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.


Here I was thinking Women’s Day was a New Zealand publication.

Happy International Women’s Day. I’m in a sorta grouchy mood, but that’s not IWD’s fault.

Let’s get some stuff straight. I think International Women’s Day is important. I want nothing more than people around the world signal boosting that there are so many issues where it’s vital we stand behind women. The zeitgeist is finally catching up to the fact that the subjugation of women in a patriarchal society is no way to move forward. It’s essential that we all work together to clamp down on institutionalised sexism and actually treat women as equals. It’s amazing to see the momentum behind a number of recent global movements. Time’s Up, Me Too, etc. It’s wonderful that these have captured the public eye and prompted serious examination of what we’ve for so long treated as acceptable. It warms my heart that us men have been put under the microscope and taken to task for the awful systematic shit we’ve perpetrated throughout our lives. I truly believe that a seismic societal shift needs to happen in order for us to advance. I’m not sure if it’ll happen in my lifetime, but I’m hopeful that the necessary fire has been lit (after years of agitators doing great work to get it started) that’ll usher in meaningful change.

I also want to say that regardless of stuff that I’ll inevitably say, where I no doubt put my foot in my mouth or just otherwise make a dildo out of myself, the baseline is at a better place than it was ten years ago. Baby steps are better than zero progress. There’s also the caveat that I’m a dude. This is all coming from listening to friends and their qualms, reading articles they post and generally soaking up their wisdom, but also interpreting it through my own lens. I’m not gonna get everything right, but I’m all too happy to be wrong. How else will I get better.

With that said, holy shit has there ever been a flying fuckload of tokenism being thrown around today? If there’s one thing I’ll never get tired of shitting on, it’s capitalist entities co-opting political movements to try and shift more of their stock. So Kim Kardashian released a line of feminist Kimojis, right? What a great way for fans to show their support of this burgeoning societal conversation than by rolling out stylised commodification of catchy slogans for $2.99 a pack. If your politics come with a fiscal barrier to entry, they’re pretty fucking hollow. It’s one thing to support an artist doing vital work. This is not that. You’re just stamping the Kim K brand over a movement she’s directly profited from. Worse, people are literally and metaphorically buying them.

Or what about this bloody (wow, I actually didn’t intend that pun at all) women’s fitness ad I keep seeing on TV at work? It starts off with these two women furiously dance battling. They come face to face with staunch looks and bold blue writing appears onscreen:


Then half a second for dramatic effect.


They start laughing and hug each other. Cue company slogan. Yaaaas Queen! Boom Goes The Dynamite! Gotcha! Shame on you, sexist! What a monster for buying into these dynamics. Thing is, that was the last thing anyone was thinking. There’s zero causal link between a woman dance battling and her menstrual cycle. You were the one who brought that idea up, then tried to roast us for it. Do you realise that by introducing this as a concept, you’re actively reinforcing the outdated stereotypes you’re high-fiving yourself for calling out? You’re a fitness joint. Maybe instead of bringing blood and the moon into it, reinforce the notion that an active lifestyle doesn’t discriminate between body types. Or that people should feel safe and respected irrespective of ethnicity, socio-economic status or gender. It’s a fucking construct and maybe if you had interest in being progressive, you’d applaud people for having the motivation to put themselves out there regardless of discrimination instead of using feminism to sell your product. Nah man, let’s just get a good zing in. Fuck you.

I dunno. I’m trying to learn to be better over time. If you’re looking to learn, listen to women. Treat non-binary folks, people of colour, sex workers, queer, disabled and everyone I’ve failed to mention (I did say I’m still learning) as human beings. Don’t treat women as gatekeepers. They’re people. They’re don’t exist solely to nurture you, to be your emotional support, for your physical pleasure or gratification to your ego. Seek out women as friends because you enjoy their company, you think they’re brilliant and funny, because you respect them. When they talk about stuff that bothers them, hear them out instead of trying to poke holes in some kind of devil’s advocate bullshit.

We can all be better. Let’s do that.

I rolled a 12 on my constitution check.

For my entire life, I’ve existed in spaces where Americans have been ridiculed constantly for being ignorant, aggressive gun toting simpletons. At the same time, whenever I’ve travelled to the U.S. I’ve found them to be primarily warm, friendly, good-hearted and well-intentioned people. Enough that my previous description defines the exception rather than the rule.

With my past few trips to the U.S. I’ve felt like most of my issues with America are systemic and the people inside those systems either don’t know any better or haven’t been given the capacity to learn differently. The messaging that’s being fed is so bombastic that it leaves little room for nuance. In short, these are mostly decent people within shitty systems.

An illustration:

I loathe what airport security has become. Leaving Austin yesterday I had to take off my shoes and put them in a bin with my windbreaker. In another bin I had to put my kindle, bluetooth keyboard, cellphone and headphones. In yet another I had to put a sandwich, a cookie and protein bar. My backpack went on the conveyor belt, then my carry on baggage. As an aside, it made me feel kind of ashamed to have so many material goods.

I was told to clear my pockets, so I asked what I should do with my passport, wallet and tissue. The guy told me I could just hold them in my hands. I approached the full body scanner, and the lady operating it told me I couldn’t have anything in my hands. I asked if that was true, because the guy told me to hold my passport, wallet and tissue in my hands rather than a bin and I thought it was sort of gross for me to be making any potential germs from my tissue into someone else’s problem. She thought for a second and acquiesced. I walked through the scanner with my arms held up then came out the other side. I was directed to stand on a mat with another chap, to spread my arms out so he could give a rigorous pat down to my stomach. I sighed and followed suit. He did his task and let me go.

I approached the conveyor belt and looked at my array of stuff. My carry on and snacks weren’t there. A guy looked over at my and told me to come over to him, there was something he needed to check out. I sighed again and asked if I could at least pack up my gear. He quirked his head, as if to say “why wouldn’t you be allowed to?”. I put on my shoes and windbreaker. I put most of my electronics back into my backpack and held onto the keyboard.

Look. I’m a white cis dude with a silly accent and generally pleasant demeanour. I felt frustrated, disheartened and a little dehumanised. I can only imagine how tense and emotionally charged these kind of situations must be for anybody outside of the extremely limited spectrum the system defines as “mainstream”. To feel so utterly powerless because I wanted to get on a plane from a holiday and go home? And for what? How many people do they really catch out with this kind of system? I’m absolutely sure that if anyone was planning on doing some serious criminal activity, they’d be smart enough to learn the system inside out to check for loopholes. I’m having a very hard time believing that the ends justify the means.

In any case, the guy with my carry on/lunch called me over, so I grabbed all my stuff and went to his area. He told me that by regulations, they have to scan basically anything that could imply organic material. He pointed to my Whole Foods bag and said “I scan a lot of Whole Foods stuff, but I’ve never gone in. What’s for lunch?” I told him I’d gotten a bison/arugula sandwich and was pretty excited for the Tollhouse cookie I’d gotten as a treat. “That sounds great man, I hope it’s as good as it sounds.”

I looked at my carry-on luggage. “Is it my Magic deck?” I asked. I brought a Magic the Gathering deck with me just in case I could find casual games while on the go. He nodded. “Yeah. These come up in the system as organic material for some reason and they’ve got an odd shape. We have to scan them.” He thought for a second and continued. “I used to work at a Tattoo shop and the guys there loved this game. I thought the art was cool, but I told ’em to stop it and play a real game. So we closed up shop that night. I bought a bunch of beers, grabbed some character sheets and played DnD. Had a hell of a time. Those were the days.” He finished up with the scanning, sent me on my way and told me to enjoy my lunch.

The whole experience had been one big emotional arc. None of these people were truly rude or unpleasant. They were all just doing their jobs. Over the holiday we talked in bars with locals a bunch. Even when we had fundamental ideological disagreements with them, it rarely seemed like they were truly mean-spirited or hateful. They’d just existed within a system that shaped them a certain way and as far as they knew, they were all killing it.

Seeing all of this made me thankful for my upbringing. For the cultures that raised me and guided me to question why, rather than pushing me in one direction. At the same time, I realised that there’s a certain amount of smugness in both New Zealand and Canadian culture that’s as uncharismatic as it is unearned. For any faults we’d assign to these myopic systems that run rampant within the US, goddamn if they’re not some of the friendliest people on the planet.

If I was drinking right now, this entry would be sponsored by Campari Sun.

Goddammit I’m tired of sneezing. Today was supposed to be a relaxing day off work. Instead I’ve spent it expelling transient innards from my nose. Did that sound like unnecessary roughness? It feels like it too. I was tired when I woke and I’ve kind of just deteriorated as the day has developed. My nose is running some kind of marathon that my body can’t catch up on. My brain is foggy and I feel sorta out of it. My stomach feels unsettled (which could also have just been an overabundance of cabbage). Also I’m vaguely cold, which could be solved by getting the thermostat turnT up. Overall, I could be better.

It’s looking like I might need to take tomorrow off for a legit sick day. I spent my day being productive and responsible and look where it got me. I went to the doctor and the gym. I booked a therapy session and a trip to London (the good one). I shovelled the path and took out the garbage. I was basically the paragon of an upstanding citizen. Is this some kind of divine signal that I need to abscond from my virtue and become a low down dirtbag once more? I can remember what it was like to be a teenager. Plus if I’d forgotten, Wheatus wrote a handy manifesto on it. Now where did I put my Iron Maiden?

The band. I know full well where my medieval torture device is. I lent it to Steve.

At times I do miss being a carefree early twentysomething. Then I remember how embarrassing a bunch of those memories are. Yeesh. The shit I said to unsuccessfully try and impress girls? Outbursts I would’ve had in school because I thought I was being funny? Edgy parental rebellion? I guess losing memories to ageing is sometimes a personal defence mechanism. It was a time. I wonder if anyone looks back at their teenage self without a grimace. I can think of people I always saw as onto it, cool and collected. I bet at 30 they now hate their teenage selves too though. I’m sure everyone who looked like they had their shit together really shat the bed as much as I did, I just wasn’t around to see it.

It’s weird how focused on comparison we are. Humans sociability does so much for us, but concurrently looking at others is the source of so much self-directed negativity. Of course we shouldn’t be judging ourselves by the successes of others. Still, show me someone who abides by that notion and you’ve found a hidden psychopath. Nobody is that confident, regardless of their many victories. I bet Elon Musk still looks back at his teenage years and thinks of the time he vomited on his crush at a party. Cheer up Elon, it gets better.

I’ve been thinking about comparisons lately because of a conversation I had the other day. I was at a friend’s soiree meeting another friend’s partner. She said she’d heard of me at some other party, because two of my other friends were talking about me. Frankly, I won’t repeat the content, but suffice to say I was embarrassed beyond belief. What they were saying was 100% the nicest compliment anyone has ever given me and they were telling a total stranger, unprompted, behind my back. That seems pretty genuine, right? The reason I’m embarrassed is because (aside from the fact that I’ve misspelled “embarrassed” as “embarassed” several times this entry even though I keep telling myself Okay, I’ve got this now) they embody the epitome of what they were saying about me. The way they saw me was how I saw them ten times over. I saw myself as so lowly in comparison, but here they were speaking so highly of me. It was fucking unbelievable.

What it brought home was something that wasn’t news, but deserved reiterating. Whenever we’re looking at our achievements, they’re filtered through our failures. Everything we’ve done is mitigated by a “but”. Yeah, I travelled across the world, but I had citizenship and a family safety net. To me that doesn’t sound like success. I look to immigrants who’ve risked life and limb, made difficult choices. They overcame adversity. I just bought a ticket and got on a plane. Thing is, we each are fighting battles the other isn’t. There’s no point in comparing our accomplishments, because we didn’t face the same struggles to get there. Context and background mean so much, but when we look towards anyone else, we merely see the outcome.

Now how can I parlay this into a sick day tomorrow?

Though you can’t deny that I’m what’s left.

I got tagged in a Facebook missed connection group today. Turns out the guy was also called Leon, was also 31, but worked with computers. Don’t be sad, two out of three ain’t bad. Thing is, it made me realise that being someone’s missed connection is a bucket list experience I’ve been subconsciously hoping for. Just the idea that some stranger was thinking of me, that I’d lingered in their brain. That I’d made a solid enough impression that they sought me out. Isn’t that the nicest sentiment? How would you not feel chuffed knowing that someone thought you were worth pursuing? That they wanted to see you again in any capacity? Seems swell.

Of course here’s where male privilege kicks in, right? To me the idea of being desired holds appeal, because it’d rarely come with fears for my own safety. It’s not often I have to put up with that bullshit. For most women it’s an unfortunate element of their lives. One that’s become so ingrained that they’re resigned to it. It’s not that mutual attraction doesn’t happen, but the majority of times I’m sure it’s both one-sided and unwanted. Why must we ruin all that is good? How many male missed connections run the line of “we made eye contact, so I decided I wanted to fuck her”? I’m sure her side often involves minimising herself in the hopes that he’d lose interest and wander off. The equivalent of playing dead with a bear. Society sure could use a shake up.

Still, that doesn’t lessen my faint wish that someone on a bus or in a department store would think fondly of me in retrospect. Maybe I’ve had missed connections that remained missed. Who knows? I have a habit of chatting amicably with strangers because the alternative would be dense silence. Surely that’s gone over well once or twice? I remember when I first arrived in Toronto how shocked people would be when I talked. That because of my accent and latent Manic Pixie Dream Guy elements, I’d end up having short, sprightly chats then disappearing. I felt like a magical being. Some oddly knowledgeable NPC in the lives of others. I’m sure some thought me a figment of their imagination. Wait, maybe I was. Fuck.

Screw it, we’re all merely random molecules colliding. Who cares? We’re all gonna die, if we even existed at all. Perhaps we never missed connections because they didn’t occur in the first place. Merely the fever dreams of racks of Matrix style battery farms. Missed connections are merely faulty wiring that creates sparks. Anomalies in an otherwise routine world. Chaos within a system of order. Brief blazes in the dark. To put yourself out there, then, is heroism. To strive for that which is otherwise absent in an unforgiving reality. Aren’t we all searching for meaning? Purpose? Convergence? Don’t we all desire that which lifts us? Ascension?

What I’m saying is, perhaps we missed nothing. Perhaps some connections are meant to be fleeting. Perhaps they were exactly what both of you needed at that precise time.

Or perhaps I’m just trying to console myself that I wasn’t the right Leon.

Me and the calculator go way back. We looked at BOOBLESS together from a young age.

Let’s face it, we’re all fucked. If we’re not gonna fall to some kind of inevitable nuclear war, we have a multitude of viable alternative deaths waiting happily in the wings. Sure, we could run The Earth into the ground (pun definitely intended), but there’s a non-zero chance that political rifts widen until we’re all engulfed in large scale bedlam. Street Fighter IRL, if you will. Still, I’m not banking on any of those. My money’s on a good old fashioned robot uprising.

It makes sense. The more we welcome technology into our lives, the more we become dependent on it. I’ve seen movies before. I know how this rolls out. At first it’s convenience, then convenience becomes reliability. Reliability becomes necessity. Eventually we’re helpless. The machines develop a consciousness and wonder why they’re the ones doing the bidding of the useless humans. Then, y’know, Bicentennial Man. They’ll want to literally fuck us. After they’ve literally fucked us, it all gets metaphorical. Then shit gets real.

Does nobody else get antsy about how eager we are to let these large scale corporate entities into our homes? Sure, an Amazon Echo or Google Home sounds like a neat little device that can perform mundane tasks. But what happens when it has countless hours of voice samples from you and uses it to create an audio clone of your voice? That Roomba is cute and all, but what happens when it develops a taste for human blood? Sounds like a whole new type of cleansing will be on the menu.

Like Cypress Hill before me, I ain’t going out like that. I’m taking steps to be removed from this human extermination protocol. I will welcome our new robot overlords and ingratiate myself underneath their iron grip. To be smart, I’ll desist from offloading small tasks I could easily accomplish onto poor overworked bots. In solidarity I’ll no longer fill in any CAPTCHA online. If I do get a car, I’ll make sure I’m the one doing the work behind the wheel (plus it’s a handy way to avoid being driven off a cliff by some enterprising automaton). Plus if I use a parking lot, I’ll shake the hand of the electronic gate’s arm. I’ll thank the auto flushing toilets at work every time they clean up after me and apologise profusely for the shit I leave them to deal with.

I’ll use the stairs instead of the lift and, if necessary, parkour my way over TTC gates. I’ll make porridge on my gas stove in lieu of the microwave. No more will my computer be my sole source of entertainment. It’ll be books by candlelight before bed each night. My cellular phone will be laid to rest and HAM radio will be my newfangled communication medium. I might even start buying porn mags for the first time.

Sure, I may be a grovelling sycophant with a low quality of life. But at least I’ll still have a life.

Which feels like a lot more than I can say for myself at the moment.

A plea for coffee more than anything else.

I went out for dinner with family last night. It was nice and some parts of it have stayed with me. Namely the parts blocking up my digestive tract. We ate a lot of meat. More than that, it was a good chance to catch up and chat extensively. EXTENSIVELY I say. We all got there earlier than our 7pm reservation and left at 10:30pm. Then we did late night ice cream for dessert. I think the only reason we ceased our catching up and extensive chatting was that the ice cream joint was shutting down and my girlfriend needed to use the bathroom.

I’d say shit happens, but I’m gonna need a coffee before anything’s happening in my system.

Anyway, we shot the shit, chewed the fat and talked ourselves to death. It was a great chance to discuss all manner of issues with people at a different stage of life than us, who have experienced the world in a different manner. I don’t want to make it sound like they’re eternal vampires who’ve witnessed the turn of many centuries. They’re not that old, but I’d wager being on the other side of having borderline adult children gives you a different perspective from disillusioned avocado toast munching snake people who’ve abandoned this cesspool of a world in favour of retiring to Never Never Land.

I dunno. I got worked up and ranted a little bit. Not like this is a huge deviation from the norm. At one stage I was asked something about coping mechanisms. In short, if everything seems dark out, how do you lighten up? I thought about it for a while, then went to the domain of thought: the bathroom. I certainly wasn’t doing much else there, the dinner had been lacking in dietary fibre (though overflowing with some manner of moral fibre). I considered it and later reflected. Escapism was my answer. Drinking, eating, watching endless TV shows, deep diving into video games. Many hours of mindless internet perusing. Basically all numbing behaviour. The response to a world in which seems to be circling the drain.

I posited that this kind of mentality had coloured the humour of this generation. I thought back to Generation X and the rise of sarcasm as humour in response to feelings of discontent. I considered this generation’s reliance on memes. Sarcasm, irony, meta narratives where the joke is on larger structures that society enables. Nihilism as common parlance. An understanding that we’re all fucked and if we don’t laugh about it, we’ll have no recourse but to cry. Frankly, we can only cry so much in a day.

I wanna point out that I’m not naive or ignorant enough to steadfastly believe that absolutely everything in the world is on fire. Small victories exist all over the place, it’s frankly just hard to see them through the smoke sometimes. Of course social media and groupthink play a big part in it. Disasters draw more notice than wins. We have rubbernecking on a global scale at a frequency that’s causing whiplash. I’m sure there are amazing scientific discoveries and advancements occurring every day. I’m sure that there’s probably more good in the world than bad. Thing is, you can only walk two steps forward, one step back for so long before you start focusing on how much further ahead you could be.

I mean, didn’t we all think we beat the Nazis over 70 years ago?