Quite quote unquote, quid pro quo?

I’ve been humming and hawing (a word I’ve been using for years without knowing the true meaning. Apparently it’s to hesitate in speech) about what to write. No cohesive themes are popping into my head. I don’t have the darndest notion of where to start, but if I’ve learned anything from this project it’s that starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere.

Man, that sounded like I dropped some serious wisdom:

“Starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere” – Albert Einstein.

Maybe I’ve finally gained the ability to casually drop aphorisms on the fly. Wouldn’t that be a rad superpower. It sounds meek at first blush, but the more you think about it, you’d be able to give your opponents pause while you came in for the coup de grâce. They’d be standing there doing some serious hawing (’cause the only way to truly learn a word is to use it in a sentence, right?), and I’d take advantage of their flat footed predicament. An ability to drop truth bombs at will sounds like a great power with great responsibility.

I read an Onion article the other day “Man Forced To Reverse-Engineer Point In Midst Of Meandering, Absentminded Rant“. I was just happy they had the restraint not to print my real name. Perhaps it’s come from years of downing Harmontown episodes, but I totally do this. I’ll start at a certain point in a conversation with this unearned confidence that I’ll be able to spout something vaguely resembling sense. I’ll twist and contort, taking non-linear sidesteps while engineering a through-line that comes together at the end. It’s a high wire act. I’m well aware that most of the time it doesn’t work, but when I have a couple of drinks, any potential self-doubt is clipped in favour of blind faith. I’ll make it happen, even if I have to force it with clunky segues and tenuous narrative links.

I get away with it far more than I should. Maybe here in Canada it’s an offshoot of accent privilege. I’ve mentioned it a bunch of times before, but I feel like having a Kiwi accent affords me a great many privileges here in a foreign country. You know that socially observed phenomenon whereby attractive people go through life with strangers being nicer to them? 30 Rock did a great episode on it with John Hamm. Living in a foreign country, I feel like having an accent gives shades of the same. So perhaps people smudge over those times when my conversational crafting is bumbling at best. Possibly they’re not even understanding the words I’m saying, but get a kick out of my cadence. If neither of us notices and it gives me neat little advantages, I’m certainly not gonna complain.

I was saying to my girlfriend the other day that I’d love nothing more than to have a job where I could just be amicable and charming all the time. Spout total nonsense, but help facilitate others having a blast. I like making people happy as much as I enjoy being liked. Win/win all around. I was speaking to a French dude today who said when he was in Korea, he got invited on a popular KPOP panel show just because he was a) tall and b) spoke English. They were all oh, your English is so great as he spoke in his thick French accent. He told me he had zero qualms about monetising that shit, because it made others happy and he benefited from it. Is there some way I can do the same? Find a line of work where I can be me and that’ll be enough for others? Where my meandering absentminded rants are marketable? How do I even set out to find that?

Then again, as the great Albert Einstein once said: “Starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere.”

Wise words indeed.


If you’re not into it, “jog on” would be an altogether apt response

I went for a jog last night for the first time in ages. Things are warming up here in Toronto and it was a balmy -1°C. My nose didn’t run that much, my fingers barely froze and my joints were only mildly clunky. Inhaling oxygen wasn’t remotely like swallowing blades. I stretched out my decrepit limbs, tossed on the Black Panther soundtrack and set off down the road.

Listening to the soundtrack, I started thinking about music that’s been released so far this year. Black Panther ended up being so much more than a score to a film (especially since so many of its fantastic tracks didn’t even make it into the finished movie). Kendrick managed to weave together an assortment of songs that stood on their own, playing on larger ideas and concepts the film brought to life. Saying that it seems effortlessly engrossing probably betrays the amount of work put into the album, but it’s such an enjoyable listen.

I then thought about Janelle Monae’s song “Make Me Feel”, which might already be my favourite track of the year, regardless of what else is released. It’s simply incredible and, well, I have a lot of gushy and effusive thoughts. It’s so funky and sensual. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been able to shamelessly listen to it on repeat. The production is tight, the influences are worn on its sleeve (or they will be if it gets a vinyl release) and the video is gorgeous.

As I jogged, I wondered if there was some way of preserving the resonance of these songs in some kind of time capsule. To take what I’d been enjoying and catalogue it for the sake of retrospection. Would they hit me the same way a year down the line? A few years down the line? I’ve always been a fan of putting together playlists, why not turn this into an excuse for one more? The idea came to me, why not make an annual playlist? I could pick my favourite song each month and add them to the stack as the year went on. February could obviously be “Make Me Feel”. January could be “All the Stars” from Black Panther (unfortunately the rest of the album was released in February. Otherwise my answer would clearly be “Redemption” by Zacari and Babes Wodumo). It seemed a low effort way to produce a punchy snapshot of an audible year. Perfect for the gym or more jogs. Best of all, it could jog my memory. Eh? EH?

Thinking of this made me realise how much more attention I used to pay to the music I consumed. I mean, for sure I still really get a kick out of finding a new release. When something grabs me I listen obsessively, as if to absorb it into my very being. And yet, I’ve lost the thirst for knowledge surrounding music. In most ways, this is great. I know a huge part of my desperate search to seek out what was new and fresh definitely had roots in an identity I was trying to cultivate. I desperately wanted to be cool and part of that for me was being on top of pop-cultural movers and shakers. At 31, my desire to discover new music is more pure. It’s a sincere wish to consume art that speaks to some part of me. Even if that’s just a track that makes me nod my head or move my hips.

This playlist concept is kind of exciting to me. It’d help me refresh myself on the cool releases throughout the year. Occasionally I’ll wholly forget large albums that dropped, but this will help me cement exactly what it was I loved about them in the first place. The more I talk about it, the more I’m convincing myself I need to get onto it right away. It’s only two songs so far, I can manage that, right?

Maybe if they believe in the heart of the cards, we’ll all be fine.

Magic the Gathering post. As always, if you’re not into that, come back tomorrow.

Every once in a while I’ll buy large piles of Magic cards from people. I used to use Trademe back in New Zealand. Half the fun was rifling through in search of hidden gems. It was great. Bunz Trading Zone in Toronto has opened up these avenues once more. Occasionally users will post collections for trade. Once I put my feelers out to see if someone had a specific card. It took all of five minutes to get a response. Within hours I was at his place, looking through his old cards and finding all kinds of gold. The other day a guy posted about a collection of 7000+ bulk commons/uncommons and tokens he was looking to clear off his floor. I got in quickly and offered him a couple of tallcans. He accepted and I picked them up. Nice dude. I went home and spent 4+ hours pulling out everything of value. The value well exceeded the $10 I spent on beer for the dude. There were so many handy staples I’d given up when I left New Zealand (and dropped a large box of commons/uncommons at my local game store for new players to pick over). I sorted it all into colours, leaving the rest of the sorting for another night.

Having taken everything worthwhile, I wondered what to do with the box. There were still thousands of cards that were surplus to my needs. I realised I could put it back on Bunz to blow the mind of a new player. There were tons of great resources in that big ol’ box. A friend of mine chimed in saying her kid loved the game. I said he was welcome to them and all was good. Then I realised I had an opportunity to do something nice. Her kid is six and frankly, the whole box would overwhelm him pretty easily. Not saying he’s dumb, just saying it’d be way too much for him to mentally absorb. He’s a kid, but the game is recommended for 13+. It’s pretty complicated for a six year old. I resolved to go through the leftovers and make some simple decks he could play with his friends. I’d try to balance them, showcase different playstyles and allow them to discover what exactly they enjoyed about the game. I tried doing clean, basic concepts. I thought about what sort of effects would be awe inspiring for kids. What sort of creatures would seem super cool? Stuff like dragons and angels, right? I also tried to put myself into the mind frame of a six year old to think of how I could encourage simple maths, but edge in with some ever more challenging gameplay too. I was also hamstrung on some numbers, which is why there are two and three ofs. The decks I put together were Red/Green Landfall, Black/White Tokens/Lifegain and Blue White Control/Prowess. Here they are.

Red/Green Landfall:

4x Scythe Leopard
3x Snapping Gnarlid
4x Makindi Sliderunner
4x Valakut Predator
3x Khenra Charioteer
2x Grove Rumbler
3x Territorial Baloth
1x Shockmaw Dragon

Noncreature Spells:
3x Prey Upon
2x Magmatic Chasm
4x Lightning Strike
3x Hunt the Weak

10x Forest
10x Mountain
4x Evolving Wilds

Great, right? The gameplan is simple: Play creatures, pump them with lands, use removal to clear blockers and/or trample over. Evolving Wilds could be a cool level up moment for the kid, realising that he could get a double landfall trigger. Plus there’s a sweet dragon to rain fire down on one toughness creatures. Awesome.

Black/White Tokens/Lifegain:

4x Typhoid Rats
4x Mardu Hordechief
3x Ampryn Tactician
1x Healer of the Pride
3x Kalastria Nightwatch

Noncreature Spells:
3x Bone Splinters
3x Moment of Triumph
4x Raise the Alarm
3x Moment of Craving
3x Painful Lesson
3x Recover
2x Campaign of Vengeance

10x Plains
10x Swamp
4x Scoured Barrens

Home run! Play lots of little critters, pump the team, gain life, removal spells. A nice well rounded deck that should be easy to play. I figured kids would get a kick out of taking down a huge hulking beast with some teensy rats. Plus new players always love lifegain. I was pretty stoked with this one.

Blue/White Control/Prowess:

4x Fan Bearer
4x Niblis of Dusk
3x Student of Ojutai
3x Ringwarden Owl
1x Serra Angel

Noncreature Spells:
4x Disperse
4x Turn to Frog
4x Accumulated Knowledge
4x Luminous Bonds
4x Cancel
1x Sleep

9x Plains
10x Islands
1x Azorious Chancery
4x Tranquil Cove

Tapping, countering, card draw, lifegain, turning stuff into frogs. I feel like this one is likely to be a hard sell (do new players enjoy control decks? I never did) but teaches valuable game skills. It’s probably the hardest one to play right, but maybe also the most powerful deck? Not sure.

So I put all these decks together and felt pretty chuffed with myself. I was excited to be able to teach this kid how to play and looking forward to him and his friends discovering the magic (pun kinda intended) of the game. Then I realised that all the decks were still way too complicated. How many concepts would I be introducing to them? Trample? Instants? Activated abilities? I should’ve started with vanilla creatures, possibly some flying and a couple of sorceries. I feel like this is gonna be way too much for a six year old. Am I underestimating a child’s resilience? I sure hope so. I put so much work into trying to balance them and now I’m worried it’ll all blow up in my face. I haven’t even taught someone to play for years. Aww geez. All I wanted to do was a nice thing for some kids. Will it all be wasted effort?

I sure hope not.

Identity politalks.

I use Facebook muchly. Every now and again I get involved in discussions, arguments, whatever you want to call them. One of my friends posted this article, which I thought was quite fair. One of her Facebook friends took issue with it and stated his position thusly:

“Nop. Fuck that. I knit, I sew, I do fabric work, and I can cook 33 dishes. But if someone calls me girly, I’ll knock their teeth out. I’m me – a man. Girly men are not men anymore. It’s simple as that.”

I thought this was a pretty narrow way of looking at things. A discussion thread developed where this guy raged about identity politics, individualism and such. I decided to chime in.

Also [Person’s Name], I can be snarky all day but I’m not sure it’d get us anywhere. Frankly, I’m not sure an actual conversation will get us anywhere because from your responses, it seems like you came here to be adversarial. Who knows? If that’s not the case, here, have an essay.

I don’t know if you read the article or not. In case you didn’t, the TL;DR is basically “it’s silly that we push people away from doing certain activities because of gender, when they could benefit from them.” It’s actively heading away from identity politics, which seems to be your Hulk-esque trigger. It’s also weird, because it sounded at the start like you were in agreement with this concept. Cooking and sewing are activities and it makes no sense for them to be gendered, right? We all got argumentative and stuff, but I think we were all on the same page here. I’m pretty sure [My friend’s name – Redacted] said as much (and better). Let me know if I’m wrong.

You seem to get really hung up on words while also being all “labels don’t matter”. You’re right. Labels don’t matter. By giving a shit about them (which you say you don’t, but then you’re also all “if someone calls me girly I’ll remove their teeth with my knuckles” or something. That seems like a pretty drastic response, but what do I know? I just like my teeth, is all), you’re the one giving them power. It’s entirely within you to remove yourself from this narrow view of what defines an individual. If someone calls you girly, does that really affect you? Doesn’t that seem more like their issue of suffering from such a myopic societal view? As you’ve said, people are all “cooking and sewing are girly” and you already know how silly this is. Why would you care if they’re wrong? Let them be wrong.

Also from what you’ve said there seems to be this super binary way of thinking to your worldview. I can see the flowchart in your brain when you say stuff like:

“I do not believe in identity politics. =>
To me, that is synonymous to mental illness. =>
And that is why labels are bad.”

There’s so much more nuance in society than that. I understand that stereotypes were created in order to make it easier and more efficient to process information, but it also means that you start judging people and situations without context and depth. Identity Politics => Mental Illness => Labels are bad?

Let’s talk for a second about Identity Politics.
Maybe some people take comfort in finding others who resonate with them. Community is a pretty strong beacon for a ton of people and it makes them feel connected. Is that wrong? Are people aberrant in seeking out comfort and connection? It doesn’t mean that by default they reject anyone who’s not connected with them, but it might mean that they’re able to share more of themselves with people who add value in their lives. I play Magic the Gathering. I tend to like to meet others who play. We can talk about our favourite decks, play games and stuff. I’ve met tons of cool folks playing. Some people might call me a Magic player because I play. Sure, I’m a magic player. It’s not the entirety of my existence. I also love stand up comedy and occasionally engage in bloated and protracted dialogues with people on Facebook. Someone calling me a Magic Player or Nerd or Geek or whatever doesn’t get rid of that nuance in my life. They can call me whatever they want, but I’m still the myriad of things that make me Me. So I figure there’s no sweat in other people’s labels, right?

Other people may congregate for religious stuff. I’m not a religious person, but them enjoying that in their lives doesn’t preclude me from enjoying my life for not being into religion, right? If something’s not for me, that doesn’t automatically make it wrong.

For some people, they may group for things that unite them like gender or sexual identity. Maybe they’ve been judged or persecuted throughout their lives because of who they’re in love with, or that the way society makes them feel about themselves makes them uncomfortable. That sounds pretty shitty to me, I don’t know how you feel about that. I can also imagine that when you come together with a ton of people who have similar experiences to you, certain viewpoints get reiterated and amplified. The world looks a particular way because of how people talk about it. We tend to absorb aspects of the personalities of people we spend time with, because we often admire them and want to be more like them. Within a lot of communities, I’m sure this happens. I’m sure it leads to people outside of the group hearing a homogeneous voice from a mass of people, when in fact it’s tons of people saying lots of things, but the more commonly said things are more audible, because they’re more often said. Then we hear those amplified things and think “they’re all so narrow minded”. We judge them. Probably unfairly.

Maybe identity politics don’t matter to you, but is it possible for you to understand that for some people they matter a great deal? That they might be lonely without them? That even if they sometimes lead to homogeneous thought, it makes an otherwise challenging life easier and more engaging for those people?

Also I don’t know if indirectly you were casting negativity on people with mental illness. If so, that’s shitty. Straight up. If that’s the case, that’s a whole different discussion and one that should be had.

I have a tendency to be super condescending on Facebook and I’ve really tried not to be here. Mostly. If you actually want to have a conversation about this stuff (rather than me posting an essay) with back and forth in a non-judgemental manner, feel free to send me a message request and we can do that. This whole thing doesn’t have to be yet more emotional labour for [My friend’s name – Redacted].

If not, and this is just destined to be a polarising Facebook argument, please at least come back and qualify your system for deciding that you know exactly 33 dishes, because trying to figure out the specifics is doing my head in.

Losing my edge would cut me like a knife.

I have consumed a quantity of coffee that has transported me outside of liminal time. I’m not sure when I am, so I figure I might as well roll with whatever flashes through my noggin. When should I start?

I once saw a woman sitting on a bench holding a small dog in one hand and a chandelier in another. I had no context for the encounter. Equally, I’ve got no desire to find out what led to that moment. It feels like it’d ruin the magic. I’m choosing to believe that she’d not only vanished between liminal time, but space. Any logic of this situation could only be parsed by quantum mechanics and frankly, I don’t have time or space for that. I guess you could say she seemed… quarky? I sense a phase shift coming on.

Spike Jonze just put out this advert and I think it’s all kinds of nifty. Look, I find intrusive and clumsy advertising as annoying as the rest of you do. That being said, it’s rare for me to tire of gushing over the great advertising I grew up with. Adverts in NZ were sarcastic, clever and really delivered on their objectives. Good advertising is effective, tells a story and makes your customer wonder why they don’t already have the product in their lives. In this case, maybe it delivers? I’m not 100% sure, but it’s sure as hell pretty as fuck. All music videos are advertisements anyway, right? It just so happens that in this one you’ve got Anderson .Paak’s gorgeously smooth vocals, FKA Twigs dancing up a storm of interpretive dance, the wonderfully imaginative visual stylings of Jonze and it’s all wrapped up in a tidy four minute clip. I was never gonna be the target market for a Smart Home device, but I’m sure if you were, the idea of being served an ideal soundtrack at will would be enough to sell you on it. Speaking of which, let’s jump back a week or so.

I was in Austin chatting with friends. We were talking specifically about these home devices, algorithmic learning and soundtracks. I was saying how on a personal level, I have an innate fear of this technology. Fear might be a bit strong, but it makes me feel uneasy. In my head it goes to a place where we no longer take an active role in choosing what we consume. There’s maybe a chip or something inside of us that just knows what we’ll enjoy. I’m sure the technology will get accurate enough to make it a reality. There’s a non-insignificant part of my identity that’s tied up in what I consume.

When something hits all the right beats for me, it feels like it’s added to my life. Whether this is music or a great narrative. Part of the satisfaction that comes from accessing those highs is going through the lows for contrast. Great music shines so brightly because terrible music exists. I can get bowled over completely by everything about Janelle Monáe’s new track “Make Me Feel” in part because in 1998 Shaun Mullins released his misguided tyre fire “Lullaby”. Seriously that song is so excruciating it becomes a physical sensation. “Make Me Feel“, on the other hand feels like a reward for endurance. If everything was perfect, then nothing would transcend. It’d all just be wallpaper. One of my most gratifying recurrent experiences is recommending something to a friend based on how well I know them. I’ll take their personality and preferences into account. I’ll factor their sensibilities, brand of humour and capacity for certain types of content to figure out whether or not they’ll jive with my suggestion. I’m not shooting 100% here, but having a friend come back to me thanking me for sharing is such a wonderful sensation. It tells me that I know them well enough to understand what they’re looking for, but also points to a growth in our kinship, that we both resonated with the same content in some fashion. I feel closer to them for having had that experience.

If a machine is gonna come and take that away from me, what do I have left? I’ll just be here caffeinating myself out of the timeline.

My so phony aunt.

We haven’t talked about therapy in a while, right? There’s a reason for that. The last time I visited therapy was about 18 months ago. Wanna know how long ago that was? The Pawdcast was still going, people were dressing up as clowns and terrorising the public. Pokemon Go was still a rampant phenomenon. It may as well have been another lifetime.

Why so long? The same reason therapy was even an option in the first place: Work. Firstly, there was a merger, our benefits got shrunk down. While we previously had $1500 per year to contribute towards a psychologist, under the new structure that became $500. Or rather, almost three sessions. Secondly, there was a merger, we moved building. My therapist was no longer an eight minute walk from work, but instead transit to and from therapy would take an hour in itself. This meant a therapy session would involve missing two hours of work in a day. Altogether, this meant therapy had become an obstacle. While it was immensely helpful, getting myself there (both physically and emotionally) required just enough work that it stopped happening. My therapist was accommodating and reduced my rates in order to fit with my downsized benefits, but I didn’t make it back there.

Until now.

Why now? Misophonia. The more I talked about my misophonia symptoms, the more I realised it was something I needed to take action on. If this is your first time hearing the word “misophonia”, here’s a brief rundown of what it means to me. When I hear certain sounds, my brain goes into fight/flight mode. My heart rate races, I start to sweat and rapidly oscillate between a need to escape and/or attack the source of the sound. It feels like a triggered traumatic response. My assumption is that it’s psycho-somatic, because as soon as I stop hearing the sound (by putting on headphones and listening to music, for instance) all the panic disappears instantly. I figure it’s the kind of thing that, if I let it run rampant for the rest of my life, will only get worse. If I have the resources at my disposal to do something about it, why wouldn’t I? I figured my therapist could possibly have coping techniques, exercises or could examine and work through the source of the trauma. Why settle for a band aid if I could treat the underlying condition, right?

As the session approached, I found I was getting excited. I’d missed my therapist, which made sense. Obviously if there’s someone who listens to your innermost fears and anxieties without judgement, you’d warm to that person. Isn’t that a narcissist’s dream in a nutshell? She’s always been incredibly proficient at pointing out new neural pathways to work me past cognitive loops and the process has felt collaborative. It suddenly seemed strange that she’d been absent as a force in my life for so long and I was looking oddly forward to catching her up on everything.

The session started and I laid out my misophonia issue. We chatted about it for a couple of minutes. She said she was unfamiliar with the particulars, but was curious as to how it presented for me. I gave her a brief outline. She said she had a couple of thoughts, but was curious about how I’d been since we’d last met up. I harnessed all the coffee I’d consumed and gave her a 180 word per minute rundown of the past year and a half in ten minutes flat. It was a roller coaster, as indicative of the 18 months I’ve had. I finished up and like an assassin, she took what she’d heard and zeroed in on particular stresses and successes. She asked about my anger responses in particular, where I thought that was rooted. She queried the elements of helplessness that I felt in these instances and wondered if there were memory banks I could access in order to find correlatory emotions. I posited that I had an innate struggle with asking others to tone down behaviour for my benefit, especially if the behaviour wasn’t harmful or aberrant in itself.

She narrowed it down to a particular co-worker that I’d mentioned, who ate around 30 baby carrot sticks in the mid-morning. His loud crunching (and the sheer number of fucking sticks) sets off my misophonia in a pretty aggressive fashion. She asked me about the frequency and severity of my responses. I told her it was almost daily between 11.15am-11.45am. She asked how long he’d been eating the carrot sticks and did this correlate to my triggers ramping up. I did the math and figured that yes, the two were intimately related. She asked me why I’d never spoken to him about it. I replied that he really wasn’t doing anything wrong, that I felt bad about trying to get him to cease something he enjoyed. I mean, he eats so many of them, he must clearly love the fuck out of them. She asked what I thought he’d say if I spoke to him. I told her he was a nice enough guy, that I was sure he wouldn’t lash out in any way, but I’d still feel like I was asking something unfair of him.

She pointed out that while that may be true on some small level, it likely wouldn’t be as big a deal as I was making it out to be. If it was a major source of trauma to me (and likely heightening my reactions to other people around me), it was something worth having a conversation over and that conversation didn’t need to be confrontational in manner. By minimising my feelings and emotions in the exchange (which wasn’t even adversarial in nature), I’d been doing myself more damage than a quick chat could ever do. Plus, she believed I had enough emotional wherewithal to not lay blame, to be open and honest without judgement and seek compromise. I replied that maybe I could get him to take ten minutes and eat them in the kitchen instead of his desk, or that he could even just give me a heads up so I could put on some music. She said she’d talk with colleagues to see if they had expertise in the area, but to take action and see if that helped. Also to not be a stranger and maybe drop her an email once in a while.

Have I unintentionally employed a doting aunt?

Wolfe of Wall Street would’ve been a far more infuriating film

Here’s what’s going on in today’s entry. I’ve just come back from holiday a changed person. You know how vacations are meant to leave you rejuvenated and ready to attack life head on? That’s me right now. I’ve hoisted my metaphorical battle axe in preparation for whatever life throws at me and I’m ready to hew. While I’m riding this high, I want to have a pseudo state of the nation with myself. The idea is to look at what I’ve got going on and recognise how much of it is truly fantastic. Then maybe when I’m feebly struggling to claw my out of a rut I can look back at this list and get a little boost. Like a motivational jet pack. So what neat things are going on in my waking hours?

  • My relationship. I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner. She’s switched on and we complement (and compliment) each other wonderfully. We’re in a non-monogamous situation and while neither of us has really acted on it much, it’s nice knowing that we have the emotional wherewithal to own our feelings and support one another. It feels like we’re a team and I can’t overstate how gratifying and secure that feels. Also she’s super cute, y’all (after Austin, y’all is a thing I say now).
  • My friends. Both in Toronto and abroad, I have a ludicrous and possibly undeserved number of amazing people I’ve connected with. Seriously, so many of my friends are people I adore and/or admire. They’re creative, talented, funny, clever, sweet, thoughtful and they tolerate all my eccentricities. Back home I have the kind of lifelong friends that make time and place irrelevant. I have utter confidence that they have my back and that’s a pretty lucky position to be in. In Toronto it’s rare that I need to feel lonely, because my friends here do a phenomenal job of making space available. I have a deep, abiding love for my close friends and it’s unfair how many close friends I have. I feel selfish.
  • My family. I talk to them all too rarely, if only because I know they’re still supporting me whatever I’m up to. That’s unbelievable, right? Some people can’t talk to their parents or have contentious relationships based on their family’s innate bigotry. I have a wonderful family who cares. I am who I am because of how they raised me and honestly, it’s fucking hard to find fault with their methods. Despite how infrequently we chat, I tend to enjoy it when we do. If I ever got into serious trouble, I know they’d be there for me. How did I get so fortunate?
  • My Toronto communities. Doubling down on the talented, smart, excellent people around me, these talented, smart, excellent people form a number of local communities. So many individuals who create events, art and support for people across the spectrum. They’re welcoming of all sexual, gender and cultural orientations. Even New Zealanders. It’s because of all the awesome people that I managed to fall in love with Toronto at all. They make a potentially cold city shine bright and add colour even in its darkest days. Toronto may be humdrum to some, but to me it just hums.
  • My health. It’s the epitome of privilege. I’m physically fit and have access to a multitude of resources thanks to both Canadian health care and my work benefits. As far as I know I don’t have much in the way of mental health challenges to deal with. I’ve been fortunate to have access to education on healthy eating and as such, learned over time how to take care of myself. I’ve also after many years gotten to a point where physical activity is more of a joy than it is a drag.
  • My employment. I may bitch about my job a fair amount. I may feel creatively unfulfilled, stunted and at times downright miserable. In the end though, even if my job is a phone it in home by five sort of ordeal, it still pays the bills. I’m fortunate to a) be employed and b) be employed at a workplace that for the most part really tries its best. It strives to be anti-harassment and progressive. There are all kinds of perks. Things could be so much worse and I want to recognise that I’m all kinds of lucky that even my lows are pretty damn high. I might not be raking it in, but I’m also not in a position where I need to worry about money. That’s a hell of a privilege. I realise too that if I were just doing a job that I cared about, things would go from sub-optimal to goddamn ideal overnight.

So Future Leon, unless the rapture happens and you’re left on this earth surrounded by people who repost David Avocado Wolfe, chances are you’re doing alright. Chill and be zen, things will work out.