This might take longer to write than the next Game of Thrones book, but I’m in.

This was a lot easier two years ago. Last year, even. That was all different, but familiar territory. This year marks a new milestone. I’m three years into the longest romantic relationship in my life.

There’s no caveat. I’m not gonna get your hopes up then turn around and be all “KIDDING. I had a longer relationship, but the romance was dead.” I haven’t been together with a partner for three years, period. What’s more, it is still romantic after all this time. I’d say that I love you as much as the day I met you, but that would be a fallacy. I didn’t love you when I met you, I didn’t know you. After three years, I feel like I know you. At least a little. You’ve heard movie characters stating that they can “read [insert person] like a book”? I get it. I finally know how that feels. When we’re together there’s a tacit language beneath the words and expressions. I understand what you’re saying, or when there’s something you’re not saying. When something’s off, it echoes through my bones. Subtext has become natural. I’m not bragging, I know you can see through me too.

The most exciting part is that this in no way means that you’ve run out of surprises. Have you ever found a book that appeals so much that you think it was written with you in mind? A book so rich in character that something new jumps off the page with every skim? It might be a peculiar sentence structure, a bold idea from out of nowhere. The vivid imagery with which its memories are etched. As new chapters appear every day, it’s no wonder you can’t put it down. You crack its spine each chance you get, even if only for minutes at a time. Like the most beguiling contraband. A page or two when the sun wrests open your eyes. A chapter before bed. A few clandestine sentences by moonlight. It’s intoxicating. You can’t wait to have read it in its entirety, but couldn’t bear for it to be over.

If our relationship began in its infancy, it would be talking by now. Growing and maturing, understanding the world around it. The recognition that as old as we felt before, there was so much yet to come. That we’d barely scratched the surface. There is so much yet to come and as each year passes, I appreciate and love you all the more. How adventurous your soul is, game for anything. How your gorgeous visage hides exponential beauty beneath. How boldly you embrace what the world throws your way and smile as it comes. How deep and fierce your emotions run, pulsing through the veins of every direction you take. How sincerely and openly you love, giving of yourself without barriers. How much you care for anything you can. You embrace life with an envious passion and I feel honoured to bask in your warmth.

I cherish writing our story together for this year and many more.

Number one on that list is swimming in jelly. What else would it be?

You know what? I like being an adult. I was primed to abhor all the responsibilities and stress of taking care of myself, but on the whole it’s better than it isn’t. I get to make up my own bedtime, eat whatever I want, manage my money on a larger scale and pay the consequences of failing all of the above. What’s not to love? Being a kid was rad too though. Even the ‘oft maligned’ school wasn’t a big deal for me. I got to see friends, sometimes we did field trips and failing anything else I had a jawsome lunchbox with segmented spaces for different kind of foods. Every day was basically a low key bento day.

I dunno, maybe I’m just a happy person?

I’m not one of those peaked-at-12 adults whose lives I assume consist of leaning on one elbow, looking to the upper left and sighing loudly ad infinitum. I don’t see the point in wistfully wishing for another era. I’m one of those fortunate snake people born without the spectre of military conscription on the horizon. Our forebearers died for just that reason. I make a point of going out and doing things that I enjoy. I try to spend time with friends when I can. I may have less of that time to go around, but I’ve got a shit ton of freedom to shape my meagre waking hours as I see fit.

Well, almost. If I truly had my way I’d spend more time playing Magic than reading about it.

I’m not a robot though. I can’t emphasise enough the extent to which I adored being a kid. I wouldn’t be the oversized child I am today without yearning for past experiences. Nigh universally it’s a lack of time that’s the issue. I’m sure if I had less of a life I’d find more space for excellent, intentional goofing around. What things did I do before adulthood that I wish I still did?

  • Reading. This has to be number one on the list. As a kid I’d read voraciously. I had a minimum wakeup time of 6am and I remember staring down the clock from 5am onwards so I could flick my light on and read. After discovering Roald Dahl I’d walk the half hour or so to school with my face buried in James and the Giant Peach or Danny, Champion of the World. I devoured generic fantasy novels. Anything with swords/dragons/magic really. These days I’ll read a book or two per year, that’s it. I get these brief resurgences of reading from time to time, but unless something really catches me I break from the fever dream.
  • Video Games. The hobby that defined so many of my childhood friendships. If they liked “spacies” then I liked them. Back when Sega/Nintendo were practically gang affiliations, I straddled the fence, playing anything I could get my hands on. At a time when the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis was all the rage, I still wouldn’t look past the simplistic Smurfs on ColecoVision. Ironically at a time when online gaming is gargantuan, I don’t have the time to get good at anything, so instead I skip it entirely.
  • Sports. Oh how I hated running at age eight. Now that I’m actually fit, I can’t find room in my life to join a league. I don’t have the gear to get casual games together. Plus I’m oh so much better at making excuses than I was as a child. In a truly dumb situation, the time I would spend playing sports is devoted to maintaining fitness instead. It costs money to join a league and the emotional energy of organisation to mobilise friends outdoors. I can’t just get my parents to pay for my entry into a space where everything’s sorted for me these days. Then again, I’m in Toronto now. People here love sports and probably own enough gear to get a pick up baseball game going. If I build it…
  • Being carried home from parents’ friends’ places. Of course these ran well past bedtime. It’s hard to forget the feelings of total safety and love that came with that floating sensation. I’d wake up somewhere between the house and car, barely conscious of anything but the knowledge I was cared for. I probably could’ve gotten up and walked myself, but why mess with serene catharsis? André the Giant is long gone, so I’m way too big for anyone to carry me like this. If anyone decides to make a functional shrink ray, a re-enactment of this will be on my shortlist.

As I write this there’s an adult diaper ad on TV. Clearly other people are already up on this reliving your childhood play.

Jughead has always been somewhat of a role model. Who wouldn’t want the mutant power of infinite consumption?

I waste too much time on the internet not doing anything. Well don’t get me wrong, I’m only playing an hour or two of Cookie Clicker per day. More realistically, I’m lurking Reddit threads on r/magictcg and r/whowouldwin. It’s not productive and I forget 90% of what I’ve read ten minutes after I’ve read-dit (ged-dit?). Perhaps I’m just unused to having spare time, given the production schedule of the Air Bud Pawdcast last year. For the very limited time being, however, I’ve got time to kill. It’s time to sink some hours into entertainment across the board.

After years of hearing recommendations to do so, I grabbed a copy of the first Dresden Files book. I was expecting something pulpy, a kind of dumb, quippy, popcorn novel. In the first 20 or so pages, I got exactly what I expected. I’ve heard the series gets better as it goes on. That the world gets built out and is ultimately a bunch of fun. One of my old flatmates said the first book was a little shite, but Dresden Files was ultimately enjoyable despite the writer falling too in love with his central character.

So far it’s suffering from heavy-handed exposition [“Is this sign on the door for real? Frank Dresden, Magician for hire?” yeah that’s me, Frank Dresden, like he says, I’m a magician for hire] and that kind of shit. Also, I dunno, *male* writing. Seriously, it’s like the guy is drawing character outlines with his semi as the pencil. The first time we meet some hard nosed female detective (and likely love interest) its all [She was wearing a pantsuit, but she probably had shapely legs built up through years of cheerleading. Blonde haired, blue eyed, she’d be better looking if she smiled more] kind of shit. Tons of clunky ways of tossing in world-building and backstory. At the same time, it comes with enough endorsements that I’m going into it with zero expectations happy to at the very least be mildly entertained. At worst it has me reading again. Throwaway enjoyment, which is perfect for my use as a way to ignore the bane of my existence: The morning commute.

The other thing that’s caught my eye is this new Riverdale show. Growing up I read a metric shitton of Archie comics. I had a close friend and the double digests littered his house. In every room there’d be four or five of the things, they had hundreds. It was harmless fun, with short storylines based on simple characters who rarely strayed from their core definition. Riverdale on the other hand, sounds like it builds on those same characters to not only subvert its own tropes, but the wider tropes of teen entertainment. Ironically it’s on CW of all places. Billed as teen drama/Twin Peaks, this usually wouldn’t be anywhere in the same neighbourhood as my alley.

On the other hand, Archie comics have been known to do weird, subversive, progressive shit for years. Over the years they’ve adopted positive representations of LGBT/differently abled characters without tokenism, blending them straight into the fabric of Riverdale. They’ve also not strayed from the utterly bizarre. Anyone remember the frenzy of 90s team up comics? What about Archie Meets the Punisher or Archie vs. Predator? Whatabout that storyline where Sabrina the Teenage Witch marries H.P. Lovecraft’s #1 ancient one, Cthulhu? Internalised prejudice against CW aside, I’ve got enough goodwill built up through those stacks of double digests to watch a couple of episodes and test the waters. It could end up being as much of a surprise breakout as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (also CW, now that I think of it).

Anyway, I’ve got more cookies to click. See you in Riverdale!

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?

The lowdown on the down low.

So I did a fair amount of kerfuffling about Fancy Party, but how did it go?

In short, we owned it.

At length, there was more to it than that. I spent most of yesterday futzing about trying to get all the necessary pieces in place. I had my shoes, suit, glasses and coloured contacts. I washed, shaved, primped and prepped. Went over to a friend’s house for a little pre-party while she had her hair did. We made a few gin cocktails and shot the shit. I freaked out putting contacts in for the first time, which would’ve been a smarter idea before having downed three drinks. Foresight means nothing once the moment’s passed. I also fumbled with a tie for twice that time until my other friend just tied it on himself and handed it over. Anyway, we looked and felt ready to mingle the fuck out of this party.

Hush Hush was the Toronto Public Library fundraiser. Swanky charity event with a superhero theme. The idea was not so much to wear superhero costumes, but to accentuate your dress with little highlights. I had red contacts and glasses, going for a Cyclops (x-men) thing. Some did better costumes than others. Attendees garb spanned from really lavish to some people just wearing superhero shirts. I’d assumed everyone was gonna dress to the nines, but more than a few dressed to a two. Our group looked pretty damn fine though. Held in the Bloor/Gladstone public library, the venue was almost as dressed up as we were. Ambient lighting, candles (as someone pointed out, open flame at a library was a curious choice) and food/drink stations everywhere. There was an open bar with wine/beer and two main cocktails. A vodka/soda variant and some sweet orange/guava concoction. The latter was dangerously smooth. It was just like the ocean under the moon. I was already a little giddy and made the mistake of not eating a ton, which was a pity. The food looked great. They had lobster sliders, fancy cheeses, adorably tiny bean tacos (probably the same size as your thumb). There were cupcakes and other assorted desserts. Servers came around repeatedly and it was never more than ten minutes between food on offer.

There were activities scattered across the library. A photo booth was set up to take multiple photos in a row, which it would later email you as a gif. A sketch artist had small cards on which he’d draw your portrait. They had temporary tattoos on offer, all superhero themed. There were rooms set up with VR headsets. I played a bomb disarming game, which was super fun and pretty engrossing. There were basic controls on the side of the headset, but the most surprising thing was being able to look around 360° in full animation. There was a jetpack game on offer, which I avoided given the amount I’d consumed already. Hurtling through the sky hurling chunks IRL seemed a good way to get kicked out.

Either attendees were really friendly or I was just blissfully drunk. I didn’t notice one ounce of douchebaggery, people were just stoked to be there. There were also paid actors dressed as sultry librarians. The funny part was, they didn’t interact. They just stood around looking perturbed or sassy, casting disapproving looks about. It’s a living, I guess. The DJ was fucking great. She played an assortment of hip wedding playlist style stuff and her own personal mash ups. I can no longer say I’ve never spent the night dancing and drinking between the aisles of a library. Ticked off a bucket list item I didn’t know I had. At the end of the night we were sent away with little swag bags. Reuseable bags with the Penguin Publishing logo, they had a magazine, comic, a bottle of water, some cosmetics and best of all, a small moleskine notebook. Now I can do my gig reviews without holding a dorky sized book in my hands.

Thanks Toronto Public Libraries. You’re the coolest.

Then again, I did once wake him up by dropping trou and farting in his face. I think we’re even.

I was the most gullible child. It makes sense, I was an innocent, trusting child who assumed everyone knew a lot more about the world at large than I did. Fantasy was my domain. I’d watch cartoon and play video games. I’d dream of what I wished existence to be, but neglect the reality of what it was. Frankly, childhood was stimulation overload. Everything was so big, bright and new. Cynicism wasn’t a word in my vocabulary until at least age 10 and it would’ve been at least another year or two before I actively exhibited signs of it. I believed most things that people would tell me. I took things at face value because what was the alternative? Accepting that others would deliberately mislead or deceive me? What kind of life would that be?

I believed in ghosts, aliens and monsters for long enough, not least because of some intentional self-fulfilling prophecy. If my conviction was strong enough, maybe this stuff would flicker to life. Awesome, right? I still never got on the Santa Claus sleigh, perhaps because of the whole Judaism thing. Religion didn’t make sense to me as a kid, considering a bunch of my friends followed different theologies. The idea that they were all wrong but our family was right seemed strange. The notion that one religion being true invalidated the others smelled a bit fishy to me. See, I was never an idiot, just trusting. Still, all of this talk belies the dumbest thing I ever believed.

Firstly you need to understand the kind of people I had around me. I had big brothers feeding me bollocks time and time again. A bunch of my friends were older and had a bit more nouse knocking around in their noggins. A gullible kid is the most fun to tease or joke with, because it extends the value and life of the joke. My best friend, in particular, has always been quick witted. He’s a joker by nature and improvisational by trade. He’d lead and I’d willingly follow. For years I followed in his shadow, with time eventually being an equaliser. We’ve gone on to live different lives, but time and space has been no barrier to that rapport. It’s not something we need to upkeep, because it’s only ever a Skype away. Anyway, you get the point. Best buds fo lyfe, yo. So naturally as a kid when he told me something, I’d listen and believe. The dumbest thing he told me?

You know that “Egyptian walk”? The one I assume The Bangles sung about? Arms at right angles, one pointing in front, the other behind. This one. He told me that everyone in Egypt walked that way. Not only did they walk that way, but walking that way was mandated by law. It was illegal to walk as most do, arms by sides or in pockets. Who was I to judge? I’d never been to Egypt. I’d never met anyone from Egypt. I hadn’t read books on Egypt.

As soon as he told me, I accepted and absorbed it. I don’t know why I didn’t think to ask an adult or teacher. I have some shady recollection of bringing it up in the middle of class, stating it matter of factly. I’m sure the teacher’s response was vaguely along the lines of “that’s simply not true”. I’m sure teasing followed. Whatever, I was a kid, that kind of thing rolled off my back. You know what? I still haven’t been to Egypt. I can neither confirm nor deny.

Though I think I just got an idea for my Autumn vacation.

I may as well exploit the fact that I have a 12 year old’s emotional sensibilities.

This entry is more symptomatic of a lack of creativity than anything else. So, spurred by a glass of whiskey & coke, I grabbed one of those circa 1998 chain letter things. With 50 questions, it’s gonna be tough to fill out in 30 minutes with any depth. Let’s learn some stuff about me.

1. FIRST NAME? Leon

2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? A lion. Not a particular lion, just lions in general.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Within the last week.

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I think sanskrit looks neat, so yes.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Glazed ham.

6. KIDS? One day. Until then it’s just the MGMT song.

7. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I wouldn’t stop there…

8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Does this count?

9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I used to, but I got bored and sincerity felt better.

10. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Long gone. I ate heaps of ice blocks and watched Disney cartoons. Life peaked early.

11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? I have. Seriously, such an underwhelming experience. I’d still like to skydive at some point but bungee jumping just felt so safe.

12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Mounds and mounds of muesli with sliced banana, blueberries, brazil/walnuts and a little protein powder. I’m not saying it’s sustainable.

13. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Yep.

14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Proportionally, yep. I’m not out bench pressing cars or anything though.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM ? Mint chocolate chip.

16. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Eyes. I look at people’s eyes a ton and I always wonder if it creeps them out. In conversation I hold a shit ton of eye contact. It just helps me get a better read on the conversation.

17. RED OR PINK? Are we talking salmon? Because in that case definitely red. The colour of prosperity indeed.

18. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? That I pronounced the word ominous “omnious” for years.

19. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Harris Wittels.

20. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? I dare you.

21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES YOU ARE WEARING? Neither.

22. THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Pork roast with carrots and kale.

23. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? FKA Twigs – M3LL155X

24. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Maple.

25. FAVORITE SMELL? Teriyaki sauce.

26. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? The automated prank calling line that hung up on me.

27. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? ❤ U Google.

28. FAVORITE DRINK? Whiskey/coke.

29. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? Ninja Warrior.

30. HAIR COLOR? Dark dark brown.

31. EYE COLOR? Hazel (green/brown depending on what clothes I wear).

32. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Nope.

34. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? Do you really expect me to overlook that innuendo?

35. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? The One I Love.

36. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING RIGHT NOW? I’m not.

37. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer in New Zealand.

38. HUGS OR KISSES? Both.

39. FAVORITE DESSERT? Key lime pie.

40. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Uhh, this really doesn’t work here.

41. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Everyone.

42. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? The Book Thief. Slowly.

43 WHAT’S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? My mouse?

44. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST ON TV? The X-Files.

45. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Record crackle, Toyota Hiace doors, vocal percussion.

46. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles.

47. THE FURTHEST YOU BEEN FROM HOME? Toronto. Which is now home, so uhhh.

48. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Puns.

49. WHEN WERE YOU BORN? January 17th, 1987.

50. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Takapuna Hospital.
Note: If you don’t pass this on your crush will hate you, make croissants out of your body fat, grind your bones into a spreadable paste and serve the dish to your favourite Backstreet Boy.