complements them in ways I never could? Have they maintained a good support network? Those friends of theirs I grew close to, are they still kicking around? What about their families? After they were so welcoming, it was kind of shitty to flat out never see them again.

I’m happy to report, most everyone I’ve snooped on is doing fine. Some have ended up in places I never expected. Others followed their plan to the letter. It may just be the way that people use Facebook, to showcase the rose tinted view of their lives. It could be that internally they’re struggling, but don’t want to subject their friends and family to their hidden torment. The messy ones are probably still messy, but from the outside, it looks like I didn’t leave any wrecks in my wake. Does this leave me pining? Is it possible to triple underline NOPE?

The thing is, I’ve played the “what if” game and the results are never satisfying. I follow the threads and I’m disappointed, then remember why we broke up in the first place. Perhaps it’s symptomatic of how I date. I rarely go looking for drama or intrigue, because I’m kinda boring. I tend to end up with nice people who rarely fuck me around and I try to return the favour. I haven’t maintained many exes as friends, barring one notable exception. It’d be easy to make the argument that being in different countries makes it tricky. More often though, it’s that behind the attraction, there wasn’t much of a friendship to fall back on.

Thanks for the memories, I guess.

‘Arboring a grudge now, are we?

I started this entry in a certain fashion, then wiped the slate clean. I often run into this routine of expositional preamble. I have one central idea that I meander towards, grounding it in explanation, backstory. Maybe it’s a habit learned from years of structured writing in school. Perhaps it’s.. oh fuck, I’m doing it again. It’s like being caught monologuing. If only I wasn’t so enraptured by the sound of my own voice in digital ink. Fuck this. I just wanted to say that this year we’re gonna get a Christmas tree, without dousing it in pomposity.

I had a tree once as a kid, for novelty, really. Being Jewish, it certainly wasn’t for cultural reasons. Out of pure jealousy for my gift laden friends, I wanted to know what it felt like looking at a tinselled tree with hope and longing. I’m a January birthday baby, so I convinced my parents to get me a child sized tree and put my birthday presents underneath. It was underwhelming at best. My inner Grinch was slowly fed.

Oddly enough, I’ve decorated a shit ton of trees in my life. Before I worked at my best friend’s parents’ party store, I’d help them out out over the weeks preceding Christmas with endless installations. Malls, the casino, endless events. Armed with cable ties, a ladder and pliers I hung endless wreaths and garlands. Most of them were pre-decorated, but there’d be a ton of cosmetic work to do. Fluffing up branches, making sure baubles were looking their best. Arranging stylized presents around the place. We set up trees of various sizes, sometimes huge enough to necessitate a cherry picker. It was a lot of work, a sentiment that became permanently attached to the holiday at large.

It’s been easy over the years to immediately dismiss Christmas outright. What would be the point. The older I get though, the more I like celebrating things for the sake of fun. Leaning back on curmudgeonly impulses for contrarian means is less appealing as the need to put up appearances diminishes. Why not make the house more colourful? Fairy lights looked great in Stranger Things, why not apply the same aesthetic to our place because we can? As a younger kid before resentment set in, I’d always wanted to celebrate Christmas. I told myself that when I was a father, my family would. The fact that we couldn’t/didn’t was a bugbear that evolved into a humbug. Not having Christmas became not wanting it. Nearing 30, I’ve realised that nothing is holding me back. I’m still not into the more commercial aspects of the holiday, but I’d be hard pressed to have an issue with merriment.

So a small tree it is. We can make some of our own decorations and set it up on the kitchen table. We can celebrate to whatever extent we desire. Simple, fun and pressure-free.

Really though, I’m primarily doing this to put a Star-Lord toy as our angel at the top.

Let me guess, I’ve done one of these already?

It gets challenging at times to write every day. Not because sitting down in front of a keyboard is inherently difficult, but because I don’t like the concept of repeating myself. Oh, I’m sure it’s happened countless times. It’s hard enough to forget which stories you’ve told specific friends, let alone keep track of the content of 1350 odd entries written over >3 years. Having written every day, I’ve long since figured out that some notion of direction makes the whole process easier. Having an idea is not synonymous with “planning”, it just means that I’ve extended thoughts as far as general content.

I don’t have any of that today. As I’m sure you can tell from the multitudinous aimless entries, it’s a common occurrence. There’s a non-insignificant level of guilt saddled along with pointless entries. I wonder what I could be doing with the time, whether I’m getting any more out of putting words to paper than I would merely reading books. I often fear that my vocabulary is stagnating, that diving into the prose of accomplished writers could be the salve I need. I’ve at least been reading lately, for the first time in a while. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay. Historical fiction is far from my wheelhouse, but maybe that’s the shot in the arm that I need. Obviously though, that’s not all that I need.

It’s easy to discount the necessity of fresh experiences in revitalising your outlook. Routine is so seductively easy, especially at a time of the year when staying outside too long could literally result in death. What’s the simplest solution for lacking topic ideas? Write about what’s happened to you. If nothing’s happened, however, where do you take that? Do an itemised run down of your schedule? Catalogue everything your body has touched since you awoke (actually, that’s kind of interesting. Earmarking that for another day)? Recount dreams? Meals? Media consumption habits? That’s all backup fodder for small talk, let alone devoting time to words on a page. Having novel experiences is a break from the norm, Suddenly there are things to talk about, reflections to share. Keep moving or go stagnant.

The other option, which I take too rarely, is to use this space as a lab. Throwing ideas at a page to see if they have legs. I can write anything, so why don’t I? I tried a week of writing dialogue with mixed results. Still, how else does one improve? I used to write comedy here, some time back. I’m always writing about myself. How about a week where I write about others? Profiles? Interviews? What about retakes on past entries? How about news stories based on fictional narratives, to work on the inherent conventions? Updates and reworking? Real editing? What if I tried planning in advance? Working out the beats of a short story, then taking a week of entries to put it together? A serialised piece of maybe 3000 words total? Am I afraid of not hitting a certain word count? Or afraid that if I put effort into something and it doesn’t pan out, that I have no excuse to fall back on?

This is not a heartfelt commitment to change. I mean, it’s not like I knew I was gonna write this 30 minutes ago. It’s an expression of a desire to try new things, to keep from going stale. To make the challenge I’ve set for myself worth it. Hell, this is only three years down the line. How will I feel in another five?

Stuff, things and general whatnot.

Helped someone move today and realised something new about myself. I’ve noticed shades of it over the years, hints. My girlfriend and I have a running joke that I’ll never take anything paper if it’s handed to me. There’s logic, of course. Whenever someone tries to hand me a flyer, a coupon or anything that’ll likely end up in the bin, I save the object the trip and refuse it outright. If I know I don’t need it, why would I? That path leads to unnecessary work for recycling factories. Why waste my effort and theirs if I could instead go to a website and get all the same information? Most of the time the concept of holding onto an object for some amount of time in order to save a dollar or so seems like a bad trade off. I could have one fewer dollar, but less overall clutter. It’s cleaner and saves me from sifting through things. On the tiniest macro level, it’s streamlining my day to day operations. On a person to person level, it makes me seem like an officious tosspot. I already knew I hated picking up papers, so what did I learn?

When my girlfriend was prepping to move in, we had a lot of trouble moving her out. She had a great many things. There were piles that’d accumulated over years in some cases. She had a huge room, thus no need to cut down. There are many words you could use to describe this behaviour, She prefers the term pack rat (which makes me assume she was a problematically dominant card during Return to Ravnica era standard). It was a process to get through. It took time, patience and many garbage bags, but we got there. It was far easier for me, having no emotional attachment to the both literal and metaphorical baggage, to throw things out. In fact I delighted in doing so, because it meant the piles were smaller. Eventually the piles got so small that they fit into the aforementioned literal baggage and we threw them into cars and onwards to my place. Now it’s our place. Wait, the question is still unanswered. Why am I being so elusive. Okay, here goes.

When I arrived to help move today, I couldn’t believe how many things there were. I assumed I’d merely see stacks of boxes, but no. There were stacks of boxes, but there was also a lounge full of porcelain figures, antique lamps and trinkets. SO many trinkets. The useful kitchen objects had been packed away. The shelf full of colourful objects of all shapes and sizes had not. The walls were still lined with canvas, prints, photos. So much furniture and assorted objects. There were things that existed seemingly as surfaces on which other things could be rested, in some strange circle of purpose. Deep inside I felt a stirring of existential dread. We were up two flights of steep, narrow stairs. How could the volume of items ever hope to travel along such a treacherous thoroughfare? Why would anyone own this much stuff? Why would people own things at all? What if there was a fire? What if you needed to leave at a moment’s notice? What if you had to get rid of it all for some reason? What if you died and everything you owned become someone else’s burden? Why would anyone willingly make themselves that vulnerably to so many negative outcomes?

That was it. There’s a threshold at which “stuff” terrifies me. The idea that at a certain point the ownership of possessions inverts. You become beholden to the things you accumulate. The more that you own, the more that you’re responsible for. This in turn makes me hesitant to acquire objects. Experiences, you can keep without taking up physical space. Unnecessary clutter does nothing but weigh you down. There’s another side of this, obviously, and that I have yet to work out. Am I afraid of being tied down? Of committing to something? Am I scared that one day I’ll need to escape from a situation and the perceived burden of downsizing will be enough to prevent me moving towards happiness? On some level am I afraid of being subject to entropy, surrounded by objects that aren’t? That I’ll accumulate a prison around myself that will outlive me? To have disposable goods with greater longevity than a living, breathing organism? Does this in turn draw my focus to my own insignificance? How fleeting my existence is in a wider scope? The grand pointlessness of it all? The question of why that lives at the end of each thought?

You’ll one day kick the bucket, but that bucket will still be there after you’re gone.

Does anyone ever create future fiction where new technologies don’t make love look bleak?

This post is gonna be a ringing endorsement. It happens sometimes that you come across an experience so enveloping and stirring that it feels a disservice not to push others towards it. If it’s moved you so much, why not let anyone in earshot hear? I rarely regret gushing about the things that ignite my passions and as such, I better fucking get on with it, shouldn’t I?

My girlfriend and I today visited Outside The March’s production of Tomorrow Love.

An immersive theatre experience with randomised elements, merely hearing the concept was enough to immediately check it out. Set in a former funeral home, soon to be demolished to make way for apartments, Tomorrow Love is a series of two person scenes, 14 in all. Given its scheduled demolition, Outside The March were given free reign to redecorate/furnish as they saw fit. The walls were repainted, new lighting fixtures installed and rooms structured as the theatre company desired. In the main hall, lights hang above the audience, each with a removable trinket attached. All blue and minimalist, the trinkets are mysterious, giving no real clue to the scenes they symbolise. A scarf, briefcase or mask don’t immediately jump out thematically, but make sense as the pieces play out. I saw the book, the bowl, the spaceship and the lily. The play approaches the entanglement of hypothetical future technologies and relationships, drawing fascinating dark implications. The Facebook event was only too quick to name check Black Mirror, for obvious reasons.

Eight actors round out the cast. Each actor learns each part in each scene, all of which are devoid of specific genders. The opening scene has characters pairing up, flowing back and forward from one another in a manner that evokes a sense of musical chairs. The audience decides at which point the action should be stopped, which locks the actors in with their partner for their first scene. Already segmented into four due to seating, the audience is then instructed to follow a pair to watch the scene play out. They’re led along a variety of stairs and hallways into assorted rooms where each piece is set. It’s borderline eerie to be watching the actors interact and wondering did they embalm bodies in here? After watching a scene, the two actors give the audience the decision of whom they’d like to follow to the next scene, during which they’re paired with another actor. The flow to and from scenes really adds to the experience. There’s mystery around each corner, not knowing where you’ll end up or what you’re about to see. It’s also exciting to be walking around a building for the first time, knowing it’s been entirely repurposed. To pad for time, I’m sure, there were occasionally interstitial experiences between scenes. As a group of five, we were at one point led into a small closet as our guide brought us into a fun little experience. Sorry for keeping this vague as hell, I’m trying to use wide brush strokes so as not to spoil anything.

The scenes themselves were fantastically written, exploring the nuances of imaginary technologies and their impact on a personal level. Elements of humour interspersed with some concepts so deeply stirring they drove me to uncontrollable racking sobs. The acting was superb, especially considering that the actors had to learn all parts, adding their own flavours. It was exciting to decide who to follow, how they resonated with you, whether you’d see someone from an earlier scene or not. In the 90 minutes you have time to see four different 15 minute scenes (plus travel time, etc) and it goes by all too quickly. I’d love so much to return another few times, to see as many scenes as I could, what each trinket symbolised and how actors would adapt. I can’t help but hope that if you’re in Toronto and interested at all in theatre, you’d give it a chance.

You could even see it tomorrow, love.

They say it’s a royal colour, but I feel like a jackass.

I woke up before my alarm today. I felt awake enough to get up, despite the sub-7am hour. I didn’t think myself groggy, but it was still dark around the house. With my girlfriend still sleeping, I had no intention of being a dick-nozzle and flicking on the light. I rifled through my drawer in the dim room, looking for a T-shirt to match my pants.

[An aside]

Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that excepting special occasions, putting work into my appearances isn’t high on my priorities. To this end, I’ve developed a simple system. My workplace wardrobe consists of coloured jeans and T-shirts. I’ll wear a pair of coloured jeans every day and I’ll match a complimentary coloured T-shirt to them. Each day I’ll cycle through the complimentary shirts until they’re all dirty (unless the pants get there first). When that happens, I swap my pants out for another colour and continue wearing complimentary T-shirts. Lather, rinse repeat. Once the dirty clothes basket gets to a certain threshold I’ll put on washing and a circle of life is achieved.

I am become a Street Fighter palette swap.

[Aside over]

I cast my eyes over to my purple pants and did a quick scan of the drawer. Charcoal shirt to the front right hand side. Easy, done. I tossed it on and went about my morning routine and went to work, reading my book (now on Kindle, marking the first time a book of mine has run out of batteries. A novel experience to say the least). I logged into my computer and after two coffees (I had my first coffee since returning from London. Then a co-worker dropped off a coffee as thanks for picking her boyfriend up some coco pops while on my trip), obviously needed the bathroom. You know where this is going, right?

The bathroom has a full length mirror. The charcoal T-shirt was not charcoal, but plum purple.

I look like I’m wearing two-piece pyjamas. I’m a walking eggplant emoji (in that I feel like a dick). I never intended to cosplay Grimace, but my dour expression sells it. I’m not even lavishly dressed to claim some kind of Prince get-up. If I at least had something brown I could pretend I was going for a PB&J theme, but I don’t. I have nary an accessory I can wear without excessive sweating. My only hope is that, like a newscaster, people walking past my desk can only see my upper half. For once I’ll be keeping my coat zipped up on the subway to hide my hidden shame.

By the way, does Grimace look like a giant butt-plug to anyone else? At least he has a flared base.

Fetch your duct tape, people. It’s time to reinforce some olive branches.

So there was an election. I’m sure there’s not a person on the internet who’s unaware of that. Even in Pyongyang, I’m sure they’re aware that a reality television magnate and recidivist failed businessman now has the opportunity to run a country into the ground too. He’s a big fish and like a big fish, has an alarmingly short memory. Also he constantly shits over everything. It’s a strange time to live in this post truth society where people are driven not my fact, but by emotion. That’s not quite it. People are ideologically entrenched. We’ll follow narratives that reinforce our own held beliefs. It’s not like this is a new phenomenon, but the echo chambers of our online lives are more expansive and resonant than they ever were.

Things are divisive in a way that’s impossible to ignore, because the gap between ourselves and others has become the focal point. Whenever we stand up for something we believe in and preach to the converted, we’re treated to a warming chorus of YAAAAS KWEEN and whatever meme is currently the utmost lit. Pointing out how the idiocy of the other side shines through, how monstrous and inhumane their beliefs are engenders others to us. Because it tells others we’re not like that, we wouldn’t think like that. Fuck those guys. As our lives are increasingly spent online, that echo chamber is overlaid on top of the society we see when we’re not plugged in. Much as we see ourselves as open minded, open hearted beams of light, we’ve become oppositional in our very core. What we’re not has become almost as important as what we are.

At this point I’m assuming most of you are expecting me to pull off my face, Mission Impossible style, and pronounce myself an Alt-Righter. Nope. I’m not Alt-anything. I used to be into Alt-rock, but then the moniker of “indie” came along as an all encompassing non-genre. I used to be lots of things. That’s a fact. I used to sling rape jokes and edgelord like I hoped there was no tomorrow. I even wore a fedora to a date once. Rightfully, she gave me no follow-up. I’m 99% sure I would’ve been the first to non-ironically #notallmen if I didn’t deem myself too cool to hashtag. I said and thought a lot of shitty, regressive things. Some of it was to try and look cool, a lot more of it was because I saw myself as maligned by society. I wasn’t getting the things I wanted, I felt neglected and disillusioned. Was I? Not at all, but I felt that way and gravitated towards views that reinforced how I felt.

You’ll notice that was all in past tense. I’ve changed. A lot. However, the only thing I’m certain of now is that I’ve still got a lot of room to improve. I was fortunate to be surrounded by better, wiser, more compassionate people. The fact that I can use past tense at all is testament to those people fostering understanding instead of straight up dumping me. If I’d been that person these days, I’m sure my ideological evolutionary path would’ve driven me in the same direction instead of diverting. I’d seek out opinions similar to my own. Furthermore, those compassionate people who helped me see the error of my views would likely have given up and cut me out of their social circle.

Times like this it’s vital that we listen and empathise. That empathy leads to gentle education instead of forceful opposition. I know how rich that sounds coming from a straight white cis dude. I know how much harder this is for systematically oppressed parties. How shitty “I know you’ve been struggling, the answer is to dig deep and struggle even more” sounds and is. I understand that. I wouldn’t expect this from those parties, but deep down I feel like that’s what it’s gonna take. Honestly, the bulk of the work needs to come from people like me. People who may be emotionally affected by the clusterfuck that the world has become, but aren’t persecuted on a daily basis. If we tell people they’re fuckfaces for supporting a Nazi, they’re gonna fortify and tell us to go fuck ourselves back. If we ask them why they do (without blaming), then offer our own perspective (once again without blaming), we may gain more ground. The first step of persuasion is to get the opposition on your side, how are we gonna do that if we start by putting up a wall. If we do that, how much better are we than them?

I’ve got a lot more thoughts on this right now than I do time to share them, but one parting thought. People can be a lot of work. I know I certainly was. One thing they aren’t is out of reach. I wasn’t.