We all need tomboy-dy to love.

Another day, another weird subway experience. I’ve made a policy as of late that if people are gonna talk to me, I might as well listen. Unless I’m really focused on what I’m doing, too tired to be disturbed or generally don’t think I’m gonna have the peace of mind to be respectful and receptive, in any case. Who knows? I might learn something from the experience, even if it’s merely to not talk to strangers on the subway. I could be privy to a new outlook I’d never considered. I could form a strong connection. Hell, if it wasn’t for random people conversing with me in public when I arrived in Toronto, I probably wouldn’t have met a bunch of my close friends. The idea, in my head, is more of facilitating what they’re saying. If it’s anything particularly egregious, I’ll be fine stepping in and saying something. If not, why not let them talk? I figure most people starting up conversation in public are venting for the most part.

Today I hurried into crammed subway car. Relieved I’d made it in on my first try, I exhaled deeply. I heard a loud voice (I was wearing headphones, it must’ve hit a certain volume threshold) from behind me.

Voice: FUCKING FUCK. GEEZ.

I turned around and looked. I caught this dude’s eye. Reasonably tall, black, bushy beard and a cap. Missing a tooth or two in the front.

Dude: What the fuck is this all about, eh?
Me: Like, why is everyone here?
Dude: It’s all fucked. Why we here, man?
Me: Capitalism? You’re not wrong.
Dude: FUCKED FUCKED FUCKED. WHY FLYING FUCK? WE ALL FLY, WE ALL FUCK. FLYING FUCK. FLY AND FUCK.

At this point I figured maybe he wasn’t making some larger statement about society, so I let him ramble. It was basically more of this for a while. I didn’t really know what to say.

Dude: Do you know _________? (I had no idea who he mentioned. Some famous person, presumably).
Me: No idea who that is.
Dude: What about ________? _________? ________?
Me: No, sorry. I don’t know these people.
Dude: They’re all fucked man. Ugly fucking dude, dumb fuck.
Me: Okay…
Dude: Well what you think about that?
Me: I don’t know these people. How am I meant to have an opinion on any of this?
Dude: Sheesh, opinions? Why’d we need opinions?
Me: You asked me what I thought. I said I didn’t know these people. I’m not sure how to have a conversation about things I don’t know.

At this point we hit Yonge. Most people filtered out. Some woman told me she liked my accent. I said thanks. I still had no idea what was happening, so I figured I’d lean in.

Dude: You know what a tomboy is?
Me: Uh, it’s what people call girls who dress boyish, right?
Dude: Naaaah, it’s women who really like men.
Me: (for a second, entertaining the notion that he was broaching some larger point about the irrelevance of gender) I don’t think that’s true.
Dude: They wanna fuck men so they dress like ’em.
Me: I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
Dude: I like tomboys man, they’re sexy. Fuck.
Me: Great.
Dude: Yeah man (notices my bag on the ground. Puts his foot on the top (there was very little in there. It’s not like he was squashing anything and I was curious about what he was doing). Hey, put your foot up and I’ll kick this up.
Me: What?
Dude: I’ll pole vault it.
Me: Pole vault it?
Dude: Pole vault it. Pole vaulting.
Me: Isn’t that where you vault yourself over a bar by pushing with a pole?
Dude: What?
Me: With a pole. That’s pole vaulting, right? That’s what you’re talking about, right?
Dude: What?
Me: (Grabbing back the bag) It’s funny, we’re trying to have a conversation but we’re talking past each other.
Dude: What?
Me: Exactly.
Dude: (pulls out a lighter) Can I use this on your beard.
Me: No. Not at all.
Dude: Why?
Me: Do I really need to give you an answer for that?
Dude: Why not?
Me: If I say no, I don’t need a reason. The answer is no.
Dude: You can do it to me.
Me: I don’t want to do it to you.
Dude: Why?
Me: If you’re on fire it’ll probably hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you.

We got off the subway.

Dude: (tries to pull me towards convenience hole in the wall) You got some change.
Me: No. I use debit.
Dude: C’mon man.
Me: No. Anyway, I’m going to the bus. I don’t know where you’re going.
Dude: (follows onto escalator. Stops walking) Let’s go to TD.
Me: I’m not going to TD. I’m going to work.
Dude: Let’s go to TD man, I need to buy a bottle.
Me: That’s cool, but I’m not doing that. I’m also not gonna stop people from walking through.
Dude: Man, you’re no fun.
Me: You’re actually not wrong.

I do it to myself.

My takeaway? I need to make Egg McMutton a thing.

Had an odd encounter on the subway yesterday. As I sat down, I noticed an older man practically barking at a younger woman. He was sitting in the blue priority seats right next to the door. Usually I’d have my headphones on but after a gruelling gym session that made walking difficult, I was deeply craving a calm head-space. By the sounds of it, this wasn’t what I was in for. The man began going off at anyone in earshot (so namely, the whole car). Everyone was doing the Toronto shuffle (looking down at their feet, pretending not to pay attention while their ears pricked up).

I was busy chasing the dragon in Bejeweled, but I heard his voice directed my way. “So people don’t give a fuck about cripples now? Is that it?” I looked up and we exchanged glances. He talked at me “people too selfish to give a shit?” I thought for a second and replied “I dunno. That could be it, though usually I find people are more often ignorant than malicious.” His brow furrowed “people are fucking stupid, that’s what they are.” I paused for a second. “Do you really think that? Maybe they just didn’t realise.” “Not every cripple is visible” he countered. Excellent point. “Not getting out of the fucking way. Inconsiderate teenagers.”

I laughed “since when have teenagers ever been considerate? They’re still learning what being a person is.” He shook his head and replied, still angry “We were made to respect our elders. I never would’ve gotten away with this shit.” I nodded. I thought for a second. This was a voice I rarely ever heard and it sounded like he needed to vent. I could do worse than giving him my ear for ten minutes. “Things probably were different in your days.” “How do you know?” He barked “you weren’t there.” I shrugged. He continued “I fought two wars for this country, I have trouble walking and nobody gives a damn. You say people are ignorant, but they can’t leave these seats empty just in case someone needs them? Fuck ’em.”

He paused. “You’re not from here” he exclaimed “what part of the Commonwealth are you from?” “New Zealand” I replied. “New Zealand, eh? D’ya hear that at McDonalds you guys have got the Egg McMutton?” I laughed then sighed “I wish. I’d order it every day.” He looked up and noticed the station “Oh, Spadina? I’m getting off here.” He stood up and shouted “EXCUSE ME”. Nobody moved. “HEY. GIMP COMING THROUGH.” Still, nobody moved. The car wasn’t packed, but a guy was standing in the middle of the doors. They opened and the guy didn’t get out. People started walking in. The old dude pushed a man to the side and barged out the door “MAYBE FUCKING LET PEOPLE OUT BEFORE YOU GET IN” he screamed.

He had a point.

I digress in excess on progress.

Is it weird how much of our lives are spent online now? I don’t know if I’m talking sheer time or the amount of activities we’ve relegated to digital spaces. The point is, we invest so much of ourselves in this platform. It’s a marked change from 20 years ago, but then again, so is gender. Things change. I wonder then how much we’ve changed accordingly. Have our expectations altered given our constant connectivity? Working in television, I know our expectations have definitely altered. Immediacy is the name of the game. We want things straight away on our schedule, whether this is entertainment or communication. Waiting is pretty much insufferable now. Whether it’s streamable content buffering, a release schedule or a response from someone. If you’re online, why aren’t they? Is this everyone? Or am I the lone arsehole here?

I wonder if we’ve all become more or less insufferable than 20 years ago. It’s impossible to tell, because it’s not 20 years ago, our memories aren’t that great and we can’t peer into alternate realities through some high tech pensieve. I know for certain that I expect more than I ever did, because my expectations have been continually surpassed. The world kept delivering beyond what I assumed its capabilities were. Accordingly, my beliefs of what should be capable rose. Ironically in a world that’s transcended my hopes, I’m disappointed constantly. I’ve become entitled to this idea that the world now owes me the sensation of being impressed. With artificially inflated standards, I should know that’s not gonna happen. Still, I often catch myself getting angry with a world that doesn’t owe me shit.

Oddly enough, the older generation often has the opposite problem. They’re angry that the world has progressed beyond their comfort levels. In their ironic twist, we’re achieving what they fought for and it’s making them feel insignificant. How many times have you heard the refrain of “in my day we had to…”? Safe spaces, non-binary genders, a whole spectrum of sexual attraction and identities. “You want safe spaces? In my day we had to deal with polio. You can’t handle someone calling you a boy? We were lucky if we lived to 30!” I’m being deliberately being both facetious and straw-manning. The point is, people don’t have the same struggles because you beat them. Thank you.

The wars we fight revolve less around literal bloodshed (though let’s not undermine the fact that many minorities still face disproportionate fatalities in our society) and more about wars of identity. Struggles of freedom to be who you are, they’re a good thing. Believe it or not, this is actually what you fought wars for. Your generation died specifically so that this generation could have their battles be ideological. I’m telling you folks, you’re winning. Is the concept of people wanting a safe space that offensive? Are you really that against the fight for acceptance? Or would you prefer that they suffered the same indignities you hated? Because that seems like a shitty thing to wish upon others.

At the same time, I often find myself being a shitty person without realising it. I spend so much time reading the thoughts and feelings of others online and reacting. I might read something and feel inflamed. I get these uncontrolled, unmeasured reactions in the heat of the moment. Thing is, I’m not interacting with somebody else, I’m seeing their words devoid of their delivery. I’m taking the distillation of their thoughts, lacking the emotions that birthed them, then basing my reactions on how my brain filters how I’d perceive those thoughts in my head. So I’m reading those words in my brain without taking into consideration their gestures, inflections, cadence, or backgrounds. It’s pretty easy to see why we come to so many misunderstandings when we really don’t put much effort into understanding one another. But, of course, that would take too long and immediacy is the name of the game.

We could be living in a utopia folks, but it’d take a lot of patience and hard work.

Emailevolence. Or why *not* to hire me.

I just accidentally made the typo “ocuntdown timer” which may indicate what kind of workday it’s been. Why are people so obsessed with setting meetings? We live in the age of connectivity. Have people not yet realised they can send an email and curtail the need for busy worker bees to get up and move to a single room? We’re not all capable of choosing when we want to take in new information. It’s a revolutionary concept and it’s high time that people get with the program. Maaaan, working from home yesterday was nothing but bliss. I could work steadily, uninterrupted by people coming to my desk or calling me.

***Sorry, I had to stop for a few minutes as someone came to my desk.***

Yet again, working from home was the best. I don’t know if I could do it full time, for exactly the reasons this New Yorker piece lays out. One day a week though? It’d allow me to recharge and feel less frustrated on a weekly basis. It’d also save me from accursed meetings with anyone but the cat. She interrupts every once in a while, but it’s less often and normally-

***Sorry, I had to stop for a few minutes as someone came to my desk. It’s almost like I have a job to do or something.***

Anyway, I’m still in awe of the fact that I can work from home and the framework is pretty simple. As long as my work computer is turned on (logged off is fine), I dial into it and run it through a remote access application. Then I can move between computers by pressing alt+tab. Have I remarked enough that we LIVE IN THE FUTURE? If I’ve got an appointment that’s closer to home, I can instead take the day at home, go to my appointment then go back home without stepping one foot into the office. All it takes is a two key combination! Technology truly is the magic of our world.

Of course, there are good things about both. Sometimes it’s helpful to be in the office. Let’s take a swing at some upsides of each.

Perks of working at home:

  • Sleeping in (though oddly enough I was technically two minutes late for work. Don’t tell anyone).
  • Clothing optional.
  • Cheap lunches.
  • Quiet.
  • Choose your own environment.
  • Only Big Brother is watching you.
  • No commute.
  • A wider wealth of options for taking breaks (midday naps included).
  • You could probably cook a roast without other people acting like it’s weird.
  • Not having to interact with anyone you don’t want to.
  • Avoiding the guy who loiters in the kitchen making conversation with anyone who passes by.

Perks of going to work:

  • Stops you from oversleeping.
  • Routine promotes productivity.
  • Free (terrible) coffee and tea in the kitchen.
  • Communal snacks on offer.
  • More expensive and comfortable furniture.
  • A slide. If you work at an office with a slide, that is.
  • The commute forces you to read/listen to something.
  • The stationary cupboard exists.
  • You can still cook an entire roast and when people ask to have some you can pause, think for a second and say “no.”
  • Social interaction is healthy. Probably. Sometimes co-workers are alright.
  • You can loiter in the kitchen making conversation with anyone who passes by.

Did you notice the word “meetings” on that list anywhere? FUCK NO. Meetings can go suck a fuck.

Also her farts smell real bad. Just another feature.

It’s Valentines day, and I think discussions of romance have been pretty scant around here as of late. Mentions of “love” or “relationships” have been reduced to a few token mentions of my/the girlfriend, hardly a sentiment overflowing with evocative imagery or flowery prose. I haven’t been talking about how things are going between us, ongoing tensions or resolutions. Peaks we’ve overcome or trials we’ve faced. Really though, I haven’t mentioned anything purely because things are going so well, and that’s boring to hear.

On the other side of the equation though, things going well feels anything but boring to experience. I remember the early days of the relationship fondly. One of our biggest issues was that we were terrible at watching things together. In short, every time we lay down to switch on a movie or show, we realised we could be fucking instead. Pure, adrenaline fuelled passion while we were figuring one another’s bodies out. Discovering sweet spots, how to drive one another wild. Steamy and unshackled, almost furious with desire. Throwing ideas at one another to see what stuck. Once again, fond memories. The unspoken element however, were nerves. Being unsure of how things could go, often being afraid to ask. At times, holding back or pushing too far. Communication, endless communication that to this day I still cherish. Asking before pushing blindly into new territory. Enthusiastic consent, or offering suggestions. We worked at it and improved on our chemistry together, discovering all the areas where we meshed. Aiding one another through the areas that needed help. The sex is less frequent now, as spare time, physical and emotional energy have been in shorter supply. It’s also a lot warmer, deeper (emotionally. My dick didn’t somehow grow an inch or anything) and satisfying on a whole different level. We’re still more than happy to try new things, but the way we communicate about them is much smoother, there’s no ego about it. We’re great together, we both love our sex and simply being able to touch skin night after night is one of the greatest daily pleasures I couldn’t have imagined a year ago. It’s not possible to take something for granted when it brings you so much joy.

This time last year we had a pending move on our hands. Time was wrapped up in prepping, packing and dealing with the associated stresses. A see saw of excitement and dread. So much potential hidden under piles of exhaustion. Once it happened, the stress seemed to fall away and we stumbled joyfully through the new boundaries of living together. Thankfully because of who we both are, it couldn’t have been easier to navigate. Learning about how to make space for one another, the tensions of desire for intimacy and a need for solo time. I don’t want to sound too saccharine about it, we had tons of fun. It allowed me to see a whole different side of her. Yeah, I knew who she was before we shared a home, but it wasn’t the same. When we’d visit one another there was an implied necessity to be “on”. If we were hanging out it sorta felt like we had to be our best selves, constantly try to remind the other why we were so rad to be around. Living together the artifice is gone. We have nothing to prove, we know we love one another and that ultimately we’re on the same team. We want the relationship to thrive and grow. Part of that being the ability to accept one another as we are. To accept the things that at first glance aren’t our favourite aspects, but are just another feature of the person we’d each love to spend the rest of our life with. To know and trust that we can talk things out. That if something truly bothers us, our partner is likely not being intentionally malicious, but blissfully ignorant. Using our words.

I’ve found myself sharing my life with a gorgeous soul through and through. She has a passion for the things she holds dear that’s awe inspiring to behold. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be one of those things. She’s smart and sensible, in ways that complement me. We work well as a team. She’s boisterous in all the right ways, always happy to look for the adventure in the simplest of errands. She shares my love of play, whenever we can find it. She’s a goofball, makes me laugh deep resonant belly laughs till I cry. Seeing her smile lights up my world. She’s so giving in everything she does. Her heart’s in her hand always, in her touch or desire to help those she loves. She cares so much and it warms me to my core, inspires me to look for the good in others. She’s beautiful and sexy and catching her eye is enough to make my heart quiver. It’s so effortless to be in love with her, because I can’t imagine any alternative. She makes me say things that could only sound cheesy if you hadn’t met her. I tell her I love her time and time again every day. I mean it every single time. My biggest worry is that no matter how many times I do, it won’t convey the depth. Then again, words never could. That’s something I’ve got the rest of my life to keep working at.

So that’s “the girlfriend”. She’s one hell of a dame and I’m one of a lucky fella. Happy Valentines day Lioness. Once again (but never enough), I love you.

Though I did read a fun Trump/Shinra essay the other day…

With energy in short supply today, I’ve spent most of my waking hours watching more of the Pro Tour Aether Revolt stream. Given my current pendulum swing away from heavy socialising, it’s been the perfect way to pass the hours. I’m not overly familiar with an introverted framework, but I’m feeling it pretty heavily right now. Considering the sub zero temperatures outside, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. I’ve finally got the opportunity I’ve been seeking to catch up on TV, play video games and, I dunno, read? Thing is, all of my big shows have finished for the season and I’m not sure what I want to start. I have a ton of video games downloaded, but rarely the patience to get invested in the kinds of games I used to play. I was always into role playing games, but to get really stuck into them can be a massive time investment. Put bluntly, it’s tough to make a dent in an 80+ hour game in one and a half hour chunks. If I started a new Final Fantasy game, it would likely be the final Final Fantasy game I’d ever play.

Indecision paralysis seems the best explanation for why I’ve gotten so stuck into these Magic the Gathering streams. They’re dynamic, in that they change each time. Because of sheer statistics, even when someone’s playing a deck I’ve seen played before, the games won’t necessarily turn out the same way. It’s commentated in a language I speak fluently, I don’t need to learn new terms or stretch my understanding of concepts. There’s also momentum to the games. Even when faced with difficult lines of play, they seem to keep the pace up. It’s getting to the point where I’ve started to become familiar with the different players and decks, I’m developing favourites, cheering certain contestants on in my heart. Because of this, stakes have been introduced and I innately ascribe a protagonist and antagonist personality to each competitor in a match. A few surprises, questionable ref calls and total come from behind victories that’ve had me literally cheering. As I said yesterday, I get this sports thing a bit more now. Guess I can watch the finals during Superbowl tomorrow.

It feels weird to withdraw as I have, but it makes a lot of sense. I came back from a holiday overwhelmingly stuffed with social time. I returned to Toronto also feeling overly stuffed. I ate and drank a lot and my body’s reeling from the after-effects. It’s like a long term hangover. I feel sluggish and tired, less capable of tapping into those energy reserves I usually stockpiled. Cutting coffee has drained my usual manic enthusiasm and letting go of alcohol for the time being has sapped my social vitality. Finding it hard to be snappy, witty and vibrant on cue. There’s a kind of comforting confidence I normally carry that feels just out of reach. Without it, the energy I’d normally expend has an emotional component too. Frankly, it doesn’t feel worth plunging into a party atmosphere when I’d be more likely to hug the wall, then navigate how long I’d need to stay before I could leave.

Until I’m back to my usual self, bingeing on these tournament streams is a kind of Magic.

Let’s Face facts and noun a verb.

Having returned to Toronto, it’d be all too easy to post a diary style update of my first day back. Hell, it worked for most of the trip. Instead I want to spend some time thinking about one of the biggest (currently) lasting changes of my holiday. I made a decision early on that if I was gonna be back home in New Zealand I wanted to really be there. Presence and all that. I wanted to ensure that spending time meant getting the most out of my journey. To leave most of Toronto where it was and focus while I could on those in my proximity. A side effect of this was dropping Facebook.

It started as less of a decision and more as a matter of pragmatism.. I’d always been a heavy user. At work my phone sat in front of me, so any flashing notifications would cause me to reflexively pick it up and log on. Checking one notification could mean losing anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. Often multiple times per hour without thinking about it. This was fine while I had Wi-Fi or unlimited data, neither being constantly within reach on vacation. When I visited London back in November, I switched off all Facebook notifications, opting for direct Messenger notes only. I was on holiday anyway, it’s not like I wanted to be constantly logged in while a new city stood around me. It worked, and I had a great time looking in the spirit of the late Kim Jong-Il. When I returned to Toronto, I kept notifications off. It helped more than I thought. I was still an active Facebooknik, but it was less intrusive, more on my terms.

A few days after arriving back home, I opted in for logging out. I spent more time with people or out and about. Most of my (reduced) online time was spent pouring over new Magic the Gathering spoilers. It was noteworthy how little I missed it. As I noted recently, it started having a real effect on me. I was more present, yes, but I also felt better in general. No small part of that could be attributed to being on holiday. I mean, geez, spending time with my closest friends, seeing the country and gorging on all the rich food NZ had to offer. It’s not like I was in any danger of feeling shit anyway. More than that, though, avoiding Facebook lifted a burden I was unaware to be shouldering. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my News Feed a lot. I love absorbing the general wittiness of my friends and clicking dumb links. People share a shit ton of interesting or thought provoking articles.

People also share a lot of themselves, which isn’t inherently a big deal. If I didn’t like these people and want to know more about them, why would I have them as friends? The other side of this is that a lot of people I know have a lot of feelings. Yet again, I want to know when my friends are doing well. I also want to know when they’re having a hard time so I can either help or understand better how to be considerate of them. There are a lot of people in my feed and a lot of these people have a lot of feelings. It’s great that people feel safe enough to share. That’s something special.

The other side of this is a form of mass emotional shift similar to hysteria (which I hope I can say without belittling or minimising the relevance of these feelings). It may be a cognitive bias of sorts, but it feels like bad news is shared a ton more than its positive counterpart. The more that people share these stories and air their grievances (once again, better to be talking about these things than not), the more opaque things seem. If negativity is everywhere, it feeds into itself. The dying few months of 2016 held an unprecedented pervasive despair online that didn’t quite match up to its offline counterpart. As “Fuck 2016” gained meme status, people gave it more and more credence until everything was 2016’s fault à la The Fat Boy. It’s a lot for anyone to take in. Seeing these sentiments amplified and magnified, day in day out, hour after hour was tough to bear.

While on holiday, I knew that Trump was gonna cause a lot of anxiety for many people. With good reason, too. A lot of very valid fears, instability in the air. Self-care being one of 2016’s big buzz words, I thought it best to keep my distance from repeated sharing of awful news, hurt feelings and inner pain. I’m sure the time offline helped more than it hindered my experiences.

Returning home to Toronto, I’m conflicted. I feel better having moved away from the deluge of emotions Facebook pushes my way. At the same time, I’m loathe to admit that it’s the core of my social existence. It’s how I communicate with the multitudes of friends I’m often too busy to meet in person. It’s how I get the invitations to spend time with those who I am lucky enough to see. It’s how I’m kept abreast of what’s going on not only in Toronto, but in the wider world. Hell, it’s where I created a group to organise Magic games on the fly. It’s even where I promote the Pawdcast (aside from here. That was pretty sneaky, right?). If I don’t go back to Facebook, will I lose touch with a ton of people? I love these friends and having constant contact and online engagement is a big part of my life. That’s a big cost to pay for emotional stability.

As it stands, there are pros and cons in each camp. One day in, I haven’t checked in. I might see if I can last the week and chart how I feel on the other side. I’m sure there’s a balance to be struck, but damn if I don’t have enough unpacking, shopping and washing to do for the moment. Maybe I should get my life in order before prying into anyone else’s.