Did I just have a date within a date with that corn dog?

I went on a date the other night. It was lovely.

It’d been a while, not sure why. I haven’t been doing much to seek out intimate encounters outside my anchor partner. Or maybe it’s just that everyone I’d been growing close to had been poly, are interested, but are also in relationships that are currently closed. Which has been fine. Emotional intimacy has always been far more important to me than physical. In those instances, it’s just been nice to have new friends. This person, however, is poly. So we got to have an actual date. It’s something that’s been in the works for ages. We’ve hung out at parties, but never one on one. She has a weird schedule. I now have a weird schedule, and for the first time ever, our free time coincided. I asked if she wanted to grab a food, or a drink, or overthrow the bourgeoisie, or do amateur parkour, or get stoned and watch a dumb movie, or go to Tilt. She said Tilt, the local arcade bar, sounded great.

I vowed to do wreck my face doing amateur parkour on my own damn time.

I think we were both there for about half an hour before I noticed her. Not because she wasn’t worth noticing, but because she was wearing all black and playing a game in the corner. Somehow, in a room full of garish fluorescent lights, she’d discovered camouflage. She played D&D with the barman, so I got to meet him too, and he was really friendly. Their DM used to DM our games of Call of Cthulhu, and was by far the best DM I’ve had for any game ever. We all gushed about how great he was. Then she and I grabbed beer and a seat. We chatted. We chatted for a long time, actually. Seeing as we’d never hung out one on one before, it was the perfect time to get to know each other better. I mean, it’s kind of the point of a date.

More importantly, the fact that we were sitting meant I had the perfect excuse [you didn’t need an excuse -Ed] to order a corn dog. As an aside, I love corn dogs. They’re a favoured treat of mine. I’m not wild about fried food, but back home when we got fish and chips, you ordered a “hot dog” and got given what North Americans call a corn dog: A battered hot dog on a stick. It’s one of my exceptions to my ambivalence about fried food, likely because of nostalgia. I’d never tried Tilt’s corn dogs, but I can now confirm they’re fucking fantastic. The batter is made in house. It’s pretty thin, but with some nice crispy flourishes. Also, they’re huge. I’m used to corn dogs on popsicle sticks. These ones come on skewers. You know the type that people use for BBQ kebabs? Picture a hot dog on that, except the only available bit of stick to hold is 1-2cm long. That’s a lot of dog. It was meaty and sumptuous, and a truly fantastic snack with beer. Have I now written a longer love letter to this corn dog than I have to this date? Maybe, but that corn dog and I shared something that no date and I ever will. R.I.P.

Anyway, it was fun to chat. She’s funny, and we’ve got a lot of geeky interests in common. A theme of adulthood that I’ve noticed, is I’m not actually aware of what most of my friends do to pay rent. I hang out with them because I like their company, but their jobs have never defined who they are to me. So I got to hear what she does for work and what she likes about those things. I got to learn how growing up was for her, familial connections and perspectives. She had been to the nigh legendary Florida theme park: Gatorland. I’d heard tales. She told me more.

After a while, I chimed in that while I was having an excellent time hanging out, I also wanted to play some vidya games. We played an isometric D&D style crawler called Gate of Doom. It was super button mashy, but nostalgic and silly. The magic system was quite unusual. All four characters had the same spellbook and system, but you had to wait until your magic bar filled up. The spellbook would flick periodically between spells, and whatever was active was the one you had access to. I kept turning into a walking flower, which was kinda neat. I had some kind of stun pollen with a radius effect. We beat the game, and my hand damn near cramped up. We played some Puzzle Bobble, and evened up at 5 wins. We chatted some more, and it was last call.

I think one of the more important things I learned from the date, is that I’ve finally reached a certain level of confidence. It always used to be that I was too afraid to make a move, and that nothing would happen until my date was like “dude, are you actually interested? Do you want to have sex or not?” Then I’d be all “oh, of course. That’d be great”. It largely came from feelings of inadequacy and not knowing how to navigate those spaces with utmost consent. These days, a better knowledge of consent has informed massive change. I’ve realised that I can just ask, and in ways that leave things very open for the other person to say no. A lot of the time these things happen organically, and I think societally people have assumed that organic was the only option, anything else was clunky and took you out of the moment. I haven’t found that. I’m getting better at reading signs, but still like to clarify. There was a point where we were sitting close to each other. I think her hand was resting on my arm, mine resting on her leg. I realised and said “I just want to check, do you like this kind of touch”. She said yes, definitely. Simple and clean. I knew she was interested, she had every opportunity to be like hmm, maybe not at the moment or actually, maybe no and that would’ve been fine. Instead, I actively knew we were on a wavelength, that she was interested and the waters weren’t muddied. Consent is the fucking best, and anyone who thinks it ruins the moment maybe hasn’t learned how to ask in a non-intrusive manner.

Since things were winding down at the bar, we were both still awake and having a good time, I asked if she wanted to keep hanging out. She invited me over, and we spent a bunch more time together at her place. I left some time after 6.30am, and since she lives with one of my friends, I got to give my friend a good morning hug when she got up to go to work. Since I live maybe 5 minutes walk from her, I got to go right home and to bed.

Is it time to bring back I Have My Dates?

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Easing high anxiety

A friend asked to check in with me about starting medication. I figured elements of our discussion could maybe be helpful for others, so I’m posting them here. Hopefully it helps.

Starting medication definitely is a journey, and I don’t for a second assume that it’s the same for everyone. The meds have worked really well for me, and I know that there are lots of complex chemical interactions happening that mean different brains adapt differently.

It’s great to go in with zero expectations. My hope is that everything just gels for you, but it’s very understandable that maybe these meds aren’t quite right, and it could be an adjustment that takes time. I was very lucky that after the initial loading period (~ 2-5 weeks), things felt a lot better for me, and the side effects weren’t severe. Some people have intense side effects that mean years of going off and on different medications, doing the bioaccummulation thing again and again, until they find a combination of helpful effects and low side effects that works for them. For some people, it just clicks. I really really hope this is the case for you.

My experience isn’t far ranging. I went on cipralex. It’s been fantastic and I wish I did it years ago. I haven’t tried anti anxiety meds, but from what I’ve heard the experience can be similar. The big thing is to give yourself all the patience and time, and understand that this will be a process in one way or another. Take breaks when you need it, and be honest with people if they’re asking more than you have the capacity to deliver on. You’ll probably feel a little mentally foggy at first,, maybe a little nauseous. This is very normal and unfortunately a big part of the bioaccumulation.

Also this should go without saying, but a doctor will usually prescribe a ramp up period where you take low doses and incrementally increase until you’re at the desired dosage. Mine was 5mg for the first five days, then 10mg after. It took me a few days to adjust to the 5mg, then again for the 10, rather than it all hitting at once. Please follow their timeline. Please make sure you take your meds every day, and at a similar time. Most people set alarms. With anything SSRI based, you might feel a teensy bit high after you take your meds. Not everyone does, but when I was taking them in the morning, it made my commute a lot more pleasant.

I did find that after the fogginess subsided, it really helped me with focus. I know I get a lot of manic energy. Going on these meds has really given me the capacity to do projects again. Instead of freaking out over there being too many steps, I can take them one at a time. Also the big thing is that I can do multi-day projects again and not freak out that everything isn’t finished instantly. I’ve gotten back my ability to plan, which I lost for a long time. Everybody feels shitty and useless when starting this stuff out. It sucks, and feels really discouraging when the whole point is to push all that stuff aside. It takes time.

Please trust the process. It’s a hard and frustrating lesson, but it’s been helping me a lot now that I’m in a place where I can hear it.

Or maybe the song’s about tumours. Who knows?

I miss my iPod. Not having a good portable media device is doing weird things to my already weird brain.

I’ve had a cavalcade of odd songs stuck in my head. For going on two weeks, I’ve had will i am’s verse from “My Humps” popping in and out of my subconsciousness. For those fortunate enough to have skipped it, check out my very real nightmare:

“I met a girl down at the disco
She said hey hey hey ya lets go
I can be ya baby, you could be my honey
Let’s spend time not money
And mix your milk with my coco puff
Milky milky coco
Mix your milk with my coco puff
Milky milky
Right”

It’s quite not good. The whole song is, truly. I’m way past the intentionally contrarian music tastes of my early 20s, but that song still sucks a big one. Anyway, I was biking home last night at about 1am, and the rest of the song was playing through my head. I got confused about Fergie’s nomenclature for her bits. While the song is called “My Humps”, in the chorus she repeatedly sings “my hump my hump my hump”. Singular, not plural. But then she also refers to her “lovely lady lumps in the back and in the front”. I’m guessing that means boobs and butt, but then what’s the hump? Singular? Does she have one fused buttock/boob? Or some kind of bony growth on her spine? Like, extreme scoliosis? If that’s the case and the song is all about her owning particular unconventional body growths, I might be slightly more on board. Somehow, I doubt it.

Since it was announced that Swamp Thing was making a prime time comeback, I’ve had the theme from the animated show moving in and out of my brain lobes. Unlike “My Humps”, it’s a goddamn delight. The whole thing is a rad as fuck riff on “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. Listen to this: Greasy 80s guitars, weird cartoony sfx, and a significant cheesy quotient (reminder, I’m into the Oxford comma now). It’s been kind of a blessing. I find myself singing it as I grind coffee in the mornings, or occasionally bursting into laughter in public because it’s still in my head, two months down the line.

“Down to the River to Pray” is another one. From the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. I know it’s weird not to have “Man of Constant Sorrow” tucked in there. It’s still a bop. Weirdly, I’ve been singing it with a closed mouth. I don’t know why. It’s this thing I’ve been doing for goofs lately. Like, I’ll have my mouth mostly closed save for a thin parting of the lips, and I’ll sing. Full articulation within my mouth. Actually pronouncing the words and everything, but muffled. It’s funny, sounds like you’re hearing singing from another room. I told my girlfriend and she was unimpressed. “They already have that. It’s called humming.” She’s wrong, I’m right and it’s funny. Or I’m just a goof, but I’m okay with that. In any case, I’ve been doing it with “Down to the River”.

Anyway, I need a new mp3 player. I sure can’t wait to get paid. But I will. Because I have to. In the meantime, at least I’ve got stuff to listen to in my head.

Like “In the Meantime“.

Guess I finally have a political platform to run on

I don’t know when you last watched Family Guy, but maybe keep it that way.

When I was 14 or 15, I loved Family Guy. It was this blend of irreverence, dirty humour and pop cultural references that gelled perfectly with a burgeoning teenage brain. It was something fresh, a kind of amalgam of The Simpsons and South Park, an animated comedy where reality played second fiddle to a good joke. The archetypes were way out there, and I watched a lot. It got cancelled, eventually, then brought back. It’s had 17 seasons now, which is probably 14 seasons too many.

At work last night I had to describe some episodes from season 12. It was fun to work on, with a huge variety of description, but egads, what a shitshow. I mean, also a shit show. It’s abysmal. I swear it wasn’t always this bad, but who knows? The plotlines are contrived and unnecessary. There’s very rarely ever any message or meaning to them. Just an excuse for crude comedy. That makes me sound like I’m trying to shit on the hoi polloi, but I’m not. I like crude comedy. Have you seen how often I talk about poop here? I think farts are funny, but part of that is how you use them. Crude comedy for the sake of being crude or edgy lacks real bite. Do something clever with it. I dunno. There was an episode I worked on yesterday where Peter gets a whip (the entire plotline got discarded after ten minutes). During this time he slashes Meg, whips Stewie (the infant) across the face, enough to leave a bloody gash. He goes to a Devo concert and whips fellow concertgoers. That’s about it. I’m not coming at this with any hesitation over an animated show causing violence to an animated, talking infant, but there was no point to the gag. He whips his kid for retreading a dumb “cool whip” joke from early in the show’s run. The kid sits there with a bloody face for two seconds. End scene. The crowd roars with applause?

Here were some plotlines I saw last night:

  • Peter, Jo and Quagmire get ousted from their usual booth at the Drunken Clam by some tough looking dudes. They feel emasculated, and everyone in their lives starts taking advantage of them. Lois tells Peter to Man Up, so they go back to the bar and get the shit beaten out of them by the dudes in a 3-4 minute fight scene. It turns out the dudes were soldiers, and the bar holds them up as heroes. End episode.
  • Stewie and Brian become blood brothers to cement their friendship. Stewie gets herpes from Brian. Turns out Chris got herpes from Brian too. They enact revenge. They sabotage his date. Chris steals his car. Stewie and Brian make up.
  • Chris starts dating Pam, the daughter of Jerome (bartender at the Drunken Clam). Pam is black. The family has no issue, but Jerome doesn’t want his daughter dating a white man. There’s a dumb song (and it’s seen as dumb in the show. Great lampshading there /s) about all the amazing things that white people have given black people. Eventually, Jerome is okay with it. End episode.

I can only imagine what season 17 is like. Who knows? Maybe the show had a major mea culpa and changed course. Maybe it has something to say. Somehow I doubt it. Then again, since Family Guy‘s popularity waned, there have been a ton of great adult animated shows to take its place. Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman, Archer, Bob’s Burgers. It’s not like the show even needs to be relevant any more, so maybe who cares?

Now that I think about it, “maybe who cares?” is a great motto.

A wheely good time

To everyone who said I’d love having a bike, fine. You were right.

It’s not like I didn’t know I’d get into it, but it took some time to get there. Thing is, getting a bike is a process. It sounds simple on the surface: Give money to a retailer, receive bicycle. In reality, there are far more steps. What kind of bike do you want? Something racey and road-ish? A hybrid? A commuter cycle? What size are you? What frame fits your body? Do you need gears? If so, how many? How heavy do you want your bike to be? Something that’s easy to lift? Or one that sits more firmly on the road? These are all questions to think of before you even get the bike. Oh, and a helmet is super important too. Gotta protect your bike purchasing brain, otherwise how will you decide what you need?

Once you have one, there’s nigh endless customisation to think of. What extra gear will help you? What kind of handlebars are comfortable? Do you need some form of basket to ferry stuff around? Keep in mind that everything you get adds to your weight. Are you ever planning to cycle at night? Because that’s something to consider. Better get a headlight and rear light. Maybe some reflective gear so you don’t get sideswiped out of nowhere. You don’t want to be another statistic, right?

Are you looking to take your bike out in public? Because theft is sadly a thing. You need a lock. What kind of lock? There are U locks and chain locks and cable locks and Irish lochs. Teensy joke. But a lock is no joke, seriously. People will steal anything that’s not fixed, apparently. Friends have told me to remove anything that could be stolen, even my lights. Theft is supposedly rife in Toronto, so I was advised to get a U lock and loop it through both my frame and back wheel simultaneously. Also to get a cable lock for the front wheel. I finally ordered a substantial, fuck-off-sized New York Kryptonite lock, which has enabled me to actually take my bike out with me. Before that, I was hesitant to ride it anywhere I couldn’t safely store it. I spent $500+ on this bike. It would’ve broken my heart to lose it so quickly.

With that out of the way, I love it. I’m biking to and from work when weather permits. We have bike storage in our work basement, so it’s safe there. It’s wild doing an uphill ride home after midnight, but it’s kind of exhilarating. I may need new quad-forward jeans soon. Zipping around is making me feel like a kid again. I’m doing dumb little jumps over curbs, weaving between tight turns, speeding to make lights. I even do that silly low centre of gravity speedy bike squat thing when I’m going downhill. I’m really into gaining momentum, then letting my weight carry me. I get to choose my path through the city, doing creative problem solving on the fly to arrive at my destination faster. It’s neat.

Of course, it turns out drivers are a big obstacle. I’ve been fine so far, but there’s something about zooming past parked cars that makes me anxious. It’s only a matter of time until I get doored hard. I’ve been fully utilising my bell to keep cars abreast of my location. It’s a hella cute way to be passive aggressive. It’s kinda funny that, getting my bike so late in the season, I only have a few months before it’s over and I’m back to public transit.

Until then though, I’m gonna have my fun.

Keep eating gravy and you’ll never work a day in your life?

I have a secret that I don’t want you to share. Please, promise me, internet denizen.

I submitted my first invoice, and it actually doesn’t make sense for me to get paid this much for a something I actively enjoy doing. That’s my secret, don’t tell my bosses. Thing is, my job is cool. If you’re out of the loop, I started working in Described Video. We describe onscreen actions to make television more accessible for low or no vision audiences. I’m sure there’ll come a time where it gets stressful. We’re on the verge of Fall Launch, where the year’s hottest TV shows debut or return. It’s a Big Deal. I’m sure stuff is gonna come down the pipeline with urgency, and we’ll have to focus on quick turnaround. To be honest, I think that’s happening this week. So this weekend I get to focus on honing my skills, getting quicker. Already I’ve noticed how useful it is to read the waveform, to gauge where pauses in dialogue will most likely be. Certain shows have certain kinds of rhythm, and this job is really showing it.

I did an episode of Pawn Stars, and there’s a formula. It’ll return from break, I’ll describe the logo, there’ll be a few quick establishing shots of Las Vegas for me to describe, then it’s into the store. Time lapse shots of customers walking through the store, with a focus on a customer/staff interaction on a certain piece. I’ll decribe that. Then a customer will approach the counter and a scene will begin. I’ll mention what the customer is holding before the dialogue gets too heavy for me to describe, but eventually there’ll be a breakdown of the item. I’ll introduce the customer by name, as the show describes the item. They’ll talk with the staff and provide historical background on the item. All dialogue, no chance for me to describe. There’ll be a break in dialogue, and I’ll get to describe the nature of the interaction. The staff member will call for an expert. I get to describe their entrance. They’ll give background on the item, if I’m lucky there’ll be a chance to describe, then the expert will leave. The staff member will haggle with the customer. I’ll most likely be able to describe their reactions, then the deal will be struck. There’ll be a breakdown with the customer’s reaction, and I’ll describe their body language. Lather, rinse, repeat eight or so times, and you’ve got an episode.

It’s early days, I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I’m sure I’ll only get better at understanding how best to provide for the audience. I hope I get a greater grip on how to work between genres, to improve the experience. Here’s the thing though, for the first time in ages I actively feel like I’m providing a service. I’m helping people get access to media that would otherwise be out of their grasp. Do you know the coolest thing? Sometimes we do cartoons. As a kid I was obsessed with cartoons. I didn’t watch live action shows until maybe age 13 or 14. Cartoons were my everything. Imagine how amazing it feels then, to know that I’m helping kids who would otherwise lose out on the whimsy and wonder animation provides? My work directly aids little kids in watching cartoons. That’s really fucking cool.

Like anything accessibility based, it feels important. Everyone should have a seat at the table, and too many people are held back from activities most of us take for granted. Finally being in a position I enjoy, I’m trying to soak up and retain gratitude. If I spent the past three or four years toiling, I’m hoping I can stay gracious for at least as long. I’m lucky, and I think that’s something to treat with respect. The fact that I get paid to do it is awesome. The fact that I almost feel overpaid to do it is just gravy.

Yet again though, please keep it between us. I quite like gravy.

If that garage has running water, it might be a steal in this economy

I just got paid out the unused vacation time from my last job. Immediately I started looking up quality Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners. Am I an adult yet?

I was out to dinner last night between film screenings. The news was playing. They had a story about “Millenials” putting fraudulent salaries on their mortgage applications to qualify for first time home purchases. In true irony’s sake, it was followed by a story about a garage for sale for $600,000 in Toronto. Home ownership is prohibitively expensive here, that’s not news. For most of my generation and generations to follow, home purchase will be impossible without either a high paying job, or a heavy investment from wealthy parents. Or leaving Toronto, buying something suburban with a partner, commuting for three hours each day, and building up equity in order to try buy something closer years later. Psyche, home prices in Toronto Proper are just gonna keep rising. We’re fucked. We just don’t have the options that previous generations did. If you’re earning $40,000 a year, you will never own a house unless you somehow finagle prime Squatter’s Rights. Or like, licking the house and asking if they still want it. It’s what we have to resort to.

I think the average home price in Toronto got to something like $700,000. Home prices have risen exponentially higher than wages. If you don’t believe this, think about how much house prices have risen in the past ten years. I recently went for a job that was asking five years professional experience. They were offering $35,000. I gave them an amicable fuck you. I talked to someone who’d come from that particular job. Guess what his salary was ten years prior? $35,000. The salary hadn’t budged in ten years, and they absolutely refused to offer me more for the role. Look at fucking DoFo stomping down on the $15 minimum wage increase. All these old entitled pricks being like $15 an hour for kids to flip burgers? That’s outrageous. In my day we got $7 and spent the summer surfing. Sure, but how much did a Big Mac cost then? A Big Mac in Canada costs $5.69. No combo, just burger. Fast food is supposed to be affordable, right? What do these old rich dudes think minimum wage earners should be able to afford? Because once you add a drink and fries to that, it’s probably about $10-$11. Their income has to stretch to a lot further than that. There’s rent, transit, bills, clothing, etc. It’s very likely that these people wouldn’t blink twice at spending more on a meal than these burger flippers earn in a day.

It’s the “fuck you, I got mine” mentality in action.

I honestly don’t understand it. Isn’t half the point of growing old, to leave the world better for those who come after? Campfire rule? But all these Boomers target social media and avocado toast as public enemy No. 1 as a sign that this generation can’t pull itself up by their bootstraps. Dude, I understand that’s how things were in your day, but these days the same kind of rugged boots you had cost $300. And a bootstrap is an optional $50 extra. But most burger flippers can’t afford that on their sub $15 per hour wage, so they buy a cheaper version off the internet because they kinda need boots. And they eventually can afford the $50 bootstrap and get it attached. But this cheaper boot isn’t quite as sturdy as the $300 pair, so the strap falls off and needs repairing. And it’s hard to do some good bootstrapping pulling up while your bike needs maintenance so you can keep getting to work. And oh, now you need winter boots with special winter bootstraps, and the cycle continues. Getting ahead is near impossible when you’re struggling to maintain.

I’m 32. I’m finally in a position where I can afford to live, and pay a little extra to get Buy it for Life goods that won’t fall apart in six months. I’m going to try to save as I can, to make smart financial decisions and get all that in order. This has not been a possibility for years, and I was earning a lot more than minimum wage.

If you’re prone to making “in my day statements”, maybe take a look and realise that your day was a long long time ago. The world has changed a whole heap.